Twenty-OneDean’s shot hadn’t missed.
When his Pastor Jim gently nudged him to one side in order to properly evaluate Sam’s condition, the young hunter finally allowed himself to take in the room around him. The naked bulb hanging from the ceiling was swinging slightly overhead, highlighting the bloodstains that decorated the floor sporadically, and bouncing off the silver chains that Dean had spotted earlier.
Now that he was closer, he could make out the strange shapes at the end of them – cuffs and a collar, glinting with crimson, and his stomach churned at the sight of them.
There was a discarded water bottle against one wall, an empty bucket resting on its side, and the concrete floor by the chains was still drying. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that it had probably been tipped straight over his brother’s head. A smear of thick, red liquid led from the bottom of the stairs and to the left, where Sam had no doubt dragged himself into the shadows.
It was there that Dean saw the first body. It was a big man, and the hunter in him recognised almost instantly that he’d been dead for hours; the deep wound in his chest was a perfect fit for the knife that had been lying next to Sam’s hand, and Dean registered that it had been his brother that had made the kill.
It was that thought that had his eyes skipping to the woman, throat opened in a grotesque smile and a bloody handprint staining her tights. Her eyes were still open, staring unseeingly at the ceiling, and the flower on her breast pocket was a dark shade of pink. He felt an irrational rush of pride at the fact that Sam, sick and weak and injured, had managed to take out two hunters by himself. It was coupled with sadness – the knowledge that his brother had now lost that last shred of innocence that he’d possessed until now. Dean knew from experience that there was no way back from a human kill.
His eyes found the two remaining hunters, outstretched arms crossed over one another and a gun between them. The big hunter, the one that Dean now recognised that he had shot, had a bullet wound between his eyes. The second, smaller and slimmer, had a wound through his temple. Dean was taken aback by how young the second hunter was, in his early twenties at best, and his eyes shot towards his father.
John’s eyes met his, dark and unwavering, and he shook his head slightly. “He went for the other one’s gun. I never would’ve shot him if I’d had another choice.”
Dean knew it was the truth, and dipped his head in acknowledgement, turning his attention back to his brother.
Sam hadn’t stirred, not so much as flickered as Jim tentatively checked him for injury, and Dean’s worry ratcheted up a notch at the lack of response.
It was clear that the younger Winchester was in real trouble. Dean had one hand clasped around his wrist, fingers slippery with blood but trained on the erratic pulse underneath, and his eyes sought out the shallow movements of the shifter’s chest. One leg and his other wrist were broken badly enough that the damage was visible, and his shirt was rucked up far enough to showcase the vibrant bruising on his abdomen. There was an open gash on his forehead, still dripping down across his eye and leaving gory streaks across his face, and there was an angry line across his neck where the silver collar had once sat.
“He’s in a bad way,” Jim announced into the silence, running a hand through his grey-streaked hair. Dean’s stomach flipped when he saw the streaks of red that the movement left behind. “The break in his leg is going to need surgery, probably the wrist too, and I’m about ninety-percent certain that he’s bleeding internally. He’s cold and clammy, breathing shallowly and his heartbeat is unsteady – judging by the burns on his chest, my best guess is he’s been tazered.”
Dean’s lunch threatened a reappearance, and it took nearly more willpower than he had to force it back down again.
Across from him, John shifted in his crouched position, one hand reaching out to absently stroke along the side of his son’s face even as he met Jim’s eyes. “Is he stable enough to move?”
Jim sighed quietly, shaking his head a little. Dean refused to look at his face, didn’t want to see the expression of despair that he knew would be there. “Probably not. But keeping him on a dirty, concrete floor isn’t gonna do him any favours, either, and the sooner we can get him to a hospital the better.”
“Can we even take him to one?”
Dean jumped at the sound of Bobby’s gruff voice sounding over his shoulder, having forgotten the elder hunter was even there. His brow furrowed at the older man’s words, unable to comprehend what was being suggested. Sam clearly needed a hospital. Why wouldn’t they take him to one?
“If you’re careful,” Donovan answered before Dean even really processes what they’re talking about. “They’re gonna notice something’s up with him before long. If he needs surgery, then he needs surgery, but the faster you can get him back out of there afterwards the better.”
Dean scowls. “How do we know you’re not lying?”
Donovan releases a long-suffering sigh. “You’re really not getting this, Dean. My kind is – above all – loyal. I owe Sam my life, and in return, I will do everything in my power to ensure that he keeps his own. Right now, even a shifter’s healing isn’t going to do any good – he simply hasn’t got the energy. If you leave him untreated, he’ll die. If you leave him to the doctors, he’ll end up a science experiment in a lab somewhere.”
Damn it, but the shifter was right.
He steeled his resolve, dipping his head in a small nod. “How are we going to move him?”
It took far longer than Dean would have liked for Bobby and his father to fashion some of the wood from the dining table upstairs into a pseudo-backboard.
The transfer from cold concrete to smooth wood was made with far too much ease, and Dean found himself grateful for the first time that their father had made them practice all sorts of first aid when they were younger – including procedures to follow where possible spinal injuries were involved. At this point in time, everyone concerned had agreed it was the best route forwards to act as if Sam had suffered a severe injury to his neck or spine. Goodness knew that they couldn’t rule it out with any certainty, and the drag marks across the floor suggested that Sam hadn’t been able to use his legs in his attempt to escape.
Once the hunters had managed to get their youngest up the stairs, they’d loaded him into the bed of Bobby’s truck, and Dean had wasted no time in joining them, tucking his own leather jacket around his brother in an attempt to stave off the chilly night air. It had been no surprise when Jim had followed him up with the med kit in hand, and Dean was more than a little grateful for the fact that the man was a trained field medic as he set out to assess Sam’s vitals again. Donovan joining them was a surprise, but Dean had more important things to worry about.
They were halfway to the hospital, doing at least twice as fast as the speed limit and struggling to keep Sam as still as possible, when everything started going downhill.
Jim had keeping a close eye on Sam’s breathing and heart rate throughout the drive, ensuring that they weren’t getting any worse, and Dean felt his heart sink as soon as he saw the Pastor shift his grip a little on Sam’s wrist and reach out to press an unobtrusive hand against the young man’s chest.
“What is it?” He demanded hotly, nudging his leather jacket aside as he allowed his fingers to grip Sam’s other wrist, checking the pulse there for himself. It didn’t take a genius to figure out the problem; when Dean had checked his brother over earlier, his pulse had been thready and weak. Now it was so faint that he could barely feel it against his fingertips, and he could see the slight blue tinge to Sam’s fingernails.
They were losing him.
“He’s bleeding out too fast,” Jim explained loudly, fighting to be heard over the rush of the wind. “His BP could bottom out at any minute, and if that happens…”
Dean didn’t need a medical degree to understand what he was being told.
“What about a transfusion?” He demanded. “You’ve got all the equipment, right?”
Jim hesitated. “It’s not exactly a sterile environment – we’d be exposing him to the risk of infection. Not to mention that trying to pump him full of someone else’s blood could send him into shock… If it went wrong, he probably wouldn’t make it to the hospital.”
“He’s not going to make it to the hospital without one.” Dean snarled, ignoring the shake in his hands as he scrambled hastily for the med kit. “We don’t have any other choice.”
Jim nodded his head, hands gently nudging Dean’s out of the way as he searched through the medical kit for the necessary equipment; the younger hunter didn’t put up a fight, focusing instead on rolling up the sleeve of his flannel shirt.
He was stopped by yet another hand on his arm.
“What the hell are you doing?” He snarled at Donovan, shrugging free of the shifter’s loose grip. “I thought you wanted Sam to survive?”
Donovan rolled up the sleeve of his own shirt in response. “I do want him to survive. If the aim is to not send him into shock, then it’s probably safer to try him with the blood of another shifter before using human blood.”
Dean shook his head irritably. “Oh yeah? What are the chances you’re the same blood type as him?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Donovan dismissed. “We’ve done transfusions on each other for years with no ill effects. Sam might not be one of us by birth, but the fact that he’s able to shift successfully indicates that his body has adapted. At this point, my blood is much less likely than yours to trigger an untoward reaction… particularly with him as sick as he is.”
Under any other circumstances, Dean would have stood his ground. His father had drilled into him the importance of blood tests and matching an appropriate donor to a casualty, and every instinct in his body rebelled against the idea of going against those teachings. Unfortunately, Sam didn’t have time for them to work out the logistics of shape shifter blood donation.
Jim didn’t hesitate, sliding a needle neatly into the juncture of Donovan’s elbow.
The shifter didn’t so much as flinch, eyes staying resolutely on Dean as Jim connected him to Sam, allowing the blood to run from one shifter to the other.
“You’d better pray that this works.” Dean promised darkly.
**At some point, Bobby or their father must have phoned ahead and warned the hospital that they were on the way. They were greeted at the emergency doors by a waiting gurney and a team of nurses and doctors; Sam was moved from their makeshift backboard and onto a real one in a matter of seconds, and Dean clung to his brother’s hand as they were led along a series of twisting corridors.
He was stopped at a set of double doors with a hand on his chest, gently pushing him back into his father, and he felt rage boil over at the realisation that he was being separated from his brother. Ahead of him, Donovan was being ushered along at Sam’s side, still connected by a short length of tubing. He couldn’t stomach the thought of his brother being there by himself, and even worse was the idea of Sam being left defenceless with nothing more than a team of clueless doctors and nurses, and a supernatural creature that Dean couldn’t bring himself to trust.
He figured he was probably making a scene, struggling against his father and Bobby as they tried to hold him back, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. Sam needed him, damn it.
“Dean. Stop it now, son.” Their father was muttering. Dean figured that he was probably glancing around the room, taking in how many people were staring at them, but he couldn’t seem to tear his gaze away from the double doors that his brother had disappeared through. “Dean. Dean. That’s enough. They’re helping him.”
“No, no, no – I need to be in there! I promised him that I’d stay with him! I promised him, dad! He needs me!” He could, distantly, hear his own voice. He was talking fast, chest heaving, and he knew rationally that he was seconds away from hyperventilating. His father squeezed his shoulder gently, other hand grabbing Dean’s chin and forcing him to make eye contact. The fight drained from him in the same instant that he saw the tears in his father’s eyes, and his knees threatened to buckle underneath him. “I promised!”
“I know you did,” The eldest Winchester did softly, squeezing his shoulder again. “But we’ve done all we can for now. We need to let the doctors work, okay?”
Dean stood his ground for a few seconds longer, chest heaving with a fear that left him breathless, before finally letting himself sag into his father’s hold. As much as it pained him to admit it, they were right. There was nothing that Dean could do but sit and wait, settle himself into a cold plastic chair and pray to a God he wasn’t sure he believed in that Sam had enough fight left in him to pull through this. Dean couldn’t bear to think about what might happen if he didn’t. Sam was his life – had been his life since he’d cradled a tiny baby in his arms at the age of four, tripping over his own feet in blind panic as he scrambled to get his brother as far away from fire and flames as he could. Without Sam there was nothing.
Without Sam he was nothing.
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(A/N: So this is kind of a filler chapter. I promise you'll find out more about what's happening with Sam in the next segment!)