By: Ridley C. James
Panic built in the older hunter’s chest as he watched Sam struggle to make out words, his fingers tightening in the folds of Dean’s shirt where they’d found perch when Dean knelt beside him.
Sam looked both confused and terribly frightened. His fear was palpable, twisting Dean’s gut, but reinforcing his resolve to keep it together. Dean tightened his grip, but Sam only looked at him as if were being torn away, and Dean should be doing something to stop it from happening. “Sammy?” Dean moved one of his hands from Sam’s shoulder, let it rest against the other hunter‘s neck, finding a racing pulse before bringing it back to hold only tighter. “Come on, little brother.”
Dean wracked his brain for any answer as to what could be going on-what could be hurting Sam. Moments before, his brother had simply been talking about the Miller’s as Dean cleaned their weapon arsenal, but then something changed. A slight charge filled the air, sending the hairs on the back of Dean’s neck to attention.
Something in his brother’s voice was off, and when Dean looked up, Sam was hunched over. “What’s wrong with you?” He demanded, but Sam hadn’t been able to answer him.
Instead, the other hunter had slipped from the side of his bed, crouched in the floor, head held in pain. Dean said his brother’s name, twice, stood instantly, going to the other hunter’s side. Now, agonizing moments later, Dean was even more frustrated, as his pleas for Sam to answer him went unheeded.
Sweat had beaded on Sam’s face, an obvious reflection of the pain he was still in. A handful of possible culprits went through Dean’s mind, all of them scary and unacceptable. But one stuck out prominently.
He’d seen something like this before. Once. When Sam had been thirteen and bravely faced a Raw Head to save Dean‘s life, his kid brother had experienced this type of ‘fit’.
Dean had also seen someone else react this way, although not to the extent of his brother. Caleb.
It hit him then just as Sam shuddered beneath his grasp. It was a vision.
Sam was having a fucking vision-not just a nightmare that he could brush off as a strange coincidence, not just some freaky-ass ‘feeling‘ that he could tease the kid about. No. This was the real thing-the start of something much bigger and more frightening. Damn it! Why couldn’t things ever be simple in Winchester World?
Dean searched his little brother’s now completely vacant gaze. It was as if his Sam had disappeared, camouflaged behind all that brown and gold that reflected back from his unfocused eyes. He only guessed at where his brother had gone, what he was being held witness to.
God. He felt helpless, forced to watch as Sam went through something entirely alone, without any physical protection Dean could offer. The most the older hunter could do, was stand guard. He could hold on to him to keep him steady, offer a link back to the real world-the world where Dean could fight off anything that came after Sammy.
It seemed to take forever, but Dean knew that it had only been mere seconds.
That much he understood. Time was different for the watcher and the seer. Caleb had told him that. After witnessing one such episode while on a hunt with Reaves , he’d asked the older hunter about it. It had amazed him that something seemingly so quick and so simple could knock someone like Caleb on his ass.
The psychic explained that it was kind of like in those action movies, when time seem to slow to a crawl for the hero, who was actually moving super fast. He said that even though things seemed calm from the outside, that on the inside it was like walking through the eye of a hurricane. Caleb had likened it to being sucked in to the storm by gale force winds against your will, pummeled with crashing waves that drug you under, and then speared by countless, flying sharp objects that you had no defense against.
He’d gone on to say that in visions, pictures sped through a psychic’s mind like flashes of light, but to the viewer, the person experiencing it, things slowed like a movie, allowing graphic and often brutal clarity for the unfolding of events. It could be emotionally and physically overwhelming, and sometimes it could take the energy from the visionary just like a leaching spirit could. Basically, it sucked to have visions.
At the time, Dean had wondered at the other man’s uncharacteristic openness. Usually, like Dean himself, it took a life and death situation, or an ample supply of Tequila to get such honesty and frankness. But now, holding on to his trembling brother, praying for it all to be over as quick as it had started, Dean understood completely why Caleb had shared that vivid account with him. So, I’d understand. And he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to kick his ass the next time he laid eyes on him.
Finally, as if Sam realized his brother was about to lose it-about to call 911, the younger man blinked, a familiar spark igniting in the golden hues, a recognized and much welcomed presence peeking out from the mossy veil that had seemed so impenetrable only moments before.
“It’s happening again,” Sam said, before Dean could even speak his name. “Something’s going to kill Roger Miller.”
“What?” Dean tightened his hold, felt Sam try to take back some of his own weight. “Is that what you saw?” What the hell was with this family? Why were they connected to Sam?
Sam nodded, blinking again, licking his lips, trying desperately to get his bearings.
Again, Caleb’s words about the storm raced through his mind and Dean was almost surprised his brother wasn’t drenched, had to catch himself from searching for physical signs of injuries. “I saw it happen,” He said, weakly, and Dean watched as the little bit of lasting color drained from the younger hunter’s face. “God…Dean,” Sam choked. “It cut his head off.”
“It’s okay,” Dean shifted slightly, running his hands up and down his brother’s arms as he felt the minute shivering start. “Just take it easy, little brother.”
The younger man suddenly shook his head. “No. We have to go, Dean. We have to stop it this time!”
was pushing off the floor before Dean could stop him, trying to stand,
stumbling in his haste to get up-to get going. He fell into Dean as the
older hunter also stood quickly, and Dean barely managed to keep them
both from crashing back to the wood floor.
“Easy, Sam. Just wait a goddamn minute, ” He growled.
“No!” Sam snapped, trying to untangle himself from his brother. “We can’t be too late this time. I have to stop it. It‘s my responsibility.”
So that was it? Dean felt his own anxiety quickly give way to anger. “And you’re my responsibility! I have to make sure you’re all right.”
Sam glared at him, well as much as he could from beneath his squinty, hooded eyes-eyes that still reflected far too much pain for Dean’s liking. “Dean? What...?” Sam shook his head, wincing as he did. “We’re talking about a man’s life here .”
“No,” Dean took hold of him again, guiding him to the closest bed, where he firmly but gently shoved him down. “We’re talking about you.” That was Dean’s number one priority.
“I’m okay,” Sam said even as his body betrayed him with a violent shudder that had Dean quickly grabbing the faux-wooden trash can and shoving it towards him.
“Sure you are, kiddo,” He growled, raking both his hands through his hair, as Sam violently lost the contents of the pizza dinner he‘d had earlier. Dean made sure his brother wasn’t going to take a header onto the floor before going into the bathroom for a wet compress and some aspirin.
When he returned, he noticed that Sam had relinquished his hold on the garbage pail, although Dean didn’t miss the fact he’d placed it within easy reach. “Here,” Dean gave him the cold cloth, and reached for the can of Coke he’d been nursing.
He handed the drink and three aspirin to his brother, then knelt in front of him. “How you doing, Madame Zelda?”
Sam swallowed the pills somewhat hesitantly, taking a tentative drink of the soda. “We need to go,” He insisted, ignoring Dean’s attempt at humor, giving the cola back to him.
The older boy shook his head at his brother’s stubbornness. “I need to know you’re okay first.” Didn’t Sam get it? This was serious. And this latest foray into the weird and wacky world of the psychic realm had scared the shit out of Dean. It was as if there would be no turning back for the younger hunter now, and his big brother was more than a little afraid that Sam had started down a path that he couldn’t follow him on.
Sam held his gaze for a moment, but finally nodded. “Just hurry. Please.” The last word was punctuated by the Sammy look, made all the more potent by the pain lines accentuating it.
Dean ignored it about as well as Superman could a lump of Kryptonite glowing right in front of him. He reached out and took Sam’s pulse, not happy that his brother’s heart rate was still too quick, but satisfied it wasn’t posing an immediate danger.
Then after lifting his brother’s chin, he stared hard into the familiar hazel eyes he knew better than his own, trying to gauge the level of pain that his brother was an expert at hiding. But Sam couldn’t hide anything from him when it came to the eyes. No. Dean was an expert at that. Sammy reading was as natural to him as breathing. “How bad’s the pain?” He asked, wanting to see if Sam would cop to the truth.
“Seven,” The younger boy gauged modestly.
“Liar,” Dean countered, and Sam turned his head slightly, rubbing a hand over the back of his neck. .
“We need to go. Now, Dean!”
Finally Dean sighed, knowing that his brother was right. They couldn’t put it off any longer when a life was at stake. And even though he wanted nothing more than to tuck Sam in bed, hide him away from all the shit that seemed hell bent on finding him, he stood up, offering a helping hand to his brother.
“Fine. But don’t complain to me if your brain swells to five times its size and gray matter breaches your sinus cavities or something just as gross.” Sam allowed himself to be pulled up from the bed, shakier than he wanted to admit.
“Don’t worry. If that happens… I’ll be dead.”
“You’re not helping your friend Roger’s case here,” Dean pointed out, grabbing both their jackets and his car keys. “I could just as easily leave your ass, and do this myself. Besides, I really don‘t want to risk you hurling in my car.”
Sam took his jacket from the other boy and rolled his eyes, quickly moving towards the exit before his brother could actually follow through on his threat. “You have definitely got your priorities screwed, man.”
Dean reluctantly opened the cabin
door and watched his brother’s hampered gate as he made his way towards
the Impala. “That’s where you’re wrong, little brother. I have my
priorities completely straight.” Sammy first…everyone and
everything else, left in the dust.