Characters: Sam, Dean
Timeline: Season 3, the deal with the crossroad demon a ticking time bomb in the minds of our boys
Summary: Roaming the gloomy flipside of Las Vegas after a series of gory killings gives the Winchesters an unwelcome glimpse of what loneliness and desperation are able to trigger ...
Disclaimer: You know the drill – not mine, still Kripke's, still a part of us anyway
A/N: This is my first multichap, and it took me more than a while, as short as it is. The reason why I started it and why I didn't gave up on it even when real life really sucked is BarbaraGER, my beautiful friend, m guide through the maze of SPN and my Beta. Thanks for your support, sweetums! Whatever mistakes remained are all mine – and please don't hesitate to make me aware of them (as well as of everything you like, if you'd be so kind :-) The story is completed, so a new chapter is coming up every weekend. Enjoy!
He didn't notice the flickering neon lights, melting into streams of color where his feet destroyed the blank surface of a puddle. Couldn't see the angry or frightened faces of the stray people that happened to cross his blind escape. Didn't hear the music coming from night bars or the wailing sound of an ambulance passing by. All he could see was a circle of faces, distorted with hate and disgust. All he could hear was the sound of beating fists and a terrible, wet wheezing. All he could feel was self-loathing. He had failed where he should have protected. Had lost what seemed to be his last fragile connection to life. Now there was nothing left to do but one thing: Vengeance!
Odessa, Texas, March 2008
Sam winced in sympathy as he watched Dean returning from the bar, slightly limping and still bruised from their last encounter with the Supernatural.
"What?" Dean asked irritated, shoving one bottle of beer towards Sam and taking a healthy sip of his own. "The bartender wasn't familiar with the concept of non-alcoholic cocktails, so I went for a beer. No need to pull that bitch-face." Sam sighed. The details of their last hunt hadn't done much to cheer his soon-to-be-doomed brother up.
Well, it wasn't exactly fun to deal with a bunch of loopy students who thought summoning a druid would be a welcome change in their daily routine. Who could blame them? Building a fake Stonehenge in the center of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, obviously cried for some hillbillies to go all ritual sacrifice. It took one equinox and two stabbed virgins for the kids to find out what they had done. And some more would've finished their studies for good if Dean hadn't been able to give the druid a lesson in humility.
"How's your leg?" Sam asked with a little shudder. His brother finished the third bottle, waving a waitress for the next round. "I'll live", he grunted. "Though creepy old Getafix was damn skilled with his sickle, you gotta give him that. Imagine me hobbling into the pit on one leg. No real challenge for a bunch of hell hounds, don't you think?"
Sam choked on his lukewarm beer. Why the hell couldn't Dean stop joking about … IT? Only two more months to live – and still he'd act as if he didn't care. As if he didn't notice the heavy weight of guilt, shame and fear that threatened to crush Sam every time Dean mentioned the deal. "If you think that's ... "
Dean stopped him, fishing his vibrating cell phone out of his pocket. "Yeah? No, it's Dean. No, Dad is ... " his brother blinked, swallowing, "he's gone. Yes, thank you. What's on, uh – Steve?" He listened, his face all business, gesturing for a pen and a napkin. "Naa, you're kidding. ... Really? That's … gross. ... And that was like—2 days later? Uh-huh ... " a frown, more listening and scribbling, "Yep, got it. Flamingo, Las Vegas Strip, ask for you. Yeah, I think we can make it in two days. Ok, see ya."
One look at Dean's wicked grin was enough to arouse Sam's suspicion. "Spill it out, Dean, what's going on?" His brother tossed a few bucks on the table and fetched his jacket. "Sammy, my boy, for once in my life I'm going to mix business and pleasure. We're headed to Sin City. Aw, fancy bars, wet shirt contests, pool tournaments – I'm coming."
With the night a breeze had come up, and Sam enjoyed the cool airstream caressing his arms and wafting through his damp hair. Dean had finally succumbed to weariness, allowing his kid brother to take over, not without threatening him with torture in case he'd steer his black beauty into a lonely saguaro. Which right now didn't seem as impossible as Sam had indignantly thought when Dean had mentioned it. Because it felt like driving through a gigantic, firefly-lit cave – the desert black and silent under the Milky Way, hardly another car on the road, just at the horizon this weird silhouette of sparkling light in the middle of nothingness.
Sin City. Although known as Las Vegas, city of gamblers and adventurers, founded by a bunch of fighters for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, overtaken by ambitious mobsters under the glorious guidance of Bugsy Siegel and led to fame and fortune under the charismatic billionaire Howard Hughes.
All the way from Odessa Dean had been nearly hyperventilating with excitement, almost skipping the cause of their upcoming visit. "Guy on the cell phone? That was Steve, Steve Morgan. He was in the Marine Corps with Dad, you know, back in Vietnam. He's now working as head of security at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. Not too much fun lately, since he lost three of his men to gambling over the last two weeks."
Sam had huffed, trying to stretch his tarantula legs without crashing the dashboard. "And why's that supposed to be our kind of job?" he had asked.
"Well, imagine a guy skewered by a slot machine like shish kebab."
Sam had raised an eyebrow.
"Or a guy fed with poker chips until he suffocated."
That had caused a dry swallow on Sam's side.
"The last one was impaled by a cue – neatly from his mouth the whole way down to where the sun never shines."
The sudden dryness in Sam's throat had had nothing to do with the sun turning the Impala into a Finnish sauna. "Impaled? With a cue?"
"Yep," Dean had answered cheerful. "Must've been dealing with a real bad loser. Actually I can't see any human being strong or furious enough to do that. Sounds like our kind of job, don't you think?"
And Sam had to admit as much. Not that he was too excited about the prospect of his brother roaming Las Vegas, probably attracting all kinds of trouble with his irresistible attitude. But he knew that there was no way of talking Dean out of that job, especially when it involved an old friend of their father. Family business. Winchester honor. And most of all: Dean's feeling that he owed his Dad. Much. In fact everything.
After all John had traded his life for Dean. And Dean ... but that was a path Sam was afraid to follow. He couldn't. Couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that Dean had made the deal. Would be dragged down to hell in a few fucking weeks. For him. How was he supposed to live with that?
A sudden jerking movement in the passenger seat drew him back into the here and now. Dean's face was distorted, his lips moving slightly. Sam nudged his shoulder gently.
"Dean, dude. Easy, it's only a dream."
Huge dark orbs blinked in his direction, confused. Then a giant yawn, just in time to hide whatever had wanted to escape his mouth.
"Jeez Sammy, why did you wake me? I'd just been getting somewhere with that blonde chick. She showed me an incredible trick with her tongue and ..."
"Please, Dean. TMI, remember? Anyway, we're nearly there. Which direction?"
"The Flamingo, bro. You can't miss it. Most famous one on the strip, right over there, see?"
And really, the desolation of the desert gave way to an onslaught of flickering neon lights, to broad highways, avenues of palms and huge buildings, illuminating the night in all colors. For Sam it looked as if a crazy bunch of giant toddlers had played with the most famous monuments from allover the world. The Great Pyramid, the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, small oriental villages in front of straight hotel towers …
"Earth to Enterprise, anyone at the controls?"
Dean's voice pulled him back. He managed to find the brightly lit "Flamingo", parked the Impala down at the huge garage and helped his brother to stuff their favorite guns, a healthy amount of rock salt and ammo for all kinds of possible encounters into their duffels. They took the elevator, crossed the frightening glamorous entrance hall and got jumped by a mountain gorilla in a black suit.
"Thank God, you've made it! You gotta be Dean. Boy, John spoke a lot of you. Didn't tell me you've inherited his good looks though."
After nearly crushing Dean's ribs the gorilla turned to Sam and slapped him on the back so hard that he was sure he could hear his teeth rattle.
"And you must be Sam – more than grown up, that's for sure." He turned the volume down a bit.
"I'm Steve. I'm so sorry for your loss, boys. I can't believe he's gone. Never knew another marine like him…"
He cleared his throat.
"Anyway. Too late to talk business today. I've got you a suite on the 12th Floor. You're checked in under the name Winfield. Bars and restaurants are open yet, if you'd like to eat something. Let's meet after breakfast in my office, how about 9 o'clock? I'm so glad you came. We can't afford much more bad publicity, and there's a bloodthirsty lot of piranhas from the press out there just waiting for another murder."
Sam stared at the man with his jaw dropped in awe. He exchanged a glance with Dean, both clearly wondering how any human could survive a nonstop monologue without taking a single breath. Oblivious to their stunned silence Steve smiled, wished them a good night and left, his bulky figure moving with surprising speed.
"He must've talked the Vietcong to shreds," Dean mused.
Sam chuckled. "Come on, let's hit the hay," he replied.
"You think they have mints on the pillow?"
Sam rolled his eyes at his brother, and suddenly his heart ached with a loss he hadn't suffered yet.
Next morning, Flamingo, Las Vegas
Sam got kick-started into the new day when he heard Dean's "Whoa" echoing out of the bathroom. He sat up startled, his heart pumping adrenalin like a sinking boat, while he was painfully reminded of his private little "Groundhog Day", with Dean dying on him over and over again.
"What ..." He was still trying to wriggle his large frame out of the sheets when Dean entered the bedroom with an ecstatic grin on his face.
"They have TV in the bathroom mirror, can you believe it? Aw, give me some Baywatch gals next time I'm in the shower."
"I'll give you some 'Psycho' next time you wake me up like that," Sam grumbled. But he had to admit that he enjoyed this upgrade to the shabby accommodations they were used to. Especially after he discovered the huge breakfast buffet in the dining room, offering everything to make their rumbling stomachs happy.
They entered Steve's office dead on time, were greeted with a bone-crushing handshake and sat in front of the imposing glass desk, ready for the briefing.
"Thanks again for coming, boys," Steve began. "Well, let's dive straight into the facts. As you know, I'm head of security here. That means dealing with real and wanna-be stars, with busloads of tourists and adventurers on the best of days. And with quarrelsome gamblers, drunken people, thieves and shady guys of all kind on any other usual day. It's like tending a crowd of savage apes sometimes."
Sam didn't miss the corner of Dean's mouth twitch at that.
"But most of the time we run a tight ship here, believe me. Only ..." He silenced, his bright blue eyes suddenly cast down, as if to scrutinize something awfully fascinating at the tip of his shoes.
"Only?" Dean offered, leaning forward.
"Uh, yeah," Steve continued. "Only two weeks ago there was this … accident. It was my day off. Gus Bronski was in charge that evening. Everything was alright until the tunnel people entered the Casino."
"Come again?" Sam interrupted.
"Homeless people who live down in the sewer system of the city. You know, over the last few years some of the homeless people chose to live in the storm drains. Mostly men, many of them addicted to alcohol, drugs or gambling. But there are a some women too, even kids."
"Kids living down there in the dark?" Dean asked incredulously. Sam gazed at him, knowing how much affection Dean held for kids behind the cool façade of his usual attitude.
"I'm afraid yes. Authorities estimate that at least 300 people are dwelling the sewer system permanently. Even the street people are afraid of them. They have nothing to lose, prefer the cold, wet and dangerous darkness to the daily battle above. And they stick together. So we knew we'd be screwed when this guy died on us."
"Whoawhoawhoa – who died? This the accident you told us about?"
Both brothers looked expectantly at Steve, whose eyes were again magically drawn by a stain on his otherwise immaculate shoes. When he turned his eyes to them, his face showed for the first time his real age.
"There were two of them. Tunnel people often try to sneak in, dressed in their best clothes, to look for coins people forgot in the slot machines. You wouldn't believe how often that happens – people feeding one machine after another and not hanging around to wait for the end of the game. Anyway, the older one is kind of a regular in the Casinos around the City. He's harmless, never gambling, never asking for trouble, just roaming and watching. The younger one – man, he seemed itchy. That's what Gus said. He probably got his hands on some bucks, had one drink too much, started to get rough when a guest wanted to grab his winnings. The older guy tried to appease him, but it was too late. He beat the guest, punched one of our security guards – so in the end three of our men had to haul his ass outside. And then things got out of control. They ... bashed him up. When Gus arrived, he lay on the soil, bleeding and unconscious. They called an ambulance, but it was too late. Forensics found out he had a heart failure. That's no excuse – this should never have happened. But it did. And a few days later the first of our guards was – err – killed."
Sam swallowed, recalling what Dean had told him.
"So you think the dead guy is on a revenge campaign?" Dean asked.
"I know he is." Steve replied with a sigh. "People from our security staff recognized the dead guy when the first killing happened. He just came through the doors, entered the room with the slot machines and shoved Phil into the lever – turned and was gone before anyone was able to react."
"Huh, kinda Dead Man Walking Reloaded," Dean threw in. Sam shot a disgusted glance at him.
"What, I'm just ..."
"Yeah, hilarious," Sam huffed. He turned to Steve. "Ok, you're right, definitely our kind of business. An angry spirit haunting the people who got him killed. We should go salt and burn him before he can kill more people."
"Salt and burn ... what?"
"The body of that tunnel guy," Dean repeated. "We salt and burn him to set his soul to rest. Do you know where he's buried?"
If possible, Steve seemed to shrink further into his massive black suit. "Ah, now – there is a little problem."
Both brothers shared an impatient look, eyebrows rising simultaneously.
"There is no body," Steve continued softly. "The corpse was stolen from the mortuary the following night."
Needless to say, but I do it anyway: your reviews are for me what apple pies are for Dean :-)