Sam threw his jacket on the bed; slumping into the chair at the table and running weary hands over a tired face. “So, that was a complete waste of time.”
Dean kicked his boots off and flopped down on his bed, “Okay, so non-stop dribbling and speaking in tongues isn’t the best way to spend an afternoon, but did you notice how…” he shook his head at the memory, “shit, dude, they seemed …happy.”
Sam stared incredulously at his brother, “Happy? Are you kidding me? They were laughing because they’ve snapped, Dean, not because they’re enjoying their meds.”
“Then they’re getting the wrong meds,” Dean muttered. He sighed and sat up, his hands resting between his knees as he looked at his brother, “Sammy, it wasn’t the laughing, it was their eyes. Don’t tell me you didn’t see it, dude. They were happy. And not just your normal kind of happy either, I’m talking post-orgasm happy…”
“Dude…” started Sam, rising and grabbing his jacket from the bed. “The last thing I need to hear right now is anything to do with your sexploits… post-orgasmic or otherwise.” He slipped into his jacket and headed to the door, ignoring the grin of his brother. “I’m still trying to get the image of your guitar love-in outta my head,” he said with a smirk. “I’m gonna grab us some burgers. Do me a favour and wash your hands.”
Dean smiled and raised his right hand, “Sammy, I am never washing this hand again.”
“Like I said, you’re a freak,” laughed Sam as he closed the door. He turned back when he heard it open behind him; giving his brother a grin. “Don’t worry, I’m carrying and the burger joint is only a block away.”
Dean smirked at his brother, “I was just gonna remind you to get beers.”
“Uh huh,” said Sam knowingly, ducking his brother’s slap as he jogged into the parking lot. “WASH!” he yelled over his shoulder.
Dean watched until Sam turned the corner, surveying the parking lot before closing the door quietly. He went to the table and sat, pulling the notepad towards him and making a new list. He wrote ‘OFF’ED’ on one side of the paper and ‘PSYCHO’ on the other. There was a link between each one; he just had to find it. And when he did (it was when not if) he’d know what they were up against.
Sam was walking back with burgers and beer in hand; his stomach rumbling from the smells wafting out of the bag. They’d had nothing but coffee since breakfast, and if they didn’t get some food into them, he and Dean’d be at each others throats in no time. He laughed softly to himself; Dean was like a rabid animal when he hadn’t had food. If he was hungry, saying the wrong thing, hell, even looking at him, was like poking a bear with a stick.
His step faltered a little when he noticed a man stumbling along the sidewalk; he was staying mostly in the shadows near the wall but Sam could tell the man was injured, not drunk. And there was something else wrong with the picture that he couldn’t quite figure out. He switched the six-pack to the hand that was carrying the burgers so he had a free hand to get to the pistol that was snuggled at the small of his back.
He was about six feet from the man when the guy stumbled; falling and hitting the sidewalk with a dull, painful thud. Jesus, thought Sam, he hadn’t even put his hands out to break the fall. He looked around; he was the only one here. Shit. He put the beer and burgers down; and, keeping a hand at his back, stepped cautiously towards the silent man.
“Hey, hey…dude…” Sam said quietly, as he moved around the man, but he really couldn’t see much of anything from the guy’s position against the wall. “You alright, man?”
“Help ….” came the almost inaudible whisper.
Sam took the pistol from its position and held it tightly in his hand as he crouched. He hesitated as he realised the guy was naked; in the freezing weather of Maine, this guy was starkers. He sighed; slowly turning the man onto his back and into the dull light cast by the nearby streetlamp.
“Jesus…” he put his fingers to the man’s neck. Slow pulse. And no wonder; how the man was alive was a goddamn miracle. He couldn’t see one part of him that wasn’t covered in blood. There were deep lacerations all over him; and they seemed to be festering. He turned the guy’s head into the light; goddamn… one of his eyes was missing.
“Easy…” said Sam as the man groaned softly. “I’ll get you some help, just stay still.” He put the gun back into his waistband, grabbed his phone from his jacket and flicked it open; but he turned surprised eyes to the man as his wrist was clamped tightly. “I’m just…” he frowned as he saw the man shake his head.
Sam saw the fear in the man’s remaining eye but he also recognised something else; “Who did this to you?” he asked. He saw the man’s ripped lips move but couldn’t hear the whisper.
He lowered his head; he was pretty sure this man was a survivor of what they were hunting, and he had the answer he and Dean were looking for. “Tell me who did this to you…” he said gently.
He leaned closer, the man’s hot breath pushing the words into his ear…
Dean was working on his third page of notes when the loud grumbling of his stomach stopped his pen mid-word. He looked at his watch; “Goddammit, Sammy!”
He rose quickly, grabbed his pistol from the table and put it at the small of his back as he grabbed his jacket. Sam had been gone almost an hour and he’d been too damn engrossed in the notes to notice! Idiot! He chastised himself.
He flung the door open and stepped out; he noticed movement on the ground in front of him and screwed up his face as he saw a black snake slithering across the concrete. He moved quickly, raising his foot and slamming it down on what he guessed was the creature’s head. He hated snakes. Shit, the thing was still moving. He raised his foot again and again until it lay still; he stared in disbelief as it seemed to melt into the concrete and disappear. Oh, shit!
He took off, his boots echoing loudly through the parking lot as he ran towards the burger joint. His heart was beating wildly in his chest and his palms were starting to sweat.
He turned out of the lot and slammed right into his brother, both of them falling on their asses; the sound of breaking glass, shattering into the night.
“Jesus Christ, Dean!”
Dean was next to his brother in an instant, “You alright, Sammy?” he asked as he ran his hands over his brother.
Sam slapped at Dean’s hands, “I’m fine! Well apart from my ass hurting like a sonofabitch. What the hell’s wrong with you?”
Dean pulled his brother to his feet; “Me? You’ve been gone for almost an hour? How freakin’ long does it take to get burgers and beer, dude?”
“Well, longer now,” Sam replied testily, pointing the smashed beer bottles and scattered burgers.
“Forget that, Sammy. We gotta move. I just saw some freaky…” he stopped, finally noticing a smear of blood on his brother’s cheek. “What happened?” he demanded.
“There’s blood on your face, Sammy. What the hell happened?”
Sam raised a hand to his face and rubbed at his cheek, looking at the blood that had transferred to his fingers. “Oh, yeah. Some dude cut himself on broken glass at the burger place. I wrapped his hand for him. Must’ve got some on me.”
Dean studied his brother carefully, that was a lie. “Some dude cut his hand and you helped him.”
“No reason, dude.” He motioned to his brother; “Time to move, Sammy.”
Sam nodded and fell in step with Dean as they headed back to the motel, “You owe me a burger and at least three beers, dude.”
‘And you owe me the truth,’ thought Dean as he watched his brother from the corner of his eye. “Three beers?” he replied instead, a false grin on his face. “The six-pack was all mine.”
He tried not to frown as he saw Sam drop his eyes to the exact spot the ‘snake’ had been.
Dean watched his brother as they went over the notes, made more lists, searched on-line and through their father’s journal; looking for anything that seemed to have even the smallest link to the information they’d collected.
When Sam had jumped in for a quick shower, Dean had placed a call to Bobby. He hadn’t told Bobby about the incident with Sam’s bloodied face, and Bobby had no answers for him except that there was a distinct lack of demon activity in that area. Like any supernatural being even remotely close to the area, had fled. Great, he thought to himself; remembering what happened the last time that had occurred.
“So we’re dealing with something bigger than usual.” Dean had stated.
“Dean, you’re dealing with something that scares demons. Big?” Bobby had laughed hollowly, “Son, you’ve just walked into a shitstorm…again. I’ll do some research my end, see what I can come up with. But if they know you’re there, you ain’t got a lot of time.”
Dean had sighed, thanked Bobby and gone back to his research. He knew that what he’d seen wasn’t a ‘snake’, but a manifestation of whatever they were dealing with. It was keeping tabs on them and he didn’t like that one bit. And he had a sneaking suspicion that it may have got to his brother.
He glanced up at Sam again; his brother’s gaze was focussed on the laptop in front of him, the soft clicking of keys breaking through the silence that filled the room. “You find anything, Sammy?”
Sam shook his head, “You?”
“Maybe…” said Dean; watching his brother closely.
Sam raised his eyes from the computer screen and to his brother’s. “Well?”
“It could be nothing…but…look…” he turned the notepad towards his brother.
“Another list, Dean?”
“Yeah. Another list. Just look, bitch. First disappearance: John Lacuna, successful boat business, happy family life, money to burn, blah, blah, blah. Psycho brother-in-law? Hasn’t held down a job for more than two weeks at a time, no wife and kids – not that that’s a bad thing – and always sponging off his sister.”
“Aaah, dude? That’s what families do…well, normal ones, anyway.”
“Yeah, normal,” muttered Dean, ignoring Sam’s protest. “Second disappearance: Leanne Wilmott, just promoted to partner in her law firm, more money in her bank account than god, and just bought a new house. Psycho boyfriend? Just lost his job at a finance company, declared bankruptcy three days before and the bank foreclosed on his house. Kinda ironic, that last part.”
Dean kept reciting his list, “Third disappearance: Gerard Atkinson, just moved into larger premises for his architecture...ingy …business and got some huge grant from the Bangor City Council to design a new library. Apparently the pschyo attached to him, was bidding for the same job. Lost out and lost his business.” He looked up at Sam, “Want me to keep going?”
“Why the hell not?”
Dean stared at his brother before finally dropping his eyes back to the list, “Disappearance number four: Roger Carlson, we know all about him. Tom Garrity? Seems our beloved security guard lost a stack of money in one of Carlson’s schemes. Was just scraping by after being left with a whole lot of debt and a whole lotta nothin’. “
“That’s more motive than…coincidence, Dean.”
“You can’t see the pattern?”
“You mean apart from the doodles at the bottom of the page?”
“Dammit, Sammy!” said Dean with exasperation. “They’re polar opposites…” he was stopped by the ringing of his phone. He stood, “Just keep checking, okay? I need some air.” He went outside, slamming the door behind him.
Sam ran a hand down his face, what the hell was wrong with him? He was slapping down every idea Dean had about what they were hunting, for no other reason than wanting to pick a fight with his brother. And that didn’t make any sense. He raised a hand to his cheek, to the place where Dean had told him the blood was. He didn’t know why he’d lied to Dean about what had happened, but the deception had slid effortlessly from his lips. Maybe it was because the details of it were sketchy; but more than likely, it was because, when returning to the motel, he’d felt a dark fear coiling in the pit of his stomach. Added to that; there was something off with his brother. He wasn’t sure what, but it was something.
He pushed the curtains of the window aside and looked out; Dean was leaning against the Impala, deep in conversation with someone. Why would Dean take the call outside? What was his brother up to? What was he hiding? What secrets was Dean keeping from him? He pushed the curtain back as his brother turned to look at him. Yeah, something was definitely up with Dean.
Dean felt eyes on him and turned just in time to see Sam close the curtain, but not before he saw confusion flicker across his brother’s face.
“You still there, Dean?”
“Yeah, yeah, Bobby. I just figured it out, too. Now can you damn well tell me how to beat this bitch?”
“Did you not hear what I said? Take your brother and run. There is no beating her. You have to let this one go….”
“Can’t do that, Bobby. She’s not gonna stop unless someone stops her.”
“And that’s you, is it, boy?”
Dean smiled at the exasperation he heard in Bobby’s voice, “Who else, Bobby?”
Dean laughed; “Maybe, Bobby, maybe. But she knows we’re here, and don’t tell me she isn’t gonna screw with us.” He didn’t add that he thought she’d screwed with Sam already. “She’s not gonna let us leave, you know it and I know it.”
“I know you, Dean. You don’t have a plan and I’m telling you; you can’t beat her. You do whatever you have to, to get you and Sam out of there.”
“Sorry, Bobby…what was that? You’re breaking up…”
“I’m not an idjit, Dean. You can hear me loud and clear…you’re just not listening!”
Dean chuckled softly into the phone; Bobby knew him too well. “I’ll call you when we’re done.” He flipped the phone shut on the string of abuse directed at him, turning as Sam came out. “What is it, dude?”
“Just caught a report of another missing person. Uptown. Lets go.”
“Caught? How the hell did you catch it?”
“I’m psychic, remember?” laughed Sam as he rolled his eyes. “I hacked into the police database. Parents called in a missing persons report an hour ago, on their daughter, Penelope Jorgenson.” He tossed Dean the keys, “You drive.”
Dean grinned, “Like I’d let you. Just gotta drain the snake.”
“Dude, when you gotta go, you gotta go.” He went into the motel room and to the bathroom; but not before he checked the laptop on his way past.
Sam hadn’t hacked into anything.
Her damnable laugh spewed from blood-red lips; it erupted round the apartment and was absorbed by the throbbing, black mass. It swelled as it was hit by the evil of its mistress; dark, glistening tendrils writhing through the sweltering apartment and lovingly caressing their dominatrix.
The man lay trembling at her feet; his back scoured from the lashes he’d received upon his return. She nodded, and the inky filaments snaked out, curling around the man’s arms and pulling him to his knees.
“My message was well received?” her voice raked through him.
He nodded; as the threads cut into his skin on his arms. “Yes.”
She moved a hand out, running it gently down his disfigured face; “Tell me.”
“He’s coming,” he winced as his skin began to burn.
A smile crept onto her lips, “Am I hurting you?” she purred.
“No…yes…no…” he frowned, “Are you hurting me?”
Her smile widened as he was dragged from her sight; she needed to prepare and she didn’t want his manic laughter interrupting her. She wandered slowly around the apartment, her emotions reflected in the pulsing plague that covered the room.
The Winchester boys were here and they were on their way! She could barely contain the shudder that ran through her. It was part fury, part excitement. This would be true retribution. Pitching brother against brother; forcing them to see the true nature of the other and watching, blissfully, as they tore the other apart.
Oh, she wouldn’t let them kill each other, no, that would be too easy. She’d let them drain the blood, the life from the other until nothing but death awaited them. Then she would restore their minds; let them see, let them feel, what they had done to each other.
And she would laugh.
Dean and Sam Winchester would pay for their life-long killing spree! Pay for every death that had been visited upon demon, shape-shifter, shtriga, wraith…oh, they would pay. The Winchesters had devoted their lives to the destruction of anything they perceived as evil; hunting down the damned as sport. What gave them the right? They were no better than those they hunted. They were murderers, plain and simple.
She laughed contemptuously; it was time they saw the error of their ways.
It was time to make the brother’s the nemesis of each other.
It was her callingafter all…
“You sure this is the place?” Dean asked as he looked at the quiet building from where he’d parked across the street.
“Positive,” said Sam, showing Dean the scrap of paper on which he’d written the address.
“Where are the cops?” Dean asked as he scanned the cars surrounding the building. “They should be here.”
Sam opened the Impala’s door and stepped out; “They’re either on their way or they’ve gone.” He looked over as Dean slammed his door, “Either way, we need to check it out. You got your I.D.?”
Dean gave Sam a grin, “Never leave home without it.”
They jogged across the road; traffic was light at this time of night and would help when they had to break into the building. Dean already had his pick out and had the front door of the building open in seconds.
“This has Stephen King written all over it,” Dean muttered.
“What are you talking about?” Sam laughed.
Dean turned to his brother as they entered the foyer, raising an eyebrow at the confused expression on his brother’s face. “Dude, don’t tell me you didn’t know that Stephen King lives in Bangor.” He grinned at his brother, “Maybe ‘Pennywise the Clown’ is upstairs waiting for you.”
Sam’s laugh stopped instantly.
“That’s right. Clown, Sammy.”
“We’re flying to our next job,” Sam retorted.
The brothers stared at each other; then turned towards the stairs, then back to each other.
Sam took off. There was no way he was gonna let Dean beat him to the top; not after that clown comment. He grinned. No way.
Dean caught up with Sam on the second floor, his brother’s damn long legs giving him a slight advantage on the stairs; Dean’s competitive nature, giving him the edge. And there was no way he was gonna let Sam beat him to the top; not after that flying comment. He grinned. No way.
He forced Sam to a stop on the floor below Pepper Jorgenson’s; putting a finger to his lips as he drew the pistol from the small of his back.
“Nice and easy, Sammy,” he whispered.
Dean took one side of the stairs, Sam the other, as they moved steadily and cautiously upwards. Dean kept one eye on the stairs ahead of him, the other on his brother. He’d pulled the gun when he’d felt the familiar gut-feeling of …wrongness…that seemed to cascade down the stairs towards them.
They were four steps from the door to Pepper’s floor when Dean stopped his brother; “You smell that?” he whispered.
Sam nodded slowly; it was the unmistakeable stench of death. “We still have to check it out, Dean,” he whispered back.
Dean looked deep into his brother’s eyes; searching for anything that seemed out of the ordinary, anything that would tell him what was going on in that head of his. But all he saw was his brother’s eyes gazing back at him; that look he always had when he knew Dean would do the right thing; not because it was the right thing to do, but because Sam had asked him.
“You follow me, Sammy. No heroics.” He gave his brother his trademark grin, “That’s my gig.”
He edged towards the door and put out a hand to open it when it was flung open and he was knocked aside. He roared as he watched his brother dragged inside; the door slamming shut after him.
Sam was dragged into a world of nothingness. There was no sound, no light…just an all-encompassing expanse of darkness that was filled with the funk of decay. Whatever had hauled him into the apartment, had …no, it wasn’t gone. It had let him go. Big difference.
He stood perfectly still; his senses trying to take in what he could, but it was the sense of smell he was left to deal with. The rotting, stinking sense of smell.
He closed his eyes; it didn’t make it vulnerable, he already was.
He opened his mined and waited; finally turning his head; a smile forming on his lips as he felt her presence, “You wanted to talk?”
Dean was unable to stop his roars as he slammed his shoulder against the door again and again.
“SAM!” slam “SAM!” slam “SAMMY!!”
He stepped back and kicked the door; it did nothing but shudder in its frame. He aimed his pistol at the lock and emptied the clip. Let the neighbours call the cops. He didn’t give a rat’s. All he knew, was he had to get to his brother.
He leaned back and kicked the door again; it had a little more give but still wouldn’t open. He roared again; dropping the clip and reaching into his jacket for the replacement he always kept there. He slammed the clip into place and raised it again; his eyes narrowing as the door clicked and opened slowly; opened slowly into nothing but darkness.
Dean’s first impulse was to yell for his brother; but instinct kicked in and he fished the flashlight from the inside of his jacket, holding it over his gun as he edged into the room. He ran the torch around the apartment, but the beam didn’t penetrate further than three feet in front of him.
“I know you’re here, bitch,” Dean menaced.
Her laugh rattled round the apartment like rusty chains; “Such bravado! No less than I have come to expect from you.”
“Yeah, I kick ass,” he replied; his eyes and the flashlight, scanning the area in front of him as he tried to get a look at her; “And my size twelves have your name on it.” His eyes never stopped moving as he tried to make out forms within the never-ending darkness. “Sam!”
“Sam’s a little…tied up, at the moment. Lets chat awhile, Dean.”
Dean ignored her; “Sam!” He began to move around the apartment slowly, listening for any sound that would direct him towards his brother. He placed his foot forward carefully, but the next thing he knew, he was pitched sideways; his body slamming against what he guessed was a table. He got to his feet, a grin plastered on his face. He might not be able to see her, but he knew she could see him; “That the best you got, wench?”
“Lets see, shall we?” she hissed.
Dean felt the sensation of flying again, before crash-landing against something hard; his head smacking against whatever it was and making his eyes swim. He struggled to his feet, wiping the blood that ran down his face; “That throwing around’s been done to death.” He grinned again, raising a hand in a beckoning gesture, “Bring it, bitch.”
She laughed again; “Dean, Dean, Dean…” He fired his pistol as he felt a hand whisper down his face, but the shot was only met with more laughter. “You can’t kill me with a gun, Dean. Not even your precious Colt will kill me.”
Dean’s head was moving around the room, following the voice as it seemed to come from all around him; but his mind was more focussed on where his brother was. “SAMMY!”
“Aaah, yes; dear, dear, Sammy.” Her laugh cut into him. “Self-righteous, middle-of-the-road, so wanting-to-be-normal Sammy. My, whatever has become of your brother?”
“Your so called mind games won’t work with me. I know your M.O…” It was Dean’s turn to laugh; “And it just ain’t gonna cut it, sweetheart.”
Her laugh echoed Dean’s; “Aaah, but I know you, Dean. Sam got all the smarts and all the breaks, didn’t he? He was the one that got out, while you had to stay with your father; following his rules, obeying everything without question. No life for you. Not for Dean Winchester! But little Sammy? Why he …”
Dean sighed loudly, “Yeah, yeah; poor Dean, lucky Sam. You lot need to get new material. “
“Why, Dean? It’s the truth isn’t it?” she laughed “Now lets just see how lucky Sam’s feeling right about now…”
Dean blinked furiously as night was instantly turned to day; “SAM!” he yelled as he saw his brother held against a blood spattered wall by thick, oily strands; strands that were wrapped around his arms and legs; another writhing against his brother’s mouth. “SAMMY!” He ran towards his brother, firing repeatedly at the black binds that held him.
A large tendril whipped out, knocking Dean to the far side of the room. His pistol was torn from his fingers, dislocating one as the gun was swallowed by the black mass that swamped the walls. He rose again and again, trying to get to Sam, to his baby brother, but he was beaten back each time. Each failed attempt bringing a roar of raw fury; an all-consuming rage that burned within him.
“See how your brother doesn’t struggle, Dean? See how he doesn’t care what happens to you? You sold your soul to save his sorry life and what do you get? Nothing. No thanks. No..”
“Yes, you’ve said.”
Dean stared at the woman as she drifted towards him; her raven hair flying out behind her like winged-snakes, her silver-flecked eyes alight with hatred, her ruby lips dripping venomously. “LET HIM GO, OR SO HELP ME…” he threatened.
She clucked her tongue derisively, “Yes, you will need help. You see, Sam and I have already spoken. Well I spoke and he listened.” A seductive smile fell across her lips, “And that’s all you need to do, Dean. Just listen, and I will give you everything…”
Her eyes flashed brilliantly; glowing to almost blinding as her hands clenched; her long fingers piercing her palms. She turned to Sam; “Tell you brother what you told me, Sam!” She raised a hand; glistening blood flying in an arc as she flicked her wrist.
The black strand that gagged Sam, slid back from his lips and a smile formed on them as Sam’s attention focussed on Dean. “I told her I wanted to be free of you, Dean,” his smile widened.
Dean stared sadly as he saw the madness in his baby brother’s eyes; the tendrils holding him place, slithering back, releasing Sam as he made his slow, purposeful way towards him.
“I told her I’d do whatever she wanted, if she got you the hell away from me!”
“Sammy…” started Dean as his brother stood in front of him.
“You hear me, Dean? Your so-called sacrifice was for nothing!”
“No, Sammy. Listen to me, dude…”
Sam grinned; “Nope. I’m through listening to you, Dean. I’m done.” His grin widened; “I’m done, Dean.”
“Sammy, listen to me, she’s…”
“I know who she is!” he spat. He winked at his brother and turned quickly; “I know who you are!” His grin turned into a laugh; “Did you honestly think you’re little games would fool me, Nemesis?” He laughed again, “Nemesis. Like I wouldn’t see this coming. Play me against my brother; play him against me. Like Dean said, you need new material.”
Nemesis glared at the man that stood defiantly in front of her; the man that was now joined by his brother. Two brothers joined in reckless rebellion against a force they couldn’t defeat. Her blood boiled at their insolence.
“You want a nemesis?” Sam snarled, “You got two.”
They pulled the spare pistols from their waistbands and fired in perfect synchronicity; emptying their clips into the deity as she laughed.
“Oh, it will be fun watching you two watch each other torn apart!” She took a step towards them, “You will pay for what you’ve done! Pay for all the murders you’ve committed!”
“Murders?” laughed Dean, “We were just culling the herd.”
Her scream of pure rage shattered through the apartment; stabbing into them like knives; “It’s my calling to seek vengeance for those that need it! But it’s my duty to deliver vengeance on those that kill my kind!”
Dean’s eyes flicked to the walls that seemed to pulse with blackened life; the oily mass surging and ebbing violently. They were surrounded. Dark, dripping cords hung menacingly from the ceiling; others bobbing and weaving as they stretched from every wall; and a black tide slithered slowly across the floor towards him and Sam.
“Dude, you got any ideas?” asked Sam “’Cause all I got is a whole lotta nothin’” he grinned.
Dean returned the grin, “I always have a plan, Sammy.” He winked at his brother, turned and ran at Nemesis, calling her every name he could think of. He knew it was a suicide mission, but if he could get the bitch to focus on him and not Sam, then maybe his brother would have a chance. And that was what it was all about, what his whole life had been about. Giving Sammy a chance.
He yelled “RUN, SAMMY!” as he heard his brother yell, “NO, DEAN!”
Dean didn’t know how the dagger he always kept in his boot, made it into his hand; it didn’t matter; all he knew was that as he launched himself at Nemesis, his dagger raised, a grin on his face, that the bitch wasn’t getting his brother. No one was.
He grunted as he was snatched from the air; a black tendril wrapping painfully around his mid-section and slamming him against the floor. He slashed at the black bond; but the filament absorbed the slice; and he was thrown to the far side of the room, slamming painfully against the wall.
He rose as he heard Sam yell; looking up to see his brother being held by the inky cords. “SAM!” He ran again, only to have his legs ripped out from underneath him, the floor rising quickly to meet him.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk. Seems like we have a slow learner.”
“Leave him the hell alone, bitch!” Sam yelled. “You touch him again, I’ll kill you!”
“A weak spot, Sam Winchester?” she laughed and raised a hand; beckoning behind him.
Sam turned his head; not sure if he wanted to see what it was she was calling, but it couldn’t be any worse than what they were dealing with now. Scrap that, he thought, as he saw four men and two women stagger towards him. He knew their faces; they were the missing…well the dead.
And he could see the manner in which each of them had been killed. They’d been torn apart. Limbs ripped from their bodies, heads wrenched from their necks. Only now, they’d been put back together.
Writhing, black ropes held them together; acting as tendons, tying the corpses back together and manipulating their movements as they manoeuvred moved them forward. A dull silver light, wept from dead eyes as the blood spattered puppets took the stage in an evil deity’s play.
“Sammy…” Dean started, his eyes flicking past his brother as he saw movement. “SAMMY!” he yelled as he saw the walking-dead moving towards his brother; his audible sigh of relief sounding loudly as they ignored Sam and came towards him.
He was hauled to his feet by the dark shackles and he turned his head to Nemesis; a grin forming on his face, “You need a new hobby. ‘Cause cross-stitch just ain’t your thing.”
“DEAN!” Sam yelled as he struggled against his binds; yelling again as he saw Roger Carlson’s dead fist connect with Dean’s face. His brother couldn’t defend himself against the beating that was being delivered and he felt something stir deep within him; a fury like nothing he’d felt before and he began to shake; a roar bursting from his lungs that drowned out the laughter of the she-bitch.
Dean heard the sound of his brother’s yell, felt the rage of it; sensed the wrath that that rose with it and his fear matched it. ‘No, Sammy,’ he thought as fingernails raked through his torn shirt and down his chest.
“WATCH SAMMY!” Nemesis laughed joyously as Sam continued to yell. “WATCH YOUR PROTECTOR, DIE!”
“Dean Winchester will not die. Not here. And not today.”
Dean lifted his eyes to the calm, but familiar voice that broke through Sam’s screams and Nemesis’ laughter. “You…” he whispered through split lips.
Nemesis turned to the intruder; her eyes blazing fiercely as she took in the dark haired woman in front of her. “You hold no power here!” she hissed.
The woman moved forward; her black eyes pulsing with mirrored hatred; “But that’s where you’re wrong.” Her eyes flicked to the corpses that were now striking half-heartedly at Dean, before her gaze returned to those of Nemesis. “You made a mistake, Nemesis.” She raised a hand and the corpses fell to the floor; the tendrils that had been holding them together, hissing as they hit the floor, boiling and festering into non-existence.
“HOW DARE YOU!”
“You know the rules, Nemesis and you broke them,” spat the Manzazuu. “You used my power without permission! Necromancy is not your domain! It is mine!” She took a step towards the deity; “You crossed into my world and you stole from me. I am owed!”
“I OWE NOTHING! “ Nemesis raged; “I AM YOUR…”
“YOU HAVE NO CONTROL HERE ANYMORE!” she roared; both Dean and Sam wincing as the voice raked painfully into them.
A smug smile fell across the Manzazuu’s lips as the black mass started to withdraw; releasing both Sam and Dean as it skulked away; slithering back towards its mistress and sliding up her body; engulfing all but her hate-filled face.
The contagion writhed around Nemesis, its outrage matching the storm brewing within its mistress. “I will NOT be denied!” she hissed as she watched Sam run to his brother; pulling Dean’s bloodied form against him.
“I must have payment for the use of my power.” She smiled caustically; “And that payment is your return to Hell.”
“You don’t have the power! I am a demi-god!”
“That is the only payment I will accept!” the Manzazuu smiled again “And your attempt to kill Dean Winchester has…not been well received. You would break a contract not held by you?” she clucked her tongue. “And Sam Winchester?” she laughed “It is your choice.”
Nemesis bellowed her fury. She had been backed into a corner. There were things at play here that she had pushed aside in her lust for retribution. Her desire to punish the Winchesters for their unrelenting destruction of her kind had made her act rashly. She had called on powers that came with strict rules, and she had broken them. Her belief that as a demi-god, she could do as she pleased; had caused her to act recklessly. Payment was required. She’d sealed the deal before knowing what the payment would be. She had no choice but to acquiesce.
She raised her hands; pure fury on her face as she looked at the Manzazuu, “I will not forget this!” she spat. “I will have my vengeance!”
The Manzazuu nodded; “We all will.”
Nemesis raised her arms; the black contagion writhing around her, swirling into a shadowy vortex that howled in the voices of her victims; careening around the apartment before spearing towards the window, shattering the glass as it spewed into the night.
Sam sat in stunned silence, holding his brother’s battered body against his as he watched the Manzazuu glide towards him; but her eyes were glued to Dean. “Leave him alone!”
Her eyes never left Dean’s as she crouched in front of him; “I have told you before Dean Winchester, that you are afforded our protection.”
Dean stared at the necromancer; his fingers sliding up to his necklace. “I want an explanation.”
“And one will be forthcoming…in time.” She laughed softly, a laugh that chilled him; “You’re walking a fine line, Dean Winchester. Do not push me. I am not your guardian angel,” she laughed again. “Next time, you may not be so lucky.” She finally raised her eyes to Sam’s “And you, Sam Winchester…what will become of you?” she stood and looked down at the two brothers, “Time is short. And not all is as it seems.”
And with that, she was gone; taking the scraps of Nemesis’ victims with her.
Dean and Sam sat silently in the empty apartment; both of them trying to process the words of the necromancer; neither of them understanding what had happened, and how they’d escaped. And both of them; living in a world of worry for the other.
Sam looked into his brother’s battered face; “Yeah?”
“You wanna hold me like this, you gotta buy me dinner first.”
Dean sat in the passenger seat of the Impala; his bandaged head resting against the window as he and Sam drove out of Bangor. He stared at the people that were going about their lives in the early morning shuffle; not a care in the world. He hated them; hated them and envied them.
Blissful ignorance. He sometimes longed for it.
He glanced over at Sam; his brother’s eyes were on the road ahead of him, but he knew his mind was elsewhere. Wondering, as he did, why they’d been given a reprieve; why they’d been spared …and to what end. He couldn’t tell his brother that when he’d looked Nemesis in the eye; had seen the death that awaited him; a part of him, deep down inside, had prayed for it.
He was tired of this world; and regardless of where he was going, in his darker moments…he just wanted it to end. It wouldn’t be over; he knew that. He just wanted an ending.
He saw Sam reach for the radio and he placed a gentle hand over his brother’s wrist. “Leave it, Sammy,” he said softly.
Sam nodded as the melancholic strains of Gary Juleses’, ‘Mad World’ filtered through the Impala
‘All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
'Cos I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very
Sam – Editor
Kes – Unwavering support & muse-poking stick.