Title: In the Dark
Characters: Sam, Dean, Bobby. Gen.
Disclaimer: No, I don't own Sam or Dean or anything remotely Winchestery.
Summary: Dean desperately tries to find Sam after a run in with a demon. This takes place within season 2 time frame, but before Croatoan.
Kudos and hugs to Faye for betaing this. Thank you!
Dean sits in the darkened room, waiting.
Sam's been gone for a while now.
Feels like forever. Maybe longer.
He's put out calls to everyone he can think of. Bobby, Missouri, Ellen.
They all tell him how sorry they are. How they'll do whatever they can to help him get Sam back.
Ellen's put the word out at the Roadhouse. Missouri wired him money. Ash is doing research. Bobby too.
Sam should be doing the research.
Dean sits in the chair.
Time has slowed. Congealed. He's sick of waiting but it's the only thing he can do.
At least until the thing in the corner wakes up.
And eventually, the minutes drip by, pooling into an hour, and the thing growls softly.
Dean's stomach clenches. He's learned the signs. The thing breathes quicker, shallower. Fingers scrabble against the floor. Eyes roll faster beneath the lids. The drugs are almost out of its system.
Dean checks that the handcuffs are secure, the wire around its ankles is strong. It only takes a second. He's done this for the past eleven nights.
His first night with the demon he didn't restrain it right away.
That was a mistake.
He has the bruises to prove it.
But so does the demon.
He leans back in the chair. It won't be long now.
He has a bottle of holy water in one hand, a rosary in the other. A wicked knife rests within easy reach. So does Dad's journal. Not that it's been much help.
The thing growls again, tries to move.
When it comes fully awake, Dean is ready.
The demon has red eyes. A rich dark red, like merlot. Dean can't see any pupils at all. He idly wonders how the fucker can see. Decides he doesn't really care.
The demon bucks on the floor for a few minutes, raging. It curses, screams, strains against the handcuffs and wire. There's blood on the thing's wrists, where the steel cuts into flesh.
At first the blood bothered him. Not so much, now. He's used to it.
Dean clears his throat. "Where's Sam?" he asks.
The demon doesn't answer, but it turns its head toward Dean and stops struggling. Its red eyes pierce Dean but Dean doesn't show fear.
He doesn't show anything. His emotions are clamped so far down he doesn't know if he'll ever feel anything again.
Anything besides tired, that is.
"Where's Sam?" Dean repeats. One finger taps idly against the bottle of water.
The demon's eyes bulge and the mouth twitches in an obscene smile. "Dead."
Dean ignores the answer and asks again. This is their nightly ritual. "Where's Sam?"
Dean uncaps the holy water.
"Where's Sam?" He'll never stop asking.
The thing rolls its head and grins. "With Jessica. In hell."
The demon laughs and it sounds like oil sizzling on a skillet. "She's pulling the skin right off his body, Dean. Nice long strips. She's making a dress. She's having a party." The demon manages to roll over. Gets on its knees. "She's going to wear the dress to the party and dance."
Dean's face is neutral. This isn't bad compared to what the demon said last night.
"He's screaming," the demon says conversationally. "He's screaming for you." The thing tilts its head, closes the red eyes. "I can hear him."
Dean's eyes narrow. "The only thing you're going to hear is the sound of your skull breaking if you don't tell me something useful."
The demon laughs, unfazed by the threat. "Go ahead."
The demon shakes its head. "You humans have one track minds, don't you?"
Dean throws the holy water. He shouts Cristo until the word loses all meaning. He might as well shout sofa or glue gun for all the effect it has.
The demon thrashes and screams and bleeds and burns, but it doesn't leave.
And it won't tell him how to get Sam back.
They heard about the ghost from a friend of a friend of an old friend of John's.
The trail of voice mail messages eventually leads to Dean. Something supernatural? Who you gonna call? And that was it.
They drove to Rosewood, Michigan, ready for a simple cleansing ritual, maybe a salt and burn.
Only there wasn't a ghost.
There was a demon.
And he was pretty pissed about having company.
The first time Dean saw the thing, he was wearing the body of a homeless man. Bad teeth, matted hair, grimy clothes. It was just a costume. The demon was strong and quick.
And Dean knew the moment they entered the warehouse there was going to be trouble.
Dean spends the day searching the internet until his eyes burn.
The thing is in its corner, drugged into sleep.
Dean stares at the laptop screen, but it's worthless. He doesn't even know what he's reading. What he's looking for. He doesn't know how to fix this. None of the regular exorcisms work. He's tired of failing.
He wants Sam. Sam would know what to do.
Even if he didn't know what to do, he would have some ideas.
Dean's fresh out of ideas.
He's got nothing.
Except a huge freakin' headache and a stomach full of dread.
Oh, and a demon in the corner who won't tell him the one thing he wants to know.
He gnaws at his lip, trying to think, to plan.
But it's a little hard to concentrate when there's a huge fucking neon sign blinking in your head that reads get sammy.
Watch out for your brother, his father's voice whispers.
Dean's lips tighten into a bitter line. Too late.
Yes, he fucked up. But he will unfuck it up.
He will get his brother back.
No matter what.
The warehouse is cold and damp.
There's garbage strewn across the floor, an old mattress in the corner.
Sam frowns down at the stained mattress. "Since when does a ghost need to sleep?" he asks.
Dean is about to respond with some smart ass answer when they hear the shriek.
A disheveled lump of hair and khaki is charging them from the shadows.
The red eyes suggest it's not a man.
The strength of the attack confirms it's a demon.
"Get out of my house," it grits. It grabs Dean by the front of his jacket and then Dean is flying.
Dean finds himself smashing shoulder first into a crumbling brick wall. It hurts, but he's hurt worse.
Sam is already speaking Latin, trying to exorcise the thing.
It turns on Sam and laughs. "You think that nursery rhyme will work on me, boy?"
Dean wakes with a start.
He didn't mean to fall asleep. He scrambles for his cell phone and checks for messages.
Please let there be something. Please.
He has one voice mail from Bobby.
Dean's fingers tremble when he pulls up the message.
Bobby is brief and to the point: "Dean, you need an unbinding amulet. I can get one before the week's out. I'll be waiting."
Dean swallows down the sudden ache in his throat. He runs a hand over his stubbled chin and exhales.
He wants to let himself feel hope. Or relief.
But it's too dangerous to feel either.
The drive is going to be a problem.
How to get the thing into the car?
Dean calculates. A twelve hour drive. He has just enough for one more injection to knock it out.
He checks his watch. He probably has another...five hours before it wakes up.
It'll have to be good enough.
It's not like he has a choice.
Dean is already running.
It's like his legs know before his brain does.
He's got to stop the demon.
There's a scream, and it goes on forever. Something flies at him and Dean's moving too fast to drop, duck, or roll.
He goes down.
When he gets back up Sam is gone.
And there's just the demon.
It looms over him and Dean throws the holy water like a fast ball.
The demon shrieks, clutches his face. It stumbles.
And Dean lifts the rifle and smashes it across the demon's skull.
It hits the ground, still smoking.
Dean stares at it for a moment.
Then he takes three long strides, drops to his knees, and is sick.
It fucking sucks.
He wonders, How is this my life?
Dean stares down at the thing on the floor. Late afternoon sunlight filters into the room and Dean can see the thing.
He doesn't want to look.
He always keeps the blinds drawn, the curtains closed because he doesn't want to see.
But he looks anyway. He can't not look.
The face is bruised. There's crusted blood on the right temple where Dean hit it with his gun. There's burn marks from holy water. Cuts where the demon smashed its face against the wall in fury. Charcoal bruises smeared under the eyes. A too pale face. Long unkempt brown hair.
Except he isn't.
Sure, his body is here. But Sam is long gone. Someplace where Dean can't touch him.
And that's what hurts so fucking much.
The illusion that Sam is still with him.
Because if Dean reached out and touched the thing in front of him? He wouldn't be touching Sam.
Dean's gaze moves down to the sneakers. They're scuffed and dirty.
It's not Sam.
He almost loses it when he looks at the shoes. How many miles has Sam walked in those shoes? How many times has Sam walked beside him? Walked in step with Dean down a million roads.
He wants to give up right now and cry. Just lie down beside the demon and cry.
But he can't. And he won't.
He knows Sam would never give up on him. Not in a million lifetimes.
And besides, giving up on Sam is like giving up on himself.
Dean looks down at the body of his brother and whispers, "Where are you, Sam?"
Dean's afraid to leave the car so he goes through a drive-through to get a cup of crappy fancy ass coffee. He glares down at the coffee, lips pursed. It's the kind of coffee Sam likes. He wishes Sam were here to drink it.
Between the hazelnut, caffeine and stress Dean stays awake.
He turns on Metallica but it doesn't make him feel any better so he turns it back off. Besides, it might wake up the thing that looks like Sam.
But driving in silence is a bitch.
It leaves him alone with his thoughts, and lately, him and his thoughts don't get along.
This is what you get.
Dean's knuckles whiten on the steering wheel.
You spend all your time being an asshole extraordinaire, pissed off about Dad and The Demon and The Big Secret that you weren't there for Sam.
When he needed you.
You've been spending too much time obsessing about the dead when Sam has been right there all along.
Dean's lip trembles and he tries to hold it in, but fuck it, who's here to see him now?
He's been the Rock of Gibraltar for you.
What have you done for him?
Well, for starters, he let a demon possess him.
He wipes his face and sighs.
Takes another sip of crap coffee.
And that's when the scream splits through the car like a saw.
It splits right through Dean too, and coffee spills all over his leg.
His hand tightens on the wheel and the car jerks toward the shoulder, too fast.
Dean yanks at the wheel, and he shouts Jesus Christ! not sure if he's swearing or praying.
He manages to stop the car on the shoulder of the road.
And the screaming goes on. And on.
It fills the car like rancid air and Dean can't breathe.
His hand is on the door handle when he realizes the scream sounds like something. There are some vowels involved and a few consonants.
It sounds like Deeeaaaannnnnnnn and his hand freezes. He twists in the seat, eyes wide.
Sam is back. At least his eyes are. The puppy dog look is long gone. The look that makes every female between the ages of sixteen and eighty-three swoon like a woman with vapors.
Instead Sam has rabbit eyes. They roll in his head, panic stamped on his features. The whites of his eyes are huge but it's so much better than the red.
His mouth is open, spittle flying and his jaw is locked and he's still screaming.
Dean doesn't have a clue. oh shit! sammy!
Dean climbs over the seat and pulls himself next to his brother.
Sam is shaking and Dean can hear a very disturbing pop come from what might be Sam's shoulder as he struggles blindly in the cramped space.
Dean puts his hands on his brother's face, tries to make him focus. "I'm here, Sam. It's me, Dean. I'm here. It's okay," and it's a huge fucking lie but it's the best he can do.
Dean stares into Sam's rabbit eyes and wills him to look back.
Sam pauses to take another breath, and Dean readies himself for another blast of high decibel screaming, only it doesn't come.
Sam blinks and sees Dean.
The words pour out of his mouth in a rush, fighting to get past each other and if this were any other situation, Dean would laugh. But instead he thinks he might throw up. Which is a problem because he doesn't want to throw up in the car and he certainly doesn't want to throw up on Sam. He wants to be relieved that Sam recognizes him, is talking (shrieking!) at him, but he can't manage it.
"Dean please help me get it out get it out I can't do this just kill me shoot me I think it wants to kill you and I'm trying so hard Dean so fucking hard and I think my brain is breaking it hurts it hurts--" the words pile up and Sam takes a shuddering breath.
Dean's mouth hangs open, aghast, and he tries desperately to cycle through the words Sam's just thrown in his face.
"Sam, I'm gonna help you. I'm gonna fix this."
"Kill me!" Sam yells. "I hesitated with Dad when The Demon had him. Don't hesitate now. Kill me, I can't hold it." His face twists with fear and pain until it hurts Dean just as much to look at him. "I'm afraid!" The words break into sobs and Dean wants to hold Sam until this passes but he doesn't have time and it won't pass anyway.
"Listen to me!" Dean puts his face inches from Sam's. "It's not the same. This isn't The Demon. It's some flunky."
Sam shrieks out a burst of hysterical laughter at this, but Dean continues. "I don't have the Colt. If I shoot you with a regular gun, it will keep you alive. Just like Meg. You'll be trapped until it gets tired of you."
Sam closes his eyes and shakes his head. "No. No."
Dean is adamant. "Yes. I'm taking you to Bobby. He's going to help us. I can fix this. You just need to wait a little longer."
Sam's eyes snap back open in horror. "NO!"
His voice takes on a panicked cadence of its own. "I'm sorry Sam," Dean promises, "it won't be much longer."
Seeming to deflate, Sam's head flops back against the door. He lies still.
"Sam?" Dean's heart jolts. He shakes Sam. "Sammy?"
Sam's eyes slit open and they're still the familiar blue-green.
"Use the holy water," he whispers. "It hates it. And don't bother with Latin. It's too strong. You'll need something older, maybe Sumerian. Ask Bobby."
Dean grabs Sam and pulls him close.
Even now, when he's possessed, he's doing research. He's still trying to help. "I'm sorry, Sam," Dean says hoarsely.
Sam strains against Dean for a moment, then relaxes. He lets his head rest against Dean's shoulder. "You could cut my head off," he says into Dean's coat.
Dean growls and pushes Sam back. "Dammit, Sam. I'm not going to--"
Sam screams over Dean's words. "It's coming. I can't stop it. Get away from me!" Sam radiates panic.
Dean hesitates. He doesn't want to go. Not yet.
"Dean! Get out! DEAN!"
Dean scrambles backwards, reaching for the door handle.
Sam's head turns and the eyes are red.
Sam is gone.
The demon lifts its head, then slams it forward in an attempt to head butt Dean, but Dean's already out the door.
He hurries to the driver's door and gets back in.
The demon is snarling. He can't tell if it's pissed about Sam breaking free or being trapped in the car. It's probably pissed about both.
Dean slams the door and meets its eyes in the rearview mirror.
"Your days are numbered."
"So are Sam's," it hisses.
Dean lifts the bottle off the passenger seat. Sam's seat.
He twists off the cap, eyes still on the demon.
"Sam gave me a message," Dean says.
The demon grins. "Was it goodbye?"
Dean grins back. "Nope. It was, use holy water. So here you go, fuck face." Dean whips the bottle up and back and a wide spray of water hits the thing full in the face.
The thing screams and Dean smells burning flesh.
He tries hard to forget that it's Sam's flesh that's burning. Then Dean plunges the hypodermic needle into the demon's leg. He presses the plunger and that's that.
The demon screams again, but it falls back against the seat, breathing heavy.
By the time Dean pulls back onto the highway, the thing is sleeping.
Bobby helps Dean bring the demon inside.
They carry it into an old shed out behind the salvage yard. Bobby brings a set of chains and runs a loop through the handcuffs. The other end is padlocked to a bolt on the floor. Dean lifts his eyebrows and Bobby shrugs. "Not like Sam's the first demon that's ever been here."
Dean's face contorts. "Sam isn't a demon," he growls. "It's not him. He can't help it."
Bobby looks away, frowns. He's not about to argue with John's oldest. He knows Dean isn't really angry with him. He's just angry. Period.
"What about using a Devil's Trap?" Dean finally asks.
Bobby shakes his head, adjusts his baseball cap. "Nah. I did some checking. The red-eyed demons are ornery bastards. There's not much you can do to pry them loose."
Dean swallows, fear crawling up his spine. "You said--"
"I know what I said, Dean. It's a bitch to pry them loose, but it can be done. And," he pats his pocket, "I've got the amulet."
Dean rummages in Sam's duffel bag and pulls out a book. "What about the Key of Solomon? Sam said we probably needed a Sumerian exorcism ritual."
Bobby snorts. "Oh, is that all?" He takes the book from Dean. "Won't find one of those in here..." he thinks a moment. "But I do have something." He heads back toward the house, hesitates. "You comin'?"
Dean takes a seat on the floor opposite Sam. "I'll wait here. I don't want to leave him alone."
Bobby studies the demon for a moment, then says, "The chains should hold." But he knows that's not what Dean meant.
Bobby returns an hour later. He brings candles, a bowl, a silver ceremonial knife, and three books. From his position on the floor Dean glimpses the titles: The Voynich Manuscript, The Book of Sacred Magic, and The Black Pullet. Dean's heard of two of three and he knows it's serious shit.
The demon stirs and Bobby tosses Dean the amulet. It's old. No, more like ancient. The amulet consists of a glass vial attached to what looks like a finger bone. The end of the bone is looped to a delicate tarnished chain. The finger bone is etched with a variety of fading symbols and seals. "You need to fill the vial with Sam's blood," Bobby tells him. "It's almost time."
Dean opens his mouth to argue but knows it's pointless. He needs to hurt Sam to save him.
He squats next to Sam's body and Bobby hands him the knife. Dean makes the cut on Sam's palm. He jaw works and he tries not to think as his brother's blood fills the vial.
By the time Dean is done, the candles are lit. Bobby has drawn an intricate seal on the floor and Dean doesn't recognize it. Please let this work.
The demon twitches.
Bobby dips his fingers in some kind of paste inside the bowl. He marks Sam's forehead, Dean's, and his own.
The demon's eyes open.
"Hang on to amulet no matter what," Bobby says gruffly. "Don't let go until I tell you." And then Bobby flips open The Voyich Manuscript and starts to read.
The words sound like gibberish to Dean. Only they definitely mean something because the demon is awake now and his face is twisted with fury. He vaults toward Bobby with a howl but the chain jerks him back with such force the momentum swings him into the wall. The wall shudders and blood bursts out of its (Sam's!) nose like a fountain.
The demon shakes its head and blood spatters. Red rorschachs paint the wall. It turns its attention to Dean. "You're killing him," it snarls.
"We're killing you." Dean grits through clenched teeth.
Bobby keeps reading.
The demon sways and falls against the wall, chains rattling. The demon laughs and the sound is glass in Dean's ear. "You can't get rid of me," it spits.
But it's wrong.
Bobby whispers a final phrase and the thing drops to its knees. Its limbs tremble.
"Dean, the amulet!"
Dean holds up the amulet and Bobby grasps the chain. The amulet hangs between them like a warning.
The thing tries to speak, to scream, but it can't.
It tips sideways and the trembling turns into a full blown seizure.
Dean grimaces and casts a hurry the fuck up look at Bobby.
Bobby's face is grim. "Get out!" he yells.
And it does.
A black plume of smoke shrieks out of Sam's body and Sam's chest heaves. The smoke coils up and around aiming for Dean.
"I don't think so, bitch!" Dean and Bobby raise the amulet and the smoke twists away and there's another shrill cry of rage.
Bobby cries "Now!" and together they throw the amulet on the floor. Dean raises a boot and brings it down. There's a satisfying crunch.
And the black smoke dissipates with a final scream.
Dean is on his knees next to Sam.
"It's gone," Dean whispers. He uses his sleeve to wipe his brother's face.
Sam's eyes are open but he's so still.
Dean puts his ear to Sam's chest, feels for a pulse.
He can't find one and recalls the demon's voice: You're killing him.
He checks again, his fingers doing a panicked dance across Sam's neck and --
Sam's chest hitches.
His eyes roll and he lets out a broken, choked cry.
Sam's arms reach up and latch onto Dean. Dean lets him cry against his shirt. For once he's glad to hear Sam cry. It's beautiful because it means he's alive.
"It's gone," Dean repeats, stroking Sam's hair.
Sam's eyes move to Dean's face. "It's...gone?"
Sam is afraid to believe.
Dean nods. His own face feels suspiciously wet. He clears his throat.
Sam manages a faint smile. "You...you saved me. Just like you said."
It's my fault it got you in the first place.
"It's not your fault," Sam says hoarsely.
"Quit being all psychic on me," Dean grumbles. "Can you stand?"
Sam wants to say, I can fucking fly, now that the demon's gone, but settles for, "I think so."
Dean plays nurse maid for the next two days.
There's nothing he'd rather be doing.
Sam spends most of the first day sleeping.
This gives Dean plenty of time to apply a variety of burn ointments and topical first aid creams to Sam's face.
Every time he looks at Sam he feels guilty.
But also greatful.
This was his wake up call.
He will never take Sam for granted again.
Sam jerks awake with a strangled sound.
When he sees Dean he tries hard not to cry.
Dean doesn't ask him much about what it was like being...trapped.
He'll save that for when Sam feels stronger.
Or, for never.
Sam is so relieved to be unpossessed he acts like Bobby and Dean are the second coming.
When he wakes up on the next morning to find out Dean painted his fingernails cotton candy pink, he reserves the reverence for Bobby alone.
"Thank you, Bobby," Sam says. For the seventh time. Dean's been counting.
Bobby adjusts his hat and looks mildly embarrassed. "You're welcome," he says and pats Sam's arm. "I'm glad I could help."
Sam flashes the I'm a happy puppy! look and Bobby grins back. "Besides, you're the one who thought of the Sumerian--"
Dean moves between them. "You're so smart," he says in a sing song voice. "No, you're smarter. No, you are. No, it's totally you." He makes a disgusted face. "If you ladies are done with the mutual love, we need to get a move on."
Sam rolls his eyes. He puts on a pained expression and huffs out a "Fine."
But when Dean's back is turned he smiles at Bobby and mouths a final "thanks."
Dean watches his brother get in the car. He turns to Bobby. "Kidding aside, Bobby. I want to thank you too. We owe you."
Bobby shrugs off the debt. "You don't owe me nothing," he says. Reconsiders. "On second thought there is one thing."
Dean lifts an eyebrow. "What?"
"Next time you total that car of yours? I ain't helping you fix it."
"Was it bad?" Sam asks during dinner.
Dean pokes his baked potato. "It's a potato, dude. You can't really ruin a baked potato. With enough melted cheese, anything's edible."
Sam stares. "You know what I mean."
Dean has a flippant answer poised on the tip of his tongue. The look on Sam's face changes his mind. "It wasn't, you know, good. I mean, were you having a good time?"
Sam's mouth twists. He doesn't meet Dean's gaze. "No."
"It was...twelve days?"
Dean nods. He pokes at the potato.
They're in a corner booth of Rosa's Diner. Sam's face is a mess. When the waitress first saw him the look on her face would have been funny...except it wasn't.
"And while it was, uh, interesting, I'm glad to have your boring self back."
Sam's eyebrow shoots up. "My boring self?"
"I'm surprised you didn't bore the demon out of you. Start talking about art appreciation or your favorite Bette Midler movie and whoosh, I bet it would have popped out of you right away."
Dean knows instantly he went too far. Sam tries to hide the hurt but he's too slow.
Sam tries to play along with a weak chuckle. He knows humor is Dean's medicine. He'll try to swallow it down.
"I'm...I'm sorry." Dean says. "Too soon to joke, huh?"
Sam manages a tight smile. "Just a little."
Sam leans his head against the window. It feels good to be back in the car. On the road.
It feels good to be back in control of his own body.
Dean's playing Motorhead which Sam usually hates. But he doesn't mind so much at the moment.
There are plenty of things worse than Lemmy Kilmister's voice.
He doesn't even realize he dozed off until Dean's voice pulls him back.
Sam squints, looks around. "Wha?"
"We're almost to Salem. You better put this on."
Sam sits up. "Salem? Massachusetts?"
Dean makes a face. "No, moron. Salem, Kentucky."
Sam gives Dean an owlish look. "How was I supposed to know? There's a Salem, Oregon, you know."
"Just open the bag."
Sam notices the small paper bag on the seat. "What is it?" He peaks inside. He lifts out a large plastic button and reads the front. Then he glowers at Dean.
"What?" Dean asks. "I had it blessed. It's like a charm." He touches the cord around his neck. "Like my pendant."
Sam frowns at the button. Red capital letters proclaim: "I'm too sexy to be possessed."
Dean has his thoughtful face on. "It's not true of course, but the demons probably won't know." He shrugs. "I mean, by the time they figure out you're a huge nerd, we'll be long gone."
Sam just stares, torn between laughing and being pissed. "I can't believe you," he finally says.
Dean nods. "I know. I'm a great brother. You don't have to say it." He puts a hand to his heart. "I can feel it right here."
Sam opens the pin back and pulls at the long pin. "That's not the only thing you're going to feel."
"Hey, wait a minute! What are you doing with that?"