It all starts to become horribly clear to Sam ...
Sam stood alone watching busy hordes bustling to and fro through Newark Airport Arrivals; he yawned, bunching his shoulders against a chill breeze that whistled past him as he scanned the faces of the crowds.
He was tired, so bone-crushingly, horribly exhausted, he could barely keep his eyes open. He was convinced people were glancing at his hooded, dark shadowed eyes, and pallid complexion with pity; probably thought he'd just climbed off of some goddamned red-eye and hadn't slept for a couple of days. Well, part of that was right.
It was three days since Dean had disappeared. In that time Sam hadn't been idle, far from it. He'd moved to another motel in the town, offloaded the far too visible Impala to one of his Dad's old lockups, and secured himself some bland, featureless hire car; a medium sized silver saloon; he smiled, knowing that Dean would loathe it on sight, but it guaranteed invisibility.
He'd tried to track Dean's cell but without success, each time he tried the damn thing was either switched off or not registering a signal.
Then he had hit the town in his invisible car, and began to canvass the neighborhood; Agent Ulrich, pounding the streets investigating the mysterious and sudden disappearance of an innocent man. Hour after hour, interview after interview; he had lost count after thirty interviews but had carried on regardless. To his utter despair, no-one saw a damn thing. His brother might just as well dropped through a hole in time.
By the time he stumbled back into the motel room, a weary, despondent figure; footsore and hoarse from too much speaking and too little drinking, he was in despair - the only glimmer of light on the horizon was that Bobby would be on his way back, he had needed to settle a few affairs in London and was catching a BA flight into Newark tomorrow morning.
Sam slumped heavily on the side of the bed and poured himself a large whisky. He wasn't sure his nerves had ever been as shot to pieces as they were right now.
That was until he took the phone call …
Sam was jolted out of his melancholy thoughts by Bobby's gruff voice, "Hey, you with me there, boy?"
He blinked, to clear his vision and looked up to see Bobby standing in front of him, a battered suitcase on a cart beside him. The older man looked ashen.
"Jeez Boy, it's good to see ya." Bobby smiled weakly, and the two men hugged.
Sam unlocked the hire car and heaved Bobby's case into the trunk. Bobby didn't need to ask, he knew exactly what Sam had done and why he had done it. A sad smile played on Bobby's face when he thought about Dean and how he would hate the thing on sight.
"Good idea to ditch the Impala, kid;" Bobby smiled, reassuring Sam as they both climbed into the car. "So, tell me what happened."
Sam talked through Dean's sudden disappearance, the words tumbling out in a frightened, anxious cascade; he told how he had found the keys near the Impala, his efforts to find information, his complete lack of success.
Bobby listened intently, taking everything in, not interrupting. He knew Sam was close to the edge; in truth, so was he, but panicking and frazzling both their brains was going to get them no-where, they had to be able to think clearly for Dean's sake. He knew that would mean coaxing Sam to get some sleep and, hell, that wasn't gonna be easy.
Sam turned to him, the emotion was so near the surface, his voice cracked with the strain, "There's something else Bobby; and you're not gonna like it." Bobby frowned at the younger man, his grizzled face a mask of apprehension.
"What?" he coaxed.
Sam took a deep, shaking breath, "I got a call last night from Dean's cellphone; it was the guy who's holding him." He swallowed deeply, tightening his grip on the steering wheel as he blinked back tears that were blurring his vision, "he said you've got something that belongs to him and he's been trying to get Dean to tell him where you are, but he won't. He said he's been trying very hard."
He turned to Bobby, "You know what that means, don't you."
Bobby stared at him, aghast, and nodded slowly. Oh yeah, he knew what that meant.
Torture. That scumbag sonofabitch had been torturing his boy.
"He said if he doesn't start being more co-operative, he's gonna write him off as a lost cause, then he'll come after me. He hopes that will encourage you to be a bit more forthcoming."
Bobby was crimson, shaking violently, the rage boiling up within him spilling down his cheeks in hot, furious tears. "Bastard;" he spluttered, "if he's hurt him; so help me God, I will end him bloody; I'll slaughter him like friggin' vermin an' I'll do it with a smile on my face …" His voice trailed off as the emotion overwhelmed him.
The two occupants composed themselves for a moment, readying themselves for the long drive back to the motel. It was a few moments before Bobby spoke up, clearing his throat.
"Sam, you say they called you on Dean's cell?"
"Yeah;" Sam replied, "Dean had it in the pocket of his sweatpants; he wanted to keep it close in case …" Sam hesitated, then swallowed hard; "in case you called," he added in a small voice.
Bobby closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"Give me your cell Sam;" it wasn't a request.
Sam fumbled in his pocket and passed the phone to Bobby, watching as the older man dialled Dean's number.
"Bobby, what the hell are you doing?" Sam's eyes widened as Bobby smiled on reaching the messaging service and raised his hand gesturing for quiet.
He spoke urgently into the phone; "Singer here. I'm ready to meet you; give you what you want. Just don't harm the boy. He's nothing to do with this, he didn't know where I was. Call me on Sam's cell."
Bobby handed the phone back to Sam who was staring at him in wide-eyed alarm."Bobby, what the hell? These psychos could be dangerous."
Bobby nodded, "I don't friggin' care; if we wanna get Dean back, this is the only way we're gonna do it."
Sam felt himself tearing up, was he going to regain a brother, only to lose an uncle?
The invisible car hummed smoothly as it sailed along the highway toward the motel, both occupants had been silent for some time, lost in their own thoughts. It was Sam who spoke first.
"Bobby, talk to me," he asked softly, "what's all this about? You gotta tell me everything."
Bobby sighed and nodded, "yeah, you're right." he blew his nose into a grubby handkerchief, and took a deep breath.
"I guess you've done your own research?" Bobby muttered with a wry smile.
Sam bit his lip guiltily and gave a ghost of a nod.
"Despite everything I said over the phone …" Bobby continued, scolding gently.
Sam stared at the road ahead and nodded, "Uh - yeah."
Bobby shook his head with an exasperated smile; "so you'll know about the twelve victims in London, then."
Sam nodded again, "yeah".
"It all started over a hundred years ago," Bobby began.
"I know," Sam replied, "Fifty Berkeley Square."
"Yeah, well, the spirit at Fifty Berkley Square was no ordinary spirit." Bobby continued, "the damn thing was so profoundly evil, it was fatal to everyone who saw it."
Sam nodded, and gave a shrug, "Yeah, but what's so special about it, we see evil spirits every day, and we don' keel over."
"Not like this, son; nothing like this." Bobby spoke quietly, almost as if he was scared the thing might hear him. "Do you know how this thing came into being?"
Sam shook his head, staring intently at the road ahead, "no".
"How's your European history Sam? You heard of the black Death?" Bobby asked.
Sam thought for a moment and replied; "vaguely – the bubonic plague, wasn't it?"
Bobby nodded; "right, the plague came to Europe in the 14th century. Wiped out over half the population there; in heavily populated areas like London the death toll was nearer three quarters."
Sam wrinkled his nose in disgust at the thought, as Bobby continued.
"People were dying in their thousands every day; so quickly the authorities had to excavate massive trenches - plague pits - where they just buried the bodies en-masse. There are dozens of them under modern-day London."
"Nice …" Sam muttered.
"Berkeley Square is built over one of these plague pits." Bobby explained.
"So it's the spirit of a plague victim?" Sam glanced at Bobby to ask the question.
"No Sam, I wish it were that simple," Bobby sighed, "it's a single manifestation of the spirits of thousands of plague victims; buried in that pit without ceremony in unconsecrated ground, never recognised, never missed; thousands of helpless, frightened and bitter anonymous folk who died under the worst circumstances imaginable.
Sam looked at Bobby in horror.
"Imagine it Sam;" Bobby continued, "you're dying of the foulest, most disgusting disease you could think of. You're in agony, bleeding and leaking pus from every orifice, drowning in your own fluids, watching helplessly as your body decomposes in front of you. All around you people afflicted by the same terrible illness; all suffering, everyone you know, everyone you love; the squalor, the misery, the stench of death and putrefaction everywhere."
Bobby warmed to his theme, watching Sam trying to rationalise what he was being told; "You don't understand why you're suffering like this; you don't understand the reasons, the cause. There's no cure; all you know is that you keep being told that it's the wrath of God; that's the only explanation anyone can come up with. This scares you even more."
Sam looked utterly horrified.
"Do you get it, Sam?" Bobby asked, "thousands of lost spirits … imagine, all the worst kinds of negative emotions a person can feel; overwhelming, crushing terror, anger, dread, despair, confusion, hatred, misery, agonising pain … multiplied thousands of times over and all compressed into in one single entity."
"No wonder anyone who saw it was scared to death." Sam whispered weakly.
"Exactly." Bobby agreed, "the owner of Number Fifty had tried for years to deal with the spirit without success, he couldn't live in the house and was living in fear for his family. He had tried getting it exorcised several times and it never worked; eventually as the reputation of the house and the spirit spread across London, a hunter offered his services to deal with the spirit."
"He didn't even try to exorcise the spirit, instead he found some medieval incantation which bound the spirit to an object, in this case his ring." Bobby continued, "that trapped the spirit, bound it to wherever the ring was and it was never seen at Number Fifty again."
"This was in 1907?" Sam asked, "when the haunting stopped, according to the legend."
"That's right." Bobby agreed with a nod.
"The owner of the house locked the ring away in a safety deposit box, he willed it down to his son who willed it down to his son, and the subsequent generations of the family, knowing how dangerous the spirit was kept it a heavily guarded secret, under secure lock and key.
Bobby shrugged, "unfortunately the latest generation of the family got some different ideas about uses for the spirit." He glanced across at Sam again, "One Mister Frank Nightingale, small time crook, bit part player on the London organised crime scene and thoroughly nasty piece of work."
Sam shook his head, "but this is seriously heavy duty stuff; how would he have the know-how to understand a thing like that?"
"He doesn't;" Bobby replied, "after his father died four years ago, and he took ownership of the ring, he teamed up with a London-based hunter who happens to be a descendent of the hunter who originally bound the spirit back in 1907."
"So," Sam put all the pieces together, "the two of them are travelling around using the spirit as a lethal weapon to kill the poor bastards they then go on to rob."
"Bingo!" Bobby agreed, "never staying in one place long enough to get caught".
He continued, "anyway, I got wind of all this through the hunters' network, and I enlisted an acquaintance with, uh, certain appropriate skills to acquire the ring.
Sam shook his head and managed a sly smile; "you stole it from them?"
Bobby cleared his throat; "I took it to London to find out more about the lore, mainly how to dispose of it; see, the ring can't be destroyed; that would release the spirit."
He hesitated, "that was until I spoke to you, and you told me about Dean."
Sam glanced across at Bobby and for the first time noticed the thick, plain gold band around the middle finger of this right hand.
"Is that …?"
Bobby nodded, "uh, yeah. Doesn't look much, does it?"
Sam's breath hitched; "it's not gonna … uh, you know …?"
Bobby shook his head, "No, I gotta read the unbinding incantation to release it".
"Oh okay," Sam muttered nervously, "just, um, don't - okay?"
"Oh, don't you worry about that!" Bobby smiled.
They both turned abruptly on hearing Sam's cellphone ring.
"Well, that didn't take long!" Bobby muttered, picking it up and pressing the answer key.
Things moved quickly once Bobby had spoken to Nightingale; the chill in the car during the brief conversation had been palpable; unspoken yet undeniable hatred on both sides. Bobby, however, still hadn't been too proud to beg.
"Where's the boy? C'mon it's nothing to do with him, tell us where he is. You can have the ring. Just tell us where he is, please."
The deal was, no ring; no Dean.
That's how Sam found himself standing, the following morning, outside a derelict factory about a million miles from anywhere. Looking up at the crumbling grime-darkened walls and the weathered bunting of shattered glass which hung from rotting window frames; he reflected that even the graffiti artists couldn't be bothered coming out this far.
The place looked as sad and broken and lonely as Sam felt without his brother.
"You okay Sam?"
Sam blinked back tears, turning to see Bobby walking up behind him, his fists thrust into his jacket pockets against the cold.
"Uh, not really …" he sighed, "Can't shake this feeling; something bad, real bad is gonna happen."
Bobby clapped him on the shoulder. "I'm gonna offload this ring and you're gonna get Dean back." Bobby gave Sam a watery smile, "that's all that's gonna happen."
"'WE'RE gonna get Dean," Sam corrected, hesitating as he guessed Bobby wasn't expecting to survive this showdown.
"Bobby …" Sam pleaded; but Bobby had already marched up to the building, heavy boots crunching over layers of broken roofing slates and glass, and was dragging open a rusty door hanging off one hinge.
Sam followed Bobby inside, unable to shake the feeling of despair in his gut, hopeless, terrible despair. Gnawing away at him, destroying him.
When they had left the motel room he had been all ready for a fight, ready to rip the faces off the bastards who had Dean. Now he felt like all he could do was lay down and die, the feeling had intensified the closer they had got to this awful place.
They had barely stepped inside when two figures emerged from the shadows. The shorter of the two, a balding, wiry man with beady, darting eyes who looked almost comically like a ferret was holding a gun pointed at Bobby's head.
The second man; Nightingale, Sam assumed, was almost twice the size of his oppo, sharp dressed and oozing self-confidence. This man was clearly not used to hearing the word, 'no'.
"Well, well, well;" Nightingale glanced dismissively at Sam then turned, smiling coldly at Bobby; "the organ grinder's brought his monkey."
Bobby faced the two men and their gun, his tired eyes burning with loathing. "I've got the ring, where's Dean?"
"Oh Dean;" Nightingale smirked; "he was no bleedin' help to us you know." He sighed dramatically, "wouldn't say where you were, nothing we did could get him to talk." He shrugged, "I suppose it's true what they say; no sense, no feeling."
Sam's face fell into a grimace of fury, "he's loyal to the people he loves; it's not something I'd expect you to understand."
Bobby spoke up abruptly before Sam's fragile grip on his anger spilled over into an incident that would jeopardise Dean's rescue. "Where is he?" he asked again.
Nightingale ignored him; "C'mon, you thieving old sod; hand it over. Ring first; then Dean."
Bobby bit his lip, shakily twisting the gold band off his finger, and threw it to the ground in front of the two men, he stepped back holding his hands aloft, his eyes not moving from the gun that the rodent man was still waving gleefully in his direction.
"Now where the hell is Dean?" He growled.
"Oh, he's here," Nightingale replied calmly, smirking as Sam visibly flinched at his words.
"Well, excuse me for not trusting you," Bobby snorted, "how do I know you're not lying?"
Nightingale crouched to pick up the ring and glanced up at Bobby; "given that I'm not the one handing back stolen goods, I don't think you're in any position to lecture me about trust!"
Sam suddenly gasped, the three other men turned to him, rodent face nervously trained his gun in Sam's direction.
"He's not lying; Dean's here;" he stared at Bobby, "that's what I can feel, that despair, that hopelessness, that pain … it's not me; it's him." His eyes filled with tears, "he's here, Bobby and he's feeling all those terrible things for real."
Bobby stared open mouthed at Sam; he knew the brothers' bond was close, but he never expected this. He smiled gently at Sam before turning back to the two men, his eyes narrowing with anger; "right, you've got what you friggin' want, now quit assin' around and tell us where Dean is."
"Not so fast," Nightingale shook his head with an exasperated sigh; "you see, I'm not going to press charges regarding your theft from me, but I don't think it should go unpunished either."
The rodent sniggered, lowering his gun.
Sam's breath hitched and he took a step towards Bobby; Bobby held his hand up to stop him.
"Fine," Bobby stated flatly, "punish me, but the boy goes – gets his brother."
"Bobby, no …" Sam gasped.
"Sorry, the 'boy's brother is part of the problem." Nightingale sighed in mock regret, "you see, the obstinate bastard wouldn't co-operate; made life difficult for us." He smiled horribly, "Sorry, but 'the boy' is as much a part of this as you are."
Nightingale held the ring up between his thumb and forefinger and began to speak slowly, quietly as his adoring oppo looked on.
oufth bh'ast besthud
d'och il d'yaen veh
As he finished speaking, he looked up to Bobby with a twisted smirk. Bobby took a stumbling step backwards, his face a mask of horror, and grasped Sam's wrist as a pall of brown mist began to form, hovering between them.
Sam stared wide-eyed at Bobby, "Bobby, what … what's goin' on?"
"Druidic chant, Singer" Ferret Face smirked, "goes way back further than the medieval stuff we heard you were pokin' around in," he grinned. Sam couldn't help but notice even his front teeth were long and pointed. The man was clearly the love child of a moron and a rat.
Bobby tightened his grip on Sam's wrist and his horror struck face fell into a smirk. He reached down into the collar of his shirt and pulled out a long chain with a thick gold ring hanging on the end of it.
"Yeah, I know" he stated quietly, "and if you were any kind of hunter and not the festering sewer of rat's piss that you are, you would know it doesn't matter whose mouth the words come out of." His voice was thick with satisfaction; "whoever holds the ring controls the spirit."
The two men looked in abject horror at the fake ring in Nightingale's hand, and back up to Bobby, "you scheming bastard, Singer." Ferret Face raised his gun, squinting through the mist, but his hand was shaking too much to take a realistic aim.
They stumbled backwards, slamming against the wall as the mud-coloured mist began to form thicker and thicker, swirling into a rippling semi-solid column, filling the building's empty space with a keening desolate moan and a stomach churning stench.
"Where's Dean?" Bobby asked calmly, staring at the two cowering figures. "Tell me where he is and I'll call it off."
Nightingale was already on his ass, pinned against the wall, knees drawn up to his chest, his pallid face yawning a silent cry of unimaginable terror. Rodent had managed to scurry three strides before falling to his knees, sobbing pathetically as he balled up into a foetal position.
"Basement…" screamed Nightingale, curling up smaller and smaller behind twitching, flapping arms as the putrid, shapeless, oozing mist bore down on him, "In the basement;" he cried, "JESUS CHRIST, SINGER, PLEASE - CALL IT OFF."
Sam stood, in open mouthed shock as he watched the two men cower, insensible with terror on the floor. Rat Face had already pissed himself, and Nightingale's hair was turning grey at the temples.
"Basement? You sure?" goaded Bobby.
"YES;" screamed Nightingale; "Yes, staircase o-over there, the f-first door; for the love of God, Singer … CALL IT OFF."
Bobby stood impassionately watching the two men as they unravelled into incoherent, terror-stricken madness. Sam stood beside him, paralysed in horrified fascination at the scene unfolding before him.
Eventually, Bobby spoke; there was a coldness and a malice in his voice Sam had never heard before. "Go to hell you stinking pond scum," he muttered calmly, "go to hell and rot there. No one hurts my boys."
The two men convulsed in their death agonies, their faces frozen for eternity into a terror-stricken rictus as their hearts gave finally gave out. The spirit's dismal moan filled the empty building, a keening wail filled with misery and sickness; it's foul, shapeless brown mist swirling and boiling, dripping putrid ichor as it drifted slowly over the two contorted, twisted corpses.
Eventually Bobby muttered a short incantation under his breath and the mist slowly dissipated leaving Bobby and Sam standing, shaking wildly, staring at the two lifeless, hideous shells.
Bobby released Sam's wrist; "Sorry son, I had to do that; holding you made you an extension of me. If I'd let go, it would have come after you too."
Sam looked back at Bobby, still panting, the shock still evident on his face. He nodded mutely.
Almost immediately, both men snapped back into their purpose, and set off running the length of the building, reaching the rusty metal staircase pointed out by Nightingale, leaping down it in three strides.
"He's here," gasped Sam pointing to another metal door ahead of them, "I can feel him, he's in there … God Bobby, he's so weak, so frightened."
Bobby slammed into the door, putting his whole weight behind his shoulder into pushing the stiff, heavy door. It opened slowly with a rusty squeal and both men stumbled through it into the unlit room. A weak shaft of light filtered across the room from a narrow vent at ceiling level, illuminating the figure within.
Sam dashed frantically across the room, and his massive hands cradled the face he had been longing to see for five days.
Sam whispered tearful reassurances as he cupped his brother's heavily stubbled face, hoping his warm touch would soothe the violent trembling which racked his brother's body; his heart broke as Dean cowered away from his touch.
Bobby discreetly reached up over Sam's arm to pull off the blindfold and stepped away, tossing it to the ground. He knew that Dean's condition meant time was vital but right now, those boys needed just a moment of privacy.
Sam didn't move, leaning in closely to his brother so that their foreheads touched; his thumb stroking Dean's cheek as he whispered soft reassurances as much for his own comfort as Dean's. "Dean, hey it's good to see you man; it's me, it's Sammy. I've got Bobby with me, we've come to get you out."
Dean's wet, reddened eyes remained tightly closed as his head lolled heavier into Sam's hands with a barely audible moan. Sam wasn't sure if had actually realised the blindfold was gone.
Dean's brows were wrinkled with pain, Sam gently kneaded the spot between them with his thumb, "c'mon dude," he murmured, "open those great big eyes for me, the ones you hypnotise all those poor defenceless women with;" he smiled sadly, thinking how far from his flirting, womanising big brother this poor, broken figure was.
As he softly stroked the pained knot between Deans brows, he saw the green eyes flicker open, briefly. Dean blinked vacantly, dislodging tears which trickled down his already wet cheeks. Sam reached up, thumbing them away.
"Hey there, big brother;" he whispered, smiling weakly as he fought the overwhelming urge to break down.
He had completely lost track of Bobby who stood quietly behind him on tiptoe, pointing a small flashlight above Dean's head examining the chains that held him, checking them for weaknesses.
Sam tore his eyes away from Dean's face and scanned the rest of his shivering body, taking in the damage that he could see; it was difficult to tell in the gloom if the dark patches mottling Dean's torso were bruises or dirt, so Sam decided to go with worst case scenario. He felt his stomach lurch as he looked up to see Dean's arms both heavily stained their entire length with blood from the wounds around his wrists.
Bobby stepped round Sam to get a better look at the chain, when he suddenly stumbled to a stop, and gasped loudly.
Sam looked up in alarm, "what?" he asked urgently, scared by Bobby's stricken face. Even through the darkness, Sam could see the older man's face had drained of all it's colour.
"Look at his back," Bobby stammered weakly.
Keeping a reassuring hand pressed against his brother's neck, Sam leaned round Dean's body. The sight that met him turned his blood to ice.
He looked up at Bobby through a haze of tears; "the bastards" he croaked through gritted teeth, "the cruel, evil bastards." Bobby reached out a supporting arm when Sam momentarily swayed, "Bobby, what you did was too good for them." Sam hissed furiously.
Dean's back looked like a slab of raw meat.
From shoulder to hip, his back was a gruesome lattice of bloodstained welts. Barely a trace of undamaged skin was visible between them.
Sam stared in stunned silence at the sight; the power of coherent speech slipping away from him.
Bobby gulped back his nausea, and spoke up; "Uh, I'm going out to the truck to get something to cut this chain. I'll get a blanket and something for him to drink too."
Sam nodded, without taking his eyes from Dean's mutilated back.
Sam felt the tremors which racked his brother's body increase, and moved back in front of Dean to wrap reassuring hands around his face once more.
His thumb softly traced the curve of Dean's cheekbone, as he stood whispering reassuring nonsense to Dean, enjoying the scratch of Dean's spiky stubble beneath his palms. He would help Dean get rid of that very soon. He knew only too well how fastidious Dean was about his appearance, and being clean shaven was very close to the top of his priority list.
Sam's mind raced, thinking of all the things that Dean would need for a full recovery.
Antibiotics were a given; Sam could feel a clammy heat radiating from Dean's face and chest, even though the room was uncomfortably cold and damp. He could hear a weak raggedness in Dean's breathing and made a mental note to stock up on Tylenol.
They would need a good stock of antiseptics; Dean's wounds would need serious cleansing and disinfecting. Assuming Dean hadn't eaten for the five days of his incarceration, tomato soup; Sam smiled at the thought, Dean loved his tomato soup; chicken soup, oatmeal but only with honey, fruit juice and anything else he could think of that was easy on the stomach but likely to tempt Dean's appetite.
Sam guessed he should be looking at getting Dean a tetanus shot too. This place was filthy; laden with grime, dirt, mildew and rust, and Dean had a lot of open wounds to contaminate. Quite how he was going to get his hands on one of those without getting a doctor involved he had no idea, but a doctors visit would attract too many awkward questions, pressure to involve the police … no; unless it was unavoidable he and Bobby would have to deal with this themselves.
Bobby never ceased to amaze Sam. For a stocky middle aged man, he was surprisingly nimble, and within moments he was back, a bottle of water in one hand, a crowbar in the other and a checked blanket hung round his neck.
Sam cracked the lid off the bottle and slid a hand behind Dean's neck, gently supporting his head as he lifted the bottle to Dean's lips. Dean's eyes flickered open again as he obediently latched onto the bottle's neck and began to drink greedily.
Sam allowed him to take a few good long gulps before withdrawing the bottle, then turned to Bobby.
"Right Sam," Bobby grasped Sam's elbow and pointed up to the ceiling, "that link there, I can't reach it – but you can; the weld is cracked, it's weak – a good hard jerk with the crowbar should snap it."
Sam squinted up at the chain. "How the hell can you see something like that in this light?" he asked, frowning up at the link which looked exactly the same as all the others.
Bobby patted his back with a smile, "Son, I build and break cars for a living, I can spot a crap weld a mile off and trust me – that one's crap."
Sam smiled, taking the crowbar, and glanced back at Dean, "getting you down now, bro'" he smiled. He reached up toward the ceiling, a good six inches above where Bobby could reach on tiptoe and slid the end of the crowbar through the link.
They both knew that as soon as Sam snapped the chain, Dean would go down like a sack of stones, so Bobby manoeuvred himself in close, pondering how best to take Dean's unsupported weight without putting any pressure on his back. He settled for hooking his arms under and around the point of Dean's armpits and gripping his shoulders.
It took Sam only two hard, shoulder jarring jerks to snap the link which was, exactly as Bobby had predicted, weak.
There was a loud hollow rattle as the chain slid through the staple which fastened it to the ceiling, and Dean crumpled bonelessly into Bobby's tight grip, his shackled arms, weighed down by the loose chain flopping down either side of Bobby's head.
Bobby grinned as he gripped Dean's shoulders tightly, his knees buckling under the dead weight, their faces barely an inch apart; "this is the last time I'm ever gonna hug you naked, kid!"
Sam dropped the crowbar and gently laid the blanket across Dean's back, softly squeezing the back of his neck as he gave a shuddering hiss of pain at the blanket's touch.
Bobby looked up at Sam, still groaning shakily under the weight of the barely conscious hunter; "we're gonna have to leave the cuffs until we get home," he muttered, "I haven't got my lock picks with me, and even if I did, I couldn't see well enough in this light."
Sam nodded in agreement, gently manoeuvring Dean round in his arms, so that he was supporting his weight enabling Bobby to duck out from underneath him.
Together they pondered ways of carrying Dean out of the building without having to put any kind of pressure on his back. Dean was leaning heavier and heavier into his brother's solid presence, his harsh, wheezing breaths blowing hot into the crook of Sam's neck. Eventually they decided the only realistic option open to them was to move Dean on a stretcher on his belly.
As Bobby fussed, making a makeshift stretcher from the guts of an old wooden door he had found lying around, abandoned, Sam allowed his brother another long drink and took the opportunity to conduct a quick manual check under the blanket of Dean's battered torso to check for broken ribs. Despite his gentlest efforts, every touch seemed to hurt his brother, so he just decided that their priority was to get Dean out of that awful place into somewhere where he felt secure, somewhere clean and comfortable; Bobby's house.
There would be plenty of time to examine wounds and heal when they got there.
Carrying his blanket'wrapped brother out of that dreadful place on what was effectively no more than a rotting door proved to be no easy task, Sam playfully teased his brother for being a great heavy lump and needing to lay off the cheeseburgers as they slowly staggered up the creaking metal staircase and all the way out to Bobby's truck, walking past the bodies of Dean's captors without a second glance.
Sitting on the back seat of Bobby's truck with his brother laid out on his side beneath the blanket, Sam cradled Dean's head in his lap. It had quickly become clear that the daylight hurt his eyes, but Sam refused to cover Dean's eyes again, given how disturbing the blindfold had been for him, he settled for placing a hand across Dean's increasingly warm forehead to ensure his eyes were in shadow the whole trip. He talked softly to Dean, whispering soft reassurances, soothing and teasing; listening to the laboured breathing and waiting longingly for Dean's first word in return.
As the sun began to dip below the horizon, the three men were back at Bobby's house, Dean settled as comfortably as possible on the bed, curled up on his side under a sheet, the curtains drawn to minimise the light.
Sam produced a glass of juice with a straw, offering it to his brother; he couldn't hide his delight when Dean's parched lips took it keenly, glancing up to Sam with a hint of a watery smile.
Bobby followed him into the room with his lock pick, and pulled up a chair. He sat and gently lifted Dean's lifeless grey hands out from under the sheet onto his lap, trying not to show his concern at the stiff, ice-cold fingers. Working hard to choke back his horror at the damage inflicted by the metal cuffs he methodically probed the locks, his job made more difficult by the sticky, drying blood which clogged the mechanisms.
However, Bobby's perseverence won out as one by one the cuffs snapped open, and Bobby tenderly pulled them away from the wet, bloody wounds, revealing the true extent of the damage.
"Jesus Christ" he muttered, looking at the torn, livid flesh. He glanced helplessly up to Sam who paled at the sight, fighting an internal battle with himself to avoid vomiting.
Bobby sat at Dean's head, coaxing him to drink more juice while Sam discreetly pulled up the sheet and worked the foul, wet sweatpants down Dean's legs, turning away with a gasp to compose himself when he saw, for the first time, the angry burning rash over Dean's legs and feet.
Bobby sighed, looking sadly up at Sam.
"We need to get him in a bath. There's too much cleaning up to do here to just sponge him down in the bed."
Sam nodded mutely, his shaking hand covering his mouth, back turned to Bobby, Dean and the bed. He walked across the room as he wiped his eyes, sucking in long shuddering breaths to stop himself breaking down completely.
He was still trying to compose himself when an impossibly weak voice, barely a whisper, drifted up from the bed.
"stop crying you big girl and cover my ass up."
Sam spun round on hearing Dean's voice and stared, wet eyed at his brother, trying his damndest not to laugh at the sight of Dean's indignant face staring huffily back round the soft curve of his bare ass.
Bobby, still sitting beside the bed, shook his head, "idjit" he chuckled, trying to bring a sense of normalcy to the situation. He patted the elder Winchester on the shoulder and stood slowly, rising on stiff legs. "Goin to run a bath" he announced, watching as Sam stepped over to the bed, discreetly attending to his brother's request on the way. He wiped his eyes, placing a cool palm across Dean's clammy forehead.
Dean closed his eyes, shifting slightly as he mashed his face into the pillow, and fell silent again under Sam's touch.
"We'll get you all cleaned and patched up, then get you somethin' to eat, huh?" Sam smiled as he fussed and fiddled with the bedsheets, the pillows, Dean's drink and with the thermometer Bobby had left. "How's that sound, dude?"
Dean moaned quietly, "jus' wan' get clean an' sleep," his voice was barely more than a breath, "not hungry…"
As he spoke, a comically loud gurgle erupted from his stomach.
"Liar," grinned Sam, as they both stared down at Dean's belly in surprise. Dean scowled; "traitor" he grunted at it. Sam shook his head and glanced at the thermometer, relaxing slightly; a little high, but not worryingly so.
Sitting on the bed, Sam decided to take the opportunity while Bobby was filling the bathtub to examine the grotesque bruising which was painfully evident across Dean's torso. Although Bobby had kept the room dimly lit, this was the best opportunity he'd had to get a look at the damage.
Gently lifting Dean's arm, he took a deep breath, and folded the sheet down to Dean's waist. He nervously scanned the damage, his shaking hand moving gently and skilfully, palpitating the ribs with his palm, apologising sadly to each muffled grunt and groan.
The mottled expanse of bruising traced the outline of Dean's ribcage, looking like some horrible travesty of an X-ray. The blossoming medallions were of mostly uniform size … fist-sized; and their wide range of colours, of purple, grey, blue, green and yellow pointed to the fact that the punishment had clearly been meted out at different times and at different levels of severity.
The terrible sight squeezed the air out of Sam's lungs as the sheer horror and blind rage overwhelmed him, and he found himself wishing Bobby hadn't killed the two men just so that he could have the satisfaction of doing it himself; slowly and painfully.
From what he could ascertain through a manual examination there were a couple of damaged floating ribs, maybe broken, on the left hand side. Sam let out a bitter sigh of relief that the damage wasn't more severe.
He softly traced a palm over the bruising on Dean's abdomen which, he was hugely relieved to see, was much less severe. A heavily bruised abdomen could have pointed to all sorts of dreadful possibilities; of soft and delicate organs ruptured and damaged, unseen internal bleeding. No; Sam had to hand it to those two sons of bitches, they knew what they were doing: targeting the ribs; inflicting maximum pain with minimum life-threatening consequences.
And now Sam and Bobby were there to pick up the pieces.
Carrying Dean to the bathroom without putting any pressure on his chest or back had proved to be a near impossibility. Sam tried his hardest, and Dean had borne the brief trip silently, his face buried into the crook of Sam's neck to avoid showing any discomfort.
Lowering Dean's not-insubstantial weight into the bathtub without wrecking Sam's back had proved to be even tougher, but Sam had managed it admirably with barely a creak or twinge to show for it. He wasn't celebrating just yet, though; they still had to get Dean out of the tub and back to bed.
Dean gasped when he had first entered the water. Bobby had run it somewhere between tepid and warm, taking into account Dean's slightly elevated temperature and his open wounds, But he settled quickly, leaning heavily against Sam's arm and shoulder as he knelt beside the bath and gently squeezed spongefuls of the bathwater down his brother's brutalised back.
As the water rinsed away the splashes and smears of blood covering Dean's skin, the sharply delineated lash wounds became horribly clear to see. Each one a dark red slightly curving rip in the skin, each one raised along the length of an angry red welt. Some long enough to span the entire width of Dean's broad shoulders, others mere inches long where only the tip of the lash had made contact.
Sam gave up counting at fifteen because it became too distressing.
The warm water softly trickling down his back had soothed Dean to a point where he was leaning heavily against Sam almost asleep, his slow wheezing breaths huffing softly against Sam's shoulder, and Sam was happy to let him stay that way for a while.
Sam rinsed the sponge and began to wash the blood from Dean's arms, the exercise once again bringing to prominence the gruesome wounds around his mangled wrists. He swallowed back a dry heave. That was a God-awful mess and would scar; absolutely no doubt.
Sam sought solace in the relaxing exercise of washing his brother. Not only was he washing the blood and grime away, but he was wiping the stink of those two bastards from Dean's body; he couldn't bear the thought of their foul evil paws assaulting and mauling Dean and the vile, mindless damage they had inflicted on his body. Black thoughts of hatred and revenge that he would never have thought he was capable of darkened his mood and he swallowed back the feelings: they were dead. They had suffered. They were scum. Forget about them; think of Dean.
Blood had turned the water a soft pink. Trickling freely from the newest wounds on Dean's warm, wet back, it entered the water and curled into soft crimson tendrils snaking out from his hips, eventually dissipating into the pink water around him as Sam continued his careful work.
Eventually, satisfied that Dean was cleaned up nicely, although not necessarily awake, Sam became aware that his brother was shivering slightly.
"C'mon dude," he smiled, softly wrapping a towel around Dean's bare, wet shoulders, and gathering him up as gently as possible. With a pained heave he lifted Dean out of the bath, fully expecting his spine to snap under the strain. He staggered backwards and decanted Dean on a stool in the corner of the room, where he set about drying him off as quickly and as gently as possible.
As he patted Dean's skin dry, he couldn't help but smile, watching as Dean fought to keep his eyes open, leaning heavier and heavier into Sam's solid presence until Sam was sure he would just slide off the stool into a heap on the floor.
"Y'joyin' too much, bish…" Dean's voice was almost comical in how weak and helpless it sounded, but Sam grinned in delight at hearing his brother trying so hard to be himself; he knew Dean was doing it to protect him; and he reciprocated enthusiastically, "don't flatter yourself, jerk!"
Sam wrapped Dean in a towel and moved to lift him; Dean looked up at him; "I c'n walk..."
Sam smiled, "not just yet you can't dude." He knelt down in front of his brother; "let me help, we can try to get you up and about tomorrow when you've rested and had something to eat."
Dean sighed, beaten down by the logic and reluctantly allowed Sam to lift him to carry him back into the bedroom. "Jeez, bro', you sure didn't lose much weight while you were away," Sam grunted under the strain; "bi'me…" came the whispered response.
Waiting for them in the dimmed light of the Bedroom was Bobby, standing beside an impressive toolkit of gauze, antiseptic liquids and creams and sewing needles laid out on the night stand.
"OK Sam," he said matter-of-factly, as Sam placed Dean carefully down on the bed, helping him to arrange himself in a comfortable position; "you take care of his arms and legs; stay in front of him where he can see you. I'll sort out his back."
Sam nodded and knelt down to face Dean, whose eyes had already closed as he became less and less able to resist the pull of sleep.
"Just gonna patch you all up, and get some antiseptic on you dude. You gonna be okay?" Sam whispered. Dean blinked heavily and looked up at Sam, "Yeah, m'good;" he sighed, "wanna sleep."
"Soon dude," Sam smiled, squeezing his shoulder.
Sam and Bobby set to work, and between them they had Dean's wounds carefully and efficiently disinfected and dressed within a few minutes. Dean endured the treatment without comment; burrowing his face deep into the pillow, determined that the others shouldn't see if they were hurting him.
Bobby was heartily relived to see that none of the lash wounds were deep enough to require stitching; that inadequate weasel didn't have enough weight or strength behind his arm to inflict that sort of damage. Bobby sighed, thankful for small mercies. He finished off the job by taping a thin layer of gauze over Dean's back to prevent his t shirt chafing as Sam worked quickly and discreetly, massaging a soothing cream over Dean's legs before working him into a clean pair of sweatpants.
Sam knelt down by the bed, "how's that feel now, dude?"
Dean smiled; "don' stink now." He closed his eyes with a sigh; "wanna sleep, S'my."
Sam slipped an arm under his neck and gently hoisted him up against his shoulder, trying to ignore the barely audible moan of frustration that escaped his brothers lips."You just need something to eat first, bro'."
Dean shook his head; "sleep; please S'my."
Sam kneaded Dean's neck as he waited for Bobby to bring the food. The delicious smell of tomato soup wafted up the stairs making his mouth water.
"Need to get some energy inside you to get your strength up, man." He looked across at Dean, "you haven't eaten for five days Dean, sleep or no sleep, your body can't heal if it's too weak."
Dean sighed, "friggin' knowall…" he muttered breathlessly.
Bobby marched into the room with a tray, carrying a bowl half filled with tomato soup, small squares of toast sprinkled into it.
Sam thanked Bobby warmly, and took the tray, settling it on his lap. He looked down at Dean, "smells good, huh?"
The delicious smell of the soup stimulated Dean to some degree of alertness; wrinkling his nose, his eyes fluttered open and he instinctively moved to grasp the tray, but Sam's heart broke as Dean's arms reached out stiffly and painfully, but his fingers could neither feel nor grasp the tray.
Since Dean's release Sam had become aware that Dean had no strength or feeling in his hands or fingers. His arms and shoulders were so stiff and strained as to be virtually immobile. Sam sighed, looking down at the soup; he knew what had to be done, and so did Dean. He was crushed by the realisation.
Sam gave a watery smile, as Dean looked down into his lap, unable to look his brother in the eye. "Hey, no problem, dude," Sam smiled sadly, "we'll get to work on these tomorrow," he grasped Dean's clawed, grey fingers which still felt icy cold.
"Lets just get this down you first, hey?"
Dean looked up at him wet-eyed, a picture of frustrated despair.
Sam loaded the spoon, "Hey look," he attempted to bring levity to the situation, "you know you're eating in a classy establishment when there's croutons in the soup."
He offered the spoon to Dean who hesitated miserably before reluctantly opening up and draining it. Unseen, Bobby stood in the doorway watching; delighted that Dean was eating, but torn apart at how helpless his boy looked.
It took Dean little less than five minutes to finish the meal, finally admitting he was hungry after all. As Sam carefully passed the tray back to Bobby, he noticed Dean looking slightly flushed.
Laying the back of his hand along the side of Dean's face, he felt a clammy warmth, but no more so than before. Sam guessed the heat of the soup plus Dean's crushing shame at having to be fed liike an infant were the main culprits, but he looked up at Bobby who immediately knew what he was asking for.
Sam helped Dean to settle back and find a comfortable position in which to lay, reaching up as Bobby passed him the cool facecloth he'd silently asked for.
He spent a few moments, cooling Dean's face and neck, talking to him as he slowly relaxed and sank into the cosy softness of the bed; relishing the first real warmth and comfort he had been able to experience since his ordeal began.
Sam sat beside Dean. Once again fussing with the pillows, adjusting the bedclothes, talking to him, listening to the sound of his slow, laboured breaths; even after he was sure Dean had slipped into the sleep he so desperately craved; desperate to maintain a contact so that Dean knew he was still there.
For the first time since before the whole terrible saga began, Sam felt a crushing, overwhelming need to sleep. He was physically and emotionally drained; shattered by what he had seen and done today. Seeing Dean this helpless, this weak was frightening beyond anything they had ever experienced, and he never wanted to see it again.
Tomorrow he would begin to put the shattered pieces of his brother back together again. He would help Dean along every step of the way as he mended; watch him get stronger, faster and louder; watch him walk again, drive the Impala again, hold a beer bottle again, laugh and flirt and torment Sam again.
It was then he looked up into the doorway and saw Bobby wiping his eyes.
And Sam realised he wasn't the only one who had suffered today.
Sam stirred, tugging at his tangled bedclothes, and blinked through the darkness. Glancing at the glowing red figures on the clock on his nightstand, he saw it was a good six hours since they had settled Dean for the evening, and apart from a few restless moments early on which Sam suspected was down to a nightmare, he had slept soundly. Sam had sat for a good long while watching him sleep until Bobby had stomped back into the room brandishing a toasting fork and bullied him into going to bed.
Dean sounded disturbed.
Sam was sure it was a groan that had awakened him; as he lay silently, propping himself up on his elbows, he looked across to the other bed and could see the blanket covered lump shifting uncomfortably.
He could hear panting; harsh pants punctuated by the occasional hiss of pain. This wasn't a nightmare.
Sam was out of the bed and crouching at Dean's side in a stride. He placed a hand over the top of Dean's sweat-dampened head; "What's wrong dude?"
Dean looked up at Sam, even through the darkness Sam could see his eyes glazed with pain.
"H-hands," he hissed through clenched teeth, "hurtin'."
Sam blinked; "your hands?"
"Burnin', S'mmy," he panted, "on fire…" Dean clasped his hands to his chest, burying his face into the pillow to muffle the breathless squeal that escaped him.
Sam reached down to take one of Dean's hands, but Dean recoiled; "No, no, NO;" he barked; "hur's."
Sam carded his fingers through Dean's hair as he switched on a small nightlight behind him.
"Just let me look Dean, see if I can help," he whispered softly.
Dean offered his trembling hands, hesitantly allowing Sam to take one and examine it.
Immediately Sam knew what was wrong; where yesterday Dean's fingers had been waxy, grey and ice cold, now they were livid red and burning hot.
Sam sighed, rubbing a thumb over the back of Dean's hand, holding tightly enough to resist his brother's flinching attempt to pull his hand away, but not tightly enough to squeeze.
"I know this isn't what you want to hear, dude" he whispered, "but this is a GOOD thing." He continued, "It means the circulation is returning to your hands, all those shrivelled up blood vessels are expanding and getting filled up with blood again."
Dean swallowed harshly, "h-hur's."
Sam smiled, "you know when your foot goes to sleep, and then it feels all prickly and tingly when the feeling comes back to it?" He looked deep into Dean's eyes, reading the pain behind them; "this is just like that, except your foot only goes to sleep for a few minutes. Your hands didn't have any proper circulation for days, so it's gonna be much worse."
The nightlight illuminated the sheen of sweat across Dean's forehead, and Sam knew this was bad. "We'll get through this together bro, I'm not going anywhere."
Dean nodded, gritting his teeth as he sucked in a harsh breath; "o-okay S'mmy."
Sam sat on the chair beside the bed and held his brother's hands as he watched the red glowing numbers on the clock tick away the minutes that Dean fretted and writhed, shuddering through the pain. Well over an hour passed before his discomfort subsided to a degree that Dean calmed enough to slip into a deep sleep again.
Sam sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. He hoped that was the end of it, and sat watching his sleeping brother, before he finally rose, satisfied it was all over, and trudged back over to his own bed pulling the bedclothes up to cover Dean's shoulders as he went.
The red display showed 7.45 am when Sam eventually woke. He stood up on stiff legs, looking over to the other bed. Dean was sleeping soundly, nothing more than a still lump beneath a pile of bedclothes, huffing softly into his pillow; the traumas of last night seemingly past.
Sam walked over to the bed, and crouched down beside the tousled knot of hair which was all that was visible of his brother. Gently tracing fingertips across the partially buried forehead, he frowned as it still felt clammily warm. Dean murmured softly but didn't stir. Sam watched him for a moment, wondering whether to wake him and cool him down before deciding that Dean didn't appear distressed and needed sleep more than anything else at the moment. Sam made a mental note to get some Tylenol; that would help to stabilise Dean's temperature.
Making his way downstairs, he was surprised to find no sign of Bobby. He stood alone in the middle of the kitchen scratching his head, trying to think where the older man might be.
He had just begun to brew a coffee when he heard a truck pull up outside. As he poured the steaming drink, Bobby bustled through the door laden with a big bag of groceries.
"Hey Bobby," Sam smiled; "you're out early.""Uh yeah," Bobby grunted, "had a few things to sort out, an' wanted to get some more provisions."
Sam smiled as Bobby dumped the bag on the table and began to unload. Eggs, fortified milkshakes, orange juice, soup, grapes, bananas, ice cream, wholemeal bread, bacon, honey, hot chocolate, and the biggest bag of M&M's Sam had ever seen. Sam shook his head, laughing; "Jeez, Bobby, how long are you plannin' to feed him for?"
Still rummaging deep in the bag, Bobby pulled out a box of Tylenol, and a big bottle of orange flavoured tonic. Bobby shrugged, "long as it takes," he mumbled.
He looked up from the bag towards Sam; "How is he?"
"Had a bad night, his hands were really hurting him; circulation coming back." Sam replied through a yawn.
"But that's good, huh?" Bobby lifted his cap, scratching his head, "how's he doing now?"
"Sleepin' like a newborn," Sam grinned.
Bobby reached into his jacket pocket, "oh yeah, got a couple of other things he needs."
Bobby placed the contents of his pocket onto the table; "broad spectrum antibiotics; we need to start getting them down him soon as you like, and I picked up a tetanus vaccine, oh, and the syringe."
Sam looked down at the two small bottles and the needle on the table. He looked up at Bobby in awe. "Bobby, you must have read my mind, how the hell did you get hold of this?"
"Just called in at the clinic in town." Bobby replied nonchalantly.
"How did you get them to hand over this stuff?" Sam's brow furrowed, then his face morphed into a grin, "you didn't break in…?"
"Not exactly;" Bobby's eyes darted round the room shiftily, "I, uh, know one of the receptionists down there."
Sam's grin widened, "oh yeah? You know her huh? Not in the biblical sense I hope!"
Bobby shook his head; "Sam Winchester, that friggin' brother of yours is rubbin' off on ya." He chuckled, "No, not in THAT sense; Marjorie's just a good friend."
"Marjorie, huh?" Sam beamed in delight at news of Bobby's lady friend. "Good on you Bobby, you sly old fox."
Sam picked up the tablets and looked at the label; "we can take these up with his breakfast." Bobby nodded, adding, "let him sleep a little while longer first; it'll do him good."
The two men took their coffee and sat at the table together in quiet contentment as the hot drink worked it's magic.
After a short, companionable silence, Sam spoke; "Bobby, you okay?"
Bobby looked up from the mug. "Yeah, I'm ok." he replied with a sigh.
Sam continued, "It's just, you looked a bit, uh, well, you know … last night."
"I think we were both a bit eaten up last night;" Bobby responded, putting the mug of coffee down.
"All that stuff last night, Dean's injuries, all that terrible stuff; he hesitated; "I really thought after so many years of doing this friggin' job, there was nothing I could see that would shock me any more."
He gave a mirthless smile; "I was wrong."
Sam nodded, "it's true what Dean says, we hunt some wicked awful things; but to find true evil, you've gotta look to people!"
Bobby took a deep breath; "you know I love you boys like my own." He smiled sadly, "fate saw to it that my wife and I were never blessed with kids before she died, an' I guess you two kinda charged into my life an' filled the gap."
"Well, Bobby, you know that's a two-way street, don't you," Sam replied softly.
Bobby smiled, "but, that boy up there, what he went through; all that pain and suffering, just to protect me an' keep me safe;" Bobby hesitated, swallowing harshly, "it's overwhelming; I can't bring myself to think about it, because …" He tailed off, staring into space.
"Because what Bobby?" Sam asked, concerned.
Bobby took a deep breath; "… because I feel responsible; like it's my fault."
Sam put the mug down.
"Bobby, you can put those sorts of stupid damn thoughts right out of your skull, you hear me?" Sam leaned across the table so he could speak quietly, dreading that Dean might hear what was being said; "None of this is your fault; Dean wouldn't be thinking that and I don't think that. You shouldn't either."
Bobby struggled to look Sam in the eye, "I know but …"
"But nothing." Sam barked, "you didn't hurt him, those two morons did; and the way you dealt with them..." Sam shook his head in admiration, "I can't wait to tell Dean."
Bobby picked up the coffee again with a heavy sigh. "I know, I just can't help thinkin' if I hadn't got involved with this job, none of this would have happened."
Sam shook his head; "every job we do is dangerous; you had no idea this one would pan out like this." He leaned closer into Bobby, "I know he'd do exactly the same for you again; without a second thought; he'd do it for me or for anyone he loves and cares about."
Bobby smiled, "I know he would, the mad idjit."
Sam sat back in his seat, taking a long sip of his coffee; "hey Bobby, don't you go tellin' Dean how sorry you are he suffered like this for you; he don't wanna be made out to be any kind of hero." Sam grinned, "He might be loyal as hell, but one thing my brother isn't is tactful. He'll tell you exactly what you can go an' do with your apologies, and trust me, you'd need more than a friendly receptionist at the clinic to get to them then."
tbc in next post