Title: Indoctrination: part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5 - part 6 - part 7 - part 8 - part 9 - part 10 - part 11A & 11B: Epilogue *Completed*
Sequel to Removed
Author: Mink & Jink
Rating: R - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Sequel to Removed - A year later the trio of hunters from 'Removed' make good on their promise to capture Dean again. While Dean struggles to survive the brutal indoctrination into their ranks, he discovers his new bosses need him for more than he thought. Something more deadly than the law is keeping the strange hunters on the run and now the Winchesters might be the only thing that can stop it...
“I don’t get those.”
“What’s to get? It’s like an e-mail or something.”
Dean turned down the radio just a little bit and adjusted his sunglasses.
“I just mean, it’s a phone right? So why not just call it.”
Sam sighed, reading the text display on his cell one more time before shutting it off and shoving it in his pocket.
Dean looked back over at his brother when he got no response.
“What? Bad news?”
“Good news actually.” Sam muttered, settling back into his seat and resting his head. “A friend of mine back at school. He’s getting married. Wants me to come out, you know, for the whole thing.”
Dean wasn’t sure what to make of landmark celebrations of that kind. He knew what he was supposed to think and feel. If television had taught him anything he had learned when and what to smile at. But a brand new crying baby or a fifteen thousand dollar party in a rented suit didn’t seem like much cause for shooting your guns in the air as it were. He’d had experience with at least one of those things and it wasn’t the mystical dream party that most made it out to be.
And judging Sam’s quiet reaction to potential martial bliss, he was guessing that maybe these events didn’t rank very high with Sam either. Or maybe Sam was feeling that tug back to Palo Alto had turned a little loose. Maybe he wasn’t feeling it at all.
“So?” Dean tried. “You gonna go?”
“I don’t know Dean,” Sam rearranged himself again, his agitation at being unable to cross his legs in the confines of the car, annoying him back into his original place. “I haven’t been back in, what, I don’t even know how long, I just think, I think—“
“I think you should go.” Dean nodded to himself. “Grab a bus in Chicago and just go.”
Sam turned to look at him, uncertainty and worry plain in his eyes.
Dean knew why.
“Think of it as a vacation.” He told him. “We got nothing going on for now, so take a week, fuck, take a couple weeks. Catch up with your old friends, have some fun.”
“I don’t know—“
“Just don’t think so much about it.” Dean said. “I bet your friends sure don’t.”
Sam was quiet.
Dean didn’t say it but he thought they could both use a break. A break from the road and even just from each other. But Sam mostly. It would be good for him to break off for a while and get in touch with that life he had made out there in California. As much as his brother liked to think it had all crumbled to dust after the fire, the foundations were still out there. The reminders like this guy and his wedding proved that well enough.
“I guess I could just catch a bus when we get to Chicago.” Sam recited, his fingers playing with the folded map in his lap.
Dean smiled. “Sounds like a plan."
Sam turned to him. “What are you gonna do?”
Figured Sam would ask. They both suffered from a terminal case of being in each other’s business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Dean knew it would bug Sam if he got enigmatic about it and didn’t tell him where he’d be everyday and when he’d be reachable by phone.
“I gotta call of my own.” Dean sighed.
When he’d checked his voice mail the night before he’d found an unexpected message. It was precise if not a little long, short of details but with a sense of urgency that their kind seemed to use in every tone of voice they owned. It was a guy Dean vaguely remembered meeting with his dad when he was a kid. Out on some ranch with a bunch of cows and horses. But that was about where his memory ran out. Turns out the old hunter was looking for their dad but found Dean instead. Needed a favor he said.
“Thinking about heading down to Oklahoma.”
“Since when?” Sam demanded.
As far as their own plans had gone, they were going to hole up in Chicago for a weekend and just relax by that gigantic lake. At least that had been Dean’s plan. He was sure Sam had something more productive in mind with a city filled with better things to do than sleep.
“Take it easy, I wasn’t going to go but… but now that you have this thing I don’t know, maybe I’ll just drive down there anyway.”
Dean hadn’t really planned on going. In fact he wasn’t even sure he was going to even return the guy’s phone call. But now it felt like a nice distraction. Some milk run down into the eastern forests and maybe the solitude of the state plains out farther west.
“For what? A job?”
He could almost hear Sam already reorganizing everything he had just settled into the schedule that was his brain.
“You can’t go alone on some job—“
“It’s not a job!” Dean stopped him before he really got started. “It’s some old friend of dad’s. Just called for a helping hand. That’s all.”
“Helping hand for what?” Sam asked bluntly, his annoyance rising as his brother stayed vague.
“I don’t know okay?” Dean admitted. “He’s an old guy. Got some kind of farm.”
“It’s a job.” Sam muttered as he slumped back into his seat and trained his gaze out the window.
Dean smiled a little to himself.
He sure hoped it was.
It had been a while since he had driven alone.
Not between gas stations and motels or while Sam was sleeping, but really really alone. At first he found himself turning to the empty passenger seat with something to say halfway out of his mouth. Found himself keeping the volume down below where he liked it to avoid complaints. Dean had even kept the bench seat where it just about bothered him just so Sammy’s knees weren’t crushed up against the dashboard.
By the next day he was driving like solo was the only way he’d ever known.
The second day he woke up in a room with one bed and took as long of a shower as he wanted. He ate while he drove, wanting to reach the ranch by sundown. The old guy on the line had been weird about the directions, stopping and starting, correcting himself and resuming with entirely different road names. It had been slightly frustrating but mostly confusing. No wonder this guy needed some help on a job. Dean wasn’t even sure if this guy should even keep a driver’s license based on the short telephone conversation alone.
By the time he’d gotten the directions out of the man he was too flustered to try to communicate anything more complicated. Like why he wanted him to come in the first place. He’d figure that one out soon enough. The headlights hit the battered sign post that read the cattle farm’s name.
It also had a 20-mile marker on it to warn you just how much farther you had to go. Dean whistled as he pulled onto the bumpy unpaved road. There was a lot of land out here that went for miles and miles with little dots of humanity every now and again. Blink and you’d miss it.
Bouncing in his seat from the weather-worn potholes, he tried to relax for the long rest of his rough ride. He pulled out his phone and flipped it open. Wondering if his phone would even work out here, he gave it a hopeful try. With a smile he heard it pick up right into his voice mail. Sam’s voice was loud and clear. The echoes of a noisy bus station out in California in the background. He was going to hitch to the next town over and then use that credit card they had just got to get something to wear. What did you wear to a wedding anyway? Sam’s laughter at himself was good to hear even if it was just a recording.
I’ll call you tomorrow after the ceremony, I think I’ll be crashing at Beck’s…
Dean watched his headlights bob and sway over the dirt road in the dark. He caught some eye shine off to his left and saw what was probably a deer flash white across the road well ahead of him.
Have fun out there. Sam sarcastically ended his message. Where ever that is.
He clicked his phone off with a grin.
“You too Sam,” He turned the music up a little louder. “You too.”
He decided one thing as soon as the front door to the decrepit place creaked open.
Dean didn’t look forward to getting real old. But he comforted himself with the fact that the chances of that were pretty slim anyway. He stepped off the creaking porch with the alien blue glow of the bug light and into the musty old farmhouse.
The old man named Johnson insisted on taking his duffel bag from him even though the man almost doubled over with its weight.
Dean watched him vanish with it, unsure of what to do in the low light of the empty foyer. There were a couple pairs of muddy boots. A large broken umbrella and a small hallway that lead to what looked like one large open room. He wandered into it, looking up at the stuffed and mounted heads of most of the indigenous wildlife of the area. Racks of horns. Bleached animal skulls. The wood log walls were thick with cobwebs and dust, the old leather furniture well worn and peeling apart. There was a large blackened stone fireplace that looked like it was used fairly often.
“I’m glad you came.” An old frail voice said behind him. “You want some coffee? Got some on.”
“Thanks, but no thanks.” Dean turned and smiled a smile down at the man. “I had about a gallon of it on the road.”
It was a lie but for some reason Dean didn’t want anything made from the water that flowed out of these rusty pipes or was prepared in the dank kitchen. Even in his memory of the joint Dean remembered this man being advanced in years. But he was much more advanced than he recalled. If he had to guess he’d say the old fella was pushing decade number nine. And he looked about as neglected as the house did.
“You out here alone?” He asked as he looked around again.
The old guy shuffled towards a comfortable beat-up looking recliner that was covered in a thick quilt. He laboriously sat himself down into it and waved Dean to have a seat himself.
“My son, he comes once a month.” He smiled a shaky smile. “You know, to check up on the old man.”
Once a month. Dean half smiled back, distracted by the gigantic deer head that loomed over him, its black glossy glass eyes staring into nothing. It smelled like the skins in here. From the cracked old furniture to the animal remains that hung proudly on every available surface, it smelled like something had settled down and died.
“So?” Dean thought it would be good to get to the point, the urge to get this over and done with starting to win over any need to waste some time out here in the country. “What seems to be the problem?”
“It’s my cows.”
“I keep finding them cut up.” The man’s tone turned to angry. “Not like no animal done neither.”
Dean wondered how this guy could possibly be running a ranch with a son that only appeared once a month. He sat back into the chair he had been shown and fought back the slight sense of unease that was starting to creep up the back of his spine. He shook it off. He was just being paranoid. A place like this always had hired hands. Probably all lived in the small town near by.
“It’s the mutilations.” Johnson nodded. “It’s probably some type a thing come up here from Mexico.”
Dean resituated himself in his chair and thought of how to exactly proceed.
“The cows? The ones you find, um, cut up? Do you find them in the evening, morning—“
“Don’t you worry ‘bout that now.” The old man cut him off with a dismissing wave of his hand. “It’s real late, and I’m tired.”
A little taken aback by the abrupt loss of interest in the subject, Dean got to his feet as his host struggled to his own.
“I-I could take a look around tonight, if you have a pick up or something—“
“Yer tired too.” The old man declared. “Come on now, I’ll show ya where you can bed down.”
With a sigh, Dean shut his mouth and followed.
Dean raised his eyes brows when he saw the small bedroom.
Cozy was not a word he’d have put on it. It was stark like what he’d seen of the rest of the man’s house. A pallet like bed, and a bare light bulb hung sickly and yellow in the center of the room. The small window on the far side of the wall was covered by thick dark curtains. It smelled as stale as everything else with the extra added bonus of what he was sure was urine from a nearby bathroom.
“This is… fine.” Dean managed. And it really was just great as far as he was ultimately concerned. He’d slept in worse rooms that he’d had to pay for.
Noticing no clock he checked his watch for the time before he turned back to the small man that stood in the doorway. The old guy seemed nervous now, lingering at the threshold as if he was afraid to step inside the room.
“Don’t worry sir.” Dean tried to assure him. “We’ll get started real early, we’ll find out what’s been going on.”
“Thank you son.” He tried to smile but failed.
Dean looked around on the floor for his bag. Cows. Probably a bunch of bored young rednecks that had nothing better to do than shoot at livestock from the safety of the fence. He smiled a little. Maybe he was older than he thought he was. Wasn’t blaming teenaged kids for everything a sign you were turning one of the great corners? He looked behind the bed and around the shadows cast by the dim light. Still no sign of his duffel.
“Hey, sir? Did you put my bag in here—“
“I’m… I’m real sorry?”
The door shut. There was a soft sliding sound and a sharp click.
Dean stood very still, his heart beating hard in his chest. Taking two steps to the door, he tested the doorknob. Locked. He rattled it again, this time shoving his shoulder hard against it. It didn’t even budge. That sound. That meant a deadbolt.
“Hey!” Dean pounded his fist against the door. “Johnson?”
He listened carefully for any footsteps or any sign that there was anyone there on the other side.
“Johnson!” Dean tried again.
He tried to shoulder it a second time, the solid oak door doing nothing but sending him backwards in pain. Confused, he looked around the sparse room again. In three hard strides he was at the window, ripping the heavy dusty curtains aside.
There was no window. It was just a solid wood wall.
Four hours later and all Dean had managed to do was knock the doorknob off the door.
It allowed him to see down the hallway he had walked down. It was also lit by a bare bulb and was empty. He sat down heavily with the heavy brass knob in his hand and stared at it.
He was so stupid. He was so unbelievably fucking stupid. He hadn’t checked out a thing before coming down here. Didn’t stake out the place before he walked right in. Didn’t even bother researching old Johnson to see if was still or ever was on the up and up. He thought this was going to be easy. A breeze. A break. Rubbing at his eyes, Dean fought off the yawn that wanted to come.
He’d been driving for almost two days straight and he hadn’t slept since yesterday. All his body wanted to do was shut down while his mind kept it going on a steady stream of adrenaline. He looked again around the corners of the small room searching for anything that could be useful to him. Again, all he saw were bare thick wood walls. The bed was even made up on a wooden frame with no metal pieces to speak of. His phone acted like he was about fifty feet underground. If there was a light switch, it was somewhere on the outside. The light bulb hung from one frayed wire but with his lighter stashed away with his belongings, he didn’t want to put himself in the dark just yet.
Dean stood up and moving his sleeve down over his hand, carefully twisted the hot glass until it winked and stuttered out.
He looked around again.
A thin weak beam of light came through where the doorknob had broken loose. It reached the floor in a dull yellow spot barely the size of a quarter. Dean turned slowly, looking at the rest of the room and seeing utter total darkness. His thoughts turned back to the question that had been hammering in his mind ever since he felt the doorknob seize and lock in his hand.
Why was he here?
If the old man wanted to kill him he was going about it in a very roundabout kind of way. Why set him up and then lure him into this lockdown? And if he didn’t want him dead than what the hell did he want—
His gaze was locked on something faint but glimmering there in the dark. It was in the far right corner, up near the ceiling. He walked towards it, his hand out waiting to come in contact with the rough hewn wall.
It was a light. A very small red light.
Turning swiftly back to the center of the room, he fumbled for the bulb in the dark. Screwing it back in, he blinked at the sudden light and turned his attention to the bed. With a shove, he slowly slid it over to the corner. Standing up on it, he found what he thought he might find. There was a small hole drilled carefully through the very corner of the wall where it met the ceiling. In its depths he could just make out the shine of glass embedded deep and far away enough that no prying hands could get at it. And right below it in its hole, was the steady dull shine of the red light that meant the thing was on. Active. Maybe recording.
It was a fucking camera.
“That’s some pretty fancy handywork you got here gramps.” Dean murmured to himself as he tested the hole’s depth.
He couldn’t even get in far enough to smudge the lense.
“The thing is,” Dean continued as he pulled at a loose thread on his flannel sleeve and with a hard yank, ripped a strip off the cuff. “I’m a little camera shy.”
He stuffed the cloth into the hole, blocking whoever was on the other side from their show. The act gave him a brief but almost pleasant sensation of meager triumph. It quickly faded to his former exhaustion as he slumped down onto the bed. He was no better off than he was five minutes earlier. So someone liked to watch. Watch what? Watch him get angry enough to kick a doorknob off a door?
He sighed and turned around, looking back at the locked exit. There was a sound. Someone moving. Steady booted footsteps on the wood floor.
Dean stood up carefully. He could see their shadow as they paused just outside of the door. Shifting their weight from side to side as if they were just about to politely knock. To Dean’s surprise, they actually did. Three gentle knocks against the wood as if he could walk right up and let them in.
He walked up to the door, standing almost as close to it as the person was on the other side.
“Hi Dean.” A man’s voice said. “How are ya?”
Dean blinked and frowned. It wasn’t old man Johnson that was for sure, but he had suspected as much at this point that the old guy wasn’t exactly working alone. Or working this at all for that matter. He wanted to punch in the thick wooden barrier, put his fist right through it and make contact with whatever bastard was standing there trying to make small talk with him.
“It’s almost been a year...” The man said. “But I think you might remember me.”
Dean paused, his heart thudding, and his hands making and unmaking fists. A year? Plenty of things could happen in a year. He struggled to think of who he could have pissed off or crossed within the span of twelve months. There were more than he could count.
“We tried a few times. You know, to arrange this.” The man went on. “But you are hard to pin down these days. You’ve gotten careful. I like that.”
That voice. It did sound like someone familiar... but he couldn’t quite figure where he’d—
“We had to tap into one of your circles finally.”
Johnson. He was on the fringe of the circle if Dean even had one. But it had been enough. It had been enough for him to trust that it had all been for real. It had been enough for him to lower his guard for just one night.
“I told you that we’d see you again, Dean.”
His clenched hands started to tremble at his sides. Dean felt his skin grow cold, his heart beating was the only other sound outside of the man’s voice that he could hear.
“We have a lot to talk about tomorrow.”
No. No. No. No… Dean felt both fists crash against the door. Hard and unyielding, his frustration peaking into a rage that brought water to the corners of his eyes.
“Try to get some sleep.”
The light clicked off.
There was the sound of footsteps once again. This time retreating, leaving him alone in this room he’d been put in. With a yell of rage, Dean kept at it, pounding at the door, tossing his body against it until he finally lay panting on the ground. Listening to the sound of himself breathing in the smothering dark, he leaned his forehead down hard onto the gritty floor. He tried to slow his frantic inhales, tried to stem the panic that was flickering in bright hot white spots behind his eyes.
That man. He was one of the three hunters.
The ones that caught up with him and Sam a year ago. The ones that he was never supposed to see again once his brother blessed them with new identities, giving them nothing but extra years to life in a federal prison. They should be on the run. Out of the country. Cleared from the map. Off the fucking goddamn planet. Dean rolled on to his back, fighting to breathe slowly in and out.
They had kept their promise to find him again.
And this time, Dean was all alone.