Characters: Dean, OC (with appearances by Sam, Bobby, and Castiel)
Rating:PG-13 for language, violence, and one mature scene in chapter 1
Spoilers:Season 5, bridges episode 5.03 Good God, Ya'll to episode 5.05 The End.
Summary:Hunting isn't something Dean can simply quit. Even if his family walks away; he's survived worse than loneliness. He's survived Hell. But when an ancient and dangerous breed of vampires and a mysterious hunter cross his path, Dean learns that Hell was just the beginning.
Disclaimer: They're not mine. More's the pity. Title of the story comes from a 30 Seconds To Mars song of the same name.
Warning: This story is definitely PG-13 and might be considered borderline R in some parts for language, violence, and one mature scene in the first chapter. I trust you know your tolerance level.
Author's Notes:My hope is that you'll be able to enjoy this story on the merits of the story alone, but since the whole reason you're here is because we share a love for those Winchester boys, I feel I must own up to Sam playing a very small role in this story. He is important to Dean's state of mind in this setting, but this story centers on Dean. Because of where I've chosen to situate the story, Sam does return at the end.
Also, I've taken a few artistic liberties with the timeline. In canon, it appears there's roughly one week between Sam's walking away from Dean at the picnic table and Dean and Castiel's Excellent Adventure to trap Raphael. I'm stretching that out a bit to make the events of this story work. If done right, you won't care. But there are those who notice such things, so I wanted you to know it was purposeful.
This story is for my dear friend Janet who has worked tirelessly to save my sanity. Bead buíoch thar lá mo bháis ! (I shall be forever in your debt.)
One night of the hunter; one day I will get revenge. One night to remember; one day it'll all just end….
"Night of the Hunter" by 30 Seconds to Mars
Somewhere beneath Greeley, Pennsylvania
It was an order, barked in Dean's head with conviction, shouted in his own voice, spoken from his soul, forcing him to pull in a thin, shallow breath. He gagged slightly on the stench of death and blood, thick in the air around him, helplessly shuddering in revulsion. Gooseflesh raised along his bare skin, more out of horror than cold. Dean clenched his jaw, his next breath skipping across his teeth on its way in.
He could not – would not – let them win. Not now. Not like this.
His shoulders burned, the muscles there quaking with effort, stretched beyond their limit. He was so tired, his body thrumming with exhaustion. He yearned to give in, just one moment of relief, but the second he did, the ropes binding his wrists to the hooks above his head slacked and the rope around his neck tightened, choking him and reducing his air intake to a thin slipstream.
The skin of his throat was raw – both inside and out. His wrists were raw and ached from taking the weight of his body. His calf muscles shook from the effort of pushing himself upright. His head pounded – a relentless spike of pain behind his left eye, ratcheting up as he strained to see something.
Because none of the physical pain matched the panic-inducing fear spawned by the darkness wrapping around him.
Dean could see nothing, the black surrounding him as complete as if he'd literally been swallowed by the Earth. He'd seen pitch like this only one other time in his life: right before he'd forced himself to claw his way up through the wood and dirt and pulled free of his own grave.
But he could hear them moving; the sound of claws skittering along the crumbling rock wall, the hiss of what he assumed was language as they encountered one another. He felt them moving; the slight shift of air as one passed by him on its way to another victim.
They were biding their time.
Dean was fresher, could last longer. He'd caught a glimpse of his prison before the creatures had yanked him by his rope tether, ripped his shirt from his body and strung him up inside the darkness. He'd seen a hellish vista of half a dozen bodies hanging from the ceiling in an earth-bound cold storage. Men, women, young, old – some obviously dead, others barely alive. But then his ropes were pulled tight, his arms raised above his head, his body suspended from the ceiling until he was precariously balanced on the balls of his feet.
He was left in the darkness, nothing but memories of another Hell to combat the increasing fear of his fate.
As cold, dry skin brushed against the taut muscles of his abdomen, he tried to pull away without strangling himself. He tensed, his body trembling, awaiting the sharp sting and burn of the cuts he knew would come his way. He knew because he'd seen the remains of those who hadn't survived.
He knew because of what they were. What they wanted.
The creature moved away and Dean dared to relax, trying to draw in a slow, shallow breath. A helpless, insane laugh threatened to choke him. He was in the hurt locker. No one knew where he was, no one was coming for him. And the hell of it was, he'd done it to himself. He'd allowed this to happen.
He was hidden from Castiel due to the markings along his ribs; he didn't know if the angel would hear him even if he were able to call. And he'd let Sam go, let his brother just walk away – from hunting, from him, from temptation. Because Dean hadn't been able to protect him. Dean hadn't been there and bad things had happened to Sam.
Dean swallowed a rush of bile, burning the tender skin of his abused throat. He'd gotten himself into this; getting himself out was going to be hell.
And he knew Hell.
Lock it down. Put it away. Don't think about it. Don't think at all.
Carefully twisting his hands against his bindings, searching for a weakness that would give him an advantage, Dean allowed that this would be a perfect time for Sam's Spidey sense to tingle, alerting his brother to the fact that Dean was more than in danger – he was literally hanging on by a thread. It would be a perfect moment for Sam to change his mind, to return, to sweep in and cut him free so that together they could take out these bastards.
For a sudden, brief moment Dean recalled with crystal clarity the moment Sam had appeared in that filthy, abandoned warehouse and cut Dean's arms free from the djinn's bindings, holding his heavy body as feeling returned to his limbs, keeping him up, keeping him there.
I thought I lost you for a second.
You almost did.
Between one heartbeat and the next, Dean felt an acute stab of longing for his brother's presence; it drew a sob from him, but he bit it off, unwilling to let them hear. Sam wasn't here. And he wasn't coming.
But something else was.
He heard it chatter and hiss in his direction, the stench of death nearly overpowering as it drew close to Dean once more. And suddenly Dean was grateful Sam wasn't there. No way did he want his brother cut into by these things, his blood drained, his body hollowed out.
Dean cried out, his voice hoarse and foreign in his ears, as the skin along his stretched ribs was split with the scalpel-like sharpness of the creature's clawed fingernail. He felt a mouth follow the path of the slice. Cold lips on his burning skin, a wet tongue sliding along the cut. He growled, trying to pull away from the hideous sensation, but the ropes at his wrists tightened the rope around his neck and he choked, forced to hold still.
What followed caused his breath to still, his skin retracting in horror as a groan climbed from his gut: the thing was drinking.
He could feel the lips vacuumed to his side, the tug of his flesh into a mouth as it swallowed the blood pulled from him. He wanted to scream, to thrash, to wrap his fingers around the thing's throat and rip its head off with his bare hands. His body shook with the need to fight back, resisting this invasion. He felt something half-way between a groan and a whimper catch at the back of his throat.
He closed his eyes, taking himself away from this moment, away from this crypt. He was in the Impala, driving down an empty road, Sam sitting next to him, bent arm resting on the open window, evening zephyr rolling across them. He was on Bobby's porch, drinking a beer, watching Rumsfeld stalk a squirrel. He was back-to-back with Sam as they fished off of Pastor Jim's pier. He was sitting on the tailgate of his father's truck, filling clips with silver bullets and listening to Bad Company.
Dean grunted with pain, trying to keep quiet and failing as he felt another slice along his other side, another mouth on him, another tug.
Lock. It. Down. Do not think.
He'd survived worse than this; he'd survived Hell. This time he knew they couldn't get into his head. They couldn't use his balance against him. They couldn't poison the only light he'd ever had in his life: his family.
And he knew they wouldn't kill him – not yet. They could feed on him for weeks, if he survived that long. He could still get away, get free. Kill them all. If they were going to take him out, they damn well would be going with him. He drew strength from knowing they couldn't get to him – not really.
Not like the others had.
Dean felt the mouths leave his body, heard the clicks and scratches as they moved on to another victim. And for one brief moment his heart panged at the thought that Sam would never know what had happened to him. Dean would simply be gone. And Sam would go on.
Fatigue swept over him, a wave so dizzyingly powerful he nearly succumbed. He felt his knees give, the muscles in his legs seeking relief. And then the rope at his neck pulled taut, snapping his head up and back. He began choking, unable to breathe. He forced his eyes open, no matter that the dark around him matched the dark behind his lids. It was the act that mattered, the effort of awareness that would save his life. He straightened his trembling legs, swallowing roughly.
Told you these guys were bad news, man.
Dean shot his head to the right in shock. Sam's voice had been so real, so there….
He regretted the motion immediately as the coarse rope rasped along his weeping skin. Of course it wasn't Sam. His brother was gone. In Idaho. Or Florida. Could be in Canada for all Dean knew. He wasn't here. He wasn't here and they couldn't get him.
You always gotta be the hero, dontcha?
"Shut up," Dean whispered, willing the voice away. His words elicited a familiar, human-like cry down to his left. Another victim, another body.
He felt the creatures stirring closer to him once more; he tensed up as he tried to figure out how to stop them from cutting him again. He wanted to grab the rope – the rope they'd used to haul him in here – and leverage himself up, get his legs around a throat, rip it out, kill them…kill them all…. His hands were numb, and he knew the minute he messed with the ropes binding his arms he'd end up strangling himself.
Keep breathing, Dean.
Help is coming.
Dean blinked wide into the darkness, a shadow somehow, impossibly moving before his eyes. A shadow that looked an awful lot like Sam.
"No…," he moaned. It couldn't be Sam.
Sam had left. He quit hunting. He was far, far away from here.
But Dean could see him.
Hang on, Dean. Don't you let them beat you.
"Get outta here," Dean pleaded, his voice rough against the heavy, still air.
And then he felt them again – this time along his back. A slice, a mouth, the pull of blood causing his belly to sink and his heart to shake. Two, then three. And Dean released a weak scream from the pain of it, from the helplessness.
"Get outta here!" Dean yelled, louder, stronger this time, willing the image of Sam away, needing it to not be real.
He needed Sam safe. Needed to know that no matter what, Sam was free of this. He was living a normal life. He wasn't a hunter anymore.
And he wasn't in this pit.
"Please…," Dean whispered.
The mouths left his burning skin and he froze, listening as the creatures scraped and clawed their way to someone else. He waited for what came next. Remembering the bite marks on the other victims.
And then the scraping sound stopped.
And the darkness exploded.
Continued here in Chapter 1