Word count: 1,122
Summary: Sometimes being a hunter was like holding a hammer and thinking everything was a nail. The problem was, sometimes that was wrong, and now Sam's life was hanging in the balance.
A/N: Written for 50states_spn and also for hc_bingo (the serial killer square). There's some POV experimentation going on as well. The title is from Barenaked Ladies' "Aluminum," which seems really appropriate for the Silver State. Thanks to embroiderama and ebcdic for beta reading.
You're cursing under your breath as you race past the crowds on the Strip, cool desert air out of reach above the heat of thousands of watts of light bulbs and the press of drunken bodies shuffling along the sidewalk. Everyone around you is here to have a good time and forget their everyday, boring lives in a binge of sin. Any other time, you'd be more than happy to join in, but no way in hell tonight.
The problem with being a hunter is that it makes everything bad look like a spirit or a monster. Like how holding a hammer makes everything look like a nail. The problem is, sometimes that's wrong.
It had been John's idea to take on the string of mysterious deaths in locked hotel rooms in Las Vegas, warning Dean to stay away from the craps tables until they'd wasted the spirit, ignoring the way he was winking and nudging Sam all the while.
It had been Sam's idea to set himself up as bait, knowing that he fit the profile of young men lured in by the lights and the girls and the money and later found with their throats slashed, knowing that Dean would flip his shit and that John would protest but then let himself be won over to the idea when really he'd been thinking it all along.
It had been some other asshole's idea to knock Sam out while he wandered with feigned innocence through the casino floor at the Bellagio, then pretend he was helping his tall, shaggy-haired, passed-out friend back up to his room. Even if Sam could have gotten to the salt and silver in his pockets, they wouldn't have done him any good. The guy wasn't a spirit, he wasn't a monster; just a freak of a human being who got his kicks out of slicing the life out of young men, making them bleed all over the hotel rooms of Sin City. It's not Sam's fault that his height and the way he carries himself make him look older than his age, but sometimes you wonder if there isn't something about him that makes so many evil things attracted to his neck.
You shake off the thought, pressing on faster. Dad is going to have your neck if anything happens to Sam. The GPS device in Sam's phone means you and John can both track him on the run, as long as the all-too-human killer who's got a hold of him doesn't ditch the phone. You hope the asshole figures there's nothing an unconscious Sam can do with it. This guy is smart, though, if he's managed to cover his tracks well enough that the police are baffled and even John thought he was something supernatural.
You dart past the famous fountain and the crowd of people oohing and ahhhing over a bunch of water shooting into the air in time to a schlocky pop soundtrack, through the elegant lobby and past the din of the slot machines, past endless tables and dealers and finally up to the room that's locked but has the unmistakable sound of Sam's voice promising vengeance from his father and brother, and that's a damn good sound to hear right now. The kid's full of spunk, that's for sure, and you've never been prouder of him.
Then you're in the room, and there's only a moment to take in Sam tied to a chair, spitting and defiant despite the lines of blood along his cheeks, before you also realize the man standing in front of him has a knife raised and his hand fisted in Sam's too-long hair, baring his long neck to the blade.
It almost feels like time stops, you're moving so fast. When the dust clears and things settle, the man is stepping back and lowering the knife. Sam is looking up at him, confusion and wariness overriding any nascent relief.
You wait until you're sure you have his attention. Then you say, "Not today, Sam. This isn't what you're meant for."
Then you turn around before he sees the killer's eyes go black, and you hurl the killer's body out the plate-glass window, shards of it flying into the night and raining down over the dry pavement below.
You plummet down amid shrieks and screams until you land in the fountain with a splash as impressive as the show that concluded a few minutes ago while you were upstairs saving Sam Winchester's life. Damn, that was close. You know there're advantages to choosing a boy who's trained his whole life as a warrior, but it also means he gets in a shitload of trouble on a regular basis. One day you or his brother or his father aren't going to be there to save his ass, and then it's all going to go to hell. Literally.
You slither out before the killer's last breath leaves his body, dissipating back into the dry air. Not much question of where his soul is headed—hell, he might even like it there. You duck into the first security guard on the scene and watch as he pulls the dead man's wallet out of his sodden jeans. All you can see of his driver's license is the first name—Alastair—but you make a note of it before sliding back out of the guard. Your father might like to know there's a human soul headed downstairs who already knows his way around a blade.
There's enough confusion on the scene, between the panicked guests and bystanders and the private security facing off with the city cops, that the Winchesters are able to slip into the massive hotel unnoticed by anyone but you. It's only a minute later that they're headed back out, Sam walking under his own power but rubbing at his wrists, a thin smear of blood down the side of his face. The kid had to have freed himself—that's pretty impressive. Yeah, Dad's going to want to bet on this horse, you can tell already.
Three weeks and two hundred miles later, you're riding a guidance counselor in a Central Valley town on the other side of the Sierras when Sam Winchester comes in with a stack of transcripts, a sullen expression, and no indication at all that he came this close to being a victim of the Vegas Slasher. You tell him how amazing his grades are despite moving around so much, and he nods like he's heard it all before.
You ask him, "Are you thinking of college? You could get a full ride to a place like Stanford."
The ambition that lights up his eyes reminds you of nothing so much as the Morning Star.