Yes, yes, I know that this chapter took forever to get up, but I swear this time it wasn't my fault. My poor beta tenaciousmetoo has been swamped with work and R/L stuff, and so it took her a couple of weeks to get to this. But since she's so awesome and sweet, I totally forgive her and you should too. She did a great job with the betaing on this chapter, so I think it was totally worth the wait. Thanks, Ten! And now, on with the show!
Chapter Fourteen - Worst. Plan. Ever.
"This is a really bad idea."
"Shut up, Dean."
"No, Sam, I'm serious. This is a really bad idea."
"Dean, shut up."
"Sam, I'm not kidding--"
"Dean! Just shut--"
"Why don't the both of you shut up?"
Lillian raised her eyebrows at the bickering brothers as she loaded a final round of rock salt into her shotgun.
Dean rolled his eyes at her before turning away and lowering his voice, "I'm not kidding, Sammy, I have a bad feeling about this."
"She'll be fine, Dean."
"And what if she's not? What if they get to her before you guys can stop them?"
Sam sighed. "That's not going to happen--"
"How can you be sure?"
Sam grinned mischievously and tapped his temple. "Because I'm psychic. Duh."
Dean's eyes narrowed and his lips pursed irritably. "Not funny, asshat."
"Dean, Ellie's going to be fine. Lillian, Johnny, and I are going to be stationed so that we'll have a clear shot of anyone entering the clearing, and I've already made a circle of powdered silver on the grass for Ellie to stand in. She'll be perfectly safe. Now, are you going to be able to find Jenna, or do you want to stay here and let me go instead?"
Dean shook his head. "No, you don't even know where the cave is. I'll do it. I just...give me a minute, okay?"
Before Sam could argue, Dean crossed to the middle of the small clearing where Ellie was standing, her arms folded guardedly over her chest as she glanced around at the surrounding woods with a mixed look of regret and determination.
"You ready for this?" Dean asked suddenly, causing her to jump in surprise.
"Yeah," she said, plastering a smile of false confidence on her pale face. "Totally."
Dean grinned. "Liar."
Ellie's face fell. "Okay, so maybe I'm a little nervous."
"You don't have to do this, you know. We can go back to the house right now, and--"
Dean stopped and stared down at the hand that had involuntarily reached out and grasped his own. She felt so small and fragile...it just made him even more convinced that this was a bad idea. But, judging from the determined glint in her eyes, there was no talking her out of it.
"Here," Dean said, suddenly reaching up and removing the golden amulet from around his neck. "I want you to wear this."
Ellie studied it, her nose crinkled with curiosity. "What is it?"
"It's a protection amulet. It'll keep you safe," Dean said, choosing not to divulge any further details about his lucky amulet, a story that he'd never told anyone, not even Sam. He pushed her long hair off her shoulders and tied it around her neck, his fingers lingering on her collarbone a few seconds longer than necessary.
"Don't you need it though?" Ellie asked, clutching the amulet tightly. "What if something happens to you in the cave?"
"Don't worry about me. I can take care of myself. Just promise me that you won't take off the amulet."
"I won't, I promise."
"Good." And with that, Dean turned to leave, his heart feeling heavier than ever.
He stopped in his tracks, dread making his entire body tingle as he turned to face her once more. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. You, too."
He turned away again, the unshed tears in her eyes making him uneasy, and strode back over to Sam, who watched him return with a look on his face that Dean couldn't quite interpret.
"You okay?" Dean asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Yep," Sam replied, not meeting his gaze.
Dean rolled his eyes "Sam, we don't have time for your emo, angst, internal bullshit right now. What's the matter?"
Sam shrugged. "I just didn't know you liked her that much."
Dean's eyes narrowed. "What are you talking about?"
"You gave her your amulet!"
"So? Dude, you've never let me touch that thing, and I'm your brother."
"That's because you and Ellie are different. I know that you can take care of yourself, so you don't need it. Ellie, on the other hand, does need it. Jesus, if I had known you would get so pissy about this, I never would've given it to her."
Sam shook his head. "This isn't about the amulet, Dean. It's about you shutting me out. If you're giving a girl your friggin' protection amulet, you obviously feel something for her. I would've thought that you would've said...I don't know...something to me about it. How many times do I have to tell you that I'm sorry?"
Dean stared blankly at Sam for several moments before muttering, "I'm heading out. You guys watch out for each other and listen for my signal. If you get in over your head, make a run for it."
Sam sighed and rolled his eyes. "Whatever. I've done this before, Dean."
"I'm just sayin'--"
There was an awkward silence, during which the brothers eyed each other uncomfortably. Finally, Dean grabbed his gun from the ground at Sam's feet and muttered, "See ya, Sammy."
"Bye, Dean," Sam murmured, his voice soft as Dean strode purposefully away into the shadowy confines of the surrounding woods.
"You obviously feel something for her," Dean murmured under his breath, in a dead-on impression of Sam. "Yeah, well, you obviously have a stick up your ass, Mr. Know-It-All."
Dean had been walking for about ten minutes in what he thought was the vague direction of the cave. It had stopped raining, but the sky was so overcast and the blanket of trees overhead so dense that it felt like dusk, despite the fact that the sun wasn't supposed to set for another three hours. Dean desperately needed the use of a flashlight, but he was afraid that he might accidentally tip off the werewolves which, you know, wouldn't be good. So instead, he was blindly making his way through the woods, hoping against hope that he was going in the right direction.
And, of course, it was all Sam's fault...
"Okay, everyone, I think I've got a plan," Sam announced, gesturing for everyone to gather around him. Dean, Ellie, Lillian, and a fully-informed, slightly terrified Johnny surrounded him, listening intently. "We need to split up. A couple of us go into the woods to find Jenna, someone else stays behind with Ellie, and someone else acts as a distraction."
"Hey, if you need a distraction I'm your girl," Lillian said, raising her hand enthusiastically.
"And I could guard Ellie," Johnny said tentatively. "Maybe I can even get my radio working and call for backup."
"Yeah, that sounds good," Dean murmured, absent-mindedly stroking his chin where stubble was starting to appear. "Sam and I know what we're dealing with better than anyone, so it would probably be best if we--"
"If you guys honestly think that I'm just gonna hang around here with a limp noodle of a bodyguard while Jenna is in danger, then you can think again," Ellie interrupted lividly. "No offense, Johnny," she added as an apologetic afterthought.
Johnny shrugged. "None taken."
"Ellie, don't be stubborn--" Dean began.
"Listen," Ellie said in a tone so sharp that it made the others all jerk to attention. "Jenna is just about all that I have left, so I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure that she survives this mess. Besides, I'm the perfect distraction. If we could keep them busy trying to capture me, it would give you guys plenty of time to find Jenna and save her."
Sam and Dean eyed one another warily, conveying full sentences with a single look.
Sam raised an eyebrow and tilted his head to the side. What she says makes sense, Dean.
Dean shook his head, his eyes narrowed. Forget it. We're not using her as bait.
It could be our only chance!
I don't care! Think of something else, Einstein!
Ellie was still speaking, further postulating a proposed plan. "There's a clearing in the woods where Jess and Jenna and I used to play. I could stand in the middle and call for Luke, while a couple of you hide in the trees with guns or something. That way, it appears I'm alone, but not really. When they come for me, I could try to offer myself in exchange for Jenna -- anything to keep them busy while someone goes after Jenna." She turned to Lillian and Dean. "When you went looking for her, did you ever find out where they were keeping her?"
"Yep. She's in a cave," Lillian offered. "We heard a couple of them say that they were keeping her there until the ceremony at sunset."
"Do you think you'd know how to get back there?" Ellie asked urgently, her eyes flicking back and forth between Dean and Lillian.
Dean sighed. "Yeah, of course, but--"
"Good. Okay, so, Dean, you'll save Jenna and bring her back here. And once you're safe, you could give a signal like...I don't know, like honking the Impala's horn or something--"
"Ellie," Dean interrupted loudly, grabbing her by the shoulders. "Forget it. We're not using you as bait!"
"Because you're in enough danger as it is!"
"Dean?" Sam began, clearing his throat awkwardly. "I think Ellie's plan could work."
Dean gave Sam a look that might have killed weaker species. "Sam..."
"No, seriously, Dean. We could make a circle of powdered silver in the grass, and they wouldn't be able to cross it to get to her. And Lillian, Johnny, and I could hide with guns and silver bullets. If things got out of hand, we could take them out from behind the trees. It would be an ambush. They wouldn't see it coming. Surely it would distract them long enough to let you get in and back out with Jenna."
Dean rolled his eyes. "It's the 'surely' part that I don't like."
Sam's eyes squinted with thought. "It could totally work." He glanced at Johnny and Lillian. "Are you guys up for it?"
Lillian grinned. "Of course! I'm up for anything."
Johnny tilted his chin up with forced bravado. "Whatever it takes to save Jenna. I'm in."
Everyone glanced at Dean, who was glaring at Sam and clenching and unclenching his fists obsessively.
"Dean?" Sam prodded. "That's four against one. Are you in?"
Not that you have much choice left in the matter. The unspoken words lingered in the air between the two brothers.
Dean sighed. "Whatever. If this is what you guys want to do, then I guess I'm in, too."
And so that was why Dean was trudging through the woods, alone, searching for the cave where poor Jenna was being held captive, while Ellie stood in the middle of an open clearing, offering herself up as doggie chow -- all because Sam had betrayed him and taken Ellie's side over his. A part of Dean was worried sick over leaving them alone back there, and another part of him was annoyed at the both of them for being so goddamned stubborn.
"Never listens to a word I say," he muttered, shaking his head. "Thinks he's so smart, all because he went to college. What a load of--"
He stopped suddenly, his ears perking up. He stood in silence for several seconds, waiting. He thought he'd heard a twig snap behind him, but the trees surrounding him remained still. Dean took a shuddering breath before moving forward, clutching his shotgun a little tighter as he went.
Sam stood for what felt like a lifetime, clutching his shotgun, his stomach churning with guilt as he stared at the spot in the trees where his older brother had disappeared. All he could think about was the conversation he'd had with Dean just before they'd left for the woods, and how he'd pushed his brother so far away that he wasn't sure that he could get him back...
"Hey, Dean. Wait up."
"Listen," Sam said, lowering his voice as Ellie, Lillian, and Johnny trudged past him to the edge of the woods, their arms laden with weapons and ammunition. "What you said in the barn, when I wouldn't let go of Ellie? You were right. I do feel guilty about what happened at the asylum. If that gun had been loaded... God, Dean, I can't do any of this without you. I can't--" He stopped suddenly and swallowed, trying to hold back his emotions. "I know that what I did was unforgivable, but I need you to forgive me anyway. Please, Dean? I can't stand the thought that you're always going to have this in the back of your mind, making you wonder about me--"
Dean stared up into his brother's wet puppy dog eyes, his face devoid of all emotion. "There's nothing to forgive, Sam," he said abruptly, cutting Sam off before he could continue. "Just forget about it. I understand that it wasn't really you--"
"No! Dean, I mean it. Just, please, forgive me, okay? Please?"
They stood staring at one another, the air fraught with tension as Dean's jaw clenched and Sam's lower lip trembled. Finally...
"C'mon. We have work to do. We'll discuss this later."
Before Sam could say anything else, Dean strode away into the woods, leaving his crestfallen brother to trudge along slowly in his wake...
"Hey, Stringbean? You okay?"
Lillian's voice broke Sam out of his reverie, and he glanced down to see her staring up at him, her green eyes filled with maternal concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"If that's fine, I don't want to see you on a bad day."
Sam smiled weakly. "It's nothing. Really."
"C'mon, kid. We're about to go into battle against a clan of virgin-eating werewolves. There are no secrets here. No judgments. Just honesty and shoulders to cry on. So, go on. Spill your guts."
Sam studied Ellie, who was sitting in her circle of silver, mindlessly plucking blades of grass with one hand and clutching Dean's amulet with the other. "Dean and I had a...disagreement of sorts before we got here, and I don't think he's fully forgiven me yet."
"Oh, honey, don't even worry about it. You and Dean are tight, I can tell. He'll come around eventually--"
Before Sam could stop himself, he blurted out, "I shot him."
Lillian looked as if she'd just been punched in the gut. "What?" she screeched in a rather loud voice, her eyes bulging.
Sam blushed. "Well, okay, I didn't shoot him technically. I...see we were working this case in a haunted asylum, and I became possessed and I told Dean that I wanted to kill him. So he gave me a gun and told me to get it over with if I had the guts, and I...I pulled the trigger. The gun wasn't loaded, but I just kept pulling the trigger. And well...things between us have been kinda weird ever since."
Lillian shook her head in disbelief. "Kinda weird? God, Sam! I..." She rubbed her face tiredly. "You two have the weirdest life ever, you know that?"
Sam smiled wanly. "Yeah, I do. Trust me."
"Are we ready to get this started?" Johnny asked, suddenly appearing beside Lillian, anxiously glancing between Lillian and Sam for approval.
"Yeah," Sam said, slinging his shotgun over his shoulder. "Did you get the radios?"
"Yep," Johnny said, producing four walkie-talkie radios from his knapsack. "They're all tuned to channel eighteen. I don't think we'll have any interference."
"Okay," Sam said, as he and Lillian each took one. "Here are the rules. Use your radio if you see something, and check in every five minutes so that we know that everyone's okay."
"Right," Johnny said, nodding bravely.
"Got it," Lillian said, winking up at Sam.
Sam smiled. "All right. Johnny, go give Ellie her radio and get in position." As Johnny scampered off, Sam glanced at the grinning redhead beside him.
Lillian smirked and cocked her shotgun. "I was born ready, Stringbean."
"Okay, so maybe this was a bad idea," Sam muttered into his radio twenty minutes later. Ellie had been calling out for Luke for the past fifteen minutes, and nothing remotely remarkable had happened yet. Luke hadn't shown up, nor had any of his werewolf cohorts, and there was no sign whatsoever that any of them even knew that Ellie was nearby.
"What should I do?" Ellie hissed, holding her radio to her mouth, her eyes darting in Sam's general direction after several more minutes of silence. "Nothing's happening."
"Just...keep it up, I guess," Sam answered. "They'll show eventually... I hope..."
There was silence for a few seconds before Johnny's eager voice crackled over the airwaves. "You know, this is just like this one time when I was on a stakeout near the Pizza Hut on Melrose. We were waiting for a couple of fourteen-year-old graffiti artists who had been trashing the place in the middle of the night, and we ended up sitting there for six hours! By the time they showed up and pulled out the spray paint, we were practically jumping up and down with built-up adrenaline. Man, we swarmed those kids and busted their asses. You should have seen it. I knocked one of them right off his feet. It was awesome."
Sam rolled his eyes. Oh, yeah, Johnny. Beating the crap out of a fourteen-year-old? You're a total badass.
"Dude, there's a squirrel over here who is totally trying to outstare me," Lillian half-whispered, half-giggled over the radio.
"Shhh," Sam hissed. "We need to be quiet. They might be able to hear us."
"I thought we wanted them to hear us," Johnny whispered, his voice barely audible now.
"No, we want them to hear Ellie. If they hear us, then our cover's blown and the plan won't work."
"Oh. Right. I knew that."
Lillian snorted. "Obviously."
"Right. Sorry, Stringbean."
Ellie, a small smile playing at her lips at her bodyguards' commentary, had just opened her mouth to call out for Luke again when a wolf suddenly howled in the distance. Her eyes wide, Ellie promptly shut her mouth as a cold gust of wind blew through the clearing, lashing her hair across her face. The temperature seemed to drop a good twenty degrees almost instantaneously. It was so cold that Sam could see Ellie's breath -- which was now coming in short, hitching, anxious gasps -- as small puffs of fog.
All of it was eerily similar to the dreams that Sam had been having ever since he'd arrived in Somerset. The sudden gust of wind, the drop in temperature, the howling...
"Maybe we should get out of here," Sam murmured into his radio, his eyes darting around at the swaying trees as a sense of dread settled over him. "What do you guys think?"
There was no answer.
"Lillian? Johnny? You guys okay?" Sam asked, a sense of urgency gnawing at the pit of his stomach.
"Sam," Ellie hissed, her voice cracking with fear as the wind picked up even further.
Sam swallowed, his mind racing with panic. Should he break cover and get the hell out? Or should he stay put and give Dean a chance to save Jenna? Were Lillian and Johnny just following his instructions to be quiet? Or had something happened to them?
As if in answer, a strange, deep voice suddenly came over the radio, singing a slow and haunting melody that made Sam's blood run cold.
"Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf? ... Big, bad wolf? ... Big, bad wolf? ... Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf--"
The voice suddenly stopped, leaving the song unfinished. The hairs on the back of Sam's neck stood on end as his eyes met Ellie's. Pure terror was etched on her face, and her knuckles were snow white as she grasped Dean's amulet tightly in her hand.
Neither of them dared to breathe as they waited to be discovered. Sam readied his gun and aimed it into the clearing where he had a clear shot of anything that might choose to enter it. Ellie was shaking from head to toe and wheezing with fear, her eyes darting in all directions. Still, nothing happened. Sam was getting ready to grab her and make a run for it, when he felt...
Breath. Hot, rancid breath creeping up the back of his neck...
It was panting, waiting for Sam to turn around and face it. He heard it licking its chops, could imagine the saliva hanging from its hideous fangs. The putrid scent of sweat mixed with urine and dried blood wafted past his nose, burning his nostrils and causing him to choke back vomit. His fingers gripped tightly around the handle of his shotgun, and cold sweat trickled down his forehead as he turned to face the beast.
Sam felt his legs turn to jelly as he took in the massive animal before him. It was nearly eight feet tall, forcing Sam to tilt his head skyward to look the thing in the eye. The creature growled low, its wet, twisted snout twitching with pleasure as its tongue ran lasciviously across its lips. Sam willed himself to move. To shoot the bastard, to run like hell -- anything; but, for some reason, his arms and legs felt like lead. All he could do was stare up into those yellow eyes and pray that the thing didn't try to eat him whole.
The wolf, sensing Sam's fear, reared its head back and let loose a hoarse roaring laugh at its seemingly unworthy opponent. Unfortunately for the wolf, the sound of its laugh was so unbearable and so grating that it caused Sam to break free of his paralyzing fear. While the thing was distracted, Sam raised his gun and pointed the barrel directly at its chest.
Unfortunately for Sam, the gun jammed at the exact moment that the wolf stopped laughing.
"SAM!" Ellie shrieked worriedly from within her circle of silver as the wolf lunged at Sam, its claws out, ready to attack.
Relying on instinct, Sam swung the shotgun like a baseball bat and struck the wolf on the side of the head. It let out an anguished howl and stumbled backward, giving Sam just enough time to right himself and sprint into the clearing toward Ellie, who was now beside herself with panic.
Before Sam could reach her, a second wolf leapt out from the nearby trees and positioned itself between Sam and Ellie. Sam came to a dead stop, his chest aching with fear.
"Sam," Ellie whispered uncertainly, tears running down her face, her body shaking with terror.
"Just stay in the circle, Ellie," Sam murmured, staring down the second wolf while he felt the first creeping up on him from behind. "Whatever happens, just stay in the circle."
The second wolf growled menacingly, baring its fangs as it advanced on him. Sam took a step back and glanced over his shoulder to see the first wolf standing just a few feet behind him, an evil smirk twisting its snout. Out of the corner of his eye, Sam saw three more wolves making their way out of the trees towards him. He slowly spun in a circle, trying to keep an eye on all of them at once, but it was no use. More and more of them were entering the clearing, all of them edging slowly toward Sam, their eyes filled with hunger.
Hunger for blood, Sam thought, his head dizzy at the thought.
"Sam," Ellie muttered, her voice trembling. "Oh, God, what are we gonna do?"
"Just stay calm and stay in the circle," Sam repeated, his voice quieter this time as the wolves closed in on them from all sides. "You'll be safe as long as you stay in the circle."
"Wh-what about you?" Ellie hissed, her eyes widening hysterically as several of the wolves began pacing outside of the silver border, their tongues hanging out of their mouths as they panted lewdly at her.
But Sam didn't get a chance to answer her question because the second wolf suddenly lunged at him, claws bared. Sam tried to jump out of the way, but he was too slow for the lightning-quick creature, and it knocked him to the ground like a rag doll. Sam grunted as he felt one of his ribs crack on impact, but he ignored the sudden red-hot pain in his chest and tried to crawl away.
Of course, the wolf had other ideas and thrust its claws into Sam's right leg, pushing him flat on his back. Tears surged in Sam's eyes, and a gasp of agony escaped his lips as he felt blood pour from the large gashes that the wolf's claws made in his skin. But, even through his pain, he continued to struggle against the animal in an effort to pry his leg loose from its tight grasp.
"SAM!" Ellie was screaming in horror from somewhere behind him. "NO! Let go of him! STOP IT! Let him go! Please!"
"Ellie!" Sam called over his shoulder as he kicked at the werewolf. "Stay where you are!"
"No, Sam! I won't let them do this to you!"
"Ellie! NO!" Sam screamed, twisting around to watch in horror as Ellie crossed the silver barrier.
Immediately, three of the werewolves descended on her, one of them grabbing her by the waist, another wrapping her hair around its paw and licking her face, and a third lifting her legs off the ground. Ellie shrieked and fought back, biting and scratching and hitting any piece of flesh she could reach.
But the wolves easily overpowered her, and they simply carried her away, kicking and screaming, into the woods beyond.
"NO!" Sam screamed. "Let her go, you bastards! LET HER GO!"
The wolf that was holding him down began to laugh cruelly, its head tilted back with pleasure at this new turn of events. Sam took the opportunity to use his good leg to deliver a well-placed kick to the animal's chest. It reared back in pain and eased its grip on Sam's leg just enough for Sam to wiggle free and heave himself to his feet. His leg ached terribly, but Sam gritted his teeth and took off running anyway.
One of the other werewolves tried to block his path, but Sam managed to dart past it and into the woods. Low-hanging branches whipped at his face and tore into his skin as he barreled through the trees, several of the werewolves at his heels. He could hear their heavy footfalls getting closer and closer, and he willed himself to run faster. His lungs burned from a lack of oxygen, and his heart was about to burst out of his chest from all of the adrenaline running through his veins. But he couldn't slow down, not even a little bit, for fear of them catching up to him and tearing him to shreds.
Sam squinted through the darkness, hoping to catch a glimpse of anything remotely familiar. Unfortunately, the rolling black storm clouds overhead were so thick that he was barely able to see ten feet ahead.
Which explains why he didn't see it until it was too late.
Sam tried to slow down but, before he could stop, the ground dropped out from beneath him, and Sam found himself tumbling over the side of a steep cliff, landing a good ten feet below on the rocky banks of a rushing creek. He immediately tried to move, hoping to hide before the werewolves stumbled upon him, but a searing pain shot through his back, and he had to stifle a scream of anguish.
Oh, God, he thought, beginning to panic. Tell me this isn't happening. Please tell me I haven't broken my back. I have to get out of here. I have to find Dean! I...I...I have to...have to...
The world above him appeared to be spinning, and his vision started to blur. He could feel his eyelids getting heavy. His body wanted him to give in to the pain, to escape from the physical agony, if just for a little while. Sam slowly started to slip into himself.
But, just as he was about to black out, he saw a flash of white to his left, followed by a familiar face looming over him.
A face that he'd only recently seen in his dreams...
"Okay," Dean muttered to himself as he peered out at the cave from behind a tree. "Either this is one big setup, or Sam and Ellie's plan actually worked."
He had been watching the front of the cave for five minutes and, so far, it appeared to be completely deserted. There were no longer any guards outside, and no one had gone in or out since he'd arrived. And yet...he still had a bad feeling. After all, this was looking like it was going to be a little too easy.
Still, time was running out. There was a chance the werewolf freaks would return any minute and, as far as he knew, Jenna was still being held captive inside the cave. Without thinking about it any further, Dean darted out from his hiding place and made a break for the cave, his gun drawn.
He passed through the large stone opening and into the darkness. He still didn't want to use a flashlight, just in case he wasn't as alone as he thought, so he stood still for a few moments and let his eyes adjust to the dark. After a few seconds, he was able to see that the cave's floor sloped downhill for several yards before branching into two different passages, one to his right and one to his left. The one on his left was pitch black, but the one on his right was dimly lit with flickering torches mounted onto the rough stone walls by metal brackets.
"Yahtzee," Dean muttered under his breath, a pleased grin passing over his face. He glanced behind him, making sure that he was still alone, before hurrying down the hill through the passage to the right.
The walls were narrow -- barely wide enough for Dean to pass through comfortably -- and the path wound around in labyrinth patterns, forking off into other dark areas of the cave. Dean followed the lit path, hoping like hell that it would take him to Jenna and not into the wolves' lair.
As he descended further underground, the air was cooler, and the walls around him wet with condensation. Finally, the passage bottomed out into what appeared to be a dungeon. Ancient iron shackles lined the walls, and animal's bones littered the packed dirt floor. A large bloodstain that looked disturbingly fresh covered a large section of one of the jagged walls.
But, most importantly, what Dean was searching for sat in the dead center of the room.
Jenna was bound to a wooden chair, her mouth covered in duct tape. She was dressed in a lacy white nightgown, and a crown of dead daisies sat atop her tangled and matted blond locks. Her body was covered in a sheen of sweat and dirt, and her face was covered with muddy tear stains. Blood oozed from her wrists, showing how she'd rubbed the skin raw trying to escape from the ropes. Barely conscious, her chin grazed her chest, her eyes nearly swollen shut from her tears.
"Jenna," Dean whispered, edging slowly into the room, hoping to get her attention without scaring her.
Using what seemed to be the last of her strength, Jenna raised her head and glanced around her bleak surroundings. When her eyes landed on Dean, she let out a terrified squeak and began to squirm against her ropes. Dean held a finger to his mouth as he darted out of the shadows. "Shhh!" he hissed. "It's okay. I'm here to save you!"
Jenna shook her head, her eyes filled with panic, and moaned quietly into her duct tape gag. Dean rolled his eyes and clapped his hand over her mouth.
"Shhhh! Do you want me to get caught?"
Jenna shook her head again, struggling to keep her swollen eyes open.
"Good. Glad to see we're on the same page," Dean muttered, his eyebrows furrowed. "Okay, now I'm going to tear the duct tape off your mouth, and it's probably going to hurt like hell, but you can't scream, okay?"
Jenna nodded, but the frightened look in her eyes didn't fade. Dean used his fingernail to pull the duct tape away from her skin just enough to get a good grip on it. "Here goes nothing," he murmured with a nervous smile. And with that, he yanked the tape away from her face, taking layers of the delicate skin around her mouth along with it and causing her dry, parched lips to crack open and bleed.
"Aunnnnh," Jenna moaned quietly, her head rolling forward on her chest.
"Are you okay?" Dean asked, tilting her chin back so that he could look her in the eye. "What did they do to you down here?"
Jenna's eyes were sliding in and out of focus. "He never took me home," she whispered, her voice so hoarse that it was nearly unrecognizable from the girly tone of voice that she'd used the night before. "He's...one of them."
But Dean was so busy pulling a switchblade out of his back pocket that her words didn't seem to register with him. "Everything's going to be okay now. I'm going to get you out of here," he whispered comfortingly as he knelt on the ground beside her chair and began slicing at the ropes that bound her feet.
Jenna licked the blood away from her lips and mumbled, "Run."
"Yeah, that's it. We're going to run. Just let me cut these ropes, and then we're gonna get the hell--"
"No," Jenna rasped, panting for breath. "It's...a trap..."
Dean froze and glanced up to look into Jenna's pale blue eyes as she whispered the words that made his blood run cold.
"It's Sam...he wants...Sam..."
"What are you talking about?" Dean asked, his chest seizing with panic. "Who wants Sam? Evan?"
Jenna shook her head, fighting to keep her eyes open. "Not Evan."
"Then who? Jenna, what the hell is going on?" Dean hissed, shaking her in an effort to keep her conscious.
Jenna finally met his gaze but, before she could answer Dean's question, something hard came into contact with the back of his head. He heard Jenna scream his name as his vision went blurry and red-hot pain spread through his skull. His knees buckled, and he stumbled to the side and fell to the ground. The cave appeared to be tilting as it slid in and out of focus. He heard approaching footsteps and then a familiar face loomed over him.
It was Johnny, holding a rock the size of a cantaloupe, an evil smirk playing on his face. When he spoke, his voice was no longer high and nervous, but instead deep and menacing.
"They tried to warn you, Dean. Such a shame that you didn't listen..."
Dean watched helplessly as Johnny drew his leg back and then swung it forward in a vigorous kick. Dean tried to brace himself, but the impact of Johnny's heavy, mud-soaked boot coming into contact with his forehead was too much for him, and Dean blacked out for the second time that day.
A/N: Okay, so if you saw that one coming, you totally win the universe and get a cookie. Hee. The next chapter is almost complete, and I'll tell you this: it's my favorite chapter so far. So look out for it! Until next time, please review and thanks for reading!