Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Fic: Devil's Arcade (7/14)


Hold on world 'cause you don't know what's coming
Hold on world 'cause I'm not jumping off
--R.E.M., "Around the Sun"


The burning stench that was oozing from the patch of concrete right in front of him was making Dean's stomach turn. It was a peculiar mixture of sulfur and burnt skin and other nasty odors, stirring up all sorts of memories that he would much rather stayed buried. Unfortunately, his oxygen-starved lungs needed to draw in air, no matter what it smelled like, and so his panting breaths kept bringing the stench right on in.

On the other side of the charred concrete, the blonde woman whose hand had been wrapped around his neck seconds ago was crumpled in a heap. From here, he could just make out her chest rising and falling, and that amazed him even more. He'd never been so close before when Sam had used his Jedi mind-trick on a demon, and it had been impressive, to say the least.

Of course, he'd missed the first part of it what with not being able to breathe and all, but watching the black smoke come pouring out of the possessed woman's body had been jaw-dropping. For a moment, he'd been afraid that the demon would latch on to him, even with his protective tattoo, but then he remembered that Sam wasn't just exorcising demons.

He was sending them straight to Hell.

Dean swallowed and looked up at his brother. Sam's eyes were shut tight, his body trembling a little, a drop or two of blood staining his upper lip above the handkerchief gag. He didn't look nearly as bad as when Dean had patched him up after taking on Samhain, but then on that occasion he hadn't already been through a few rounds of physical abuse.

"Holy shit," the other kid burst out. "Holy shit, did you see that?"

Kinda hard to miss, jackass, he thought. He looked down at the ground again and noticed for the first time that his jeans were singed from knee to ankle. Huh. He hadn't even felt the heat.

When he looked back up, Sam was watching him. He knew that his own expression was as unguarded as he ever let it get, fear and protectiveness and a little bit of pride all on display, because damn, this was something he didn't know how to handle. If it was just him and Sam trying to deal with the consequences…well, that scene had already been played out in a mausoleum a few weeks ago, explained away as self-defense and followed by a darker shade of distance between them.

Now, though, to know that Sam had been given a specific warning by both an angel and a demon and had still done this…Dean couldn't believe it. There was no way his life was worth that kind of a risk, no way at all. He'd willingly gone to Hell to save Sam's life, and even though it had broken him in ways he knew would never heal, he'd do it again in a heartbeat if it meant saving his brother's soul.

Of course, that was pretty much moot considering they had an audience. An audience that seemed to have made Dean's dark warning come true about wanting to hunt Sam if he didn't know him. And it was pretty hard to deny what had just happened in front of them all.

Right now, though, Sam looked afraid, more like a scared little kid than anyone who had the ability to snuff out a demon with his mind had the right to be. He wasn't looking at any of their three captors, who at the moment seemed to be dumbstruck by what they'd witnessed.

Right now, Sam was looking at his big brother.

Dean shot back a look filled with all of the reassurance he could muster while still being scared to death for the guy. Sam needed to know that he wasn't afraid of him. Come to think of it, maybe everyone in this room needed to know that.

And in a flash, he understood the best way to play this.

"Thanks, bro," he called out as casually as he could, wincing a little at the roughness of his voice over his throat. "Try not to cut it so close next time, okay?"

Sam was staring at him in bewilderment, but the expressions on Tom and Harry's faces were even better. Harry's jaw had dropped open, and he was looking back and forth between the brothers as if they were going to snap their bonds like paper and rise up at any second. Tom looked downright confused, glancing down at the black spot on the ground and then back at Dean. "What the hell are you talking about, boy?" he finally growled. "There's not going to be a next time."

"Damn straight," Dean retorted. "Once people get the word that you deliberately set loose a demon to torture another hunter, you'll be lucky not to be dropped into a vampire nest."

"How can you say that?" Harry demanded, starting forward. Tom grabbed his arm, and Harry came to a sudden halt, looking down at the protective circle that his sneaker was about to cross over, his angry expression turning hesitant.

Dean let out a snort. "Oh come on, you pansy-ass. That was the point, wasn't it? To get rid of the demon?" He made as if to spread his hands wide, then grimaced in frustration as the ropes kept his arms in place. "No one here but me and a formerly possessed woman, who I might add could use a little help. Unless you're the ones who stuck the demon inside her."

"She was possessed when we found her," Harry insisted, then stopped, shooting a glance over his shoulder at his father.

Joe called out from the far side of the barn. "Tom, looks like it's all clear to me."

The older man frowned. "Could be a trick. Could have gone into him," he said, gesturing at Dean.

"Could be you didn't think through this part of your plan too carefully," he retorted. "Did it look like it even got near me?" He winced as his abused throat protested the volume he was putting forth. Aside from the part where it was strangling me. He went on, mentally crossing his fingers, "When Sammy does a job, he does it right."

That got a reaction. "This is not doing a job." Tom's hand came down heavily on Sam's shoulder, and Dean saw his brother flinch. "This is doing the devil's work. It's unnatural and immoral and it makes him the kind of thing people like you and me are supposed to kill, not encourage."

"Says who?" he shot back. Okay, multiple angels say so, but they're not here right now, are they? "This woman's alive, which means Sam's showing more concern for her than any of you did. He saved my life, which, again." He lifted his eyebrows and tilted his head forward as if to say, Unlike you idiots. "And he was running around for a whole year with a knife that a demon made to kill other demons, and no one ever gave him shit for that. Why is this different?"

"Because it's in his blood," Tom retorted. "You heard what she said. He's turning into one of them."

"That is such crap," Dean responded firmly, and he saw Sam's eyebrows lift a little. "That whole blood thing. You cut him with a goddamn silver knife and it didn't smoke, did it?" Without waiting for an answer, he went on, "Any of you ever been possessed?"

Harry opened his mouth, and Tom cuffed the back of his head. "What does that have to do with anything?" the older man barked.

Dean nodded down at the unconscious woman on the floor. "You think she's got demon blood in her right now?"

"'Course not." That was Joe, who was slowly coming forward from the far side of the barn. "It's all gone, right?"

"It was never there in the first place. Possession doesn't work like that." He shifted his gaze back to Tom, who was listening intently. "Say someone who was possessed by a demon fed some of their blood to someone else. It's human blood they're using, not demon, right?"

Tom's eyes narrowed, as if he knew he was being tricked into something. "Maybe," he said slowly.

Dean let out an exasperated sigh for theatrical effect as he continued to make his case. Was this what being a lawyer was like? Maybe he was the one who should have tried to go to law school. "There's no maybe about it," he insisted. "Just 'cause your eyes go black doesn't mean your blood does, too."

"So what's your point?" Harry asked belligerently.

"The point is, whatever rumor you heard about Sam having demon blood, it isn't true. There's no way it could have gotten into him. I was there, I saw the whole thing."

A series of muffled sounds burst out of Sam, and Dean was suddenly glad that his little brother was gagged, or he'd be making some kind of stupid comment that would blow this whole thing. He glared at Sam to shut him up, reading the expression on his face as easily as if he had spoken. Yes, I know I'm pulling this out of my ass, he silently responded. But they don't know that.

"You saw the whole thing, huh?" Joe asked. "How about your miraculous resurrection from the dead? Did'ja see how that came about?"

Tom narrowed his eyes. "That's right," he said, taking a few steps forward to look at Dean more closely. "Exactly how did you get here anyway?"

Dean set his jaw and spoke casually. "I think a pickup truck and a couple of asshats with shotguns had something to do with it."

The punch to his cheek wasn't unexpected, but still hurt like hell. "Just what I wanted: a matching set," he muttered, thinking of the earlier blow he'd taken in the motel room.

Tom regarded him closely. "Come to think of it," he said, "you weren't there, were you? So you don't know what he did to resurrect you."

"He didn't do anything," Dean retorted. And I got that on such good authority that there's no way you'll believe it.

"Uh-huh," the older man said, backing away and returning his attention to Sam. "And why don't I believe that?" he addressed the younger Winchester.

Joe came forward and pulled a knife out of his belt, holding it up in front of Sam. Sam's eyes widened and he shrank back against the chair, eyes glued to the sharp blade. The red-haired man held it up to Sam's face, placing the flat of the blade against his cheek.

"Hey, what are you doing?" Dean demanded.

Sam was deathly still except for the noticeably faster rise and fall of his chest, his eyes fixed on a point in the distance beyond Dean. Then Joe slipped the tip of the knife under the gag and twisted it sideways. Sam winced and jerked away, the material instantly falling apart and away from his face in a testament to the sharpness of the blade. A spot of blood welled up on his cheek where the knife tip had been.

"Now then." Tom leaned forward. "Your turn, boy. What did you do to bring him back from the dead?"

"I didn't do anything," Sam repeated, looking away.

"Oh, but you tried, didn't you?" Tom snagged the closest of the remaining chairs and flipped it around backwards before lowering himself onto it. Beside him, Joe moved until he was standing next to Sam. "You tried some things that no human being is ever supposed to try. You tried things that human beings can't even do. So which one of 'em worked, huh?"

Now Sam was staring back at the older man, and Dean slowly realized that he had the same see-through denial stamped across his face that he'd worn when trying to disavow his supernatural abilities. God, no, Dean thought as his stomach dropped. Don't tell me he's done something he's gonna regret.

"Nothing worked," Sam replied, his voice low and rough. "I'm not the one who brought Dean back."

Joe's fist shot out and crashed into Sam's jaw before Dean could voice a protest, snapping his head to the side. The cut he'd gotten from the knife tip opened a little wider, a couple of drops of blood falling down to the ground. "Don't be an idiot. Just tell us what we want to know."

"And then what?" Sam muttered into his shoulder. He slowly straightened up and looked Tom in the eye as he said sarcastically, "Then you're gonna let us go?"

"Depends," came the answer. Tom waited until both brothers were looking at him before going on, "Depends on how much of a threat we think you are."

Sam let out a huff of breath. "You seem to have made up your minds about that already," he said, regarding Tom with a steely glare.

"See, here's the thing." Tom leaned forward like he was sharing a confidence. "Sure, it matters what kind of necromancy you managed to pull off. But it also matters what you tried and failed at. Some spells set things free that shouldn't be. Some summonings call up things that are better left alone." Sam's expression was dissolving into uncertainty as Tom went on, "Even if they don't do what you want them to, they're still out there on the loose." His eyes flicked up to Joe in what Dean recognized as a signal. "And for that, you need to pay."

"Sam!" Dean called out in sudden foreboding, but there was nowhere for his brother to go even if he'd received the warning in time. Joe's left hand shot out to grab Sam by his hair and pull his head back while his right hand came around with the knife.

In another second, the edge of the blade was laying right against Sam's exposed skin.

The first, incongruous thought that crossed Dean's mind was that this why Dad had always yelled at Sam to keep his hair short. The second, more relevant thought as blood began to well up in a thin line across Sam's long neck was to wonder if there was any way to trade his soul a second time for the same person.

The third thought was nothing but sheer terror.

"Get your hands off him!" Dean bellowed, leaning forward in the chair and struggling against the ropes as if they would suddenly give way under his sheer fury alone.

Sam's face was pale, his eyes wide, as he initially tried to jerk back from the blade. His throat worked as he swallowed, and alarm flared further in Dean as the line of blood began to trickle down below the collar of Sam's sweatshirt. His legs strained forward uselessly against the ropes that bound them to the chair.

But then as Dean watched, his brother's face seemed to grow resigned, defeated, and he closed his eyes.

"Sam!" Dean barked urgently. Don't you give up on me, his tone of voice said.

A second later, Sam's eyes slowly opened, and he met Dean's gaze. He saw the defeat in Sam's eyes, the wish that this would just all be over—not their captivity, but the whole demon-blood-Apocalypse thing. And he could totally understand that.

Once Dean had accepted the startling realization that Sam had been carrying around the secret of his blood for a whole year, it had dawned on him that it was more than his own deal that had given his little brother so many sleepless nights. It was the burden of dealing with who he was and what he might become, the burden that Dean had tried to shield him from after their father's final words but that had landed upon his broad shoulders anyway. The poor kid probably hadn't had a night of real rest in almost two years now. He'd been hunted by Gordon Walker until he'd killed the man, and now these three creeps thought they were going to rid the world of some evil pestilence when they'd actually be making things worse. And now it looked like Sam was ready to give up.

Well, they could rest once they'd saved the world. And he wasn't going to be able to do that without his brother.

He glared at Sam, willing some of his own defiance to trickle through. Slowly, slowly, it seemed to work. Sam's shoulders straightened, his breathing went from shallow pants to a deeper rhythm, and some of the panic left his face.

"What did you do to try and get your brother out of Hell?" Tom asked, enunciating every word.

"You have no intention of letting me go," Sam retorted, his teeth clenched. "Which means I have no reason to tell you anything."

There was a pause. Then Tom said, "Well, I think we can give you a reason." He nodded at Harry, who smirked, cracked his knuckles, and started to advance on Dean.

Dean tensed in his seat until he realized the guy was moving behind him. He watched Sam's face, tracking Harry's movements through his brother's eyes. Suddenly, Sam's eyes got huge and he had to visibly restrain himself from lunging forward against the knife that was still hovering over his neck. "No, don't!" he cried out.

Casting a look over his shoulder, Dean suddenly felt his pulse go into overdrive. Behind him, Harry had picked up a considerable length of rope off the floor and was fashioning the end into a noose.

A second later, Harry was reaching over him, and Dean tucked his chin down, struggling uselessly against the ropes across his chest. He felt Harry grabbing at the top of his head, unable to gain purchase on his short spikes of hair, and Dean felt a moment of triumph over his shaggy-haired brother.

The triumph was short-lived.

Harry flattened his hand against Dean's forehead and pulled back. Dean strained forward as much as he could, but his neck muscles were already sore from the demon's earlier onslaught, and try as he might, he couldn't keep his head from inching backwards.

Then the rope slipped over his head, and he bucked back and forth, but all to no avail. His captor forced his head back and tightened the rope under his chin, leaving him panting and frustrated and a little bit scared with a frickin' noose around his neck.

A few yards away, Sam had that defeated look on his face again. Dean wanted to make one of his usual wisecracks, but for the first time in a long time, found that he simply couldn't. This was a bad situation, as bad as any they'd been in. Instead he saved his strength for what he was afraid was coming.

Sam's gaze shifted to a spot over Dean's head. Despite himself, he craned his head upward to look at the sounds he was hearing. Harry was tossing the other end of the rope around one of the rafters of the barn, taking a couple of attempts to do so. When he had it, he gave it a good tug, and Dean couldn't help the strangled grunt that escaped him as the noose tightened around his neck.

"You wanted a reason to talk?" Tom said. Behind Sam, Joe gave a malicious grin while keeping the knife secure against his throat. "I think we can give you one." Then he nodded at Harry.

Dean watched warily as Harry scooped up the knife the demon had earlier abandoned on the floor and advanced towards him. He paused in front of Dean, eyeing him with a smirk before bending down to slice through the bonds around his ankles and then cut the rope that bound his chest to the chair.

The second he turned away, Dean dove forward out of the chair, intending to pull the other end of the rope that was around his neck over the rafter and down onto the ground with him.

The hard yank at his neck nearly knocked him out right then and there.

"Dean!" he heard Sam cry out, but he was too busy figuring out why he couldn't breathe to reply. Scrabbling for purchase with his bound hands on the chair he had just fallen out of, he saw that Harry had fastened the other end of the rope to a hook on the barn wall, which meant the rope was being pulled tight by nothing other than Dean's own body weight. He scrambled to his feet as best he could, relieved when the pressure around his neck loosened.

At this rate, he wasn't going to be able to talk for days.

"Harry," Tom said in a commanding voice, nodding at the rope fastened to the wall. "Easy at first."

Dean swallowed hard, watching the young man head towards where the other end of his noose was tied. It was starting to look like he would be lucky to have days available not to be able to talk in.

"You know when they hang a man, they pull something out from under him so that his neck snaps," Tom added, folding his arms over his chest. "Otherwise it takes way too long. The windpipe slowly gets crushed from the man's weight, less and less air gets in, and his body shuts down piece by piece. It's not a pretty way to go."

"Don't," Sam suddenly said, his eyes going to Tom and his tone turning to begging. "Please, don't."

Dean was fumbling with the ropes around his wrists, but the knots hadn't magically loosened since he'd tried the same thing while wrapped up in the back of the truck. Off to his right, Harry had reached the wall of the barn and was starting to loosen the other end of the rope that was fastened around Dean's neck.

"You gonna tell us what you tried to do to get your brother out of Hell?" Tom asked.

"Nothing that worked," Sam instantly answered. "Nothing that could cause any problems, either. I made sure of that. Please, let him go."

Tom leaned over until he was in Sam's face. "You're lying, boy," he said firmly. Then he straightened up and nodded at his son. "Give the hunter here a little persuasion."

Against the wall, Harry had finished untying the rope from the hook. With a sneer at Dean, he grabbed hold of the rope and began to pull.

God, not again. His throat had just started to recover from the damn superpowered eight-year-old, and first there was the demon strangulation and now this. Wasn't Sammy's neck the one that usually got something wrapped around it?

His thoughts were cut off as breathing became incrementally harder. He strained up onto his toes, lifting his head as high up as he could, but it was only good for a few seconds. Dean was forced to struggle harder as the pressure around his neck increased, and he was slowly, agonizingly, pulled upwards until he no longer felt the floor underneath his feet.

For the second time that night, the world started to dim around him as his oxygen disappeared.

(Chapter 8)




( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
May. 5th, 2009 09:41 am (UTC)
Dude, I'm the one who wrote it, so what does that make me? :) Also, this was written before even the previews for "Criss Angel" were out, which means my psychic whumping abilities are alive and well...
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )