Author: Mink & Jink
Rating: R - Peril - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
“Dean, can-can you lift that thing?”
Sam tried to use his family's talent for pushing what could wait in lieu of more dire and immediate things. Simpler things, things a guy could wrap his mind around. Like dislodging himself from a heavy podium of brass and wood. His brother pulled at the cuff link impatiently, the sound of metal grating against metal accompanying his muttered curse.
But unfortunately, Dean kept to the matter on his mind.
“There anything you want to discuss?” he ventured irritably. “Anything you want to get off your chest maybe?”
With all the noise roiling through Sam's head, tactical diversion was the last thing he wanted to concentrate on at the moment. But one look at the expression on his brother's face did the trick. Without thinking much more about it another perfectly reasonable follow up came right on out.
"W-What's with your eyes?"
Sam had been doing it since he had been old enough to talk. The art of dodging a nonspecific request was something you learned quick if there were a long list of rules that you weren’t real interested in following. The redirection of the topic did exactly what he had hoped. It involved two things that always crossed his brother’s wires long enough for Sam to figure out what to say next. Pointing out Dean’s poorly hidden injuries was one of them. Secondly, daring to suggest that he had in any way been forced to yield to them never failed to produce a flustered silence.
“It’s getting better,” Dean said. “I can almost see all the way over there.”
While Sam was trying to figure out what exactly the hell that meant, Dean stretched his free arm out and shook it a few times. There was a glint of light as something slipped out and fell into his hand. Sam tried to make out what the object was in the meager gleam of the candles. It was the metal tab ring off the top of a soda can. He watched his brother put it on its side under his boot and crush it into half. With a few twists it quickly snapped into two small hooked pieces.
“Where’d you get that?”
“Outside.” Dean murmured, distracted by the dynamics of the minuscule tool.
The few minutes they’d spent waiting on Gordon disabling the security, Sam hadn’t thought to take the opportunity to look around at what might have been on the ground.
The lock’s trick solved, the cuff fell off in no time flat. Righting himself off the awkward sprawl on the stairs, his brother lumbered to a shaky stand. He stepped towards Sam but halted outside the poorly drawn circle. After about a full second of indecision he experimentally waved his hand through the air over Sam’s head.
Seeing some end in sight to the suspended misery, Sam involuntarily let the sensations he’d been beating back flood forward into total focus. The desperate pained sound he let out caused his brother to look down at him sharply.
“What is it?” Dean asked. "What's happening?"
He realized all Dean could see was a person kneeling inexplicably in one place. Dean searched the circle and knelt down before he could find the marks.
“Is it these things?”
Finding it hard to speak, Sam nodded unsteadily at what lay scrawled on the marble. Dean quickly wiped his hand across it, obliterating the design and the ones that sat next to it. Sam gasped when the crush around his chest was released and the hectic buzzing through his brain died off like someone had jerked the dial on the volume. His brother’s hands had his, the tiny bend of metal sliding into the small locks of his binds. Leaning forward to give Dean better access, he felt a jolting mild charge like electricity. Pushing himself forward again, he struck it a second time. His hands wouldn’t pass over the circle edge. Glancing up at Dean, he saw his brother was too intent on his work to notice. Sam quickly scanned around the uneven circumference.
“There’s-there’s one more.” Sam spotted the last one set off at his side. He recalled seeing something like it before on the tiles of his prior prison. He had had no idea what it did besides fine tune his senses but it also seemed to act a lot like the salt line should have. “Over there.”
Dean looked over at it slowly, his hands pulling away the restraints on Sam’s wrists.
“It still hurts?”
“What?” Sam swallowed, unwilling to say what that symbol was able to do. “No, it-- just get rid of it—“
“You can’t get out of there can you.”
“Dean, listen, I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t—“
His brother was looking at him hard and gnawing at the inside of his lip. It was a thinly veiled gesture of anxiety that Sam knew very well. But he didn't know what to say to make it go away.
He couldn’t even begin to try to explain that he didn’t know what these marks meant. But Dean was watching him closely. His eyes traveled back and forth over Sam’s face looking for the real reason these wards would have any power to affect a man. Dean wasn’t stupid. Everything they’d been taught had told them that these kinds of symbols couldn’t influence a human being. Not a complete and total human being anyway.
Sam sagged down back on his heels, staring back at his brother in frustration.
He knew that lag in logic was stuck in a relentless loop through his brother’s mind. Along with that devil’s trap and every word out of Gordon’s mouth. It was more than difficult to believe that Sam didn’t have a notion of what was going on here, it was just about impossible. But Dean was working on some faith. Sam saw that the tenuous strand might be the only thing left between his brother and all the hunters that would want him as dead as Gordon did.
“We’re going to figure this out,” Dean told him. “Okay?”
Sam felt himself nodding, a deep resounding relief at feeling a hand on his shoulder squeeze hard enough to hurt. His brother was still here. He wasn’t pushed back far away enough by this collection of bottomless secrets to want to keep running. Dean had used the word like it was nothing but he’d included himself in the problem without even a second thought.
“But first things first.”
Dean stood up and looked around.
“W-What?” Sam blinked in confusion as he stepped away.
“So, this job, the thing we’ve been bustin’ ass on all year,” Dean began in exasperation. “You had to send him right for it? Not that am arguing with ya, but does even Gordon deserve that?”
“Does it matter?” Sam honestly asked.
“Whether the bastard does or not that thing is gonna get out,” Dean said shortly. “I better make sure he doesn't fuck it all up.”
“Dean, please, let me out of here, I’ll go with you—“
“You're staying in this room,” Dean’s gaze flickered up and off the chalk line like he was trying to avoid its existence. “It's about as safe as you can get once Gordon starts messing with that crypt.”
There was a reason they had both kept their distance from this mausoleum for so long. In fact, Sam was doing his best not to think about where he had sent Gordon. Without much of a warning as to what exactly was sitting on the other side of the fancy embossed plaque, the man was going to find a lot of trouble fairly fast. The hunter was expecting something pretty bad but he wasn’t expecting what Sam had been studying intently for weeks from a specially warded motel room.
But Dean wasn’t only thinking about the sanctity of the small chapel. His concern had little to do with his brother being neatly stashed under a protective crucifix and a jumbo sized bible. Sam’s jaw tightened as he understood what was really going on here. Dean wasn’t ready to forget that invisible surge of pain that Sam had inflicted. He abruptly knew what it was that had been missing in his brother’s eyes ever since Gordon had wound Sam’s will up in a fist. Dean’s absolute trust in him was gone.
“Dean, I didn’t want to do that,” Sam fought not to let the burn starting in his eyes turn into anything else. “Gordon made me do that to you.”
For some reason the belief in his brother’s voice didn’t make him feel any better. Sam let his head bob down to his chest. He was so tired. All he wanted was to get to the car and drive out of here. Pushing away his exhaustion, he knew his only option at the moment was to observe his brother's search for anything in the church that wasn't nailed down. There wasn't much. Pinching out the flame on a fat burgundy candle, Dean knocked it off the stand it sat on. Hefting the sturdy coiled bar of the iron holder, he spun the four points of its base before swinging it for easy portage over one shoulder.
“He has a gun, Dean,” Sam said. “A few hundred guns probably—“
Dean suddenly interrupted him. Not with any kind of retort but by tripping and nearly falling flat on his face. Swearing to himself, his brother looked backwards accusingly at the unyielding pew he’d sideswiped on his way to the door. So much for his eyesight coming back in 20/20.
Sam's anger swiftly overcame his shame.
“I-I’ve been putting together notes on the catacomb for four weeks!” he stuttered. “You haven’t even looked at any of it! You can’t even see where the hell you’re going—“
Sam stared in disbelief at the double doors as they swung closed for a second time that evening.
Looking down at his completely free hands, he turned to the flimsy chalk that kept him in place more efficiently than poured concrete and barbed wire. Unable to even get to his feet, he strained forward as far as the barrier would allow and furiously pressed his hands up against the stinging boil of static.
What the hell was Dean going to do? Hope to bash Gordon’s head in while he was looking in the wrong direction? This was fucking ludicrous. It was insane.
An unexpected rumbling sound caused Sam to draw back in alarm.
For a moment he thought about the thing Gordon could be unchaining somewhere in the labyrinth of the building. But he quickly realized that the dull boom had radiated from his immediate vicinity. The standing wooden pews all creaked and loudly clacked back onto the floor, rocking slightly with the shove they had been given. The room darkened and then resumed its dim glow as the ripple traveled over the flickering flames in the glass votives. Looking around in bewilderment, Sam watched the last unanchored thing in the room slowly tip back and forth until it firmly returned back onto its stone base. It was the intricately carved receptacle for holy water.
His wonder was disrupted.
With a groan, he felt the trickle of pain leak slowly into the space behind his eyes. With the oily sweat breaking out on his skin, the price of power began to explode quietly in his skull. Clutching his head, he braced himself for the compounded agony that would surely follow. Crouched down low he waited for his stomach to flip, bile to burn and his brain to start ripping into pieces until the mercy of a black out. For a few interminable seconds it seemed like he’d get that and more. But the clamor gradually faded back into silence.
Nothing else happened.
Sam’s gaze fell on that mark that had magnified his sight and hearing. Looked like that one was another mystery solved. Apparently that little simple drawing had also been responsible for some bursts of energy that Sam couldn’t quite control. The last one in the warehouse hadn’t done much but softly nudge Gordon while the man had been going through his brother’s pockets. He stared down at the few drops of water from the cistern’s basin that had sloshed unevenly onto the floor. This demonstration was a little bit more exciting than the last one though.
Breathing harder, he wasn’t sure why he wasn’t paying for it as hard as he had the last time. Looking up reluctantly to the silent hanging figure on the cross above, he let out a determined sigh. Whatever the hell Sam happened to be, maybe it helped to have a soul. Perhaps it helped even more to be on consecrated ground where that kind ownership was smiled upon. The thought brought Sam’s attention back to the cistern of holy water in front of him. Sitting back up on his knees, he looked at the elaborate reservoir decisively.
He looked at it some more.
Image by image. Frame by frame. He clearly visualized what he wanted.
There was a flawless moving picture in his mind.
But the thing sat perfectly still no matter how hard he glared at it. He slumped back down and let his hands rub his stinging eyes. Angrily, his gaze flashed back over to the double doors that both men had left by. If either his brother or the hunter that brought him here wanted true rage or fear, there wasn’t any need for Sam to fake his way through a single moment of it at this point. His memory shifted through his hours of confinement. The first sight of those bizarre recordings of himself projected up against that wall. The endless questions that he couldn’t answer. His brother made to bleed right in front of him while Gordon made sure to stand aside so he wouldn’t miss a thing. The sure look in Gordon’s eyes every time he decided to pick another one of those damn marks out of his book. Dean leaving him here. Dean not listening to him. Just walking out that door without even—
Sam swung his head up at the sudden sound.
With a crash the stone column made heavy impact with the ground. Sam jerked back in surprise when the contents splashed out into his face, shocking him in a wash of cold. Gasping, he blinked at the stoup rolling to a gentle halt on its side. The water was all over the floor, the growing black pool creeping closer. Breathless, Sam followed it as it traveled the irregular surfaces of the stone and seep to the edge of the imperfect circle that had been sealed around him.
It was humbling to wait for it. The delicate scrape of powder needed only be broken by something else just as fragile. With a trembling hand, he tested the circle edge, his wet fingertips streaking the pink pigment across the white marble. Finally completely unfettered, Sam slowly stood up. Freely flexing all the muscles in his body for the first time in days, he stepped out in front of the altar.
The giant open bible had a rosary hanging in its binding as some kind of bookmark. Sam had been staring at it off and on since they had arrived. Glancing at the page, he had to narrow his eyes at the small print and the low light. However, the page had been left with an index card under the last line someone had been here to read.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Sam shut the book closed and slid the beads from between the thin brittle pages.
Wrapping the length of it around his wrist he walked down through the aisle, every pew tossed into an odd angle of varying degrees from where he had knelt at the epicenter. Closing a fist around the small cross that hung into his palm, he knew the symbols on the floor were lost but he felt his body hum to the core even without them. Pushing the doors open he thought about what the good book had suggested and decided to have some faith like Dean. Some things were out of your hands no matter how much you’d like them to be. But he didn’t have far to go to find out how much of a part he’d have to play. God’s wrath was waiting all locked up in a coffin one floor down.
Sam figured He might just need someone to pull it wide open.
Even though there was more than a head start, Sam was reasonably sure he’d be the first one to arrive.
He and his brother might have been in the vicinity of the mausoleum within the last month but they had been getting ready for it long before that. For no particular reason outside of dumb luck, Sam had never mentioned to Dean which burial chamber the body had been put in. There seemed to be plenty of time later for those kinds of secondary details that had little to do with the mechanics of the final execution. That left the reasonable assumption that the other two men were searching for the crypt in question somewhere among the many stretches of corridor.
Selling Gordon a story had seemed like a great idea at the time.
He had at first thought about it much like leading an unwary man to a cliff edge and not shouting when the next step would be his last. However, he knew a man like Gordon would take as many precautions as probably they would when approaching such a large unknown. But Sam wasn’t really concerned with Gordon Walker stumbling over his Latin when he’d need it the most.
He was more troubled about Dean.
His brother’s complete lack of education on the actual job that lay under Gordon’s ordained mission was what made him move faster than he should have. The basement door opened quietly, the fall of cement steps leading down in a dark so deep Sam wished there was something other than his hands to use to feel for the next turn. He bet neither one of the hunters that were wandering the same gloom would think to go down to the catacombs first. Why would they? The basement of a standing basement was for the old stuff. At the bottom of the stairs were all the cheap seats. These walls were allocated for the unclaimed John Does and the penniless nuns that were assured a plot with their contracts. No one with a few bucks would end up stashed away down here.
Not unless someone had specifically requested it.
Sam passed under the dim glow of a red ‘exit’ sign that directed him towards the next set of ascending steps. He moved past those, going on memory alone how the turns and corners would get him where he needed to be. It was easier to ignore his faltering body as he concentrated on lefts and rights. It was simple to deny the aching need to sit for a few moments until the shuddering muscles in his legs quieted. There was something down here and it wasn’t going to stay sleeping for very much longer.
People who were dangerous in life had the potential to be as lethal in death. This particular corpse had passed a century unnoticed in a small town like a poisonous viper hidden in the leaves. That was until a bad case of mortality and a steady decline eventually brought the end everyone must face. But this was the type of being that would make arrangements for their own resurrection. From what little was known of the deeds done while still in the mortal coil, Sam wasn’t real interested in seeing what might come next. A configuration of the chemically drained remains and a dislodged wicked psyche was slowly assembling itself within these walls.
Gordon thought the body was just a ripe soul that Hell wanted to get a hold of first. Snatch it away before it faded into some magical forgiving brilliance of Heaven and shove it into its own pocket to use as a tool. That was what Sam had let him believe anyway.
The door didn’t look like it had anything alarming on the other side of it.
It appeared as any other entrance to any other boiler room he’d ever seen. It opened like one too, whining on its hinges with enough noise to make Sam check his back. But the shadows were as still as the musty cellar air. The room beyond was in pitch blackness. Knowing he couldn’t do much without being able to see, he was in a way glad that they hadn’t had time to prepare everything that needed to be done to complete this job.
Sam walked forward blindly with his arms outstretched. He knew what this room looked like on a flat map. Its dimensions were memorized by feet and yards, the height by inches. The plan hadn’t indicated one but some of the even older rooms in the building had had single bare bulbs installed at their centers. In two more large steps he’d feel the string attached to its switch brush against his face. The rosary tapped against his wrist as he moved across the dank floor, reminding him that it was all he’d come armed with.
There was some incredibly simple methods one could apply to stop some of the most catastrophic things from happening.
Like patching a small insignificant leak on the face of a mile high dam, the merest token could be the most important. One uncomplicated act could save the entire thing from breaking loose and unleashing whatever it kept trapped down on the unsuspecting in its path. After days and days of meticulously speculating how to annihilate this malevolence, he was now only going to put a small lock on its door. A small unbreakable chain that would allow them time to come back when they had all the right tools for the job.
The thin cord felt as insubstantial as a cobweb in his grip. With one easy tug, the dusty bulb overhead sputtered to life.
The freshly installed bronze plaque was directly ahead of him. It was sitting all by itself exactly where he knew it would be on newly painted plaster that covered the encased sealed sarcophagus within. There were dozens more on his sides of the long narrow space, the dates running back to the buildings creation over fifty years prior. But it was quiet. The concrete floor wasn’t split in pieces. The walls weren’t bulging and heaving like lungs, laborious with the sluggish body attempting to reemerge. They weren’t too late. He still had plenty of time to place the ivory rosary beads over the tomb marker and then leave.
Sam froze in place.
Down on the floor in front of the crypt, there was something that didn’t belong there. Not daring to get any closer, he nervously swallowed and hesitantly scanned the floor where it met the wall. In no time at all he found six more like it before he’d even gotten half way around the room. The other side was the same. They were new marks, all in an array of bright and cheerful pastels like kids chalk scratched all over a sidewalk.
Gordon had been here already.
Not only had the hunter already come and gone, he'd rigged the place to catch and incinerate anything that came out of that wall. Something that might even be a little bit human.
Sam realized he was shaking. Stumbling to the side he felt himself catch on a familiar hot jolt of a barrier. Looking up he saw the other half of the hunter’s work. It was a network of circles, small ones the size of his hand that grew progressively into larger and larger spheres. They fit one inside the other, radiating out until they became oval to fill the oblong length of the ceiling. Stepping backwards he hit another unseen edge. Staggering to the side he struck up against another. Knowing that the stacked circles were jostling him into a smaller and smaller space, he felt his panic override all his maintained calm. It was right about then that he started to feel the terrible pull of the wards hooking into him from every direction.
It was too much and all at once. The little oval with its horrific injection of elation was a simple discomfort compared to the blistering onslaught. His hands twitched with spluttering energy, his body stiffening as unseen bolts of it arced up and down his spine. His vision rapidly sharpened into a clarity that pierced through his skull like long needles. Crying out, he clasped his hands over his ears as all sound went chaotically haywire. The very breath rushing into his chest was deafening, his boots on the ground were like the sickening scrape of glass against glass. It was filling him up, thundering down into him like a waterfall. He couldn’t keep it all in, the saturation was starting to ignite him from the inside out, he was going to—
He swung around at the horrible noise of his name.
“D-Don’t come in here,” Sam breathed. “Please.”
Dean had paused in the doorway, his vantage point with the bulb turned on allowing him to see all the markings that had been hidden to Sam in the complete dark. It had taken him some time, but his brother had figured out that what he was looking for wasn’t going to be found anywhere upstairs. The big wide basement with one single light shining on probably helped narrow the search. Dean warily put down the iron weapon he had been holding. Not dropping the locked gaze he had on Sam for a moment, he stepped forward slowly with both his hands raised as if that would somehow help.
“Settle down, Sammy,” Dean carefully ordered. “It’s these inscriptions. Just got to get rid of ‘em and you’ll be—“
“Stay-Stay away from me!”
Sam could see his words leave his mouth, the undulation of them traveling the air like heat wavering up through a mirage. For some reason he tried to reach out in an effort to stop it. Holding his hand out helplessly, he watched as it made contact with Dean’s chest, moving him violently back two steps and pinning him to the wall. If he had been standing in the doorway he would have been flung further. Probably another ten feet into some cinder blocks. Sam looked frantically at the mass of symbols that were surrounding him on every side. He couldn’t get near them. He couldn’t move out from under the concentric pattern that hung above him. His brother couldn’t get free either. Sam watched him struggle and gain a few inches, only to be slammed back brutally into place.
“Dean...” Sam crumbled down to his knees, the power crashing down on top of him like waves from every side. “I-I can’t breathe...”
Faintly, he heard the crack of splintered stone and metal. Holding up his head, he turned to see the engraved plaque in two solid halves on the floor. A fissure ran sideways through the wall’s middle, like someone had put an enormous fist up against the other side.
All the racket had woken someone up.
As Sam collapsed down onto the damp cement, the light bulb above him flared bright and then fizzled out. The spark of it exploding illuminated the room for one brief dizzying moment before it plunged back into blackness. The fall of hot glass fell down gently against his face. He could hear his brother calling his name. More importantly he could hear that wall giving way to the hideous obscenity that lay inside. Sam hoped for once, that Gordon was right.
He prayed those wards did every trick the hunter believed they could.
Maybe even a few he didn’t.