The Game—Ch 19
Dean eased the Impala to a stop, shifting into park. Cutting the engine, he leaned back, let his head drop onto the seat. He let out a slow, long breath, drew another in and let the next out in an even longer exhale. The inside of the car was illuminated by the lights from the small office and vacancy sign of the motel he'd stopped in front of.
Shadows from a sign post and shrubs near the parking lot cast the inside of the Impala in lines of light and dark. He let his head roll first to his left, with a yawn he gazed out the side window. Another yawn, arms dropping from the steering wheel to his legs, Dean let his head drift right. Sam dozed; he'd barely twitched when Dean pulled off the highway, dropping their speed, and was completely unbothered by the car's stopping.
Reaching across his brother, Dean felt for the door lock. Cool metal touched his hand, his fingers curled to a fist, his arm pulled back as if he'd been stung. He watched Sam sleep for a few seconds more before laying a hand on his brother's shoulder. He let his fingers curl over the swell of muscle under Sam's clothes, pressing down with gentle pressure before he gave Sam a small shove.
"Sam." A more insistent shove. "Sammy."
"Mmm..?" Sam stirred, shifting around and straightening. Rubbing at his eyes, he blinked at Dean owlishly before looking around. He squinted out the window, rubbed the back of his neck, and straightened even further. " 'M awake."
"We gotta get a room."
Yawning, Sam nodded, blinked sluggishly and pulled up on the door handle. He gave it an odd glance when the door wouldn't open. "Okay." A quick, sidelong glance slipped toward Dean, "Gotcha." Sam pulled the lock up, opened the door and pushed out of the car. He stretched and twisted, took a better look around before giving Dean another groggy nod. "Okay."
Dean climbed slowly out of the car, wondering if he'd ever not hurt again. His body, stiff from hours of driving, creaked nearly as much as the old car when he pushed the door shut behind him. Sam plodded around the car, followed him to the motel office, not saying a word. He didn't have to. Dean knew Sam understood Dean's hesitation, his unwillingness to leave him, sleeping, in the car. Maybe someday, but not yet, not today. He did consider, for a moment, what testimony that gave to their car, their home, and Sam's sense of security inside it, he could almost immediately revert to old habits without much thought to what ifs. Sam trusted when he was in their car with Dean, didn't question their safety there.
Making a quick scan of the parking lot, it was empty, he glanced back again to be sure Sam, still more asleep than awake, trailed behind him. Ten minutes, and a few more yawns from Sam and they were in a room on the other side of the motel complex. Sam wasn't too asleep to beat him to the shower, however, sneaky kid.
Dropping heavily on the end of one bed, Dean clicked on the TV. They were in the next state and it was still the only thing all over the news, every station, every newspaper, everywhere. He sat and watched the broadcast. The picture was of what looked like a very high tech, state of the art, prison, though Dean knew better. One end was still smoking from the blaze ignited there, burning the bodies left inside along with that portion of the compound. Burning not evidence, Dean knew, though it would appear that way, but burning the threat of possible future attacks. Del Villar, Marlin, they'd been angry, vile men, Dean sure didn't want he and Sam to have to face them as whatever they became after death. He wondered if the fire department ever found evidence of salt, or if that melted away, burned with the rest.
Dean didn't much care as long as the salt did its job.
So engrossed in the broadcast, how dozens of men, many of whom had been reported missing years ago, some still wanted felons presumed escaped in transport, had been found in this secluded, secret prison. Some anonymous caller, the reporter informed, tipped off authorities a day ago to this hell hole. The place was being compared to slavery rings. Maybe that was the next step, Dean had no idea.
It had taken Carter about a day to drive home in Dean's mind, the place became his responsibility. Dean became leader the second he'd dropped Del Villar, dead, to the floor in front of all the 'spectators'. It was an unwelcome, unwanted, and hated responsibility but his nonetheless. There were some there who'd do no harm to anyone, but they were the minority. Men like Tim Hren and his partners who left under the cover of dark. Tim and the two with him headed south Dean knew, to Mexico. Hopefully to find some nice sea-side town, live out their lives in peace. Dean hadn't been terribly surprised to find out Tim had been in social work, gangs—he dealt with violent groups. No wonder he'd survived there as long as he had. How Tim ended up in that place, Dean never did find out and couldn't help but have a few moments gratitude he'd been there.
Others, they knew, had to somehow be remanded back over to proper authorities. Men with out conscience, a reason to live, cold-blooded psychopaths who'd kill for the sheer thrill it brought them. Sam and Carter cooked up their final plan while Dean took care of the bodies, let loose those who deserved freedom. It'd been Carter who'd made the call. The state police would believe him Sam reasoned. He had no reason to fabricate the events. So, Carter made the call from Del Villar's office. Ten minutes later he, along with Dean and Sam drove away. None of them looked back. They'd left Carter at an airstrip several hundred miles to the north. A friend of Bobby's would fly him to somewhere he'd be able to live in relative seclusion, away from prisons and cops.
Water drops hitting the back of his hand made Dean start.
"Sorry." Sam chuckled, toweling his hair dry while he stood beside Dean, watching the TV. "This is going to go on for weeks." He moved away after a minute, crossed to his bed, pulled on a T-shirt and sweatpants cut off just above his knees. Another few seconds and he was back at Dean's side, bandaging material and antiseptic cream held in one hand, palm up, toward Dean. "Do you mind?" The question came out only slightly louder than an exhale.
Dean wondered if Sam was ever going to put the infliction of the wounds behind him, he supposed it was just going to take time. At least Sam didn't look like he wanted to crawl out of his skin every time something touched his knees and legs, though he still avoided looking at them.
Patting the bed, at the same time scooting over to make room, Dean nodded, smiled. "Sure thing Sammy." He took the stuff from Sam's hand, waited while Sam settled on the bed, moving far enough he could lie on his back, knees bent, feet propped on the edge of the bed. Dean twisted to make it easier to apply the medicine, bandages. "How they feeling?"
"Better." Sam had one arm thrown over his face, obscuring his eyes. "He…um…it was my fault. Marlin said it was because of me."
Dean smoothed the tape down on the first bandage, anger welled up, how dare that man say that. "Sam—" It came out little more than a growl.
"The first time, there was this guy. I was tied to a chair, and a man, your build, I couldn't see his face, there was a hood over him. He was on the…" Sam's voice faltered a bit. He took a few deep breaths before continuing. "He, this guy, tied down to the table, Marlin told me he was you." Sam gave a small shrug, making him shift a bit, "I couldn't get close enough. I had no way of knowing if it was true or not. He was alive when…" Again Sam's voice faltered. Dean stilled, hands dropping to his lap, he twisted farther to face his brother. "Alive when Marlin took a knife, gutted him." Sam's voice cracked, "Told me it was you."
Dean closed his eyes, forced himself to stay still, to not turn around and beat the wall as hard as he could.
"He, Marlin, he told me if I said anything, next time it would be you. Then the other time, when he left me in that room, tied down…he brought in this kid…" Another half shrug, "I don't know maybe my age, a few years younger, I don't know. Marlin ra-raped him, then slit his throat. Told me if I didn't behave, next time he showed me someone it would be you—I believed him." Sam propped himself on his elbows, stared at the wall opposite the bed. "He said it was my fault, if I'd gone along with him at the bar that night he'd have never done any of it."
If Dean thought he'd been angry before, it doubled in size on him, pushing out against his ribcage like some monster. Hate, pure blind hate, was the only thing he felt toward Marlin. He'd known what he was doing, of that much Dean was sure. Marlin managed to pick the things Sam feared most, and turn it on him. Fear of losing his brother, fear of causing harm to someone else. Marlin had taken those fears buried inside Sam and played on them. Dean was suddenly glad he'd killed the man.
"You killed him, didn't you?"
Turning far enough so he could meet Sam's eyes, Dean nodded. He might have been glad he'd killed Marlin but admitting it to Sam wasn't any easier, in fact it was damn hard.
Sam pulled himself up, sitting straight, picking at the newly applied bandages to his knees until Dean smacked his hand away. "What would you think of me if I said good?"
The sudden and intense influx of relief coursing through Dean, oozing into every bit of him, was nearly overwhelming. He stared at the ground between his feet, blinked a few times to clear away how it swam and blurred. "I'd think we were both justified." Dean said quietly.
Sam's hand rested on his shoulder turning him a bit more. "Dean, he didn't do anything else to me. The worse thing they did was hit me. Before you got there, he and his buddies threatened a lot, used pretty graphic descriptions."
"They didn't—" He tried to turn away, but Sam's steel grip held firm.
"Look at me." Sam's voice was soft. "Dean? Please?" When his eyes met Sam's he shook his head. "No. Dean, no. I promise, I've told you everything."
For the first time since he and Sam had gone into that bar, Dean was able to take in a full breath. His chest loosened enough he could maybe get the rest out, tell Sam what he needed to say, what Sam needed to hear as much as the things Dean needed to hear.
"My fight with Tim, originally it was to be a death match. Marlin wanted one or both of us gone, told me I could take care of one of his little problems for him. He told me that's what I had to do to get you back."
"He what?" The anger, sheer disgust in Sam's voice made Dean want to cringe away from him. It was all he could do not to. "He thought what? You were going to pick some stranger over your own brother?" Sam snorted, "Damn he had you pegged wrong. That bastard! He got what he earned for doing that to you."
Had Sam's hand still not been on his shoulder Dean might have collapsed off the edge of the bed. "Del Villar too. I killed him." He barely rasped out the words.
"That's how we got out, I figured as much."
"They got just what they deserved. You don't think they wouldn't have killed us, others? What about all those before us? Who knows how many you saved, spared, Dean. You'd never let that happen. You'd never let me down." Sam clicked off the TV. "Let's go sit outside for a bit, I've been cooped up enough to last me a while."
To Dean all that really mattered was what Sam thought of him. He could see on Sam's face, what his little brother thought of him would never decrease, if anything it had grown. Dean would always be Sam's hero.
Carter Bitner stepped from the cool damp of the church cellar into the bright South Dakota sunshine. He carried a plaque he'd made and wanted to hang in the small school. When they'd left Del Villar's complex Dean had made a few calls to a friend of his, a man named Bobby Singer. He was a good man, Carter saw that instantly. But then, anyone Dean trusted so much would be nothing less.
Bobby had brought him here, to this speck of a town. These people were poor beyond belief, but they welcomed him. In return for his medical skills he was given shelter, food, friendship. Others came through here, mostly men, tough and smart. Men like Dean and Sam Winchester, men like Bobby Singer. The things they did, and how they accomplished what they did Carter was only now beginning to learn. He cared for their injuries, they cared for the small village with nothing more than some houses, a church and a school.
Some days he'd help the pastor with the school lessons. Being around the children, it was his reward for the years spent in Del Villar's fight prison.
Carter breathed in deep the clean, fresh, free air.
He hung his plaque where everyone coming through would see it. People needed to know, children needed to learn there was one way in life, fight for what was yours, protect it with everything in you. He'd seen that in action, knew it for what it was, a valuable lesson. Carter knew better than most, one had to be strong and sure. Carter knew it was the truth.
Stepping back, he admired the wood carving he'd spent the past few hours on, with a small nod and a smile he straightened it, pleased with its look, with the words.
The meek shall inherit nothing.