In the stunned silence that greeted that pronouncement, Castiel suddenly understood the meaning of the human phrase "so quiet you could have heard a pin drop". He also understood the meaning of "eyes boring through you", because the three pairs of huge wide eyes were doing just that. In an effort to quell the nervous feeling it gave him, he picked up his cup to take another drink of coffee and found himself blinking at it when it was found to be empty. He set it back down and looked at the three, trying not to shift under the scrutiny of their stares as he felt Jimmy go off laughing wildly in the back of his mind.
"What did you just say?" Dean asked at long last, his voice thick with disbelief and shock.
"Did you not hear me?' Castiel asked, concerned.
"Oh, we heard you," Sam said.
Bobby finished, "We're just havin' a hard time believing what we've just heard."
"I assure you, it's the truth," Castiel said, looking to see if there was another pancake. The stack was gone. He looked back up at the three starers. "The B'Shain are removers in the most literal sense of the word. They remove certain people -- sometimes entire families-- from Earth and take them elsewhere."
"Where?" the brothers asked in unison.
Castiel shook his head. "They have several places. I don't know where you would be taken."
"Why?" they chorused again.
"It varies from person to person. Sometimes it is what the person needs. Sometimes it is what the B'Shain require. In your case? It would be a combination of both. You require the Crossroads Deal to be broken without endangering your soulmate."
"My brother," Dean shot back instantly.
"Yes," Castiel said, raising one hand, palm to the sky. "Your brother. And--" He turned his other hand over. "The B'Shain require certain -- skills -- that the two of you possess. They are aware that if they take one of you, they take both of you." His hands moved like he was weighing on a balance. "It is mutually beneficial."
There was a long moment of silence, then Dean leaned forward, resting his arms on the table as he turned to face Castiel. "Fine. But I've got some questions of my own."
"First of all," Dean said, tapping the table, "you said this is pretty well permanent. Meaning once they take us, we can't return. We have friends here -- Bobby and Ellen and Jo, for three. We can't just abandon them. Find an answer to that."
"Second, I need to know exactly where they'll be -- relocating us. And exactly what we're going to be facing there. Otherwise I'm agreeing blind and you said that's something the B'Shain don't want me to do. And on that, I'm with them a hundred percent."
"Third, I need to know what I can and can't bring. Is there a weight limit or a space limit?"
"Is that it?"
"One more." Dean's head tilted, jerking toward the window behind him. "I ain't leavin' my baby behind. She's been home since I was four and she's the only home Sammy's ever known."
Bobby groaned. "We're talkin' about your life and you're worried about your car?"
Sam made a sound halfway between a huff and a laugh. "This is Dean, after all."
Bobby sat back. "Point taken."
Ignoring them, Dean smiled closed-mouthed at Castiel. "So you get those answers and get back with me."
"I shall. Is that all?"
Dean nodded. "For now. Sammy, you got anything to add?"
"No," Sam said slowly. "I think that just about covers it all."
Dean nodded again and turned back to Castiel. "Okay, then?"
"Okay," Castiel answered. He rose to his feet. "Thank you for the pancakes and coffee, Bobby. I genuinely enjoyed them."
And that got a slight smile out of the grizzled older hunter. "I think you did, Feathers. And you're welcome."
A gentle incline of the head, and Castiel was gone.
Sam turned to Dean. "The Impala as a bargaining chip, Dean? Really? We're talking about your life here--"
"I just want to see how serious they are," Dean interrupted what appeared to be a beauty of a rant ramping up. "If they're willing to work with me..."
Sam didn't have anything to say to that. He just leaned over and squeezed Dean's wrist before standing up and clearing the table.
Falling back on his childhood chores to disguise the knot of worry blooming in his stomach.
Would this work? What would the B'Shain say? How would this even develop? Could this really be it?
Could this really be the answer to surviving the Crossroads Deal?
Would this really avert the Apocalypse?
Heaven -- in Castiel -- and Hell -- in Crowley -- and now living science fiction -- the B'Shain -- were all working in tandem to keep Dean out of Hell.
All this for the soul of one man.
Sam looked at Dean over his shoulder, who was now staring out the window silently, his fingers twitching as if he itched to hold a cigarette.
A knot of love rose into Sam's throat, so large he felt for a second as if he was strangling with it.
And he found himself praying. Please.....please.
It was all he could do.
He hated waiting as badly as Dean did, he was just better about not showing it. But at the moment, he itched to pour bullets into something evil.
Just to have something to do.
As if sensing his scrutiny -- and who knows, maybe with this bizarre joined soul, he could -- Dean turned to face him. He smiled and stood up, walking over and clapping a hand onto Sam's shoulder. "Let's go into Sioux Falls for awhile, huh? Just to have something to do today."
Sam blinked in naked shock at him, then felt his lips curve into a smile. "Yeah," he whispered around the knot in his throat. "Yeah, sounds good."
It had been three days since Castiel had left with Dean's questions seared into his brain, and the angel hadn't reappeared.
Bobby had insisted they remain at his house and wait, "Just so Feathers won't have to traipse all over Creation to locate you boys."
It was okay, though. The brothers had needed somewhere to hole up and rest after the last few days. First the demon attack, then Lilith's massacre, then finding out Ruby wasn't the friend that they had believed her to be, and then finding out they were soulmates in the very literal sense of the word and then......
It had been almost too much to deal with.
"Brother," Dean had groaned the night Castiel had left the first time, keeling over onto the bed that had been his for as long as they'd been coming to Bobby's, "talk about an information dump!"
Sam lay there, now, watching Dean sleep and found himself shaking his head. Had it really only been five days since Hendrickson had captured them? In many ways it seemed like years and years ago.
Dean's eyes fluttered open and stared straight ahead, glazed with sleep. ".....dude...." he croaked out, still only half-awake. "Starin' at me?"
"Watching you sleep."
"Shut up and go back to sleep."
"Okay, I'll stop." He got up and gathered his clothes for a shower. He smiled as he realised he didn't have to look back to see if Dean had fallen back asleep.
He just knew Dean had.
In the shower, Sam let his thoughts wander. He had to catch them from wandering too far down the Playboy lane, chalking that up to the double influences of being a healthy 24 year old man and having part of his lecherous brother's soul lodged inside his own.
When they weren't trying to pick up stray Playmates, his thoughts wandered to the B'Shain and to Castiel. Sam wondered if there was going to be an answer today or if they'd have to wait a little bit longer.
He was still wondering that when he heard an indignant squawk from the bedroom, followed by Dean's bellow of: "DUDE! Number one, you don't wake somebody up from a sound sleep by poking two fingers into their forehead! And number two -- you're too close! There's a thing called personal space and you're violating it all over the place! BACK UP!"
Sam jerked on his jeans and ran into the bedroom the boys shared, to find Castiel standing up from Dean's bed and Dean sitting up, hands still out as though he'd shoved the angel. "You're back," Sam blurted out.
"And you're only half-dressed and I'm only half-awake!" Dean growled. "Cas, would you please go downstairs and wait for us? And see about putting on some coffee or getting Bobby to?"
The angel's head tilted in that strange bird-like fashion of his. "My name is Castiel, not Cas."
Dean glared up at him. "Your name is gonna be mud if you don't get out of here!"
Sam caught Castiel's eye and jerked his head toward the door. "Go on, we'll meet you downstairs. And try not to take it personal? Dean doesn't like to use three syllables when one will do."
Castiel nodded and then he was just.... gone.
Sam chuckled as Dean rolled out of bed. "His name you shorten, mine you lengthen?"
"You'll always be Sammy to me."
"Fine, whatever." He got a v-necked t-shirt and his white and blue plaid shirt out and got dressed while Dean lay out his own clothes and went into the shower.
Sam made up both beds, laying Dean's clothing back down the way he'd had it. He'd just sat down to pull on his socks and sneakers when he heard, "Sammy, you better not have touched my clothes!"
"Bite me, jerk!" he hollered back as he finished tying his shoes.
"Oh, bring it on, bitch," Dean shot back.
Sam grinned, enjoying the banter. "I'm headin' downstairs. If there's no coffee on, I'll put some on."
"And see how many eggs we've got? I'm in the mood for an egg sandwich."
"I'll see what I can do." Sam knocked his knuckles on the bathroom door once and headed downstairs, smiling as he tried to sort out his own feelings today.
Relief that Castiel was here. Joy that they were both still alive. A lot of grief, still, that Dean's clock was counting down a little every day. Hope that this would be the day that countdown stopped and they would be free from deals and demons at last.
Dread that that might be just a little too much to ask. A little fear as to what the B'Shain were going to actually do. Trepidation over whether or not this could actually work.
Too much emotion for one soul to hold.
Good thing Sam and Dean happened to share one, then.
Sam found Castiel standing by the counter, listening patiently as Bobby outlined how to operate the coffeemaker. Bobby stepped back and swept his arm toward it, and Castiel nodded and made coffee like he'd been doing it all his life. Bobby smiled and clapped him gently on the shoulder, and Sam couldn't help but smile when Castiel answered the older hunter with a smile of his own.
Sam walked into the kitchen then. "Morning. Dean's in the shower and his highness ordered an egg sandwich for breakfast."
"You fry the sausage, I'll handle the eggs," Bobby said. "And Feathers here can handle the toast." He walked him through it, then the three stood side by side cooking. The easy rhythm of it was broken only when Bobby insisted Castiel take off his trenchcoat and dress coat and roll up his sleeves. "Safer that way."
Dean arrived to find a plate of toast, a plate of sausage, and perfectly fried eggs waiting on the table. Sam was pouring coffee and Castiel was pouring juice. He blinked and looked over his shoulder. "Uh....I'm in the wrong house?"
"Siddown and eat, ya idjit," Bobby barked.
"Right house," Dean grinned and sat down, helping himself to the food as the others did the same.
Castiel would not eat, but he did drink a glass of orange juice while the humans finished breakfast.
When the dishes were all put away and the pans washed -- and Castiel was drying his hands after his first experience with dishwashing -- he smiled slightly at Bobby. "Thank you for allowing me to assist."
"Allowing my left foot," Bobby snorted. "You're here for breakfast, you help with breakfast. House rules."
The brothers nodded. "Been that way all our lives," Dean put in. "So, what've you got for us?"
Castiel rolled down his sleeves and pulled on his jacket, though he left his trenchcoat draped over the kitchen chair. "The B'Shain want to meet with the three of you. Here. Today."
Dean really hadn't known what he was expecting when the representative of the B'Shain showed up at the Salvage Yard. A traditional "little green man"? One of the big-eyed "greys" from the abduction accounts?
Whatever it was his brain supplied him with, the beautiful young red-haired woman that arrived with Castiel around 3 in the afternoon wasn't what he was expecting. Until she took her sunglasses off and he saw that her eyes were pink. "You're not an albino," he heard himself say.
She smiled at him. "No, I'm not. I'm B'Shain."
Sam frowned at this. "You're B'Shain. Is that a person, then, and not a race of people?"
Her smile grew. "It is my race. If you need a personal name, Helen will do fine."
"Helen?" Dean asked even as Sam finished "---of Troy?"
She laughed. "She was B'Shain, yes."
"Damn," Sam half-whistled.
Helen nodded at Dean. "We need to discuss certain things face to face."
"Of course." He gestured for her to come inside. She stepped over the salt line easily and walked through the devil's traps. "Something to drink?"
She nodded. "It has been a long journey. Water or tea would be nice."
Sam nodded and went to get some water for her as the others sat down in Bobby's living room.
Helen smiled as the glass was handed over and drained it. "Thank you," she said, handing it back. "That was very refreshing."
Dean looked at Sam, an eyebrow on the rise. Sam nodded - it had been holy water.
Instantly, the atmosphere in the room lightened a bit. "So," Dean asked with a charming smile. "You're going to be the ones to save my life?"
"And hopefully, in return, we can count on your assistance," Helen said with a nod. "But first, I understand you have some questions for me."
"That's why you're here, then," Bobby said from the doorway. "To answer our questions."
"Yes, that's why I'm here."
Sam passed him with the glass and whispered for Bobby's ears only, "Passed all the tests."
Bobby nodded. "That's why it's so chummy in there. Gotcha." He walked in, sliding the knife he'd been holding out of sight back into its hidden holster on his leg as he did so.
Dean was in the middle of a question when Bobby sat down. "---be doing out there? I mean, where do you remove these people to?"
Helen smiled at him. "Normally, we locate people to places where they can rest and live out their lives in peace and tranquility. But, for you two? I think you would be bored to death with that kind of life. We'd like to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. You would still hunt -- but it would be things that would not remove your soul to Hell."
Sam sat down beside Dean. "You mean more like hostile aliens."
"Among other things." Helen's smile grew. "We would train you. We would give you everything you needed."
Dean looked at Sam. "Given the alternative, that sounds pretty good."
Sam nodded, a smile finally starting to bloom.
Helen went on. "As for what you would be able to take, I'd say only what could fit in the trunk of your 'baby', as you put it."
Dean's eyes went huge. "I can take her?"
"She would have to be modified -- as would you -- but we will aid you with that. As for Bobby and your friends Ellen and Jo?" She sighed. "The worry is that once you are Removed, your enemies will go after them and destroy them. And that would defeat the purpose of your Removal. So I will need to speak with them and see if they would also be amenable to being Removed and set up in professions suited to their talents and skills."
Bobby's eyes widened. "I can call 'em, have 'em here in about twelve hours." Helen's head inclined in a nod, and Bobby went to another room, pulling his cell from his pocket as he did so.
"What about you?" Dean turned to Sam. "What about your friends? Anybody out there for--"
Sam was shaking his head. "There's nobody, Dean. There really hasn't been since Jess and Madison. There's really nobody I keep in touch with anymore and nobody I --" He stopped and sighed. "I was about to say it would be nice if there was some way Hendrickson could be notified that we were gone, but he's dead now, so it's a moot point."
Dean squeezed his shoulder.
Helen stood up. "Now, please take me to see this 'baby' of yours so I can tell you exactly what needs to be done to it."
Dean and Sam stood and as they walked out of the house, Dean asked, "Uh -- you're not going to turn her into a spaceship, are you?"
"Oh, no. But you will require ground transport and that's going to be her role." When Dean walked over and lay his palm on the Impala, Helen let out a low whistle through her teeth. "She's beautiful."
And Dean lit up like a Christmas tree on hearing the sincerity in her voice. His beaming smile said it all.
Helen circled the car. "There really isn't very much that needs to be altered. She's good and strong and large enough. There is room for the life-support nodule and the fuel system will have to be altered -- but I will get you assistance with that."
Dean nodded. He was willing to do anything to keep his 'baby' with them.
Something else Helen had said suddenly clicked for Sam. "Hold on -- you said we would have to be altered as well. What did you mean by that?"
And both boys felt a ribbon of ice slide down their spines at Helen's answering smile.
Helen and Castiel remained for lunch. Helen would say no more on the 'alterations' the boys would have to undergo, but she did tell them stories of the B'Shain's involvement in Earth's past.
Turns out Helen of Troy was not the only B'Shain to affect world history. Alexander the Great was an amnesiac B'Shain and the fever he died from had been caused by poison after all. Earth's atmosphere was poison to the B'Shain without regular medical treatment, which the amnesiac one hadn't known existed.
And there had been others, interfering when history got a little off-track. The Renaissance had been guided by the B'Shain, once they had become aware of why humanity had stagnated. World War II would have gone on twice as long if they hadn't interfered, and there was a good chance humanity would have been wiped out.
Sam raised the question if they had been aware of the Holocaust. And Helen's face fell when she admitted that the B'Shain were not omniscient. They had not known until just before the war ended. Her voice was cold and her pink eyes blazed when she added, "And it was ten times of great joy to find one of us had put a bullet through Hitler's brain."
The sound of a car outside cut short that story. Dean looked out the window. "It's Ellen and Jo."
"They're early," Sam mused.
"They must've pushed it," Bobby said as he headed for the door. "You wait here."
Some ten minutes later, Ellen and Jo walked in. Jo was still licking water off her lips. Bobby gave a nod, and the boys greeted them. "This is Helen," Dean introduced. "She's here to help."
"Help with what?" Ellen asked.
"Sit down, Mrs. Harvelle," Helen said, swinging a hand toward the couch. "I have a very long story to tell you and some of it you may find hard to believe. But trust us, it is all very true."
When silence fell, Ellen was shaking her head. "This is....." She stood up and paced for a moment, then she rounded and slapped Dean so hard he staggered.
"Ow," Dean said, glaring up at her as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "What was that for?"
"A Crossroads Deal, Dean? Really? And you---" she rounded on Sam, who put up his hands.
"I know, I know, I need to watch my back!" he said, taking a step backward out of her reach.
"Damn straight!" Ellen glared at him. Then she turned to the B'Shain. "What will happen to us if we go, too?"
"You will be Removed," Helen answered. "You will be set up on a world in a career that suits your talents and interests.All three of you shall, if this is what you wish."
Jo nodded. "Sounds good to me -- because I don't want to be reduced to a bargaining chip for something to come after Dean and Sam and them not even be here!"
Bobby chimed in, "Sounds about right to me, too."
"So you are agreeing to be Removed?" Helen asked.
The women nodded. "If it will save Dean -- and ultimately the world, if what you say is true?" Ellen began and at Helen's nod, she finished, "Yeah. I'll do it."
"Me, too," Jo said.
Bobby nodded. "I think the three of us will need a week to wind up our affairs here?" At the Harvelles' nods, he looked at Helen.
"Then meet here in a week," Helen said as she stood. "As for you two...."
"Yeah?" the brothers chorused.
Helen chuckled at that. "We need to get started right away."
"How do we start?" Dean asked.
"And what exactly do you plan to do to us?" Sam demanded.
"Adapt you," was all Helen said about that. She pressed a slip of paper into Dean's hand. "Load everything you want to bring in the Impala and drive to this address. There is a parking garage at the top of the building. Go up to the very top of it and drive into tunnel B at the top. You will understand once you're there."
Helen hugged them all and then turned to Castiel. "I am ready."
Castiel nodded and pressed two fingers to her forehead. There was a sound like fluttering wings, and they were both gone.
Other than their clothes and half their weaponry, they chose to bring a copy of their dad's journal. They left the original at Bobby's house. Each of them brought three similar bound journals -- blank -- to document their travels. Each of them brought a case of pens. Photographs were few and far between, but they were brought. Sam bought three ipods with three different cards, and spent two nights downloading every conceivable bit of music he could find. Classical. Jazz. Country. Three different flavours of rock.
Dean surprised him by buying a fourth. Together, they filled all four with movies and TV shows and music, music, music.
They went out to a different place every night. Pizza. Mexican. Italian. Chinese. Dean even tried sushi -- and found he didn't really care for it.
Then, as ready as they were ever going to be, they got into the Impala and drove to the address Helen had given them. At the top of the garage was a single tunnel marked B. They drove into it.
At the other end of the tunnel was a huge room that looked like a garage with more computers than they had ever seen in their life. Helen stood there, in a blue jumpsuit, smiling warmly at them as they turned off the car and stepped out.
Double pneumatic doors closed behind the Impala, and Helen's smile grew. "Welcome to the mothership of the B'Shain, gentlemen. Shall we get started?"
Helen introduced them to Mark, who was a short thin man with piercing pink eyes and black hair. He shook both their hands, then had Dean get back into the Impala and drive her into another massive room. As Dean got out, he recognised some diagnostic tools. "This is a garage, isn't it?"
Mark grinned. "Technically, yes. This is where the crafts are repaired." He circled the Impala. "She is beautiful, Dean. Your mechanical engineer on Earth did a marvelous job with her."
Dean beamed, and Sam chuckled. "Dean was the one who kept her up. He rebuilt her from practically the ground up nearly two years ago."
Mark let out a low whistle and grinned at Dean. "Then I would like you to help me in her modifications."
"Gladly." Dean set his jacket aside and rolled up his sleeves.
Helen touched Sam on the arm. "I need to speak with you. I have some questions."
Sam nodded. "I'll be back soon as I can."
Dean nodded and their eyes locked for a moment. Sam nodded, though he wasn't sure why, and he read relief in Dean's eyes before Dean turned to show Mark all that he'd done to the Impala when he rebuilt her.
Okay, that was strange, Sam thought, but he turned to go with Helen anyway.
She led him to a seating area just a couple of rooms down from where Dean was working with Mark. They sat and she said, "I know you are hunters. But the hunters I know are usually more well-armed than I have seen you. The weapons in the trunk are a little -- skimpy?"
Sam chuckled at the way she put that. "First of all, we've got some concealed in nearly everything. Including the clothing we're wearing right now."
Helen nodded. "Very smart."
"And we had duplicates of nearly everything, so we left the duplicates behind. He's better with guns, I'm better with blades. So we figured between us, we've got the bases covered without all the redundancies we'd built up over the years." He shrugged. "Plus it saves space if we need to rebuild a new arsenal."
"Which you will, out there," Helen assured him. "Some of your weapons that you used on Earth will be next to useless against the creatures out there."
"Yeah, we figured as much." He smiled. "That's why we left our father's journal behind as well. It is full of information on the supernatural creatures of our world, so we figured it would be an invaluable resource to other hunters. We brought raw materials to create our own hunting journals so we won't forget anything we learn of the dangers out there." He didn't see any reason to mention they had kept a copy of their father's journal simply because it had belonged to their father.
Helen sat back, visibly impressed. "You two never cease to amaze me. You are in a completely unfamiliar situation and you are adapting faster than any human we have Removed."
"Yeah -- uhm." Sam leaned forward a little, smiling slightly at her. "Speaking of adaptations -- you have mentioned several times that we would need to be 'altered'. I think it's about time we learned exactly what that means, don't you?"
Helen stared at him, blinking. Then she threw her head back and laughed. "And you also interrogate me as I am interrogating you! You are amazing, Sam Winchester. Very well, come with me. I will show you what we intend to do with you." She held up a hand. "It will not be done to you now. You and your brother will undergo it together. This is information only."
Sam stood up with her, nodding. "All right. Information only."
Sam walked back into the garage and Dean stood up from where he was bent into the trunk. "Well?"
"Well," Sam said, reaching to accept the duffel that Dean handed to him, "let's go bunk. We're in one room, and Helen assures me it's not bugged in any way."
"You know that doesn't mean much," Dean said as he followed his brother.
"I know, but considering she's been honest with us from the jump?" Sam shrugged. "I'm inclined to believe her."
Pneumatic doors opened onto a room reminiscent of hotel rooms. The decor was understated but nice, and the two king-sized beds looked absolutely inviting. "Whoa," Dean breathed and Sam grinned.
Dumping his duffel on one bed, Dean bounced a little on his bottom on it before he settled down and fixed Sam with a pointed look. "Did you talk?"
"We did. She showed us the medical bay and I spoke to Jaydon. He's one of the medics that will be working on us."
"What are they going to do to us, Sammy?"
Sam broke into a wide grin. "Well, for one thing, they're going to cure that pesky little case of mild asthma you've had since you were a child. And they're going to make absolutely certain that your heart is fine after the miracle healing."
"Sammy," Dean growled, figuring he was being teased.
"I'm serious, Dean. They're going to do all that. And they're going to modify our respiratory systems so that we will be able to breathe in any atmosphere we encounter. Because we're going to be mobile and not fixed to one world, they want us to be able to survive no matter what."
Dean nodded. He'd actually been expecting something like this. "So what's the catch?"
Sam's face fell. "We'll be like the B'Shain. We won't be able to survive in an atmosphere with the exact chemical cocktail as Earth's for more than a few months without medical intervention."
"So we won't ever be able to live on Earth again," Dean said slowly, his knuckles turning white on the bedspread as he gripped the edge of the bed. "Not permanently. Even without the threat of hellhounds on our asses."
"Nope," Sam said, clasping his hands between his knees. "You still wanna do this, Dean?"
Despite the doctor's visits they'd undergone since Dean's electrocution -- including the car crash that had nearly killed him -- Sam insisted the B'Shain give them both a full checkup before they agreed to anything.
In this, Dean backed him up completely.
Machines turned them inside out on computer screens as the medical staff and Helen and Mark looked on. Jaydon at last smiled at Dean. "Your heart is healthy. Your body is strong and can handle the rigours we are asking it to undergo."
Dean smiled a little as he sat up. Sam sat up as well, and Jaydon pointed at him. "You, lay back down. We're not finished with you yet."
Frowning, Sam lay back down. The tone of the medic's voice triggered alarm bells in Dean. "Okay, what did you find?" he asked, his tone brooking no arguments.
"There's an anomaly in his blood," Jaydon reported. "We're going to do a deeper, cellular-level scan to see if we can isolate it and find if it's dangerous."
Sam let out a small growl at that information. "It's the demon blood."
"The what?" Helen and Jaydon said together.
Sam blew out a deep sigh. "A demon bled into my mouth when I was six months old. Its blood supposedly amplified natural abilities I have. My father worried that it would turn me evil."
Jaydon scoffed. "Physical traits don't turn a person evil. Skewed perceptions and thought processes do. Selfishness does." His head tilted as he looked at Sam. "Helen, you know this child better than I do. Do you see him as evil?"
Now it was Helen's turn to scoff. "He's about as evil as a sunrise."
Sam's eyes -- darkened to near jade by the lights of the medical bay -- went huge. "....really?" he gasped, scarcely daring to hope.
Dean's hand was suddenly on his arm. "You see, Sammy? I told you."
Sam sniffled, still desperately wanting to believe. "But.....But Dad..."
"Dad believed a demon. Demons lie," Dean reminded him. "Crowley didn't because their plans would have screwed with his business."
Sam smiled up at him. "And also because you put that truth scarab on his neck."
"Yeah, well..." Dean chuckled.
"Dean," Jaydon smiled at him. "I need you to step back. We need to do the cellular scan and at the moment, you're in the way."
Chuckling, Dean squeezed Sam's arm and then stepped back.
Jaydon ran the scan, then frowned and ran it again. "Dean.....put your hand back where it was."
The brothers frowned at each other, then Dean put his hand back on Sam's arm.
"Push his sleeve out of the way and put your bare hand on his bare arm."
Sam raised his arm and unbuttoned the cuff of his shirt, rolling it to his elbow before he put it back down. Dean rested his palm on the warm flesh and their eyes met, each one's What the HELL? clearly reflecting back to the other.
"You'll feel a tingle, Dean," Jaydon said. "Don't worry, that's just the cellular scanner."
Sam nodded. "It does tingle. Kind of a tickling."
"Okay," Dean said, his voice soft with concern. What was going on?
There was a tingling sensation, then Jaydon frowned at his scanner. "Helen," he said in a low voice. "Come look at this."
Helen walked over and her pink eyes went huge. "That.....That can't be right."
"It's what it's revealing. That's what's going on inside that boy."
"How?" she gasped. "That's not supposed to be...."
"HEY!" Dean barked. "How about you two stop gogglin' over there and just tell us what the hell is goin' on with Sam?"
Helen raised her eyes to his. "What was that terminology that Castiel said Bobby used? 'Like attracts like'?" At his nod, she said, "Well, it would seem different repels different. For some reason, the anomaly in his blood thins whenever your hands are on him."
Jaydon nodded. "And it takes awhile for it to build back up in that area. That's why I caught it."
"So what are you saying?" Dean asked. "Because he carried a part of my soul that we're --"
"You're connected, Dean," Helen said, her voice hushed with awe. "On the most fundamental of levels."
"And the contamination in his blood is reacting to Dean's presence through that sliver of soul. His touch is forcing it to run and hide," Jaydon said, tapping a finger against his chin as he thought. "So, theoretically, if part of Dean is put into Sam...." He smirked. "Dean, we're going to do a marrow transplant."
"What?" Dean roared. "Hold on, here! In case you've forgotten, we're on a deadline, here! I don't have the months to spare while we see if I'm even a match, kill his marrow off and wait to see if mine takes hold!"
Jaydon smiled. "Dean, that's how Earth medicine works. This is B'Shain medicine. It will only take the work of a few moments."
Sam spoke up, "And my recovery time?"
"Hours. Days at the most," Jaydon assured him.
At that, silence fell thick and heavy on the medical bay. At last, Dean could stand it no longer. "Sammy?"
Sam was looking down at his hands. "Are you....Are you certain it will work?"
"Nothing is 100% certain, Sam," Jaydon said. "But we will certainly try."
Dean blinked. "What?"
"Yes." Sam looked up at him. "I said yes. I want to give it a shot, Dean."
Dean studied him, then nodded, curling a hand on the back of his neck. "Yeah, Sammy," he said, his voice thick. "Okay."
Dean ignored the dull throb in his hip as he watched Sam sleep. B'Shain medicine was amazing, he mused.
There were no IVs. No supplemental machines hooked up to Sam except for a nasal cannula. His little brother's chest was rising and falling with deep, even breaths and his face was peaceful.
Dean's eyes raised to the hood. A piece of transparent plastic covered Sam's head and shoulders and his lax hands rested on sheets made of shimmering blue silk that was shot through with sensors. The hood was another sensor and between all of them, there wasn't a system in Sam's body that wasn't being monitored.
Kid looks like an extra from a Sickbay scene from 'Star Trek', Dean thought as he smiled fondly.
It had only been three hours since Jaydon had drawn some marrow from Dean's hip and injected it into Sam. The medical staff were keeping Sam asleep to monitor his progress.
A warm hand touched Dean's shoulder and he looked up and smiled. "Hey, Mark."
"How is he doing?" the B'Shain mechanic asked.
"So far so good," Dean said with a sigh. "Jaydon is keeping him asleep for now. They think it'll help him recover faster."
Mark smiled. "I'm certain it will. Have you thought any more about the other modifications?"
"To the Impala or to us?" Dean asked.
Dean sighed. "Yeah, I've thought about it. I gotta admit, being able to still hunt out there has its appeals. I'm just not sure about it. I need to talk to Jaydon, make sure it'll stop at our lungs."
Mark nodded. "That makes sense to me. He'll sleep for awhile, won't he?"
"They think so," Dean nodded as well. "Why?"
"Because I thought you'd like to help me clear out the Impala so we can get started with her modifications." When Dean hesitated, he smiled. "It would give you something to do to pass the time."
Dean stared at Sam for another long moment, then stood. He pressed his hand to Sam's tattoo and heart, then he turned to Mark. "Sure thing. Let's go."
Mark stood, frozen to the spot, his eyes and mouth huge as Dean pulled weapon after weapon after weapon from the hidden panel in the trunk."Is....Is that all?"
"No, that's just this side." He grinned as he headed to the other side and kept pulling out guns and knives. "And this is after we left half of them behind."
"Son of a...." Mark breathed. "Are all hunters this well-armed?"
"Well, there are two of us," Dean chuckled. "And each of us collect what we're most proficient at using. With me, it's guns."
Pride coloured his voice and his smile. "Blades."
Mark's eyes trailed to the pile of knives that reached up to Dean's ankle.
"And then, of course, the salt and silver holy water and rosaries and spell books and Latin exorcisms...." He tossed a box of chalk at Mark.
"What's that for?" Mark asked as he turned it over in his hand.
"Drawing. Devil's traps and pentagrams and other protection sigils."
Mark whistled softly. "You sure had to do a lot of things."
"Have to. Just because we're being Removed doesn't mean we stop being hunters."
Mark nodded. "Sorry. You and Sam are some of the few we've done this to who are going to keep doing what they did on Earth. Most just want to escape and start fresh."
"We are starting fresh," Dean pointed out. "We're moving from hunting supernatural things to hunting things outside of Earth. That's a pretty radical shift."
After a moment's thought, Mark smiled. "It is, you're right. And I know you two will be successful. If...."
Dean looked up and frowned. "If?"
"Yeah, if." Mark's smile turned into a full grin. "IF you ever get that trunk cleaned out so we can get started modifying her!"
Dean blinked at him, then smirked. "Okay, you -- get over here and help me unload it, then!"
Mark's grin only grew as he came over and froze, boggling a bit at the sheer amount of weaponry still in there. "Damn, Dean!"
And Dean's laughter rang out into the bay.
It threatened to ring out again when Mark was moving the weapons piles and realised that two of the guns and four of the knives had suddenly and mysteriously -- just simply vanished. Mark looked up at Dean, something akin to horror warring with awe in his eyes. ".......seriously?"
"What do you mean?" Dean asked innocently.
"Dean." Mark gestured at him. "You did not seriously just secrete two guns and four knives on your person!"
"What if I did?"
Mark's jaw lowered. "Could you show me how you did it?"
Dean's smile grew.
"So," Mark said a half hour later as they bent over the empty trunk. "This false bottom is perfect. We can fit the electronics in here and in the side walls of the trunk proper and there's your trunk back."
Dean grinned at him. "Great. Can you show me exactly what we're going to be doing to her?"
"Sure, come over here." Mark led him to what Dean had learned was the main computer bank in the repair bay. He sat down and called up a series of schematics. "So what I'm thinking is that we'll start with the--"
The pneumatic doors opened and Helen stood there. "Dean, you're needed in the medical bay."
"What?" Dean felt a ribbon of ice sliding down his spine. He squeezed Mark's shoulder and strode to Helen's side. "What's happened?"
"Has he ever had issues with painkillers not working as usual with him?" she asked as they stepped out of the repair bay.
"The effects never seem to last as long with him as they do with me," Dean said, a frown crossing his face. "Why?"
"Sam's system is burning out the anesthetic a few hours early." She smiled as they turned and headed down the short, curved hallway to the medical bay. "He's waking up."
As they entered the medical bay, Jaydon's voice ordered them to "Stay where you are -- I'm scanning Sam."
Dean froze in place, vibrating from foot to foot as he waited impatiently.
Dean didn't need any further urging. He stepped forward and pushed the hood backward slightly so he could see his little brother's face unimpeded.
For a long moment, nothing changed. Then he saw Sam flinch and frown slightly.
"I'm here, Sammy," Dean said softly, reaching out to push sweaty hair off of his forehead. "I'm here. Wake on up."
Sammy made that odd little humming noise he always made when he was surfacing from anaesthesia -- and how messed up was it that Dean knew Sam's regular patterns for coming out of anaesthesia? -- and turned his head toward Dean's voice.
"That's it, little brother." Dean's fingers carded through his sweat-darkened hair. "I'm here and you're safe."
At that, Sam's eyes opened halfway and Dean felt that pang of disorientation he always got when he saw their altered colour from the harsh lights of the medical bay. The smile he gave Sam, though, wasn't forced at all. "Hey, sleepyhead. With me now?"
"Not.....sure. ....'member.....real weird things...."
"....aliens......ship.....takin' us 'way...." His head rolled. "Strange....dreams."
"Hate to break it to you, Sammy -- but those weren't dreams."
Sam's eyes widened and Dean could see the exact instant memory returned. ".....your marrow......demon blood...."
He nodded. "Got it in one."
"Work?" When he didn't answer, Sam's hand came up to grasp Dean's sleeve. "Dean?.....d'it work?"
"I don't know," Dean admitted. "Jaydon was running tests when I came in, but he hasn't told me the results yet."
A tight nod, then Sam's tongue darted out to drag across his bottom lip.
"Thirsty?" Dean helped him sit up, tilting the bed instead of manhandling him up -- he loved these beds and wondered if he could talk Mark into putting one in their quarters -- and drink some water. "Better?"
"Yeah....thanks." Sam looked over to where Jaydon and Helen were approaching. They both were smiling. "Tell me.... you've got good news for me."
"We've got good news for you, Sam," Helen said as she sat at the foot of his bed and Jaydon came to stand on his other side.
"Good," Sam said, grinning tiredly. "Could use some."
Jaydon grinned at him. "Your body is accepting your brother's marrow. The infection is slowly burning out of your system. That is why you feel so thirsty and tired."
Sam nodded. "Long?"
"Will it last long or are you asking for a timetable?"
"...time..." Sam's eyes were already drooping closed.
Seeing he was losing his audience, Jaydon answered quickly, "A day. No longer."
"M-kay." And Sam was asleep.
Dean chuckled and patted his brother's arm. "Sorry about that."
Jaydon shook his head. "He's not the first patient I've had conk out mid-report. Don't worry about it."
Dean was staring at his sleeping brother with an expression of incredulous delight on his face. "No more demon blood?" he asked softly, as though he was scarcely daring to hope again. "Seriously?"
"Seriously," Jaydon said. "No more demon blood. The only blood his marrow is making now is human blood -- one hundred percent Winchester blood, since your own marrow is supporting his."
"Oh, my G-d," Dean laughed softly. "Dad.... Dad said I'd either have to save him or I'd have to kill him." He looked up, his eyes huge with so much delight it was making him dizzy. "I saved him, Jaydon..... You gave me the means to save him!"
Jaydon leaned over and clapped his hand onto Dean's shoulder. Though he was smiling, the B'Shain medic's pink eyes were blazing.
So were Helen's. "What kind of a monster of a father--" she breathed.
Dean shook his head. "My father wasn't a monster," he said, his tone brooking no arguments. "He was a bit -- obsessed. But he wasn't a monster. For him, what he was asking me was asked out of love -- for both of us. He'd rather see Sammy dead than turned into the monster he feared he'd become if the Yellow-Eyed -- if Azazel had his way."
Helen slowly nodded. "I can understand that. But to put it on your shoulders--"
"Sammy has been my responsibility since I was four years old," Dean informed her. "That's why I made the Deal in the first place -- to keep him alive and safe. That's why we're working with you -- to keep him sane. I don't matter, Helen. He does. He's all that's ever mattered."
Helen's brows drew together and she opened her mouth to protest that Dean did matter, that he was important -- but she didn't get it out before the cell phone in Dean's jeans pocket went off.
Dean frowned. "Huh. I thought I'd turned it off." He fished it out and frowned at the name blinking up at him. ".....what?" he gasped, opening the phone and raising it to his ear. "Bobby, what's the matter?"
"How's it going?" Bobby asked. "Are you two ready to be---you know?"
"We're.... We're still working on it, Bobby. Are you and Ellen and Jo--"
"We're all here together. We're heading your way real soon. And that's why I'm callin'. Tell your... hosts.... there'll be four of us."
"Four of you?" Dean frowned, looking over at Helen. "Why are four of you coming?" Helen climbed to her feet, frowning as Dean finished, "Who's the fourth? What's happened?"
"I don't know what's happened, Dean," Bobby told him, his tone turning serious. "But our fourth is Feathers."
"Fe...Castiel?" Helen's eyes widened at that and Dean found himself sinking into the chair by Sam's bed. "Castiel's coming?"
"He just showed up here about ten minutes ago, beat all to hell. Dean .... somethin's happened to that boy."
"What--What do you mean, he's beat all to hell? I thought angels could heal themselves with a snap of their fingers!"
"They can," Bobby said, his voice suddenly going grimmer than Dean had ever heard it. "But humans can't."
"What?" Dean yelped. "Human?"
Helen's eyes widened and she whispered, "Are you speaking of Castiel?" At his nod, she spun on her heel and bolted, yelling for Jaydon, Mark and someone named Nessa that they'd yet to meet. She turned and pointed at Dean, saying, "Tell Bobby to be ready to go now. We have to get them to safety!"
Then she was gone.
Dean's eyes were huge. "Bobby?"
"I heard. We'll be ready. Take care, boy." And Bobby hung up.
Sam opened his eyes to find Dean pacing, running his hands through his close-cropped hair. He frowned and sat up tiredly. "Dean?"
"I think we're out of time, Sammy."
The soft, shocked tone of his voice stunned Sam. He threw back the covers and got out of bed. Weaving dangerously -- nearly falling -- he headed over to Dean and took his arms, halting the frantic pacing. "What's happened?"
Dean shook his head, his eyes huge and alarmed. "I don't know," he whispered. "The B'Shain..... they've gone to get Bobby and Ellen and Jo and Cas..... something bad's happened, Sammy. Something real bad!"
"How bad? How do you know?"
Dean's eyes bored into his. "Because somehow Cas ain't an angel no more."
Now Sam's eyes went wide. Dean had never gone to college, but he'd always prided himself on at least using proper grammar so that nobody thought they were just two uneducated country boys. Their father had drilled that into them. For Dean's diction to slip into something resembling Bobby's when riled -- that meant Dean was seriously at sea emotionally and needed help.
He needed Sam.
Sam wrapped his arms around Dean and guided them both back to the bed. He sagged gratefully onto it -- his legs had started to tremble from exhaustion -- and tugged Dean down to sit with him. "Why did you say we're out of time?"
Dean looked down at his upturned hands. "Cas showed up -- Bobby said he's beat to hell...he can't heal himself. He's apparently human. When Helen heard that, she lit out like a bat outta hell to get them. And.... And I've got this sinking feeling that when they get back, my time is up. That I have to decide about the.... the alterations."
Sam rubbed his shoulder with the palm of his hand. "Have you decided?"
Slowly, Dean raised his eyes to look at Sam. "I'm scared, Sammy. I want this -- I want to live -- but I'm scared that if I let this get done, I won't be human anymore."
"You mean we won't."
Dean shook his head. "No, Sammy -- this is all me this time."
"And you think I'm gonna let you go through this alone? No, Dean. I'm gonna have the alterations, too. I'm gonna be right there by your side."
"You just got my marrow inside you--"
"And I'm still recovering. I know. And Dean, I've got a piece of your soul inside me. We share everything, do you get me, here? We share everything. And we're going to do this together."
"So if I say yes, I'm deciding for you, too."
"No, Dean. You're not. I decided for me. You decide for yourself and I'll be right there by your side." He squeezed Dean's wrist. "Because we stick together."
Dean took a deep breath and took a good, hard look at Sam. "Lay down."
Sam smiled and released Dean, tilting over and landing on the pillow. Dean stood up and poked his leg, and Sam pulled them onto the bed. Though his eyes were starting to close, Sam smiled at his brother. "Together, okay?"
Finding himself smiling back, Dean slid his hand through Sam's hair and down onto his cheek. He watched the fox-like eyes close all the way and he whispered, "Yeah, Sammy. I gotcha. Together."
Sam's smile turned into a full-fledged grin and he rolled onto his stomach, sliding both hands under the pillow.
With nothing to do but wait, Dean sat down on the edge of Sam's bed and began to rub circles between his shoulder blades. He hated just waiting. It made him feel powerless and rankled him down to his core.
Soon, Helen and Jayden came into the medical bay, with the four newcomers right behind. Bobby was holding Castiel's weight and he laid him down on the bed across from Sam.
Bobby was right, Dean thought to himself. Cas looks beat to hell and back. He watched Helen and Bobby wrangle Castiel's trenchcoat and suit jacket off, then slide off his tie. Bobby took Castiel's shoes and socks off and slid his feet onto the bed.
Jayden lowered a transparent hood over Castiel's head and shoulders and turned on the scanner. He turned his attention to Dean, then. "How's your brother?"
"He's okay. Sleeping it off, still." Dean looked down at Sam. "He was up for a little bit while you were gone. We talked."
"What about?" Helen asked as she watched Ellen move to Dean's side and run her fingertips down his cheeks.
"You okay?" she asked him, worry in her eyes.
Dean smiled at her. If Bobby had become their surrogate father, then it seemed as if Ellen had set herself up as their surrogate mother. "We're okay," he assured her. "Reeling from everything, but okay." His eyes rose to Helen's. "We talked about the alterations we had discussed. Would it be possible to hold off on them until Sam recovers?"
Helen looked at Jaydon, who nodded. She smiled and nodded as well. "It seems as though that would be the best way to go."
"Then my answer's yes -- but only when Sam's well."
A small gasp of pain drew their attention, and all eyes turned to Castiel. "Hey," Dean said, and the bruised blue eyes turned to face him. "What the hell happened?"
Castiel shuddered from his head to his feet and whispered, "Helen."
Helen went over and took his hand. "I'm here, Castiel."
"Helen....must leave.... now."
"Why?" she asked.
Castiel's tongue darted out to moisten cracked, bleeding lips and he winced at the small sting. "Have to go...."
"Tell me why," she said gently but firmly.
His hand tightened on hers and he whispered two words.
On To Part Three
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