Lost to Madness
Don't own 'em, and if that isn't proof that life is frigging unfair then I don't know what is.
Welcome to the world thru my eyes.
AN: This is a total shameless excuse for shirtless Dean and Sam torture. The ala Lethal Weapon was a special request. (Waves at Gaelic) There will be a few more hastily written chapters, maybe 2 or 3, so I won't bore you for long. This started out as something else called Struck which I have filed away for future use. There is little, if any, soul searching introspection in this. I don't even know what's going on at this point but I'm sure I'll figure something out. Either that or I'll just keep hurting him for the hell of it. As always ta for any attention paid me, I am willing to do tricks for scraps.
And what i know about electricity you could poke in a pin hole, so again, don't waste time telling me what is and isn't possible. I researched a bunch of this and even the experts couldn't agree. (Sticks tongue out at sticklers for accuracy.)
I Saw It In A Movie Once...
He came to, if you could call it that, wet, shivering and aching, positive the feeling his arms were about to tear from his shoulders couldn't be real unless he was strung between two semi's, like the character in that Hitcher movie…
The sudden crack of a hand across his face and an angry voice bellowing "Wake up, you son of a bitch!" brought him out of his daze and damned near sent him under again as he inexplicably spun sickeningly and the pain in his shoulders increased ten-fold. Trying to gasp and cry out at the same time, he only managed to suck in some of the water running down his body and choke.
Dimly, he realized he was actually hanging by ropes or something that were cutting into his wrists, leaving him dangling like some kind of bait. His shirt was gone and icy water was pouring in a thin stream from someplace over his head, down his body, soaking his jeans, adding to the almost unbearable pull on his arms. He could just feel the brush of his bare toes against what felt like bars in the floor, not solid enough to anchor him in place or take any of the weight off his burning shoulders and wrists, just a tease of steadiness that was too tenuous to do more than paw at. Since he couldn't feel the water pooling he had to assume he was hanging over some kind of grate in the floor
"Hold him!" The same rough voice barked and he felt hands grabbing on both sides of him with harsh enthusiasm, but at least, thank God, stopping that swaying spin that was gonna have him hurling in a another minute.
"What the…fuck…?" he spluttered, throat raw, teeth wanting to chatter he was so cold, but he'd grind them until they cracked if he had to, to stop them from doing it.
Blinking desperately to clear the water from his eyes, Dean squinted into the dim light and tried see his captors, but his eyes refused to focus properly. His head was killing him, a dull aching throb at the base of his skull that told him he'd been belted with something hard not too long ago.
"Shut up unless you're answering a question!" Big Mouth snarled, striking him again, but this time only his head snapped to one side as his body was held in place. He felt vertebrae crack that must have pinched a nerve sending fire up the back of his neck, making him gasp again.
"Last time, boy…" The voice warned, "Tell us where it is or this time we're goin' for broke."
Last time? Last time for what? Dean fought against rising panic, scrambling madly to gather his scattered wits.
"What are you talking about?" Dean rasped, twisting against the dig of fingers in his bare flesh. "Who the fuck are you?"
This time Big Mouth stepped out of the darkness surrounding Dean and got real close. Dean tried to turn his head away from the stench of old sweat, stale beer and a lifetime of cigarette smoking being blown into his face, but calloused fingers held him firm and forced Dean's head forward. Cold grey eyes surrounded with craggy folds of loose skin and a ragged looking scar were all Dean could see.
"I'm the guy that's gonna have your balls dangling from his rear view mirror if you don't stop playing stupid. Pretty boy like you's gonna be a real disappointment to the ladies with your gun unloaded." Big Mouth's other hand dropped down to grip Dean viciously.
Dean ground his teeth to keep from crying out, both at the pain and the violation. "Fuck you," he gasped.
Big Mouth snorted, releasing Dean and casting a look at the man to Dean's left. "Maybe you and Davy here can talk about that later, if you're feeling up to it." The man leaned so close Dean could feel the pressure of breath on his skin. "Right now you better tell me what you did with that key." Big Mouth's eyes cut to Dean's right and he nodded shortly.
Dean felt the fingers release his right side and the figure there moved back into the shadows where the sound of objects being moved about could be heard.
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Dean exclaimed. "What key?"
Big Mouth stepped back with a disgusted noise, shaking his head. "Ya know kid, I'm a patient guy. I like things neat and tidy. Tell me what I need to know and we can part friends, no harm no foul, everybody goes his own way." He moved back further as the man from Dean's right came back into the weak light pushing a small cart. "Gus here, well, he ain't so patient," Big Mouth continued. "He'll take his answers any way he can get 'em, but he likes slow, dontcha, Gus?"
As Gus approached, Dean had a good look at the rat-faced little man. Balding, body almost skeleton thin, a crooked smile of anticipation pulled his narrow lips upward as he stared at Dean through large-lensed glasses.
Watching Gus with a look that was almost fond, Big Mouth went on. "Sometimes slow means messy, though, but it just seems no one wants to take the easy way anymore and just tell me what I want." He sighed dramatically and rubbed a finger over the scar that tore across his eyes.
To his left, Davy giggled, the fingers of one hand tracing softly down the muscles of Dean's chest and belly. "Don't hurt him too bad, Gus. Leave a little something for me."
Dean jerked away from the clammy touch, internal alarms that rarely came into play tripping everywhere in his body. "Get your hands off me, you fuck!" He swore, kicking outward.
Davy laughed this time and gave Dean's body a push, adding a playful spin. Dean could hear the raucous laughter as he turned erratically at the end of his tether.
He came to a jerking halt as he was suddenly gripped once more by a hand of iron, nausea battling dizziness for dominance. He was blearily aware that other swift hands were encircling his ankles with something, but before he was capable of reacting the strain on his arms got so much worse he could only groan as his feet were tied securely down to whatever the hell he was hanging over, tight enough he could now rest the balls of his feet in place, his shoulder joints screaming as they were stretched to the breaking point.
"The key," Big Mouth snarled, mouth to Dean's ear.
"I don't know what you're talking about…" Dean gasped, his lungs pressed nearly flat by the stretch of his body.
"Have it your way, boy. Gus." Big Mouth moved aside as Gus shuffled forward with his cart.
Swallowing desperately, Dean lifted his head from his chest, the air that had been shuddering in and out of his lungs as he shivered, froze solid as he saw what lay on the cart.
Gus fastened a rubber apron over his front and pulled on pair of heavy rubber gloves with a surgeon's care, his eyes never leaving Dean's face. Tearing his eyes away briefly, he fastened a cable to each of the terminals on the large battery with loving gentleness and lifted them up, the clips on the opposite ends of the cables each held a small dripping sponge.
Dean shook his head wildly to get the water out of his eyes, his heart starting to race as he watched the spindly little man approach and he realized what was about to happen.
He remembered being electrocuted with awful clarity. The sensation of electricity ripping through his body, burning it from the inside out, joints locked in an agony he couldn't escape. Blue lines of miniature lightning arcing through the pool of water he lay in, ricocheting from the Rawhead he'd fired the taser at, frying his brain, his heart…
He couldn't help the useless spasming of his body against it's restraints, drawing in, away from the cables as Gus raised the terminals toward him.
"No…" Dean panted. Not this…anything but this…. "I don't know what you want…" God dammit he was almost hyperventilating.
Gus smiled at Dean, at the panic in the younger man's eyes, the hungry gleam in his own eyes making it clear he wasn't doing this because he wanted answers to questions. He didn't give a damn what Dean might have to say.
Dean's water-soaked body arched impossibly, his world shaking, as the terminals were pressed against his belly, his jaws locking as the current sent his muscles into overdrive, his cry of pain a hoarse staccato of wordless suffering. The black behind his eyes trembled as abbreviated images, memories, shot through, riding the lightning bolt of pain.
Gus pulled the terminals away after a few seconds and Dean slumped limply, groaning, His body twitching in delayed spasms. He tried to open his eyes, to find some way to resist, but the frantic commands from his brain hit a wall of pain before they reached his body.
Gus glanced back at Big Mouth who nodded at him. "Again." Behind him, Davy giggled.
This time, Gus wrote his name in a sweeping flourish across the bare flesh before him, smirking, as Dean bucked and screamed.
God, he loved his job.
They say you never hear the shot that kills you.
That may have been true, but you sure as hell heard the one that damn near does. He could still hear the concussion, like a freaking cannon, filling the air, just before the molten slug struck him.
That was his first thought as consciousness stirred his eyelids, fluttering them, before he managed to lift them and stare blearily at the dead grass that was strangely close to his face, a determined dandelion bursting through in bold defiance of the cold weather.
He smelled dirt and blood and it took him a befuddled few more moments to realize he was actually lying face down on the ground, thrown there by the impact of the bullet that had torn through the flesh of his right side, just under the floating rib.
His first movements sent pain screaming through his side so sharply the only sound he could make was a hoarse gasp as his hand smacked instinctively against the wound in response to the sensation, making his body curl in on itself.
In his whole life he had only been shot once before, a shoulder hit that had been no more than a painful flesh wound, but at the time had seemed to hurt like holy hell.
That had been a love bite compared to this. It felt as though his entire side had been ripped open.
Gagging as he tried to roll over without using the right half of his body, he finally managed to heave over enough to brace himself and claw open his shirt. Even in the semi-gloom of dusk he could see it was blood-soaked.
Dizziness rolled over him in a slow wave and he wretched weakly, fumbling his fingers over his blood-slick skin where the bullet had gone in.
"God…" he hissed as he forced his hand to explore his lower back, relieved and agonized as his fingers encountered another wound that told him the bullet had gone straight through. A few more inches to the right and it would have missed him altogether. Still a flesh wound, one fucking motherhumper of a flesh wound, but a few more inches to the left and he wouldn't have been so lucky.
Desperate anger pushed him to his knees, grimacing and grunting with pain, his arm pressed against his damaged side as he wobbled to his feet, staggering uncertainly.
He allowed himself to fall against the nearest tree and let it take his weight to help him stay upright. He was pretty sure the wound wouldn't kill him but he'd lost enough blood to leave him weak and shaky.
His own weapon was gone. The bastards who'd shot him would have taken it. They must have assumed he was dead.
He'd remained conscious long enough to see them drag his brother's limp body up, haul it to a beat-up old truck, stuff him inside the cab and drive away.
Long enough to hear what they'd said.
Long enough to realize where they were taking Dean.
He pushed away from the tree, hand clutched tightly to his side, teeth grit against the pain, stumbling into the deepening gloom. He would make it back to the Impala and from there to Dean
Even if he had to crawl.
When It Rains…
Dean gasped as cold water hit him in an icy wave, ripping him from the welcome cocoon of unconsciousness, his bound hands rising up to form a useless shield, shoulder joints screaming at the sudden movement, as more freezing water showered him as he lay face down on the floor.
His shocked cry drew a chorus of raucous laughter as he tried to get away from the blast of what he realized was a water hose spraying him, wielded by his new friends.
The spray chased him across the rough wooden boards of the floor as he skittered backwards, hands attempting to block his face, choking as he sucked in water trying to breathe. His ankles were tethered by a short piece of rope that allowed movement but wasn't enough to let him get to his feet. The power from the hose was strong enough to shove him around and hurt where the blast struck bare, bruised skin and muscle.
Every centimeter of his body ached from what he knew had been a thorough and well executed beating, he remembered none of it, only the sear as Gus had painted him with electric fire. He had some vague recollection of threats that had been carried out with sick enthusiasm but the details had melted together into one large mélange of pain.
"Rise and shine, Dean!" Dean recognized the voice despite the fogginess in his brain: Big Mouth.
Rex… the other guy, Gus the Psycho, Dean had christened him, still seeing that hungry smile that had broadened with every agonized twist of Dean's body or hoarse cry as persuasion had been applied to it, had called him Rex…
The hose cut off abruptly, leaving Dean coughing and shivering, making desperate efforts to focus his mind into coherent thought, squinting into the dull light shining from the low wattage bulb dangling from the ceiling. He didn't remember blacking out, his shoulders felt as though his arms had nearly been torn from the sockets. How long had he hung there after he'd blacked out?
He looked about, to see if he was alone. The room was empty save himself and his erstwhile companions as near as he could tell. He hoped to God that meant Sam wasn't stashed somewhere…he wasn't sure if he was happy at the thought that Sam might be safe or terrified at the thought that he might get himself mixed up in whatever the hell was going on trying to save Dean.
"I gotta admit," the older man said, cutting off Dean's scrambled thoughts. He squatted down in front of Dean and studied him thoughtfully. "You are a tough nut to crack."
He slapped Dean casually, sending bells pealing inside Dean's skull, the blow knocking him sideways into a pool of water. "Hit you a little harder than I meant to the first time," Rex commented. He made a humming noise. "Wasn't much point in trying to talk with you out cold so we tossed you in here 'til you came to and we could continue with our conversation." He raised his hand again and Dean couldn't stop himself from flinching back.
Rex laughed as he watched Dean shudder with cold. The skin around Dean's eyes was bruised, his torso covered with burns, dried blood still streaked his skin despite the hosing.
"You're a fucking mess, kid," Rex remarked conversationally. He stood suddenly, towering over Dean's sodden and aching body. Rubbing his hands together briskly, Rex whistled. "Man, its cold in here. Are you cold, Gus? Davy?" he asked, turning to his companions.
Gus smiled. Davy giggled behind his hand, his other hand clutching the hose.
"I'm about to freeze my ass off. I think I'm gonna get some coffee and warm up, you want some coffee?" He asked Gus, who grinned and nodded.
Davy just giggled again and licked his lips, watching as the water ran from Dean's hair down his face and dripped off his chin. Dean watched the younger man warily. Gus was a card-carrying sadist but the younger man was dangerous on a whole new level that Dean had no desire to experience.
Turning back to Dean, Rex stretched out his leg and shoved him with a dirty boot. "Sorry, but I didn't bring enough coffee for four. Guess you'll have to just make do."
Dean lifted his head; the fury in his eyes should have been enough to fire his exhausted body to action. "I'm gonna kill you." He forced the words through clenched teeth to keep them from chattering.
Rex laughed again, lowering his bulk once more to Dean's level and taking his jaw in an iron grip, easily holding him despite Dean's effort to jerk away. "I know you dug up that woman's body, son. What the hell you dug it up for I don't really want to know.I guess how you and your buddy get your jollies is none of my business—"
"I told you—" Dean spat.
Rex shook his head, "That didn't fly yesterday, boy. It sure ain't gonna fly today 'cause I'm feeling a lot less patient than I was then, so don't lay there and feed me crap about ghosts and hauntings." Rex's voice lost some of its reasonable tone. "I want the Goddamn key that was in that coffin with her. That's all. Give it to me and we can still part friends."
"I don't know anything…" Dean wheezed, "about a frigging key!"
Rex shook his head again, motioning Davy closer. Davy's eyes sparkled and he gripped the hose with ill-concealed excitement.
The twisted fuck.
Rex stared at Dean for a long moment. "If you think that friend of yours is gonna come riding in to your rescue," he said softly, "he already tried that once."
Dean didn't think it was possible to feel colder, but he was wrong. His heart began to pound, each beat jerking his body as Rex gripped him.
"It's just amazing how much blood the human body has in it. Even more amazing how fast it can spill out with just one bullet hole." Rex leaned very close. "He's not coming, kid. So, I'd suggest you tell me what I want to know and we can make this end now."
Dean stared at the floor, dumbstruck by Rex's declaration. "Fuck you…" he finally gasped.
Rex sighed and stood abruptly, wiping his hands on his legs. "I'll bring you some coffee, Davy," he said, turning and walking past the younger man, who was literally twitching with anticipation. "Clean up this mess, let me know when you're done."
Rex and Gus walked into the light and vanished, Dean heard a door slam and then he was blasted with a torrent of icy water.
How can I play if don't know the rules?
Slowly, Davy pushed open the door, peeking in as though he were entering someone's bedroom where they might still be asleep rather than a dark, stinking, dank room whose wooden floor was puddled with blood-tinged pools of cold water.
"Anyone home?" Davy said cheerfully, looking around until he spotted Dean in the gloom. "There you are!" he exclaimed, as if surprised by Dean's presence. "It's time to come out and play." Walking over the damp, rough boards, Davy stopped next to Dean's huddled body then reached out with a dirty, booted foot and shoved Dean over with it.
Dean just lay there, eyes half open, staring at Davy, his body shivering from the cold.
"How goes it, sweet thing?" Davy asked brightly, with a big smile. "Have a nice night?"
Dean's eyes slid closed and he swallowed with an effort. "Why don't...don't you just...fucking...kill me..." he finally forced out, words hoarse and shuddering, tone flat.
Davy shook his head and knelt, dropping the coil of rope from his shoulder onto the floor. "Now, we aren't gonna have any fun if you're gonna be like that," He remonstrated, as if correcting a confused child.
With a disturbingly gentle touch he brought Dean's shaking wrists together and began to wind rope around them. "Ya know..." Davy said conversationally, as he made an effort not to wrap the rough hemp over the existing raw skin-but almost two days of hanging by the wrists didn't leave a lot of unmarked area. "All you gotta do is tell Rex what he wants." He spoke softly, "How hard is that? Make all this go away." He paused to trace a long finger across the tender flesh on the inside of Dean's forearm, down to where the rope was twisted.
Dean tried to flinch away, his eyes snapping open. "Don'...touch me..." he gasped.
Dean had never been so cold. A deep, frozen to the bone, I'll never be warm again cold. He couldn't stop the tremors of his muscles, his shaking words losing their sound of contempt as he tried to spit them out through grit teeth. His throat was raw from screaming; his body now a finely tuned mass of aches and sharp acidic pains. Every movement brought agony in its wake.
His mind still recoiled from the threat Davy represented, even as his body couldn't. He didn't understand why it still mattered what they did to him, whatever the hell these psychos wanted he couldn't give them… and Sam...
The belief that they couldn't possibly hurt him more than they had vanished as he thought of Sam dead at the hands of these bastards, a pain tearing through him worse than any that had been inflicted on him up to now.
Why didn't they just kill him and be done with it...
"Or," Davy continued thoughtfully, ignoring Dean's weak attempts at resistance. He jerked the rope tight. "You can tell me and I'll tell Rex for you. I can be your friend, you know. Get you something hot to drink...dry clothes. Maybe even a blanket." He drew his hand gently down the side of Dean's face, the dragging sound of his fingers across the stubble on Dean's cheeks worse than fingernails on a chalkboard to Dean's ears. Dean closed his eyes and tried to turn his face away. "It doesn't have to be this way." Davy crooned. He reached over and turned Dean's head back to face him. "Let me make this better for you."
Disgust and anger warred for dominance in Dean's soul. It would be so easy to die here, give up and let himself be taken...
"I mean, " Davy continued, tugging on the knot as he worked, "I know you're probably upset over what Rex did to your friend-"
Fury so strong he became dizzy with it, suddenly blasted through him like the cresting of the biggest goddamn wave that ever swept a raging sea.
"But what's done is done, right?"
Sam was dead.
Davy finished and sat back on his haunches with a smile that could have been misinterpreted as sympathetic. "Nothing you can do about it now anyway."
Like hell there isn't, Dean thought.
There was no fucking way this scum was walking away from that.
He might fucking well die here too, didn't give a damn now anyway, but not before these bastards were lying in a bloody pile for what they'd done.
The saliva that Dean managed to collect and spit into Davy's face was flecked with blood.
"Well, I guess that's a no, then," Davy said, sighing with obvious disappointment, as he lifted a hand and slowly wiped the mess from his face. "Well I tried, didn't I?"
"You're gonna be first," Dean promised in a croaking hiss.
Davy reacted to this bizarre announcement with a look of surprise and a short huff of laughter.
"First for what?" he said, surveying Dean's battered, roped body, lying on the damp, bloody floor, shivering, skin torn, burned, two days without food or water, beaten black and blue.
Then he saw Dean's eyes.
And his smile slipped just a little.
Mike tossed the last bag of trash of into the dumpster, flicking his cigarette butt in after it. He glanced at the luminous dial on his watch, squinting, even in the bright moonlight. He really needed to replace the burnt-out bulb in the light behind the bar. One of these days he'd get around to it.
He hated Monday nights. Everyone was either too drunk or to broke from the weekend to stagger into the bar so it was always dead as hell. Just a few people drifting through a town that was dying on its knees. Quickly and with little interest, anxious to get back to whatever they called home after a fast beer or two.
He hadn't made enough tonight to make it worth opening. He oughta just close the damn bar down and make his way to the next town; set up there. There were never too many watering holes, he just couldn't make himself let go of the town he had been born and raised in, even if it was slowly turning into a crumbling relic, emptying of its residents as surely as rats leaving a sinking ship.
The sudden sound of a horn startled him, sending the match and cigarette flying as he swore. What the hell was someone doing, blowing their car horn at two in the frigging morning?
The blaring sound continued unabated as he stomped around the corner of the building, then stopped just as suddenly as it had begun.
The bar sign lights were off, but the street light on the far corner of the narrow parking strip threw a dim glow onto area the front of the building. He stopped and gave the scene before him a cautionary look. The bar was closed and everyone had gone but there was now a large black car parked sideways next to the building, the headlights glowing brightly.
He saw no one around the car and there didn't appear to be anyone sitting behind the wheel.
"Is anyone there?" he called, feeling a little foolish, his boots crunching in the loose gravel as he moved closer.
The door swung open without warning, accompanied by a protesting squawk of hinges, causing Mike to jump back with a yell and damn near fall on his ass. A form slid bonelessly from the car, falling to its side in the gravel with a groan, hands and arms making a useless effort to raise itself.
Mike straightened with a disgusted grimace. Frigging drunks. Never could find their way home...
"Hey buddy," he began roughly, "The bar's closed. Go home and sleep it-" he stopped in mid-step and mid-sentence as the body on the ground rolled onto it's back with a loose-limbed flop and lay there, coughing. A young man, Mike saw now, shirt hanging open, hands clutched to his side, and even in the semi-darkness Mike could see the blood.
"Holy shit!" Mike gasped.
He stepped around the open door and knelt down next to the guy. Like most bartenders, Mike had a memory for faces. It served him well when keeping the peace, even though there hadn't been many to remember lately. He remembered this guy from a couple of nights ago-him and some other guy that had been with him.
"What the hell happened to you?" he barked. Unsure where to put his hands, he simply held them up, uselessly.
The young man's eyes blinked open and he stared at Mike blearily. "Shot...you gotta...help me..." One hand reached out to clutch desperately at Mikes arm.
Mike nodded and tried to pull his arm free, "I'll call an ambulance. The nearest hospital is in Edwards-"
"No!" The young man's voice was sharp. "No hospital...flesh wound..." His fingers tightened painfully once again on Mikes arm. "My brother...have... to get...to the ...church..." His face twisted as he tried to rise, his eyes rolling back in their sockets as he slumped forward, Mike grabbing desperately to keep him from falling back to the gravel.
"Son of a..." Mike sighed and shook his head.
God DAMMIT but he hated Monday nights.
If I'm already on my knees I may as well pray...
Sam groaned, his head rolling back and forth on the pillow as he struggled toward awareness. He was hot and uncomfortable but whatever he lying on was soft and seemed willing to support his weight. He almost decided to hell with it and was about to allow himself to drift back down when something cold and wet brushed over his face. He gasped, the sudden blaze of pain in his side the only thing keeping him from springing up.
"Easy! Easy..." an unfamiliar voice admonished. "You'll start bleeding again!"
Sam swallowed and coughed; he couldn't breathe, his throat was closing up it was so dry.
"Here, have some water," said the voice. A strong hand lifted his head and glass touched his lips, water tipping toward him. He drank instinctively, choking as little, the sensation jarring his side once again.
Blinking to clear his vision, Sam stared up at the heavy-set man hovering over him, belatedly startled.
"Who are you?" he gasped, drawing back, looking around in confusion. Where the hell am I? He had some vague recollection of falling out of the car...
The man sat back out of Sam's space, setting the glass on the table. "My name's Mike Richards. I own the bar you decided to pass out in front of, and since I had to drag your ungodly tall ass in here so you could bleed on my couch, I might ask you the same thing."
"Sam... my name's Sam," Sam replied automatically. He drew in a breath and tried to sit up. The room was dimly lit; what he could see of the furnishings looked worn, as did the man sitting next to him. Mike?
"Stop fidgeting! I'm not kidding. That might be a flesh wound but you bled like a stuck pig, so settle down or I'll call an ambulance!" Mike's hand was a heavy presence on Sam's chest, forcing him back.
Sam relented, drawing a hand over his injured side, feeling the thick bulk of bandages taped there. He glanced up at Mike. "Who..."
Mike gestured loosely. "I was a medic in the Army. Not my best work, but it's been a while. Should stop you from leaking all over the place." He held the glass of water out to Sam. "Drink this. Now, what hell happened to you?"
"Someone shot me," Sam said, he took the glass and drained what was left.
Mike rolled his eyes. "I worked that out, kid," he remarked drily. "Who and why? Wasn't that friend of yours, was it? I hate to say it, but he looked the type."
"What?" Sam stared at Mike uncomprehendingly, the realization of who the man was referring to a snap-hiss of connecting synapses in his mind. "No... NO!" Sam snapped. "He's my brother." Sam handed the glass back and shifted restlessly. "I need to help him. Some guys took him...they shot me..." He wasn't making sense and he knew it.
Mike's hand landed on Sam's chest again. "Who took him? Those guys he was shooting pool with?"
Sam stared up at Mike, confused, ruffling a hand through his hair. "I think so, had to be..." he muttered to himself, trying to piece together the dislocated images of the last several hours. "Wait… how did you know who he was playing pool with?"
Mike laughed shortly. "Kid, you been doing this as long as I have you can see trouble on two legs when it walks through the door. Those guys? Were trouble." He forbore to point out he had had the same feeling when he had seen this kid's companion. A walking bomb looking for a place to explode. Dangerous, yes, but he had to admit it was different dangerous than the three men that had come in within minutes of Sam and his brother.
They felt bad dangerous. Especially the older guy.
"You know them?" Mike asked.
Sam struggled to sit up and this time Mike let him, offering him a hand. "No," Sam grunted, rubbing his face. "I've never seen them before. I figured they lived here. They don't?" He braced himself to stand, discovering it was pretty much impossible without involving his side. His face twisted in a grimace as he pushed to his feet.
"I know everyone who still lives here," Mike replied, rising as well in case the kid toppled over. He was just too damn big to carry. "A stranger sticks out like a whore in a convent."
Sam lurched toward the nearest window. He squinted at the dial on his watch but it appeared to have stopped. Must have happened one of the times when he had hit the ground unexpectedly. "What time is it?" He asked.
Mike trailed Sam to the curtained windows. "2:30. Tuesday afternoon."
Sam turned to gape at Mike, gasping at the pull in his side. "What? It was night-" he snapped, reaching out to jerk the curtain back, making a face as bright sunlight burned his eyes. He let the curtain fall back with a hiss.
"You were out of it. Trust me." Mike responded. "The only reason you aren't in the hospital is cause you were right, it's just a flesh wound and every time you came around you threatened to kill me if I took you to one."
"I've gotta find Dean," Sam exclaimed. "It's been almost two days...he could be dead..." Sam clutched at the wall, feeling dizzy.
Mike grabbed his arm and guided him to a nearby chair. "Sit the fuck down!"
Sam really didn't have any choice; sit down, fall down, his body just wanted down any way it could get it.
"Look, last night before you blacked out you said something about a church-" Mike began.
"A church!" Sam interrupted. "That's why I came back here!" He grabbed Mike's shirt sleeve. "They said they were gonna take him to some old church. Some rat-faced guy shot me, but I was conscious long enough to hear them talk. They were sloppy," he added without thought. "Didn't even check to see if I was dead." He didn't notice Mike's look of surprise at the comment or the seasoned veteran sound of it.
"I came back here because I thought someone here might know what church they were talking about," Sam went on. He looked up at Mike desperately. "Please...do you know what they were talking about? I've gotta find him-"
"Whadda they want with him? Why would they kill him? Why shoot you and leave you?"
"I don't know!" Sam snapped in frustration. "I told you I've never seen them before! We had a job to do here; we did it. We'd have been gone in the morning. We just stopped for a beer, for God's sake! Do you know what church they were talking about or not?"
Mike straightened, pulling his sleeve free from Sam's grip with effort. The lines on the older man's face deepened as he studied Sam's intensity.
Finally, he nodded. "There's only one church around here. Hasn't been used years. It's in Old Town."
Mike shrugged and made an expansive gesture. "Long time ago there used to be really productive silver mines around here. Lots of money. Old Town is about twenty miles south. A boom town that sprang up around the first mines they discovered. It's in the frigging middle of nowhere. When they realized just how rich they were, the town fathers decided to move the town itself to a better location. One that would bring in investors and business." He made a face and sank in the opposite chair. "Hell, my grandfather worked the mines back then. My Dad, too."
Mike sighed, shrugging almost helplessly, his eyes focused on nothing as Sam took in his words.
"After all that, all the money that went into the move, new buildings, make everything pretty, the mines suddenly all but dried up and everything went to hell. Investors abandoned the place practically overnight. It took a while and folks tried to make the place work, but this scraggle of buildings and a few families that get work at the mills are about all that's left and that's not gonna last much longer." Mike shut up as he realized he was rambling. He shook his head and rubbed his eyes. "If you want to go to a church around here, that's the only one."
Sam pushed himself up again, clutching his side, grimacing as he tried to straighten. "I gotta go there. Tell me how to get there and I'll leave."
Mike watched him wobble and sighed, shaking his head. Shit. "What the hell do they want with your brother, anyway?"
Sam looked toward the window and shook his head. "I don't know. I wish I did. But whatever it is, I know they'll kill him if he can't-or won't- give it to them." Sam's eyes fluttered slightly and he visibly pulled himself together. "So how do I get there?" he said turning back to Mike.
Mike snorted disgustedly and heaved to his feet. "Son of a bitch," he swore.
He had smelled ham.
The scent pulled his eyelids open slightly and he lifted his head a bit to try and discern the origin.
He had learned long ago that the human body could only deal with one major sensation at a time. It was impossible to be overwhelmed with a multitude of bodily needs for different things. One always took precedence, and when it was overcome the brain moved down the list in order of priority to the next issue requiring resolution. You couldn't feel freeze-to-death cold and feel starvation at the same time.
As his limbs trembled and ached with cold, he thought nothing else could be worse. Until the smell of food hit him. He had gone without food and water before, but as he dragged his dry tongue over cracked, bloody lips, watching Rex, Davy and Gus share beer and sandwiches through half open eyes, he had to fight to force back the moan that hung in the back of his throat.
He didn't want to be cold or hungry or in pain or feel anything except the need to vent destruction on Sammy's murderers, but his body was determined to betray him and crave those things that should no longer matter.
It was all he could do not to strain against his bonds as his stomach twisted emptily, his dehydrated body's attempt to produce saliva actually painful. He'd be damned if his enemies would get the satisfaction of watching him suffer in any manner they could see.
As a change of pace, he supposed, he was tied to a splintered old post in the main church. Its purpose appeared to be propping up floor of the shallow, sagging balcony over Dean's head. The jagged bits of protruding wood dug painfully into the flesh of his back, making it impossible to even slide down the post and sit on the ground to give his aching legs a break. Even now the muscles in his legs were shaking; it was only a matter of time before they would finally refuse to hold him up any longer and his back would be ripped by the pillar.
They hadn't questioned him, or even tried to hurt him anymore. They'd just tied him up and left him there, unable to brace himself in any way that was even remotely comfortable. He had watched the sun move through the broken stained glass windows; shattered rainbows spilling across the floor as the day came and went.
Untold hours later, startled by the creak of the door opening, he had roused himself to watch in bleary-eyed disgust as his captors had settled themselves comfortably at a rickety table close by and proceeded to have a frigging picnic in front of him.
He closed his eyes again and shuffled awkwardly to re-brace his feet on the rough floor, head jerking back, grimacing as he felt his skin pierced by one of the large splinters. It hurt, but wasn't worth the effort to swear.
"Ya know," Rex speculated through a mouthful of sandwich, "As much as I've enjoyed this," he paused to take a long pull from his beer bottle, "I think I'm about at the end of my patience. You must be losin' your touch, Gus." He added with a quick glance to the mousey little man, who frowned.
"What do you expect?" Gus snapped. "I don't have any equipment, nothing to really work with."
Davy's pale blue eyes darted uncomfortably between Rex and Gus, a child caught in a parents' argument.
Rex held up his hand. "I'm kiddin', Gus, for God's sake. Learn to take a joke. I know you've done the best you could. I just think we need to try a new approach here. This obviously ain't workin' and we don't got forever." He rubbed a calloused hand over his stubbled face and got slowly to his feet, grabbing his bottle of beer from the table.
The boards beneath Dean's bare feet shifted as Rex crossed the old floor. Dean lifted his head slightly as Rex approached, watching the grizzled older man through matted eyelashes. He tried to raise himself more on the post, stand taller, but his body didn't even attempt to cooperate.
Rex cocked his head to see Dean's eyes. The green was washed out and floating in bloodshot pools of white, but even though Dean's head shook as he tried to hold it up, the look in those eyes as they fastened on Rex's was unsettling. It reminded Rex of a trapped wolf waiting defiantly for death, daring its captors to venture close enough to try and actually kill it.
Rex straightened with a grunt and splashed Dean's face with beer.
Dean jerked, blinking the burn of it out of his eyes and cursed his bastard tongue as it instinctively slipped between his lips to draw the beads of moisture running down them into his mouth.
"You just don't know when to quit do you, boy?" Rex sneered. "You think if you hang here long enough, refuse to talk, we're gonna just get bored and go away?" Rex squinted an eye and came closer, old boards creaking loudly as they moved in protest of the additional weight, waving the beer in Dean's face. "It's not gonna happen." Rex stated flatly. "I am getting bored, but we ain't leaving without something, even if just the pleasure of gigging you like a frog and tossing your carcass next to your partner in that mud puddle." Rex leaned in, nose almost touching Dean's. "Is that what you really want?"
Rex closed in and Dean automatically pushed himself against the post in a fruitless attempt to get away from the effluvia emanating from the older man. To Dean's surprise, the floorboards sank under his feet as Rex shifted his weight, actually dropping a good inch or two.
And as he pushed back against the post… it moved.
I saw the world through a dead man's eyes and was told a tale full of dead man's lies...
Every jolt of the Impala's tires rolling over the rutted dirt road sent flames of pain through Sam's side, twisting his face into a grimace. His fingers locked around the steering wheel as he maneuvered the big car down the rippling road as fast as he dared. Dean would kill him for what he was doing to the vintage car's suspension. Pressing his hand against the thick bandage on his side he ground his teeth together, looking ahead for some sign of the promised church among the winter dead trees. The late afternoon sun glared harshly on the spindly branches stretching grey fingers to the sky.
Mike glanced at Sam's taut features. "Sorry, it's so rough," he said, "no one comes here anymore."
Sam shook the hair out of his eyes and wiped the sweat from his lip. "Doesn't matter," he spat. "Is it much further?"
"Not much. What are you gonna do when you get there?" Mike asked, as the car skidded slightly on the dusty turn. "You got a plan?"
"Get Dean," Sam snarled, shooting Mike a cold look. "Whatever the hell it takes. That's the plan." He turned forward again. "You can get out wherever you're happy; you don't have to be a part of this."
"I'm just saying, I can get behind this whole, I'm gonna save my brother from the bad guys thing, but if you think you're gonna go charging in there, guns blazing, and save the day, I can tell you those guys are bad news-"
Mike shut up as his eyes caught sight of the crooked steeple over the next rise He felt Sam stiffen next to him. A few crumbling buildings remained on either side of what must have originally been the main street leading up to a modest clapboard building with a crooked bell tower. It was desolate and empty.
Not quite desolate.
The blue truck Sam had seen Dean loaded into two nights before was parked next to the crumbling old church.
Mike floundered forward as Sam hit the brakes and slid the car to a halt behind a ragged clump of low growing bushes. Dust billowed around them in a brown cloud.
They were still a good distance away. Close enough for a quick run but far enough that the sound of the car would be unnoticed. It was Mike's first real inkling that this 'kid' had more than a casual idea about what he was doing.
Sam twisted in the seat to get out of the car, though the movement cost him. He swore as he gripped the door, pulling himself up and free, then limped back to the trunk
Mike jumped out and joined him. "Just how do you plan on getting him away from them?" he demanded, "A tire iron ain't worth a lot against a gun..." His voice trailed off as Sam shoved the trunk lid of the Impala up, revealing the arsenal within.
Reaching in, Sam grabbed the familiar grips of his favorite weapons and began loading them with the casual ease of a seasoned professional while Mike stood open mouthed, staring at the multitude of guns, knives, machetes- was that a crossbow?-dream catchers, books, charms, herbs, salt, kerosene and God only knew what the hell some of that stuff was that filled the huge trunk. His mouth closed with an audible clack as he began to seriously wonder what the hell he had gotten himself into.
He'd been half- kidding about the guns blazing part...
Dean's heart flipped as he felt the post shift but Rex suddenly jerked out a knife and slashed Dean's arm's free, turning him so suddenly he found his face pressed into the post, numb legs tangled before he could blink.
"Get over here!" Rex barked at his companions.
Chairs hit the floor as Gus and Davy rushed over.
"Hold him!" Rex said, rapidly rewinding the ropes around Dean's torn wrists so that he was once more securely bound to the post, but with his back facing out.
Dean choked as one turn of rope went around his throat before being pulled tight to the post.
"What are you gonna do?" Davy asked as Rex finished, leaving Dean's upper body tied to the slightly leaning post by the neck, his hands lashed around the timber.
Dean's legs didn't want to hold him but the alternative of sagging loosely would choke him to death so he braced himself as best he could, wondering almost casually, what the hell now?
He managed to lock eyes with Davy as he fought to draw in breath. Davy hastily averted his eyes from that awful gaze, moving around behind Dean even as Dean's eyes rolled back, neck twisting, to follow the younger man's movement.
Gus stepped back with his arms crossed, waiting. Rex was getting bored and frustrated because this little shit tied to the post wouldn't play the game Rex's way. Whatever rules they had started with were off now.
He had lost track of how many individuals Rex had tried to get his 'key' from over the years. Bleeding them, burning them, tearing them apart trying to get something from them that Gus knew existed only Rex's mind.
These two boys had been in the wrong place at the wrong time, as random as it gets.
Gus's hands ached with possibilities presented by the scarred, muscular back he was facing but he'd been allowed his fun and it was Rex's turn now. Davy, always the sadistic sycophant would clean up the mess after he was done with whatever Rex left for him to play with.
Rex nodded, yanking the wide leather belt from his jeans with a snap and drawing it back. "S'time to get serious, boys."
He lashed outward with the belt, buckle first, and Dean felt lightning strike him between the shoulder blades.
Dean had been shot, stabbed, burned and had broken many bones but nothing had prepared him for the bolt of pain that exploded across his bruised and lacerated flesh, sending shockwaves through his body.
Too stunned to do more than gasp before the next blow whistled home, Dean pressed his forehead into the splintery wood, clenching his eyes shut. Laid slightly lower it made the first strike seem a gentle caress by comparison as the buckle of the belt tore across the skin of his bleeding shoulders, digging into the raw flesh like the fangs of a snake.
He hung helplessly, half strangling, waiting for the next strike, thinking he knew what to expect now. But when this one fell it seared like acid. He couldn't stop the cry as he was struck again, the burning blast of the leather sticking to his skin before it was ripped loose. He imagined long strips of flesh tearing away with each hit.
Encouraging voices spurred his torturer on with renewed enthusiasm.
After the sixth blow, he screamed. Knees buckling he slumped limply from the rope around his throat, effectively choking himself.
The abrupt shift of weight jerked the post free from its mooring sending it and Dean crashing to the floor.
Rex stumbled, going to his knees as he tried to catch himself in mid-swing, feeling the entire floor move as the building literally shifted around them. "Holy shit!"
Before anyone could draw breath the narrow balcony above them, deprived of its support collapsed into a broken 'V', which in turn brought timbers down from the weakened roof crashing to the floor in an explosion of noise and dust and yells of surprise.
Dean, still tethered to the post, could do no more than try to duck his head from the debris raining down on him, writhing weakly under the weight of the wood on top of him.
Gus looked around wildly as the building creaked alarmingly. "Rex, we need to get out of here, this whole place is coming down!"
More wood crashed down around them in a deep scream of destruction. It was as if the old church had tolerated as much blasphemy as it could and was destroying itself in an effort to end it.
"I ain't done with him yet!" Rex yelled over the other noise, too far gone to give a damn.
"Rex, for Christ's sake!" Gus moved forward to stop Rex, blinded by dust and wary of the structure falling around him. His foot caught on something soft and he went sprawling. His hands sank into wet warmth and he found himself buried to the forearms in Davy's ruined chest, the broad end of a broken ceiling beam having struck the other man dead on and squashed his rib cage like an egg.
Davy's shocked eyes stared blindly at Gus, blood from the impact splattered everywhere Gus could see, dust already settling into the scarlet mess.
"Holy fuck!" Gus yelled in horror, desperately trying to get away from the carnage that had been his friend, sinking in even more, hands scrabbling through bone, blood and tissue as he tried to push himself free.
Dragging himself through the mess he managed to get to his feet and staggered forward, grabbing Rex's arm. "Davy's dead, Rex! It's over! We gotta get outta here!"
Rex shoved Gus away, eyes wild. "Not 'til this bastard is dead!" Rex roared, still swinging the belt at Dean, striking flesh where he could find it and debris when he couldn't, totally out of control.
The building lurched again as more of the roof supports slipped from their places, the scream of tearing wood and nails deafening as another timber crashed the floor.
"You fucking son of a bitch! " Gus gave Rex one last shove that threw the larger men off balance and he tumbled backwards into the fallen roof beams. "Then do it!"
Jerking his gun out, Gus aimed it at Dean's head and gunfire rang out.
As he stood there, arm still outstretched, a puzzled look crossed Gus's face.
Eyes rolling slightly to the side, he took in Sam's tall form, feet braced apart, dust clouds like smoke curling around him, the fires of hell burning in his eyes. Sam's gun was still pointed at Gus, the end of the barrel smoking from the bullet he had just fired.
The one, Gus now realized, that had torn through his throat.
Gus choked and raised his free hand to stem the scarlet now pouring down his shirtfront. The corner of his mouth hitched up as he met the Sam's cold eyes. His gun was still pointed at Dean, but the second bullet Sam fired tore off the top of Gus's head before his finger could do more than twitch on the trigger.
The gun slipped from Gus's fingers and thudded to the floor. He joined it a second later.
Sam dismissed Gus as dead before Gus had even registered the fact that he'd been shot, the look of surprise still on his face even as he crumbled to the ground choking on his own blood.
Rushing to where Dean lay unmoving amid the broken beams, Sam went to his knees and began to pull the wreckage away as carefully and quickly as he could, sickened by the bloody, torn skin being revealed to him. Every movement pulled on his wounded side, hampering his ability to get to Dean.
"Dean...Dean, it's me...c'mon..." Sam barely glanced up as another pair of hands joined his, dragging off the heavy support post lying across Dean's leg.
Mike ran his hands quickly down Dean's legs looking for obvious breaks, unable to avoid the sight of Gus's body jerking in the last throes of death. He had been to war, seen death, caused it; the look on Sam's face as he had raised his gun and fired equaled any memory of those experiences.
"My God..." Mike murmured as he got a good look at Dean's battered body, seeing the bloody ropes as Sam pulled Dean's wrists out, swearing.
Sam jerked a knife from his boot and gently cut the bindings away. Dean groaned and shifted slightly, lids fluttering, as Sam pulled the rough hemp from his skin. Blood welled sluggishly and began to run in slow lines down Dean's arms.
More wood crashed to the floor behind them and the building began to shift and screech in earnest.
"This whole building is coming down, Sam. We need to get out of here!" Mike grabbed Sam's arm to get his attention.
Sam tore his eyes away from Dean and actually looked around as more boards from the ceiling slid free. "Yeah...yeah you're right..." he leaned down to lift Dean but felt Mike's hands on him again.
"Sam, you can't carry him, you'll tear your wound open." Mike spoke in a reasonable voice, "Let me help you." He suspected Sam's first response was going to be a resounding no, but Sam only hesitated a second before nodding.
Dean moaned again, lost between unconsciousness and awareness, as they gently raised his upper body, trying to take care with his lacerated back, now covered with dirt and bits of wood as well as blood. Mike was hard pressed to find anywhere to put his hands that wasn't cut or bruised. They each got an arm around Dean's waist and under each leg and lifted him from the ground, moving quickly but with caution as more and more debris began to rain down.
Sam grit his teeth against his own pain, desperate to get Dean away from this place.
They had barely made it to the door when the stained glass window suddenly exploded inward with a crackling blast as the building shifted position. Multicolored shards showered them as they hunched over Dean in an effort to protect him from the rain of glass.
Once outside and clear of the collapsing building they stopped. Sam tore off his shirt and spread it on the dirt to protect Dean as they lowered him to the ground, laying him carefully on his side.
The coming of dusk brought cooler air that chilled Sam's bare skin but he ignored it, kneeling next to Dean. Digging in a pocket, he withdrew his keys and tossed them to Mike, who caught them against his chest.
"Get the car," Sam said shortly. "There's water in the back seat, and some towels."
Mike nodded and turned to run back to the where they had left the Impala in the gathering shadows several hundred feet away.
Halfway there, a scream of rending wood and metal rose behind him and he turned to see the church literally twist into itself, collapsing in a huge cloud of dust and debris.
Sam heard the church start to go and threw himself over Dean's prone form as the building fell, feeling dirt and small fragments of wood and glass pelting his back.
"Wh...What the...fuck..." Dean's voice, hoarse and gravelly, growled, while his arm pushed weakly against Sam's chest.
"Dean!" Sam exclaimed, rising up with a snap, "Oh my God, Dean!"
Dean twisted his head awkwardly to see behind him, every movement burning like fire across his shoulders. His pain glazed eyes widened in shock at the sight of Sam whole and alive. "Sam? Sam?!" Coughing the words through parched vocal chords.
Struggling to hold himself up on one elbow he reached out and caught Sam's arm with a shaking hand. "You're not dead..." he croaked, disbelief evident in his face and the grip of his hand.
"No. God no, Dean. I'm okay. I'm okay," Sam rushed to reassure Dean that he was very much alive, clasping his hand over Dean's.
Dean's body couldn't keep up the pretense and he sagged backwards, dizzy and confused. Sam caught him before he hit the ground again. Dean hissed and tried to twist away as Sam's hands dragged over his back.
"They said...said you were...dead!" Dean repeated. He groaned, grimacing as Sam tried to keep Dean from rolling to his back. "God...you're alright...are you alright?" His hand fumbled against Sam's arm again, fingers clutching. "...Said they...shot you..." Dean's voice was fading, his throat drying out. His eyes clearly expressed what he wanted to say, fixing on the bandage on Sam's side.
"I'm okay, I'm fine. It was a flesh wound, it's nothing. I'm okay." Sam repeated, still seeing doubt in Dean's eyes. "Lay still. We'll get you some water and somewhere safe..." Sam caught his breath, forcing back his emotions as he thought about what would have happened if they had been even a few minutes later, once more seeing the man he had shot raising a gun to Dean's head...
"You're okay..." Dean murmured, his hand patting softly on Sam's arm.
"Lay still..." Sam said again, voice suddenly thick, reaching out to brush bits of wood out of Dean's hair. "You'll be okay...just need to get you cleaned up and...stuff." Looking Dean over, the list of 'stuff' he needed done looked like it was going to be long, messy and unpleasant.
Dean's throat worked as he tried to swallow and he coughed again. His eyes fluttered again and his lips parted, teeth glittering briefly in a smile that was more of a grimace, as he tried to knock Sam's hand away, but lacked the strength. "Girl," he whispered.
Sam looked up in relief as the Impala roared up and Mike jumped out, water, some less-than-white towels and a first aid kit in hand. He hustled over and knelt down.
Dean, unable to stop himself, pulled away as this stranger reached out to touch him, but his arms wouldn't obey him sagged against Sam's chest
"It's alright, Dean! This is Mike, he's a friend," Sam hurried to explain, feeling Dean stiffen as Mike came close. "I couldn't have found you without him; let him help." Sam gestured for one of the bottles of water Mike clasped in one hand. "Here, sit up some, you need water..."
Dean jerked and grabbed madly for the bottle in Sam's hands as Sam unscrewed the cap, spilling it on both of them. Sam dropped the lid and helped Dean hold it as he took several desperate swallows, choking in his effort to get moisture in his parched body.
"Slow down!" Sam cautioned, taking the bottle away as Dean coughed. "You'll make yourself sick. How's it look?" he added to Mike who was trying to examine the wreckage that was Dean's back.
"Christ, Sam, this is a frigging mess...we need to get back to the bar. It's gettin' too dark, I can't see what I'm doing and we need more than we have here." Mike looked across Dean's at Sam. "I'm gonna pour some peroxide over his back and try to wash some of this dirt off." In a lower voice, he added. "It's gonna hurt-"
Dean leaned against Sam, breathing harshly."Hang on for a minute, Dean," Sam said gently in Dean's ear, gripping Dean's upper arms tightly, giving Mike a terse nod.
Mike tipped the bottle over Dean's ripped skin, thanking God the peroxide was warm from sitting in the car.
Dean's ragged yell of shocked surprise echoed through the air and he literally tried to crawl over Sam to get away from the sizzling burn on his back.
Sam held tight and steady, talking fast and soft against Dean's head even though Dean's sudden momentum felt like he'd put a knee into Sam's injured side. Biting back a cry of his own, he hung on until Dean's body slowed its shuddering and the wounded- animal sounds he was making eased. The fingers digging into Sam's arms gradually released their death grip but continued to tremble.
"Jesus..." Dean wheezed weakly. "W-warn a guy...next time..."
"Sorry," Mike and Sam said together.
"The car's right there," Sam said handing Dean the water bottle once more, the thin plastic crackling as Dean gulped the remaining water thirstily. "We'll be someplace safe in a few minutes and we can take care of your injuries and get you some food."
"Food?" Dean said eagerly, his head snapping up, pain surmounted by a greater need. He knew he'd gone without food for longer than this but his body had been pushed beyond its limits of endurance. He was so light headed and weak, suddenly even thirst wasn't as important as getting something, anything, into his stomach.
"I 'm sure there's some candy or something in the car," Sam said. "Can you walk?" He asked as Mike gathered up the kit and Sam's shirt.
"Yeah..." Dean said instantly.
He flinched and gasped as he felt something settle on the raw flesh of his back. There didn't seem to be a centimeter of his body, inside or out, that didn't hurt, but his back felt like the lashes from the belt had torn clean through to his spine and ribs.
"I'm sorry," Mike said, "It's a towel, just to protect your back. You've got some serious lacerations there. As quick as we get back to the bar we need to clean them out and get some antibiotic on them. I have a room in the back with fold out couch and there's a private bathroom."
It was small struggle, but they managed to get Dean on his feet and kept him moving by bracing one hand under his forearms and gripping his upper arms with the others.
Even just moving the few feet to the Impala Dean's legs threatened to buckle and he swayed dizzily.
"You okay?" Sam asked as they deposited Dean in the back seat.
"No," Dean said tightly, shaking visibly. "Let's just go-" With incredible effort he managed to turn himself and stretch out lie face down on the backseat on top of another towel Mike spread there.
"Here," Sam said, putting a hand under Dean's head to lift it. Dean blinked, suddenly recognizing the feel of his leather jacket being bunched under his head as a pillow.
He nestled his head further into the jacket, closing his eyes and inhaling as deeply as he could. The lingering warmth of Sam's hand on the back of his head, the familiar scent of oiled leather, the solid feel and sounds of the Impala as the engine thrummed to life and Sam took him away from the remains of the old church worked together to make him feel like he was actually safe.
He felt the car slow slightly but before he could say anything Sam's hand reached over the seat and held out a Snickers bar with the wrapper already torn open.
"It was in the glove box," Sam said, shooting Dean a quick smile. "Sorry it's not more, but we'll be there soon and you can have anything you want."
Dean's eyes widened and he took the candy, cramming half of it in his mouth, eyes rolling up and closing in simple ecstasy as chocolate and sugar burst over his tongue.
Another bite and the candy bar was gone. Ignoring the jerks and jolts as the car maneuvered it's way down the pot-holed road, secure at last, Dean's eyes closed in exhaustion before they'd gone a mile.
Inside the old church, boards slid to the side as the rubble shifted.
Just when you think the movies over, you get an Easter egg...
Dean lay belly down on the seat, the movement of the Impala over the rough roads making him hurt too much to actually sleep. His body twanged like a guitar string, nerves firing as he ran the last two days through his mind, the pointless pain inflicted upon him, the humiliation of not being able to fight back. The repellent touch and drag of his captor's hands over his body as he dangled helplessly at the end of a rope.
The impotent rage that had filled him at the thought of those bastards leaving Sam dead on the cold ground...
"Dean? You alright?" Sam turned as he heard Dean's breathing become heavier, throatier.
Dean's eyes rolled up and he grabbed the arm Sam had stretched over the back of the seat, reassuring himself this was real. Sam was there.
Everything else was gravy.
He swallowed and nodded. "I'm okay," he croaked, his hand falling back down.
Sam reached out and gripped Dean's shoulder gently, his eyes glistening suspiciously. "We'll be there soon."
Dean's mouth twitched in an effort to smile and he nodded again, missing Sam's hand as soon as it was withdrawn. His gaze fell on the wooden stock of the sawed off Sam had dropped in the foot-well of the passenger seat, the barrel gleaming dully.
His hand went down to the weapon, his fingers curling around the cool wood, nestling behind the trigger guard, feeling some of the tension easing from his trembling form.
"We should call the cops," the man with Sam said at one point.
"We can't," Sam replied flatly, without further explanation.
Dean managed to fall into a light doze that made the voices from the front seat nothing more than wordless noises, like sound under water.
He jerked back with a pained cry as fingers touched him.
"Oh! Shit...Dean, I'm sorry..."
Sam's contrite voice did little to slow the jerky pound of Dean's heart but it relaxed his mind's sudden panic.
"Your eyes were open; I didn't mean to startle you." Sam squatted down, painfully, so Dean could see him. "We're here, at Mike's place," Sam gestured behind him at the older man and beyond him the blocky shape of the bar.
"Oh..." Dean blinked, his eyes looking past Mike at the beer signs glowing in the window of the building behind him. It was strangely welcoming. What the hell did that say about him when a beer sign made him feel like he was coming home?
Grimacing, he tried to push himself up. Just the short time lying down had stiffened his abused body and every movement was a study in aches as torn skin was pulled and bruised muscles stretched. "I...I can't..." It was mortifying to admit he couldn't get out of the car without help, but there it was.
Mike stepped forward as Sam got up from his crouch and reached in. "It's okay," Sam said, well aware of how Dean felt about needing help with anything. "We'll make it quick."
They settled for just pulling a groaning Dean bodily from the car until they could get him into a standing position with his bare feet more or less on the ground. His knees wobbled as he tried to bear his own weight, clutching ineffectually at Mike and Sam, then realizing he still gripped the shotgun in one hand. "Jesus..." he gasped, the muscles in his calves screaming as he tried to straighten his legs.
"Dean, gimme the gun," Sam said, tugging on it.
Dean tightened his grip, head shaking, "No."
Sam started to protest then shook his head. If it made Dean feel better, what the hell?
Seeing that the bandage around Sam's waist was spotted with blood, Mike pulled Dean's arm over his shoulder and put his other arm carefully around Dean's waist, as far below the crisscrossed slashes as he could. "I got him Sam," he grunted, "go open the doors and let's get him inside. Here," he fumbled a large key out of his pocket and held it out to an obviously reluctant Sam.
Sam finally relinquished his grip on Dean's body and accepted the key. He lifted it to stare at the pink, glow-in-the-dark plastic heart dangling from it. Despite everything, he felt his mouth quirk; if he laughed now, he wouldn't be able to stop.
"It was gift!" Mike snapped, rolling his eyes. "For God's sake, Sam, just go open the frigging door!" Mike began to move forward determinedly.
Pulling himself up the steps, Sam bit back a groan. His own body felt like he'd been hit by a truck, he couldn't imagine what Dean must be feeling like. He shoved the key in and twisted the old lock, pushing the door open and holding it back as Mike and Dean made their way into the bar.
"Lock it back," Mike said as he passed. "Don't want someone stumbling in looking for a beer."
Sam did as he was told, making sure the 'closed' sign was showing. Behind him, a few lights flipped on in the room. He stumbled to the bar area and dropped the key on the counter, slumping onto the barstool next to the one Dean had collapsed on, the gun lying next to him on the counter.
Sam pressed a hand against the dull ache in his side. Mike had vanished.
Sam's mouth tightened as he looked at Dean's lacerated back, the bruises he could see-
"Dean…" Sam began, strangling on 'what if,' unable to fully voice the fact that Dean had been closer to death than either of them truly wanted to face.
"I didn't die," Dean said, anticipating him and cutting him off. "So let's just leave it at that." While he could understand his brother's horror at how close it had really been, he lacked the energy he knew it would take to fully appreciate it. He spoke without lifting his head, his voice muffled. "You got there in time."
"Who were they? What did they want?" Sam's voice rose as frustration and the need to know overwhelmed him.
Dean rolled his head against his arms. "They followed us here...thought we had something they wanted...I dunno...they were...crazy...serious crazy...the big guy...Rex..."
Mike reappeared from the back and Dean fell silent. Sam could hear water running.
"I got the shower going," Mike said, moving behind the bar and running water into a glass. He added a straw and set it in front of Dean. "The water hookup is right there and I guess they didn't want to spend the money to put the water heater closer to the bathroom when they built this place." He gestured loosely at a narrow doorway where the bar jutted out of the wall. "It takes a while for the hot water to get there."
Dean threw the straw down and gulped the water, pushing the empty glass back at Mike. Spying a bowl of peanuts, he reached out and dragged it to him, spilling them as he grabbed a handful and stuffed them in his mouth.
"I'll find some food for you while you clean up," Mike said refilling Dean's glass. "Then we need to do something about your back."
He clunked two shot glasses on the bar and filled them, sliding one to Sam, tossing the other back himself. He coughed, banging the glass back down on the bar and stared at the two brothers for a long moment.
"Who the fuck are you guys?"
Sam sat on the couch in Mike's back room, listening closely as Dean took a slowly- executed shower.
Mike had swiftly re-bandaged Sam's side after Dean had refused to do anything until he had seen the wound re-checked. It was simpler to just do it than argue about it.
Through the open door—Sam had insisted it remain open—he could make out Dean's silhouette through the thin shower curtain as he moved, swearing and gasping as the warm water sluiced over his battered body. Without hesitation, Mike had dragged a barstool into the small shower so Dean could sit.
As much as he didn't want to, Dean was forced to rest on the stool when the first warm trickle of water had fallen on his back. He had turned the pressure down to a dribble until he thought he could bear a little more force. The searing burn on his torn skin would have taken him to his knees as the agony of the flogging was revisited.
Head down, he watched the water running past his feet as it changed from brown to pink, the accumulated dirt, blood and small chunks of stuff he was pretty sure was skin, washing away from him.
He wished the memory washed away as easily.
Anger flooded him again and his vision grayed out momentarily.
He slammed a fist into the side of the shower.
"Dean?" Sam was there so fast Dean would've sworn he teleported.
With Sam's eyes locked on his, Dean felt exposed in so many ways, being naked was the least of them.
"I'm okay..." Dean said, swallowing. "I'm okay." He repeated in a firmer voice, and because Sam needed to hear it in Dean's attitude, added angrily, "Close the fucking curtain, you pervert!"
Dressing Dean's back had been a drawn-out, messy business. Even after the shower Mike had had to clean it carefully with peroxide, an action that had Dean gripping the bar white-faced and swearing as he re-lived the peroxide dousing he had been given at the church.
Sam sat next to him, leg pressed hip to knee to Dean's, gripping Dean's forearm tightly as Mike worked, talking about anything he could think of that would distract his brother.
By the time Dean's other injuries were finally tended, they were all exhausted. Dean had slipped into a clean pair of jeans but foregone a shirt to spare himself from having to peel the fabric off. Mike had slathered Dean with antibiotic ointment and bandaged as many of the worst spots as he could. None of them had required stitching but there was no way to avoid the inevitable scarring that would occur.
Rummaging in his kitchen had produced a plate of sandwiches but by then they were almost too tired to eat. Mike grabbed a sandwich and a beer and went to take his own shower, leaving the brothers to themselves.
Even Dean's understandable hunger had lost its edge after Mike's ministrations. He managed one sandwich before he felt like his head would fall off his shoulders if he didn't sleep, but every time his eyelids closed he felt the clammy touch of fingers or the acid sting of leather ripping into his skin and he jerked awake again with a smothered gasp.
The third time it happened, Sam, pushed wearily to his feet and took Dean's arm. "Dude, it's time to sleep, we can sort this out in the morning when you're feeling better...hell, when I'm feeling better."
That got Dean's attention, "What's wrong?" he asked hoarsely, his voice tense.
"Dean, you're bruises have bruises, you can barely stand up. I was shot, we're both ready to drop. C'mon, it's over. Let's get some sleep." He tugged gently on Dean's arm, gratified when he felt Dean shift and start to rise stiffly.
"I pulled the couch out for you guys," Mike said re-appearing from the back, a towel around his neck, his hair in wet tendrils. "Hope you don't mind sharing, I'll sleep on the couch back by the..." His voice trailed off as he noticed Sam and Dean both suddenly turn and stare at the front door of the bar, their attitudes on instant high alert.
Then he heard the sound.
The fat lady does her bit.
Mike entered the bar room in time to hear the faint growl in the distance become a roar. Too loud and too fast to react. He moved on instinct, throwing himself backwards as the front wall of the bar exploded inward; a ton and a half of blue truck slamming into the building and sailing toward the bar where the two brothers stood.
Sam felt Dean shove him to the side as wood, glass, and metal burst into the room with a cacophony of noise and a bizarre feel of slow motion, the blue truck slewing sideways as it barreled through the bar, smashing into the heavy oak counter and crushing it against the back wall with a scream of raped wood, torn piping and smashed glassware.
Beer sprayed from the half dozen burst taps and water geysered from the pipes in the wall by the corner of the bar, neon signs and overhanging lamps exploding like rainbow fireworks in the sudden deluge.
The truck came to a ticking halt, nose-deep in the side wall, driver's door hanging open, windshield shattered, steam from the engine adding to the din as glass and wood continued to fall around it.
The overhead lights flickered off and on in an irregular pattern, glaring one moment, half-lit gloom the next.
Dean shook his head, struggling to pull himself out from under a table that had ricocheted their way when the truck hit it as they jumped to safety.
"Sam...?" He murmured trying to see in the wavering light. Sam lay near him, arm outstretched, head turned away. "Oh, God..." He shoved debris off of himself and dragged his battered body to Sam, turning him gently.
Sam groaned, to Dean's great relief, eyes fluttering. "You okay there, Sam?" he said loudly, trying to be heard over the sound of exploding lights and spraying water.
Blood running into Dean's eye from a cut on his forehead was washed away as water from the broken pipes soaked his hair and clothes.
"Yeah," Sam finally grunted, getting his breath back. "You?"
Dean nodded, reaching out to wipe the watery blood that had dripped on Sam. "No worse than I was before," he grunted.
"What the hell happened?" Sam asked as he slowly sat up. He grimaced, a hand going to the bandage on his side. A quick glance at his hand when the light flashed again told him the wetness wasn't just the water rapidly soaking him. He turned slightly to hide the bloody bandage from Dean, pulling his now sodden shirt over the wound. "Where's Mike?"
Dean shook his head. "I dunno."
Between the two of them they managed to struggle to their feet. Dean took an unsteady step to the side, trying to see Mike in the darkness. "Mike?" He gripped the back of a chair to keep himself upright. "Mike! You okay?" He wiped water from his face in irritation as he tried to spot Mike in the wavering light.
Sam stared at the vehicle resting in the middle of the bar, feeling his hackles rise. "Oh, shit," he said in a low voice, moving away from Dean. He stumbled over a piece of wood as he went toward the truck, catching himself on the dented fender.
Dean spied a hand under an overturned barstool and he kicked and shoved his way to where Mike lay, swearing. "Sam, I found him!"
He hastily felt for Mike's pulse, closing his eyes when he found it, fast, but steady.
"Dean," Sam spoke his name in a soft tone that sent a ripple of warning across Dean's aching skin.
"Sam?" he replied, turning slowly as he got back to his feet, the muscles in his legs protesting, his hand reaching out to grip a chair for support.
He froze in place, staring at the tableau before him.
"Hey, boy," Rex said with a bloody gap-toothed smile. His clothes were filthy and torn, stained with blood here and there, the falling water leaving muddy trails down his face. The hand he had crooked around Sam's throat visibly tightened, causing Sam to choke, the muzzle of a .45 pressed tight against Sam's temple.
"I must be losing my touch," Rex commented, spitting bloody saliva to the side without moving his eyes from Dean's face. He pushed Sam forward slightly, shoving the muzzle of his gun harder into the side of Sam's head. Sam's face twisted in pain as the fingers Rex had across his throat tightened again. "Usually when I shoot someone they stay dead."
Rex's movement tugged at Sam's shirt and Dean's eyes dropped to the water and blood soaked bandage on Sam's side. Moving closer without thinking, face like stone, Dean's hands curled into impotent fists, adrenaline and rage making him shake.
"Let him go," he said flatly, no room for negotiation.
Rex laughed, cutting Dean off and smacked Sam's skull with the butt of his gun.
Dean moved forward again as Sam grunted with pain. Rex instantly shifted the muzzle under Sam's jaw. He dug in, forcing Sam's head sideways, stopping Dean in his tracks.
"Or what?" Rex sneered. "I'll shoot him right now; you can do whatever the hell you want. Either way," Rex laughed again, "he'll still be dead." Rex's face lost its jocular expression. "Just like Gus and Davy."
Dean closed his eyes briefly, the flickering lights making him dizzy. "Whadda you want?" he spat. "Do you even know what you want? Some frigging key? To what? The padded cell you escaped from? Do you torture people to get your rocks off or are you and your freak-show buddies just plain bat-fuck crazy? Trust me; if those two are dead the world's a better place."
Dean fought to control the growing fury that made his voice tremble. Cold fingers trailed over his skin...burning him...beating him...whipping him like an animal...
Seeing this bastard's filthy hands, stained by his blood and the blood of God knew how many others, wrapped around Sam's throat...threatening Sam...
He had the strange sensation of stepping outside of himself, leaving his battered body behind.
Kicking the chair in front of him away, Dean snarled, "Get the fuck away from my brother!" With every flicker of the lights Dean seemed to move closer without taking a step. "You're a real bad ass when you got someone hanging from a rope, arncha?"
Dean wiped the back of his hand across his eyes to clear the blood again, swathes of red momentarily staining his cheeks like war paint before the water washed it away. "Especially when you got your sidekicks to run interference. Well, they're dead now." Dean's voice fell to a low growl. "Just like you're gonna be."
"Dean," Sam croaked. "Don't..." He gagged as Rex squeezed his windpipe again.
"Shut up, Sammy," Dean ordered harshly, "This is between him and me. Look at me, you motherfucker," he challenged, cocking his head, watching as the gun under Sam's chin slowly lowered itself, the madness burning just as brightly in Rex's eyes as the hellfire burning in Dean's. "Whadaya say? You got the balls to finish this without someone holding your hand? Cheering you on while you shoot fish in a barrel?"
Another light exploded in a shower of blue sparks as Rex shoved Sam away from him, sending him stumbling into the wreckage of bar stools, pointing his gun, instead, at Dean.
Dean sensed Sam coming back and pointed at him without looking. "Stay out of this!"
Sam clutched his wounded side. "No, Dean! I can't let-"
"I mean it, Sam! I'll take you down myself. Me and this sack of shit have a score to settle!"
Even in the half light Sam could see the look on Dean's face. This was more than a need for revenge. Dean needed this closure, for his own sake as well as his stupid sense of duty toward Sam.
Reluctantly, and certain he was insane for doing it, Sam fell back a step.
Rex smiled again, surveying Dean's bruised body. "Do you really want to do this, boy?"
Dean's mouth quirked at the corner and he moved into a fighting stance.
Rex snorted, shaking his head. He dropped the .45 on the floor and moved slightly away from the truck.
A board, slipping loose from its moorings in the ceiling, landed with a bang on the top of the bubbling jukebox, drawing everyone's surprised attention as Lynyrd Skynyrd began to blast from the speakers.
Dean actually laughed. "Just what we needed," he growled, "Background music." Extending one hand toward Rex, he crooked his fingers. "Bring it on, you pathetic bastard..."
Sam stood by helplessly. He didn't want this to happen, but he couldn't stop it. The lights had ceased flickering for the most part, leaving the room in a sparkling blue haze as the water still sprayed non-stop from the broken pipes in the wall. His hair and clothes were plastered to his body and water was an inch deep on the floor. The din of the jukebox added an extra layer of unreality to the scene.
Dean and Rex stared at each other for a heartbeat. There was no circling, no gauging each other's weaknesses; with a sudden roar they charged toward each other like attacking animals and engaged in battle.
The force of Dean's attack knocked them both back into the truck despite Rex's greater weight.
Dean landed a series of punches to Rex's face and upper body, almost too fast for him to react to, but he managed to shove Dean back sufficiently get distance for strikes of his own, sending Dean tumbling to the floor.
Dean scrambled to his feet, water flying, meeting Rex halfway in a sloppy tackle that slammed them back against the truck.
Fists pummeled in any available space, fingers clawing for eyes, knees searching for weak areas to bury themselves in. Cursing and shouting, both men struggled to gain space to maneuver, sliding sideways down the wet side of the truck to hit the layer of water covering the floor with a shallow splash.
Every muscle and joint in Dean's body screamed in outrage, but he ignored the pain, insane with the need to remove this scum from the face of the earth.
He managed to get his hands wrapped around Rex's thick throat and was doing his damndest to crush Rex's windpipe, ignoring the blows Rex was slamming against his body, trying to shove a knee between them to break Dean's hold.
Suddenly, Rex's hands clawed across Dean's torn back, fingers digging into the ragged wounds the flogging had left him with, tearing away the sodden bandages.
It was too much and Dean reared back with a hoarse yell, giving Rex a chance to topple him over.
Rex rolled to his knees and then to his feet, kicking out at Dean as he tried to get up, one booted foot connecting with Dean's ribs, knocking Dean into a table.
"That all you got?" Rex yelled over the fall of water and the noise from the jukebox, Hells Bells now blasting from the speakers. "I shoulda taken out your pansy ass when I had the chance! Used my belt to peel the skin off your bones then pissed on what was left!" He punctuated his words with kicks that rolled Dean across the floor.
"Dean!" Sam grabbed Dean to stop his forward momentum. Dean arched against him, crying out, as Sam's fingers came in contact with the open wounds on his back. "Please! Stop this!"
"Get back!" Dean gasped, shoving Sam away. "Stay out of this!"
Rex had come closer, sneering as Sam fussed over Dean. "Don't worry, kid," he laughed, wiping blood from the corner of his mouth. "Soon's I'm done with your pussy brother, I'll take care of you."
Dean took advantage of the slight distraction and twisted his body, swinging his foot out to knock Rex's legs out from under him and bringing the older man back to the floor with a crash.
Weighted down by his soaked jeans, Dean struggled to his feet. Blood running down his body from the slashes across his skin washed away almost immediately by the water that continued to spray from the torn pipes. He staggered sideways as he got to his feet, trying to mop water from his eyes.
Strong hands grasped him again. "Dean, for God's sake-" Sam's pleading voice was almost drowned out by the music. "This is crazy!"
Dean shook him off, swearing in a hoarse snarl. He shook his head, trying to clear the ringing in his ears. The room swam dizzily and he knew Sam was right, but he was too far gone to give a damn.
Rex had clambered back to his feet, shaking his head, moving slower. The smirk on his face was gone, replaced by a look of crazed anger that Dean suspected was mirrored in his own eyes.
"Not so easy when they can fight back is it?" Dean coughed out, holding a hand to his bruised ribs.
Rex screamed a wordless noise of fury and launched himself at Dean. They hit the ground rolling, tables and chairs scattering as they fell into the furniture that was shoved into a pile by the truck.
The lights flickered uncertainly once more. Darkness one second, dim light the next. In the short space of darkness Dean and Rex had fought their way toward the bar.
Sam bit his lip, watching in horror as one punch from Dean sent Rex sliding across the wet floor, directly toward the shotgun that had been knocked from the bar with the impact of the truck. Dean stumbled forward and went to his hands and knees.
Rex spotted the gun, just out of reach, lunging toward the weapon before Sam could move.
A heavily booted foot came out of the darkness and kicked the gun away from Rex's grasp toward Sam.
Mike followed the gun out of the shadows and skirted the bar/arena to stand next to Sam. He grabbed the gun off the floor and leveled it at Rex, but Sam snatched it away.
"No! Not yet..."
With an outraged, "What are you doing? Are you insane?" Mike gestured at the battling men.
"Yes," Sam whispered.
Mike glared at Sam and then glared at the jukebox, going over to kick it away from the wall and jerk out the plug, cutting off Judas Priest's Touch of Evil in mid chorus, the only remaining sounds the buzz of the lights and the gasps and grunts of the two men writhing on the ground tangled around each other like anacondas. Rex was desperately trying to get his hands around Dean's throat while Dean kept him back with one knee against Rex's chest, the pressure shoving him slowly backwards on his shoulders.
Dean's strength was waning and he knew it, his body shaking with effort, the pain from his shoulders almost blinding as was he was pushed closer to the brass foot rail of the bar. Rex was using his weight and Dean's drawn up leg to literally crush the air out of Dean.
Dean felt his focus narrow to include only him, Rex and the need to suck air into his constricted lungs.
With a sudden sizzling pop the lights went out, leaving the bar in darkness.
"Shit!" Rang out from the darkness
Dimly, Dean heard tables and chairs being knocked over, but he couldn't identify the speaker. In the darkness Rex's body became a boulder crushing him into the floor, the older man's face close enough now Dean could smell his fetid breath as he laughed in Dean's face.
"This is even better than stripping the skin off you... crush you like the cockroach you are..."
Dean's left hand was pressed tightly against the scruff of Rex's face trying futilely to push bigger man's head away.
"Get some fucking light in here!" Sam's voice bellowed.
Dean's right hand scrabbled across the floor searching for something to strike with, twisting his head to try and see in the blackness.
A faint pink glow a short distance away caught his eye.
What the fuck?
He was starting to black out and reached for the object without thought, fingers encountering cold plastic from which dangled a long ragged bit of metal.
Recognition ignited Dean's brain. The fingers of his left hand convulsed on what he recognized as an ear and he gripped tight, using his right hand to jab forward, feeling it strike something soft and sink in.
"Here's your fucking KEY!" Dean screamed, using all his remaining strength to ram the object home.
Whatever body part Dean hit, Rex bellowed and jerked back, falling away, gagging. Dean groaned as he pulled himself out from under Rex's twitching body, his arms trembling as dragged his legs free, making an abortive attempt to get to his knees.
"Dean!" Sam's voice again, to Dean's left.
It was cave dark and Dean couldn't see a damn thing. He heard furniture being shoved as he staggered drunkenly to his feet, moving toward Sam's voice.
"Sam..." He couldn't have been more than twenty feet away, but to Dean it may as well have been a mile.
A light swept the bar as Mike appeared with a flashlight.
"Here...I'm here..." Sam met him part way, arms reaching out as Dean stumbled into them, his knees buckling. Sam let him take them both to the floor as Dean collapsed against him. Sam dropped the shotgun to the floor beside them and wrapped his arms around Deans' shaking body, his cheek pressed against Dean's hair.
"I got you..." Sam murmured, closing his eyes, unable to stop himself from rocking, as Dean breathed raggedly into Sam's chest, one hand gripping Sam's soggy shirt. "I got you, you stupid fuck...I got you..."
Mike crouched down next to them and put a hand on Sam's shoulder. "Holy Christ...is he dead?" he asked pointing his flash where Rex lay.
An inhuman scream was his answer as Rex suddenly reared up, face a mask of pouring blood even the falling water couldn't wash away. The old key to the front door lock of Mike's bar that Dean had grabbed in desperation and used as a weapon was rammed into Rex's right eye socket, the pink glowing heart bobbing at the end like a macabre piece of jewelry.
Mike yelled, falling back in horror, his flashlight still trained on Rex as he lurched toward them, his .45 gripped tightly in both hands.
Echoing Mike's yell, Sam and Dean both reached for the dropped shotgun lying next to them and swung it up, Sam holding the grip in one hand, Dean the barrel, their fingers curling over the duel triggers and pulling back simultaneously, discharging both barrels of the weapon with a booming roar.
Rex took the hit point blank, his own gun flying up to discharge into the ceiling as he fell back, hitting the floor and sliding several feet in the water before lying still.
The shotgun hit the floor and Dean slumped limply back into Sam's embrace.
"Now he's dead..." Dean gasped.
Dawn was painting the sky orange as Sam stacked a final chair on the pile and moved back to the Impala, waiting while Mike carried the last case of bottles out of the bar.
Everything they could reasonably salvage was piled a safe distance from the old building. The front wall was totally caved in and the sign for Mike's Bar hung from one support, swinging gently in the breeze. The structure hadn't been that much to begin with, but now it was a total wreck. Like the crumbling town, it had outlived its purpose.
Sam dropped into a crouch by the open back door of the Impala and touched Dean's leg. "How you doin'?" he asked softly.
Dean sat slumped sideways against the rear seat, eyes half closed, a blanket draped around his shoulders, his hands twisted into the fabric. Thick new bandages covered his shoulders and now his hands where the knuckles had been split in the fight. Even in the dim light Sam could see how pale Dean was, his face bruised and cut, one eye black and swollen half shut.
"Never better," Dean wheezed, then coughed, grimacing as the movement jostled his ribs.
Without thought, Sam reached up and rested the back of his hand against Dean's face.
"You feel kinda warm," Sam commented, withdrawing his hand before Dean could flinch away.
Dean shrugged, "Doesn't matter."
He was half-conscious from all the pain killers Sam had forced into him, his body a weight he was just too tired to try and hold up anymore and right now, it really didn't matter. He let his head fall against the seat.
They both looked up as Mike walked over and shrugged. "I guess that's it," he said, spreading his hands.
Sam stood up, wincing slightly at the pull on his wounded side. "I'm sorry about all this..." he began, feeling very guilty and very grateful.
Mike shook his head and glanced back at the bar. "Shit happens," he replied succinctly with a shrug. "I was thinking about leaving anyway. Guess the decision was made for me. I still don't understand what the hell this was all about, but at least I got to be one of the good guys." He paused, frowning. "I was one of the good guys, right?"
Sam laughed and nodded. "Yeah, definitely." He held out his hand, "Dean wouldn't—hell, we wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for you."
Mike grinned and shook his head, taking Sam's handing and pumping it warmly. "I'm never gonna see you again, right? 'Cause, I can't afford to do this twice."
"I think I can guarantee it," Sam replied.
Mike gestured at Dean. "He gonna be okay?"
"He's right here," Dean growled, lifting his head slightly. "And, yeah... he'll be fine."
Mike and Sam both snorted.
"Let's do this," Mike said, turning back to the bar. Sam grabbed the two cans of kerosene and followed Mike back into the bar.
It didn't take long to douse the interior and its remaining occupant.
A few minutes later, leaning against the Impala, they watched as flames licked their way through the windows and roof. Even Dean managed to rouse himself enough to watch.
"You'll take care of the church?" Sam asked, just to be sure.
Mike nodded. "Shouldn't take long. Maybe arson is addictive." Eyeing his business as it burned to the ground he laughed suddenly.
"What?" Sam questioned.
"It just hit me. It's a good thing I'm burning it down 'cause I sure as hell don't want to have to get the key back to lock the front door."