Dean made absolutely certain that Sam was asleep before he left the apartment. He knew the night would end in blood and he didn't want his younger brother to see it. He was only sixteen—there was plenty of time for that later. Besides, he'd done all he could.
Some people might say that he was foolish for giving up, for resigning himself to his fate, but no one could possibly save him from this. Still, he had his knife in his pocket, and he wasn't going down without a fight. He didn't honestly believe he could take down a trained repo man, but maybe he could get in a lucky swing or two. He wasn't going to make it too easy on him.
Darting from streetlight to streetlight, he made his way down the street and into the alley a block down from his apartment building. He'd left a note for Sam, to let him know he was sorry, not to worry, that even though Dean would die, he would still be safe, but he couldn't let it happen so close to home, when Sammy could easily glance out the window and see what was happening. He only prayed that he would sleep through the night and not find the note until morning, until after his body had been cleared away.
Sam would try to get involved, and then he'd end up dead, too.
Dean waited in the alley, running his fingers over the scars on his back, the remnants of the surgery he'd had eight years ago. His kidneys had given out when he was twelve, a year after their mother had succumbed to the same kidney disease. Their father hadn't been able to see him die in the same agony Mary had gone through, and had made the difficult decision to finance his organ replacement.
A year later, Sam started coughing up blood, and they found out his lungs were failing. Again, John Winchester financed an organ replacement, this time, for Sammy's lungs.
Then, when Dean was sixteen—the same age as Sam now, he reflected, trying to hold back the tears pricking at his eyes—their father had a heart attack. There was no way he could have been saved, even with a transplant. After that, the burden of paying off their organ replacements fell to Dean. He tried, really, he had—once he'd turned eighteen, he did a few things of which he wasn't proud to make sure that Sam stayed alive and out of the crosshairs of the repo men, and all the while only making the minimum payments on his own kidneys, just enough to keep himself alive, too. But now…
Ninety days. Ninety days delinquent gets you repo treatment. He started going longer and longer between payments, as long as he could to keep them safe, to stretch their money. From every thirty days to thirty-five. Then forty-five. Then fifty. Sixty. Sixty-five. Seventy. Seventy-five.
By the time he was eighty days between payments, he knew his end was coming. Sam was older now, able to take care of himself better than he could have at twelve, and he needed Dean less. He knew that his only goal was to keep Sam alive as long as possible—and now that Sam could do it himself, it was okay if Dean died.
He would be okay. Sam was strong. He didn't break. This was how it should be.
He turned his head, his heart suddenly racing and his fingers scrabbling for the knife in his pocket. There he was—the repo man.
He was huge, over six feet tall, and Dean couldn't see his face, which only made him more apprehensive. He strode over to Dean, his boots sounding ominously in the dark alleyway, and the glint of the repo man's blade drew his attention for a moment.
All at once, the repo man lunged, the blade in his left hand slicing through the air, but Dean was quick on his feet—he sidestepped the swing and thrust with his own knife, actually catching the repo man's arm. He let out a grunt of pain but switched to his right hand and swung again. This time, it clipped Dean's left side and he twisted, hissing but keeping his knife out and pointed at the repo man. Again and again, the two traded blows, doing no serious damage to each other but neither tiring. Dean wondered how the repo men were considered deadly but supposed it had something to do with most of their victims being all hopped up on Zydrate, scared out of their minds, completely unarmed, or some combination of the three.
He was none of these.
The repo man suddenly knocked Dean's knife out of his hand with a well-aimed kick, and, defenseless, he stumbled backward. In two seconds, the repo man had him shoved face first against the brick wall, the hard surface making his bloody T-shirt ride up. Dean felt the repo man's arm pushing painfully into his back between his shoulder blades and the point of the blade start digging into his lower back. He prayed for a quick end, knowing how unlikely it was. He'd truly fucked himself over at this point—he fought back, and now this repo man had a vendetta against him. There was no way he would die quickly. This guy would want him to suffer, wouldn't even have the decency to slit his throat first. He would be in agony for hours before it was over.
He might even wake Sammy with his screams. Hell, Sam might wake with first light, and he still wouldn't be dead.
He realized it had been almost thirty seconds since the repo man had made a move, and he started wondering what was taking so long. Maybe this was part of the torture—the waiting, wondering when it would start. Good psychological tactic, actually.
"You have been a pain in the ass, Winchester," he heard the repo man growl into his ear.
"I tend to do that," Dean said, still unable to control his sarcasm, even in the face of death. It wasn't like his situation could get any worse.
The blade dug in further. "I am going to make you an offer, Winchester. Consider it very carefully."
An offer? Repo men never made offers. They only took lives.
"Mr. Largo is offering to forgive your debt. In exchange, he wants you to work for him as a repo man."
Dean's first reaction was to tell this guy to fuck off, but he suppressed it. This guy was right—he had to consider this. And he did consider it, but essentially selling his soul to save his life wasn't good enough. "Sam's debt, too."
"You are not in a position to bargain, Mr. Winchester."
"Then kill me. I'm not working for Largo unless he guarantees that Sam's debt is clear."
The repo man was silent for a few elastic seconds. "Sam. Your brother, Samuel Winchester?"
"Yeah. Him. Lung replacement."
Another long silence. "Mr. Largo says that you have courage and selflessness. He respects that. He accepts your terms. Your life and your brother's life in exchange for your service, under two conditions: his current debt is forgiven but any future surgeries will not be covered, and you are not allowed to contact him ever again. Do you accept?"
Dean felt his throat tighten. He hadn't expected that. Never see Sammy again? Not even call him? He almost told the repo man to shove it, until he remembered that the alternative was death and he wouldn't see Sam again anyway. Hardly believing the words were coming out of his mouth, he said, "Yes. I accept."
The four years had made Dean cold. One thing repo training taught you was to sever yourself from your humanity. He had been correct to compare it to selling his soul—after all this time, he felt like he truly didn't have a soul anymore.
Four years and countless repossessions later, he was long past his initial squeamishness, the first instinct of mercy had been trampled, and he could extract an organ in under three minutes. Most repo men had never been in danger of defaulting on whatever organs they'd replaced and had never known the fear that coursed through the veins of the victims, and in a way, Dean hadn't, either. But he still knew better than they did how a panicked person truly reacted, something he employed quite skillfully when a victim tried to run. It was almost frightening, how quickly he adjusted to the whole situation, how he seemed unusually suited to the life.
His only regret was not being able to contact Sam. Sometimes, he lay awake and wondered how he was doing, where he was now. Up until about six months ago, Sam still lived in the apartment they used to share. A letter had been sent to the apartment about a week after Dean had supposedly died, telling Sam that his balance was clear but not saying how or why. Dean could only imagine what Sam thought of it, but he scoured GeneCo's databases weekly for Sam's file, and every week he breathed a sigh of relief to see the file marked Winchester, Samuel Francis still in the "cleared" bracket.
But about six months ago, his file was updated, but just to list his current address as "unknown."
Not that it mattered. Repo men didn't need addresses to find someone.
So... feedback? Like it so far? Hate it? Depending on the reaction, I'll write another chapter. This is probably only going to be fifteen chapters - thirty chapters (like Pilot Light) is freaking exhausting.