A/N: Chapter title taken from Poor Thing, by Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd).
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or Sweeney Todd. This is for entertainment only, and not for profit.
Chapter 28 - but there was worse yet to come, poor thing...
The air in each room swirled with fine grey Handmaiden ash. Oberon was barely noticeable amid all that airborne debris. It had been years since he felt the weight of a living, breathing body around him. He slid through the walls, from room to room, and it was always the same: he saw Dean Winchester, wondered how it would be to slip into that well-muscled flesh and look at the world through those wide green eyes.
Such a beautiful boy, Oberon thought to himself.
The image of Dean Winchester in each of the four rooms was just a shadow of his former self. He sat there, stared blankly into space as each Handmaiden shrieked and crumbled into dust, and he didn't respond when his father and his brother shook him gently on the arm.
All four copies of Dean vanished into thin air.
Oberon deliberately avoided the basement. Eugenia was down there. He wasn't afraid of her. Well, not exactly, but there was something about the woman that unnerved him. He didn't dislike her, but the damn woman was insolent and disrespectful.
Oberon moved upwards. He'd seen the copies, now he wanted a closer look at the original. What was the harm in that?
This isn't going to end well, Eugenia thought to herself as she climbed the stairs. This was the first time that idiot had cut and run like that during a hunt.
And probably the last time, too, for both of them. John Winchester had quite the reputation. Humans harboring fuglies, even if they were helping other people? Hunters tended to get a little prickly about details like that. As far as Eugenia was concerned, she hadn't lied. She just hadn't mentioned Oberon to any of the others. Well. The job had perks, and it also had its own price to pay. She'd known that all along.
John, Bobby and Sam looked at her as she stepped into the hallway, and she could see the question in their eyes: Did you do this?
Eugenia shook her head no.
She had no idea who did.
They maneuvered Marty's bulk through the rooms downstairs with surprising swiftness. "Come out, come out where ever you are!" Clay called out merrily. Marty's ruined face split in a toothy grin that went ear to ear. Ida made Marty do an eye roll in the next moment.
Clay felt himself getting a little pissed off at the mess things were in.
They'd had a nice place, and he liked posing as Clay Pierson. It was good, steady work screwing over the humans who came to them for help, and that was all over now. The fingers of his meatsuit tingled as he imagined wrapping those broad fingers around Sam Winchester's scrawny little neck. The damn brat deserved that much, at least.
The containment cell was empty. Would have been too easy to suppose the hunters would leave Dean in there. They'd gone to ground.
Clay sniffed the air and grinned. Human scent, warm and quiet. Only one still moved, and he smelled like silver, salt, gunpowder and hunting dogs.
Clay hated dogs. Always had.
"They're still here," he said with a smile, and he looked at the wreck of the stolen truck, past the ruined staircase, at the shadows of the second floor.
She was alone for the first time ever. Her sisters were gone, all of them, and she was the only one left with this stupid, worthless boy, this traitorous bastard who didn't appreciate what he had, how good they had been together.
"Mom," Dean whispered again. He curled up, turned over on his right side. He tucked his knees up to his chest.
Minnie threw her head back and screamed. She dug her claws into the short spiky hair at the top of his head and pulled out a handful of hair.
Dean barely noticed.
Minnie slashed him again and again.
Oberon flowed through the walls without a ripple. He saw the hunters on the stairs, and the sight of Eugenia filled him with rage. She wouldn't mind her betters, namely, him. He was the reason she was able to get inside other's heads like this. When she made the deal to save her brother, Oberon was the one selected by the Others to teach her. He taught her the habits of Handmaidens, so that she and hunters like these could kill them, and did he get any respect at all? No.
He taught her well.
But he hadn't taught her everything.
For all he had done for these weak, fragile humans, they should worship him. They should kneel at his feet.
It was time for Eugenia to learn a lesson in humility.
Oberon pushed out at her with his mind, pushed at her hard.
The walls in the downstairs hallway rippled and wavered with each howl and wail. It wasn't Dean; they all knew that somehow.
"The bitch isn't happy," John whispered, and Bobby nodded.
Eugenia's expression was unreadable. She seemed distracted. John stopped and stared at her intently. "What?"
Her body wobbled as she shook her head. "John…" Eugenia mumbled. She seemed unsteady on her feet. "Bastard…" she mumbled softly, and it was already too late.
She staggered forward. John caught her by the arm and his fingers went right through her. Eugenia was on her knees, but that wasn't what made John, Sam and Bobby stand there in shock.
She was fading away. They could see straight through her.
"You…stupid…bastard," Eugenia gritted out. She lifted her head, stared John in the eyes. "Go…go…get…your son before he…"
And then she was gone.
"My God," Bobby whispered.
The walls and floors shook with another bloodcurdling scream. Not Dean. At least, not yet.
"Sam?" John gave his youngest a quick glance. Sam held his dagger pointed downwards at the floor, then flicked it upwards with a twist of his wrist. The kid was steady, eyes focused on the top of the stairwell.
"I'm okay, Dad."
Four down, one to go.
John nodded, and took point. Sam was in the middle. Bobby had their six.
Mom's here. Dean thought to himself. It's not so bad.
He wanted to explain, he really did, but he felt so tired now. He couldn't feel his chest rise and fall, but he knew he was still breathing. That was okay. He'd stop when he was ready.
"Tried to hurt Sam. An' Dad," Dean mumbled softly to her. He didn't have strength for much else.
You didn't. You never could, Mary whispered. My sweet, brave boy. She carded his hair with her fingers, and her touch blocked out the rest of what was happening to him. There was blood on the floor, and it felt like pieces of him were falling off.
Angels are watching over you, Dean. And I'll always be here, too. Close your eyes, baby. Rest now.
"Shit," Caleb whispered to himself. "Shit!"
Something was wrong. The rest of them should have been awake by now, and they weren't. John, Bobby, Eugenia and Sam were still breathing, but probably not for long.
Dean moaned a little and the sound was so low and desperate Caleb nearly jumped out of his skin. Something was going on in there. Something bad from the sound of it.
Caleb eased down the hall, careful not to disturb the thick salt line he placed in the doorway. The line went all the way around the room. It was the last line of defense.
The salt line he'd laid out in the hallway was the first.
Another line down in front of that back doorway around the corner. That was the only other way up.
And that was the last of the salt.
They weren't having much luck tonight, none of them were, and it was bound to get worse. Caleb made a disgusted noise deep in his throat as he threw the empty bag away.
So beautiful, Oberon thought. He reached out, brushed against pale freckled flesh. Why shouldn't I have this? They owe me this much.
The door slammed backwards on its hinges. John came through first, the dagger in his right hand held by the tip, already in throwing position.
Minnie hissed as she rose to her feet in one fluid motion. She backed into the wall, and Dean stumble-stepped with her. She turned him so he was in front of her, a slashed and bloody shield, one hand curled around his waist. The claws of her other hand dug into the soft underside of his jaw. Droplets of blood ran down to his chest as she tightened her grip on Dean's throat. He was taller and Minnie ducked down behind his back.
"Mine now, Papa." Minnie peered around Dean's bare, bruised shoulder, then ducked back again. She laughed at the fierce look on Sam's face. "Always mine. He's not your brother anymore, little boy."
The back of Dean's head touched the wall as Minnie tightened her grip. His eyes flickered open, light grey and glassy. He was lost in his own world somewhere, staring at something only he could see.
John growled and that made Minnie laugh. She could play this game for as long as she could. She was trapped, and she knew it, but making them all suffer with the knowledge that they couldn't save Dean after all this time would be worth it.
And when she did go down in the dark, with her sisters, she'd take their beautiful boy with them. He'd run in the dark with them forever.
Minnie peered around Dean's bruised, bare shoulder.
John's right hand moved, slightly, and Minnie jerked back, behind Dean. She was just as quick as she had been before. Minnie laughed. Stupid bastard.
A thin line of blood ran down the side of Dean's arm. It was level with the spot right between her eyes.
Minnie blinked. Her head felt heavy.
Too heavy to lift. There was something…
Something pressing against her skin.
The hilt of John's dagger protruded from the space between her eyes.
Minnie dug her claws into Dean's skin, but it was too late. She crumbled, became totally undone, and the last thing she saw as she tumbled into the dark was the smile on John Winchester's face.
God, he feels so light, John thought to himself. Dean didn't stir as John checked his vitals. He was dead weight in John's arms. Still breathing. Good.
Bobby was already out the door, taking the stairs two at a time. The silver daggers planted in the ground all around the perimeter of the house had to be removed, and fast. Dean would recover faster, then.
And then they'd have to find Eugenia.
Sam stood beside his father, still as could be. A moment before Sam had been a fierce hunter, ready and willing to kill. Now Sam had the look of a young kid worried about his big brother.
"Dean?" John rumbled. "Son, I want you to open your eyes now, you hear me? Dean?"
Dean opened his eyes.
He looked at John and then Sam, and the corners of Dean's lips twitched up into a smile. His eyes weren't light grey anymore.
They weren't green, either.
They were twin pools of silver, bright and unblinking.
Oberon looked out at the world, and what he saw was good.
Next post Saturday.