Pleading The Fifth

(c)2007 gekizetsu

Sequel to Three Point Landing and Four Wall Rule. Warning: language, feather-fondling, sibling-groping. I obviously like flirting with the crackfic line in this series. Not really slash, not really gen, just some more nice Dean-straddling fence-straddling wingcest. Thanks go to coiledsoul for the opening scene bunny.

Sam and Dean have a plan this time and are totally prepared for Imbolc, giant wings, and angry elementals.

Not.
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January 31st, 2007, 11:56 pm

Sam looked at his watch again.

“Cut it out,” Dean said.

Dean hadn’t seen him do it, but he knew Sam was counting down the minutes for a variety of reasons.

He sat on the edge of the bottom of the bed in Bobby’s extra bedroom. It was too storage-like to be called a guest room. Bobby kept all kinds of extra shit in there that didn’t fit in the garage or the shed out back or the storm cellar. Herbs and books and sacred objects from hundreds of religions, car parts and beaten boxes without labels. Dean didn’t pay any attention to any of it. It all smelled of old cardboard and paper and dust, library-sweet and familiar. Devil’s traps were drawn in oil crayon above them in each room, wards on the doors. Home base.

Bobby had offered his storm cellar after hearing the whole tale (well, not all of it. ‘Also, Bobby, Sam likes to groom my feathers and I can’t get enough of that’ just didn’t make the final cut) and had also agreed it was probably best to steer clear until daylight in case the elementals had come up with a plan that involved smashing the house.

“If anything happens to my house,” Bobby said on his way out, one index finger raised to drive the point home, “...you boys are rebuilding it during every waking moment, beginning the next day.”

Of course he expected them to survive.

Unlike most storm cellars, this one was a good hundred yards off the house. Just like most, though, it was not intended to provide enough room for a guy who stood 6'1" to also be sprouting wings. Dean and Sam had propped the long, weather-cracked wooden doors open just before dark with the intent of getting the hell out of the house at midnight. Staying underground had worked before, and now that they’d had enough warning, finding a safe place to hide hadn’t required much thought. They’d affixed strips of sod to the doors themselves as a precaution.

Dean had taken his shirt off at 11:50 and kept his feet on the floor, hoping the change wouldn’t shove him face-first into the old oak dresser a few feet in front of him. Sam sat cross-legged on the bed behind him, up against the headboard. He wanted to watch, but didn’t want a nosebleed or concussion. Sam had said maybe if we see how it happens, it’ll tell us more about why it happens, and Dean had immediately called him a fucking liar. No way, even months later, was Sam going to freely admit that he was getting off on the situation. Dean had already been wondering if that little fetish was going to escalate and whether he cared if it did.

It wasn’t like there was anything weird going on inbetween bouts of gloria alitis. If Dean had been more of a girl he might have been a little...jealous. It wasn’t like he really wanted Sam all over him anyway. Things were perfectly normal as far as Sam not losing his mind and groping Dean while he was wingless. It had nothing to do with them as people. As brothers. Dean knew it didn’t. It was a situational thing, and for all he knew, part of whatever the elemental had hit him with made anyone nearby get touchy-feely.

He knew that if Sam hadn’t been fairly sure he’d be injured by the force of the unfurling, he’d have been a lot closer. He could feel Sam’s stare resting along his shoulder blades and was as curious to know exactly how it happened as Sam was. It didn’t hurt. In fact, the same thing was happening that had hit him the last time - that weird bone-light, faintly euphoric sense of invincibility. Last time he’d thought he’d just been hitting the right combination of bar pretzels and Mac & Jacks. This time he was stone sober and didn’t care much for it. Once they got underground he was probably going to get just wasted enough to find it all amusing again but not wasted enough that he couldn’t keep Sam from going further than he meant to.

“You oughta stay in the house,” Dean said for easily the fifth time. “No point you getting stuck in there if anything goes wrong.”

Had Sam been on his game he might have shot back with something along the lines of your maidenly virtue’s safe, punkin’ but he was too distracted. “Shut up.”

“You should cover me from out here,” Dean said. “None of ‘em are after you.”

His taste for ragging Sam about the whole thing had dwindled. He couldn’t shame Sam into doing what he wanted by saying you just want to be holed up with the wings, you just want me to sit in your lap. It wasn’t going to work.

“Guilt by association,” Sam said, shifting. “Story of my life.”

“Are you whining?” Dean said.

“It’s midnight,” Sam said.

“If you start counting down like I’m some goddamn New Year’s thing, we’re gonna have a problem,” Dean said. “I’m gonna hate trying to get my foot back out of your ass.” He rocked forward on his hands, though, wondering if it would be the same as the last two times. He wasn’t concerned about the possibility of pain. He was concerned that at some point there would be more than two wings, or they’d be emerging from other places, or the whole thing would manifest as something else. Elementals were by their very natures transitory and disordered. He had to brace for the unexpected. That already came with the package.

He focused on the grain of the wood of the dresser, the scrapes and scratches that mapped its age and use.

When it happened, the force of it shoved him forward, the wings emerging so fast in one direction that it created enough energy to move him in the opposite direction. He’d already been gripping the bedspread to try and alleviate it but it wasn’t enough, and he brought his hands up to try and brace himself from an impact with the dresser.

His finger tips brushed its surface; he was already heading back the other way. Sam had snapped forward quick enough to hook fingers into belt and the waistband of his jeans. Dean settled back onto the bed, conscious of how cool Sam’s fingers were, of the change in the room’s light because he was shadowing himself with a rustling tarp of feathers. He gathered them in automatically, registering that it was easier to control them every time. He had to roll them forward a little to keep the trailing feathers from bending along the edge of the bed. He wasn’t sure if they were indestructible, or if he wanted to know how much damage they could take, or what that would feel like.

Dean braced his hands on either side of his own hips, brought his feet down solidly on the floor, and fought off a wave of vertigo.

Sam still had a grip on his belt. Okay, more than that, he had fingers resting along the small of his back and wasn’t letting go. He was frozen in place, no longer hanging on for Dean’s sake.

“You getting weird on me again?” Dean said, not intending the hoarseness.

“You should see it,” Sam said without moving. “There’s this shadow that gathers right around your shoulders, like something’s stretching, and then they pull out of you already whole without breaking skin or anything. It’s...it doesn’t look unnatural. And I already know how stupid that sounds.”

Sam’s voice was low and awed. Dean thought it was probably a good thing they couldn’t see each other’s faces.

“You okay?” Sam said as he released his hold. “You kind of wavered, there, for a second.”

“Fifty-pound wings just sprouted out my back,” Dean said, intending it to sound rougher than it did. “It’s not the easiest thing I’ve ever done...sober. We better - “

And sure, he meant his next words to be ‘get out of here’ because that was the reasonable thing to do; no telling how much time they had or didn’t have. The little bitches zeroed in quicker every time like they were waiting for him. It was the right thing to say and it died right in his throat because goddamn if Sam didn’t scoot up on the bed and drape his ridiculously long pony-stick legs on either side of him and off the edge of the bed, straddling him from behind. That was the best point to finish his sentence and add the fuck are you doing, cuddle-whore, get off me, but breath was required for shit like that. He had to move his hands to the outsides of Sam’s thighs and grip the bedspread for a whole different reason because Sam had both of his wide palms spread along the places where wings met skin, feeling for bones and checking to see how they were attached and giving in to curiosity. Maybe because they were only seconds old or because he’d been anticipating it, they were more sensitive right at the root and he’d have involuntarily hit Sam right in the face with the back of his head if Sam hadn’t already been moving closer to tuck his chin into the crook between Dean’s neck and shoulder. Sam pressed his chest against Dean’s back and plunged both hands right into the thickest of the feathers in each wing, and that combined with the weight of them kept Dean from righting himself or from lifting his head off Sam’s shoulder.

He braced his hands flat against Sam’s thighs and tried to push himself up and failed. He had no strength left in his arms. There was nothing left of the world but Sam’s hands.

“So when you only sort of admitted to getting off on people touching them,” Sam said, “You were holding out.”

Sam’s voice was a rumble through Dean’s back and did crazy things to the exact spots where hollow wingbones met the more solid heft of shoulder. Dean didn’t mean to let his eyes roll up in his head and he’d deny to his grave that what was supposed to be a sarcastic laugh came out as a moan.

He was helpless.

Sam freed his left hand and used it to grab Dean’s exposed throat, gripping hard enough to make a point but not hard enough to cut off air.

“Somebody besides me has got to already know that this is all it takes to bring you down,” Sam said right at the lowest level of his speaking voice, and Dean realized with what little self awareness he had left that his nervous system wasn’t hooked up correctly when he had the wings because if he was capable of coming he’d have done it then.

Sam used his free hand to card the feathers he’d mussed back into place and then flattened that hand right against Dean’s bare abdomen.

“You wanna keep talking about splitting up?” Sam said.

Dean waited a few seconds to get his breath back. The pleasure was receding but still hanging at the edges and he had to make sure his legs would work before he used the floor as leverage and slammed them both backwards on the bed.

Sam let out an oof of surprise and didn’t untangle his legs or roll away in time to avoid Dean when Dean twisted and unbent his wings and sat on Sam’s chest, knees pinning arms. Dean was pissed enough to draw back a fist, not realizing that he’d snapped the wings out and left them raised like a striking raptor.

It was the look on Sam’s face that made him hold back - the blown pupils that left a thin ring of twilight hazel, the open-mouthed awe, the need.

He thumped Sam on the chest instead, hard enough to make Sam cough, and mantled his wings as he stepped off the bed. “We gotta get the fuck out of here,” he said. He remembered just in time to duck sideways through the door. He’d straighten things out later.

None of the wards or sigils on the doors, floors and ceilings bothered him. He’d figured as much, but the confirmation was good. He was changed but not on so fundamental a level that he reacted to wards. He left the front door open behind him. “Sam come on!”

He took off across the yard with a stride that looked like he was intent on tearing into something once he got where he was going. He paused halfway across the dry hardscrabble and checked the sky; low quarter moon rising, quiet and overcast with a chance of elementals. They might have domain over anything to do with air, but they still had to travel like anything else did if they wanted to be physical enough to take a swing at him.

He heard Sam close the door but didn’t glance back at him. He didn’t dare. He continued making a beeline for the open storm cellar doors and the clothing and blankets inside. Damn cold out there, probably be below freezing by three a.m. He stretched the wings as far as they would go, knowing it would be his last chance to do it until daylight.

He caught enough of a breeze at full span for his feet to leave the ground by an inch or so.

He folded them back in quickly, boots making a hollow sound as they came to rest on the frosted, root-riddled ground. No way that was happening. No accidental takeoffs.

He came to stand at the edge of the hole, at the top stair. A kerosene lamp at the bottom toward the back was still lit and flickering along the bare dirt walls. Bobby’d lit it as he was leaving. It would be cold down there but not half as cold as they’d been the last time they’d run underground.

Dean didn’t realize he was still standing there staring until Sam came alongside and stood close enough to breathe on him. Pushing a little without touching him, messing with him. He descended the rusting metal stairs, ducking his head for the first few. Shelves had been sunk into the dirt walls. Emergency rations, extra water that was swapped out every year or two, a crank radio, lanterns, a couple of cots, blankets and whisky and games. Just in case.

Dean was looking forward to getting some sleep, even in cramped quarters.

He was not going to talk about it. Any of it. It was fine when it was Sam’s weird little kink but not as amusing when it was that obvious to Sam.

He folded the wings tighter once he was below ground, listening to Sam secure the doors above while he looked around. He poked at a few things on the shelves - seriously, Bobby, kidney beans, what the fuck? - before sitting on the far cot with a yawn. He wanted boredom, beginning immediately. That was something he rarely wanted, but the alternative was really annoying while he had wings.

Sam hovered near the stairs, eyes raised toward the doors.

“Relax, Sam,” Dean said. “Just until I kick your ass in the morning, I mean.”

“Whatever,” Sam said, and Dean could hear the smirk. “You had it coming.”

Dean started to get to his feet. The asskicking didn’t really have to wait.

“You hear that?” Sam said.

Dean froze and listened automatically. There was a gurgle from somewhere beneath them.

They looked at each other.

Water. Bubbling up around their feet, fast. It was muddy from the dirt floor but nothing worse. It wasn’t sewage.

“It’s ground water,” Sam said. “The fucking water table is rising on us.”

“How much do you wanna bet this isn’t coincidence?” Dean said.

“Everything,” Sam said. “Our elementals aren’t doing this, right? Crossing over from air to water?”

Dean shook his head, staring at the water rising over the tops of their boots. “You know they can’t.”

“Okay,” Sam said, holding his hands out toward the floor like he could affect the outcome, walking toward Dean. “Okay, okay. Wait. Air and earth are opposites and can cancel each other out. Same with fire and water. So that leaves us with fire and earth, and air and water possibly teaming up, if they’re even aware of each other on that kind of level.”

“Just for fun,” Dean said, “Let’s assume they are. It hasn’t been raining in the last several days, Bobby’s pipes haven’t burst, and if they’re tapping the water table then they’ve got an inexhaustible supply or what amounts to it in our case. So they’re forcing a saturation point and they’re gonna drive us out of this hole.”

“There has to be a way, to - “ Sam started.

“Right into the open,” Dean said, cutting him off. “What would a water elemental get out of it?”

“Leverage,” Sam said. The water was up to their ankles. “They’re kind of their own pantheon - “

“Air elementals are damn dumb, ugly little fuckers,” Dean said. “Who’d need ‘em for anything?”

“We saw only one manifestation up close,” Sam said. “There are probably levels of elementals, just like everything else, and these might have been worker-ant level pawns or something. And they’re not that dumb if they’ve convinced somebody on the water side to team up.”

The water was rising in a rapid swirl, using every pore between grains of dirt and clay in tandem. Somebody was serious.

“The doors are a few inches higher than the ceiling,” Dean said, tracing the contours above with his eyes. “Bobby built this like a fortress. We can hang out up there for only a moment...but then the only way to keep breathing in here once the water hits them is to open the doors, and once they’re open, boom. We’re too far out of the junk yard, too. We’ve got a long dash to the nearest - fuck, I’m just talking to hear myself do it. You run for the biggest thing in the junkyard and I go...somewhere else. Make them split up.”

“They’re making a lot of convenient mud for us,” Sam said, backing toward the stairs as the water hit his knees.

“Gonna shoot ‘em,” Dean said, pulling his Glock out of the small of his back before the water got any higher. He’d loaded up on dirt-filled charges again on the off chance that something went wrong, because hell, when didn’t it?

“No way,” Sam said. “You kill any more of them, this’ll just keep escalating.”

“This,” Dean said, “...is gonna escalate no matter what we do. We can wait until the water forces us out, or we can get proactive.”

“And hope we run out of elementals?” Sam said. “C’mon, Dean. If they’re cooperating with each other, then this is bigger than we thought. So think it out.”

The water had reached their knees. Supplies were beginning to float in the muddy water.

Dean turned to look at him. “Figuring out why they’re teaming up can wait for later,” he said, using Sam’s least favorite Tone Of Command. “We’ve got a nice long while to research and plan once we manage to survive ‘til dawn. We bust out of here and split up, you throw a lot of mud and I’ll plug a couple of the bastards. Consequences later.”

Sam wrinkled his nose into a sneer of annoyance. “You’re worse with the wings,” he said. “I didn’t think it was possible, but you are.”

“Bitch later,” Dean said, looking back up at the doors.

It sounded like the wind was picking up out there.

The water reached the lamp and extinguished it.

“I’ll meet you at the back of the junkyard, after,” Dean said, automatically lowering his voice. He heard the splash of Sam coming closer to him and the steps. “We’ll figure out where to go from there.”

“Obviously not back underground,” Sam said.

Dean placed both hands flat against the underside of the doors, listening, and Sam came up alongside and did the same.

“On three,” Sam said. “One - “

“Three,” Dean said, and slammed the doors open as he vaulted out of the cellar. He heard Sam curse but he was already out in the open, gun raised above him, expecting at least two elementals to try and flatten him.

Nothing. It was getting windy, but there was nothing to see. “Go, Sam,” Dean said without looking at him. “Never saw them before they tried to flatten me the first time.”

They’d been over everything twice that they could find. Air elementals were associated with east and the color yellow, didn’t usually assume physical forms, rarely had anything to do with the mortal plane. Putting a trapped rogue out of its misery had apparently changed that for the moment. Nobody had much to offer in the way of figuring out how to end the standoff except to purposely summon one during a quarter call and try for a truce. Dean was more for letting the cycle run its course, and by Samhain he’d have completed the wheel and everything would reset. He was happy to assume that, anyway. Sam wasn’t.

Sam hadn’t moved.

Dean shoved him with his free hand. “Split up, Sam.” He began walking toward the junkyard, looking for somewhere to make a stand. He could at least dodge a blow or two between junkers, letting the metal take it for him, unless or until the little bastards started throwing cars at him. Sam veered to his left, shaking his head, but walking away between hulking wrecks.

Dean crouched near the wheel well of an old school bus, listening to the water spilling out of the storm cellar and running down toward the edge of Bobby’s yard. He sighed. Bobby was really going to love that. It’d take forever to dry out, down there.

Something flashed by above him, leaving a smear of goldenrod-tinted light behind that diffused like a jet trail. Dean didn’t even bother cursing, just stayed put and waited. They knew where he was, and he’d force them to make the first move.

When the bus lifted straight off the ground with a groan of aged parts stretching out, Dean took that as the first move and hauled ass back through the junkyard before it could come back to earth. He dodged between rows, making them work for it, then made for the trees that bordered Bobby’s property. That could have been Sam yelling his head off for him over the noise of two-ton things tipping over, but it wasn’t a help me type of yelling so Dean kept going, drawing the elemental off. It didn’t occur to him that Sam might think the bus had flattened him.

He made it just inside the trees before he turned. He could see two elementals hovering just over the junkyard, glimmers of low-saturation tangerine, their colors shifting with their moods and wellbeing. He couldn’t take a shot at them from there - he wanted to make sure he didn’t waste the rounds, and they had to be closer.

“Over here, bitches!” he shouted. “I know you can hear, so come on, let’s go, line forms this way!”

Yeah, they could hear, and here they came, low and fast and pissed off.

He took off into the trees, trying to stay in the thickest of them and trying not to trip in the dark as he ran uphill. His center of gravity was completely different with the wings and they kept catching on things besides.

There was a loud set of snapping noises, and larger branches began whipping down between the branches that dipped low enough for Dean to dodge. They were as hindered as he was while he was in the trees. They’d have to flatten a hell of a lot of old growth before they could take him down. The stand opened up again in front of him, the trees cutting off abruptly for -

He skidded to a stop.

It was a trestle. A damn trestle, about forty feet up. Right out in the open, from all sides, including beneath. He didn’t remember seeing this before, how the hell did he not notice all the times they’d been out to Bobby’s?

Aw, c’mon. No way this was his goddamn luck today.

And there was a third elemental hovering over the trestle.

He turned back into the trees with his wings held back as far as they would go, dodging between, pinions still catching on brush and lower branches. There was a shatter-crunch of sound and the scent of freshly cut wood when the entire stand he was in was splintered to just inches above his head as he threw himself down.

When he uncovered his head and threw off a layer of bark and branches and chunks of heartwood, nothing but cracked stumps surrounded him for about fifty yards.

He struggled up and got no warning before the spot he’d just been in was punched into a small crater, sending the remnants of a stump in all directions. Part of it slammed into his right wing and oh yeah, they felt pain as easily as they felt pleasure and it pissed him off.

He drew his gun and kept running. It seemed like they were all after him, they hadn’t split off to follow Sam. That was fine. Sam hadn’t done anything to the bastards in the first place. If he kept zig-zagging between the stumps and stayed a moving target, perpendicular to the tracks, then they wouldn’t end up driving him off into the freakin’ crevasse.

Dirt and rock peppered him and he didn’t curl the wings in quick enough to avoid getting a faceful when something punched the ground just in front of him.

“Sonofabitch!” he shouted, turning in the opposite direction and leaning over to scrub at his eyes. He heard the wind pick up again, and the tops of the trees that were still standing behind him bent over under the strain. He glanced up through watering eyes and was greeted with the sight of three blurred, hovering blobs of gold-glow.

Shoot one, and the other two smashed him flat.

He went low and fast in the other direction, herded right back into the open again and goddamnit he just couldn’t be trapped on the trestle. They’d get him from all sides, unless -

No, no no. No fucking way was he going to -

Run out onto the trestle and either try and make it to the other side or jump for it.

He made it to the edge and turned, wings out to full span, gun leveled on the elemental in the middle. Better to go shooting than to kill himself thinking he could fly. There was no honor in that, and there’d be too much for Sam to find. This way he’d be pulp and feathers and could at least take one of the bastards with him.

The air pressure increased right around him, sudden enough to squeeze the breath out of his lungs. He squeezed the trigger.

Dean!

Aw, c’mon.

Sam was on the other side of the trestle, in the open.

Dean shot the elemental in the center and heard it shriek as it flailed in midair and began to drop, and then he turned and went for the trestle because it sucked to be cornered and die, but doing it in front of Sam was inexcusable.

Run, Sam!” he shouted. “Go, go!”

The trestle rocked when the edge was struck and partly unearthed, canting to one side. Sam had backed away from his side of the trestle but Dean could practically feel his expression, all that big damn panic and resolve, trying to figure out how to save his brother and not himself. Great goddamn timing.

He was gonna have a talk with Sam, about arguing with him, ever, about anything, and showing up just when Dean was going to go out like a badass hero.

Sam’s side of the dropoff was more sloped than Dean’s, and he was sliding down on his ass and getting out of the direct line of fire.

The elemental Dean had shot reached critical mass or whatever and went off with a thud, crushing the trees still standing and rocking the trestle. Dean ducked between the rusted metal supports along the sides of the trestle. The other elementals hovered on either side of him, hissing.

The air crackled with energy while they geared up to wrap him in metal.

Jump!

Sam was shouting from below, sliding toward the bottom. “Goddamnit Dean, jump! Usethegoddamnwings!”

Oh, fuck him. He could hang out down there and talk all he wanted about using the goddamn wings when he wasn’t the one who had to test them.

One of the elementals turned its attention in Sam’s direction.

“Shut the hell up, Sam!” Dean shouted. “Shut up and get out of here!”

Dean!

Jesus Christ, it was like one of those 80's cop shows where the idiot leads were in a shootout and always wasted ten minutes of screen time shouting for each other. 

One of the elementals came close enough to hook what felt like needle sharp claws right into the crest of his left wing. If he’d been less badass he’d have screamed his goddamn head off, because shit, it hurt like a bastard, his damn sight blanked out for a moment but he still managed to shake the fucker off by snapping the wing out over the open space. And yeah, if he was curious, there was proof that the wings bled, right there. The blood passing through his heart wandered out through the wings before traveling back. He could tuck that away in his bag of useless things to know.

The metal supports folded in around him like a soup can as he ducked back down. He scrambled out before the metal could fold in further, forced to wiggle belly-down between the tracks. He could hear Sam shouting below over the wind, and then one of the damn elementals focused on Sam again and took off after him.

He stood and tucked his gun in the waistband of his jeans and swung himself up to the top of what was left of the side support. He hesitated for an instant because it was against everything in him to deal with the space and height; but that was less important than keeping the elementals off Sam. He’d nearly lifted off in the yard earlier, and he’d take the rest on faith.

Sam saw the glow descend toward him, then nothing for a moment but the shadow Dean cast, darker against the night sky, wings outstretched as he leapt from the edge of the trestle.

He thought for just an instant that Dean might drop like a stone, that the wings wouldn’t bear his weight, but then he coasted. The elemental shrieked, a needle-on-old-vinyl sound, and then Dean grabbed it by one of its numerous legs. The other elemental was already descending behind him.

With no previous experience in flying, Dean was already losing control of what he’d started, trying to right himself and make it down far enough to land on his feet and throttle the damn elemental he held at the same time. He’d seen birds land thousands of times, but he just wasn’t hooked up the same and his bones weren’t hollow. The result was a frantic flapping as he tried to pull up and keep a hold on the elemental. His feet hit first, overshooting Sam by dozens of yards, and then he tumbled head over feet into the dirt, wings flailing.

Sam was already running full out, gun drawn even though he knew it wouldn’t do any damage. He could distract them, at least, and worry about the rest after. The elemental Dean had held was already swooping up but not away with a shriek as Dean made it back to his knees; the second descended.

Sam reached Dean and planted a hand against his bowed back, leaning over Dean to shield him, right hand reaching down and grabbing Dean’s gun out of his waistband before he leveled it on the nearest elemental and fired. It spun away, falling silent, spiraling up at top speed even as he turned to the other only feet above them. He shot it three times.

The first, far above, made his ears ring when it expired, leaving a ring of fading yellow luminescence expanding against the overcast sky. He’d forgotten about this, about the way they self-destructed. The second plowed into the ground yards away and rolled, legs scrabbling at the dirt frantically, making its situation worse.

Too close.

He reached for Dean, trying to pull him up, wanting to make sure he was okay but also needing to get them the hell off ground zero before they both ended up with wings, or it blew them right into the damn crevasse. There was no telling what it would do to Dean, who was already carrying a curse, and if it was another random grab bag...

The breath went right out of him when the shockwave hit, and he never quite lost consciousness but he felt his head bounce off the ground. His lungs felt collapsed and too full at the same time. His first few breaths in the resulting quiet were labored and he laid on the ground wondering what he shouldn’t move first. He didn’t feel any different - no wings - so that was a bonus. He coughed, testing things out, and nothing hurt, so he pushed himself up and looked around for Dean.

Dean crouched at Sam’s feet. He didn’t look any different - no additional wings. Maybe he hadn’t been hit, but Sam couldn’t see how he’d have escaped. He was hunched over his own knees and had a grip on one of Sam’s ankles. Sam could see, even in the low light, that Dean’s eyes were wide with terror.

He sat up a little unsteadily, eyes on Dean’s face. “Dean,” he said.

No response. He could feel how hard Dean was shaking from there, just from the contact with his ankle. Okay. They’d been knocked down by another dying air elemental. They were both upright and breathing, so -

Oh. Dean had flown. Jumped from the damn trestle and flown, from a decent height.

“We’re okay,” Sam said. “We’re fine. We probably better get out of here in case there’s anything else...”

Dean dropped his head forward, still out of breath, looking like he was unable to let go of Sam’s ankle.

“No big deal,” Sam said. “Probably better find some kind of shelter. Dean. Talk to me.”

No response.

Okay, fine. He didn’t like it, but it worked more often than not. “I’d give it a two,” he said. “Your form sucks, man, I’ve seen freshman pull off their first high dive better than that. After hitting their head on the board on the way down, I mean.”

“Fuck you,” Dean said, low and breathless.

It was like music sometimes.

“That’s what I like to hear,” Sam said with a sigh.

“What were you trying to do, dumbass?” Dean said. It was almost steady. Almost.

“Pull them off you,” Sam said.

Dean didn’t let go of Sam’s ankle. “What happened to ‘don’t kill any more of ‘em?’”

“Rules change when something’s actually hanging on you,” Sam said in a tone that was more casual than he felt. “You’re bleeding.”

“One snagged me,” he said. “Didn’t bite me or anything, though, so no elemental-spit. If they have spit. I could have had elemental rabies.” He squinted up at Sam. “You got hit,” he said.

“Yeah,” Sam said.

“You’re not sprouting wings,” Dean said.

“You’re not getting any less obvious with your statements,” Sam said. “Hit your head?”

“No,” Dean said, taking the question with the seriousness Sam had asked it with. “Since you don’t have wings, what do you get?”

“Doesn’t feel like anything,” Sam said. “Maybe I’m immune.”

“There aren’t too many things you can physically manifest that have to do with air,” Dean said. “If you turn into Super Fart Guy or something, I’m out of here.”

“I’ll warn you first,” Sam said. 

“I’m not gonna be seen with you,” Dean said. “Not sharing a room. And stay out of my car.”

“This from the guy who thought it was hilarious after the open taco buffet at that place in San Antonio,” Sam said. “You were the one with the problem.”

You were the one with the problem,” Dean said. “Perfectly natural bodily function. You’re such a girl.” 

So far, so good. Dean recovered a little more with every riposte and Sam could stay calm and wait to see what happened without hyperventilating.

“How’d you end up on the other side?” Dean said. “Up there. You fly now, too?”

“Bobby’s got tunnels,” Sam said. “Funny how he never told us. They’re pretty old and it’s obvious he doesn’t maintain them, but they’re propped up pretty good.”

“Probably tried to start a militia in the 80's,” Dean said. “No way anybody raises the water table on us through a whole damn set of tunnels, but they could collapse them on us. If there are any left who care about us right now.”

He glanced back at what was left of the elemental that had gone last. There was a dull smear of off-white light a few yards away, dying as they watched, just a pool with nothing solid left.

Dean patted Sam’s ankle and stood carefully, then offered Sam a hand. They gripped each other’s wrists and didn’t let go right away.

Sam stood and took stock. He really didn’t feel any different. He shrugged at Dean to let him know that nothing was trying to sprout from anywhere and that he wasn’t concerned. He was lying, but who cared? 

“This is bullshit,” Dean said, hands on hips. “The least fate could do is give you your own set of wings to...groom.”

“Maybe I’ve already got enough of a curse with the visions,” Sam said, immediately shoving away the mental image of both of them with wings. Grooming. “Or putting up with you. C’mon, let’s get out of the open.” He headed back toward Bobby’s, hooking his fingers into exposed roots in the side of the crevasse, pulling himself up the side Dean had come from.

“There’s gotta be somewhere the little bitches can’t go,” Dean said, beginning to follow, shifting the wings into a more comfortable position. “Not just underground. There’s gotta be some kind of demilitarized zone, or a circle we can cast.”

“We’ll figure something out,” Sam said. “Gotta wonder, though, how and when a water elemental got involved, if that’s what it was. And why something representing air is running around with a physical form.”

“Might be something to that whole ‘levels’ thing you were talking about,” Dean said, pulling himself up the incline. “I’m not saying you’re right, I’m just saying you might have something.”

“God forbid I might ever be right,” Sam said. “You gonna let me have a look at that wing?”

“It’s already quit bleeding,” Dean said. “Just a scratch. Quit fussing, Francis. And what’re you gonna do, get gauze and tape to stick to the feathers?”

“I got Bugs Bunny bandaids for the first aid kit last time I refilled it,” Sam said. “Just for you, wiseass. You don’t know what a wound from an elemental will do.”

“Shut up, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” Dean said, reaching the top and stretching. “Bobby’s gonna kill us for flooding his storm cellar.”

They walked quickly toward the junkyard, shoulder to shoulder, watching the sky for any sign of disturbance.

“Now you’re busted too,” Dean said. “Shot two, got yourself marked.”

“You’re still special, Dean,” Sam said with mock sincerity. “Really special. Don’t worry.”

“Asshole, now we’re a double target,” Dean said.

“We always were,” Sam said. “You just don’t always realize it.”

“Don’t get maudlin, Maude,” Dean said.

“We can’t spend the night in the goddamn junkyard,” Sam said. “It’s freezing out here. Maybe we should get our stuff and - “

“My money’s still on the tunnels,” Dean said. “If more of ‘em show up, and we’re in the car, we’ll be sardines. I don’t think they can sense us when we’re under ground. That’s why they had to drive us out of the cellar, and why they didn’t try and smash their way in when we found that spot in the construction site.”

“Still gotta ask Bobby what’s up with the tunnels,” Sam said.

“How’d you find ‘em?”

“Dog’s been digging in the yard,” Sam said. “I’ll show you.”

Okay, so maybe puttering around in a crummy old tunnel for the night with a single lantern from the house and a few blankets wasn’t what they’d had in mind. And maybe the one wing the elemental had laid into stiffened up and ached like hell. It stayed windy up top - they could hear it - but nothing tried to get in and water didn’t pour out of the walls. The wings gave off enough heat to keep them fairly comfortable, just like last time. They passed time theorizing aloud about how maybe there was no agreement between factions, that the water elemental - if that’s what it’d been - had been released of any obligation once the air elementals had expired. Somewhere around two a.m. they started trading off sleeping in shifts, Dean first, but when Sam woke Dean it was to tell him it was dawn and they could head for the house. It was still windy but not storm-level force.

“Did you try and cuddle me while I was asleep?” Dean said, unfolding himself from the ragged hole the dog had dug between two late model Buicks.

Sam ignored him. “About last night - “

No, Sam,” Dean said with a growl, cutting him off. “Not talking about it.”

“I was only gonna say we should look around, find out what else Bobby’s got around here,” Sam said with a smirk. “Guy’s full of surprises.”

Bobby reappeared around ten that morning and found Sam and Dean at his kitchen table arguing over coffee and the laptop about air pressure, barometrics, and the physical manifestation of elemental entities. He momentarily considered turning right back around, because the more agitated Dean got, the more he gestured with those wings to make a point and endangered the entire kitchen. He also kept dislodging a patch of gauze from the left one that Sam kept taping back on without missing a beat.


-|-


Supernatural:Silver and salt       Gekizetsu.net