The scene in Swan Song where Lucifer shows Sam "Azazel's Gang" just haunted me. All those people, used by demons to hurt the Winchesters. I thought the reveal that they had never really been hidden from the demon and had been manipulated even worse then any of them ever believed, would bother Sam. And I also believed the 'gang' would have created turning points in the Winchester dynamics. So I had Sam go back and find out what happened to those people.
Sam was, once again, or still, Dean couldn't tell which, almost huddled over his laptop. When he had suggested heading back to Bobby's to regroup after Cass disappeared, it had meant to give Sam time to adjust to his now wall-free brain. Not for his geek brother to sit for what looked like three straight days on his laptop.
"Okay, Sammy. Enough is enough. You gonna tell me what you're overactive brain is working on?"
Not answering, Sam scribbled something down on a notebook next to the laptop.
"You're beginning to scare me, here, kiddo. What's going on?" Taking the notebook, he evaded Sam's desperate grasp for it.
"Goddammit, Dean. Give it back. I have to know, don't you understand? I have to know."
"Know what?" Looking down at the notebook, he saw a list of five names, none of which were initially familiar to Dean. "Who are they?"
"People. Good people, Dean." Exhaustion, exaggerated with the 3D flashbacks of the Pit courtesy of Cass, took over. Throwing the pen across the room he stood to face his brother. "Good people who are fucking dead because they happened to cross paths with me." Pinching the bridge of his nose, the younger man tried unsuccessfully to stop his eyes from filling with tears.
"Sammy, whatever that soul-less son of a bitch, or Lucifer, did with your meatsuit is NOT your fault. How many times do I have to tell you that."
"I didn't say I killed them, Dean. I said it's my fault they're dead. Wasn't me, Lucifer, or soul-less me."
"HE called them Azazel's gang. The small army of demons that were keeping track of us. The strategic fucking weapons that were meant to split us up."
Confused, Dean scanned down the names. The third name on the list along with the date- 2000 and the city- Hiko Nevada- finally rang a bell for Dean. "Okay, wasn't Christy your prom date?"
"Yep. Do you remember?"
"Cost me a fucking fortune. Tux rental, even won you a limo rental in a poker game. Stocked it with beer and wine coolers for her. Took off so you could have the hotel room." Dean knew the reason Sam had put her on the list could not be good, but he couldn't help himself. He smiled. "That girl flat wore your ass out."
The absolute devastation on Sam's face cut off any more comments Dean had in mind. "She…. Azazel?"
"She was a good person, Dean. Straight A's. Honor classes. Scholarship to Michigan, or Montana, I don't remember. She was a nice girl that crossed paths with me and paid for it."
A bad thought crossed Dean's mind, but he waited for his brother to confirm it.
"She was possessed, Dean. At some point after we reached Hiko a demon took over to get to me. She didn't 'flat wear my ass out'. Goddammit, for years I thought it was one of the best nights of my life and the truth is…." Pausing for a moment to get himself together, Sam sighed. "The truth is that I helped them rape her." His voice broke with that admission.
"You didn't know, Sam. There is no way you could have known. Dude, the way she…. Then she…" Dean's voice died out for a moment. "I should have known."
"You? Come on, you didn't even know her. You met her, what, twice?"
"Three times. The Monday after prom she came by the house." Now Dean's face almost mirrored his younger brother's. "I should have known that kind of girl wouldn't be your type. She came by and….. let's just say she tried…"
"Tried to fuck you?" When Dean nodded, he flopped on Bobby's sofa. "Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"Because you were crazy about her, Sammy. Christ, you didn't stop talking about her for months. What was I supposed to say? Get over her, she was a slut? She was stupid, too. You were due home in an hour or so. I never touched her, but I was freaking trying to get her out before you came back."
For a moment, Sam was quiet, but finally he looked at Dean. "I was supposed to catch you."
"That's what Lucifer meant when he showed me. They were there to keep me isolated. Angry. Split us up. What would have happened if I'd come home and found her with you?"
It all fell into place in Dean's mind.
"Who?" Dean didn't recognize that name.
"Fourth grade teacher. First teacher that ever told me I was a freak. Hated me. Well, I thought he hated me. Kept telling me there was something wrong with me. Made sure the other kids knew it, too."
"Why didn't you ever tell me any of that?"
Actually snorting sarcastically, Sam shrugged. "Janice?"
"Oh, Hayward Wisconsin."
"Yep. Longest month of my life. Fucking teacher that called me a freak, fucking bastard kids that actually fucking teased me about Mom, guess now I know where it all came from. And you kicking me out of the hotel room so you could get laid every day."
"Dude, I was 14 and she popped my freakin' cherry. And kept going. She was 16 years old!." A thought occurred to Dean. "You don't think she….."
"Nah, man. I think she just liked to fuck you. From what I saw, it was only people who were close to me. Like Brady. People I would take to heart anything they said or did. People who could make me feel worse about our life and what we did."
"Shit, Sammy." Now the older Winchester got pissed. "How many? How many fucking years did they work to wreck our already shitty lives?"
"From what I've managed to put together, my whole life, pretty much. We were never hidden from him. He always knew where I was, and if I ever had a good fucking week he had to wreck it. And he had to destroy someone to do it."
"He possessed them."
"They're all DEAD, Dean! Christy was left thinking I'd roofied and raped her. She never went to college. Ended up with multiple drug arrests and finally committed suicide before she was 19. Hiko Police even looked for me to question me. Storki? Disappeared. Gone. No trace of him about three days after we left. Coach Trosh in Flagstaff-"
"Flagstaff?" After Sam's eyes met his and he nodded, Dean crossed the room to stare down his brother. "What the fuck did they do in Flagstaff and is that why you ran?"
Dean could see the moment Sam shut down and turned away. "Sammy, come on. Ancient history, Dude. Talk to me."
"I still had bruises from that wilderness shit weekend training Dad sent us on. Hid them, but since it wasn't really Coach Trosh, I guess it didn't matter." Hands clasped in front of him, Sam stared at them, unwilling to face his brother. "He knew Dad had taken off, so he demanded to meet with him, threatened to call CPS. Made me….." Suddenly he laughed. It wasn't a laugh like something was funny. It was more a laugh that Sam was on the edge and about to completely lose it.
Scared, the older man moved closer. "Doesn't matter. You don't have to tell me."
"Don't you see? I DO!" Sam stood up so quickly Dean actually took a step back from him. He paced back and forth in the small living room. "It was all one big fucking set up. My entire fucking life. You forgave me for taking off, but you never forgot. Dad never let you off the hook, and never really trusted me again. Put a huge wedge between us. Big ass cliff for me and Dad. And it was all because of the same fucking demon!" Every muscle in Sam's tall frame was taunt and shaking. "I didn't run to get away from you. I ran to get away from HIM." Large hands fisted the long hair on either side of his head. "Told me he was gonna call CPS over the bruises and Dad being gone. That I'd never see either one of you again because Dad took off."
"Come on, Sammy, it wasn't like Dad completely abandoned us-"
"You're still not getting it! That's what he said. That Dad had taken off, I was covered in bruises, and he was going to make sure I became a ward of the state. He kept up for days about how Dad had gone off to do something that was more important to him than me. Than us. That he was going to make sure I never saw either of you again. He scared the shit out of me, Dean. And yes, I bought into the fact that it was all Dad's fault. I was twelve. So when he leveled his ultimatum at me, I panicked."
"What ultimatum?" Instinctively knowing it was bad, he moved closer to his brother and stared up at the taller man. "What. Did. He. Do.?"
"He made me blow him." Sam's eyes met Dean's and he gripped the other man's arm before he could really go off. "Don't. In the scheme of the last century of my life," The taller man shook his head. "death, whatever, it's not important. But I was afraid he'd make that call. I was afraid what he'd want me to do the next time. So I ran. Again, that son of a fucking bitch Azazel won. But the day after I ran away, I guess the demon figured he'd done his job. Coach committed suicide. He was a good man, Dean. He'd been a teacher for thirty years. So either the demon killed him or he couldn't live with what the demon had done to me while he was possessing him. Someone else dead because of me. And yet another big fucking issue between me and Dad. And the first big rift between us."
For a few minutes, Dean thought about everything Sam had said. He still wanted to resurrect the demon that had hurt his brother and kill him in a longer more painful way, but the fact that all these people had died just because the Winchesters happened to move to that town wasn't something that he believed a few words would fix with Sam.
"Mark Silas. Marietta Georgia. Senior year. He was the guy in my class that kissed me at the party and then told everyone I was gay."
"Started a pile of shit. I had to come back and move you out of town because you were getting your ass kicked on a regular basis after that. Your teachers called me and demanded a meeting to discuss your options." Dean was having a hard time controlling his temper. "They wanted you transferred out. Just because they THOUGHT you might be gay. Like it was any of their fucking business and if you were you had no right to go to that public shithole of a school. To this day I freakin' hate the bible belt."
"Yeah. Dad was off the deep end pissed about me causing trouble and you having to come back to clean it up. I was convinced that Dad believed I was gay and it was another reason to hate me."
Sighing, Dean pushed the anger down and stared sadly at his brother. "Sons of bitches really fucked with your head, didn't they." It wasn't a question.
"Another unexplained disappearance." The younger man continued rattling off facts. "Everyone assumed it was because he was gay. Not much of a search for him. Jeff Shultz. Motel manager spring when I turned 15 in Crestview, Alabama."
"I don't remember him."
"You were hunting full time by then. My fifteenth birthday. He gave me a stack of old CD's and kept coming by."
"Did he do anything to you?" No matter how long ago it was, or how his brother claimed being abused as a child didn't matter now, Dean wanted to know what the bastards had done to him.
"No. Nothing like the Coach. It was more like he took everything I was feeling and made it ten times worse."
"Made it worse, or talked you into feeling it in the first place?"
Stopping for a moment, Sam studied his brother. "I don't know anymore. I really don't. I mean, I was lonely. You were gone all the time by then. And every time Dad was around more than an hour, we got into it. So I really don't know the answer to that. But it was all part of the master plan, either way."
"I take it Shultz is dead?"
"Yep. Coronary about five days after we left. Too long to have been the demon possessing him. I'm guessing his heart just couldn't take the strain."
For a few long moments, Dean stared intently at Sam, just thinking over everything he'd said. Finally he sat down close enough his shoulder touched his brother's. "You know, we knew that you got the short shitty end of the stick when you were a baby. We just had no fucking idea how hard they had to work to keep screwing you over."
"They got what they wanted. They wanted me separated from you and Dad. They made sure it happened. I left for Stanford." Sam sighed. "I'm not even sure I got that anymore. How hard would it have been for Azazel to possess someone in admissions and get me that scholarship to get me away from you?"
"Don't." Dean turned to face the younger man. "Don't you ever even consider that you didn't earn it or deserve it. Christ, Sammy, you worked your ass off. Harder than any of those assholes that didn't have to go to twenty fucking schools and hunting while you were doing it. They've taken everything from us, don't let them have that, too. You earned that Scholarship, and you fucking deserved it."
Shocked, Sam stared silently at Dean for a moment. "You've never said that to me before. You always hated the fact I left."
"I hated the WAY you left, dumbass. And yeah, now I get that Dad has as much to do with that as you did. And now we both get that it wasn't all you and Dad. But you really don't think I knew how hard you had to work for that? That I wasn't proud of you for doing it?"
"You….you never even hinted that you….."
"Yeah, well, if I've learned anything during our separate stints in Hell, I guess I've learned I should tell you more and hide it less. Not gonna make a habit out of it, but once a month or three won't kill me, I guess." Jabbing an elbow into Sam's arm, Dean decided to go for broke. "Look, it sucks these people had to suffer. It fucking sucks and it wasn't fair. But none of it was your fault, Sammy. I have no idea what will convince you of that. Mom made the original deal, and you paid the price for it."
"Me and everyone around me, you mean."
"Yeah, a lot of the people around both of us. Remember Michael already had me chosen for my final fitting before I was born, too? Nothing to do with you, Dude. I was marked as an angel condom myself. We can't change it. We can't fix it. All we can do is move on from here. Not like we haven't paid for it enough."
"I guess. I just…. I saw them and I went ballistic. Lucifer let me kill them all."
"Well finally. One thing I like about the guy."
The younger brother smiled. "Guess so. But after I stopped long enough to think about it, I had to find out. I needed the truth."
"Did it help?"
"Do tell, Dr. Phil."
"Fuck you, Freud. But I was so angry for so long, and there were times I had no idea what I was pissed about, or why I was so pissed about something. Why everything grated on me. I guess it does help to know that at least part of what I was feeling was a shitload of manipulation and bullshit."
Now Dean snorted. "We could write a full set of fucking encyclopedias on being manipulated with bullshit."
"Maybe we'll post it on Live Journal." A soft smile finally crossed Sam's face. "The fangirls would love it."
As usual, with any mention of their online 'fans', both boys shuddered.