Author: Mink (Thank you Tammy!)
Rating: PG - Gen
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
He heard him.
The sudden loud sound of his own name startled him out of the light haze he drifted in and out of, bringing dreams of the box growing smaller and the lisping ragged whisper of the old lady in his ear. Again he heard his name. He tried to open his mouth and answer but all he could do was work his jaw uselessly.
The tread of boots was as familiar as the voice.
But they both faded away up the creaking stairs. Frustration burned hot at the corners of his eyes. He couldn't make a sound. His brother would never find him. He would rot here forever even after this house fell down to its foundations. He squeezed his eyes shut and listened to the stagger and start of his breathing and wondered how long he could last like this and survive.
It was much to his surprise when he opened his eyes again, through his slated coffin, and up through the floorboards were a pair of hazel eyes peering down at him.
To his shock, he was looking directly up at his brother.
The floorboards took a while to remove. Between Dean cursing and the crowbar working between squeaky old planks, Sam couldn't be happier with any other sounds at the moment. By the time his brother had jimmied the top off his box, he felt his lungs fill with fresh air and willed with all his power to sit up and get the hell out of there.
But he couldn't. Even when Dean licked a thumb and rubbed at the mark that still burned on his neck all he could manage was to glare.
"Look at me all you want, I'm keeping you from becoming beef jerky."
The arm Dean held twitched when he used the same method to remove the other mark. Sam wasn't quite sure how Dean knew where they had been placed. He wondered what his brother had found upstairs.
"I get that you can't talk but can you move?" Dean grabbed the belt at Sam's hips and gave a few experimental yanks. "Nothin'?"
Sam couldn't confirm it so he just waited for whatever it was that his brother would think of. Apparently his brother was thinking of the most simple and logical step.
Dean got down behind him and shoved his arms under Sam's, gathering him up into a sitting position. "Ready?" Dean asked for no reason, and then pulled with all his might.
Sam knew when the backs of his jeans caught on the edge of the box and he hadn't even cleared the floor above yet that this wasn't going to work. His dead weight would have been difficult to handle if he wasn't in a hole. But he was. Just as the thought finished in his mind Dean's strained grip slipped and Sam fell back, cracking his head on the box's corner. He heard himself groan in protest, and his brother, who had fallen backwards, reappeared at the hole's edge out of breath.
"Sorry." Dean offered.
Sam, fallen in an awkward position, silently did not accept the apology.
Dean sat back panting and half grinned down at him. "We should stop eating all that fast food huh?"
Sam blinked rapidly, the ringing pain in the back of his head fading.
"Get it? I'm weak, and yer fat?"
Sam felt himself sigh shortly.
"Let's try that again." Dean declared.
Sam thought of the hours his brother had spent finding God knows what before he found him. His forearms were almost white with plaster dust and his hands shook with muscle tremors when he touched Sam. It was from over exertion. Dean wasn't just tired, he was exhausted.
"Okay, look." His brother was back in the hole with him. "I'm goin' to bend your knees and when I pull, you try just- just try to push up with your legs okay?"
Sam felt himself try to nod but all that came was a strong exhalation of breath.
His brother nodded back as if he knew what it meant.
Dean was up behind him again, boots anchored on either side of the hole and holding onto Sam with one hand over one fist down around his stomach.
"On three...one, two, thre--OOF!"
Sam felt his tensed up legs react, pushing hard and fast against the bottom of the box. Before he knew it he was up in the sitting room again, his legs still in the hole, but he was out. He was free, he just had to move--
"Watch it you jerk, I almost bit my fuckin tongue off..." Dean moaned from somewhere underneath him.
He could hear something.
Holding his breath, he listened to the footsteps on the wooden steps that lead to the front door. He tried to will himself to speak to warn his swearing brother who was struggling out from behind him. The door swung open slowly, a dark figure wavered in the doorway, and then emerged from the darkness outside as if she were made from it.
"And who are you?" She asked.
Sam gazed up at the young woman in confusion. She was barefoot in a gingham dress that barely passed her knees. Her skin was as dark and smooth as the shadows and her round brown eyes were trained on Dean. Her soft gaze flashed for an instant and Sam remembered.
...the maiden, the mother, the hag...
He couldn't warn his brother that the witch had taken up the appearance of one of her triad, one of the three stages of womanhood. Youth, Life and Death. He watched on desperately as Dean stood and finally took notice of her after she had spoken aloud. A black hearth Sam hadn't noticed flared to life beside them, the cob webs in it curling and igniting in searing strings that wafted still burning softly around the room.
Dean wasn't moving. He was just standing there staring back at her, transfixed by her unblinking eyes.
Cursing the crone for choosing the perfect form to distract his older brother with, he tried to will his body like he'd willed his legs just before. He felt a finger twitch.
She held up a small pouch as she walked towards them, her smile revealing too white and even teeth. Her lips moved on his even if Dean's embrace was unreturned, his hands and arms limp at his sides. Her arms snaked around his neck to draw him closer and Sam saw Dean's fists flex before he finally slid his hands around her body. When she stepped back and poured the content of her pouch into her palm, Sam knew what was going to happen next.
Dean sneezed and staggered backwards in a small cloud of her dust.
"Now," She said drawing her finger up under his chin and giving a nod towards Sam. "Why don't you put that back where I left it."
Sam heard her voice shift back to what the old woman had sounded like, dry and cracked, aged and brittle. Dean turned and looked down at him.
Sam barely registered the small raise of his brother's eyebrows and the small smile before it happened. Dean suddenly lunged forward grabbing the disguised crone by the arms and swinging her around. The next thing Sam knew Dean was yelling and shoving her backwards, she screamed when she lost her footing over Sam's body. It was too high pitched, the windows all cracking with her anger. But Sam saw what Dean had intended.
She fell directly into the fireplace.
Her screams went up into painful octaves, her body flailing too quickly and inhumanly in the flames she had created. It forced Sam to think of a moth sputtering frantically and being slowly consumed by the tip of a candle. The smell of flowers grew hideous and sickening as her screams turned into animal growls and roars. She reared up, hair aflame, orange and red fire flowing over her body to lick the ceiling.
Dean had his shotgun aimed right her.
The explosive rounds that sent her right back into the fireplace matched the volume of her death throes. And when the screams abrubtly ceased..... suddenly Sam could move. Her bond was broken. He quickly sat up. Just in time to catch the pistol his brother tossed to him.
"Give her a couple, it's better than therapy." Dean suggested.
Sam wiped at his neck where she had left her mark.
"I'll take your word for it."
They left as the fire began to slowly spread, not easily in a damp place but the fire found curtains and furniture to eat. Dean made them detour towards the back to knock down what looked like a clothes line out in the dark. Sam didn't ask why.
"But I don't get it," Sam murmured breathlessly as he followed his brother down the trail he couldn't even see in the pitch black. "Why didn't that stuff affect you?"
"Easy." Dean paused and shone his flashlight under his chin.
Sam jerked back when Dean's hand came up and touched his ear. Holding the side of his head suspiciously he watched the real pouch drop by its cord from Dean's palm right before his eyes.
"Magic." Dean winked.
Sam blinked at the pouch as it swayed.
"Pocketed some pulverized plaster while I was looking for you. Put it in one of those little bags that were laying all over the place and then I knew any good charmer worth her salt would want to get as close to me as possible--"
"I get it, I get it." Sam interrupted him.
"And next time?" Dean said in an annoyed tone.
Sam tripped over an exposed tree root and swore under his breath.
"You get the top side of the to-do-list."