This is a second time stamp to Forged by Fire and takes place post fic. It is also for the episode Jus in Bello for the Summer of Sam 2010 challenge on Live Journal (link on my profile). It is an AU version of that episode.
Dean'd had enough of cages.
It seemed as if the last couple of years had been nothing more than a string of cages. Actual cages, or those created by a jail or prison cell. He hated being locked up, knew Sam hated it even more.
He glanced over at Sam, hunched on the bench along the wall, partially wedged into the corner. They were chained together, even in here, which was making it difficult to move. Anyone looking at Sam would see a passive expression, maybe even verging on bored. Dean saw more. He saw the stark terror from being locked up lurking in Sam's eyes. The uncertainty of what was to come in the tight, pinched lines of his brother's mouth and the fight or flight response ready to come out in the tense set of his shoulders and the slight twitch of his hands.
Dean watched as Sam's gaze skittered across the far wall for a few seconds before dropping to the floor. He needed Sam here, with him, not retreating to some place inside his head. Sam did far too much of that since—lately.
"You with me, Sammy? I need you to stay with me."
Swallowing hard, Sam looked over at him and nodded. "Yeah. I am. Did you see—?"
Dean looked over at the wall. "Nothing is there. Just us in here." The last thing Dean needed to deal with now was Sam's imaginary demon friend. Sam studied him for a few seconds, drew in a deep breath and nodded again. Dean watched as the tension eased off Sam's face. Reminding Sam, even subtly, what was real and what wasn't usually did the trick.
Usually, but now they were locked up and all bets were off. Sam didn't do well locked up, Dean barely better. The worst thing was Sam's mental state deteriorated rapidly when they were trapped—caged—in any small space.
Jail cells were small spaces—cages.
Then, you know, that stupid demon disguised as some FBI agent just had to go and shoot him. Yep, Dean's day was definitely taking a dip down. Not to mention getting shot, even a flesh wound, hurt. It hurt like a big, angry mother actually.
Sam glanced down at his chest, making a swiping motion over it with his hand. A telltale sign Sam's mind was dredging up things Dean didn't want it to. A demon, this one stayed in Sam's head, but talked to him or at least that's what his brother told him. He'd had few minutes of reprieve from watching how Sam's eyes tracked around the cell, following something only seen by Sam, came after Sam's quiet freak out from Dean being shot. Sam had gotten a towel and a rosary from the receptionist, Nancy, and nearly gotten himself shot in the process.
Being locked up made Dean's skin itch. He let his brother fuss over his wound for a few minutes. It kept Sam focused where he needed to be, here and now, at least for a short time. Equally as important it helped Dean's shoulder feel better.
"We need to get out." Sam's fingers twitched in time with his words as he pressed the hard earned towel to Dean's shoulder. "They're coming. I can't figure out why. I can ask her, find out why, if she knows."
Even if the demon in Sam's head wasn't real, others were and they were out in the real world. There were demons here, more coming, definitely with the Winchester brothers in their sights. "We'll figure it out, Sam." He let Sam guide him back farther into the jail cell. "Sammy, you with me?"
It was only a matter of time before Henricksen reappeared to issue more threats and taunts. When he did, Sam leaned over and whispered in Dean's ear, "He's not alone."
Dean's gaze shifted to his brother for nothing more than a split second. "How do you—?"
Sam sat down quietly, turning the rosary over in his fingers. Outward hints of his invisible demon friend gone. Maybe if they were both lucky she'd be gone for good this time. "I know. She—I can tell."
No such luck, whatever Sam thought he saw or heard was still there. This unseen demon was Dean's newest, biggest nemesis. She couldn't have his brother. Meg couldn't, this one couldn't either. None of them could. He hadn't figured out yet how this demon was appearing only to Sam and making him think she was in his head, but it was only a matter of time before Dean put it together.
Dean watched everything; he never stopped scanning the cell they were in, the area around the cell for anything. He'd heard Henricksen tell one of the locals they were under siege. Those in the police station with them had no idea how true those words were or what the implications actually amounted to. He settled again on the bench beside Sam, let his hand rest on his brother's shoulder for a few seconds before squeezing lightly and letting it drop to his lap.
Neither of them liked the remarks made about their childhood or their father, but there was no convincing Henricksen of anything different, so they didn't bother. They knew the truth, which was all that mattered. His other statement, the one about how they'd be split up, never see one another again—that one hit like a sledge hammer and was likely the cause of Sam's withdrawal. They'd been put in cages and separated enough to last a life time or three.
"Ruby," Sam hissed out, his gaze focused intently on Henricksen. Dean resisted the urge to snort, what sort of name was Ruby for a demon? "She can tell."
Turned out Sam—Ruby—was right. That rosary came in damn handy, too, when Henricksen's head was dunked in the toilet turned to a basin of holy water and de-demonized.
It took being possessed to get Henricksen to believe them and remove the chains. If it weren't for Sam getting a hold of that rosary they'd be caged up, sitting ducks and at the mercy of an onslaught of demons. Dean refused to think what the outcome might have been if neither he nor Sam had heeded the warning his brother was given, even if it was in his head, or by a demon only Sam could see. There had to be something, maybe being possessed let Sam sense demons, and this was how his conscious coped. Though Dean couldn't imagine seeing and hearing a demon in your head was much easier to accept. It wasn't as if they hadn't grown up knowing there were demons, ghosts…other things.
Heading back to the main part of the station, they took stock of what they had. Henricksen wasn't so different from Dean or Sam; he simply fought other sorts of evil. He sure didn't live the life Dean always imagined he did. Angry ex-wives and his life was his job. Other than the ex-wives he was the same as Dean and his brother.
Sam might have been verging on completely insane lately, but he was still smarter than most people ever hoped to be and Dean was still crafty street smart, together they were a formidable team and able to come up with a plan. When he looked to Dean for that plan, the others with them followed suit. Sam had that way with people. He may never have been much of a social butterfly, but complete strangers would follow his lead. This time he led them straight to Dean.
Dean didn't miss the looks from his brother, the expression of pride in how Dean took over and planned their defense. What Sam did without knowing was bolster Dean's desire and drive to watch over and protect. No matter what, Dean trusted Sam above all others, even when what he said didn't make complete sense. It was from Sam that Dean got his courage.
"Dean." Sam's voice broke into his thoughts. "They're coming. Lots of them."
"How do you know?" Dean wanted to beg Sam to admit it was some new sense, a variation on his visions, not an imaginary demon friend named Ruby.
Gaze slipping away from Dean's and flitting around the room, Sam drew in a deep breath. "Trust me, please?"
"I do, Sammy, but I need to know, how do you know?"
"She told me," he said softly.
Sighing, Dean wiped one hand over his face. "Sam, we've been through this, she, this demon, Ruby, she's not real. You dredged her up in solitary. I'm not denying that maybe for some reason now you can feel them or sense them, but—"
"Abaddon is real," Sam countered, cutting him off.
"True. But, we could see that demon. Why can't I see this demon too?" Dean looked around the police station, at the faces of the others; they really had no clue what they were up against. Dean wasn't sure he and Sam did either. "Okay, let's think this through, there wasn't this many demons in the prison. Where did all these come from, and why here, why us?"
"You know what, Dean, I don't know. What I do know is I can see it in my head, like a vision, but different. It doesn't matter if it's some real demon, I see her, she talks to me. I know what a demon looks like. But, if it's really a demon or just some kind of premonition can we really afford to ignore it? Why not us? Maybe they talk to each other. Maybe we're on some demon hit list now. Does it matter? We're here and we need to survive. Don't you tell me that, sometimes all you do is survive?"
"It's just you and me in this, you know that, right? These other people, they have no idea, don't know what we know. It's up to us to make sure we all survive, our fault if we don't."
Sam nodded. "I know. We have to stay focused, don't you always tell me that, too?"
Dean sighed, it was the truth, he'd said that more times than he could count. "They haven't beaten us yet, they sure as hell aren't going to now."
"Nope, they're not beating us, not now, not ever." Sam's smile was small, but his dimples managed to peek out for a split second. "We need more weapons than we have in here."
"What do you need? How do you fight something like this?" Hendrickson waved at the room around them. Nancy stood beside him, eyes wide.
"Salt, enough to put in front of every entrance and something to paint on the floor with." Dean ticked off each item on his fingers.
"There's road salt in the garage, will that work?" Nancy offered.
"That works." Sam straightened and crossed his arms over his chest.
"I'll get some supplies out of the car." Dean turned, but looked back over his shoulder at his brother. "Stick with me?"
"I promise," Sam said. He turned to Nancy and the others standing there with them. "We need to get the salt from the garage, pour a line under every window and in front of every door."
When he headed for the garage, a brief glance over his shoulder at Dean was filled with admiration and trust. The others trailed after Sam, confident to follow his and Dean's lead.
Not wasting a single second getting out to the lot and the Impala, Dean made quick work of digging through the trunk and gathering rocksalt rounds, firearms, iron and silver. Holy water they'd already had begun to make inside and had that in plenty of supply.
Distant rumbling turned to an approaching roar. Closing the trunk, Dean looked up at the sky, feeling the blood drain from his face. A thunderhead of evil rolled end over end at them.
Demons collected in a way Dean had never seen coursed through the air, clouding out the sky and blackening everything in its path. Sucking in a breath he gave himself a mental shake then got his feet in motion.
Run. RUN! The command ricochet through his mind and sent his legs into overdrive. Stretching them to their full length he turned on the speed, hitting the door and slamming through mere seconds ahead of the demonic onslaught. Sam, dependable as always, had done his job. There was a salt line already crossing in front of the door, Dean could trust in his brother that every other entrance was equally protected.
"Shit, shit, shit," he muttered and jogged through the halls to the main part of the station, back to his brother.
Dean knew the exact second the wave of demons hit the building. Sam appeared beside him as he turned and backed up a few steps, away from the wall. The entire building shook, Dean worried it would vibrate right off its foundation. Reaching out he didn't need to look at his brother to know exactly where he stood, Sam was close enough Dean could feel his movements, how his chest expanded with too fast breathing. Wrapping his fingers around Sam's wrist he took another step back, dragging a very compliant Sam with him.
They looked at one another. Sam swallowed hard, his eyes widening. Dean sucked in an unsteady breath when the building shuddered and reverberated again. He and Sam jumped back at the same time.
"What if there was a way to kill them all, but someone here, someone innocent had to die?" Sam's voice was low, only Dean heard.
They skirted around the others, ducked into a hallway. "No way," Dean said, shaking his head. "There has to be another way." He looked around at the station again, the closed in spaces—cages—the inner rooms, the speaker system. "Sam, what if we use these cages for us for once?"
Sam cocked his head to one side, studying Dean. "What's your plan?"
"Let them in, round them up and send them back home."
Nodding slowly, a slow smile spread over Sam's face. "I like it. I'm behind you all the way."
"That I always know, Sammy."
His brother might be a little unbalanced sometimes, but there was one thing Dean knew for sure, Sam was the only guy he'd ever trust to watch his back. Sam was the only one Dean ever really depended upon.
"Let's do it," Sam said softly.
Dean could tell by the odd looks the others gave them, they doubted the wisdom of the trap Dean and Sam were setting up, but they had no other choice but to follow along. Nancy and one of the cops on the roof, salt and holy water in place, rocksalt loaded into his semi-automatic while Sam armed himself with an iron rod and they were ready.
While Dean blasted away with round after round, Sam swung his iron rod. It filled Dean with such pride, no one fought harder or with more determination than his little brother. No one.
They let the demons think they had the upper hand and were beating the small band of people back. Dean and Sam sported tattoos that prevented them from being possessed, but anyone of the other dropping the charms Dean had handed out would be open to take over. He knew part of Sam's fight came from his up close and personal knowledge of being possessed and never wanting anyone else to suffer as he had. Sam wanted to ensure that none of the families or people who cared about those trapped in here with them felt what Dean felt when Sam vanished, kept prisoner in his own body by a demon.
When every last of the vile, black creatures were where they needed them to be the sound system sparked to life and Sam's voice, reciting exacting Latin echoed through the halls and filled the air.
The building shuddered and groaned from within this time, assaulted from everywhere at once by demons fighting to stay topside. Black, smoky lines torpedoed from wall to wall, trapped by salt and ancient symbols, driven back to Hell by Sam's easy words, broadcast all throughout the station.
It was one of their finer moments.
As they made their way out, assured by Hendrickson they'd been 'killed' in the onslaught on the station, Dean felt an incredible sense of accomplishment. Right along with that was one of awe for a little brother who didn't know how to give up, no matter what.
Dean was pretty sure of a few things. Henricksen wouldn't go on pretending he didn't know what he now knew. Demons would still be after Dean and Sam, if for no other reason than the brothers could fight back and send demons packing.
Sam would always be his courage, his drive. They'd always fight for one another. It was their greatest strength and the only way to win against such a powerful enemy.