Characters: Dean, Sam, Castiel
Rating: PG-13 for language, a mature scene in the first chapter, and some darker themes
Spoilers: Set in Season 5 after 5.05, Fallen Idol. Anything up to that point is fair game.
Summary: There are things that make him human. Deciding what those are will become the difference between sanity and madness. When a demon forces the issue, Dean and Sam fight back the only way they can: together.
Disclaimer: They're not mine. More's the pity.
...Continued from Part 1A...
Raya's place was small, but Dean found he didn't feel cramped. The simple furnishings and black and white photographs complemented each other. She led him through a curved door into a small living room with a couch, a couple of wooden, high-backed chairs, a bookshelf, and a TV, then asked him to wait there while she moved through another archway into what appeared to be a kitchen.
He glanced to his left and saw that the door to her bedroom was partially open and the sparse furnishing continued in there as well. In a moment, she returned with two beers in on hand and a towel in the other. He took a beer and the towel with a smile.
"This is Steve," Raya said, nodding toward a pathetic-looking potted plant hanging from the ceiling in the corner of the room. "Say hi."
"You named your plant?" He asked, eyebrow arched as he rubbed his wet hair with the towel.
"Don't look at me like I'm eight kinds of crazy," she said. "He's my starter plant."
"Starter for…what, exactly?"
"Well," she shrugged out of her jacket layers and tossed them over a chair. "If I can keep Steve alive for a year, then I'll get a fish, and maybe, eventually, graduate all the way up to a dog."
Dean laughed appreciatively, dropping the towel and slipping out of his wet jacket. Raya was looking at him and there was something unguarded in her expression. He found his eyes moving to her mouth, his libido urging him to move, conquer.
After all, this was why he was there.
"Be right back," Raya said suddenly, heading back toward the kitchen once more, setting her beer on the top of her TV as she passed by.
He took a breath and then drank deeply from his bottle. The hops hit the back of his tongue and he felt it roll down his alcohol-slicked throat and fill his belly. He wasn't drunk—took a lot more than what he'd had these days for that condition to set in—but his head was, as Pink Floyd said, comfortably numb. He moved toward the bookcase on legs that seemed to belong to someone else, smiling at the heady feeling of detachment.
Control was the essence of his reality these days. Had been since he'd been ripped free of Hell and clawed his way through the earth to taste the sweetness of air once more. Control over his environment, over his brother, over himself. He'd held that grip so tightly he'd almost lost Sam in the process and had felt himself slowly cracking from the inside out.
He wanted to just feel. Allow himself to be in the moment. Let it wash over him. Escape inside of it.
He didn't want worry about consequences or destiny; he didn't want to worry about each step, each choice, each breath being the difference between saving the world and ending it.
His eyes scanned Raya's books without comprehension and he ran his index finger along the spines, letting the digit bounce loosely against the bindings, listening as the dull, playing-card-in-bicycle-spoke sound filled the small room. Before he could repeat the motion, music slipped around the corner and stroked his ears, pulling his head around toward its source. He peered into the shadow of the small room that connected Raya's living room to her kitchen.
"What is that? Fats Domino?" he called.
"Ack, heathen!" Raya scoffed from the other room. "Louis Armstrong. You like?"
Dean curled his lip, finishing his beer. "I'm more of a classic rock guy," he replied.
Raya appeared then, moving from the shadows of the anteroom into the living room, dressed in only a black bra and panties, a shoulder holster that had apparently been situated under her T-shirt, still latched onto her body.
"But a man can change," Dean said softly. He set his empty beer bottle on the bookshelf.
Raya moved forward, in step with the music, unlatching the shoulder holster. Dean swallowed.
"Listen, uh," he started to shake his head. "I'm not really…into…y'know…romance."
Raya chuckled. "This isn't romance, Dean," she said. "This is me getting my head in the game." She tossed the holster—and gun—on the couch, stopping just shy of touching him. "You ever have too much in your head? Too many voices, too much to do?"
Dean's nod of assent was jerky, stilted, as he looked down at her, seeing her eyes, her lips, the rise of her breasts, the points of her hips.
"Sometimes it won't be quiet and I can't breathe," she reached up with the tips of her fingers and pushed his green long-sleeved shirt off his shoulders, exposing the black T-shirt beneath. "And if I can't breathe…neither of us'll have much fun."
He let the shirt slip from his arm and pool around his boots.
"So, Louis, huh?" he said, his voice husky, low, his lips inches from hers.
"He gets me," she whispered, then lifted Dean's hand and pressed it against the hollow between her breasts, "right here."
Dean sank into her with a sound somewhere between a sigh and groan, scooping the base of her skull with palms of his hands and tangling his fingers into her dark hair. Her bottom lip fit comfortably between his, and he teased it slightly with the tip of his tongue before pulling her in and against him like a breath of air.
He felt her hands on the base of his T-shirt, hungry fingers seeking the feel of skin on skin, and reached back to grasp the cloth between his shoulder blades, pulling it over his head. As Raya watched, her lips slightly red from contact with his days-growth of stubble, he pulled a Beretta from a lower-back holster, ejected the magazine and popped the chambered bullet from the slide.
Pocketing the loose bullet, he dropped the weapon and clip on top of his shirts.
"Nice," Raya purred. "Nine millimeter?"
Dean gave her a half smile.
"One down," Raya said softly, stepping close to him. "One to go."
"G'luck finding that one, sweetheart," Dean murmured against her mouth.
Raya pressed her hips close to him, canceling out all thought of further conversation until he could taste her once more. Slipping his hands to her jaw he held her face still, then touched his lips carefully to hers until, with a harsh breath bordering on desperation, she wrapped her arms around his bare shoulder and pressed him close.
Kissing did interesting things to Dean.
More often than not, he was too busy working to get to the point of physical oblivion to worry about the seduction of a kiss. But when a woman wanted him to take his time, he was willing to give them whatever they needed. And when they offered him back the same amount of intimacy, he felt his belly uncoil with a unique, liquid heat.
It wasn't the same as sex. It was closer. More real. More…vulnerable. It was why, he presumed, crossroad deals were sealed in such a manner. And it had taken several kisses from several women to rid his mouth of the taste of dirt.
Raya tasted like whiskey. The taste itself was infinitely more intoxicating that the drink had been. He ran his tongue along the inside of her lip, feeling the smooth enamel of her teeth, then slanted to dip deeper, stroking the roof of her mouth and feeling the thrill of the touch shimmer through his core.
She pressed against him and he felt the silk of her skin—the muscles underneath rolling and pushing, moving him backwards even as she kept him close—against the coarse hairs of his arms, the plane of his chest. His shoulders hit the door of her bedroom and he curved his back to push it open. The apartment was small enough that the music carried into this room, playing a background of jazz with the sound of their quick gasps for air and low groans of pleasure.
"You know how to kiss a woman," Raya said, breathless.
"Haven't practiced on anything else," Dean returned.
She pushed at him—not rough, but with intent—until he felt his back hit the far wall. Dean's grin was slow as she ran her hands along his arms and pressed them above his head.
"Told you," Raya said.
He felt his grin turn slightly feral as he slipped quickly from her grasp, grabbed her backside and lifted her until her legs instinctively circled his waist. Turning quickly, he pressed her against the wall, his mouth at her throat.
"Touché," she murmured, her head falling back to expose more of her flesh, her legs flexing around his waist in reaction to his touch. "I think one of us has too many clothes on."
"I can do something about that," Dean replied, slipping a hand behind her back and twisting the clasp of her bra with practiced fingers.
"I was talking about you." Her mouth was at his temple.
He let his hands trail up the smooth curve of her waist as she slid down his body. He toed off his boots, keeping the throwing knife tucked safely in the sheath fashioned inside the left one.
Raya climbed onto the mattress backwards, kicking the quilt and sheets free as she did. He shimmied free of his jeans and boxers, watching with appreciation as she moved. She was trim, but carried her share of scars.
"Bullet?" he asked, crawling toward her.
She shifted so that his approach led up between her legs. Hooking her heels into the bend of his knees, she looked up at him. "Yeah. Twice." She trailed her fingers down several scars on his chest, and the nearly faded mark where Castiel had pulled him free of Hell. Though it no longer resembled a handprint, a scar remained. "You too?"
"Knives, mostly," he said, though he knew some of the bruises sustained from Leshii's attack traced his ribs and one knee.
Thin white lines and puckered purplish tissue scored the history of the past year on his skin. His life left its score.
And there had been more. So many more. Until Hell. Until Castiel.
"Interesting tat," she whispered, drawing him closer until he felt her heat against him.
"Protects me," he whispered.
"From what?" she replied, her mouth at his chin.
He saved himself from answering by kissing her once more, trailing his mouth along the shape of her jaw, finding her earlobe with his teeth. He knew the sensitive points on a woman's body, knew how tracing the curve of her ear would send shivers to her belly and cause her to arch up against him—just as he wanted.
It never failed to intrigue him, though, how the first moments of connection were filled with hesitant approaches, uncertain fingers, and unfamiliar touch. No two women's hands had ever felt the same against his skin, even though they always followed the same path. There was an instinct to grip, to stroke, to soothe and caress, to dig and claw.
Raya fumbled for the small drawer inside the nightstand next to her bed. Guessing what she was reaching for, Dean leaned over and found the small foil packet, ripping it open with his teeth. It amused him that he'd applied this very metaphor to his destiny not hours ago.
Once they were safe, he felt Raya roll against him, pliant and willing, seeming to search for the same release, the same escape. No promises, no obligation, just the irreplaceable connection of touch.
He felt heat fist inside him, felt it follow the path of her fingers down the dip of his spine and gather at the small of his back as she latched on. Her gasp as he entered her was welcome and ragged. Dean shut everything out but the rhythm; ignored everything but the build. The tension coiled in him clamped down harder around his resolve, twisting and churning until he felt as if his core was alight with the heat of it.
Raya moved almost silently beneath him, strong fingers clinging to his shoulders, nails digging in. Dean felt her breath begin to hitch, her stomach muscles tighten. With practiced ease, he slid his hands beneath her shoulder blades, hoisting her up with him as he straightened and holding her against him as he kept them connected.
Lips parted, eyes hooded, they faced each other, moving with instinct. His hands spanned Raya's back, hers clutching at his shoulders, and Dean felt himself crest, spilling over a dizzying edge, his forehead meeting the hollow of her throat as she canted her head back, moving for a few beats more until he felt her tighten and tremble, her breath matching his in staccato bursts.
Boneless, spent, and more than satisfied, Dean allowed them to tumble sideways onto the bed. He rolled slightly away from her, but kept his arm around her, her head lolling toward his shoulder as she worked to catch her breath.
"Wow," she said finally.
"Exactly," Dean agreed.
"Wanna go again?" Raya asked.
Dean chuckled weakly. "Honey, you're gonna have to give me a minute."
"I can wait a minute," Raya grinned, sitting up.
"Or…two," Dean closed his eyes, enjoying the feel of liquid gold rolling through his system. "'Course…we could always use your cuffs…," he teased.
"I don't have handcuffs," Raya told him.
Dean opened one eye. "What kind of cop doesn't have handcuffs?"
"The kind that goes undercover," she replied. "I use zip ties. Easier to conceal, easier to explain, and a helluva lot harder to get out of."
Dean winced. "I'll say."
"Plus…," she traced a tip of her finger around the edge of his tattoo, "I'm not exactly…on duty right now."
"Is that right?" Dean glanced askance at her profile.
She shrugged, sweat glistening on the curves of her prominent cheekbones. "Somebody thought I needed to get perspective…." She waved her hand in the air above Dean's chest.
He closed his eyes. He could relate.
Raya stretched out on her stomach with a satisfied groan, her head toward the foot of the bed, giving him a view of her backside. "I'm thirsty."
"Me too," Dean said. "Could go for a beer."
"I left mine on the TV out in the living room," Raya said lazily, making no move to get up.
Dean waited a beat, then sighed loudly. "I'll go…," he groaned, rolling to his side, then sitting up and grabbing his jeans.
"Wait," she said, holding out her hand. "Leave them."
Dean arched an eyebrow, looking at her over his shoulder.
"I want to enjoy the view," she continued.
He wasn't modest and had often walked around naked in their motel room simply to tick off his brother. But moving around a stranger's apartment without even his clothes to protect him wasn't something he was going to concede.
"Maybe next time, sweetheart," Dean grinned, standing and pulling his jeans over his bare hips before he made his way out through the door and toward the source of Louis Armstrong's voice to grab Raya's beer. He was about to lift the bottle and take a drink when the peace of the night was destroyed.
With bone-jarring suddenness, Raya's front door blasted open and Dean caught the reflection of two figures in the darkened TV as they rushed toward him. Instinctively, Dean turned, gripping the beer bottle by the neck and flung out his arm to crash the dark glass against the skull of a figure in black.
He had roughly two seconds to register that there were now three people in the living room before a fist the size of a sledge hammer slammed into his face and darkness followed with haste.
"Virus? What virus? You mean the Croatoan virus?" Sam asked the angel, frowning into the mouth of the phone as he fastened the buttons of his jeans.
"This would be easier to explain without this…phone," Castiel replied, his modulated voice betraying signs of frustration.
Sam sighed. He knew the Enochian symbols Castiel had carved onto his and Dean's ribcage made it so that even he couldn't find them without first knowing their location. Sam would never admit it to Dean, but he actually liked that little bit of anonymity.
"We're in Kansas City," Sam said, swinging his legs off the side of the bed and leaning his elbows on his knees. "An Econo Lodge off of I-70—"
He'd barely finished the last word before Castiel appeared in the center of the room.
"Room 235," Sam said, unnecessarily.
"Why are you here?" Castiel asked, the cell phone still up at his ear.
Sam closed his phone, breaking the connection. "That's my line."
"Dean was just in Kansas City," Castiel said, looking at his phone with what appeared to be confusion, then closing it and sliding it into the pocket of his ever-present trench coat. "It did not end well."
"Yeah, I know," Sam replied, standing and facing the angel. "But we left Canton a few days ago and didn't really have a next stop. We knew this place."
"It is unwise to return to familiar ground too often," Castiel cautioned. "You do realize there are demons who want your brother dead."
"Uh, yeah," Sam lifted an eyebrow and moved across the room to their duffel bags, searching for the notes he'd taken on the Croatoan virus. "I noticed."
"Where is Dean?"
"Out," Sam replied. "You gonna tell me what all this Croatoan panic is about?"
"It isn't the Croatoan virus," Castiel informed him, causing Sam turn around in surprise.
"I thought you said—"
"I merely said demonic virus. You drew your own conclusions."
Sighing, Sam dropped into one of the chairs flanking the small table their duffels rested upon. "How about you start from the beginning?"
"We need to find Dean," Castiel insisted.
"Dean's fine," Sam snapped. "He needs a break."
Castiel's eyebrows drew close, his lips tipping downward. "I suppose separating himself from Lucifer's vessel is ultimately the smartest decision. However, I'm troubled that he didn't tell me he was leaving."
"He didn't leave." Sam was surprised by the pang that shimmied through him at Castiel's casual reference to his being Lucifer's vessel—and that Dean would be smart to leave him. "He's just…clearing his head."
"Ah. He's with a woman." Castiel frowned.
Unbidden, Sam's imagination painted images of Castiel saving souls in a whore house and he was forced to glance away.
"Tell me what you know, Cas," Sam insisted. "What are you so worried about?"
"There is a virus—created by a demon," Castiel said, his deep voice managing to sound even more grave than usual. "The manufacturers of this virus intend to inject it into Dean."
"How do you know this?" Sam frowned, the thought of demons anywhere near Dean making his heart thud painfully.
"How I know is irrelevant," Castiel replied, looking away from Sam.
Sam narrowed his eyes. "Who have you been talking to, Cas? I thought you were, I don't know…cut off or whatever."
"I have…brothers," Castiel stated, his gruff voice hesitant, "who understand that exceptions must be made."
"Brother's like Zachariah?" Sam asked, his voice flat. He shared Dean's healthy dislike for the manipulative angel.
"Zachariah has nothing to do with this. We need to find Dean," Castiel insisted. "I will retrieve him if you reveal his location."
"Why?" Sam muttered, standing and crossing the room to grab his boots.
Castiel actually drew back. "Why?"
Sam shook his head. "Not, why do we need to find him," he clarified. "Why inject him with a virus?"
"I think answer to that is obvious," Castiel replied.
"If they could find him, why not just kill him?" Sam pulled his laces tight. "I mean, they tested the Croatoan virus on me…and now we know why. But…why bother with a demonic virus for Michael's vessel?"
Castiel tilted his head in concession. "Perhaps there is an alternative explanation."
"Your source didn't clue you in?" Sam asked, checking the clip of his Glock and slipping the weapon into his back waistband before going for the demon-killing knife.
"No," Castiel answered simply.
"Then how do you know they want to inject Dean?"
"Because I was told," Castiel practically growled, advancing toward Sam, his expression grim. "This virus is new. I do not know how they manufactured it; I only know what it will do once injected."
"Yeah? And what's that?"
"It will systematically shut down the human senses."
Sam brought his head up. "It'll do what now?"
"The human senses," Castiel repeated. "Taste, smell, touch, sight, hearing—"
"I know what the senses are, Cas," Sam lifted a hand to stop the angel from continuing. "How does it shut them down?"
"It impedes the brain's natural connections until it results in death."
"Death?" Sam's frown was fierce. "How?"
Castiel's lips pulled tight in a very human expression of anxiety. "The virus works until it shuts down the kinesthetic receptors in the internal organs that are neurologically linked to the brain."
"Kinesth-?" Sam's eyes darted as he began to calculate the implications of what Castiel was saying. "You mean like…sensory receptors."
"The victim will ultimately suffocate because his lungs will not know they need to inflate," Castiel said, bringing it home for him.
"Holy shit," Sam breathed.
"Yes," Castiel nodded in agreement, looking infinitely relieved that Sam was once again in motion.
"What about those Enochian symbols you branded onto us?" Sam asked. "Won't they protect him?"
"From detection, yes," Castiel nodded. "But if he's found by other means—"
"Yeah, okay, I get it," Sam sighed, understanding Castiel's concern for them returning to Kansas City when Dean had been there so recently. A thought occurred to Sam. "Why did you call me, Cas? Why not just call Dean directly?"
"I called him first," Castiel informed him. "When I didn't reach him, I called you."
At that Sam's worry flashed straight to panic.
"C'mon," Sam said, grabbing his coat and slipping the demon knife into a holster he'd fashioned to conceal the large blade. "We gotta head back to that bar."
"I will take us," Castiel offered, reaching for Sam.
Sam flinched away. "No, not yet," he said. "Dean told me how fun a ride on your angel transport is. Plus…we, uh…gotta ask some questions first and I don't want to freak anyone out," he finished.
"Questions of whom?"
"Bartender," Sam replied, opening the motel room door. "He knew the woman Dean was with. He'll know where they went."
He was cold.
Which didn't make sense because having sex should have heated him up. And he was pretty sure he'd just had sex. Unless that was one vivid dream. In which case, he'd be willing to bet Sam had heard some of it.
Voices swam up around him, tuning in as the sensation of being submerged abated and clarity began its painful return. His face throbbed and there was a distinct tang of a rusted nickel in the back of his throat. Swallowing, he slipped his tongue between dry lips and tasted the salt of his own blood.
Instinctively he moved to wipe it off, only then realizing that his hands were bound behind him. He could tell his was sitting up, the surface unyielding beneath his jean-clad legs. His bare back sagged against hard slats and his arms were pulled uncomfortably tight against each other.
"…doesn't do us much good if you kill him."
"Relax. Look. He's comin' around."
The female voice was vaguely familiar, but the male voice…he knew he'd never heard that fake New Jersey accent before. And unknown, in Dean's experience, meant hostile. His neck burning from muscles stretched too far, Dean slowly raised his head. He wasn't able to open his left eye completely, but the vision in his right cleared quickly.
Raya stood in the middle of her living room, dressed once more in the clothes she'd been wearing when he met her at the bar. Behind her stood a man doing his best to impersonate Sylvester Stallone. Next to him was a smaller, weasely-looking man with rimless glasses catching and reflecting the light and tracks of blood painting one cheek where Dean's bottle had connected.
"Hello, lover," Raya greeted him. "Thought you were gonna sleep all night."
"Raya," Dean replied, his voice rough. "Moe. Curly," he nodded to the two heavies standing on either side of her.
Sly growled, curling his fingers into a fist, popping each knuckle with the motion.
"Neat trick," Dean rasped. "Does it talk, too?"
"You want I should crack open his other eye?" the man growled.
Dean's eyebrows bounced up, and he dropped his chin. "Seriously?"
"Okay, enough," Raya snapped, a hand out to Sly, her eyes on Dean. "This is getting us nowhere and we're running out of time."
"You got an appointment or something?" Weasel asked.
Raya shot him a look. "No, but you guys weren't exactly in stealth mode. He's gonna have people looking for him."
"Yeah," Dean said, his voice growing in strength. "I've got people."
Sly snarled and Dean kissed the air in the man's direction, twisting his hands against the bindings. The immediate sting that shot through his arms to his shoulders told him what he'd feared: Raya had used her zip ties. Working to get loose would only cut into him and pull the binding tighter.
"That's right, gorgeous," Raya said, suddenly in his eye line. "You're not slipping free this time." Her lips twisted in a disturbingly familiar quirk. "And nobody's gonna pull you out."
Dean narrowed his right eye, trying to ignore the flesh swelling around his left, and tilted his head to the side. "I know you from someplace?"
Raya pouted. "Dean," she whined. "I'm hurt. After all…I was your first."
The effect of her words was immediate and overpowering.
Flashes of heat, of cold, of knives and salt and flames…the sound of a scream so raw and full of pain and anger that it scored his heart…the smell of sulfur and burning flesh…the feel of blood slick on his hands, his face….
Dean gasped. "How…." He had to take another breath before continuing. "How did you get out?"
Raya smirked. "Your brother changed the rules when he turned the devil loose."
She'd been on the rack.
She hadn't been Raya then, of course, but he'd met her in Hell. His hand had trembled so violently he'd barely been able to grip the knife. His body had been on fire from pain—unlike anything he'd ever experienced. There wasn't a source, a wound…it simply radiated from him. His soul had been bleeding and no one saw.
No one cared.
He'd wanted so badly for it to stop. He had died over and over, filled with agony, filled with rebellion. For years. He'd screamed for Sam. For help. For release. For relief.
It came with his first cut into another soul. Her soul. She'd begged just as he'd begged. And he'd cut her just as they'd cut him. He'd turned off everything human inside of him, everything that had been Dean.
And he'd taken her apart.
"What do you want?" His lips quivered with his hate, his voice undulating with memories.
Raya's smile widened, looking feral on her delicate face. "I know what you're thinking, Dean."
He forced his eyebrow up, saying nothing.
"You're wondering how long I've been wearing her."
Dean set his face, his eyes empty, his mouth a thin line. He would not give her the satisfaction of seeing his skin crawl.
She moved forward, with Raya's grace, Raya's stride, until her knees touched his. She leaned over, her hands flattened on the tops of his thighs, and peered into his eyes.
"You're wondering if you have more in common with your demon-fucking brother than you thought," she whispered.
Dean watched with buried horror as her eyes slid to onyx, her face suddenly looking unnatural: a mask of innocence pulled over something evil.
He leveled his eyes on her, forcing himself to focus and remember that he was shielded from them; they couldn't have known he and Sam would be at that bar. They had to have found him by accident, pure chance. Perhaps tracking his movements, but not anticipating them. The woman he'd escaped inside earlier that night had been human, pure and simple.
"It's not gonna work," he growled.
"I know when you took her."
"Are you sure about that?" Her voice was a hiss.
Dean looked over her shoulder at the two demons standing behind her. "Those two were at the bar," he said. "Watching the news. Right fellas?"
Sly's lip curled up in response. Weasel remained quiet.
"Don't know where you were hiding," Dean shifted his gaze to Raya's demon, "but I know you just got this body."
The demon smirked, opening her mouth to retort, but Dean cut her off.
"I know how a demon tastes," he whispered. "How it feels. Or did you forget how long I spent taking your kind apart?"
Her eyes slid back to normal—or as normal as a demon wearing a human could look to Dean—and she straightened up.
"I used to be your kind, y'know," she said quietly.
"Cry me a river," he snarled, feeling the zip ties cut into the flesh on the back of his wrists.
"This could've been you, Dean." Her hand traced a path down her chest, fingers bouncing lightly against the cotton of her T-shirt.
"Yeah, but it isn't." Dean leveled his eyes on her, feeling the heat from his nightmare echoing in his gaze.
"Right." Raya's demon nodded, turning away and crossing her arms. "'Cause you have yourself a guardian angel."
Dean didn't reply.
Raya rotated again, facing him, her smirk reminding him once again of the girl on the rack, the hatred she'd spat at him. "Tell me, Dean…," she sing-songed at him. "What makes you different from me, huh?"
"I'm better looking, for one thing," he retorted.
"Is it your soul?" she continued as if he hadn't spoken. "No…no, 'cause I have a soul. Demented and twisted, perhaps, but still, it's something. What else…?" She moved in a slow figure-eight pattern between Sly and the Weasel, tapping her index finger against her chin. "What makes you human, Dean?"
He wasn't sure where she was going with this, but he was starting to get a very bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. His fingers had long since gone numb, but he twisted them anyway, needing to do something to free himself.
Raya's demon paused in front of the Weasel, holding out her hand. The Weasel reached into the front pocket of his jacket and Dean felt his muscles tightening in anticipation. When he withdrew a large syringe and placed it carefully in Raya's upturned palm, Dean felt himself instinctively draw back.
"I want you to do something for me, Dean. I want you to think about the taste of your favorite food," Raya's demon said, turning to face him, the syringe lifted so that the large needle gleamed in the lamplight. "I want you to think about how it felt touch this body. Think about how much you love listening to your precious music. Think about seeing your brother."
She stepped closer to him, leaning down and resting her lips against his ear. "Now think about that all going away."
"Hate to break it to you, bitch," Dean growled, "but I've got some angels who might not take so kindly to you killing me."
Raya straightened, her laugh humorless. "Oh, they'll smite me, is that it? Maybe bring you back from the dead?"
"Bet your ass," Dean replied, his voice tight with the pain from his bindings. He could feel his own blood slicking his hands as the zip ties cut deeper. "You kill me? You got an army of angels on your six."
"Who said anything about killing you?" Raya returned.
Sly chuckled low and each grunt-like sound dug a hole deeper into Dean's gut.
"What?" he couldn't help but gasp.
"I'm giving you a fair shot, Dean," Raya informed him. "This syringe is filled with a unique virus that my companion here concocted," she tipped her head back toward the Weasel, who grinned in response. "There is only one antidote. And only one way you're gonna get it."
"Yeah?" Dean snarled. "And what's that?"
"You give me the Eye of God."
"How do I know you're a friend of Raya's?" the bartender challenged them as Sam asked once more for her address.
Raya, Sam noted. At least now he had a name besides Hot Chick At Bar.
"Listen, you don't remember me?" Sam implored, his frustration at not being able to charm the information out of this man beginning to bleed through his tone. "I was in here with my brother like three hours ago, man. I left, he hooked up with Raya. I just gotta find him, that's all."
"Tell us and we will leave your body intact," Castiel chimed in.
Sam closed his eyes briefly, then said with teeth clenched, "Not. Helping."
"You with those other two?" the bartender asked, edging slightly away from Castiel.
Sam frowned. "What other two?"
"The probation officers. Said they were looking for the guy Raya hooked up with," the bartender shrugged. "Figured she'd want to know, being a cop and all. So I told them where to find her."
"What did they look like—these probation officers?" Sam asked, worry clipping the edges of his voice, his eyes hard.
The bartender shrugged. "One was big. Other guy had glasses."
Castiel glanced at Sam. "This is insufficient information. If they were de—"
"-tectives," Sam broke in loudly. "You're right. If they were detectives, then Dean's okay." Sam leaned across the bar. "But I won't know that for sure until I find where he went with Raya."
His glance darting quickly between Sam and Castiel, the bartender told them where Raya lived. Sam's stomach clenched as he turned toward the door.
"C'mon," Sam muttered. "Even if you're wrong about this virus—"
"I am not wrong," Castiel asserted.
"—Dean's still got two random goons looking for him. Not like we announced our travel plans," Sam muttered as they exited the bar and returned to the rain-soaked night, his thoughts on the last time he'd been caught unawares by hunters who'd known his name. "How'd they even know who he is?"
"You are known," Castiel informed him, water plastering his brown hair to his skull. "Both of you."
"Known?" Sam scoffed, pausing with his hand on the door of the Impala, blinking rain out of his eyes. "What, are there like…wanted posters pinned to a wall in Hell or something?"
"No wanted posters," Castiel said as he climbed into the car. "But we need to hurry, Sam."
"Why?" Sam shot at the angel as he slammed the Impala's door behind him, shutting out the rain and firing up the engine. He ignored the water they were both getting all over the interior of the Impala. "What aren't you telling me, Cas?"
"I don't know how quickly the virus works," Castiel told him. "If they have already reached Dean—"
"Yeah, yeah," Sam muttered, flattening the accelerator. "Story of our damn lives."
"The…what?" Dean stared up at the demon inside Raya with complete confusion.
"I know you have it, Dean. I killed the man who gave it to you."
Dean let out a strangled laugh. "I don't know what the fuck you're talking about."
"Really?" Raya tilted her head. "That's a shame."
Without warning, Raya spun the syringe in her hand and with a powerful downward thrust, buried the needle into the soft flesh at the base of Dean's neck. Even before she depressed the plunger, Dean was breathless from pain. His body spasmed, shaking against the wooden chair, bindings tearing into his flesh.
When the fire hit his blood stream, Dean couldn't help it: he screamed. The sound ripped from his gut as if yanked free by demonic fingers. He'd only screamed like this once before: in Hell. With hooks shoved through his body, stringing him up and filling him with desperate pain. It was the sound of hope dying, shredding his throat with its exodus.
Lava licked his flesh from the inside out, turning his vision white, stealing what was left of his control, sending him spinning. Vaguely, he felt the needle being tugged from his body, but the pain didn't abate. It simply rolled through him until he searched in vain for the blackness that rode the coattails of such agony.
But he was denied.
Gasping, unbidden tears spilling over his bruised features, his jaw tight from clenching his teeth, Dean peered up at Raya. Her scream echoed in his mind and he saw pleasure in her eyes. As if his pain was thrilling her in ways he didn't want to contemplate.
Just as he felt himself helplessly sagging against his bindings, the door behind his torturers shattered with the force of a powerful kick. Dimly, Dean registered Sam and Castiel moving into the room with the grace of twin hurricanes, water splashing from their sodden figures. His vision blurred as Castiel lifted a hand and Raya flew backwards, slamming into the couch and falling to the floor.
He saw Sam attack with frightening strides, the knife they'd used to kill Ruby cutting into Sly before the big demon could tighten its sledgehammer-like fist. With another furious arc of motion, Sam slit the Weasel's throat and both demons crackled and burned before the bodies they'd stolen fell to their knees.
Dean worked to keep his head up, to stay conscious, but he was spent, his will disintegrating with each ragged breath. He saw a swimming image of Raya's demon struggling to her feet as Sam moved forward, rage clear in his eyes.
He wanted to call out, to stop his brother from killing this one.
Not her. Save this one.
"You have two days, Winchester," Raya said.
And then Dean heard what he knew was the demon turning tail and escaping through Raya's opened, screaming mouth. Silence followed her departure and as Dean let his eyes fall closed, he heard Raya's unconscious body crumple to the ground.
"Dean?" Sam's voice was breathless and thick at the same time.
Dean could feel his brother's hands on his cheek, at his jaw, lifting his face upward.
"Hey, hey, c'mon, Dean, don't do this, don't…don't do this. Open your eyes, Dean, okay?"
Dean wanted to, if only to reassure Sam. But the weakness that followed the rush was overpowering.
"Cas?" Sam was saying. "Cut him loose."
Dean felt rough fingers against his arms, then the cool flat of a blade and suddenly he was tipping forward, tumbling into his brother's waiting arms.
"Dammit," Sam whispered, and Dean felt his body being held close. "What did they do to you?"
The demon's voice swam through his head and he breathed in, pulling with that breath the clean scent of his brother.
"T-Two …days," he croaked, still unable to open his eyes.
"For what, Dean?" Sam asked, almost rocking him. "Two days to do what?"
But exhaustion's power was relentless and Dean succumbed, sagging against the warmth of the one person he knew could keep him human.
a/n: Thank you for reading. I was going to wait until I had all chapters written before I started posting, but I was encouraged to go ahead and post this as a WIP. I'll strive to update every two weeks (or sooner), RL willing.
Hope to see you in the next chapter!
Continued in Part 2A here: http://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/93969.html