A/N: Chapter title taken from the Metallica song of the same name. "A Beautiful Mind, the Home Game" - Taken from one of Robin Williams' stand-up comedy routines.
Possible spoilers for: Asylum. I've AU'd that episode.
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural. This is for entertainment only and not for profit.
Chapter 2 – welcome home (sanitarium)
Two hours ago
Doctor Sanford Ellicott skittered effortlessly up the far side of the largest oak tree on the grounds. He sensed the two intruders out in the woods and was careful to use the massive tree trunk as cover. The thick bark steamed and burned as he dug his fingers and toes into the wood. Blue sparks flew from his fingertips. Ellicott stopped, cocked his head and listened.
They were here.
Such pretty, broken hunter boys.
The silent song of their fractured souls made Ellicott's head buzz. It was a symphony of pain, loss, and regret that sent a thrill of pleasure through his body.
He always had been a good listener.
He preferred moving around on all fours these days. He still had most of his body, despite the violent efforts of those ungrateful patients of his. The day they turned on him was just a distant memory, one he hardly ever thought about. The left side of his face was slightly bashed in, and his right eye bulged out more than the left, but those were minor details. He'd gained more than he'd lost. His spine was incredibly flexible, as was his entire body, all the way down to his fingers and toes. It was a small change, but sometimes small changes can be the biggest ones of all.
Despite the shifting shadows cast by the tree cover overhead there was still enough sunlight to hurt his skin and his eyes, but Ellicott paid the prickling of his skin no mind. He closed his eyes against the wretched spots of light and swayed in place from side to side to the melody of fear and soul-crushing regret from those lovely, damaged souls.
The taller one was filled with black rage, mostly at himself now. He was sad. He had Lim's scratchmarks on his left hip, those thin, fine scars of ownership. The dear child hated himself now, which was exactly what Ellicott expected. There was a universe of light and dark inside him. Though the Slender Man was only interested in the dark, light served its purposes, too.
The green eyed one was a work of art. A masterpiece. He'd been carved out inside. A whole new animal, wild and ferocious, crouched impatiently inside that beautiful, damaged spirit and flesh. It wasn't of his choosing, but it was his just the same. Like his brother, there was a world of red delights inside him, past, present and future.
Ellicott didn't question why they'd come. They were here, at last, just like he was told they would. Two nights ago his Master's voice flared blood red in the darkness inside his head: "You do so much good in the world…"
Lim wanted him to help these two. Ellicott knew that for certain.
At least, he thought he did.
It's all right, Ellicott whispered silently to the boys. I'll make you both feel better.
"Dad said stay put," Sam said flatly. "We're not supposed to go in until he gets here."
Sam leaned back against the bench seat of the Impala and crossed his arms over his chest. That closed off body language of his said it all: he was pissed off. His scowl deepened into a full-blown bitchface.
They sat in a wooded area just outside the grounds, and this was still too damn close for comfort.
God, he hated this place. Damn Roosevelt Asylum, and damn Dad for sending them here in the first place.
"Dude, what are you, four?" Dean lifted the binoculars and did a sweep of the buildings. Nothing.
"Dad says this fugly familiar is corporeal." The corners of Dean's mouth twitched upwards into a smirk. "That's one'a your words, college boy."
Sam glared at him.
Dean took a deep breath and when he opened his mouth the gruff, accented voice that rolled out of him was pure Ahnald. It was Schwarzennegger, from the movie Predator: "If it bleeds, we can kill it."
Nothing. Sam's bitchface didn't move. Not one inch.
"Geez," Dean groused. He put the binoculars down and sat back. "Tough crowd."
Sam's bitchface intensified.
Dean was enjoying the hell out of this. He drummed the fingers of his right hand against the steering wheel as he made each point.
"It's a beautiful day. The sun's out." Dean's smirk widened. "And you and me are spending some quality time together. So why so serious, Sammy?"
"Okay. I recognize your mood, and I accept it," Dean said grandly.
Bastard, Sam thought. He's using Doctor Phil against me. Big brother knew good and well what the problem was. That mischievous glint in his moss green eyes meant nothing but trouble.
"We can play cards," Dean added hopefully. "Tic tac toe?"
Sam rolled his eyes.
"I got it. Let's play Jeopardy. I'll take 'A Beautiful Mind The Home Game' for 500, Alex." He winked at Sam. "I'm the all-time champ at that, y'know. Defended the title against all comers."
Sam's bitchface faltered a little. "Dean, that's not funny."
"Come on, it's a little funny. How about this: I'll take 'Gabriel Bender wore me like a cheap suit' for 400? No? Come on, work with me, will ya?"
"I don't see how in the hell you can joke about that. It's not funny."
"Well, it was a little funny," Dean said with a shrug. "Dude, you need to quit being so serious. Lighten up a little. Now I know what being a spirit condom feels like. All of the friction, none of the fun."
Sam sat up straighter. "What about me and Lim?"
"That's not funny." Dean frowned. "No way, no how."
"It's not? Why not?"
" 'cause I'm the oldest, and I say what's funny around here." Dean sounded pissed. Finally. The skin between his eyes wrinkled slightly.
Sam shook his head. "I'm astounded by your logic, Deanna."
"Well, Samantha, you oughta be…" Dean's voice trailed off. He tensed up, just for the barest second as he shifted on the bench seat, to his right. His right was his good side. Dean's eyes unfocused, and for a brief moment his face went blank.
"You okay?" Sam said casually. Yeah. Casual and calm was good, better than he thought he'd sound. "I packed some muscle relaxers and pain killers in the med kit in the trunk."
Dean huffed. The corners of his lips twitched upwards into a slight smile, but it didn't reach his eyes. "I don't need that. I'm super." The look he gave Sam was pointed. "Why the hell wouldn't I be?"
"Saw you limping this morning when you got up. Limping on your left," Sam added pointedly.
"So? I'm all right now."
"You had bad dreams last night. You wanna talk about it?"
"What?" Just for a moment there was a flash of something in Dean's eyes. He looked guilty, like he was found out about something.
You're not as slick as you think you are. Gotcha.
"I slept like a friggin' baby last night. Quit staring at me while I'm sleeping, you perv." There was a sharper edge in Dean's voice. He leaned to the right as he moved slightly on the seat. Sam sensed weakness, slight as it was, and he wasn't about to let this moment pass. At that point there was a good chance he could steer this whole conversation right into chick flick territory, whether Dean wanted to go there or not. Sam opened his mouth to speak, but Dean beat him to it.
"Hate to be the one to break it to you, princess, but being this far away isn't gonna work. We need to get closer."
"We wh-what?" Oh no. No no no- "This is close enough!"
"No, it's not."
"Then…then move the car in a little closer!"
"In these woods?" Dean nodded at the clearing between them and the perimeter fence. There was a short, steep incline covered with loose rocks, downed tree trunks and gravel. A mountain goat would have had a hard time with that, much less the Impala, and Sam knew it.
"Dude, my baby is awesome, but that doesn't include four wheel drive. We'll have to go in closer on foot."
"Dad said to stay put," Sam said flatly, as if invoking John Winchester would be more than enough to make Dean stay put.
Dean opened the door and was out of the car in a heartbeat. As soon as he stood up, his left knee buckled. That made him lean against the open door, but not for long. As he turned he put one hand on the Impala's roof. After that stumble step Dean rolled right into that "I don't give a damn and you can all go to hell" swagger of his.
Sam felt another bright stab of irrational hatred towards Dad then. It was the Winchester way: Man up. Don't show any weakness.
Sam cursed under his breath as he pushed his way off the bench seat and out of the car.
Ellicott waited. He wasn't surprised when the brothers didn't come.
The ones who needed help the most were usually too shy or too stubborn to ask for it. Back when Ellicott was more fully human he discovered that his patients needed to be persuaded, either with the help of orderlies applying brute force, drugs, or other means. His patients screamed and shrieked and cursed in the treatment room. A lesser man would have been bothered all by that ungratefulness.
It was all right. He was used to it by now.
He still helped people, even after all this time. That policeman who was secretly so angry at his partner and his wife. Those five high school kids who spent the night at the asylum on a dare a few months ago. They hated their parents and their lives. The next morning they expressed their displeasure, first to their parents, and then to their fellow students at school. It was amazing what could be done with a few knives, some matches and a can of gasoline.
They felt better after he treated them. They did. Rage was one emotion humans could do without. Better out than in.
Ellicott chuckled to himself as he dropped to the ground. He crouched low on all fours amid the tall weeds and moved sideways towards the main building.
The brothers would have to be coaxed in. It would be for their own good. Ellicott didn't take offense at their stubbornness. He had something inside that would pique the young ones' interest.
Dean already had the trunk open and his Desert Eagle in hand as Sam walked up. He popped the clip, checked it, then nodded, satisfied, as he reloaded and put the gun in his back waistband. Sam stood there staring as Dean leaned inside the open trunk and grabbed the nearest empty duffel bag.
Flashlights ready? Check. Two of them went into the bag, followed by a couple of Bowie and Kershaw knives. Two canisters of salt, two flasks of holy water and several short and long blunt stakes of Palo Santo wood went next. Dean tossed several small cloth bags filled with devil's dung, mullein, and St. John's Wort into the duffel. Dean's favorite sawed off shotgun followed, along with two boxes of ammo, one of which was rock salt rounds, just in case. That was just some of the stuff Dean threw in. Sam didn't notice the rest.
"Dean? What the hell are you doing?"
Dean didn't answer. He stripped down to his grey tee shirt. He strapped a spring clip to his lower right arm, and then loaded the device with that silver knife Pastor Jim blessed the last time the Winchesters were in Blue Earth.
"I told you." Dean shrugged into his black fatigue jacket again. "We gotta get closer, and I'm not going in there naked." His eyes narrowed as he flicked a glance at the buildings again.
"You spent six months in a place like that," Sam said flatly.
"Yeah, well, the last four years I spent time in a lot of places, Sam."
"You don't need to be here. Dad never should have told you to come," Sam muttered crossly.
Dean's expression hardened. "Well, that's too bad. Look, we got a job to do out here, all right? If Lim's familiar is there when Dad shows up, we're gonna pay the bastard a visit. Have some pleasant conversation. Now, I'm up for that. Are you?"
The brothers stared angrily at each other. Sam drew himself up to his full height, and that only served to piss Dean off even further. "Save the Sasquatch move for someone who cares," Dean gritted out. "Didn't work before, and it sure in the hell isn't gonna work on me now."
He looks mad enough to hit me, Sam thought. He was barely aware of it, but his own right hand curled up into a fist.
Dean's gaze shifted past Sam's right side. Dean froze. Sam saw those eyes widen in horror and disbelief, and the hair at the back of his own neck rose up, stiff and painful.
"Sonofabitch," Dean whispered softly. He quivered like an eager, intense hunting dog held on a leash.
Sam didn't want to turn around, but he did it anyway. He turned and looked.
Sun's out, a part of his mind whispered softly. It's broad open daylight and things like that should only come out at night.
Some thing clung to the top of the fence surrounding Roosevelt Asylum. It wasn't kids out to vandalize the place. It might have been human once, but it wasn't fully human anymore.
The eyes of this thing were large and bright, a slightly darker, wetter grey than the rest. Sam saw dingy grayish white streamers fluttering in the slight breeze, and he couldn't tell if what was hanging off in long thin tatters was skin or clothing. Whatever this was, it was man-sized, but the arms and legs were bent in all the wrong directions. The chain link fence rippled slowly in long, horizontal waves, but the fugly hung on as it rocked back and forth at the top. The head swiveled around, and that sharp bird-like face reshaped itself into a smile, wide and friendly.
It saw them. It smiled at them.
That was bad enough. What came next was worse.
It shook its head slowly, from side to side, and the arms and legs of the small, pale body it held in its mouth copied the motion in a gentle side to side motion.
"Fuck!" Dean growled, low and terrible.
Sam felt it then. Dean was off the leash. In that moment Sam suddenly knew that nothing he could say or do could hold Dean there anymore, but he tried anyway. Sam raised his right hand. He saw his fingertips skate uselessly across the black fabric of Dean's right sleeve. He willed his fingers to close around Dean's right bicep, but it was too little, too late.
Sam's fingers closed on empty air.
Dean ran full out. He didn't limp, didn't break stride.
The thing jumped down on the other side of the fence. It skittered across the cracked pavement and disappeared into an open side door in the main building.
Sam snagged his own duffel by the handles and yanked it out. A quick look inside told him his Taurus was inside, along with his sawed off, spare clips and ammo. That would have to do.
He slammed the Impala's trunk down, and then he turned and sprinted after his brother.
TBC next Friday.