Title: They Call the Wind Mariah
Summary: The Winchester men and the Winchester boys.
Note: jaylan121 wanted teen!Dean kidnapped with John & Sammy on to his rescue
including tied up!Dean, hurt!Dean, angst!Sam, protective!Sam. Hope you like this, love. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!
Note #2: The quote below is from the song referenced in the title. The Kingston Trio version, because that's what my dad always listened to when I was a kid. Beta love to dysonrules.
Out here they have a name for rain and wind and fire only.
When you're lost and all alone, there ain't no name for lonely.
And I'm a lost and lonely man without a star to guide me.
Later, Sam remembered the stillness most clearly. The way it followed the awful crack of the wooden cabin door as it splintered apart under the weight of his father's well-aimed kick. The breathless limbo as he and Dad paused just inside the doorway, not knowing whether Dean – head hanging, unmoving, arms tied behind his back – still lived.
The cabin smelled of dust and sickness and something else, faint but lingering. A sweet sort of rot, like decaying flowers. Morning sunlight cut through the grimy windows of the cabin to fall in a bright swath across Dean's form. Sam felt himself paralyzed by the sight of his helpless brother. His heart clenched painfully; it seemed as though every frantic beat bruised his ribcage from within.
Dad gave a single sharp inhalation and lurched forward, dropping to his knees beside Dean. His fingers groped for a pulse at Dean's neck.
"Son?" John's voice cracked on the word. Something about the sound broke Sam's paralysis and he moved closer.
He croaked, "Is he--?"
This close, Sam could see the beads of sweat trickling down from Dad's temples, smell the pungent restlessness behind his exertion.
"He's breathing," John said, shifting around to the back of the chair where Dean's arms were bound together. "Do you have your knife?"
Sam fumbled in the front pockets of his baggy jeans for his Swiss Army knife and showed it to his dad.
A woman's delighted laughter floated in the broken front door on a sudden gust of fall breeze. John snapped his attention to Sam. "I've got to go after her."
"I know," Sam said, despite the way his mind was screaming, NO! Because if he ever wanted his dad, it was now. But he could do this. He was 15 now, no longer a child. Hell, he was a Winchester. Fifteen in Winchester years was like 35 in normal years, right? "I'll take care of him."
John nodded. He reached around to the back of his jeans and pulled out his second Glock, chambered the bullet and pressed it into Sam's hand.
"Take it, Sam. You've got to take care of your brother. He's counting on you."
Sam swallowed. It didn't help the fear constricting his airway.
John pressed a warm, strong hand to Sam's shoulder and squeezed briefly. "Good boy," he said. Then he was out the door, footsteps receding on the pine-needle strewn forest floor.
Five Days Earlier
For a chick as old as his dad, Elena Povalich wasn't bad looking, Dean decided. Sure, she had a strange white streak through her long coal-dark hair and wrinkles at the corners of her big black eyes, but her olive skin was otherwise flawless. Plus, she smelled really good. Or maybe that was the room. He and Dad were sitting in red velvet chairs in a garden room filled with containers of herbs, vines, flowers, ferns, and a bunch of other unidentifiable growing things.
Dean took a sip of the sweet tea she'd served them and munched contentedly on some sort of flaky white cookie that melted in his mouth like butter. He'd been on the losing end of a cold since yesterday afternoon, and the hot tea made his sore throat feel better. Not that he'd ever admit that out loud. Because, come on, tea. Real Americans had no idea what tea tasted like. But then again, Elena Povalich was an immigrant from Eastern Europe. The Balkans or some shit. Dean and geography? Not the closest of friends.
He watched Elena's face as she listened to Dad going on about the high incidence of teenage suicide in this township. While she paid little to no attention to Dean, he nevertheless found her composure and air of elegance fascinating.
She skimmed her long painted fingernails up and down the dark wood of her armchair in a strangely hypnotic manner. The cherry red color of her lipstick matched her fingernail polish. Surreptitiously, Dean squirmed and adjusted the package in his pants.
"The Romany have been maligned unjustly throughout the years – chased from one town to another, accused of unspeakable sorceries. We who have settled here want nothing more than to live our lives peacefully." Her voice was mild and accented charmingly.
"No one here practices the old religion?" John asked.
The tightening of Elena's lips wouldn't have been noticeable if Dean hadn't already been staring at them. "Some of the old people, yes. They wish to keep alive the stories and beliefs of our people. And a few of the young ones are quite ardent about carrying on the traditional ceremonies, such as my son, Gregor."
John looked around. "Is he here? We would like to get a few quotes from him for our article."
"I'm afraid that's not possible, Mr. Jacobs. He died in a car accident last year." She spoke with such cold finality that Dean felt the sudden, unaccountable urge to shiver.
Dad made some stumbling condolences but Elena's hospitality had clearly ended. She rose and followed them to the front door. Dean glanced at her as he followed Dad out the door and found her dark eyes on him.
He didn't know why, but they reminded him of black pebbles, hard and fathomless.
When Sam cut the ropes that had bound Dean's stiffened arms behind him, he stirred, groaning in pain. Sam jumped to his feet, supporting Dean's swaying shoulders to keep him from slipping from the chair.
"Dean, hey, you're all right now. It's Sam, okay? I'm here."
Dean's head lolled and he slurred something unintelligible. Sam cupped his cheeks to still his motion and found Dean's skin burning hot and damp to the touch. Dean's eyes rolled back into his skull, eyelids fluttering, mouth slack. The sight of his wisecracking, bigger than life brother helpless and senseless and sick made Sam's stomach plummet. Panic surged up his throat before he caught it like a wildcat and manhandled it down and away. Had to spend a long moment doing it, realized at the end that he was sniffing and trembling and – shit. Pull. It. Together.
You dumb ass.
Then he gave a sharp high bark of laughter because in his head that last bit sounded just like his delirious brother's voice.
Sam dragged in a breath, made himself release it to the count of three.
He needed to think, not react like a screaming kid. Dad always said, It's what you do that counts, not what you feel. Okay. He could handle this.
First, assess the situation. Dean's cheeks were flushed and he was sweating. He had a fever. Sam didn't know how bad the fever was, but the fact that he felt so friggin' hot made him think it was pretty damn bad. Sam pressed his fingers to the pulse in Dean's neck. It seemed strong and regular. Good. Dean's breathing seemed regular as well, but he was making a low rasping wheeze, which … well, that couldn't be good. Sam tried to think.
Dean had been missing for three days. Three endless, terrible days. And before that – Dad had made him recite everything about his brother when he'd failed to come home from what was supposed to be a ten minute trip to the gas station. Dean had been wearing a red-checkered flannel shirt and blue jeans. Yes, his mood had been fine. No, he didn't seem to be hiding anything. He'd gone to the gas station to pick up some cough drops to ease his sore throat. That was it.
Dean had been in the middle of a cold when he'd been snatched. And after three days of God-knew-what kind of treatment, it had apparently progressed to some sort of respiratory infection – maybe even pneumonia.
Sam unbuttoned his brother's shirt, checking for other injuries and found only Dean's pale chest and a scattering of bruises at his ribs. Blood was soaked into the fabric at his shirt cuffs. Sam flinched at the raw, abraded skin at his wrists, the black dried blood staining his skin. The ropes had cut into his flesh. Cruel. So cruel.
The wounds were caked with blood, and rope fibers were embedded in the cuts. Fingers shaking, he picked the fibers out of the swollen flesh, and tried not to flinch when his ministrations made fresh blood flow. Sam's eyes fixed on a droplet that fell to the floor. Beneath it was the dark residue of old blood. His brother's blood.
He released Dean and dashed into the kitchen where he threw up into the sink. The sight of his own vomit made him heave again and again until nothing more would come up. Afterward, he leaned against his elbows the rim of the sink and hung his head as struggled to catch his breath. Fuck. How did bulemics do it? Puking was the worst.
He turned around. Dean was slumped in the chair, unmoving. Waiting for Sam to get over himself and get his ass back there.
Man up, dickhead.
He headed back to his brother.
Three Days Earlier
Little Pine Lake, Tiadaghton State Forest, Western Pennsylvania
John hiked back to the Impala, trying to ignore the way the smell of smoke on his jacket made his stomach roll. Smoke from a salt and burn smelled different from any other kind of smoke. Bobby told him that was bullshit, but he knew it wasn't. It didn't matter how long dead the bones were, or whose they were – they all had a certain choking dark scent that never failed to remind him of Nam.
Nam. What the hell? Why was he thinking that that now?
He already knew the answer. This case. It disturbed the hell out of him.
He scanned the woods, still and silent except for the occasional scuff of his hiking boots on stone. Peat thousands of years old cushioned his steps, rich fertile ground from the decay of trees and animals and a thousand other forms of life throughout the never ending centuries. Peat that had hidden the remains of the two teenagers who were responsible for the deaths of seven campers at the nearby lake. Four adults and three children. One of the victims looked like Sammy - dark hair and chubby cheeks and bright eyes.
The teenagers were troubled – the girl was a suicide with a history of being molested by her father. The boy was a heroin addict who overdosed just after turning a trick. As humans they were pathetic and lost. As ghosts they were hungry. John had searched for days for a connection between the two, but couldn't find one. He wanted to believe that the destruction of the bones would close the case for good.
His phone rang. He debated not picking up if it was just Dean checking up on him since he'd be back to the motel that was their home base soon. The display read Sam. John could count on one hand the times Sam had called his cell without explicit orders to do so. Kid spent most of his time bent over his homework, earphones blasting that emo rock shit so loud that John had to give a Marine Corps style bellow before he could be heard.
He answered. It took him several minutes to wade through Sam's stumbling hysteria to determine what had happened.
Dean was missing.
Dean twitched and awoke. His chest felt like it had been stomped on by an elephant. Repeatedly. The elephant must have tripped over his head, too, because that was aching something fierce. And, what the hell? Why was he all wet? He looked around, tried to figure out where he was, but his brain wasn't working too well and it took him a lot longer than he'd like to admit to put the random sensations of rain, warmth, skin and more skin into a coherent thought. He appeared to be sitting in the shower in his shorts,
leaning against someone's skinny chest. Someone familiar.
"Sammy?" His voice came out husky and broken. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Why are we in the shower?"
Sam moved out from behind him, perching on the rim of the bathtub. He kept one arm across Dean's shoulders, steadying him. Sam was in his shorts, too. Sam followed Dean's gaze. "I had to -- you were having a hard time breathing. The steam is helping. It's okay. Just lay back and relax."
"Where are we?"
Sam's brow furrowed. "Don't you remember?"
And then he did, all in a terrible rush. A crack on the head – pain, darkness, movement, paralysis and then restraint. The cabin, dirty, deserted and the descent into sickness. The awful fear that he would die here alone and helpless. Then, sleep. Restless, but blessed.
He struggled, hooking an elbow over the side of the tub to prop himself up, but found himself leaning heavily against it, weak as a day old kitten. It was hard to think straight, but he tried.
Sam swallowed, looking a little pale. "He'll be back soon. Don't worry about him. Come on, let's get you dried off and to bed."
Sam reached up and turned off the shower. The absence of warmth and the brief stirring of breeze from his motion made Dean's skin immediately goose pimple. He started to shiver. Sam rummaged around in the tiny bathroom. Dean tried to summon the energy to stand up, but all he could manage was to raise his arm so that Sam could pat him dry with an old towel. He felt vaguely ridiculous, like a little kid, but he was so weak and miserable that it was all he could do to keep his head upright.
Sam pulled him upright and the two of them lurched into the other room like drunken sailors supporting one another. Sam led him to a back room and practically poured Dean onto the cot there. Dean landed with a plop, sending a plume of dust into the air. Of course he inhaled it. That set off a hacking, wheezing coughing attack that made him sound like an 80 year old emphysema patient teetering on death's doorstep. When it was done he slumped back on the bed, so weak that keeping his eyes open was a near impossibility.
He let them slide shut while Sam fussed around, drawing blankets around his lower body and digging around in the medical kit. His shoulders ached from being tied up, his head throbbed, and he couldn't seem to draw in a full breath if his life depended on it. Dean hadn't even registered the burning pain in his wrists until Sam started smearing salve on them.
Sam paused in mid motion, fingers poised against Dean's skin. Dean made himself open his eyes. Sam was frozen in place, eyes narrowed and intent as he stared out the window.
What he meant to say, What is it, Sam? came out as a slurred, "Whaa--?"
Sam met Dean's eyes again, forced a smile. "It's nothing – I just thought I heard something outside. Go to sleep, okay? You need it."
He didn't want to sleep. It wasn't safe here. He knew that. But his eyelids sagged and every effort he made to open them was met with an exhaustion so deep and powerful that it drowned him under a black wave.
When he woke again, it was to gunfire.
She moved like a ghost through the thick Pennsylvanian forest, appearing and reappearing behind boulders or thick-leaved trees, in flutter flashes of movement, color, and sound. Red skirt, dark hair, laughter shrill and crazy and directionless.
John paused at the fallen trunk of an old oak, covered with moss and partially decayed. He caught his breath, wiped at the sweat on his brow, and worked at thinking, not reacting. Dean's okay, Dean's okay, Dean's okay played in his mind like the soundtrack of a movie. Three days. God. Three fucking days going out of his mind not knowing what that bitch was doing to his boy. He had known something was off with Elena Povalich; he figured she knew something more than she was saying, or was perhaps protecting someone else. He'd never thought she had harvested the bones of troubled teenagers – suicides and drug overdoses and murders – and retreated to her isolated cabin to summon their ghosts into becoming her own private army of the dead. John wasn't entirely sure what she'd intended on doing with them, but he suspected she was perhaps trying to perfect a spell that would raise her own son.
He cursed himself. He had ignored the intuition that had saved his ass so many times in Nam and later, as he hunted, and Dean had paid the price—
He forced the thoughts down and away. Later.
The crack of twigs beneath light feet caused John to whip his head around in the direction of the sound. Elena's voice floated on the wind, "Catch me if you can …"
John's hand went to the Glock in his shoulder holster. He pulled the gun free and cocked it. The solid metal in his palm felt cold, hard, and comforting. "Elena! Talk to me. This doesn't have to go any further. Dean is all right. We can end this here."
Another laugh, this one unmistakably tinged with madness. "I don't think so, John. You've been taking my children away from me. So I took yours. Such a sweet, agreeable boy. Too bad you've ended up killing him."
A chill spidered out the veins in John's chest and arms. Shit shit shit. What was she talking about? Dean was fine. He'd seen his son with his own two eyes, had felt the throb of his pulse. She was trying to distract him. That was all. He forced down the panic and stepped in roughly the direction her voice had come from.
"Yes, John. By all means, come and get me. Destroy me just like you destroyed my altar and the spirits that I bound to my will. You can't stop the poison inside, though. Nothing can stop that now."
He concentrated on stepping quietly through the brush. He counted his breaths to control and soften them, focused on movement and on his physical senses, not on the screaming father within him. Poison. What the fuck was she talking about?
"Yes, John. Poison. Fashioned from a curse and keyed to all that hatred and anger that lives inside you. You made it potent all on your own, John. A father's rage. It's almost as strong as a mother's grief."
Her voice floated on the sudden swirl of a warm breeze. Keep her talking, Winchester. At least when she's talking she's not casting a spell.
"I'm sorry about your son, Elena. The death of a child is the worst thing that can happen to any parent. You know that."
For a few moments he thought he'd gone too far and driven her to rash action by bringing up her son. He kept moving through the fern-choked forest, eyes scanning the endless details of rock and stump and trunk and leaf around him for color and movement.
"Almost as bad as the death of a wife …" Elena called, her voice fainter than before.
She was outdistancing him.
He stopped in his tracks. She knew these woods intimately, that much was clear. He didn't know the extent of her arcane abilities, either. He'd never heard of a witch having the power to raise ghosts and use them to kill.
He thought about what to do. He could continue to track her, risk losing her altogether, and give her time to circle back around to the cabin and his boys. He looked up, checked the position of the sun and calculated in his mind the distance and direction they'd already come. They were swinging around in an arc, back toward the cabin.
Fuck. How stupid was he? She'd made it pretty clear that she was after his boys. And he'd let her lead him into the forest away from them.
He turned on his heel and sprinted back the way he'd come, praying he wasn't too late.
As Dean slept in the cot behind him, Sam peered out the open shutter to the forest beyond. A murder of crows, discordant and raucous, called to one another through the trees. Moments earlier, they had burst out of the brush in a panic. He'd been searching the forest since then and hadn't been able to discover the reason.
Sam had left the Glock on the floor next to the chair Dean had been tied to when he lugged his senseless brother into the shower. Suddenly, it seemed very important to get his hands on the gun.
He walked into the cabin's main room. The gun was where he'd left it, looking discarded next to the bloody, trailing ropes of his brother's captivity. He picked it up. God, he hated guns. He'd never been like Dean, who treated them like cherished possessions.
He took a step toward Dean's room, froze. A woman stood in the doorway.
Her back faced Sam. She wore a ragged long red skirt and a fall of tangled dark hair covered her shoulders to the small of her back. Her feet were bare and covered in dirt and scratches.
For a breathless moment, Sam just stood there, gaping at her. Then she started to speak low and quickly in a language he didn't understand. He didn't have to understand it, though. He knew the sound of spell work when he heard it. He raised the gun.
"Get away from my brother."
She whipped around, predator-quick. Sam caught a glimpse of wild dark eyes and then she was flying at him, shrieking, hands outstretched like claws.
He pulled the trigger.
John was several hundred yards from the front door of the cabin when he heard the gunshot. The realization that the shot had come from a 9 millimeter handgun – the Glock - trumped the burgeoning panic.
He burst through the door. Sam's back faced him. He was standing in the middle of the room, feet shoulder width apart, shoulders level and back straight – the firing posture John had drilled into his head since he was seven years old. Elena lay sprawled on the floor opposite him, moaning softly.
John approached him carefully, laid a hand on his son's shaking shoulder. Sam looked at him with dazed eyes. John took the gun from his son's hand and knelt at Elena's side. The blood pumping out of the hole in her aorta was already slowing. It had coated her blue peasant's blouse in sticky gore. An interminable moment later she gave a pitiful groan and fell silent.
He stood and looked at his younger son. His innocent child, who had taken a human life. Sam's blank expression crumpled and he blurted out, "Daddy."
John pulled his boy into his arms. Sam clutched at his shirt, breath hitching and ragged.
Dean appeared in the doorway of the bedroom, shirtless, pale, and tottering. He looked down at Elena, then back to John and Sam. He blinked.
"Sammy?" His voice cracked and he sounded very young.
Dean sat on the edge of the cot and gulped down the last of the canteen his father had handed him. He was still parched, but he didn't think he could drink any more if he tried. His belly swelled with it.
"You're sure she didn't give you something? A pill, injection, anything to eat or drink?" Dad asked.
Dean shook his head. "No, nothing. She only untied me once. She held a gun on me while I …" he paused, feeling his face color. "While I took a piss. Guess she didn't want to clean up after me."
Dad put the back of his hand to Dean's forehead. "You still have a fever."
Dean shrugged, stifled a cough. "I'm feeling better." At Dad's dubious look, he went on, "I mean, I'm hungry and I have the mother of all colds and every time I cough I feel like my lungs are going to come out my throat, but other than that I'm okay."
Dad put a warm, callused hand on Dean's neck. "You sure?"
"Yeah, Dad. I'm sure. What's this all about?"
Dad removed his hand and stood with a sigh. "It's nothing. Elena … she was crazy. Lie down and rest. We'll leave after I take care of a few things."
Dean's stomach twisted. He hated worrying his father – hated that he'd let himself get
taken unawares. Christ, Sammy had to shoot someone because he had fucked up. He laid down under the weight of a sudden crushing exhaustion. "I'm sorry, Dad," he said.
John didn't reply.
Sam sat on the front stoop of Elena's cabin and watched as his father unlocked the Impala's trunk and returned the shovel to its proper place, then approached the cabin. His hair was plastered down with sweat and wetness soaked the armpits of his gray undershirt. He dug Elena's grave by himself while Dean slept and Sam tried to emerge from the fog he found himself in.
Dad paused on the step beside him. His voice was a familiar deep rumble. "You did good, Sammy. You did what you had to; I wouldn't have done any different. I'm proud of you, son."
The wooden floorboards of the stoop creaked as he continued on into the house, opened and shut the front door. The door latch caught with a quiet click and then there was only the rustle of the breeze in the trees and the clouds above, white and drifting on an unknowable course across the ceiling of the world.
Dad's words reverberated like a gong in his mind. I wouldn't have done any different. He thought of the blank stare in Elena's eyes and the blood that seeped in a slow thick puddle from the gunshot wound in her chest. He thought of the raw, open look on Dean's pale face as he clung to the doorframe, roused by the gunshot. He felt like a rogue planet, spinning off its axis, out of control and seeking an orbit of its own.
You're right, Dad, you wouldn't have.
Pain squeezed his chest. It was sharp and deep and poison-tipped like a barb lodged between muscle and bone.
Because someday, he would.