Death After Sorrow

It's Too Late For Him

Dean groaned through another wave of pain. His shoulders ached from carrying the weight of his body as he hung from chains thick enough to hold a car. Blood dripped down from his cuffed wrists, cutting a sticky swathe through the sweat on his bare torso. He could touch the ground, but his knees had long since given out.

He tried arching away from the next cut, but couldn't gain any ground to push against. It only resulted in stressing his strained shoulders more. Just what the hell was the old man doing to his back? He'd only been awake for about an hour, give or take ten minutes, but it felt like days. The constant burning of the mark on his chest had long since faded to the background.

"You wanna tell me what the hell you're doing?" he spat out.

"Preparing you for your journey. Don't you ever get tired of asking the same questions?" the old man repeated calmly.

"Sorry, I'm normally on the other end of this particular stick. We should switch. I'd be happy to prove how creative I can be."

The old man chuckled. "Lily will bring your brother soon. Then the scenery will change as I purge him."

"You lay one hand on him and you'll wish you'd killed me outright," Dean swore viciously.

"You know, I almost believe that."

Just then the door opened, and Dean groaned when he watched his brother walk in of his own free will, followed by the waitress. The bastard was even blindfolded. Yep, when they got out of this, he was gonna have to give his sibling some lessons on when it's appropriate to let a girl blindfold you, and when it wasn't. Lily whipped off the cloth.

The first thing Sam saw when he entered was his brother hanging from chains and cuffs from a hook in the ceiling. His shirts had been cut off, and the Mercury mark stood out prominently on his chest. His wrists were cut up and bleeding from struggling. While he wasn't high enough off the floor that he couldn't stand, his legs didn't seem capable of holding him up. Anger coursed through him.

"Jesus, Dean. Are you all right?" Sam asked, almost cursing himself the minute the words left his mouth. It was habit, and such a ridiculous one. If they found themselves in a situation where they had to ask that question, the answer was always an obvious 'no'.

"Been better, actually. She caught you on your way out of town, I take it," Dean replied caustically.

Sam winced. Okay, so Dean was still sore about their fight. He would deal with that later. First thing was first. "Professor Knight, you wanted to see me?"

The old man nodded. "I'm sorry, Sam. But you're disturbing what should stay at rest. This town needs me."

If he hadn't had a bloody knife in his hand, Sam would almost have believed the Professor truly regretted what he'd been doing. "I don't understand what that has to do with us."

Knight snorted. "I knew who you were the minute you got into town, or rather, what you were. Hunters. I should have known someone would show up sooner or later. At first I wasn't worried. You guys are a little clueless, and you seemed to be preoccupied. Unfortunately, Randy Holders is far from stupid. I knew with him as your information base, you'd figure it out."

"Actually, we were pretty lost until your gig in Rapid City," Dean pointed out helpfully, earning a glare from Sam.

"I do good work here. You're trying to ruin that. I have to purge you of your sins."

"What sins?" Dean inquired. "I mean besides lying, credit card fraud, hustling, lusting, impersonating important people, killing evil sons of bitches like you, stealing- really, the list goes on. You're going to have be more specific."

"Dean!" Sam hissed. Baiting the bad guy seemed to be a game his brother took great pride in. He was armed, of course, but Knight and his daughter were human. He couldn't simply kill them. Not to mention the fact that Dean was essentially helpless, and an easy target. He couldn't disable both before one of them killed his brother.

Lily sidled around to stand by her father, sticking her chin out proudly. "This is a good town. The people deserve to protect what they have. You don't have any right to come in here and mess with it."

Dean grunted as Knight flashed the knife again, making a final cut. "What the hell are you doing?" Sam demanded, understanding for the first time that the Prof had been carving up his brothers back.

"As I have already explained, preparing Dean for his journey. Unfortunately, he's not mine to purge, but I can hasten his entrance to hell."

Dean snorted. "Sorry, already got a one way ticket booked. But thanks for the offer."

Sam narrowed his eyes. Something wasn't right here. Lily and Knight seemed very blasé considering he was still running around loose. They had to know he was armed, too. So why pass him off as harmless?

As if reading his mind, Knight grinned. "I'm not afraid of you. You're Hunters. You can't kill humans. Whatever you think of my methods, I'm still human."

"Sammy, you waste this piece of shit, you hear me?" Dean growled.

But he couldn't, and he knew it. Dean knew it too. It had been bred into them. You don't hurt humans. The best he could do was buy time for his backup plan to come into effect.

"What did you mean by Dean's journey? Do you know what's happening to him?" Sam asked. Knight was now moving around the room, preparing for what he assumed was the cleansing ritual. He moved with a certainty and security that grated on Sam's nerves.

"The symbol of Mercury was only the first of several that would have appeared. Dad has provided the others. Your brother is strong, and he's fighting it, but even now, he can feel it trying to drag him under. Can't you?" Lily cooed, running a fingernail over the newly made marks on his back.

Sam glanced at Dean, surprised to see the admission in his eyes. "What does that mean?"

"Lily, honey, stop teasing them. It's not polite," Knight admonished kindly.

Sam whirled to face the older man. "Look, if you know what's happening to my brother, I want some answers! Right this second, I'm not exactly picky about how I get them," he snapped.

For the first time since Sam had entered the room, the retired professor looked momentarily nervous. But it was quickly replaced with that infuriating calm. "You won't. I'm human. You can't. I know the rules you boys play by."

Sam looked over at his brother. Dean's head was hanging low, and it was obvious from the short, shallow pants that he was fighting to hang on- and losing. It was moments like this that he needed his brother. These people were evil. Not so much because they had killed, but because they had enjoyed doing it. Dean would have been able to look at them and see them for the monsters they were with clear vision.

Knight, at the very least. Lily seemed to be just an accomplice. His instincts were telling him she was definitely stark raving mad, but not powerful. No, Daddy was the threat here. For a moment, Sam considered trying to just take him out, but dismissed it quickly. Lily might not be a powerful witch, but she was just buckets of crazy enough to run his brother through with the knife she was playing with.

Frustrated and feeling helpless, he turned back to the father daughter tag team. "Then stop what's happening to him. If you don't, I swear you won't make it out of this room alive," Sam hissed.

Having regained his faith in Sam's limits, Knight chuckled and shrugged. "I can't stop it. No one can, it's too late, gone too far. Look at him, Sam. He's lost the fight."

Sam moved closer to his brother, his heart breaking at the blank stare. "No, Dean," he whispered, moving his hands to cup Dean's face. "You can fight this."

Knight smiled kindly at him. "No, Sam, he can't. He set his own course in this. Though I had hoped he would be able to watch your cleansing."

Sam licked his lips. He just needed a few minutes more- he hoped. "Get him- Will you please take him down?" And how that had tasted bitter on his tongue.

Knight seemed to consider the request, even as Lily pouted. The old man gave him a penetrating stare, then nodded slowly. "He's no threat to us now. Lily, take the cuffs off."

"But Dad-"


The woman moved to do as she had been ordered, clearly not happy with it. Sam placed his arms around Dean's waist, ready for the sudden dead weight that fell against him. Moving slowly, he gently lowered his brother to the floor. He knew what staying in that position for any amount of time would do to tired muscles. He had hoped the pain would elicit a reaction, but there was none.

Knight nodded to himself, satisfied that he had rid the town of at least one of the young Hunters. Now it was time to move on to the next. Turning back to his preparations, he began without preamble.

"Ego defaeco vos of vestri malum," he chanted. Sam looked up, surprised. With his arms full of his brother, he was essentially helpless.

"Dea , succurro mihi accerso pacis ut is animus."

Sam shifted under the uncomfortable sensation that was beginning to run through him. Like a hyper sensitive pins and needles. "Wait!" he called out, but was ignored. He carefully settled his brother, and began to stand, but Knight's next words drove him back down to his knees with a cry.

"Suus cruor est immunda. Dea, purgo is, defaeco is, ex nostrum tersus animus."

His body was on fire. Sam groaned under the pain as every nerve in his body was activated, a hundred different sensations all rolling into one general sense of pain. The blood pumping through his veins seemed over heated, and his hands turned into fists, as if he could fight what was happening to his insides from the outside.

"Don't do this," he begged, his voice hoarse from the instant dryness that had appeared.

"Per is thymum, ego dico super vestri ops mihi servo bonus animus hic," Knight called out as he dropped the herb. It flared just as two things happened at once. Sam screamed, and Bobby burst through the door, his gun unerringly finding it's targets and swinging back and forth between the two people.

Waves of blackness rolled over Sam, and he found himself losing his fight to stay conscious. He screamed again as his blood boiled up and down his arms.

Bobby took in the scene in front of him. The older man seemed to be performing some kind of ritual, while the woman was advancing on him with a knife. Dean was lying on the floor, his eyes open, but blank, as he'd seen at the house. Sam was curled over his knees, forehead nearly touching the ground as he panted through whatever had forced that god awful scream from his throat. But there was no altar in sight, which meant that it was somewhere else in the house. The old man didn't seem to be overly concerned with his presence and continued to pray.

Lily, the waitress he remembered from the Pub, was advancing toward him with a large knife. She was moving slowly, though, so he turned his attention to the old man. "You've got five seconds to stop what you’re doing," he growled, aiming the gun at him. The old man just shook his head, making a small slice in his finger.

"Dea , recipero is vitualamen of meus putus cruor , ut is may purgo malum ex is somes."

Sam screamed again. Lily launched herself at Bobby, forcing him to drop his aim. He didn't have time for this, and tried to knock her out with a solid punch, but the bitch was fast for her size, and her own attack left claw marks on the back of his neck. Knight had his eyes closed as he made his blood offering to whichever Goddess he was praying to.

Nobody noticed that Dean was no longer lying on the floor, his brother's scream having penetrated that deep part of him that bid him to protect, at all costs. Above the noise of the fray, one sound rang out, clear as a bell. A snap that could only ever be associated with one thing.

Knight's body fell to the ground, and silence followed, broken only by the sound of Sam's wild pants. Bobby cursed for allowing himself to be distracted, but even as he returned to his assailant, she was already moving toward the old man. She was a vicious fighter, and he wasn't going to allow her a chance at a still defenseless Dean. As she turned, Bobby swung the butt of his gun, connecting with her temple. She dropped.

Dean had slid down the back wall, and was now sitting quietly, still with no real awareness as to what was going on, or even what he had done. He wouldn't be going anywhere, so Bobby turned his attention to Sam.


"'M okay," Sam mumbled into the floor, shaking slightly from the after effects of the spell. "Check on Dean."

"He's good for the moment. Can you sit up?" Without waiting for an answer, he helped the youngest Winchester sit up, noting the blood shot eyes and the twisted grimace of lingering pain. Still, his breathing was becoming even again, his shaking subsiding. "I need to find the altar," he pointed out, not exactly asking for permission to leave, but coming close.

Sam nodded. "Go."

Bobby whistled as he entered the attic of the house. The entire room had been converted into a powerhouse. Charms, herbs, artifacts, and bones hung from almost every inch of the ceiling. The walls were lined with books he was more than happy to add to his own collection. And there, in the center of the room, was the altar he had been looking for.

He considered carefully how to destroy it. Somehow, he didn't think just tipping it over would do the trick. This was old school stuff, and very powerful. Making his decision, he grabbed a cloth bag from one of the corners, and swept the altar's contents into it. Using his steel toe work boots, he made short work of the table itself, reducing it to pieces, just in case, and threw those in the bag as well. He would burn it when he got back to his place.

After throwing the bag in the trunk, he returned to the basement to find Sam sitting beside his brother, Lily still unconscious across the room. Her state wasn't stopping a death glare from Sam Bobby was intensely gratified had never been aimed at him.

"How is he?"

Sam looked up. "Knight did something to his back, marked him. He said it would quicken the process."

"What process?"

"I don't know. Every time I asked, all I got was some cryptic answer. Did you find the altar?"

Bobby nodded, frowning at the blood that was staining Sam's shirt, which he was just now noticing. "It's in the truck, I'll burn it when we get back to the yard. Are you hurt?"

Sam looked down to where Bobby was pointing, and shook his head. "It's Deans."

And that was all he needed to hear. Moving over to the waitress, he fished smelling salts from his pocket and brought her around. Lily's eyes widened in terror as she looked up at a very, very pissed off grizzled Hunter. "My father-"

"Is dead, and deserves to be," Bobby answered curtly.

Lily shook her head in denial. "You're Hunters, you can't kill humans."

"Lady, you messed with the wrong Hunters. What did your father do to Dean?" Bobby demanded. He wasn't ready to face what Dean had done just yet. There would be time for that later.

Lily glared at him. Her father was dead, the only real protection this town had ever had. She wasn't smart enough to take up the Art for him, and she suspected these Hunters had already ransacked his altar room. There was nothing left for her. She decided then and there that she would take from them what they had taken from her. She smiled cruelly.

"Nothing he hadn't already done to himself. He's trapped in a world of his own making."

"You wanna be a bit more specific?" Bobby growled, knowing even as he asked that it was useless.

Lily continued to smile. "You have no idea the horrors he's going to suffer, alone, and in the dark. There's nothing you or anyone else can do about it."

Bobby glanced over at Sam. The young man was listening with half an ear, but most of his attention was on his brother. He had faith that the older, more experienced Hunter would take care of things, somehow find a way to fix all this. Or maybe he was just in a little bit of shock. Dean's actions had to have affected him, as well.

Closing his eyes, Bobby felt himself drowning with the realization that they had royally screwed this one up, and Dean would pay the price.

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