Free Will In Restraints

Chapter Two

4:42am

Dean glanced at his watch as he brought the car to a screeching halt, pushing open his door and quickly climbing out.

The drive from the motel had taken him just under fifteen minutes—speed limits had been ignored, he'd flown passed anything that had gotten in his way and had avoided the downtown routes and the street lights with all he had. While driving, he'd tried his best to scan the sidewalks and the occasional side streets for any sign of the inhumanly tall little brother with the floppy brown hair, but there'd been nothing.

And Dean couldn't ignore the rock that was now sitting in the very pit of his stomach.

Something was wrong. Something had happened or was going to happen.

He could feel it.

Pulling his gun from its usual spot under his jacket, he immediately switched off the safety and raised it in tandem with his flashlight. The small beam of light swept back and forth in front of him, searching for any kind of movement…listening for any kind of sound.

Their dad had told them for years that any good hunter could walk into a room and instantly know whether or not there was a threat, supernatural or otherwise. The feeling was almost like a physical contact, a cold caress of the skin that brought on goosebumps…a presence that, when felt, practically demanded alertness. A hunter's sixth sense, he'd called it.

It had taken a long time for Dean to get to that point, even longer for Sam; but now that he had that sense, it was like an extension of himself.

His alter-ego—the hunter—was waiting just under the surface and Dean let it take control. His movements, his instincts, what he saw and how he interpreted it. It was all learned and practiced, honed to a near perfection that had made hunters twice his age take notice.

He was a predator looking for a predator.

He was a big brother looking for a little brother, the very reason for his existence.

There was something around, he knew it. He could practically smell it—the hunger, the nearly uncontrollable desire for violence and torn flesh.

Everything supernatural had a stench, a truly horrible reek, as if nature itself was protesting it's very existence. Werewolves, vampires, malevolent spirits…they weren't supposed to exist. This was why hunters existed. To restore the balance and to protect the naive population from the evil sons of bitches who lurked and squatted in the dark.

When children go through that phase growing up where they're afraid of the dark, the standard words of comfort for parents to say is "there's nothing to be afraid of".

Hunters as a community knew how ridiculous that statement was. There were always things to be afraid of.

And that's when he heard it.

A loud and animalistic snarl, followed by the sound of flesh meeting concrete. There was no screaming, no calling for help…no nothing.

And suddenly, Dean knew.

Sam.

He was moving before he was even aware of it, tearing around the crumbling corner of the warehouse with his eyes searching frantically and wildly.

As soon as he rounded the corner, he saw it—a slim figure with long brown hair and sharp claws, emitting some of the most terrifying sounds a person could ever hear. And there, lying on the ground, with the wolf perched entirely on his chest, was Sam.

"Hey!"

Dean's sharp voice rang out and the wolf whipped around, it's chest heaving with each breath and it's eyes flashing dangerously. The two locked eyes—the creature and the big brother—both silently daring the other to make the first move.

The fresh blood that was dripping down the monster's chin was enough to make the monster inside Dean rear it's head and roar.

The gun was raised, the trigger was pulled, the first shot was fired…the clip was eventually emptied.

The body of the young female werewolf jerked violently as the shots made contact with her chest, her mouth open in a silent cry of either surprise or pain, Dean didn't know or care.

She hit the ground bonelessly and after half a second's hesitation—watching to make sure she stayed down—Dean took off across the asphalt, dropping to his knees and practically skidding to Sam's side.

"Sam!"

At the sight before him, Dean stepped off the edge of panic and crashed, head first, right into hysteria.

Sam was clearly unconscious, his head rolling to the side and giving Dean a perfect view of the raggedly torn wound in his left shoulder. With Sam's blood-soaked shirt it was impossible to tell whether the wound was a bite mark or a claw mark, but it didn't matter. There'd been fresh blood dripping down the werewolf's chin.

It clunked into place painfully in the recesses of Dean's mind.

A werewolf.

Fresh blood.

A gaping wound in Sam's shoulder that was too torn and too ragged.

A paleness to the younger man's skin that was terrifying.

Oh God, no.

Dean forced himself to swallow the bile that he could feel rising in his throat. His panic was getting the best of him and he had to pull it together. Sam needed him to pull it together.

With a trembling but sure hand, Dean pressed two of his fingers to the pulse point in Sam's throat and waited with a nearly painful anxiety.

Thump.

Thump.

And there it was, the absolutely beautiful feeling against his fingertips.

Swallowing hard again and fighting back tears, he placed a hand on either side of Sam's face and turned his head to face him. "Sammy? Hey—" Running the pad of his thumb gently underneath one of Sam's sunken eyes, Dean nearly exploded with relief when there was the smallest flutter under the bruised-colored eyelids. "Come on, man, look at me."

It only took three seconds for Sam to slowly and painfully open his eyes.

But Dean would remember it as the longest three seconds of his life.

The heartbreakingly familiar hazel eyes were cloudy and terrified and the second they focused on Dean's face, they filled with tears.

Intense relief.

It was unabashed and blatant.

"Dean..."

Sam's voice was barely a whisper in the fading darkness. The sound of his baby brother breathing his name in such a way broke the dam that had been designed to hold in his tumultuous emotions; a single tear hung precariously from Dean's lower lashes.

And never before, since Sam was a child, had Dean's name on his lips sounded so much like a plea. A plea that said, "It hurts."

He gave a quick nod, his fingers expertly catching a tear as it leaked from the corner of Sam's eye. "I know, Sammy. I'm gonna get you outta here."

"Wolf?"

Turning to look just a few feet to his left, Dean cautiously scanned the still body of the werewolf again. The striking blue eyes were wide and lifeless, the long claws had retracted back into perfectly manicured fingernails, and the pointed teeth had withdrawn back to their normal size.

Her bloody chest was completely riddled with bullet holes, a physical testament to Dean's murderous rage.

She couldn't have been older than twenty.

Looking back down to Sam and pushing away whatever guilt he might have been feeling, Dean reassured him gently, "Blown away. It's done."

The younger brother almost seemed to deflate in obvious relief and his eyes slipped closed. Unconsciousness was calling and Dean gave him a gentle shake, "Sam, hey, open your eyes." The hazel orbs were slowly pulled open again and Dean shook his head, voice serious. "Don't fall asleep, you hear me?"

The idea of Sam falling into slumber, whether asleep or passed out, was completely terrifying for two reasons.

One, after suffering such an injury it was important to keep a victim awake and responsive, at least until proper treatment was given.

And two? They'd learned from experience that werewolves didn't transform until after the infected person had fallen asleep. If the wound on Sam's shoulder was a bite, he had to keep the kid as awake as possible until he could get them in the car and on the way to Bobby's. Dean didn't know if the transformation could take place while a victim was passed out, but he wasn't about to take any chances.

If he was suddenly forced to choose between having a werewolf for a brother, or reloading a fresh magazine into his gun…

He wasn't even going to go there.

"Come on, we gotta get outta here."

Trying to avoid the bloody gouge in his shoulder, Dean maneuvered one arm across Sam's back and slowly pushed the kid into a sitting position. Every puff of agonized breath, every stifled groan of pain that Sam uttered—or tried not to—set Dean's teeth on edge.

When Sam felt pain, Dean did, too.

And right now, both brothers were practically drowning in it.

Sam's skin was freezing cold to the touch and Dean did the only thing he really wanted to do.

As gently as possible he pulled Sam forward against his chest. The chill radiating through Sam's clothing made Dean shiver slightly as he wrapped his arms around him, his cheek resting against the side of Sam's hair. "It's ok, Sammy." He whispered quietly, carefully tightening the embrace. He could feel Sam instantly relax, melting into his chest and soaking up his warmth.

The adrenaline of it all was wearing off as he sat there, holding his injured and shivering little brother in his arms. He knew they had to move. He knew they had to get to Bobby's as quickly as possible. He knew they needed to prepare for the worst possible situation. But at that moment, all he wanted was to sit there…pretending that his already chaotic world wasn't crumbling down around him.

Manly stoicism be damned.

The preceding three years in the Winchester history book had been full of harsh words, terrifying moments, painful goodbyes and equally horrendous time spent alone. They'd lost their dad and countless close friends. They'd each had their fair share of loving and leaving. No day was ever the same as the day before.

But at the center of it all, they themselves had always been there. Both men had changed drastically since Dean had unexpectedly shown up at Sam's dark Stanford apartment four years prior. After two years apart, they'd taken the time to get to know one another again—even though, at first, it hadn't been particularly easy.

They'd grown together as brothers.

Sam no longer felt the desire to complain when Dean called him Sammy.

And Dean no longer looked at Sam as only someone who needed protecting—the younger man was considered an equal on the hunting playing field. To a certain extent.

It was amazing how only a few months of secrets and lies had torn all that apart…piece by piece. Torn apart what had been four years in the making.

And as Sam started trembling in Dean's arms, the older man had never felt worse about it.

"Ok-" He swallowed hard, adjusting himself slightly in preparation. "We gotta get outta here."

"…'m tired."

"I know, Sammy, but we gotta go. Bobby's waitin' on us, remember?"

"Now?"

"Yeah, right now." Dean arranged himself so that he was crouching, all his weight back on his feet, and he grabbed Sam under his arms. "Can you stand at all?"

Sam weakly nodded, stuttering from either injury or cold. "Y-yeah, I think s-so."

"Just…lean on me, ok?" Dean gritted his teeth. "You ready?" There was another weak nod against his shoulder and he heaved, standing himself up straight and pulling Sam's near dead-weight along with him. There was a small cry of pain from Sam and a grunt of effort from Dean, but both brothers managed to get to their feet. "You ok?"

Sam's chin hooked over Dean's shoulder as he rested his weight. The lack of response had Dean shrugging his shoulder, effectively—but gently—bouncing Sam's head. "Sam?"

"Hmm."

"You gotta stay awake, man."

All Dean got was a tired sigh.

So he jostled his shoulder again. "Sam."

The hold that Dean had on him shifted from a crutch to a brotherly embrace. "It's important you stay awake, Sammy." He said softly, directly into Sam's ear. "You can't be fallin' asleep on me. Not 'til we get to Bobby's."

Sam nodded, again, against Dean's shoulder. He knew that was the best he was gonna get.

Pulling Sam's good arm across the back of his neck, Dean took on nearly all of his brother's weight and turned them in the direction of the car. He could just barely make out the gleaming front end of his girl in the feeble early morning light and it was like a beacon calling him home.

"Gonna have to look over my baby once it's light enough out." Dean's voice was strained under Sam's considerable weight. The pointless conversation was purely to keep his little brother's eyes open—no matter how tired he was, after an event like that, if Dean was talking, Sam would be listening. "Dirt roads, man…dirt roads are hell on the suspension."

"She's…tough."

"Still, it's a pain in the ass."

Sam's head lolled slightly to the side and, in response, Dean tried to quicken their pace.

"Almost there, Sammy."

The remaining distance to the car was angsty and worry-filled—Sam's head still lolling and Dean nattering to him incessantly about nothing.

For a man who usually had things pretty planned out, Dean had absolutely nothing. He had no ideas, no plans, no gentle reassurances to give. Most of the time he found the strength within himself to do what he could to make light of their crappy situations, mainly to make sure Sam stayed positive and happy. But in that instant, in that situation, there wasn't really much lightness to be found.

Yeah, Sam had survived…which was a miracle in itself. But the nightmare was just beginning, Dean could feel it.

His own personal nightmare was just warming up.

He could feel that, too.

Dean's outstretched hand made contact with the cool metal of the Impala's passenger door and he chuckled nervously, again trying to appear calm and collected. "Here we go, kid." Gripping the door handle he quickly yanked it open and tried to position them. "Ok, we gotta get you in here."

Sam merely made a noise in the back of his throat.

"On the count of three, you're gonna slide into the seat, ok?"

"I…don't think…I can."

"Sure you can." Dean tried to smile encouragingly. "Just let me do all the work, dude. All you gotta do is lift your leg and get it in there."

Sam slowly blinked. "Ok."

The effort the younger man put forth at that moment made a warm feeling erupt in Dean's chest—he was hurting, probably more so than what was visible on the outside. But Dean had asked him to do something…to lift his leg into the car…and in pain or not, he was going to make himself do it.

Dean once again found himself supporting all of his brother's weight as Sam gingerly tried to lift his foot. He gave a small moan of pain and he faltered, the sole of his hiking boot smacking uselessly against the doorframe.

Gritting his teeth again, Dean heaved slightly—enough to raise Sam's foot the few centimeters it took to get over the frame.

Sam moaned again. "Sorry…Dean."

"Don't be sorry, Sammy, it's ok. You're doin' good." He gave Sam a little squeeze. "On the count of three, we're gonna slide you in, ok?" Sam nodded tiredly. "Start counting when you're ready."

His eyes slowly drooped closed and just as Dean was about to shake him awake, the eyes opened again—they were considerably more cloudy than they had been before.

They had to get moving.

After a few seconds, Sam weakly started the count. "One."

Dean nodded and joined in.

"Two."

"Three."

Dean lowered Sam as gently and quickly as he could, carefully watching that he slid perfectly into the familiar vinyl seat. The cry of pain was enough to make Dean's chest ache but he forced himself to swallow. "You ok?"

Breathing shallowly, Sam gave a slow nod. "Ok."

"Alright, watch out." Without the slightest hesitation Dean pushed the door closed and took off around the front bumper to the driver's side. Sam was in the car…he was as comfortable as he was going to get for the time being…it was time to seriously haul ass.

When he started the car a few seconds later, the engine roared and growled loudly—Dean felt the urgency and it was almost as if the Impala did, too. There was no lag, no hesitation from his baby when he hit the gas; the car simply moved, lurching into action and spraying dirt and gravel everywhere as they sped back towards the main road.

Fifteen minutes later, they found themselves practically flying down the Interstate. Bobby was forty-five minutes away and Dean was determined to cut that travel time down as much as he could. He once again found himself ignoring speed limits, using his inherited and built in radar detector to watch out for cops who might be looking to get in his way.

He didn't have time for the law. He didn't have time to follow it.

He was a big brother on a mission, and God help anyone that tried to stop him.

Glancing at Sam quickly, he asked, "Sammy? You still with me?"After digging around in the pocket of his jeans, Dean pulled out his cell phone and flipped it open. "I gotta call Bobby, ok? Let him know we're comin'."

"Ok."

"I want you to listen to my voice when I'm on the phone, Sam. Don't fall asleep and keep pressure on your shoulder."After taking a second to gain control of his wayward emotions, he dialed the familiar number, not having the patience to find it in his phonebook.

He was so anxious, he counted the rings.

"Yeah?"

Dean nearly cried at the familiarly gruff voice. "Bobby?"

"Dean? It's five o'clock in the damn mornin', boy. Where the hell are you?"

"We're on our way now. There's been an accident."

"Accident? What kind of accident?"

"Sam went after the wolf on his own. He's banged up pretty bad." Dean swallowed again. "I think he's got a bite, Bobby."

The silence on the other end of the line was possibly the loudest silence Dean had ever heard. He could picture Bobby's horrified face in his mind; eyes wide, mouth hanging open…there would be fear in the old man's expression. Fear of what could happen, fear of what might come to pass.

Dean understood. He felt the same way.

"Are you sure?"

"Pretty sure. He's bleeding from the shoulder—can't see the wound, there's too much blood."

"He got pressure on it?"

Dean glanced over, zeroing in on the battered old t-shirt Sam was struggling to keep in place over the wound. "Yeah." Moving his eyes to Sam's face, he added, "Sam?"

Sam gave a weak nod and slowly raised his free hand, giving a truly pathetic thumbs-up.

Dean very nearly smiled.

"How far are you?"

"'Bout forty-five minutes. Half an hour, if I can do it."

Bobby sighed. "Ok. Honk when you're pullin' in, I'll be ready."

Dean nodded even though Bobby couldn't see it. "Thanks, Bobby." Pulling the phone from his ear, he snapped it closed and absently threw it into his lap. His eyes immediately flashed over to Sam. "How you doin'?"

The younger brother's eyes were closed, his breathing seeming to get shallower and shallower with each passing minute.

When he didn't answer, Dean's panic skyrocketed. "Sam!"

His eyes remained closed and Dean could practically feel him slip into unconsciousness.

He got no response.

Sam was out.

So Dean did the only thing he could do—he hit the gas, pushing the Impala even harder than before.

The engine rumbled and roared in response, pavement disappearing under the tires.

END

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