Dean closed the door on the Impala, turning and grinning at Sam as his brother unfolded from the car and closed the door. Shoving the key in the lock, Dean turned it, hearing the comforting clunk as the door locked.
Sam looked at his older brother, quirking an eyebrow at the inane grin plastered across Dean's face.
"Okay, man," he accused, "You're scaring me…"
Dean opened his arms in a "Who? Me?" gesture, still grinning at his younger brother, "What? I can't have a happy moment?"
"Yeah, well, there's happy," Sam shot back, "and then there's happy… And the last time you had a grin like that on your face was when you got laid in O'Neill…"
Dean's grin widened into a beaming Cheshire-type as he walked around the front of the Impala, "Hey, can I help it if the ladies love me?"
Sam rolled his eyes, turning away.
Dean let it go, in too good a mood to pick a fight with his little brother.
He and Sammy had gone to catch a movie. Dean had no real idea what the movie had been called. It wasn't as if they'd had a huge choice. You were lucky to find a cinema in a small town like this, let alone one of those multiplex things with ten or twelve movie choices…
So it had been a chick flick, or a martial-arts deal with some dude called Gent Lee, or something…
Sam had chosen the martial-arts movie. Not that Dean had really cared what they had seen. He was out catching a movie with his brother, and his father was back at the motel waiting for them to get home. That was the sort of thing that normal families did…
Okay, so it wasn't the real deal. Dad wasn't waiting at home… but he was waiting for them, and that was the important thing.
In a fit of good-natured idiocy, Dean jumped on Sam, knocking him sideways, pretending to beat him up. Sam yelled in mock disgust, trying to get a hold of his elusive brother who turned abruptly and ran for the motel room door.
"Last one there smells like a toilet!"
Yelling a half-hearted, "Hey! No fair!" Sam took off across the parking lot after his brother.
Grinning, glancing behind him, Dean reached the door, turning the handle and barrelling through.
Still laughing, it took a moment before Dean realised that his Dad wasn't alone. As Sam came tumbling in the door behind him, Dean recognised the visitor as a woman, then realised that she wasn't wearing much and she was straddling their Dad who was lying on his back on the bed.
Swearing, good-humour slamming into awkwardness, the flush of embarrassment creeping across his face, Dean started to back out of the door, catching Sammy's arm to drag him out too.
The woman turned her head, fixing luminous green eyes on them.
The blond hair that had flowed down her back took on a silver hue. Even as Dean stopped his backward step, her form warped from voluptuous young woman to ancient hag. Shape flickering back to curvaceous beauty, she opened her mouth, hissing, snake-tongue flickering towards them.
Behind Dean, Sam swore.
Dean was already moving forward, mouth opening to recite the Latin incantation that would drive the succubus back and away from his father.
"Praecipio tibi, quicumque es…"
He never saw the second demon.
It moved from behind the open door, slamming it closed on Sam, knocking the younger Winchester backwards onto the ground outside. Dean half-turned but, attention still on his father, concentrating on the words he was reciting, he reacted too late.
The succubus caught him.
"Omni… omnibus…" He grunted, stumbling over the word as her talons dug into his side, pain knifing into his chest, but he kept the incantation going. There was nothing else he could do; nothing else to fight her with: everything else was out of reach or in the trunk of the Impala.
The demon was in pain, hissing at him, her fetid breath twisting his stomach.
"…sociis tuis hunc…"
He swore, correcting, "Hanc!" punching her in the face, kicking out, but the demon was far stronger than him and her talons only sank deeper.
Swearing, he bit down on the pain, clenching his jaw. "Dei famulam obsidentibus…"
The first succubus was crawling off of his Dad and moving towards them. Out of the corner of his eye Dean saw the door start to open again, thrown wide as Sam raced in…
Sam skidded to a halt, desperation clawing at him as the succubus lifted Dean and threw him across the room. He landed on the desk on the far side of the motel room.
The wood splintered and cracked, sending Dean tumbling to the floor. Sam started forward, then all rational thought fled as the succubus turned and Sam made the mistake of looking at her, of looking into her eyes… her amazing, azure-green eyes…
He froze, falling into the green pools…
She drifted towards him, slipping the straps of her dress first off one shoulder and then the other, letting it skim gently down her body and onto the floor. Her hair hung in waves across her shoulders and across her breasts. Rich and full, the blond veil hid the perfect, milk-white mounds from his sight…
Sam took a step towards her, his body already responding to her lure. Reaching out, he brushed her hair back over her shoulder, letting his gaze run from her face; down across those flawless breasts; the flat belly; the tantalising V of soft curls that hid the lips of her sex; down the long, willowy legs that he suddenly ached to have wrapped around him…
She took his hand, lifting it to her lips, kissing it gently.
A small sound of desire escaped Sam's throat. He slipped his free hand round her waist, drawing her to him, holding her against him as he bent his head and kissed her mouth.
She returned the kiss, hands caressing his back. Then, gently, she broke the kiss, turning out of his grasp. Smiling at him, she moved around behind him, drawing his jacket off of his shoulders, pushing it down his arms and onto the floor.
Sam frowned, turning to look across the room. His stomach soured, as if something was wrong, as if there was something really important that he was forgetting…
The succubus moved back round, standing in front of him, reaching out to caress his cheek, drawing his attention back to her.
In the depth of her eyes, all misgiving disappeared…
He stood, hard with longing, as she slowly unbuttoned his shirt then let her hands drift down his chest to the waist of his jeans, undoing the buttons, freeing him. Sam wrapped his arms round her again, dropping his head, kissing her deeply…
Across the room, Dean moaned softly again, his eyes drifting open. Vision swimming, pain washing over him, he lay for a moment, trying to work out where he was, what had happened…
A soft hissing sound broke through the haze, drawing memories back…
Barelling through the door, the demon pinning his Dad down… Succubus…
How had they got in? What the hell had his father been thinking about? Hadn't he set up the charms and protections?
Instinct screamed at him that now was not the time to be second-guessing what his Dad had or hadn't done. If he was still lying here then the demons had control of Sam too… and he was on his own…
He had to drive the succubus back, break the lure… He had to buy some time, give Sam the chance to see through the enchantment and start thinking clearly again…
Clenching his jaw against the pain that flared with each breath, not wanting to risk moving in case he passed out again, Dean swallowed, murmuring softly, "Praecipio tibi…"
Angry hissing told him that he had hit the mark. Closing his eyes, he went on, "Quicumque es… spiritus immunde…"
The hissing was louder. He knew they were in pain… and while they were in pain they couldn't keep up their lure… The only problem was, they would both turn their attention on him now…
He wasn't strong enough…
"Et omnibus sociis…"
They were fighting through the hurt that his murmured words were causing. He opened his eyes, risking a look, closing them quickly again. They were moving towards him – slowly, but they were still moving…
He took a deeper breath, biting down on a moan as pain flared through his chest. Forcing his voice above a murmur, he tried to give it more substance, trying to hit them harder. "Tuis… tuis hanc…"
He didn't have the strength to fight both of them if they reached him… He was barely staying conscious as it was…
"Dei… famulam… obsid… obsidentibus …"
Sam, he willed. Snap out of it… I need some help, man…
Trying to fight the darkness that pressed in on him from the edges of his consciousness, he concentrated on the words of the incantation, trying to breath...
"Ut per myst… mysteria…"
Fear stabbed through him as something touched his leg. He kicked out, moaning against the pain that the sudden movement caused, taking strength from the solid impact as his foot connect with something. Then a hand wrapped around his wrist. He tried to pull away, but the strong grip held him fast.
"SAM!" Dean tried, panic crawling through his belly, "Sammy!"
Something flickered across his face. Fetid breath making him gag, Dean flinched away from it, ignoring the pain as he kicked out again and tried to twist his wrist out of the bony grip. "Incarn… incarnationis, passionis… resurrectionis…"
The succubus dragged him away from the wall. Pain stole his breath, but he fought through it, using the pain and the fear, drawing on it to find the strength to go on, "…et ascensionis… SAM!"
Then it was all over as the succubus covered his body with hers. He tried to fight against her weight, but the agony that washed through him coupled with her superior strength meant that she pinned him easily, her tongue flickering caresses across his cheeks and lips…
Sam blinked, shaking his head to clear it, his stomach churning uncomfortably, as if there was something incredibly wrong… only he couldn't quite remember what. He swayed slightly on his feet, almost falling, frowning as he saw his Dad lying on the far bed…
Dean… Where was Dean…?
Something was hissing… like a snake… or…
Sam's memory flooded back in sickening clarity. Swearing, reacting on instinct alone, Sam spat out the words of the first incantation he could remember. "Deus, in nomine tue salvum me fac!"
Both succubus rose from the far side of the bed. Sam avoided eye contact, dropping across the bed, "Et in virtute tua judica me!"
He reached out, ripping the bedside drawer open, yanking out the bible that he found there, "Deus, exuadi orationem meam!"
He rose to his feet, walking round the bed, holding the bible out in front of him, driving the two succubus ahead of it, herding them away from the crumpled figure of Dean, back into the corner, "Auribus percipe verba oris mei!"
On the bed, John Winchester gasped, eyes flying open.
"Quoniam alieni insurrexerunt adversum me..."
Sam… That was Sam's voice… The fifty-third Psalm…
John sat up, fear churning in his stomach. Sam was holding back two succubae against the wall with a bible held out in front of him… They were writhing and hissing in pain.
Swearing, grabbing the sheet from the bed to cover his nakedness, John scrambled over the other bed, grabbing his keys off of the table at the door and heading for his truck. Where the hell was Dean? Had Sam come back alone?
Pushing those thoughts away, bringing his attention back to the two succubae that his son was fending off inside the motel room, John, opened the back of the truck, grabbing a long coil of rope and a flask of Holy Water. Shoving the tail-gate closed, heading back into the motel room, he opened the flask then soaked the rope with the water. Discarding the flask on the bed, he shouted Sam's name, throwing him the rope as he turned.
Sam caught it, one handed, then threw the bible to his Dad.
As Sam turned, John held up the red, leather-covered book, keeping the succubae at bay, beginning "Deus, in adjutorium meum intende! Domine, ad adjuvandum me festine!"
The succubae writhed and twisted. Sam made a noose, slipping it over one of the succubae's head and pulling it tight. Her hands flew to her throat, talons clawing at the rope. Sam caught the other succubus, dragging her over, heaving her into a sitting position, wrapping the rope around her neck, pulling it tight again. Her reaction was the same. The moment the rope touched her skin, she clawed at it…
They were twisting and writhing so much under the weight of the Holy Water and his Father's latin incantation, that it was hard to tie them up, but eventually he had them secured together, back to back. Testing the knots, not taking any chances, Sam finally turned, scrambling across the floor to his brother.
Ice twisted in John Winchester's gut as he realised that Dean had been here all the time, obviously unconscious or wounded on the floor. Discarding the bible, rushing round the end of the bed, he dropped to his knees beside his son. Dean's breathing was laboured, his t-shirt stained black with blood.
"Dean? Son? Can you hear me?"
Sam was gently lifting the T-shirt, revealing the deep puncture wounds in Dean's side and belly.
"Talons…" John supplied. Looking across at the two demons, he told Sam, "They'll be at least an inch deep…"
"It threw him across the room, Dad…" The tightly-controlled almost-panic pitched Sam's voice higher than normal.
John looked back at him and then at the shattered remains of the desk behind him. Fighting down his own panic, John forced himself to keep his voice calm and quiet as he ordered, "Help me turn him over…"
Together, they turned Dean gently onto his side, John running a clinical eye across the scratches and the redness that was already turning towards bruising. The biggest problem, however, was the shard of wood sticking out of Dean's side. They had no way of knowing how deep it went.
"We need to get him to a hospital…"
In the end they had both lifted Dean into the Impala, but John had left Dean in Sam's care while he dealt with the two succubae, telling Sam that he would follow once they were dealt with and rendered impotent…
The problem with a succubus was that you couldn't kill them outright. You had to starve them to death… starve them of sex, let them wither and die.
And, because the basis of a good lie was to use as much of the truth as you could, John needed to get the succubae out of the motel room because the local cops were bound to be alerted by the medical staff when Sam took Dean into the small hospital in the town.
The story he and Sam were going to tell was that they had gone to catch the movie and come back to find Dean unconscious, having been attacked in the motel by unknown assailants… Sam even had the remains of the movie ticket stub in his pocket.
John taped the demons' eyes and mouths then secured them separately before cutting the ropes binding them together. Then, one at a time, he heaved them up, carrying them out of the motel room, throwing them into the back of the 4x4 and securing them tightly to the bed of the truck. Then, satisfied that they wouldn't be able to escape, he pulled the cover across the flatbed, climbed into the cabin and followed Sam to the emergency room.
"They're operating," Sam told him as he sat down beside him in the small waiting area.
"What did they say?" John asked, keeping a tight control on the panic that was threatening to drown him now that had had done everything that was in his power to do and was no longer in control of the situation.
"Not much," Sam supplies, eyes fastened on the doors to the operating room.
John nodded, saying nothing more.
Dragging his eyes away, Sam glanced at his father. Confusion, anger and fear all riling within him, voice soft and dangerous, he demanded, "What the hell happened tonight, Dad?"
For a long moment his father simply looked down at his hands, saying nothing. Sam's anger rose, threatening to boil over. He managed to keep it in check, managed to keep his voice quiet, the violence tightly controlled.
"What about the protections, Dad?" he demanded. "The safety precautions? The ones you've been drumming into us since I was old enough to walk! Where the hell were they tonight?"
The softly spoken word, filled with anguish, brought Sam up short. Anger still bubbling, Sam looked at his father, trying to work out if he meant that the precautions had been useless… or if he was saying that he himself was useless…
John Winchester lifted his head, turning dark eyes on his son, seeing the anger and confusion washing across a face that always reminded him of Mary….
"None of the safeguards would have worked," he told his son, "even if I'd had a chance to complete them…"
Stunned, Sam blinked, "What?"
John couldn't bear the look on his son's face and turned away, looking back down at his hands.
"Dad!" Sam pleaded, "Talk to me! Tell me what's going on! Dean's hurt and it could have been worse!" he accused. "We could have lost him! We could have lost you!"
John closed his eyes, taking a deep breath, drawing on every ounce of his Marine training to stay calm.
"Please," Sam pushed, "Dad! I need to understand what's going on here!"
John sighed, long suppressed memories flowing back to the surface. He rubbed his hands across his face, sorting the memories into some semblance of order to give Sam an explanation. Finally, he began, "This isn't the first time I've run into her…"
He heard the slight intake of Sam's breath and pushed on before the questions could overwhelm him, "She came to me… Once… Once before. Her and her sister…"
Taking another breath, still unable to look at his son, he continued, "Montana… I'd gone north, up past Shelby… It was… one of the times Dean had to call Jim Murphy because I didn't make it back…"
Those times had been so few and far between that Sam could remember every one of them… "It was almost Halloween…" he commented.
Pastor Jim had taken them to see The Beverly Hillbillies. Sam could still remember the trailer for The Nightmare Before Christmas…
John nodded, still unable to look at his son, "I'd hunted the demon for two days, fought it, killed it. I was tired, too tired to drive all the way back to you and Dean... I pulled off the road, into a motel, in a place about a half hour south of Shelby…"
Laughing coldly, he shook his head, "But, I couldn't sleep… I was exhausted but I couldn't sleep. And I had no whisky… so I went looking for a bar…"
He lifted his head, finally, looking at Sam, "Forget everything you've ever heard of succubus haunting graveyards and luring men by the damsel-in-distress routine. That went out with the 1800s... These two were lurking in the bar…"
He turned away again, looking back at his hands, "And I was so tired I didn't see them… Not until it was too late…"
He paused, remembering how empty the bar had seemed, how he'd put it down to it just being late in the evening on a week night… The soft touch of her hand on his shoulder, her smile as he had turned to look at her… Even now his body still responded to the memory.
He cleared his throat, shifting in his seat, going on, "I knew what had happened the minute I woke up from their spell... knew I'd be damned if I couldn't find them. I phoned Jim to make sure that you and Dean were okay. That's when I found out that I'd lost three days… So I packed up, I went out and I hunted the bitches down…"
Shaking his head again, he continued, "Couldn't get them both, though… Killed the sister, but not her… not the one who took me first… She was older, more experienced… I followed her as far as I could and then I lost her… Haven't seen her between then and now…"
"And tonight?" Sam asked softly.
"Tonight she found me again…" John told him. "And brought another sister to take my sons…"
Sam blinked, "Us?"
"She wanted revenge…" John supplied. "I killed her sister; they wanted my sons in return."
Swallowing, fear stealing in to replace the anger, Sam began, "Dad… She…"
John turned, the calm on his face belying the dread that roiled in his stomach. Sam had still been dressed, but his shirt had been open, his jeans undone… "Did she get you, Sam? Did she get Dean?"
Sam shook his head, trying to think through the fuzzy memories that her seduction had left behind. "I…"
"What happened," John pushed gently. "Tell me everything that happened!"
"We came in… She… she was on top of you… The other one was behind the door… She…"
The fuzz evaporated slowly as he made a concerted effort to focus on the details. "Dean fought them off. That's why she threw him, to stop him…"
"Sam…" John pushed, "Did she seduce you?"
Sam flushed as he remembered the succubus' touch, her fingers silken on his skin, gliding over his jeans' zip, brushing against him. He swallowed hard, pushing those memories away, shook his head, "There wasn't time. She tried, but Dean must still have been conscious. They went back to him… That's… that's when I grabbed the bible."
He looked at his father, "I drove them back away from Dean. Then you woke up…"
Relieved, John gave Sam a rare smile, resting a hand lightly on his shoulder. "Once we know how Dean is, we'll deal with them: bury them where they can't be found. They won't come for us again…"
The sun was shining, reflecting off the golden browns-and-reds of the Fall leaves that still clung to the branches of the trees. The breeze tugged gently at them. Dean stood beside the grave as Sam and his Dad threw the dried, withered, skeletal carcasses of the two succubae into it.
Despite his resolve, he was leaning heavily on the stick. Sam and his Dad had tried to persuade him to stay with the 4x4, warning that it was a steep climb to where they planned to dig the grave. Dean, however, had been determined to see the succubae buried, telling Sam and his Dad that if they could make it carrying both the carcasses and the shovels then he could make it carrying just himself.
He hadn't even made it half way up before he discovered that his ego had far more power than his body … not that he would admit it…
Dean couldn't remember much about what had happened the night the succubae had attacked. He had been left with a deep sense of misgiving, though, that churned up his stomach, making him jump at every unfamiliar sound. Instinct told him that the unease and foreboding would disappear only when he saw the demons buried, when he knew that the succubae were unable to touch his Dad or Sam again. So he had struggled up the hill behind them. The grave had been half dug by the time he reached them, but he had still reached them.
He watched as his Dad opened a flask of Holy Water and emptied it over the desiccated remains, intoning, "Humiliter majestati gloriae tuae supplicamus, ut ab omni infernalium spirituum potestate, laqueo, deceptione et nequitia nos potenter liberare, et custodire digneris."
Small wisps of smoke floated up from the bottom of the grave like swirling mist. John dropped the flask onto the bodies then nodded to Sam. Together they began shovelling the earth back in over the top of the succubae.
Deep inside Dean, something relaxed. Bit by bit, as the earth was shovelled in on top of the succubae, Dean felt his strength returning. The misgiving that had plagued him since he had woken up in the hospital slowly disappeared.
It was over… finished. The succubae were dead, their remains trapped in ground made holy by the water his Dad had poured over them.
Pausing in the shovelling, John glanced across at Dean.
He had tried to persuade Dean to stay with the truck, but there had been a frantic desperation behind his son's eyes that had finally made him relent, even though he knew the climb would be hard on him.
When Dean had reached them, John hadn't been sure that he would be able to stand for long under his own power, but now… now it seemed that Dean was standing a little straighter…
Dean caught his Dad's gaze and smiled at him. John nodded then found himself smiling back.
"Hey!" Sam accused, stopping and leaning on his shovel. "Am I the only one doing any work here?"
John grinned, looking at both his sons.
"You know," Dean quipped, "the sooner this is done, the sooner we can have pizza!"
"Is food the only thing you think about?" John asked
"Now you know what I have to put up with," Sam shot back.
Dean told him exactly where he could go.
John chuckled, admonishing, "Boys…" before starting to shovel the earth into the grave again. Sam looked at Dean a moment longer, shaking his head and smiling at him before turning back to help their Dad.
Dean took a breath, looking round the forest, actually seeing the beauty that surrounded him for the first time since he had made it to the top of the hill. Once they were finished and back in town he would get an explanation from his Dad and his brother, over pizza and a beer, which would fill in the gaps in his memory.
This, he decided, was going to be a good day… In fact…
"Well," he announced, "Keep up the good work and I'll see you at the bottom!"
Not waiting for an answer, he turned, grinning as he slowly began to make his way back down the hill to the Impala.