Author: jaune_chat and brighteyed_jill
Fandoms: Supernatural/Star Trek
Characters/Pairings Dean, Sam, Castiel; McCoy, Spock, Kirk (mostly gen, hints of Kirk/Spock)
Rating: R (for violence)
Spoilers: General spoilers for SPN through all aired episodes. Star Trek movie spoilers
Warnings: Violence and gore.
Disclaimer: Star Trek and Supernatural belong to their respective creators
A/N: Instant collaboration for the win! Thanks to perdiccas for super-fast betaing. Written for theplanetmary for xover_exchange
Summary: Sam, Dean, and Castiel encounter some mysterious strangers, one of whom is experiencing some scarily familiar symptoms.
Zombies. Sam and Dean hadn’t seen this many zombies since their last major job down south. Why bodies of the dead were rising from their graves all the way up in Oregon was beyond their understanding. But the Winchesters didn’t need to understand everything in order to deal with this mess. They only needed to reload fast enough.
“Twenty-seven!” Dean called, as the latest zombie’s head exploded into soup. Sam handed Dean the next full shotgun and reloaded the empty one. Zombies were slow, Dean was a better shot, and Castiel was useless when it came to guns. So far Dean hadn’t missed one yet, and was keeping tally to go for a record. If he got thirty in a row, then tonight they’d eat someplace a little better than a diner, for once.
“Twenty-eight, twenty-nine…” There was a long pause after the last shot, and Dean finally lowered the shotgun. Sam looked up and had to clap a hand over his nose and mouth. The stench was horrific. The zombies’ violent second deaths had turned the graveyard into a slick of rotten blood, decaying flesh, and putrefied brains. But at least there were no more bodies to raise, apparently.
“That’s it,” Dean said quietly, and pried his hands off the gun. “Damn, I can’t feel my fingers.” He slowly rubbed his hands together to get feeling back into them, looking a little pale from the smell.
Castiel strode forward from behind the low wall the Winchesters had been using as cover, utterly ignoring the carnage on the ground.
“Cas-.” Sam cut off his useless protest and just shoved a few more shells into the last gun, just in case. Breathing shallowly through his mouth, he followed Castiel in, eager as the angel was for answers.
“They were afraid. That is why they fled,” Castiel said, laying his hand on a gravestone. The raw earth from the open graves spilled out a new miasma of decay into the air, and Sam had to struggle to control his stomach.
“How?” Sam asked. They hadn’t seen any of the usual hoodoo signs for zombie-creation, and there certainly wasn’t much hoodoo religion in this part of the country. That was the only way Sam and Dean had seen zombies created before…
“Power is rising in the earth. Something there has caused the dead to rise and flee.”
“One of the Horsemen? A demon?” Sam asked a little sharply. None of them were interested in ambiguous prophecies, not with everything on the line.
“I am not certain…” Castiel trailed off, looking concerned.
Sam was a lot more than concerned. What could be so scary that the dead would rather flee their graves than stay buried?
“Sam, I believe it has left. It is the fear in its wake that has caused the bodies to rise.”
“So, every place it passes, the fear is going to drive the dead from the ground.” It really wasn’t a question, but Castiel nodded anyway, staring at the corpses as if trying to get more information from them.
“Sam!” Dean’s panicked yell was the only warning Sam had before he stumbled over a fallen corpse and into the embrace of a struggling zombie, only half-free of the ground. It was incredibly strong. The creature soundlessly clawed deep into Sam’s side, burning like fire and acid as its nails scraped the bones of his ribs. The pain was so nauseatingly intense Sam couldn’t even scream, just jerked the gun around with one arm and fired point-blank range, blowing it open. Dean’s shot in the next instant tore its head off.
“Sam, damn it, did it get you-?” Dean cut himself off when he skidded to a halt next to Castiel, who was hovering above the ghastly wound in Sam’s side with a frightened expression. Parts of Sam were hanging out that should never see daylight. Dean felt his stomach contract into a painful knot and his heart freeze. Cas couldn’t heal Sam, not anymore…
“Sam, stay with me, please!” Dean shouted, seeing Sam’s eyes roll shut in the pale moonlight.
“Don’t you dare check out on me! Cas, we need a doctor, now!”
In an instant, Castiel was gone.
“We shouldn’t be here,” Kirk said. “The space-time continuum is very delicate, and if we make even the tiniest mistake, we could destroy the future as we know it!” His voice spiraled to an alarmingly high pitch that had Spock frowning and McCoy gritting his teeth.
“Captain, please try to remain calm.”
“Stop saying that!” Kirk snapped. “You’ve said the same damn thing about seventy times in the past twenty-four hours--.”
“Fifty-eight times, sir.”
“And I’m getting tired of the implication that there’s nothing to be worried about. We’re in the past! Do you have any idea how dangerous this kind of anomaly is? We could be trapped here forever! We could be stoned to death by the savage people who live in this time! We could pick up some horrible extinct disease and be bleeding out of our eyeballs! Bones! Bleeding out of our eyeballs!”
“Please tell me that’s not how I sound when I’m trying to make a point about a bad situation,” McCoy muttered.
“There are similarities, Doctor,” Spock said thoughtfully.
“Jim, hold still. I just need another blood sample to test against these. If something in this time really did cause your condition, we won’t know unless I can isolate the right symptoms. I need to find out of this rash has anything to do with the breathing trouble you’ve been having.”
“The rash could be unrelated? Like, something I picked up from… Oh God. Spock, I swear I didn’t hook up with that girl on Boros Nine.”
Spock ignored him. “Perhaps if we moved to more advanced medical facilities, doctor, you might find treatment easier.”
“Spock, all this antique medical equipment is pretty useless. We could be in the most advanced hospital in the country and it wouldn’t make a difference. And we have to assume the sensors were right and this backwater of a town has some connection to what’s making Jim sick.”
“Spock.” Kirk grabbed his arm, hard. “We can’t trust the people here. They’ll find out we’re not from around here, and they’ll kill us. We’ve got to get out!”
McCoy furrowed his brow at his medical scanner. “Jim, we need to keep your heart rate down. Really, don’t get so worked up.”
“Stop saying that!” Kirk waved his arms, which were spotted with irregular patches of blackening skin, at his crewmates. “Rash! Breathing! Lost in the past!”
“Captain, we are not lost. You must remember that we came here deliberately to explore a connection to your symptoms, and therefore it is imperative for you to let Doctor McCoy do his job before we must leave.”
“Okay.” Seemingly soothed by Spock’s serenity, Kirk made a visible effort to calm himself.
McCoy nodded to Spock and moved in closer with his medical scanner. Just at that moment, the door to the room burst open, Jim screamed, and a tall man, covered in blood and reeking of death, appeared.
“See? Savages!” Kirk shrieked, and dove for the phaser sitting on the bedside table. Thanks to amazingly quick Vulcan reflexes, Spock was able to snatch the weapon out of Kirk’s grasp before he could do any damage.
Spock concealed the phaser quickly, and stepped in front of Kirk, but the man, who wore a long tan overcoat, seemed not to have noticed. He focused intently on McCoy and asked, “Are you a doctor?”
McCoy clutched his medical scanner tightly, wishing it were a phaser. The man hadn’t done anything threatening, despite looking like he’d come from a battlefield, and McCoy wouldn’t risk damaging the time stream without a damn good reason. He said, “Yes, I’m a doctor.”
The man nodded, dropped his hand onto McCoy’s shoulder, and closed his eyes. They disappeared.
For a moment, silence filled the room. Then Kirk jumped out from behind Spock and ran to the place where Bones had stood.
“No!” He whirled to face Spock, his eyes wide and wild. “I told you! I told you they couldn’t be trusted. They’ve got Bones!” Panic flitted across his face, and he sped across the room to grab Spock by the arms. “They won’t get you, too. I don’t want to be left here alone.”
“Yes, captain. We’ll stay together and find a way to recover Doctor McCoy.”
Bones felt a wave of heat, a huge rush of wind, and a touch of dizziness as the world came back into focus around him. The man in the tan coat stepped away from him and bowed his head. The stench of death struck Bones immediately, but hard on the heels of that were the smell of fresh blood, and the agonized gasping breaths of a dying man. Turning, he saw two men, both somewhere around Kirk’s age, one of them with a horrific wound in his side. Rotten corpses were strewn all over the ground, but neither of them seemed to notice.
“Help Sam!” the uninjured man yelled, clutching the dying Sam as if he could hold him to life with sheer force of will.
Doctor’s instincts kicked in, overriding the urge to wretch from the smell, to protest being wrenched away from Jim, from needing to keep a low profile in this day and age. McCoy went to his knees in the rotting detritus, pulling his med scanner out with blithe disregard for the Prime Directive. The medicine of this time period couldn’t save this kid, not so far from a medical facility, not with his internal organs exposed and God-knows-what shoved into the wound from whatever had- McCoy checked the readings –clawed him.
No time to ask questions or answer them. McCoy’s awareness narrowed to the injury in front of him.
Dean had no idea what kind of doctor this guy was, and he had no freaking idea what kind of tools the man was using, but his singularly focused and businesslike attitude, a little like Dean himself when he was in hunt mode, was reassuring. The doctor didn’t waste time on wondering how he’d been brought here, or who anyone was, or how Sam had gotten hurt. He just started working, pulling little vials out of his satchel and loading them up in some kind of needle-thing, injecting Sam with what Dean guessed were painkillers. Sam relaxed under the guy’s hands and his breathing became less panicked.
“Hold this,” the doctor said brusquely, thrusting out what looked like a flashlight. Castiel took it and shone it down where the doctor directed. Dean had to look away; he had a strong stomach for gore, but this was Sam, and his hard-earned control was gone, seeing what the zombie had done to him.
Dean didn’t see what the doctor was doing, but the low cursing about “all the crap in here” and “what a damn mess” and “ok, get back in place, come on, that’s it,” meant he was actually working, and working hard. When the curses took on a slightly more animated tone, and Sam’s breathing went from shallow and pained to deeper and relaxed, Dean dared to hope. He turned back to watch the doctor work. His eyes nearly bugged out when he saw the man running some weird device over the wound in Sam’s side. Wherever the blue beam of light passed, muscle and skin knitted back together. It took several passes, but what should have been a fatal injury was now just a faint scar.
The doctor finally sat back on his heels, dropped his tools in his pouch, and wiped a hand over his forehead. He glared up at Castiel and Dean, face setting in what had to be a habitual scowl.
“What the hell did you do? How the hell did you bring me here?” he demanded.
“It was necessary. Sam was dying,” Castiel said levelly.
“That was obvious. How did you find me?”
“You were at the only medical facility in town.”
The doctor looked very pained, and glared at Dean like this was all his fault.
“What were you using on Sam?” Dean asked sharply. The fear he’d had that Sam might die had been redirected to fear of the strange; the Winchesters hadn’t exactly had good experiences with healers that could perform “miracles,” genuine or otherwise.
“What’s your name, son?” the doctor asked, his voice hard. He didn’t look to be in a compromising mood, and considering what had happened, Dean didn’t entirely blame him. And he’d been taking the whole “kidnapped by an angel” thing really, really well so far. Ok, they could both afford to bend, just a little.
“It’s Dean. This is Sam. That’s Cas,” Dean said shortly.
“McCoy. And I was using a hypospray and a dermal regenerator.”
That sounded like sci-fi bullshit. “You have something that can just seal up wounds like that?” Dean asked skeptically.
“You have someone that can steal me from the hospital and drop me wherever-the-hell this is in a blink of an eye? I left my friend back there. He’s sick, in pain, and afraid, and you just- I have no damn idea what you did, but you made me leave my patient!” he growled.
Dean would have felt like an ass, except Sam was alive and shouldn’t have been, by all rights. Castiel had managed to pull off a miracle, with no power of God needed. “He didn’t need you as much as Sam did.”
McCoy tightened his mouth, but nodded reluctantly. “You’re damn lucky it was me you ended up with. Now, put me back where I was!”
Castiel looked at Dean and nodded slightly. Putting his hand on McCoy’s shoulder, they disappeared. And then reappeared just a few minutes later.
“God damn it, Jim and Spock are gone!” McCoy thundered, glaring at Sam and Dean like it was all their fault. Again.
Spock followed the only evidence they had, which was the sensor readings from the temporal anomaly that had brought them here. He regretted having to leave what passed for a medical facility in this town, but without Doctor McCoy, Spock couldn’t hope to improve Kirk’s condition using the available equipment. They’d made their way to the outskirts of the town, following the strange energy signature that had led them to the temporal anomaly in the first place. He’d had to adjust the tricorder to avoid interference that seemed, inexplicably, to emanate from Kirk himself.
Spock was certain that he could find a connection from the temporal anomaly to the energy signature that would give a clue as to the cause of Kirk’s condition, if not to the whereabouts of Doctor McCoy, if he could just have a moment to concentrate. His captain, however, was making that impossible.
“Red alert!” Kirk dropped his tricorder for the seventh time and jumped behind Spock. “Get your phaser out!”
Spock glanced around to try to locate the source of Kirk’s distress, and finally ascertained it must be the vehicle passing by on the roadway beside them. The driver, a human male with a surprising amount of facial hair, eyed them warily as he drove by. Spock was glad of the hat pulled down over his ears to cover the most obvious of his Vulcan features, for the man did not seem particularly friendly. Then again, Spock had observed similar sentiments in many rural, isolated communities, and the encounter was hardly enough to merit drawing a weapon.
Still, Kirk cowered behind him, staring at the truck long after it had passed.
“Captain,” Spock said in a soothing tone. “There is no danger. We should keep moving if we wish to reach our destination before dark.”
“Dark?” Kirk had been afraid before, but now he seemed nearly incoherent with terror. “Spock, we can’t be out here in the dark. We have to find somewhere to hide, or they’ll find us. Somewhere we can defend ourselves.” He gripped the front of Spock’s shirt tightly. “Please, Spock. Don’t let them take me.”
“I will not.” Spock rested his hands on Kirk’s shoulder, trying to project strength and confidence. He was unsettled by seeing his usually reckless and confident friend reduced to jumping at imagined enemies and, worse perhaps, cowering at the least threat of danger. “I will not let harm come to you.”
Kirk huddled closer to Spock and lowered his voice to a bare whisper. “They’re coming for us. They don’t like what we’ve done, trying to help people. It’s bad for business. Spock, if they find us…” Kirk lifted one of his hands off Spock’s shirt and turned it over. A patch of skin on Kirk’s palm, which had been black a few hours ago was now an open, gaping wound surrounded by dead, black skin that looked almost charred. “I don’t want this to happen to you, too.”
A horn blared as a semi-truck barreled past them on the highway.
“Run!” Kirk screamed. He tore away from Spock and took off into the woods at the side of the road.
“Jim!” Spock paused only to snatch up the dropped tricorder before pursuing Kirk into the gathering dusk.
“So, you took him here to fix him up?” Sam asked incredulously. He’d awakened a few hours after McCoy had returned, not much worse the wear for having his guts briefly torn out. And while he had no idea what to make of McCoy’s strange medical tools, he apparently felt he owed McCoy one --more than one-- for his life. And while Dean and Cas were a lot more suspicious, they were willing to let Sam talk while they tried to locate McCoy’s missing friends.
Besides, any side questioning as to why the three inadvertent kidnappers had been in a graveyard with thirty decapitated corpses and open graves, and what, if anything, that had to do with Sam’s injury, was met with stony silence.
“The scans-. Ah, we thought his symptoms might originate from somewhere around here. I was looking for the source of his condition,” McCoy said guardedly. He stumbled over the uneven ground in the woods in the fading light of day and cursed under his breath. He couldn’t exactly explain how they’d located this particular place and time without trampling all over the Prime Directive and every rule involving time travel, but creative lying wasn’t exactly his strong suit.
“What kind of condition originates in Oregon? It’s not exactly a virus hotspot,” Sam pointed out, ducking around a half-seen tree. He and Dean were taking the rough ground with relative ease, and the seemingly unflappable Castiel—and what kind of ridiculous twenty-first century name was that?- was walking like he had night vision. McCoy was stumbling and sliding every dozen steps.
He cursed again as he untangled himself from a thorn bush, trying to figure out what he could safely say. If Jim’s condition really did originate from this time period, there was a chance, a decent chance, that they might know something.
“Elevated heart rate, slight fever, a rash, trouble breathing, all of it getting progressively worse over the past three days. I’m worried about his heart,” McCoy confessed.
Dean actually stopped dead for a few seconds. Then he had to thrash through the underbrush to catch up with the group. “He, uh, behaving differently? Doing anything weird?” Dean asked.
McCoy looked at him sharply. “You’ve seen this before?”
Dean didn’t look at him, and Sam actually went a little pale. “Maybe. Well?”
“Jim Kirk is a stubborn, arrogant ass, but he’s one of the bravest people I know. He’d have to be, doing what… Well, doing what he does. Whatever this condition is, it has him scared.”
“Scared of being sick?” Dean prompted.
“Scared of everything. Paranoid. Every… brain scan I’ve run isn’t showing anything abnormal, other than the fact that it’s telling his adrenal glands to work overtime,” McCoy said shortly.
“This has been going on for three days?” Sam asked, sounding aghast.
“It took us that long just to get here,” McCoy snapped. “It’s not like I’ve seen something like this before!”
“Where’d he pick this up?” Sam sounded urgent, almost fearful.
McCoy felt ice stab at his gut. If these people really did have information about Jim’s condition, the news couldn’t be good. “On Earth, not too far from here,” McCoy said unthinkingly.
“Well, I’d damn well hope it’s on Earth,” Dean muttered. “Where the hell else would he have been?”
Castiel looked at McCoy very curiously, as if he’d just had some kind of question answered. Something about the way he moved and spoke was putting McCoy’s back up. He didn’t seem quite human, strange teleportation abilities aside; he acted more like Spock at his most Vulcan.
“Dean, if it’s…”
“Yeah, we need to get back to the car, now!”
They picked up the pace, and came out of the woods next to an antique car, old even for this time period. Sam all but dove into the backseat, pulling out a bulky computer and tapping at the manual press keys with Chekov-like ease and enthusiasm.
“Downloaded some stuff from the county archives before we came out here… Dr. McCoy, your buddy Jim’s rash, what’s it look like? If you didn’t assume it was an actual rash?”
McCoy mentally compared the rash to others he’d seen, and shook his head. He’d seen enough allergic reactions in his time, most of them from Jim, to know an anomaly when he’d seen it. If he hadn’t seen Jim spontaneously erupt with the lesions, he’d have assumed they were…
“Burns. They look like burns.”
More tapping. Castiel and Dean looked over Sam’s shoulders, both of them pointing to something on the screen at the same time.
“Got it! Dean, let’s go!” Sam said, closing the computer and all but shoving McCoy in the car’s backseat. Castiel climbed in next to him, his expression stony. Dean slid behind the wheel and twisted a small bit of metal next to it. The whole contraption rumbled to life like it was about to fall apart.
“Hang on, doc!” With a roar, the car sped out onto the dirt road.
“He’s going to be scared to death? By ghosts?” McCoy asked incredulously.
Sam waved at his side, where an hour ago his guts had been hanging out, and McCoy shut up. One man’s magic was another man’s commonplace. And McCoy’s medical tricorder wasn’t powerful enough to pick up even Spock’s unique bio-signature at any decent distance, not with all the interference from this time’s cluttered airwaves. He needed them, no matter how mad their theory was.
“It happened to us once… Something scared these ghosts, badly enough to make the rise up and run. Anyone who got caught in their wake and had some kind of connection to the people who killed them is going to die like they did,” Sam said quietly. “These ghosts that are haunting your friend? According to the county records, they were missionaries from the frontier days. Some foreign trappers didn’t like them, hated them for interfering, hated them enough to drive them back into their compound and set it on fire.”
“Christ,” McCoy said softly, and Castiel glared at him with almost palpable force. “What kind of connection could Jim have with those murdering bastards?”
“Someone caught the trappers later. They wouldn’t admit they were wrong, and there wasn’t any evidence to convict them,” Sam said.
Wouldn’t admit they were wrong. James T. Kirk to the letter. Jesus.
Sam must have seen something on his face, and nodded sympathetically. “The ghosts are terrified and lashing out. And since they burned, we have to do something else to get them to back off.”
“Like what?” McCoy demanded. He had an idea he wasn’t going to like the answer.
Spock found Kirk slumped against a tree, shivering. His arms were wrapped tightly around himself and he was scratching at another black spot on his arm. He cringed when he saw Spock, but at least he didn’t run. Spock crouched next to Kirk and scanned him quickly with a tricorder. The strange signal that matched the frequency of the temporal anomaly was stronger, now. “Are you hurt, Jim?”
“I can’t breathe,” Kirk rasped. “Like my lungs are on fire.” He groped blindly for Spock’s hand and clutched it hard. “If I can’t run, they’ll get us.”
Spock glanced around at the darkening woods and raised an eyebrow. “There is no one in the immediate vicinity, Jim. You are safe.”
“They know what I did,” Kirk whispered, breath rattling. “People have died because of me. Because I was so sure I was right.”
“Captain, we need to keep moving,” Spock said. He grabbed Kirk under the shoulders and hauled him to his feet. “Your symptoms seem to be worsening.”
“Shh.” Kirk batted at him ineffectually. “They’ll hear us. They’ll find us! They’ll take us like they took Bones!”
Spock grabbed Kirk by the elbow and hauled him along as he followed the signal on his tricorder. If they didn’t find the source of frequency soon, there might not be enough of Kirk left for McCoy to put back together.
Though Kirk kept up his litany of paranoid muttering, Spock was able to guide them through the woods as the signal from the tricorder grew stronger. At length they found themselves at the edge of a field, in whose center stood the crumbling remains of a stone-walled structure.
As soon as he stepped into the clearing, Kirk began screaming. “He’s here! Spock, run!” Spock was able to tighten his grip enough to hold Kirk and prevent him from bolting, but the screams caught the attention of the men on the far side of the field who Spock hadn’t seen before. One of the men wore a long, tan jacket.
The back of the car reeked with the liquid fuel Dean had purchased and then doctored with some kind of crushed plants and mineral powder. McCoy was only too glad to escape the smell when they stopped in a large field on the edge of town. Sam and Castiel were lugging the fuel while Dean held his oversized weapon in both hands, looking all around as if expecting to be attacked at any moment.
“I dislike this plan,” Castiel said suddenly.
“I don’t like it either, but they’re trapped, and McCoy’s friend is going to die unless we stop them,” Sam said, looking back over his shoulder at McCoy. “Cas, I’m going to have to be the one to do this. You know that, right? I think I’m the only one they’re going to think is… ah… foreign enough to scare them.”
Dean’s jaw tightened and his expression darkened, but neither he nor Castiel contradicted Sam.
“Please,” Sam sounded almost like was pleading for understanding. Castiel opened his mouth to respond, when a familiar scream rang out over the field.
“He’s here! Spock, run!”
McCoy’s head snapped up to see Jim ripping himself from Spock’s grasp and taking off across the field at an impressive pace. Spock followed after, barely able to keep up, something McCoy didn’t think was possible, considering Vulcan strength.
“Jim!” he shouted, disregarding everything else. He knew a fresh burst of fear would do irreparable harm to Kirk’s heart and lungs. “Spock, get him!”
Spock spared a split-second glance to confirm McCoy’s identity, and then leapt on Jim like a lion leaping on a gazelle, taking him down in a sprawling tumble. McCoy made it halfway across the field before he realized Sam, Dean, and Castiel were all following right after him, headed straight for Jim and Spock.
It was taking all of Spock’s considerable strength to hold down the screaming, terrified, sweat-soaked wreck that had become Jim Kirk. McCoy couldn’t believe how far the burns had advanced in just a few hours. The flesh he could see was raw and oozing, and according to a quick scan, Jim’s heart rate was so fast he was in danger of a heart attack right here and now. His breath wheezed with every scream, and the oxygen in his blood was dangerously low.
“Doctor-,” Spock began.
“No time. Spock, talk to them. Castiel, help me keep him calm!” McCoy barked. He yanked his hypospray from its case and dosed Jim with the most potent relaxant he had. It barely took the edge off.
Sam swallowed as the dark haired man stood away from Jim. He’d never seen a human move that fast or jump that far unless they’d been possessed. In the struggle, the stranger had managed to lose his hat, revealing pointed ears.
“You require my assistance?” the creature?—man?—Spock-- asked, sounding completely not winded despite his desperate sprint to stop his friend.
Dean looked like he was about to object when cold touched the backs of their necks. Whirling, Dean pointed his shotgun at a swarm of translucent figures a dozen yards away, hovering near the tumbled foundations of their old compound. Their ectoplasmic bodies were rough with char, some barely recognizable as human.
Sam picked up one of the gas cans and looked at Spock, nodding at the other. Dean figured out what he was doing; Spock was sure as hell foreign enough to help Sam take out the ghosts. Spock simply did as Sam directed, his pale face even paler as he looked at the ghosts.
“What manner of entities are those beings?” he asked precisely.
“Freaked out fried friars,” Dean said, somehow managing to smirk at his alliteration and look worried at the same time. “Guys, I’d get ready to light them up now, rather than later.”
One of the creatures moaned, a horrible sound of agony and fear, and Sam shuddered. Jim screamed and thrashed behind them. They were only going to have one chance to do this right, because Jim wasn’t going to hold on much longer.
“Spock, pour out the gas and work it towards them. We need to do it fast, and make sure they see us,” Sam said through clenched teeth.
“Are dead, and didn’t get the message the first time. Go!” Dean snapped.
Moving stiffly, and casting glances back towards the knot of Jim, McCoy, and Castiel, Spock began to slosh the fuel over the grass, following Sam’s movement precisely.
The tranquilizer was barely working. McCoy’s supply was already low, having dosed Jim dozens of times in the past few days. His heart rate was galloping, his lungs were working overtime, and whatever that horrible noise had been behind them had reduced Jim to fearful whimpers punctuated by agonized screams, like those of a dying man.
“You must remain calm,” Castiel said, staring straight into Jim’s eyes. “Dean is chosen, and both he and his brother will not allow themselves to fail. Your friend is helping them.”
Castiel spoke like everything he knew was from some unimpeachable source, that nothing he knew could ever be wrong. There was no doubt, no uncertainty, only a calm need for Jim to understand. It was not urgent, it was not cajoling or bullying for his own good, just a necessary and unwavering acceptance. Something about his voice seemed to penetrate through Jim’s fog of fear.
The stranger reminded him of Spock: calm and collected, even in the face of danger. Safe. Jim locked his eyes on Castiel’s, grabbing onto him to keep eye contact, and somehow, even though trembling and fighting for air, managed to hold himself steady through the fear.
The ghosts caught sight of Sam and Spock and recoiled. Their tongue-less mouths moaned and attempted to form words, their hands went up as if to ward off a blow, and they crossed themselves in despair. Sam had never hated torching ghosts before: most of them were insane and needed to be released from the world before they did more harm to the living. But these poor things, devoted priests, running from the signs of the Apocalypse… It was easy to pity them, even if they were frightening corpses out of the ground and had inflicted ghost sickness on anyone who remotely resembled their killers.
“They’re terrified,” Spock said, seeming troubled. He cast a questioning, accusatory look at Sam that Sam couldn’t bring himself to object to.
“Guys, move!” Dean said sharply, and tossed a lighter to Sam. “Fire it up, now!”
Sam flicked the lighter into life and tossed it. The grass near the fuel flickered, but wasn’t catching fast enough. Then Sam jumped as Spock pointed some kind of weapon at the grass in front of him. An orange beam hummed from it like some kind of laser, igniting the combination of gas, herbs, and iron dust. The flames raced towards the ghosts, lighting them up in blue-white pillars of screaming fire and fear. Behind them, Jim screamed one last time and fell into silence as the ghosts dissolved into sparks and ash, disappearing on the wind.
Sam was almost afraid to turn around, but Spock had no such qualms. He was at Jim’s side in an instant, helping him upright as McCoy pointed some strange instrument at him, nodding in relief. Castiel was slowly prying himself loose from Jim’s hands, while Jim was taking several deep breaths, looking completely calm and in control of himself.
“You ok, man?” Dean asked, shouldering his gun. Sam had seen him flinch when he’d first learned about the ghost sickness, probably not wanting to take any chances in contracting it again, but now that it was over…
“Better,” Jim said, his voice hoarse from screaming. “What did I miss?”
“So, you’re, like, an alien?” Dean was saying to Spock.
“I am half human,” Spock said placidly. He nodded toward Castiel. “Your companion also seems not entirely human.”
“Nah,” Dean said. “He’s an angel.”
Spock blinked at him.
“He’s cool, though,” Dean said quickly. “He’s a good guy.”
“Yes.” Spock didn’t sound convinced.
At the edge of the woods, the angel in question was listening to a grumpy Doctor McCoy. “It’s no miracle cure. So make sure he doesn’t do anything strenuous while the tissue’s still knitting together. And by nothing strenuous, I mean no more burning fields of… ghost things.” McCoy waved a hand toward the still-smoldering grass. “I won’t be around to patch him up again.”
“I understand,” Castiel said solemnly. “I appreciate your assisting him, although you were pressed into service. In his way, Sam is important to our mission, and losing him would have been a grievous blow to Dean.”
“Yeah, well.” McCoy glanced over to where Jim was standing with Sam, near the glorified rust bucket these people called a vehicle. “Thanks for what you did for Jim. He’s pretty important to our mission, too.”
Sam was making room in the trunk for all the supplies they’d pulled out. A smile hovered around his lips as Jim Kirk kept talking.
“I’ve defeated a lot of enemies,” Jim was saying. “I’m a very brave man. Stupidly brave, is what McCoy says. Spock will tell you I’m reckless, just ask him. Usually I laugh in the face of danger. I once jumped out of a… Well, don’t worry about the details. Just know I jumped off something very high. Like skydiving. Except my friend didn’t have a parachute. And then mine broke… It was very heroic.”
“Uh huh,” Sam smirked. He recognized the recovery stage of ghost sickness from Dean’s brush with the disease. For days he’d been treated to rehashes of stories designed to prove just how cowardly Dean was not. Sam thanked whatever angels other than Castiel were on his side that he wouldn’t have to put up with much more of this: that pleasure belonged to the rest of Jim’s friends.
As if the thought had summoned him, Spock appeared behind Jim, with Dean at his side. “Captain, it is time we returned.”
“Right.” Kirk straightened up. “Important business to attend to. Danger to face. I’m definitely ready for danger.”
“I’ll signal Mister Scott to begin the… procedure,” Spock said delicately.
McCoy walked over to join them, and gave Sam a harsh look. “You’d better not re-open that wound, and I mean it. If I broke the Prime Directive and potentially damaged the time stream just to have you fall flat on your face, I’m going to be angry.”
“Sure thing,” Sam said. Dean gave Sam a harsh look and inclined his head, and Sam rolled his eyes. “Thanks for patching me up, Doc.”
“It’s nothing,” McCoy muttered.
“Thank you for your assistance,” Spock said. “Captain, doctor, we are ready to depart.” McCoy and Jim went to stand beside Spock. He gave them another grateful nod and held up his hand in a strange gesture: his ring and middle finger parted and his thumb spread. “Live long and prosper,” he said. Then the three disappeared in a shimmer of light.
“Huh.” Dean said. He looked at Sam, then at Castiel, then back at Sam. “So… I don’t know about you, but I’m still covered in zombie guts. Shower?”
“Shower,” Sam said. The three of them climbed into the Impala, and pulled away into the night.