AN1: Written for the hoodie_time Between the Lines challenge on LJ for catiefsm's prompt: Dean had been gone for three days. Not that this was unheard of, of course, but this time around, he was unreachable.
AN2: Several people had a hand in fine-tuning this little gem. Thanks to my sister, justine_andrews, for your support, patience, and creativity. You took a good fic and made it wonderful! You amaze me. Also thanks to friend doylescordy, who also nit-picked in the best possible way. I adore you all! *hugs*
AN3: The title is part of a line from "I Need You" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The normally soothing tones of Lynyrd Skynyrd blasting from the radio did nothing to calm Dean's frazzled nerves. He smacked the flat of his hand against the steering wheel, then rubbed the spot gently, apologizing to his baby for taking his frustration out on her. It wasn't his car's fault that he and his dad had been at each other's throats ever since... well, ever since the night Sam left.
Before that damned night, the three of them had moved with a well-practiced rhythm developed from a lifetime of experience. They'd been a team. They'd had each other's backs. But now? With Sam gone, their little family felt incomplete and the vacuum left by his brother's desertion threatened to consume Dean. His dad refused to acknowledge any mention of Sam and had been even more touchy and short-tempered since that night. It was like living with sticks of dynamite strapped to his chest; very old, very sweaty dynamite, ready to explode at the slightest jolt.
At least he'd had a bit of a break these last few days. He and his dad had been doing more and more separate hunts lately. This time, he'd been in West Virginia taking care of a poltergeist and was currently on his way to northwestern Nebraska to help with his dad's latest elusive hunt.
Dean pulled over for fuel and provisions less than 40 miles from the Blue Moon Motel and Video Arcade where he would meet his dad. After filling his tank, he loaded up with chips, jerky, and sodas. He tossed his purchases into the open passenger side window and made his way over to the driver's side. Just as he was reaching for the door handle, a '69 candy apple red Camaro convertible (with black rag top and black interior... sweet!) pulled into the fueling tank next to him, the luscious blond at the wheel flashing him a warm smile.
Welcoming a little female distraction, Dean posed against his baby and offered his very best lady-killer grin. He watched as she got out and filled her tank, cocking her hip up against the side of her car and twirling her locks as she gazed at him. When her tank filled, she shut off the pump and rehung the hose, her eyes never leaving Dean's in the process.
Her hips swayed invitingly as she stepped closer, her succulent tongue running provocatively over her full pink lips. She slid up against him, her hands drifting delicately across his arms and abs. Mesmerized, Dean inhaled her scent, distantly recognizing the spicy aroma of cloves and a deeper, musky fragrance of autumn leaves. Her touch ignited an explosion of desire that left Dean panting for breath. She whispered in his ear, her words lost in a turbulence of heat and longing, and led him unresisting into the passenger seat of her car. Dean barely registered that they were pulling out of the lot as all of his attention focused on the sensation of her hand playing over his upper thigh.
Meanwhile, his baby sat alone in the station lot. Forgotten.
John rubbed a calloused hand over his weary face, blinking the grit from his eyes. He still had little to go on with his current hunt. Young men were disappearing from the area with no clues as to how, where, or why. Every lead he'd found turned out to be dead ends.
He desperately needed sleep. He needed something more sustaining than the lukewarm coffee he'd been tossing back for far too many hours. But most of all, he needed to find his son, who John was sure had become the latest victim in this hunt.
They'd been dancing around each other for months. Never quite making eye contact, never really talking beyond details of the current hunt, or the next hunt, or looking for a hunt. Things had been tense between them ever since that night Sam turned his back on his family. Dean hadn't said anything, but John knew his older son blamed him for pushing Sam away.
John also knew that sometimes Dean needed to just get away, blow off some steam. His son occasionally disappeared after a particularly stressful hunt, usually stumbling through the door the next morning smelling of alcohol and sex.
Which was why John hadn't really worried about it when Dean hadn't met him at the motel that first night. The tension had been building to dangerous levels over the last few months. John presumed his son had found comfort in the arms of a willing girl or two, though he would give the boy a severe dressing-down for not notifying him of the delay. When Dean still hadn't shown up later the next morning, John felt the first tendrils of worry work their way into his gut.
He felt the tickle of a breeze through an open window, heard the tick tick tick of a clock somewhere near his head and the creaking of walls settling in an old house, but no other sounds of movement. Only the sense that he was alone.
Dean thought he was awake. At least, he was pretty sure he wasn't dreaming. It was hard to tell, though, between the fuzziness in his head and the feeling of being disconnected from his body. He tried to remember how he'd gotten here... wherever "here" was, but all his cotton-ball brain would conjure was the scent of cloves and leaves, and a distant buzzing of desire.
After several unsuccessful attempts to move his limbs, Dean concentrated on simply opening his eyes. His monumental effort was rewarded when his lids parted slightly, revealing a frenzied backdrop of colors that assaulted his senses. Exhausted from that small amount of exertion, Dean allowed his eyelids to slide back down. Within seconds he plunged back down into the depths of sleep.
When he woke up again some time later, he felt a bit more alert. Memories hammered his brain, pulling a curse from his lips as he remembered how easily he'd allowed himself to be taken, remembered her scent, remembered the mesmerizing sway of her hips and the enticing pout of her kissable lips. He vowed never to be fooled by a gorgeous figure again. But then, who was he kidding. He was a sucker for a pretty... hell, anything.
His eyes opened easily without any of the struggle from before, though the sight that greeted him made him want to close them again. Huge, dazzlingly bright pink and orange flowered wallpaper covered the walls of what seemed to be a small bedroom. The single open window sported equally ugly and loudly colored flowery drapes in purples and reds that waged war against the pink and orange of the walls. What he could see of the carpet also revealed a floral pattern, and of course the bedspread he was laying on was covered in even more conflicting flowers.
His jean-covered legs and the bare skin of his chest and arms contrasted sharply with the chaotic scene around him. Though a bit disconcerted to discover that someone had stripped him of his shirts, he breathed a sigh of relief. At least he was still wearing his jeans. His memory of how he got here was spotty, and he didn't like the feeling at all.
Oddly enough, he wasn't tied down in any way, though he quickly discovered why his captor hadn't bothered with restraints. An all-consuming heaviness and weakness permeated his body, allowing for very limited range of motion. What the hell had that bitch done to him!
Light footsteps advanced toward his door and the knob slowly turned.
Dean had been gone for three days. Not that this was unheard of, of course, but this time around he was unreachable. And that, that scared John more than any creature he'd ever faced. Three days of fruitless searching resulted in nothing more than sleep deprivation and a voice hoarse from interviewing every bartender and gasmart attendant between here and the state line.
He was becoming desperate. He'd almost exhausted all his options. Even the few markers he'd called in to old friends and acquaintances hadn't amounted to anything.
He was driving down yet another endless back road hoping that he might find any lead as to what happened to Dean. That's when he saw her, or at least her back side panel, but he'd recognize her anywhere given only the barest of glimpses. She was parked in some filthy tow lot, shoved near the back fence along the road. Her weathered, but gleaming, black frame looked completely out of place wedged between some prissy baby-blue Prius and a god-awful rusted piece-of-junk 1978 Gremlin.
With the first spark of hope he'd felt in days, John pulled his truck into the tow-yard entrance and dug out one of his fake IDs. Considering his rumpled clothes and grizzly, unshaven face, the clerk would have to be a complete idiot to accept his cover-story of a U.S. Marshal looking for information on a wanted fugitive. Fortunately, this clerk was exactly the right brand of stupid to be perfectly receptive to John's requirements.
Within half an hour, John had a copy of all the tow company's records on the Impala. He'd also left instructions to allow Bobby to pick up the car. The old hunter promised to be there within two hours to safely tow it back to his place.
John's next stop was the gas station where the Impala had been abandoned. Dust flying in his wake, he peeled onto the street toward the station, whispering a plea to his boy to hold on just a little while longer.
Dean watched helplessly as she entered the room. She'd dropped the façade of a beautiful young woman. The remembered scent of cloves and old leaves vanished, replaced by the stench of rot and decay. The creature moving toward him resembled a stereotypical old hag, complete with wrinkles, bulbous warty nose, and long stringy gray hair. Her ancient milky eyes bore into him, shining with hunger and lust. She knelt beside him on the bed, her gaudy purple and green sweatsuit clashing further with the flowered theme of the room.
As she reached her gnarled hands toward his exposed skin, his muscles quivered with the effort of trying to shrink from her touch. She laughed at his feeble attempt to move away from her and began caressing him seductively. She moved to straddle his waist when her hunger seemed to reach its peak.
He watched in horror, completely unable to move, as her head dipped toward his and her wrinkled lips locked over his mouth. Her fetid breath washed down his throat. Even his gag reflexes refused to kick in as he felt her thick tongue enter his mouth, probing and vulgar.
She began sucking deeply, greedily stealing his breath away. With every inhale, he felt even weaker, even more disconnected from his own body, like she was robbing him of his life energy. He wanted to scream, throw her hideous body off him, and empty a clip into her skull. Unfortunately, he was only able to lie there with her tongue invading his mouth as she fed.
A hag. Why'd he have to be taken by a hag, of all things? At least with a succubus he could've had a little fun while being ridden to death. Yeah, dying by succubus would be totally cool. This... this was just humiliating.
Once she'd eaten her fill, she stretched out beside him on the bed, cooing into his ear and stroking her knotted fingers across his skin. He slipped into unconsciousness with the rancid scent of rot in his nostrils and the memory of her swollen, putrid tongue in his mouth.
Continuing his role as a U.S. Marshal hunting for a dangerous fugitive, John gained access to the gas station's surveillance videos. He shook his head at his horny elder son working his charm on the pretty driver of a '69 Camaro convertible. He knew that from Dean's perspective, she would have just appeared to be an easy lay. What Dean couldn't have seen was the distorted effect the woman had on the tape, rippling around her like heat waves on hot pavement. Still, he couldn't help uttering a "dammit Dean" as his son all too willingly let himself be led into the other car.
Fortunately, the video gave John a clear view of the Camaro's license plate. Also thanks to the video, he now knew exactly what he was dealing with. While many supernatural creatures reacted to film, that particular ripple effect narrowed the list down considerably. Adding that to the clues he'd already collected gave him a clear idea of what had taken his son.
He pulled out his phone, again taking full advantage of his U.S. Marshal ID as he dialed the number for the local police station. In very little time, he managed to convince the gruff-voiced officer at the other end of the line to do a search on the Camaro's license plate.
That bitch was his. John intended to get his son back. Right. Now.
Dean knew by the shifting sunlight in the room that he's been here for at least a couple of days. It may have been even longer since he had no idea how much time passed between feedings. His entire existence had become an unending cycle of sleeping and feeding. He was always grateful when he slipped into oblivion before the hag finished because, really, the cuddling afterward seriously creeped him the hell out.
Dean suspected that she was holding back, not taking as much as she wanted during each feeding. Probably keeping him alive for as long as possible so she could snack on him longer. And wasn't that just a peachy thought. At least it gave his dad more time to find him.
While he managed to gain enough strength between feedings to build some slight control over his limbs, he never recouped enough to be any threat to her. Just twitching his fingers and toes took every bit of his concentration. Which made it really friggin hard to scratch that itch on his shoulder that was driving him nuts.
He tensed as the door opened and she entered, enveloped in the now familiar aura of rotting stench. She assumed her usual straddled position, again stroking her fingers along his side. He squeezed his eyes shut as her head descended and her fetid mouth closed over his.
He felt her tongue slide between his unresisting teeth and heard her content moans as she fed on his essence. His last conscious thought was relief that he would again be out during the cuddling portion of tonight's entertainment.
He was completely oblivious to the sound of the bedroom door shattering.
The address from the Camaro's license plate lead John to an ordinary-looking, if overly landscaped, suburban house. Seriously, how many flowers could possibly fit into one quarter-acre yard?
He parked his truck in front of the house, tucked his .45 loaded with silver bullets into the back of his jeans, and headed for the door. He didn't bother sneaking into the house. This hag had his son. John was here to take him back. End of discussion.
Without bothering to check the lock, he lifted his heavily-booted foot and landed a powerful blow to the door. As it slammed on its hinges against the inside wall, John removed the gun from his waistband and stepped decisively into the house. Hearing faint noises coming from down a hallway, he headed in that direction. When the faint sounds increased to loud moans, John rammed his shoulder into the back bedroom door, practically disintegrating the cheap piece of crap.
While the hunter in him steadily emptied the clip between the hag's beady eyes, the father in him recoiled in horror at the sight of that thing straddling his son. The hag fell in a heap on the far side of the bed, just under the window. John stalked around the bed and heaved a stout kick at the corpse. Shriveled and withered in death, she looked even uglier than she must've been in life.
Satisfied that she was truly dead, John turned to his son. Dean's ashen, sunken skin concerned him. His attempts to rouse his son resulted in only a faint moan. Anxious to get Dean home, he gathered his son in his arms and over his shoulder. Dean's long legs practically dragged the ground as he toted his boy to the truck.
John settled his son in the passenger seat, climbed behind the wheel, and eased Dean down on his side with his head on John's lap. John drove back to the hotel with his right arm draped over his son's shoulder and Lynyrd Skynyrd playing on the radio. He'd let the police deal with the corpse. He already had what he came for.
Dean's groggy brain took a few moments to interpret the changes around him. When he realized he was no longer feebly laid out on the hag's bed, he tried to open his eyes and look around but he just didn't have the energy. By the distinct scent of Old Spice and gunpowder, he knew his dad was very close. He let the soothing sounds of a rumbling engine and rock music lull him back to sleep.
After retrieving his son, John had only stopped at the hotel room long enough to pick up his few belongings. He then drove Dean straight to Bobby's where he could rest and recover.
The slight rise and fall of his son's chest was the only movement Dean had made since John found him. For the last 36 hours (36 hours, 22 minutes, John corrected himself), Dean hadn't even so much as twitched a muscle in his sleep. John had been waking him up regularly to drag his son to the bathroom and force some fluids down his throat.
Dean's color was slowly returning to normal and his skin no longer had that sunken, depleted look to it. John guessed he'd be extremely tired for a while, but knew his son would completely recover from his ordeal.
Bobby tried occasionally to pry John from his son's bedside, but the stubborn ass refused. While he knew they were safe at Bobby's, John found himself growing anxious if he left Dean for too long. He'd come so close to losing his boy. And after so recently losing Sammy, he just didn't think he could...
John rubbed his tired eyes, decisively halting that particular thought. Feeling the need to move, he stood stiffly and headed toward the window. The all-too-familiar view of Bobby's scrap yard below was fading in the late evening gloom. He watched as the last rays of sunlight disappeared beyond the horizon before he turned back to check on his sleeping son.
His sleeping son who was awake and watching him with concerned eyes.
Settling on the edge of the bed, John patted Dean's leg with a fond "hey kiddo" and offered him a sip of Gatorade. Dean shook his head, his damned expressive eyes practically shouting his shame and humiliation as he seemed to shrink inside himself.
John reached over to his boy and set a hand on his shoulder, forcing Dean to look at him. As their eyes met, John gave Dean's shoulder a slight shake, raised his eyebrow, and chuckled, "A hag, son? Seriously?". Feeling his son relax beneath his hand, John grinned at Dean's response that monsters shouldn't be allowed to drive such sweet rides. Suddenly, Dean's face blanched as he realized he'd left his precious Impala behind. John couldn't help laughing at his son's expression, earning him a frown from his confused son. Still chuckling, John rose, giving Dean's leg one last pat. Handing his son the half-empty Gatorade with orders to finish the bottle, John headed downstairs to grab a bowl of soup that Bobby had been keeping on hand for the convalescent.
Yeah, Dean would be okay. They both would.