Sorry this chapter is so short, but I think it does what it needs to do.
Disclaimer and beta thanks are in Chapter 1.
I can't believe where circumstance has thrown me
and I turn my head away
if I look, I'm not sure that I could face you
not again. not today. not today.
A roughly plastered, water-stained ceiling overhead.
Something yielding and lumpy underneath him, probably a mattress.
Tension in his shoulders and thighs, as if both were being pulled apart.
Cold metal around both wrists and ankles.
Dean took in all of these things before lifting his head and discovering that yeah, his deductive skills were unfortunately dead on. He was spread-eagled on a bare twin mattress, all four limbs chained securely into place to the sturdy metal frame. A bit of wriggling around let him know that his gun and knife were gone from his waist, as was the backup blade at his ankle. There was no way to tell if the paper clip in his pocket was still there, but at this point, it wasn't gonna do him a hell of a lot of good anyway.
A whoosh of breath escaped him. He knew it had been stupid to come here. Oh, he'd put up a good front for Bobby, reassured the older hunter while giving purposefully vague answers as to where exactly he was going. He hadn't wanted anyone else being dragged into this with him if it went pear-shaped. They'd already lost one ally, and he was not about to let Bobby suffer the same fate.
Still, he damn well wished he'd had backup.
There was a soft click at the grimy door, and it slowly began to open. Dean lifted his head to see his brother standing tall in the doorway, hands at his sides, making it obvious that he wasn't touching the door as it moved. Behind him stood the same two goons who had been present when Dean was overpowered, their eyes darker than the hallway behind them.
The door creaked as it came to a stop against the wall, and Sam took a step forward. He was dressed all in black, from dark denim tucked into black boots to a silky-looking shirt with a crisp collar. The effect was to make him look even more dangerous than he'd already shown himself to be.
"I didn't realize that going dark side was quite so literal," Dean said as he jerked his chin towards his brother. "You pick that out yourself, Sammy? 'Cause I hate to tell you, but you're dressing like a girl."
"Dean, Dean, Dean." Sam shook his head in mock sorrow as he came forward. "Always with the misogynist insults. For someone who claims to like women so much, you sure don't show them much respect." He raised an arm over his head and leaned his weight on it over the wall at the foot of the mattress, using every inch of his height to loom over Dean. "You would think that by now you would have learned that women can be just as powerful as men. Lilith should have shown you that."
Dean gritted his teeth. "Well, I don't see her around here. Do you?"
"Not yet. But I'm sure she'll show up sooner or later, since this is where all the action's going to be."
He filed that one away for later. "You gonna introduce me to your new friends?" Dean asked, nodding towards the room's other two occupants.
"Oh, they're not my friends," came the disdainful response. "More like servants. Perks of the job, you might say."
Dean's eyebrows shot up. "Say what?"
Sam chuckled. "Can't lead a demon army if you don't have any soldiers. The higher-ranking ones get to stay off the battlefield, at least for now. Sort of my personal command."
"So is that what this is about?" Dean's throat tightened. "This is what I've been holding you back from? You gave in to the yellow-eyed bastard after all, decided to finish what he started?"
"Azazel is so 2007, Dean," Sam replied with a roll of his eyes. "Do try and keep up."
"Then what's with the yellow eyes?" he asked, remembering the previous day's heart-stopping revelation.
Sam grinned. "Dramatic effect." He blinked, and suddenly his eyes were shot through with yellow. Dean couldn't help shrinking back against the mattress, and Sam's smirk grew. He blinked again, and coal black filled the space between his eyelids. Another blink, and his irises were their regular blue-green, but the pupils were as red as a laser. Then he shook his head briefly, and his eyes were back to normal.
Dean swallowed. "Neat trick," he muttered, keeping his voice low so as not to give away how it was trembling.
"Thanks," Sam said brightly. "You've already seen some of the other things I can do."
He lifted his arms slightly and rattled the chains around his wrists. "Yeah, I guess I have."
"Sorry about that," Sam replied with an exaggerated wince. "Right now I can't trust you as far as I can throw you—which is actually pretty far, come to think of it."
"And you think that's gonna change?" Dean asked.
"It might," Sam answered, his expression growing calculating. "Depending on how smart you are."
"Well, forget it." Dean lifted his chin, drawing on all the bravado he could muster. "Unless there's some way you can make me understand why you're doing this."
"For all the things I never got, ever since I was a kid. Respect. Control. The chance to call the shots. And man, can I call the shots now." Sam shook his head. "All those years of being tossed into the wall by spirits, all those years of wondering if it was salt or iron or silver that was going to do the trick...that's all so stupid now. All it takes is this." He held up a hand and looked over his shoulder at the dark-haired demon.
As Dean watched in astonishment, the demon's head snapped back and black smoke flew out of its mouth and towards the ceiling before he could blink. In an instant, the human host slumped to the floor, the odd angle of its head making it all too clear that without the demon inside, it was only a dead meat suit. There was no agonizing grimace on Sam's face, no blood trickling from his nostril—no sign that it was at all difficult for him.
Sam lowered his hand and looked back at Dean. "Pretty neat, huh?"
Dean swallowed hard, his gaze passing over the fresh corpse in the middle of the room to the demon who stood watching at the door, apparently not bothered at all that one of his comrades had just been sent speeding back to Hell. "I don't understand you," he said quietly. "Man, we've spent our whole lives fighting this, and now you turn around and give in to it?"
"Quit pretending that you have any idea what it's like, Dean," Sam snapped back. "You don't have a freaking clue. I had those crazy visions for two years while you looked at me like I was going to strangle you in your sleep. Then I got dragged halfway across the country against my will to find out some damn demon had been planning my whole life to make me into his pawn. Then I'm minding my own business when Gordon and that other nutjob hunt me down for being a freak. Then when I finally got a clue about how to use this—" he tapped his temple with two fingers—"I start to get persecuted for trying to help innocent people."
"Persecuted?" Dean's eyebrows shot up. "You call an angel telling you to stop using demonic powers being persecuted?"
Sam's voice lowered to a growl. "My own brother told me I was worthy of being hunted. Then he tried to take an axe to me. That's being persecuted."
"Sam..." Dean grimaced. He'd regretted those words the moment they'd left his mouth, but he'd never thought they would have come back to bite him in the ass like this. And bringing up the siren was so not fair. "That's not what I meant and you know it."
"It doesn't matter now anyway." Sam shook his head and his expression softened. "I'm willing to put that behind us. I've got power now like you wouldn't believe, Dean. I can even give you some of it if you stand by my side."
"If I say no, are you gonna slice off my hand with your light saber?" Dean retorted, not bothering to hide his contempt.
"You think this is a joke, don't you?" Sam's face turned deadly serious. "There is a war coming to your doorstep very, very soon, and if you don't choose the right side, you're not going to make it. I could have killed you a dozen times today, Dean, but instead, I've spared your life. Now I'm giving you the chance to stick with your family and watch my back rather than follow the people that have kept you in the dark and fed you only the information they think you need to know. Doesn't seem that hard to me, not after all we've done for each other."
"Considering which side actually had the power to get me out of Hell, I think my choice should be pretty clear," Dean shot back. "Since you weren't able to do a damn thing for me."
From the way Sam's mouth tightened, Dean knew he'd scored a point, and something prickly inside him warmed with grim satisfaction. If the only blows he could strike right now were with words, he'd take what he could get.
The response was low and quick. "Well, I could do it now," Sam responded with a dangerous glint in his eyes. "I could bring anyone back up here that I wanted to." He cocked his head to the side. "Except maybe Ruby. That might be a little tricky."
"Yeah, where is the bitch?" Dean hadn't seen Sam's demon buddy in a month or two, but if she was hanging around here anywhere, he'd gladly kill her himself.
Sam ducked his head slightly. "Don't go getting a big head about this, Dean, but you were right,. She wasn't helping me out for my benefit. It was all her own twisted little plan to finish what old Yellow Eyes started."
The automatic triumph that rose within Dean from being right about the skank all along was quickly tempered by concern over what exactly Sam meant. "Is that why you're..." He made a vague waving gesture with one shackled hand.
"Why I decided to be all that I can be?" Sam asked, lifting one eyebrow. "No, it's the other way around. Once I tapped into all of my abilities, it was a lot easier to see what was actually going on in her head." He cast a quick glance over his shoulder at the room's other inhabitant and smirked. "In every demon's head, actually."
Dean stared at him, stunned. Freakiness aside, how friggin' valuable would that have been for the past couple of years, to be able to read demons' minds? Not only uncovering Ruby's true intentions, but getting information from the crossroads demon about Dean's deal, knowing what Azazel's plans for his "special children" really had been...
"I know," Sam said with a trace of ruefulness on his face. "We've been missing out on a lot."
It took a second or two, but once it clicked into place, Dean was glaring at his brother for all he was worth. "So it's not only demons' minds you can read, huh?" he spat out.
Sam let out a chuckle. "Dude, you think that took psychic abilities? Your face is so easy to read that a two-year-old could do it."
"Then read this," Dean retorted, giving his brother the hardest, sharpest, most fuck you glare that he could.
There was silence for a moment as Sam looked him over. "I'm sorry you feel that way," he finally said. Then he extended a hand, palm out, his face going completely blank.
Suddenly Dean couldn't move a muscle. Even if he could have gotten his jaw open, his throat wasn't making any sounds no matter how hard he tried. The one thing he could feel moving was his chest, rising and falling faster as he fought back the panic rising within him at being made so helpless.
Through frozen eyes, he watched as Sam bent closer. "Dean, I don't want to hurt you," his brother said quietly, the words sending a chill down his spine. "I will if I have to, but it's not what I want to do. I just want to keep you out of the way."
He stared back as hard as he could, not sure if the paralysis he was under extended to his facial expressions as well. He was pretty sure Sam got the message, though, from the way that his mouth tightened as he straightened up again and lowered his hand.
Dean clenched his fists as soon as he felt the paralysis disappear, hearing the chains above his head rattle. "You son of a bitch," he hissed, both challenge and frustration ringing clear through his voice.
Sam bowed his head for a moment. When he lifted it again, it was with a yellow-eyed gaze that felt like a punch to Dean's gut. "Just keep in mind that you had the chance to be on my side," he said. "Because I will remember that." He kept his gaze on Dean a moment longer, and then turned towards the door. The demon who'd been standing guard bent to pick up the remains of his comrade, hefted the body over one shoulder, and followed Sam out.
The door closed behind them, and Dean was left alone.
*sniff* Poor Dean...