Sequel to Removed
Author: Mink & Jink
Rating: R - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
A cold steady rain had started.
It cleared away the strange cast of darkness, washing it down into the mud, melting into the gray heaps of slush. The night again was clear and frozen. Dean sat several yards into the dark of the forest and listened to himself breathe.
He'd searched every inch of ground covering the barn's circumference, shouting himself hoarse. He'd then ventured into the gnarled tangle of tall weeds growing wild in the field. Against his better logic, he'd finally stumbled into the patch of woods, out of breath and out of ideas. It took a while for him to stop asking the air. To stop repeating his brother's name long after he knew it was pointless. His heart wouldn't slow down, the frantic rush of adrenaline pounding in his head.
There was no trace. Not even a footprint in the mud.
The forest was not quiet. The wind whipping through the trees made a white noise all around him, the cold rushing into his clothes. Sounds he could not see, a throaty high pitched howl. The distant shriek of some carnivorous bird. All of it seemed just beyond his reach. The Walkers were here, possibly watching him from wherever they'd hidden themselves. It was stupid, he knew, to leave himself open and vulnerable in their territory. However, he wasn't real worried about them. They weren't responsible for what had happened down in the muddy farm yard.
He set his jaw and swung his gaze toward the lights of the house.
A dialogue was in order.
There wasn't enough room behind the pure white hot rage for words so when Dean passed the threshold, he sought only the crack of a fist against bone.
It would clear his head.
Yueller barely had time to get out of his seat before Dean's swing sent him reeling into back into and over it with a crash.
He cracked his knuckles before going in again.
Yueller was on his feet. Grabbing Dean's approaching fist by the wrist, he used Dean’s own momentum to shove him down and hard into the couch. Dean wrenched himself into a roll, falling off the sofa and taking Yueller with him, they shattered the thick coffee table, sending all the papers scattered on top of it flying in all directions. The Captain unfortunately landed on top but Dean used the moment to twist around and get the edge of his elbow up hard in one sharp strike under the man’s chin. He did it three more times, swiftly in a row.
He felt victory loom when Yueller’s grip on him suddenly slackened.
Ready to do it again and again, he felt hands on him, wrenching him up by the shoulders. Struggling to cast another blow that met with empty air, he was forced unsteadily to his feet before he was shoved violently against the wall. He gasped, trying to draw back in some of the air that was knocked out of his lungs, his hands going to his neck when something slid flat and unyielding under his chin
“Now, now…” Keens said softly, the intensity in his eyes betraying the calm tone in his voice. “What exactly is the problem here?”
The man was keeping Dean pinned with the flat end of a rifle jammed painfully against the throat. Dean's face was throbbing, red hot and enraged. His words came forced through a constricted windpipe.
"T-That's my question, you son of a bitch! Where's Sam!"
Yueller was slowly picking himself up out of the wreckage of the table. He touched his bloody lip and examined the rest of his face with a careful hand.
“Y--You were supposed to keep an eye on your bait Dean, not just let the Walkers go on and take it—“
“No! It wasn't a Walker out there that did that!” Dean felt Keens slide a little backwards with the force he strained against him, the rifle choking him until he started seeing white spots explode in front of his eyes. “I’m, I’m gonna kill you—“
“Give it your best shot Dean.” Yueller offered, his smile turning ugly.
A loud abrupt noise silenced them all. It was a knock.
It came from the front door. Dean watched Yueller quickly take account of everyone that he knew would be capable of doing such a thing. They were all standing in the same room with him. Panting, Dean tore his gaze back at the door, surging all his strength against the firearm pinning him to the wall.
The knock came again, even louder this time.
Keens released his grip on Dean, letting him trip over himself to get to the door. His hand was on the latch and ripping the door open before he had time to wonder if he should be cautious. Cold air flooded into the room like water, crisp and biting. Only the black night outside answered him.
There was no one there.
"Sam!" Dean called out, his breath clouding in the damp air.
"Shut that door." Yueller ordered in a strange voice, stumbling when he tried to move to do it himself. "Shut it!"
Dean didn't listen. He took a tentative step out onto the porch, his eyes scanning the barn and then the wide empty expanse of dark fields beyond. Something stood out in the distance. Dean's eyes widened on the unmistakable shape of his brother. Without thinking he took off down the slope.
"Hey!" He called out, expecting Sam to react. Turn his way. Yell back. Anything.
Dean skidded to a halt when he got about a meter from him, heart thudding in his chest. Something finally told him to be wary. There was a strange set to his brother’s body, his posture was too rigid and his gaze too steady. After a few moments, Dean realized Sam’s boots weren’t touching the mud. He was hovering right above it by a good few inches.
A slow fractured smile crept across Sam's face.
In the way that Sam twitched, the unnatural cadence of his breathing fogging the night air, Dean knew exactly what this was. He knew precisely after so many years of walking in the dark what a possession looked like. Ghost, demon or demigod, the results were always the same. Dean fought the urge to grab his brother by the shoulders and shake loose what had settled down inside of him.
"Let me guess?" Dean asked carefully. “N-No-Noqoìlpi?”
The thing burning inside Sam snorted as though amused.
Do not speak my name.
It was not Sam's voice scraping through strained vocal cords.
Your white tongue twists it into the talk of a Łééchąą'í.
Dean wasn’t sure what the hell a Łééchąą'í was but he was positive it wasn’t complimentary. All the various ways to try to communicate with a God came to mind. Unfortunately, Dean's memory drew up nothing but songs that doubled as worship. He had no idea what he should say even if he came up with the right sentiment anyway. He wasn't sure if this thing wanted him to be thankful, apologetic, or reverent. All he really wanted to be was belligerent.
It turned out he didn’t have to wait around for the perfect thing to come to mind.
This is a vessel. Sam held up his hand and studied it as though he were seeing it for the first time. He sneered in displeasure. He can deliver my words.
“I’m right here.” Dean put his arms out in a tired supplication. “I’m listening.”
What has been committed was a sin. Even if you invite every morning with prayer, you cannot unmake this.
“A wager right?” Dean asked stepping forward. “They made one with you and they lost?”
Eyes that were not his brother's met his gaze.
They. And those who serve them.
Serve? Dean felt cold when he realized that meant him. The god was speaking faster now, his hatred contorting Sam's face.
You who hold maps with no direction. This trail will choke you.
Dean realized he was trembling.
Wandering without end.
A hand reached out, low and towards Dean’s chest. Level with his heart.
A debt is due.
Dean felt his body freeze before the hand even touched him. His muscles constricting and pulling painfully out of place. He felt his heart stutter, the presence of the being growing closer and making his blood pump much too fast, each beat unreadable through the next, the stammer of its racing rhythm making him fall gasping to his knees. He could feel some side of himself sliding away, like something was tugging at his own shadow. Crossing his arms across his chest he struggled to stay upright on his knees. He fought to look up into Sam's face, his brother's eyes slightly reflecting in the cabin’s lamps with a stark blue animal eye shine.
Whatever it was that it was being steadily pulled free, felt like it was ripping away like a second skin. In his agony, Dean appealed to the only person that could possibly help him.
His vision was going white.
Incredibly, the horrible sensation abruptly halted. The sickening feel of having his skin pulled away from him recoiled, snapping back with gut wrenching force. He reeled backwards with the blow, fighting to stay upright and conscious when his vision threatened to waver again. Dean struggled from one knee to a stand.
There was a deep low sound, like something enraged. Dean felt the ground under his hands thud and tremble like an earthquake. Sam's face grew brighter, as if the light that settled onto it was collecting in on itself, the stark blue shine to his eyes started to saturate into a deep boil of red. A soundless boom rippled through the ground under Dean again, almost knocking him backwards. When he looked back to his brother, he blinked back his amazement. Something was happening, something was changing...
The strange cast to Sam's eyes was quickly fading, his gaze suddenly back to the dull normal color of a human being. The rapid departure left Sam blinking and dazed. His face was too pale, lids fluttering, limbs trembling with exhaustion.
"Sammy? Y--You in there?" Dean tried.
He wasn't making any noise.
Dean took in huge gulps of air, feeling the weight lift from his chest and sensation return to his numb limbs. He knew there were some differences in possession. These things filled you up like electricity to a light bulb, and if there was too much juice it could make the fragile glass shell explode.
"Hey?" Dean grabbed at Sam's shoulder, hoping to jar him. His brother stared past him as though he didn't exist. "Hey, it's me!"
Dean started to move before Sam's eyes rolled up into his head and he fell to his knees. They crashed together on the frozen ground, Dean struggling beneath his brother's dead weight. Carefully Dean laid him down flat. A thin trickle of bright blood trailed down from Sam's nose.
It was Yueller. Dean looked up over his shoulder at him. He didn’t know when the Captain had left the warded house to stand beside them.
“He drove it away.”
“Hey! Hey!" Dean shook Sam roughly, his hand on his brother's throat. "Don't think I gotta pulse here!"
Yueller crouched down beside him, shoving Dean out of his way. He was swiftly and expertly checking Sam's wrist, his eyes, his airway.
“Do something Yueller.” Dean said. “Do something or I’ll—“
“You’ll do what?” Yueller sneered, his bruised face shifted back into his ready smile. He spoke to Keens over his shoulder. “Get me my bag.”
Keens moved wordlessly to comply.
"Thorazine is still in him." Yueller explained, hastily undoing Sam's shirt. "His heart's stopped."
Dean slammed his fist into the hard ground to keep it from landing in the man's face. Yueller had begun compressions.
"If that thing killed him, I swear to god--" Dean began.
Keens was already back from the house, his arms full with the Captain's canvas bag. He tossed it to him before even stopping. Yueller paused to catch it and pulled it open. He yanked out a plastic packet, and ripped the foil cover off of it.
“It’s interesting Dean.” Keens said over them as he observed. “You never mentioned that your brother was a hypersensitive.”
“What? No? He’s-He’s not... he’s just... Sam? Come on talk to me here!"
Yueller was prepping a large hypodermic needle, flicking the plastic canister.
"Adrenaline. This'll get him going again." Yueller explained. Without preemption or grace, he positioned it directly over Sam's chest and thrust down hard.
Dean felt sick as he heard the thud of it entering his brother's skin. He could barely watch Yueller slowly depress the plunger. Sam didn't react, eyes closed, lips the same color as his face.
"Give him a minute.” Yueller slipped a stethoscope over Sam’s chest while laying a finger across the artery at the side of his neck.
“A minute?” Dean watched on anxiously. “I thought you said that stuff would—
Sam’s back suddenly arched, his head slamming back into the ground, suckin air in hard like he’d just surfaced from being held under water.
Startled, Dean fell backwards. “Shit—“
Yueller checked Sam’s eyes as he felt his wrist, glancing at his watch to time the battered body’s function.
He gave Dean a wink.
“Just like magic.”
Dean watched them move around the room.
It was Johnson’s bedroom once not so very long ago. It was Yueller’s now, picked for his own probably because of its lack of large windows and the solid bed. A place to bunk down. Storage. An office. A strong hold. In Yueller’s mind the room was a lot of things. And now it was where they were keeping Sam. His brother was resting easy for now. The mud was drying on his clothes, one gray smear of it ran along his cheek.
Keens was watching Yueller collecting what was his own and putting it away in another canvas sack. Clearing the room of everything in it. This place had provided its usefulness. It was time to move on. And thanks to his brother, it was safe to move through the night without the attention of the thing they had angered out there in the desert. It wasn’t a large window of time, but it was large enough to make an exit.
The god needed as much time as Sam did to come back to itself. Maybe even more considering how Sam had pushed it out. Dislodged it snarling and red eyed. Dean didn’t need to tell them it was time to go. Keens was the one who seemed to know the effect Sam had had on their enemy. Dean just wondered what the opposite effect might happen to be.
Dean thought he deserved its fury.
These men had done it. They had called up something that the natives out west had aptly named He Who Wins Men. Something that liked to gamble with whatever mortal that dared.
For material things. For jewelry. For souls.
“May I speak to you Dean?” Keens asked as he regarded him leaning in the doorway.
Dean watched Yueller silently continue to pack his things. He looked over at his sleeping brother, the small electrode clipped to his fingertip monitoring his strong and steady heartbeat.
“Since you asked so nicely.” Dean said under his breath.
"What do you want?”
They were back in the library that Keens had made his room out of. Dean looked over his shoulder across the hall towards the room in which he’d left his brother. Sam was safe for now. Something about the house warded off just about everything thrown at it so far, and Dean wasn’t too worried about Yueller.
Yueller was quieter. Spooked. Probably never saw a demigod channel through living flesh before. Dean chuckled to himself. Probably didn’t like seeing the preview that Noqoìlpi had given him about just how a soul would be taken. Like Dean’s almost was. He found himself absently rubbing at his chest where it still burned. He’d do a hell of a lot not to ever have to go through that again.
“The wager was for four.” Keens simply said as he put a few of his belongings into a bag. “One of our men was taken right off. We barely escaped with our own lives.”
“I bet.” Dean cleared his throat at the badly used and unintended pun.
“And then Jack went and did away with dear old Edwards.” Keens shook his head and drew a thumb across his brow. “I assure you I would have stepped in and done something about that but when that man has his head stuck on something—“
“What are you talking about?” Dean demanded. “How does this have anything to do with me?”
“Son,” Keens sat back down in the over stuffed chair he’d found to use at his table. “You were bound to our wager the first time you killed for us. That Skin Walker? Don’t ask me exactly how. I’ve read all there is to know, I think it may have something to do with Noqoìlpi sending his own to collect what He is due--”
“But I wasn’t even there, I wasn’t even there to make any wager—
“As we all saw, it apparently doesn’t matter to Noqoìlpi whether you were there or not.” Keens said shortly. “Noqoìlpi wants four men. Their insides anyway. He’s already got one as I said. Only three more to go.”
Dean’s hand returned to his chest.
“What I find so interesting is how He was drawn to your brother like that.” Keens studied a book before sliding it into the bag with the others. “Would have killed him if Jack hadn’t stepped in.”
“But it didn’t.”
“But it will.” Keens looked at him squarely. “Do you want this for your brother Dean? Do you want him to run like we do until we find that little loop hole that will end all of this? Do you really want to risk his life along with yours?”
Dean fell back and sat numbly in the chair behind him.
“You think Johnny Law is bad,” Keens made a low whistle of appreciation. “This thing is a fine hunter. Ends up finding us just about wherever we turn out. No matter how fast we run. Or how deep we go.”
“I’ll leave.” Dean said almost himself. “I’ll just walk out of here, make my own way.”
Keens sighed shortly.
“You’ll find another aspect of the wager, and our forfeiture of what was due is that we are indeed, stuck in something one might call a rut.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll find yourself extremely susceptible all alone Dean.”
“I don’t mind that idea as much as you maybe think I would.”
“How about just plain suicide then?”
Dean felt himself go quiet.
“There’s only one reason this thing hasn’t taken each and every one of us and ripped us limb from limb.”
Keens reached into his army jacket and pulled out something from its inner pocket. It was about the size of his palm and smooth and rounded.
There it was. The turquoise stone. The talisman.
Dean felt himself frown. This is what they took from Noqoìlpi. They had tricked the Trickster Himself. No wonder the thing was so pissed off. Not only did it get none of the souls promised, the bastards had taken off with its stone.
“With us you have something of a fighting chance.” Keens rolled the stone thoughtfully between his fingertips. “Alone, your lifespan drastically decreases.”
“Why didn’t Yueller tell me? Why go through all of this bullshit if—if this makes me your whipping boy already?”
“Look Dean, I personally don’t share Jack’s fervor over the condition of your allegiance? I personally don’t care one way or another how you listen to us, just as long as you listen. Jack wants your loyalty, all I require is your compliance.”
“Looks like you’ve got it.” Dean growled. They’d done more than forced his hand, they’d almost cosmically arranged it.
“Come with us.” Keens smiled gently. “Come on now, we aren’t that bad?”
"Ditch Sam and go play war with you? Kinda doesn't have the same draw, pal."
“Then tell me about this other choice you have?" Keens sighed. “I for one, am dying to hear it.”
Dean swallowed and thought how bad he’d like to hear it too.
"According to suicide statistics, Monday is the favored day for self-destruction."
Dean read a loud from the old magazine. He checked his watch. Figured it'd be a Monday. Sam's eyes moved gently beneath their lids, the slow rise of the sun through the narrow windows cutting pale beams across his face.
"Heh, and check this out. TomKat's baby suspected to be a clone."
He heard Sam's breathing change from sleeping to waking.
"River Phoenix dates Gilda Radner in afterlife." He whistled. "Whatever."
Sam stirred weakly with a groan. Dean flipped the magazine closed and tossed it aside.
"How ya feelin?"
Sam made a small sound in his throat.
"Pretty rough night last night, Sammy. Suggest you stay off your feet for a while."
Dazed, Sam reached up to rub at his eyes and halted. Blinking through the haze of his troubled sleep, his brows knotted when he realized he was stopped short. He tugged in confusion at the metal handcuff binding his wrist to the rusted metal frame of the bedpost.
"Dean?" He croaked weakly.
Dean pointed to the night table beside the bed.
"There's water and plenty of it. Not sure how up you are for eating but I found some edible stuff. Just hope it don't kill ya. Oh and this...." He held up a plastic bedpan and placed it on the bed with a small grin. "....in case of emergency."
Sam's chest began to heave slightly, his throat working as he tried to speak. Blearily, he shifted on the bed.
"W-What the hell is going on?" He swallowed.
"Ain't it obvious? I'm leaving...."
Sam yanked sudden and hard on the metal trapping his wrist, steel scraping noisily against the rusted iron.
"....and you're not."
"Dean." Sam's voice was raspy and thick with misuse but Dean could still hear the anger simmering beneath it. "Let me go. Now."
"Oh, case ya get bored?" Dean held up one of the yellowed, tattered magazines. "Let's see there's National Geographic, Sports Weekly, oh and Classic Playboy bless the old man. Bettie Mae Page!" He whistled and picked up the stack of magazines, setting them on the night table.
"Dean, this isn't funny." Sam growled.
"I know it's not, believe me." Dean spread his hands, his face suddenly serious. "And I'm sorry, I am. But I can't have you following me, Sam."
Dean shrugged into the green nylon jacket given to him by Yueller. He had a green bag too, unzipped and still not packed with all the things he'd been ordered to fill it with. He tried to ignore Sam staring at him and the military canvas with undisguised disbelief.
"What's going on? Talk to me."
"I figure the time it will take you to find a way out of those handcuffs'll be about three hours or so. By then we'll be halfway to who knows. Don't try to track us, you won't be able to."
He set down his leather key ring on the table with a clank.
"Take my car, Sam. I want you to take it and get the hell outta dodge."
"Dean." Sam shook his head with a brief, infuriated chuckle. "No way."
Taking a deep breath, Dean laid down his phone next to the car keys.
"Look, you're just gonna have to trust me, ok?"
Dean decided he did not want to see the look his brother gave him after saying that ever again. Sam's muscles were straining weakly against the binds, trying to lift himself up. Sam froze when he heard Yueller's voice.
"Dean! Get a move on!"
"No. Look, you can't just--" Sam spoke calmly, a sure sign he was panicked.
"I can do whatever I want. Just do what I told you." Dean heard his temper flare.
A pause. Silence from Sam, hot and smoldering in the air. Dean tried to diffuse it, focusing on his bag and gathering what he needed.
"What did they do to you?" Sam asked quietly.
Dean pretended not to hear him.
Sam was looking over Dean's shoulder at the men that waited behind him. His anger and confusion mixing into something else, something hurt and lost.
“What did you do to him!” Sam shouted.
“They didn’t do anything to me.” Dean said softly. He stopped himself from wondering if that was really true.
“Dean wait, just wait--”
Sam made to grab at him and didn’t stop when Yueller impatiently shifted the rifle that sat at rest against his knee.
“Whatever they did, we can work it out! We can figure something out! Dean just listen to me—"
Dean felt the rifle nudge him hard in the shoulder.
"Let’s go.” Yueller told him.
He looked hard into his brother's eyes.
“Just stay far away from me Sam, you get me?”
“Dean no, please just listen to me—
“No! You listen to me.”
Sam stared at him hard, his jaw working.
“It’ll kill you Sammy.”
Dean got up and turned around.
He shut the door behind him.
He had to just leave, put one foot in front of the other. Leave Sam's enraged shouts. Cursing Yueller and Keens. Calling out his name. Pleading with him to come back.
The morning hadn't warmed up from the night just yet. The van that had pulled up in front of the house was idling noisily, the exhaust billowing its fog up into the pale yellow stain of the approaching sun. Dean watched the side door of the battered van rattle open. The thing was packed to filled. Firearms. Boxes of ammo. Stacks of bound books. But there was one empty seat back there and it was for him.
"Could have just left a note."
Keens voice wasn't mocking him but there was a joke in it somewhere. The man was right. Dean could have spared his brother some of that. The thing was that Dean wanted to see him one more time. See him awake.
“You didn’t have to do all that.” Keens said somewhere behind him.
“Yes I did.”