Author: Mink & Jink
Rating: R - Peril - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
It was fairly earth-shattering just how much Gordon reminded him of his brother.
In the easy way he smiled, his tone low soft and casual as could be. But the thing that made his heart race and his throat tighten was what was lurked behind all of it. The constant calm appraisal in his manner, a blanket coolness that could shift seamlessly to startling white hot violence. Whatever it was that kept their victims teetering on the thin line of rationale and panic, Sam knew both Gordon and Dean possessed it in abundance.
“You guys should really mix it up once or twice a year.”
Sam tried to camouflage his agitation when Gordon walked behind him out of his sight. When he could no longer see anything in his peripheral vision, he listened just as hard. The small minute sounds of the machinery that had projected a few months of spy work clacked and stopped. With a flicker the room suddenly faded into its former gloom.
“Maybe even more than that.” Gordon reconsidered. “Change of plates at least.”
His boots ground on the floor with enough noise to note that it would be a real effort to get anywhere around this ruin without making your presence known no matter how hard you tried. A hand pressed down onto his shoulder and Sam tensed as it affably patted him twice. It was withdrawn a little quickly, the step away mindful as if his captor was nearing what could be a dangerous animal. Something unpredictable and savage. By the time the man had rounded the circle to lean down to look Sam in the eye he was well outside the line of salt.
“Do you know some folks still recall John just because of that old Chevy?” Gordon smiled a small smile. “Riding that thing around, you two might as well be leaving a forwarding address every time you skip town.”
Sam stared back at him, feeling his wrists move more easily in the metal because of a slick sweat. He was in trouble. He was in really big fucking trouble.
“Gotta say I was guilty of the same for a long time.” Gordon continued as he righted himself and stretched. “But I am no where near as famous as you are.”
“What the hell do you want?”
It was out before Sam could formulate anything better. There wasn’t much else to say anyway and he didn’t have the same talent for snide that his family handled with impunity. All this person had ever wanted before was to end his life but that didn’t seem to be happening this time around. If he didn’t want Sam’s death than he wanted something else. It bothered him a great deal that what it could be had little or nothing to do with the notions of human behavior. This wasn’t for love or money, this was for the land of black and white that this man ruled as judge and jury. The pendulum of his fixed morality was frozen in place. It was a thing Sam knew couldn’t be reasoned with. When reason failed all that was left behind were the basics. With a small sigh, Sam shifted uncomfortably in his seat. The basics were never pretty.
Sam licked at some dried blood on a split lip and wondered with growing trepidation why Gordon hadn't touched him beyond the friendly pat. He was not entirely sure but he knew he was not about to meet the business end of some brass knuckles.
That scared the shit out of him.
Reaching into a back pocket, Gordon pulled out a chunk of chalk and rolled it between his fingertips. Considering Sam again, he crouched down in front of him and tapped the worn nub thoughtfully on the floor. His dark eyes searched Sam’s face for something as he cleared his throat.
“Sorry about this.” Gordon said apologetically.
Moving the chalk, it lightly screeched in a way that set Sam’s teeth on edge. It didn’t bother Gordon much as he pushed down harder cracking off small shards of the stuff as he traced a near perfect oval on the periphery of the arc that paralleled the salt. Sam carefully observed as the simple line was made across its width. This uncomplicated task done, Gordon’s gaze shifted back up to him.
Sam moved uneasily as something strange started to happen. There was a change in the cloud that he’d been ignoring, the daze that pounded in his head with a hang over and who knew what other damage he’d taken on the night before. With every breath he took it appeared to dissipate and fade into a mild rush he sometimes experienced after downing something full of sugar and caffeine. Shaking his head from side to side, he inhaled again, his bruised face and body washing over with not a numb comfort but a return to what passed for better than average. Confused, he sat up straighter and met Gordon’s look.
The man before him repositioned his hand and drew another line through the shape, crisscrossing it down its middle.
The rush swiftly gushed again and Sam felt his head hit the back of the chair. Even though the wood revisited the spot he’d been knocked down on in that parking lot, it felt far way and inconsequential. The last lingering remains of the sickness in his belly vanished and the overwhelming urge to stand took over. His muted senses were becoming vibrantly aware, the low light at the window turning brighter, shining and revealing the room in a sharp clarity. Without thinking he pushed his fists in their binds again, testing the strength of what kept him in place.
The oval was slashed again and again.
Sam started to shake.
Colors had turned into a sum of their solids, all the shades of everything at all blending into cartoonish brightness. His heart was beating quickly but not disagreeably. The air whispered over his exposed skin like he could hear every movement of its passage. Watching the empty table he could see the silky fall of ash and marveled at every small detail in the rise and fall of its uneven surface. He redirected his attention to the burnt walls, the ebony shine of the exposed wooden support beams gleaming like polished obsidian. His body felt as though it no longer had any weight to it. If he stepped out of that window he would be able to fly. The thin fabric of his button up moved on his skin like gentle hands. The bite of the metal felt like something he could shatter with one twitch of his singing muscles.
Sam heard himself gasp as the sensation teetered on the boundary of unbelievable. It was pouring into him, like a flood of water into a vessel too small. He whimpered when he felt no immediate end to the incredible unrelenting deluge.
“Just one more.” Gordon promised.
There was a very fine line between pleasure and agony. The next chalk mark nudged the raucous soaring into an uncontainable roar. Sam trembled uncontrollably as he concentrated on breathing, making his chest rise and fall. That was all he had to do. That was his only focus and job. He had to keep breathing until this stopped, he had to keep his eyes open and just wait—
Gordon reached back down over the symbol and blurred it across the tile with a thumb.
Sam heard his own stifled burst of confounded relief as he felt the vicious draw on all his nerves abruptly go. In stunned disbelief he collapsed back into himself, all his senses cut loose like an axe had come down on a rope pulled taut and close to breaking.
“You know what I find really interesting?” Gordon asked him.
Sam tried to will his limbs to stop shaking so badly that he was actually making noise in his chair. Racked with a violent shiver that ran down his back, all his familiar pain settled heavily back down into his body. The throb of his wounds was redefined and keener, the scrapes and contusions more intense after having just felt what it meant to be as unsubstantial as air. Gordon stood and brushed off the light coating of powder on his hands.
He slipped the chalk back into his pocket and cocked his head at Sam with an open appraisal of appeased curiosity.
“I find it pretty interesting that this stuff has any effect on you at all.”
Sam had asked for water and was not completely astounded when he got some.
After that he had done nothing but take silent inventory of everything he saw occur in his field of vision. His exits were already clear besides whatever might be behind him. However, he figured on one assurance about dealing with Gordon. This man didn’t leave much to chance. Sam would expect nothing less than the contingencies he’d make himself. Unfortunately, a man like Gordon worked on a set or rules that Sam couldn’t quite wrap his head all the way around no matter how he tried.
Still, he was expecting one thing to happen.
Sam let himself look back at the knife that hadn’t left the chair it had been sitting on since he had first opened his eyes. He'd never really allowed himself to think about just how he dealt with pain. Grinding his jaw, he battled and won the next onslaught of fear that would do nothing but end him faster.
“I’ve got a lot of things to ask you.” Gordon confessed. “And I don’t have a whole lot of time.”
He knew Gordon couldn’t know much but the most rudimentary things about him. A lot of his secrets he had privately hoped died alongside the men and women out there in that dusty saloon that had been leveled to the ground. But nothing like information stayed static for very long.
Sam smiled before he could help himself.
So this was what Gordon wanted. Some intelligence from the other side.
After everything that had gone down, Sam wondered what exactly what the word on the street was these days. There was quite a lot to get wrong. If Gordon knew even half of it Sam was pretty sure that shiny knife would be embedded deep in his chest by now.
Sam blinked knowing he was right. This hunter didn’t know much. Not even half. But he thought Sam knew all sorts of things. Feeling himself slump with some annoyance of his own, Sam used most of his self control to stop from rolling his eyes. Boy, was this dude in for an exhausting exercise in profound disappointment.
He figured if he learned anything from his brother it was how to cut to the chase.
“I don’t know anything.”
Gordon pulled up one of the chairs and straddled it. Crossing his arms on the back, he looked like he was about to tell a funny story.
“You know how often you aren’t by your brother’s side?”
Sam knew Gordon might know all about it in terms of days, minutes and hours.
“You’ve been in this town all by your lonesome for almost two weeks.”
Counting backwards, Sam realized that Gordon was missing maybe about five days. For some reason that made Sam feel almost the best he’d felt in what seemed a long while. Gordon wasn’t flawless no matter how it appeared. It also made sense now why the man had made his move when he had. Things always got more complicated when it was two against one. If Sam hadn’t been off on his own he wouldn’t have been sitting alone in that bar either and Gordon knew it.
“I want to know why you’re here.”
Sam briefly contemplated what Gordon could possibly be thinking. He came up with some pretty fantastic stuff. Clandestine meetings with the black eyed cohorts of the wrong side. Hidden shrines beneath the forgettable rural municipality that boasted having the highest steeple for fifty miles. A thousand different secrets that involved the destruction of everything and all.
Because he wasn’t sure what else to do Sam tried the truth again.
Gordon’s straightforward smile went away but the look in his eyes didn’t change at all.
“There’s nothing going on in this shit hole but some kids tipping a few cows.”
So this hugely informed man also didn’t know what that old mausoleum from the 1950’s had sitting in it either? It was more than completely unrelated but Sam felt his confidence start to creep back anyway. Feeling his back straighten, he let the warmth of it seep up and begin to smother the distracting cold waver of his discipline. Sam let the sound of his rediscovered optimism come right out.
“Wrong again, Gordon.”
From the look on his keeper’s face Sam wondered if this was a terrible time to bring up the bathroom.
Sam had no idea how it happened but he had managed to fall asleep.
He wasn’t sure what had woken him until he picked up on the steady careful recitation. The Latin was something he himself had repeated many times in as many places. Most of it he knew literally backwards. He even knew some of it in bits and pieces in the various older languages that Gordon was stumbling through now.
Groaning at the return of consciousness, he automatically tried to extend his trapped limbs. Feeling the beginning of a burn that would eventually sink into a sear, his muscles cramped in protest, twitching and tightening under his skin. There were only so many hours the body could comfortably withstand being confined to one position. Sam groggily had a sudden grim idea of what this timeline might entail when he remembered just how long he and his brother had once left this man in even less ideal circumstances.
At least Gordon didn’t expect him to wet his own pants.
Sam had been hoping for some reason that the bathroom request would require some freedom of movement. It turned out the man had come equipped with one of those hand held plastic johns that some hardcore drivers used in the car or the big rigs that had to haul ass all night to make their drops. Sam had to go so badly he didn’t even really care that much that he hadn’t even been given use of his hands. If he closed his eyes and tried real hard he could almost make believe he was unzipping his own jeans.
The light that had never grown much brighter than gray had peaked while he had drifted, its decline looking almost identical to the sunrise. But there was a new yellow glow in the corner. It was an electric lamp that ran on just few batteries. Sam had read a book or three under quite a few of the things growing up.
It occurred to him that Gordon was regarding him warily.
Was all that reading out loud just for him? He yawned, awkwardly trying to stretch what he could as his gaze fell back down on that salt line. So the hunter was trying out everything in his bag of mystical tricks. Sam could have told him that Latin had more of an affect on his older brother. Long term exposure seemed to cause a deep and untroubled slumber.
“You were dreaming.” Gordon commented, looking back to a few leather bound manuscripts that were open on the one and only table. “Didn’t sound like anything good.”
Sam didn’t remember having any. He couldn’t even remember shutting his eyes in the first place. But sure why not? He could take the man’s word for it. Flexing his hands, his thoughts wandered on how there used to be a similar report from his brother who slept never more than six feet away. Dean never mentioned that stuff anymore. Sam had assumed maybe the dreams had vanished along with his knowledge of them. The idea that they might be something that Dean simply accepted as a nightly event made him frown slightly.
The book was flipped closed, sending a roll of ash across the table top.
“Do you want some more water?”
Sam did but he shook his head.
There was something different in Gordon’s stance. He looked ready and charged to begin something difficult. That sigh of anticipatory resignation when you hefted a chainsaw and took in how large a pile of fallen logs you’d have to make into kindling. His sleeves were rolled up. His boots were planted firmly apart on the ground. It was apparently time to clock in and get to work.
Sam braced himself when Gordon came closer. But instead of a fist or that nice sharp blade, he knelt down again at the double circle edge. Sam looked back distrustfully at the books the man had been studying so intently as he had blissfully slept.
Along side the earlier experiment of the oval, another figure was being made. It resembled the numeral eight, possibly some variation of what Sam would have compared to an infinity symbol. It was not quite the same however, and embellished in a few strange ways that made Sam raise an eyebrow with professional skepticism.
When it appeared that all that was going to be done had been done, Gordon looked back up at him expectantly.
Sam dismally waited for something unpleasant to happen. He waited a little more. But nothing was coursing ferociously through him like it had the last time. He paused. Not quite. There was something but it was almost imperceptible. Like a fingertip pressing against the delicate surface of a soap bubble. He felt his perception subtly and oddly compressed. Sam realized he had been holding his breath and let it out. Was that all this fancy new hex Gordon had found could do? Maybe just like the Latin and salt this man had a lot of half baked ideas of just what exactly could goad Sam into spilling what he wanted to hear—
“I’ll start with something simple,” Gordon ground the chalk in place where the mark could be continued. “How many of you things are in this town?”
Looking back at the smeared symbol that almost made his brain go into nuclear over drive, Sam decided what it was he had to do. If Gordon wanted him in pain that was exactly what he’d give him. He’d do it now with this less than harmless chalk ward that felt little more than being poked in the forehead. But this hunter was no fool so whatever it was he was going to do it had to be good. Reaching a decision, Sam gripped the armrests and loudly let his breath catch in his throat. That got Gordon’s attention real quick. Sam had seen exorcisms and the like before. He knew what it looked like.
It was a good thing that faking it was something he did fairly well.
For some authenticity Sam jammed his hands as forward as they could go so the hiss of pain was as real as it could get. The rest he just prayed was even remotely close to what Gordon had been expecting. He had read that actors drew on actual agony they had experienced in their real lives to make what they did seem legitimate. With a deep inhale, he decided to do the same. There were plenty of locked doors in his mind that he could pull wide open if this man needed tears for proof that the magic was doing its thing. Glad he wasn’t that proud, Sam reacted appropriately to the next deliberate line of chalk that was meant to make him scream.
At first it was faintly embarrassing to express suffering when there was none, but it got easier as some time went on.
It got down right effortless whenever he caught sight of that damn knife.
Sam was tired.
It was draining to pretend to be writhing in anguish for what he knew was almost four hours. He knew because Gordon kept checking every time his watch went off on a thirty minute mark. His sweat was as real as his limp body felt. For now, he was playing that card for all it was worth.
It hadn’t been a totally smooth four hour ride.
Sam had gotten nervous when the mark had been joined by another one, but it looked like Gordon had lucked out on his very first try with the oval. Every one he gave a roll of the dice to after that one had been a complete bust. If Sam detected anything at all it wasn’t palpable. It was as if he could feel its impact flung up against some barrier around him, falling harmlessly around to either side. Unbeknownst to the determined hunter anyway. The chalk was dropped down onto the ground without a word.
Looked like Gordon was getting a little weary of this game too.
Sam considered what might be coming next. It had been easy to keep repeating he had nothing to say when he really actually didn’t. But Sam had no illusions to his lasting power under actual torture, and he had a good feeling that this man was the type that never gave up very easily.
If there was frustration here at the lack of results, Gordon wasn’t letting any of it through. Wandering over to the table he picked up the open bottle of water he’d been sharing and poured half of it down his throat. The stream of questions he had been repeating over and over as Sam feigned the lashings had yielded nothing but resistance. But instead of the voice growing fiercer and wrathful, everything about Gordon’s demeanor remained on the same level plain. Sam knew there was going to be no build up to the end of this inquisition. He wished there had been some final explosion of anger from the guy. Something harsh and thunderous. Opened handed or closed right across his face. Anything but that unruffled reasoning gaze he was watching Sam with now. If Gordon found him unable to produce, it might just be time to slit a throat and be done with it. Sam felt the fight in him falter at the inevitably of it. He felt his stressed body sag as much as it was able in his chair, his eyes closing in some effort to gather what it was that he had left.
“Your phone just keeps ringing and ringing.”
Looking up sharply, Sam was held back from sitting forward like he wanted to. His phone was here? Glancing around as if he could somehow catch sight of it, he felt a certain weight suddenly lift. He hadn’t let himself think too long on the possibility that his last ditch effort to call for some back up had really worked. If he wasn’t picking up his phone then Dean knew there was a reason. Hell, for all Sam knew his brother could be in town by now walking around in his empty motel room and finding all the reasons to believe something had gone horribly wrong.
The phone in question was slipped out of Gordon’s front shirt pocket. Compact and silver, Sam remembered turning the ringer off at some point during his silent hours of labor in the library the previous day.
“You don’t want to talk but it’s not your fault,” The hunter sat back tiredly into a chair and rubbed at his forehead. “I haven’t been giving you the motivation you need.”
Sam felt his glimmer of hope die away as he listened to those words.
“I’ve been thinking about answering it,” Gordon nodded to himself as he turned the phone in his palm. “I’ve been thinking I could use your brother’s help.”
“I-I told you I don’t know anything—“
“It’s okay, Sammy,” Gordon reassured him. “You're a smart guy. You can always change your mind.”
Sam watched as the man stood and strode to the doorway. Leaning comfortably against its blackened frame he studied the flashing blue face of the cell. Gordon tilted the machine back and forth a few times before deciding which button activated the redial.
"Gordon..." Sam wrenched his fists in their binds.
"Yeah. Yeah, he’s here." Gordon sounded almost friendly.
"Gordon!" Sam shouted, chest heaving.
"Hold on a minute."
Gordon set the phone down with a sigh and crossed quickly back towards him. A vicious backhand made Sam bite down hard, tasting blood. Fighting a surge of dizziness, he watched the hunter take the phone back up with a small shake of his head as the conversation resumed.
“Sorry about that,” he explained. “That Sammy. He’s a trip.”
As he listened to whatever litany of growled threats and curses were coming from his brother's end, Gordon's face was stoic, waiting patiently. Sam watched with blurring vision as Gordon's hand toyed with the handle of the knife, picking it up and turning it slowly, letting the weak lamplight catch its razor sharp edge.
He hefted it in his hand and idly walked until he stopped outside of the circles on the floor.
"Cut the bull, Dean," Gordon's smile returned. "You won't do shit."
He leaned over Sam, tapping the flat of the blade gently against Sam's cheek. Sam's breath hitched, throat working soundlessly. He had wanted anger and it looked like it had finally arrived.
"Yeah, you got a pen? I’ll give you directions."
Sam listened to the list of roads and avenues that lead to this isolated place. It was farther out of the town than he had considered. But it would still only take Dean less than an hour to get there.
“Sure,” Gordon's dark eyes shifted to meet Sam’s. "He'll be real happy to see you."
Sam could not disagree more.