Title: Burn, Baby, Burn
Author: Adelheide
Pairing: gen
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Why gas and fire demons don't mix.


It wasn't the first time Sam or Dean had used themselves as bait. Usually, if you pissed off a demon enough, you could get it to come after you. Then again, this demon liked to play fast and loose with the rules.

They thought it was a ghost. It certainly acted like a ghost. Tormenting a certain group of people in a certain location. In this case, a nice family from the 'burbs. It was small things at first. Flare ups when the stove was turned on. Pieces of paper found smoldering in the waste basket. Scorched dolls. But soon the Malcolm's were battling small fires in every room, every day.

Dean first thought it was a poltergeist. The Malcolm's had a daughter, Amy, would was just hitting her teens. Perfect conditions to attract a poltergeist. But when the fires continued even when Amy's parents moved her out of the house to stay with friends in the next town, Dean quickly suspected a ghost. There was a pattern to the arson and it stuck close to the Malcolm family home. Sam did some research and found that the Malcolm's house was actually built 10 years ago. Before then, another home on the property had burned to the ground. Sure enough, the cause of the fire was arson. A local teen with a troubled past was accused of the crime, but killed himself before he could be arrested. Bingo.

So, under the cover of night, Sam and Dean went to the cemetery, dug up the grave, salted and burned the bones. No fuss, no muss. As their gigs went, it had been fairly simple. They went back to the Malcolm's to tell the desperate couple that their problems were over. Except at that point, Robert Malcolm's pant leg burst into flame. After the ambulance left, an armchair erupted and nearly torched the rest of the house. And despite the inky smell of soot after the fire department doused the flames, both of them picked up the distinct odor of sulphur.

"Oh, just great," Dean grumbled, scrubbing his scalp in frustration.

"So, I guess we exorcise it?" Sam asked.

"Yeah, damn it. Let's figure out what kind of demon this bastard is."

It turned out to match an agni perfectly. Dean had to practically pull everything out of the trunk, but he managed to find a book of Hindu prayers and rituals under the spare. He and Sam spent the night with Google, phonetically spelling out an exorcism ritual. Sam made a list of all the things they would need. The prayers they had. Rock salt also wasn't a problem. When Sam told Dean about burning cow dung, the elder wrinkled his nose. "You're kidding."

"Nope. Says right here."

"We have to burn it?"

"Yes. Cows are sacred in Hindu tradition."

Dean looked like he'd just eaten a bug. "Shit."

"Well, yeah." That afternoon, they made the drive out to the dairy farms of central Wisconsin. Fresh crap wouldn't work, so they had to ask around until they found a place that had dried dung for compost. Trying to explain to the farmer why they only needed a handful was something they both really hoped they were going to laugh about in the future.

They convinced Sara Malcolm to stay at the hospital with her husband. That night, they went back to the ranch rambler with their supplies. Things started out fairly well. Sam read the Sanskrit and Dean scattered salt and lit the dung. Dry, it wasn't so bad, but on fire? They were soon both coughing, eyes tearing. They both felt the barometric pressure drop as Sam neared the final incantation. They sensed the end but at the last moment, a small fireball knocked the book from Sam's hands. Quickly, Dean started to draw a circle of salt around them but before he could finish, another fireball slammed into his hand. He yelped and dropped the container. Then all Hell broke loose—literally.

Fireballs of varying sizes peppered the inside of the house. Soon, everything combustible was aflame. They grabbed their supplies and scrambled outside to avoid being trapped in the inferno. They stood on the lawn, watching the house burn, unpleasant memories stirred for them both. A large ball of fire arced out of the blaze and slammed into a tree that stood 15 feet from them. The tree practically exploded, driving them both back with the heat. They glanced around. Neighbors on the quiet suburban street were starting to come out of their homes. Sirens wailed in the distance. Another fireball rocketed across the street, narrowly missing and elderly couple. Apple-sized gobs of flame began to spew up and out, landing on lawns and roofs. People started to scream and panic.

Sam grabbed Dean's arm. "It's going to take out the whole neighborhood!"

"Well, let's see if we can get it out of here." He hurled the salt container at the blaze. The fire roared in protest. "Hey, Charlie! Quit picking on the kids and old folks!" He heaved the bag of dung into the flames as well. A crackling scream rose in the night. A tower of fire rose above the house. If you looked carefully, you could almost see a face in the gout. "Come on, bitch! Bring it!"

Two holes in the flames focused on them and narrowed. "Uh, Dean…"

As if fired by a machine gun, a shower of fireballs rained on them. Arms over their heads, they headed for the Impala. A burning rock skittered across the hood. "Not the paint!" Dean hollered as he threw the car in reverse, and then peeled off down the street. Flames followed them. He sped out of the development, in to the surrounding country side. The enraged demon was right behind them, flinging flames and destruction at their bumper. Dean tried to stick to highways, avoiding any farms or homes. He also tried to avoid the interstate but an exploding barn cut him off and forced him onto the divided 4-lane. Sam lunged over the seat, digging for more salt in the bag in the back. He slid into Dean when the other had to swerve wildly to avoid a burning chunk of debris.

"Hurry up, Sammy!

Sam ripped open the container, spilling white granules everywhere. Dean moaned, no doubt worried about how difficult it was going to be clean the interior when this was over. If this was over. Sam made sure every interior surface, including them, was covered. Then he sat back down and flipped open the book, starting where he'd left off. In response to the purifying element, the fire decreased and avoided the car all together. But the demon still howled behind them. A burning ball the size of an engine block dropped in the road in front of them. Dean barely had time to yank the wheel, sending them careening over the median, over the other side of the highway, and barreling on to a cement surface. The Impala slid sideways, leaving long, black smears on the pavement.

They jolted to a stop. Both men sat in the sudden silence, a bit shocked. They looked at each other, then looked around. A small building with big windows and a glass door. Two pump islands. Holy crap. They were sitting at a gas station. With a fire demon on their ass.





The diesel pump closest to them exploded. The impact sent them diving inside the Impala while it rocked violently. Dean's window shattered, showering him with glass. The night was lit bright by a mushroom cloud of smoke and fire. Dean grabbed the book and began pushing Sam urgently. "Out! Get out!" They scrambled out the passenger door and ran, crouched, to try to circle behind the building. A fireball bounced off the wall before them, rolling dangerously close to the tanks of propane. Dean grabbed a fistful of Sam's jacket and hauled him around, pushing him in the other direction.

They ran past the door just as a dazed teenaged clerk came out. "Hey," he called after them.

Dean skidded to a halt. When Sam stopped, he motioned him on. He stepped up and pushed the teen into the building. "Get inside, keep down, and call the fire department!" he commanded. The boy just blinked at him, stunned by the flurry of events. "Move!" The teen started, his eyes cleared, and he dove into the store. Dean turned to follow Sam. His brother was by the island of pumps, headed for the viaduct, waiting for him. A pump handle levitated away from its bracket, pointed right at Sam. Oh God. The pumps.

Dean yelled after the boy, "Shut off the pumps!" then spun to shout at Sam, "Look out!"

Instead, Sam turned…and was sprayed full in the face with gasoline. He threw his hands out a second too late as the stream hit the bridge of his nose. Reflexively, he gasped. Gas filled his mouth, running down his throat and trickling into his lungs. Blinded and unable to breathe, Sam flailed for a moment and fell to all fours. The pump handle fell to the ground, still running, surrounding Sam with a pool of liquid.

"Turn off the pumps!" Dean screamed. He ran toward Sam, losing his battle against panic. The flow waned, stopping to a few drips, but Sam was already in huge danger. A wavering, mirage-like shape hovered over the pump island. A small flame flickered to life and hung in the air.

He'd never make it in time. In any event, Sam was drenched and the fire would just follow the trail of gas to him. Dean shot to his right and grabbed the container of windshield fluid bolted to the post, wrenching it free with adrenalin-fueled terror. He flung the liquid toward the mirage and heard a sizzling sound. The flame vanished and the agni shrieked, indignant. He chucked the container, too, then opened the book and began to rattle off the last prayer as fast as he could. It was almost anti-climactic the way the mirage shivered then vanished in a puff of smoke. The evening breeze carried the scent of sulphur away quickly.

Dean splashed through the puddle of gas, intent on Sam. One hand clamped over his eyes and the other supporting his weight, Sam was gasping and gagging. Dean wrapped his arms around his brother's heaving torso and dragged him clear of the gas toward the building. His heel hit the step and they collapsed together, Sam sprawled in Dean's lap, his eyes screwed shut. Dean heard sirens, faint and far, as he pulled off Sam's soaking jacket. The teenager appeared next to them, peering down, concerned. "What happened?"

"I need water, fast!" Dean barked. Sam bent and rolled to his side, starting to retch. Dean pulled him back and sat him up more, holding his head with a hand across his brow. "Don't puke, Sammy." Sam had swallowed some of the gas and it would do a lot more damage on the way back up than it had on the way down. Sam struggled against him, shaking and retching. Dean held his head firmer. "Come on, Sammy. Stay with me."

The boy was back with bottled water. He also held out a larger container. "We had this by the first aid kit. I guess it's for your eyes." Dean spared a quick glance as he tried to get Sam's shirt off while struggling to hold him still. He recognized the eye flush solution.

"Open it," he grunted. Sam was disoriented and fighting him. Must'a swallowed quite a bit, Dean thought grimly as he used his leg to stop Sam's from thrashing. The boy obeyed and handed him the open bottle. Dean pulled Sam's head way back to rest on his shoulder. "Okay, Sammy. Let's get those eyes open." He poured a bit over the tight eyelids. Sam coughed and gasped but calmed a bit. "Work with me, Sam. Open your eyes."

Sam tried to comply, prying his eyes open. Dean could see how red they were as he poured a stream of cleansing fluid over them. Sam winced and grimaced. Dean just kept up a patter of encouragement as he tried to keep the stream steady and consistent. Sam's breathing sounded strangled and wet. When the eye solution ran out, Dean told the boy to open one of the water bottles and he bathed Sam's eyes with that. When that bottle was done, he flung the empty aside and demanded another. The sirens were closer but still far.

Sam spluttered and rasped, "Dean?"

"Right here, Sammy. Hold still and open your eyes."

"I'm gonna throw up."

"No, you're not."

"I—" The rest was lost as Sam began a familiar convulsion. Dean put the water to his lips and tipped some in.

"Don't do it, Sam. Drink this." Sam tried to move his head away but Dean's hand was like an iron strap on his forehead. "Come on, Sam. Pretend you're trying to win a drinking contest in college. Hold it down." Sam finally accepted the water and shuddered. When he was convinced the nausea was under control, Dean went back to pouring the water over Sam's clamped eyelids. "I know it hurts, Sammy, but I need you to open your eyes."

Sam's lids fluttered. He coughed once more and croaked, "Did we get it?"

"You bet we did, Sam." Where the hell was that damned ambulance?

Dean hated hospitals. He hated waiting and he hated clueless cops and, above all, he hated not knowing how Sam was. By the time the two patrol men found him in the ER waiting room, Sam had been behind the large swinging doors for 3 hours. Apparently they had used that time to talk to the Malcolm's neighbors and the gas station attendant, all of whom were mightily confused but seemed to agree that neither Sam nor Dean had anything to do with the fires or explosions. They tried to get a detailed statement from Dean, who was too distracted every time someone on the hospital staff walked by. He mumbled some half-assed story that he didn't really remember later and the cops finally gave up, leaving him to wait for word on Sam.

Another 90 minutes later and exhaustion has set in. Elbows on knees and face in hands, he started to nod off when a tap on his shoulder snapped him awake. He looked up. A tiny Indian woman with large dark eyes and her hair in a neat bob smiled at him. Her nametag said she was Dr. R. Panesh. She referred to a clipboard. "Mr…Bruciare?" The name on the fake insurance card.

Dean shot to his feet and found himself towering over her. "Yeah. My brother. How is he?"

Dr. Panesh smiled warmly and put a hand on his arm. "You're brother is fine. Why don't you sit?" A mild pressure encouraged him to follow her advice. Dean leaned forward, anxious and wired.

"We're getting him settled in a room in ICU—"

"What! What's wrong?"

She rested her petite hand on his. "Everything is fine. It's just a precaution. He inhaled some of the gas so we've got him on a high oxygen concentration. We can only do that in ICU, not the regular rooms. We want to watch for chemical pneumonitis, so we'll keep him there over night. He also ingested quite a bit, which would account for the confusion, convulsions, and nausea. We've pumped his stomach and that seems to have taken care of it."

Dean rubbed his face, remembering how Sam had twitched on the gurney in the ambulance. "What about his eyes?"

"Well, your first aid served your brother well. He's got a mild transient corneal injury." Dean jolted with new alarm. "It's okay, Mr. Bruciare. It's a disruption in the integrity of the corneal epithelium. A mild abrasion. You flushed most of it on the scene, which probably saved your brother from more serious injury. We've treated him with saline and anti-bacterial ointment for that." She glanced down at the clipboard. "There was also some irritation and dermatitis due to a degreasing of the skin. But you got his soaked clothes off quickly, so that's also to a minimum. All things considered, Sam is stable and doing well. We want to keep him one night, possibly two."

"Can I see him?"

Panesh checked her watch. "It's past visiting hours…"

"Please." If Dean couldn't see Sam, if he couldn't see with his own eyes that Sam was alright and breathing, he thought he might go crazy.

She smiled and nodded, empathetic to Dean's anxiety. "Come with me. I'll take you upstairs to ICU and you can wait there." She led him through a maze of hallways and they took an elevator to the 4th floor. There, she showed him into a smaller waiting room. The furniture was nicer and the magazines were less than a year old, but it was still a waiting room. Dean paced furiously. 30 minutes felt like hours until a young nurse in pink scrubs poked her head in the door and told him he could see Sam.

The room was barely lit. The drapes were drawn against the dawn and small nightlights were all the kept the gloom at bay. The first bed was occupied by an old man hooked up to more machines and monitors than Dean wanted to think about. Beyond the privacy curtain, Sam lay in the next bed. He was nearly as pale as the sheets except for an angry rash that ran over his chest and down his arms. He was connected to a heart monitor and an oxygen mask. His breathing was better but still ragged. Round cotton patches rested on his eyes.

Dean's chest felt tight as he looked down at his brother. He knew better than anyone that something could happen fast that would change the course of a battle or your life, but it still pained him to see Sam like this. He crept quietly to the side of the bed, not wanting to wake the younger man. But Sam stirred and mumbled, "Who's there?"

"I'm here, Sammy." Dean touched his arm. "They finally let me in to see you."

"It's Sam," he corrected roughly, his voice muffled by the mask. He coughed to clear his throat. A smile flickered on Dean's mouth.

"How're you doin'?"

"Oh, I've had a great night so far. You?"

Sam's humor was back. That helped loosen the steel fist gripping Dean's heart. "Yeah, well, you should see some of these nurses."


"Oh yeah. And your doctor? She's a honey, too."

"I can't wait to see." With a shaky hand, Sam lifted one of the pads. His eyes were swollen shut and red with some kind of greasy ointment lining the lashes. He put the pad back and his hand fell to the bed.

"Well, don't worry, little brother. I hear you're gonna be on the fast track to recovery. And once these gals get a load of your big green eyes, you'll have to beat 'em off with a stick."

Sam chuckled which caused a coughing fit. Dean rushed closer, gripping his arm, but Sam calmed quickly and waved him away. "Don't make me laugh," he rasped.


"I'm really tired."

"I bet. You go to sleep. I'll be right here."

Sam coughed lightly and grimaced. "You don't have to hover, Dean. I'll be okay. I'm in a hospital."

"Yeah, I know…"

"Dean." Sam tried to sit or move but was too weak. Dean put a restraining hand on his arm. Watching Sam like that was tearing his heart out. "Would you go get a room and go to bed?"

Dean was so exhausted he knew he wouldn't even be able to make it to a hotel. He considered sleeping in the car. At least that way, he would be close to Sam. But Sam was insistent, so to placate him, Dean said, "I'm gonna go for a while and let you sleep. I'll be back later, though. Okay?" Sam nodded drowsily. "Maybe I'll take some of the gaggle off your hands." Sam smiled and nodded slowly, sleep overtaking him. Dean watched for a few minutes until he was sure Sam was asleep. A large chair with ugly green upholstery sat in the corner by the foot of Sam's bed and Dean slumped into it.

It was one thing to use himself as bait. It was something else to use Sam. And look what happened when he did? Dean vowed that bait was something Sam was never going to be again.

When R.N. Becky Colm came in half an hour later to check on the patients in Room 410, Dean was fast asleep.