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01 March 2015 @ 08:04 am
j'adoube: Hanging Pawns (chapter 5)  
"So, Mace's eyes go big as saucers, right? But she's mad, too…fiery mad and shaking, about to explode like a mushroom cloud, and she goes, ‘I'm Princess Jasmine, now take it back and say you're sorry!' and I'm all, like…"




J'adoube

Chapter Five
Hanging Pawns

****

"So, Mace's eyes go big as saucers, right? But she's mad, too…fiery mad and shaking, about to explode like a mushroom cloud, and she goes, ‘I'm Princess Jasmine, now take it back and say you're sorry!' and I'm all, like…" Dean flattened his palms, wobbling them back and forth as if weighing two separate items. "‘Princess Jasmine—deranged, flat-chested Blue Meanie…mehhh…same diff!' And, holy crap, you should have heard the scream come out'a her. I thought sure my mom was gonna ground me, but she just made me take Mace trick-or-treating that night as penance or something. Kid sisters, man, I tell you. But you know what? It made for a memorable Halloween." He dragged his shackled hand through his hair, laughing. "God, she thought she was something else, strutting around like a freaky blueberry all night. Why she thought Princess Jasmine had a blue dress and blue skin, I've no idea. Maybe she confused the Genie with Jasmine. Even Mr. Adler, who's always been really sweet to her, couldn't help but laugh. That costume…wow." Dean snickered at the memory. He paused, nibbled the corner of a peanut butter sandwich but left most of it untouched. Sam sighed at that. He knew Dean was still avoiding having to use the bucket. "Your turn. What was your favorite Halloween?"

Shifting, Sam crunched into his granola bar, trying to pretend he didn't hear.

Dean wouldn't let him get away with it. "Well?"

"Mmm, we don't do anything."

"Aw, come on, don't tell me you never went trick-or-treating at least once."

Sam shrugged. "Naw. But last Halloween was pretty funny."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah, well, see Dean and Dad had to salt and burn a body in this old graveyard, right? So anyway, they do it, and they're leaving, clothes torn and bloody because things went bad—you know—like they always do. They've got corpse ashes all over their faces and clothes, so they're all pasty gray." Sam chuckled. "And they're limping out'a the graveyard like zombies, all beat up and moaning and stuff like that. And right before they get to the car…" Sam flopped back on the bed, laughing hard, staring at the ceiling. "So there they are, almost to the car, and then…they…they run into a group of trick-or-treaters and Dad and Dean are bleeding and stumbling and staggering everywhere, and these kids, like, totally freak out…" Sam laughed again, wiping tears away, "…they're seven or eight or something, and they drop their bags of candy right then and there and run away screaming. Oh man," Sam supported his diaphragm as he continued laughing, "we had candy for weeks after that…"

Sam levered up on his elbows to grin at Dean, only to see the boy blinking at him in appalled shock.

Sam cleared his throat. "Uhhh, well, um, I—I guess it was one of those situations you had to see to get how funny it was. But, I was in the backseat of the car. I saw the whole thing happen, and trust me, it was hysterical." He broke off a small piece of almond from his granola bar and chewed sheepishly, not knowing what else to do in the uncomfortable silence that descended. After another stilted moment, Sam brushed off his hands and rose from the bed. "It's getting dark."

He padded to the table and tended the oil lamp, refilled it, lit the wick. When he turned, he noticed Dean sitting on the bed, brows pleated, running a hand through his hair over and over again. Whenever the conversation lulled, Dean would sink into himself, homesick and scared. Sam decided to dig the car magazines out of the storage bin where he'd put them, let Dean focus on that for a while.

Opening the container, Sam rooted around, pushing aside the ammo and supplies other hunters had stored there. The magazines had slipped down the side of the box, so Sam dug for them. Toward the bottom he found a curious, wooden box and lifted it out, blew off the dust. When he did so, he heard the scatter and rattle of wood pieces inside the box. Noticing the checkerboard painted on both the top and bottom, Sam knew what he'd found.

"Cool!"

The car magazines forgotten, Sam brought the box to Dean. "I think I found something." He unlatched the box and nodded. "Yep! Chess!" He flipped the box over, revealing the built-in chessboard. "Wanna play?"

Dean looked at the board and scoffed. "That's a game for old men. I dunno know how to play."

Sam snorted. "Uh, yes you d—" He stopped, swallowed his words, remembering his truce. He'd promised not to call him Dean or try and convince him he was his brother. And Sam figured in the end it wouldn't matter if he convinced him or not. Once his dad came back and fixed things, he'd be Dean again with or without making Will miserable while they waited. Sam smiled. "I mean, I'll teach you. It's easy." Their dad had taught them chess years ago. He saw it as a way to teach the boys critical thinking and strategy. And Dean had, in fact, been a very good player, so Sam knew if Dean could do it, Will certainly could.

"Isn't that for eggheads and geniuses or something?"

"No, it's fun. It really is. I bet Martin and Travis played when they were here. I'll show you how, okay?"

Dean sighed. "I guess. Not like I have anything better to do."

"Okay," Sam said, keeping his tone light. Setting up the board, he found one of the white pawns missing. "Darn. We're missing a piece." He went back to the bin and searched for it, didn't find it. "Maybe we can use something else instead."

"What about…" Dean put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a green army-man. He eyed it pensively. "Mace gave this to me. We were arguing over something—something I can't even remember—something stupid. We were always like that, the two of us. At each other, kidding and joking and squabbling." He ran his fingers up and down its length. "I'd die for her, though." He swallowed, handed the army-man over with a sigh. "Will this do?"

"Hey, yeah, that'll be perfect. Here, I'll set up and we can have a game."

Sam spent some time teaching Dean the basics, how each piece moved, how important it was to think ahead and strategize for later developments in the game. When they played their first match, Sam let Dean be white so he'd have the opening advantage, and as the game progressed, he explained some of Dean's mistakes, showing him where he went wrong. But it didn't take long before Dean learned—or relearned. Sam won the first two games, but by the third Dean had him on the run, using his pieces in combination to attack the way their dad had taught them. A bishop and two pawns down, Sam's play had turned defensive, and he scrambled to protect his king. So involved in finding a way out of his present predicament, he startled when Dean spoke.

"So, you and your family hunt ghosts? Like for real?"

Sam glanced up, his concentration broken. "Uh, yeah."

"I think that's rad. I mean, you get to be a superhero, get to rescue girls. You ever rescue a girl, Sam?"

"Not yet, but my dad has, and my brother helps him a lot now that he's getting older."

"Well, it's a good thing, right? Keeping people safe? I mean, the most I ever did was stop my spazzy kid sister from plowing through a plate-glass window."

"That's pretty heroic."

"Yeah, but it's not super heroic. Your family's job is damn cool, you gotta admit, though."

"I suppose."

"Don't you like it?"

Sam sighed. He watched Dean's face. There wasn't a shred of memory there of all the good he'd done, all the hardships he'd endured. It was getting easier to think of him as Will instead of Dean. It felt natural to share things with him that he would never normally share with his brother. "I—I wish we did anything else."

The boy quirked a brow. "Really? Why? I think it would be totally awesome to kill ghosts and stuff. It's like being a fireman or a police officer, only cooler—like a ninja!"

Sam made a move, easing his king into the corner against the onslaught crawling across the board. "It's a lot more dangerous than that. And that's one of the reasons I don't like it. I don't want my family always getting hurt. I don't want them to…" He didn't finish.

"I get it." Dean moved his king's pawn, leaving it vulnerable from several sides. "What would you rather do, then, if you could?"

Sam took the pawn with his knight. "I'd go to school in one place, for starters. I'd do theatre and soccer and all the things I can never do—well—not for long, anyway."

"Theatre? Wow, what a geek." Dean chuckled, moved his queen all the way to the left side, putting Sam's king in unexpected danger. "That's check, right?"

"Ugh. I fell for that one, didn't I?" Sam moved his king to safety. "Well, you know, theatre is one of the things I'd like to do. I could do lots of things. I'd like to go to college one day. A good one. You know, get an education and do something with my life. I'd still help people, but, you know, in a different way. A safer way. I dunno."

"Rad." Dean moved his army-man pawn, freed by his earlier sacrifice, up a square, preventing the king from moving from his present position. Before releasing his piece, he studied the board. "So, if I move my knight here next time, that'll be checkmate, right?"

"Whoa! Um…uh…" Studying the board, he confirmed it. "Man, you learn fast!" He tipped his king onto its side, ceding the game. "Good game, Will."

"Yeah, you too, geekboy."

Sam checked his watch. "It's late. We should get some sleep. Dad'll be back tomorrow. I know he will." He put the pieces in the box then returned the chessboard to the bin. Yawning, he took his place at the table, resting his head on his arms. "Night, Will."

"Uh, Sam?"

"Yeah?"

"You know, there's plenty of room on the bed. It's lumpy and uncomfortable, but it's better than sleeping in a chair."

Sam smiled in the dark. Making his way to the bed he clambered up and curled next to his brother.

"Just don't put your bony knees in my back, doofus." Dean wiggled toward the wall.

"Sorry."

"S'okay, dweeb."

They quieted and Sam's mind drifted until Dean spoke in the dark.

"I hope you get to go to college one day, Sam. You deserve it."

****

John swiped his fist against his mouth and licked his dry, sticky lips. At the catch of fresh gauze on stubble, he opened his eyes and fanned his wounded palm in front of his face, blinking it into focus.

Cleaned and rebandaged with white linen gauze, John's bite wound ached but was healing well. As he inspected the new bandage, he heard a rustle at the foot of the soft bed he'd been moved to at some point. John gave Chickapanagie a dopy stare as the hunter stretched his sleepy muscles.

"Good afternoon, Johnny. You grind your teeth in your sleep. You should see a dentist about that."

John fluttered his eyelashes and glanced around the sparse bedroom. "Afternoon? Wh'time s'it?"

"It's about 2:00pm—tomorrow. You've been asleep for over thirty hours. We moved you to my hawa because you snore. Scared the tourists. Very bad for business."

John stopped, mid-yawn and gawped at the medicine man sitting there, blithely whittling a small, wood figurine. As he watched him thumb over his work, blowing away the wood shavings, John saw ancient wisdom inscribed in each line and fold of his face, noted the sharp intelligence behind the crinkled smile in his eyes. And without another thought, John bounded from the bed, throwing a sloppy, gauzy punch at the man.

Long sleep had his timing all wrong, though, and the Havasupai man dropped his katsina and dodged the blow. Grabbing John's fist, he used the momentum of his punch to swing the irate man around and pin him face-first into the bed.

"Let me up you prick!" John bucked against the medicine man. "You fucking drugged me, dammit!"

"Yes. I did. And if I hadn't, you would not be able to help your son. But look at you, now, hunter man. You're strong enough to throw punches. Would have landed it, too, if you'd been hydrated. But we'll soon fix that, then you can get your petty revenge." He gripped John, dusted him off, gave him a sniff and a pat. "First, you must bathe in the sacred pool and attend the Sweat." He turned his face away to breathe. "Yep…definitely a bath first. C'mon, Johnny. We have much to do before we take your son back from Tochopa's winged warriors."

****

Will Darnell plucked the fallen soldier from a fold of the army blanket they'd spread on the floor next to the bed.

He gave the toy a respectful salute and cleared his throat. "You served well, soldier!" Pinching his eyes shut, he tossed the toy off to the side with the other slain soldiers then wiped his brow. "That's it, doof, your ass is mine!"

Shimmying onto his belly, legs splayed, chains rattling, Will gathered his forces and began a shock-and-awe campaign only to find it thwarted by an onslaught of enemy forces edging their way, line by line, over a large fold in the blanket.

"Rawwhhhh! Pew! Pew! Pew!" The enemy soldiers engaged Will's strongest platoon, and the ensuing battle resulted in the near decimation of both armies. The bloodbath continued until just one soldier remained on either side.

Will's sole surviving army-man jumped Sam's. "Surrender!"

"No!"

Will's toy stood on Sam's. "Say Uncle!"

"Never!"

"Do it, worm!" The army-man hopped up and down on Sam's toy, squashing it into the blanket.

"No, brother…no….!" The wounded soldier reached out to his vanquisher. "We…both…have…" Sam gasped and groaned, putting his acting talents to use. "Too…much…to…live…for! Ahhhgghhh!"

The performance touched off Will's sympathy. "Aw…it's okay, little guy. Here," he helped the enemy soldier to his feet, "let's go to the bar and get drunk together, instead."

"Now you're talkin'…"

The two army-men hop-jumped off the blanket toward the water bottles.

Will laughed. "I guess this is what you call a draw in chess, right?" Will tossed his army-man into the pile next to the rumpled blanket. He stretched out his legs, his back to the bed.

Sam grabbed the water bottles and handed one to Will. "That's right! It is. S'a good ending though, don't you think?" He uncapped his drink and swallowed half of it.

"It kinda is," Will agreed and took two small sips of the water, aching for more.

Things had gotten easier over the past day, since Sam had stopped hounding him about who he was or wasn't. He'd wanted to keep his distance, stay mad at him…not let the little doof get under his skin, but it was hard to stay mad a kid who just wanted his brother, even if it wasn't him. Instead the two had hung out together, playing games. He wasn't such a bad guy. Had it not been for the kidnapping, the chains and the debilitating thirst and hunger, Will would have been happy to spend time with Sam. He was good company. Stopping himself from drinking too much water, he capped the bottle, set it on the bed. He caught Sam frowning at him. "What?"

"You need to drink more, Will. You don't look right. Your skin's all dry, and you're not even sweating anymore. I don't think that's a good sign. Please drink. I know you don't like having to pee in that bucket, but you need water. We're in the middle of the desert."

Will had already pissed in the bucket for the second time when he woke up that morning despite how little water he'd consumed the day before, and the experience had been even more humiliating than the first time he'd done it. The dark urine had stunk much worse than the first time he'd gone. He wasn't going through that again. No way. As much as he hated The Perv, he hoped he'd get back soon so he could get the chains off and piss on his own. He picked up the bottle with as much non-interest as he could muster, opened it and took a couple more sips to shut the kid up. "There. Happy?"

"It's a start, I guess," Sam said. "I just don't want you to get sick."

Will rolled his eyes at the kid. "I'm fine, shrimp. Don't worry, geez."

Sam sighed, gathered some of his dead soldiers, searched through the blanket for more casualties. "This was fun," he said. "We used to do this all the time. Dean and me used to, I mean."

"Oh yeah?"

"Mmm hmm." Sam studied a soldier. "Kinda stopped right about the time he became a teenager, though. Started helping Dad more with hunting. No time for kid stuff. I think there are still stray army-men in the car. I find one every now and again. Dunno what ever happened to the others. Must've got lost on a hunt or left in a motel room, maybe." Sam's eyes stuttered over him, worried he'd said too much, perhaps. "Sorry, I won't talk about him if you don't want to."

Will swiped his hand through his hair, sat up, sighed. "No, it's okay. As long as…" He didn't finish, but Sam nodded, acknowledging their agreement. Will scooped up a handful of army-men. "Well, you can have these if you want, little man. I have lots more at home."

Sam brightened at that—or at the name—Will wasn't sure which. "Thanks!" Sam took the army-men but dropped them into Will's backpack. "We'll keep them all together for now, though." He looked around the place, his brows furrowing. "Dad really should be back anytime, now."

He stood and peered out the window nearest the bed. It was too far away for Will to see, but the light shone pale on Sam's face as his eyes darted around the barren desert. "These times always suck the worst. Waiting. Normally Dean and me have some cartoons to take our minds off things, but times like these…" he shivered. "Stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do. Ugh. So boring. Having Dean always made it better, though. I miss him."

Will glanced away, not knowing what to do with all that. Everything was getting all mixed up in his head, lines were blurring. He had this unaccountable urge, this overwhelming desire to grab the kid, to promise him everything would be all right…to protect him as he would Mace or his parents. It was nuts. Maybe it was the lack of water talking or something.

Will cleared his parched throat, smirked big. "Oh God, you're such a girl." It was a dry bite, though, and Sam must have known because he smiled at him.

"Yeah," he said. "I've heard one that before."

****

John Winchester heard the familiar Havasupai greeting behind him.

"Gam'yu, John!"

Spinning around, John fumbled to hide his exposed junk. Chickapanagie had left him to bathe in the milky blue water, promising privacy, telling him it was required before the Sweat Ceremony began, but judging from Tlootha's grin, he was now suspicious of the medicine man's assurance. Prick.

John scrambled for his clothes, but before he could reach them, the young man barreled into him with an enthusiastic embrace. "Uh, Tlootha…" John broke the hug, "kinda naked, here."

"Sorry John. I'm so happy to see you. My heart soars."

"Yeah-yeah, okay. Move it." He grabbed his pants and crammed his legs into them. Once covered, he took a long look at the kid—well, not a kid anymore. The past five years had transformed him into a full-grown man, chiseled jaw, thick but muscular body. Strong, like his father. It made John feel the gaping hole of Dean's absence inside him all the more. "Good to see you, boy. How are you?"

"I am well, John. Every day is a blessing. I have two sons!" His face shone with pride.

"Yeah, I saw your youngest. Congratulations." John pulled his shirt over his head, passed his hand through his wet hair.

"Thank you. I would fight the gods for him if they ever tried to take him, so I stand with you, John. Others do, too. Pagathiya Uta, Tsoojva—many of the elders are gathered. I cannot partake in the Sweat as I have to fly in the morning, but I will act as a firekeeper. We are all prepared to do battle for your son." Tlootha retrieved John's watch from the rock where he'd placed it, gave it to him. "Dála—my father—has sent me to bring you to the Sweat. He and Yunosi are blessing the elders now. The ceremony is about to begin." Tlootha pointed to the waiting horses.

John shoved his feet into his shoes. "I'm ready. Let's go."

"Oh," Tlootha stopped, "we will need a focus for both the Sweat and the Cleansing ritual to dispel the magics. Since you did not bring your son with you, Dála asks if you have something belonging to him, something we can use to contain the healing. Do you have anything?"

John thought a moment then dug into his pocket. "I have this." He lifted out Dean's amulet. "Will it do?"

Tlootha fingered the nub of the amulet, considering. "Let us take it to Dála. He will tell us."

John put the amulet around his neck and gripped it in his fist as he followed Tlootha from the pool.

****

Traveling via horseback, they reached the southern outskirts of Supai. Tlootha pointed to a small, open lawn upon which a large wickiup had been built, fat with hides and blankets. Dozens of Havasupai men and women in light dress gathered round. Yunosi stood wafting sage on each of them in turn.

Chickapanagie spotted the duo and hailed them, eyes twinkling. The men dismounted, handing off the reins to helpers who led the horses away. Chickapanagie greeted them. "Gam'yu, John."

"Big crowd." John observed, watching the people enter one by one into the wickiup.

"Yes. These are our elders. Many of them are parents of the children you saved when the demon took Tlootha. They are here to assist in the rescue, so they must prepare their spirits as well. Come. We are almost ready."

Tlootha joined the other firekeepers, placing the heated, sacred stones within the pit inside the thickly shrouded wickiup. They handled each stone with reverence and prayer, invoking the tribe's ancestors to assist them in their quest.

"Did you bring an item for the altar?"

John gripped the amulet. "I have this. It belongs to my son."

The medicine man studied the horned talisman. "Yes. It has strong energies. It will do well, I think." He pointed to the readied lodge. "Let us go in and cleanse our souls."

Before they entered the wickiup, Chickapanagie waved a smoking bundle of sage around John, entreating each of the four elements to protect and guide them.

John coughed through the cloud of smoke. "All right, all right. That's enough, chief. I'm ready. Let's do this."

"You cannot rush a Sweat Ceremony. Be still and respect each moment spent here. This will not work if you do not go in with the proper intention. So shut up and do what I say, hunter man."

John sighed, closed his eyes, protecting them from the smoke while Chickapanagie finished his invocation. He put little stock in the power of prayer, but he'd do whatever he had to in order to get his son back.

"There. We are ready." Leading John into the lodge, Chickapanagie instructed him to hang the amulet from the prepared altar and seated him near the steam pit. "It is time, my friend. Let us begin."

With that, Chickapanagie closed the hide flaps and utter darkness descended.

****

Sam topped off the oil lamp again, lit the wick and replaced the chimney. Another evening had begun with no hint of Sam's father returning.

"Don't worry, Will. He'll be back." The kid sounded like he was trying to convince himself more than Will. "We're still okay on fuel and supplies. I'm sure Dad'll be home tomorrow."

He'd spoken casually, but Will could tell the boy was concerned his dad hadn't shown. Sam had been staring at his watch all afternoon, looking out the window. He'd gone for a short walk down the road only to return twenty minutes later, wilted from the scalding sun. He'd drank two full bottles of water after that excursion alone and had pressed Will to drink some, too, but Will refused, holding out hope Sam's dad would come back and take him off the chains.

Not that he was keen on seeing the freaky Perv again, but Will couldn't hope to convince him to let him go if he wasn't there. Another day of this and he would have to drink no matter how humiliating it might be. Then before you knew it, he'd be peeing and pooping in a bucket like a trained monkey, and he didn't want to give the man the satisfaction of breaking him that way.

But things were getting bad. Will'd sipped some water here and there, but he now had a headache and he felt exhausted, though he did his best to hide it from Sam. The little kid continued to fuss at him, pestering him to drink.

And here he was again, coming over with a bottle of water and a candy bar.

"You sure you don't want some? We still got lots of other stuff. You've only eaten one of the pies; we got plenty, Will. Please?"

"Not right now," Will said. He sat, playing with Macy's hairpin, keeping that connection to home, holding it like a talisman, hoping his family could somehow, someway feel him through it.

Sam sighed, trudged to the table, setting the drink and food down with a thump. "Man, I wish he'd get back all ready!" He wandered to the window, twitchy with cabin fever and worry. "This sucks. Dad promised he'd be back by now!"

"Does he always return on time?"

Sam coughed at that, rolled his shoulders. "No…" he huffed, "this is pretty normal for him, actually. But I thought with things crazy like they are, that he'd come back when he said he would. It's hot and this is taking forever."

"Do you wanna play a game of chess?" Will offered, trying to ease the kid's distress.

"Naw," Sam shrugged him off, cracking his knuckles, wringing his hands. "I want this to be over. I want to get out'a here. And I want you to drink water. This isn't right. You're getting sick. I can see it. You're stubborn and putting yourself through hell just to teach Dad a lesson and he's not even here to learn it. So, it's stupid! You're being stupid!"

"Hey, come here." Will patted the spot beside him. Sam moped his way over and flopped down next to him. "Don't worry about me, little man. I can hold out. If your dad isn't here by the morning then I'll drink whatever you want me to, deal? I just don't like…." He sighed, fumbled with his chains, unable to say it.

"Yeah, I know. I'm sorry about all this. It sucks."

"So, tell me," Will changed the subject, determined to take the kid's mind off his problems. "What kind of stuff do you and your brother do for fun? Like, what do you do when your dad isn't around and it's just you and your brother?"

Sam studied his fingers, tugging on each one in nervous boredom. "Lots'a stuff. Dean loves to mess around. He likes to wrestle; though, he can be a bit of a jerk about it, too."

"Oh? You mean your perfect brother isn't…perfectly perfect after all?" Will raised his eyebrows in mock shock. "The way you describe him, I thought sure he was a freakin' saint or something."

Searching Will's face, Sam's eyes shone like he had a secret joke. "No, not at all. I mean, sure he's great and all, and I want him back more than I can say. But he can be a big pain sometimes."

"So what does he do that's a pain?"

Sam chuckled, hesitated for a beat and then decided to share. "Well, for one thing, he always makes me smell his farts."

Will snickered. "But that's hysterical. I mean, Mace is the happy, or, you know, not-so-happy, recipient of some of my finest."

Failing to hide his grin, Sam huffed. "Yeah, I guess it's funny as hell when you're the farter. It's totally not so great when you're the fartee."

Will nodded. "I can see that. Okay, so, what else? What else does he do that pisses you off."

Sam sobered some, side-eyed Will. "He always takes Dad side on things. Always tells me whatever crazy thing Dad does, he does for a reason. He never questions anything Dad says or does."

"Well, you'll get no argument out'a me over that, but maybe things are different for him than they are for you. Being the oldest ain't the picnic you might think."

"Yeah, I guess. And now he's getting older he's a lot more interested in girls than he used to be. He used to be really, really fun. Now it's all girls, girls, girls."

"Uhh, well duh! They're girls! What do you expect? Wait ‘til you hit puberty. It'll make a whole lot more sense, then." He gave Sam a cheeky grin.

"Yeah, but before all that, he used to like spending time with me. We used to have some awesome times with just the two of us. We'd be stuck in a motel room for days and days. He'd always make the time fly by…he'd always think of the funnest games to play. I mean, we perfected the airplane dismount. He'd make it so I flew, like, ten feet away or something. Well, at least six."

"The what where, now? Airplane dismount? What's that?"

"You know…the airplane game. It's where Dean would lie on his back and then I'd fly against his hands and feet and he'd kick up and send me flying through the air. It was real fun. I miss it."

"Ohhh, sure. I think I know that game. Mace and I play it sometimes. Like this?"

Will stored the hairpin in his backpack and tossed the whole thing to the side of the bed. Shifting to the floor, he laid on his back, feet and arms extended.

"Yeah, that's it!"

"Well, get on, doof!" Will wiggled his ankles.

Sam stepped close, allowed Will to press his feet against his groin. Using a bit of torque, Will lifted the boy up and over him until they latched arms. Will stretched out, giving Sam more of an airplane experience.

"This it?"

Sam laughed. "Yeah! This is it! Whoa!" Sam's arms shook as he adjusted his balance while Will shifted this way and that, simulating the bank and pitch of an aircraft.

"Turbulence!" Will laughed as he bounced his legs, jiggling the kid.

"Ai..yi..yi..yi!" Sam warbled as he jounced up and down. "Now the crash landing!"

"Crash landing?" Will let go, relaxing his limbs as Sam crashed on top, knocking the wind out of him. "Ugh! You're heavy, squirt!"

"No, not that type of crash landing." Sam sat up, laughing. "It's where you push me off with your feet so I can do the big dismount."

"Uh, okay. Get on." Will offered his legs and arms again, got into position, lifted Sam.

"Okay, now hold your hands stiff, but don't hang on, then push off with your feet, like thhHAT!"

Will popped his feet, pushing the kid off him. The boy sailed back, landing on agile legs a few feet away.

"Yeah!" Sam laughed and pumped his fist in the air. "Now that's what I'm talkin' about! We haven't done this in ages." He looked at Will, his face flushed with fun. "Let's do it again!" He dove onto Will's feet like that chick from Dirty Dancing, arms extended wide.

Will had to adjust quickly and together they wobbled and bobbled back and forth. "Oh my god, you're such a spaz!" He laughed, pumped his feet up and down. "You want a big crash landing?" He extended out his legs as far as they would go. "Or a little crash landing?" He drew them in toward his chest.

Breathless from laughter, Sam gasped, "Big! Big crash landing!"

"All right, you asked for it, twerp!" Will shimmied his back against the floor, preparing, and with a quick pump, Sam went sailing.

And though it took but a flash of time for the whole horrific event to unfold, Will saw each millisecond play out in minute detail. Sam's face went from laughter to shock at how much lift Will had been able to give him. He sailed through the air, his arms helicoptering around and around as he strove for balance. Will knew what was going to happen, knew he couldn't stop it. He only had the time to shout ‘No!' but by then it was far, far too late.

Sam's shoulder blades crashed into the table, and his legs went out from under him. Falling onto his butt with a thud, the table tipped over behind him, and the oil lamp shattered against the wood floor with a splash and a woof of flame.

The kid's eyes bugged as the room lit with golden light. Pivoting, he watched the flames chase the oil wherever it flowed. He spun toward Will, a shocked, disbelieving expression on his face.

"Shit!" Will shouted. "Shit! Shit! Move!" Sam ran toward Will and grabbed the old army blanket off the bed. Approaching the flames, he tried to smother them. The blanket sopped up the wet oil and flame, turning it into a flailing torch. The heat forced Sam to drop it, spreading the fire further into the room.

"It's not working!" Sam shouted, panicked.

Will ran toward him but his chains snapped him back. And that's when it hit both of them. Horror lit Sam's face as he watched Will wrestle with his handcuffs.

Sam ran to the wall, yanking the chain with all his might, working to extricate it from the hook. His distress and inability to get it to budge was easy to read against the reflection of the dancing flames on his face.

"Just put it out. Take care of the fire. I'll get these." Will shouted through the black smoke filing the room. The hot flames slithered up the door and front wall. "Get the water! Get the water and dump it!"

Sam struggled with the chains a moment longer before Will pried him away.

"Stop! Go get the water!"

Leaving Will, Sam wove his way around the fire, trying to reach the water, but the heat and black smoke pouring from the walls and thatch roof made it impossible.

"Hot! Oh, God! It's too hot!" Sam coughed, forced to retreat toward the bed.

Will fought against the chains with such abandon that blood spattered the rusty links and he felt his shoulder pop out of its socket then back in. An adrenaline surge mercifully muted the pain. Try as he might, though, he could not free himself. He reeled on Sam. "Leave!" He shouted. "Get out'a here!" He turned toward the door checking to see if there was a chance.

It didn't matter though. The kid refused. "No! I'm not leaving you! We have to get you out'a those chains first!" Sam beat his fists against the iron clips on the wall. Following the chain to Will's ankle, he struggled to get his foot to bend straight enough to pass the cuff over it. The boy looked up at Will, shattered. "I can't get them off."

"I know! That's why you gotta go, now!" Will's protective instincts kicked in, and nothing was more important than getting that kid out of the cabin.

Sam shook him off, coughing and gagging. "Not without…" He stiffened, his eyes huge with sudden hope. "The hairpin! Where is it?"

"The what?"

"Macy's hairpin! Get it. You can pick the locks!"

"No I can't! I don't know how!" He shouted above the roaring flames.

Sam rooted around, hands splayed as he patted the bed. He found the backpack by touch between the bed and the wall and gave it to Will. "Find it! It's the only way!"

Will opened the front pouch and snatched the hairpin, set it in Sam's palm. "There. Can you open it?"

"No, no! Not me. You!" Sam pressed it back into Will's palm. "Here! You have to do it. I never learned, but you can do this easy!" Tears poured from his stinging eyes, leaving pink tracks on his frightened, sooty face.

"Are you nuts? I've never done this in my life!"

"Yes you have! You have! You are Dean. I know I promised not to talk about it, but it's the truth. I swear to God. You're Dean Winchester. You're my brother. You just don't remember. But it's all inside you! I know it is. You can do this easy! Now, pick the lock, Dean, please!"

The boy's screams were so fierce and desperate, so panicked, Will found himself grabbing the hairpin and shoving it into the handcuff on his wrist. Nothing happened. The smoke forced them to the floor, and they kept as low as they could, the fire creeping nearer every second. From across the room, they heard the gurgling hiss of water hitting the fire. The water bottles must have melted, but it wasn't enough. It wasn't near enough to stop the spread of fire. With the front door now fully engulfed in flame, he searched out the window nearest the bed.

"Break the window and get out, Sam. I'll keep working on this. Go on! We'll need it open when I get these off!" He didn't believe a word he said, but he hoped Sam did.

Sam crawled to the window, pulled himself up and began beating on it with his fists. The thick glass used to insulate the cabin from the desert sun prevented the boy from breaking the glass on his own. Flames blanketed the table and chairs. He had nothing to use but his fists. He gasped and strained as he fruitlessly beat against the panes.

Will gave the lock another shot, but he had no clue how to work it, jabbing it radomly. A hissing whump and blazing flare signaled the flames had found the spare oilcan. The strangling smoke burned his lungs with every breath, so it came as no surprise when he heard a thump and saw Sam fall in a heap under the unbroken window.

"Sammy! No!" He screamed the kid's name. "Wake up! Get out!"

Sam moaned and gulped but made no other move.

Seeing Sam like that, something snapped in Will, and a primal instinct took over. Time was running out, and this little kid who only wanted his brother back was gonna die right here, right now in this cabin. No one would ever know about him, no one would ever know how hard he'd tried to make Will comfortable, no one would ever never know how crappy life had been to him and how he'd made the most of it, anyway. He'd never get to go to college. Will took the hairpin, no longer thinking, allowing his body or sense memory or blind panic to work his hand. Spreading the pin flat, Will broke off the angel wing and removed the small, plastic tip. He then placed the pin into the lock and bent it at a 90 degree angle. Resting it under the handcuff housing, he added the exact amount of tension needed to bypass the lock. The cuff sprang open with a snick.

He did the same with his ankle cuff, and in seconds Will was free for the first time in days. Grabbing his backpack off the bed he shouldered it and crawled over to Sam.

"Sammy! Sammy, wake up!"

"Dean?" Sam pawed at him, disoriented, coughing.

"Hang on! I gotta get the window open." Standing, Will slammed his shoulder against the glass to no avail. The heat and smoke sent his senses reeling and he knew he had only a few seconds before they both succumbed. Raising his fists, he used all his might to punch through the glass, grabbing at the remaining shards even as they bit into his hands and arms. He hit and punched a hole wide enough to accommodate their escape. Smoke poured from the window in roiling plumes.

"Up!" Will's voice cracked with smoke as he hoisted Sam, pinning him against the window and folding the semi-conscious boy over and out, spilling him onto the ground. The kid landed on his back, unmoving, gagging and coughing. Will's head swam so fiercely he found it difficult to know what he was doing, but he tipped himself forward, falling into a heap on top of Sam.

Even outside, the heat and smoke remained intense near the cabin, so Will dragged Sam about fifty feet away, leaving a bloody trail behind him. Collapsing onto his back, he coughed and choked on thick, sooty mucus as he watched stars in the desert sky roll and sway in the warped heat above him.

Clinging to Sam, Will turned the boy over and hit his back with slick hands, trying to help him catch his breath as the fire rippled and fluttered like a million blankets, wafting scorching heat at them. A loud pop and bright flare signaled the flames had found the propane tank, and Will covered Sam's body with his own, protecting him from falling debris and cinder sparks that floated down, biting his skin wherever they landed. A few seconds later, the thatch roof collapsed as the fire chewed at the remains of the cabin.

They were alive. They were stuck in the middle of the desert with no water, no food and no way out, but they were alive.

Continue to Chapter 6

 
 
 
tifachingtifaching on March 2nd, 2015 03:04 am (UTC)
Hah, I've been waiting for this (or something like it.) You and your damned cliffhangers!

Still keeping me on the edge of my seat with this one. As per usual, can't wait to see what happens next!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on March 2nd, 2015 03:27 am (UTC)
You made me giggle. Yeah, I remember when I was writing this, I was wondering where all my cliffies had gone. I found a couple here towards the end. ;)

Thank you a million times over.

Kat
jpgrjpgr on March 2nd, 2015 05:28 pm (UTC)
I looked last night but I guess I was too early.

I love the boys having time together as boys if not brothers. Will/Dean is still the older brother no mater if the younger is a brother or sister and does just what the older should. Now what's gonna happen in the desert?
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on March 3rd, 2015 03:19 am (UTC)
Aw, yeah...I think Brian was late getting it out. Slow poke. I'll whoop him good next time. ;)

Yes, I agree...Dean is a big brother through and through...that will definitely come into play next chapter...you know...when things get really bad. ;)

Thanks hon. I appreciate your encouragement!

Kat
The Long and Winding Roadamypond45 on March 2nd, 2015 07:38 pm (UTC)
Wow! The wonderful bonding going on between Will and Sam is a thing of real beauty. And then the fire! Wow! I'm on my lunch hour reading this and I'm supposed to go back to work but I had to make sure they got out!

Thank you for this :)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on March 3rd, 2015 03:21 am (UTC)
Sam and Dean were so cute together. Even though things are funky for them right now, I think this is more "brother" time than they've had in an while, you know? I think both boys are affected by it.

Hah! Be careful clocking back in from lunch! Tell your boss I said it's all okay. If she/he has a problem...you have her/him give me a call! ;)

Thanks much, amy. I appreciate it!

Kat
mdlawmdlaw on March 3rd, 2015 02:05 am (UTC)
Arrrgggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!! /0\ m
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on March 3rd, 2015 03:22 am (UTC)
D'awwwwww! /pats you gently!

:)

Kat
taylorariel on March 3rd, 2015 03:07 am (UTC)
Excellent Chapter!!! Loved the way Sam and Will/Dean bonded. And-when it counted most- Dean came through for Sam just like he always does.
Of course now they have no water or food or shelter and they are stuck in the desert.....but I have confidence in them. And John will eventually be there.
I look forward to your next chapter. Thank You.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on March 3rd, 2015 03:23 am (UTC)
Yes...Dean can't let anything bad happen to Sam...that's not written in his memories...that's part of the fabric of his DNA, I think. Nothing anyone can do to stop that.

Things will definitely get worse before they get better. Two more chapters and this puppy will be put to bed! Thanks so much for your lovely comments.

Kat
lidia1991_anlidia1991_an on March 3rd, 2015 04:18 am (UTC)

The awesome big brother is always there, I love that! Poor boys, you're a very lovely bad girl!

Incredible chapter!!!!!!!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on March 3rd, 2015 05:27 am (UTC)
Hahaha...yeah, I'm bad to the bone. ;)

There is no magic in the universe strong enough to keep Dean from protecting Sam. No way. No how. :)

Kat