A/N: Thanks again to all that are still reading this load of garbage I seem to be trudging through. I know there are those other stories of mine that need attention but I'm really working at wrapping up a couple of the older ones so I can focus a little better on the newer ones. It's taken almost a year for this one and it deserves a conclusion. Thanks again for all your patience and understanding.
Dean had said all of two words since hastily leaving his message for his brother and Bobby, the sudden jolt of energy the blessed roar of his baby's engine filling his ears had given him lasting long enough for him to put her into reverse and ease her gently out of her resting place but affording him little else. Reverse had been the easy part, but putting pressure onto the gas pedal with his shoeless foot once she was in drive was another story altogether. With barely any strength left in his legs after the nearly torturous walk from his room through the hospital corridors and down to the parking lot, the only resource he had to draw from was the ever growing intensity coming from the frequent jabs of pain that shot through his mid-section every time he moved.
He had navigated the parking lot somewhat erratically while his weakened body tried to regain the familiar feel of being behind the wheel but once he found an exit and quietly whispered "Which way" to his right, he followed Trish's direction that got him out to the open country roads. He had to cringed slightly when he realized he needed to aid his leg with a little added push from his hand in order to give the car the extra gas it would need to not only meet but exceed the speed limit and locked his knee in that place once he reached a relatively obnoxious speed, praying every tenth of a mile he wouldn't have to stop suddenly because he knew that just wasn't going to happen.
"I guess it's a good thing I'm already dead," Trish's off-the-wall comment finally caught Dean's attention, causing his intensely serious face to turn away from the road and onto her where she sat next to him in Sam's shot-gun position.
"What did you just say?" He couldn't help but stare at her as if she was speaking in a foreign tongue when his brain actually processed what she had just let come out of her mouth.
"I said it's a good thing I'm already dead. That way, when you wreck this precious car of yours with the way you're driving it right now, the only person you'll end up killing is yourself," she stated rather sternly and Dean couldn't help but be taken aback.
"The way I drive?! You 'Flintstone' brake via tree and you're complaining about the way I drive?"
"Don't go there Dean. Remember, I may have been behind the wheel but I wasn't the one that was driving," she very abruptly reminded him but the second she saw his mouth open to sarcastically retort, she continued talking to shut him up. "You haven't listened to a word I've said in the last ten minutes, have you?"
"Uh, not really," he had to confess because he knew the startled look on his face had already said it all. Truth be told, his focus had been so wrapped up with keeping his foot firmly on the accelerator and the car on the road that he really didn't have much attention span left for anything else. "Sorry, I'm just a little preoccupied. What were you saying?"
"I was trying to tell you about the house," she informed him, then started repeating herself although it was the first time Dean had actually heard what she was trying to share with him. "My Grandfather used to tell us these incredible stories of how they would hide runaway slaves in this secret room down in the basement but we never really believed him until he decided to show us one afternoon while my parents had a bottle of scotch each before deciding to tear one other a new asshole. I was only four and really didn't care about such things, but Trent was older and totally fascinated with the room and the stories behind it."
"Probably not one of the smartest ideas your grandfather ever had," Dean couldn't help but interject with a strong hint of sarcasm in the tone.
"Well, he had to tell someone and my brother wasn't exactly a sociopath at the time. Neither one of my parents knew it was there and they still don't to this day. In fact, as far as I know, nobody but my grandfather knew the room even existed once his father was dead until he told us. There's no house structure built over it so you really wouldn't have a clue by looking at blueprints and the door is built right into one of the walls to make it nearly impossible to open unless you know exactly how to do it. Trent always marveled at how perfectly concealed it really was. We used to hide down there like the world didn't exist when my parents would argue but once Grandpa got sick, we never really came around here much. When they diagnosed him with Alzheimer's, my mom had him put in a home and that was that. It's been a long time, but I still remember how to get inside. Grandpa made us promise we'd never tell a soul but he also made us promise we'd never forget."
"So, you're telling me that aside from you and your brother, the only other person that can open that door can't remember that it's even there?"
"Yes, that's exactly what I'm telling you. The walls are thick stone and believe me when I say that the entire room is totally soundproof. You can't hear anything from inside it and nothing from the outside can be heard when you're in. You can see why it's the perfect hideout for him. He'd never be found unless he wanted to be."
"Most grandfathers hand down gold watches to their children and grandchildren. Lucky Trent, he got a torture chamber. Way to go Gramps," Dean snidely remarked and Trish could tell it wasn't just irritation grating on him. She caught every wince his face made as he fought but lost the urge to fidget in his seat and even though he kept the movements he made minimal, it generated enough pain to make him hiss slightly when he did it. She could also see that the cold sweat he had broken out in as he made his way to the car had not gone away when his physical exertion had stopped but seemed to be progressively getting worse which should have been a clear indication to Dean that there was probably something very wrong with him right now. Taking all that into account, she let the crack about her beloved grandfather just slide and decided to wait out the rest of the ride in silence.
After a few short words on her part to indicate an impending change of direction was due and a couple of rather scary turns that Trish was convinced would roll the car onto its side but miraculously had not, Dean finally brought the monster vehicle to an abrupt halt with the bumper nearly kissing the door of the garage that, from his vague recollection, hadn't been in the picture Sam had showed him.
"The garage was added on some time in the early 80's," she began telling him as if he had verbally stated the thought but she hesitated on continuing to share the rest of what she was thinking when she took a long, hard look at him. Dean may have turned off the car but he had left the keys dangling in the ignition and made no move or effort to climb out from the comfort of his seat. He had simply rested his now heavy head against the top of the seatback behind him when he realized leaning forward against the steering wheel was more pain than relief and pinched his eyes shut tight, hoping that the sharp stabbing feeling in his abdomen would just pass or at lease subside enough for him to move again. Keeping his lips pursed tightly together and doing his best to breathe in and out through his nose as deeply as his body would allow, Trish would have sworn by the way he sucked in air that Dean was about ready to pass out. "Maybe we should just wait here for Sam. I don't think …"
"No, I'm ok. I just need to catch my breath for a second," he told himself more so than he was trying to convince her and when he realized her ghostly stare was fixed on him exactly the way Sam's would be, he sucked in a one more deep breath and tried to ignore every scream coming from the pit of his stomach that was fighting to be let out. "Basement, right?"
She sighed and shook her head as she answered, not entirely sure she was letting him do the right thing but at the moment it was the only thing she could think to do. As Dean's obvious discomfort seemed to intensify, so did her connection with him but she still had a slight connection to not only her brother but a rather strong one with his recent victims and she knew from the chatter in her head between the other girls exactly what Trent was getting ready to do to Julia... again. "There's a door on the side of the garage. The garage leads into the kitchen and straight to the basement door. It's the shortest and the easiest way in."
"Well, what are we waiting for? Lead the way Pocahontas," Dean had to huff as reached for the crutches resting in the foot well before he threw the car door open and tried to swing his legs out. Trish could almost feel the resulting waves of heat and pain that coursed across his entire torso when his feet hit the ground but with an incredible determination, he seemed undeterred by it. Shoving the gun that he had left resting in his lap as he drove into the waistband of his brother's somewhat baggy pants that he wore, he paused for the longest time with his back to her and Trish could only wish she could see his face. It was obvious to her that he was shivering slightly but doing his best to hide it.
"I think maybe you mean Sacagawea, don't you?" She jokingly corrected him but he didn't seem to find any humor in her comment when he didn't facetiously respond with another one of his own. Either that or he had just stopped listening again.
"Whatever you say," nearly out of breath and seemingly having a hard time catching it, he mouthed the words quietly as he forced his body upright. His firm grip on the car door with one hand and the crutches with the other was the only thing stopping his face from landing in the gravel under his feet when his knees wanted to buckle from the weight he was forcing on them but after a few scary seconds of swaying to and fro, his legs decided they would hold steady for him.
Forcing a crutch under each arm, he hobbled forward as quickly as he could, never bothering to close the car door behind him. The walk around the garage to the side wasn't a long one but by the time Dean finally got to it, he felt like he had run a marathon. His forehead was bathed in almost as much sweat as the rest of his agonized body was and the chill that had started crawling up his spine when he first pulled himself out of the car had now enveloped him from head to toe but he refused to stop, he refused to wait for Sam. He wanted to finish this on his own and he wanted to finish it now. Sam could bring up the rear to pick up the pieces after him.
"There's a key under…" Trish wanted to tell him but Dean didn't wait for her to finish. Reaching for the door handle, he gave it a quick turn and was not the least bit surprised to find that the door was unlocked.
"Arrogant bastard. Let him keep thinking nobody's gonna catch him. Makes my job easier," Dean mumbled almost to himself as he gave the door a push and let it drift open with a soft creak.
Dean peered through the open doorway into what Trish had told him was the oversized garage but could see almost nothing through the darkness blanketing the area before him. Letting his armpits support most of his weight while he relied on the crutches he walked with to hold his body up for him, he released his hold on the handgrips just long enough to draw the gun stashed in his pocket alongside Sam's phone out before reaching in to feel for a light switch. Taking in a preparatory breath as he hit the switch that would light up the space beyond where he stood, he was a little more than relieved to find nothing on the other side of the door but a large, black sedan in the spot closest to the house itself. Carefully dragging one nearly useless foot as he tried to walk with the other, he clumsily entered the garage and for the umpteenth time in his life, wished he had more than two hands.
With his sights set on the door all the way on the other side of the garage, he ignored everything around him, including Trish, and focused all his energy on putting one foot in front of the other. With a fierce determination, he had crossed the entire space from door to door in little time, the additional sweat he had worked up in the process coating his face and neck in glistening beads and causing him to shiver all the more. Stopping just short of the entryway that would take him into the house, he once again had to force his lungs to catch their breath as he stood staring at the new barrier before him. Trish didn't like what she was seeing but didn't really know how to stop him from continuing on now that she was thoroughly convinced Dean was in no condition to confront Trent but obviously dead set on doing just that anyway.
"I never should have let you come here," she whispered to him as she reached out to touch his arm, knowing full well she would make no contact but needing to try anyway.
"I don't know how you could have stopped me," he nearly had to pant out in response and indicated he had seen her unsuccessful attempt at restraining him.
"I could have kept my big mouth shut," she woefully spoke. Watching him sway slightly on his feet with his head bowed and his eyes now closed, Trish now regretted ever coming to Dean before Sam had returned. "At least until Sam got back. Then you would have never gotten out of that bed you really should still be in right now."
"Yeah… and Julia would probably be dead by the time Sam got here," his comment subtly reminded her of the fact that there was a living, breathing victim of her brother's still in the basement and he had every intention of doing whatever was in his power to change that not-so-minor detail.
"Well, you don't look that far from dead right now yourself, Dean," she voiced her observation of his rapidly deteriorating condition rather forcefully, almost as if it was late-breaking news to the frail hunter. "There's something really wrong with you and I think we should just go back to the car and wait for Sam, please."
"Trish, I don't even know where Sam is or if he's even gotten any of the messages I've left for him. We have to do this now before your brother kills Julia because I am not living with the death of another innocent person on my conscious when I know there was something I could have done about it. If I had just listened to you sooner, none of this would be happening right now and it ends today," Dean was adamant and judging by the way he glared at the dead woman standing before him, wasn't changing his mind for anything. If she had wanted to say anything else, his turning away from her to open the dreaded door before him had silenced the thought and with his head full of not only pain but a slight bit of sudden fury, he forced his way into the kitchen, slamming the door shut behind him.
With the nearly unbearable pain in his stomach and legs temporarily replaced by the sheer anger he felt at Trent and everything he had done to not only Trish but all the other girls that had had the unfortunate luck of crossing his path, Dean traversed the kitchen almost before Trish had and threw the basement door open wide, not caring how much noise he made doing it. Looking down into the curiously well-lit cellar, he could see that the stairs were fairly steep and he knew there was no way he was taking them down on his feet with the crutches he carried, not when he needed a free hand to carry the much needed gun he held. Deciding the handrail would just have to do, he paired the crutches together and tossed them down to the basement floor where he would have pick them back up from when he finally made it there himself. The shaking in his legs had worked its way up to his arms sometime during his trip from the garage to the kitchen and instead of trying to walk down the stairs he decided he'd ride them.
Lowering his body to the floor had been as agonizingly painful as he had thought it would be and when his behind finally met solid ground, he was able to relax just somewhat before expelling the breath he had sucked in and held before even making the move that he knew he was not going to enjoy. His body was nearly out of gas but his brain was still burning bright and with a new mental image of Trent hovering over Julia conjured up in his head to use as motivation, he pulled from that to slide his body down stair by stair on his backside until he was blessedly at the bottom. Without taking a pause, because he knew if he did he probably wouldn't start moving again, he reached for the crutches resting against the bottom step and forced himself back up onto his feet as Trish seemed to float effortlessly down the stairway behind him.
"You suck," he breathlessly spit out as he scowled at her when she hit bottom and she would have chuckled a bit at the forced and very insincere dirty look he had given her had it not been for the shadow she spotted just under the stairs. The moving shadow she had spotted but her scream that only he could hear had been just a little too late. "DEAN!"
Dean had been so out of breath and wracked with pain as he stood there trying to gather his strength enough to start moving again that he had never even caught a glimpse of the heavy piece of lumber being swung directly at him and surprisingly enough, its direct contact with his midsection didn't register instantly with him either. The force of the blow had been enough to knock him off his already unsteady feet and it had taken the few seconds between the impact and his final destination on the cold ground for the initial shock to pass enough for his brain to catch up with his body. When it did though, Dean was sure that Mt. Vesuvius had erupted in his groin after centuries of pent-up silence and spread hot, molten lava throughout his entire core that sucked all the air out of his lungs and left him unable to breathe. An immeasurable fear had started to sink in at the prospect of his own body suffocating itself when he couldn't even force himself to make an attempt at drawing in any air and as he fought with all his might to take even a tiny breath, he finally saw the shadow Trish had tried to warn him about approaching him from the dark. Curling up into a ball in the hopes of easing some of the nearly unbearable agony he found himself trapped in enough to jump start his blindsided lungs; all he could do was look up at the menacing figure now towering over him with tears in his eyes and almost wished he could just die.
"Dean, it's so nice of you to come and join our little party," Trent smiled down at him with a cold, dead stare as he clutched his baseball bat in his hands and held it up high over his head. Bringing the Louisville Slugger down hard against Dean's side once again, he nearly danced with glee when he watched the helpless man start convulsing on the ground as he started losing his struggle to breathe. "I don't remember sending you out an invitation but you really are more than welcome. Come inside and let's have some more fun, shall we?"