The Fallen by Birdie
Chapter One: Nine foot babies and snow flurries
Dean scowled down at Jo as he stood beside the table fastening up his jacket. He felt tired and this was the last thing he needed. He dug into his pocket for the keys for the Impala and snatched them into his hand. Their familiarity felt good but he was still out of sorts, off balance somehow. His voice was quiet as he addressed Jo, barely hiding his irritation, but not wanting the few remaining customers in the bar to hear him.
‘Now do you believe me that although he’s 9ft tall, and mean as hell when he needs to be, he’s a baby when it comes to holding his liquor?’
For emphasis, Dean waved his hand vehemently at Sam, who was sprawled across one whole side of the booth the three of them had occupied for the past few hours, since finishing the hunt they’d been working on all week. Sam was smiling up cheerfully at Dean and giggling into his empty beer glass, utterly unconcerned by his older sibling’s anger.
‘Didn’t I tell you not to give him another bottle? Now I’m gonna have to carry his heavy ass to the car!’ Dean snarked
The silly smile on the younger hunter’s face, and the significant quantity of alcohol warming her blood threatened to spread Sam’s fit of giggles to Jo, but the look of annoyance on Dean’s face sobered her enough to hold them in check.
‘Come on Dean!’
Jo’s voice was soft and placatory, and somewhat slurred, as she got up feeling just a little wobbly on her legs, and stood next to the older hunter. Dean continued to fuss distractedly with the zip of his heavy jacket, muttering and shaking his head, refusing to acknowledge his hunt mate at all.
She nudged up to him, stretching up a little to rest her shoulder comfortably against his, and he glanced at her but said nothing, so she did it again and the nudge became a wholesale lean, as her balance wavered a little.
She felt Dean stiffen to support her weight and he turned towards her and caught her shoulders gently to steady her. She smiled up at him, with slightly unfocussed eyes, and was rewarded with a marginal softening of his scowl.
‘It been a long week, and we all needed to wind down. That was a bitch of a poltergeist and Sam was just celebrating kicking its ass. Don’t be mad!’
Jo’s words became a playful whine and she held Dean’s eyes with her own as she spoke, and after a stubborn 2 or 3 seconds he blinked his long lashes, and rolled his eyes. Try as he might it was difficult to remain angry with the petite blond who had fought alongside him with a ferocity matching his own. They both looked back down at Sam, who was now curled up on his side, humming softly and waving a big hand at no-one in particular.
Jo watched as Dean’s face softened and she felt the tension ease in his body where it touched hers. He smiled in spite of himself, a warm soft smile that made him look much younger than his 29 years, and Jo could hear the humour in his voice when he spoke.
‘All right Jo, you win, but I think our 9ft baby’s ready for bed!’
Jo laughed at Dean’s observation and smiling, playfully nudged further against him with her hip.
Dean’s smile disappeared quickly as the movement forced by Jo’s light push was just that little bit more than he was ready for, and his injured ribs jolted painfully. A small hiss of air escaped his lips as he fought to manage the pain and he felt sweat prickly against his shirt as he swayed a little on his feet. Jo watched his hazel eyes close briefly as he fought to regain both his position and composure. She felt her alcohol fog begin to recede sharply.
Quickly Jo reran the last week through her head searching for a reason for Dean’s pain. The job had not been a particularly difficult one but it had been a very aggressive poltergeist and Dean had suffered the brunt of its violence before they’d managed to subdue it. He’d not given any indication that he was anything other than fine but then she knew that Dean was unlikely to say anything even if he was hurting real bad. She put her hand on his arm to make him look at her and Dean’s vivid hazel eyes opened and hesitantly met her brown ones.
There was concern in Jo’s voice as she spoke, not to mention more than a little guilt as she realised she had totally failed to notice that although Dean had laughed along with them for the past few hours, he hadn’t been as engaged in the conversation as he might, had hardly touched his beer and had sat quite rigidly upright in the booth as they had talked. Twice she and Sam had challenged him to a game of pool, and though he would normally delight in whipping their butts and taking their money, he had declined on both occasions. When Sam had pressed him the second time, Dean had eventually snapped at his brother so markedly that Sam had backed off sulkily.
Jo took in the dark circles under Deans eyes and suddenly saw how tired he looked. She felt the alcohol induced warmth fade completely to be replaced by increasing guilt that she hadn’t noticed his fatigue and discomfort before. He was her friend and colleague. She relied totally on him and Sam when they hunted, as they did on her, and she had failed to see his pain. She wanted to kick herself!
Yet even taking all that into consideration, Jo was surprised and disturbed at the intensity of the knot in her stomach that the realisation that he was in pain caused her. She wondered if she would feel as intently if it were Sam standing hurt in front of her and she felt a blush rise to her cheeks. She shook herself and sought to cover her sudden embarrassment in activity so Dean wouldn’t see it.
She squeezed his arm a little tighter, to gain his attention.
‘I’m fine Jo’
Dean’s voice was so soft, she could hardly hear him, and he held Jo’s eyes for just a second or two before turning back to look at Sam.
Those few seconds made her heart race more than a little, and she felt her blush intensify. The unanticipated feelings surprised and excited her.
Jo was drawn back from her musings as she realised Dean had spoken, and was looking at her quizzically for an answer.
The older man inclined his head towards his gently snoring brother
‘Let’s get sleeping beauty up and back to the motel, he can sleep it off there. He’s gonna have a monster headache in the morning!’
There was a certain glee in Dean’s observation and Jo grinned in agreement with the unhappy prediction, wondering only briefly if she would similarly regret the liquid excesses of the evening.
‘Hey Sasquatch! .......Up and in the car’
Dean spoke loudly enough to gain Sam’s attention and the tall hunter smiled and looked with bleary eyes through his long brown tousled hair at his brother. Dean beckoned him up with a curled finger though Sam made no effort to rise, merely raised his arms up to his brother, as a child would to a parent to be picked up.
Dean tutted under his breath, shaking his head at his inebriated 25 year old brother, and raised an ironic eyebrow as he glanced at Jo. She in turn fought to keep her face straight as Dean made to reach towards his enormous ‘baby’ brother.
Jo released Dean’s arm as the older hunter bent over the booth’s table, grabbing Sam’s wrists and slowly leaned back, using his body weight as a lever to pull a reluctant Sam into an upright position. Sam grunted in response as he rose unsteadily from his sprawl, but was little help in the manoeuvre as the alcohol coursing through his system had turned his long legs to something like jelly and his brain to cotton candy.
‘Let me help Dean, he’s heavy!’
Jo moved in closer and Dean released one of Sam’s arms for her to take, grateful for the help, but due to the residual alcohol in her system her timing was a little off, and she failed to connect with Sam’s flailing limb. Consequently, Sam’s full 6ft 4inch toppled slowly and comically from the semi erect position to which Dean had dragged him, back over to reconnect unceremoniously with the seat he had just vacated. Empty beer bottles flew all over the floor as he tumbled. The eyes of the remaining bar patrons following the noise to laugh at the spectacle.
The lanky hunter remained however, firmly latched onto Dean’s wrist as he tumbled, pulling his struggling brother violently forward, and slamming him heavily into the wooden side of the booth.
Sam giggled loudly from his regained flat out posture on the bench seat, and Jo couldn’t help her face crinkling into a smile at the silliness of the situation. She looked towards Dean with interest to see his take on Sam’s drunken antics, expecting to see his handsome face crease into the easy laughter she so loved. However as Jo made eye contact with Dean, her smile disappeared immediately, as she realised that the relatively minor knock he had received had hurt him considerably.
The older hunter was gripping the seat back with his right hand, swaying on his feet, gasping. His eyes were squeezed tightly shut and his left arm was pressed to his side. He was groaning softly under his breath.
Jo put her hand gently but urgently against Dean’s back, and moved round him as he clung to the back of the seat, so she could see his face. It was a few seconds before he managed to open his eyes and look at Jo.
It wasn’t a question but a statement as Jo could see Dean was in pain from the dilation of his pupils, making his vivid green eyes almost black. Dean shook his head to dismiss Jo’s concern but the fact that he still couldn’t catch his breath enough to speak, belied his denial. Jo felt her heart beat quicken, and she had to fight to keep panic from rising in her chest.
She put her hand over his where it was pressed to his ribs and felt him jerk under her touch, his breath hiccupping with the pain. She moved her hand away from his side to the zip of his jacket and gently opened the coat, pushing it and Deans hand away, so she could assess his injuries.
Though there were mud stains from the fight with the poltergeist on Dean’s old once-white T- shirt, Jo was relieved to see that there was no blood. She grasped the bottom of the T and carefully pulled the shirt up; exposing his torso, knowing that Dean’s lack of objection to her actions spoke volumes for his current pain. Jo sucked in her breath as she saw the major bruising already showing against the hunters pale skin.
The dark patterning ran all the way down his hip below the waist band of his jeans, up his side under his raised T-shirt and right across to his belly button, but the worst of the livid mottling was in one concentrated patch just at the base of his rib cage. Jo placed her hand, with extreme care over the patch and pressed very gently. The skin on the older hunters tight abdomen was hot to the touch, and she could feel him shaking slightly with the pain.
Jo noted with rising embarrassment how Dean’s trembling strangely matched the shaking of her own hand.
Jo’s gently probing increased the steady pulse of pain Dean was experiencing, to a sickening throb and he knew instinctively that at least some of the ribs on his left side were broken, a legacy of his earlier rough handling from the poltergeist. He pulled his gritty eyes open and wrapped his hand over Jo’s to halt her exploration of his injuries. As he spoke his voice was a hesitant breathy whisper.
Jo felt a frustrating mixture of compassion and anger as she looked into Dean’s pain-dulled hazel eyes.
‘Why didn’t you say?’
Her voice was harsher than she meant it to be, her concern for him manifesting as anger, and she was horrified to see him flinch physically from her words of reproach. Dean looked away from her back at Sam, who lay where he had fallen, oblivious to their heated exchange, his tired hazel eyes suddenly not wanting to hold her accusing brown.
‘It didn’t ...hurt so much.... when we were sat... down’
Dean was breathless, his voice still hiccupping in pain, and Jo was aware how vulnerable his statement made him sound and how he would hate that she could see that. He masked his feelings in movement, struggling to try and pull his T-shirt down over his battered body, but the motion pulled at his side and he couldn’t manage to tug the shirt from where she rolled it up. He stopped, gasping softly in pain, suddenly defeated, and murmured.
‘Besides..... I didn’t want to break up the evening’
Dean raised his eyes to Jo, his long lashes accentuating the pools of luminous green, and she shook her head and smiled at him, unable to remain angry when she saw his pain. She reached gently to him, and he fidgeted in embarrassment as she very carefully eased his shirt to settle it over his bruised ribs.
Feeling the need to dissipate the tension and take control, Jo looked from the older hunter to Sam assessing the situation. Dean managed to straighten up just a little as he waited for her to speak again, the sharp pain in his ribs beginning to recede back to just a fierce ache.
Jo took hold of the edges of Dean’s coat, being careful to avoid jolting his sore ribs, and zipped it part way back up, then grabbed her own coat and quickly threw her arms into the sleeves. She reached purposefully towards Dean’s right hand for the car keys hanging from his fingers.
‘Here’s the plan! I’ll help you across to the car and then I’ll drive her up to the door and come back in for Sam...’
Dean’s voice found some of its usual energy and he managed to stand away from the seat back, swaying just a little, holding the keys out of her reach. His face held a mixture of amusement and annoyance.
‘You can’t drive the Impala!’
To Dean it was such an obvious statement of fact, and Jo felt herself bristle at the amusedly patronising look on his still pale face. She found herself easily forgetting his pain as her anger rose.
‘And why not?’
Dean watched with mounting horror as the tiny blond hunter squared up to him, and he was acutely aware that he had offended her. Jo, in turn, watched the interplay of emotions flit across his handsome face as he searched for a suitable response. Jo raised her eyebrows at him in a worryingly confrontational manner, and Dean finally mumbled out
‘’coz ...........you’re a girl!’
And immediately grimaced in embarrassment at how lame the statement sounded.
Jo stared at Dean, enjoying his discomfort in the hastily offered childish statement, but he refused to meet her gaze and but still held the car keys determinedly out of her reach. They stood in awkward silence for a second or two, Jo eventually breaking the stalemate.
‘OK, so you wanna drag him all the way across the car park, in that?’
She indicated to the bar’s window with her left hand, pulling her glove onto her right. Dean turned, slowly and stiffly to look out, and was surprised to see driving snow falling, and a heavy coating of white on the few cars parked outside.
It had been bitterly cold when they had entered but the sky had been clear and moon bright. He looked back at Jo, a look of consternation on his face, but before he could say anything more Sam broke the silence by choosing that moment to slowly sit up, his shaky hands going to his face.
Sam’s voice was whiney and rather plaintive. Both Jo and Dean looked down at the tall hunter. His face was pale and he was sweating a little.
‘ Don’t feel so good,......maybe gonna puke ......... can we go?’
Dean and Jo looked at each other, their argument forgotten and Dean stretched his hand down to cup Sam’s chin. He raised the younger man’s face and saw the drunken giddiness had faded completely, Dean suspected to be replaced before very long with the distress that would accompany an unpleasant bought of alcohol induced vomiting. Any anger at his brother was instantly lost, concern for hisSam as always, becoming Dean’s primary emotion.
‘Sure we can Sam.’
Dean’s voice was soft and soothing, unconsciously wanting to comfort his brother even though Sam’s predicament was self induced.
‘I was just gonna fetch the car round ‘cause it’s snowing like a bitch out there and I don’t think you are in any shape to walk to the other side of the car park. Can you stand up there Dude?’
Sam looked pathetically up at his brother, and Jo saw Dean begin to move to help Sam up, oblivious to his own injuries in the face of Sam’s needs. She quickly caught his arm and gave Dean a look of exasperation. Dean halted his reach for Sam, and grinned sheepishly at Jo. It was a disarming smile, but beneath it there was still a look of determination that told her there was still no way Dean would relinquish the keys for the Impala to her. She smiled to herself at his macho stubbornness, but playing the game, maintained the air of outraged offence.
‘You go get the car and I’ll help Sam to the door.’
Her look suggested she would brook no disagreement and Dean found he was impressed and intimidated in equal measure. He covered any emotion his face might have given away by mumbling
‘Boy, you’re bossy!’
And turning to walk with a slow pained gait for the door, as Jo manhandled a fragile Sam to his feet.
Though Jo couldn’t see it, Dean was smiling, his pale green eyes thoughtfully as he walked away.
The cold air and swirling snow hit Dean like a fist as he exited the warmth of the bar, stripping the smile from his handsome face and instantly chilling him to the bone. Waves of dizziness assaulted him, making his head swim, and it was a real struggle to get down the three steep steps to the car park, without falling on his ass.
He stood for a second holding onto the handrail, waiting for the rising feeling of nausea to abate and for the pain in his side to calm from a newly raging fire to something more tolerable. He tried to breathe slowly and glanced about self consciously as he clung to the handrail. After a few seconds the pain subsided a little and Dean sighed in relief, he glanced through the window, back into the bar to see if Jo had seen him struggling, but she was preoccupied with a considerable struggle of her own and had not.
Even through the driving snow, Dean could see his giant of a brother was on his feet, being manhandled slowly, but with determination and great purpose, across the bar by Jo. She had hold of various bit of his clothing and was propelling him doggedly towards the same door Dean had exited. Sam’s earlier pallor had changed to a distinctly green hue and Dean smiled in spite of his pain, admiring the strength the tiny girl had.
‘Atta girl, Jo!’
He whispered, smiling into the darkness as he recommenced his painful shuffle towards the Impala.
The black eyes of the Daemon watched in disbelief at its good fortune as its quarry emerged alone from the bar to walk tentatively through the snow. He had imagined having to take on the formidable combination of the hunter’s younger brother, and the troublesome girl they now seemed to have associated with them, before he could get his hands on the injured hunter, but here he was walking straight into the daemon’s welcoming embrace, and from the hesitancy of the boys gait he could see he was already significantly weakened.
He pushed away his sense of disappointment thinking this would be easier than he had anticipated. He felt cheated, whilst at the same time relieved that his quest would soon be over.
He pushed his consciousness towards the hunter and felt the delicious grinding of broken bone in the hunter’s ribs, the dizziness and nausea, his overwhelming tiredness and the flush of fever that made him sweat even in the freezing night air. Good, the pain was dulling his senses, and would make surprising him easier. The daemon rose and moved on snow -silenced feet towards his prey.
Relief washed over Dean as he reached the Impala, and he slid his left hand from his battered ribs to cling onto the roof and steady himself as he struggled against the shaking of his hand to put the key into the lock. Each step in the slippery snow had jarred at his broken ribs and the ache had flared to become a burning, jaw-clenching throb that now threatened to make him sick. He just wanted to throw up, lie down and sleep preferably in that order!
His teeth chattered both with the cold and developing fever as he opened the heavy door, hearing its familiar and reassuring creak.
‘Sorry for leaving you in the snow!’
Dean was praying to feel warmer as he moved slowly to climb into his beloved car but he was stilled by a sudden sense of even deeper coldness, and he realised with mounting dread that this was not the driving snow chilling him to the bone. Indeed no natural cold manifested like this.
He felt himself begin to panic knowing in his weakened state he was in no shape to protect himself, let alone Sam and Jo. He turned, squinting against the stinging snow flurries, desperately seeking the source of the bitter daemonic chill.
The daemon stood immediately behind Dean, easily within striking distance. He was an imposing man, impeccably dressed in a long grey cashmere overcoat, his waist length black hair flowing behind him in the wind. The daemon’s black eyes took in the hunter’s pain- hunched stance, the sheen of sweat on his forehead and rapid breathing and he smiled - a smile of pure evil.
Panic turned swiftly to terror as Dean took in the black eyes of the man before him and recognised him for what he was. The injured hunter reached urgently for the gun where it nestled under his shirt against his spine. The movement tore painfully at his injured side, causing him to grunt in pain, his pupils dilating further.
His normally fluid, graceful movements were hesitant and jerky, and the gun was barely clear of the waistband of Dean’s jeans when the daemon flexed his gloved hand and sent the hunter crashing over the hood of the Impala to smash heavily, shoulder first, into a truck parked 30 feet away.
Dean felt his left arm explode from its socket as he smashed into the side of the truck, smashing the wing mirror from its mount, and the pain tore an agonised scream from him as he fell to the clean white snow, patterning its pure surface with a shower of warm crimson.
The last thing Dean saw as he slipped into pain-filled unconsciousness was the daemon striding towards him, a vision of intense chilling blackness against the white snow.
Jo turned so her back was to the door and leaned breathlessly against it, maintaining her careful hold on Sam at the same time, so his forward impetus was unbroken. She was intensely relieved that they had managed to get all the way to the door without the tall hunter falling over, or either of them puking for that matter
The snow hit Jo, as it had Dean moments earlier with its icy fingers as she and Sam emerged into the car park, but it’s rough caress was not totally unwelcome to Jo as she had begun to sweat from keeping Sam upright. Thus, she was pleased to feel him straighten and stand away from her a little. She looked up into his face to congratulate him and saw a look of confusion swiftly giving way to anguish as he stared into the driving snow.
Sam watched with mounting horror the scene before him as he realised that the broken figure lying in the snow, highlighted obscenely by daubs of his own warm, congealing blood, was Dean. Sam’s drunken nausea fled and rage quickened his pulse, sharpened his senses. He pushed Jo aside and leapt from the steps, seemingly oblivious for his own safety, desperate to get to his brother as the tall grey clad figure stooped over the fallen hunter’s stilled form.
The daemon placed his leather gloved hand tenderly against the cheek of the injured man as he laid on the ground before him, and felt the energy he so craved humming through the stilled body. He smiled and raised his jet eyes, drawn to the rage in Sam’s cry. He rose fluidly to his feet, lifting Dean’s unconscious form effortlessly with one hand, the motion casually smearing the blood from the hunter’s shattered shoulder across the pristine snow.
The daemon smiled at the advancing younger hunter and raised his unburdened hand to the sky momentarily, murmuring softly, before arching his gloved fist toward Sam and Jo.
Sam’s feet were instantly taken out from under him by gusts of wind of deamonic force and the fall of snow intensified until it was a white out. Sam was tossed across the muffled car park, his progress only stopped by his jarring impact with the wheel of a parked truck. The force of the storm held him pinned there and Sam squinted into the icy stinging pellets as he watched the daemon throw his brothers limp bleeding form into the back seat of a silver Mercedes, climb into the driver’s seat and drive unhurriedly into the silence of the swirling snow.
Chapter end notes:
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