Sam woke early in the morning, to the sound of muffled screams. He bolted out of bed, toward the wounded cries. His body protested. His pounding, heavy head weighing on his shoulders as if it had been encased in cement, but he refused to let it slow him down. He had to save Dean from whatever must be attacking him in the closet.
The room was covered in plastic sheets. It looked like something out of this one episode of Dexter he'd caught during a stay in a hotel that offered Showtime.
A ginger haired man was strapped to Lola's plastic wrapped armchair, with a rag stuffed in his mouth. Dean was straddling him. He withdrew his ten inch blade from the man's gut and grabbed a fist full of hair. His arm muscles flexed as he brought the knife to the man's throat.
Reflex made Sam cover his eyes and he let out a wail as he turned away.
"Sammy?" Dean asked, sounding startled and confused.
Sam did not turn to face him, but he dropped his shaking hands from his face, that's when he saw the medical grade containers. "Dean, what the hell are you doing?"
Sam heard gurgling noises as the man died, then he heard Dean stand. The older man touched Sam's shoulder. "Oh, you're not used to this."
"Used to this…?" Dean had said it like Sam just walked in on the most natural sight in the world. "What is this, exactly?"
"I'm storing demon blood for you."
So, the stranger was a demon, of course. Sam wasn't sure he had put full faith in what Lola had told him about the serious magic embracing her condo, but there was no doubt in his mind, now that he'd witnessed a demon taking that abuse without escaping its meatsuit.
"This is how you got demon blood to feed me while I was out of it?"
"You got a better way?"
"A demon gave it to me willingly, in my world," Sam said softly. "I've only done something like this once, and I didn't take enough blood to kill the host. Sometimes they live after I exorcise the demon."
"Did the one you forced—did it live?"
Sam walked out of the room then, stunned with shock and anger. Dean didn't follow him. He made quite a racket as he cleaned up. Sam could tell he wasn't happy with what he'd just learned. When he was finished Dean stomped into the room, put the four containers of blood in the fridge, and slammed it close.
"Don't just sit there," Dean snapped at Sam, who was sitting criss-cross on Lola's bed in silence. "Get dressed and help me move the body."
Sam did as he was told without saying a word.
It was still very early on in the day, the sky was a dark blue and no one was out to spot the hunters placing a body in their trunk.
"Where did you find that guy anyway?" Sam asked, as Dean started the truck.
Dean rolled his eyes. "Does it matter? I got up at the crack of dawn, with a hangover from hell, because I was worried about keeping your supply up, because I was worried about you. And you're treating me like a serial killer."
"I am not. It's just…"
"Yeah, yeah, maybe you could have kept the host alive. But you don't know that for sure, and seeing as how you killed one the only time you didn't get a willing participant, chances are they would have died. And you never told me about that helpful side of your gift. And you know what—it wouldn't have mattered when you were too weak to get it yourself anyway." Dean's voice was elevated now. "So stop looking at me like I'm a serial killer, and look at me like you did before you fell asleep last night."
Dean chanced a glance at Sam. His crestfallen face morphed then into one of shame, rather than disappointment. "I'm sorry. I… I guess it's hard to see you doing something like that for me without any hesitation."
"This isn't just about you. This is about the world, Sammy. It needs you strong." Well, it was the truth, but if pressed Dean could not deny he would have done it just for Sam.
The rest of the ride was made in silence. They found a secluded bit of land off the freeway thirty minutes after they hit the road. They quickly burnt the body, and couldn't have done so any later, because southern California had woke faster and with more spirit than Sam and Dean had. The last thing they needed was a cop or Good Samaritan to see the smoke rising from the ginger haired man's corpse and to inspect the situation.
They stopped at a Mexican food stand on the way back to the condo. They sat on the edge of the bed of the truck while they ate instead of on the grimy picnic tables surrounding the place.
Images of the night before were stuck in Dean's mind. Images of a flushed face frozen in pleasure, a toned trembling belly, and strong legs spreading wide open for him.
Sam had never done it before, but knowing his Sam, Dean had known just what to do to make this Sam scream.
This near stranger who wore the face of the man he'd loved and lost. Dean couldn't help feeling attached to him. He didn't want to see the man wallowing because Dean had done what had to be done. He wanted to see him smile. He wanted to find a way to enjoy the time they had before this Sam was gone, even if they were spending it in the middle of a hunt for the deadliest demon Dean had ever encountered.
"Mmm, this thing is a monster," Dean said with a full mouth, holding up his half-pound breakfast burrito in Sam's face. "Want some?"
Sam shook his head and bit into his quesadilla. "My stomach's still recovering. How are you so damn lively?"
"It's nothing to brag about."
"Lots of practice?"
"That's one word for it."
Sam smirked. He threw an arm over Dean's shoulders. "Last night, it was something special."
Dean held in a laugh. He'd perfected doing that when his Sam said such fluffy things. The smile that reached his eyes had nothing to do with amusement though. He swallowed his mouth full and gave the sap a kiss.
Despite the fuss Sam had made, he downed a microwave warmed cup of blood when they got back to the condo.
"How's it taste?"
Sam licked his lips. "It hit the spot, but it tasted kind of funky."
Dean shrugged a shoulder. "Probably 'cause you're used to it fresh out of a host."
Sam shook his head. "No, it taste less potent, like its power's fading."
"Damn," Dean muttered. "Archer thought that could happen."
"Archer? Wasn't he one of the hunter's at the house?"
"Yeah. He recovered from a demonic blood addiction. That's why Bobby brought him and his men in. He's the one who taught me how to find demon's to bleed fast and easy."
"So, that's how you found that guy?"
"And the others." Dean took out his smart phone, and brought up the website before handing it to Sam.
"These are…prostitution ads?"
"Yep. Apparently screwing while wasted on demon blood is in high demand. That's how Archer got hooked."
Sam's cheeks turned pink and Dean's eyes widened. "You've done it? Really?"
"It's complicated," Sam said weakly.
He could only imagine what this Dean thought of him now. A brother lover and a demon fucker!
"Here." Sam handed Dean back his phone. "Let's find out how I'm going to kill Malimar before this batch of blood becomes useless."
Sam dug into where he'd last left off, still rabidly focused on Malimar, but he found time to secretly research a way to stay in this universe without causing it harm. He wasn't having much luck, but on the subject of Malimar, he soon hit pay dirt.
"Hey, Dean, I found something!" Sam hollered.
He pushed the laptop to the side so it was sitting between them on Lola's table as Dean got to his knees next to him. "Something really good. I found a blog written by this author, Schumer, who researched mythical versions of historical events in the 70s. A collector of artifacts related to Alexander the Great lent Schumer a manuscript written by one of Alexander's generals. No scholars have shown much interest in this thing, most think it's a hoax, but Schumer thought it was the real deal."
Dean's eyes narrowed at the screen. "And we care about this because…?"
"The general wrote about Alexander meeting a seer during the last couple years of his life, who predicted Alexander's death. He supposedly came from a place in India, and was known as Malimar of Malabar."
"He claimed he was a half-demon, given the sight of monsters, and could only help change your future in exchange for your soul. Alexander wasn't interested in the trade, but he kept the seer close to him, he wanted his future read, supposedly it helped him win some of his last battles. In exchange for the seer's help, Alexander had some common men from his army pledge their souls."
"Creepy. So, why are we sure this is our guy? Malimar's a chaos demon who can open portals, he's not a seer, and he's not like a Crossroads demon."
"He could be capable of far more than we know for sure, but I don't think he was ever a seer," Sam explained. "I think he found an alternative universe where Alexander's fate was very similar, that was ahead of the other universe's time, just by a couple years—with all big events playing out in the same way."
"Ah, so he used his powers to trick people into thinking he knew the future. Does it mention why he went from small time stuff like deceiving people out of their souls to destroying worlds?"
"Yeah, Schumer's research led him to other tales of Malimar, some of the stuff I found myself, but he found a whole lot of useful information I missed." Sam brought up another window on the screen. "About a decade after Alexander's death there was this seer of great kings in a warring region, who promised to give them armies of demons in exchange for souls. The seer could open a portal to hell. But the warriors that came from hell, after guarantying a short allegiance to the seer for freeing them, would do their own thing once the wars were won, and brought mayhem to the kingdoms. Eventually Malimar was seen as a threat rather than an ally. The kings tried to kill him, which resulted in him punishing them—he destroyed their land by opening portals."
"Why has this crazy son of a bitch been dormant for so long if he's so damn powerful. Why didn't he keep starting trouble here?"
"That's where I hit a dead end. But my best guess is someone had to have found a way to stop him, and he wasn't active again until—"
"The hell gate opened in Wyoming," Dean cut in. He stood and started pacing. "I hate to say this Sammy, I really do, but there's no known way to kill Malimar, including exorcism—maybe not even the kind you can do. I think we've been looking at this all wrong. He knows you're an agent of chaos too, and he most likely knows you have the ability to open portals. That's how he knows you can kill him. If he could open a portal to hell, then maybe you can too, and send the son of a bitch right through it."
That thought certainly gave Sam pause. No wonder why the yellow-eyed demon had been so interested in creating agents of chaos. With enough power maybe they wouldn't just be able to open doors to hell that demon's couldn't reach. Maybe they could become powerful enough to create a door to hell out of thin air!
"If I could really do that, it would have to be a one shot thing," Sam argued hoarsely. "I can't just be opening doors to hell left and right. I don't think we should even risk a practice run. We need to find someone who knows about Malimar, and how true this could be."
Dean looked thoughtful as he reached for his phone again. "Archer wasn't just brought in for being a demonic junkie, the dude made some serious connections. He saved and rehabilitated a lot of his men from the underworld before requiting them."
"Then we need his help."