Thank you, AJ Hofacre for all of your help with this story. :)
To everyone else, this story is finished and will be posted over the next few days.
It also contains spoilers for Supernatural's episode 4.16 On the Head of a Pin.
Slowly cracking his eyes open, Dean's whole body tensed as he felt the coarse rope wrapped tightly around his wrists. It refused to give, and neither would the rope around his ankles and the gag in his mouth. He had no idea where he was or how he'd come to be in this strange room. All he remembered was a slight stinging sensation on the back of his neck, and then… lights out.
Nothing smelled right either. Since his resurrection, Dean had discovered most hotel rooms carried a universal scent of cleaning products and Febreze– and this one did not hold the extra scent of his brother, or Bobby, who had come to visit. The blanket beneath him was rougher, and instead of the rumbling of cars and trucks along the interstate, all Dean could hear was the low hum of wildlife. The room itself was painted off-white with the standard dresser and TV sitting before the bed. A table and two chairs were off to Dean's right, close to the door. A heavy curtain blocked his view of the outside world.
He could still feel the sluggish sensation of the drugs pumping through his system, along with the headache that must have come from his spectacular passing-out-on-cement moment. His arms tingled a bit, letting Dean know he must have been out for a while. He could also hear someone snoring softly near him. When he heard the jingle of a key in the door, Dean closed his eyes, and kept his breathing even. There was no reason to let these bozos know he was awake, and the more he knew... well, he wasn't sure yet what he could do with what he found out. Dean just knew he didn't want them to figure out he'd regained all of his marbles.
Light from outside flared across his closed eyelids, and Dean could smell the sweet scent of woods, dirt, and a rain-washed afternoon. The breeze that hit his face brought a hint of winter frost with it, and Dean knew he was nowhere near his hotel.
"Wake up, dumbass." The man's voice was harsh, rusty, almost as if the guy had a permanent case of laryngitis. "The little freak should be waking up soon."
"Fuck off, Carlos." Another guy and this one sounded like he'd just crawled out of the Deep South. "The little demon shit ain't going nowhere."
"Don't know what the demon-freak can do." Carlos again, and Dean could hear the distinct sound of rustling bags as they were set down on the table.
"Fucker can see the future," the other guy grumbled. "We know that much."
"Not the point, Steve," Carlos growled. "Or did you forget who raised him?"
"No," Steve muttered in a sullen voice, sounding cowed. "I didn't forget. But it ain't like ol' Daddy Winchester's around to do somethin' about it!"
"Still has some pretty powerful friends though," Carlos cautioned. "We need to keep that fanged menace and his Slayer bitch off the trail."
The sudden blow to the side of his head jarred Dean, causing a muffled curse to tear its way from his throat.
"Wake up, freak." Carlos again, and Dean peeled open his eyes. The man before him was in his mid-forties with several days worth of stubble coating his chin. His eyes were as dark as his skin, while his hair carried specks of gray mixed in with sleek black. Briefly darting his eyes to his left, Dean saw Steve looked as redneck as he sounded, all flannel shirt, tattered ball cap, and dirty boots and jeans. A beer belly as wide as it was round only added to the walking stereotype.
Bringing his gaze back to Carlos, Dean allowed his anger to show through his narrowed eyes and clenched jaw. He really wished he wasn't gagged. He would have liked spitting in the guy's face.
"Now I've got your attention," Carlos said, reaching out to draw Dean into a sitting position. "We need to go over a few basic rules."
The fingers digging into his shoulder caused Dean to wince, and the smell of onions and garlic did little to help Dean's mood. The guy smelt like he'd bathed in their juices.
"Listen up," Carlos said, the lilting tone of his accent catching Dean's attention. He didn't get a chance to try and place it before Carlos shook him hard enough to cause whiplash.
Carlos brought his face in close to Dean's, and he had to stop himself from flinching back. "I'm gonna take this gag off, and I don't want you trying anything, you hear me? You do, and I've got a nice cool drink of holy water to give you."
Dean nodded slowly. He knew a bull-shitter when he saw one, and this guy wasn't playing around. Carlos nodded at Dean's assent and Steve got up and settled on the bed behind him. Dean wished he had Spike's ability to stop breathing. Steve smelled of stale beer and a pungent odor he refused to identify. Dean knew hunting meant days when ones rank B.O could possibly knock out even demons, but there was no excuse to smell that bad.
When the gag came off, Dean stretched his sore jaw, trying to get some moisture in his dry mouth, and almost heaved. His mouth tasted almost as bad as Steve smelt.
"You're going to help us," Carlos said once Steve had moved back to the other bed. "See, we've been at this gig longer than you've been breathing, and Steve and I figure it's time we cashed in on all our good deeds."
"Help…you?" Dean hated how rough and weak his voice sounded, but his throat was as dry as his mouth and his jaw hurt when he talked.
"See, you've got these vision things and that makes you a valuable commodity." Steve's voice carried across the room, low and slow, and hiding intelligence most people didn't realize he possessed. Remembering Ash, Dean reevaluated his initial perception of the man. "So that means you get to stay with us, for a few days anyway."
Swallowing, Dean tried to speak again, but his voice came out just as rough as before. "Don't…"
"Don't, what, freak?" Carlos growled, grabbing Dean by the shoulders and shaking him so hard it caused his headache to flare from a dull roar to blinding agony. "You saying you won't help us?"
"Don't –" Swallowing again, Dean pushed the words passed dry lips. "– fucking touch me, you honky cocksucker." The minute he realized he'd been kidnapped--of all of the fucking humiliating things that could have happened to him--Dean figured there was no point in playing nice since he was screwed already. He knew Spike was never going to let him live it down. So he spit in Carlos' face.
Carlos grit his teeth, and Dean squeezed his eyes shut, wincing when the man's fist met his cheek. It was only a glancing blow to show him who had the power. Dean had received worse than this, and he knew any real injury to his body would have healed over by the end of the day, but a punch was a punch, and it still fucking hurt. Carlos shoved Dean back onto the bed, forcing his bound hands to dig into his lower back. Wiping his face clean, Carlos let a wide grin spread across his face. "We'll see about that. Steve?"
Steve looked up and nodded. Dean watched as he reached over and pulled open the nightstand drawer. Reaching one hand inside, he pulled out a small black crystal amulet, flecked with blue and gold. Carlos snatched it from Steve's hand, before jerking it down over Dean's head. It tingled and caused Dean to flinch back, his skull hitting the headboard behind him. Pain flared inside his mind as images of the last people to use the room flashed before his eyes. His heartbeat ratcheted up to heart attack levels, and his breathing turned shallow.
"W-What…?" Dean couldn't help it. He recoiled again as more violent, stronger, fiercer images flew across his vision, making his stomach roll. A large, warm hand on his chest cause another series of images to spring forth, and Dean got the dubious pleasure of witnessing Carlos kill the man who had given him the amulet. One muffled word later and the images stopped. Dean sagged in relief, gasping for air. His head was pounding worse than anytime he could remember, the room was spinning around him, and he knew if he so much as moved an inch, the bile in his throat would end up decorating the floor. When he was finally able to open his eyes, Dean looked from one smug grin to the next.
"Well, I'll be damned," Steve drawled. "Fucker worked."
"That little gem is going to raise the price on your head quite a bit," Carlos said. His voice was full of smug satisfaction. "And Steve and I plan on collecting soon."
Dean closed his eyes, letting his aching head fall back onto the pillow. Once again... he was so screwed.
Sam stretched then glanced at his watch. It was 4:45 p.m. He'd been researching their latest case for over four hours after kicking Dean out of their room. His brother had grumbled a bit then promised to bring back food. Dean should have been back an hour ago. Checking his phone, Sam sighed, then hit speed dial. Dean's phone rang, and rang until voice mail picked up.
Cursing, Sam pushed the button to hang up, and tried again. He got voice mail again. Remembering the bar they'd passed on the way into town, and the way Dean had commented on the possibility of checking it out later, Sam rolled his eyes and went back to researching. It was nearing eight o'clock when Sam looked up again. Frowning, Sam called Dean again and got voice mail again. Lead started growing in his stomach and Sam stood, grabbing his jacket, and heading out of the room. The night was cool with a hint of winter lingering in the air. Street lights glowed, a steady mist rained down causing the ground to glimmer where the light hit it.
Dean wasn't at the bar, so Sam headed back towards the diner. Once he reached the parking lot, Sam spotted the Impala easily. It was sitting a few rows back, facing the road. Sam tried to see if he could spot Dean inside, but the evening crowd was too heavy.
Groaning, Sam trudged into the dinner, scanning the room. His brother was nowhere to be seen.
Forcing a large smile on his face, Sam walked up to the register. The tiny waitress grinned back, pushing a stray lock of red hair behind her ear.
"Can I help you?" she asked, leaning forward and giving him a good view down her top.
"Yeah," Sam said. He pulled his wallet out, and opened it. Taking the small picture in hand, he showed it to the girl. "Have you seen this guy?" Sam's index finger tapped his brother's smiling face.
The girl frowned, looking at the picture. "He was leaving when I came in. Why, did he do something?"
"No," Sam said, shaking his head. "I was supposed to meet him here, but I got lost."
"Oh," the girl said. Then her eyes widened. "Oh, I'm so sorry. Have you tried calling him?"
Sam sighed. "Yeah, but he's probably just busy. Thanks anyway."
Giving her a wane smile, Sam left the diner, the lead in his stomach now crawling up his throat. Reaching the Impala, he slowly walked around the car. Nothing seemed to be missing from inside; the doors were still locked. Bending Sam scanned underneath. His heart dropped to the pavement as he reached forward and dragged the keys into his hand. Standing, Sam scanned the area. Nothing appeared to jump out at him, no flashing neon sign with an arrow proclaiming: Dean: this way.
Opening his phone, Sam hit the speed dial. He heard ringing coming from his right. Following the sound, Sam found his brother's phone in the ditch. It was cold and slick in his hand, and cut off abruptly as the battery died. Sucking in a deep breath, he made another call, this time a grumpy British voice answered him.
"What?!" There was a scrambling nose heard over the line, then the click of the phone being placed on speaker. "Repeat that."
Silence reigned for a few seconds. "What the bloody hell happened?"
Sam swallowed, trying to get his throat to open up. It stubbornly remained closed. Gritting his teeth, Sam forced out the rest of his words. Spike was silent then Sam heard a loud crash before the noise was cut off.
"Sam." Buffy sounded strangely calm and Sam knew she was already picture how to kill whatever was behind Dean's disappearance. "Where are you?"
"I'm at a hotel about three hours north of L.A," Sam said. "We were looking to a suspected haunting."
"Okay," Buffy said. "We'll be there in a few hours."
Sam hung up, and put his phone in his pocket. Pushing his worry aside, Sam climbed into the Impala and drove it back to the hotel. He parked it right in front of their room. As he got out, he rummaged through the car, making sure everything was exactly where Dean had put it. He checked the trunk as well, but the only thing missing from the Impala was Dean.
Once he was back inside Sam carefully sat the keys on the table. His phone was out a second later and a snide female voice answered.
"Sam," Ruby said. "I was wondering when you'd call. I take it dear old Dean isn't hovering at the moment?"
"He's missing," Sam growled. "Have you heard anything?"
"No," Ruby said, serious now. "I haven't heard a peep, which is strange when you think about it."
"Why is that?"
"It usually means something big is about to go down," Ruby replied. Sam could see her rolling her eyes in his head.
"Start looking," Sam ordered. "If you hear anything, you tell me right away."
"I don't care, Ruby!" Sam snarled. "Until I find Dean, I just don't care."
"Okay," Ruby replied. "I'll look around, see if I hear anything."
"Thank you," Sam said, his words coming out on a sigh.
"Don't mention it." Ruby hung up right after, leaving Sam with nothing to do but wait.
When there was a knock at the door, Sam snatched up Ruby's knife and peaked out the window. Seeing Buffy, Willow, and Spike nearly had Sam dropping to the ground. His legs wobbled as he lurched towards the door, quickly jerking it open. Before he could blink he was being crushed in a hug that left his ribs screaming.
"We'll find him," Buffy said. Her voice was muffled by his chest. Words failed him then and all he could do was nod as Willow and Spike came in.
"I need something of his," Willow said, helping Spike spread a map over the rickety table. Sam disappeared briefly into the bathroom. He came out holding a few strands of hair. Willow gave him a wane smile. "Thanks."
Closing her eyes, hand wrapped around the hairs, Willow chanted softly. Static filled the air and when she let the hair fall towards the map, sparks lit and fell, blinking out when they touched the map. Willow opened her eyes, and sighed.
"Something is blocking me."
"Do it again," Sam said. Willow gave him a sympathetic look.
"I'm sorry," Willow said. "But I can't get through right now. I need to get in touch with the coven, see if they can help me get around the block."
"Fine," Sam growled. He began packing his and Dean's things. An iron grip halted his movements. "Spike, let go."
"You are not running off half cocked," Spike said. His eyes flashed golden and his grip tightened. "Your brother would have my bloody hide if I let you."
"I have to find him!"
"And we will!" Spike yelled, pinning Sam with his gaze. Spike's demonic features rippled forth briefly, the promise of vengeance clear in his gaze. Sam felt himself calming. He could work with vengeance.
"Okay," Sam said. "We'll do it your way for now."
Dean shifted, the scratchy comforter beneath him wrinkling with his movements. His arms hurt and his legs were stiff. The gag had dried out his mouth hours ago. His head felt like a sledge hammer was attempting to crack it open, and from the looks he had been getting, Dean was willing to bet his eyes were unnaturally dark. At least they'd left the television on this time, even though Dean couldn't change the channel. It was better than sitting and listening to the sounds from outside and not being able to alert anyone to his presence. The phone sat on the night table next to him, tauntingly out of reach.
Fucking phone. It was mocking him.
Sighing, Dean shifted again. The rope around his wrist and arms caused the spindly rails of the headboard to dig into his back. The rope around his ankles kept his feet numb. Another rope leading from the one around his ankles was attached to the bed frame. Overall, it allowed for very little movement, and made for an awkward position. Not to mention the fact he really had to use the john. And why did they call it the john, anyway? Did some poor bastard with that name invent the thing, or was it like in that Mel Brooks movie, the Robin Hood spoof, where every single toilet in the kingdom was renamed after Prince John?
Well, that successfully distracted him for about five minutes. Spike's goddamn ADHD wasn't rubbing off enough.
Keys rattling in the door alerted Dean to his kidnapper's return, and he tried to slump down as much as possible, feigning boredom. When the door opened, Dean was surprised to see a tall, stunning woman enter with Carlos and Steve. Dark hair, styled in the latest trendy fashion fell to her shoulders. Her eyes scanned the room and a smirk graced her face. Her heels made no sound on the shag carpet, and one hand played with a scarf tied around her neck. Dean noted that even in the dingy surroundings she managed to appear as if she belonged, despite the thousand dollar suit.
"Well, you two have certainly managed to out do yourselves." Her voice was smooth, rich, and the very definition of smug.
"Well, Ma'am," Carlos said, rubbing his hands together. The gleeful look on his face had Dean mentally adding in a long curly mustache for the bastard to twirl. "Now that you've seen the goods, why don't we go back outside and negotiate that deal."
"Not before I get a demonstration," she said, dark eyes lingering on Dean before turning her attention to the two men. "My bosses will want to know if your little gem works."
Carlos grinned, teeth bright in his dark complexion. "Steve?"
Steven nodded, ambling over to Dean. He slapped his hand onto his chest, muttered the activation spell, and Dean arched back, eyes squeezed shut. The image pounded into his head, showing him Steve shaking the woman's hand. Another image sprang up afterwards, this one of the woman, talking to, and seducing, a dark haired man with glasses. Dean didn't hear when the amulet was shut off, but he sagged in relief when the images stopped spinning in his head.
When Dean finally pried his eyes open, she was looking at him like he was priceless treasure one would put on display so others could gawk at it. "My bosses will be more than happy to pay any price."
She cast one last smug grin at Dean, before turning and leaving the room. Not even the lovely sway of her shapely ass could lift the dread currently settling in his stomach. The click of the door latching sounded like the ringing of a death knoll.