Characters: Dean, Sam, Castiel
Rating: PG-13 for language, a mature scene in the first chapter, and some darker themes throughout
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.
A/N: Thanks so much for coming back! I hope you enjoy this chapter. I had to struggle through some different things to get it written to my liking; I hope it's also to yours. Also, I have been blessed by some extremely talented friends who have contributed to this story with a vid and some art. I will showcase those additions to the story here once I've completed and posted the final chapter. I hope you'll take a look.
Carl Gustav Jung
He was alone in the dark.
There was no light, no sound. Only the disorienting sensation of floating.
He couldn't feel anything he touched—if he touched anything at all. He couldn't smell the dust he knew surrounded him or the rain he knew still hammered against the earth, or the Impala's mechanical grit, or the scent he knew in his bones as his brother's.
His breath tripped inside his chest, as if disoriented as to its exit. He was lost inside the darkness of himself and if he didn't do something—right the hell now—he was going to completely lose his shit.
Move. Arm. Now.
Something stopped him—offered resistance. The Impala? Where was he sitting? He'd lost orientation, lost contact with his environment. Sam had been standing in front of him. Castiel and Raya….
"Sam?" Had his lips even moved?
He couldn't feel his heart. Was it even beating? Was he still alive? He didn't remember actually dying the first time…it was just terror and white-hot pain tearing through him from the Hellhound's claws and then…the chains, the meat-hooks, the horrific sounds of Hell as he called helplessly for Sam.
Maybe he'd died. Maybe the virus had worked that fast. He pulled in a breath, commanding his lungs to fill. If he was breathing, he was alive. He needed to move, needed to stand, needed to run, punch, kick, stab, thrash, scream. Frustrated fury built in his chest and he was suddenly cracking with the pressure of it.
He forced himself to clench his teeth, biting back what he was utterly terrified was a whimper. They had left him, he was sure of that. Left to fight the bad guys. Left him in the…where were they? A warehouse?
And he sat as still as possible. Alone.
In the dark.
He was of absolutely no use to anyone. He could affect nothing. No wonder they'd left him. Alone. After all…where was he going to go?
It was a whisper. But he heard it clearly. He knew that voice. It had been the only voice he'd heard for almost thirty years. And if any demon could fight through obliteration to reach him in the darkness, it would be this one.
Hell, Dean…. Go directly to Hell, do not pass go….
Wasn't he already there? Trapped inside his body? How could he do anything now? Anything to protect Sam, to stop the Apocalypse?
You were meant for me…and I was meant for you….
The demon sang sickly in his head. He wanted to shake the sound away. But…what if the voice was right? What if the angels were wrong…he wasn't meant to be a Heavenly vessel…he was meant to be demon. Devoid of all humanity. What if he'd lost that spark on the rack? What if when he cut into her, when he'd cut her apart…what if he'd lost what made him…real.
You're mine, Dean. Always have been.
"No." This time he did shake his head. Hard.
Flashes of color slipped across his sightless eyes. Red shimmering on dull silver, wavering and floating as if not truly connected to anything, but wrapping around him all the same. There was an odd—and familiar—sensation of his eyelids being peeled back, prying open eyes that could see nothing concrete, but couldn't look away from a sudden, improbable horror: Sam, stretched out on the rack.
The rack that had broken him. The rack that had haunted him. The rack he'd soaked in the blood of other souls.
His brother. Hooks spearing his flesh. Chains holding him fast.
Or…I could always take another in exchange.
He meant to push himself forward, but when he found it impossible to turn his head he realized that he'd toppled, his face meeting the ground. A movable force encountering an immoveable object. He commanded his eyes to close, but he couldn't tell if they obeyed because what he was seeing wasn't real.
It wasn't now.
It was then and soon and never.
A blade flashed and Sam's head turned toward him, the entire lower portion of his face slick with blood. Bright red. Dripping from his lips over his chin to run down his bared chest, washing away the protective tattoo.
His brother's eyes were gone. Two shadowed voids faced him where once he'd seen sympathy and heart, anger and resistance. Humanity.
The blade flashed and Sam's mouth opened in a silent scream, his body bucking against the chains, thrashing in an effort to escape.
But there was nowhere to go. Dean knew that better than anyone. He remembered that pain. The way it had washed over and through and around. The way it had overcome all else. The way it had ended, with a whispered yes.
How I feel, this...inside me, I wish I couldn't feel anything, Sammy. I wish I couldn't feel a damn thing.
"I take it back."
The knife carved and Sam twisted and blood ran.
"I TAKE IT BACK!"
Blood ran and Sam's grimace of pain turned into a grin, his empty eyes blinking up at him as the smile turned slightly sad and knowing. The smile of the Devil.
I told you, Dean. We'll always end up…here.
"No…you're not him. He's not you."
Your brother will say yes, Dean. He will become me and no amount of cutting will set him free.
His hand. The knife was in his hand. He had cut and sliced and pulled and his brother was on the rack. The rack was the end and the beginning and the epitome of nothing and he'd never left and he was going back there and—
"I've got you, Dean."
A voice. A true voice—not simply the memory of one.
He could turn his head. Something had changed. He could turn his head away from the red and the metal and Sam. It was dark once more. But it was no longer silent.
"Cas?" He could have screamed it.
"I am here."
He suddenly felt lightheaded. It was confusing to be dizzy in the dark when up was down and everything was inside out. He only knew he was sitting because he remembered Sam pushing him down. He only knew he was safe because Castiel's voice was in his head.
"I am here."
"Answer me, then! Where is Sam?"
"He went to retrieve the antidote."
It will be so easy to turn him, Dean….
He shook his head once more.
A little demon blood goes a long way.
"Dean. Be still."
"Do not fight me. I will not leave you."
He'd been fighting? He hadn't even known he was moving.
"You have to take me to him, Cas."
"You have to."
He'd made a promise—so long ago—to take care of one person. To make sure this person was safe, protected. To make sure this person lived. He'd died for that promise.
"I can't let him do this alone."
"He is not alone." Castiel's voice was almost too soft, as if he were whispering through Dean's mind. The words were more essence than substance. And Dean clung to them.
"He doesn't have me."
"I'm nothing if I don't do this!" He felt the scream. He felt it. He realized it rasped through him on the edge of a forgotten breath as his lungs stuttered, skidding on thin air.
He forced his lungs to inflate, pulling oxygen in.
He followed the order. As best he could. It was something he was very good at.
"I gotta save him, Cas."
"He is going to save you."
He was spinning. The darkness was beginning to churn.
"No…not this way. Not like this. I can't let him—"
He was falling. He couldn't breathe and he was falling—nothing to grab, nothing to hold. No one to hold him. He was going to fall back into the Pit. And no one was going to send an angel after him. No angel was going to want him as their meat suit for the fight of the millennia. He was falling and nothing would save him.
Not even saying yes.
He found that he could. He still remembered how.
If he was breathing, he was alive. If he was alive, he wasn't a demon. But…what kept him human? Feeling? Seeing? Hearing? Connecting to his world?
We're all we got…we keep each other human.
"It can't end this way, Cas."
"There is no end."
He wanted to laugh. Part of him did. "Oh, now you go all Matrix on me?"
"The story continues. One day, you are simply no longer a part of it."
"Well…it can't be this day."
He was keeping that promise. That promise to protect. He might be simply a shell of a man going insane with the lack of contact, but he was keeping his damn promise. If he didn't…he may as well have stayed on that rack until Alistair burned his soul from him.
Until his eyes turned black and he truly ceased to feel or care.
Move. Arm. Now.
He swung his arm out, seeking that same resistance. He remembered the Impala's door handle. Grabbing it, using it, pulling himself up. He pictured it, clear in his mind, and flailed until he once again hit something solid enough to stop his arm.
"Stop it. You will cause yourself more harm."
Castiel was touching him. He was certain of it. It was the only way he could hear the angel's voice. He forced his arms to move again, pushing away, demanding his mind send orders to his uncooperative body.
"You are bleeding again, Dean."
"You think I give a shit about that?" He thrust it out, shoved it from his belly on a wave of limp air.
"You will die if you do not stop this."
He continued to struggle, unsure what impact his movements were causing, but angry enough that he was even in this moment that it didn't matter. He was tired of being the victim of a demon's revenge. He hadn't wanted to torture her. He'd simply wanted the pain to stop.
He was done. No more.
"I don't care, Cas! I don't care! But I am not going to let Sam—"
"You cannot help him if you are dead."
Goddamn angel and his goddamn logic.
"Help me." It was his heart that spoke. He didn't even force the words through his lips. "Help me…please."
Castiel was silent and for a moment Dean panicked. Terror ripped through him with the speed of a freight train stealing his wavering breath, sending his blackened vision white, turning his laboring heart inside out.
Alone. Alone. Alone.
He had to move…run…escape…fight fight fight—
"Do not turn away from me, Dean."
"You cannot do this alone."
"I'm not losing him. We…we're just starting to be…brother's again."
Hell is for heroes, Dean.
Alistair's voice was quick to slip into the silence left by Castiel's reluctance. It slid around Dean's thrashing heart like oil, fingers slipping into his soul and digging in.
You were very good at what you did. One of the best. A virtual prodigy.
"I've got you, Dean."
"Cas—" He was almost spent. He had nothing left. "Please."
"I've got you."
His breath shook as his body was lifted and he forced his eyes to close, shutting out nothing, turning once more to the darkness.
"You're kidding me, right?"
Raya blinked water from her lashes as she looked up at him. "What are you talking about?"
Sam shoved his wet hair back from his forehead with impatient fingers. It can stop raining anytime….
"That's a Cooper."
"It's a classic," Raya shot back.
"Not exactly your standard cop car," Sam grumbled, moving around to the passenger side.
"Well, I'm not exactly your standard cop," Raya snarled, practically ripping the small door off its hinges. "And since you left that black monster of yours back there propping up your brother, you can either get in, or walk."
Swallowing a sigh, Sam tossed the now very wet gym bag Castiel had brought back with him into the small space behind the passenger seat and after a moment of studying the vehicle's interior doubtfully, attempted to fold his long body into the seat.
Knees bent to a point up above the dash, he struggled to grab the door handle and pull it closed. His elbow hit the curve of his hips and he felt the tip of the demon-killing knife poke into the denim of his thigh. The butt of his gun dug into the base of his spine. He could feel his hair brushing the roof.
"I feel like I'm in a freakin'…clown car," he bitched.
"Quit whining," Raya muttered. "Where are we going?"
Sam took a breath. "Just head to those cross streets—what was it, Nickel and Strand?—and…stop in the nearest alley."
"Alley? Why?" Raya dug her elbow into his leg to shove it aside and grab the gear shift.
"Just…there's something I have to do before we meet up with…her."
"I know who she is," Raya commented.
Sam frowned, looking over at her. "The demon?"
"No, the girl. Took me a bit, but I finally placed her."
For a moment the only sound in the small car was that of the rain doing its best to swamp them. Sam had to work to swallow, his mouth going dry as he thought of the girl that the demon possessed. Her resemblance to Jessica.
"Who is she?"
"A junkie I busted about three years ago," Raya said. "Before I was promoted to detective. Got her in a program, got her cleaned up, but then…," Raya lifted a shoulder in a shrug as she passed a pick-up truck, squinting as the backsplash completely covered the windshield, "she fell off the grid. I'd heard she hooked back up with her pusher, was turning tricks. I, uh…I kinda thought she was dead."
"She is, now." Sam felt the rock behind his heart begin to fill him up once more.
"But," Raya's voice shook slightly, "it didn't kill me. Being…y'know…possessed."
"You didn't take two bullets to the gut, either," Sam pointed out. "The minute that demon is out of her…she's dead."
"Oh, God," Raya breathed. "I—"
"Don't." Sam shook his head. "Just…don't go there. Believe me. You don't want to handle that."
Raya was quiet for a moment and Sam put one hand against the roof and gripped the dash awkwardly with the other as she took a corner on two wheels.
"Is Dean going to die?"
The flat delivery of the words cut through Sam like the blade of a heated knife. He felt his breath catch on the edges of his teeth.
"He didn't look—"
"You some kind of power over life and death or something?"
Sam slid a look at her out of the corner of his eyes. "Or something."
He didn't want to think too long about the materials waiting in the gym bag, the ingredients they had planned to use to summon the female demon. He didn't want to think about summoning another one—any other one—simply to take out. Use it as a power supply.
"We almost there?"
Raya nodded stiffly. "There's a club on the corner. Called Lucky's. There's an alley around by the back entrance."
"She'll be in the club," Sam said with sudden certainty.
"Some place public," Sam continued, thinking. "Where we could do the exchange and she could get out."
"Be kinda hard to kill us in public."
"Hard for us to kill her, too."
"You can do that?"
Sam lifted his chin. "Yes."
Raya entered the end of the back alley with another turn around a tight corner, throwing Sam off balance and into her with a grunt.
"Get…off!" Raya thrust her elbow in his side.
Tangled in his own arms and legs, Sam slapped a hand on the windshield, trying to extricate himself from the seatbelt. He jerked, startled when Raya slammed on the brakes with a gasp and a solid thunk rocked the car. Sam shot his glance through the window, seeing a blond man practically sprawled on the hood of the tiny car from where Raya had hit him, the blue neon of Lucky's sign reflecting on the water-covered surface.
The man looked up, meeting Sam's eyes, and the blue orbs slid to onyx as a wet grin spread across the man's face.
Sam grabbed for the gym bag and the door handle at the same time. The man turned and started to run down the alley. Sam couldn't get his fingers around the handle quick enough.
"Stop him! Run him down!"
Raya flattened the accelerator, snapping Sam's head back with the burst of power. She aimed for the man, clipping him as he tried to exit the short alley. Shoving the small door open with his shoulder, Sam slapped his hand on the roof of the car, hauling his torso from the interior of the car, then worked to untangle his legs.
Raya was out of her side, rushing around to the man, her gun drawn.
One leg free, Sam's hand slipped on the wet metal of the roof and he crashed backwards onto the ground, rain water splashing up around him, the gym bag landing just out of his reach.
"You want this guy or not?" Raya shouted over the sound of the rain.
"Look out!" Sam cried from the ground, scrambling to his knees just as the man twisted, thrusting his hand out and sending what looked like a discarded hubcap flying toward the detective.
Raya dropped, covering her wet head with her arms, and the flying metal clanged against a nearby dumpster. Before Sam could gain his feet, the man charged past Raya and into the club through the back door, a blast of music filling the alley for a brief moment.
"What the hell was that?" Raya shouted.
Expletives that would have made Dean grin with pride streamed from Sam's mouth as he stood, gripping the gym bag in his left hand and pulling his weapon free with his right.
"A demon," he all-but growled.
"They seem to be…flocking."
"What the hell was he doing here?"
"I had to guess? I think he's after Dean. Same as the one at the motel."
"The junkie? That we're meeting?"
Sam shook his head. "No, the maintenance man you saw her beating up."
"This is like following the plot of a Chris Nolan movie." Raya shoved her wet hair from her face in a gesture of frustration.
Sam slid his gun back into his waistband with a shrug. Raya holstered her weapon and peered up at him.
"What's in the bag?"
Sam swallowed. "You don't want to know."
"I almost got decapitated by a Ford reject. Believe me. I want to know."
Sam looked up at the door to the club. "It's…ingredients. For summoning a demon."
"Summoning one," she replied, her tone flat.
"Listen, it's complicated, but I…I need one to…help me get the other. You don't have to understand."
She arched an eyebrow. "Good. 'Cause I don't."
"But…if we can catch that one, I won't need to use the bag."
"Well," Raya looked over her shoulder. "He went in the club."
"Think you can get us in?" Sam jutted his chin toward the door.
Raya lifted the tail of her wet shirt, revealing her badge. "This oughtta do. 'Course we look like drowned rats."
Sam tipped an eyebrow. "Bad-ass drowned rats," he amended, nodding toward her holstered weapon.
"If you say so, Big Guy."
He followed her toward the entrance, schooling his features as she hauled the door opened and stepped through. It was dark, the music loud enough to beat against his body like physical blows. Flashes of strobe lights ticked around the corner from the small hall and Sam smelled a mixture of sweat, perfume, cigarette smoke, and beer. Three steps in they were stopped by a very large, very tattooed man.
"KCPD," Raya said, lifting her badge. "You see a wet, blond guy run through here about five minutes ago?"
The man nodded, his small, dark eyes shifting to Sam, then back to Raya.
"Dude blasted through here without paying. Sent my man after him."
"Think you could point out which direction they went?" Sam asked.
Tattoo lifted a shoulder. "Only one way to go," he said, pointing toward the smoky lights. "Dance floor."
The rhythmic jam of repeated electric guitar chords undercut by David Grohl's throaty declaration led them forward.
"All my life I've been searching for something, something never comes, never leads to nothing, nothing satisfies, but I'm getting close, closer to the prize at the end of the rope…."
At first the lights dazzled Sam's eyes, the music blocking out any other sound, including Raya's voice as she shouted something up at him. He blinked, momentarily disoriented. And then he saw her. The demon who wore Jessica's face.
She stood in the center of the crowd of people, a jacket buttoned over the wounds he knew Raya had inflicted, her still-wet hair curling around her face and down her back, her arms in the air while her hips gyrated to the heady rhythm.
Ignoring Raya, Sam waded into the sea of people, shifting and moving, adjusting until he was directly in front of her. She didn't open her eyes; she continued to move to the music as he stood there, staring, remembering.
"All night long I dream of the day, when it comes around and it's taken away, leaves me with the feeling that I feel the most, feel it come to life when I see your ghost…."
He knew of course that it wasn't her. It wasn't Jessica. There were enough differences. Hardness where she'd been soft. Lines where she'd been smooth. But she was close. Close as Sam had seen in the yawn of years since he'd watched his love burn to death.
Sam reached up, gently wrapping his hand around her wrist. The demon opened its black eyes and Sam breathed in sharply, tightening his grip.
"He's going to die, you know," the demon said, and amazingly, Sam heard it. Clearly as if lips had been pressed to his ear. "You can't win."
"Done I'm done and I'm on to the next, done, done on to the next one…."
"Want to bet on that?" Sam asked, slipping the knife out from its sheath and sliding the blade up the center of her jacket, cutting the buttons free, cloaked by the darkness and the light and the crowd.
"You wouldn't." One shake of her head in time with the last beat of the song had Sam's eyes catching on the blond man they'd chased inside now standing behind her. "You don't have the antidote."
"You sure about that?" Sam asked, resting his eyes on the man, taking a calculated guess as another song kicked through the oblivious crowd.
Doubt shadowed the demon's face for a moment, and she shot a look at the blond man. Seemingly satisfied with what she saw, she twisted her arm in Sam's grip, forcing him to break her wrist or release it. He loosened his fingers, letting her go.
"Outside," she said, turning and motioning for the other demon to lead the way through the crowd.
Sam holstered the knife and followed, watching as two more men peeled off from the crowd and exited with the woman and the blond man. Glancing around for Raya, he found the smaller brunette waiting near the tattooed bouncer, nodding her thanks as she followed Sam into the rain.
"What's going on?" she asked, practically shouting at him over the unforgiving noise of the rain.
Sam took a breath. "You need to leave," he said as he watched the four demons walk to the corner of the building and turn down the alley. "This…could get ugly."
"You think I'm leaving you with four of those…things? Not hardly."
"I can take care of myself."
Raya tipped her head to the side. "Y'know, your brother said that same thing."
"Well, when he's not caught off-guard, Dean's the best there is."
"No," Raya shook her head. "I mean he said that about you." As Sam gaped at her, surprised, she pulled her gun once more. "I'll cover you."
Taking a moment to weigh his options, Sam grabbed the sawed-off shotgun from the gym bag and handed it to her. "Use this. It'll hurt 'em a lot more."
"No shit," she muttered, tucking the butt of the shotgun under her arm and heading to the opposite side of the alley.
Sam took a breath. "Any of you angels out there?" he whispered into the rainy night. "Now might be a good time to figure out whose side you're on."
Rounding the corner he pulled up short as he was faced with four demons standing in a line, their backs to the parked Cooper. The woman stood more or less in front of the three men, a smug grin on her face.
"New recruits?" Sam asked, eyes searching for any possible escape routes and finding none.
"Even a demon has friends," she replied.
"Right," Sam rolled his eyes.
"Let's just say they," she glanced first one way, then the other, "have a vested interest in what happens to Michael's vessel."
"Yeah?" Sam tilted his head. "What about Lucifer's vessel?"
The men shifted, exchanging glances.
"What's in the bag?" The woman asked, ignoring both the question and her companions' discomfort.
"Something for you."
"It's about time." She lifted her chin in triumph. "I knew the little bastard had it. That old man wouldn't have lied. Not after what I did to him."
"It won't work, you know," Sam tried, watching the hands of the other demons, his body tense and ready. "It wouldn't even work for me."
"In a couple hours I'll have both angels and demons gunning for my ass. The Eye of God is the only thing that will protect me." She narrowed her eyes at him. "And it will protect me because I believe. That's all I need."
Sam shook his head. "You have to be free of doubt or duplicity." Castiel's words sounded strange in his mouth.
She arched an eyebrow, water dripping from her chin. "Whatever. Some angel fed you a line of bull and you swallowed it whole, kiddo."
"Tell me," Sam said, tightly. "Which agenda came first—revenge on my brother, or getting this…protection?"
Lips twisting as if to hide a secret she asked, "What do you think?"
"I think you could give a rat's ass about the Eye. I think you just wanted to torture Dean."
Her smirk made him sick. "I guess you'll never know. Now, give the damn thing here and this will all be over."
Sam skimmed his eyes over the group once more, pulling the rain from his lips into his mouth. "Show me the antidote first."
The woman tilted her head, then sighed. "Fine."
She motioned with two fingers and the blond demon Sam had Raya run down with her tiny car stepped forward. I knew it, Sam groaned inwardly. He'd suspected that demon had the antidote when they were inside the club. Dean called it his Spidey Sense; he needed to learn to trust it. One of these days.
The demon pulled a large syringe similar to the one Sam had seen rocking slowly on Raya's floor from the breast pocket of his coat. It took everything in Sam not to rush forward, grab the syringe, and head for the car.
Only the knowledge that he'd never get back into that car before they tore him apart kept his feet planted.
"I showed you mine," she said coyly, stepping forward until there was only an arm's length between them, the rain curtaining the space, "now you show me yours."
His eyes on the syringe, Sam reached into the gym bag and pulled out a small box. In it was a small container of Oil of Abramelin, but it was all he had.
"We do this at the same time," he declared, dropping the bag and holding out his hand.
The demon holding the syringe reached out. It was almost within Sam's reach. And then the woman grabbed the box. And opened it.
"You son of a bitch!" she screeched, grabbing Sam by the throat and crossing the alley to slam him against the wall with inhuman speed and impressive force. "You dare screw me over?"
He couldn't breathe. Her grip was impenetrable. His eyes were on the syringe still in the blond demon's hand, but his vision was blurring.
"Do you have any idea what your brother did to me?"
"I…don't…care," Sam rasped.
"You don't care, huh?" she fired back. "It could have been you, Chosen One. It still could be."
"Not yet," she growled.
As Sam watched in horror, she bit her own wrist, drawing blood, then thrust it up to his mouth. He was drowning on rain, the demon's grip crushing his throat, sending his heart into a terrified crash against his rib cage, and yet…he could still smell the blood.
"Drink enough of this…you'll have Lucifer at your beck and call, Sammy."
He couldn't even turn away; she held him fast. The blood dripped to his lips, running to the corners of his mouth. It was what he'd wanted. It was what he'd said he'd do. Whatever it took, he'd defeat her, get the antidote, save his brother.
And without warning, a memory slammed into him. A memory from years ago. A memory of a cabin in Missouri, his father, helpless on the floor, Azaezel trapped inside of him, the weight of the Colt heavy in Sam's hand. The moment he could have ended it all. Saved them. Stopped all of this.
By killing his father.
Sam, don't you do it. Don't you do it…Sam…no.
He had to. It was the only way. This time…it was the only way.
"You wonder, don't you, Sam? How your brother did what he did? How he took me apart…tore so many souls to pieces…how he lives with himself now?"
"Go…to…Hell…." He dug his fingers into the back of her hand, but her grip was iron.
"Been there. Done that."
Her blood ran down his chin, mixing with the rain, splashing onto his shirt.
You can't do that again. Not for me. Not for this. Don't let this send you back there.
He could taste it, salty on his tongue. All he had to do was—
A shotgun blast sent her spiraling away from him and Sam fell to his knees, gasping and coughing, drawing in great, wet breaths. Another blast and he saw the demon that was holding the syringe fall backwards, the antidote tumbling free and rolling away.
Wiping his wet arm across his blood-smeared mouth, he raised his head, peering at Raya through wet bangs.
"Took you long enough."
"You got any more rounds?" She demanded, her eyes on the two demons advancing on them. "Or am I going to have to go all Dirty Harry on their asses?"
"Bag," Sam choked out.
"Get the syringe," Raya said, bending to fumble with the contents of the gym bag. "I'll take care of Thing One and Thing Two."
Sam nodded weakly, stumbling forward, hurrying toward where he saw the antidote. Before he could grab it, though, an invisible force propelled him forward, slamming him against the opposite wall, and holding him there.
His ears rang with the sound of the sawed-off, and dimly he saw Thing Two toss Raya to the side as if she were a doll, her slim form crumbling as it contacted the wall of the club with brutal force.
"You should've just done what I asked, Sam," the female demon shouted, moving toward Sam's trapped body, her side bloody. "You both might've survived this. But…as it stands…my friends here are going to take you to the boss. And your brother is going to suffocate to death in the dark."
"You won't win," Sam declared, blinking rain from his blurring vision.
"Ummm…." she frowned mockingly, looking around at Raya's prone form, and the two, still-standing demons. "I kinda already have."
"You never touched him," Sam snarled, feeling his lip curl. In the distance, lightning flashed, thunder rumbling in a low growl quickly after it. "You can't touch him."
With wicked speed, the demon rushed up to Sam, her face close, her lips practically touching his. "I pierced his flesh as he pierced mine. I will suck the marrow from his bones when he's taken his last breath."
His taunting worked. With unabashed fury, the demon ripped him from the wall, throwing him across the wet alley in a tangle of limbs. He gasped with the pain of impact, but he was free. He slipped the knife from its holster, rolling over to see the other two demons advance on him.
"NO!" the female screamed. "No. He's mine."
"We have orders." The demons exchanged a glance. "You made promises."
The demon looked over at the other two with scorn. "You really are morons. We're demons. Since when have promises meant anything?"
She grabbed Sam by the neck and lifted him, seeing the knife at the last minute and dodging away.
"Clever little hunter," she sing-songed. "Let's just get rid of that pig-sticker, shall we?"
Sam grunted as the knife was torn from his hand, skittering across the wet pavement as lightning and thunder overlapped in their fury. He reached for the weapon tucked in his waist band—bruising his spine—but she crashed a fist against his wrist and Sam heard it skittering away on the pavement.
She renewed her grip, wrapping both hands around his throat. He tried to pry her hands away from his throat, but she slammed him down against the wet pavement, sending his senses spinning, his breath trapped and useless in his chest.
Dimly, he was aware of the third demon rising, standing behind his attacker, the three of them staring down at him like dead angels, faces impassive, eyes black. Sam reached desperately over his head, clawing for purchase, searching for his lost weapon, vision wavering, consciousness beginning to flee. The beating of his heart drowned out the slam of thunder and the lightning turned his fading vision gray as he thrashed, writhing in her grip, looking anywhere but at her…at them…at their onyx eyes.
And then he saw the impossible.
As lightning flashed once more, a figure appeared in the alley. A figure Sam would know anywhere: Dean. Sam's eyes fluttered as he saw his brother, standing, somehow, in the rain-soaked alley, arms crossed over his body, head bowed, and, inconceivably, massive wings spreading in a imposing display of might. In the brilliance of the light, the darkened shadow of wings extended majestically outward from his back, declaring to all who saw that he was power.
Sam's brain skipped. His tortured lungs cried out and the sound slipped through his lips and hit the air, following the shimmer of energy he'd felt between himself and Dean since his brother had opened his eyes in that warehouse. The cry hit Dean and his brother sank to the ground, limp, and unresponsive. Sam blinked again and saw Castiel, standing where Dean had been, righteous wrath darkening his chiseled features.
"Let. Him. Go." Castiel's voice was a roar of sound and the female demon stumbled back and away, Sam suddenly free.
For a moment Sam couldn't breathe, he couldn't move, and then he was choking, gasping, retching on water, thirsty for air. He curled to his side, coughing, eyes still on Dean's crumpled form, as Castiel advanced on the four demons. It took him a moment to realize that what he'd seen had been Castiel's wings.
Dean wasn't moving; Sam couldn't tell if his brother was even breathing. But he was here. And the antidote was here. Sam just had to get them together.
He crawled through the rain toward where he'd last seen the syringe, forced back with a grunt of pain when a boot hit his side and flipped him over to his back. Thing One—or was it Thing Two?—peered down at him.
"Where do you think you're going?"
It wasn't a slow build of frustrated anger. It was sudden and vicious and he wanted to rip the demon's head from its shoulders—innocent host or not. He arched his back and used his hands and feet to bounce himself to a crouch, rushing the surprised demon and slamming into his mid-section, crashing them both against the wall.
Dean had always been better at the close contact fighting, but Sam was willing to bet that Dean had never felt this level of fury. He'd never held a lit stick of dynamite just beneath the thin surface of control. With a growl, Sam tore into the demon, his fists crashing against bone, his fingers tearing at flesh. He didn't even notice when the demon's blood splashed up and hit his face. He didn't truly feel the pain of his split knuckles.
The only thing that stopped him was catching sight of Castiel in a flash of lightning, overwhelmed by three demons, fighting for his life, his angelic powers dampened by his affection for the Winchesters. Sam tried to throw the demon he was beating to a pulp aside, but the creature would have none of it. He grabbed Sam's leg and tripped him, sending him crashing to the ground, just beyond the reach of the demon-killing knife.
Sam twisted, kicking out at the demon that held his leg, trying to free himself and pull Castiel out of that mess. Trying to get to Dean. Trying to fix this.
But they were out of time.
Sam felt it in his heart, and it was echoed in the triumphant grin he saw on the face of the female demon as she watched Castiel struggle against her counterparts. She knew, Sam realized. She knew that even if she didn't get the protection she'd been after…she had gotten her revenge.
He craned his neck, seeing his brother's limp body lying in the rain. How had they allowed things to get so out of control? This was their life, their job, what they'd been bred for, apparently. And they were losing. He was losing.
Please! Sam thought in desperation. Someone…hear me. Please!
A fist crashed against his jaw and sent him tumbling away, landing hard on his back, his vision dazzled by lightning. The alley, the sky, the whole world lit up with one powerful blast of energy as if nature had decided to listen to Sam's plea. Curling to his side, Sam shielded his eyes, peering dazedly at the melee of Castiel fighting the demons, his face cut and bloody, his hair slicked to his scalp, his hands up.
No one moved when the brilliance abated. The demons facing Castiel simply stared at the angel in confusion. The demon looming over Sam stood with his head tilted in curiosity. And the female demon wearing the body of a broken junkie began to back slowly away from the group, wary fear suddenly evident on her face.
Sam struggled to his elbow, watching in awe as Castiel dropped his defensive stance, taking a step back, his wounds a strange, human contrast to his normally flawless skin. Shaking his head, Sam realized they were listening. They were all listening as if to a radio signal tuned only to the supernatural.
"The bounty on your head is reinstated." Castiel's deep, modulated voice carried over the sound of the rain as it beat against the asphalt.
The female demon continued to slide backwards, her escape taking her toward the wall of the building framing the alley.
"No…no, I have more time. I have more time!" she screamed, more in anger than terror.
"According to whom?" Castiel asked mildly.
As if ordered by a silent command, the three demons turned as one, facing their former partner in crime, their faces eerily blank in the disorienting flashes of the storm. Castiel's shoulders seemed to square up, his chin lifting.
She's screwed, Sam realized with an odd tug of pity. The angels wanted her for killing a man of God. The demons wanted her for reneging on her deal. And she'd allowed her need for revenge to overshadow her need for protection.
"We're…we're the same, though," she said, nervously. Her eyes darted between the two demons facing her, ignoring Castiel, seeking an ally.
"Exactly," growled the blond demon. "A demon."
Sam pushed to his knees, grabbing his knife and, taking advantage of the distraction, thrust the blade into the demon standing nearest him, setting the human soul free along with the crackle and spark of the dying demon.
"Cas!" He called.
Castiel simply held out his hand, and Sam tossed the knife, only slightly amazed when the angel caught it effortlessly without even a glance. Turning away from the battle at the end of the alley, Sam crawled through the puddles of gathering rain water to his brother, who was lying on his side, his face tilted into the water, his skin a pale blue even in the peaked light of the storm.
"Oh, Jesus…Dean, no."
Sam pulled his brother up, the heaviness of Dean's body weighing down his heart and making it hard to grip the wet shirt and uncooperative muscles. Dragging them back until they were against the brick wall of the club, somewhat protected from the unrelenting rain, he slipped a leg under Dean's back, rolling his brother against him until he could see his eyes. They were barely open, focusing on nothing, empty.
Almost imperceptible over the storm, Sam heard the slow, laborious rattle of breath as Dean continued to fight the effects of the virus, continued to command his lungs to fill. Sam felt his mouth twist down, his eyes burning. He wiped the rain from his brother's face, his wet hair dripping to run down Dean's face like tears.
Lifting his eyes, Sam scanned the alley, searching for the syringe. All he saw were shadows, rain, and the fight of an angel against demons.
"What?" Sam sniffed, looking down at Dean, curling him close so that his brother's cold lips were near his ear. "What? Dean, what?"
At first there was nothing, the pause terrifying. And then he heard Dean's voice rasp once more.
"Aw, no," Sam shook his head. "Please…no, Dean, please."
He looked up, saw the crackling fire as Castiel extinguished the blond man's demon and then saw Raya pushing unsteadily to her feet.
"Raya!" Sam called, desperation and panic turning his voice high and sharp. "Help us!"
He watched as she stumbled forward, using the wall of the club for balance, casting confused, fearful glances back at Castiel as he and Thing One advanced on the female demon.
In moments Raya fell to her knees next to them, looking at her one-time lover with horror and heartache.
"Find the syringe," Sam ordered. "I can't see it, but I know it's here."
She simply nodded, splashing away. Sam pulled Dean close, remembering as he did so that his brother couldn't feel him, couldn't hear him, couldn't see him. Dean was trapped in the dark. Sam pressed his wet hand to Dean's cold cheek, trying to shield him from as much of the rain as he could.
The virus hadn't stopped Dean from protecting Sam from the angel's voice or the falling glass. It hadn't stopped him from fighting off a vicious attack from a rogue demon bent on bounty. It hadn't stopped him from somehow convincing Castiel to bring him here.
"I'm not going to let you die," Sam vowed, his voice barely there. "I'm not going to let them win."
Continued in Part 4B here: http://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/97224.html