What makes a Nightmare
Disclaimer: Don’t own SPN, BTVS or Angel.
A/N: Thanks to everyone for reading and reviewing, and I am relieved to know that people are still reading! Your persistence and patience are appreciated. :)
“Dude, we have to break into a mental hospital?!” He was whisper-shouting and he knew it. If Sam or Faith were there, they’d be shushing him already, but Angel just half-smiled and Dean rolled his eyes. “This city sucks. C’mon- we need to get back to the car before someone jacks it.” And wouldn’t that be the perfect end to a shitty day?
They walked in (unsurprising) silence. The Hunter was caught up in his thoughts and he trusted Angel to keep watch- which the Vampire did.
He knew he’d been tempting fate with the car-jacking comment when his first glimpse of the Impala was impeded by the dude sitting on her hood.
Dean didn’t even see Angel move- and the Vampire’s first reaction was to grab the stranger and throw him to the ground, a good thirty feet from where he’d been grabbed, too. Dean’s first (okay, second, because Angel didn’t lay a finger on humans without good reason) clue that the guy was less (or more) than human was that he didn’t immediately cry like a child after being tossed around the parking lot like a rag-doll.
So, dorky guy was on the ground and Angel was straddling him growling and holding him down and Dean wasn’t exactly sure how to react.
“Hey, dude, ease up there a little, huh?” It seemed to be enough, though, because his friend stood and stepped away, back toward the car, frown firmly in place. “Who the hell are you, anyway?”
On the ground, he didn’t look like much. Nervous, a little, and twitchy. Hell, standing he wouldn’t look like much- but he hadn’t pissed himself when Angel’s game-face made an appearance, and that was saying something. One more check in the ‘not-human’ box.
“Doyle. My name is Doyle. Please, don’t shoot me- I’m just the messenger.” Slowly, Doyle climbed to his feet. At his words, Dean realized that he’d already drawn his gun and had it aimed at him. Huh. He hadn’t even noticed- his dad would be horrified. “I’ve been sent with a message, that’s all, I swear.” He wasn’t local, that’s for sure- Irish maybe, or Scottish? Dean immediately discounted the Watcher
whisper that echoed in his head. The Council didn’t work with not-humans. No way, no how.
Not that Hunters usually do, either. Angel was a special circumstance.
“Who sent you?” He bit back his curiosity about the message- who
was just as important as what
, half the time. Or so Bobby said, anyway. Beside him, Angel growled, and Doyle paled a little more.
“See, here’s the thing: I get visions.” He ducked his head, embarrassed. “And I had one, about you two fellas and the girl you’re trying to save? The one in the nut house?” Dean didn’t correct him- it would be heartless, maybe, to admit that he didn’t care much about the Slayer in the hospital. She was a means to an end.
“Oh yeah? And you help people out of the goodness of your heart, right?” For twenty-one, he sure was cynical.
“Well, sorta. I mean, there’s helping
and then there’s helping, ya know? Also, the visions come with a side-order of splitting migraine and if I hafta suffer for it, then I might as well pass the message on, right?”
Uh, right. Sure. Dean just nodded and pretended to understand- he was pretty good at that, and the guy seemed placated. Visions. Headaches. Whatever.
“So… you’re some special psychic demon? Any other nifty tricks I should know about?”
Doyle just shook his head, hands raised in surrender.
“I’m just a normal, peace-loving, half-Bracken demon. The visions aren’t even the family standard, okay?” Dean knew exactly jack shit about Bracken demons, but he’d ask Bobby as soon as he had the chance. “So… you gonna put that thing away and listen to me or what?”
He wasn’t sure about it- what Hunter would be?- but Angel had backed down and was content enough to stand by Dean’s shoulder, human-faced and calm. Dean put the gun away. Reluctantly.
“Can we take this somewhere indoors? Preferably with plumbing and beer.” If he had to spend an evening with a demon, the least he could get for it was some beer, right?
“Sure, sure… hey- how do you feel about karaoke? I know this guy, makes a great Sea-breeze? Not far from here, either, if you don’t mind driving?”
When had Dean ever
minded driving? So he nodded, unlocked the car and sat into the driver’s seat. Doyle pulled open the heavy rear door and jumped into the backseat.
“Nice car, man. Not that I know much about American cars, but she is a beauty.”
Yeah, the guy was a psychic alright- he knew exactly what to say to make Dean like him, almost against his will.
“Angel, watch him. Doyle, if you fuck me over I think it goes without saying that I will end you.” Grinning widely, he watched in the rear-view as the man’s (demon’s?) face fell a little. “Cheer up- if my dad was here, he’d have shot you for touching the car.”
Ten minutes later, Dean was reconsidering liking the man. This had to be a joke. Or a nightmare.
“A demon karaoke bar? You’ve gotta be shittin’ me.” Doyle just shrugged, leading the way inside. Angel followed him, unconcerned, and Dean took that as confirmation that he wasn’t likely to be roasted over an open flame by whoever happened to be inside. Caritas looked normal enough on the outside, at least, and the sign on the wall proclaiming that there was a sanctuary spell in place was reassuring- because it meant that he didn’t have to hand over his weapons at the door, if nothing else. It’s not like he’d never been to demon bars before- though, usually, John Winchester insisted that he didn’t go alone. Or at all, if it was avoidable. Dean was pretty sure that his dad wouldn’t consider Angel adequate backup, either, but Dean was just gonna ignore that. What his dad didn’t know wouldn’t kill him and as long as he never found out, it wouldn’t kill Dean, either.
Doyle led them through the dimly lit bar to a booth at the back of the room- clever, really, to separate the Hunter from the demons, though there wasn’t a big crowd anyway. A pair of skeevy vamps by the bar and a table of Graaslok demons by the stage, murdering their way through the Michael Jackson back catalogue. The green guy behind the bar was something Dean had never seen before, but he chose not to ask. Sanctuary spell aside, he needed to know if Doyle had anything he could use.
“Beer, right? Take a seat and I’ll get the first round. O neg alright for you?”
Dean liked that the guy addressed Angel directly, and the Vampire even nodded in reply. Of course, just because he liked him didn’t mean that he wasn’t relieved when Doyle returned with an unopened beer. Sure, it could be magicked or some shit, but it was unlikely. Ish.
Besides, he definitely needed a drink if he was going to be listening to prophecies or whatever- all that mystical ‘maybe-could-be-will-be’ stick was more Sam’s area. Or Bobby’s. Or, hell, his dad’s. He was firmly in the hit-it-till-it-dies camp.
He’d never met a proper Seer before. Psychics, sure, but a real Seer? Rare as fuck, and one had just walked up to him and introduced himself (ish)? Winchester luck must be turning.
Of course, that was before Doyle told him what he knew. After that… Dean wasn’t pretty sure he never wanted to meet another Seer. Ever. There was a sick feeling in his stomach and his head was pounding, suddenly. He certainly hadn’t been drinking enough to explain that- he hadn’t even finished his beer.
“Let me get this straight… some super-powered dickheads think that I’m important? So freaking important
that they broke the Slayer line to send me a friggin’ bodyguard?” Faith. Jesus. “That can’t be right, dude. She’s a Slayer- that’s destiny.” It didn’t sound possible… but Doyle knew other things, too. Things about the Yellow-Eyed Demon. About Sam. About their mother. If even half of it was true… he could feel his stomach churning and, by his side, Angel looked concerned.
“Sure, it’s destiny- it’s meant to be. But that doesn’t mean the details can’t be tweaked, ya know? Listen, kid, I don’t know the details- I just know that the guys upstairs are very, very concerned about keeping you and yours alive. What for, I can’t say, but I know it has something to do with your Ma, and the deal she made.” Dean ignored the kid jibe, focused on Doyle’s earnest expression and his own rising anger.
His mother made a deal. Fuck.
This had to be a crock of shit- it couldn’t be true, right? Doyle, sitting opposite him and nursing a thirty-year old scotch, made some sympathy noises.
“I know it’s a lot to deal with and I’m sorry- if there was any other way…” Doyle paused, finishing his scotch. “… but there isn’t, and you have to get that girl out of the hospital ASAP. She’s important. I think.”
There had been a lot of ‘I thinks’ and ‘I’m pretty sure’ and ‘maybe’- Dean could tell that Doyle believed what he was saying, at least, but that didn’t mean that Dean believed him. Hell, he was sure that he didn’t want to, and that was all he was sure about.
“If you don’t believe me, ask the Host, okay? That’s him, behind the bar. He does this thing where he reads your future when you sing.”
What. The. Fuck?
“I mean it- ask anyone. Everyone knows Lorne and this place is neutral ground. Hum a tune for him and he’ll tell you that I’m on the level.” Before Dean could protest, the demon waved the bartender over. The green one, in the bright red suit.
It was all happening too fast- there was just… too much of it, too quickly. Overload, Sam would say, and his dad… Jesus. John couldn’t have known about any of this, so it was on Dean to find out what was true and what wasn’t- much as he didn’t want to admit it, Doyle wasn’t pinging his bullshit-radar, and some of what he said was almost making sense; filling in blanks that Dean had always wondered about.
Like why Sam’s nursery; why Mary Winchester; why Faith
He was his sister and if what Doyle said was true, she’d been put in his path so that she could protect him after she was Called.
It made him sick to think that she was being used that way; being thrown under the Winchester bus because someone, somewhere, thought Dean would need a Slayer-shaped shield.
He had to know. Swallowing hard, he turned to watch the Host approach.
He was a Winchester; he’d faced down worse before. There was nothing to fear about the truth, right?
The way the Host was looking at him, all concern and sympathy, told him that no, maybe the truth was scarier than he had ever imagined.
It felt like she was drowning; like she was down so far and so deep that she’d never make her way back to the surface. She could breathe, but it hurt- it was like breathing tar, not air, and her lungs ached and burned with every inhale. She tried to stop inhaling, to get the pain to go away, but she couldn’t- she knew what it would mean and she wasn’t ready for that.
The darkness was all around, hemming her in and holding her tight, pushing down and pulling apart and she couldn’t tell where it ended and she started. Was there anything more to her than the darkness? Sometimes, she could hear screams and cries and she didn’t think there was more. There was just this: pain and dark and tears. Someone else’s; her own. She couldn’t tell any more. She wasn’t sure she ever knew the difference. How would she know? There had been darkness for so long she could hardly remember the light.
Sometimes, she thought she wasn’t alone. She heard her name, maybe, but the voice swirled and twirled and disappeared into the black before she could answer. She never got to answer.
There were dreams, sometimes, but it was hard to tell the dreams from the darkness. Screams and blood and crying and monsters and sometimes she could fight them but sometimes she couldn’t and she could feel the claws sinking in; teeth biting down; hands grasping tight. And then the dream would end and the darkness would return and she couldn’t decide which was better. Was one better? Slayer
. That was her, wasn’t it?
That was supposed to be her. She was supposed to answer. The monster told her, once, that she was always meant to be a killer of things. No
. She didn’t want to be a killer. She shook her head against the word, blocking it out. Her throat felt raw and she wondered if she’d been screaming, or if someone else had been using her voice again. Slayer
. Stronger this time; different. I know you can hear me
. Of course she could hear it- it was in her head; in her darkness. Who else was there to hear it?I need you to wake up. I need your help
. Help? How could she help? She never had before, even when the voices screamed and cried and begged. She was never able to get there in time; never able to claw her way to the surface for long enough. I’m in here with you, now. I can’t get out
. There was no getting out. She laughed. There was never any getting out. Was this a new game? The voice was new.I’m not new. You’re just crazy
. The voice sounded like her mother had, before she’d been ripped open and pulled apart. Monsters do that; rip you open and scatter your insides. She liked her insides where they were, right inside her. She wrapped her arms around herself to keep them there. Protective. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. You’re not crazy
. The voice didn’t say it, but she heard it all the same: You’re damaged
. Broken; scattered into so many pieces and places and parts. She’d heard that more than once, she thought. Maybe it was something she told herself? She couldn’t be sure.You have to help me. I can’t get out of here on my own and I…
The voice trailed off, hesitant. Afraid. She knew afraid; she knew what that felt like and something in her stomach clenched tight.
She remembered darkness and pain and being lost and separated from her family; she remembered that, so she knew what it felt like and that’s what the voice was like. Lost. Alone. Scared.
She knew what it was like, but this… this wasn’t hers. This was different. There was… hope.
Dana squeezed her eyes closed, drowning out the world, and stared inwards instead, willing everything to be quiet so she could listen; she needed to listen.
“How did you get here?”