Author: Mink & Jink
Rating: R - Peril - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Sam had been taught when and where to put up a fight.
If you found yourself lost in the woods you just stopped walking. Sit right down and fight the fear of all that quiet standing tall for every mile around you. Even through those empty woods and all its sounds at night, someone would come to find you if you didn’t go wandering. If you were struggling in a cold deep current and you felt a hand come down, you didn’t resist it. Make your body go slack so you don’t drown the person trying to pull you towards air. There were quite a few instances where Sam’s father had warned him that passivity would save his life. Like any good training he could almost hear his old man whispering in his ear to lay still, to stop feeding the fire that doubled and overlapped in on itself every time he lashed back in its grip.
Try as he might to obey, he couldn’t do it.
The instincts to rebel against the forces eagerly smothering his life were too powerful. Sam raged against the tight wind of circles that squeezed down over him like a snake slowly constricting its muscles. The blustering sear of noise flowing into him was unleashing whatever it found inside, the rush of it gushing harder when he tried to seize it weakly with trembling hands. The knowledge that his command over it was so far from physicality made him sink back down on the damp cement. No strength he knew could stop this. All words and weapons were far out of his reach.
It seemed like a glow should have been following the sizzling lines that sliced over his skin. He could feel them remaking the scrawled patterns from the floor, turning and curving on his chest, his back and the palms of his hands. As soon as the symbol completed on his flesh it would disassemble just as rapidly, running back into a molten line to reform somewhere else on his body. But there were no sparks, no sickly illlumated flourishes of light, only his own ragged breathing booming in his head like he was being held submerged. There was nothing but the pain spiraling so far beyond his control that he could only wait for it to become so excruciating that somehow his mind would mercifully wink out. But he could still hear something besides his end.
It sounded like the whole building was coming down.
A barrage of stale air struck him as the floor was pounded with steady impacts. The heavy load of the wall gave way in the pitch black, the plaster hissing as it crumbled. The heavy cinder blocks came slamming down in sections, each strike sending a cloud of debris across the floor. Sam heard his breathing turn to a wheeze as he choked on the thick dust.
Sensing the incoming speed of sudden movement, Sam grimly waited for its arrival. But instead of feeling its brunt, it stemmed around him. Holding up his hands, he felt the flow break like he was a branch in the middle of a tumbling white river. He froze at the feel of its thunderous passage, inches away like the ferocious velocity of a massive locomotive. It shook the ground violently as it roared by, screeching a path through the dark. A sudden overwhelming stink of death soaked through the chaos. Coy with the rot of meat and mildew, the release of tainted air poured over him like a layer of fog. Sam felt solid objects strike him from every side and above. He flung his arms automatically over his head as he waited to be flattened instead of being slowly ripped inside out by the wards all around him. Another explosion made his arms jerk tighter in protection, the rain of shattered concrete striking him sharp and hard. In a daze, Sam realized the collision was with the opposite wall by the door.
Everything fell abruptly and utterly silent.
Sam was so stunned it took him a moment to realize he wasn’t dying. Not only was he not dying, but the scorch of the symbols were fading on his flesh like multiple afterimages of a camera’s flash. It didn’t take long for his blind gaze to turn towards where he’d heard the last of the destruction. The trickle of rubble still falling from the unseen damage was loudest where he knew the door had been. His attempted words came out as a rasp, barely audible even to himself. A deep inhale of the dust made him seize on the next breath, coughing harshly into his arm. Trying to look for signs of anything at all with stinging watery eyes, there was nothing but the echoing drop of remnants in the stifling dark.
A stagger of a footstep made him still again. This time not out of caution but in relief. The pinpoint of light seemed like the brightest thing Sam had ever seen. It swung and jerked uncertainly over the wreckage. The flashlight was small. One of those tiny metal click-on’s with a flimsy fragile filament. Dean had probably found it while he had walked the halls searching for the correct last name on a plaque. A caretaker’s office or a storage closet.
Dean ungracefully fell to a kneel beside him, the dim stark light making the dust ignite like smoke in the air. Sam could see some of it now. The crush around him slowly being shoved back by his brother’s hands. The patch work of matted hair on skulls rolled off the brittle connection of yellowed spine. The tangle of near perfect fabric stained through with the well preserved skin that hadn’t had enough time to wither. All the bodies had erupted from their places deep in the walls, empting the contents of all the crypts in a jumbled grotesque pile. As his brother worked him free, he found it easier to stare upwards at the trail of light that Dean had tossed aside. From the angle in which it sat, the narrow beam shone straight up at the ceiling. Sam flexed his hands as he studied the jagged path scored by the thing’s passage. It had ripped right through the center of the careful concentric arrangement of circles Gordon had placed there. Every single one of them had been broken. Sam wondered if all the chalk marks on the floor looked the same. The ruined ceiling vanished when Dean directed the light back downwards.
Sam’s attention went back to the small tool that would get him out of this room. He saw the small initials scratched into the black chipped paint and the smaller cross etched over it. Letting himself be hauled up onto his knees, he realized the remaining burn on his palm was from his fist wrapped tightly around the length of bulky rosary beads. Insignificant tokens were sometimes all that stood in front of your life and the cold grip of what wanted to take it away. Sam smiled a little as he was heaved up onto his feet. His father had been right.
Sometimes help only came by waiting around.
They had walked away but not exactly untouched.
Sam noticed his brother favoring one leg and knew there were some bruises he couldn’t see with the lights out. Licking at the warm swell of salt seeping from his lower lip, he wondered what Dean’s arms must feel like, stiff with dried blood under his blackened sleeves. At least the vision problem seemed to have not gotten any worse. Sam never knew how to correctly judge or assess his brother’s damage. It all got stashed away so efficiently that it was easy to forget it was there at all.
They paused near the base of the stairwell and quietly listened before proceeding.
Dean didn’t have to explain that he’d been able to move before the whole wall came down like someone had detonated some plastics under it. Sam didn’t expect the usual half proud, half self astonished explanation of how it had been accomplished. He didn’t want to know when or how the invisible vise he’d created had gone away. It was a simple task to numbly walk in a slowed pace behind his brother and follow the wavering dazzling spot of the downcast flashlight. Staring at it made him a little dizzy, the sharp contrast to the murk set on every side brought a vague ache behind his eyes. Through all his other bumps and scrapes he felt the same unsettling hum right down in his center, the same sensation after he’d stood up in that chapel. Swallowing, he fought off the fear of what all those chalk marks could have inadvertently set off. It was as if the exposure to their shapes had started pushing at something already prepared to tip over its edge.
The small landing between floors was long enough for his brother to pace. He did it twice before stopping at the bar railing and leaning on it like it had a view. It was stupid to think that Dean wouldn’t halt here in the relative safety of the deserted rise of steps. Sam knew that this time it was all past efforts for diversion but he figured he’d go ahead and give it a try anyway.
“You think it’s up there?”
His brother didn’t turn around.
“Yeah.” Dean sighed shortly.
Sam shifted in place and waited for the hammer to fall. He knew what was coming. Ever since Dean had left him in that circle with nothing but candles he knew he’d have to hear the questions. He had even considered conjuring a story like he had for Gordon. But there was nothing he could manufacture that his brother would ever believe. When the rage finally surfaced, it came as no surprise.
“What the hell is goin’ on, Sam?”
“I don’t know.”
Dean breathed a tired laugh. His expression in the faint cast of meager light was drawn and angry.
“If you say that one more time, I swear to God I’ll—”
“You’ll what?” Sam asked with open hands.
One more fascinating little piece of this puzzle and the big picture was going to break whatever was left keeping Dean by his side. His brother knew too much already. Sam would be left alone with this terrible uncertainty. He’d spend whatever was left of his life in hiding from the men that snuffed out the unnatural. Sam swayed, his vision wavering slightly as the roiling hum down deep bubbled back up to the surface. He squeezed his eyes shut.
That couldn’t happen. He wouldn’t let it.
“What are you doing?”
The nervous tone in Dean’s voice made him open his eyes uneasily. Sam held up his arms, the vague shimmer of distortion coming off his skin like it had done before in the vault below. His panic mixed with the surge, combing the white hot danger of it into something even more potent. Something leapt and flickered with his agitation. He heard himself saying what he knew his brother never wanted to hear again.
“I d-don’t know, I can’t stop it—“
The slurred words that came out of him next were incoherent but the warning was there all the same. The haze over his skin flooded up over his eyes throwing the stairwell into an indistinguishable blackness. All he knew was that it was happening again. All he knew was that Dean had to get away from here. But he didn’t hear a swift tread ascending the stairs. He heard a steady hurried voice. Sam’s frantic grasp on the inundation slipped and his vision snapped back into a clarity that made him nauseous.
He knew the words Dean was reciting.
Quick and fast, the strict annunciation was as important as putting the precise caliber in the right gun. For a moment the sound hung like smoke from a barrel, before suddenly dissipating upwards like a wind had caught. The ground between them lit up like the stuttering flash of a firecracker without the sound. Sam felt the wash of the energy boiling on the peripheral of his vision sent painfully in reverse, folding over him like a physical weight. He staggered backwards in surprise, the bricks behind him keeping him on his feet. There weren’t a whole lot of words they knew of that worked as well as the toss of a finely aimed blade. It was one of their parlor tricks that Sam had never seen do anything but make the things they hunted wince. Being on the receiving end of it made him realize it did a lot more than what it looked like. But the dizzying hurt swiftly grayed to nothing at all.
Before Sam could even consider what the hell had happened, the energy buzzing in his head responded to the assault. It came springing back out of him involuntarily, the swing of it arcing through the air like the cut of a scythe. The flashlight clattered to the ground, flinging their shadows up against the wall. Dean gasped as it struck, his hands trying to catch hold of anything solid as he was forced to the edge of the top step. His grip briefly found the railing before it was whipped away, both his arms wrenched slowly to his sides as he struggled to lurch forward back into Sam’s direction. Watching like a faraway bystander, he waited in horror for his brother to tumble backwards down the steep stairs.
Sam let out a desperate sound when Dean’s knees buckled as he was about to be sent reeling into open space.
But for some reason that didn’t happen.
His brother wasn’t falling down into the unlit depths of the basement. In fact, Dean didn’t seem to be moving at all. Stepping forward hesitantly, Sam lifted and lowered his hand twice before he comprehended his proximity was neither furthering nor worsening the situation. Pushing away his apprehension, he quickly closed the distance between them and locked their forearms. With an experimental tug, his brother was immediately released, his full weight pulling his ready arms taut. Dean let himself be swung over towards the wall, Sam almost collapsing on top of him with the disbelief that he was still in one piece.
They were both silent for a few moments, the sound of their frayed breathing echoing up across the bare concrete. His brother turned towards him, the murky light catching his face.
Dean’s voice was back with some of the reassurance that was in his eyes.
“Guess you were wrong.”
Dean gave an appreciative glance over his shoulder at where he had been headed. Sam couldn’t remember ever being quite so glad to see that patronizing half smile.
“Looks like you can call a few shots after all.”
There wasn’t a vote but it was unanimous that the best idea was to get the hell out of the place.
As they turned every corner Sam expected to see the shape of something that wasn’t supposed to be there. For all their studious research they had little to no idea what the thing down in the cellar would look like once it had given birth to itself right back into the world. They walked up alongside the walls, avoiding the puddles of lamp light that spotted the floors every few yards. Checking behind them as the next deserted corridor was cleared, Sam supposed it didn’t matter what the form it decided to manifest in. He was reasonably sure that they would know it when they saw it. Or it saw them.
They were both out of breath by the time they caught sight of the front entrance. Slapping Dean in the side to silently get his attention, he motioned in the opposite direction. Dean hesitated a few moments before they were going again. Sam felt his brother’s guarded reluctance pulling behind him like a weight until the promise of an exit sign appeared. He had remembered the floor plan included another way out back there that wouldn’t them lead right out into the parking lot. The fire alarm was going to go off but whoever was half asleep on the other end of the security system would arrive long after their departure. The thought of anyone coming to this place in an effort to bring aid made Sam grit his teeth. The magnitude in which the job had been absolutely fucked up was beyond even his wildest acceptance of the term of possible. He knew Dean had been correct. The thing hadn’t taken off directly after its liberation. The newly risen took a little time to get their bearings just like anyone else. It was still around here someplace. Sam touched the rosary he’d stuffed in a pocket even though he knew its charm wouldn’t do much now.
Overhead the night sky was cloudless.
The feel of the cold air was one of the sweetest things he could recall experiencing in a long time. The building was so far removed from the town that every star shone down like there was no room between each point of light. There was a strip of asphalt that extended into the tangle of woods. If they followed it long enough it probably lead right around towards the access road. Sam was going to suggest they head south instead. They could take their chances with running into a two-laner he had caught sight of long ago during their trip in that sedan. Knowing that a few flashing lights might be headed their way to check up on the place, he wanted to be nowhere in sight.
The view of what lay right behind the mausoleum made him pause. It seemed the place had also made accommodations for those that didn’t want to be interred within four walls. Hundreds of white stones in tidy rows sat in unkempt grass, the weeds burying their memorandums. Sam immediately saw why it was as affordable as the cheap vaults. The chipped stones were showing signs of weathering even though the plots were barely a few decades in the making. The very front row was where a little extra time and money had been spent. Instead of a headstone to sit over cremated remains there were statues holding the urns. There were strangely similar, all bad copies of a Greek classic holding the metal jars in place of what had been probably originally a child. The factory sculptor had made them all practically featureless. Their blank faces gazed serenely at the rear of the building’s noisy ventilation equipment. Dean tugged at Sam’s sleeve as he started walking south without even hearing the suggestion. When he suddenly stopped short, Sam almost walked into him with his hurry to get gone.
“Aw crap.” Dean murmured.
It took a few more moments to finally see the figure standing still amongst the stone that his brother had already spotted. Seated comfortably on a grave between the solemn carved women, Gordon’s rifle was casually hung over an arm. He cleared his throat with a shake of his head.
“You guys sure make a lot of noise.”
Dean anxiously scanned the property around them before responding.
“Yeah, yeah, this has all been a ton of fun Gordon.” He was walking forward as he spoke. “But we have to get the fuck out of here before—“
Gordon held up a finger in a gesture to shush him. Sam had to hand it to the guy for knowing precisely how to really piss his brother off. Grabbing hold of the back of Dean’s jeans, Sam stopped him when he started to lunge forward again, cocked rifle level with his chest or not.
“Before you get all your work done?” The hunter finished.
Sam was too busy watching exactly where the tip of the double barrel was pointing to notice the disturbance at first. Just like the man seated on the tomb, the shadows of the trees beyond and the absence of the moon made everything flow into the monochrome uniformity of nightfall. But dragging his attention away from the armed hunter, he was distracted by some kind of movement. Refocusing, he strained to catch sight of what had stirred in the corner of his eye. A gust of wind blew sluggishly through the identical slabs planted in sagging angles in the grass. Glancing sideways at his brother, Sam could tell from posture alone that he wasn’t paying attention to anything but the man who had brought them here.
But Gordon was more than done with talking.
Although he knew he should be concerned about bullets, Sam was more transfixed with the space directly behind the man. He watched the amorphous glimmer of nothing slice a line neatly down through thin air. It was perfectly straight and as thin as the reeds that swayed gently against the bare feet of the statues. Widening like a door sliding open, the dark depth of it began to make the sky above seem purple. Gordon was oblivious to its silent ominous growth right at his back.
Dean could see it now.
Suitably worried, his brother faltered a few steps backwards into him as it loomed into a towering expanse that blotted out the star light. The back of Sam’s thigh bumped hard into a headstone as he began his own eager retreat. The discharge of the rifle cracked through the air like a thunder clap. His brother’s body collided and rolled painfully over his as they both tossed themselves over the chunk of engraved granite. Sam blinked up in dazed bewilderment as the world stopped turning upside down. Another round blasted right over their heads, impacting with the rock and splintering shards into the air. The rifle clacked as it was reloaded.
Sam found himself in no hurry to get up out of the piled dirt and make tracks like the circumstances warranted. That gentle wind he’d noticed had picked up enough to start furiously blowing dead leaves along the ground. The temperature starting dropping so rapidly that his wheeze of shock came out as a cloud in front of his face.
Gordon had wanted to know the reason why they were there.
He was about to find out.
to be concluded