The morning light came too soon, filtering in through the skimpy maroon hotel curtains. Dean had already awoken, he had watched the sun come up from his balcony, sitting on the shadowed cement, peering through the cold iron gates of the banister. The sun seemed to fly up that morning, too excited to start it's day. Winter was gone and Spring was just arriving and the birds were stirring by it's warmth immediately, chirping and flapping in their nests, rustling the early leaves in the trees nearby. Dean shut his eyes as the sun found a spot to rest, letting his own face feel it's morning rays and then hung his head down, please, God, let me have another day. Let me see tomorrow and the next day and the next. He looked over to his right. Sam sat there with him, not able to sleep at all that night, his eyes were closed tight, his lips shooting prayers, violently and delicately mixed together in hopes someone would hear.
They had retreated back to the room, showered, shaved, dressed, packed and now were sitting across from one another.
"Hungry?" Sam asked, already knowing the answer.
"It may be better, you know, if we eat. Maybe keep our strength up."
Dean shot him a look. Sam read it right away and closed his mouth. After all this time, he finally knew what shut up meant.
Dean got up and looked around the room. "You sure you don't want to keep it another night?"
Sam shook his head, gulped and said, "I think I'm going to want to hit the road after… tonight."
Dean nodded. "Yeah, that's what I would do." He agreed. God, please let me be there, too. Please.
Sam picked up his duffle and his laptop bag and headed for the door. Dean grabbed his gear as well and followed behind. He stopped and thought about taking a last look around and then decided against it, nothing there mattered and he wasn't one for jinxing himself.
Sam had decided it best to lay low in the town that day, which they did. He asked about the churches in the area and the visited four of them. Baptist, Christian, and two Catholic churches as they thought maybe the candles they lit there would benefit them. They knelt in front of altars and stained glass windows, statues of the Virgin Mary and statues of Jesus. They anointed themselves with holy water and kissed crucifixes. They laid their hands on the bible and sang a couple of hymns. And when the sun began to set, they made sure their guns were pumped, rock salt, iron, steel. Double-checked they had their knives on their bodies and their gas can was full.
Armed, they went to the cemetery in the Southern portion of the small town. It was typical of most graveyards, lots of hills, old parts and new parts, large tombstones and flat ones. They would take a stab and make another attempt to break the deal their way, the old fashioned way, the Winchester way. Sam had found some old black magic art, deep in a case from one of their almost forgotten hunts, Dean had brought a torch and he already had a knife for when it came time to cut himself. The brothers found the highest point of the cemetery and began a reversal chant. Sam placed the black magic artwork on the ground, setting a small mound of dirt on top of it, adding a bit of holy water and stepped back, continuing his chant.
"Om tryambakam yajamahe
Dean knelt in front of the paper alter, the fifth one he'd been in front of that day and began renouncing Satan, renouncing the Devil.
"I renounce thee, I relinquish thy name, I abandon you and all images like you, I reject those you have created and those who follow you, I will fight you, I will destroy you, I will not become one of you or your kind." Dean took the steel knife from his back pocket, turned it on it's side and slit his palm, the hint of red quickly running down his thumb, dripping onto the artwork down below. He spattered the paper with his essence, which blended in the art and looked eerily like part of a dark pattern merging together to make a masterpiece. Dean stood up, grabbed the lit torch and threw it on the paper alter, the flames shooting up towering towards the sky. It crackled, it popped, the paper shriveled as tiny pieces of soot floated above them. The brothers looked at one another. It felt like any ordinary fire. Where were the tents and the marshmallows? Nothing magical seemed to happen, Dean certainly didn't feel free.
Sam's hands fell onto his thighs, clamping them tightly. He watched the fire. "Oh, God." The words caught in his throat, he said it so quietly, so sadly. Dean knew what he meant, there was no need to respond. It was pure disappointment.
Dean threw his hands up into the air, he spun around on his heels and seriously considered slamming his fist into a stone shrine, adorned with family names he would never know. "FUCK!" he screamed. "FUCK!" His legs gave a quick shake and he feel down to his knees, the ground accepting them, sinking them down, making a muddy bed for them. His head fell into his hands and he scratched at his eyes, pulled at his spiky hair. "Fuck."
Sam was taken a back by the sudden display of emotion, rare, raw, Dean. He reached a gawky arm towards his brother when Dean spun around, his body leaned forward when Dean slumped and now that he was without words as his brother appeared in front of him broken. Sam took a breath in and exhaled, "Dean…"
Woof! It came from far off in the night, both of their heads snapped at the sound.
"What time is it, Sammy?" Dean stood up, bracing himself, hands protectively held into the night air.
Sam looked at his watch. The second hand wasn't moving, it was stuck on 11:27. "I… I'm not sure."
"God damn, their sending the hounds of hell!" He looked over at Sam and pulled his knife back out. "Their sending the dogs!"
Another woof came, followed by a cackle. Then a screech and a siren sound that forced Sam to put his hands over his ears for a brief second, realizing that didn't help. The siren began to fade and Sam looked up to see the dark shadows flying towards them, no faces, no real bodies, eyes of varying colors, piercing towards them. The air picked up, quickly seeming to guide their assailants closer to them. One zeroed in on Sam and swooped down browsing his hair, staring at him, reading his face. Sam's neck cracked back at the startle of this flying demon as it sailed on by him. Another flew down and did the same thing, as many of them began to circle high above the brothers, daunting them with the power they currently held over them. Before either one could react, the monsters appeared to divide into two, one half swarming at Sam, the other towards Dean.
Their feet couldn't take them from the hilltop fast enough. Sam running to the South, Dean running to the North. The immediate separation felt by both brothers. Dean looked back and called out a quick, "Sam!" but no answer returned to him. Sam was already on the run, he had always been much faster on his feet than his older brother. He had hopped tombstones and dashed over flags, his feet grazing a few flat markers on his way down the hill. When he hit the bottom, his breathing was erratic, how was he going to get back to Dean? He had to find another way to climb up the hill, undetected. But he was already detected. There was no escaping this. The fiends had Sam locked the entire time. There was no going back up the hill for Dean this time.
Dean ran, his hands jutting out above his head, swiping at figures diving down to suck the soul out of his body. He cursed at them, grunting under his breath, swore at the devil's name. The ground was slippery from an earlier rain, the sun had dried part of it, leaving some areas dry and other areas slick under his feet.
"Woof!" he heard her bark, saw the flash of her red eyes and watched as the dog lurching in front of him changed it's form into a dark, black figure. It pushed itself up into the air and came back down, feet first to meet with Dean's confounded head. Dean never really knew what hit him, it was all a jumbled puzzle. He thought he had passed out, but if he had, he had recouped quickly.
He found himself laying face down, pinned near a dark tombstone. It was prepaid, the future occupants hadn't died yet, Dean thought how stupid it was that he was actually reading the stone as someone – or something was holding him down. His head was shoved hard into the cold ground. He tried with everything in him to turn, turn his head a little to see what, who was it that was holding him there. He felt no hands, just pressure. His eyes turned as far back as they could in his sockets, sending pain shooting into his brain from the torturous looks. He couldn't see anything. And then he felt a swoop above his head and another and a scream that followed the next swoop suddenly filled the sky. It came in piercing, high, screaming as if a woman was giving birth… or dying. He felt what he thought was a bite come from his lower back, but he wasn't sure. What he was sure of was the pain. Dean bellowed out a deep cry, still straining to see what it was.
He wondered for a second – where was Sam?
Off in the near distance, he saw a light shine at him, a familiar light. He turned his head forward and gazed out beyond the stones to where the Impala was parked. He squinted his eyes, trying to focus – her headlights were on. Was Sam in the car?
"Sam!" Dean screamed out. No answer.
The impala seemed to be still, with the headlights on as though someone maybe needed to see a bit better in the dark. A boom came from the dash and then another, he swore he heard a horn from a band. What was that music filling his now pained ears?
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that's the best
When I lay me down to die
Gonna up to the spirit in the sky
Jesus, Dean thought, no. My baby can't be possibly playing that. He looked up and the light from the headlights started to flood into the graveyard, getting bigger, brighter and warmer. It seemed someone was walking towards him. Go away, he wanted to scream, not safe.
"Shit." He heard something from behind him rumble. Dean attempted to look up further, but the pain from the pressure was too much. He could see the ground around him lightening up as it approached and it seem to warm on his cheek. The demon above him crushed down on Dean's neck and he heard her call out, "Bunker down boys!" And the rest of his body was pinned hard into the ground. Dean winced, grunting under his breath.
There was few seconds of silence as the light became brighter and then the demon holding Dean snarled, "Abia." The name dripped from her lips in a long, twined frothy spit that hit Dean's bare neck and immediately burned his skin.
"Don't move, Dean," the voice from Abia came, almost like a sonnet. Dean turned his head and his eyes up as far as they could go. She stood there, staring into the eyes of the demon holding Dean down. Abia looked majestic from the ground, bright and beautiful. She stared into the creature, who was still unseen to Dean. Abia's eyes focused and then she called, "Mara."
The demon made a low moan towards Abia. She shifted her weight above Dean. "You have come for him?" she asked seeming to taunt the lady in white. "He is nothing to you."
Strange, Dean realized that the insult, was meant to impact Abia and her mission, but in that moment Dean felt the hurt from the demon's words deep inside, perhaps touching his condemned soul. He let out a groan as the pressure from above weighted him, sinking him into the muddy ground.
"He. Is. Mine." Abia's words were fierce, her arms spread wide and Dean felt a shift above him, a sightless tormented soul scrambling off his body, he lifted his butt out of the mud for a brief second before it came crashing back down.
"Stay!" Mara yelled out. "Do not wither! Stay!"
Dean moved his left leg, it felt as though the burden holding it there before had flown away, leaving his leg his again. He attempted to move his upper body, arching his back more, trying to get a better view of what was going on.
"I said, don't move, Dean." Abia warned him. Dean lay still.
Mara glared at her opponent. She held tight to her prisoner. "You will have to fight for him."
"I will do anything for him," Abia promised.
At that moment, Dean felt two very real sensations. The first being the fleeting of many of his captors hovering his body, falling from the light into the darkness where they came before. Mara held on, imploring them to stay, stay with her. Not to waiver. A few followed her orders, but Dean could feel his body belonging to him again. The second was an incredible knot that just grew in the pit of his stomach. Anything for him. He shook his head in disbelief and tried to gaze up to Abia. Did she not see? When she looked at him, at the scars on his body, did she not see who he really was? The monster that lived inside of him, the killer. How was she able to look over that. Dean wanted to shout out, warn her that she was making a mistake. At the very least, he wanted to throw up. He ached all over. I'm not worth this, he thought. I'm not worth this.
Mara let out a roar, calling to all in the graveyard. She reached down and flipped Dean onto his back, giving him the first look at his vanquisher. She was a slender brunette, muscles ripping from her biceps her hair flowing back almost in a blaze with the wind. Her eyes were red, her lips were crimson and her teeth were jagged, long and grayish, oozing saliva that burned like acid. Dean's eyes filled with her physical power, she was perched like a cougar, ready to pounce on her prey.
Dean's eyes flew up to Abia. She stood in his field of vision. Wearing white, of course, her plump form seemed to have grown a size or two since the pancakes. She smiled sweetly at him, her plump face dimpling and Dean felt utter beauty fly through his body momentarily. He quickly regained himself, quietly sizing up the competition. This was suppose to be the major bitch fest he had envisioned? A cougar against a marshmallow. Fuck, Dean thought, we're toast. Then a blink and thought of his little brother, somewhere in the cemetery. Lost. I am so not worth this, he wedged into this thoughts again.
"Stop it," Abia seemed unraveled at the enemy in front of her. "You are worth every breath."
Dean's eyes watched in repulsion as Mara's already animal-ish face seemed to contort into a red eyed monster, her gray fangs enlarged, her cheekbones seemed to crack underneath her skin, exposing hard bone. She commanded one of her followers to attack with a roar from her belly. A black flash occurred out of Dean's peripheral vision and he looked up to see Abia's hand strike out hard and the flash exploded into a poof of smoke. Another one came at her and the angel's other hand rose, palm out and again the blackness resulted in a small puff of smoke, raising up into the atmosphere.
Dean noticed both his legs were mobile again, he was able to move his fingers, the only thing that appeared to be still holding him down was the lone demon, Mara.
"I'll give you one warning," Abia said. "You will not win."
Mara growled at her opponent, the saliva still trickling down, paining Dean's skin. "He's mine!" She screeched and jumped towards the portly woman in white.
Abia braced her legs and put both arms in front of her body. Mara's body traveled the distance in a second, ready to shred the angel to bits of fairy dust. Abia's hands never even seemed to touch the animal as she tossed her aside like she was a bag of garbage.
Dean sat up and looked at Abia. Abia's eyes locked in on his. "I said, don't move!" she hollered and swiped a hand at him, immediately the invisible force pushed him back on the ground. Just as she adverted her attention to him, Mara took the welcoming distraction and clawed at Abia's face, revealing four bleeding tears across her pudgy cheeks instantly.
Dean frowned. Angels could bleed.
Abia darted an angry eye in Dean's direction and then focused back to Mara. The demon rocked back and forth on her swift feet, testing the magical shield Abia appeared to have around her. She snarled and huffed and tossed herself towards the protector. Her claws were in full spring, one still dripping red from her previous minor victory, her teeth were ready to taste real blood, pure blood. Mara lunged with her entire body, Abia spread her arms open wide as to receive her in a warm embrace and just when the animal meet her target, the chubby woman took the demon's face into her hands and without an effort, snapped her neck.
Mara's body fell in a slump at Abia's feet. Abia knelt down and quietly whispered into her ears, which no longer were able to hear and she then took a step back. The body seemed to sink a little as the ground cracked and crumbled and accepted the animal back down to the unknown, where it had once came from.
Abia shot Dean a look of satisfaction. "The deals off," she pointed to the sky, " orders from above." Abia smiled, so sweetly and extended her hand towards the great hunter, pulling him up to his feet, letting him weigh them again under his own power. Dean looked at the woman, amazed he hadn't noticed the magnificence she exhumed before. Her plumpness, her eyes, it was almost more than he could handle.
Dean stood, still mesmerized by her when he felt a cold enter from behind him that sent chills down his spine. Abia's eyes darted to what was behind him and Dean quickly turned to face a white-eyed demon.
"Lillith." Dean said, though never meeting her, he was fairly positive on her identity. She was a blond ten year old child with white eyes, her distinctiveness giving herself away.
Abia took a protective step forward, "Deals off," she repeated, her voice commanding.
Lililth immediately stopped in her tracks, she smiled, seeming to want to make Abia feel she was musing her. The angel recognized the hesitation, though, as weakness. The demon looked at Dean and the rip in his shirt caused from the previous fiends biting his flesh. "That's going to leave a nasty bruise." She licked her lips and then turned her head, Dean was gradually able to see that surrounding her were other demons in human forms, breathing heavily, some with red eyes, green eyes, but most with eyes blacker than the night. "But, it's okay. You really weren't our first choice anyway."
Dean's own eyes broadened. Oh my God, Where was Sam? "But, " he started with Lillith, "you made the deal, me for Sam. You already had Sam. Why would you make the deal if you already had him?"
"They never had Sam," Abia announced from behind him. "The entire time you had Sam on that broken down bed not breathing, we were fighting for him."
"Yeah, and they were gonna win, until you decided to call upon us and seal a deal."
Dean looked at Abia, hoping the demon lied. Abia gave him a sympathetic look. "I'm sorry," was all she offered.
"But you said," Dean's temper was elevating, "You said you'd help us."
Abia nodded her head. "God answered Sam's prayer, Dean. I was sent here to help him help me help you. Sam never prayed to save himself."
A far off distant yelp from Sam came from across the graveyard. Dean struggled to see, but the darkness clouded his sight and judgment. He turned desperate to Abia. "Can you help me?"
She reached her hand out to him and softly patted his shoulder. "Lift your voice up and let yourself be heard. You don't have much time. You must ask for His help now. Pray."
Another bellow from Sam came from the deep where Dean's eyes could not see but now that his legs were his again, they would travel him there. He shot out towards his little brothers screams, jumping over headstones, pulling his foot from mud. "Sam!" he hollered back, in an effort to get his brother to call back to him. "Sam! Please!"
Dean heard nothing as he dashed the cemetery, he sky above him was darker than he had ever noticed before, the air was cold and heavy, making it difficult for Dean to breathe, let alone run in the dirt and muck. His heart beat faster and his hand slid his on a tombstone as his knees buckled for a second. He felt his body plunge into the Earth and he rested his hand on the tombstone for a moment, taking in a breath. "Sam!" He yelled again and then he thought he heard something off to his left. He clambered back to his feet, with help from the tall stone and took off running again.
"Please, God, " Dean murmured as he ran this time, "please, save Sammy. God, please… Oh, Father, who art in Heaven," his footing skidded for a moment and then his body jerked in recovery. "Let my brother be okay. I need him to live, he needs to live. Let us go on and work for you, for others in need. Please help him. He needs you. You are all that can help him now. Please, God." Dean's voice rose his throat as he cleared a small hill and saw Sam at the bottom of the next hill, surrounded by death. Tombstones encircled him, dark shadowy forms hovered over him. One would swoop down and bite him, another would dart across and steal essence from his body, his soul. Dean lost his breath viewing this massacre. "Sam!" Dean tried to run down the hill, but began sliding and ended up tumbling down the majority of it, as if he were playing Jack in Jack and Jill. He landed with a thud against a large stone and looked back. No one came tumbling after him. Dean bolted up, heading for the assault still occurring on his baby brother. "Stay away from him!" He screamed. "God! Please, help him! Help my brother!" Dean reached into his back pocket. There was no knife. He had no shotgun, no holy water, no crucifixes, nothing. He watched as Sam arched his back, on all fours. His arm swiped in front of him, weak and tired, his shoulders sagged and Dean knew he wouldn't be able to fight much longer. He looked around in the graveyard. He couldn't see anyone, no lady in white coming to the rescue. Where was Abia? Anyone? He fell to his knees and fastened his eyes on his brother. Sam looked ahead.
"Dean," he whispered.
Dean closed his eyes, not bearing to hear his name. "Please, please, please, God. Please help him, please. He's my family. He's my home." Dean begged softly. His body swayed and his hands came together, fingers fitting like a puzzle. "I love him, don't let them take him. Please, deliver him from evil."
With those last words Dean felt his insides shake. He opened his eyes and saw that slowly beaming down from the sky, a large white light broke out of the dark. Blackened forms fell from Sam, whimpering, shrieking, back to their hiding places. Some didn't fair as well and as the light covered them, they exploded into little mounds of smoke each with their own distinct yell. The light continued until it held Sam, lone on the dirt of the Earth. Dean gazed at his brother, he was lying still, on his stomach, his arms stretched over his head. Dean crawled on his hands and knees towards the beam, but stopped short of it. Not knowing if he was allowed to enter through it. He lifted an arm up and laid his hand, palm out up to touch the ray. Warmth. Oh, my God, it was so warm. Dean went up on his knees and felt the warmth with his other hand, pressing his cheeks and his body to it. It felt so… lovely. Loving. A surge went through Dean's body and the light quickly dissolved, leaving Dean to fall forward, just catching himself with his descending hands. He looked up at Sam's unmoving body and hurried himself over to him.
"Sam?" he called out, tension in his voice.
"Sam?" he reached his brother and turned him over. Sam's face was ashen, his lips pale. A single tear ran out of Sam's right eye as Dean pulled him up to face him. "Sam?" his voice was more powerful, more commanding. Dean swallowed hard and wiped the wetness off of Sam's cheek. Sam gave no signs of movement. Dean pushed himself up against a large tombstone behind him, resting his back there. He reached over and grabbed Sam's collar, pulling his body up against Dean's, bringing his arms around his brother's chest. Sam's head fell back and sunk into Dean's shoulder. Ever so gently and trying not to notice how badly his finger was shaking, Dean laid his index and middle fingers against Sam's carotid artery and waited. Nothing.
A sob hiccupped from Dean as his body started to quake. "No," he whispered. "God, no, please, please." Tears streamed down his face, sobs racked his torn body. He took in a shaky breath and tried to calm himself down, pressing his fingers onto the carotid harder. He waited. A weak lub-dub.
Oh, my God.
Another weak lub-dub. And another. It was there, weak, but there. Each time, the throb made Dean's fingertips tickle a little, his excitement started to take over him.
"Sam?" He called out to him, shaking his brother's body. Sam didn't move, but he let a long breath out. Dean closed his eyes in relief and the tears couldn't stop spilling from his eyes. He rested his chin onto the top of Sam's head and whispered to him, "That's it, Sammy. In and out, you're gonna be okay. In and out, I gotcha, baby." He'd pick him and carry him out of this Hellhole if he had to. He'd done it before, away from hot flames, he was prepared to do it again.
Sam's head rolled forward and his eyes fluttered open. He looked up at his brother and frowned. "What? Where?"
And then hardhearted Dean - the thief, the killer, the liar, the hunter, the protector - kissed his brother's head. "Shhh, it's okay."
Sam blinked, the sky coming into view above him. His back ached, his shoulders fell heavy on his brother, his legs felt numb. "Dean," he said, still a bit groggy, "am I sick?"
Dean blinked away more tears. "Yeah, Sammy, you're sick."
"He likes to be called Sam." A voice came from above them. The brothers looked up and saw Abia standing in front of them, angelically looking down upon them. Dean wiped at his eyes, his arms wrapped back around his brother and he looked at her, with all the gratefulness that was left inside of him.
"Thank-you." Dean fumbled.
Abia shook her head. "I didn't do anything, not really."
Memories were starting to reenter Sam's mind. He sat up a little, still pressed against his brother. He looked over to his left, to Dean. "I think God saved me," he said not quite a question, but not quite a statement.
Dean nodded. "I think so, too."
Abia was smiling. "No, Dean, you saved Sam." She glanced down at the younger Winchester, "And you saved Dean. Just as your parents did before." And then very sternly, her eyes narrowing, "And remember – never, ever, ever, ever, ever do this again. You can't keep cheating death." She reminded.
Dean and Sam nodded.
Sam looked at Abia, she seemed to be fading in the night air. "Will we ever see you again?"
She shook her head. Quietly she pressed her finger to her lips. "I'll tell them." She promised. And with that, her form twisted into a show of white, tornado speed, blowing the dirt and debris around the young hunters and spun up until the boys could no longer see her.
Sam tried to sit up more, Dean encouraging him with his hands. The brothers broke apart from one another, Dean still resting on the mighty stone, Sam now leaning back on his hind haunches.
"What do you think she meant –I'll tell them." Sam wondered aloud.
Dean clumsily stood up, offering his hand to is little brother, who graciously accepted. "Dunno." Then he paused. "But right before she left, I was thinking about her going to back up and seeing Mom."
"And Jess," Sam interjected. "I was thinking about how much I loved them."
Dean smiled. "I think they got the message."
The roar of the Impala echoed through the cemetery, as well as the brother's ears. Sam opened the car door and climbed into the seat next to Dean. They gazed down the hills, the shiny headstones glistening by the light of the moon, twinkling back at them. The brothers turned their heads from the terrain and fixed their eyes on the road ahead of them. Dean put the car in gear and road it out of the gates, neither Winchester looking back. The sky was lightening up as they drove away from the small town, dawn was already starting to make an appearance.
I got another day, Dean thought, smiling to himself. He glanced over at Sam, whose head had fallen onto the cold glass of the window, his eyes closed peacefully, his hands wrapped around himself. Sammy. Thank God.
The impala hit a bump in the road, Dean caught the steering wheel as the car bounced, reclaiming control easily. Sam's head hit the window with a smack and he turned and frowned at Dean. "We there yet?" he asked tiredly.
"Where?" Dean threw back, puzzled.
Sam was silent for a few seconds. "I guess I was dreaming," his reply came, "thought we were with Dad." He sat up in the passenger seat and bleary looked down the road. "Dean?"
Dean glimpsed up. "Hmm?"
"I am." He shot a small, but reassuring smile at his baby brother. "You good, Sam?"
He nodded. "Dude, I think they bit me. You couldn't get there any faster?"
Dean smirked at him. "Hey, you heard the angel. I saved your ass." He paused and then added, "Bitch."
Sam smiled underneath his sore skin. "Jerk." He stretched his long arms out and folded them behind his head, curling up on the seat, trying to find comfort. The heater blew on his face, filling his senses with the leathery pancake smell the Impala had accustomed herself to. He nestled in, feeling his body start to drift to sleep. His eyes fluttered open one more time, seeing his older brother's hands on the wheel and the dim headlights on the road. Morning was coming. He cleared his throat. "It feels good to be home," he softly said and gave himself to the sandman.