Season Four

Episode Fifteen: Between The Lines

By JennyF

Part Two

 

Dean tries to ignore the way his fingers shake slightly over the keypad on his cell. He can feel the soft leather of the Impala’s interior molding itself to his body as he sits behind the wheel, head spinning from what he’s learnt about the Keepers of the Books. He can’t quite bring himself to believe what they’ve told him and, when their tale was done, he couldn’t get out of there quick enough.

Oh sure, they were kind to him, offered him some modicum of hope for Sam, offered him a place to stay, offered to help, but at the end of the day Winchesters do things for themselves. Their inner sanctum is a fiercely protected refuge breached only by the select few.

One of whom is currently at the end of the cell phone Dean is hesitating over. With a finality he doesn’t really feel, Dean hits the send button and waits.

It takes only a few seconds for Bobby to pick up but to Dean it feels like hours. The relief that floods him when he hears the older hunter’s voice takes him by surprise.

“Dean? You there?” Bobby gruff tones float down the line and Dean realizes he’s drifting, eyes watching the townsfolk going about their daily grind.

“What do you know about Elisa and Simon Turner?” he asks, all business again.

Bobby sounds puzzled by the question. “Book people,” he answers bluntly. “Good people,” he clarifies. “Why?”

Dean scrubs a hand over his face and draws a deep breath. “Sam’s missing,” he tells his friend. “I don’t know where he is but these people,” he pauses, throwing a completely undeserved glare at the nearest man walking his dog. “This town, they all know something but no one will tell me what I need to know. Not even the Turners,” and before he knows it, he’s telling Bobby everything.

There’s a long silence at the other end and then Dean hears Bobby shuffling around his house. “Where are you, boy?” he demands.

Dean’s taken aback by the question and honestly? He’s been so worried about Sam, he’s forgotten where they are. He glances around till he spots a street sign.

“Hastings, Minnesota,” he tells Bobby.

Bobby snorts and Dean’s a little put out by his reaction. “Not where are you,” and Dean can feel him shaking his head. “Where are you? Are you back at the motel?”

“Uh, no. I’m just outside of town,” Dean confesses. He couldn’t put enough space between him and the Turners once he’d gotten out of their store and he can’t explain his need for distance.

“Okay,” Bobby drawls. “Where?” and it’s clear to Dean that the older man is now humoring him because he’s not in a fit state to take anything harsher.

“Spiral Park?” he offers, hesitantly, watching as a couple of joggers pass the Impala on their way to the open space ahead of him.

There’s another silence from Bobby as he paces around his house, footsteps falling on wooden floors and Dean’s surprised he can tell exactly where the older hunter is. There’s a little more rustling of paper and then he hears a bemused “huh” from Bobby.

“Okay,” Bobby starts. “You need to find Sam. And fast.”

Dean feels his heart plummet to the pit of his stomach. “Bobby?” he asks, tentatively. “What’s going on?”

“You say they think Sam’s the Master, right?”

“Yeah, but how can he be, Bobby? We’re not descended from warlocks. We’d know. I mean, yeah, okay Sammy’s got some kind of freaky issues going on, but warlocks?” Dean’s not sure who he’s trying to convince the most here and he’s pretty sure it sounds like he’s a little freaked out himself now.

Bobby’s always been the voice of reason for the Winchester boys though and now’s no different.

“Dean,” he snaps, gruffly. “Calm down. Your brother’s no warlock. He may be … other … things but not a warlock. But they think he is which means you have to get him away from them and fast. Before they discover he’s not who they think he is.”

“What’ll they do when they find out, Bobby?”

There’s no kind way of putting this and Bobby draws a deep breath before speaking. “They’ll kill him.”

Dean’s world blurs slightly and he closes his eyes against the encroaching grayness at the edge of his vision. “Kill him?” he mutters stupidly. But really, what else did he expect. Of course they aren’t going to let Sammy just walk away. Not now.

And once they find out who he really is? Not a snowball’s hope in hell of walking away from that.

“Dean?” Bobby’s voice is gentle now, but insistent and Dean realizes he’s been calling his name for a few seconds now.

“I’m here,” he reassures his friend, opening his eyes, squinting in the bright sunlight. “What do I do, Bobby?”

“You find him. Fast.”

“How? I don’t know where he is, Bobby. They drugged me or something. He was long gone by the time I woke up.”

Bobby’s tone changes faster than a bolt of lightning hitting the ground. “Drugged? Dammit boy, why didn’t you tell me that earlier?”

“I’m okay. They just roofied me, or something.”

“It’s the ‘or something’ I’m worried about,” Bobby worries.

“Honestly, Bobby,” Dean insists. “I’m fine. A little headache, but it’s gone now.” He pauses and does a mental run through of how he’s feeling. He’s mildly surprised to find he’s not actually lying about his health. Apart from the gnawing anxiety in his gut that he can easily attribute to Sam’s missing status, he really does feel okay.

“You need me to come out there?” Bobby queries, already knowing the answer’s going to be “no” but having to ask anyway.

“I’m good, Bobby.” Dean doesn’t disappoint. “I just need to know who I can trust round here. Those Turners, they’re just…” he pauses, looking for the right word and failing.

“Yeah,” Bobby agrees. “But they’re solid people. They’ll be there as and when you need though. Take a little gettin’ used to though.”

There’s a silence as neither man knows what to say next. Dean needs to be doing something, anything, to find his brother and Bobby doesn’t know how to help. He thinks the Turners are Dean’s best bet but it sounds like Dean has some sort of personality clash with one or other of them. Or both, he muses, knowing the younger man as he does.

“How do I find him, Bobby?” and the loss in Dean’s voice has Bobby’s heart breaking.

*****

This is wrong, Sam thinks as he looks up at the chandelier on the ceiling. The softness of the mattress beneath him, the goose down pillow he’s resting his head on, the gilt mirrors and portraits peppering the walls of the room – they’re all wrong. As prisons go, this one’s not bad.

But it’s still a prison. First thing Sam did was check the door and windows. All locked, no surprises there. The en suite bathroom’s the same. Locked and probably alarmed.

So he does the most sensible thing he can think of – he rests. Not because he’s been instructed to, but because he’s going to need to have his wits about him when Dean comes for him. He’ll need to be alert. Whatever Joshua and his crew have planned for him, he’s not looking forward to it and he’s not fool enough to think it’s going to be a walk in the park either.

He realizes he’s drifting off to sleep when the sound of a key in the lock jerks him back to full attention. He’s up off the bed before the lock shoots back into its lodging and the door swings softly open.

Alicia is standing on the threshold, a silver tray in her hand, balanced as expertly as a Michelin-trained waitress. She glides to the table by the window and sets her burden down. Then she turns to Sam with an innocent smile that has no business being as sultry as it is.

“Grandpa said you should eat something.” Her voice oozes like warm honey and Sam has to shake himself down before he’s drawn into her web. He studies the contents of the tray with distrust and a little amazement.

Joshua Bryant knows how to treat guests, he surmises. It’s just a pity he’s not one of them. There’s a crystal decanter, three quarters full with sparkling water, and a matching crystal tumbler. There’s a plate of pancakes, a silver jug of syrup, a rack of toast and a dish of butter and various jellies and spreads. The cutlery is sparkling but, Sam notes with grudging admiration, blunt enough to allow a four-year-old free reign in complete safety.

Sam takes in the fact there’s only one of everything and takes some solace in the implication Alicia won’t be joining him.
But it seems he’s wrong on that score too. The girl simply stands to one side and watches him. He wonders if she’s there to ensure he eats and, just out of spite and in defiance of his complaining stomach, he ignores the food and drink.

They stare at one another in silence for an eternity until Alicia can’t take it anymore.

“I’m not going to hurt you, Sam,” she tells him. “I would never do anything to you.”

Sam’s not reassured by her response. “So why are you still here?” he demands, wishing she’d just go away.

But she doesn’t acknowledge the hostility in the hunter’s statement. She just gazes up at him in a way Sam’s really not comfortable with, and settles herself on the edge of the bed. She pats her hand on the mattress beside her, silently beckoning Sam to come join her.

Like that’s gonna happen, Sam muses as he steps in the opposite direction. He doesn’t miss the scowl that flits across her face and is then gone like a snowflake in Hawaii.

“Oh, Sammy,” she pouts. “Don’t be like that. I thought we’d gone through all this in the barn.”

Sam smirks. Yes, he remembers the exchange in the barn but apparently they have different interpretations of the outcome. So he just tilts his head, raises an eyebrow and waits for her to continue.

She doesn’t disappoint. “Grandpa said I should look after you. Make sure you have everything you need before…” She trails off with a feminine shrug and Sam doesn’t like the implication.

“Before what?” he demands.

But she just smiles enigmatically and shakes her head. “Oh, let’s not worry about that now, Sammy. Let’s just enjoy our time together. Get to know each other. After all, if we’re going to be together, it makes sense,” and she pats the bed again.

“I don’t need to get to know you,” he informs her, bluntly. “I’m not going to be with you. Ever.” He wonders briefly if he’s been too harsh when her façade cracks slightly.

“But Sammy,” she starts, tears forming in her eyes.

“It’s Sam,” the hunter hisses, all misgivings about his previous tone forgotten.

She looks up at him from beneath her hair and he watches in frustration as a single tear rolls down her perfectly formed cheek.

“I’m sorry,” she chokes out. “I’m sorry, Sam. I didn’t mean to upset you.” And she bursts into tears, full on sobbing and crying and Sam doesn’t know where to put himself.

He hesitates, stepping towards her. “Look,” he ventures, thinking he could easily snap her in half so what’s holding him back? “It’s just, no one calls me that, okay? No one.” Except Dean.

He spots a box of tissues on the dresser and passes her one. She accepts it gratefully, brushing his hand with her fingers as she takes it.

It’s like electricity shooting up his arm and Sam snatches his hand away with shock. Alicia doesn’t seem to have noticed anything out of the ordinary and as Sam shakes his hand, she dabs at her eyes and then wrings her hands round the tissue.

“Who are you?” Sam asks, eyes narrowing as the residual tingle plays up and down his arm.

“What d’you mean?” she asks. “You know who I am, Sam.” She stands up and takes an elegant step to him. She puts her unnaturally warm hand on his chest. “In here, Sam,” she clarifies. “You know it, in here.”

He steps away from her and this time she just watches him curiously. “See,” he tells her. “That’s the thing. I don’t know it. I don’t know anything. You and your grandpa? You’ve got the wrong person.”

He knows she doesn’t believe him when she just smiles up at him and nods thoughtfully. “I know you think that, Sammy…”

“Sam,” he corrects her, automatically.

“…but that’s why we’re going to help you. You’re lost. That’s all. You’re lost and alone and frightened,” she plows on, ignoring his interjection. “You’ve been lost and alone and frightened for a long time now. Longer than even we thought. But it’s all going to be okay now. We found you, Sammy. We’re going to bring you home. Where you’re meant to be.”

She takes her hand away from his chest and there’s that sense of loss again that Sam doesn’t understand. She looks at her wristwatch, an expensive affair of diamonds and silver, and frowns slightly, her forehead creasing, and for a second Sam wonders if she’s older than he first thought.

“I don’t understand,” she mutters to herself. “They should be ready by now.”

“What for?” Sam doesn’t really want to know the answer but he can’t help the question falling past his lips.

“Why, for you, Sammy,” she tells him, reaching out to take his hand in hers.

He pulls away from her outstretched hand and backs away from her as far as he can, as far as the bathroom door. He thinks again about snapping her in half but so far he doesn’t think she’s supernatural and he’s not reached the stage where he can just kill because it’s the easiest way out of a situation.

Her face falls and he wonders if she’s about to cry again when there’s a knock on the door and she lets her hand drop to her side.

The door opens and there’s a woman standing on the other side, older than Alicia but not as old as Joshua. She looks at Alicia and then turns her gaze on Sam, sizing him up, making him feel like a bug under a microscope. Then she opens her arms to Alicia.

“They’re ready, my darling,” she tells the younger woman. “It won’t be long now. Soon, my love, soon you’ll fulfill your destiny.”

*****

Bobby’s advice that Dean go back to the motel and rest doesn’t sit well with the younger hunter, but he sees the value in what his friend is saying. Bobby said he’d ring, he’d do some research but he also said Dean would be no good to his brother if he was too exhausted to function properly. He didn’t say anything but Dean reckons he’s worried about the whole drug fiasco too.

So Dean’s waiting on a phone call in another crappy motel on the road to nowhere, trying to rest when all he really wants to be doing is finding Sam.

He stalks around the room until he feels dizzy. He lies on the bed, trying to sleep, but he knows it’s a pointless exercise. There aren’t even any Magic Fingers to distract him. He flicks through a thousand different cable channels, finds the pay per view, but not even that can divert his attention from Sam.

Eventually he flips open Sam’s laptop, trying not to dwell on the last time it was used. Sam hasn’t closed it down properly though and the last set of web pages are still open. Dean can’t help feeling a fresh wave of despair as he absently looks at what his little brother was browsing, obviously intending to come back to.

With nothing else to do and no phone call coming through, Dean decides to do his own bit of research. He enters “Berengar” into the search engine and sits back to peruse the results. There’s not much more than the Turners have already told him and he’s beginning to feel his head spinning.

He wonders vaguely about the drugs he was given last night. His mouth, he realizes, is as dry as sandpaper and he’s a little more thirsty than he’s used to. Sighing, he pushes himself away from the table and Sam’s laptop and makes his way to the sink. He pours himself a glass of water which he downs in one gulp and is just refilling the glass when his cell comes to life, the sound shattering his solitude and making him jump.

Bobby’s true to his word and Dean smiles when he sees his friend’s name sitting merrily on the screen. He flips his phone open and bypasses the normal pleasantries.

“What’ve you got?” he demands, knowing in the back of his head Bobby will forgive his temporary lack of conversational skills.

The older man grunts a reply that could be interpreted in many ways. “I’ve got an address,” he advises and Dean is on his feet scouting round for his jacket almost before Bobby draws a second breath.

“Where?”

Bobby reels off an address that means nothing to Dean but he doesn’t care. This is the middle of nowhere. Bobby could be giving him the address to the local FBI office and he wouldn’t know any different. He spins around the room searching for the keys to his baby.

“…you listenin’ to me?”

“What?” He’s distracted and honestly? No, he wasn’t listening. But he is now because Bobby’s huffing down the line.
“It’s like a fortress, Dean,” he’s saying. “You can’t just go blasting in there. You need a plan. And backup. I can be there by nightfall.”

“Sorry, Bobby,” Dean apologizes. “I can’t wait that long. Sam can’t wait that long.” He’s already out of the motel room, keys in hand and weapons at his side.

“Dean,” Bobby’s getting insistent. “At least call Elisa and Simon. Let them know where you’re going. You need backup. Someone who’ll watch out for you.”

“Sam’s my backup, Bobby. You know that.”

“Dean.” Bobby’s lost the fatherly edge to his voice only to replace it with the steely determination Dean knows not to cross swords with. He tried it once when Dad was away and Sam had been winding them both up something chronic. Never again.

He stops in his tracks and takes a deep breath. “I know, Bobby,” he concedes. “But this is Sam we’re talking about. He’s my responsibility. I gotta find him.” His voices trails off into silence which Bobby meets with a silence of his own.

“Just, be careful Dean,” he finally instructs. “Don’t go rushing in without usin’ your head.”

“I won’t,” Dean replies, yanking open the door of the Impala. “I promise.”

*****

Bobby wasn’t lying when he said Sam was being held in a fortress, and Dean wonders if maybe he should have waited for the older hunter to join him. But then he looks at the six foot high walls and decides whatever’s going on behind them needs to stop now.

He crouches in the shrub beside the long driveway leading to wrought iron gates, already wondering how he’s going to get inside without triggering the admittedly impressive security system. He’s counted at least three CCTV cameras and the infrared motion sensors he just knows are going to litter his pathway between here and Sam.

He ducks lower as a Cadillac Escalade cruises down to the gate which swings open silently and gracefully. Dean can’t see through the blacked out windows, doesn’t know if he’s been spotted. But he’s a damned good hunter and he can hide just as easily as he can track his prey so he’s not overly worried.

Prey he muses, wondering when he started thinking of Sam as his prey. He smiles wryly to himself and decides it’s just another indication of their warped way of life.

He’s startled out of his reverie by another car purring down the driveway and he narrows his eyes. It’s a sleek sports car, an import if the driver’s position is anything to go by, and the top is down so he gets a good look at the occupants.

The driver is about his age, he reckons, and looks relaxed and confident. He’s driving with only one hand on the wheel and, if Dean is any judge of character, his other hand is resting on the thigh of his passenger. Even through the direness of the situation, Dean can’t help the grudging admiration he feels for the driver. The body attached to the leg is, quite frankly, gorgeous and exudes sex appeal on the breeze. She could be a modern day Marilyn Monroe with her blonde hair and silk head scarf.

As the car stops for the gates to open, Dean concentrates hard on the conversation going between the pair.

“…can’t believe we’re finally here,” the woman is saying, excitement peppering her statement and a smile on her pretty, but vacant face.

“It was always a matter of time,” her companion replies. “Joshua was always going to find Winchester,” and he gives her a patronizing pat on that beautiful thigh.

Dean finds himself clenching his fists so tightly his nails are digging into his palms and he has to take several deeps breaths to clear the mist of fury that’s descended over him. How dare anyone talk about his little brother like that? And who the hell does this Joshua Bryant think he is? Sammy’s not some prize to be claimed by the first weirdo freak that fancies a little adventure.

Once Dean’s got himself centered again, the sleek black motor is slipping through the gates and Dean’s just about got enough wits about him to watch the surveillance camera to check out its tracking route. He notices it doesn’t quite reach the corner of the gate and if he’s really, really careful, he reckons he can scale the gate at that point without being spotted.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

But just as he readies himself to make his first, and only, attempt at gaining access to the property, he hears yet another vehicle approaching. Ducking back down under cover of the shrubbery, his curses turn to hope as he studies the huge SUV. Part of him wonders why all these cars are arriving now, but mostly he just wants to get in.

The rear panel of the vehicle, he realizes, offers him perfect cover past the CCTV and as the SUV slows for the gate to open, he slips out, crouching low next to the back of the car, and he can’t quite supress the triumphant, if silent, whoop of joy as he slips over the threshold and finds himself hiding in a completely different hedge.

Ignoring what has become a steady stream of traffic, Dean takes a moment to get his bearings. The house in front of him looks impressive but, to his trained eye, not impenetrable. He spots the guards, hears dogs barking round the back somewhere and he knows he probably only has minutes to get into the house before he’s found.

Squatting down, taking his time, just like Dad taught him, Dean turns his attention back to the house itself. He’s seen places like this before, on the TV, in films, even in the odd history book he forced his way through as a school kid. Now he wishes he’d paid more attention to those classes but Miss Wilson was just way too distracting. He could do with her here now to point him in the right direction.

He decides there’s no way in through the front so his best course of action is to get round the back. He hopes the dogs are tethered somewhere but he doubts it. Thing is, he’s faced creatures far scarier than rottweilers before for much less and he’s damned if he’s going to let a little canine obstruction keep him from Sam.

All things considered, Dean gets further than he’d anticipated before he hears a weary sigh and the sound of a gun hammer being cocked.

“Oh, Dean,” a woman murmurs. “If I’d known you missed me this much, I never would have left you in the alley.”

*****

Sam’s come to the conclusion that the older woman is somehow related to Alicia but he’s not quite sure how. She’s definitely not her mother because the girl called her Charlotte. She could be an aunt, Sam muses, there’s certainly some facial similarities and shared mannerisms. She seems to have some sort of maternal, protective instincts towards her charge as she pulls her into her arms and hugs her.

Alicia goes to her without question, without another look at Sam, and her face lights up.

“They’re ready?” she asks eagerly, and when Charlotte nods, she skips a little across the room. Sam half expects her to start clapping her hands in glee. But it doesn’t happen.

The older woman turns to Sam and her eyes harden. Sam does his best not to shudder but it’s hard. Her features, soft and welcoming when talking to Alicia, are cold and flinty over the girl’s shoulder and Sam finds it interesting, in a detached sort of way, that she doesn’t want to incur Alicia’s wrath. He files that little fact away for future reference.

“It’s time,” she tells him bluntly and turns away from him, pulling Alicia from the room.

Sam’s left standing stupidly in his plush prison, considering his options. They’ve left the door wide open, clearly expecting him to follow them without question. He could make a run for it now and he half-seriously looks around for anything he can use as a weapon.

His eyes light on the tray Alicia left on the table and the crystal glass in particular. It seems a shame to break such a beautiful piece of glassware but a jagged edge could give him the advantage he might need.

He steps towards it and is just reaching for it when there’s a polite cough from the doorway.

“I do hope you’re not thinking of doing anything silly, Sam,” Joshua comments, nonchalantly. “That crystal cost me more than money.” He steps over to the table and runs a finger down the glass and for a moment Sam thinks he’s lost in thought. He can’t help be fascinated by the old man. “This was given to me for services rendered,” he explains and turns to Sam with a smile. “Many years ago, Sam. Once upon a time I was an agile man, many strings to my bow. I’m sure you know what that’s like.” He picks up the crystal and turns it round, letting the light catch the many facets, sending rainbows dancing on the furniture.

Then he puts it down forceably, making Sam jump.

“But enough reminiscing,” he states. “We have work to do, Sam. Alicia is preparing herself and we need to get you ready.”
Sam can’t help himself. “Preparing herself for what?” he asks.

“For the ceremony, my boy. The ceremony.” He holds his arm out, ushering an unwilling Sam through the door and out into the hallway.

“What ceremony?”

“The Recitation of course,” Joshua replies with the patience commonly bestowed upon a small child. “For when she and you become one.”

“For what?” Sam demands, stopping in his tracks. This is the second time the subject of his future with Alicia has been mentioned and he needs to get things straight in his head.

“Don’t worry, Sam,” his host pacifies him, gently nudging him back into motion. “It will all become clear after your preparations.”

Joshua’s voice has changed slightly, more insistent and the hand he has at the small of Sam’s back increases the pressure, pushing Sam forward with a strength that belies his appearance. He falls into silence refusing to answer any more of the hunter’s questions and Sam notes they’ve been joined discreetly by two of what he’s come to regard as Joshua’s bodyguards. So he falls into line and lets the older man lead him down the hallway to the staircase.

Where Joshua stops abruptly and turns to Sam with an apologetic look on his face. Sam’s surprised and takes a step backwards, straight into one of their companions.

“I’m sorry about this, Sam,” Joshua says. “I really am.”

Sam’s confusion lasts only a second before the man behind him grabs him by both biceps and holds tight. Sam struggles against the grip but it’s useless. The guy might be smaller than him but he’s made of pure muscle and brawn. His fingers dig in painfully and Sam knows it’s going to bruise. He tries to pull away, throwing his head back in an effort to headbutt his captor. But the man knows his stuff and easily avoids any contact.

Sam’s about to kick back with his leg when he hears the sound of a gun being primed. Shocked by this turn of events, he looks to Joshua who is standing at the top of the stairs with a silver handgun in his hand. Sam freezes, uncertain of what the man intends.

“Please understand, Sam,” Joshua starts, tilting his head to one side. “We’re doing this to help you. I don’t want to hurt you,” and he nods at the man holding Sam.

Sam feels his arms being pulled behind his back, followed by the far too familiar sensation of cold metal restraints being fastened round his wrists. He tugs instinctively at them and Joshua gives him a sad look that’s almost more frightening than the bonds holding him.

“I’m sorry,” Joshua offers, “but there’s no other way. This isn’t going to be easy, Sam, and we don’t want you to hurt yourself. We’re protecting you, even if you can’t see it that way yet.”

“Let me go!” Sam hisses, hiding the fear behind his anger. “Whatever it is you want, I don’t have it. Get it?”

“But you do,” Joshua insists, laying a comforting hand on Sam’s arm. “And I’ll show you. I’ll help you. You’ll wonder what all this fuss was about. You just have to trust me, Sam.”

“I’ll kill you,” Sam threatens, the leaden ball in his gut fuelling his anger. He doesn’t understand, doesn’t want to understand. He just wants to get out of here. He wants Dean to come and rescue him. He wants Dad to come and rescue him. Hell, he wants anyone to come and rescue him.

But it’s not happening.

Joshua shakes his head and turns away from Sam. He leads the way down the staircase and Sam has no option but to follow, the goon at his back making sure of his compliance.

The staircase takes them back to the main entrance hall where there’s a maid looking nervously to Joshua. She holds a tray with a note folded on it. She offers it to her employer and backs away a couple of feet, not looking at Joshua. Sam watches the interaction with interest. She’s the first person he’s seen who’s not best friends with the man and he wonders what the back story is.

She glances up as Joshua hands the note back to her, and catches Sam’s eye. He sees sympathy there and that both worries and reassures him. He thinks it means somewhere, somehow, he may have an ally here.

But then Joshua breaks the moment by casting a knowing look in his direction before turning back to the maid.

“Tell them to do nothing,” he instructs. “It might prove useful.”

Sam briefly wonders at his words as the maid nods and gives the hunter one last rueful glance. Then he’s being jostled along and down another staircase he hadn’t noticed earlier. It reminds him of an old horror movie – the staircase behind the door, the candelabras on the walls, the cobwebs hanging from the old oak beams.

Except there are no beams and no cobwebs. The steps down to the basement are spotlessly clean and the candles lighting the way, whilst cliché in the extreme, are suspiciously scented like cinnamon and nutmeg. If Sam wasn’t so worried about what’s behind door number three, he’d find this all a bit amusing.

*****

Dean’s done with the cursing. It didn’t help when the redhead pulled a gun on him and it didn’t help when she slapped him round the face for not remembering her. But really? Not his fault. She’s the one that roofied him, after all. How the hell does she expect him to remember anything after that? Although looking at her, he suspects it was one of his wilder encounters.

She’s still mildly pissed with him but he doesn’t really care. She got him into the house, although he wishes it was under other circumstances, and that means he’s one step closer to Sammy.

He’s not too happy with his current position, it has to be said. The cuffs around his wrists are a touch too tight and they really didn’t need to hang him up like a piece of meat. He told them as much although, on reflection, he could have been a little more tactful.

Hanging here in the cellar with one or two more bruises than before, he wonders how much help he’s going to be to Sammy when he finds him but he’s still thinking positively here. He’s still thinking “when” and not “if.”

He’s lost track of time. He could’ve been here for one hour, or three hours. It doesn’t matter though because time becomes insignificant when he hears footsteps on the stairs. He listens hard and counts, three, maybe four, separate rhythms. And his heart lifts when he recognizes one of them.

Sam.

Sam is out there, almost within reach, and Dean can’t get to him. And it’s killing him.

The door opens and Dean thinks that really there should be creaks and groans accompanying the swing of the hinges. He half-expects bats to start swooping down from the ceiling and finds himself checking out the corners of the cellar.

The chink of light from behind the door grows wider and an old man strides purposefully through. Dean knows he doesn’t like him before he even gets his second foot over the threshold. Their eyes meet and the hunter feels a chill snake down his spine. This, he realizes, is the man he’s going to kill before he and Sam get the hell out of Dodge.

But then it’s irrelevant as Sam stumbles into the room, hands clearly bound behind his back somehow. Dean’s attention is all on his brother, eyes sweeping up and down, checking for injuries and injustices that have been done to him.

He’s relieved to see that other than the immediate restraints, Sam’s unharmed, although when he studies his brother’s face, he can see the latent fear in his eyes, vying for position with an obvious hatred of the older man.
Sam’s not spotted him yet and he supposes that’s because he’s been put in the darkest corner they could find. That and Sam’s not expecting to see him there. Time to remedy that.

“Hey Sammy. It’s good to see you.”

Sam’s head shoots up at the sound of Dean’s voice and he peers into the gloom. His heart skips a beat when he sees his older brother dangling like a side of beef in a butcher’s shop but it doesn’t overwhelm the sense of relief flooding through him.

“Great rescue plan, Dean,” he jokes, breaking away from the hands holding him and trying to get to Dean.

“Yeah,” Dean agrees, wryly. “Not quite what I had in mind. But, hey. I’m here. You’re here. What d’you say we kick some ass and get out of here?”

Sam smiles at the blind optimism in his brother’s statement and shakes his head. “How do you propose to that?” he asks and he can almost see Joshua bristling.

“Can’t let the enemy know all our plans, Sam,” Dean retorts. “Gotta keep the upper hand y’know.”

“And how do you come to the conclusion that’s what you have?” Joshua queries, stepping forward into Dean’s personal space. “You have no advantage here at all. You are nothing here.”

Dean tilts his head to one side. “Then you just let me down and I’ll walk away. No questions.” He bestows a Winchester smile on the old man. It doesn’t go down too well but he wasn’t really expecting it to.

Joshua leans forward until Dean can count the wrinkles round his eyes. “Do you really think I’m that stupid?” he hisses.
“No,” Dean hisses back, “but I’m hoping.”

“Dean,” Sam interjects. He can’t hear the exchange but he knows Dean better than anyone and he knows at any minute now his brother is going to push it just that little bit too far. And then he won’t be in a position to help him at all. Not that he’s much use to Sam at the moment.

Dean glares one last time at Joshua and then blatantly ignores him, looking over his shoulder to Sam. “You okay?” he asks, trusting Sam to answer honestly.

“I’m fine,” Sam manages to reply before he feels hands round his arms again and he’s pulled away from Dean.

“Hey!” Dean yells but it appears Joshua’s had enough of his interruptions. A nod from the man and Dean’s got a silk scarf in his mouth and all further verbal communication is reduced to muffled grunts. Dean twists and throws his head from side to side but all that gets him is a firm, bruising grip round his jaw and a lack of purchase on the ground. Joshua’s lacky seems to enjoy his struggles and once he’s got the gag firmly tied, he steps back from Dean and kicks his feet out from under him.
As the sudden pull on his arms causes both Dean and Sam to cry out in protest and, in Dean’s case, pain, Joshua steps away towards the maid he had spoken with earlier. She holds out a leather gourd and bows her head as he takes it from her.

“Don’t be afraid, child,” he murmurs to her, reaching out with his free hand to place it on her head, as though bestowing a blessing upon her. “You’ve done everything asked of you. You will be rewarded.”

Sam thinks she’s shaking slightly as she nods and backs respectfully away from her employer. But he doesn’t have time to consider the implications of that as he’s suddenly shoved from behind and he stumbles into the limelight. Heavy hands on his shoulders force him to his knees and Joshua’s right in front of him. He can hear Dean’s stifled cries of protest increasing in volume and, he suspects, creativity.

Joshua has a hand on his head now and his thoughts are becoming muddled, fuzzy round the edges. He can hear a humming somewhere in the background and his vision tunnels until all he can see is Joshua, all he can hear is Joshua and all he knows is Joshua is not a threat.

Dean watches in horror as Sam succumbs to whatever Joshua is doing to him. He’s struggling to recognize the compliant man on his knees and when Sam lifts his head to receive the words Joshua is chanting, Dean renews his struggles against his restraints, even as he knows the futility of his actions.

Through the gag, he’s screaming death threats to Joshua and his cronies. But in his head he’s screaming in denial as the man before his brother lifts the gourd to Sam’s lips and lets a bright, sparkling liquid flow into his mouth.

 

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The Winchester Chronicles

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