Author: Mink & Jink
Rating: R - Peril - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: [postS2 finale] Sam is kidnapped after word gets out amongst hunters of just who he might really be. The wards drawn around Sam's chair aren't supposed to work on human beings but the pain he feels is very real...
Sam noticed her as soon as she walked in.
It helped that she wasn't too hard on the eyes. Given what he'd had to gaze at over the past three weeks in this dive, anything under fifty with boobs would have been welcome. Showing up sporadically for almost as many nights as he had, she leisurely crawled onto a bar stool by the bathrooms to drink by herself. All by herself. From the first time he had caught onto her uneven late night pattern, Sam had noticed that fact right away. Even before he had figured out she was pretty and someone around his own age, he had wondered what the deal was.
The types of places they walked in the early morning hours usually had a certain type of person regardless of the gender. The kind of woman looking for a high at 3AM by some rail road tracks weren’t much like the women that tended to make a man like him look twice for a good reason. Not that some of them weren’t fun to look at no matter where or who they were. But there was always desperation there, some sadness or anger that made you keep your distance.
He watched her wait for the bartender to notice her. Tipping back his own beer he listened to her order a glass of Pinot Grigio. Sam smiled on his swallow when all she got was the guy’s confused stare. When she was told that they had a few bottles of wine but no one knew exactly what it might be called, she tiredly amended her request to ‘anything white’. The only thing to get in a place like this was what came safely packed in sealed bottles. If you were feeling real adventurous you got whatever watery crap was foaming from the old tap. The dismal dark green nameless table wine the man produced looked like it was going to be as fine as vinegar. She took the drink in the beer stein with a small sigh, and pushed her bag up beside her on the bar top.
Curious, Sam watched sideways as she pulled out a note book. At least that was what he thought it was. When he heard the small click and beep of it, he realized it was one of those thin ThinkPads. Glancing around the sparse crowd of the room that was more or less confined around a distant pool table, Sam was privately glad that his brother was two counties away doing the other half of their current job. This girl would have been in Dean’s sights in no time at all and on the rare occasion Sam happened to share an interest, it always left him wishing he knew what to do and say just as quickly.
She caught him looking, which made him hesitantly smile, not at all as embarrassed as he thought he should be.
“Hey.” Sam tried.
He always thought guys that tried to make some weird kind of primitive contact by nodding or smiling was so lame. But it didn’t feel lame when she smiled back. It felt as good as the third Guinness that was running warm and nice through his blood.
It felt even better when she slipped off her seat and came over to his.
“I recommend the Riesling.” She said confidentially. “Bad year for the Pinot.”
With a grin, Sam decided he’d get her a beer and see what would happen next.
Two hours later Sam found himself not wanting to use the bathroom because he knew when he came back out that this girl would probably be gone.
He just wasn’t this lucky.
But she wasn’t gone. Sitting with her tanned long legs crossed, and her nicely shaped nails clicking on two fresh beers, she grinned at his return. As he kind of expected, her story was a slightly weird one. It would have to be for someone like her to be slumming around in a dump like this.
It turned out she was an undergrad staying in town while her ailing grand mother moved one state over to be closer to the children. Stuck in the middle of nowhere while her Chicago life went chugging on without her. She had just gotten a new job too that was graciously allowing her to go mobile while the family crisis was gradually resolved. Beer bottles turned into full on pitchers and he noticed he was doing more than his part to put it all down.
Dean occasionally joked about checking him in to the Betty Ford Clinic for binge drinking. Like almost everything in Sam’s life his activities tended to be all or nothing. Feast or famine. When he was drinking with a goal in mind, he let himself cross the usual unbendable lines he had set up all around him. He didn’t do it often but the results were pretty much tragically patterned every time. The only difference was that tonight there wasn’t a college buddy or his brother around to make sure he didn’t find a nice cozy spot on a park bench for the night.
Feeling bold, he reached out and tucked the clothing tag that was sticking out at the back of her neck. The plastic label was stiff and sharp. The feel of it was like the kind you only had on a brand new shirt or you’d just cut it off as soon as you could. Her hand flew up to it in alarm, her face smoothing in vague relief when she realized what he had found and amended. Sam stopped to think about that reaction for a few moments before he let it go by. Before he had completely drifted to something else he did notice that all her clothes seemed to be completely new. Color fast and strangely stiff with factory creases still in place.
But the beauty and danger of booze was that the more you had, the less you worried about what you should be concerned with the most. Even as he watched the plastic pitcher be replaced and filled he knew that this was all a terrible idea. Nonetheless, he honestly couldn't be made to give a shit for a change.
By the time they got to the parking lot he wasn’t exactly fighting the kiss they had both seemed to be waiting for until the night time air. She made a small sound when he realized he’d backed her up against a wall, his mouth working on hers without much thought on her response. Stepping back, he shook his head to himself. He had drank too much. Something deep down that never shut off told him to step away and walk to the motel around the corner. He’d regret doing something quick and casual in the morning. He’d drive out of here and play it over and over in his head until he made himself sick with the what ifs and why nots.
Besides there was something still there in her eyes that he didn’t quite understand. Something guarded and wary. It kept the thin strand of his self restraint intact even out here all alone with the parked dark shapes of the cars.
She was breathing hard but Sam dully knew it wasn’t from some unbridled passion she was keeping in check. He tilted his head at her as he began to slowly comprehend that what he was looking at was something he knew very well. This was fear.
He backed up a step, the pleasant roil of alcohol doing the next thing it did best-- flaring the situation above and beyond what it could have been if he had been sober and rational. The warm comfortable feeling he'd had was gone, replaced by some troubling sensation that this woman believed he was going to hurt her. Mishandle her. Stepping back again, he pushed his hands through his hair. Had he misjudged her intentions? Maybe he had kissed her too soon and roughly in his rush. Maybe she just wanted to have a drink and not—
“Want to come to my car?”
The question made him choke on the slurred, sincere apology about to escape. His confusion washed over him again at the tone in her voice. It wavered and had a nervous edge that made no sense. All night they had been talking and laughing easily. Hadn’t they? Sam wasn’t so sure anymore. Straightening his jacket and swearing for the hundredth time that he was never drinking more than his body weight ever again, he decided he could show her he wasn’t some asshole that wanted to get wasted and score in some dive. He’d just walk her to her car and that would be it. He’d say good night and leave. Hazily, he wondered if she was even okay to drive. When he saw the car she was headed for he reached into his pocket for his cell phone. It was pretty hard to convince anyone to leave their ride behind for just about anything, but if she had been going at it anywhere near like he had she could use a cab—
Everything went sideways.
It took a moment to realize he was lying on the uneven gravel of the parking lot. A deep pothole was right under his head forcing a sharp angle view of the dimly lit bar behind them. His senses lethargically catching up with what the hell might have happened, his hand went to a delayed echo of pain on the back of his head. He heard a car door open. Far away, almost twenty feet. Too far for this to have been accomplished by her hands. Groggily looking up he saw her get into her four door sedan. Sam distantly remembered she'd mentioned having a hell of a time driving her old Toyota all the way from the big city. What she just got inside of was a fairly new rental.
Sam groaned when hands slipped into the collar of his coat, hauling him forward and then heaving him sternly to his shaky feet. Out there in the dark all he could tell was that who ever had leveled him had been male. Sloshed or not, his body reacted to the attack. With a satisfying feel of full impact the hands on him came free, and there was the hiss of a solid body across the loose rocks of the ground. Sam got ready to bring down some more of the same now that his opponent was forced on the defense.
But he was less than half his own speed. He was slow, his response times so off that he could hardly believe it was his own body. The man who had started this wasn’t experiencing any of these problems. Getting in a few of his strikes, Sam felt them brutally returned in blunt force. The last caught him under the jaw and he spun around bracing for the hard contact with the ground once again, this time face first. But instead he landed unexpectedly on the sedan’s trunk, his collision making a loud hollow metallic thud and a brief creak of the suspension as the car dipped on its tires.
Any thoughts that this was some small timer looking for a cashed pay check vanished when Sam felt the cool metal snap around one wrist wrenched up in the middle of his back. Knowing he was going to be really fucked if his other hand went too he used all his strength to flip around. Wrestling out from under the grip on his arm, the hold slipped, letting him bring up a leg and kick the man back so savagely that the near by car he flew up against got a cracked passenger window.
Panting, Sam struggled to prepare himself before the next blow came. But the night lurched and tilted, his head so fuzzy he could barely keep the horizon from tipping sickeningly back and forth. Any upper hand he had was gone with his mobility. Knowing where he’d be all night he hadn’t bothered to arm himself with even a blade. When he saw the shadow move towards him again he knew that this had one conclusion no matter how long he’d somehow prolonged it. Knowing if his life wasn’t about to end, the only other thing in his arsenal for probable long term survival sat in his jacket pocket.
There wasn’t much time before the back door of that sedan swung open and he was flung against it. Keeping himself upright on the car’s roof, he found his phone and pressed the buttons he knew without seeing them. All he could do was send up a flare into his sky. The rest was up to the mobile phone towers. Before he could do much else besides hope he had hit the right number his hand was tugged away with an excruciating rotation on his wrist. His jacket was pulled off as he was swung around and shoved into the car. The other side of the handcuff squeezed down on his other wrist as he was pressed down with a knee behind his neck into the backseat.
The crushing weight abruptly vanished and he wheezed in a gulp of air, wincing at the knowledge that both his hands were now useless. Even worse he had allowed himself to be maneuvered right into the waiting vehicle.
A small, startled noise came from the girl sitting in the front passenger's seat.
Sam’s chest hitched as he found it an effort to keep breathing, all his muscles sluggish and like lead. Unable to move his head, he watched the leather wallet open and a hefty wad of cash pulled out. He glimpsed her taking it quickly, shoving it into her bag like she didn’t really want to see it.
“I’m sorry.” She muttered to him as she swung her legs outside the car door.
Blearily, he watched her too clean and arranged clothes receding. Even her crisp unused leather bag. The ThinkPad, had she even used it besides just turning it on? The driver was in complete shadow, the profile even lost to him as it doubled and tripled before resuming one single shape again. Twisting his wrists behind him, he fought back the urge to vomit and struggled to get up off his face. By the time he had righted himself he felt the whoosh of air seal off as the door beside him slammed closed.
Sam tried to speak but his throat just worked uselessly. He saw the faint outline of a man lean back between the front seats and yank the seatbelt around his hips, clicking it in place and making sure the shoulder fit snug across his collar bone.
He automatically struggled again when a cool dry hand reached behind him and lingered carefully on his wrist, checking his heart beat against the face of a watch. The seatbelt hindered any movement he had left, the thick nylon strap giving him no yield as it cut into his thin shirt as he strained forward. His knees were jammed into the lean of the front seats, the cramped space subduing him as efficiently as the metal digging into the small of his back. When the gentle grip was gone the engine rumbled to life with the click of the ignition.
Sam fought against his tunneling vision, a light icy sweat breaking out over his skin. His consciousness wavered from nauseatingly dizzy down to deeper wells of a black out that was creeping up on his edges. Forcing his muscles to fight again, he raced from fragile calm to the line of bright hot panic.
He didn’t know why but he had been totally and utterly intercepted. Probably every beer that girl had bought him had had something extra in it. The man behind the wheel sighed as they slowed for a red light that stopped just before the exit ramp that would lead them out onto the freeway. He could almost hear his brother’s voice right in his ear calling him ten kinds of fucking stupid.
Sam felt his eyes slip closed and silently agreed.
There had been a fire here.
Sam knew that before he had even opened his eyes. The heavy acrid scent of it was hanging in the warm air like smoke that never faded away. Invisible and poisonous, it leeched off leaning charred timbers and rose from crumpled outlines of doors and furniture reduced to thick ash. The almost sweet smell of burnt lumber was nothing like the deep white smolder off a clean wood fire. The fresh white pine crackling its sap under a forest night sky didn’t have the same chemical mix of melted plastic appliances and wires fused into the once molten walls.
He weakly tested his hands that ached in a steady throb that matched his slow pulse. Gradually, his entire body began to register just exactly where and how it was doing. Sam reluctantly opened his eyes, straightening his head stiffly from where his chin had almost been resting on his chest.
Flexing his fists he nervously swallowed when he saw what it was that he was dealing with. They weren’t the fanciest or the most cutting edge but they were thick and shiny. Polished well oiled steel fastened each of his wrists down to a sturdy wooden chair. They were individual like clamps, locked down under the wide armrests. He couldn’t get a good look at his ankles but it felt like the same pressure and bulky weight. Strangely enough, a very old and ordinary leather belt was strapped around his waist to keep him properly seated even when he had been checked out.
Clearing his head, he took a deep breath of the stale air and allowed himself to switch his immediate converging thoughts of fear aside to assess his surroundings. It was lit just barely with the gray dawn through a long floor to ceiling window that was missing half its dusty squares of glass. From the height of the ceiling and the flat pigment of the paint he knew this was some part of something that had once been industrial. But he had been correct about the barren traces of a long past inferno.
The beige paint was cracked and boiled into blisters. The flames had stained the ceilings to pitch with its smoke, and blackened the mouth of the only door that lead into the large space he had been left in. There were a few scattered chairs across the gritty tile floor and a table with nothing on it but a coating of dust that was mostly ash. The chairs weren’t empty however. One of them had a large knife lying on it. It was a good half a foot and gleaming dully in the meager glow of the morning. But that wasn’t what made Sam swallow back down hard again. The nervous tightness in his chest shifting swiftly past apprehension and into startled dreaded recognition.
There was a circle around him.
An almost perfect circle of salt.
Staring down at it he saw that another circle joined the white curve just a few inches outside its meticulously unbroken circumference. Brittle and thin, it was unmistakably put down with a stick of chalk. In a weird pastel like little kids used to mark up the sidewalks in front of their houses. The second circle was dotted with smaller versions of the same around its edge filled with symbology. Trying to stop the steady uneasy rise of his breathing, he saw some marks that he knew as well as his own name. However, others were things he had never seen before.
Things Sam had never seen before tended to be cause for concern.
Seeing how far he could turn his hands before the flesh started to sting with warning he felt his mind start to empty. The jumbled flood of questions and confusion sinking back to a low murmur in the back of his head. He couldn’t lose his shit. Not now. The way he had been taught was to know what exactly you were in and just how deep. First things first and most importantly, was he about to die? No one would go through all this if they wanted him simply dead. They could have done that back in the back of that bar and this would all be over already. However, that didn’t mean someone didn’t want him to die somewhere else.
Looking down at the elaborate signs and shapes made with cheap chalk, he knew someone had gone to a lot of trouble to get him here like this. This was someone from his world, someone who walked through the photo negative of the strip malls and the calendar holidays. This had been planned. Planned well in advance and with caution. He felt himself make fists again as he remembered the pretty girl’s smile. He had always been a little proud of his fixed simmer of paranoia. He maintained an exhausting vigilance even when everything called for a lowering of the guard. After every time he had second guessed his stubborn hesitance to put it all away when his brother questioned it, Sam had gone right ahead and proved himself right all along.
Shutting his eyes he imagined that the phone call he'd placed had worked. It would be almost nothing. A blip. A strange hang up on his brother’s list of incoming calls. But it didn’t take much. It would be enough to set off the first of the many motions that would make Dean realize something wasn’t right. Sam listened to the almost calm sound of his inhales and exhales. If it had gone through at all.
A sudden soft clicking noise made him snap his eyes open.
Confused, he blinked at the room’s startling bright luminosity. Unsure of what he was looking at, he blinked again at the opposite wall with all its murky details now all glaringly clear under a sheet of light that stretched in a perfect elongated rectangle. The edge of it cut into the door way and Sam saw it reflecting back in the room beyond in a thin dazzling sliver. The brilliance of it stuttered for a moment, a fuzzy line running across its surface and then settling back again.
It was artificial light. Like a movie screen with a film projector.
Knowing it must be coming from somewhere right behind him he tried to turn and see its source. He couldn’t see anything but the continuance of space at his back. The light swiftly changed from stark white and chaotically became moving technicolor. The space it was broadcasting on was so vast that the images took a moment to make sense. It was the flash of traffic, zipping past the camera lens so closely that the unmistakable form and sight of a motel was lost and then there again every several seconds. Sam watched, uncertain as to what was being accomplished with this until the angle winked about 90 degrees to the left in a choppy edit of the film maker.
Feeling his brow crease, he saw a distant door open and a person emerge out of one of the many rooms. It was fairly weird to observe yourself. Like hearing a recording of your own voice, your body language and movement were never anything you had quite set in your head. Sam watched himself as the camera panned to follow him. The car hood came up and with a cursory look around, slammed back shut again. The image winked again, this time much dimmer, either from the time of day or the skill of the operator. It was a broad window this time dominating the frame of the damaged wall. Dean was with him this time, sitting opposite in a booth while their mouths moved in some conversation Sam could barely recall having. For some reason he wondered why there was no sound on the patch work of the surveillance.
It blinked again and again.
Store fronts. Rest stops. More motels. Sometimes just wide spans of nothing but the blur of foliage until the camera swung and caught his image walking down a street distracted by something to be read in his hands. Sometimes Dean was there on the film border, almost cut off or included by after thought in preference to the focus of the subject. Most of the time it was just Sam. Snatches and moments that he could numbly determine to have come from all over the country within the last five months.
“Once back in September you bought a dollar beer."
The soft amused voice quickly snapped Sam’s attention away from the unrelenting progress of the rapid succession of images. It felt like the show was drawing to an end, the shots shorter, the distance closer, the frames that once only captured him across the street now boldly had close ups of his face.
"Then you know what you did?” There was a pause followed by a small laugh. “You went and left a five buck tip.”
Sam fought to readjust his blinded eyes into the darkness of the doorway where someone was clearly standing. The sound of the man slowly sent a seep of cold down his spine in his near recognition. Frantically searching the shadows, he fumbled for anything else that would trigger his fogged memory.
"Bet you were even gonna make sure that girl got home safe and sound, weren't you?"
The person was slightly bewildered in the retelling but there was something else coursing right beneath the surface. Sam realized with detached surprise that it was some kind of bland irritation.
“W-Who are you?” He was glad his voice didn’t crack like he thought it would.
“I have to admit...”
The man moved easily into the hectic flashes of light, stopping just as the living photos finally came to a halt. The last frame was blurred, spreading half the wall into a bizarre smear of electronic noise. Most of the Impala was visible as it was backing out of some parallel yellow lines. The curl of the exhaust stilled in a cloud that settled up around it like some artistic rendering that made it appear not quite real. Tall with a stance of concrete, the man stood where the light bisected the fractured picture, his shadow severe and perfectly cut behind him.
“...you sure don’t act like the son of a devil.”
Sam felt his heart skip a beat as it all came together in one tumultuous crashing jolt of comprehension. The brutal but precise assault in the middle of the night. The cautious preparation. This man wasn’t supposed to be out in the world. He was supposed to be rotting in some lock down in the middle of Indiana. This should have never happened. Sam was too careful. Sam never got found unless he wanted to be.
But this man had gone right ahead and done it a second time.