IT'S ALL IN THE CARDS
DISCLAIMER: The usual, not mine to own but I love to play ... no money passes hands for this story or any other I write. I wish but nope not yet.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the combination of three story ideas, and thanks and LovinJackson for the wonderful input and ideas for this story.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2: Sam is 18 and Dean is 22 – 23 (set between new years day and Dean's birthday to begin with.) Before Sam goes to Stanford.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 3: No Laundromat washers or dryers were harmed or destroyed in the writing of this story.
WARNING For the language content and violence might have to upgrade to M later on, I will place warnings for the more graphic chapters, promise :0)
Some days are just perfect, where the weather, health, emotions and people are all in perfect synch with each other. Blue skies with just a few patches of soft white and grey clouds, bright sunshine bathing everything in a warm golden glow and the softest of breezes swirling around, teasing the remaining leaves on the trees. Perhaps a little unseasonable for winter but just right for those who were already tired of the cold wet and miserable days of late allowing them the freedom to move around outside.
Arlington, South Dakota is no exception to this; normally freezing cold days and even colder nights, this surprising Spring like weather literally was like a breath of fresh air.
A young man sat in the park, enjoying the unusual winter warmth as he sipped his take away coffee while reading from the overly large book on the picnic table in front of him. Every so often, he'd pause to brush an errant strand of hair from his eyes and to squint up at his watch. Mentally judging how much time he had left before having to go and resume his life.
Standing at six feet five inches at full height, his body had yet grown into the new growth spurt. Willowy thin, with the budding muscular build of a healthy young man who trains and watches what he eats. Though still awkward at times while he became accustomed to his new height, he moved with an elegant grace unless he knew he was under the scrutiny of anyone. Then, then he would shrink as much as possible, hunch his shoulders and drop his chin, trying to make himself as inconspicuous as possible. A terrifyingly hard feat for him but somehow Sam Winchester managed it. At the tender age of eighteen, the high school senior was the youngest of two boys and son to a single father. Painfully shy and lacking in self-esteem, he tried to make himself appear as innocuous as possible. The only person who could bring Sam's vibrant and brilliant personality out was his older brother Dean. Four years his senior and four inches shorter, Dean was everything to Sam, parent, brother, best friend, confident, protector and the greatest source of Sam's embarrassment.
Their father, John was not the stable father most of Sam's peers knew, absent for most of his young life chasing the shadows and darkness searching for the impossible: the creature that killed John's wife and Sam and Dean's mother.
A woman Sam had no recollection of whatsoever, except for the fact that he held a lifelong feeling of guilt. She died and he lived and that was something that he could never change no matter what he desired and no matter what he perceived his father desired. Sam Winchester lived and continued to live despite what life threw at him.
Now on abnormally warm, winter's day, he sat in another town, contemplating the next school he was due to attend in just over a week. The third since he started his senior year, his final year of high school. The last one his dad promised before he vanished again on another hunt.
Finishing his coffee, Sam sighed ran his fingers through his long windblown hair and closed his book. Time to meet up with Dean, Sam glanced at his watch and stood stretching before he gathered everything and headed down the street towards the local Laundromat. Sam had to smile to himself as he walked, they played rock, paper, and scissors for the nasty job of doing their laundry and once again, Dean lost.
Alone in the Laundromat, twenty-two year old Dean Winchester grumbled under his breath cussing his geeky little brother, while he pulled the last of their clean clothes from the dryer. Quickly sorting through the different articles of clothing, he folded them haphazardly back into the duffle bag, before starting the boring job of pairing socks. 'Son of a bitch.' He finally snapped, every time he did their washing, socks disappeared. He pulled the clothes out of the bag and went through them again searching for the errant socks to no avail. 'Son of a bitch.' He yelled and kicked the washing machine in front of him before turning to the bank of dryers behind him, he searched the still warm one he had unloaded but the socks were no where to be seen. 'Freaking gremlins.' He punched the dryer door and then hissed at the blooming pain across his knuckles. 'Oh that's just ... freaking great.' Dean snarled and pulled his gun from where he tucked it in his waistband. 'Where's my socks you freaking sock stealing gremlin filled piece of crap?'
'Dean!' Sam stepped inside the Laundromat door and stared in shock as his big brother pulled out his glock and aimed it at the large dryer. 'What's going on dude?'
'Freaking machines, gremlins or some sort of dryer demons, it's going down Sammy.' Dean glanced over at his brother, 'whatcha smirking at Sammy? Freaking thing ate our socks again.'
'You're gonna shoot a defenceless dryer over socks?' Sam blinked and stared at his brother with barely concealed amusement.
'Yak it up Sammy, but every freaking time I do the laundry the machines eat our socks, look at em, there's four there that are useless now.' Dean seethed, his anger re-directed at the look of mirth on his brother's face. 'Laugh and I'll use you for target practice first. I tell ya Sammy these machines ... they're possessed with mini-demons, little gremlins that travel in the washing bag and attach themselves to the socks. Eat one and leave the other as a sign.'
'Dean, ahhh put the gun down and we'll go get coffee, I think that you need decaf though.'
'That's it you're on laundry duty when dad comes back. You can wash his dirty hunting gear!'
'Why? What did I do?' The smile fell from Sam's handsome face and he visibly shuddered at the thought of washing his father's rank, filthy clothes.
'Not so funny now is it!' Dean sniped as he put his gun back and finished folding the wash into the bag, 'you're buying the coffee too.'
Sitting in the booth furtherest from the door, Dean and Sam chatted away, enjoying their rare moment of peace. No hunts, no school, no fights, just each other. Sam sipped his coffee and watched his brother devour his second piece of cherry pie, his own half-eaten piece still sat in front of him. 'Dean, do you really think we'll be staying until I can finish school?'
'Okay random ... yeah I do, otherwise dad would've just booked us into a motel and not the little slice of apartment hell he found for us.' Dean slurped his coffee, belched and reached over for the rest of Sam's pie. 'You're not eating your pie?'
'Nah it's okay go for it man.' Sam said, 'Dean?'
'Yeah that's the name, don't wear it out.'
'Oh funny so very un-funny.' Sam shook his head, 'have you heard from dad?'
'Nope not for a few days, what's the matta Sammy?'
'Spit it out dude.'
'I dunno it's just ... nothing don't worry bout it.' Sam ran his hands down his jean clad thighs and sighed, 'got any hunts lined up?'
'Only a small one and nope it doesn't mean you can cut ... hang on normally you're the one bitching about missing school coz of a hunt and now ... what's going on Sam?'
'Just a bad feeling.' Sam shook his head and dropped his gaze to study the laminated table top, 'and I hate being the new kid at the best of times, but dude it's the third high school since I started my senior year ... it's so stuffed up Dean.'
'Hey tell me about it, you haven't hit my record yet!' Dean tried to catch Sam's eye but his brother steadfastly kept his gaze down. 'I had five schools my last year.'
'I – I just hate standing out, it's bad enough being the tallest but ...'
'Sam I really...'
'Save it Dean, it's fine, I'll be fine I just have a bit of a weird feeling that's all.'
Dean sat back and stared at his younger brother, Sam's weird feelings always had a way of turning into something real and tangible. 'Let's get outta here.'
He fished for some money in his pocket and headed off to pay their bill trusting Sam to follow him. As Sam stood and stretched he felt as though someone was watching him, turning slowly his gaze roamed lazily over the few customers in the café, and then through the window to the tables outside.
'Yo Sammy anytime now.' Dean waved his hand in front of Sam's eyes to try and gain his attention, 'what's wrong?'
'Nothing I guess, I just ... feel like someone's watching, stupid I guess.' Sam ducked his head and ran his fingers through his hair, brushing his fringe back off his face and headed outside, suddenly needing to breath fresh air. He headed towards the impala without waiting for Dean to catch up, shoulders hunched, head down and arms folded across his chest he no longer felt the warm winter sun's kiss on his skin, instead chills coursed through him and he shivered uncontrollably.
'Sammy?' Dean called out his worry meter spiking, he scanned the area around them, his gaze falling on every person, seated, standing and walking as he hurried over to his car. 'Sammy slow down.'
Nestled in the small shopping centre, a small shop with a single frontage and wooden door painted purple, sat unnoticed unless a person looked specifically for it. Just the way the shop-keeper wanted it; her window display consisted of little statues of fairies, wizards, dragons and frogs with a few gemstones and pieces of handmade jewellery set it off. Very understated but very appealing. Further, into the shop, passed the obligatory shelves of trinkets, gothic style clothes, and books was a small section hidden by a screen of beads and ribbons.
Thirty year old Tess Michaelson opened the shop two years ago, mainly to supplement her card readings and counselling sessions and immediately found herself with a steady clientele from young woman wanting to know who they were destined to marry, to business men desperate for their first big break to mature women more curious than anything else. For most of her clients, Tess pandered to their whims and wants telling them what they wanted to know with the truth carefully concealed so that they went away happy and content in what they knew. Though, there were always a few that Tess needed to guide more, often giving them more personal attention and readings varying from the cards to Rune stones to clairvoyance.
She hummed softly as she dusted her window display and waited for Mrs Sharp to come for her weekly reading when she saw the two young men getting into their car just across the road from her shop.
The sound of breaking porcelain echoed through the shop as she stared at them, without realising it she memorised the number plate of the black classic car and the faces of the brothers. All colour leeched from her face as she stared at the taller and seemingly younger of the two, her hands shaking so hard that she almost dropped another statue.
'Tess dear are you alright?' Mrs Sharp asked when the younger woman failed to hear her entry into the shop. 'Tess?'
'Hmm oh sorry Mrs Sharp I didn't hear you.' Tess blushed and busied herself with picking up the pieces of the shattered fairy.
'They are rather hard to miss aren't they?' Eileen Sharp smiled, at seventy years of age Eileen had lived her entire life in Arlington and had never ventured out of the city. She knew nearly all of the local families and was a constant visitor to the small strip of shops knowing all of the owners and workers by name. She was Tess' first client and faithfully came every week for a cup of herbal tea and a reading of her cards. Though Tess suspected it was more for the company than wanting to know anything for Mrs Sharp, her husband having passed away several years ago and all of her children and grand-children were scattered across the country, the nearest was her eldest daughter in Sioux City.
'Who?' Tess blinked and then blushed even harder, 'oh ahh ...'
'They are new in town, apparently just moved into that awful apartment complex near the industrial part of town.' Mrs Sharp said with a knowing glint in her eyes, 'oh dear you've cut yourself.'
Tess looked down at the tiny cut on her thumb and winced at the sight of blood, 'I knocked it over while dusting, getting so clumsy.' She pressed a tissue onto the offending digit and hurried to finish sweeping up the last of the fragments of porcelain. 'So ready for your reading?'
'Not to day love, I just wanted to let you know that I was going to be away for a few days.'
'Oh?' Tess blinked and paled slightly, 'please sit down Mrs Sharp.'
'What is it dear?'
'You're, umm you're going to hospital aren't you?'
'Why yes just for a small ... what is it Tess you're frightening me.'
'Oh I'm sorry I'm certainly off the planet today.' Tess tried to calm herself and her client, 'there's nothing wrong Mrs Sharp actually I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome of it all.'
'Oh thank you my dear I was hoping to hear something like that.' Eileen breathed, 'so how about a nice cup of tea? I'll make it if you like while you finish tidying up.'
'Do you know much about those young men?' Tess asked unable to get the face of the taller one out of her mind and thoughts.
'Brothers, the older one is starting work for Clary at his garage and I think that the younger one is a senior at Arlington High.'
Tess stopped and shook her head wondering how Eileen Sharp could find out so much in such little time.
'Oh and their father travels for work as far as I know, Clary said that he's never met two nicer and more polite young men as those two.'
Dean dropped Sam off in front of the high school with his usual warnings and ribbing before he gunned the impala and roared off with a wave. Sam stared after him and then with a shake of his head started walking slowly towards the school building.
A heavy dark cloud covered the sun and cast a depressive pall on the morning, shivering slightly Sam pulled his collar up and wrapped his thin jacket tighter around himself. He stopped and stared at the throng of young people starting to arrive and swallowed deeply, how he hated this.
A hand on his shoulder made Sam turn around in fright, was he that lost in his thoughts that he let his guard down so completely? 'Are you deaf boy?'
'No, no sorry I didn't hear you ... I'm sorry do I know you?' Sam frowned and stared down at the man there was something unsettling the way he stared at him, 'do I know you?'
'No but I know you Sam Winchester.' The man smiled coldly producing a gun from seemingly no where, 'now I need you to come with me, behave and no one will get hurt.'
'Who are you?' Sam stared at the lethal weapon aimed at his chest and then at the man holding it, mentally working out the possibility of escaping unharmed from the altercation.
'Not important at the moment.' The man replied nodding slightly to someone behind Sam. Before the eighteen year old knew what was happening he felt a hot flush spread across his neck and shoulders after a tiny stinging prick.
'What?' He rasped the word as everything seemed to warp and buckle in his vision; the man's face blurred and became indistinguishable, 'what did you?' Sam forced the words out, he felt someone take his backpack from him, while they gripped his arms tightly and half-dragged, half-carried him towards a waiting van. Sam knew that he had to try and fight them off, to try to escape but his body wouldn't co-operate with him, as the flush spread through his limbs, by the time they reached the van, he had no feeling in his body, he felt like his mind floated on its own, completely aware of what was happening but Sam was unable to do anything about it. For all intents and purposes he was, paralysed from head to foot.
Dean opened the door with a wary look on his face and his glock hidden by the heavy wood, 'yeah?'
'Are you Dean Winchester?' The woman asked nervously as she briefly made eye contact with the handsome man.
Dean stared at her with a look of curiosity mixed with mistrust; she was pretty in a soft homely way, with pale grey eyes and dark brown almost black hair except for a streak of silver in her fringe. Tall and with a figure with all of the curves in just the right places, she smiled sweetly and Dean immediately felt at ease. 'Sorry yeah I'm Dean, who are you and how do you know my name?'
'Your brother is Sam?' She continued her questioning, 'he went missing two days ago from his school?'
'Who are you lady and what do you know of my brother?' Dean snarled and brought his gun out into her line of sight, 'you had better have a good explanation.'
'Please you don't need that I want to help you Mister Winchester.'
'Name's Dean, my dad is Mister Winchester.' Dean said without lowering his gun, 'and you didn't answer my question who the hell are you?'
'Oh forgive me, my name's Tess, Tess Michaelson I own the Mystic Nymph ...'
'That new age shop?'
'Well I wouldn't call it that but yes I own it.'
'What do you want Miss Michaelson?'
'Tess please, I know that this is going to sound completely crazy but I think that I can help you find your brother Sam.'
'Okay ... crazy yeah ... but you had better come in.' Dean waved her inside and watched her every move as she stepped past him and into the small apartment. 'Want a drink?'
'Water would be nice.' Tess nodded as she sat down on the small two-seater couch and took in the lines of salt along the door and windows, the symbols etched along the walls and if she was not mistaken a devil's trap poked out from under the rug.
'Here ya go.' Dean appeared directly in front of the strange woman and handed her a glass of water before taking a seat opposite her on the only other chair in the room.
He watched her drink the holy water mix carefully and breathed a little easier when it had no effect on her.
'Thanks for the holy water.' She smiled sweetly and placed the glass on the floor by her feet, 'I don't want to waste your time Dean, so I'll get to the point,' Tess pulled her favourite Tarot cards out of her bag and held them tightly in her hands. 'I noticed you and Sam the other day, you parked just outside my store anyway for some reason I had a ... strange reaction when I saw Sam. Nothing untoward I can assure you Dean, it was like a sense of danger, but you were gone before I could do anything about it.' Tess paused and watched Dean intently before resuming her explanation. 'I ah was doing a reading with these cards last night and ... they were actually for someone else completely but all I saw was Sam in them. He was in danger a lot of danger, a lot of confusion and pain as well. Then last night I ... saw the rest in a dream.'
'Go on.' Dean said in a toneless voice, not wanting to believe this strange woman but he was at his wit's end, his dad wasn't answering the phone, the police were useless and no one had seen or heard a thing, it was as if Sam had literally disappeared from the face of the earth.
'I saw Sam outside his school, a man came up to him I think he had a gun, and then another man appeared behind Sam, I couldn't quite see what happened but then I saw them dragging Sam towards a van, he seemed to be unable to move on his own volition.'
'Go on.' Dean's voice suddenly had a harsh edge to it as he listened to Tess. 'What else did you see?'
'I know how it sounds Dean but I can assure you I'm not lying, Sam's so scared, he can't move but he can see and hear everything around him. the licence plate number is LMD 125 I think, I couldn't see where they took him but I know that he is in a house, in a dark and damp room perhaps a basement. There is evil in the house Dean, it is so ...'
'Who are you?'
'I – I told you my name is Tess Michaelson...'
'I know that shit, now tell me who are you and how do you know so much about what happened to my brother?' Dean hissed levelling his gun at Tess again.
'I know that this sounds crazy but I'm not lying Dean, I promise you. I know a lot of people think that I'm some sort of nut but I am a psychic. I have been since well ever since I can remember, I could see things before they happened, talk to spirits and see things that people refuse to believe exist.'
'Demons, evil ... the things that ... your father he is a hunter?' Tess paled visibly and stood, 'I had better go I just wanted to let you know what I saw.'
'Whoa, hang on there lady, how do you know about my dad?'
'He'll be home in a few days ... he's alright just caught up in the hunt and hasn't checked his phone.' Tess said randomly, 'I'm not lying to you Dean I promise.'
'How do I know that you're not involved in Sam's disappearance?'
'All I can do is promise that I'm who I say I am and I just want to help you. When I saw Sam that first day, he was so sad and confused but I think that he could sense something around him.'
'What else?' Dean put his gun's safety back on but left the weapon lying on the armrest of his chair, 'what else can you tell me about Sam?'
'I can tell you that the men who took him, they are not possessed they are human but work for some ... something that is purely demonic he was the one who wanted Sam.'
'And the cards showed you all of this?'
'I know I sound crazy and you have every right to be sceptical but I am telling you the truth Dean.' Tess said as she stood up, 'I had better go.'
'No, no look no one else has ... the police are useless, they've got nothing to go on I guess, dad's well dad and I have searched everywhere.' Dean ran his hand over his face and then rubbed the back of his neck and he contemplated what to do, what to believe, 'at this stage I'm willing to hear anything that might help me find my brother.' He finally grudgingly admitted.
'Please shuffle the cards Dean, let me help.' Tess said passing the deck of Tarot cards to Dean, 'think of Sam.'
'Darlin' that's all I think about.' Dean drawled as he started to shuffle and wonder what he was thinking agreeing to this, hang on did he agree to this?
Sam pressed himself against the wall, with his knees pulled tight against his chest and rested his aching head on them. He couldn't get warm, shivers wracked his body and his stomach growled with hunger. He was starting to lose all time since he woke up lying on the floor of what seems to be a basement. He wore only a white tee-shirt and baggy sweat pants, with bare feet and no way of warming himself.
The room was dark; the only source of lighting was from a small lamp in one corner, a mattress against a wall next to it and on the opposite side of the room a bucket for him to relieve himself in. A short staircase led to the only way in or out of the room, a door without even a gap at the bottom. Nothing that would help Sam work out where he was or how to get out of there.
The first day, he spent trying to find a way out, testing the hinges of the door, searching for anything that might help him pick the lock but nothing. The second day he spent pacing the small space, from wall to wall it was four short strides, if he walked the perimeter of the room it took him twenty-four strides. The third day found him crouched against the wall, trying to get warm and to ignore the biting hunger, no one had come near him since he woke, three days without food or water was starting to wear him down.
He tried to pass the time sleeping, but even sleep evaded him now, everytime he closed his eyes and managed to drift off he woke screaming and crying from the torturous nightmares that had plagued him throughout his short life.
The sound of a key in a lock, brought Sam out of his internal musings and he pressed himself harder against the wall, his heart rate soaring as fear filled him. The door swung open and he found himself temporarily blinded by the bright light flooding his prison. Then as quickly as the light came it was gone, once again he was alone in the darkness, not a sound was made by whoever came and went. Cautiously, Sam got to his feet and made his way to the stairs; on the top step was a tray covered by a cloth, curiosity and hunger getting the better of him, Sam climbed the steps and pulled the cloth away, he found a bowl filled with steaming hot oatmeal, a glass of milk and slice of toast on it.
Deep down he wanted to throw the food against the door and loudly protest but he was weak from hunger and thirst, he knew he was already severely dehydrated and the milk looked to enticing not to drink.
'I'm sorry for being weak dad but I can't...' Sam muttered as he carried the tray back to the mattress, carefully he sipped the milk, the white liquid cooling his dry throat, it was then that he realised there was no spoon or anything to eat the oatmeal with.
Past caring, Sam dug his fingers into the gooey cereal and scooped it to his mouth, it was barely hot and starting to congeal but it tasted so good.
His stomach soon protested with fullness and reluctantly Sam pushed the food away though he picked up the glass and finished the milk, not knowing when he was going to get anything else to drink.
A few minutes later Sam felt himself lie down on the filthy mattress, an overwhelming tiredness claimed him, and it was then he realised that they, whoever they are, drugged his food; it was as always too good to be true.
The door opened again, the bright light flooding the room but this time a figure came down the stairs and seemingly glided towards the prone young man. 'Who?' Sam managed to croak out, unable to lift his head let alone anything else.
'I am Father.' A deep masculine voice came from the shadows and bright light.
'Who?' Sam blinked and tried to focus on the face swimming above him. 'Why?'
'All in time Samuel, all you need to know is that I am your Father and from this time on you are reborn.'
'N-No, my-my dad's J-John an' he's g-g-g-gonna kill you.' Sam pushed the words out and fought with all he had against the intrusive drugs. 'Wh-where D-Dean?'
'Your former family have forsaken you ... you are my son now Samuel.' The dark figure bent down and Sam felt a hand on his forehead he tried desperately to move away from the cold, clammy fingers but the other hand gripped his chin cruelly and forced him to keep his head still. 'I am your Father Samuel.'
'The n-name is, is S-S-Sam.' Sam forced the words out through clenched teeth, 'm-my fa-father is J-John and my – my b-b-brother is, is D-D-Dean. My –my f-family.'
Sam felt himself lifted off the mattress; the hand gripping his chin had shifted and now held him up by his neck forcing him to gasp for each lethargic breath.
'Do not test me Samuel, you will regret it ... painfully regret it.'
'G-Get f-f-f-fucked.' Sam rasped before passing out, his limp body falling bonelessly to the mattress when the man let go. A loud crack sounded when he landed, his left foot already trapped under him, bore the brunt of his weight and the ankle snapped, bone and tendon.
The man stared down at the fallen teenager a cruel smile formed on the blank face, as he nudged Sam with his toe, convinced that his prisoner was unconscious and not faking he turned and called for the helpers standing just outside the door. It was time for the indoctrination of the boy formally known as Sam Winchester.