Author's Note: This fanfic is inspired by Grettigirl123's 'Return from the Demons' Lair' and CeCe Away's 'Persephone Deal'.
Dean drove with all-speed towards Rufus Turner's old cabin. If Sam was alright, Dean knew his brother would be there.
The eldest Winchester pushed the stolen car as far as he dared without being pulled over by the cops and glanced ever so often at his cell phone sitting silent and still on the passenger's seat. After helping Benny out, Dean had called his brother's number- the phone had miraculously survived the vacation in Purgatory- only to receive no reply.
Dean told himself not to panic. It was likely that Sam had turned his phone off or didn't have it nearby. Yeah, Dean believed that.
The sight of the cabin did nothing to ease the eldest Winchester's worries. Pulling into the gravel driveway, Dean noticed that his beloved Impala was nowhere to be seen. If Sam had managed to escape the SucroCorp building than he surely would have taken the classic Chevy with him. Dean shut off the stolen car's engine and slipped out, his boots crunching on the tiny stones as he warily walked up the drive. Frowning, Dean crossed the unkempt yard and peered into the cabin's front window; it was dark and deserted inside.
"Shit," Dean swore and jimmied the lock, the door creaking in protest as it swung open on stiff hinges.
It was clear from the chill and dust that the cabin had not been inhabited for a long time.
Doesn't mean anything, Dean told himself; Sam's probably out motel-hopping, working cases.
Dean trudged into the kitchen, grabbed a box of matches from the junk drawer and lit the hurricane lamp that sat on the coffee table. As he looked around the now illuminated cabin, Dean's breath caught in his chest. Sam's duffle bag was sitting on top of the one of cabin's two single beds, exactly where he had left it before going they left to kill Dick Roman. Dean's own duffle sat on the mussed sheets of the second bed.
Moving like a man in a dream, Dean picked up his brother's duffel and unzipped it, staring at the clothes inside as though they would somehow give him answers.
"Where the hell are you, Sammy?" Dean asked out loud and dropped the bag, rubbing at his tired eyes.
Remembering that he had left his phone in the purloined car, Dean stepped out onto the low porch. It had started to drizzle but Dean barely noticed as he opened the passenger door and grabbed his phone. Rain dripped onto the screen as Dean opened his contact list and hit his brother's number again.
The phone rang and rang and rang. Dean hung up.
Staring at his brother's number, Dean finally scrolled down and hit the call button once more.
"Agent Guildenstern speaking," the wiry, brown-haired hunter's voice quipped almost immediately.
"Garth?" Dean asked even though he knew who it was.
There was a pause and for one crazy moment Dean thought the other man was going to hang up on him.
"Dean? As in, Dean Winchester?" Garth asked and Dean held back the urge to sigh in exasperation.
"Yeah," he answered but before he could say more, the skinny hunter interrupted him.
"Where've you been? What's new?" Garth squeaked happily.
"Uh… It's a long story… boring actually," Dean explained, "I'll tell you later, okay?"
"Sounds great and hey, I'll even buy the beers when you do!" Garth exclaimed excitedly.
Sure, Dean thought, and I'll be the one to carry you out.
"Listen, have you heard from Sam lately? I can't reach his number; did he change it or something?" Dean asked seriously.
Again there was a pause, longer this time and filled with confusion on Garth's end, "Sam? I thought he was with you."
Dean closed his eyes, "No, he… ah… wait, you haven't heard from him at all?"
"No, not since the attack on SucroCorp," Garth's voice grew grave, "That was… jeez… a year ago now? Yeah, everyone thinks you two went underground after the Leviathans bit the dust."
Dean's mouth dried out at his fellow hunter's words.
"Dean? Where have youbeen?" Garth's voice became suspicious, strange coming from the spunky little hunter.
"Doesn't matter," Dean said, "I need to know where Sam is."
"Well, I can tell you that he ain't with me," Garth told him and Dean swore out loud.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" the small hunter asked, now concerned.
"Call around for me will ya? Ask if anyone's seen or heard from Sam," Dean told him although he was sure that no one in the hunting community would have any information.
"Aye aye Captain!" Garth cried and ended the call.
Sighing, Dean leaned against the car, ignoring the rainwater soaking into his shirt.
Dean tried to clear his mind, tried to recall the events of a year ago when he, Sam, Castiel and Meg had traveled to Dick Roman's headquarters to put an end to his plans of turning Americans into Happy Meals.
Frowning, Dean struggled to hold on to the exact details of that day. The one thing that stuck out in his mind above all else was getting blasted to Purgatory after stabbing Roman.
"C'mon Dean! Think!" he snarled and rubbed his temples with his thumbs as if that would help.
"Kevin," Dean breathed and his head shot up. Kevin Tran, the Prophet had been there that day. It was a long shot, Dean knew, but if Kevin was anything like Chuck than he was bound to know where Sam was.
Dean ran back into the cabin, mud splashing his boots and jeans but he could have cared less. Slamming and bolting the door, Dean crossed to the beds and sat down on his before scrolling down to Kevin's number in his contact list.
The phone rang and rang and rang much like Sam's had before Dean was awarded with a voice mail message.
"Kevin," Dean began, speaking quickly, "It's Dean Winchester. You probably don't remember me but if you know where my brother is, give me a call… please."
Dean took a deep breath afterwards and stared at the phone. He frowned and decided that his message had been pretty shitty and knew that he wouldn't call back if he was Kevin.
Hitting the Prophet's number again, Dean tried to appear less frantic and explain himself a little bit.
"Kevin, it's me again… Dean Winchester," He cringed, "I know you probably don't want to talk to me and I don't blame you but my brother, Sam, well he's missing and I need your help to find him. Please call me when you get this message."
Dean lowered the phone and sighed. Kevin really didn't owe him anything, there was no reason for the kid to help him find his brother but Dean didn't know what else to do.
Exhausted both mentally and physically, Dean shoved his duffle bag onto the floor, slipped his boots off and laid down on the bed, cell phone gripped tightly in one fist in case Kevin or Garth got back to him.
Sunlight slanted through the cabin's dusty curtains and cut right across Dean's closed eyelids. Groaning, the eldest Winchester rolled over onto his stomach, dropping his phone to the hardwood floor as he did so.
The clatter had Dean wide awake in seconds. Searching for the threat, Dean relaxed when he remembered where he was and wiped a hand over his face.
Leaning over the bed, Dean scooped up his phone and slumped his shoulders dejectedly when he saw that he had no new messages.
Aware that he wouldn't make his phone ring any sooner if he sat in bed staring at it all day; Dean slowly got up and grabbed his duffle bag. Rifling through the contents, Dean picked out a clean pair of jeans and a blue and black plaid button-down shirt and found that he was actually looking forward to taking the first real shower he'd had in a year.
Not willing to chance missing a call, Dean took his cell into the bathroom with him and jacked the volume up to its highest level.
Dean turned the water up as hot as he could stand it and relished the warmth streaming down from the showerhead.
Although Dean would have liked to enjoy the convenience of running water for a while longer, he was anxious to hear news of his brother.
Stepping from the bathtub and toweling himself dry in record time, Dean quickly pulled his fresh clothes on and flung open the bathroom door, half expecting Sam to come striding into the cabin with a paper bag and drink tray in hand.
No dice. Not that Dean was all too surprised. The Winchesters were never that lucky.
Walking to the window, Dean peered outside at the soggy yard and driveway, careful to not disturb the salt line on the sill.
"There's no place like home," Dean muttered to himself and turned away from the window.
Dean palmed his cell phone, not sure if he should try Kevin Tran again; for all he knew, the kid had listened to his messages but had decided to ignore them.
"Kevin," Dean began, feeling worn out already, "You don't have to like me or anything… I don't care if you hate me… just… if you know where Sam is… please let me know… just tell me that one thing and I'll never talk to you again if that's what you want."
Dean blinked when his eyes began to burn and because he had nothing better to do he tried Sam's number. When all Dean heard was his brother's tinny voice recording, Dean threw his phone on the floor and then scrambled to pick up the pieces when the back popped off and the battery slid across the hardwood. Dean sat down heavily as he fiddled with his phone, cursing the object as he struggled to wiggle the battery back into position.
Everything was so much easier in Purgatory, Dean thought absentmindedly as he clicked the back of his phone into place; it was just kill or be killed.
"Huh, gotta love the simplicity," the eldest Winchester muttered.
Dean's stomach chose that moment to remind him of its presence, emitting a loud whine, so the young man headed for the kitchen.
Pursuing the cabinets, Dean smiled when he found a can of chili and deftly opened it, pouring the contents into a battered saucepan before setting it on the stove to heat up.
Once the chili was bubbling and steaming, Dean grabbed a fork and proceeded to eat right out of the pot but found that he didn't want it. Worry for his brother had settling into the pit of Dean's stomach and made the previously delicious-smelling food wholly unappetizing.
Dropping the pot back onto the stove, Dean ran a hand through his hair and looked hopefully at his phone.
With nervous fingers, Dean punched in Garth's number and waited.
"Agent Guildenstern at your service," Dean breathed a sigh of relief when the little hunter answered.
"Have you heard anything?" Dean asked, trying to keep desperation from colouring his voice.
"Dean, I'm sorry," Garth apologized, "I don't know what to tell you… no one had any idea where Sam is… I even called some of my friends from the Great White North but they haven't seen your brother either."
Dean exhaled audibly.
"Maybe Sam just fell off the grid," Garth suggested, "I mean, if you don't even know where he could be-"
Dean nodded, "Yeah, I get you."
"Thanks anyway," the eldest Winchester muttered and closed his phone before the other hunter could say anymore.
Dean rubbed at his eyes for a moment before going back into the kitchen and scraping the chili into the garbage, knowing he wouldn't be eating it anytime soon.
For the next few hours Dean paced around the cabin's small den, periodically calling Kevin Tran's number and receiving no reply in return.
It was growing late in the evening when Dean's cell phone vibrated and trilled out the chords to 'Smoke on the Water'. Dean practically jumped on the device and squished it painfully against his ear.
"Hello?" Dean asked.
"Dean, its Kevin," the eldest Winchester gripped the phone even tighter and with excitement and anxiety.
"Do you know where Sam is?" Dean asked before the younger man could get another word out.
"Uh… I think I might," Kevin answered with trepidation, "But I have to tell you something first… It's really important."
Dean bit his lip and nodded, "Yeah, okay. What is it?"
"Well, uh… I think Crowley… you know, the demon? He's got Sam," Kevin muttered nervously and Dean's heart just about stopped beating.
"What?" Dean asked and a shiver of fear ran down his spine.
"Let me explain, okay?" Kevin said frantically.
Dean closed his eyes, "Talk."
"Well, Crowley was after me 'cause of the whole Prophet thing and he grabbed me while you and Sam were going after Dick Roman," Kevin began, his voice low and secretive.
Dean tried to stay calm and listen to the kid even though he wished he could throttle his scrawny neck for taking so long to call.
"He wanted me to translate the tablet-" Kevin began again but Dean interrupted him, "And did you?"
"No! Well, some of it but not the stuff he wanted," Kevin exclaimed, sounding insulted.
"Okay, so if Crowley's goons kidnapped you than how are you calling me right now," Dean asked suspiciously.
"I escaped. The tablet, it's all about demons and hell and how to stop them," Kevin told him excitedly, "Well, at least the part I managed to translate was… I think it has some other stuff too but-"
Dean started to grind his teeth in irritation and Kevin stopped mid-sentence.
"Anyway, there was this passage that described how to make these bomb things that would blast away any demon that comes into contact with them… so I tricked Crowley's lackeys into bringing me the ingredients and… well, I blew them to smithereens… and got out of there when I could," Kevin explained, his voice becoming more and more grave and scared-sounding as he continued.
"Why didn't Crowley notice what had happened and stop you before you high-tailed it out of there?" Dean asked, not sure if he wanted to know the answer to the question.
Kevin cleared his throat, "I… uh… think he was with Sam."
"Fuck!" Dean swore into the phone, "Are you sure, Kevin? Absolutely sure that bastard's got Sam?"
"Yes," Kevin squeaked, "I s-saw him."
Dean clenched the phone tight enough that he was worried he'd break it.
"Where are you now?" he asked the young man.
"Dean," Kevin said quietly, "I'm on the run; please."
"Oh no," the eldest Winchester snarled, "You're not getting out of this so easy."
"But-" Kevin protested but was interrupted by Dean, "You could have helped Sam escape but you left him instead!"
Kevin gulped, "Crowley can't find me! He's gonna be livid!"
Dean was just about seeing red, "I'm livid!"
"I can tell you where Crowley's keeping him!" Kevin said quickly, clearly terrified of the hunter.
"Fine," Dean bit out sourly, "You wouldn't be much help with this anyway."
Kevin gave Dean the address of Crowley's hideout and the hunter quickly grabbed a pen from his pocket and scrawled it on his hand.
"Dean, I'm sorry," Kevin apologized but the eldest Winchester had already hung up the phone.
Dean gripped the stolen car's steering wheel with white knuckles. Garth stared out the window, wisely keeping his mouth shut. He had immediately agreed to help Dean rescue Sam- he considered both Winchesters his friends and it wouldn't be right to refuse- and had tried to suggest bringing more hunters in. Dean had adamantly refused though, saying that it was a two-man job only and Garth hadn't argued even though he knew about a dozen or more hunters who would love the chance to rescue one of their own from the clutches of a demon.
"How much farther?" Dean asked gruffly and Garth almost jumped out of his skin. Dean had barely spoken since he'd pulled up to Rufus Turner's cabin hours earlier.
"Take the next off-ramp," Garth told his friend as the car's headlights illuminated the green road signs.
Dean felt his heart beat pick up with excitement. Garth always seemed to surprise him.
"How'd you know about it?" Dean asked curiously.
Garth shrugged, "The TV news was covering the attack on SucroCorp and I saw your car… knew that if you and Sam ever came back you'd want it. I couldn't let it sit in some impound lot for months until they sold it. I knew a mechanic who owed me one and I had him tow your car to his place for safekeeping until I could bring it here. Besides, since Bobby's not around anymore, someone has to look out for you Winchesters."
Dean grimaced slightly and nodded, "Thanks."
"Besides, I know you'd do the same for me."
Dean thought about Garth's crappy, rust-bucket pickup and knew there'd be no chance in hell that he'd save it.
"So, ah, Dean… I'm all for going in to this thing with guns blazing and all but why only the two of us? I mean, we don't even know how many demons there are," Garth asked, feeling like he wouldn't necessarily get his head bit off if he brought up the subject now.
"The demon who's got Sammy is an old enemy," Dean said, "It's another long story."
Garth seemed to accept that answer- or realize that was as good an explanation as he was going to get- and nodded.
"Take a right, here," Garth spoke up and leaned forward in his seat as they approached their destination.
Twenty-five minutes later Dean parked the stolen car in front of a long-term storage facility called Hal's Cheap Storage and followed Garth as he walked up to the office.
Dean waited outside while the spunky little hunter talked to the guy at the counter- Hal himself maybe- and squinted at the flashing red and blue neon sign proclaiming that the lockup was OPEN 24/7!
The bell tinkled merrily as Garth exited the office and made a bee-line for the storage units.
Dean had to jog to catch up with the wiry hunter, "What was that about?"
Garth shrugged as he walked, "Hal's an old friend… let's me rent for free."
Dean frowned and looked back toward the office, not quite being able to picture the fat, balding Hal as a chum of Garth's.
"You certainly have a lot of friends," Dean muttered.
Garth chuckled, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, compadre."
Dean just shook his head and followed the smaller man to his storage unit.
Garth opened the garage-like door with a flourish and Dean was inside before he could even turn on the lights.
Dean barely glanced at the shelves filled with occult paraphernalia, his eyes on the tarp-covered form of what was surely his baby.
The fluorescent lights buzzed loudly when Garth flicked the switch and Dean grabbed the blue plastic covering his car and pulled it down.
Dean felt a lump in his throat when he saw his Impala, slightly dusty but otherwise in perfect condition.
"Did your mechanic friend fix her up too?"
"Thanks," Dean said a little too huskily than he would have liked but Garth just blushed and waved one hand.
"Don't worry about it," Garth mumbled.
Dean laid a hand on the cool metal of the Impala's hood and bent down to kiss her.
"You ready to go rescue Sammy?" he whispered to the car, not caring much if Garth overheard.
Excited to get behind the wheel of his most prized possession Dean tried the door and frowned when it wouldn't open. Patting down his jacket pockets, Dean realized that he, of course, didn't have the car keys. He remembered giving them- reluctantly- over to Meg so she could distract the Leviathans so he and Sam could sneak into SucroCorp unnoticed.
"Shit," Dean muttered, loath to break into and hotwire his own car.
A jingling sound had the eldest Winchester looking up at Garth as the little hunter fiddled with a key ring.
"Couldn't have my friend tow it all the way here so I had a locksmith make a key," Garth explained.
Dean smiled, looking like he could hug the smaller man. Instead, he put an arm around Garth's shoulders and gave him a companionable shake.
Plucking the key from Garth's fingers, Dean unlocked the driver's side door and slid in behind the wheel.
Sighing happily, Dean turned on the radio and grinned when the first harmonica chords of Black Sabbath's 'The Wizard' began playing. Dean gunned the engine and peeled out of the unit, pausing only long enough for Garth to lock his storage up once more and climb into the passenger's seat.
Dean's pleasure at having his car back again quickly waned. Soon all he could think about was his brother and Crowley. Garth even lapsed into silence as well and fidgeted nervously in his seat.
The address of the demon's most recent hideout seemed burned into Dean's brain and the hunter couldn't seem to get there fast enough.
Ignoring the posted speed limits, Dean wished the Impala would grow wings but settled for barreling down the highway instead.
In Purgatory, Dean had convinced himself that Sam had given up on him because he had been forced to find his own way out with help from Benny and Cas instead of his brother. Dean had even started hating Sam, thinking that he had been abandoned by the person he cared about the most. Now Dean knew better. Sam couldn't have attempted to rescue him if he was indeed being held captive by Crowley. Dean felt guilty for even thinking that Sam would just leave him to rot. He should have known better.
Dean directed the anger he'd once felt for Sam toward Kevin. The kid had known that Crowley had Sam and yet he ran without looking back once, only concerned with saving himself. Dean wasn't sure if he was being selfish for thinking Kevin should have helped his brother- the Prophet barely knew them- but quickly squashed that thought. Dean and Sam lived to help people- strangers they didn't know- at the risk of losing their own lives. Kevin was just a coward.
As they approached their destination, Garth spoke up.
"Dean, uh, how are we going to exorcise all the demons? I mean, as great as it would be, they're not all going to stand in a Devil's Trap for us," the wiry hunter asked, voicing a thought that had been troubling him since they'd left Rufus' cabin.
"We're not going to exorcise them, Garth," Dean answered simply, "We're going to kill them."
"Oh," Garth replied, "Alright then."
Dean peered at the smaller hunter from the corner of his eye, "Trust me."
The two men fell quiet as Dean concentrated on finding the address he needed. It was early morning now- the sky had turned pink and orange in the east- but Dean didn't feel the least bit like he'd been driving all night. Adrenaline was good for that.
Dean drove through the city's industrial section slowly, practically glaring at the street signs as he sought the correct one. Garth sat up straight and still in his seat, eyes wide as he too searched out Crowley's newest headquarters.
Dean turned onto the proper street and hid the Impala behind an abandoned poultry processing plant. Getting out of the car and palming the keys, Dean unlocked the trunk and rifled through the weapons bag until he found what he wanted. Garth stood at attention beside the open trunk, surveying their surroundings.
The wiry hunter jumped when Dean pushed a Seraph Blade into his hand.
"What is this? I've never seen a knife like this before?" Garth asked, turning the angel blade over curiously in his hand.
"It'll kill demons," Dean explained as he grabbed Ruby's demon-killing knife and slammed the trunk shut.
Garth looked at Dean with wide eyes and followed the eldest Winchester's lead as he climbed over the poultry plant's fence so that they could enter Crowley's through the back.
As silently as a shadow, Dean opened the rusted rear door and slipped inside, Garth following close behind him.
Using hand signals, Dean directed the other hunter to take the opposite end of the hall. Garth gulped and nodded, scurrying quietly away from Dean, angel blade held at the ready.
Dean smiled, knowing that Garth was a good hunter in his own right and would put up one hell of a fight against any demon stupid enough to try and stop him.
The eldest Winchester crept silently and quickly down the hallway, ears pricked for the sounds of footsteps and eyes wide for the sight of shadows.
Just as Dean turned the corner, however, he felt strong hands grab his shoulders and he was thrown into the wall, his breath knocked out of him.
Falling to a heap on the floor, Dean lashed out at the demon when it reached down to grab him again, stabbing the monster in the throat. The demon lit up with orange fire and crumpled, dead.
Standing quickly, Dean took a moment to catch his breath before continuing onward. He hoped that Garth was alright and was holding his own against the demon sentries.
Cautiously, Dean walked down the hallways, not even sure where he was going- the old warehouse was immense, full of twisting corridors that all looked the same- but felt certain that if Crowley didn't already know he was here, he would soon.
Dean froze when a demon approached him but smiled, "Hey, I'm looking for the men's room, do you know where it is?"
The demon made to grab Dean but the hunter easily sidestepped him and stabbed the monster in the back.
At the end of the hall, Dean opened a door marked 'STAIRS' and decided to use them. Climbing downwards, Dean kept the demon-killing knife raised, knowing that he'd be screwed if he encountered a monster on the narrow staircase. Looking down, Dean gulped at the long drop to the bottom.
Dean stopped at a landing and peered at the door that likely led to another maze of hallways and decided to take his chances. Pushing open the heavy door, Dean grinned as he came face to face with a demon.
Before Dean could react, the monster grabbed his shirt and pulled him through the open doorway, causing him to stumble as it flung him.
"Hey!" Dean gasped as his head collided with the wall and Ruby's knife slipped from his fingers.
The demon smirked and wrapped its hands around Dean's throat. Although weaponless, Dean wasn't about to stop fighting and jammed his thumbs into the demon's eyes.
The demon reared his head back and tightened his grip on Dean's neck. The hunter gasped desperately for air, wishing that his brother was there for backup.
Just when Dean thought it was the end, the demon's mouth gaped wide and orange fire flashed inside from its eyes as it died. Dean tore the monster's hands away from his throat and looked up to see Garth standing behind the demon.
"Garth! Thank!" Dean wheezed and the small hunter offered him a salute with the blade of the angel sword.
"You weren't kidding when you said this thing would kill demons," Garth said happily and dusted Dean's jeans off as the eldest Winchester rubbed his sore throat, "Where can I get me one of these?"
"I'll tell you later," Dean muttered, "Right now let's just get Sam and get the hell out of here."
Garth nodded and the two men took off down the hallway.
"Do you know where the demon's holding your brother?" Garth asked quietly as they jogged down the corridor.
Dean shook his head.
"Damn," Garth swore and skidded to a halt as he laid eyes on a figure that Dean had yet to notice.
"Hello Dean," Crowley drawled in his British accent, "Back from the dead again, I see."
Dean didn't even stop, raising the demon-killing knife high he aimed straight for Crowley's chest.
Before he could assassinate the King of Hell though, Dean felt a sensation similar to that of Cas' 'angel teleportation' and found himself and Crowley standing in a completely new part of the warehouse. The only lights came from the fluorescent bars along the ceiling and Dean got the distinct idea that they were underground.
"Where's Garth?" Dean asked and lowered the knife.
"Exactly where we left him," Crowley explained, "All I did was relocated you and myself to somewhere more private."
"Where's Sam?" Dean ground out, his grip on the demon-killing knife never faltering.
Crowley beckoned Dean to follow him with one hand and reluctantly the hunter did, itching to stab the demon in the back.
"If you do that, Dean," Crowley cautioned, apparently aware of what he was thinking, "You'll never see Sammy again."
Dean looked over his shoulder and saw a quartet of demons following at a distance. They were all tall and broad-shouldered and could probably snap him in half with ease.
Grinding his teeth in frustration, Dean knew he had little choice but to do what Crowley wanted.
The King stopped before a rusty metal door and produced a key from the inside pocket of his black suit jacket.
"Sam's in there?" Dean asked, both horrified and somewhat skeptical; he wouldn't put it past the demon to trick him.
Crowley nodded and rolled his eyes, unlocking the door as he did so. Dean peered cautiously into the dark room. The demon reached past Dean and clicked on the light switch.
"Sammy!" Dean choked out and stepped over the threshold.
The room was small- the floors were concrete, the walls unpainted cinderblock- with the rusted metal frame of a bed bolted to the floor along one wall. Dean guessed that the room had once been an infirmary or a nurses' station for workplace injuries.
Sam was curled up in a ball by the empty bed frame; clad only in a pair of filthy jeans, he trembled visibly.
"Sam," Dean breathed and felt bile rise up his throat. His grip on Ruby's knife loosened as his fingers went slack with shock.
Crowley brushed past the eldest Winchester and walked forward, "Sammy, I've got a surprise for you."
Sam's only reaction to the demon's voice was to scrunch himself into a tighter ball and Dean felt himself moving forward, needing to comfort his little brother.
"Sammy," Dean called, "It's okay… I'm here."
Dean's heart broke when his brother didn't move.
"Don't tell me you don't even recognize your own brother when he's right in front of you," Crowley mocked and Dean's heart leaped when Sam looked over his shoulder, eyes going wide when he caught sight of his sibling.
Dean watched as Sam slowly, painfully uncurled himself from the fetal position and sat up weakly on his knees. Dean felt his own knees wobbly traitorously at the sight of his brother. Sam was terribly thin and dirty. Grime and dried blood coated almost every inch of exposed skin. His green eyes looked far too large for his narrow face; sadness and fear visible in the jade orbs.
Dean turned to Crowley and before the demon could stop him, landed a punch across the fiend's mouth. The King of Hell didn't even stagger back but took the white handkerchief from his breast pocket and dabbed at the blood flowing from the corner of his lip.
"I guess in your opinion I deserved that," Crowley muttered and Dean glared at the demon.
Dean stepped forward, not giving the demon a second thought, and grimaced when Sam shuffled toward him on his knees, clearly too weak to stand. Sam's progress was cut short however by the shackle locked around his ankle, the other end attached to one of the bed frame's rusty legs.
"D'n!" Sam cried piteously and reached toward his sibling with trembling hands.
Dean tried to move forward but found he was impeded by an invisible force. Turning again to Crowley, Dean saw that the demon was smirking.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Dean snarled furiously.
"You didn't think I'd make it that easy, did you?" Crowley asked, his tone amused.
"Let me go, you son of a bitch!" Dean yelled, fingers forming a fist around the handle of Ruby's knife.
"Now that," Crowley began easily, "That is exactly the kind of tone that tells me you don't want your brother back."
Dean clenched his jaw in anger and tried to calm down… or at least resist the urge to shout at the demon.
"Why?" Dean asked tightly, eying the demon warily, "Why take Sam?"
Crowley looked at Dean like he was stupid, "I couldn't have him running around trying to kill me, now could I? Even with you gone, little Sammy was still dangerous… I am a demon after all and although I have given you two a push in the right direction before… I doubt that your brother would find it in his heart to spare me."
"I don't believe you," Dean argued.
Crowley shrugged, "Believe what you want, Dean."
Dean watched, unable to do anything as the demon approached his brother. Sam seemed to wither as Crowley came closer until he was curled in on himself, hands over his head.
"No," Sam moaned fearfully, "No… please… don't…"
"Your brother's vocabulary has shrunk somewhat," Crowley chuckled as he watched his prisoner, "Which is fine by me, I always thought he talked too much anyway."
"Alright," Crowley addressed Dean as he grabbed Sam by the hair and pulled his head up, ignoring the large tears of fear welling up in the young man's eyes, "I also know how valuable your brother is."
Dean fought against the invisible barrier, wanting nothing more than to kill the bastard who had dared lay a hand on his brother, but he was trapped.
"Don't hurt him!" Dean demanded uselessly.
The eldest Winchester paled when he saw the demon's lips curl up in a smile.
Crowley released his hold on Sam and flicked a hand at the young man as he cowered away from him. Dean heard something crunch wetly and Sam howled in agony, blood spraying from his mouth.
"You piece of shit!" Dean swore at the demon and shoved against the barrier, desperate to get to his hurting little brother.
"Dean!" the demon raised his voice and the hunter stopped struggling.
The young hunter looked where Crowley was pointing and saw that although Sam was lying on the ground, panting harshly he seemed otherwise unharmed.
Tears streamed down Sam's face and he wiped a shaky hand across his mouth, smearing the blood that had leaked out from between his lips.
"What do you want?" Dean asked, keeping half his attention on his brother and the other half on the demon.
"I'm willing to offer you a deal," Crowley slicked back his hair, "You hand over the Prophet and the tablet and I give you your precious little Sammy back."
Dean took a deep breath, "How about you let Sam and I walk out of here and I'll consider not stabbing you in the face."
Crowley looked less than impressed, "I know Kevin told you where to find me, who else is there? All I want is my little Prophet back safe and sound."
Dean sneered at the demon, "I don't even know where the kid is so I guess your shit out of luck."
"Than I guess Sammy gets to stay here until you find Kevin," Crowley shrugged.
"I'll kill you before you touch him again," Dean warned the demon.
"You're not exactly in the position to be making threats," Crowley advised, "I could easily snap your brother's neck and go after the Prophet myself."
Both Dean and Crowley hesitated when the sounds of a struggle in the hall reached them.
"The cavalry's arrived," Dean grinned and Crowley frowned.
"This isn't over, Dean," the King snarled, "Not by a long shot."
Dean blinked in surprised when Crowley disappeared and he stumbled forward as the barrier vanished when the demon did.
"Sammy!" Dean cried and ran to his brother.
"Dean! Are you alright? When that demon zapped you awa-" Garth began as he stepped into the room- bloodstained and excited- before stopping mid-sentence, eyes bulging in shock.
Sam was clutching Dean's shirt for dear life, his face buried in the soft fabric.
"Can you help me get this off him?" Dean asked Garth, indicating the shackle.
The smaller hunter nodded numbly and stepped forward. Dean felt Sam stiffen with fear as Garth approached and comfortingly stroked his brother's hair, muttering soothingly to him.
"It's okay, Sammy," Dean murmured, "I've got ya."
Tears pricked the corners of Dean's eyes as Sam trembled in his arms and he wished he could have been there when his brother needed him the most, not stuck in Purgatory with a renegade angel and a vampire thirsty for a second chance at life.
Dean swallowed painfully. Sam had been in his own version of Purgatory this past year. Trapped and frightened, alone and in pain, Sam had suffered so much more than his brother had. At least Dean had friends where he had been. Sam had no one. Dean clenched his hands into fists, vowing that when he saw Crowley again he was going to kill the bastard for what he'd done to his brother.
"Dean, can we get out of here?" Garth's voice startled the eldest Winchester from his thoughts of revenge, "This place gives me the willies."
Dean sat on the edge of his brother's bed, one hand carding through Sam's hair as his brother slept.
Garth watched the brothers from his seat at the motel room's small table, a bottle of Sprite open in front of him. He had driven the Winchesters far from Crowley's warehouse- Dean had allowed the wiry hunter to drive the Impala so he could curl up in the backseat with Sam- before they both felt comfortable enough to stop for the night. He had helped Dean clean Sam up and tend to the worst of his injuries, forced to pause ever now and then when he became blinded by tears.
Dean didn't even have the energy to be exasperated with the emotional younger man, his heart instead actually going out to the fellow hunter who was surely not used to comforting a hurt and traumatized little brother. Despite how annoying Garth could sometimes be, Dean appreciated his help and likely wouldn't have allowed any other hunter to see Sam in his current state.
Dean frowned when Sam moaned in his sleep.
"Shhh," Dean whispered as he continuing running his fingers through his brother's recently washed locks, "It's okay Sammy. I'm here. You're safe."
Sam settled down and shifted closer to his brother side, even in his sleep, and Dean smiled.
He knew it was going to take a long while from Sam to recover from what Crowley had done to him but Dean was prepared to help his brother every step of the way. The year that they had been separated had been nothing short of torture for both of them but Dean knew that now that he had his brother with him again, everything would be alright. No matter what happened, as long as Sam had his back and he had Sam's, they'd be able to get through anything.
1. I've finally caught up in Season Eight- hurrah! Took me long enough, eh?
2. Please leave a review!