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Fic: Final Straw (4/9)

Title: Final Straw
Author: Zubeneschamali
Rating: PG-13 (language, violence)
Summary: As hard as he tried, Dean couldn't erase the fact that it was his little brother he was preparing to shoot. Evil!Sam, captive!Dean, and the end of the world as we know it.
Spoilers: Through 4.14, "Sex and Violence".

Disclaimers and beta thanks are in Chapter 1.  Previous chapter is here.



and if I ignore the voice inside
raise a half-glass to my home.
but it's there that I am most afraid
and forgetting doesn't hold. it doesn't hold.


By Dean's reckoning, he'd been a prisoner for close to forty-eight hours now. Although the cold hamburger the blond demon had brought him earlier had been less than appetizing, he'd choked it down in order to keep up his strength. He'd been left alone several hours ago, biding his time and listening to the footsteps passing down the hall grow less and less frequent. He had no idea how many demons were in this building, but they probably numbered in the dozens, if not more. Their movements quieted down at night, which meant he should be able to make a move soon.

For what had to be the twentieth time, he bent his right hand forward and gingerly felt at the edge of his sleeve. The paperclip he'd surreptitiously fished out of his pocket during the visit to Castiel was still attached. This time, he closed the tips of his fingers around it and slowly started to pull. He held his breath as the paperclip came free of his sleeve, and he carefully transferred his hold on it to take it between his thumb and forefinger.

A few agonizing minutes later, he had the metal straightened out. Straining his arms over his head so that the cuffs cut into his wrists, he was able to slide the pick into the lock of the left shackle. It took longer than he would have liked, but eventually the lock opened with a quiet click, and he eased out of the shackle. The other three manacles came loose more quickly, and a few minutes later Dean was rising to his feet and looking around.

The moonlight coming in through the clouded window made it possible to see that his earlier assessments had been accurate: there wasn't much in here that could help him. A two-foot length of rusting pipe might make a good weapon, if it didn't crumble in his hands. Dean picked it up and made his way towards the door. Listening for a long moment, he didn't hear any sounds of a guard outside the room. Putting one hand to the doorknob, he was surprised when it turned easily.

Apparently Sam thought the shackles were enough to hold him.

He tucked the bent paperclip back in his pocket and silently made his way down the corridor step by step, pipe held firmly in one upraised arm. By the time he reached the end of the hallway, he hadn't heard or seen another living thing—except for the rat that skittered across the cement floor behind him, scaring a year off his life in the process.

Wishing to God that the pipe he was hefting over his head would magically transform into the Colt, Dean peered around the corner.

Thirty feet away, someone was walking towards him, and Dean swiftly moved back, praying that he hadn't been seen. He strained his ears to hear footsteps on the concrete, and eventually he did. They weren't slowing as they approached, and he took a silent step back, dropping into a batter's crouch with the pipe at the ready.

Three, two, one—

It was a home-run shot, no doubt about it. Dean's perfectly-timed swing sent the pipe crashing into the man's jaw, snapping his head back with a sickening crack and dumping him on his back. The demon was out for only a second, but by then Dean had kneeled down and pressed the pipe over his throat. The angry hiss that came out in response startled him for a moment, until he realized that the pipe was made out of iron. Bending over his victim, he recited the quickest exorcism he could think of, ironically grateful to Sam for insisting a few months ago that he take the time to memorize a few.

In less than a minute, black smoke was streaming towards the ceiling, and Dean had a long-dead body on his hands. Fortunately, the nearest room was open and empty, and he dragged the corpse inside and shut the door on it.

God, that had felt good. One small step for man...

Dean wiped the sweat off his brow and continued down the hallway, boots silent on the floor. He couldn't remember exactly how far down Castiel's room was (like this is a goddamn hotel, he muttered in his head), but as it turned out, there was only one room with a closed door. Unfortunately, this time the doorknob refused to move.

Cursing under his breath, Dean dug out the abused paperclip and teased open the lock, pausing every few seconds to cast glances over each shoulder. Right about the time he was expecting a horde of demons to come pelting down the hallway, the lock gave a soft click. Without hesitating, he turned the knob and slipped inside.

When he'd been in here before, he hadn't noticed any furniture, too caught up in the horror of Castiel being held against his will. Now, as his eyes adjusted to the dim light coming in from the hallway, he could make out a bed much like his own, with Castiel lying on his back and chained to the four corners of the bed frame. Had Sam too gotten tired to hold him up?

More importantly, what kind of shackles could hold an angel?

As Dean took a few steps into the room, Castiel's eyes instantly snapped open. Dean put a finger to his lips and hurried forward, one hand outstretched to clap over the angel's mouth if necessary. But Castiel took in the scene within a few seconds and stayed silent, leaving Dean free to bend over the manacle around his left wrist.

"Are you okay?" Dean asked in a low voice as he prodded the shackle with his improvised lockpick.

"I have not been harmed," the angel answered, watching Dean's actions curiously.

"Well, that's something," Dean muttered. He twisted the paperclip a fraction of an inch, and the lock sprang free. Pulling the metal cuff apart, he reached across the angel to get at his other wrist. "How long have you been here?"

"This is my seventh day here, but I have been with Sam for longer than that."

Dean bit his lip and worked the second lock free. This at least would explain why it had been Uriel and not Castiel who had dropped into the Impala unannounced. He wondered what mission it was that the brown-haired angel had disappeared from, and if Uriel had known what happened to his comrade. "What the hell happened, Cass?" he gruffly asked. "What happened to Sam?"

"He has not said much to me," came the unhelpful answer. Castiel started to rub one reddened wrist with his other hand as Dean moved down to the shackles on his ankles while shooting a quick glance at the door. "What has he told you?"

"A whole lot of nothing," Dean said. He jammed the paperclip a little too hard into the lock, and the thin metal bent. Swearing under his breath, he straightened it back out and tried again. "Some crap about wanting to be in control of things and how he has all this power at his hands now, like he's gone dark side or something." He tried for a confident tone. "I don't believe it for a second."

"You should."

The certainty of the angel's voice made Dean freeze in place. Without moving his head, he lifted his gaze to meet Castiel's bright blue eyes. "Do you know something I don't?" he asked warily.

Castiel's gaze dropped. "He is not the man you knew as your brother," he quietly replied.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Dean demanded, working the third lock free and reaching for the fourth.

The angel sat up abruptly, bringing his face to within a foot of Dean's. "He has been breaking the seals I charged you with protecting," he said in a low voice.

"He said he has a reason for it," Dean answered. "Maybe it's all part of a plan—which would be a pretty stupid plan—or maybe he's undercover, or maybe..." He trailed off. None of the excuses he'd put together in his head over the past two days sounded any more plausible out loud.

"Listen to yourself, Dean," Castiel said, eyes wide as he reached out to grab Dean's arm. "Look at what you are doing here in this room and then listen to what you are saying."

Dean froze in place, eyes on the paperclip he was using to pick a lock to unchain an angel whom Sam had imprisoned. He bowed his head, shoulders sagging, that spark of hope that he'd been nurturing for the past few days fading a little bit more. If even Castiel thought there was no hope for Sam, he who had ripped Dean out of Hell for the express purpose of keeping his brother safe, then maybe it was all over.

After a moment, he started fiddling with the lock again. It only took a few more seconds for it to pop loose. "We gotta get you out of here," he mumbled, tucking the paperclip back into his pocket and standing up with his back to Castiel.

"I am not leaving until—"

"You are getting out of here, Castiel!" Dean whirled around, careful even in his anger to keep his voice low. "I am not going to be responsible for another angel dying on me!"

Too late, he realized what he'd said and that Uriel's loss had happened after Castiel had been imprisoned. But the blue eyes looking back at him showed no surprise, and then Dean remembered Anna's "angel radio". God, what a way to find out, he thought. Like hearing on TV that your best friend had been killed.

"He is not dead, Dean," Castiel was saying quietly.

"What?" Dean frowned. "Look, I hate to argue, but the dude stopped breathing right in front of me."

"His vessel was taxed beyond the limits of his power, yes. And it is likely that he will not fully recover until after the final battle is finished." Castiel's head tilted forward slightly. "But he is not dead."

"How do you know?" Dean asked sharply.

"I have heard so," came the reply. "Apparently I can still hear my brethren, if not speak to them."

If someone had told Dean a month ago how relieved he would be at hearing that Chuckles the Angel was alive and well, he'd have laughed his head off. As it was, even though this felt like the first piece of good news he'd heard in months, it still couldn't bring even the smallest smile to his face. "Good to hear," he said, offering a hand to Castiel to help him up. "Still gettin' you out of here."

"You need to find the Colt." Castiel accepted the assistance, his hand cool and soft in Dean's before he let go. "I can help you with that."

Dean frowned. "You know where it is?"

"I told you that I can tell where demons are in this building. There is likely to be a great concentration of them around the weapon."

"But isn't all your angel mojo gone?" Dean asked as he waved a hand at him and the chains lying loose on the bed.

"I can still fight demons," Castiel responded, his jaw set and eyes blazing, and Dean was sharply reminded of one of the first things this being had said to him, that angels were warriors.

It wasn't hard to believe that at the moment.

"Okay," Dean said, nodding slowly. "Then let's go get that gun."

He figured he probably didn't need to give Cass any tips on moving stealthily, and he was right. His own footsteps, mere whispers on the concrete floor, were still louder than his companion's. As they made their way into the hallway, Dean even looked back to make sure that the angel's feet were actually touching the ground.

For all their stealth, they had only made it a few hundred feet down the hallway when a voice rang out behind them, freezing them in their tracks. "I guess I was overly optimistic when I planned on keeping you out of the way. You're too good at being a pain in my ass."

The dark tone sent a cold chill down Dean's spine. He and Castiel turned as one to see Sam standing stiffly with his arms folded across his chest, regarding them both with simmering anger. "I should have known better," he went on, taking a step towards them. "You never do anything I tell you, do you, brother?" He swept his hands upwards, both palms pushing out to the sides.

Dean and Castiel instantly went flying backwards against opposite walls, staring at each other across the hallway. "Sam, why are you doing this?" Dean cried out, struggling against the invisible bonds that held him to the cold wall, despair finally breaking through.

"I had to have my curiosity satisfied," came the response. Sam came forward and looked him in the eye. "Not that I had much doubt that you'd betray me like this."

Dean's eyes bugged in disbelief. "I think you've got our roles reversed here," he spat out. "I'm not the one holding you prisoner."

"No, I suppose not," Sam replied. "Still, I trusted you to stay put." He reached behind his back, and the slight widening of Castiel's eyes was the only warning Dean had before Sam drew the Colt out from his waistband and brought it up under Dean's jaw. "I suppose you were looking for this?"

The metal was warm where it pressed into his skin, the long barrel moving slightly as Dean swallowed. "Thought you didn't want to hurt me," he choked out.

"I told you not to try anything." Sam's eyes shifted, flaring to golden yellow. "I've tolerated your screw-ups my entire life, Dean. It's time to put an end to that."

Dean couldn't help the shudder that swept over him or the way his breathing quickened, as if there was any way for him to either fight or fly. Stupid adrenaline. The one thing he could control was his mouth, and he wasn't gonna go down quietly. "What the hell are you waiting for?" he ground out. "Though you always were a crappy shot, even at close range."

Sam's eyebrows rose slightly as he tauntingly asked, "What's the matter, Dean? You scared?" He pushed the Colt up a little harder for emphasis. "Trying to talk me to death is a sure sign that you're freaking out inside."

Dean knew the hitch in his breath was betraying him, but he managed to retort, "No, I'm just excited you finally decided to play along with my gun kink."

The snort of laughter was achingly familiar. "Yeah, you're scared," Sam said with a knowing smirk. "Smart-ass."

A few more heartbeats passed, the two brothers staring into each other's eyes, the tension thick enough to be cut with a knife. Then Sam's quiet voice rang out in the still corridor. "No, you don't get off that easy." He leaned closer and breathed into Dean's ear, "We've got work to do."

Then he lowered the weapon and backed away.

Suddenly, Dean found he was no longer attached to the wall. But since it was all his legs could do to hold him up at the moment, he wasn't exactly able to take advantage of it. Unable to meet Castiel's eyes, certain they would remind him that it was his own failure that had brought them here, he kept his gaze on the ground and drew in a deep breath, getting his game face back on.

Apparently this wasn't over yet.

"Come on, let's go," Sam said, motioning with the gun towards the corridor they'd been heading down. "God, it's like I have to do everything myself around here."

With Sam prodding them from behind, they were marched down a series of corridors into a different part of the building. The hallways became wider, and although the walls were still peeling and there were still piles of random crap all over, it was clear that this had been a more public portion of the asylum. After a few minutes, they entered a lobby-like area, and Sam directed them towards a pair of metal doors set into one wall. The doors opened at his silent command, and they all passed through.

It was an auditorium, faded and weathered as the rest of the building, with a sagging ceiling dripping down onto moldy seat cushions and moth-eaten velvet drapes behind the stage. Dean counted at least twenty demons purposefully moving about the room. No wonder there wasn't anyone in the hallways, he thought. Some of them were chalking symbols onto the musty carpet and worn boards while others were laying out various objects in front of what looked like a makeshift altar. "Sam, what the hell is going on here?" Dean barked out.

He tried to dig in his heels, but a shove from behind sent him stumbling forward. Two demons were coming towards them, and within seconds they had grabbed him and Castiel. Turning his head, he saw Sam looking at each of the demons in turn, apparently giving them directions without saying a word.

A set of shackles was attached to the wall at the top of the steps at each side of the stage, and Dean noticed with alarm that he and Castiel were each being dragged towards one of them. "This'll keep you out of the way until you're needed," Sam said from behind him.

"Needed for what?" Dean threw over his shoulder. The grin he got in response was darker than anything he'd seen on his brother's face, even in his virus-induced hallucinations, and it sent a shiver down his spine.

Once they'd mounted the steps and were on the stage, the patterns of herb sprigs and sigils and talismans laid out on the scuffed wooden floor were suddenly all too familiar, even if he'd never seen this particular arrangement anywhere but in some of Bobby's less savory spell books. Dean's gut twisted in apprehension. "Sam, this stuff is—"

"Dark and scary, yeah, I know." Sam nodded in approval as the demons closed the shackles tightly around Dean's wrists and ankles. "You can shut your eyes if you're afraid, Dean."

"Sam, please." The hair rising on the back of Dean's neck told him that this was his last chance, that if he didn't persuade his brother to turn back now, that it was going to be way too late. "You have no idea, Sammy," he said. "Whatever they've told you, whatever promises they've made—they're all lies. You don't know the first thing about what it's like down there or what it'll be like up here."

"Ah, but it's different when you're on top." Sam smirked as he lifted an eyebrow. "It's good to be king."


Chapter 5 is here.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 26th, 2009 10:05 am (UTC)
Hard to see how they are going to get out of this one!
Feb. 26th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
Hard to see how they are going to get out of this one!

Hmm, I suppose it is. :) Hope you're enjoying it so far. Cool icon, BTW.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )