*lights a cigarette*
Title: Thirteen part 1 - part 2 - part 3 *Completed*
Also: Half Past (Sam POV to Thirteen)
Rating: R - Outside POV - Gen - hurt!Dean - abducted!Dean
Spoilers: General to all aired ep in USA
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: An unnatural kind of serial killer decides to make Hunters its victim of choice...
He was aware that he had been alive for well over two hundred and fifty years, but if he were ever asked to provide an exact natal date he would have little to offer but a guess.
As it was it helped his cause tremendously that his body appeared as worn and feeble as its years would indicate. His immense height was stooped from bones drawn upright past their allotted time. Inflamed joints hindered the once smooth gait of his walk and burdened his misshapen frame with a slow awkward vigilance. Regardless of his alarming appearance, very few paid him any mind. The very elderly were treated with a disregard throughout the public world that he found worked better than true invisibility. Although sinew and muscle stretched tight under his frail skin, and wisps of white hair fluttered down over the gray flop of his eyebrows, he didn’t feel at all that his potency had flagged one bit.
In fact, he’d felt better than fine for as long as he could remember.
Tossing another log onto the fire, he watched the dying flames spring back to life as they hungrily found fresh split pine. Using the stone fireplace to help himself up, he nudged aside a thick silk curtain of cobwebs that hung over the mantle in place of a nostalgic painting. Easing back into his chair, he listened to the cold splatter of rain thudding on the windowpanes and thundering through the rusted gutters. The water blurred the smudged glass to perfectly opaque. He enjoyed how the weather took him further away from the world even though the surrounding woods already kept him miles from the closest road.
Arranging the objects on the messy desk, he found his writing implement, a neat stack of ledgers and a small ceramic ink well.
The anomalous span of his protracted years hadn’t left him all that affected. The strings of meandering decades felt more like months, the century’s horrors flashed on headlines in a steady flow of outside noise that rarely concerned him. Like his mind, his might was hidden away. Still pointed, still lethal and still observing everything that happened around him with the gentle cloudy eyes of what society deemed harmless.
A ragged groan from the corner caught his attention.
Looked like someone was waking up.
“Good morning,” he ventured.
Getting back on his feet he was a little surprised it had taken this long for the young man to come to. The boy hadn’t been placed in the most comfortable of circumstances and judging from past guests, there usually was more of a fuss by now about the state of accommodation. Although the ‘kid’ was obviously past adolescence and well into adulthood he still looked like nothing but a child to him. To a person of his strangely advanced years, anyone not hunched over with a head of white hair might as well been born last week.
He’d removed the thick leather jacket and heavy flannel shirt from the kid’s body before securing everything into place. The large crackling fire got roasting enough in here that even his unreliable circulation proved adequate. As he got closer he noted that even naked to the waist, a healthy young guy like this one was already sweating in the stifling heat. The light was flickering orange from the flames and wavering on the ceilings from the fat sag of candles sitting in rows on the sealed windows and cluttered tables.
“Time to wake up,” he slid a hand onto the back of the boy’s damp neck. “How’re you feeling?”
Kneeling at the young man’s side, he placed his gnarled hand against the bowed forehead. The kid jerked under the touch, his eyes blinking open and blearily trying to focus. With a calm patience, he watched the confused gaze start to swiftly seep into anger.
“Wh-wha...,” the kid stammered. “What…”
Removing his hand, he studied the swollen knuckles and blue veins that ran down his bony fingers. His touch had always made others physically weaker. At a minimum the direct contact of his hand caused only a vague weariness. At its height it caused a great deal more which sometimes created compliancy when required. Consequently, the act always made him feel quite different himself. It left him stronger, sharper and pleasantly awake. He didn’t understand the science behind his longevity but he would be a fool to think this talent didn’t have something to do with the extraordinary extension of his unnatural lifespan.
Flexing his fist, he tipped the chin up so he could look into the furious green eyes.
“What’s your name son?”
The failing struggle to suppress the panic at his current circumstances made him appear a bit younger than his years. Fear had the tendency to make grown ups look as lost as children. The wallet in the jean back pocket had several different identities but he was certain that none of that information was real.
“Forgot,” the kid muttered at the ground.
There was one foot of chain on a collar to keep the boy’s chin down towards the floor. Slumped forward on his knees, his wrists were laced behind his back with another length of corded twine lashed taut to a bolt fastened on the ceiling. It was a method of containment he’d used for more years than he could count. The overall effect left the prey in a posture of constant and enforced attention. The upward tension on the arms kept the kid from collapsing face first on the floor like he wanted to, and the short leash of the collar denied relief to all the strained muscles of the body that twitched in the need to straighten.
He wrapped his fist into the short chain under the boy’s chin and tugged on it gently.
“Why don’t you give it some more thought?”
The young man hissed in shock as the rope holding back his arms creaked tight between his shoulder blades. The grit on the wood planks scratched under ripped denim knees as he struggled to push himself back. All he wanted to do was reach a position to alleviate the steady pressure that had the potential to dislocate both his shoulders. He could have told the boy not to bother trying to make it feel better. The comfy spot he was hoping to find didn’t exist.
“I can promise you that whatever you tell me won’t leave this room.”
The light caught and glinted on something hanging from the kid’s neck.
He examined the metal amulet that clicked against the collar’s chain. Snapping the leather cord, he dropped the small weight of the jewelry into a frayed shirt pocket. The kid watched him do it, his jaw clenched and breath short as the slow pull on the collar turned the discomfort into agony.
“Besides,” he reasoned. “A name isn’t much of a secret now is it?”
Although he had never experienced the excruciating system of ropes and chain himself, the procedure achieved several things that were very important for his work. It was difficult to remain proud when you were forced to stay on your knees. It was even harder to try to think about bravery when the edge of suffering never went away. Most importantly it kept a deadly animal like a hunter safely contained.
“Not a secret I reckon is worth this much.”
He tightened his grip on the chain and yanked down as hard as he was able. Slowly bringing the boy’s chin to the ground, the ropes whined above them in protest. All the kid’s weight went to his shoulders as his knees pressed harder into the floor. Twisting his wrists in the cinched binds, he hissed as his arms were pulled further away from his back.
“Fuck- okay- okay!”
The hunter moaned in relief when the chain’s meager slack was suddenly released. Adrenaline shuddered through his body and made his voice shake as badly as his trapped hands. Sweat had darkened his brown hair, rolling down his temples and gathering to drip from under his lower lip. He licked at it as he tried to get his frantic breathing back under control.
“I-Its Dean,” he breathed out. “...n-name’s Dean—”
The dazed boy revived violently when a hand pushed over his mouth.
Through trial and error he’d learned that covering any portion of the face with his palms made his prey the weakest in the fastest amount of time. He knew it was dangerous to allow the contact of his flesh to linger after he’d made their consciousness ebb and their bodies wilt. A prolonged touch would cause a heartbeat to falter and eventually fade away completely. Dean’s face sagged into his open hand as the labored breathing slowed. His watering eyes flickered but struggled to remain open.
With an elated sigh, he stood back up and settled into his chair.
Like many who had reached their golden years, he had taken up a hobby he’d thoroughly enjoyed in his earlier days. Like a retired man who had much more time to indulge a previously minor passion, he now had the resources to reconstruct his pastime into a new full time job. He found his progression no different from the other beings that sweat and toiled on the planet. Everyone he saw seemed to be squandering their youth in order to enjoy some bliss in the scant years left before they died. Even so, he wasn’t very concerned with the monetary or the other pleasures that could be gained with its excess.
He was interested in something else.
Human life specifically.
The brief fleeting nature of mortality was a source of endless absorption for him. It had really begun to draw his attention when the individuals he knew all his life had started to wink out. When they were all gone he resignedly waited for the time when all his own organs would begin the horrifying process of decline. Instead, his body inexplicably kept functioning on and on. After an entire generation of people he knew had vanished into the ether he found the transitory nature of others to be as irresistible as the scent of food to a starving man. At first he just meant to observe it, but the excitement of being a voyeur quickly proved not to be nearly enough. Early in his endeavors he had found that any death of his own making would do. A diseased vagrant he smothered on the streets was as beautiful a passing to behold as the suffocation of a healthy child.
However, after a few decades he became bored with that pursuit as well.
Lives were as common as gold and as heavy to keep.
With his finely honed art wavering on the precipice of mediocrity, he longed for a master to bow to. He fervently wished every day that there was a teacher of some kind that could further his skills and expand his gifts. With no other option he began to spend his nights and days in libraries to pour through what had been archived of all the world’s great massacres. The feats of his forefathers were impressive but slaughter in mass volume held little interest for him. Instead, he began to read books that explored the higher breed of soul that belonged to the collector. It was during his education on the professional murderer that he learned that the selector of lives was an even more concise and elaborate art form than he’d ever previously considered.
Some serial killers were searching the streets for a person to apply their precious method. Others found the method incidental to the precisely chosen person. The more selective, the higher the return when you finally found what it was that you were looking for. It was an astounding revelation to discover that what he truly wanted was simply something no one else had.
The trick was to find something so rare that its existence was questionable.
It was then that he discovered a type of man he had not been aware of before.
He was rightfully doubtful when he read mention of the reality of Hunters. Nonetheless, his mind was abruptly changed when several of their kind threatened to rip away his invaluable invisibility after a particularly grisly killing spree he had created in a lonely Midwest town. These elusive men weren’t cautious like the police. They followed no rules like the government detectives. Their recourses for information and tracking seemed as expansive and organized than any legitimate government agency he’d dealt with to date.
They had begun to fascinate him.
He immediately started arranging bizarre murders like special bouquets of flowers just in the hopes that the acts would be noticed. Hunters that could be found exposed in the broad light of day were like a gift. Every time he happened upon one it was like tipping up a forest stone and finding something curled in the damp soil in the dark. Great care had to be taken not to startle them or they would vanish back into the shadows like the ghosts they sought. It was vital not to make them suspect the presence of another predator on the wind or the chase would turn backwards into an offensive attack. The men and women who trolled the flip side were meticulous and strong willed. They fled law of every kind and avoided all of society’s structure in order to accomplish their goals. Like him, they lived just outside the living world’s peripheral vision.
He lived to subdue them one by one.
Behind him, the chain on the collar rattled as the hunter roughly tested the binds.
He’d been extremely lucky this time. There was not only one, but two of them bedded down within the city limits. The motel they had taken for the night was surrounded by the city squalor and left mostly vacant behind a gravel parking lot. Its squat building walls were peeling grey paint in all the decomposing shades of a wasp nest.
In his haste to obtain the first unarmed hunter he saw, the other one unfortunately made things difficult. That was the danger and thrill of happening upon these men when they formed in packs of their own making. The prize was increased by the delicious menace the presence of two could contain. The victory of capturing them both could have been ideal but now, here in the serene quiet of the fireplace and his home, the entire experience would be another fond what-if story to recall in his ever crowding memory. One liver spotted hand absently touched the remnants of wounds all over his chest. Buckshot gouged deep and others formed pitted scars. His shirt was almost completely shredded by the multiple impacts of hot lead. Truth be told, if he hadn’t finally taken up a gun himself he wasn’t quite sure he would have been able to acquire even one of the pair.
Dipping his quill into the pot of ink, he contritely shook his head.
Unfortunately in this business there were some that simply got away. He found that in the face of defeat that it was better to look on the positive side of things and now he possessed the helpful knowledge that there was at least one other hunter in the area.
Despite that temporary loss, the outing had not been a failure in any sense of the term.
He flipped open a yellowed ledger and found an unfilled page. With a smile he found that he was going to have to start a brand new entry for this hunter. Filling in the first row with neat cursive script, he satisfied himself with announcing what number this young man would hold in the collection.
“You are number 13.”
“N-Number 13 of what?”
He always made sure the floor was perfect before he secured any human being in place. While his efforts were predominantly for the coveted light they contained inside their skins he kept many other things he found on their person as well. He was in love with their artifacts, charming useless things they thought would aid them. The wood planked floor was a mosaic of mismatched blades, well worn pistols and the dark gleam of polished crucifixes. Placed perfectly like a puzzle, he’d unfolded leather tomes to fit in the wide places and draped clothing in others. Watches, protective necklaces, charmed bracelets, blessed trinkets of all shapes and sizes.
Long ago he’d learned that after he placed his hands on living skin that he could draw out the energy that burned inside. He’d learned that he could maim. He learned he could suck out the very last breath. To his interest he found he could do more than that when he tried.
It turned out that life was not all a human being had to give.
He received something else even after all signs of living were gone. It was more prized than any final stutter of the heart, murmured word or tightening of a hand over his own. He was a collector, but not a collector of putrefying carcasses despite the delightful tokens they left behind.
Opening one of his larger books, he traced his fingers down the bent binding. There lay an intricate inked picture depicting the cross section of the human body. The most cherished possession he desired from the hunter typically had to be given freely or imparted in a clause of a contract. It was an ancient pact-- no one ever got something for nothing. But years upon years of extensive study had eventually exhumed a loophole.
He’d found a way. A bloody, slow, arduous way.
The crinkled vellum smoothed under his fingers as he touched the precise symbols and designs that decorated the body on the pages. Like any act of defiance, you had to decide for yourself if it was worth the price. He hungrily gripped a pot of indigo ink that matched the tint of the paint of the artwork that ornamented the man in the illustration. The next part of the process would take a few more days of painstaking work. He lifted his gaze to the blank canvas of the young hunter’s back and the bare skin of his arms and throat. The small paintbrush required to achieve the fine detail would make his old hands ache and cramp but his efforts had yielded success every time he had dared attempt it.
“What the hell do you want?” the boy made it a demand no matter how weak his voice had gotten.
He liked that question. It demonstrated the intelligence of his catch. It proved he hadn’t wasted his time tracking this hunter down and bringing him to this place. The impending event of his death was obvious but it was clearly evident that he had been brought into seclusion for something other than having his throat mindlessly slashed.
“I’m going to take your life,” he explained.
“Yeah, I think I got that memo—“
“And then I’m going to take your soul.”
He’d heard many responses to that declaration over the years and they were all different. Most gave him nothing but disbelief and a confirmation of their certainty that their captor was missing his sanity. What pleased him about the hunters was that they exhibited real fear when average citizens had the luxury of believing such a claim as a fantastical impossibility. Nonetheless, of all the pleas, shouts and tears he’d witnessed, he’d never before seen this.
The sound of the dry rasping laughter caused his contented smile to dissolve.
He stared at the hunter and felt a film of displeasure descend over the good mood he’d spent so long meticulously crafting for this moment. When the boy’s weary mirth finally subsided, he felt a frown deepen until its points met his drooping chin. The humor that had pleasantly filled him with anticipation was gone. He suddenly felt as cold and heavy as if he were nothing but a bared skeleton, his skin near rot as it hung like a bag from his decrepit frame.
The calm of his anger flashed across his wan face as effortlessly as happiness had.
“Am I missing a good joke son?”
The young hunter painfully repositioned his knees and worked his fists behind him. With a brief shake of his head, he managed to shrug in his restraints.
“Guess we’ll find out.”