Author: Mink & Jink
Rating: R - Peril - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Sam had long forgotten the feeling of regular blood flow to his limbs, past all pain and into a strange but tolerable numbness.
The lack of sensation had ceased to bother him, exhaustion and what was probably the onset of dehydration made the shades of ache blur and overlap. It had taken a long time to reach this fragile position of stasis. He hovered within a delicate width where he could completely stem the flow of agony his nerves received. When it seemed clear that time had come for him to finally leave his seat, he found himself not as excited as he should be. Because one thing was for sure, the road back to mobility would not be a good time.
Sam groaned when he felt the hunter's hands work quickly and efficiently behind him, knowing what would come next. The bite of the leather belt cutting into his waist was jerked free and tossed aside. He barely had time to prepare himself when he heard the sharp click of the release. His body gave way, crumbling out of the chair to leave him gasping on the floor, eyes squeezed shut. A thousand burning needles shot through his arms and legs, muscles twitching in shock at the sudden absence of their restraint. For a few endless minutes, no thought of his fate or what might come after preceded the sensation of how fucking terrible and wonderful it was to be out of that chair. He barely paid any attention as his hands were taken and the feel of metal returned. These were everyday handcuffs, the gauge made them police issue but they didn’t feel like the lead crushing weights of the clamps. For the first time in days, Sam could lift his bound hands and pushed the hair up out of his eyes.
He could hear Gordon walking around him with urgent brusqueness, the sound of him rechecking weapons and packing things into his duffel.
"Look alive, Sammy. Goin' on a little field trip."
The rush of feeling down his cramped legs flared to excruciating as soon as he attempted to stand up. He hadn’t been upright for more than a few seconds before it got so bad that his body gave out before he had a chance to agree. The burn seared up again with the jolt of his knees on the hard floor. His tethered hands came out in front of him to keep from falling full out on his face. Palms landing on the ground, he accidentally ruined the salt circle with his efforts to stay vertical. The sharp granules stuck to his skin as he quickly lifted his shaking hands away. A flash of deep seated dread surfaced at the sight of a line broken by mistake.
Gordon watched him attentively but with no great amount of concern. It didn’t seem to be much of a surprise that the salt hadn’t kept him locked tight inside its borders.
Fighting the dissent of his limbs, he pushed himself up a little to look for Dean. His brother's breathing rose and fell in a shallow harsh pattern that indicated awareness though his chin was down against his chest. The sleeves of his flannel were dark and stiff with blood. The rain was coming in with small gusts of the storm, the water wetting his hair and soaking his shoulders. Shivering uncontrollably, his skin was a shade too close to the anemic wash of the gray sky. Sam knew better to think it was because of the cold. The trembling had set in well before the rain started to dot the floor. The shaking had spread and settled over his brother’s body as soon as Gordon had shut the last symbol down with a brush of a hand.
"Dean?" Sam croaked.
Dean's shoulders tensed at the sound of his name, the ropes which bound him rigid to the window frame creaking slightly as he strained. He reluctantly raised his head, meeting Sam’s eyes vacantly. Sam didn’t like that look. Not now. Not when things were happening and there was a window of chance rapidly approaching. The less they were restrained the better their odds became. But that span of opportunity could vanish as quickly as it arrived.
Gritting his teeth, Sam tested his arms, trying to lift his weight up off the dirty floor. His bones were as weak and insubstantial as water. Distracted by his own efforts, he winced when Gordon's grip wrenched him up firmly and quickly by the bicep. The abrupt process made him bite back on a sharp gasp, hands flattening against the wall he found himself propped mercifully against. His legs weren’t feeling all that useful, But realized they were taking his weight. Testing his muscles slowly, Sam listened as Gordon finished packing the last of his equipment. Gordon walked into the middle of the room, and gave everything a final once-over before heading out.
Like an afterthought, Gordon turned to approach the window. Sam saw his brother's body stiffen as the man leaned down unbearably close. It was a simple thing to see that this hunter enjoyed subduing someone as dangerous as his brother. Gordon's entire stance assumed something like pride whenever he got near him. His hand came up and went firmly over Dean’s already muffled mouth. At first Sam frowned in confusion, wondering just how he’d stop the man from performing some horrible manual suffocation that would end his brother right here and now. But then he heard the soft, stifled sounds of protest rise from Dean as Gordon leaned even closer. Instead of pinching his nose shut too, Gordon instead briefly pressed his lips onto the back of his own knuckles. The touch was almost sympathetic, made carefully and deliberately over his brother's smothered mouth. Dean froze under the strangely gentle gesture, his chest heaving uncertainly.
"Just a kiss goodnight."
A brutal backwards whip of his arm sent Dean’s chin up hard into the bars. It had been precisely placed to put him out cold, leaving nothing but a fine line of blood running from his lip. Sam watched weakly as the nylon twine was slashed and severed with a box cutter. Gordon did one hand at a time, saving the brunt of the limp weight until he was in the right position to heave Dean up off the window. Sam willed his legs to obey the command to stand as he watched his brother settle like a dead body across Gordon’s shoulders.
"You first, Sammy," he motioned towards the door with his pistol. "Let's go."
Sam stared at him before he decided to begin the stagger out into the hallway. With one backward glance he took a look at the chair that had been his prison. The circles of chalk and salt lay marred around its circumference. As he suspected there hadn’t been any other way out at his back. It was just another wall with an uneven metal rack of a bookcase. But directly behind the large wooden seat was another circle that had been drawn on the wall’s scorched plaster. Like the salt, it hadn’t done much good besides brightening up the place. With a small smile, he had sort of wondered if he was going to see the sight of that particular ward anytime during his stay. Sam was even a little flattered at the trouble that had gone into the detail. His smile faltered as he turned away from the powder chalk drawing and he began the slow move towards the stairs. He realized his brother had had a perfect view of that thing for a real long time. Dean had probably been looking at it since his arrival and giving a lot of thought as to why the hell it was there. After everything that had happened, Sam wouldn’t have blamed him.
The devil’s trap was a hard one to ignore.
There were many ways in which this entire thing could get worse.
The unseen sun was already beginning to set behind the clouds. Judging by the names on the signs as they sped by and the selected remoteness of the gutted factory, it would be well past nightfall by the time they reached their destination. Sam shifted uncomfortably in the too familiar space of a passenger seat. Gordon's four door sedan was ingeniously non-specific, the seating stiff and awkward for Sam's sore frame. His cuffed hands had been laced through the snug fitting seatbelt, the loaded pistol resting comfortably in Gordon’s lap. The conversation was kept short and the radio off, dark eyes fixed and intent on the road. Sam willed Dean to wake up while the trip lasted. He envisioned the trailing ends of the cords on his wrists hooking around Gordon’s throat. He didn’t even care if it sent them all crashing into the guard rail, spinning and rending steel until it all came to a shuddering halt...
But Gordon knew better than to take weakness for granted in either of his captives. Although Dean hadn’t moved when he had been arranged in the backseat, Gordon had made sure to refasten his hands in the same kind of manacles Sam had been provided.
Sam was grateful for the white noise of the cars rushing by on the highway. It cleared his head.
Gordon had questioned him further about the job. Sam carefully picked a few phrases out of his memory of necromancy to make it all sound like perfect sense. He’d been mindful to withhold enough detail to make it all appear legit. With the added numerology of the town’s latitude and longitude, the hunter was obviously completely convinced this was what he had waited so patiently for. Although, it disturbed Sam slightly to find an easy plausibly in dictating the Devil’s work.
“There have always been people out to bring back the dead,” Gordon shook his head. “It comes up over and over again in the bible. Got so bad there was even a warning made to the Israelites. Imagine that? Nothing like the good old days.”
With the unhindered circulation of blood, Sam found his thoughts processing more easily. Not that he'd needed to fabricate. The Big Bad out there in the mausoleum at the edge of town hadn't been a lie. There was something out there in that sprawling standing graveyard that any side of the war would want for their benefit. Sam hadn’t actually ever considered the thing’s use before he had started manufacturing the story. He had never been taught to sway the things they hunted, just bring rest or oblivion.
“The word of God didn’t stop everybody though,” Gordon continued. “It says right there in the Book of Deuteronomy that King Saul had his witch go ahead and give it a shot anyway."
Dean stirred behind them, tossing his head once and then twice before the rattle of metal proved he was awake. Sam suddenly wished that gag wasn’t there to censor any of his brother’s thoughts no matter what they might happen to be. That mouth was about as good for distraction as it was at self infliction.
“They invoked the shade of Samuel,” Gordon looked over at Sam with a smile. “And you know what that ghost told Saul?”
Sam knew that legend as well as any bedtime fable. As a kid he had had the childish attraction to any story that included someone with his own name. But as the years passed the figures on the old pages took a more solemn shape in his professional lexicon. Samuel’s spirit had been summoned long enough to stand on the palace stone and push forward air from rotted lungs. It had been enough to whisper in the ear of the doomed ruler of the holy land. But it wasn’t divine insight that came from the flip side. The type of knowledge the shade had imparted was why the hunter behind the wheel was so amused with the retelling.
That ghost had uttered something most men never wanted to hear. While the king eagerly expected to receive the grace of heaven, he instead had been told exactly where and how he would die.
“Don’t worry,” Gordon’s voice had a quiet assurance even though Sam had been silent. "Almost there."
It was very old and a lot larger than he’d suspected.
Listening to the tires grind across the massive parking lot, Sam watched the building loom in the dismal twilight. As the car traversed the asphalt, another wing of the structure appeared behind the tangle of woods and redoubled its possible size. Mausolea came in all proportions and shapes. The mammoth stone buildings were no different from a cemetery, housing hundreds and hundreds of bodies up and down the inside of the bare corridors. In place of headstones there were small plaques with surnames and the hyphenated years. Instead of neatly clipped grass that took you from grave to grave, there was a polished marble floor. There was no broad blue sky overhead but a towering ceiling that allowed maximum capacity of remains to stack up to six coffins high.
The brick foundations of the vault might have looked their age but the locks definitely didn't.
Tampering with the dead was still very much a pastime, even outside their singular profession. The security was advanced and computerized but even that gave Gordon little trouble. In five minutes he had the circuits fried, the code cracked and it didn't take more than a good hard shove with a crow bar to do away with the peripherals. When they moved inside, Gordon paused to study its immediate layout. Pretending to do the same, Sam felt a renewed sense of calm knowing he’d already had an advantage over the man. He had spent his weeks in the nearby town studying blue prints. Construction permits. City inspection notices. Nevertheless, nothing was ever quite the same as it was on paper.
For all his time spent with what the waking world kept far away, Sam couldn't suppress the uncomfortable thought at the sheer volume of the place. It was a weird tinge of claustrophobia that came when too much unlit space was trapped between too many walls. The vast stretch before them held nothing but cast pools of dim light spread intermittently down the long corridor. There was the odor of the undisturbed, the still hanging air and the settled dust. Sam took in the height of the cavernous ceiling, measuring the width of how the coffins were tidily stacked on top of the other. Each occupied spot was catalogued and categorized in etched brass or granite.
Gordon set the barrel of his gun level with the base of Dean’s spine and indicated at Sam to start walking. Exchanging a look with his brother before he moved, he hoped to see something there he’d recognize. They weren’t armed but they both had some mobility now. If they moved at the same time something could be accomplished before a bullet met a mark. But all he got was a return of his stare. As Dean worked the leather strip wedged between his teeth, Sam caught a nervous clench in his brother’s bruised jaw. It didn’t match the look in his eyes. It should have been anger but it looked more like wary caution. And it wasn’t turned on white hot like the situation required. His brother was half lost in a fog of bewilderment and the lingering haze of a pain.
Taking a deep breath, Sam headed in the direction he had been shown. He considered just starting to talk out loud despite what Gordon might do. Explain that he wasn’t anything that this man said he was. Show his brother that nothing had changed no matter what those wards had forced out of him.
Hunching his shoulders, Sam had to remind himself where the hunter’s pistol was. It was the only thing keeping him from swinging around with double fists and taking his chances using a body that barely wanted to take a walk.
The endless hall turned on a complete right angle, leading to another long stretch of heavy silence. A macabre demand for space allowed for additions, newer sections with cleaner floors and more elaborate engravings on the markers. Sam directed his mind back to the large sheets of paper that outlined every door and vent. He remembered this addition only being less than a decade old. The stolen building draft of the mausoleum sat in Sam’s mind as though it were laid out in front of him. The double oak doors were one of the structure’s few closed off rooms.
Even though they were a long way from the town steeple, what lay beyond was hallowed ground.
Most cultures, it seemed, felt the need to enclose their remains under the care of a guardian of some kind.
Where there were bones, God or some imitation was never far away. The chapel adjoining the vault was little more than an unimpressive holding space with a solitary stained glass window and a plain wood stoup of holy water. Dark red candles sat sputtering in their brass holders, waiting to receive prayers in the gloom.
The inside of the place was stale and warm, the smell of old wax and smoke heavy in the air. The small room’s existence seemed meant only for the random visitor to leave their whisperings with the fixed crucifix before departing for the sunlight. It felt cramped and low after the broad wide echo of the barren halls. Despite its intention to comfort and console, it did not feel like a room anyone would linger in for very long.
Dean was swaying on his feet when Gordon pushed them both down on their knees before the modest altar.
"Sit a spell." Gordon said.
Neither of them argued though Sam saw Dean's instincts override his hesitancy, the intensity of his glare making up for his enforced silence.
"I won't be gone long," Gordon explained. "But I gotta make sure you boys stay put."
Leaning over and clutching his stomach, Sam fought back the burn starting up and down his frame. Once he had hit the floor, his new found legs had instantly started to cramp with waiting muscle tremors. He felt a cold sweat break out over his skin when he saw Gordon produce the chalk again.
"Go on," Gordon offered it to Dean. "Take it."
"Y-you really think that’s even going to work in here?" Sam rasped.
Gordon cocked the gun, pressing the tip against Dean's forehead.
"No time to argue semantics."
Shakily, Dean shifted on his knees, swaying slightly to the side when his balance swung momentarily out of his control. Sam watched him raise his hands up slowly, his knees sliding further apart for an even lower center of gravity. Although Gordon was right in front of them, Dean’s hands were strangely misplaced off to the side. Sam blinked, realizing that the off set in his brother’s eyes might have a lot to do with some loss of vision. Watching Dean focus up vaguely to the left of where Gordon actually was, he knew his brother was in worse shape than what he could read. Gordon placed the chalk in Dean’s open palm and then squeezed his fingers closed around it.
"It don't have to be perfect."
Dean performed the task the easiest way he could, by pulling the chalk around himself. By the time he got the ends to meet, Sam was glad the hunter with the gun wasn’t worried about exactness. All that really mattered was that it was sealed.
Job done, his brother dropped the chalk and absently smeared a streak of pink on the thigh of his jeans.
Without comment, Gordon’s boot came up and sent Dean careening backwards. The force of it sent him sliding across the smooth floor and crashing into of one of the pews. A grip hooked into Sam’s cuffs and dragged him into the circle that had been made. Before he could react, a solid downward motion with the handle of the gun made stars burst before his eyes. Dizzy and disoriented, he pressed his clammy hands down on the cold stone under him. Before his sight cleared he heard the chalk scrape in a rapid succession of marks.
Sam focused just in time to witness the oval’s shape before another was added next to it. The oval had been the very first of all the marks Gordon had experimented with. However, it wasn’t fed to him gradually this time. No, this go around was all business and with none of the watchful curiosity for his insightful reactions. With no build up between ecstasy and horrifying, Sam jerked violently, his back arching as it sprung up through him like a torch set to flame.
“Looks like it works just fine.” Gordon observed.
He felt his lungs seize and spasm with the intensity of it, his mind frantic with the comprehension of possibly being left this way for more than a few seconds. Wheezing in a breath of air he felt it start to ease off as Gordon decreased the symbols value. Sam didn’t know why the man did it, but at the moment he didn’t have time to ponder the unexpected act of mercy. The sharp ringing in his ears quieted to a dull pitch but a steady terrible pull remained. Its phantom hold kept him stiffly upright on his knees like a hand was tipping up his chin. Struggling to move, Sam realized that that damn chair hadn’t been the only thing keeping him in check during their previous sessions. The chalk had been doing its part too.
Gordon leaned down and lifted Dean up by the elbow. Pulling him out from under the pew, Gordon pushed him towards the narrow steep steps that led to the pulpit. Someone had had provided a podium up there for those not of the cloth to speak from. It looked tacked on compared to the austere simple assembly of the small church. It was a place to clutch while a eulogy was read, or a simple vantage for the staff to recite the obituary of a stranger. Whatever it was, it was solidly fastened to the adjoining wall. His brother had roused enough that Gordon swiftly shifted his weight to kneel with one knee down on Dean’s chest.
Unlocking one of Dean’s hands, Gordon proficiently slipped the ring around the solid leg of the platform’s heavy oak base. With a short pause of consideration, Gordon flicked out a butterfly knife from his back pocket and slit the gag off with one quick motion. Dean didn’t say anything when it was pulled free. Sprawled on the raised steps, he rolled his head and worked his jaw painfully. Tasks completed, Gordon stepped away and stowed his firearm.
“If the name you gave me isn’t here?” Gordon glanced over in Dean’s direction. “I’ll make you burn him inside out like a flare.”
Sam twisted his body so he could watch the man shoulder the bag of equipment that had been brought along. The name Sam had graciously provided of the recently deceased was correct. Gordon didn’t have to worry about that at all. All he had to do was find it out there in the maze of corpses that lay waiting in the walls. For some reason, the fine keen of Gordon’s impatience made Sam think of that old King in his palace, waiting for the dead to rise so he could listen to all the secrets he believed he was due.
The man walked quickly down through the short aisle of varnished benches and didn’t spare either of them a second look before pushing through the double hinged doors. His footsteps echoed briefly before disappearing right along with him. They were alone.
Looking down desperately at the scrawled lines that kept him in thrall, Sam hovered in and out over the edges of pain.
Sam had wondered why Gordon had removed the gag from his brother’s mouth. But looking over at Dean, he now suddenly got the reason Gordon might think some quality alone time might be a great idea. Halfheartedly lifting a wrist to test his secure attachment to the floor, Dean refocused his blurred attention in Sam’s general direction. Sam was a little happy his brother couldn’t quite see everything in the dim waver of candle light. Especially when he was fairly sure what was coming next.
“Anything y-you wanna tell me, Sammy?”