Title: The Midas Touch
Character/Pairing: Dean/Bela, Sam
Rating: PG13 (swearing, adult situations)
Word Count: 4584
Spoilers: Through 303, definitely, but 304 to be safe
Summary: When the boys stumble upon Aladdin's lamp in Crazy Moe's Secondhand Shop, nothing that follows is what Dean expects - or, for that matter, anything close to what he wants.
Disclaimer: Not mine, not by a long shot.
Thanks: to my fabulous betas - erin2326 for helping me finish this thing and sarah-p for ripping it apart and making it what it is now. All mistakes within are mine.
Once upon a time, there was a boy. Now, this boy's life was far from perfect. After all, his mother died when he was only four, completely altering his life's path.
For as many years as he can recall, he was taught to protect his younger brother above all else. Unlike the average older brother, though, this involved more than making sure to keep his brother safe from strangers. This young boy knew that monsters were real, and he understood that it was his job to keep his brother safe from all sorts of evil.
The boy loved his father and wanted to make him proud, so he did just that. He protected his brother, doing whatever he could to make him happy. The decisions weren't always easy, and like any young boy, he made his share of mistakes. Still, as he grew from a boy into a man, he did the best he could.
This is his story.
"Dude, look what I found," Dean chortled, pulling Sam's attention away from his own search through the pawn shop wares.
He held up a dulled and tarnished item. "Aladdin's lamp, Sammy. Three wishes will be mine, if only I rub the lamp," he joked before tossing it back in the pile of merchandise.
"Wait," Sam said, reaching for the discarded item. He ran his fingers lightly over the lamp, examining it closely.
"Dude, it's a stupid Disney movie. It's not like we'd ever find an actual magic genie – particularly not in Moe's shop," Dean muttered under his breath, offering a wide smile to the near–deaf shopkeeper who watched them from across the room.
"Yeah, probably not," Sam agreed, and Dean knew what his brother was thinking. A genie – a real genie – would be the perfect solution to their problem. And they wouldn't even need all three wishes to void his deal, which would leave one wish apiece for more personal pursuits.
Although, since he was the one who found the lamp in the first place, maybe –
"Dean!" His brother's urgent whisper pulled his attention back to the lamp where Sam had rubbed away some of the accumulated grime to reveal an etching on the metal.
"Is that – ?" Dean stared, cutting himself off as he met his brother's eyes and found confirmation there. The etching was in Latin, of all things. Latin! This legend was beginning to look less and less like a mythological creation and more and more like fact.
Without exchanging another word, Dean pulled out his wallet and quickly paid Moe the fifteen dollars for the lamp. Who'd have thought he'd find salvation at such a low price?
"Thanks, Moe," Dean said as the boys headed for the doors. "This'll be great for my Halloween costume this year."
"Dude, why do we always spend so much time in stupid libraries," Dean complained, paging through faded volumes as a headache raged inside him. Sam was so much better at this research thing anyway. Dean could just spend the time making lists. After all, how else was he going to decide how to spend the two extra wishes he'd have?
"You think you can find reliable information on how the legend of genies started at the hotel?"
Dean was more than willing to try at this point, but if Bobby hadn't known anything about the origin of genies, he probably wasn't going to find anything tucked in the old tomes they had stacked in the backseat of the Impala.
There was always the internet, but Sam had refused to rely on it for reliable information – not for something like this.
"Fine," Dean bit out, going back to the smudged pages, attempting to force his pounding head to take a backseat to the task at hand.
Sam decoded the Latin engraving as soon as they'd gotten back to the Impala while Dean drove them to a deserted rest stop a few miles out of town.
For your just rewards.
Or something like that. It was difficult to make a direct translation from Latin, particularly if the lamp was as ancient as they suspected. As cultures and peoples had evolved, so had languages, much to Dean's frustration. If only it had read, Rub for three wishes, or something else less complicated. Or at least anything that would have involved less research.
Once it had been translated, they headed straight for Chicago. It was the nearest major city to Moe's, and they'd decided it was worth the risk of exposure to have access to a larger library with a greater amount of historical resources available.
And they'd certainly found overflowing shelves of relevant books. Definitely more books than Dean hoped to ever see again. It wasn't anything worth wasting a wish on, but Dean knew that if he had to read anymore of these stuffy anthologies, he was going to put a bullet in his brain.
"I'll be back in a minute, Sam," Dean told his brother, needing to hunt down some Tylenol for his never–ceasing headache. And if he happened to glance through some tastefully done layouts from Playboy in the meantime, who would it hurt?
"Dean, wait. I think I might have found something. You remember the legend of King Midas?"
"Yeah. Greedy king who got the power to turn shit into gold from the gods?"
"It's true," Sam said, his voice a combination of awe and disbelief.
"Hell it is," Dean disagreed, his voice filled with disbelief and disdain. "I don't believe in Greek gods or Roman gods or any sort of god, and nothing you found is going to convince me otherwise."
"But it wasn't the gods," Sam countered, pulling himself together to make his case. "That's just the only way that the people of that time could understand what happened. How would you explain someone being able to turn everything they touched into gold?"
"Lessons from David Copperfield?"
"Exactly. We have magic, and whether people believe in it or not, it's a way of explaining the unexplainable. Back then, they believed in their gods. The favor or disfavor of the gods could change a man's life."
"So, wait, Midas found a genie and wished for everything he touched to turn to gold, and it killed him in the end. That's not how a genie works."
"Maybe not according to Disney," Sam conceded. "But according to this, real genies aren't all about helping humanity. They give you what you want, but if you don't select your wish carefully, it'll come back to haunt you."
"Genies that kill?" Dean's chances of getting three wishes to make everything better were growing slimmer by the moment.
"They don't kill – not directly. But they don't stop natural aftereffects of your own wish from killing you. They give a couple of examples here – Midas is the most well–known, of course, but there's a reference to a man who wished to be popular with the ladies. This was before they had antibiotics, so he had contracted every STD known to man within months and died slowly and miserably. There was also a man who wished for the ability to move through time and space. He materialized in the middle of an old west town and was immediately trampled to death by a team of horses – with the genie's lamp found in his jacket pocket. Another man – "
"I get it," Dean said, not wanting to hear anymore. "So the wishes aren't for us, are they? I mean, I might be able to use it to get out of my deal, but then what? I'm killed by a shapeshifter a day after my bill was going to come due, or you're killed by a jiangshi or something a few weeks after I void the deal? No way, Sam. No way. It's not worth it. We have to destroy it before it kills someone else. What do we need?"
"There's nothing in here," Sam stated, after leafing through a few more pages. "We could always take the Aladdin route – wish to set the genie free, but – "
"Set an all–powerful, vengeful genie free? Without knowing how to kill him? I have a feeling the ending to that story wouldn't be anything like the Disney version either."
"The good news is that you need to say a specific chant to call up the genie. It's not like if you rub the lamp, it'll come free."
"So at least we don't have to worry about some stupid person getting more than they bargained for when they start working with a genie. That's good, at least." One look at Sam's face told Dean that he had an idea – an idea Dean wasn't going to like, not one bit.
"No. No way. You're crazy, Sam. It'll never work."
Just over a week later, Sam's crazy and stupid idea that might just work had Dean in the last place he wanted to be.
A motel room in rural New York, trying to make a deal with someone he'd prefer to never see for the rest of his days.
"What the hell is this?" she questioned, inspecting the lamp closely. "Why would I have any use for this worthless trinket?"
"C'mon, Bela. You must've heard of King Midas."
"Yes, Dean. I'm not a moron," she replied, studying him with her eyes before adding, "unlike some. However, there's no reason to believe the legend is actually true – let alone to think that that worthless piece of tin is – as you claim – a genie's lamp."
"We did the research. You think I'd show you this, offer you a deal, without checking it out first?"
"Oh, of course not, Dean. I trust you," she responded, her eyes wide with innocent belief. The look lasted but for a moment before she narrowed her eyes at him. "Tell me, then. If this is such absolute fact, what were your three wishes?"
He ignored her question. Given Sam's research, he wasn't stupid enough to use the lamp for his own gain. He might have booked himself a one-way ticket to hell in a little over ten months, but he wasn't about to make three wishes that could end up biting him – or with his luck, more likely Sam – in the ass.
Instead, he quickly told Bela what Sam had found in some of those boring texts he liked so much. As he watched her skepticism fade, he knew instinctively that their plan was well on their way.
Sam'd had the idea of offering the lamp to Bela. In exchange for some kind of charm to help them outwit the demon and some money for their trouble, she'd get the lamp.
Coming to the decision hadn't been easy. After all, the idea of selling the lamp, of profiting off this mystical item, was hardly something that appealed to either of the Winchesters. Whoever purchased the lamp would likely have a miserable rest of their life – if they even survived the granting of their wishes. After all, Sam and Dean hunted to save people from these sorts of powers, not to make it even easier for people to put themselves in the path of destruction.
Of course, not everyone who wished upon a genie had their lives destroyed. Sam had found a few – very few – examples of those who had wished well, with more than their own selfish interests in mind, and had survived to enjoy their wishes.
Dean would tell her that, before the deal was final. Whether she passed the information along to her buyer was her business and would be on her conscience. Of course, he figured that the buyer wouldn't take the warning seriously. The sorts of people who had millions to waste on supernatural trinkets weren't the sort to feel threatened by a genie in a tinny bottle. But at least with the lamp, it would be their own greed and selfishness that ruined them.
Not that Dean wasn't greedy or selfish – he definitely has his moments, that's for sure. But he was also self–aware enough to know when a sweet deal really wasn't worth the risks involved.
Dean didn't want to be the negotiator or the supplier in this situation, but since he wasn't about to let Sam get anywhere near Bela, there really wasn't much other choice. Her bullet wasn't the first Sam had taken, but that didn't mean Dean was about to take unnecessary risks with his brother's life.
She continued to protest his price – a cool hundred thousand in cash – claiming it was too steep for something that hadn't been proven to work. Dean easily leaned back against the table, setting his feet up on the wooden chair, as he worked to keep a grin off his face.
She'd cave – he knew it as well as she did. It was just a matter of time. It wasn't quite a rabbit's foot, but it was about as close as she was going to get. Since Bela was likely still dealing with her not–too–pleased buyer from the previous fiasco, she was in just as much of a bind as he was. A genie's lamp might even be considered a step up in the rare mythological objects department. This way, the greedy bastard could wish for three specific things rather than just having generic "luck." It would probably kill him in the end anyway, but at least he'd get exactly what he wanted before his wishes came back to bite him in the ass.
And as he saw the after–effects of whatever he wished for, he'd know that his misery was his own damn fault. A small part of Dean appreciated the cautionary tale hidden in the whole mess. It may be a little too "after-school special," but it really was – as the Latin engraving had clamed – just rewards.
"I don't have time to sit here and argue," Dean cut into her protests. "Do you want it or not?"
"Perhaps. I'll need to make sure I have a buyer first, of course."
"Of course," Dean responded, barely suppressing the urge to mimic her British accent.
"And your remuneration depends on what my buyer will pay. One hundred thousand dollars is a bit pricey if I can't recoup enough to cover my own costs. Besides, if I recall correctly, you cost me well over a million dollars. If anything, you should give me the lamp as your way of making things right."
"You'd think it would be worth it just to get that dude off your back. Luke de Marcus, was it?" Dean smirked, knowing that he knew much more of the situation than she'd expected.
Her eyes narrowed when he named the man who had been her attempted buyer for the rabbit's foot. "My relationships with my buyers are exactly that – mine. In the unlikely event that I want your opinion, I'll ask for it," she informed him frostily.
"Just trying to help you out, Bela," he responded.
"More like help yourself," she muttered under her breath, and he knew that she had to be asking herself how the hell he had known Luke's name.
Before Dean would agree to set up this deal, to come to this neutral territory to make Bela the offer, he had insisted that they learn whatever they could about Bela.
Bobby hadn't known much more than what he'd told them with the whole rabbit's foot incident. Just that Bela had first made contacts – and enemies – in the hunting fraternity about five years earlier. She would offer trades from time to time – when it was in her best interests. Giving hunters a talisman she had no use for in exchange for a charm that would turn her a nice profit.
Bobby had refused to deal with her, and he'd cautioned the boys to do the same. She wasn't like them, and she was known for leaving out important details when it came time to make a deal.
Anything for the all–important dollar – that's how Bobby described her. She'd lie and charm and manipulate and flirt and fight her way to get what she needed, to get what she wanted.
A month ago, she'd told him that they were all on their way to hell, and she figured they might as well enjoy the ride. As far as Dean could tell, she hadn't overstated her opinion, not in the least.
From what Sam had been able to find, Bela Talbot had first appeared in public record starting a little over eight years ago. He hadn't been able to find anything on her prior to 2000, and it was frustrating as hell for them not to know everything there was to know about her.
Know your enemy. It had been one of Dad's first lessons of hunting. If you knew everything you could about whatever sort of supernatural creature you'd be fighting, you were that much more likely to succeed.
Bela was hardly a demon, but right now, Dean would have preferred facing down a half–dozen demons and spirits rather than staying in this tiny room with her any longer.
But Sam had sent him here, had trusted him to get answers. If Bela didn't have what they needed, Dean knew and dreaded the fact that Sam wasn't going to stop searching until he either succeeded or until Dean was burning in the fiery pits of hell. And even then, even if he were roasting beside good ol' yellow eyes, Dean couldn't help but fear that Sam would go to the crossroads, if only to complete the trifecta of deal–making Winchesters.
"Speaking of which," Dean began, his most charming smile on his lips, "what do you know about getting out of deals with demons?"
"Other than only a complete moron would make such a deal in the first place?" she scoffed, looking closely into Dean's eyes. With a groan, she shook her head disdainfully. "What do you need?"
"We, uh, aren't exactly sure. I kinda made a deal with a crossroads demon. We figured you, with your vast knowledge of amulets and charms and all that mystical mumbo jumbo, might know a way out of the deal." Dean all but crossed his fingers, hoping against all logic that she'd know of some way out of it.
"Save your charm for those who might actually be swayed by it, Dean," she advised. Calculatingly, she evaluated him for a moment before adding, "And as for getting you out of your deal, why should I? From what I've heard, it's Sam who's the brains of your operation. As much as you don't want to admit it, you're more like me – shoot first, ask questions later. As it is, you hunters are fighting a losing battle. Without you dragging him down, Sam could go back to school and maybe have a life before the world crumbles around us all. You know that Sam won't leave you, not now, not when you've both lost so much already."
How the hell did she know about all that? About Sam dropping out of college, about them losing their dad. It's not like there was a Who's Who Among Demon Hunters around anywhere, was there?
Not that it mattered. Her words weren't true. They weren't. Sam wasn't staying with him out of a sense of obligation. He was staying because they were family, because it was what they'd been raised to do, because it was what they were good at. He was staying because they had work to do – demons to exorcise, spirits to vanquish, people to save.
Bela was wrong. She was so wrong. He stood up from his once-related position, fire shooting in his eyes. As soon as she'd shut the fuck up, he'd tell her just how wrong she really was.
"But without you? Sam might be able to reclaim everything he's lost. There is that slight problem with the FBI, though, isn't there?" she questioned rhetorically. "You're the one they're really after – number seven on their Most Wanted list, last I checked. You could always make another deal, Dean. You're good at making deals, aren't you? Maybe if you turn yourself in – "
If for no reason other than because he couldn't bear to hear her rambling on and on about things she knew nothing about, Dean used his one tried and true method for getting chatty women to forget they ever wanted to talk, at all, about anything.
He kissed her. He was kissing her, but it wasn't anything, didn't mean anything. It was a simple movement of his lips over hers, and it wasn't like it was a real kiss. Hell, she was trying to push him away, still trying to make herself be heard.
He couldn't have that, not now, not anymore. He pulled her body flush against his own, continuing to move his skilled lips over hers, and it was then that he felt the last vestiges of resistance drain from her delicious curves.
The reaction was exactly what he was waiting for – he'd wanted her head to clear enough so that he could say what he'd wanted to ever since she started her tirade. He loosened his grip, preparing to pull away when the unexpected happened.
She began to kiss him back.
It wasn't just a reluctant response either. It was a complete change from when he first laid his lips against hers. Instead of fighting him or merely remaining pliant in his arms, she was pulling him closer, working on shoving his un–buttoned shirt down his arms. He didn't resist, wanting to feel her more, feel her closer. The second his orange plaid was hitting the wooden floor, his skillful hands moved under her own top, cupping her breasts as she let out a gasp of pleasure. His mouth left hers to move along her jawline and nibble her ear, causing her to tremble in his arms.
It was hard to imagine anything more arousing than that. And it wasn't just that he had a willing woman in his arms. Well, okay, it was that, but it was also so much more.
It was the feel of her under his calloused fingertips. It was the citrus scent that assaulted his senses with every move she made. It was the taste of her mouth and her delicate skin. A taste that was impossible to adequately describe – probably in part because her kiss was nothing like what he'd expected.
He figured kissing her would be like curling up with a poisonous snake. It'd probably be nice and might even get his blood moving – she was female, after all – but sooner or later, she'd choose her moment and strike.
Her kiss wasn't cold; it wasn't calculating. It was damn near deadly, but that was only because she was awakening something Dean had never expected. Not here, not now, and certainly not with her.
Kissing her was like speeding the Impala down a curvy mountain road – dangerous, reckless, and exhilarating. He was playing with fire, aware on some level that if he wasn't careful, he'd be in deep shit before too much longer. But he threw caution to the wind and took what he wanted, what he hadn't realized he'd wanted. He handled her curves, going full speed ahead.
Pulling her closer yet, not allowing any separation between their bodies, Dean watched her sea green eyes darken as he covered her lips once more. He plundered her mouth, taking what he wanted, what he needed, as her nails danced up his back, sending sparks of heat and pleasure throughout his body. Needing more of her skin, he pulled at her slinky maroon top, reluctantly separating his lips from her own to allow it to clear her head.
It was both too much and just enough. It was too much for him to bear, having enjoyed the feel of her mouth over his more than he'd thought possible. But it was just enough time for him to realize that no matter how much he'd enjoyed kissing her, no matter how much he'd love to get her naked and trembling beneath him, it wasn't worth it.
She had shot at Sam when his luck was at his worst, relying on her fucking aim to keep that cursed rabbit's foot from killing him. Yeah, Sam was fine now, but that hadn't made his heart race any less after she took her shot.
He had one weakness already – he'd do anything for his brother, and anyone who knew anything about him knew that. He'd be damned if he let this go any further.
He stepped back and grabbed at his discarded plaid. Over his years of training, his father had instilled in him the importance of control – over his subconscious, over every move he made. Of course, Dad had used the training to teach them how to remain quiet and motionless on a stakeout, or how to best deal with a threat, but damn if those skills weren't coming in handy now. With a bit of effort, Dean slowed his rapid breathing and quelled his surging hormones.
Mind over body. His mind was strong enough to handle this, to handle anything.
"Talk to your buyers. I'll be waiting for your call," he informed her coldly, his voice devoid of all trace of emotion as he reached for his leather jacket and the paper bag that held the lamp. With that, he walked swiftly out the door, not daring to look at her again. More than likely, she was still half–naked, standing before him as shocked as he was, dressed only in her too-classy skirt and lacy bra. And that was definitely more than his strung–out system could handle at this point.
Minutes later, he was back in the Impala, heading for Sam. Even though he hadn't said the Latin incantation to awaken the genie, he couldn't help but wonder if by finding it, he'd been put under some strange curse. It was, after all, the only logical explanation.
He'd gone to meet Bela that night, wanting to finally get back the money she'd taken from them, wanting to hold something she wanted over her, wanting to force her to help a pair of hunters.
He was making slow progress, but the sparks that had flown between them were completely unexpected. He'd hoped that she'd agree to find a set of charms and that she'd be more than willing to exchange a significant amount of cash – the worth of the lotto tickets she'd taken plus a hefty amount of interest – in return for the genie's lamp.
Dean might be lucky enough to get just that – ironically, just what he'd wished for – but he feared that he'd gotten much more than he'd bargained for. If he had his way, he'd never see Bela ever, ever again. It would be easier – for everyone. Of course, if he never saw her again, the chances of finding a loophole to escape his deal were just shy of 'slim' and much closer to 'none.'
Dean could control his baser desires. Probably. He'd certainly enjoyed time with some gorgeous ladies in his day, but he'd always been able to avoid unnecessary distractions when he had to. That's just what he'd have to do around Bela from now on.
It wouldn't be easy, not by a long shot, but little worth doing was ever easy. And this would be worth it. If he could escape his deal and stay topside with Sam, it would be more than he had a right to at this point.
Dean, however, had learned long ago that for people like him, life had little to offer in the way of happily ever afters.
Not that that stopped him from hoping.
I have a multi-part sequel in mind which I should hopefully begin to start posting before too much longer, so I'd certainly appreciate any feedback you have to offer on characterization or whatever strikes your fancy. Thanks for reading!