"Okay, I can understand the Holy water, but this fish crap!" Dean wrinkled his nose opening the last glass vial, letting it rush out in shuddering glugs as the liquid completed the circle they were forming. "I mean, whatever happened to traditional banishing ingredients, like rosemary oil? Or you know, anything that doesn't smell worse than you when you're drunk. At least this thing doesn't leave saliva all over my face..." Sam's mouth twisted slightly to show he didn't find Dean's joke funny, but then broke into a smile.
"It's something Biblical. Apparently Asmodeus' spirit was repelled by sheatfish from the rivers of Assyria."
"I can see why..." Dean muttered. The pair stepped away from the circle of banishment and looked up at the ominous shadow the building's spired roof presented, a mar on the sapphire sky.
"So...we've just gotta lure that thing into the circle then?" Dean turned to his brother, giving him a nod to show he understood. Sam raised his eyebrows in disbelief and laughed.
"Just? We've just got to lure a demon that supposedly faced down all but the Angel Raphael. Yeah. Maybe a kitty treat and an inviting flick of the wrist will do it, huh Dean?" He grinned, picked up his shotgun, and walked through the broad, wood-slatted doors, Dean in tow.
Once inside, the brothers were enveloped by a heated darkness, despite both the moonlight and the chill wind outside. Dust permeated the air, and Sam squinted in an automatic response, skin creasing at the corners of his eyes. He scanned the darkness the best he could while his pupils still adapted to the change in light, and his chest heaved, breathing becoming deeper in the dry air.
"God it's hot..." Sam whispered to his brother, pushing his dark hair back from his face.
"Asmodeus hates water right?" He looked up as Dean spoke. "It's the only thing I could find that Dad had written about him," He paused, "Y'think I'd let you do all the research on your own Sammy?." He laughed lightly, and a warm smile passed between them, but the moment was shattered by an abrupt bang followed by a dust cloud cascading from the wooden ceiling. Their eyes raised upwards, and after a short silence they heard a series of bumping and scraping noises.
"I'm going up," Dean bounded to the staircase, "You wait here." The sound of claws on wood became increasingly louder.
"No way Dean! Is this another one of your attempts at protecting me or something? Because you know that won't..."
"I need someone to lead it out the door! It's easier if you're down here!" Dean's eyes widened, his brows lowered, and he gave Sam a forceful glare. Sam pressed his lips together and frowned a little, holding back his reply. He knew his older brother was trying to protect him, even if he wouldn't admit it.
The noises upstairs quietened, a more ominous sign than the former tumult. Dean nodded and slowly made his way to the upper floor, taking each step carefully on the precariously thin steps. Sam watched until he dissapeared from sight, then took a place leaning against the wall, close to the door in preparation. It was still slightly open, and he relished the cool air that blew against his sweat-covered skin.
If he was honest with himself, he didn't feel up to the task at hand. He had awoke that morning screaming in fear, thrashing against the bony hotel mattress in a futile attempt to fight against the images playing before him once again. Her eyes, frozen open, looking down. Blonde hair billowing upwards, then instantaneous flames. He could still feel the heat against his skin, every time he saw her, as if it were happening all over again. Now his limbs ached, his back felt twisted and stiff, and he was having trouble keeping his mind away from the haunting memories.
The sound of a shotgun being fired brought him back to what was happening. He leapt for the stairs, then remembered what his brother had said and stopped. The air was filled with alternating sounds of scraping, shooting, and something beating heavily against the wall. It took all Sam had to not run to his brother's aid.
He flung his body around to face the stairs as Dean was thrown down them, breaking the banister and sending splintering wood into the air. The reincarnated Asmodeus lumbered down the steps, interlocked black scales glistening along the length of it's dragon tail. At about waist height chestnut skin emerged from under the scales, widening upwards, revealing a man's chest and neck, and even some semblance of a human face, despite the gnarled spikes jutting out at odd angles. Despite it's formidable physical weapons, it seemed slightly ethereal, blurry where it's own blackness met the shadow.
"Dean!" Sam ran forward to his brother, and saw that although his nose was bloodied, he was still conscious.
"I'm okay, it's fine," Dean half-yelled at his brother, despite the fact he was relying on him almost entirely to hold him up. Sam attempted to drag him away, but they were both knocked back brutally by the demon's flailing tail. As he hit the floor, Sam realised the shadowy presence had not touched him, and was a lot less solid than he had first thought. He looked across the room to see Dean unconscious and limp on the floor, and Asmodeus advancing on him. It was too late to run for the door, so he was forced to escape down a long set of steps, hoping there was a back entrance.
He tripped the last few, grazing his ankle, and giving the creature time to gain on him as he righted himself. The cellar of the derelict building was large, and Sam made his way across it as fast as he could, dodging between boxes and metal equipment he didn't have time to contemplate. He cursed that his pace was slightly slowed, his ankle hurt worse than he had deemed.
As he ran, he could hear Asmodeus getting closer and closer, knew he was almost within range to attack, but forced himself to ignore it and push on. He tried to increase speed, but cried out when he realised his ankle couldn't take the weight. Then pain ripped through his back as something tore the skin.
He was thrust forward, slumping against the wall to see the monster baring it's claws. To the left he saw an open door, and dragged himself along the wall as fast as he possibly could, but still felt certain he wasn't going to make it there before the demon did. He clutched the door frame and stumbled inside, closing the opening a split second before the creature brought it's claw down.
It hit the cold metal and an ear splitting screech filled the air as Sam pulled down every latch and bolt, before falling, exhausted, to the floor. He winced as his back touched the wall, then readjusted himself so the metal lightly touched his neck as he sat, penetrating his skin with a refreshing cool. He felt the vibrations of the demon's claws and tail as they hit, or rather didn't hit, the door, knowing that it wouldn't hold forever. He had to move, he had to get up...
Then he saw a thin sliver of light, a faded glow over the dusty floorboards. His eyes followed it to the entry-way from under which it was escaping. Moonlight...that meant it led outside. His hope returned, heart beat faster, and he scrambled onto to his feet, trying his best not to stretch his back muscles at all. His pace quickened, almost forgetting his injuries, he wrapped his hand around the rusted handle, pushing his weight against the door and...
It rattled and he rebounded a little from the force he had applied to it. It was locked, from the outside.
Sam let himself fall the floor. His head fell forward and touched the door, and in feeling the metal the surety that he wasn't going to escape set in. He scrunched up his eyes, thinking of the unconscious Dean upstairs, another death that would be on his conscience. The way things were looking though, he wouldn't be around to dwell on it. He could hear the door that had been locked behind him slowly giving way; hinges creaking, hard surface denting; yet he didn't move.
He lifted his hand to lean against the door, letting it trail down hopelessly. This was it, he guessed. I'm so sorry Jess.
The metallic clink barely registered in his head, and he opened his eyes, unsure of what exactly he'd heard. The door's handle twitched on it's own. Taken aback, Sam pushed it down experimentally, to find the once impenetrable door was now unlocked.
His first thought was that Dean had come round; big brother to the rescue once again. But there wasn't anyone behind the door when he opened it, the only movement that of faltering leaves in the wind. Sam wasn't the kind of person to take the unexplainable for granted though, and half limping, half dragging himself, he made his way up the dark steps leading from the building's cellar. He knew as he reached the top that the demon had broken through the door. The noise reached his ears and he pushed on with a panicked insistence. The circle of banishment was in sight, not so far, and although he was hindered not only by mortal strength but by his severe injuries, he told himself he could make it there before Asmodeus.
Everything was becoming unclear now, he had lost a lot of blood and his comprehension of reality was blurry. He fell to the ground and crawled the last few steps, crossing the border of the circle to enter, then exiting it just as the beast invaded it's trap. Sam pressed his face against the dirt, the sounds of unearthly howls seemingly so far away. Then it all went silent, and he lifted his head to the welcome breeze. His eyes began to close, and all he wanted was to sleep...
"Sammy! God, Sammy!"
Dean ran desperately toward him, the dried blood trailing from his nose forgotten at the sight of his injured brother. He lifted it him up, carefully once he saw the deep gashes along his back.
"Sam! Talk to me Sam!"
Sam opened his eyes, and his breath caught in his throat.
Between the shadowy buildings, white dress glowing in the pale moonlight, was Jessica. She smiled at him, strands of fine blonde hair blowing delicately in the wind.
"Je...Jess..." Sam whispered between laborous breaths, then he closed his eyes, finally able to rest, her image still an unequivocal vision at the front of his mind.