WARNINGS/SPOILERS: Contains graphic torture. Mentions of child molestation, however, the prologue alone gets more detailed in that respect.

TIMELINE: Season 1, shortly after Dead In the Water

SUMMARY: An eight year old story of violence and blood shed resurfaces with new victims and clues enough to attract the Winchester's. In route to investigate, illness sidelines the younger brother leaving Dean to hunt alone. It was a path that both agreed they'd avoid at all costs and Dean soon finds himself lured into a trap. In a race against time, the brothers embark on separate journeys: Dean to save the last child from a brutal ending; and Sam, to save Dean from becoming the next play thing at the hands of a monster neither of them is prepared for.

A/N: This story is complete. I'll try to put a chapter up each day, but I have to go in and weed out the lovely graphics work before hand so that takes a bit. If you go to my Live Journal (jackfan2) you can see the story with graphics there.

It was written in response to the 2010 SPN_J2_Big Bang and word count total is just over 90K at last count.

My betas, to whom I owe so much are: gaelicspirit, mad_server, creepylicious and last, but most notably, ophium, or adrenalineshots at LiveJournal. All of these gals were instrumental in making this story better, Ophium, my muse, my heart, girl, you made it worth reading for everyone. You made it more fun in the process.

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~ PROLOGUE ~

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THEN

September, 2005
Duluth, Minnesota
They were singing Happy Birthday.

Jake Rhys smiled at his friends as they clowned around, making huge gestures, vying for his attention, just being goofs.

Mom shook him gently. "Blow out the candles Jake," she said, her mouth moving, like in slow motion. Dad stood behind her, kind eyes smiling patiently at him. Filled with pride and love.

Their mouths continued to move, but the sound was warbled, distorted, like they were talking underwater. Jake squinted in an effort to read their lips rather than hear what they were saying. But when Mom nodded toward the cake in her arms, he shifted his gaze downward to the flickering candles. And stared.

Locked in their mesmerizing dance atop the cake, Jake seemed incapable of looking away from the tiny pinpricks of fire. The movement was inviting and happy. Then all at once, dark and fading.

It was his birthday, it was supposed to be his chance, his turn to wish for something childish. Something selfish for himself, but something stopped him; the flames. It was as if they held him, gripped by the neck, the heat suffocating him. It was like he was stuck, muscles frozen in place.

The cake was pushed closer. The heat of the flames burned... cold. Not hot. It didn't make sense.

"Jake!" Mom snapped, her voice rougher, grating through the stillness. "C'mon, people are waiting."

Jake slammed his eyes shut. The anger and frustration in her voice broke him out of his daze. Familiar, clearer than it had been before, he knew he'd seen that look somewhere else, even as he opened his eyes.

The world around the candles that burned brightly on the cake, changed.

Gone was the dreamy vision of a perfect life; the mom and dad he'd always wished he could have. Replaced instead with the parents he'd always known, staring angrily down at him. Their gaze no longer holding him in high regard, but rather, the disappointment of a lifetime.

Gone was mom's smooth, perfectly coiffed hair, the neat clean dress, and perfect smile. Replaced instead with the familiar ratted ends, all thin strands; dull brown and lifeless, just like her eyes. A cigarette rested in the corner of her lower lip, ash dropping on to the cake, like gray frosting.

Peripherally, the faces of Jake's friends danced and wavered, until they warped into each other, like paint on a twirling bowl and started melting away, one by one until they were all gone. Until the warm sunny day was replaced by dark, heavy clouds.

The flames on the cake seemed to flicker invitingly and Jake looked back at them. Not only did they not give off any heat, but their presence offered no illumination to the rapidly graying day. For the first time Jake realized he was trembling.

Jake wanted to step back, but he couldn't. Wanted to run away but his legs wouldn't budge. Before he knew it Dad was in front of him. Bent forward, face purple with rage, eyes full of thunder and promises of pain.

"Jake!" Dad's stern voice made him jump. "Your mother is talking to you."

No gentle shake this time. Dad's hand was clamped tight on Jake's upper arm. The same arm Dad had broken last summer when he'd gotten drunk and knocked him down the stairs...

This was Dad. Not the kind, smiling image from before. Not the one he'd wished for.

Birthday wishes just didn't come true for someone like Jake.

Just the mere image of the man was enough to set Jake's gut afire with rage. From the stained, wife-beater t-shirt, that did a poor job covering the round beer-belly, to the smell of his unwashed body, and down to the big brass ring that always left its mark on Jake's cheek; this man had been the cause of more pain in Jake's young life than anyone should ever be able to cause.

These were his dad and mom. Jake felt his stomach turn.

Any warmth he still had left was leaching away. It left him cold and... wet. The curtain of gray that blocked out the bright sun was growing darker by the minute. And colder. Through the chill, a putrid heat that Jake both welcomed and reviled. It tickled his senses.

"Jake!" The enraged face of Carl Rhys shouted as he fisted Jake's shirt in one hand and jerked him forward. "Answer me dammit!"

"No!" Jake shot back. God he wanted to just disappear. "You son of a bitch- I hate you!"

The blow hadn't been unexpected. It sent Jake tumbling back, falling. Then his head slammed to the ground. Hard.

...The shock of pain sent Jake crashing back to the present. Back to an overwhelming fear whose origin he couldn't recall.

Jake rolled his head from side to side, grimacing in pain.

The gasp of shock that passed his lips still echoed in the concrete chamber. It bounced and reverberated in Jake's mind as he struggled to open his eyes. Grappled with what he couldn't remember and what he wanted to forget.

The celebratory sounds had faded, dispersed into the ebony darkness and Jake found himself trembling violently, and he knew. He was no longer warm. No longer safe. No longer in that place that wasn't... here.

Jake shook his head, grasping at understanding, eyes opening in slits to stare at… nothing. Just oppressive darkness and cold.

The memory of his thirteenth birthday, images too strong to be peeled away quickly, left his mind reeling with the aftereffects. There was a distinct absence of pain in his jaw and Jake's brow creased at the oddity. Dad never pulled any punches. Ever.

Blood, unexplainable bruises, broken bones, fear… they were part of his life, and had been for a long time. It was a history of pain no child, let alone a thirteen-year-old should know, or experience.

This time, however, it was his back, arms, shoulders, hell, his entire lower body…they all burned in the frigid air with an agonizing, fiery pain. He groaned, knowing that the sound wouldn't stop any of those things from hurting even more.

Comprehension slipped further into place, and as the threat of yet another of his father's beatings ebbed away his reality became terrifyingly clear; a concrete chamber, bloody bindings on his wrists and ankles, and pain. Always the pain.

Memories could be like physical things, and Jake had had far too many of the unpleasant kind in his short, miserable life. But this…this was a new kind of pain. What he'd come to know as his own personal hell. This was real, not some distant memory.

This was happening now. And his tormentor wasn't his dad.

It was a monster.

Jake slammed his eyes shut, hoping for the fevered dream again. Wanting to hide again.

The ache that wracked his body was in direct proportion to all the times the monster's heavy weight had crushed his small frame into the damp, unforgiving surface. He'd lost count of how many... it didn't matter. The first time had already been one too many.

Just days before he'd made a wish; there had been no cake and there had been no candles, but still, it had been his birthday and he'd been sure that he was entitled to a wish.

Foolishly he'd wished for a way to escape his life. Wished fervently to get away from his parents and his miserable existence. This, however, was not how he'd imagined his wish would be granted.

The memory, the beatings, the misery, they'd been a testament to a harsh, brutal childhood, a nightmare. This, though - this was hell.

In desperation, Jake mumbled desperately into the darkness, pleading to whatever god was out there to put him back with his father. He'd welcome the beatings, the shouting, the fear, rather than be here.

Anywhere but here.

Jake opened his eyes, for all the good it did him. There was really no point; the room, his prison, was pitch black. It was the kind of blackness that ate both light and hope.

Escape wasn't impossible. He'd gotten away from this monster before, he could do it again. Of course, still reeling from the drugs, he'd been an easy catch and god, that monster had been pissed off. Now, zip ties dug into this wrists and ankles...

No. Jake wasn't a quitter. He just needed to think. Needed to calm down.

Trying to calm himself, clear his head, Jake took a breath, and nearly gagged. The stench surrounding him was overpowering.

It was like decay and dampness. It was like the dead rat he'd once found in a storm drain last year. That had been the worst thing he'd ever smelled, that rotting, decomposing corpse. This smell reminded him of that. But this thing? This monster? It was far from being dead.

The cold, wet concrete surface beneath him saturated what little clothing remained on his small frame and the exposed flesh was chilled to the bones; he shivered harder. There was moisture on his face, but that was more from the constant tears that rolled down his face than the damp floor. It was his soul bearing witness to the torment of fear, pain and anguish that had started hours ago and hadn't stopped.

Something stirred close to him. The monster.

Jake's breathing grew ragged, rapid and hitching in his chest. Echoing through his prison. Dark as it was, he didn't need to see it to know the monster was moving over him. Preparing to take him again.

Self-preservation jarred him to move and Jake tried. Again. He tried to wriggle away from the heat of the monster's body. From the terror he knew was coming. It was a useless attempt.

The thing grabbed his arm. It squeezed. Warning him. Jake whimpered, tears cascading down his face. "Pleeeeeease…" he whispered.

Jake had known physical starvation and yet he'd never asked for a handout, never begged. Jake had known real pain when his father beat him, but he'd stopped crying long ago.

Crying was weakness and in the street, Jake had learned the hard way never to let that show. He'd learned to be tough. Learned never to wait for or expect handouts; instead, take what you want when you want.

And above all, never beg.

The last few hours, however, had changed Jake's life drastically. Broken and scared beyond anything he could ever comprehend, he was no longer too proud to beg.

"No, no, no..." Jake's voice cracked, rough from hours of screaming. He swallowed, tried again, "Please don't…"

Not that it had helped the first time, or any of the other times since. The crying didn't help either but he couldn't stop it. Earlier, it had been shed out of anger, his whole being defensive, ready to fight, lash out, strike back. Now, it had dissolved into tears of petition, pleading and begging. Watery pleas for mercy.

Jake felt the monster loom over him in the darkness. Its unwanted warmth covering him, positioning him. Lifting his lower body up, prodding...

"Pl- please…" Jake shook, voice panicked and eyes closed. His head rolled from side to side in anxious denial. "Le' me go - le'me go!" It was useless, he knew, but desperation drove him onward. "I w–won't tell anyooone… P-promise."

The monster was prodding blindly. Searching. Too soon found what it was looking for and pressed tentatively forward. Jake's back arched as he screamed.

Pain and fear were all the same now.

It hurt, like it'd hurt all those times before, but it felt somewhat different now. Now there was raw, swollen flesh and blood, from the repeated assaults. And, no matter how many times it had happened before, every single time the pain threatened to split him in half.

The monster grunted. One quick thrust and the thing was seated inside him. Completely.

Jake screamed again. Squirmed and writhed. Fought and bucked.

The monster's weight rendered his efforts useless. It lay forward, across his chest, its heart thrumming against Jake's. Hot, fetid breath huffing out as it growled against Jake's ear.

Another warning, just like before. Jake knew what it meant. Dried blood still coated one side of his head from where he hadn't heeded it then.

Jake gave it what it wanted; he stilled.

It grunted, satisfied with his compliance, rose up on its knees. Then it started sliding in and out of him in earnest. Blood and something too awful to think about, left over from the times before, made the passage slick, but it did little to ease the pain and humiliation.

Jake's back scraped against the ground as the monster moved with increased speed.

It was too much. All of it. Jake couldn't take it anymore. It had to stop. Had. To.

"Ssss... stop!" Jake screamed. Nothing changed. The thrusts grew more rapid, wild. His back, bruised and bloody, slid along the concrete. "Pl.. plea.. please. Stoooooop!"

The thrusts became angry, violent. It went on for what seemed like forever.

When it was over, when the satiated monster finished with a sigh, there was only silence; an absence of sound. Brutal in its honesty. Only Jake's quiet sobs and the monster's labored breathing echoed in the absolute darkness.

"Pleassssseee…" Because Jake was certain now, just where this was headed. "Let me go...?"

Jake couldn't breathe. Something closed around his throat. Squeezing. Weight leaning over him. Panicked, Jake tried fruitlessly to get air. Eyes wide he stared upward. The monster's face was close, nose inches from Jake's. Breaths panting into his face.

There were no visible details for Jake to see, just a pervasive darkness, it swallowed him whole. But Jake didn't need to see it to know the depths of its evil. The monster radiated darkness. It defined pain and suffering and doled it out without thought. It represented, in human form, Jake's own version of hell.

It was two days from his thirteenth birthday and while life hadn't been great, he didn't want to die. Not like this.

As the world seemed to slip away, a loud sound filled his head. It was a sound so terrifying it sent goose-flesh rising over his dying body. The monster's howl of rage echoed angrily, furiously into the cavernous walls.

Whatever Jake's wishes were, whatever he'd planned or intended to do with his life... the promises he'd made to never be like his dad… it was all ending now.

Jake Rhys actually felt the moment his heart stopped beating.

Then he felt nothing at all.
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~x~X~x~

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TBC