Summary: A witch's curse leaves Sam trapped somewhere Dean can't follow and Dean finds himself losing faith in the hero he thought he could always count on. Limp/angst Teenchester two-part short story. Rated for some bad language.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but I've sold my soul to Kripke. The characters in this fic are not mine, neither is the one line which I have shameless lifted from a certain fairytale which offered me more than a little inspiration. Apologies to the brothers Grimm.
A/N: This fic is a companion piece to my other story "While You Were Sleeping" but you don't need to read that first.
A/N2: Huge grovelling thanks to AdaraChan-67 and TammiTam for their magical beta skills. I played (too much) when I got the chapter back so any and all remaining mistakes are my own. This fic is for TammiTam as part of the CWESS fic challenge - and because she's someone I now consider a dear friend (sorry Tammi, I think that might mean you're stuck with me) and for sendintheclowns, friendly and Sammygirl1963 who asked for this so nicely. I really hope this is something along the lines of what you wanted.
The Glass Casket - Part One
"I hate you!" The words were the sharpest weapon in the youngest Winchester's arsenal, the only weapon he could wield at the moment; after all, you can't very well salt and burn your own father.
When you haven't got a whole lot of kinfolk, it hurts like a knife to the gut to feel like you hate what is essentially half of your entire family. Even when you don't hate them, not really.
Teenaged emotions which rage like wildfire, words fired like bullets with John the only bull's-eye target mark in range. Even through his angry red haze Sam still sees the way John's eyes change at the exact moment the words leave his lips. The sorrow which all but drowns his father's stern glare. And then the only person Sam truly does hate is himself.
But Sam is a Winchester and his propensity for being a 'stubborn ass' comes as part of the job description. "You don't care about anything I want," Sam yells, his face so flushed red with his heated temper that it's almost comical.
Sam's grown tall these last few years—taller even than Dean—but John is still a bear of a man.
John lurches forward, falteringly, as if Sam's words had hurt him physically. A huge hand attempts to close the gap, reaching out to grab hold of the neck of Sam's t-shirt—perhaps an attempt to rein his son in somehow but Sam instinctively jerks away and shifts himself out of reach. His dad wouldn't hit him but Sam's afraid...afraid he won't be able to take his words back.
Sam doesn't wait around to see if he'll be given the chance. He turns and bolts from the motel room, slamming the door behind him as he runs out into the parking lot.
Dean is sitting on the curb a little away from the motel, kicking at a small pebble as though it had done him some great injustice. He looks pained; he could hear the raised voices even after taking refuge outside. He doesn't look up as Sam runs out of their room and he doesn't try to stop his brother as Sam takes off sprinting across the parking lot and down the street. Sam will be back.
These battles of will between Sam and Dad, which have become as regular as the sun rising in the morning, always seem to end the same way. Dad doggedly pushes for what he wants—on this occasion for Sam to drop his AP English class in favor of training—Sam rebels, they argue and Sam takes off. An hour will pass, sometimes two. But Sam will come back. His cheeks will be blotchy and his eyes puffy...but he'll still come back.
It's the middle of winter and snow flakes are falling like feathers from the sky.
Sam runs until he's out of breath. Until his chest aches and there's a pain in his side which can almost eclipse the one in his heart.
He leans over bracing his hands on his knees, head hanging down, panting hard. It's icy cold but he's sweating from the exertion. He stands up, balls his hands into tight fists and rubs them into his eyes, trying to rub away the few unwelcome tears which are lingering there, blurring his vision.
He's reached the outskirts of the town. Town being too favourable a word to describe Hollandale as the population is so small that when they hold their annual 4th of July parade, there's usually more people riding on the floats than watching them.
The road Sam has been following is little more than a dirt track, which trails along the edge of the vast woods which dominate the County. Sam looks behind him, trying to gauge how far he has run, it's growing dark and he knows better than to be out alone and unarmed after sunset.
The snow on the ground is a light dusting, like some pastry-chef had gone overboard with icing sugar and a sieve. And Sam notices that he's standing directly in front of one particularly fine old house.
Despite the out-of-the-way location, the windows are brightly lit. There's music which sounds like the tinkling of piano keys and faint cheerful laughter. A layer of crisp white snow is sitting on the roof, like it should be there all year round; it's that picture postcard perfect.
It's then that Sam remembers what day it is: it's Thanksgiving. He's not surprised he had forgotten; it's not an occasion his family cares to celebrate. It's normally only recognized because Dad gets grouchy over the fact that the shops close early, traffic is a serious bitch and Sam usually feels more different than ever to other kids his age. Most of those lucky little bastards get to sit around a dining table choosing between a serving of turkey leg or turkey breast, whereas Sam usually gets to sit in the Impala choosing between carrying a salt-loaded shotgun or a semi-automatic. Fuck it, sometimes, he takes both.
Last Thanksgiving Dean had taken him to an all-night diner for a slice of pumpkin pie but then Dean always does make an effort to try and make Sam feel less at odds with their hunting lifestyle. An illusion of normality, at least, that's what Sam calls it but he appreciates the effort and always relishes an opportunity to enjoy 'normal' for awhile, even if it does only last the length of time it takes for him to clear his plate of pie crumbs and swallow the remaining dregs of luke-warm coffee.
The beads of sweat that had caused Sam's t-shirt to stick to his body feel like they're freezing into miniature ice cubes. Sam shivers but continues to stare at the house, the life he knows he can never have. He's just about to start walking back in the direction of the motel, when the front door to the grand house unexpectedly opens and a soft sweet voice shouts, "Hi."
A teenaged girl, probably not much older than Sam, is standing in the doorway. She's smiling broadly right at him and Sam feels his face grow hot, a blush spreading across his cheeks. "You look frozen half to death, why don't you come in? I've made hot chocolate."
She actually holding two huge mugs and Sam can see the steam rolling up from them; can smell rich dark chocolate and cinnamon spice in the air.
He knows he shouldn't go inside. Sam—about a million times more so than most other people—is glaringly aware of how easy it is for evil to lurk behind an innocent face but as he stands there looking at her, considering his next move, he can feel the sharp tug of an invisible line reeling him in.
Seeming to sense his hesitation the girl flashes another pretty smile and even while Sam's brain is screaming 'no' his treacherous legs are walking up the path and right through the door, into the warm comfortable house.
And it's then that everything changes.
Where there had been long flowing auburn curls now there's only wispy white hair, barely enough to cover the liver-spot-marked scalp. The attractive young face is gone, replaced instead with thin wrinkled skin, yellowing teeth and a crooked nose. The teenaged girl isn't what she had appeared to be at all but in fact an old woman, her back stooped over with age.
The interior of the house doesn't look like the fine home it had been only seconds before either; it's the same building but it's far from elegant, it's as decrepit as its owner.
The room Sam is standing in is large, cavernous. He's surrounded by crumbling stone walls, lined with rows upon rows of shelves which are heaped with all manner of weird objects caked in thick dust and silvery cobwebs. Numerous glass jars, heavily melted wax candles alive with peculiar green flames, a few books that have titles Sam's never heard of and propping them up like a bookend is what looks alarmingly like a cat skull.
"Hunter," the woman declares. Disdain for the word lingers on her tongue like a bad taste in the mouth. She looks Sam up and down, appraising him like he's something she wants to purchase at market. "Hunter's son." She smiles, a smile that's old and knowing. One that's been used many times before, whenever she has taken something she desires.
"I want to leave," Sam states as firmly as the quiver in his voice will allow. He glances at the door behind him; a heavy oak door, now closed and bolted shut. "Let me leave."
She hobbles past Sam, ignoring him as though he'd never spoken. "Hunters are rare these days and you—you interest me." She moves toward her shelves and runs a long dirty fingernail along the various items, pausing only when she reaches what she's looking for.
A spike of alarm runs through Sam's body as she carefully lifts an ornate dagger from the shelves. Sam unconsciously moves into a defensive stance and he tenses, waiting, adrenalin starting to pump making his fingers twitch with anticipation. The dagger's handle is ivory, carved with a Baphomet symbol. Sam's mouth goes bone-dry as she runs the tip of the blade along her palm and bright red blood drips onto the floor like raindrops.
When Sam opens his eyes, his senses slowly trickle back to him like sand in an hourglass. He's lying on the ground. It's cold and the air smells ripe with damp and mould. He feels strange, sluggish; his limbs stubbornly reluctant to move under his command.
As he struggles to pull himself into a sitting position, he realizes he's in some kind of cellar. It's dark but he can see the old woman standing at an altar, which looks as though it has been around for centuries. There's something mystical and yet indefinable charging the air around her like electricity.
The old woman halts whatever she is doing and turns to stare at Sam, a mixture of confusion and bitter disappointment marring her expression. "Tainted child. I can't use your blood."
Sam brings his left hand up to his face and sees that there is a jagged gash running across the fleshy middle of his palm, the blood just starting to clot. He manages to get to his feet but he's unsteady and as he takes a few shaky steps away from her she doesn't try and stop him.
"Such a waste, such a pity. Poor child, poor child, poor child." She echoes in a breathy sing-song voice. Turning back to her altar, she lifts a hand and waves it absently at Sam as though giving him permission to leave.
Sam glances around, his eyes quickly finding the stairs leading out of the cellar. As he cautiously moves towards the stairs—all the time keeping his eyes on the woman—there's a sudden swift succession of loud thumps which come from the floor above them. It sounds like heavy footfalls and Sam notices the old lady's head jerk upwards, she cocks her head to one side, listening tentatively. Looks like she wasn't expecting visitors.
Sam sucks in a breath; he'd recognize that voice anywhere. "Dean! Here. I'm down here."
The cellar floods with light as a door at the top of the stairs crashes open and Dean charges down towards them, shotgun raised. His eyes rapidly absorb the scene; the altar and the blood on Sam's hand, the way his brother looks a little shell-shocked but otherwise relatively healthy and Jesus Christ, thank you God, because Dean's mind had been freaking out imagining finding all kinds of gruesome things.
"Hey, lady," Dean growls. His eyes rest on Sam for a moment—drinking in the sight of his kid brother alive and breathing—before flicking over to fix the woman with a vicious stare. "You're really going for the whole witch stereotype aren't you? You got a black cat too?"
"You see the bookend upstairs?" Sam asks dryly, edging over to stand by Dean's side.
Dean shudders. "Ewww. Rest in peace, Mr. Tinkles."
Sam stifles the urge to laugh out loud. Sometimes it's good to have a big brother, especially one like Dean.
"You're mocking me." The old woman says, turning to look at Dean.
"Nice of you to finally notice." Dean's trademark smirk is replaced with a feral sneer, "So, Hecate, I'm taking Sam out of here. Then I'll come back and we can have a nice little chat about you kidnapping teenaged boys for your hoo doo, voo doo or whatever the hell it is you witches do...do."
Sam raises an eyebrow and Dean shrugs, "What? You're the one who let yourself get nabbed by the Queen of the Cougar Hounds here."
"You're a disrespectful one, boy; maybe I should teach you some manners," she hisses, clenching a fist and Sam can see blood oozing from between her fingers.
"Maybe I should teach you personal hygiene. A little soap, a gallon of Nair, you could make some old guy very happy." Dean quips, keeping his shotgun pointed in her direction.
"I'll rip your life away; you'll learn some respect then."
"Awesome, it's a date. But just so you know, I don't put out on a first date." Dean grabs Sam by the arm and guides him towards the stairs.
They don't see her move but suddenly the old woman is right there, standing so close behind them that Dean can smell her fetid breath. She reaches out a hand and lets her fingers ghost across Sam's retreating back. She's mumbling under her breath, a rolling cadence of strange words from a distant land. Dean curses and knocks her hand away roughly. "Don't touch him," he spits before hurrying Sam up the stairs and out of the door. The woman doesn't move, instead she stands motionless with her outstreched hand still hovering in the air and the portentous words still flowing from her lips.
Sam feels wobbly, light-headed like the time he and Eddie Cowley drank half a bottle of Jägermeister at Joe Wiezman's Bar Mitzvah. Dean is keeping a firm grip on his elbow as they hurry out of the house and towards the Impala. "H—How'd you find me?" Sam stutters, through chattering teeth.
"How'd I find you? You've been gone hours, Sam."
Sam frowns; it doesn't feel like he's been gone all that long but as he glances towards the heavens he can see a shimmering full moon high in the night's sky.
"I drove up and down this dirt road four times and the EMF kept spiking each time I passed her place. At first I thought the house was derelict but I could tell there was some serious mojo going on. She used a glamour, right? Made you see something which wasn't real? What'd she disguise herself as to lure you in, Albert Einstein? Steven Hawkins?"
Sam looks away, embarrassed. His dad was right; he really never will be as good a hunter as Dean. "A girl." Sam stops talking, thinks for a moment and then whispers. "The old woman said I'm tainted."
Dean halts their progress as they reach the Impala. He leans right into Sam's personal space, looking his brother over for signs of injury. "She is a crazy old broad with more than her fair share of bats in the belfry. Are you okay? Did she do anything to you, apart from creep you out?"
"No." Sam wants to say more but his head is fuzzy, a sound like white noise static buzzing in his ears. What was he trying to say again? "I'm cold, I..." But the words won't come and it's not that his vocal cords aren't working but rather that he can't remember the words he needs.
Dean opens the passenger door and helps Sam carefully into the seat. "You're freezing, Sammy. Didn't you know people wear their jackets in the winter, genius? I'll take you back to the motel then Dad and I will deal with her." He must notice the way Sam physically tenses because he quickly adds, "Dad's not mad at you, okay? He just wants what he thinks is best for us, for you, Sam."
Again at a loss for words, Sam simply nods, feeling dumb, and rests his aching head against the car window.
Sam must have fallen asleep because it seems like only seconds ago that he closed his eyes before Dean is nudging his shoulder to wake him. Sam's eyelids are heavy iron doors with badly rusted hinges. It takes him a few attempts before he manages to pry them apart and Dean is already pulling him out of the car and across the parking lot towards their motel room.
Sam walks like he's moving through quick sand, each step a considerable effort like he thinks he's taking part in a moon landing. "Dude, what's wrong with you?" Dean asks, thinly veiled concern edging his tone. His face is hovering inches away from Sam's as he studies his brother's dull glassy eyes. "Son of a bitch, she's done something to you, hasn't she? Did she make you drink any funky tea? Offer you something to eat which smelled fusty?"
Sam huffs—I'm not stupid—and even that takes all of his concentration.
"Sammy? Say something." Dean's shaking him again and Sam wants to tell him to stop, wants to lie down on the gravel and sleep because he's so tired and all this walking and trying to talk is exhausting.
Sam is vaguely aware of his legs crumbling out from under him. He can feel himself falling forward, limbs as floppy as a rag doll but he doesn't have the energy or strength to put out his hands and protect his fall.
"Shit. Shit!" Dean makes a grab for him and then he's being held tight in Dean's arms and the only thing he can manage to do is gawp helplessly up at Dean as his brother carefully lowers him onto the ground.
It's cold on the ground and the gravel is uncomfortable, digging through Sam's thin t-shirt into the skin of his back, but it could be a bed of nails for all Sam cares. He just needs to sleep and Dean's fraught expression is the last thing he sees as he lets his eyes fall closed.
"Sam, no. Stay awake. Stay with me, Sammy." Dean scrambles forward on his knees, mindless of the wet snow soaking into his jeans. He lifts Sam's lolling head so that it's resting on his lap.
"Dad! Help me, there's something wrong with Sam." Dean's voice, more urgent, more panicked, but Sam's deep under and he can't reach the surface; instead he sinks into a dreamless sleep.
Part Two up soon. Please R&R, long or short it's always appreciated.