Title: This Street, That Man, This Life
Rating: R for violence and language
Pairing/Characters: None. Sam, Dean, OCs
A/N: Sam and Dean investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Things go bad. Features: Winchester whumpage, Hurt!Sam, Protective!Dean
Chapter 1: This Street
This street holds its secrets like a cobra holds its kill
This street minds its business like a jailer minds his jail
That house there is haunted
That door's a portal to hell
This street holds its secrets very well -- Cowboy Junkies
The house is quiet when Olivia Davis gets home from school. There's a post-it note on the hall mirror that reads: I took Adam to the dentist. Be back in 45. Olivia grabs the note and heads up to her room. If she's quick she can surf the internet a while before Mom gets home. The Shedd Aquarium has a new exhibit she wants to check out. She tosses her book bag on her bed and clicks the computer monitor on.
Something is different about her room.
Her eyes narrow and she thinks, If Adam was in here I'll kill him.
But nothing looks out of place. Nothing seems missing. She stands in the middle of the room and frowns.
Something just feels...different.
Her eyes fall on the closet door. It's open a crack. Barely an inch.
She's being ridiculous. She shouldn't have watched The Grudge last weekend. Now she's all paranoid. She reaches for the handle and pulls the door open to reveal--
a bunch of skirts and sweaters.
She snorts. Doofus. Of course there's nothing there. What did she expect? Sighing, she turns back to the computer.
Olivia stares, stunned, and the room wavers as she inhales a shocked breath.
There's someone standing behind her.
He almost looks familiar. Except for the eyes. The eyes are dark pools of night. Of death. She decides she doesn't care who it is, because her brain tells her he's bad and wrong and she needs to run.
She opens her mouth to scream.
The man smiles at her. She sees the teeth--oh my god--and stands frozen.
"Hello, Olivia," the things says softly and lays a hand on her arm.
When she sees what's in his other hand her chest hitches and a scream finally breaks free.
They stumble into the motel room, soaked to the skin. Ash and dirt cling to wet clothes and hair. Sam shakes his head and a spray of water and ash flies in a wide arc.
Dean grimaces and takes a quick step back. "Whoa there, Shaggy. Watch where you shake that mop."
Sam wipes his wet face with an equally wet sleeve. He tosses a damp duffel bag onto the floor. "Man," he groans, "did that suck."
Dean collapses into a chair. "I would have to agree with you on that one."
"Maybe next time we hunt a ghoul we should watch the weather channel first."
"Sounds like a plan to me." Dean glances around the room. "Hey, did you bring my bag in?"
Sam frowns. "No. Why?" He peers through the window. "Did you--" The click of the bathroom door interrupts him.
Dean's laughter filters through from the other side. "Gotcha!"
Sam pounds on the door. "Come on, man! You're going to use up all the hot water!"
"I thought you were sick of water."
Sam can almost hear Dean's smile. "Sucks to be you."
When Dean unlocks the door and he finds Sam sitting on the bed. Sam's wet clothes are in a heap on the floor and he's wearing sweatpants and a Strongbad t-shirt.
"Your turn, Samantha," Dean says with a grin.
Sam looks up from the laptop long enough to glare at his brother. "Nice."
Dean unwraps a few knives and lays them on his bed. He shrugs and gives Sam a what? look.
Sam rolls his eyes and scrolls through a series of e-mails.
Dean seats himself on the edge of the bed, picks up large knife and starts sharpening.
Sam's brow knits and he makes a "hmm" sound.
The knife pauses over the whetstone. "What?"
"I got an e-mail from Ellen. Apparently, some realtor Dad helped out a few years ago was looking for him. She made her way to Ellen and Ellen sent her on to us."
"Why was she looking for Dad? A poltergeist or something?"
"I'm not sure. Let's see...blah blah blah...okay, here we go: 'This is the third time the house has been sold in the past four years. Each time a member of the family living there goes missing. There's never been any sign of foul play, but the circumstances are suspicious, at least to me. The first time a seventeen year old boy disappeared. The second time a single woman disappeared'." Sam checks to see if Dean's listening. He is. "She was nineteen," Sam continues. "Bought the house with some inheritance after her parents died."
"And the third time?" Dean prompts.
"A thirteen year old girl disappeared last Tuesday. The mom and brother came home from a dentist appointment and the house was empty." Sam studies the screen a little too intently. An empty house. Like Ava.
Dean sets the knife down, picks up another one. "Maybe she ran away."
"The realtor--her name's Kim--says the kid's backpack was in her room, her coat was in the closet."
Dean purses his lips, thinks. "Three times in four years?"
"And none of them have been found?"
Sam scans the e-mail a second time. He shakes his head. "Nope. Not so far."
"We'll find her," Dean says. He's not talking about the little girl.
"Listen to this."
The Impala moves through the rain and Dean flicks the windshield wipers up a notch. "What?"
"It says here that Belvidere is located in Boone County." The faint glow of the laptop turns Sam's face blue.
Dean doesn't like the effect. "So?"
"I'm pretty sure Dad mentions Boone County in his journal. It's supposed to be one of the most haunted counties in Illinois."
"And that's where we're going?"
"Yeah. 212 Grove Street, Belvidere."
"At least it won't be boring," Dean says, leaning over to shut Sam's laptop.
"Hey," Sam protests, "I wasn't done."
Dean grins, eyes on the road. "You are now."
Belvidere doesn't look haunted. It looks like an average Midwestern town filled with cardboard houses on conveyor belt streets. Boxy shopping malls cap each end of the main drag.
The Davis house is two stories with white aluminum siding. Nothing special. The houses along Grove Street are well kept, but nothing to write home about. It reminds Dean of the picket fences and apple pie Sam used to go on about. Dean casts a sidelong glance at Sam. Sam doesn't talk about normal anymore. Dean doesn't know if he should feel guilty about that or not.
Dean pulls at his tie and Sam slaps his hand away. "Stop it," he warns. "We've got to look the part." He exits the car door looking clean and respectable in his dark suit. Dean studies Sam's back, wondering if this is how Sam might have dressed in his normal, lawyer life. He knows he should feel guilty--and he does--for everything Sam's lost. But the relief that Sam is still with him (safe) outweighs the guilt. And then he remembers Dad's words and wonders if Sam is really safe after all.
Sam glances back. "You coming?"
Dean shuts the car door, not quite meeting Sam's gaze. "Keep your skirt on, Samantha."
Kathryn Davis is tired of talking.
She's talked to Kevin. Her parents. The police. The neighbors. The one person she wants to talk to is Adam and he won't talk to her.
She rubs her eyes and looks at the men seated across from her. Now the FBI are here. And apparently the FBI is recruiting out of middle school, because that's about how old these two look. Kathryn sniffs and runs a hand through her hair. "Can I get you some coffee? Or tea?" She hopes they decline because she doesn't want to make them anything, she doesn't want to move. She definitely doesn't want to talk. She wants them to leave. So she can be alone with her grief.
The sandy haired one, Agent Ulrich, smiles and shakes his head. "No thanks."
The one with shaggy brown hair--do they really let you have hair like that in the FBI?--gives her a sincere look. His eyes are so honest and understanding, I know what it's like to lose someone, I really do, she wants to weep on the spot. "No thank you, Mrs. Davis."
She sniffs again. "Please. Call me Kathryn. I'm not Mrs. Davis anymore, anyway." She sighs and looks at the one with the eyes. "I'm sorry, I don't remember your name."
He nods and smiles. "Agent Rhoads. Sam Rhoads."
Dean clears his throat. "Kathryn? Did anything unusual happen before your daughter's disappearance?"
Kathryn stares. "Unusual? Like the fact I took my own daughter for granted and now that she's gone I'd cut my own arm off to have her back?"
Dean grimaces and his eyes flick to Sam for support. "Well, I, uh--"
Sam reaches a hand out and puts it next to hers, almost touching. "What my partner means is, did you notice anyone loitering in front of the house?" he suggests. "Any strange phone calls? Unexplained noises? A feeling like you're being watched?"
Kathryn shakes her head. "No. Nothing."
"Did Olivia mention anything to you? Or your son, Adam?"
Kathryn wants nothing more than to lay down on the kitchen floor and sleep. She can see herself push her chair back and stretch out on the worn linoleum. "She didn't say anything. Nobody said anything. We went to the dentist. We came home. Olivia was gone." Kathryn's voice spirals and she clears her throat. "Her stuff was here. But she wasn't." She raises red-rimmed eyes to Rhoads and he looks back with the sad dog eyes. Before she can stop herself, she says "I want you to find her."
Sam nods. "We'll do our best."
Kathryn's lips tighten. "No. I want you to find her."
Dean smiles nervously. "That is our job, ma'am."
Kathryn stares down at the table top for a long moment. When she looks up her smile is a rubber band stretched across her face. "I've talked to the police already. I thought you were the cavalry when it comes to kidnapping. Somebody goes missing, they call the FBI."
The men exchange a look she can't identify.
Sam nods. This time he does put his hand on hers. It's a big hand. She closes her eyes and imagines it punching the face of whoever took Olivia. "You're right. We are the cavalry." He offers a self-deprecating smile. "Such as it is." He glances toward the hallway. "Can we see Olivia's room? Maybe talk to Adam?"
Kathryn nods. "Of course. Go ahead." She waves a hand vaguely to the left. "Olivia's room is at the top of the stairs."
Sam and Dean stand. "Thanks," Sam says softly.
"You don't need me to come, do you?" she asks.
The agents exchange looks again. "Not unless you want to," Sincere Eyes says.
Kathryn rests her head on her arms. "I'm fine right here," she says. From this angle she can see the dirty dishes. Olivia's favorite mug is next to the sink.
She closes her eyes. It's not the floor, but it'll do.
Olivia's room doesn't look the way Sam expects. He expects pink and nail polish and stuffed animals.
Olivia's room does have one stuffed animal. But it's gray and sort of flat and resembles a manta ray. So he's not sure if that counts.
The room is sky blue. Antique maps of bodies of water decorate the walls. A piece of fishing net is strung up above her bed. It holds a variety of sand dollars, snail shells and a variety of other shells he doesn't recognize. There are also some small glass bottles capped with corks. Some of the bottles contain fragments of paper and Sam can read one. It says DREAM.
The far wall shows a mural of sand and water and tide pools.
Sam stands in the doorway, stunned. "Wow," he breathes. And very softly, "I think I want this to be my room."
Dean squinches his lips. "Huh. Not what I expected."
"Me either. I mean, I was in Jess's room, and well, hers was a little more girly."
He can still see himself lying with Jess on her bed. They're shoulder to shoulder and she's showing him old photos. Little girl Jess in a ballet tutu at Halloween. Jess with braces. Jess in a silver dress standing with a boy Sam has an unreasonable desire to punch. She turns and smiles at him, whispers something vaguely naughty in his ear and he grins. A tendril of hair falls in her face and she's so beautiful and Sam thinks, so this is what normal is.
Sam pushes the memory away. It still hurts. But it's not the constant agony it once was. Her loss has settled into a dull ache. Sam isn't sure whether he should feel guilty about the change or not.
"Dude? You okay?"
Dean is looking at him funny and Sam pulls on a smile. It's not a good fit, but it's close enough. "Yeah."
Dean works his way methodically around the room. After ten minutes of steady silence he's beginning to think the search is a bust. But the EMF meter lets out a warble when he nears the closet.
That's a start.
Sam steps into the closet. He checks the back of the closet door, the shelf above the clothes. Finally he pushes an armful of skirts out of the way.
He stumbles backward, heart hammering.
There's a woman looking at him from the back of the closet.
She's pale and her cracked lips are tinged blue. Her eyes are two burnt holes. Her voice is dry as ash and just as soft. "Save her," she whispers.
Sam can barely hear her above the roar in his ears. He manages a "Who are you?" that sounds much calmer than he feels.
There's no answer.
The woman is gone.
Dean stares at Sam, nonplussed. "What do you mean, who am I?"
Sam digs in the closet, frantically flinging clothes aside, peering at the inner wall. "Not you," he snaps, frustrated. "I saw something. Someone. A spirit." He thinks about the name Dana Schulps. "Maybe a death omen." He pokes his head back out toward Dean. "You didn't hear anything?"
"Just my lame brother."
Sam rolls his eyes. "Give me that." He grabs the EMF from Dean's hand. As soon as it's in the closet the warble becomes a whistle.
He thrusts the meter back at Dean and pulls out the camcorder. He looks carefully around the small dark space.
There's a faint bluish white aura right where he saw the ghost's face.
"Look at this," Sam commands, holding out the camcorder.
Dean looks. He whistles. "Will you look at that." He switches the camcorder off and turns to Sam. "So what exactly did you see?"
Sam shrugs. "There wasn't much to see. Just a woman's face. She looked about my age, maybe younger. I think she had brown hair, but it was hard to tell."
"So it wasn't Olivia?"
Sam shakes his head. "No. And she said save her. Which I'm assuming means save Olivia."
"So in other words, not a real helpful spirit."
"No, but she didn't try to kill me. That's a plus."
They're putting away the equipment when Dean spots the kid standing in the hallway.
"Who are you?"
Sam looks over the top of Dean's head at the boy standing in the doorway. He's pale. Dark haired. Piercing blue eyes watch him from behind Harry Potter-style glasses.
"I'm Agent Ulrich," Dean says and nods over his shoulder to Sam. "This is Agent Rhoads."
The boy just stares at them with his large eyes. Sizing them up.
Dean clears his throat. "So, uh, are you Adam? Olivia's brother?"
The boy mumbles something that might be a yes.
Apparently they pass his internal inspection because he joins them in his sister's room. "What was that noise I heard before?"
Dean tries bluffing. "What noise?"
"Oh, you must have heard the scanner," Sam says smoothly. "We've got a piece of new equipment we're trying out. It's sort of a fingerprint scanner. Have you seen how the police dust for fingerprints on TV?"
"Well it's kind of like that. Only instead of using the dust, it scans for fingerprints."
Adam looks mildly dubious, but accepts the answer. "Did you find anything?"
Sam sighs. "No so far." At the look on Adam's face, he quickly continues, "But we're not done looking."
Adam perches on the edge of his sister's bed. He looks sad and scared and lonely. It's a look Dean recognizes well. He seats himself beside the boy. "This has gotta be rough, huh?"
Adam swallows. "It's my fault, you know."
Sam and Dean exchange glances. "Why is it your fault?" Sam wonders.
The boy bows his head and studies his hands. "I had to get my braces tightened. I have this appliance thing on the roof of my mouth. If I hadn't had the appointment we would have been home. Liv would still be here."
Sam shakes his head. "Believe me, Adam. This is not your fault. You couldn't help having an appointment."
Adam's face goes splotchy with shame. "Yeah, I could have. I had candy. And I'm not supposed to. It broke the wire and we had to make a special appointment."
He raises his head and both brothers read the misery in his eyes.
Dean looks hard at the boy. "Listen to me, kid. I don't care if you ate a whole candy store and all your teeth fell out. You could have been home, you could have been to the dentist, you could have been on the moon." He lifts his hands, in a who knows gesture. "If somebody wanted to take your sister, it wouldn't make a difference where you were. It's not your fault."
Sam offers Adam a gentle smile. "He's right. It's not your fault. At all."
Adam swallows. He shrugs. "Maybe," he concedes with a mumble.
"Not maybe," Dean continues. "You aren't responsible for your sister, kiddo."
Adam sighs. "I know. But she always acts like she's responsible for me. She looks out for me and stuff. She's pretty okay," his voice trembles, "for a girl."
"I'm sure she is," Sam says.
Adam tells them, "She wanted--wants to be a marine biologist."
Dean smiles. "That explains the shells."
Adam swallows. "I used to make fun of her. I told her she liked shells more than people."
Dean pats Adam's arm. "I bet she knew you were just joking around."
The three of them sit in silence for a while.
It's not awkward.
It's just one big brother and two little ones.
Sam eventually risks, "Adam, did Liv say anything to you about anyone following her?"
The boy shakes his head.
"Have you heard any weird noises or seen anything suspicious lately?"
Adam looks confused. "What do you mean? Like, in the house?"
Sam nods. "That's right."
Adam nibbles his bottom lip in concentration. "I don't think so." He pauses. "Do you think this has anything to do with those other people?"
"What other people?"
"There were some people who lived here before us. A teenager. And a lady. They disappeared too."
Sam and Dean share a pointed look.
Adam looks from one brother to the other. "You guys knew about that, didn't you?"
"Yeah. We knew about that," Dean answers. "We're wondering how you knew about it."
Adam rolls his eyes. "That's easy. My mom and dad were arguing about it."
Sam's eyebrows lift. "They were?"
"My dad says the house is cursed and my mom never should have moved us here."
Dean clears his throat. "What do you think?"
Adam stands, shrugs. "I don't know. I don't think I believe in curses. But there's lots of stuff I don't know about yet. So I guess it could be true." Adam looks at Dean curiously. "Besides, I didn't think FBI guys believed in curses and stuff. That's, like, the X-Files and stuff."
"The X-Files is just make-believe," Dean grins. "But me and my partner are a bit more open-minded than some FBI agents. Maybe there is something to this so-called curse. We'll look into it, okay?"
Adam stares at them a moment. Then a faint smile lights his face. "Okay."
Dean gives Sam a look. "A fingerprint scanner? That's the best you could do?"
Sam huffs. "At least I tried. Here's you," he makes a duh face, "d'oh, what noise?" He shakes his head in disgust. "I told you we should have come back when they were gone."
Dean waves a hand, dismissing Sam's complaint. "Whatever, dude. We found something, right? That's what matters." Dean perks up. "Plus, you got to talk to dead people."
Sam's glare is radioactive. If it were aimed at anyone other than Dean, it might have had an effect.
"Tomorrow Adam will be at school and Kathryn will be at work. We'll come back then."
"Fine," Sam grits.
They let themselves out the front door and head to the car.
"I want to do some research on the history of the house and the previous occupants. Maybe stop by the Register of Deeds and see if I can find out anything interesting about neighboring properties."
"Okay. And while you try not to get a paper cut I'll drop by dear old Dad's house. We can have a nice chat about curses."
"Fine. You can drop me off. The courthouse is just a few blocks from the library. I can walk. When you're done talking to Mr. Davis, come and get me."
"Dude. I'll come and get you when I feel like it."
"As long as it's as soon as you're done with–" Sam stops abruptly. Movement at the window distracts him.
A woman stands in the driveway. She's bent forward, her face to the passenger window.
It's the ghost from Olivia's room.
In the daylight Sam has a better view of her. She's wearing Betty Boop pajamas. Her hair is long and whips around her face in a way that makes Sam think of mythological stories from his childhood. She puts a palm against the window and Sam can see there's a deep wound there. He catches a brief glimpse of bone. She slides her hand and the wound moves like a mouth. Sam's stomach heaves and he presses his hands to head, willing the nausea away. "What do you want?" he asks.
She lowers her face to the glass. Her lips move and there's no condensation on the window. Her eyes burn. "You're closer than you think."
And then she's gone.
There's nothing but grass and sky and unkempt bushes along the edge of the driveway.
Sam slumps in his seat. He tries to shut out the image of her face. Of her hand.
"Sam." Dean's voice is like an anchor. "Was it the ghost?"
Dean ponders. "I saw something this time. Like a shadow outside the window."
Sam's relieved. At least this means the ghost isn't just in his imagination. "She said you're closer than you think."
"Closer to finding Olivia? To becoming Miss America? Closer to what?"
Sam's not in the mood for jokes. Wearily he asks, "Just take me to the library, okay?"
Dean starts the car. He casts a sideways look at Sam, trying to read him. "I'll be there as soon as I'm done with Jeff Davis."
Sam spends an inordinate amount of time slogging through old microfiches. But there's nothing to learn. After an hour he doesn't know much about what is wrong with the house. But he has a good understanding of what's not wrong with the house.
It wasn't built on a burial ground of any kind. Or on the remains of a hospital. Or on the foundation of an old prison. And it wasn't built on the remains of a sanitarium.
No one was murdered in the house since it was built (in 1956). No one committed suicide there. There wasn't any trouble at all until about four years ago.
The house is on a corner lot and there are two neighbors. Three, if you count across the street. All the neighbors have been cooperative. Of course, no one saw anything.
Claire and Robert Mower live to the east. They were both at work when Olivia vanished.
Matthias Townsend lives to the west. He's in his seventies. Uses a cane. He was home when Olivia vanished.
John Talbot lives across the street. He drives a semi for a living and has been gone for the past week.
The Mowers have lived in their house for two years. So they moved in after the weird business at 212 Grove Street. John Talbot moved in ten years ago. Matthias Townsend moved in fifteen years ago according to real estate records. One of the forms at the Register of Deeds shows that the Grove Street property is not his primary residence. Sam wonders if that means anything.
When Dean comes to get him he's waiting on a bench outside the library with a stack of photocopies and a headache.
Dean's got a bag of lukewarm hamburgers. He offers one to Sam. Sam unwraps it with little enthusiasm. "Well? How is Mr. Davis?"
Dean takes a bite of his own burger and chews. "Don't ask me," he says with his mouth full, "the dude wasn't home." He swallows. "He's got a decent apartment though."
Sam lifts an eyebrow. And?
"According to the manger he's visiting his folks out of state. He's all broken up over Liv's disappearance, yadda, yadda."
Sam drops his burger back in the bag. "Wow. You're all heart, Dean." He reaches for the fresh coffee in the drink holder. "So what have you been doing all this time?"
"And by 'nothing', you mean going to a bar?"
Dean grins. "Maybe."
"Back off, man. I played a few games of pool, that's all."
"While I sat at the library doing real work?" Sam growls.
"I did work," Dean huffs defensively. "How do you think I paid for dinner?"
Sam makes a disgruntled face. "I thought you just picked it out of the garbage."
Dean digs in the bag for Sam's uneaten burger. He holds up a yellow wrapper and grins. "I guess this means I can have your burger."
He's on a beach watching the sun spread pink fists across the horizon. It's breathtaking. And Jess stands beside him, her arm tucked through his. He wants to keep this moment forever. Fold it up like an origami crane and keep it in his pocket.
Jessica's face wavers.
Sam blinks awake and turns to Dean.
Sam turns the other way and comes face to face with the ghost. Her mouth moves and Sam guesses it might be her idea of a smile.
"He's going to kill you."
Sam's first thought is, Dean? Dean might have to kill him if he turns into something he's not. But Sam's not a monster. Yet. "Who?"
"The man who took Olivia?"
"The man who took me."
Sam blinks awake. He sits up and looks around the room.
He slides out of bed and moves lightly across the room. He snaps on the little desk light and starts frantically shuffling through papers. Sam decides to concentrate more on the man who took me and less on the he's going to kill you. There's no sense worrying Dean.
Dean groans and rolls over. "Sam, you better be having a vision or dying. There's no other reason to be awake right now."
"Yeah there is, Dean." Sam finds the page he's looking for and moves over to Dean's bed. He turns on another light and Dean pulls a pillow over his face.
"Did you have a vision?"
"No, but I had– "
Dean cuts him off with a second muffled question. "Are you dying?"
He said I had to save you…and if I couldn't, I might have to kill you, Sammy
He's going to kill you.
Sam rubs a hand over his face. "Not at this moment."
"Well you're about to if you don't turn out that light."
Sam smiles thinly. If Dean were more awake, he'd have never made that joke. Not now.
"Dean, forget about the light. I know who the ghost is. I dreamed about her and she said the man who took me. As soon as I woke up I checked, and sure enough, I was right. I can't believe I didn't realize it sooner."
Dean shifts the pillow a fraction lower. "Realize what?"
"The ghost is Lisa Halverson, the nineteen year old woman who went missing."
That's enough to make Dean toss the pillow. "Let me see."
Sam hands him a photocopy of a grainy newspaper clipping. The headline reads: Nineteen Year Old Woman Missing. There's a small black and white photo of a young woman with long hair and a friendly smile. Sam points at the picture. "That's her."
Dean's jaw muscle works as he studies the photo. He looks back up at Sam. "Do you think Olivia is dead too?"
Sam runs a hand through his tousled hair. He can still hear Kathryn's voice, I want you to find my daughter. "I hope not."
By 10:00 a.m. they're back at the Davis house.
The house is empty and Dean and Sam make short work of the remaining rooms. Aside from Olivia's closet, the EMF doesn't pick up anything upstairs.
Downstairs the EMF shrieks once near the dining room window. They move back and forth across the room a dozen times. The window is the only place the EMF reacts.
Dean nods toward the back yard. "Let's check outside."
They repeat the process beneath the window outside.
The meter's reaction is much louder.
Dean looks toward Matthais Townsend's house, then back at Sam. "What do you think?"
"I think we sho– " Pain crushes the words back down his throat. Sam puts his hands to his head and a distant part of him realizes he's falling.
The world shatters into mosaic patterns.
He wades through the pain; waiting from something to reassemble that makes sense.
He's no longer outdoors. He's in a dark enclosed space. A cage. His brain screams the Benders but he knows that can't be right. Besides, the cage door is open and there's light ahead.
He moves through a doorway into a large, well-lit room. He's in a basement. There's a large sturdy table in the center of the room.
He can see a girl on the table. One wrist and ankle secured to each wooden leg. He moves closer, feeling sick, afraid to look. The table is stained with a veneer of blood.
A man leans over Olivia Davis, his voice gentle. "I'm going to cut you now, Olivia. I won't kill you, but it will hurt."
Sam wants to cry out when the blade bites into Olivia's skin but he can't.
The girl is crying soundlessly. Tears leak down her face and into her hair. Her body trembles with fear. Her legs drum against the table.
The man's back is to Sam. He croons softly, like a lullaby, and Sam's gut twists with rage. "It's okay to feel afraid," he whispers. He bends close to Olivia's face and kisses her cheek. "I want you to be afraid."
Sam wants to come out of the vision right now. He needs to help Olivia.
Olivia makes a gagging noise and Sam realizes there's something stuffed into her mouth.
The man chuckles, as if he's just heard a good choke. "Here we go," he says, and brings the razor down again.
Dean is crouching next to Sam, murmuring his name when the vision ends. Sam stiffens and pulls away from his brother. He's already trying to get away before he knows where he is.
He feels grass beneath his fingers. Cold slush. Mud. He keeps crawling until the nausea squeezes his stomach empty. He dry heaves until his body shakes.
Sam senses Dean hovering beside him and he's grateful. He leans forward and rests his head on the ground. When he tries to open his eyes the light resurrects the pain in his skull. He makes a strangled gasp and then Dean is done hovering. Dean's hand is on his back.
"Dean," Sam rasps. His voice trembles but he doesn't cry. "He's killing her. I think he's killing her right now." He pushes himself laboriously to his hands and feet. He sways and Dean's right there, holding his arm.
The look on Sam's face makes Dean's fingers itch. He wants to punch something or pull a trigger. Preferably both. He'll do anything to get the despairmiserypain out of Sam's eyes.
Sam wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. "Come on." He lurches toward the neighboring house. "She's here." His voice sounds like tearing paper. "All this time, Dean. She was right here."
Dean half-follows, half-supports Sam. "How do you know?"
Sam turns to look at him and Dean has to look away. He doesn't ask again.
By the time the time they get the weapons from the trunk and reach the front porch Sam is walking on his own. They climb the porch quietly. Sam has a knife tucked safely in his belt and a shotgun full of rock salt. Dean holds a .45. All the bases covered.
Dean opens the outer door quietly. He reached for the inner door when it's suddenly yanked open.
A girl stands in the doorway. Her dark hair is snarled and matted with blood. One eye is swollen shut. Her face is covered in long ugly cuts and the hand that holds the door is wrapped in stained gauze.
It's Olivia Davis.
Her good eye is a wide pool of panic and she leaps backward when she sees the two men. She glances behind her and decides Sam and Dean are the lesser of two evils. "Help me," she gasps, her voice rough, "please."
Dean can see purple handprints tattooed around her neck. His pulse quickens. He's ready to shoot the evil son of a bitch that did this. More than ready. He yanks the door wider. "We're here to help you."
Sam stares at Olivia in amazement. He can still see the blade coming down on her skin, yet here she is, alive. In front of him. He wants to cry with relief. "Olivia," he holds out his hand, "let's go."
Olivia takes a step toward him, hesitates. Her eye grows wider and Dean thinks it's gonna pop if it gets much bigger. "Wait. There's more. There's a bunch of people in the basement. He's killing them!" Her voice is a panicked hiss, the sound of air leaking from a balloon. "Please. Help me get them out. I can't leave them here."
"Let's get you out first, then we'll get them," Dean offers calmly.
Olivia takes Sam's outstretched hand. And she pulls him into the house as if he's made of straw. She grabs his other arm and throws him across the room. Sam smashes into a couch, flips over it like some kind of circus acrobat and lands on a coffee table that buckles beneath his weight. Sam feels splinters dig into his back and thinks, Oh shit.
Dean launches himself through the door in time to see Sam smash onto the table. "Sam!"
There's an old man sitting in the corner of the room watching them. A cane leans against one leg. Matthias Townsend. He smiles at Dean as if he's just walked into afternoon tea instead of some fucked-up throw-down with a little girl.
Olivia stands next to Sam, smiling. "It was kind of you to come for Olivia," she tells him, "but I'm afraid you're a little late." Her hand moves to Sam's belt and there's a flash of silver. Something cold slides into Sam's chest.
Sam's too stunned to feel the pain and he grunts "Christo." Olivia jerks backwards. Sam's knife drops to the floor. A moment later, so does she. Olivia opens her mouth to scream and vomits up a black coil of smoke instead. It curls around her head, then past Sam, and over to the old man.
The man opens his mouth like he's waiting for a spoonful of oatmeal (here comes the choo-choo) and the smoke pours in and in. Matthias shudders, then opens black eyes. He smiles and taps his cane against the floor. "Gentlemen," he nods, "I've been expecting you."
Dean swallows. He trains the gun on Old Man Demon and makes his way to Sam. Sam's got a hand clapped to his chest but Dean can still see the blood through splayed fingers. "Sammy?"
"I think it stabbed me," Sam says. He remembers Lisa Halverson's warning, He's going to kill you. His eyes are apologetic.
Dean's vision swims. "How bad?" he barks.
"I'm not sure," Sam rasps. "It doesn't hurt much," he adds, as if that means it doesn't really count.
"Dean," Matthias stands. "Would you mind stepping away from your brother?"
Dean's glare is vitriolic. "Depends. Would you mind a bullet in your brain?"
Matthias shrugs. "It's not really my brain, Dean. Matthias would mind, however." He smiles. "But I think I'd get over it with a bit of therapy and a hug."
Dean pulls the trigger anyway, because there's nothing else he can do except try to buy them time. Only the bullet doesn't connect with Old Man Demon's brain pan like Dean hopes it will because Old Man Demon is no longer there.
He's standing next to Dean with a mildly annoyed look on his face. "Now, now," he admonishes. "Let's not be hasty." Dean swings the gun around but the cane arcs up (too fast, jesus god too fucking fast) and connects with his face in a blow that makes him feel like his skull has just shattered.
Then he's lifted off his feet and then there's a wall and then there's nothing.