Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, wish I did, but I don't.
A/N: So, this is a story I started about a year ago and never got around to really seriously working on until just a few days ago. It's the first story I've been able to finsh in months and I'm pretty proud of the 7,000 words I managed to get written in just two days. Anyway, I hope you enjoy and let me know what you think of it.
A Dish Best Served Cold
Out from the darkness encasing the woods, the long shadow of the man stretched out and moved towards the clean, white house. Within moments, a bright flood-light switched on, awakened by the movement, lighting up the tall man and the home it protected. In the cold evening, a misty rain reflected sparkles of light from the falling and swirling droplets of water falling from the sky while the only sound echoing through the night was that of the man's boots crunching the gravel of the driveway as he came to stand under the lamp.
He looked up at the house and grinned maliciously before taking one last, long drag on his cigarette, inhaling deeply and blowing it out, the smoke curling and dipping in the cold night air like a dragon blowing out it's last, dying gasp.
Dropping the cigarette on the ground, he crushed it under his foot and walked confidently towards the quiet home. The home was well guarded with cameras and floodlights, but getting in turned out to be quite easy. All he had to do was open the fuse box on the side of the home, cut the power to the security alarm and then break open the first window he came upon.
Taking a few steps forward after climbing in through the window, he was in the foyer of the house and looking about the room. Off to the right was the living room and he walked into it and up towards the mantle of the fireplace where several photographs were arranged in neat, black frames.
He picked one up and studied it. In the picture, a man smiled broadly, his arm wrapped around that of a little girl no more than 6 or 7 years old in blond, braided pigtails. Snorting in disgust at the happy portrait of father and daughter, his hand tossed the photo and frame over his shoulder, the darkness inside of him delighting in the sound of glass breaking against the hard, wood floor.
"Don't move!" He heard a deep voice command from behind of him and the cocking of a shot-gun as it pressed into his back. "Or I blow your guts all over the place."
Slowly and with a cocky grin, his hands rose in mock surrender.
"Who are you? What are you doing in my house?" The man asked.
"What? Don't you remember me, Steve? Oregon? About three years ago? You caught me in a trap and poured holy water on me for three days before exorcising me...Ringing any bells yet?"
"But...I..I killed you."
"Nope...just killed the girl I was hitching a ride with. You only sent me back to hell, but I'm back now...Better and stronger than ever..."
The shotgun twitched in his back and he reacted stunningly fast by spinning around and grabbing the muzzle just as Steve's finger pulled the trigger, sending buckshot into the rest of the photos on the mantle, shattering the glass, but missing him by a mile. He swung the shot gun by the barrel, clipping Steve across the temple by the butt of the weapon and sending him careening into a wall.
Steve was dazed for a moment, but not out. "Exortamus Te..." He began to sputter out, but the taller man just grinned at him and grabbed him by the neck, squeezing tight, cutting off his air supply.
"Now, Now, Stevie...You're not gonna be able to get rid of me that easily." With a mighty shove he tossed Steve in the air, launching him into an adjacent china cabinet. Glass stattered and showered the older man, but he still had a lot of fight left in him. He picked himself off of the floor, making a break for the doorway beside of him and into an office.
The dark haired man followed and kicked Steve in the gut, sending him to the floor. He tried to get a few good punches in, but the bigger man was unfazed by his attempts. It wasn't long before Steve began to tire and he was grabbed by the demon and pulled backward by his hair, causing him to yell out in pain.
The flash of silver coming at him from the corner of his eye was the last thing he would see as his opponent pulled his head back and cleanly sliced deep into his neck, spraying arterial blood all over him, the walls and soaking the carpet below his head. His body twitched in death, his mouth working open and shut until finally stilling.
After watching the life leave Steve's eyes, the demon within was satisfied he was gone and stood up victoriously, wiping the blood from the knife and his hands across the front of his shirt. Taking one last parting shot, he spat on the corpse and walked out of the room.
The demon in his head laughed hideously and trapped from within, unable to grab control, Sam cried out in failure. He had been unable to stop Meg and he screamed at the demon that had captured his body. She merely laughed out loud this time, using his own voice to mock him.
"Oh Sammy...yelling at me isn't going to do you any good. You're mine now. So, what do you say we go and call that brother of yours, huh?"
Sam shot up with a start, his heart hammering away in his chest and making signs that it might explode at any moment. He panted and fought to catch his breath, wiping at the sweat that dripped down his forehead and into his eyes before he untangled himself from his sheets and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. There's be no more sleeping tonight, not as long as he still held the image of Steve Wandell's death in his head.
Placing his head in his hands, he closed his eyes and focused on bringing his heart rate back down, trying to send the cold prickles of panic away to the back of his mind.
It wasn't me..It wasn't me...He repeated internally and forcibly, reminding himself that it was over...he wasn't possessed anymore; Meg was back in hell, Dean was safe and he was free.
But, however much he tried to convince himself that he was okay now, that it had been Meg that had killed Wandell, who had assaulted Jo, who had shot and beaten Dean, he still could not shake the feelings of guilt and remorse that had taken over. He was the one caught off guard, who had been jumped by Meg when he should have been more attentive and he had been there through it all and hadn't been able to stop it. Didn't that make him just as responsible for all that had happened?
Sam lifted his head after a few minutes and looked about the room. The clock read 3:34 am and it had now been three days since they left Bobby's and had settled into this crappy motel in Idaho to lay low and regroup.
Dean was healing nicely from the gunshot wound Sam (Meg, he reminded himself again, it was Meg) had given him and was snoring away from his own bed, oblivious to his nightmare. Sam didn't want to wake him, he needed his rest and he wasn't about to burden his brother with his own messed up dreams, so he quietly slipped off the bed and headed to the bathroom.
He waited until he had closed the door after himself to turn on the light then shielded his eyes for a moment until they had adjusted to the brightness. It was then that he took a look in the mirror.
It wasn't a pretty sight. He had dark circles under his eyes as sleep had been more than a little difficult with the constant nightmares. They hadn't been this bad since Jess had died, but he figured it would have been worse if he didn't have them. At least they were a sign of his humanity, a sign that his conscience was still disturbed by horrible acts and that maybe, just maybe he wasn't turning into one of the monsters he and Dean hunted.
Turning on the water, he cupped his hands and splashed some water on his face before taking note of the red circle burned into his forearm. It had finally stopped hurting and was starting to scab over, but as he rubbed it a little, he couldn't help recalling how he had tried to fight Meg as she heated up his own knife with a Zippo lighter and pushed it into his skin. She sliced and burned at the same time, cauterizing the wound as she went along and laughing hysterically at his pain.
The smell of burnt flesh still lingered in his memory, as did the sound of her voice in his head. It was a terrible, screeching noise that sent a spike of pain into his soul whenever she spoke, so unlike the Meg he had met on the side of the road that first time. But, she was a demon and he was hearing her real voice, not that of the poor girl she had stolen and violated just as she had him.
Drying off, he reached for the tube of burn cream and began to slather it over the wound. He just hoped that it wouldn't be scarred in the shape of that symbol forever. He didn't need any more reminders of his week being used as Meg's skin suit- He would never forget... of that he was certain.
Two years later...
Sam was running. Dean was right with him as the creature picked up speed and tore off through the woods, disappearing amidst the dense trees.
"Dammit!" Dean swore as he came to a stop, Sam halting beside him.
"Where'd it go?" Sam manged to get out between huffs and puffs.
"Ya think I know?" Dean irritably shot back in frustration. They'd been after this wendigo for days and now that they had finally been able to visualize it and catch up to it, it was gone. Both Sam and Dean were tiring of the chase and the tension was mounting between them, especially now that they had been so close only to lose it once again.
"This is bullshit, Sam." Dean complained. "Four days! Four days of stomping through the fuckin' woods, getting rained on, bitten by mosquitoes and sleeping on the ground and we have still yet to find this damned thing's lair. You sure you got good info on this? 'Cause it feels like we're just chasing our asses here."
"Yes Dean, for the thousandth time, this is the area where all of the campers went missing, the GPS says we're right on the coordinates. It's hideout has to be around here somewhere..."
Sam sighed, his own frustration growing. "I don't know...it's not acting like your typical wendigo. It's not making any noise to lure us in, it's not coming after us. It's like it trying to avoid us rather than hunt us."
"Maybe it knows we're gonna kill it when we find it!" Dean shouted out into the trees.
Sam shook his head. He couldn't understand it any better than Dean why this particular wendigo was being such a pain in the ass. At first, he worried that it hadn't been a wendigo after all, but he had done the research, he confirmed from a witness that his camping buddy had been taken by a creature that moved impossibly fast, there were caves and old abandoned mines that could have served as a perfect lair for any cannibalistic monster that liked to keep it's victims alive until it was time to feed. But, everyone of the possible locations he had researched came up empty-no bones, no bodies and no wendigo.
That is until this afternoon, they finally spotted it, just standing out in the open. Dean immediately went for the flare gun, hoping to hit it, but it took off in a flash. It did it several more times after that, coming into view, then taking off again, like it was teasing them.
If they could only track it back to its den, then they might have a chance to corner it and kill it, but so far, it didn't seem to have one.
It was all very confusing and very frustrating.
And this was supposed to be an easy hunt, something that they could do together and heal some of the distance that had come between them since Dean had come back from hell. Sam had hoped that this little adventure would give them an opportunity to talk about Dean's experiences while he was there, but anytime Sam tried to bring the subject up, Dean clammed up or brushed him off.
It seemed like this hunt, meant to bring them together again was just creating a wider chasm between them and Sam wasn't sure how to bridge that gulf.
Dean was different than he had been before hell and so was Sam. Dean was more morose, more fearful and cautious than he had been and Sam was still too afraid to tell Dean about Ruby and the steps he had been taking to find Lillith.
Maybe it had been naïve of him to think that they could just pick up where they had left off. Perhaps things had changed too much for them to ever be the same. It made Sam feel a deep pit in his stomach to think that, but it was the truth and there might be no way around it.
"I give up, Sam. I'm sick of this. I say we go back to the motel and think of a new strategy." Dean was growing increasingly impatient with their prey and was reaching a breaking point. It was plainly clear to Sam that he just wanted to get this over with but it was also clear to him that Dean took hardly any pleasure in hunting the bad guys like he used to anymore.
He seemed tired...older and used up. It hurt him to see Dean like this. His big brother had always been the stronger one, the one that would get him out of a jam and the one that went after the supernatural with a smile on his face. But to Sam, that Dean had died the day Lillith set her hellhounds on him and he had never come back, at least not in spirit.
All of that made Sam's desire for vengeance all the more powerful, bolstered his resolve to stick with Ruby's plan to strengthen his abilities and kill the demon that had taken his brother away from him. He would have to be the strong one from now on and maybe once Lillith was toast, things could go back to the way they used to be.
"I don't know..." Sam started. They were so close to catching this thing, it seemed foolhardy to abandon the hunt after they had put so much effort into already. "There might be campers out there still alive, waiting to be eaten by this thing. We can't just stop now."
Dean sighed heavily. "Fine...But once this is done you owe me about a gallon of Jack."
And there was another thing that alarmed Sam about his brother. He was drinking like a fish lately. Sam had gone through his own period of heavy drinking after Dean had died and he knew that meant that Dean was dealing with some heavy stuff, stuff that he wouldn't or maybe couldn't share.
"Alright...if we're gonna do this thing, then we should split up. One of us flush it out and one of us follow it back to its hideout."
Sam wasn't thrilled with the plan, but he didn't have any better suggestions and a few minutes later, Sam was heading east while Dean was heading west.
It was starting to grow dark by the time Dean had called and said that he had spotted the creature and had spooked it, sending it running in his direction. Sam took cover in some low-lying brush, waiting for the wendigo to make an appearance and just like that, the monster came into sight.
It stood in a clearing, sniffing the air and Sam was certain it should have picked up his scent. But, instead of charging after him, it just stood there like it didn't know what to do. Seeing this as an opportunity that shouldn't be wasted, Sam took out his flare gun and aimed, ready to fry the sucker as soon as it came into range.
Sam raised himself slowly while the beast just stood around. It was too weird and it seemed too good to be true to finally have the thing in his sights and out in the open like this. It felt off, but he couldn't let it get away and he put his feelings of unease aside as he focused on getting the job done.
Quietly, he approached, trying to stay hidden within the trees. He raised the flare gun once again as he saw the creature creep ever closer. With his finger settled on the trigger, he heard his father's voice in his head, telling him what to do, just as he had taught him. Aim center mass, take a breath, hold it, then squeeze the trigger. Just as he was about to pull the trigger back, he felt a pinch in his neck.
On instinct, his hand flew up and encountered the object that had embedded itself in the side of his neck, pulling it out and looking at it. It was a dart from what he could only surmise to be a tranquilizer gun. Confusion took hold. Who could have shot him with this and why?
He didn't have much time to ponder those questions before he felt his legs begin to wobble and he crashed to his knees, his legs and arms growing numb. His last conscious thought before he blacked out completely was of Dean and how he just wanted his big brother to come and save him.
Dean was getting worried. It had been over an hour and Sam hadn't call him back with a sit-rep. He had already called him twice and was still on the phone listening to the ringing when he heard Sam's boring, traditional yet efficiently simple ring-tone echoing through the trees.
He picked up the pace and raced to the sound, finding the phone laying on the ground along with his flare-gun, knife, pistol and carry-all, but no sign of his little brother. It was too quiet and Sam wouldn't be so sloppy as to leave his things laying about for no reason.
"Sam?" He called out cautiously, but was met with only the sound of birds flapping their wings and taking off from the sudden noise of his voice.
Pulling out his .45 on instinct, he looked about his periphery, studying the scene like the veteran hunter that he was and praying that he might find a target to set on his sights. But all was still and quiet, even though he couldn't shake the feeling that he was being watched.
This all felt so off.
This hunt, the wendigo, even Sam...They were all so alien to him and nothing seemed as it should be. Maybe it was the forty years in hell he had endured or the tortures he had inflicted on others, but just didn't trust anyone or anything anymore and this exact moment was no different. Even though he knew Sam had changed since his death and had been keeping secrets from him, he was still his little brother and it was still and always would be his job to keep him from harm. He wasn't stupid, he knew Sam better than the kid knew himself. He knew he was sneaking off at night and going God knows where, but how could he ask Sam to divulge his secrets when he couldn't even tell Sam that he remembered every little detail of his time in Hell?
If Dean was one thing, it wasn't a hypocrite.
But that still didn't stop Dean from worrying that Sam had gotten himself into something that he couldn't come back from nor his desire to find out just what it was his little brother was up to.
He took another step forward and saw a little piece of orange plastic sticking out from under a couple of oak leaves, shaking him from his thoughts. He knelt down to pick it up and immediately felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. It was a dart and that could only mean one thing...Sam was in trouble...big trouble.
Stepping carefully, his eyes scanned the forest for movement while his ears strained to pick up any sound. Despite his caution and alertness, he was unprepared for the figure falling from the forest canopy and landing directly on top of him. He had no time to react before his weapon was tossed aside by strong hands and he was grasped tightly about the waist, flying at unimaginable speeds through the forest.
It was the noise that first roused him from oblivion. It started out with a quiet buzzing, growing into a constant droning, swarming his head and ringing in his ears. It wasn't until he opened his eyes that he realized that the noise was coming solely from inside his own head.
His vision swam and the dark hole he found himself in spun around like a hangover following a week-long binge. Nausea sprung up from deep within his stomach and he had to close his eyes to quell the riot going on within his gut.
He found his hands bound, arms wrapped behind of him and around a thick wooden beam that was too wide for him to turn around. Opening his eyes again, he tried to identify the space he was in and came to the conclusion thanks to the cold dirt floor under his legs and the faintness of the light spilling from a door at the top of a short flight of wooden stairs that he was in some sort of storm or root cellar.
Looking closer, it also appeared to be a very old cellar. The wood that held the dirt ceiling in place appeared to be termite infested, full of holes and in some spots, white with mold.
Pulling against his bonds, he found that they had no give and by the feel of them, he knew they were metal shackles, making his chances of slipping out of them nearly impossible.
Confusion ran rampant through his mind as he tried to recall how he had ended up in this new mess and it didn't take long for his sluggish mind to catch up, recalling the weird wendigo hunt and the dart in his neck.
However dire his own predicament was at the moment, his first coherent thought was of Dean. Was he there too or was he still out in the woods somewhere? It was dark in his little space, but he was certain he could hear breathing going on behind of him.
"Dean?" He called out quietly. He was met with only silence, but he was certain still that someone or something was behind him in the dark. Whether it was Dean and he was unconscious and unable to speak or if it was something or someone else entirely, he couldn't be certain, but either way he knew he was not alone and the situation only served to heighten his agitation.
Suddenly, there was a scuffle from up above, the sounds of feet shuffling against gravel and then the door opened, sending blinding light spilling down the stairs and temporarily blinding him. He must have been out for quite a while since it had been night when he had last be awake and now it was clearly morning outside. Against the brightness, all he could make out was the silhouette of two legs coming down the steps and approaching him.
The pair of legs stopped just in from of him, then bent at the knees. As his eyes adjusted, a face came into focus and it wasn't anything like he expected.
A young woman gazed into his face, eying him intensely. She reminded him a lot of Jo Harvell; blond hair and pretty, but with a hard edge. But unlike Jo, she sneered maliciously and her wide blue eyes narrowed in hate and anger.
"Hello, Sam." She started icily. "I've been wanting to meet you for a very long time."
"Who are you? What am I doing here?" He asked.
She took a deep breath as though steeling herself for an emotional onslaught then began speaking, her tone stony and cold.
"I have a story for you, Sam. It's about a girl that had a loving and devoted father. He doted on her and gave her the world. She was his only family after her mother died and he was hers. One day, this girl is enjoying life at college, going to parties, dating, studying to be a computer engineer and she gets a call from one of her father's old friends...a hunting buddy if you will. And he tells her that her father had been killed, murdered in his own home. The police have no leads, but she is determined to find her father's killer. She drops out of school and begins a search. It would take nearly two years, because the man has seemingly dropped off the face of the earth, but she keeps looking. Finally, she gets a tip from another one of her father's friends that this man has been seen traveling across the country with is brother and associating with a salvage yard owner in South Dakota. So, she stakes out the salvage yard for weeks and finally, the man and his brother show up. She follows them from then on, keeping close tabs on them until the time was right and she could finally find some sort of justice for her father. Is this story ringing any bells, Sam? Doesn't the killer in this story sound familiar?"
"What?" Sam asked, genuinely confused.
"You don't remember, do you? Was it such an insignificant event that you forgot? Well, let me give you a hint...my name is Danielle... and my last name is Wandell."
"Oh my God..." He whispered.
Sam immediately felt the blood drain from his face while his stomach sank to his toes. Memories flooded him in a torrent that couldn't stop, stealing his breath. He couldn't believe that he hadn't thought of that name in so long, the scar on his arm from that week had faded as had the memories of all of the things he had done. So much had happened since then; he had died, Dean sold his soul for him, Sam became obsessed with getting him out of the deal and then Dean had died .All he could think about after that was getting Dean out of hell and when he failed at that, his focus had shifted to hunting down Lillith and seeking revenge. The murder of Steve Wandell had been overshadowed by all of the other hellish events of his life and had taken a backseat to his more immediate concerns and maybe a part of him had not wanted to remember what had happened and he had unconsciously blocked those thoughts out.
"Ahhhh...I see you're finally getting it. Good to see that you haven't forgotten the man that you killed."
" I'm so sorry about what happened to you father, but you don't understand..." Sam sputtered. "It wasn't me...I mean it was, but..."
"Save your breath, Sam." Danielle ran her hands through Sam's hair then grabbed a chunk of it and pushed his head violently backward, causing him to see stars when his head hit the post behind him. Her teeth clenched in barely constrained rage as her eyes bored deep into his.
"My father was a hunter and he taught me a thing or two...I managed to save the hard drive from the computer you smashed in my father's house. I saw the security footage, I saw you slice open my father's throat and leave him for dead. So, don't tell me it wasn't you."
"Look, your dad was a hunter, he must have taught you about demons...I was possessed by one...It wasn't me, you gotta believe me." He pleaded. "I tried to stop her, but I couldn't"
"Right. I'm just supposed to take your word for it. Yeah, my father taught me about demons, but what he taught me that most important of all was patience and I've been planning this all out for two years... following you...studying you. I know about some of the things you've done. How you opened the devil's gate in Wyoming and unleashed a hoard of demons, for one. For all I know you could be in league with them."
"What? I'm not in league with demons. I hunt them."
"Oh really? Then what about this?" She walked over to a shelf on the other side of the cellar and pulled a large manilla envelope down, opening it up and slipping out a pile of photographs.
She flipped through the the pictures as she sauntered back over to him and crouched once again to his level. "I took these only last week when I finally caught up to you. I must say, you're a hard guy to find, but imagine my surprise when I see you meeting this woman outside of a motel room." She held up a photo for him to see. It was of him and Ruby and he groaned a little internally.
"I didn't notice it at first, but when I printed the pictures, something interesting popped up." She held out another picture, this one was a zoomed-in close up of Ruby's face, her black eyes clearly visible. "If I'm not mistaken...that's a demon and you're hanging out with her like she's your best friend."
"Look, I know it looks bad, but she's not your typical demon. You might not understand, but she's helping me find another demon that's ten times worse than all of the others put together."
Danielle slipped the photos back into the envelope and shook her head in disbelief. "Nice try, Sam. But I've had enough of your lies. Demons don't help people, they destroy them. That's another thing my father taught me and if you truly hunted them, you would know that too."
She stood up and threw the envelope in a corner. "I've waited long enough. It's time justice was served and it's time that you were put a stop to before you sell us all to the devil. You're a disgrace to your kind, Sam... a disgrace to hunters everywhere. If my father was alive he would have tracked you down and killed you long ago, but he's not thanks to you, so it's up to me to see this through."
The young woman reached into her jacket and pulled out a necklace. On the end of it, an amulet hung. "I bet you had no idea why the wendigo you were hunting wasn't acting like your typical wendigo, am I right?" Sam didn't answer, his focus was on the amulet, he'd seen something similar to it before and he felt his blood grow cold. "Did you know that they could be domesticated? It takes a pretty powerful binding spell, but I've managed to teach mine a few tricks."
Her eyes focused behind Sam's head as she rubbed the amulet in one hand and recited a latin chant. The next thing he knew, the breathing noises he thought he had heard earlier increased to heavy, wheezy panting.
"You didn't..." He shook his head in disbelief.
She smiled in return. "I did."
"Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?"
"Oh yeah...It took me a long time to train him, but I found out the trick to getting him to trust me was to keep him hungry."
She grinned and he watched as a figure came out of the corner of his eye, emerging from the shadows. Sam's jaw dropped at the sight of the hideous creature taking a knee and bowing down before her in subservience. "I call him 'Buddy' It was the name of a dog my father gave me when I was a little girl. He loved to play fetch, so it seemed only appropriate to name my wendigo that since his main purpose here is to fetch you...and your brother."
"Dean?...You have Dean?" Sam asked, gulping hard, his heart-rate picking up. She nodded in malicious delight. "This was a trap all along... The missing campers?..."
"Collateral damage, Sam. Buddy probably would have attacked them anyway if I hadn't bound him to me. But at least this way I was able to use them as bait and get you out here." She turned her attention back to the wendigo. "Buddy, go get Dean and bring him down here for me, will you? You'll be eating dinner soon enough."
The beast stood up from it's kneeling position as ordered and if Sam wasn't mistaken, it seemed almost like the thing was smiling as it made a throaty noise and then began to climb the stairs.
"Dean has nothing to do with this, Danielle. He wasn't there when your father died. He doesn't know about the demon...Please, he's innocent. Just let him go, your issues are with me, not him."
She snorted and rolled her eyes in disgust . "Don't you get it, Sam? Just killing you outright would be too easy, and soooo unfulfilling. No, you killed my only family, carved up my father like a piece of meat and that is just what I'm going to do to your only family. He's wendigo meat and you get to watch while Buddy feasts on him piece by piece. And when he's done, I'll feed you to him as well and I promise you...it will not be quick."
Dean had no idea how long he had been trussed up in the little room. The place was no more than a shack out in the middle of nowhere, but he wasn't exactly sure where in the middle of nowhere that happened to be though. The wendigo had snatched him up and moved so fast through the forest that he never had any time to process where they were headed. Plus the creature's hold on him had been so tight that he had lost consciousness at some point in their journey, waking up in this place and shackled to an old, rusty radiator with handcuffs.
He hadn't seen anyone since he woke up and since he was alone in the room, he tried everything he could to break out. The floor of the shack was concrete, so digging a nail out of the floorboards that he could use as a pick was out. He then resorted to plain 'ol brute force, trying to pull the radiator out of the wall, but it wouldn't give and the only thing he got for his efforts were raw and bloody wrists.
However, with all of his pulling and tugging on the radiator he began to notice that there was a small hole opening up where the handcuff chain rubbed against a rusty pipe. Working on the hole, he began to saw and rub on it, hoping that he might be able to break free a long enough and strong enough piece of the metal that he could use as a pick.
It took a lot of time, a lot of sweat and a lot of pain coursing through his hands, but eventually he managed to bend a bit of the metal at the edge of the hole. He then had to use just the strength in the tips of his fingers to pull the piece free. It took forever and a series of curses, but he did get it off. To his dismay, the piece was too wide and again he had to work with just his fingers to start rolling it into shape. The action created cuts all along his fingers, but he pushed past the stinging pain and blood until it was rolled thin enough for him to try it on the lock.
After some amazing finger yoga, he had the metal sliver in the lock and laughed out loud when he felt the tumblers give way and the cuffs open up. "Ha! Take that MacGyver!"
Hurriedly, he released himself from the radiator and scrambled for the door. Of course, it was locked from the outside. No surprise there, it was just his luck that he would be kidnapped by a smart wendigo.
With no windows in the room for him to break and make his escape, his only option was to force the door. He took several steps back then charged, his right foot hitting the weakest part of the door near the knob.
Shock from the force of the kick reverberated through his leg, and twisted his knee, but the door remained tightly shut. It wasn't the typical door that you'd find in a dilapidated shack and he had just found that out the hard way that it was in fact made of steel.
"Shit, shit shit..." He hopped about, then tried to rub the pain in his knee away.
He would have to try again, no matter how much it was bound to hurt. It wasn't so much that he was worried about his own safety in wanting to escape, but Sam was still out there somewhere and his need to find him trumped any physical pain he might have to endure. Besides, he'd been through worse...much. much worse. Once he was able to get out, then he could find Sam and pull his ass out of the woods before they both got themselves killed and he found himself back in hell.
He knew Sam had wanted this hunt, wanted them to get back on track, but it was hard to admit to Sam that he was just plain tired off all of this shit. All he wanted was to grab Sam, drag him kicking and screaming away from this life and disappear far away from where and demons or angels could find them.
But Dean knew that was just a pipe dream. This was his life, even if it sucked ass. Sam was driven now to find Lillith and there was no stopping his little brother once he had his mind set on a task and the only way Dean could keep him from rushing head-long into destruction was to stick with him.
That was why he was in this mess now. He had screwed up again suggesting that they split up when he knew full well that bad things almost always happened when they were apart. Dean wasn't there to keep Sam from getting sucked into trouble once again and it was all his fault.
All guilt aside, he prepared himself for ramming the door once again, taking a step back and charging his muscles up for the explosion of energy that would be needed to bust it down. Just as he started his forward momentum he heard the lock on the other side of the door slide open. Hurriedly, he flattened his back against the wall near the door hinges so as to hide him momentarily from whomever was entering the room.
The door swung wide and Dean sprung like a tiger. There wasn't much time for him to register any shock at finding himself tumbling to the hard floor, tangled up in the limbs of a rabid, howling wendigo before the creature got over its own surprise at being jumped. He took advantage of the beast's confusion and didn't waste any time trying to fight it since it would be useless trying to take the unnaturally strong cannibal on when he had no weapons. Instead, Dean scurried for the door and did the only thing he could think of that might buy him some time. He slammed the door then slid the lock that bolted it and took off without looking back.
He knew it wouldn't take long for the wendigo to escape from the room, so he had to be quick in his escape and he had find something that he could use to kill the thing.
Finding himself in a ramshackle kitchen, his mind switched into overdrive as a plan began to form. He could hear the pounding of the creature against the door and he wasn't sure he would have enough time to do this, but he had to try.
Rushing to the stove, he allowed adrenaline to fuel his muscles as he grabbed the edges of the appliance and gave a mighty tug. He pulled, every muscle in his arms straining until he had the cooker out from against the wall. Once it was out far enough, he reached behind it and yanked on the metal pipe that fed it gas, freeing it from the stove. Next to the pipe was the valve that opened the gas and as he turned it to full blast, he prayed that the gas was still being piped into the house. When he heard a hiss escape from the pipe he gave himself a little pat on the back for thinking of this, but was reminded a second later by the creature's continued banging that it wouldn't be too much longer before that door was busted.
Darting door to the front door, Dean rushed outside and slammed the door shut, not wanting any of the gas leaking into the shack to escape. He whipped off his jacket, peeled off his t-shirt and dug into the interior pocket of his jacket, hoping against hope that whoever had taken his weapons, lighter and phone had missed the packet of matches he remembered stuffing in there a long time ago but always forgot to take out.
He gave a little whoop of relief as felt the book of matches and pulled them out, thanking God that he forgot they were in there for so long. Seconds later he was wrapping his t-shirt around a heavy stick he found on the ground and lighting the shirt on fire. He waited just outside the door of the shack and listened...he wanted the cabin to be as full of gas as possible before he struck and mere seconds later, he heard a crash come from inside. Time was up. The wendigo had to be out now and he didn't wait for it to make an appearance, knowing how fast the thing could move. With an overhanded pitch, he tossed the flaming stick towards the kitchen window, shattering the glass as if flew inside.
Dean took off and dove for the cover of the tree-line just as the little shack exploded in a furious ball of fire, sending wood, glass and debris in all directions and tossing Dean ass over head into the air. He landed on the ground with a bone-jarring crash and a sickening thud to his head that left him stunned and motionless on the ground.
Danielle paced in front of Sam. She had taken out a long, and no doubt sharp blade, tossing the hilt of it back and forth between her hands as she waited for her 'pet' to come back with Dean.
Sam had no way to free his hands and the only way he could see to get out of this mess would be to somehow get at that amulet around her neck and destroy it.
They were so fucking screwed.
Just as he thought that, there was deafening explosion coming from up above and shaking the ground. Danielle and Sam both yelped in surprise as one of the beams holding the ceiling up came crashing down, taking huge chunks of earth with it. Sam ducked as best as he could, but with his hands bound, he was unable to avoid a large piece of the dirt ceiling from landing on his head and blinding him as the soil covered his face.
He shook his head to clear the debris, just in time to hear an ominous groaning sound from above. The other beams supporting the ceiling, rotten from years of neglect and termites were straining under the weight of the earth now placed on them and it was only a matter of time before they fell as well.
His eyes darted about the cellar. Danielle must have been hit by a part of the beam that fell as she lay dazed in one corner, blood dripping from her forehead. She roused herself slowly and blinked. Her eyes then landed on Sam, erupting in fury.
The ceiling gave a loud crack as another beam began to bend in the middle, sending more dirt to fall onto them both. Danielle was unfazed by the danger of collapse that Sam could clearly see and even though she was crazy with anger and fueled by her desire for revenge, he had to warn her.
"Danielle...Hey...You got to get out of here. The ceiling can't hold out for much longer."
She laughed in a high-pitched voice with maniacal insanity. "Oh...you aren't getting out of this that easily." She hissed.
She then started to crawl over to him, the blade of her knife glittering while she gripped it tight. "I'm going to slice you into ribbons and then I swear I'm gonna pull out your insides and feed them to you before that happens."
She was upon him seconds later, brandishing her knife, her filthy and bloody face twisting her once pretty features into a gruesome visage. The earth above shifted again as the bent beam sagged even further, ready to give at any moment.
"Danielle, please. Just go...you can get out. I'll be dead either way when this place falls in, but you don't have to be."
She paid him no attention, only lifted the knife and started slashing at his clothes, ripping the fabric away from his chest.
"This is gonna be fun, Sam. Not for you, of course, but I'm going to enjoy this immensely."
Taking up the knife again, she pressed the sharp blade against his tender flesh and dug in, sliding it shallowly across his skin. He grunted as it stung, but was more fearful of the ceiling as it shook again and sent showers of dirt down.
"You ever hear of Ling-Chi, Sam?" She asked almost at a whisper as she sliced another cut into his chest, letting it bleed. "It's the death of a thousand cuts. Practiced mostly in China until only about a hundred years ago. The condemned man was tied up while he had his flesh and body parts removed piece by piece..." She cut a little deeper this time and he groaned. "They would commonly take a big 'ol hunk of skin like this:" She grabbed a handful of his skin from above his pectoral muscle. "Then they would just hack it off...just like this:"
She moved the knife up towards the skin she had grabbed and he felt the blade begin to press in. He closed his eyes, bracing himself for the inevitable, but that was the moment the sagging support beam decided it had had enough and it snapped with a great, loud crack and fell to the floor. It was all over in a matter of seconds and all at once, the earth that had once been held back by the wood gave way, collapsing in on both of them, burying them alive.
Dean wasn't sure how long he lay there trying to get his lungs to work again, but he knew he couldn't stay that way for long.
To his knowledge, wendigos didn't live in shacks in the woods, they didn't lock people up in rooms and handcuff them to radiators. Sure, they had been human once, but they were cursed for eating human flesh and forced to live out an existence in caves and woods. Someone had to be controlling the thing somehow and he bet dollars to donuts that person was the same that had taken Sam and that they had to be nearby.
He could still feel the heat of the fire as he slowly made his way to his feet. If the person controlling the wendigo was in the area, they would have certainly heard the explosion and would be there soon to see what had happened.
Shaking off the buzzing going on in his head, he stumbled forward until he could get his feet to coordinate with the commands of his brain.
He got his first good look at the place now that the creature was taken care of. Aside from the still burning shack, there was a larger, dilapidated barn just behind it with a pick-up truck parked along the side.
Dean made for it at a run and found the door opened easily when he pulled on it. He entered cautiously. Even though he saw no one inside, it didn't stop him from calling out for his brother.
"Sam?" Only the sound of his voice echoing off the walls of the barn responded, leaving the place in an eerie silence after that.
At the rear of the barn was another door. Wanting to search the property as thoroughly as possible, he walked across the dirt floor, but stopped suddenly when he thought he heard something...was that talking he heard? It was faint, but it sounded like it was coming from underneath him. He strained to listen closer and this time he was certain he heard voices...and one of them sounded distinctly familiar.
"Sam?" he called out as he ran out of the barn through the rear door, his eyes searching about. He drew the conclusion that Sam had to be in some sort of cellar under the barn and he searched for a door that might lead to it. Rounding the corner of the barn, he saw it; two wooden double doors that were the unmistakable hallmarks of your everyday, country root cellar.
Dean was almost to the doors when he felt a shifting underneath his feet and heard a low rumble coming from below. Almost immediately after that, a giant plume of dust and dirt spilled out from the cracks of the doors.
"Oh shit! Sam!" He yelled. Reaching the doors, he yanked them open wide then gasped. "No!"
Dirt filled the entire space all the way up to the second step.
"Sam?" Dean called out in desperation.
All was silent save for some settling of pebbles sliding down the dirt pile, causing Dean's heart to hammer in his chest.
"Hold on!" He yelled. "I'm coming for you!" Dean raced back towards the barn, looking for anything that he could use to dig his little brother out. Thankfully, there were still some tools in the old stables and he found a rusty, old shovel that still stunk of manure. He grabbed it, running back to the cave-in at full pelt.
Dean dug faster than he ever had before. All his years of digging up graves had been good practice for this moment, but now there was a desperation involved and adrenaline pumped through his body, giving him the endurance and strength to push his muscles beyond their usual breaking point.
He kept digging and digging, faster and faster as he could feel the passage of the minutes tick by, knowing that things were taking too long. Suddenly the shovel hit on something hard. Dean dug around it and found an almost vertical beam of wood. He realized that he had dug deep enough to almost be at the floor and not wanting to risk hitting Sam with the shovel, he switched to clawing at the dirt with his hands, ignoring the sting of the soil entering the cuts on his fingers and wrists.
For what felt like an eternity, yet in reality was only a half minute later, Dean came across a tuft of dark, floppy hair. Kicking his frenzied digging up a notch, he came across his little brother's face, his eyes closed as though he had just laid down to take a nap.
"Sam!" Dean tapped his face, hoping to rouse him, but got no response. "C'mon, man...take a breath!"
Sam was deathly still and even with the dark soil covering his face, Dean was alarmed by his bloodless skin tone and bluing lips.
"No!...you're not doing this to me!" Dean yelled at Sam in frightened fury. He opened Sam's mouth and stuck a couple of fingers in, scooping out the dirt that had turned to mud in there then leaned in to blow two quick breaths over Sam's lips.
Nothing happened and he wasn't sure he was getting any air in, so he dug some more, exposing Sam's neck and chest. His brother was bleeding across his chest, giving Dean hope that at least his heart hadn't stopped pumping.
Once more, he pressed his mouth to Sam's and blew. He saw his chest expand this time, praying that meant Sam would start breathing on his own once again. Dean waited the space of a heart beat and was all set to do mouth-to-mouth again when Sam sputtered and coughed weakly.
"That's it...get it out...c'mon man, don't make me kiss you again." Demanded Dean.
Sam's coughs grew harsher and Dean tried to help by slapping his chest until he starting taking in wheezy, noisy breaths.
Sam began to come around some after that, coughing and spitting uncontrollably. Dean nearly collapsed in relief, never more pleased to hear Sam have a coughing fit than he had ever been before.
Dean placed both hands around Sam's face, hoping to get his eyes to open. "Hey..Hey..Sammy..look at me." Sam's dirt encrusted eyelashes fluttered and pulled themselves open to a slit, his eyes tiredly focusing on Dean. "That's it...you're okay, Sammy. I'm getting you outta here."
"D'n?..." Sam weakly wheezed out before breaking into another round of coughing.
"I'm here..I'm trying to dig the rest of you out."
"No...get 'er out first." Sam insisted feebly, closing his eyes and hacking out more dirt from his lungs.
"What? Get who out?"
"Girl..." Sam panted. "Trapped 'ere too."
"There's a girl in here too?" Dean asked as he kept digging Sam out and no sooner had he asked is when he came across a mess of filthy, blond hair. He dug faster to free her from the dirt prison, but by the time he had her face visible, he knew she was too far gone to be saved. It was a horrific sight; something had hit her on the side of the head, crushing her skull and exposing brain matter.
"She there?" Sam asked when Dean had grown silent.
"Yeah..." Dean sighed. "Sorry, Sam. She's gone."
Sam only nodded, but his face held a mixture of guilt, sadness and relief.
Sam gazed out in empty silence while Dean dressed the various cuts across his chest.
"Hey...you okay?" Dean's question snapped him from his reverie and he turned weary eyes on his brother.
Dean nodded, seemingly satisfied with his answer. Truth was, he felt marginally better after sleeping the entire ride back to the motel and then the nearly hour-long shower he took when they got in, but he swore he could still feel dirt in his hair and between his teeth.
But what bothered him most wasn't the physical discomfort, but rather the mental. Danielle had died, driven insane by her hatred and need for vengeance. But, when he thought about it, was he all that different from her?
He could feel his own anger at Lillith burning and building with each day that passed and he still swore that he would hunt her down. But, was he taking it too far, like she had? Was it blinding him to his own humanity or was he already too far gone to be retrieved. Suddenly, he felt an urge to tell Dean all about Ruby, the blood, his powers, but he was still too afraid of his older brother's reaction. He didn't want to see the disappointment on his face or the rejection he was certain would come with it. No...he had to keep this to himself still. Then when Lillith was dead, he'd forget all about Ruby and his abilities and he'd put them all behind him.
"Alright...all done." Dean announced, putting the supplies back in the med kit. He reached for the bottle of Jack sitting open and offered it to Sam, but he declined with a shake of his head. Dean just shrugged then tipped the bottle up to his lips, taking a long gulp before putting it back down on the table and burping loudly.
"So..." Dean started. "You wanna talk about it?"
Sam decided he wanted a drink of the whiskey after all and grabbed the bottle for a quick gulp, letting it burn down his thoat and in his stomach.
"What's to talk about? Wendigo's dead, girl's dead. Case closed, right?" Sam replied flatly.
"You know what I mean, Sam."
"Yeah..." He whispered, feeling his throat close up a little. He looked down at his right arm, the little, round scar was barely visible, but it was still there and he rubbed it as if to remind him that it would never go away.
"Hey, look." Dean looked down at the floor. "You can't keep blaming yourself for Wandell's death or for his daughter's. You didn't kill those people, got it?"
"I know...it's just..." Sam shook his head and lowered his eyes in shame. "I almost forgot about it all...I pushed it out of my head. What kind of a person just brushes something like that aside? What kind of a...a monster does that make me?"
Dean sighed and stood up, looking up at the ceiling like he was praying for patience.
"It makes you normal, alright..." Dean threw up his hands in frustration. "What's not normal is dwelling on something like this for eternity. It wasn't your fault and you got over it...that's all there is to it. So, don't do this, Sam. I don't want to hear anymore of this crap about you going 'darkside'. It's not gonna happen already, got it? Not while I'm still around."
Sam didn't bother to lift his head and look at Dean. The weight of the things he was keeping from him was crushing enough without the guilt of knowing he was betraying his brother's love and devotion. He truly didn't deserve the kind of faith Dean had in him.
If he only knew the truth, would Dean still love him...or would he hunt him?
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