The next day, shit hits the fan.
Dean finds them another job, this time in Ashland, Oregon, just a few hours south, on the California border. It's a cut-and-dried case of werewolf attacks at first glance, vics left in a city park with their hearts ripped out, cops thinking they're looking for a wild animal.
The town is eerily quiet when they roll in late in the afternoon. It's a tourist town known for a world-famous Shakespeare festival, and even with the busy summer season already past, there are year-round activities that should've been attracting a sizable population, not to mention the town's regular residents.
But when they stop to eat at an average little home-grown hole-in-the-wall called Mac's Place, it's empty.
"Where is everyone?" Sam asks the tired-looking waitress who takes their order -- Classic Turkey Dinner for Sam, glass of water for Dean, beers for both -- she shakes her head.
"Latest murder has everybody spooked," she says. "People think whoever's doing it isn't human."
She glances over at the kitchen for a moment, then turns back to Sam, lowers her voice. "Some people think the cops are in on it," she whispers.
"Murders?" Dean clarifies. "I thought it was animal attacks."
The waitress -- name-tag says her name is Sheila -- shakes her head.
"That's what the cops are saying," she whispers. "But what kind of an animal rips somebody's heart out and leaves the rest of the body? No way."
"And you think whoever's doing this isn't human?" Sam asks. "Why would you think that?"
Sheila glances back over her shoulder toward the kitchen again, but her boss or whoever she's afraid might see her talking to customers isn't visible.
"They rolled into town about a week ago," she says. "Big carload of men from Portland. They don't eat, they don't sleep. And their eyes are black. Solid black. No irises or nothin'. Killings started happening right after they got here. You do the math."
Sam and Dean exchange glances. Dean raises his eyebrows.
"And you've seen these men?" Sam asks.
Sheila nods. "They came in here first thing, asking about two guys in a long black car. Wanted to know if I'd seen them."
Sam feels a bolt of shock go through his body, knows Dean's experiencing the same thing. He suddenly wishes they could slide under the table and just disappear.
But of course Sheila can't see the car from this angle, is way too wrapped up in her story, in the thrill of getting to share it with the first out-of-town customers she's seen for awhile, and it never occurs to her to recall to mind the description of the Winchesters that the black-eyed men gave her a week ago.
Until it does.
Sam can see the moment her brain registers their appearance, takes in his long hair, Dean's modified crew cut, their relative heights.
"Hey," she says. "You guys don't drive a long black sedan, do you?"
"Nope," Dean lies smoothly. "But we'll have those beers now, if you don't mind."
"And we'll get that turkey special to go," Sam adds.
After Sheila shuffles off to take care of their order Sam looks questions at his brother.
"What are you thinking, Sam?" Dean asks. "You think I've got a posse of demons on my ass?"
"Do you?" Sam says. "You do something I should know about?"
"Nothin' I'm proud enough to share with you," Dean snaps.
"Okay, so what's this about then?" Sam demands. "Why would a carload of demons come to this town looking for us, then kill five people ritualistically and possess the local cops?"
Sheila returns with the beers and assurances that Sam's meal will be ready in just another minute.
Dean takes a long pull on his beer and Sam watches, wondering again how it's possible for Dean to still be able to drink alcohol but to never touch a bacon cheeseburger. Seems so arbitrary somehow.
Dean sets his beer down, looks at Sam in silence for a minute.
"I guess we're just gonna have to find out," Dean says. "Looks to me like somebody wants us here. My guess is, the murders are a lure."
"So you're thinking this is a trap," Sam clarifies. "For us."
"Looks that way, Sammy," Dean agrees.
"Well in that case, we better be ready," Sam notes, pursing his lips tightly.
Dean's lips curl up into his signature smirk and his eyes flash black for a minute, sending a shockwave of fear and lust up Sam's spine.
"Bring it, baby," Dean snarls darkly, and Sam looks away, fighting the urge to shiver.
When they get outside it's already getting dark. The street is as deserted as it was when they went into the diner, only now they're on high alert, pumped full of adrenaline and primed for an attack. They move in synchronicity, as always, but also slightly turned so they're back to back, shoulders rubbing with each step. Sam has his demon blade tucked inside his jacket, in the breast pocket, and he knows Dean's got the First Blade ready, so they're good.
They've just rounded the corner to the car when it happens.
The demons are all around it, lounging and slumming and obviously lying in wait -- and one of them is clearly trying to pry the driver's side window open with a bent coat-hanger -- and Dean goes positively ballistic.
"Get off my car, you motherfuckin' assholes!"
It's a battle cry worthy of the King of England, and Sam doesn't pause, follows Dean into the breach without a moment's hesitation.
He holds his own for at least five minutes, manages to take three demons down with his blade, exchanging a quick look with Dean as they turn back-to-back again to face the second wave of attackers, another ten demons running at them out of fucking nowhere --
Then it's like some kind of alarm bell went off, because demons are flooding out of doorways and down the street at them from every direction, and Sam's dropping them one or two at a time and he knows Dean's doing the same but they just keep coming. Sam's arms and shoulders ache -- hell, he's sore all over but the adrenaline keeps him moving, keeps him going through the motions, and he has this wild thought that if they can just get to the car they can get out of here because there's just too damn many of them and their only hope is to flee.
The moment one of them gets a hand on him Sam knows he'd done. The demon pulls, hard, and Sam's yanked forward, away from Dean, into a crowd of grabbing hands and snarling faces and he panics, slashes wildly, kills a couple more before they're all over him, pulling him down, swarming over him. Hands grab the hand holding his demon blade and it's yanked away from him. They're dragging him, holding his arms so he can't fight back, hands in his hair holding his head back as something covers his face. He hears Dean scream then, loud and long and full of rage and anguish -- but Sam's passing out from lack of oxygen, his body covered with demons, some of whom are landing blows as the others hold him so Sam's vaguely aware that he's bleeding, losing blood --
He's losing consciousness, sure this is it, finally overcome by an army of Hell's minions, pretty damn sure he'll be going back there, probably for good this time. His last conscious thought is of Dean, how he wishes he's had time to tell Dean how grateful he was for everything he'd done for him. How he knows what a sacrifice it was for Dean, giving up all chance at a normal life so many times so he could take care of Sam, so he could be there for him growing up, then giving up his own life for Sam's as adults -- sacrificing yet more chances at normalcy so he could fix Sam when he lost his soul -- then most recently saving Sam again when he would have died from the trials that Dean wanted to take on in the first place, always putting Sam first --
It's really true that life flashes before your eyes just before you die. Sam's brain is flashing back over a million memories as he's passing out, and all he wants is a last chance to say the thing he should've said to Dean years ago.
He's aware of someone screaming, thinks he hears his name, thinks he feels the hands holding him loosening, letting him go.
Then the thing covering his face is pulled away and familiar hands are touching his face, a familiar voice washes over him, He's got his eyes open and his vision is blurry -- there's blood on his face, he realizes, dripping into his eyes -- but he can see the familiar shape of Dean's face hovering over him, hear his voice murmuring Sam's name over and over -- has enough consciousness left to be aware he's safe in Dean's arms again.
Then everything goes black.Next Chapter - Back to Masterpost