Title: Consumed Memories
Characters: Sam, Dean, John
Genre: Gen, hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural except in my dreams where schmoop abounds.
Warnings: Rated for show level violence and language. Spoilers for Season 1.
Word Count: ~3,700
Summary: After a seemingly sucessful hunt, Dean begins acting strangly and it gets progessively worse. Will Sam be able to solve the mystery and fix the problem in time to save him? hurt!Dean caring!Sam
Chapter 3 Why did I believe him?
With only minutes to spare, the young hunters boarded the American Rover for the two hour harbor cruise. The tall mast ship was everything Sam had hoped it would be. Green hull and red sails made the majestic craft conspicuous among the fishing yachts docked in front of the pier. Sam could smell the strong diesel fuel mixed with the salty ocean water. It made him feel free somehow, like he could sail away from his complicated life and never come back. Running away didn't work though, he had tried it only to be pulled back time and time again. Most recently he hadn't been pulled back so much as he had returned of his own free will. He was where he was supposed to be and doing what he was meant to do. At least that's the way it was beginning to feel. And he wasn't going to be leaving Dean behind again, that simply wasn't an option anymore.
Once they were under way, the passengers were allowed to move freely around the deck, asking questions of crew members or just watching the shore line move steadily past.
"Dude, you must be loving this." Dean commented as he stood at the railing. "With the rigging and ropes draped over the masts, this boat looks a lot like a pirate ship and you used to really dig pirates."
"That's when I was eight and I only liked pirates because you told me you thought they were cool." Sam admitted while shifting from one foot to the other.
"Really? Huh. I remember I could keep you busy for hours with a fake treasure map and a few buttons buried where X marked the spot."
"Yeah, but I think you spent longer making the maps and burying the 'treasure' than I spent following them."
"You might have a point there." An affectionate smile graced Dean's features.
Lunch was served on deck buffet style. Offerings included several pasta dishes, baked chicken, roast beef, and a variety of vegetables. The platters gleamed in the sunlight and Sam couldn't remember seeing a more impressive spread. Dean's face lit up like a Christmas tree when the desserts came out. He snagged three plates, each with a different pastry, but had the good grace to look sheepish when he caught Sam staring at him in astonishment.
The tour of the harbor was over before they knew it. Back on dry land, the brothers felt the ground rocking beneath them.
"Its going to take a little while to get used to being on a steady surface and not having to compensate for the rolling deck of the boat." Sam explained.
Dean didn't reply. Instead he gave Sam a little shove to see if he would topple over, just like a good big brother knew he should. Sam staggered forward a few steps, but managed to stay upright and turned to Dean with eyes narrowed menacingly.
"Oh, you are so going to pay for that. When you least expect it, expect it."
"Dude, you sound like you're in third grade."
"I'm just giving you fair warning."
It was only 2 o'clock and they planned to be at the office building between 4 and 5 o'clock. That would give them time to get in and hidden somewhere while the building was locked up for the night. They had discovered that once the doors were locked, they could be opened from the inside, but not from the outside. People working late at night could get out and the doors would automatically lock when they closed again. With a little time on their hands, the young men wandered around downtown taking in the sights. There was indeed a huge naval museum and a naval ship available for tourists to walk around on. Every few blocks they spotted a statue of a mermaid, each painted with unique patterns. They walked past well maintained parks and shops while making a contest out of who could point out the painted mermaids faster.
The camaraderie felt good, easy as breathing. All too soon, it was time to get back to work.
Just as before, the hunters arrived at the building dressed in business suits. No one gave them more than a cursory glance as they made their way to the service stairwell. People were already leaving in a fairly steady stream. It shouldn't take too long before the halls and rooms were quiet enough to make hiding unnecessary. They each carried a bag with supplies, weapons and a pair of janitor overalls. This hunt seemed to be all about the disguises, but at least they wouldn't have to hunt in the restricting suits and the overalls had plenty of pockets for carrying the requisite items of their trade. Even Dean'd had to admit, it was the perfect cover to allow them easy access to the entire building after hours.
"So, let me get this straight." Dean grumbled after they had settled into the stairwell to wait. "We have to stay here for how long?"
"Just for an hour or so. I doubt these stairs get used often, especially at this time of the day. What's the problem?"
"No problem, just…borrrriiinnnggg."
"Well, suck it up, Dean." Even as he said it, Sam began thinking of ways to solve the problem, because heaven forbid Dean should be bored. A bored big brother meant only one thing…trouble, all little brothers knew that with certainty. It was in times of boredom that the spit wads and wedgies became prevalent. I've got to find something for him to do, something that sounds real. Otherwise, I'm going to end up with spiders in my hair, or Lord knows what else he'll come up with. "Besides, we need to investigate the whole building, so we'll just start here."
"Fine." Dean straightened up from his crouching inspection of a small spider making a web in the corner of the first floor landing.
The stairwell was completely empty of people, or anything else for that matter. The walls, stairs and handrail were all painted off-white. There were black smudges and scrapes on some of the walls where clumsy maintenance workers had bumped into them while carrying bulky loads. Fluorescent lights illuminated every corner making the flashlights in their bags pointless. Sam concentrated on looking for holes or cracks in the walls, anything that would signify a hidden den or cubby for a Stalker, although he didn't know what that might consist of. Dean moved along a step ahead of him, unconsciously taking the point position even though neither of them expected to be attacked now, it was too bright and too early for that. Taking their time, the hunters completed the search on the top flight of stairs without finding anything suspicious.
"Hey Sam, hand me the long knife in your bag."
"What for?" Sam was immediately wary.
"There's a hornet's nest or something up in the corner over there and I want to knock it down."
"Yeah, 'cause that sounds like a really good idea. Leave it alone, Dean. I think we can begin searching the office space now."
"Twelve floors of office space is a lot of ground to cover, we should split up. I'll take the top six floors, you take the bottom six. We can keep in touch on our cell phones. We call each other as we finish each floor, that way I'll always know which floor you're on."
"And I'll know where you are. It's a two way street, big brother. I worry about you too."
Dean rolled his eyes. "Who said anything about being worried about you? I just want to make sure I get that flashlight you borrowed back when we're done."
Sam headed down to the sixth floor while Dean began his search of the twelfth floor. He emerged from the service stairwell to find the hallway quiet, so he slipped into the restroom and changed into the overalls from his bag. Loading up his pockets with the flashlight, pistol loaded with iron rounds, extra iron rounds, salt, accelerant and matches, Sam felt as prepared as he could get.
The receptionist's desk was empty, she was definitely a nine to fiver. Nothing under the desk or tables or behind the tall potted plants.
The hallway and offices to the right of the reception area were dark, everyone on that side of the floor must have already gone home. That would be the safest way to start since he wanted to avoid people. Flashlight in hand, Sam eased his way into the first darkened office. Light wavered briefly over the bookcases, file cabinets, desk and chairs. A thorough search of the walls, including behind the furniture, revealed no openings large enough to hide a three foot creature.
The next room was a file room, boxes were stacked from floor to ceiling on two of the four walls, the remaining two walls contained file cabinets. It took longer than he would have liked to check behind the boxes. By the time he was done, he was covered in dust and still no closer to finding the Stalker or its hideout. This was taking too long. I'm just going to have to forget about finding the lair and look for the Stalker itself.
Having made that decision, the search went much faster. Sam moved quickly from office to office. He concentrated on watching for movement. The floor was set up with large executive offices running around the outer perimeter and smaller offices, file rooms and cubicles making up the inner space. After finishing the outer loop, he switched directions and started scanning the cubicle area.
The phone in one of his back pockets vibrated, announcing that Dean was done with the twelfth floor. Already?
"Are you still on six? Dude, what's taking you so long? At this rate we'll be here all night. You do realize you have five other floors to search, don't you?"
"It's not a competition, Dean. I'm almost done here anyway. I'll be moving down to the fifth floor in about 10 more minutes. You find anything?"
"The only thing I've found so far is some bitchy woman who took one look at this ridiculous janitor's uniform you made me wear and started yelling at me about the dust on the window ledges." Dean was working himself up to a full rant. "Sam, you know how much I hate wearing these disguises."
"Calm down, man. At least she didn't call the cops on you. That's the important thing, right?" Sam was able to keep the smirk out of his voice. Don't laugh. Don't laugh. Do. Not. Laugh.
"Yeah, right. You find anything?"
"Nope, nothing, zip, zilch." Sam finished his exploration of the sixth floor as he talked to his brother. "I'm going to head on down to five now."
The Stalker was right there as he opened the stairwell door to the fifth floor, and although Sam had his pistol in position and aimed, there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. A man who looked to be a little older than Dean was lying limply across the creature's lap, shielding it from any shot that Sam could take. It was black as midnight with the shape of a human and the size of a young child, but its face had no discernible features. It was fuzzy around the edges as though colored by someone who didn't know how to stay within the lines. As soon as the stairwell door closed behind Sam, the Stalker dumped the man on the ground and took off down a hallway, disappearing into the shadows. Crap, that thing is fast. Three missed shots later and Sam had his cell phone to his ear.
"Dean, it's here. Get down to the fifth floor, now!"
Sam was leaning over the Stalker's latest victim when he heard Dean's pounding footsteps in the stairwell. The door burst open and Dean came to a skidding stop as soon as he caught sight of Sam.
"You okay?" Dean asked, eyes round with apprehension, darting from Sam to the man lying on the floor and then back to Sam.
"I'm good. This guy was in between us, I couldn't risk a shot until it was too late. It ran off down that hallway." Sam gestured off to the left. He knew it was irrational, but he felt as though he'd failed.
"How is he?"
"He's alive, that's all I know so far. He hasn't come to yet." Shifting his attention back to the man lying in front of him, Sam tried putting gentle pressure on the guy's shoulder, increasing to a shake when that got no response.
"Come on, come on, we have to get him out of here and go after the Stalker." Tension from the unfinished hunt radiated off Dean in waves.
"Fine, help me carry him out of here and then we can come back up and finish the sonovabitch off." Sam's eyes flashed a defiant challenge.
Dean considered that for a couple of seconds and then shook his head decisively. "No Sam, that won't work. You gotta take him out and I'll stay here."
"No way, man. That's not going to happen. I'm not leaving you in here with that Stalker all by yourself."
"Awwww, that's sweet Sammy, but it's all right. I can take care of myself."
"Stop being an asshole, Dean. That Stalker is extremely fast and can be invisible, for God's sake, but it can't attack two of us at the same time. We need to stay together."
"OK, just think about this for a minute." Dean grasped Sam's elbow and looked at him intently. "Right now, that fugly is trapped down a dead end hallway. As long as one of us stays here, it can't leave this floor. If we both go, there's no telling where that thing will have gone by the time we're back. We'll end up having to search the entire building again and if it's actively hiding from us, we'll never find it. You said it yourself, Sam, it can be fucking invisible if it wants to be."
"Then you take him outside and I'll stay here. It doesn't always have to be you." Sam pulled out the big guns, the soft beseeching voice, down swept gaze, looking back up to meet Dean's eyes in a direct plea. Works every time.
"Yeah. Yeah it does, Sam." Determination evident in Dean's clenched jaw.
Unless it doesn't work at all.
And just like that, Sam found himself crouched down trying one more time to rouse the unconscious man before he had to carry him out of the building. This time he was met with more success. The guy's head began turning from side to side jerkily before he blinked his eyes rapidly and then he was staring at Sam with utter bewilderment on his face. His eyes tracked from Sam to Dean who was standing nearby.
"What's going on? Who are you?" Worry tinged the guy's voice.
This was going to take a soft touch and careful handling to keep the poor guy from completely panicking. Nothing like waking up to find two strangers standing over you, not to mention the whole possible memory loss thing. Sam caught Dean's eye and cocked his head sharply to the side. Move back a little bit. Dean caught the meaning, nodded, and took two steps backwards.
"Hey, how're you doing? My name's Sam and that's Dean over there. We just found you here. Do you remember what happened?" Sam's expression was one of pure concern.
"No." The guy frowned in concentration. "I was in my apartment…I think…and now I'm…where am I?"
"You're at work, at least I assume you work here. What's your name?"
"My name's Jack… Jack Bastian, but I don't work here. I'm a student over at William and Mary College."
"College student, huh? You look older than that. How old are you?" Sam shared a look with Dean, eyebrows raised.
"Just turned 21." It sounded more like a question than a statement.
"OK then." Not. "We need to get you out of here. You need some help getting up?" Sam extended his hand and Jack clambered up.
The trip down in the elevator was quiet, both men lost in their own thoughts. Sam was sure that Jack's thoughts probably centered around 'What the hell?' And he didn't have any answers that he thought Jack would be willing to accept, so instead Sam thought about what it meant to be the younger brother.
Being the little brother truly sucked sometimes. For instance every time Dean said 'You get the kids, or the old lady, or the friggin dog, out of here and I'll go face unspeakable danger all by myself'. Like that was perfectly acceptable. And every time Sam swore to himself that he wouldn't let Dean take those kinds of risks and yet every time he did. What's up with that? It must have something to do with being in the heat of the moment. In the middle of the chaos Dean just sounded so sure that what he expected Sam to do was the most logical thing in the world. He didn't hesitate and his certainty was contagious. The Wendigo in Colorado earlier this year had already injured Dean when he went running off the take the damn thing on while instructing Sam to get Haley and her brothers to safety. And just about a month ago the disastrous hunt for the Rawhead had nearly killed his older brother when he sent Sam out of the house with the two kids while he stayed in the basement with his amped up taser. Now here it was happening again. Shit!
Sam hustled Jack off the elevator as soon as the doors opened and was almost pushing him along with a hand at his back when a grinning man walked rapidly towards them.
"There you are Jack. I was just coming to see if you wanted to join Steve and me for a beer." The good natured guy gave Jack a small punch on the arm.
Jack was looking at good-natured-guy as though he had two heads, but Sam just wanted, needed, to get back to Dean before the stupid jerk did something stupid.
Before Jack had time to protest, Sam said, "Can you help us out? I just found Jack upstairs on the ground. We're not sure what happened, but he's pretty confused right now. Can you make sure he gets home all right?"
Good-natured-guy also turned out to be helpful-concerned-guy and he was instantly solicitous. "Of course. Hey Jack, you feeling OK? Come on, man, let's get you home. I'm sure Cindy will want to know about this."
Sam gave Jack a quick nod when he turned doubtfully to follow good-natured-helpful-concerned-guy towards the exit of the building.
Without a backwards glance, Sam was off and running back to the elevators. Something's not right. The burning pit in his stomach was not the result of a vision or a premonition, it was caused by the sudden realization that there was no way Dean had stayed put, blocking the hallway, waiting for Sam to return so they could hunt the Stalker together. When had Dean ever done that? Sure, he had made it sound like he was only staying behind to make sure the Stalker remained trapped down the dead-end hallway. Why did I believe him?
Sam punched the elevator call button with more force than was required. He paced back and forth. Maybe the stairs would be faster, it's only five floors. He turned towards the stairwell and the bell to the elevators dinged. Changing directions again, Sam boarded the elevator and punched the fifth floor button. Come on, come on, come on.
On to ( Chapter 4 )
Back to ( Chapter 2 )
Back to ( Chapter 1 )