Disclaimer: I don't own or make a profit from Supernatural.
A/N: This is my response to the prompt given to me by ObuletShadowStalker for the SFTCOL(AR)S summer fic exchange round three. Pimp the Limp!
Thanks to Starliteyes for her stellar beta services!
To Wish Upon A Soul
The night is balmy, just the way I like it. I take a deep breath, tasting the sweet scent of jasmine on my tongue. I can feel sweat trickle down my back to pool at the dip of my spine. I look down at my bare feet, wiggling my toes in the coarse sprouts of crabgrass.
I'm wearing a knee-length, cotton nightdress that makes me look wanton and innocent at the same time. I stole a look at myself before I left the house, wiping the last drop of blood from my cheek. I love it when my body is curvy and feminine. I love to possess women who are sleeping in nothing, but sheer, sexy nightgowns.
I can hear the call of the Summoning, and it beckons me forward. Even if I wanted to resist it, I could not. That's my torment. My hell. I'm a lower level demon. A Red-Eye. Not a Black-Eye, free to roam and possess at will. Not a Yellow-Eye with minions to do my bidding. No, I'm a low ranking, Red-Eye that can only come to earth when there is a Summoning or to collect on a pact, never of my own free will, never for my own bidding, but soon that will change. Tonight I will collect the soul that will give me what I need to transcend.
Dean Winchester's soul is the key to my destiny.
I wind my way through the grove of trees draped with Spanish moss. Small stones and twigs cut the bottom of my feet, but I can't feel it. Wearing a body is like wearing a glove. I can feel what the meat suit feels, but it's muffled and distance, like wearing clothing that's snagging on a stick. I don't feel the tear, just the tug.
Eventually I come out on the other side and I can see the crossroads. In the center are the broad shoulders of a man. I smile to myself. The body in front of me is as familiar as any. It's my ticket out of my prison of flesh and blood.
I try to sneak up behind him, but it's impossible. He's too well-trained, too attuned to danger. I like that in a man, even in a human. He makes some smart-ass quip and I have to laugh. He is just so cocky, so determined not to be afraid even though I know he's shitting his pants. He's going to die tonight. Not just die. He's going straight to Hell. And it's such a horrible place. It really, really is. I should know.
He looks like a kicked puppy, and I just want to play with him some more, but I am too eager. Once I walk him past The Obsidian Gates, I will have the power that I need to become a Black-Eye. My soul quota will be complete.
Without warning I reach into his chest, my fist rooting around until I feel something pulse. I wrap my fingers around it, but it's so hot that it almost burns me. I ignore the pain, the sharpness as it cuts my hand and I withdraw my fist. It comes free with a wet little pop, and I feel the sudden urge eat. Nothing like a soul reaping to awaken an appetite.
I had lied to Dean when I told him that his soul was tarnished. It was anything but. It's so bright and shiny that it nearly blinds me when I pull it from his corpse. It's so beautiful that I just want to devour it right then and there, but it's not mine to consume. Such a pity, but someday---someday, I will have right and rank to eat as I will---someday very, very soon.
I spare a glance at the meat sack at my feet, but it's only a glance. Now that there is no soul, the beauty has left his face. The glow that had been Dean Winchester is gone. Instead it sits in my hand, a spiky ball of white and gold light.
I walk into the shadow cast by a towering tree, seeing a staircase leading down only visible to creatures such as myself. I shed the skin that I'm wearing, becoming a living shadow, holding the precious soul in the center of my being. I descend into The Black, and from my insides I can hear screaming. If I had a face I would smile.
The shadows that I immerse myself into are so dark that I can't see the end to them. I can hear moaning all around me, and something brushes through me, but I ignore it. It's second nature to me. All it is are lost souls who can't find their way, perpetually lost, forever wandering.
The moaning gives way to screaming, and a glow appears. It isn't a white light or a transcendental tunnel or whatever else people think of when they die. It's the flickering glow of flames. It's more for effect than anything. That's what souls expect to see when they enter into Hell. They want flames and brimstone and maybe some horned-demons with pitch forks loading people onto boats so they can cross a lake of fire or some shit.
Hell really isn't like that. Not really. Well, for some people it might be. No, Hell is like earth. For the most part, souls never even know that they are dead. They think that they are alive, suffering through their worst torments. When a child molester dies, then in Hell, he is the child. When murderers die, they become their victims. The only catch is; you never die in Hell. It just keeps repeating in a voracious loop of blood and tears. It never becomes common place, and the last loop is never remembered. Hell is the creation of the soul's own fears and nightmares. It's diabolical, really. I chuckle. Home sweet home.
I cross over the threshold and I instantly feel an invasion. Invisible claws rake apart my dark, misty form, searching for their prize. I part myself, disbanding so they can reach for the soul that I have brought them. They yank it away, but not before I can feel the infusion of power into my molecules. My payment for a job well done.
I shudder and shake and if I could breathe I would pant with the ecstasy of it. All at once I can see things that weren't visible to me before. The light shifts and changes. In the past I could only really see in shades of gray with the barest tinting of color, but now everything is vibrant and pulsating. I turn back towards the way I came and for the first time ever I can see the path out of hell without the benefit of a Summoning to lead me. I am now free to travel to the human realm and possess at will. No longer will I have to answer the call of the Summoning. I am my own demon now.
I race up the path, bursting out of the shadows into the moonlight. I have no idea where I am, but it doesn't matter. I seek out the first house I can find, streaming my way down through the fireplace and into the mouth of the nearest meat puppet.
It takes me a few minutes to figure out how to work the arms and legs of the small child, but an eternity of practice makes it easy. I race through the house, looking for a mirror, finally finding one in the hall bath. I huff in frustration when I realize that I am too short to see my reflection. I glance around, finding a step stool in the corner. I push it up to the counter and clamber up. I brace my small hands on the sink and lean forward until I can see my small elfin features in the mirror. I'm small, maybe only three or four, a horrid age for range of motion, all thumbs, but I do make an adorable boy. Maybe I'll use this body to slaughter his family. That would truly be diabolical. I laugh at myself, a cold, mirthless laugh from the mouth of a baby.
I'm happy I realize, but not at the thought of slaughtering this family. I'm happy because the reflection in the mirror shows a little boy with obsidian black eyes.
Sam watched as the Djinn adjusted the tube draining the life's essence from the woman. He had been only mildly interested when he found out, during a random bout of research, that Djinn were demi-gods much like Tricksters. However, that luke-warm interest had intensified into a near obsession when he found out that they could feed on things other than humans, like demons.
Since then he had been secretly searching diligently for a Djinn. He had led Dean on hunts across the country, while keeping an eye out for mysterious disappearances or reports of desiccated corpses. Once he found a Djinn, it had been easier than he thought to strike a deal with it. Apparently, demon essence was like fine wine: the older the better, and so much sweeter than any human. In return, Sam promised not to hunt the Djinn for several weeks, just long enough for it to drain the crossroads bitch, but after that all bets were off and it was fair game once again. The Djinn understood and was agreeable. Besides, Sam was pretty sure the Djinn knew that he wasn't going to actively hunt it. The last thing he needed was for Dean to have a heart to heart with the demon eater, and the Djinn knew it.
Dean would know that something was up in a couple weeks when no one came to collect his soul. It would be pretty hard not to. Dean would more than likely go on a rampage, demanding answers, searching under every rock, but all Sam had to do was just play dumb. There was no reason for Dean to know what Sam had done. No reason for Dean to know that Sam had murdered for the sake of his brother.
Setting up the demon had been even easier than striking a deal with the Djinn. All he had to do was summon the bitch. She had sauntered up to him, all smiles and cocky words, trailing her fingers across his chest while she asked him why he had summoned her. She had honestly thought that he wanted to make a deal to save his brother's soul. She never saw the Djinn sneak up behind her, never knew that she had been tricked.
Now she was strung up in an empty warehouse, being drained like a slaughterhouse cow. Sam wanted to smile at the thought, but he couldn't, because when he looked at her, he didn't see the demon that would have taken his brother in just a few weeks time. Instead he saw the innocent woman the demon had possessed to meet him at the crossroad.
She had pale blonde hair that hung loose over her shoulders in golden waves. She was dressed in a white, linen nightgown, and she obviously had been asleep in her bed when the demon had invaded her body. She had a look about her that screamed mommy and Sam knew that she had a family waiting for her at home. A family that would never know what happened to their wife and mother.
The Djinn couldn't separate the human from the demon; it had explained that to him early on. It was an all or nothing deal. This woman or Dean.
Somewhere along the line, Dean had told Sam what the yellow-eyed demon had said to him before Dean had put a bullet through its heart. That how could he be certain that Sam was one hundred percent, pure Sammy and not something else? Secrets were just something that Dean couldn't keep from Sam anymore. Not since he confessed the last big one: that Dean might have to kill him someday. Secrets eat you up on the inside. It makes you into something that you aren't.
Sam wondered how his secret was going to affect him down the road. Would this be the catalyst that would set him on his dark path? Had the change already started? Would he ever be the way that he was? In the past he had made the decision to sacrifice someone else to save his brother. More than once. But never consciously. He had known something was up with Le Grange, but he hadn't researched it as thoroughly as he could have. He let the vague sense of unease slide by and allowed the Reverend to save his brother.
He knew his dad was up to no good when he asked for summoning supplies from Bobby, but Sam had brought them to him anyways. He didn't know exactly what his father was going to do with them, but he ignored the feeling of unease and his brother woke up from a coma.
That refusal to look too closely had settled his conscience, allowed him to get through life with only the mildest sense of guilt. After all, how could he be blamed for another person's actions, even if he was the one to benefit from them? It's not like he ordered the Reaper to steal another person's life force and bestow it onto Dean. It's not like he told his father to trade his soul for Dean's life.
He had been nothing, but a bystander. But not anymore. Now he was the instigator, the murderer. He lured the demon to the crossroads. He watched as the Djinn laid his whammy on her. He stood by while she was strung up like a side of meat in an empty, half-broken down warehouse. And now, he was going to walk away while the life was sucked out of her.
He felt his phone vibrate, and absently he dug down into his pocket to pull it out, glancing at the call screen.
Sam loved his brother more than anything in the world. Together, there was nothing that they couldn't do. They had avenged their mother, freed their father and stopped an apocalypse. Together they were unbeatable, but unlike Dean, Sam knew that he could survive on his own. He had done it before for four years and he could do it again. If Dean were to die tomorrow, Sam would let him stay dead, because that was the natural order of things. Dead was dead and it should stay that way. The thought of it absolutely ripped him up on the inside, but he understood and accepted it.
What Sam could not, and would not accept was the idea of his brother's soul going Hell to save him. Dean was the last person on this earth that deserved to be cast into torment. Sam had never met a more unselfish, more giving, and hell yes, even loving, human being than Dean. He had been a child thrust into an impossible situation of having to raise his infant brother while trying his hardest to live up to the expectations of a demanding, militant father. Through it all, Dean's credo, the words that he lived by were; saving people, hunting things. To Dean that was the meaning of life: saving people by hunting the things that would hurt them.
For once, someone had to return the favor. Dean was in need of saving and Sam was going to be the one to do it. Even if it meant taking his brother's place in Hell to do so. Murder, even with the best of intentions was still a sin after all.
He flipped open the phone, spinning on his heel to stalk out of the building.
"Hey, Dean. Yeah, there's nothing here. Did you find anything on your end?"
Sam strode out into the night, quickly making his way down the long line of warehouses that he had been in charge of 'searching'.
"Yeah, it must have caught wind that we were hunting it and headed out. It probably went south. They like the warm weather. Maybe we should check out Phoenix."
As agreed, he would lay a false trail for a couple of weeks, giving the Djinn plenty of time to drain the demon. After that, they would eventually lose track and move onto something else to hunt. Dean wouldn't like it, but he would be none the wiser. They had lost the scent before, and they would again in the future.
Sam made his way towards his brother, melting into the shadows. Never once did he look back at the warehouse nor did he look forward with regret. He met Dean, who was leaning up against the Impala, a frown of frustration ghosting over his features. Sam had to swallow his smile and ignore the kick of happiness in his chest.
Dean was safe. Dean was whole.
That, really, was all that mattered. Everything else could go straight to Hell.