Author's Note: I've never done a Whumptober before. I'm not doing this officially or anything, but the prompts are public, so, here we are, haha. I'm not one to write drabbles, hence why this is a fully fledged connected fic. Prompts will be listed at the bottom of the page to avoid spoilers.
Summary: When Dean arrives back at the Bunker after Amara, it's to a distinct lack of Sam and Cas. When Sam wakes up, miles away, it's to the realization that the Men of Letters are not just librarians, and he and Cas are in deep water now. Series of connected prompts for whumptober 2020. S12 AU.
Warnings: Whump, torture, angst, mental health issues, implied/referenced suicidal thoughts, trauma from Lucifer's cage, trauma, PTSD, general whump and pain. Language is all K. No slash, no smut, no smut, no incest.
For your information, this story is cross-posted on Archive Of Our Own under the pen name of "Galaxy Threads".
Just a personal note, if you could refrain from using cussing/strong language if you comment (no offense to how you speak! Promise! =) It just makes me uncomfortable) I would greatly appreciate that. ;)
Consciousness is slow to come. There's no jerking, gasping moment where he snaps his head up and has perfect clarity and memory about what happened. No violent struggle. Instead, it's rather like sitting up after falling inside of thick, black tar. Leaching slowly off of him, and aching as it does so.
It smells like blood, bleach, and faintly of some sort of herb. Maybe mint...no, ginger.
Not the Bunker, then. It's had a phantom lavender smell underneath the older paper that's refused to abate since they found it; the lavender that he's never been able to discern a source for.
The Bunker. Why does that…?
The ringing of a gun echoes in his ears, a strangled noise and the pinprick of something digging into his neck. Then the slow descent towards the ground in a flurry of murky blackness as Cas drew his sword and went after…what? What did he…?
There was a woman there. English, blonde, thin. Tana...Tiff...Toni. Bevell, wasn't it?
Cas went after her. With his blade. But she did...something and then Cas stopped and dropped. Not a banishment, or Holy Fire. Almost like a devil's trap. And he didn't get up. Sam doesn't remember seeing him move again before he passed out.
Sam shakes his head, trying to clear his murky thoughts. Bring the strings of them together and knot them.
The Darkness. Chuck. The bar with Rowena and Crowley, waiting for the sun to come out, while silently hoping it wouldn't. But it did, which means that Dean is…and…
It hurts to think. His head is aching, his tongue twisted up somewhere in his throat and stuck there. His mouth is dry, and tastes faintly of blood. He thinks he bit the inside of his cheek when he fell, but he's not sure. The taste is bitter, but familiar enough that he doesn't grimace at it.
He needs water. The air is almost humid. His bangs are sticking to his forehead, his clothing pressed against his skin and clinging.
Why would...think, you idiot, he admonishes himself. He's not in the Bunker, Toni shot him with a tranquillizer, Cas had...whatever that was, and Dean is dead. He has to pull himself together. Figure out what the heck is going on, and then do something about it.
Because that's what he's supposed to do. What he's always done. Problem after problem.
Sam feels exhausted. He doesn't want to move. Part of him just wants to sit here (because he is sitting, slumped, against something hard) and stop fighting. But he doesn't. If Cas is in this fiasco, then Sam has to get him out of it. He won't do that by thinking.
If they hurt him...
Sam pulls his eyes open with effort, and has to squint when the world goes hazy. It's gray and not much else. The lighting is blazing. They're fluorescent tubes with all of the bulbs functioning, surprisingly. One set is placed over a giant mirror he suspects is double sided, and a glance inside of it reveals the same lighting behind him on the far wall, a few feet from the door.
It looks like a police interrogation room, but bigger. There's a metal table place in front of him, welded to the floor. Pooled beneath it is a old, brown stain that looks suspiciously like blood.
Looking down makes him realize he can see his feet. His bare feet. His toes curl unconsciously in reaction, and he tries to jerk his leg to cover them beneath the chair, but only succeeds in bringing pain shooting up from his ankle. Raw metal is digging into what flesh it can there, covering the edge of his jeans.
Not hopeful, Sam tugs lightly on his arms. They're pulled taut behind his back. Handcuffs, by the feel, and some sort of leather restraint on his biceps to the upper part of the metal chair. His jacket is also missing, leaving him only in his bare white undershirt.
This is...it's not great, but not the first time he's been held captive. Or restrained to a chair. Or even in a police interrogation, though he strongly suspects that isn't what this is. It's fine. He's fine. He's not bleeding from anywhere as far as he can tell, his head only hurts a little, and there's no meathooks or bone chilling cold, so Sam will take his wins where he can.
Sam breaths out stiffly, inhaling the humid air, raising his head up from the ground.
Wet strands of hair fall forward lightly, and trying to toss them from his eyes doesn't do much beyond make them cling harder, or move into a position that's more in the way.
Sam gives up, and does a visual sweep of the room again. Empty save the desk, and the chair on the other side. It, like the table, is welded to the floor, and Sam suspects the one he's pinned to is no different. Pity. Wooden frames are breakable.
His bones feel heavy; it's a weird realization to come to. Probably the tranquilizer wearing off. How long has it been since he was knocked out? Where is he? This isn't the Bunker. Where is Toni? She said she was from the Men of Letters. The London chapter. London would have to be what? Ten, eleven hours from Kansas a minimum?
If this even is England.
Given his location, he's not in a position to be confirming any guesses.
Sam licks his dry lips. He spots a security camera in the far left corner and pins his gaze to it, keeping his expression blank. He shifts, restless, fiddling with his hands. There's nothing but the smooth metal, no paperclips, no loose nail to jam into the lock. Even if he broke his thumbs and slid out, the ties on his biceps are in too awkward a position to break or wiggle from.
He needs someone to give him an opening.
He's not going to make one himself.
Someone come and talk to me.
("You used to love to talk," Lucifer sighs in the recess of his mind. A dark, private corner he tries desperately to ignore. "I just feel like we've lost that connection. Say something, would you, Sammy?")
Sam shakes off the thoughts—not here, not now, not ever—breathes in the stuffy, ginger-tined stale air, and keeps his gaze focused on the camera. The walls aren't painted. Concrete; metal plating around the edges of the mirror to keep it up. The floor slants slightly in, leading towards a small metal-plated drain in the center, beneath the table. Maybe six inches by fourteen.
The floor is warm beneath his skin. Sam wishes they'd at least left him his socks. He feels awkwardly exposed without them.
Sam blinks. Stares. Breathes.
Shifts his wrists, the metal cutting into the sensitive flesh. Blood drips down to his palms, smearing all over his fingers. His shoulders begin to ache from the held position. His entire body starts throbbing dully, wishing for movement.
Minutes pass, an hour. Time slips. A blur, a drag, Sam's not sure. The heat makes it hard to think, and the longer he sits there waiting for someone, the worse the blurring gets. His headache begins to pound rather than flutter, and his throat feels like swollen sandpaper from lack of water.
Why is it so hot? Are they trying to make a point?
His head dips, chin settling on his chest. Damp hair hangs in front of his face. He keeps his eyes open, staring at the floor. The grate and the bloodstains. He swallows, spit a thin trickle down his warm throat. What I would do for water...
He thinks it's another hour before the door behind him sounds loudly as several locks are pulled open. He jerks, head whipping up and behind, twisting as far as his position will allow. It's pointless. There's a giant mirror in front of him.
The door is pushed, and two figures step in. The one with the key is Toni, and she pulls it from the door smoothly. It's big and blocky, not like a house key. He's not even sure what lock of the three that it's for.
Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail. Tan pants, black suit coat. A clipboard, of all things, clutched in one hand. She slides the key into her coat's front left pocket.
The person with her is a man. Dark hair, stubble, also in a suit, weirdly soulful eyes. He's holding nothing, but there's the bulk of a gun tucked at his side. Sam breathes in through his nose sharply, and realizes he'd been dangerously close to panting before they entered.
If the two are affected by the room's temperature, they make no indication.
Toni's heels clack against the ground loudly in the empty space as she walks towards him. Sam watches her progress in the mirror until he can trace her movement with his head. She takes a seat in the chair in front of him, shifting only once in discomfort, and rests her clipboard down on the table between them. Sam's stomach muscles tighten and his hands clench into fists as he sees that hidden behind the hardboard is a plastic waterbottle.
The label says Highland Spring, which isn't a company Sam is familiar with.
Toni sets the waterbottle to the left of her clipboard, and Sam hates as his eyes follow her hand. It feels intentional. A threat disguised as an absent movement.
The man settles himself behind Toni's chair, arms folded across his chest. Sam catches the edge of his gun tucked inside his waistband. His stare is piercing. Sam pulls away, returning his attention to Toni as she straightens the papers out on the clipboard, picks up a ballpoint pen and clicks the tip, then looks up at him and smiles.
Her eyes are ice behind long, dark lashes.
"Mr. Winchester," she says, tone short, "we have much to discuss and so little time, I'm afraid. This is my associate, Mick Davies, also Men of Letters, London Chapterhouse." She gestures vaguely with her pen towards her dark-haired companion, and Sam lets his eyes settle on the man again. Davies doesn't bother to hide that he's staring.
Davies' head tips slightly. He nods in acknowledgement, lips pushed together in displeasure.
Sam swallows, but there's little vapor in his mouth. His eyes flick towards the waterbottle despite himself, and a deep, quiet desire of need washes through him. "You say that," he has to stop and retain some moisture from the crevices of his tongue in order to finish the croaky sentence, "like it's supposed to mean something to me."
It does. Vaguely. He thinks he remembers reading some transactions about the Men of Letters of Kansas talking with associates in London. Chapterhouse was like a...department or something. He doesn't really remember, that was during the Trials, and he could barely stop himself from throwing up half the time, let alone read to retain.
Toni's eyebrows lift. "As a Legacy, and a current inhabitant of one of our only midwestern locations in the Colonies, I'd assumed that you'd have come across us by now. It has been four years, hasn't it?"
It unsettles him, that she's aware of how long they've lived there, almost like an itch. Sam lifts his lips up, trying for cocky. It feels flat, and dry somehow. His voice is hoarse, "No. Reading's not a hobby of mine."
Seeming annoyed, Toni taps her pen once on the paper hard, electing a sharp clack from the board on the back. "I see. Well, we don't have time and I the patience for a department history." That's the second time she's mentioned a time limit. What exactly is her deadline for? "I'll make this as simple as I can, Mr. Winchester. Quid pro quo. You answer some of my questions, and I'll let you have some of this water." Her head tips towards the bottle. Highland Springs glints in the light cheerfully.
Sam's teeth grit when his first, instinctive response is yes, what do you want to know? Give it to me.
He bites on the side of his tongue. Forces his hands to relax from the tight fists in an effort to pull himself together. You've endured worse, he reminds himself, much worse. A waterbottle isn't going to break you.
Besides, they seem to want him alive, if only to answer their questions. They won't let him die of dehydration. The maximum amount of time the average human body can sustain itself without water is a few days. He has time. Days are nothing.
He lifts his eyes to her. "I'm sorry—you kidnap me, chain me to a chair, and now you want me to help you?"
Sam shakes his head, barely withholding a scoff. "No."
Toni's smile becomes strained. She nods to herself and pulls the water back, twisting off the cap and taking a long drink from it. His tongue shifts behind his teeth, insisting unhappiness.
Toni sets the water bottle down, half full, and wipes the water from the edges of her lips. "I think," she says slowly, like she's speaking to a child, "that you misunderstand the situation, Sam. You're not here because we admire how much you muck up everything. You're here because we've done our research."
Something cold knots itself in his stomach. He feels his lips raise, stretching up, "Yeah? That so?"
Toni nods. Her smile falls, expression becoming neutral. "I must admit I'm disappointed. I had been hoping to speak to your brother about the Mark of Cain."
The heat seems to be ripped from him, like a fist reaching up and yanking down. He feels cold from his ears to his toes. Both in the memory of the violence, the pain, and the grief that threatens to bow him. Dean is gone. He's not going to come in here, weapons blazing. He's not going to smile again, or fess over the Impala, or make a stupid joke, or stare over Sam's shoulder at the laptop, or be there, or breathe.
Sam doesn't even know where his body is. Part of him is relieved, even as much as he hates himself for it. He doesn't want to bury him again.
His first, base instinct is to snap at her. He keeps his lips clamped together. Toni's expression flickers, smug, like she's realized she's touched at a sore spot. She pushes her pen down on the paper, "Well, it's not like we won't have plenty to talk about in the meantime. We will need to discuss your relationship with the demon Ruby in detail, of course, and we would love to know how you and your brother got angels down to Earth for the first time in centuries."
Sam's teeth press together harder. Cas... He doesn't let her continue, "Where's Cas? What did you do to him? I swear to God, if you've hurt him…"
Toni's eyes glaze with annoyance, but she does scribble something down on her paper. Three sharp letters. Her voice is still calm. Even. He wishes she would differ in pitch, if only so she didn't seem so lifeless. "What are you going to do to me, Mr. Winchester? You're restrained to a chair."
Sam pulls his lips against his teeth, agitated. He shifts his wrists, scraping them against the metal. Blood trickles down to his fingers. "You say you know me. You think these are going to hold for long?"
"We do." Davies says. Accent also English, but voice higher than he thought it would be. Sam lets his gaze settle on the man as he shifts out of his cross-armed position. "Your angel is here, Mr. Winchester. I don't think you'll be leaving without him." Sam's jaw bunches, and his eyes want to skirt away, but he forces them not to. "Even if you do get out of those chains, you'll have nowhere to go."
The truth of those words makes his body stiffen. He's not going to leave without Cas. Where is he? What did you do? He wants to demand. But Cas is the carrot, and they aren't swinging the stick his way.
"Where are we?" Sam asks, changing the topic as advertently as he can. "This isn't the Bunker."
"No." Toni concedes. She pushes her pen against the top of the paper, scraping a smooth line down. "You're not the one asking questions, Mr. Winchester. We are. We want to know all the names of hunters that you know." Why? Sam wants to laugh. They're all dead. "We want to know how you and your brother manage to make such messes without fail. What you know about Angels. The Demon Trials."
Sam's teeth grit together.
"Personally," Toni leans in here, forearms resting on the table, "I'm interested about why all the demons we've talked to call you the Boy King."
"I'm not, I don't," Sam fumbles for a moment. Words scratch his throat as they come up. It's been a long time since he heard that term. But not long enough. Never, never long enough. He bloodies his wrists as he fumbles with his hands desperately for a moment.
Toni leans back, smooths her paper. "I'm afraid that's all we have time for at the moment. We'll be back, of course. Soon. Couldn't leave you without introductions. Think about our questions."
Although their presence has grated at him, the sudden idea of them leaving makes him nauseous. With them gone, it's just him, the heat, and his head. "Wait. You're...you. Cas. Is he okay?"
Toni looks like she could care less, but Davies takes some pity on him. "For now. When he wakes up, we'll see how much that changes."
You knocked him unconscious!? A wave of cold, whispering fear washes through him. As an angel, he can only count on one hand the amount of times he's seen Cas actually unconscious.
"Leave him out of this," Sam says. He doesn't know if it's a command or a plea. "You want to pin the Apocalypse, and the Leviathans and the Darkness on me? Fine, I get it, heck, I deserve it, but Cas doesn't have—"
The backhand takes him by surprise. He bites sharply on his cheek, and the plume of blood that trickles down his throat is a relief. Moisture, his tongue sings happily, more, his throat begs. He blinks in surprise, lifting his head back to the woman.
Toni's words are cold. "You don't get to bargain, you don't get to plead. You have no say in this. We own you, Sam Winchester, and I would suggest you get used to that fact."
("You know we're one in the same, bunk buddy. I own that meatsuit of yours. It's been mine since your conception.")
Sam looks up at her, then Davies, then her again. "Screw you."
Toni gives a half smirk, like she's amused, and moves towards the door, waving her partner after her. Sam watches their departure through the mirror. The door slams closed, leaving him alone in the silence and humidity. Sam tries to ignore how it feels like she's sealed the lid on a coffin.
Prompt: Waking up Restrained.
I'm gonna try and do this daily, but we'll see how long lasts. :)
Please let me know your thoughts if you're comfortable with that.