Written for the Oh Sam hurt/comfort fic challenge . from running_hot's promt: Sam and Dean, for some reason or another, are forced to encounter not just one but dozens of clowns. At first, Sam just freaks out a little and continues on. Eventually, though, he completely freaks out, full-blown screaming panicking fit. He doesn't recognize Dean at all, too busy flipping his shit to actually be aware of the outside world. Dean has to help get him out and calm him down. Prompt is here
No spoilers to spoil/No warnings to warn about
Clowns of Terror
"The hell is this?" Dean eyeballed the tiny bite marks and stab wounds scattered across the corpse of Richard Matheson. The dead guy the pathologist pulled from the freezer drawer looked more like he'd fallen into a pool of piranha instead of alone in a museum.
"Rats?" Sam bent lower to examine the body.
"Rats that also stab with tiny swords?" Dean pushed the sheet back over the corpse. "I don't know, man. What are we up against, the freaking Nutcracker?"
Frowning, Sam pushed the drawer back in and closed the door. "I got nothing. Maybe this isn't even our kind of gig." He nodded to the pathologist across the room, letting the guy know they were leaving.
"Then whose kind is it?" Dean pushed through the double doors, frustrated. "'Cause our friendly local authorities got nothing either."
"I don't know." Stepping outside the morgue, Sam loosened his tie. "Check out the museum tonight?"
Dean whipped his own tie off. "With no leads, that's about the only thing we can do."
"Oh, now that's just not normal."
Lifting the police tape out of the way, Sam entered through the door they'd just pick-locked and came face to face with the glassy eyeballs Dean had his flashlight trained on.
Dean swiveled the beam to hit Sam straight in the eyes. "What kind of freaky museum is this?"
Sam stared down into the glass display that stood front and center for every patron who entered the place to see the porcelain antique dolls staring back from inside the case. "It's a doll and toy museum."
"They have museums for that? Why do they need museums for that?" Dean swung the flashlight beam onto a wall of shelves with more dolls, all sorts of dolls from corn husk stick figures to Raggedy Anns.
"Some people like to preserve culture ." Sam trained his own flashlight over a grouping of tin soldiers on a felt-topped table. "What kids played with throughout the ages says a lot about what was going on during an era."
"Thank you Mister Professor . . .Ooo, the Green Hornet."
Sam turned to see his brother grinning at a shelf displaying old tin lunch boxes. Almost reverently, Dean picked up a rectangular box with the Green Hornet and his car painted across the top. "Huh-yeah!" Dean nodded. "Black Beauty is an awesome car. Imagine if the Impala had guns like that. Hey, all this stuff was once played with, right?"
"Think maybe somebody got a little too attached to their toys? We could be dealing with a simple ghost here."
"Could be." Sam glanced back at the porcelain dolls. Chances were some of them had human hair.
"Which is gonna be a bitch to narrow down." Dean slid the lunchbox back onto its place on the shelf. "Look at all the crap in here. Okay, so why would a ghost start killing now? And why Richard Matheson?"
"And why would a ghost use what amounts to a little steak knife to stab Matheson repeatedly?"
"And what's up with the little bite marks?" Dean finished. "None of this makes any sense."
"I don't know, man." This whole case was getting under Sam's skin. There wasn't enough clues to piece together the puzzle. "Let's just go through all the rooms, see if something looks out of place." He shrugged. "Then head back, dig up some more info on Matheson, maybe find out if he was tied to one of the toys in here or something."
"Right, 'cause that sounds like a barrel of laughs. Think the museum has good insurance?"
Sam whipped around. "Dean, we can't just burn everything. This is history."
"Yeah, well, when history starts killing, history gets torched."
"Dean." Sam huffed "I'll check in here." Shaking his head, he stepped into a room off the left and froze. His flashlight tracked over plastic oblong faces. It was some kind of medieval themed room with princess dolls and knights in shiny armor and jesters. Stupid colorful silk bodies twisted in acrobatic poses from the wire frames beneath the material. Bells on curling shoes, bells dangling from floppy pointed hats, long faces, long fingers. Beads of perspiration popped out across Sam's forehead. His pulse thrummed heavily at his wrists.
"I see you found the clowns." Dean slapped him on the back.
"Jesters, Dean," Sam corrected and swiveled on his heel, leaving this particular room all to his brother.
"Look like clowns," Dean called after him, a teasing note in his tone.
As soon as Sam was out of that room, he took a calming breath and headed to the next room, more than ready to get this done and get out of there. How big could this museum be anyway? He doubted they'd find anything and was more than ready to pick up the research on Matheson with the laptop away from the stupid jester dolls.
Dean made a quick examination of the medieval room. Jesters were creepy though he'd never admit that to Sammy. Still chuckling, the next room Dean entered was a sort of an International compilation. There were Japanese Geisha dolls and Native American hoops. An entire display case housed Russian nesting dolls in decreasing sizes. Another shelf held wooden African figures. Wait a minute. Dean moved closer to the shelf, head tilted. The figures were all lined up, perfectly spaced. Except there was an open space. One of the figures was missing. In its place was a small gold chain, about the size of a bracelet.
Dean picked it up . . . and the echo of tiny running feet pattered behind him. He spun around. Oh shit. It wasn't a ghost they were dealing with was the only thought Dean got out before a little ten inch wooden Zuni warrior slammed .a little wooden spear into his boot.
"Shit!" Kicking his foot out, the little wooden dude hung on to the spear, feet flying out as Dean swung his leg around, trying to dislodge it.
"What!" Sam skidded into the room, his gun out, eyebrows rising and disappearing beneath long bangs when he saw the little warrior. "What the hell?" Sam's gun followed the path of Dean's thrashing foot.
"Trilogy of Terror! Trilogy of Terror! Don't shoot my foot!"
"Kay! Kay!" Grabbing one of the Geisha dolls, Sam swung it into the wooden warrior who was climbing up Dean's calf. It ripped away, sailing through the air with a squeal until it hit the opposite wall. Sam ran after it, ready to shoot, following the slapping of little feet. He got a shot off just after the thing ran into a hole in the wall.
"What was that?"
Sitting on the floor, Dean glanced up at his brother as he pulled the little spear from his boot.
Sam crouched down in front of him. "He get ya?"
"Grazed my big toe. Well at least we know what we're dealing with now."
"Which is . . .?" Sam's forehead was scrunched to its limits.
"Trilogy of Terror. Karen Black. Evil Zuni warrior's spirit trapped in a little doll. Comes to life when the gold chain is taken off. Any of that ringing a bell?"
"It's a classic. How can you not know that?"
"It's a show?"
"Based on a story. Based on real life."
"Apparently. And you think this is the real Zuni warrior doll?"
"You saw the thing. I got the spear to prove it."
"Okay." Sam's lips curled down like a shrug. "Guess we've deal with weirder. So in the movie, how'd they kill it?"
"Um." Dean snapped the spear in two and tossed it aside. "Wasn't exactly one of those happily ever after type shows."
"So we don't know how to kill it."
"I didn't say that. Okay, maybe not kill, but we can stop it." Dean held up the little chain. "Drop this back around its ass and thing goes back to being a statue. Then we salt and burn the ugly little warrior and should be a done deal."
Sam pulled his brother to his feet. "Guess it's a plan then. Gonna have to find it first."
The display case glass started tapping. Sam leaned close. "Ah, Dean? So this Zuni warrior spirit? Could it jump from one object to another?"
Dean didn't like his brother's pinched tone. His gaze went immediately to the display case where the Russian nesting dolls were waddling, bumping painted faces into the glass. That was different. "Warrior spirit jumped into Karen Black, but animating other dolls? Naw, that's a new one, man."
The largest doll toppled and rolled into the glass. A tiny spiderweb crack spit across the case. Behind them, the shelves started rocking as Geisha dolls leapt to the floor, dark-lashed eyes blinking within white painted heart-shaped faces.
"Come on." Shoving the gold chain into his jean's pocket, Dean grabbed Sam's arm and steered him out of the room. "We gotta find that warrior."
Slamming the double doors behind them, Dean held the knobs tight, pulling against the rattles and pounding on the other side as the toys tried to get out while Sam searched for something to hold it. He came back with a twisted velvet rope with tassels on each end. Dean didn't even bother asking what it'd come off of, just held the door while Sam tied the rope around the knobs.
"Think that'll hold?"
"Pffff," Sam blew out a breath. "Doubt it. Plus there's that hole the Zuni ducked out of. Probably has holes all over the place. We gotta hurry."
Dean couldn't agree more. There were just too many freaking dolls in here. "You sweep left. I'll go right."
"Hey, plug up that hole with something," Sam called after his brother as Dean disappeared behind the shelf with the classic lunch boxes. Swiveling to head in the opposite direction, Sam hadn't taken more than four steps when he heard snickering behind him. He spun back around, the beam of his flashlight dancing across the jesters.
His fist tightened on the flashlight, jerking the light onto plastic grinning faces as the dolls crowded toward him. One juggled batons while another did flips, making the bells tinkle and the hideous face rotate into view, round and around. All of them shifted forward, laughing in murmurs, gawking.
Sam's Adam's apple bobbed harshly between the thickening muscles of his throat. He lifted his gun . . . to do what? Start shooting toys? Like that would stop them. Taking a step back, Sam put his Beretta away, glancing around for something else. Smiling evilly, the jesters moved closer. Sam's pulse was a thunderous roar. His heel came down on the metal pedestal of one of those velvet rope stanchions.
Better than nothing , Sam grabbed it and hurled it sideways into the jesters. Checkered and striped silk forms sailed across the foyer while the few dolls left standing sprang at Sam, bowling him over. Thin cloth arms latched onto his legs, wrapped onto his waist—at least five of the little suckers, climbing over him, jumping on his belly, pulling at his hair.
Shrieking like a little girl was not something Sam was proud of, but dammit, they were clowns, man! Calling them jesters didn't change that.
Sam slapped at them, kicked out, clocked the flashlight at a plastic head, losing it, and wrapped his hands around a scrawny neck, choking. Sam's eyes widened as the plastic mouth twisted, sputtering, plastic eyes bulging. While part of his brain recognized the ridiculousness of the situation, another part was ratcheting up on fear, heartbeat pounding so fast it was going to bang right out of his ribcage.
With a final surge of adrenaline, Sam thrust the doll he was choking away and turned on his stomach, dumping and kicking the others off him as he scrambled away on all fours, lunging into another room where he spun and pulled the door closed with a reverberating slam, breathing heavily, holding the knob as the jesters tried to pull it back from the other side.
Which was when he heard clatters and rattles of wood around him. Fighting with the door, Sam looked over his shoulder, trying to make out what was moving around him in the muted glow of the neon EXIT sign above the door and all rational thought peeled away.
He was surrounded by marionettes, hanging by their strings from the walls and more from hooks across the entire ceiling, propped up by stands on the floor. Hundreds of them, jangling and shaking, trying to shimmy the crossing rod mechanisms of their strings off the hooks. And as they began to drop to the floor like pint-sized ninjas, Sam's horror exploded. Because these weren't just marionettes, but clowns. Every damn last puppet.
Jesters or no, Sam yanked the door back open just as clown-faced marionettes dropped onto him, ripping Sam off his feet and burying him beneath a dog pile of attacking wooden limbs and bodies. When the first pair of sharply carved teeth bit into his side, Sam screamed, "Dean!"
"All right you little horror sideshow freak, get your loin-clothed self out here." Dean panned his flashlight across an entire room of wind-up toys. He did a double-take at the row of miniature classic car replicas. The rest of the museum was creepy, but this room was awesome. Was that a '67 Stingray? Oh yeah, once he had that little Zuni chopped down to toothpicks, he was coming back for a closer look.
The slapping of little feet had Dean looking up to the highest shelf just in time to see the little warrior leap off, seemingly gliding through the air, one arm extended with one of those little swords the knights in the medieval room had.
"Holy crap!" Dean growled, ducking out of the way and grabbing the warrior by the legs in mid-air. Agile little guy twisted, slicing the blade into Dean's arm.
"Yow!" Dean tossed him, catching the warrior with the other hand, which the doll immediately bit into with a circle of stiletto teeth. Flinging him off once again, Dean slapped the warrior from hand to hand like a hot potato until the half-pint hurricane scrambled up the hunter's arm and slashed the sword into the back of Dean's neck.
"Ow! Sonofabitch!" Reaching behind him, Dean rotated in circles, the warrior riding him like a spinning bull while it slashed and stabbed at Dean's neck and shoulder until the hunter finally got a hold of the brushy hair and slammed him to the floor.
Damn doll was up immediately, side-stepping, sword poised like a javelin. Arms splayed ready to grab, Dean skipped side to side, following the doll as they circled each other. Loud thumps and banging came from somewhere else in the museum, followed by Sam shrieking like a little girl. The hell? And the Zuni stabbed the sword against Dean's ankle, slicing denim.
"Mmmmmmgh!" Tendons straining, Dean ignored the slap of pain and stomped down, trying to step on the evil warrior. Thing was fast, dancing and twisting beneath Dean's stamping boots like a kamikaze rodent until . . . "Ya-ha!". . . Dean stepped onto the flat of the sword, pinning it beneath his foot, but before he could pluck the doll up, it scurried out the door, tiny legs pumping like it was doing hurdles at the same time a petrified scream gushed across the air.
The hairs at the back of Dean's neck stood on end. That was not his brother's usual call for help. That was Sammy's freaked out of his gourd waking-from-a-nightmare cry he hadn't heard since the kid was nine.
And if the first scream wasn't bad enough, the muffled second and the third screams had Dean moving, doing his own hurdles over fallen toys and limp jester dolls beneath a metal stanchion as he followed the muted sounds of thuds and cries.
Spilling through an open doorway, Dean skidded to a stop, blinking, not sure what he was seeing, but freaked at what he heard. His brother was full out wailing, but Dean couldn't see Sam within a massive shaking rattling .pile of gangly wooden puppets.
Dean surged knee-deep through them, pulling a marionettes up, flinching back at the clown face that snapped at him, tangled in another puppet's string that pulled up as well. Oh my God, they were all clowns. "Sammy!"
Dean pulled another up, and another, flinging them away even while their dull little teeth snagged into his clothes. Where the hell was his brother? Sam's wretched screams floated up from beneath the pile, echoing along the wood. "Sam? Uck!" He shrieked as a clown sank its teeth into his knee. Hauling it off by its purple hair, Dean rolled it in its own string and hurled it into the closest wall and began digging through the mass again. That's when he realized the clowns he'd tossed were all dragging themselves back into the fray, launching onto the pile like a puppet mosh pit, clamoring over each other to get down into the center. Had to be where Sam was.
Wading through them, ignoring the nips peeling away blood on his arms, Dean shoved clowns out of the way, wrenching arms from bodies, heads from wooden shoulders, strings tangling, pulling tight across his legs, pinning puppets to him until finally his hand lifted an arm of flesh, coated in cuts, bite marks and blood. . . flapping wildly, trying to get loose of Dean's hold.
"Sammy! Sammy!" Dean pulled on the kid's arm, at the same time flinging clown puppets away until he carved a hole wide enough to get down to his brother's head and shoulders. Kid was a mess, bloody and cut, eyes wild and unfocused, veins in his neck and forehead bulging, mouth working in gasping screams that wouldn't stop.
Dean hauled him up, at least tried to, but Sam wasn't having any of it, alternately slapping out violently and covering his face with his damaged arms. And the damn clowns kept on coming, kept diving over him.
With a roar, Dean swung his arms around Sam and hauled his struggling sibling up, shaking off marionettes, shaking Sam, hoping to rack some sense back into him. He had to get Sam out from under these clowns! They were killing him! And Sam was well past the point of helping.
"Hey!" Dean yelled as another puppet slammed onto his back, pushing him sprawling onto Sam, wrenching his arms behind him and Dean's head snapped up, coming face-to-face with the little Zuni warrior. Evil doll had somehow swam through the press of marionettes and now stood on Sam's shoulder, tiny hands leaning on the young hunter's chin as the warrior blew curling strands of red smoke into Sam's gasping mouth.
"No you don't!" Wrenching one hand free, Dean grabbed the doll around the waist. "You're not gonna Karen Black my brother!"
The thing twisted in his grip, plunging dagger teeth into the fleshy part of Dean's hand. Reflexes to let go warred with the determination of protecting Sam and Dean squeezed harder, even as the demon doll's teeth bit down harder and Dean's skin seeped blood.
With everything he had in him, Dean yanked his other arm forward, dragging the puppet that held him until his fingers reached his pocket, slipped inside, drew out the gold chain. Shaking with effort, his hand holding the doll covered in blood, making his hold slippery on the writhing doll biting him, Dean brought the gold chain across Sam's chest and slipped it over the Zuni warriors head, clicking the links together . . . everything stilled.
The warrior doll was frozen in Dean's hand, teeth still clamped into his flesh. That was going to be a shitload of fun prying out.
The marionettes lay unmoving, a motionless heap of dismembered parts and knotted string. The thuds and thumps from the other rooms of the museum went quiet.
Everything was silent and still except for Sam writhing and crying out of his mind half-buried in his worst nightmare come to life.
"Sammy!" Dean jostled him, not daring to let go of the doll. "Sammy, snap out of it!"
Ah, hell. Knowing this was going to take both hands, Dean got up, kicking limp puppets out his path and prying the doll's teeth from his flesh, he placed the Zuni warrior on the shelf. "Stay." As soon as he was at the car, he was duct taping that chain to the warrior until they burned the little sucker.
He quickly returned to Sam, tossing marionettes aside, and grabbed the younger man by the shoulders, pulling him up to a sitting position even while Sam tried to pull away, gasping so thickly, Dean worried he might hyperventilate.
"Hey, hey, come on." Dean tapped Sam's bloody face, trying to get his brother to look at him, but Sam's wide eyes only flicked back and forth over the frozen grinning faces. "It's over, it's done, come on, Sam. Calm down." Sam's chest only started heaving up and down, the gasps turning into high-pitched moans. Oh that's it. He had to get Sam away from these clowns or he'd never reach him.
Leaning forward, Dean wrapped his arms around Sam to pull him to his feet, but startled, Sam shoved back, twisting away to come nose to nose with a marionette at which point Sam shrieked and lunged the other way only to land face down on another puppet that he must have leaped five feet in the air to get away from. Dean watched slack-jawed as Sam scrabbled across the pile, jerking back from puppet after puppet, slipping and sliding across the wooden parts. It'd be hilarious if the kid was able to catch a breath. As it was, his gasps were coming so fast, Dean expected him to keel over any minute.
How long could a psychotic breakdown go on?
Hands out, Dean approached him, and Sam flung himself back into the wall. "Hey, it's just me. Let's get out of here." He took a step closer and Sam bolted out the door. "Sam!" Dean chased after him, glimpsed his brother stagger over the jesters on the floor, spin around and crash into the front display case with the porcelain dolls, breaking through the glass, and pulling his hand away, trailing more blood. Damn it, he must have sliced his hand or arm, though with all the cuts and bites already covering him, it was hard to tell. This had to stop before he hurt himself even more.
Without warning, Dean ran toward the kid. Sam's head snapped up, pupils blown in fear, and ran, but Dean had momentum on his side and caught hold of Sam's arm, nearly lost it from the slippery coating, and spun Sam back around, slamming him into his chest, arms clamping around to hold him immobile.
"It's okay, it's okay," he growled, even as Sam fought to get free. "It's just me. Dean. I'm here. I've got you. I took care of the clowns, Sam. Clowns are gone. I promise. The clowns are gone. Do you hear me? They're gone."
Sam's hands pawed between their locked chests, trying to push free. Dean didn't think he was hearing him, although he kept talking, kept telling Sam the clowns were gone and suddenly Sam's hands weren't pushing against him anymore, but were twining into Dean's jacket, pulling him closer, Sam's face sinking into his shoulder and all at once the kid's legs buckled, dropping him, dragging Dean down with him.
On their knees, Dean steadied Sam. "You with me now?"
Sam nodded against Dean's shoulder.
Dean gave his brother a squeeze. "This place is a disaster. We got to get out of here. Think you can make it to the car?"
Again there was a tight nod.
"Tonight?" Dean asked, going for a lighter tone.
Slowly, Sam edged back, lifted his head, muscles bunching when he spotted the jesters on the floor. "Oh God," he rasped.
"Hey, don't look at them," Dean commanded, waiting until Sam's gaze came back to him and the kid nodded. Keeping his eyes locked on Sam, Dean hauled them both back to their feet and arm at his sibling's waist, guided Sam toward the door.
Sam's steps faltered. "You're not gonna let me hear the end of this, are you?"
Dean pushed the door open, relishing the cool breeze and the sight of the waiting Impala. "No, probably not. That was a major freak-down."
He felt Sam's body grow heavy, stiff. "But not tonight. The rest of the night you get a freebie until I get you back to the motel, patched up, and the doll salt and burned." Opening the door to the car, he got Sam settled into the back seat. "Gonna get some blankets, you just hang tight."
"Kay, yeah. Hey, Dean."
"No problem. Just no more cases with doll museums."
"Deal." Sam scooted back. "Deal."
"And don't lay down until I get the blanket. Blood's a bitch on the upholstery."
Sam grinned and the sight of it eased something within Dean's chest. Going around to the trunk, Dean opened it and grabbed a blanket before rummaging around. "Now where's that duct tape?"
Disclaimer: I don't have any rights to Supernatural or Trilogy of Terror, though I did have wiry jester dolls that scared the crap out of me. What was my mom thinking?