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04 June 2012 @ 06:30 am
Dust Devils: The Great Dust Storm (Chapter 13)  
February 13, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma



Dust Devils

Chapter 13

The Great Dust Storm


**O**

February 13, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

Rain fell in cold, angry beads as the hunters hid the Impala behind a huge construction dumpster. It was late, after 2:00am, and the trio geared and ammo'ed up, gathering the materials for the ritual. It was a rather motley assortment, but given what they were attempting, Sam wasn't too surprised.

"Bobby? A mirror, herbs and spray-paint? What else?" Sam shoved the items into his duffel, adding a couple of brass bowls Ellen handed to him.

"Don't forget the holy water and graveyard dirt." Bobby tossed in a small box and a flask. "We'll need blood, too, but I'll donate that when we get there."

Ellen loaded one of the sawed-offs and snorted. "Another boring day at the office."

Bobby reviewed the items, making sure he'd forgotten nothing. "Most of this is for the protective circle. You two are gonna stay inside it until I tell you to move. Once we trap the elemental, I've got the retrieval spell ready to go. It should grab Dean from wherever he is on the planet right now. When we've got him, you two'll salt-blast the spirits and I'll banish the demon. We'll make a play-date with our vengeful friends' bones and finish with them later. I wish we could'a gotten the site closed. I think it'll be even more volatile once we do this, but we'll get Dean back and then sort out the rest."

"Like I said," Ellen quirked an eyebrow, "another boring day,"

"C'mon," Bobby shouldered his duffel. "Let's get our boy back."

Inside the damaged building, the hunters set to work. Bobby painted four banishing sigils, one in each corner and a large circle in the middle of the floor.

"Keep a lookout for our vengeful pal. We don't want him callin' the demon until…" He looked at his breath frosting white even as he spoke. His shoulders dropped. "Aw hell." Grabbing his sawed-off, he fired behind him. "Company's early."

Sam and Ellen set themselves back to back, watching for its return while Bobby finished his preparations. He sprinkled graveyard dirt inside two different runes painted within the larger circle and set the herb smudges alight in brass bowls. Last, he sprinkled holy water around the edges.

"Earth, Fire, Water." Bobby counted off the elements represented in the sigils. "When Wind shows up, it'll be a party."

The spirit flickered in front of Ellen, and she fired a round into it, all liquid grace and purpose. The only hint of tension came from her husky voice. "Hurry it the hell up, Singer."

Bobby sliced his palm, letting the blood drip onto the smoldering herbs. "Almost there." A draft wafted through the room, stirring the graveyard dirt inside the circle. "Shit. Not yet, dammit!"

"Is it here?" Sam's eyes darted around, searching for something to shoot. He saw nothing, but they all heard the sudden, soft whispers echoing around them. "Hurry, Bobby."

Opening a book, Bobby read a short incantation in Russian or something akin to it, maybe. Sam spent no more thought on it as a strong wind blew through the gutted building, knocking off Bobby's cap. Bobby repeated the incantation until the smoldering herbs caught fire and sent up a high flame cloaked in a thick, black smoke.

"All right, inside the circle, both of you, and don't move until I say so." Bobby picked up the mirror and scanned the room. "Don't shoot at the spirits until I say. They won't be able to touch you inside the circle. You should be all right…you know…just as long as you don't get skewered by flying debris." The other hunters gaped at him, incredulous. He shrugged. "What? You want hazard pay?"

The vengeful spirit appeared with a growl right in front of Sam.

"Another Ördög Fighter?" It gave Sam a slow, glacial smile. "Big circus man like the other?" It looked him up and down, assessing. "Bigger!"

"Who the hell are you? What did you do with my brother? How do you know him?"

The spirit made no answer. Baring its teeth, the thing bowled toward Sam, barreling into the invisible barrier protecting the circle. Confusion flitted over its face. It let loose a deep, resonating growl of frustration when it couldn't get to Sam. Holding its sparking fingers in the air, it created a cat's cradle of glowing energy between its hands and uttered the summoning incantation, calling the wind-demon.

"Here we go," Sam shouted.

**O**

April 14, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma

"Em, stop!" Dean ran to catch up. He grabbed her arm, pulling her back.

"Let me go!" Emma yanked against him, violent and wild with adrenaline. "Florabel!" She began running even as Dean strove to anchor her.

"Em!" He wrapped his arms tight around her waist as she struggled. "I'll get her! You get in the house."

"Florabel!" Emma called, her eyes fixed on the storm, making no indication that she heard him.

He shook her, forcing her to look at him, but he saw little thought behind her eyes, only primal desperation.

He pointed to the house. "Go! I'll get her. I can run faster. I'll bring her back, Em." He shook her again. "Emma." He lowered his voice. "I'll find her."

His words finally penetrated. She blinked at him, horror-stricken, wordlessly begging him to save her child. He nodded his promise and sped away as the woman walked toward the house like a dazed trauma victim, heedless of the panic-stricken rabbits dashing across her path.

The ground blurred beneath his feet. He felt nothing—no footfalls, no pain, not even the need to breathe. He flew across the prairie, leaping clumps of dead thistle and scrub, scanning the horizon as the oncoming bloated wall of frothing, billowing dirt, swallowed it. The only movement he saw on the ground was hundreds of jackrabbits making a mad, fruitless dash to outrun the storm. After a couple of minutes, the bloated bank of clouds filled the entirety of Dean's vision.

He saw no sign of Florabel.

Flashes of blue flame licked outward from the mass as it curdled along the ground. Eddying pinwheels and scrolls of dust broke away from the head of the storm and hailed a dark, aurora-like curtain of dirt toward the earth, creating a black carpet that the storm paraded proudly down.

A small flash of white caught Dean's eye and he quickened his pace. It appeared no more than a white dot in the distance, shimmering in the trapped afternoon heat, but he knew. And he also knew there was no way he'd be able to get to her and back to the house before the storm caught them. The last few unlucky birds flew chaotically, already twitted and tossed by the wind and the forward momentum of the storm. They lurched and pitched in the air, calling shrill warnings as they fought to stay airborne.

"Florabel!"

Hearing him, she corrected course, mewling in terror as she sped toward him, blonde hair streaming behind her. Already, small chunks of debris fell like rose-petals and tickertape while the storm pompously marched forward. Dust devils and agitated pillars of tortured grit flew into the air all around them, puffing out toroidal vortices of dust in homage or in tribute to the power that bore them aloft. The storm's metallic rumble boomed around them as it devoured the world.

Florabel flung her arms out as she ran to Dean, eyes donut-wide and stricken. The storm almost had her—almost had his little girl. He surged forward, reaching his human limits, throwing himself at her. He grabbed her into his arms just as night descended and the tidal wave of dirt consumed them.

This was like no other duster he'd ever seen; the darkness was abrupt and absolute. He felt Florabel in his arms, but he couldn't see her. Pressing her head to his heaving chest, he turned around and ran back the way he came. But the mercurial winds within the cloud hit him from all sides, disorienting him. It didn't take long before he'd lost all sense of direction.

Keeping his eyes open proved impossible. Flying at close to eighty-miles-per-hour, cold grit scraped his eyes, causing tears to stream in an attempt to wash and protect them. Icy blasts and gusts came even faster, threatening to topple them at any given moment. It had been a warm, sunny afternoon, but the temperature had plummeted at least thirty degrees in only a few minutes.

He paused, trying to catch his breath, but that proved a bigger challenge than fighting the wind. He tucked his face into the crook of his shoulder, like a bird seeking shelter under its wing in an attempt to find some angle, some place where he could breathe clean air.

Florabel whimpered. "Pal—" She choked on the word and tried again. "Pally?"

She groped his face, trying to establish contact. Pressing her forehead to his chest, she sought what little shelter and comfort she could, releasing a high-pitched squeal of fear and pain before it turned into another coughing fit. Dean reached into his back pocket and pulled out his bandana.

"Breathe through this, sw—sweetheart." He pressed the cloth against her mouth and nose. "Keep your eyes shut, and don't open them for anyth—" He stopped, coughing and choking through the words, "—anything. Don't open…them, not until…I tell you to. You hear me?" The little girl nodded against him. "You'll be…all right." He couldn't afford to say anything else.

He stumbled, blind, in the direction of the farmhouse—or what he hoped was the direction of the farmhouse. Florabel settled in his arms, tucking herself against the cooling sweat on his neck. Her breathing evened out, the bandana blocking the worst of the dust.

Trudging forward, he covered his nose and mouth with the crook of his elbow while holding onto Florabel with his other hand. His instincts told him to keep moving, so that's what he did. The wind rattled and moaned past his ears, and he was certain he heard whispered words mixed into the din, bringing to mind the strange vortex that had enthralled him and stolen his memories. The intensity of the whispering grew, until the unintelligible chanting reverberated all around them—confirming to Dean that this was not a natural event.

Dean doubled his pace, praying he was heading toward the house. No matter which way he turned, though, each stride brought him closer to the incanting voice. Blue quills of electricity snapped and sizzled as they spidered over his and Florabel's bodies.

"Pally! Ouch! Help!" He heard Florabel's muffled yelps above the now-shrieking voices in the wind.

A thunderous crack caused both of them to clutch their ears and cry out in pain. Seeing a blinding, white light through his closed eyelids, Dean tried to stagger away from it. A tremendous gust of wind brought him to his knees, and he wiped away the wet mud sealing his eyelids to venture a brief glimpse.

Not twenty paces from them, a gaping hole in the very fabric of space had ripped open, spilling a bitter, searing light over them. Recognition hit him like a shockwave and the world warped and twisted and fell away. He screamed in frustration and panic as an ill-timed vision toppled him, causing him to lose his grip on Florabel.

**O**

February 13, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

"Stay in the circle." Bobby brandished the mirror as the elemental manifested near the gaping hole left by the previous attack.

Sam watched Bobby fight for balance against the wind, while inside the protective circle both he and Ellen remained unaffected.

"Bobby, be careful!" Sam shouted above the din.

Bobby found his center and inched his way toward the wind-demon. "Workin' on it!"

"Are you out of your mind, Bobby Singer?" Ellen yelled. "Don't get so close!"

At that moment, the second spirit blipped and shuddered into phase at the other end of room, keeping its distance but watching the hunters. The first spirit began either feeding the demon or feeding off of it. Spiny strands of electricity leapt from its fingers where they attached to the outer edge of the swirling Cyclone. Bobby edged closer.

"C'mon, then, you sonofabitch." Bobby antagonized the spirit, fingers twitching, mirror at the ready.

Despite the protective circle, flying debris proved a very real danger as a large chunk of what appeared to be the duct plenum of the air-system fell from the ceiling and shattered onto the floor below. Jagged pieces of aluminum shrapnel whizzed about the room.

"Jesus!" Sam ducked when a large, sharp piece of metal flew past his head and embedded itself into the wall behind them.

Like a film skipping its frames, the second, erratic spirit stuttered toward the wind demon and clamped on with its own electrical tether.

"That's it!" Bobby shouted as the inner core of the unstable vortex began to glow.

Bobby turned the mirror toward the Cyclone, creating a dazzling, laser-like beam that bent back upon itself and into the elemental. There came a long, loud splintering as rays of light burst from either side, traveling along the electrical currents already established between the two spirits, ensnaring all three of them in connecting beams.

The black cloud began whirling in the opposite direction, vacuuming the debris into itself as it had done when Dean disappeared. Large shards and chunks of metal clattered as they disappeared into the portal. The two spirits froze in place, no longer moving or resisting. They had become mere conduits for the circulating energies, with no say in the matter. The first spirit's face remained fixed in a snarling rictus. The second spirit, still half in and out of phase, remained in a state of vacillation, unable to take shape.

Sam's heart leapt into his throat. "The door is open, Bobby! Now! Hurry!"

**O**

April 14, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma

Reality and vision collided, overlapping and blending until Dean no longer knew which was which. The searing light in both scenarios blinded him, and having his eyes open or closed made little difference.

When he turned away from the Cyclone to look at Sam, he saw nothing but white. His stressed retinas had not yet recovered enough to process new data, and all he could see was the imprint of the blinding, elemental. He released an inarticulate, vibrant groan as his shoulder crashed against a large beam. The whispering incantation echoed around and through him, making it difficult to hear anything else.

Hang on, Dean! he heard Sam's command, his sight clearing enough to make out his brother's anguished face. Sam's arms strained and bulged as he grabbed more of Dean's shirt. When the material ripped in Sam's grasp, Dean swung his uncoordinated, right arm up to hang on, but he never got it close enough to make contact. It fell to his side, as the storm tore at him, forcing another scream of agony from him.

Don't l'go, Sam! His voice cracked and broke like a pubescent boy.

"Pally! Help me! I cain't hold on!"

Dean's body thrummed with adrenaline when the heart-rending screams of a child penetrated the membrane of his vision, calling his name.

"Wake up, Pally! Please!"

The girl twined her fingers through the straps of his overalls, clinging in desperation, but her slight weight was no match for the rabid winds spewing from the glowing core. If Dean couldn't pull himself out of his vision, she'd become just another piece of flying debris, another casualty of the storm. Struggling to orient himself, he realized he was on his back, face-up, with Florabel sprawled on top, fighting to hold on. His body had created a dam of sorts, grit and dirt drifting against him and then suddenly blowing up and over in an arcing sheet of dust. It filled his eyes when he stirred and tried to look back at the light.

"NnNnnuughhH!" He jounced and bucked against the semi-paralysis caused by the vision.

Trying to reach an arm around Florabel to secure her, he found his limbs as unresponsive and uncoordinated as they'd been in the vision with Sam. Trapped between worlds, neither version of his body obeyed his commands. After several attempts, he succeeded in swinging his arm up, but it merely fell across Florabel's back, giving her no help.

Dean looked behind him, unsure if he was in the vision or not. The tear in the Cyclone widened, and the pulsing, crystal light blinded him as efficiently as the blasting dust.

Please don't let go, he begged, but he didn't know in which reality he uttered the words.

With a rending crack, the vortex began absorbing and expelling debris around him, and he felt both drawn in and repelled as he straddled both worlds.

No! Dean! Grab my hand! Sam screamed. Dean! Goddamn it! Grab my hand!

"Pally!" Florabel shrieked. "I'm falling!"

Dean made one final, desperate attempt, simultaneously reaching for both Sam and Florabel. The instant flesh met flesh, the instant Dean's fingertips brushed Sam's after two months of failed attempts, the moment his brother's hand clasped his, a lifetime of images and memories—true memories—crashed into him. Barreling at him like a million grains of dust, his memories lodged and implanted themselves in his conscious mind. But it was too much, too fast, and he screamed and recoiled from the violence of it all.

Both the memories and the wind sent him rolling along the prairie floor, with just enough awareness left to reach out with numb hands and grip Florabel to him as they tumbled. He remained only marginally aware of his physical surroundings as his memories poured into him. Even when a large, spiked piece of sheet metal whizzed out of the vortex, slicing a deep gash into the back of his shoulder, the pain elicited no more than a twitch from him. He spent his remaining strength holding onto Florabel as their bodies skidded and skipped across the prairie floor and Dean remembered…

Everything.

**O**

February 13, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

Suction from the vortex dragged Bobby toward it, and he staggered and strained to remain on his feet. Grasping the mirror in one hand, he clung to a support column with the other and began the retrieval spell. The room trembled and vibrated with each word of Latinate he uttered.

When a large ceiling beam crashed into their circle, missing them by inches, Sam threw Ellen to the ground, protecting her with his body. Rainwater poured down, hissing as it hit the smoking herbs.

"The gun!" Ellen scrabbled for the sawed-off she'd dropped when the ceiling collapsed.

Regrouping, Sam and Ellen aimed their weapons at the dueling spirits, ready to fire as soon as Bobby gave the signal. Another thunderous crack reverberated as more of the ceiling collapsed. Sam had no choice but to grab Ellen and dive out of the protective circle. Straightaway, they became subject to the vacuum, and both scrambled to keep hold of their guns, searching for something to serve as an anchor.

"Hurry Bobby!" Sam snagged hold of the only column still standing by the gaping back wall. Gripping it, he made Ellen crawl up his legs to find purchase.

"Any damn time, Bobby!" Ellen wrapped her legs around the pillar and aimed her gun.

The portal sparked and popped as Bobby shouted the last few words of the retrieval spell. Another blast of wind emanated from the vortex, but nothing came through the portal. Bobby watched the writhing Cyclone, his eyes wide with shock and disappointment.

"Dammit! Hang on!" He recited the spell one more time to no avail. The Cyclone released nothing, and at this point the structural integrity of the building was at risk. They had mere seconds before the vortex devoured everything, including the three hunters. Time had run out.

"Sonofabitch. Now! Shoot now!" Bobby yelled. Without hesitation, Sam and Ellen took aim at the spirits, shooting them in tandem.

The ghosts disappeared in a hail of salt. With no fuel to feed the elemental, it twisted in on itself and whorled into a small dust devil then spiraled into nothing. As the winds dissipated, Sam unfolded himself and stared, blinking dumb and numb, his mouth gaping.

The room was a disaster, another outer wall having collapsed. None of that held his attention, however. He searched where the portal had opened and where Dean should have appeared. Something had gone terribly, terribly wrong.

**O**

April 14, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma

Another clamorous boom sounded and all light vanished when the brilliant core of the storm snapped shut. The chilling susurration continued while dirt and wind rammed into them, punting them along the ground like tumbleweeds as a spate of memories coursed through Dean: his parents bringing a squishy Sammy home from the hospital—his mother's brutal, fiery murder and his father's vengeance—Sammy's kindergarten Thanksgiving play that Dad never showed for—the endless hours of weapons training—Sam's first concussion—hunt after hunt—Sam slamming the door as he walked off in the rain, determined to make a new life for himself—Sam, possessed by Meg, shooting him on a frosty night in Duluth. The images came at Dean so fast, a fusillade so intense, his head snapped back, his body seizing from the overload.

Each memory stuck. Every scene took. Dean cried out, unable to process all of them but having no choice. He heard Florabel's echoing cries, joining him in sheer terror, a baby wolf lifting its head and joining its parent in mournful lamentation without knowing why. He wrapped his arms around her and fought to get a purchase on anything to stop them from tumbling. Dean felt a sharp crack on his skull as he slammed against something solid, nearly losing his grip on Florabel. Everything went soft and quiet for a second.

Shaking his head to clear it, he turned, positioning Florabel between him and whatever they'd hit, giving her some protection from the flying dust and debris. Rising to his knees, he touched the weathered bark of a tree, its skin as sleek as driftwood from years in the wind. Certain it was the lone tree with the barbed wire nest in it, Dean knew they weren't far from the house, but he had no way of knowing in what direction it lay.

With Florabel sandwiched between him and the tree, Dean took a moment to lean his head against its bark, gasping for breath, attempting to absorb what had happened. His eyes stung as dust and tears formed a wet cement over his lids, making it impossible for him to open them. Of course, he didn't need his eyes to see the one scene repeating itself in a loop in his brain—Meg shooting him. Not Sam. Meg.

Despite everything, despite the physical agony and his inability to draw a breath, despite trying to protect Florabel from the lethal storm—despite it all, Dean felt a fierce, wild relief. Absolute relief. Sam had not tried to kill him—had not abandoned him. Emma, in her infinite wisdom, had known better. Sam. Sammy. That incessant tip-of-the-tongue feeling he'd had for the past two months was gone. Jesus H. Fucking Christ. Sammy. Finally.

A vicious gust of wind shoved him against the tree, and his head connected with the hard bark. And that brought everything else home to him as well. For the past two months he'd been out of time and out of mind. His life made sense again, but it was more screwed to hell than ever.

Florabel's choking coughs further reminded him of the gravity of his situation. No matter how much he wanted to celebrate, there he was, kneeling against a tree in the middle of a supernatural, super-charged black blizzard—forty four years before his birth, with no known means of returning to his own time—holding not only Florabel's life in his hands, but Emma's as well, because if anything happened to Florabel, Emma would not survive it. He was certain of that. So, yeah…things were looking pretty shitty at the moment.

The wind assaulted them without reprieve. Dust had drifted during his trip down memory-lane, and he was now knee-deep in the stuff. The house was not far, but it might as well be a hundred miles away. He couldn't see a thing. Breaking the cold, cemented crust of tears and dirt on his eyes would only expose them to more damage. The tree at least provided an anchor and one wall of shelter. They had only to survive until the storm passed. Listening, he thought he still heard dim whispers in the wind. Whatever had created the initial vortex was responsible for this, he was certain of it. He recalled his and Sam's last hunt in Boise City, remembered the vengeful spirit summoning the Cyclone that had brought him here.

"Sonofabitch."

"Slaid." He chewed the name and spat it out. Slaid and his chamber of horrors under the barn: the altar, the herbs, the blood—no doubt a sacrifice involved. He must have performed a black ritual, summoning something so nasty it'd ripped a hole in time that he'd fallen through. Dean shuddered to think what the farmhand had sacrificed to bring about this storm. There was no way that a chicken or a jackrabbit would provide the juice needed to produce this. This would require something big. Something devastating.

A yelp from Florabel as a strand of electricity shocked her, pulled him from his thoughts.

"Hang on, sweetheart." Dean ignored the powerful static shock he received when he unhitched his overalls and stretched out the bib. Hoisting Florabel up, he swaddled her into them, settling her next to his union suit and tucking his shirt over her. It wouldn't be impervious, but it would be safer than where she was.

He fought through the words, gulping dust with each breath. "It's like…a blanket-tent, Bel. Stay…there." He hooked the overalls, creating a marsupial-like pouch for her to shelter in. She clung to him, legs wound around his waist, crying and snuffling into her bandana.

Dean tried to find a position that didn't result in a lungful of dirt, but nothing worked. After a few minutes of shifting and repositioning, he coughed until he vomited mud onto the tree. Florabel pressed the bandana through the top of his shirt, offering it to him now that she was more sheltered.

"No." He pushed the bandana down, forcing it over her mouth.

Now that the surge of adrenaline and acute danger from the heart of the storm had passed, now that they were somewhat stable for the moment, Dean felt blood streaming down his back from the shrapnel that had hit him. He didn't feel any pain yet, too cold to feel much of anything. The temperature had to have dropped over forty degrees now, and he shivered. Florabel fidgeted under his shirt, her movements tugging on the wound, worrying it wider, spilling more warm blood. Another round of coughing hit, and he vomited more silt.

He heard the sound of material ripping, and Florabel's hand poke through the opening at his neck, holding a torn panel of her dress for him to use as a bandana.

"Please, Pally. Take it."

He grabbed the material and pressed it to his mouth, taking a painful, smothered breath. After a few more moments of gulping as much dirt as air, a pleasant dislocation crept over him. The storm raged on with no sign of ebbing. Blood loss, lack of oxygen and complete exhaustion numbed everything but his sense of cold. Even the grim situation he found himself in seemed nothing more than an amusing absurdity.

"Oh man, Sammy." He smiled a drained and battered smile. "I went to a fuckin' square-dance. Sonofabitch!"

**O**

February 13, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

"Where is he, Bobby?" Sam shouted, his eyes flitting over the debris. "Where is he?"

Ellen glanced around in confusion then looked at the old hunter. "Did you perform the spell correctly?"

"It wasn't the spell." Bent double, Bobby caught his breath from the strain of having held the demon and spirits for so long. "The spell was fine. There just wasn't anything for it to grab."

"What's that mean, Bobby?" Sam glared, looming over the man. "What the hell does that mean?"

Bobby's stunned face stewed with emotion. "I don't know entirely. The spell should have grabbed him from wherever he was. It's like he…" He stammered.

"Like what?" Sam said, his eyes turning liquid. "Don't say it, Bobby."

"It's like he ain't here." Bobby's voice went low, gentle. "He ain't nowhere. Even if he was…" He paused, eyes darting away from Sam. "Even if he wasn't alive, it would still grab what was left. Dean ain't in a place to be grabbed."

"Then where?" Ellen voiced everyone's question. "Out of phase? Another dimension? What?"

Bobby rummaged through the debris, retrieving the guns. "Could be."

"What? Like Carol-Ann?" Sam threw his arms wide. "Seriously? Bobby, we have to do something now."

"We are," Bobby said. "We're gonna start by doing some proper research. You said that damn thing knew Dean. Don't know how or why, but we gotta work it out before we try to do anything this damn-fool heroic again. Somethin' is goin' on here, and we need to get our footing straight before we try to walk this tightrope."

"And we still need to find a way to protect the workers. We've stirred up a hornet's nest here, and I don't think these spirits are gonna be satisfied by just tossin' folks around anymore. This goes on any longer and folks are gonna start dying." Ellen grabbed her gun from Bobby.

Devastated, Sam glanced around the room, or what was left of it, arm bracing his battered ribs. "I tried to hold on," he said, dazed, his voice sounding like glass shards grinding together. "Why couldn't I have held on?" He looked at the other hunters. "I had him." Tears streamed down his face, pain and exhaustion bowing him. "I had him, Bobby."

Ellen ran to him and hooked his arm over her shoulder, supporting him as he stumbled. "You did," she said. "You held on with everything you had. This ain't over, Sam. We'll get him, honey. It ain't near over." She looked to Bobby, who grabbed Sam's other arm, shouldering it and guiding the shocky young man from the building.

"I need him back, Bobby." Sam limped along, spent and broken. "I'm at the end of my rope, man."

"Then tie a big-ass knot and hang on," Bobby said. "It ain't gonna be easy, but it's gonna get done. Now, let's get gone before those spirits come back or the police arrive. Hang in there, kid."

**O**

April 14, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma

His mind wandered tangentially, thoughts thick and stringy but untroubled. The cold bothered him more than anything else did. The muddy blood puddling down his back was a bitch, but it was warm—at least initially. The rest of him shivered non-stop as the frigid wind drove him against the tree. But other than that he was pretty good. The constant jolts and shocks from the static electricity barely registered anymore. They were only annoying because the small spikes of pain made sleeping difficult, and he really, really wanted a nap. He was glad he kept his union suit on, because he'd be seriously freezing without it.

He laughed, though it hurt like hell. A union suit! He was wearing one. How fucked up was that? Sammy would never let him hear the end of it. Dean Winchester in long underwear? The swatch of dress Florabel had given him nearly slipped from his clumsy fingers as he continued chuckling over his period costume.

"Fuckin' overalls." He snorted, voice muck-deep and barely audible. "Godda hide the camera from Sammy. Only need a pitchfork, an' it'll be American Gothic, dude."

Florabel readjusted under his clothing and he put a hand to his torso, feeling the lump like a mother soothing an unborn child. Forehead pressed against the bark of the tree, he huddled on his knees as the growing drift continued to mount past his hips.

"S'all good." He patted his ‘tummy'.

At least now he didn't have to expend any more energy hanging onto the tree; the wind and the dirt held them firm. He leaned back, attempting to lift his eyelids, but they were glued shut. He wanted to scrape the muddy cement off and clean the dirt now embedded under his lids. They itched and stung. Tears continued spilling out, catching more dirt and creating an even bigger cake of mud over his eyes. It felt funny and wrong, but his fingers were too thick and clumsy to work, so he didn't bother anymore. It'd have to wait. He had bigger things to worry about, like the fact he was in the fucking 1930's. He was pretty certain getting an eye full of mud was commonplace, here. No doubt, Emma'd make him a poultice of moldy bread or clean his eyes out with cow piss or something and he'd be fine.

"Skunk oil an' turpentine?" His voice wheezed like a squeezebox. "Are you kiddin' me? Wh' the hell?" Dean's head flopped back and relaxed into the wind.

"Screw you, Steinbeck!" he bellowed and got a mouthful of dirt for his efforts. He coughed and hacked and decided that leaning into the wind wasn't so smart. His breathing came labored and shallow, and the cloth kept slipping.

"Only ever read the CliffsNotes anyway." He let out a strangled growl of perturbation. "Din't think I'd ever have t'live here, dickwad!" Working his uncoordinated fingers, he tied the swatch of material around his nose and mouth so he didn't have to hold it anymore.

"I'm th' fuckin' masked bandit, y'all," he mumbled. "Pew-pew!" He shot the tree with his fingers.

Hearing a muffled whimper coming from somewhere below, he felt Florabel rubbing his back as she held on to him, trying to soothe him.

Florabel—the little girl who had stolen his heart and soul, the child he would die for, who he would never stop loving as long as he lived—was probably older than his grandmother. Jesus, he was so screwed.

Starved of blood and oxygen, his brain faltered and he could no longer recall why he was outside in the wind. He tried to stand and failed; he tried to open his eyes and failed.

"Hell with it." Slumping against the tree, he relaxed his knees now that the drift was up to his waist. He needed to sleep for a little while. Someone called to him as he drifted.

"Pally?"

"Nuhhghh, godda headache, Sammy. G'way." Sam moved, worried, or perhaps trying to find a better position.

With the dust pushing Dean against the tree, Sammy didn't have enough room to breathe, maybe. Dean shifted, trying to give the kid more space.

"Shhhh buddy. S'okay. Dad'll he home soon." He tried to soothe the lump on his belly. His brother's small body scooched up, and Sam's little hand periscoped out of his shirt, touching his face, patting and pinching it. "Ow, nnhuhh Sam. Quiddit. M'tired."

"Stay awake, Pally!" Sam begged him from far away. Dean took the hand and tucked it under his shirt and gripped his collar tight, trying to prevent dust from getting inside the makeshift cocoon. A wave of protective love bubbled up, his heart nearly jackhammering out of his chest with it. He patted his shirt.

"Shhhh, Sammy." He called to his baby brother. "I got you. S'gonna be fine."

Sam coughed. "It's me, Pally! Please don't sleep."

"Shhhh, Sammy." Dean coughed up a mouthful of mud and swallowed it back down, slick as wet clay.

"I ain't Sammy. It's me, Pally…" Sam's soft whimpers sounded vague and hollow in his ringing ears.

"Don' cry, bud. M'here," he said as his spine tingled deliciously. He felt as tranquil and buoyant as a feather in the breeze and his thoughts drifted away on the same placid wind.

Continue to Chapter 14

Back to Master Post
 
 
 
(Anonymous) on June 4th, 2012 02:23 am (UTC)
AHH!
You evil person you!! Making me wait all the way till the 7th for an update! AH! What will I do until then?! Your writing is too addictive!!!
But great chapter. Really.
*starts counting down the days till the update*
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 5th, 2012 12:09 am (UTC)
Re: AHH!
/wiggles ebil mustache!

Thanks so much. I'm really glad you enjoyed this. Thursday is just around the corner!

tifachingtifaching on June 4th, 2012 12:30 pm (UTC)
And I repeat. Evil.

Oh, this was so, so good. Sam almost able to reach him. Just that one touch bringing everything back to Dean. The threat of losing Florabel to the the wind.

And Sam, Bobby and Ellen back at the construction site. Just perfect.

I can feel the wind, taste the dust and am right there with all of them. Just amazing.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 5th, 2012 12:12 am (UTC)
Yay! I'm glad you enjoyed this. You know how MUCH I adore your ability to write tactile description so I am SO thrilled that this worked for you. That's awesome! /does back flips
jpgr: SPN Sam Say What?jpgr on June 4th, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)
Damn you! This was intense in both times. I love how Dean thought of Florabel as "his" little girl.

Is it Thursday yet?
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 5th, 2012 12:15 am (UTC)
Aw, yep...I really wanted him to have that moment where he considered her "his child"...as one of his last thoughts before getting his memories back. Because I am a huge evil person who gives him these things and then snatches them back. We knew it had to happen, though, right?

Not Thursday yet...but soon!

Thanks SO much for the comment!
mdlawmdlaw on June 4th, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
Well, you just ripped that little piece of hope right out of our hands. m ;)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 5th, 2012 12:18 am (UTC)
Doh! /sobs on your shoulder. Don't fret, now! Them Winchesters is awful tenacious. They ain't a-gonna give up that fast! :)

Thanks so much for the comment. Here's your heart back. /dusts it off, blows on it and hands it back! /beam.
beckydaspazbeckydaspaz on June 4th, 2012 09:53 pm (UTC)
That picture, OH CHRIST, that picture. My breath was stolen away just by that picture and then I read your words and turned into a babbling, blubbering mess. And then once I was able to get my senses to come back to something resembling coherent I just sat in awe for a good ten minutes. This review is my offering for your splendid story, it's of little consequence, but sadly, it's all I got.

Just mindblowingly good.

DAMN.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 5th, 2012 12:19 am (UTC)
Yep...that's the picture I saw and said "I am so fucking writing this story!" LOL. Thank you for babbling, blubbering and being incoherent! That makes me feel so good! bwahaha!

You're mindblowingly awesome. Thanks Puddin'!
(Anonymous) on June 5th, 2012 05:34 am (UTC)
Hey, I'm the same anon commenter from the previous chapter. Been looking forward to reading his update all day and finally got some time to do so, as well as leave another review. So much happened in this chapter. Sam, Ellen, and Bobby attempting the spell to get Dean back was exciting enough! Poor Sam, muttering about how he had tried to hold on to Dean before! I have a feeling he'll get another chance at an epic rescue, though.

Everything happening with the giant dust storm was very intense. Your descriptions put us right there with Dean and Florabel. I'm loving the return of the Hurt!Dean heralded by this chapter. I believe you promised a "crap-ton" of it in your reply to my previous comment. I'm sure that must be a technical term! LOL! Poor guy really did get battered around in this chappie, though, both physically from the storm and emotionally from the trauma of trying to protect Florabel ("*his* little girl!") as well as from his memories returning. So glad that he remembered his true memories of his brother and knows Sam was not trying to kill him. I thought it was interesting how he kinda transferred his protective feelings for Sammy onto Florabel. The poor girl must be pretty scared getting caught in the storm in the first place and now listening to her "Pally" slurring out a bunch of things that would make no sense to her!

Fantastic chapter, yet again. You know how to give your reader just enough to satisfy them for one chapter, while still leaving them desperate to read the next chapter. Thanks for sharing your talent. And, just in case you were wondering, I don't think anyone would mind if chapter 14 showed up sometime *before* Thursday....you know, just in case you were curious about that sort of thing! :-)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 5th, 2012 09:58 am (UTC)
Ah yes! You caught the "his" little girl line. I definitely wanted Dean to think of Florabel as his in that last moment...you know...before it all got taken away. Heh. I'm such a cruel writer! And oh yeah...I'm sure poor Florabel is definitely "WTF-ing"...well...in her own way...over Dean's ramblings and suddenly colorful language!

Thanks SO much for the incredibly generous comment! You've no idea how much I appreciate it!
deangirl1deangirl1 on June 5th, 2012 08:23 am (UTC)
OMG! This was amazing. I was right there with Dean and Florabel - I love how you were able to evoke every sense. And then Dean finally remembering Sam and it slamming into him the same way as the wind and storm... It's killing me to wait for each chapter... I don't know how Dean's going to get out of this one... maybe Jeb or even Emma will somehow be able to rescue them.... Sorry about my spotty comments - I have suspicious internet just now... but I am telling everyone I know to get over here and read this! Fantastic!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 5th, 2012 10:00 am (UTC)
Aw, geez, THANK you for letting people know. That's really kind of you. I think Dean is definitely going to need a helping hand on this one. He's in a pretty bad state right now.

As EVER, thank you for your comments. You are so sweet to let me know how you are enjoying. Thanks heaps and gobs!
Jo: Hurt Deanapieceofcake on June 11th, 2012 01:40 pm (UTC)
ACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you do hurt Dean so well *g*

At least he has his memories back and i had to laugh when he realised he'd been to a square dance!

I wanna just read on but I've got to go and get my youngest from school soon. I shall be back!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 11th, 2012 10:40 pm (UTC)
/cracks knuckles. I probably shouldn't be allowed to play with the pretty. I'm dangerous! :P

Yeah, right?! Funny...with EVERYTHING that's happened...the entire shit-storm that he's in right now...he is appalled and devastated that he actually went to a ho-down. Haha. omg, that is just...so....Dean. /snort.

Thanks so much for the comment! I appreciate it. And I have to say, gosh, I really love your avatar there. That's lovely.
nimrodellnimrodell on June 12th, 2012 12:20 am (UTC)
Awesome chapter, every time I think you can't possibly get any angst ... there you go :)

This is one of the best things I've ever read, I swear.

Simply Powerful.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on June 12th, 2012 02:18 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you liked it. Yeah, poor Dean and his timing. What a way to get your memories back! Geesh.

Thank you SO much for your kind words and encouragement! /hugs!