Flesh Masks

Here I Go Again

Here I go again on my own,

Going down the only road I've ever known.

Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone.

And I know what it means

To walk along the lonely street of dreams…

~ Whitesnake

The fire trucks arrived too late to salvage the inn. Amidst the flashing lights and the smoking rubble, Murphy kept the fire chief busy with questions while EMTs tended to Sam and Dean. Plastic cups of water shoved into their hands and shock blankets forcibly draped over their shoulders, the ambulance workers ignored their protests and got to work.

Both men finally submitted to minimal care, allowing the EMTs to clean and bandage Sam's wrists and Dean's face. At the mention of being taken to the hospital to have his stitches redone, Dean rebelled and stalked over to where Dresden was propped up on a gurney, his knee already in a brace, having a similar argument with the ambulance workers.

"Sir, You really should let us take you to the hospital," the one EMT was saying to the wizard.

Harry had his arms folded across his chest as one of the ambulance workers gently examined his throat. He fixed the one worker with a mutinous glare and was about to snap back a retort when Murphy hurried up and flashed her badge.

"I'll take him, gentlemen. Thank you for your assistance."

"Ma'am, if he isn't looked at by a doctor soon, I'm afraid that many of his injuries will take a decided turn for the worse."

"We have his preferred medical professional on call," Murphy interrupted smoothly. "And we've already prepared the facilities. If you'll just allow me to take him there, he'll receive all the care he needs."

The EMT nodded reluctantly and gestured for his assistant to come away. They retreated to the front of the ambulance. Murphy lifted herself on her toes to peer at Harry's throat. She let out a low whistle and patted his arm.

"I've already called Butters," she said softly. "He's waiting at your apartment."

"Thanks, Murph," Harry sighed gratefully and smiled at her before waving his arm at Dean.

"Mind helping me off this thing?"

Dean nodded and helped Murphy lever the wizard off the gurney. The two of them slung his arms over their shoulders and got him to the Blue Beetle, which Murphy had retrieved for him. Sliding Harry into the passenger seat, she glared at Dean. As soon as the wizard was settled, she marched the hunter a short ways away and whirled on him.

"You're wanted for murder," she snarled, "breaking and entering, arson, grave desecration, credit card fraud - the list just goes on. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't arrest you where you stand."

"You trust the wizard?" Dean crossed his arms. "Well, he trusts us."

Murphy reluctantly nodded her head.

"The fact that Harry vouched for you is the only reason you're standing out here instead of sitting cuffed in my car." She sighed. "We operate in a world where monsters can take any form they want to and powerful creatures can get in your head and manipulate you, so if he says you're good, then I'll believe him. But," her voice hardened as she stared up at the hunter, "if you and your brother aren't out of my town in one hour, I'll lock you both up for impersonating federal agents and turn you over to the proper authorities for the rest. Do I make myself clear?"

Dean nodded and Murphy stalked away to wrap things up with the fire chief. Hands in his pockets, Dean strolled back the Beetle and rested his arm against the doorjamb as he leaned down to peer into the car.

"Geez, it's easy to forget how tiny she is. Is she always like that?"

Harry just chuckled and shot the hunter a battered grin as he leaned back in the seat.

"What are you gonna do about that?" Dean asked, jerking his head towards the smoldering remains of Wren's Nest.

The wizard's grin faded as he looked out at the wreckage.

"A lot of love went into that place," he said quietly. "My friend, Michael, renovated most of it with his own hands. His wife made every quilt. I crafted the wards and laid the devil's traps myself. Jenny hung every curtain, every painting, arranged every room," Harry's voice trailed off. He blinked a few times and cleared his throat. "It was a home to a lot of people. If they want to rebuild it, I'll help them. If not, then I suppose the city will claim the land and something else will go up in its place."

"You gonna go after them?"

Harry shook his head.

"By Faerie standards, the Erlking has a rightful claim on both of them," he ground out from between clenched teeth. "What few connections I've got in the Nevernever aren't nearly enough to challenge him. And the bargains I would have to make..." he shook his head again, more vehemently. "There are some lines I won't cross for anyone."

Dean grunted sympathetically and both men stared sullenly at the charred lot across the street. Just then, interrupting their brooding before it could really form any momentum, Sam hurried over, having extracted himself from the ambulance workers. He leaned in to catch Dresden's eye and the three men watched as the emergency vehicles pulled away.

Harry narrowed his eyes at the younger Winchester and cocked his head.

"You know, it takes power to use something's Name against it like you did back there."

Sam stiffened but Harry just smiled reassuringly and settled himself more comfortably in the car.

"I'm not complaining, mind you. But it would be interesting to dig into your family tree. I'd stake a month's rent that you've got some sort of Power in your bloodline."

Sam and Dean both fidgeted slightly before the elder Winchester spoke up.

"We should probably split, Sammy. Dresden's lady-cop gave us an hour to get out of here before she arrests us."

"Well," Sam stuck his hands in his pockets. "Take care of yourself, Harry. You know how to get in touch if you ever need us."

Harry reached out of the car to clasp his hand.

"Same. Lemme know if you ever come up this way again. You two are handy in a fight."

Dean thumped the top of the car and walked over to the Impala. Sam waved at Harry and followed suit, frowning over the top of the car as his brother twisted the key in the lock and swung himself into the driver's seat.

"Hey," he looked over at Dean. "You okay?"

His brother snorted as the Impala rumbled to life and pulled away from the curb.

"Of course. Why wouldn't I be?"

Sam's mouth quirked down in annoyance.

"Well, Kess... I mean... we couldn't save her."

"I'm fine, Sammy." Dean's tone left no room for argument.

Sam sighed and looked out the window as Dean flicked on the radio.

Here I go again on my own,Going down the only road I've ever known.Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone...

Whitesnake blared from the speakers and he turned the volume up, knuckles white on his other hand as he gripped the steering wheel, keeping his eyes fixed on the road ahead.

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