Sequel to Removed
Author: Mink & Jink
Rating: R - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Dean steadied himself against the bark of the tree.
The forest swayed slowly above them with the wind that started whipping the clouds across the broad face of the moon. The cold was starting to make itself known now, the chemicals they fed him doing only so much when he finally slowed down, his own heat draining away now that the fight was over.
Bobby looked at him evenly. "You look alright, Dean."
Dean didn't need to ask how though the question burned on his tongue. Most people, even his father, were quick to learn what questions concerned men like Bobby Singer.
Dean stared back in a daze. "W-What's going on?"
Bobby gestured over his shoulder.
"Sam's waiting, he couldn't even get close to the place. Said something's surrounding it. Head started hurtin’ so bad I had to pull over so he could puke."
Dean stepped backwards. "You don't bring him anywhere near here Bobby."
"He won’t leave till he sees you."
"Just a quarter mile down the road." He told him.
Dean steeled himself, still in disbelief at the sight of the man who stood before him.
"That isn't going to happen--"
"I know the guy that gives Jack Yueller his drugs Dean." Bobby said bluntly. "Used 'im myself but I wasn't never trying to start no god damn cult!"
"You get out of here." Dean hissed, looking back uncertainly into the dark behind them.
He was way over his thirty minute mark. He had about five minutes before Yueller's track light found the back of his head. He didn't want to find out what it would find after that. Bobby was speaking to him calmly, reassuringly.
"Jack won't take one step outside his door if he thinks a Skin Walker is out here waiting for him." Bobby shrugged. "Planted a track or two, he'll see those and get right back under the covers."
Dean tried to stay the white hot edges of his panic.
“You don’t understand—“
“I know some things. Know what Jack Yueller and Dave Keens did a few years back." Bobby shook his head. "He won't be looking for you for a while. I bought you some time. So come on along with me now."
It was difficult to make his muscles relax, resist the conditioned response to a direct infringement. His heart was racing. Sam was here. Sam should not be here. But if he could see him, he could tell him. It would not be neat or quiet but it had to be done.
Dean felt the hand on him tentatively fall away, but the grip Bobby had on his arm was still holding strong.
"Dean! Thank god, man!"
Sam smiled against the hood of Bobby's jeep, raising his arm as they approached. He looked tired but fine, his face unnaturally pale in the weak evening light. Though Dean had hardened his resolve and gathered his anxiety into a cool unconditional rationale, he still felt his muscles tense when he came to a stop on the asphalt. It was more than hard to stow the relief he felt with the simple sight of his brother but he forced it down. He shoved it brutally away before any false hope let him listen to anything Sam had to say.
Sam saw the look on Dean's face and his smile immediately vanished.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Dean let his anger pierce the hazy cloud that the chemicals had settled around his mind. “I told you not to follow me.“
“I got your phone Dean, I read what you left in there.”
“I put that stuff in there because I wouldn’t be able to tell you face to face what happened out on that ranch. What happened to Edwards, and more importantly what happened to you!”
His brother exchanged an uneasy look with Bobby.
“They’ve been giving you psychotropics." Sam told him carefully. "Bobby told me everything about their supplier. A doctor out in Des Moines gave us their last drop. Religious sects and cults use them Dean, they use them to manipulate their members, keep them under control--"
"Look, I know!" Dean exploded.
"The drugs. I know what they do. Lemme tell ya, with what's been going on, it's better on them than not."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Things have changed. I just need you to put as many miles between us as you can until this all blows over."
"What blows over? Dean, I'm not leaving--"
"I know what I’m doing.” Dean growled.
Despite his assurances, he felt a fine sheer thread of panic form white and hot up the back of his spine. If Yueller and Keens knew his brother was here they wouldn’t hesitate to shoot him this time no matter what Dean said or did. And that god from the desert, if that thing was anywhere near them it could be drawn to Sam again. Leech into his head like some kind of parasite, burrowing inside and eating everything it found until there was nothing left.
Bobby was watching them both carefully.
“We are leaving.” Sam growled back, his gaze flickering on the military camouflage of Dean’s trousers, the buffed combat boots and the pressed army green shirt. “Right now.”
“No.” Dean said simply, taking a step back.
Sam's hand shot out, grabbing Dean's bicep.
“Dean,” The grip on his arm became so hard it hurt. “Don’t make me—“
“Let go.” Dean warned.
Sam’s demeanor faltered at the implied violence behind the words. His hands worked on Dean’s shoulders, desperate to do something but unsure of just exactly what.
"Dean, just c'mon..." He tried tugging gently but Dean braced himself firm.
“Look, if I’m not back soon, they’re going to come looking for me, and things will be a whole lot worse if they think I directly disobeyed an order.”
“Jesus Dean, listen to yourself!”
Dean shoved his hand away and backed up. “This is how it has to be for now Sammy.”
Sam suddenly paused.
“Wh-What is that?" Sam was looking down at bare skin, turning Dean’s wrists over to get a better look.
Dean silently cursed not having that jacket on now. Even in the dark with only the dim light of their flashlights Sam could see the marks. The old wounds scabbed over and dark. It was where the contacts had dried up enough to burn. They didn’t hurt very much, not anything like what they delivered, but they looked pretty bad. Especially to someone else who might know what made those kinds of marks.
“W-What..” Sam looked back at him in confusion. “What are they doing to you?”
Dean shrugged him off again.
“It’s nothing. It’s how they play their game and I gotta play it too or I’m screwed Sam.” Dean looked him hard in the eye. “Do you get that? I have to play or I’m never getting outta this.”
Sam was speechless, wide-eyed. If Bobby had anything to say he was keeping it to himself. Dean took a deep breath before continuing.
“You need to get out of here and wait for the dust to settle you got it?"
His brother was shaking his head in disbelief.
"It was easier with Dad. With him calling all the shots." Dean murmured and tried to smile. “In a way, it’s not so different Sammy.”
He'd been unprepared for this. Weary and disoriented, he could only stare his brother down while Sam shook with rage. He thought he'd been prepared for that. Sam raged fairly predictably and never well. Given a choice, his brother would temper anger with silence, go for days without speaking until the red lifted. But only two people in the world ever got his blood pumping and Dean knew, even as his bruised back hit the frame of Bobby's car, that he should have seen this coming.
Dean crashed into the metal with a muffled shout. Sam grabbed him again by the shoulder and swung him hard into the hood of Bobby's car. Dean snarled, catching Sam by the shirt with his fists and driving him back.
"Stop it! Both of you just stop it!" Bobby shouted as he tried to get between them.
Sam's face was red, his hands trembling in fists.
"Sam, stop." Dean panted.
His brother answered him by slamming him into the car again.
“Wh-What I left on my phone.” Dean said sternly as possible. “I don’t know much more than that... except-except one thing.”
Sam was listening unwillingly, hands wadded up tightly in the fabric of Dean's shirt.
“That stone, I think it’s a double edged. It’s keeping the thing from coming right down on their heads, but—but... I think it’s what Noqoìlpi uses to track them, like some kinda fuckin' mystic GPS."
“W-Why do you think that?”
“I-I felt it, and I thought, well, I thought I could see the guy. It was if he looked up in my direction or something.” Dean shook his head. “I can’t explain it."
"Wait a second." Bobby cut in, his face grim. "Dean you sayin’ you touched that damn thing?"
"I guess I am."
“If that demon had yer scent before, now it knows yer face.” Bobby promptly looked all around them, as if the specter of the desert god would appear at any moment from the dark forest itself. “You got to stick close to that talisman Dean, there’s nothing out here I can do for ya.”
“It uses the stone to find us. So take that.” Dean told them. ”Use it.”
“How?” Sam dragged his hands through his hair in frustration. “This thing is old. Older than anything we’ve ever dealt with before. Dad always said you don’t fight with things like that, you just get the hell out of its way!”
He fought back what he wanted to say.
Dean wanted to drive out of here with Sam so badly that he could barely think straight. Drive all night and burn the clothes on his back in a fire someplace real far away. However, none of could happen without Dean bringing the god’s wrath down on their heads. He had to stay under the stone’s protection or he was more than a dead man. His soul was forfeit too. If that was what it meant for Dean, he couldn’t begin to speculate what that meant for his brother if the god wormed itself back into his head again. Like forcing too much into little a space, burning him out from the inside for its temporary use.
No, that couldn’t happen.
Bobby's talent was knowing. From the look on his face, he knew what Dean was thinking almost to the letter.
"Sam, I'd like to talk with Dean for a sec."
"Forget it, Bobby."
"Just...wait a minute."
Bobby stepped past him to place his palm on the back of Dean's neck.
"I know you're careful. But you gotta be on your game more if yer gonna come outta this. Try to cut back on the drugs. Take 'em too long and the ride off that bus'll end you faster than the Captain will."
"Thanks, Bobby." Dean mumbled.
He stepped back to meet Sam's hardened gaze.
“You want to help me?" He asked his brother softly. “You get far away from here and you figure something out.”
“Yer on your own Sam.”
When he turned and plunged back into the thick of the trees, his rough passage through the branches was all he heard. When he stopped after a few moments to look and listen, the forest lay quiet just like no one had ever been there at all.
“And so am I.” Dean whispered to himself.
Yueller was waiting for him when he got back.
It was too warm in the small low room the fireplace was set in. The flames were too big, the fire fed too hot. The flames licked out from the hearth and flickered up hungry on the soot stained brick that rose to the ceiling.
"Have a seat, Dean."
Of all various and colorful methods there are to break a man, Dean decided that perpetual uncertainty was the most effective. Hope is universally cruel when dangled and he should have known better than to expect any when he crossed the threshold to their audience. He would have preferred a swift fist to the mouth to this.
Yueller, expert at creating false calm, had no readable expression on his face.
Keens waited too but not in the way the Captain liked to do it. Yueller was always arms crossed and feet apart at an at ease position. The set to his features letting you know just how many minutes and seconds there were that you violated. Keens well, that man was always comfortably seated when Dean arrived. Looking through a book or examining a painting on the wall. He always made it a point that his time was always better spent and never wasted.
“Report." Yueller said.
Did they know that the tracks Bobby had planted were fakes? Did they know he’d left the perimeter and made contact with his brother? Dean's gaze flickered back and forth between them, trying to gauge what exactly their mood was. He could not discern what they did or did not know. All they would know for certain was that he had been sent on a routine operation and was away far longer than required. He could not know the outcome. So he lied.
“The camera.” Dean began. “I think it was just a bad connection—“
“It’s working.” Yueller didn’t look behind him towards the bank of laptops, all of which showed pieces of the dark forest and nothing much else. "Tell us more."
Dean blinked, heart racing.
“Uh, I—I saw some tracks but they didn’t add up, so I tried to trace them but they didn’t go anywhere.” His mind sped with what he had conjured as he had swiftly moved back through the woods. “I thought I saw something, took a shot at it…but-but it was nothing.”
The shot gun was taken off his shoulder and inspected.
“Then I found the camera and the wiring was loose, just needed someone to--”
“What happened to your shirt?” Keens asked.
Dean felt his jaw tighten. God damn it Sammy. His T-shirt wasn’t ripped but it was pulled out of shape, all around the neck and shoulder from being grabbed. Dean’s hands came up to touch and smooth the fabric. He tried to appear causal and even a little bit surprised.
“Musta gotten caught.” He said with his eyes locked down around his boots. “On-on something.”
“On a tree branch maybe?” Yueller asked.
“You know Dean, for a professional liar, your reputation far exceeds your actual ability.”
“Did you hear that Keens?” Yueller called back over his shoulder. “Dean here ran into a tree branch.”
“I did hear that.” Keens answered. “I just couldn’t quite believe my own two ears.”
“Who did you talk to Dean?” Yueller stepped forward, knocking his knuckles under Dean’s chin so he was forced to look up at him in the eye. “Who put on this little show just to see you?”
Dean felt himself shaking his head, his mouth working but unable to come up with something that Yueller would believe. But Yueller had to believe him. If he didn’t believe him than Dean was in trouble. And trouble meant that chair and that lecture and that machine.
“Was it your brother?”
Dean swallowed, the feel of Yueller’s hand under his chin making him stand very still.
“How did he find us you think?”
Dean shifted his weight and tried to keep looking back into Yueller’s gray eyes.
“How did Sam Winchester find us when that god damn desert ghost can’t?” Yueller’s nervousness was back. The name of his brother like a curse word on his lips.
“He didn’t.” Dean heard himself say truthfully.
“I don’t believe you.” Yueller said.
Dean felt the blade being tugged and slid out from his belt.
"You have three seconds to explain.”
He shut his eyes.
Dean felt the cool sting of the blade press the delicate skin of his throat. Seemed like he had gone and underestimated them this time. Yueller and Keens knew everything but the details. They knew the tracks were faked and the camera was tampered with. It didn’t take much to figure out it was all to get Dean off alone. They knew Sam was somewhere around the place but they just didn’t get why exactly. Why would he come all the way here if it wasn’t to take Dean away from them?
"Th-they came.” Dean stammered. “I saw them."
“Who is ‘they’?” Keens asked with interest.
Dean gritted his teeth and forced himself to speak.
“My-my brother and Bobby Singer.”
Yueller tilted the blade. "Why would you want to do something like that?"
"I-I didn't feel I had any choice, sir."
“Bob Singer?” Yueller was incredulous.” Bob Singer came all the way out here just to find you?”
“That would explain those tracks.” Keens shrugged and lit a cigar.
“What did they want?” Yueller asked.
Dean watched the glowing end of Keens’ smoke and unconsciously felt his inner arm for the round circles of scar tissue that were almost a year old. So long ago when they had wanted to prove to his brother that they did indeed have him. They had set a cigar to his skin over and over and over…
“And you said no?” Yueller was studying him closely.
Dean's throat was working.
“I said no, sir.”
Dean only relaxed a little when it seemed Yueller had.
“Well, I for one think it’s a nice thing that your brother went through all this trouble.” Keens was smiling. “In fact, I think it was rather rash of us to cut him loose when we did.”
Dean felt a sinking wrenching twist in his gut.
“I think if he keeps following us along, you know, just a few steps behind that is, it could help us out a great deal in the end to have an able bodied hypersensitive at our disposal.”
“Why?” Dean ventured. “What do you mean?”
He knew this man thought whatever connection Sam had had with the desert god had been interesting. He knew that they were now in the middle of some idiotic plan to try to kill the thing instead of just giving back what they had stolen.
“I’ve been doing a lot of reading Dean. And do you know what I found out? That what lives trapped in mortal flesh, can die in mortal flesh.” Keens shrugged offhandedly. “There’s a little bit more to it than that, a bit of hocus pocus in between but you get the idea.”
A vague picture of Keens’ plan formed in his head. Allowing the possession to take place, baiting it even with a living host. There were ways to lock a spirit no matter how large or small into one object, room or even a body. It was stupid and it was dangerous even for the big leagues. But this was no average spirit they were hoping to snare, this was a lot bigger and a lot stronger than that. This was a demigod.
“Y-You can’t. It won’t work.” Dean stammered. “Sam won’t get caught, not now—“
“We don’t have to do a thing Dean.” Keens grinned. “Where you go, he'll go. Straight to the Center of the Earth.”
Window Rock. Dean thought of the towering outcrop of sandstone that stood like a sculpted monument out there in the middle of no where. While he stood stunned, Keens stepped forward, the set of his features all business all of sudden. His hands went up on Dean's shoulders, then pulled the green shirt free, checking Dean thoroughly for anything concealed. Dean felt himself slowly raise his arms to get out of the way of the man’s probing hands.
He knew the drill.
Dean had been bad. He had directly disobeyed their orders and made contact with the outside. Dean would have to be searched for any contraband. He bit down hard and stared at a spot on the opposite wall when his belt started to be undone.
“No.” Yueller’s voice stopped the search.
Dean looked up at him in confusion.
“Our boy here told us the truth. He even went and turned down his own blood. This almost calls for celebration.”
Dean realized he was shaking a little bit and tried to stop.
“That Dean…” Yueller leaned down to speak softly into his ear. “That show of loyalty is all I have ever really asked of you.”
He thought he was going to be sick when he heard those words come out of the man’s mouth.
Dean was about to mumble some reply when his vision suddenly went stark white.
The vicious strike across his face made the room lurch sideways, the chair crashing to the ground as he stumbled backwards over it. His hands twitched to rise to counter strike with the blade he’d had at his waist or the taken shotgun from his shoulder, but his body resisted reaching for the missing weapons. His hands instead went to his face to check for damage. Dean hissed on the curse about to escape him, his instinct betrayed, the word frozen on his tongue.
He breathed hard and fast on the floor.
"That was for lying." Yueller rotated his clenched fist.
Dean picked himself up, the smear of blood across his knuckle bright red from where he’d wiped it across his mouth.
“Start packing up.” Yueller ordered. “They know where we are, we have to move again.”
“Wait a sec there Jack,” Keens interjected. “Let’s wait a day. Let them think what they did passed by unnoticed. That way they can follow along when we do get started and they won’t rush themselves up and do something stupid.”
Dean watched Keens tap the thick ash of his cigar into an ashtray.
“We’ll just be like one little convoy.”
Yueller listened and then nodded.
“Turn in Dean.”
It was time to sleep. To lay awake on his sleeping bag and stare at the cracked ceiling above him and do nothing but grind his thoughts over and over in his head.
“I have to admit, I’ve had my doubts…” Yueller was holding out another bottle of water. “But I think you’re going to work out with us just fine.”
Dean numbly took the plastic into his hand, watching the cloudy mixture in it swirl and settle on the bottom. He turned back towards the stairs so Yueller couldn’t see his face when he responded.
“Thank you, sir.”