Title: Methodology part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5 - part 6 - part 7 - part 8 *Completed*
to be continued in sequel: As of yet Untitled
Author: Mink & Jink
Rating: R - Peril - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Sam reflected on just how many times he’d stood at the crossroads of his training and common sense.
Everything he’d been taught told him to stay right where he was and not move. Staring up at the steady swirl of clouds that hadn’t been here when he had stepped out the mausoleum’s back doors, very instinct he owned told him to get up on his feet and run.
The rifle fire paused long enough for a reload.
When Sam saw his brother fold behind the tombstone several feet away he thought with a detached numb certainty that one of Gordon’s bullets had met its mark. But when Dean rolled back onto his side, he wasn’t clutching the bright red mess of his gut. Sending a look in Sam’s direction, he leaned cautiously into the protective stone that was the only thing between them and the next discharge. Sam knew his brother wouldn’t remain out of sight and wait patiently until the barrel of that rifle came into view for the perfect shot. Dean was going to act first.
His brother’s poised body gave halt although Sam could barely hear his own voice over the rising wail of the cold wind. He used his hand instead, a signal to strongly request that Dean stay his ground. Gordon’s boots were easy to follow on the gravel path between the rows of stones. The hunter wasn’t in any hurry. Watching the sky overhead turn to pitch, Sam swore under his breath as the night was rapidly smothered by a deeper darkness.
Uncoiling and stretching in every direction, strands of the unleashed phantom were crawling and burrowing like searching limbs. Its reach cut through the air, leaving slices of black to bleed in its passage. A rope of it sizzled past and abruptly doubled back around the scattered graves. Sam heard the warning rise in his throat as its frenzied descent met and tore savagely across the ground behind his brother. It was going to strike Dean in the back; burn a singeing hole through his flesh like it had done through the vault walls and knock him into Gordon’s sights to finish off what was left. But to Sam’s confusion, his brother didn’t even so much as flinch as it blustered around him like the wind tousling his clothes.
Clutching his head, he fought the energy buried under his skin as it arced and leapt like electricity. It writhed like a living thing fighting to be set free from the fragile cage of his skull. Sam unexpectedly realized that Dean couldn’t see any of what was happening around them. Feeling the foreboding ache pulse hot behind his eyes, he knew this special view was some part of his new set of tricks. If that was the case, that meant if his brother couldn’t see it, then Gordon probably couldn’t see it either.
Standing up was harder than he thought it would be.
The headstone was taking the brunt of the wind but it still managed to buffet him back a step before he righted himself. Sam heard his brother's voice, from far off, demanding him to get down. He watched Gordon pause less than a meter away from him on the trail. If Sam had taken another step he could have leaned over and shook the man's hand. The barrel was locked with another round, leaving a simple task to aim and fire. But Sam had been correct, the hunter was unaware of the activity around them. All Gordon could see was the turn in the weather. The streaking passage of the manifestation caused no alarm even when a surge of it passed right through Gordon’s chest, emerging from his back and winding its turbulent way through the alabaster statues.
Sam shut his eyes and let the heat flare up in his core like it wanted.
Something white hot flipped in his belly like a livewire, bands of it surging out around him like rings around a planet, and then tightly constricting back like another skin. It was the same sensation as when his body first twitched at the sight of chalk on the floor. He recognized it like the echo of panic before he’d almost shoved his brother’s body down cement stairs. With a faint smile, he realized it also felt like the very first time he’d squeezed a trigger and knew without a doubt that the bullet he’d sent hurtling into space was a direct bull’s-eye. The steady hum that had been growing inside his head since Gordon exposed him to the old symbols shifted to a howl. The presence of their shapes had clicked something on like a flood light he couldn’t smash, shining against his insides.
The harsh wind blowing against his face immediately eased. The tight swirl of the black above his head slowed to a sluggish rotation. Holding up a hand, he watched it travel towards his face while the tossing dead leaves all strangely stilled midair in their tumble around him.
There was a strain in the atmosphere, like a painfully held in breath. Seconds had been briefly stretched to minutes. The roil of his energy momentarily froze him almost still in time as it silently burst like a bubble, saturating space in a rapid wide diffusion of his senses. His awareness settled like a mist, cataloguing every pebble and blade of grass around him. For one sickening moment, he could see his immediate surroundings from every conceivable angle before snapping back to his own body’s perspective.
He wondered where his fear was. Underneath the flicker of power it was still there. Pressed down flat by a calm he knew he couldn't maintain for long.
The gray billowing tendrils had blossomed over the trees tops, expanding over the mausoleum’s sprawl like a storm. Each plume slithering towards the sky felt like the maddening touch of feathers being traced along the insides of his arms, chest and up his neck. Shutting his eyes again, he could feel each separate thread as it traveled, predicted each turn it would take before it finally collided and melded into one another. He could sense the entirety of it at the core, still growing behind Gordon in that widening plain of nothing. When he opened his eyes, he wasn’t surprised that the strand he had reached out to grab was flailing trapped in his fist.
There was something here that was not dark but deadly, not evil but frightening. Sam didn’t know how to use it. All he knew was how it wanted to gush out of him like a flood of sand rushing through his clenched hands. A litany began to form in his head. It came clear like a voice, a stream of self direction to center what he had and bring it to a smoldering pinpoint of a tool he could apply.
Make it work.
Gordon leveled his rifle at Sam’s heart.
Make it work or you’ll die.
Sam saw his brother step into his peripheral vision.
Make it work.
Stepping forward, Sam felt his hand make perfect synchronized contact with the tip of the weapon and his brother’s chest at the same time. As the second slowly turned over, he let his gaze tip skywards. Sam knew that what had been released needed to be contained. He knew enough to know that a ghost couldn’t be trapped very easily at all. But now it all seemed like a simple equation that required only the force of his will. The rifle went off, the sound extended and muted, the stuttered crackle of gunpowder exploding dully. The discharge trailed sluggishly into the sky like fireworks underwater. The sparkling orange glitter of fire illuminated them all as Dean fell backwards. Sam hadn’t meant to push him that hard but he was tumbling well out of the range of the hunter’s shot.
With that danger put aside, he redirected his attention to the larger threat.
All that was really needed was something with a symbol on it. A sign of the institution that this manifestation had warped to its own uses and needs. The magic of the church was like magic anywhere else. Like all the other carbon copies that lined the hedge, the closest statue was personalized on its marble base. The Star of David for some, a war memorial for others. His gaze shifted to the metal urn the stone woman held in her arms. A cross and some pure steel.
Salt would have sealed the package but two out of three wasn’t bad.
Staring up into the boiling cloud, he could feel the whole of it contract in the fist he made of his mind. He could see the spiraling tendrils suddenly shrink as he willed them to. Forcing them back down into the dense shadow they had emerged from, he heard himself groan at the onslaught of ferocious strength it exerted back. It got smaller and smaller, tighter and tighter until the mass was no larger than the sealed iron jar.
Sam staggered backwards. His mind’s suspension in a second turned eternity suddenly rushed back into real time. Sweat poured of his skin and his hair clung to his face like he'd been doused with water. All the darkness suddenly belonged to the night again, the wind abruptly dropped.
Gordon and his brother were both staring at him.
They had no idea what had just happened besides Sam’s incomprehensible ability to have thwarted them both from their tasks at hand. Gordon’s shot had unexplainably strayed and his brother had been pushed out of its path by what had appeared to be nothing at all. Dean was looking around in confusion now that the unrelenting wind had vanished. Gordon’s barrel was empty but it looked like he was thinking about how nice the hard butt of the weapon would feel crunching into bone.
A loud grinding sound made Sam start, eyes trained on the trio of granite caryatids supporting the entrance to one of the elaborate tombs behind Gordon. A flicker of movement -like a shadow- across the middle figure made him focus. The solid heaviness of the statue’s limbs had changed. Her pale hand came out and flexed like breathing flesh.
It didn’t take long to understand that what Sam had contained wasn’t quite contained at all. He hadn’t trapped the thing, he’d just shoved it all into one dense roiling mass and its attention was now locked right on Gordon.
“What did you do—”
Gordon’s voice finally carried the edge it should have. His rational fear had finally leveled with the span of his considerable knowledge of what there was to worry about in his world. The hunter finally comprehended that the signs all around him were not the thrashings of some weak wailing sheet that he could salt and burn in his sleep. Whether he knew that the spirit wasn’t of Sam’s making didn’t really matter anymore. The semantics of the thing’s presence didn’t make its proximity any less hazardous.
The rifle faltered when he met the gaze of the statue behind him. The solemn blank expression had been reset into frozen pleasure, living eyes wetly rolling in stone sockets. Gordon’s calm features contorted to anger, the realization of his failure to perceive the threat igniting his rage more profoundly than Sam had yet to witness. But fury and surprise was a mixture that was lethal to all men in their profession. Despite everything, Sam still felt his heart lurch in his chest when Gordon stumbled and fell backwards trying to put some space between his body and the smiling sculpture. Had Sam done this? Had he somehow influenced the thing to turn its wrath on the hunter instead of himself?
“Gordon!” Sam gasped. “G-Get up—“
The words died in his throat as she began to laboriously step down off her dais. The impact of her heavy step felt like a tremor, the reverberating thud of the next bringing her right over Gordon’s body. Without words or breath, the pale figure stretched out one white arm and began to lean down to touch him with her cold fingertips. Sam saw all the comprehension drain from Gordon's dark eyes as her hand tightened around his arm. He did not go slack, however. His gaze was fixed and his hands still clenched the useless weapon.
Sam felt another wave of queasiness.
He could feel his brother pulling his arm, a low voice urging him to move. When his vision wavered in and out Sam knew he was going to pay for the power he'd somehow commandeered. He'd gone further than he had ever gone before and the penalty for allowing what lurked inside him to emerge would be above and beyond the usual. He felt the grass against his cheek before he was aware that he had fallen. There was no pain, just swift blackness as his brain finally, and neatly, tripped its circuit.
The last thing he could do was listen.
And when Gordon opened his mouth the screams were like something not of this world.
He ached in worrying ways.
Once he was sure the shadows weren't alive to grasp at his ankles, he moved again. His brother’s hand was on his face and for some reason Dean’s tired expression assured him that he hadn’t been very out of it for long. One anxious scan of their immediate vicinity revealed that they were all alone.
The statue was still there however.
It was in pieces, nothing but a jumbled heap where Sam had last seen it. It was a tidy pile, the arms and legs had snapped off cleanly in sections where its manufacture was weakest. The head had rolled away from its body’s disintegration like a decapitation. Her eyes were somber and unseeing. It was just a cheap tomb decoration again. The thing that had animated it had left the confines of the rock figure in favor of a much more suitable vessel. The man it had chosen and the rifle he carried were nowhere to be seen.
The wind was a gentle cold pull through the dry weeds.
“Wh-What—“ Sam winced when a familiar agony began to hammer behind his eyes. “Where’d he go?”
“The woods.” Dean answered shortly.
Sam knew what that meant. They weren’t equipped with what they really needed to handle something of that ferocity. Bare hands wouldn’t do much when they required a munitions store. Especially not a full on possession of this scale. He staggered to his feet and looked out into the silent forest just behind the cemetery’s border. His gaze went back to the tipped steel urn laying in the grass that had been a momentary prison for the thing, a prison that Sam had somehow made. The possession might have very well been his doing too. But he hadn’t used his hands at all had he? Sam hadn’t even uttered one word of Latin.
He looked nervously over at his brother.
Dean was studying a patch of asphalt that turned the corner of the building’s ventilation system. Sam hadn’t been aware of Gordon when he walked out the mausoleum doors, but it seemed he hadn’t noticed the man’s stolen car either. His brother walked stiffly to the parked sedan and carefully peered inside the open window just in case Gordon left any more surprises. With a resigned shrug, he leaned in to pull the trunk release.
Sam involuntarily backed up a step at the sight of the leather bound books.
“Yeah.” Dean laughed a tired laugh. “You better stay way the hell over there.”
His brother dug through the trunk until he found a black duffel bag. He wrapped both books up in some loose tarp before he shoved them into the depths of the sack and yanked the zipper closed.
Sam waited until the bag was placed under another tarp and the trunk slammed closed before he let out the breath he was holding.
“Where are we going?”
Dean swung the driver's door open and gestured to the passenger side with a nod.
“We get my car.” He told him. “Then we’re heading west.”
“Anything else?” Sam asked as he took a seat.
Dean turned the key conveniently left in the ignition. Sam thanked Gordon, wherever he was, for being so accommodating. His brother knocked the rearview to where he wanted it.
“Maybe.” His gaze moved up and down Sam before jerking the car into gear. “Maybe a few answers.”
From the outside it was painfully typical.
A scattering of pouty teens waited nervously on the stoop outside to become rebels like everybody else. The glass front doors were plastered with promotional band stickers, magic marker tags and poster ads for what DJ was going to be where next. A constant mesmerizing bass of industrial cyber punk blasted from loudspeakers. Sam wondered if there were any tattoo artists in the world who appreciated folk music.
He found it strange that he and his brother were unique in that they were of the few in their profession who did not hold day jobs. Some had roadside dives to hide their skeletons. A few looked like scrap mechanics to anyone else. Few hunters made the life full time. Others recognized the need to stay under radar... to say nothing of a steady income.
The guy waiting behind the counter was, more or less, what Sam expected. Shaved head and firm muscles visible with barely any spaces between the ink. He was completely covered in his art, blocks of dusky blue designs making his race almost indeterminable. The man’s voice was so low and deep that it made Sam swallow uncomfortably.
“What the hell happen’ to you?”
Dean looked down at his hands, palms ups to reexamine the brand new white bandages that covered the insides of his forearms and the multitude of stitches they covered. Sam knew those were the wounds that had needed the most professional attention but he thought the large man was eyeing something else. From the look of it, the shop owner was probably referring to the seep of ripe bruising that colored his brother’s jaw and cheek. Sam knew he didn’t look so hot himself.
“Fight with a lawnmower.” Dean managed to sound cheerful. “Almost won.”
The proprietor hadn’t been too excited by the idea of telling his staff to stop tracing roses, skulls and Japanese kanji on the next generation. But one look at the black duffel bag Dean dropped on the glass display case put an expression on the man’s face Sam felt he rarely ever showed. Once the neon open sign had been clicked off and the confused employees had departed, they were both shown into the man’s other place of business. As Sam expected, it was appropriately sublevel.
The dingy basement study did not smell nearly as sterile as the clinical appearance of his commercial establishment. Cluttered metal shelves were filled with books under lock and key. A sizeable safety glass case of weapons and artifacts identified him as one of their own. In the corner, a large filthy fish tank with no fish in sight was lit up by the queer glow of a black light. The steel table and a couple of adjustable stuffed black leather dentist’s chairs made Sam break out in an involuntary sweat.
He felt his anxiety flare as the man flicked on the bright white surgical lamp above the table and began scrubbing his hands at a slightly worrisome rusty sink.
“I tell ya man, I don’t do this kinda thing every decade.” He informed them.
“It’ll be fine.” Dean made himself comfortable in one of the chairs, reclining all the way back with his hands behind his head. “’Sides, yer the only guy I could find with the right kind of tools.”
The faucet squeaked shut with a muttered curse. The man shook his hands dry, ripping latex gloves from a box.
“Okay.” He gestured to the steel table. “Let’s do this.”
Sam tried relaxing and he tried tension but neither helped.
They'd had to razor clean a small portion from Sam’s hairline to create the canvas. When the procedure was through his neglected shag was long enough to conveniently conceal it. The space at the back of his neck felt icy and hot at the same time. Biting his lip, he was glad his brother couldn’t see his face as it was bent forward as far as it could go. The harsh scent of antiseptic and latex filled his nostrils and he fought the urge not to twitch or cough.
"Just try ta hold still." Gloved fingers pressed warm and firm against his skin.
Sam re-focused and tried to control his breathing. The tiny steel point was excruciating as it hummed over sensitive flesh. The fine gauge of the detail had been no more than an agonizing whisper; a jellyfish’s sting. However, when the large gauge of the filler met the same open wounds, he couldn’t keep back the whimper of indignant disbelief.
The man had been very strict about placement. The rules that dictated usage were extremely rigid and this man was an expert on them. The design was straightforward, an implement rather than an aesthetic. Four circles of the elements closing the four points of the cross.
“So?” Dean wanted to know from his luxurious stretch on the other chair. “What’s it feel like?”
“Like a needle going in and out of my skull.” Sam said through clenched teeth.
“Don’t worry,” the man paused to press down on Sam’s neck, numbing the pain a little. “We’ll hit my bar later. By midnight this’ll be nothing but a bad sunburn.”
Everything from the grade of the needle to the ink embedded into Sam’s skin had required purposeful calculation. The indigo dye was worth thousands, derived from the extracts of plants from the man’s native country. The needles had been riskier. They were not hygienically unused. In fact they were ancient.
Sam would have preferred to be spared that knowledge.
He listened to the machine buzz, trying to ignore the flutter in his gut that had never completely gone away. With each burning pass of the needle’s tip, he willed the mark to take its shape and squelch the flickering energy that lay in wait through every vein and nerve. Most intent on his mind was the mark’s purpose and function. Not strangely, the artist meticulously injecting pigment into his skin seemed to be thinking roughly the same thing.
“Still don’t know why you’re laying down this kinda cash.” The man said, his tone lost in the second nature of his honed concentration. “It’s like buying asteroid insurance.”
His brother tapped the duffel, the sound of the leather beneath thudded under his knuckles.
“You’re the one that said that mark is legit.” Dean mumbled. “You said it’s the real deal.“
“Yeah.” The man gave his brother a lopsided smile. “It sure is.”
“Than what’s the problem?”
“Every now and then I get your type comin’ my way poking around for a little indemnity against the bad guys.” He sighed. “But it’s usually a four leaf clover.”
“Wh-what if…it’s not big enough?” Sam bit down as the needle shifted. “What if the position is—“
Sam did not have to see the man’s grin to know it was there.
“Then you’ll have a lame tattoo for the rest of your life.”
“Well, it better work.” Dean said firmly, reaching down to heft the black duffel bag onto his lap. “I ain’t paying you to guess.”
“Settle down.” The man’s voice rumbled. “You want this left a work in progress?”
Sam shared a look with his brother that pleaded for his silence. The fact that this man had opened Gordon’s old books and had actually ever seen them before had been remarkable.
Although Sam had assumed a safe position on the opposite side of the room, what he initially heard had been encouraging. The assurance that the guy had had the vaguest notion that the texts might involve some hazy branch of Christian thaumaturgy had made Sam sit down with light headed relief. When a decorated hand had stopped the pages on a symbol that was recognized with absolute certainty, Dean had gone ahead and taken a seat too. According to the artist, the figure was derived from other common variations as being a fortified mark of defense. Shields were all well and good, but this man had specifically used the term: governor. It figured his brother had immediately picked up that the phrase had been used as it applied to engine mechanics.
Machinery. a device for maintaining uniform speed regardless of changes of load, as by regulating the supply of fuel or working fluid.
Sam wasn’t quite sure what to say about the nature of his own luck.
Out of all the assorted mysteries in the yellowed pages, the only thing that had been positively identified was a ward that kept your numinous temperature down. It was a safeguard for anything that wanted to spin out of control. The simple flow of lines in the symbol could dampen whatever is was flowing through Sam’s head and hopefully keep what wanted to roar down to a whisper. Sam kept imaging a boiling rattling pot calming to still cool water. Thankfully, this man had met enough of their kind not to ask too many questions. From the off sentences mentioned of others that had sought him out with uncanny gifts, Sam wasn’t so sure that this man wasn’t hiding some shade of extrasensory himself.
“Speakin’ of getting paid.” The artist’s gaze drifted to the bag in Dean’s lap. “I’d consider a 100% discount if you’re interested.”
Sam knew just as well as his brother did that any negotiation over the substantial bill meant a trade. They hadn’t walked through the door with anything much besides a couple guns and that didn’t mean jack shit to a person that already owned a well stocked armory. That pretty much left one other thing unless the guy was interested in a brand new old car.
“Don’t see books like those much. Wouldn’t mind a few hours alone with a copy machine.”
Money or no, Dean obviously was as hesitant as he was curious about handing over the information the texts contained to someone who had the remote chance of actually deciphering it. The guy shrugged and directed his attention back to his work. He cleared his throat, his voice turning to a tone of professional advisory.
“Listen up. This ain’t gonna protect you and it ain’t gonna get rid of anything. That kind of shit is a whole other business that I don’t run. This is only gonna help make sure you don’t have a meltdown. Got that?”
“Keep any of the bad out?” Dean asked.
The man raised an eyebrow.
“The day I get a demon in my chair I’ll give it a try and let you know.”
Dean’s soft laugh sounded as forced as it was.
Sam pretended his wince was from the needle working its careful path on his skin. He was glad there was a legitimate excuse for squeezing his eyes shut so he wouldn’t have to meet his brother’s gaze. Dean’s drawn expression hadn’t shed much of what had transpired merely 48 hours before. He was regarding Sam with a look that had been there in the flashlight’s dim cast of the mausoleum’s stairwell. It was a look that was as lost and uncertain as ever.
It was also still just as pissed off.
Chewing three aspirin had done a surprising amount to quiet the throb behind his eyes that hadn’t quit since he’d last seen Gordon.
The pain killers had actually been for his neck but they did little to soothe that flame. Placing the drinking glass down on the bedside table, he thought it was a little weird what kinds of pain could be treated. Some things you had to tolerate no matter how intolerable they seemed to be. He tossed another rolled up pair of jeans into his bag. There wasn’t any need to look around for anything he might have missed. He knew his own list of belongings as well as the arsenal concealed in the trunk.
Unlike that inventory, his was extremely uncomplicated.
His dad had always told him he should never own more than three pairs of socks. One pair was for wearing. The other was for washing. Sam rolled up the last rogue two that were hanging loose and forgotten in a tangle of unfolded T-shirts. The third pair was for every other time in between. Packing up his clothes never took much of an effort. It was difficult to forget stuff when you didn’t have a great deal of property. It was the scatter of papers and trash that took longer to pore through. There were motel fixtures like soap and towels to be had. Out of courtesy there was always a half hearted attempt to tidy up the remainders of their presence and toss it in the garbage.
Most important was to not leave anything of any of significance behind.
Sam flipped through a motel stationary that had several numbers and addresses scribbled on it. To anyone else it would be a few names and places to get buzzed and find some fun. It was as harmless to find in the trash as the cartons of empty take out. Pushing over some newspapers he startled himself by seeing a notebook he usually always made sure got tucked in with his laptop. As much as he’d grown accustomed to a keyboard, the engrained family habit of shorthand had never completely faded away. Shaking his head at the thought of misplacing something that essential, he carefully slipped it into his bag. There were a few moments of hesitation before he sighed and also lifted the black sack that held the books. He knew the layer of nylon was a flimsy shelter from their effects but it was all that seemed to be required.
It always felt good to zip up the center of his canvas bag and know the easy weight of his possessions was exactly where it should be. Sam slipped the computer satchel over his shoulder and hefted the duffel by its thick strap. It was a little awkward to carry for long distances but he only had a few miles to go.
He let himself look at the unmade bed that sat across from his own. Dean’s clothes were all over it like usual. Dirty laundry mixed in with the clean. A scattering of cassette tapes without covers and leather sheaves missing their blades. His brother’s personal mess wasn’t very varied or large but it never failed to accomplish an impressive sprawl over any place that was momentarily claimed.
The small thin phone felt as heavy as his bag when he slipped it into his jacket pocket. He always saved that act for last because it was the largest of losses if his only source of communication was somehow forgotten. The click of the light and the shutting door was something he’d done so many times before he never thought about it. When so much time was spent leaving it didn’t really seem like what it was anymore.
Hearing that door close hadn’t quite ever made him feel like it did now. Subdued. Alone. Isolated. While he was at it, he might as well admit that the sinking feeling in his gut wasn’t just the hectic flutter of whatever Gordon had kindly woken up beneath his skin. Balancing his duffel over his shoulder, he took in a shaky breath and tried to fight what was seeping up through his forced calm. He was as fucking scared of walking down that road as he was staying where he was.
“If you catch the 6AM, you’ll probably hit Atlanta in time for dinner.”
Sam didn’t turn towards the open air stairs that lead to the motel’s second floor balcony. It had been dark enough not to notice his brother sitting on its steps. Sam had thought he’d done a pretty good job of excusing himself and ditching the smiling party in the bar. Turned out his poker face wasn’t as great as he thought it was.
“Or Vegas.” Dean sighed. “Or whatever goddamn coast you’re heading for.”
Sam shifted in place. He didn’t want to explain. He didn’t want to hear his brother read his mind and recite his fears out loud.
“I-I’ll call you in-in a few days.” Sam stammered. “I just need some time.“
He bleakly realized that his brother hadn’t been tossing back as much whiskey as he thought over in that bar the tattoo artist owned. He could still hear the music drifting from the crowded smoky building that sat adjoining the motel. Dean chuckled but it had about as much humor to it as it had patience.
“What?” Sam was surprised at his own anger. “Something funny?”
“You thinkin’ this is a good idea.” Dean stepped out of the shadows and into the pale lamp light. “That’s pretty hilarious.”
Sam stared at him, his entire body trembling with the effort it took to force the next words out of his mouth.
“It’s not gone, Dean.”
His brother’s fists worked at his sides as he stared back apprehensively. Dean didn’t have to be told what ‘it’ was.
“Not supposed to be.” Dean said. “Not yet. He told us it would just keep it down, stop it from—“
“You don’t get it.”
A muscle in his brother’s jaw twitched, his steady gaze flickering up and off the black bag hanging off Sam’s shoulder.
“I don’t feel any different.” Sam listened to his voice crack and didn’t care. “All I have now is a headache I can’t shake and the bonus of a third degree burn on the back of my neck!”
“Sammy, it’s only been a night okay?” His brother held out his hands. “Give it a chance. At least sleep on it—"
“You really think anything’s going to change by tomorrow?" Sam could not control the rage that silenced his brother. "You think one more mark is gonna fix it?"
"Actually, I don’t know shit." Dean answered. "You seem to be keeping all the good parts to yourself."
Shutting his eyes, Sam ground his teeth at his own desperation. He wished it didn’t feel one hundred times as bad as it sounded.
“I gotta get out of here until I-I can figure this out. I have to get away."
"I've heard this song." Dean gave a wounded smile. "Always ends the same."
It took Sam a moment to realize what his brother intended by standing out in the empty parking space in front of him.
Dean settled into a stand between the yellow lines, planting his boots loose and even with his shoulders like he did when he knew he was about to take a punch. Sam felt raw panic flare up his spine as his aggravation mixed with the energy rumbling deep down in his center.
“Dean, get out of my way.”
Sam knew that no answer meant that any response was going to be a physical one. The first step forward he took got him a swing that he expected from the opposite direction. Panting against the hood of the car he’d slammed into, he didn’t have to touch his mouth to know blood was running from a split lip. Dropping the bag that hadn’t fallen, Sam righted himself and took a deep breath. If the peace talks were over than he knew how to play this old game well enough. It had been a while but their family had always had a few good sayings about confrontation. Sometimes when all else failed it was better to communicate with your hands.
Days of frustration flooded his mind like a blank white wall. It was a nauseating comfort to find a thoroughly sublime release of fear and anger, his hands meeting and missing the attack as quickly as ground gained. He barely felt the impact of the solid brick when he stumbled into it. The agony of a knee jarred to the ground when he knocked over an oversized garbage bin was far away and indistinct. Every one of his brother’s strikes that found their mark registered numbly as Sam returned each one.
The sputter of power rose and flared through his arms. Sam growled, hauling his fist outwards in an effort to keep the disgusting surge of the thing inside suppressed as much as he wanted to make satisfying retaliatory contact with Dean’s face.
To his utter surprise one of his wild swings did just that.
Dean slid off the slope of car’s trunk and slumped limply to the asphalt.
“Everything okay out here?”
Sam turned in shock at the unheard approach of the tattooed man and Dean’s latest and best drinking buddy. His brother weakly groaned on the pavement as he slowly started to come to. Sam’s gaze fell on his scattered gear.
“Bring him inside.” He heard himself saying as he shouldered the duffels and pulled the black bag out from under a soda machine where it had been kicked. “Just-just needs to sleep it off.”
The toss of the motel key fell easily into the artist’s grip, oddly steady even after a night of bourbon and beer.
“S-Sure.” The man answered. “Where you headed?”
When Sam turned his back he started walking as fast as he could without breaking into a run.
The rows of numbered doors became blurred with the questioning voice of the man that had spent the afternoon painstakingly transcribing the ancient picture onto his flesh. The traffic was heavy on the road he found on the other side of a short alley. Stained concrete rushed by under his feet with his pace. He only stopped when the blare of a car horn forced him back onto the curb to wait for a light.
Sam stared down at the bloodied skinned knuckles of his fist and knew that he’d hit teeth. That had been no explosion of incomprehensible might. His violence did not come from some power he could not control. It was a sickening relief. With a small bit of wonder, his shaking hand went to the throb that sat behind a bandage on the back of his head. The light changed, and the late night crowd pushed past him to cross the street. He looked back over his shoulder to where he’d left his brother bleeding in a parking lot.
Whatever Gordon had done was done.
All Sam knew was that he had to put some space between himself and the living world until he could work out exactly what it was that that meant.
Until then, he was going to do what he did best.
to be sequel-ed soon....