Pillars of Sand
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters or parts of this storyline. They belong to the brains of The Whedon and The Kripke.
Spoilers: SPN S6
Rating: R/FR18 (very dark themes, violence, sexual content, language)
Distribution: Please ask me first.
Author’s Notes: Second story in The Pillars Trilogy. I highly recommend
you read Pillars of Salt
before you read this but it’s not entirely necessary, I tried to cover some ground from that fic although it might confuse more than help if you haven’t read PoS1. This story will be darker than PoS1. I am taking elements from the first episode of SPN S6 - please think of this fic as a sort of lead into what S6 becomes although there are spoilers for later S6. I took some elements of the book The Lost Slayer by Christopher Golden as well. Contains some Lisa/Dean.
Author’s Notes 2: This story is not complete as Pillars of Salt was so it will not be updated at nearly such an insane rate.
Author's Notes 3: I don't know crap about guns. I know they shoot bullets. So if my slight mention of something makes me sound like a moron, I accept that. I tried, damn it.
Timeline: Set in the year between S5 and S6 of Supernatural. Post S7 of Buffy. I don’t go into comic canon.
Feedback: Always appreciated! Thank you for the response to Pillars of Salt, I hope this one doesn’t disappoint!
Summary: Sequel to Pillars of Salt.
Dean is trying to live the normal Joe life he promised he would after Sam’s leap into the cage with Lucifer but he is plagued with guilt, regret and thoughts of the woman he really wants. His world gets turned upside down when he runs into her again only to find that he wasn’t the only one left with a souvenir from their last meeting.
“I guess… the feeling that I wasn’t really here. It was like… when I clawed my way out of that grave, I left something behind. Part of me. I just… I don’t understand…”
The door opened with a whisper. The light from the moonlight bathed everything inside the abandoned house with stark white light, the shadows bouncing to life, rats scurrying away from the intrusion.
The doorjamb was dusty where her fingers touched it and she pulled them back, rubbing the stained fingers against her thumb, the noise of the aged dirt chafing against her skin the only sound surrounding her.
The night behind her was quiet; deadly quiet. It knew what evil lingered in this house.
The echo of rough leather snapping loose rushed through the hallway as the door widened enough for her to enter and she felt the familiar cool metal of the iron knife at her hip. Running her fingers over it, she moved to grip the handle, her fist tight as she stepped through the doorway.
A bright flicker tickled the edge of her vision and she turned to look when a scream suddenly erupted from next to her, the noise piercing her eardrum. She acted without thinking, on instinct, as the knife slid easily from its holster. She quickly jammed it into the spirit of the man who had appeared, the knife slicing through empty air as he burned away a rush of angry fire.
But not gone.
“Come on, buddy,” she rasped, “Let’s get this over with.”
Wrinkling her nose at the smell of the surrounding decay, mold and dead rodent bodies, she moved further into the dark house, flipping the knife calmly as she started searching the rooms for the man’s body.
Dean Winchester stood at the open window, the stagnant night air touching his face as a warm breeze brushed past him. He barely reacted to it, his eyes staring at nothing, his body motionless, the glass in his hand forgotten, his mind lost.
It was like a constant movie projector of the Worst Winchester Moments running through his mind. All he saw when he closed his eyes was Sam. All he saw when he opened them was Sam. All he thought about was the horror, the sickness, the guilt, the pain as he watched his brother tumble into the hole, Lucifer held down within, with their half-brother eclipsed by Michael... fall away, sucked into the ground, gone. Forever. Gone forever.
Dean took a shaky breath, wiping away the lone tear that escaped his burning eyes. It never changed: Sam always fell. Sam was always gone and there was nothing he could do about it. He was stuck here on this earth, alone, and his brother was locked away, somewhere he couldn’t reach, couldn’t touch. He was gone. And Dean was just here, unable to do anything about it, find anything to help his little brother.
Dean closed his eyes, bowing his head against the night, the familiar guilt in his chest filling him to the brink. It was like a white hot pressure inside, waiting to burst but never quite getting to that point... it was always there in anticipation, letting each moment slip by, feeling like it was getting bigger and hotter but nothing ever happened. Sometimes it ebbed into a gentle, constant presence and sometimes, like right now, he felt like his heart was ready to explode as he pictured Sam’s face.
“Damn it, Sammy,” he whispered to himself, another tear escaping.
Forcing himself to take a deep breath, Dean blinked away the rest of the tears, turning to look up at the sky. How many times had he called Cas? How many times had he been ignored? There was no one up there who would help him and there was nothing down here to guide him. He was lost without his brother, sick knowing that he was trapped inside a cage with the freaking devil while he lived upstairs, in a life that was nothing like the one he wanted.
He wanted Sam, alive. He wanted to be on the road, moving. He wanted someone else, someone he couldn’t have, couldn’t find. Another person he couldn’t touch because they weren’t his. Everything had slipped through his fingers and he had just sat back and let it happen...
Dean looked around the front yard of the house where he now lived. The moonlight was bathing everything and all Dean saw was daylight. The daylight of the day he had arrived in the cemetery. The daylight where Lucifer, using his brother’s body, had beaten him into a bloody pulp - because he could, because he was there, there for his brother in ways Lucifer had never felt - before Sam resurfaced. The daylight where Sam conquered and then said his silent goodbyes before...
The daylight of the next day, waking up alone in the crap motel room, next to an empty bed, an untouched bed. None of Sam’s crap in the bathroom, none of his crappy morning protein bars in the Impala. None of Sam.
No more Sam.
No more anything.
Dean bit his tongue, pursing his lips. How long had he waited before he came here? How long had he wandered around? He had tried to find her before going anywhere but she was like a damn ghost. And what would have happened had he found her? What comfort could she have given him? All he could see everywhere he looked was Sam and all he found he wanted that next day was to find her, take comfort in her. Even if just for a moment...
But the last time they had seen each other, she had only been worried about her car. The woman he had met, the woman whom he had spent a lifetime with before having it all erased... was gone. Wasn’t his. Wasn’t his to help him, wasn’t his to hold him, be there for him. Wasn’t his for him to lean on and be his sanctuary, like his future self had had... The woman who he carried around in his heart was literally a ghost in his mind - a ghost Zachariah had created to torture him and to make him say yes to Michael. Oh, he was getting the torture part down, nice and snug, the stupid dead bastard.
He had lost her. And now he had lost Sammy. What was there worth living for, really, anymore?
So he had gone to Lisa. Because Sam had asked him to. Because he hadn’t known about Buffy and because Dean thought there was a part of him that actually wanted this “normal” life. But not because he hadn’t been able to find her... it was because this was one promise he was not going to break to his brother.
He got here eventually and while a part of him did want to be here, playing this part, another part of him knew it was because it was what Sam had wanted for him.
To be normal. To get out of the life. To find love and happiness and peace and all that crap.
Shaking his head, Dean made himself look at what he had come to check on. The salt line surrounding the perimeter of the house that had started on the inside before Lisa mentioned what a disaster it was to clean up. Dean knew what she had really meant: he was taking it a little too far. So he had moved it outside, burying salt around every inch of the house and refreshing it every single night.
He knew they thought he was being ridiculous but he also knew what was out there... What came to kill you in your sleep when you least expected it, were least prepared for it...
The salt was still there, killing everything it touched, salted earth where nothing could grow...
Dean turned, the soft voice startling him, clenching the glass in his hand a little tighter. Lisa stood at the top of the stairs, her hand on the banister, her hair long around her shoulders. She took a few steps down before pausing.
Silent invitation. Invitation for something he didn’t deserve. Shouldn’t have, shouldn’t keep. Something he should want. He wanted to want her, her life, their life but...
“Yeah,” he drawled. “I’ll be up in a minute.” He offered her a weak half smile. Her face was lost in the shadows but he knew the little smile she always wore by heart anymore. It was the only smile she threw his way: pity and sadness and wanting to help but having no idea what to do.
When she turned to go back to the room, he turned back to closing the window, shutting the blinds and pulling the curtains over. He heard her quiet footsteps as she returned to bed.
She was always there, always watching, always waiting. He was sure she was waiting for the night when he cracked and she would have to pick up the pieces. Again, like the night he first came to her... He had fallen apart. Sam was gone and he had literally spent his last breath trying to find Buffy before falling into Lisa’s lap, everything he had loved gone. He didn’t tell Lisa that she was his last resort, his last idea of sanctuary against himself. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate her, he did. Maybe he really had fallen for her when he first met Ben, saw the life he could have had, could have saved for himself... but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough because it wasn’t what he had pictured, in the end.
The end, what a joke. But he knew one thing for sure: meeting Buffy had changed things. Zachariah stepping in had completely wrecked him although he would never have admitted that to anyone, especially about a woman he knew once in high school, once for just a few days before she disappeared. In his head, in his heart, in the memories from the Dean that would never come to fruition from 2014 since Lucifer was down for the count… it had been much longer...
Somehow, since Sam had jumped, since he had finally tried to turn to her for comfort, his memory of her had gotten more vivid. Sam had been his distraction against it all, against the memories that weren’t his but felt so much like they were his, like he had lived that life in 2014; against the nightly dreams, reminding him of what he had pushed away, what he had given away, what he had lost... and now, all he had left...
And now he couldn’t get rid of the feeling that this wasn’t his life. This wasn’t his woman, his kid... he was an imposter, a fraud, a lie. A walking lie, beautifully orchestrated because he had promised.
And this was one damn promise he wouldn’t break.
Dean went through his nightly mechanics, checking every window, every lock. He checked the doors, shut every curtain. He made sure the lines painted discreetly at each entrance were unbroken - devil’s traps. Glancing under the sink, he saw the jug of holy water sitting securely behind all the cleaning chemicals. Behind the fridge was the gun he had taped there and underneath one of the large plants in the living room was still the knife he had stashed.
Everything was where he had left it. Everything was exactly where he had put it...
Closing his eyes, Dean rubbed his face tiredly, finishing off the scotch before moving to put the empty glass in the kitchen. Rinsing it out, he set it on the counter sink before moving to check the front door one more time. Checking the bolt, he glanced out the long window parallel to the door...
It was almost too fast for him to catch, and had he done anything other than hunt his entire life, he would have missed it. Missed the glimpse of something white move too quickly to be anything other than something that shouldn’t be there.
Dean stopped breathing, stopped moving as he stared at the spot on the opposite side of the front yard. Nothing moved though, nothing swayed. Even the breeze seemed to have stopped. Glancing back up the stairs to make sure Lisa wasn’t there, he unbolted the door quietly and stepped outside, the cool wood of the front porch chilling his feet.
He glanced left, right, before once again scanning everything in front of him. Lisa did an amazing job with gardening; she had turned the lawn into a mini-forest. Plant life, flowers, bushes; everything was well-tended and growing, beautiful to an eye taught to appreciate it.
But all Dean saw was cover, things someone or something could hide behind. Stepping forward, Dean paused at the steps, wondering if he had imagined it. It was possible. He hadn’t hunted anything after Sam took the swan dive. What was the point? Hadn’t he given enough? Why should he help the poor saps of the world when it only made him lose everything and everyone he loved the most?
Was his brother’s death not enough sacrifice? Was the fact that he had turned every single stone upside down he could find and yet, no way to get him out... wasn’t that enough for one lifetime?
So maybe his mind was playing tricks on him. That didn’t stop Dean from stepping down and searching all of the foliage though. Nothing was amiss as he gently pushed leaves out of the way, stepping lightly on the grass, the night cooler than inside the house. He felt a chill on his back and he paused, looking over his shoulder.
But nothing was there.
Dean stopped when he found a little clearing behind the large oak tree. It was almost pitch black but the moonlight was enough for him to see that there were clear footprints in the damp dirt. The person had been leaning forward on the balls of their feet, their fingers in the dirt. Dean crouched down, touching the dirt lightly but it gave nothing else away. They were small feet, that was clear enough, but whose?
Dean took a deep breath, closing his eyes as he made a fist. No, it could be anything. How many times did he look outside during the day to see Ben rummaging through these very leaves? Hell, the kid could have been sitting back here the entire afternoon and Dean wouldn’t know about it...
Dean stood, frowning at himself before turning away, wiping his fingers on his sweat pants as he took the front steps quickly. When he reached the door, he turned to give the area one more glance before going inside.
He had to have been imagining things - a flash of white? Nobody knew where he was, not even Bobby. He had been more than careful enough to cover his tracks, hide away from the things that make the night go bump. Not for his sake but for Lisa and Ben’s. He was seeing things, thinking too much about Sam, about a huge, gut-sucking hole in the ground that pulled everything sunshine-y and rose-y into it without apology... about a woman who was a mirage…
Dean made himself close the door, lock it tightly. He allowed himself one more look out the window before turning and going upstairs. It wasn’t the first time his mind had played tricks on him and he was sure it wouldn’t be the last. How many stories had he rehashed explaining to Lisa the type of life he really led? The look on her face when he told her about witches, vampires, wendigos, shapeshifters... And then giving Ben the abbreviated version?
He looked in Ben’s room and saw he was asleep, the soft glow from the glow-in-the-dark stars on his ceiling creating an ethereal environment. Nothing was out of place, everything was good. Ben slept deeply, the kind of sleep that only someone who hadn’t seen what can hide under a bed can sleep. Sure, he heard the stories, heard that things aren’t always what they seem and if he saw something a little weird around the house, not to worry about it...
Dean wanted it to stay that way forever. Just a thought, not reality, to the kid.
Yet another reason he was an imposter in this house. He was a monster that hunted the monsters.
Dean paused outside of the room that he shared with Lisa, just as he did every night since he had moved in with her. The trepidation he felt was lessening with each day he stayed in this life but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there. That sensation that he just didn’t belong…
He knew she wasn’t asleep as he finally pushed the door open and climbed into the bed, adjusting the comforter. She moved in tandem, waiting for him to settle before moving into his arms.
He let her in, let her lay her head on his chest as he sank into the too-soft mattress, his head heavy on the pillow before he stared at the ceiling. He felt her light sigh as she burrowed against him and he wrapped his arm around her shoulder lightly, pressing his face into her hair, taking a deep breath, welcoming the familiar ping of disappointment.
It was only another sad reminder that she wasn’t the one he wanted, needed. It wasn’t Buffy.
Pushing her out of his mind, he let his mind hit replay on the Worst Winchester Moments once again.
And just like every other night of the two months since Sam had jumped, Dean listened to Lisa fall asleep as he stared into nothingness.
The creature in front of her hissed and she heard the distinctive sounds of something popping coming from inside what used to be Stan the Electrician’s head before his jaw started distending. She saw his eyes weren’t human anymore, sliding easily into evil little reptilian slits as the creature crouched, ready to pounce.
“What in the hell is that thing?” someone shouted from behind her but she didn’t turn. Instead, she rolled her eyes. Normies
“Why don’t you just scamper off and let the big kids dance, huh?” she asked the person who was currently having a panic attack, her voice full of dry amusement as she pulled out her two 1911 R1s, both full of consecrated iron. “Or just sit there and shut the hell up.”
Fingers snapped in front of his face and Dean started, jerking his head back to look at his table mate as he waved his fingers in front of Dean’s face. Sid sat opposite him, his new official drinking buddy and neighbor. Dean offered him an apathetic smile.
“Dean, man, you are the ultimate king of zoning the hell out,” Sid said, shaking his head with a grin as he leaned back, taking a drink from his beer.
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Dean replied, nodding before taking a sip from his own beer, “I’ve just... got a lot on my mind.”
“Well, talk to me,” Sid said, waving his hands to indicate their surroundings. Dean looked around, his eyebrows lifted. “This is a place of zen men attitude, man.” Sid paused, watching Dean give him a tight smile and he sighed, leaning forward. “Is it Lisa?”
“What?” Dean asked, shaking his head. “No, no. God, no. She’s been... amazing. More than I deserve, that’s for sure.” Dean took another heavy pull from his beer and avoided eye contact with Sid. Instead, he gazed around the bar where he had taken to joining Sid almost every night after work for a cold one two months after they had moved into the neighborhood. It was neat, clean and upper scale compared to the rat traps he used to occupy on the road. He found he liked it - it was refreshing, different and did very little to remind him of everything he didn’t want to remember...
That didn’t mean the beer condensating in his hands didn’t remind him of Sam. That didn’t mean the hard-backed stool in which he sat didn’t remind him of Sam. That didn’t mean the jukebox that sat in the corner of the bar didn’t remind him of Sam. Dean closed his eyes, pushing it out, away, forcing that sucking black hole in his chest to quiet down for a few more hours.
When he opened them, he saw Sid staring at him, and he offered a lame smile. Sid shook his head. “Alright, that’s cool, man.” Sid lifted his hand. “I understand. So what about that barbeque this weekend, huh? Your place, right?”
Dean took a deep breath. “That’s the plan.”
“Don’t look too excited over there,” Sid replied, his tone joking and Dean chuckled. He liked Sid. Sid was easy, he was... nice. He lived next door to their new house and his wife had brought them an actual fruitcake when they moved in. He was a cool guy. An uncomplicated guy. And uncomplicated was on the menu these days.
“Haven’t really ever been a big BBQ guy, that’s all.” Dean took another sip.
“What kind of childhood did you have?” Sid asked with a laugh, not seeing the look Dean shot his way from underneath his brow, before Sid slapped the table. “Well, we’re gonna change that, Winchester.”
Dean just smiled at him. He heard the click of heels before he saw her but he watched Sid’s visceral reaction, watched him watch the voluptuous woman walk by before turning back to Dean, an incredulous look on his face. “She didn’t even notice I existed. What the hell is it about you?”
Dean hadn’t even noticed anything himself. He looked over at where the woman was headed and he shook his head. “I don’t know. It’s like they specifically know I’m unavailable.”
“Hey, I’m unavailable.” Dean smirked but didn’t respond and Sid shook his head at him. “I don’t know about this whole hanging out together thing anymore... You’re kinda stealing the little thunder I had.” He let out a loud laugh, turning back again to check out the woman where she sat with a group.
Dean smiled at him. Glancing in the same direction, he saw another woman turning her back to him and swiftly exiting the bar. She slipped out the door before Dean could even blink and he felt his entire body tense, his stomach clench in both anticipation and dread as he was assaulted with familiarity of the person... It couldn’t be, there was no way... what were the chances?
Dean moved too quickly, sweeping his arm across the table as he moved to bolt after the mystery woman but his arm slapped his beer instead, causing it to fly off the table and smash into the ground. Beer splashed everywhere and he heard Sid’s reaction but it got lost in the hazy white noise in his mind as he stared at the now empty door. He felt his heart racing, his limbs suddenly weak when Sid gripped his arm, shaking him slightly.
“Dean! Hey, Earth to Dean in there.”
“What?” Dean shook his head, looking around before glancing at the floor where a waitress was picking up pieces of his bottle, mopping up the spoiled beer with a threadbare rag. “Oh, crap, I’m sorry.”
The waitress offered him a thin smile before standing with her unwanted booty. Sid cocked his head. “Are you okay?”
Dean jerked to look at Sid, blinking rapidly and rubbing his face. “Wow, man, I’m sorry. I just... I thought I... saw somebody.”
Sid tuned to the door where nobody had been for the last minute and he frowned back at his new friend. “You look like you just saw a ghost.”
Dean let out a heavy breath as he said, “Yeah.”
“Well,” Sid said, nodding his thanks to the waitress when she came back to finish the job. She walked through Dean’s line of sight and Sid frowned when Dean moved to look around her. “Uh, you want to get another one?”
“What?” Dean finally turned to him and he furrowed his brow. “Oh, no. No, um... I’m gonna take off, actually.”
“What? We just got here.”
“Yeah, sorry. I gotta... go.” And with that, Dean grabbed his jacket from where he had it draped over his seat and left without another word. He didn’t feel Sid’s confused eyes following him from the bar as he shrugged the jacket on, shouldering the door open and stepping into the cold night air.
Dean immediately looked both ways up and down the street but he saw no one fitting the picture in his mind of the woman he had just seen. Dean shook his head at himself, turning in a slow circle, wondering what it was he had just seen... His breath fogged in front of him and he made a frustrated noise, running his hands through his hair. He knew what he had seen. He knew exactly what he had just seen.
How many thousands of memories walked through his brain like it was an amusement park? How many times could he pull from out of nowhere that exact walk, exactly what she looked like when she walked away from him, just like that woman had, in the years that Zachariah had force-fed his brain?
There was no rhyme, no reason, to the memories. It took just a simple thought or a simple action for his mind to unlock a memory that wasn’t his... but it was his, in a warped sense. It was 2014 Dean’s memories... although not anymore. But that didn’t mean they weren’t still alive and thriving in his mind, so vivid that if felt like someone slapped him in the face with a different reality with the snap of a finger. Just like watching that woman walk out the door.
Dean shook his head. Ever since Sam had... died, it had gotten worse. Ever since he hadn’t been able to find Buffy, it had gotten worse. He didn’t have anything to focus on, nothing to shift his emotions, his anger towards. He was left with the mush his brain had been turned into. Mush that made him constantly remember things that he didn’t remember doing but he knew he had done. Like the first time he called Buffy a whiny little bitch, the look he had received before she turned and walked out the door. A door in Bobby’s house...
But that hadn’t happened in this world. It would never happen. But damn it, it felt so real because it had been real to his future self...
It had to be her.
“Son of a bitch,” Dean said under his breath, turning once more, unsure if he should start walking, try to follow a path, see where it took him. But he had no idea where to start...
“Hey,” Sid said, sliding out next to him. Dean turned to stare at him, his mouth still gaped and Sid’s face immediately melted into a concerned look. “Whoa, man, you really don’t look so good. Are you okay?”
Dean pushed his face into his hands, instantly regretting it when the first thing he saw was Sam, standing before him, staring down at him and he popped his eyes back open. That little black hole that he fooled himself into thinking he had under control grew a little bigger and he swallowed down the lump in his throat.
“Yeah, man,” he said, his voice jagged. “I’m good.” Forcing a smile on his face, he slapped Sid’s shoulder before turning towards his truck. “Just a long day, that’s all...”
Holy water. Salt. Iron.
She leaned forward so she could see into the quickly emptying bowl of what was left of her holy water, sticking the eye dropper back in and sucking more of the liquid into it. Her face was empty as she stood back up, raising it to eye level and cocking her head.
“It’s amazing that your eyeballs don’t just melt or something,” she said mockingly, turning back to the slumped over man tied in the green metal chair. Chains and rope held him securely in place as he lolled his head to give his captor an amused smile.
“It’s amazing how stupid you hunters insist on being,” he drawled. “You know this is just a costume party, right?” He used his head to emphasize the body he wore, especially the large tire iron sticking out from his thigh, as he blinked his black eyes at her. “You’re just damaging the goods of poor Todd here.”
“Sucks to be Todd, I guess,” she drawled back, not blinking an eye as she entered the large devil’s trap, grabbing the man’s chin and forcing his head back with her elbow before prying one of his eyes open. She didn’t miss the streak of fear that coursed through the demon... It made her smile. “Now how about you start talking?”
A moment later, an unearthly scream echoed from the abandoned condos, reaching nobody’s ears.
“It goes... right here?”
Dean smirked, nodding in approval as he smiled at Ben. “Yeah. Good job.”
A delighted smile lit up the boy’s face as he leaned farther forward under the hood of the truck, his arm stretched to reach farther back. Dean watched him, shaking his head in amazement at how quickly Ben was picking this stuff up before wiping his hands on the oil-soaked rag in his hands.
“Boys, look alive,” Lisa said from inside the garage and they turned in tandem. She shot them a half-smile. “Dinner’s done.”
Ben hopped down from the overturned bucket he had been standing on to reach into the truck engine, already racing towards the door when Dean said loudly, “Whoa there, killer!”
Ben stopped in mid-step, paused as he looked back at Dean. Dean gestured to the engine. “This isn’t how you treat your baby, dude.”
“What?” Dean mocked, handing him a fistful of tools. “Go put those away.”
Ben shot him an impatient look before saying, “Okay,” and heading towards the tall-standing toolbox.
Dean shook his head before wiping down the area they had been working on and shutting the hood, wondering if maybe he was rubbing off on Ben in too many smart ass ways. He heard the toolbox shut and he yelled over his shoulder, “And wash your hands, you know your mom has a cow when you don’t,” as Ben’s quick feet took off towards the door leading into the house.
“Yeah,” Ben shouted back as he disappeared.
Wiping off the hood once more, Dean took a deep breath, looking up at the light sky. The sun was setting, casting an orange hue over the remaining clouds. Turning his eyes towards the sunset, Dean squinted against it, feeling an odd sense of peace for a split second before the bitter twist in his gut reminded him there was no such thing as peace. Then he remembered and then he thought about a different kind of orange hue... hellfire. Dean licked his lips, slapping the rag against his hand before turning towards the garage, feeling that oh so familiar hot pressure in his chest starting to ache.
Out the corner of his eye, he saw a glint from a passing car and without thinking, Dean turned to watch it. But it wasn’t just any car. Dean frowned at the backside of the Jeep as it turned onto the next street, its tires squealing slightly as it took the corner too fast. He didn’t catch a glimpse of the driver though and Dean stopped, staring at the spot where it had been...
No. No, it was his mind leaping to conclusions. Dean furrowed his brow before turning back to the garage, throwing the rag in the corner and shutting the door behind him.
Forests all smell the same at night. When the sun sets, when the creatures retreat for the night, when the predators come out...
She ran. She pushed herself harder, her eyes sharp as she watched her prey trying to escape. The long machete bounced painfully against the leg but she ignored it as she put on an extra burst of speed, ignoring the raging burn in her lungs, forcing herself to breathe evenly.
Using a rock as leverage, she vaulted herself through the air, tackling him to the ground with a loud crack. They fell unceremoniously, limbs lacing together as they both fought for dominance. The vampire slammed the back of his fist across her face, his knuckles impacting hard against her cheekbone but she didn’t pause. Swallowing the rush of blood from her cheek where she bit herself, she rolled with the blow, turning it around on him so she was suddenly straddling him on the ground.
In a blur, she had her machete out, pressed against the vampire’s neck as he growled up at her, the second set of teeth coming out to play. She smirked down at him, pressing down hard on the weapon where she started sawing away at his neck. The vampire suddenly stiffened, his grip losing strength.
“Dead man’s blood,” she said simply, eyeing the blade where she had let the corpse’s blood dry on there, before she spat the blood in her mouth into his face as she worked the blade and he hissed, her spittle leaking into his eye.
It always took longer to kill a vampire this way, sawing and hacking, struggling with them. But it felt better. Especially when the body suddenly went limp and the head rolled away from its body.
Dean pushed the cart down the grocery aisle, eyeing everything on the shelves with a critical eye. How was it possible that people could justify asking that much for some freaking spaghetti noodles? Really? He watched Lisa as she grabbed two packages of the more-expensive noodles as compared to the cheap ones below them. He made a face at her and she frowned back. “What?”
“You really buy these?” he asked, pointing at the package.
Lisa smirked. “I don’t see you complaining when I make your spaghetti and meatballs.”
Dean opened his mouth to respond before conceding. But he eyed the price. Maybe this is why he never went on these stupid shopping trips. “But really, $5.99 for that tiny box? $5.99?” He reached out, grabbing the thinner noodles in the thick plastic package, waving them in her face. “This is only $3.24.”
Lisa rolled her eyes before moving on, a small smile on her face. She heard Dean toss the package back on the shelf, grumbling to himself and she shook her head in amusement. Dean pushed the cart further down the aisle, wondering whatever had possessed him to come along today. Lisa had asked, he had said sure. It was almost like the domestic thread in his life was wrapping tighter and tighter… and he wasn’t doing a damn thing about it. Christ, maybe he was even actually enjoying it.
Dean turned to see Ben roaring down the aisle, his arms full with a mess of items. He watched with a smile when Lisa turned before rolling her eyes. “Ben, I said grab more mayo, not the entire candy aisle.”
“It’s only Twizzlers,” Ben responded, giving Dean a ‘seriously’ look to which Dean responded with a wink before depositing them in the cart. Lisa reached in and removed most of the packages and handed them back. “What? Mom, come on.”
“No, don’t try that on me, mister. Go put those back.”
“Oh, I don’t think so,” Dean said, stepping in and taking the candy from Lisa. They both looked up at him and he smiled. “This is poker food, baby.” Ben shot his mom a mocking smile and Dean pointed down at him. “Which means not Ben food.”
“What? That’s not fair.”
“Oh, yeah,” Dean drawled, putting the candy in the upper basket next to Lisa’s purse as he turned to push the cart again. “Life sucks.”
Ben scoffed. “It does suck.”
Dean turned to look at Ben over his shoulder, an eyebrow raised. Not even a few months ago, Dean would have let it slip that Ben didn’t even know how good he had it but he refrained. He was learning to refrain. Ben didn’t know what it was like growing up in motels, living out of old cans and moldy cereal boxes and being responsible for feeding your little brother while your dad disappeared for weeks on end… Dean frowned, pushing the memories away, before looking forward again and Lisa reached out, touching his arm. She offered him a tentative smile. “You okay?”
Dean stared at her for a split second too long, wondering what his face was giving away before he smiled at her and glanced at Ben. He chucked the kid in the shoulder when he saw the sullen look on his face. “Yeah. I’m fine.”
Lisa nodded at him before saying, “Okay. Good,” and turning back to her list. Dean smiled after her, watching Ben walk past both of them. He wasn’t sure what he should say, if he should say anything. He was getting better about saying the right things; at least he thought he was…
This whole faux-parenting thing? Kind of a kick in the ass.
An hour later, Dean pushed the cart through the parking lot, the crappy wheels jerking to and fro as he pushed it across the rough asphalt towards his truck. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Lisa and Ben standing in line at the little coffee cart inside the store. Lisa’s arm was wrapped around Ben’s shoulder as they talked and he frowned. He was worried. Like a freaking girl, he was worried that he had done it again - said the wrong thing, done the wrong thing or even worse not said anything at all. That was the hard one, not saying anything when he was supposed to say something. It happened or slipped out without his even realizing it and he didn’t know how to predict what kind response he would get to any of it.
Feeling gloomier than when they had arrived, Dean pulled the cart to an abrupt stop and started piling the bagged groceries in the bed of his truck. Tying them as he went so crap didn’t start flying out when they took off, Dean was leaning into it when a loud shot rang out into the air behind him, immediately echoing against the surrounding buildings.
“Holy!” Dean snapped, dropping to the ground in a low crouch, gripping the truck for leverage as he spun on his heels to look behind him. Breathing heavily, Dean’s eyes flew around the parking lot but there was nobody. There wasn’t anybody around, he realized but he didn’t care as he moved quickly. Reaching the driver’s side door, he jammed his keys in the lock before swinging it open, his hand already moving towards the holster he had hidden underneath his seat. The same insurance as the crap in the house. As his truck. As Lisa’s car.
He felt the cool reassuring metal touch his fingertips when he glanced out the windshield and everything froze as he stopped breathing. A waif of a woman with long blonde hair pulled back in a messy braid ran away from him. She ran like her, she moved like her. Her hair... her body... and was that a gun holster on her leg? There was no way… Dean’s jaw dropped as he leaned forward, squinting against the glaring sun when his chin slammed into the steering wheel.
“Damn it,” he said, feeling an icy fist gripping his heart as he whipped his head out of the cab, staring at the direction he had seen her running. What the hell, what the hell had that been? His lips were already forming her name and he was ready to move out and go running after her when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
Dean jumped, turning around wildly. Lisa stepped back when he glared at her, her brow furrowed. His eyes flew to Ben who stood behind her, his hands in the bag with the Twizzlers, staring at him before Dean forced himself to calm down, to stop, to think. He turned back to where he had seen the woman but there was no one now...
“What? What’s going on?” Lisa asked, following his eyes.
“Nothing,” Dean replied immediately, his voice gruff as a rush of memories swept through his body. Running... being chased by demons, by vampires. That woman loved her vampires...
“Nothing, it was nothing, sorry,” Dean said, shaking his head to refocus as he plastered a smile on his face. He swallowed roughly before gesturing towards the parking lot. “Thought I, uh...” Dean rubbed his hands together. “I just heard something, that’s all.”
“Yeah,” Lisa replied slowly. She stared at him. “That car backfiring?”
She turned her eyes to look at a rusted bucket of crap that was sitting on the side of the road across the street, somebody stuck under the hood while a young woman sat in the driver’s seat, looking frustrated as the guy under the hood yelled something at her. Dean frowned.
That sure as hell hadn’t been a backfire. Had it? Then what had she been doing here, had he just freaking imagined that crap? Like a... like an echo or something? Dean felt like his eyebrows were gluing themselves together as he forced himself to look back at Lisa and Ben. He smiled again.
“Yeah. Caught me off guard.” He ignored her look, knowing she was seeing right through the falsehood of his smile as he clapped his hands. “Why don’t you guys get in and I’ll finish, uh... loading.”
Lisa raised an eyebrow but Dean didn’t give her a chance, gesturing towards the truck. She shrugged slowly. “Okay.”
As they both got in, Dean turned back to the car, noticing the girl was turning the key but the engine wasn’t catching. He then glanced back at where he had seen someone running... the image of the woman running burned through his mind and he felt a chill fall down his spine... His gut was telling him that he had seen her. But how many times had he thought he’d seen her?
Dean clenched his jaw painfully. Screw that Zachariah douchebag for screwing with his head like this.
Moving quickly, Dean grabbed the rest of the bags, throwing them into the bed of the truck before pushing the cart off into the parking lot. He didn’t bother to watch and see if it caught anywhere, didn’t bother to see if it didn’t stop to hit another car or a person. He didn’t give two craps.
Climbing into the cab, Dean’s eyes were fastened to the sidewalk where he’d seen her running. His fingers burned slightly from the gun touching his fingertips as he turned the key, the truck coming to life. He heard Ben chattering in the backseat, Lisa responding as Dean slowly put the truck into gear.
He was losing his goddamn mind.
“You know what I like about witches?”
She licked her lips slowly, her eyes closed as she concentrated on stitching her wounds back together. What was normally a simple endeavor was quickly sapping all of her energy as she chanted inside her head. Of course, being strapped to a wall with iron chains for nine hours had that effect. She didn’t respond to the question.
“They’re human,” her captor continued, her voice rough and bleak, pacing in front of the wall where she was laid up. “They hurt. They suffer... They bleed.”
Amanda Churnise gagged as the hunter slipped her knife slowly into her gut, turning it ever so slightly, enough to make Amanda want to scream bloody murder as the metal inside her stomach entangled with her organs. To beg. Beg her to stop.
There was another thing about this witch that this woman knew. It took a long time to kill her. And apparently she had the time to ensure it happened.
“Know.” Her captor’s face was blank and pale when Amanda’s eyes fluttered open in agony. The long, jagged scar across her face made her look deranged. “I got that.”
“Nope, you already tried that.”
“I tried to find her, I swear. She’s-she’s not... in this realm. I tried.”
“Try harder,” the woman before her snapped, pulling the knife out of her gut swiftly. Amanda let out a small cry before clamping her mouth shut. She swallowed painfully, the continual chant in her mind not stopping. She could already feel her tissues mending inside her, the pain ebbing slightly but not enough to get rid of the cloud in her mind. She was losing a lot of blood. Too rapidly. “You know someone who can figure this out.”
“You know,” she mused. “Whoever invented that word probably had an idea that it would be used a lot when it comes to torture. I’ve been around the block, met quite a few people, heard that word many times... It only works if you have an answer for me.”
“Please,” Amanda whispered without thought, the pain coming back in sharp increments as her chant wavered.
Buffy Summers cocked her head, staring at the witch on the wall. Her limbs were spread out, her wrists and ankles shackled to hold her up. The chains were special, laced with a few hex bags, a few tricks she’d picked up. Perfect for containing a witch.
Another thing she liked about witches: they didn’t trust each other.
It looked painful. It looked uncomfortable. Buffy felt something inside her churning darkly as she raised her bloody knife, staring at it without expression.
“I’ve always wondered if there was a black market for witch blood.” Buffy’s eyes ticked back to her captive. “Guess today’s my lucky day.”
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