“This your first time hunting demons?”
Tracy glanced at the younger girl sitting her truck’s passenger seat. She and Krissy had met a few times before, passed e-mails back and forth, but this was their first hunt together. “Not even close. You?”
Krissy nodded. “First time with demons, yeah. I’m better with vampires and your run-of-the-mill monsters.”
“Yeah, I heard about the rougaru out west - that was you and Josephine, right?”
Krissy flashed a grin. “Yep! Jo called it her ‘graduation celebration.’”
Tracy snorted, her lips quirking up in laughter. “Oh, she would.”
The truck rounded a corner, approaching an abandoned building, and Tracy asked, “This the place?”
Krissy glanced around. “Crossing of 5th and Granville, that’s our stop. They picked an abandoned building? Really?”
“Demons aren’t always the brightest. Come on, let’s gear up.”
Sam’s gaze flicked to the windows of the cars beside him as he walked down the sidewalk. Every so often there was a flash of blonde, quickly hidden. He turned a corner and promptly ducked into an alleyway, waiting in the shadows.
There was a clash of metal and a soft grunt, and Sam had a teenage blonde pinned his hold, his knife at her throat, her own twisted to point at her gut. “Gotta get your reaction time up, Claire.”
Sam held Claire a moment more and then let her go, crossing his arms and frowning. “What are you doing here, Claire?”
Claire squared her shoulder, a mutinous glint in her eyes. She replied coolly, “I was just checking out leads on a hunt. What are you doing here?”
Sam quirked an eyebrow. “Without backup and your pretty blonde hair flashing in every car window beside me for ten blocks?”
Claire winced. “Sam…”
“I’m not incompetent, Sam!”
“Claire, you let me get the jump on you, there’s no way I’m letting you near Dean and what’s probably a horde of demons.”
Claire scowled. “I’m here, Sam. And as good a hunter as you are, you can’t take on all that by yourself, either, not without -“
Claire cut herself off abruptly, and Sam’s other eyebrow rose. “Not without…?”
Claire exhaled slowly. “Not without risking something you shouldn’t.”
Okay, so he wasn’t exactly subtle about the lengths he would go to for Dean.
“I’m here, Sam, and I’m going to do my job.”
“Your job is being a high school student.”
“You gonna stand here arguing with me, or let me help? Because I’m heading to the epicenter of those omens with or without you.”
Sam bit back a groan. Teenagers. He had not been this much of a terror at the same age. “You stay behind me, you keep alert, and you do exactly what I say, understand? And if I tell you to run, you get the Hell of out dodge.”
Claire pursed her lips at the last statement, but nodded.
“Alright. Then let’s get to the crossing of 5th and Granville.”
Sam frowned as he spotted a truck outside the abandoned building he and Claire were scoping out. He knew he’d seen it before.
“Claire, do you have Tracy Bell’s number?”
Claire pulled out her phone. “Uhh… yeah.”
“Call her. Now.”
Claire frowned, but did as told. “Hey, Tracy?”
<<Little busy here, Claire.>>
Sam gestured for the phone, and Claire passed it to him. “Tracy, tell me you’re not in a building off the intersection of 5th Street and Granville Avenue.”
<<How the fuck do you know that, Winchester?!>>
“Tracy, you need to get out of there, you have no idea what you’re dealing with!”
<<Kris - Shit, too late->>
Sam’s eyes widened. “Krissy?”
There was no answer.
Sam bit back a curse and handed the phone back to Claire. “You stocked up on Devil’s Trap bullets?”
Claire nodded, pulling out her gun. “Full clip, and extras.”
Sam gripped Ruby’s knife. “Let’s go.”
Tracy rammed her elbow into a demon’s temple as she heard the hiss and scream of another being doused with holy water. “How many of these freaks are there?!”
“I count seven,” Krissy replied, ducking and shifting her grip on the knife in her other hand.
A gunshot rang out and the demon on Tracy’s left jerked and froze in place. “The fuck? I can’t move-“
“Exorcizamus te, omnis imundus spiritus -“
Another demon snarled and leaped towards Claire, but Sam was there, stabbing it in the chest, pulling the demon-killing knife free in a glow of red and orange.
“Omnis satanica potestas -“
The demons went wild, trying to stop Claire’s exorcism, and more poured into the room.
“This isn’t seven, Krissy!”
Krissy was about to respond when Sam tugged her to the left, his knife slashing at the demon coming up on her side.
“Oh, I have got to get me one of those.”
“How about you get out of here alive, first,” Sam grunted, constantly in motion, keeping an eye on the girls and tracking the number of demons. The building was crawling with them, but the omens hadn’t suggested such a large number. Dean was probably suppressing their effects somehow.
Claire was cut off with a cry as she was slammed into the wall, breaking off her exorcism mid-word. Her gun clattered to the ground, and a demon kicked it away with a sneer. “What are you going to do now, bitch?”
“Claire, get down!”
Claire ducked as Sam’s knife flew over her head, landing in the demon’s chest and lighting it up red and orange. She wrenched the demon-killing knife free and came up swinging, slicing the throat of another demon.
“That, mostly,” Claire huffed.
A quick glance around the room showed Sam grappling with two demons, while Tracy and Krissy fought back to back. There shouldn’t have been this many demons here. Even with Sam around, the hunters were screwed.
Suddenly, a wave of power blasted through the room, knocking everyone off their feet.
“Holy crap -“
“Anyone get the number of that semi?”
Sam groaned along with the girls as the room spun around him as he scrambled to get back to his feet. The last time he’d felt that - but it couldn’t be -
“Shit, where is it?” Claire muttered, scrabbling for something on the ground.
“Looking for this?”
Claire shot to her feet and the hunters turned at the familiar voice, freezing in place. Dean Winchester stood at the doorway, twirling the knife, his eyes black as coal.
Sam was the first to break the silence. “Dean.”
Dean smirked. “Hey, Sammy.”
“Get out of him,” Krissy hissed furiously, “Regna terrae, cantate deo-“
“Oh please,” Dean drawled, waving his hand lazily and cutting off Krissy’s voice, “Like that’s going to work on me.”
“He’s right,” Claire said tightly, subtly scanning the room for exit routes, “Dean’s not possessed by a demon, he is one.”
“Clever girl,” Dean said with a grin.
“I learned from the best,” Claire spat back.
“Claire,” Sam warned, his mind racing. There were too many demons around, and Dean knew about his recorded exorcisms. If he could get to the knife, he stood a fighting chance, though he’d most likely have to tap into things he’d rather not remember.
But for Claire, for Dean, he would.
Dean waved his hand again, and another wave of power sent them all crashing back to their knees. “Bind them and get them ready for the ritual,” Dean ordered, and the demons around him nodded.
Sam mentally cursed, his gaze fixed on the cruel shade of his brother, as the girls struggled behind him.
This was going to be Hell.
The demons dragged them to another room, one with runes and an extensive spell lattice etched into the floor. They were shoved roughly onto their knees, demons binding their wrists and ankles behind them. Claire’s face was white with tension, and Tracy was swearing under her breath in what Sam was pretty sure was Spanish.
Krissy was trying to get through to Dean. “Dean, come on, this isn’t you, I know you’re in there somewhere -“
Dean’s eyes shifted back to their normal green, and he smiled ruefully. “Sorry, kiddo, just me in here.”
Krissy shook her head. “No - the Dean I know would never do this - become this!”
Dean’s face twisted in a snarl, and he reached into his jacket. Sam saw a flash of bone and moved, wrenching away from the demons trying to tie him down, and yanked Krissy behind him, raising his other arm to ward off his brother. “Dean, no!”
Dean stilled, the First Blade half-drawn, and Sam swallowed. “Don’t do something you’ll regret.”
Dean smirked, pulling out his weapon, and twirling it in his hand. Sam’s gaze tracked the Blade’s movement. Dean slashed the Blade towards Sam, stopping short of Sam’s head and grinning at his brother’s flinch. “Aw, relax, Sammy, I’m just messing around.”
Dean tapped the Blade against Sam’s cheek, drawing it across his lips and grinning further at Sam’s hitched breath. He drew back, tossing the Blade between his hands uncaringly.
Sam was so focused on watching the Blade that he missed the vicious kick that sent him sprawling with at least two cracked ribs.
Dean’s boot came down on his head, keeping him prone, and Sam struggled to breathe. “Here’s the thing, little brother - demons don’t really do regret. Kinda the whole point of us being demons.”
“Get off him, you monster!” Claire shrieked.
“Shut her up,” Dean ordered, and Sam renewed his struggles as Claire’s cries were muffled.
“De’n - let’r -go -“
“Wait your turn, Sammy,” Dean admonished, grinding his sole into Sam’s ear and cheek, “You know, you should be grateful, I could be forcing you to lick my boots right now. But I’m not like them, don’t worry.”
Sam’s blood froze in his veins, and there was a rush of static in his ears. Oh God, Lucifer and Michael - how had Dean known - his soulless self. Right. He’d mentioned it to Dean offhand back when he was running around without a soul, unable to feel rage or shame or humiliation over the things he’d been forced to do.
When his head cleared, Dean was still talking. “- Just be a good boy, and don’t make me do something I’ll regret. And you - get him bound properly, or the next blood on this Blade will be yours.”
Sam winced as he was dragged back up to his knees, rope pinning his wrists and ankles behind him tightly. He glanced over at the girls; Tracy was glaring at Dean, her expression stony, while Krissy and Claire were staring at him, white-faced and terrified.
“It’s going to be okay,” Sam said lowly, “We’re going to get out of this. Don’t antagonize him.”
Claire clenched her jaw, while Krissy nodded hesitantly and Tracy looked at him sidelong.
Dean paced in front of them, unloading one of the bullets from Claire’s gun into his hands. “Devil’s Trap bullets, nice. You learn that from Sammy?”
Claire spat in his face in response.
Dean wiped the spittle from his face, looking at it for a moment, and then slammed the gun across her face.
Dean ignored Sam and crouched down in front of Claire, grabbing her chin, fingers digging in, and forced her to look at him. “You try that again, little girl, and I’ll put a bullet in you, capice?”
“Dean, enough, leave her alone - she’s just a kid!”
Dean cocked the gun and pointed it at Sam’s head without turning towards him. He stared down at Claire. “Now, you gonna apologize, or what?”
Claire swallowed, glancing at Sam. “I - I’m sorry,” she whispered.
Dean smiled and stood up, stepping back. “There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? A little manners can go a long way, you know?”
Sam resisted the urge to point out that Dean wouldn’t know manners if they punched him in the face. He might have gotten away with it a few years ago - well, maybe more than a few - but not now. Not with this caricature of everything dark in his brother.
“What do you want, Dean?” Sam snapped, drawing Dean’s attention back to himself, “You could have just killed us out there, fed that damn Blade of yours some blood, and gone on your merry way. But instead you dragged us here. You need us for something, don’t you.”
Dean snorted. “Always the clever one, aren’t you, college boy?”
He strode to the center of the spell lattice, standing by two poles in the center with ropes hanging off them. “You know, the thing about being a demon is that you learn a ton about spells. Some really… disgusting spells. I mean, this stuff is nasty, y’know? Eyeballs, tongues, kidneys, you name it. But blood - blood’s where it gets interesting.”
Sam mentally thanked a God he no longer believed in that Dean had picked up Crowley’s penchant for monologuing and stretched his fingers to scratch at his heel, twisting his wrists to cover the motion. He repeated it a few times, until a demon yanked on his hair and growled, “Knock it off, Winchester.”
“Something you want to share with the class, Sam?” Dean snapped.
Sam smiled acidly. “No, please continue explaining the seven uses of human blood, Professor.”
He kept his fingers at his heel as Dean’s expression twisted in fury and a psychic blast sent him crashing back to the ground. He heard Claire’s sharp intake of breath and forced himself to focus past the ringing between his ears, blinking until he could see Claire’s determined expression clearly.
Good. She was focused on something besides her fear and chaotic emotions. Now he just had to figure out a way to get them out of here.
“Bring her,” Dean ordered, pointing at Tracy.
“No, Dean -“
“Let me go, you son of a bitch!”
Tracy snarled and struggled as she was dragged into the center of the room. “I’m gonna kill you for this!”
Dean scoffed. “Sure, sweetheart, you go right ahead and do that. Or didn’t Sammy tell you?” Dean waved the First Blade in Tracy’s face as the demons held her in place in front of him. “This Blade here makes me pretty much immortal.”
“Strip her,” Dean ordered, and Tracy’s eyes widened as she renewed her struggles.
“Fuck you, you sick freak!”
“Dean, no!” Sam shouted, “Dean, Dean, listen to me - leave her alone. Please, Dean -“
Dean held up a hand, stopping the other demons, and looked at Sam irritatedly, “What, Sam?”
“You don’t have to do this,” Sam replied, making his expression as pleading as he could. Dean was long past the stage where his notorious puppy eyes would work on him, but if he could make him think Sam still thought he had a chance of reaching, make him think Sam was too emotional, easy to break - then he had an in. “Please, Dean. If it’s blood you want - I’m twice her body mass, I have more blood volume - you don’t have to do this. Just let her go.”
Sam could see Tracy staring at him with wide eyes, but his gaze was focused on Dean. He was begging on his knees, already roughed up, what more would it take -
Dean smirked. “You gonna make me a better offer, Sammy?”
Like a fly to honey.
Sam swallowed. “Your spell lattice needs blood of the tortured, and my blood - you know it’s stronger. After everything…”
Dean’s eyebrows rose slightly, as if waiting for Sam to continue. There was malice and mockery in his eyes and Sam felt horror and fear churning in his gut. He hadn’t done this in a long time, pretending to break under torture while not breaking and planning his retaliation instead. Michael fell for it more often than Lucifer did, and Dean - Dean was more like Michael than any of them wanted to admit.
“Please,” Sam begged. He knew this game, he’d played it so many times before. “Use me. Hurt me.”
Dean looked delighted.
Please, Lucifer, take me, not Adam.
Pain lanced through Sam’s scalp as a demon dragged him up by his hair and Sam prayed he hadn’t said the last part out loud. Michael hated nothing more than when Sam was too overwhelmed to differentiate him from his brother.
“Oh, little brother,” Dean purred, “Be careful what you wish for.”
Sam clenched his jaw as demons hauled him in front of Dean, and tried to shoot Tracy a reassuring look as she was manhandled back to the other girls.
“Lose the jacket.”
Sam’s fists clenched as the rope tying his wrists together was removed. Now was an ideal time to make a break for it, and he might have considered it if it was just him. Instead, he let them pull off his jacket and stared up at his brother defiantly, keeping the girls at the corner of his field of vision. Dean gestured at the demons and they hauled him up to his feet. Dean hummed and tapped the First Blade against his collarbone and dragged the tip down, slicing easily through his shirt and undershirt, stinging the skin beneath.
Sam grit his teeth and stared fixedly at a point above Dean’s ear. He’d figured this was how things would go when he heard the order to strip Tracy, but he’d thought - what? That Dean would spare him because he was his brother?
He wasn’t Dean’s brother right now. He was his prey.
Dean chuckled as he saw Sam’s stomach muscles flutter and tighten when his reached the waistband of his jeans. “String him up.”
Sam couldn’t suppress his faint exhale of relief.
“Don’t worry, little brother, I’ll let you keep your modesty… for now.” Dean patted Sam down as the demons tied Sam’s wrists to the top of the poles, checking for weapons, and knelt down at Sam’s feet.
“Relax, boys,” Dean said lazily to the demons, one hand on Sam’s knee, “Sammy’s not going to kick me. Are you, Sammy?”
Sam didn’t respond, glaring down stonily.
Dean dug his fingers under Sam’s kneecap, snarling, “Are you, Sammy.”
“No,” Sam gasped out, “No, I’m not, Dean.”
Dean smirked and patted the side of Sam’s leg. “Good boy.”
He pulled off Sam’s shoes and socks, taking away the knives Sam had strapped to his ankles. He tied Sam’s ankles to the poles to he was spread-eagled between them and stepped back to admire his handiwork. “Now, the fun can begin.”
Dean lashed out lightning fast with the Blade and Sam choked down on a cry as a gash opened up across his abdomen. “So eager to bleed, Sam?”
Sam clawed that the ropes holding his arms and refused to answer.
Dean slid the Blade into Sam’s shoulder, and Jesus Christ, it hurt like a bitch, but he’d had worse, he’d had so much worse, so he grit his teeth and forced himself to breathe through the pain. Dean slid the Blade free and watched Sam’s blood run down in rivulets and drip down onto the floor. He nodded, satisfied, and moved the Blade to Sam’s arm, tracing along a blood vessel.
“You know, you’re going to scream, Sam,” Dean said, turning to set the Blade down on a cart one of the demons had brought in. He picked up a whip and looked it over. “You might as well save us both the trouble and start now.”
Sam snorted. “You really think your measly ten years of experience is going to do anything to me that hasn’t already been done?”
Dean snapped the whip across Sam’s chest in response.
Sam bucked against his restraints, biting into his lip as his face creased in pain and fire raced across his chest. His breath huffed in and out in labored pants as he will himself to think past the pain. When he finally looked down, a thick red welt spanned his torso, crossing over the gash already bleed over his stomach, smearing the blood across his skin. He clenched his fists and looked up at Dean, lips curving up mockingly.
“That all you got, Dean?”
Dean snorted. “I gotta say, Sam, I expected you to have more appreciation for the finer things. I could draw this out, make you scream for hours before I bled you dry.”
“You want some music?” Sam sneered, “Maybe get some popcorn for your buddies, make a real show of it?”
Sam’s head snapped to the side as Dean punched him.
“You know, I’ve always hated that mouth on you,” Dean said conversationally, as Sam probed his lip with his tongue, checking for a split, “There’s really only one thing it’s good for.”
“I told you, fuck off.”
This time, the whip struck Sam’s face.
Sam grunted, trying not to make a face. His entire face felt like it was burning, sending static rushing through his brain and whiting out his vision. Dean’s aim was beyond excellent, though, and when Sam’s vision cleared, he realized Dean had intentionally avoided his eyes.
Dean wanted to see the fight drain out of him, he got off on it.
Lucifer always had.
For a moment, there was no sound besides Sam’s labored breathing, and faint, aborted noises from Claire. Sam swore internally. He’d forgotten that watching torture was could be as traumatic as living through it. If Claire couldn’t make it…
Sam slowed his breathing and forced himself to relax. It didn’t matter. If Claire was too distraught, Sam would find another way. Plan A, Plan B, Plan C… All that mattered was getting the girls out alive. Dean struck out again, lashing the whip over the gash across Sam’s stomach again and driving the pain deeper. Sam grunted and retreated into himself, focusing on controlling his breathing and not screaming. This was nothing. He’d withstood worse.
Protect the girls.
Protect Ad - protect the girls. Stay in the present. Fuck, if he was already slipping, they were all screwed.
He could do this.
Sam was violently pulled out of his thoughts when a bright flash of pain seared through his neck and robbed him of the ability to breathe.
Dean tugged on the whip coiled around Sam’s throat and snarled, “I said scream, bitch!”
Sam gasped for air, his hands instinctive twisting in their restraints to try and ease the pressure on his throat. “De-“
Dean pulled on the whip and listened to Sam choke as he stepped closer. “Or I’m gonna start cutting up those little girls you’re so desperate to protect.”
Sam’s eyes widened and he started shaking his head, vision starting to white out from the pain. “Ple - s - De’n -“
“Got something to say, Sammy?”
Sam gasped for air and looked down frantically. Dean rolled his eyes and yanked the whip free, drawing a pained cry from Sam.
“Please,” Sam rasped, eyes watering, “Don’t hurt them. I’ll do it - I’ll scream. Whatever you want.”
Dean smirked and walked around Sam, slapping the whip lightly against his palm.
When the whip tore across his back, drawing blood, Sam screamed.
Claire’s eyes blurred and burned as she swallowed convulsively around the sob building in her throat. She could barely stop the keening wail that was rising in its place, pressing against her sinuses and making it hard to breathe. She’d known this would be dangerous, she’d expected to get bruised or cut up, but this -
Not Sam. She’d never in her worst nightmares expected to see Sam strung up and screaming, his blood dripping down to feed a spell on the floor. She’d seen him take out a nest of vampires by himself and come out with nothing more than bruises. Sam was strong, Sam was a force of nature when he wanted to be, Sam was unshakable and enduring like a mountain, Sam was -
Sam was -
Sam screamed again and Claire’s thoughts skittered away. For a moment there was nothing but the sound of Sam’s strained breathing and his blood hitting the floor and the soft thud of Dean’s boots on the ground as he walked around Sam, looking him over.
Claire picked at the heel of her boot slowly, feeling for the edge of tape partway along it. Everyone and their mother had told her how impractical high-heeled boots were, how they would ruin her spine and the arch of her foot and something something something, but Claire liked her black boots, liked being a few inches taller, liked the way they looked and made her feel in control.
She especially liked how the heels were hollow and large enough to store a small switchblade in one and spare silver bullets in the other. The boys had looked at her askance when she had spent an afternoon carefully carving out a flap in her heel and making a latch and hinge with black duct tape, but Sam had looked at her like she was curing the common cold.
It had taken her an embarrassingly long time to get over her fear and notice Sam’s reminder as he scratched his heel, even when Dean blasted him to the ground. Of course Sam would remember her hidden switchblade, even when she didn’t. Sam was constantly planning - even now, when all she could hear were his screams, it was an act, a plan to keep Dean distracted and lower his guard while she and Tracy and Krissy worked to free themselves.
But, oh, God did it hurt.
Claire kept her hand cupped over the heel of her boot, slowly sliding the small blade into her hand. Sam screamed again and Claire dropped her head onto Krissy’s shoulder, her eyes shut tight and shoulders trembling.
Oh God, she couldn’t do this.
She had to do this.
Krissy pressed her cheek against Claire’s head. “It’s going to be okay, Claire,” she murmured softly, “We’re going to get out of here.”
“Krissy, don’t react,” Claire whispered, her voice steady, “I have a hidden switchblade.”
Krissy nodded her cheek against Claire’s head, as if trying to comfort her.
“Try not to respond un - unless Sam’s screaming,” Claire continued, “Use it as cover.”
Claire fell silent as Dean paused in his work. When Sam screamed again, she continued, “Work on getting your ankles free if you can, I’ll pass my switchblade over to you when I’m done. See if you can get Tracy closer to us.”
Claire sniffed and pulled away from Krissy, carefully sliding her switchblade open. Krissy looked at her, brow furrowed. “You alright?”
Claire nodded and smiled tremulously. “I - I will be.”
It was time to get to work.
Sam’s chest heaved with every breath and sweat slid into his cuts, stinging and mingling with his blood. His hair was plastered to his neck and forehead and his wrists ached from the strain of his own weight and chafing from the ropes.
This was harder than he remembered. He was out of practice.
With Lucifer, it was a game, hold out as long as possible, taunt and goad to get a different punishment, to get something lighter and keep holding on.
Michael just liked to hear him scream, to hear him beg. Michael wanted him to know how unworthy he was, so unworthy so much lesser than the dirt beneath his feet undeserving of mercy of even the merest thought -
With Michael he could endure, he could plan, because Michael had no patience for mind games. With Lucifer it was cat and mouse, trying to win and failing, failing, always failing -
Maybe Dean was more like Lucifer than he thought.
The whip struck again, searing a line from the back of his neck down across his shoulder, and Sam jerked in his restraints, crying out. It hadn’t broken skin, and the bruising was going to be spectacular, but he had to put on a show.
And pray that Dean would be satisfied.
Michael never was.
Lucifer thought it was amusing.
He really needed to stop thinking about those two, thinking about the Cage, and the way Michel burned hot while Lucifer burned cold. His skin was on fire and his bones were cold - No. He had to stay focused, stay in the present, protect the girls. Make sure Dean was focused on him, entertained by him, so that he’d leave the girls alone.
A few years of respite in the Cage wouldn’t have dulled his abilities, but apparently a few years topside would. Pathetic.
Sam twisted his hands against the rope as Dean struck him again, keeping his expression pained. It wasn’t hard; the harder part was maintaining focus. The chafing stung like a bitch, but he really needed to break skin, needed to get enough blood on his fingertips for a sigil without alerting Dean to his plan.
“Enough with the chit-chat,” one of the demons snapped, and Sam and Dean turned at the sound.
A demon in a female vessel was yanking on Krissy and Tracy’s hair, pulling them away from each other.
“Stop it!” Claire cried.
“Shut up,” the demon shot back.
“What’s going on?” Dean asked.
“Just making sure they don’t get any ideas, sir.”
Claire hunched over, a sob breaking free, and Sam clenched his fists.
“Jesus Christ, we were trying to calm down Claire,” Tracy cried, “Let go of my fucking hair, bitch!”
Dean snorted, and Sam tugged on his restraints, as if trying to break free. “Dean, please, they’re just kids.”
Dean turned back to Sam, one eyebrow raised. “What, you think just because they’re young, I’m going to let them huddle together and plan a way out? You think I’m that stupid?”
Sam swallowed. “I don’t think you’re stupid, Dean, I never have. But they’re not like us, they weren’t raised in the life. Just - just let them be - please, just give them this.”
Please, please, please, please, beg until your throat bleeds and beg some more, that’s the game
Dean quirked an eyebrow, idly slapping the whip against his hand and smearing Sam’s blood across his palm. “Yeah? And what’ll you give me in return?”
Sam’s thoughts raced. He had an in, he just needed to figure out how to use it. He turned his head to the cart with Dean’s tools, and looked it over. There were knives, scalpels, needles -
Of course Lucifer would have taught Alistair that, and of course Alistair would have passed on the knowledge to Dean.
Oh God. He couldn’t - he had to.
The room around him flickered for the briefest instant.
He had to. For Claire, for Krissy, for Tracy, for Adam.
“The knife,” Sam rasped, “You need more blood for the spell. And the needles - there are certain nerve clusters -“
Sam swallowed convulsively, unable to get the words out. He hated it, hated the way Lucifer was able to turn his own body, his own nerves against him. So many tortures in the Cage, his flesh torn from his skin, his blood boiled, and his bones ground to dust - and this was still one of the things he hated the most.
Dean’s lips curved up. “Oh, they broke you good, didn’t they, Sam.”
Sam just closed his eyes.
Dean waved dismissively. “Let the girls cuddle, they’re going to be dead soon, anyway.”
Sam’s eyes snapped open, his wrists twisting in his restraints. “Dean!”
Dean smirked, and when he drove a needle into Sam’s elbow, Sam’s scream wasn’t faked at all.
“Claire, Claire, it’s going to be okay,” Krissy whispered, “Come on, Claire.”
What had started as fake crying had devolved in full-blown, nigh-inconsolable sobbing. “I can’t - I can’t - ohgod I can’t do this -“
“Claire - Claire,” Tracy hissed, pressing into Claire’s side. “Hey, hey! Listen to me. You’re the one with the plan, kiddo, you got us this far. Come on, you can’t quit now.”
Claire shook her head, tears streaming down her cheeks. “How can I - he’s screaming, I can’t - Sam -“
“You’re doing this for Sam,” Tracy pressed, “If we get free, we can get him out, alright?”
Sam’s screams rose his pitch as he twisted, his neck muscles straining and blood dripping down from fresh cuts that Dean had made. Dean pressed another needle into Sam’s elbow, the smirk on his face never wavering.
“Stop it!” Claire shrieked, “Leave him alone, you monster, he’s your brother!”
“You worried about your Daddy, little girl?” Dean mocked. “Wait, no, your Daddy’s dead, isn’t he. And you’re clinging to the first guy that comes along to replace him.”
“Fuck you,” Claire spat furiously, “Don’t you dare talk about him!”
“Claire,” Sam rasped weakly, eyes hazy with pain, “Don’t…”
Don’t antagonize him. Stay quiet, stay in the shadows, you’ll survive longer.
But Claire had never been tortured, she didn’t know the rules.
Did those words even have meaning anymore?
“You know, I really love hearing you beg, Sammy, after everything you’ve put me through.”
Sam lowered his gaze, watching his blood drip to the floor. “I’m sorry.”
Dean scoffed. “Yeah, you always are. You made me this, Sam.”
“No!” Claire shrieked, “You turned yourself into a demon because of your own stupid fucking choices!”
Krissy and Tracy exchanged glances over Claire’s head. This was rapidly shifting from ‘comfort Claire to get her focused’ to ‘hold Claire back so she doesn’t get killed.’
“Oh, you wanna talk about ‘stupid fucking choices?’ Sammy here’s the top of the class in that, aren’t you, Sam?”
Sam looked back up at Dean, his expression heartbroken. Oh no. Dean couldn’t be asking him to do this, not in front of Claire, not in front of Tracy, who had already lost so much because of him.
“Please… Don’t make me do this…”
Dean stepped back, looking between Sam and the girls, before his eyes lit up with cruelty. “You know what? Maybe it’s time for an object lesson instead.”
Dread coiled in Sam’s gut. Dean pressed his knife against his palm and slashed downward.
Please, God, no.
Dean’s blood welled up and Sam could feel the itch in his veins, the familiar taste at the back of his throat. Unlike when God had rescued him after he released Lucifer, Castiel hadn’t brought back his body back from the Cage addiction-free. He tried to gather his frayed self-control, tried to keep the want from showing on his face.
Control. Focus on the times Lucifer made him choke on his blood, instead of the heady lust and power that came with Ruby and demon blood.
… Okay, as far as coping mechanisms went, that was pretty terrible, but at least fear was preferable to need right now.
“What do you say, Sammy?”
“Go to Hell,” Sam spat.
Dean chuckled, “Already been, for your sorry ass, remember?”
Sam clenched his fists and grit his teeth.
“Guess you still have some fire in you,” Dean mused. “What do you think, should I follow Yellow-Eyes’ lead, give the girls a few drops?”
Sam’s eyes widened in shock. He couldn’t be thinking… “Dean -“
Dean walked over to Claire, grinning when all three girls shifted back from him. “Open wide, sweetheart, you can be just like Daddy.”
Claire reared further back from Dean, her grip tight on her switchblade, and stared up at him with fear and disgust.
Dean stretched out his bleeding hand, making a fist, and Sam screamed. “Dean, wait!”
Dean turned back to Sam expectantly, and Sam felt his eyes burn as he said, “Give it to me.”
“Give what to you?”
Sam’s expression crumpled, pain in every line of his face, and he felt his tears break free and roll down his cheeks. “The blood. Give it to me. I…” He swallowed convulsively, struggling to force out the damning words. “I want it.”
Dean leered in victory and turned back to Sam, baring his palm. “You want me to feed you demon blood, Sam?”
Sam gave a weak, desperate laugh. “Yeah. I want it. I always do - you know me, your fuck-up junkie little brother.”
Sam could feel the tears continue to roll down his cheeks, and his focus start to slip. He blinked and Dean stood in front him, hand outstretched. Need burned through Sam’s veins, and he bit hard into his cheek, flooding his mouth with his own blood. He parted his lips and pressed his mouth to Dean’s palm, coating his lips and teeth with his brother’s blood. He swallowed, praying none of the demon blood had made it past his teeth, praying that Dean would be satisfied.
He’d tried that trick on Ruby once, in the early days when the addiction hadn’t set in quite so hard, and he was having second thoughts about what he was doing. She hadn’t noticed. Sam hoped it would be enough for Dean, too.
Please, God, let it be enough.
Dean cupped his hand around Sam’s cheek, and Sam leaned into the touch despite himself. Dean’s fingers were warm and steady, and he couldn’t remember the last time his brother had touched him with such gentleness. It was always anger and desperation between them these days, loss and fear and relief all tangled together.
And then Dean smeared his blood over Sam’s chin and the sides of his mouth and his nose. His grip shifted, tight on Sam’s jaw as he tilted his head up. “Now you look like the monster you really are.”
Oh. Sam knew this game, knew it very well.
“Yes. I do.”
Dean’s head tilted slightly. “And what do we do with monsters, Sammy?”
The words fell from Sam’s lips numbly, by rote. “Monsters should be punished. I deserve to be punished.”
The Cage crept in from the corners of his vision.
Dean’s eyes widened in surprise and a grin stretched across his face. “Oh, Sammy…”
Michael never called him ‘Sammy,’ it was always ‘abomination’ or ‘filth’ or -
Sam blinked, hard, and the Cage disappeared. Fuck. Panic and bile rose up in his throat - he couldn’t afford to lose focus and get dragged back into his memories. He needed to stay in the present, needed to get the girls out alive. The girls whose trust and faith he had just lost. Tracy was white-faced with disgust, Krissy was crying, and Claire -
And Claire -
Claire was furious.
It hurt, more than any injury Dean had doled out to know that he had lost her, that he would lose the boys, too, when they got free. But it didn’t matter. He didn’t deserve their love and trust to begin with. All that mattered now was getting them out of this mess alive.
Sam twisted his wrists in their restraints, opening his mouth to scream as Dean pressed the knife to his skin again.
“I’m going to kill him,” Claire hissed furiously, eyes blazing, “I’m going to ram that fucking Blade into his heart myself.”
Tracy and Krissy exchanged glances again, Krissy blinking the tears out of her eyes.
“You back with us?” Tracy asked lowly.
Claire grit her teeth, glancing back at Sam and Dean. “How well do you know the Rituale Romanum?”
“Pretty well,” Tracy replied slowly.
“It didn’t work so well last time,” Krissy pointed out, “But, yeah, I know it well enough.”
Tracy and Krissy gave soft assents.
“Okay,” Claire said, continuing to fray the rope binding her wrists and ankles, “Sam taught me a shortened version - full second verse of the ritual, first line of the third verse, then lines two and three of the fifth verse. Got that?”
“I think so.”
Claire set her expression, fury still simmering in her eyes. “Repeat it back to me.”
Sam had drilled her and Jake and Jesse and Ben a hundred times on their exorcisms, and not just the Rituale Romanum. They knew their spells and sigils and exorcisms backwards and forwards and Ben had even complained that he’d started dreaming about them.
Claire coached the other girls through a few repetitions before she was satisfied. “Alright, what we’re going to do is have one person start off the exorcism - only one, and when the demons force you to stop, someone else picks up where they left off, at random. The demons will turn their attention to the second person, and someone else picks up from there. Keep going until the exorcism is done.”
Tracy tilted her head. “Like… popcorn prayer?”
Claire turned to her in surprise, nodding. Tracy shrugged slightly. “Church youth group when I was a kid.”
Claire’s lips twitched slightly. “Same.”
“Music was the other word, wasn’t it.”
Claire hummed in agreement. Tracy looked between her and Sam, impressed. The man had been strung up and tortured and still managed to convey a plan to Claire.
“When do we start?”
Claire bit her lip and looked at Sam. “Sam will give us a sign.”
Krissy and Tracy followed her gaze dubiously. Sam’s gaze was unfocused as Dean slice into him. “You sure about that?”
“… Yeah. And if not, we wait until we’re all free, because we’ll need to be moving.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Sam felt like he was drifting in a fog, unable to think past the litany of not Claire not Claire not Adam not Krissy not Tracy not them they’re pure they don’t deserve this not like me tainted dirty worthless weak I deserve this not them never them swirling in his brain.
His throat was raw and he could feel his body jerking, so he was probably still screaming enough to keep Dean occupied. Dean would let him know if he wasn’t, at any rate.
God, he couldn’t do this. He couldn’t afford to. It was easy to stay in this fog, to drown himself in his own thoughts and retreat into himself. Pay no attention to the outside world, let Dean do whatever he wanted to his body.
But he wasn’t allowed the easy way out, he had never been allowed the easy way. There were three young women counting on him, people he had sworn to protect, and he had no right to escape from his torture while they were still in danger.
Sam’s screams increased in pitch, his voice breaking as he clawed himself back to reality. He could feel slickness building on his right wrist - good, he’d finally broken skin. Now it was a matter of collecting enough blood and getting his left wrist to the same condition. It was a matter of holding out until Tracy, Krissy, and Claire were free.
A few minutes later, Dean stopped, humming discontentedly. He walked around Sam, his fingers trailing over Sam’s skin and injuries, smearing blood everywhere. Sam closed his eyes and grit his teeth, trying not to shudder or whimper at the touch. He had sometimes had trouble with touch he didn’t initiate, even on a good day, and this was the very opposite of a good day.
“I could really do with a fresh palette,” Dean mused, his hands trailing down Sam’s side, “Good thing you’re so big, right Sam?”
Dean’s hands settled on Sam’s hips, his fingers dipping under the waistband of Sam’s jeans, and Sam’s heart froze.
He could feel the heat radiating off Dean, searing into his skin despite his injuries.
The room around him flickered, shifting between concrete and plaster and the overwhelming kaleidoscope of the Cage. Fingers dug into his hips like a brand, and no, Lucifer burned cold, but it was Michael's lips at his ear -
"Please," Sam whispered, begging as the cold set in, sinking into his bones, "Don't."
Lucifer - Dean, it was Dean behind him, he wasn't in the Cage anymore, he wasn't - chuckled darkly in his ear. "Make me, bitch."
Cold bit in, burning, searing, not again, please, not again, "Lucifer, please -"
A hot flash of pain flared in his side, and Sam was back in the room. Dean chuckled again, radiating smugness. "You break so pretty, Sammy."
Sam listened to the hitch of Claire and Tracy’s breaths and hung his head.
Everything you do, you do for them. Don’t you dare break. Don’t you dare.
Sam gripped the ropes and braced himself for the next cut.
“He’s going to pass out from blood loss,” Krissy said worriedly, looking back and Sam and Dean, “We need to make a move soon.”
Tracy had other concerns. “Did he just call on -“
Claire shot her a vicious glare and elbowed her in the side. The two girls stared at each other, sending Krissy’s tension skyrocketing, before Tracy scowled and looked away. She didn’t continue speaking.
“How are we doing on the ropes?” Claire murmured.
“Getting there,” Krissy replied.
“Good to go,” Tracy grunted. She’d worked through the ankle restraints on her own, and pulled out a knife from her calf. It was a miracle no one had noticed her rucking her jeans up to pull it out, but she wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. If the demons were busy getting off on Sam Winchester getting tortured, she was damn well going to take advantage of the opportunity.
Dean made a cut low on Sam’s back, bracing himself on Sam’s hip and the younger Winchester jerked, whimpering and choking on a sob. Dean chuckled. “Careful, Sammy, you wouldn’t want me to make a mistake.”
Sam twitched slightly before going still.
Dean moved back to the cart, setting down the knife and picking up a scalpel. He pressed it to Sam’s forehead, above his left eye, and started to drag it down slowly.
Sam eyes fell shut and he stopped breathing.
“Oh God,” Claire choked out thickly, “He can’t -“ The rest of her words were lost as she hunched over, her tears breaking free.
Krissy wasn’t much better, head ducked and eyes squeezed tight as if that could stop her tears.
Tracy swore, feeling her own eyes burn. There was a picture forming at the back of her mind, and she wasn’t sure she liked it. Had Sam been -
“Quit sniveling,” one of the demons snapped.
Dean paused irritatedly and he and Sam looked over to the girls as one of Claire’s sobs broke free and Tracy closed her eyes.
“Dean… please…” Sam begged weakly, “Don’t - don’t make them watch this.”
Dean’s eyebrows rose as he turned back to his brother. Sam let his eyes cloud over with pain and continued, “Haven’t they been through enough? Please, have mercy… you already have me, you don’t need them.”
“Sam, no,” Claire whimpered.
Dean looked between the girls and Sam and snorted. “Mercy’s not really in my repertoire. But, you know what? I’m feeling generous, since you’ve been so good for me. Pick one.”
Sam looked up at Dean and blinked.
“Pick one of the girls, and I’ll let them go,” Dean prompted.
Sam turned his head to see Tracy, Krissy, and Claire looked at him with wide eyes and pale faces. He resisted the urge to lick his lips and replied, “Tracy.”
“What -“ Tracy whispered, her jaw dropping.
“Tracy? You sure?” Dean asked dubiously.
Sam swallowed and nodded. “She’s already been through Hell and back watching demons torture and kill her family. She doesn’t need to sit through this, too. Please, Dean.”
Dean considered Sam for a moment, and then shrugged. Turning to the demons, he said, “Get the blonde out of here. Do whatever you want with her.”
“Dean, no!” Sam cried out as Claire struggled, “Please -“
Dean’s hand snaked out and pressed the scalpel against Sam’s neck. “Don’t try to play me, Sammy. I know all your tricks.”
“No!” Claire shrieked as demons dragged her away, “Let me go! Sam, help me!”
“Claire!” Sam renewed his struggles against his restraints. “Dammit, Dean!”
Dean chuckled as Claire disappeared from the room, her cries fading. “Now, where were we?”
Sam snarled and clenched his fists as he measured the slickness around his wrists. Just a little more, he just needed to get some on his fingertips… And then they were all getting the Hell out of dodge.
Claire crashed to her knees as she was shoved into another room. She tugged lightly on the ropes on her wrist, they were frayed enough that a strong tug would set her free.
“Oh, we’re going to have fun with you, brat,” one of the demons chuckled.
“Like Hell you will,” Claire snarled, yanking her arms free and kicking her legs apart, “Jesse!”
She came up swinging, her switchblade gleaming dully with her own blood, and sliced one of the demons reaching for her.
“Jesse, I need you -“ Claire managed to cry out as she was flung into a wall.
“Jesse’s not coming to save you,” the demon pinning her sneered, pressing harder with his powers and walking forward, “Oh, I’m going to enjoy taking you apart.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” a quiet voice said from the back of the room, and the demons all froze in place.
“What - what is this -“ one of the demons choked out, struggling to move and failing.
“Turn around and face me,” the voice continued, calm and quiet.
As one, the demons turned, only to see a young boy in a T-shirt and jeans, his arm raised towards them and his expression cold. The corner of Jesse’s mouth twitched up slightly as he saw the fear enter their eyes and drew his arm down sharply. “Leave.”
Black smoke started pouring from the vessels’ mouth and Jesse’s expression remained cold as he forced down and back to Hell.
Bodies dropped to the ground and Claire slid down the wall gratefully. “Oh thank God. Oh thank God, thank God.”
Jesse’s brow furrowed and he made his way quickly to Claire’s side. “Claire? What happened - your face -“
Jesse was cut off as Claire tackled him in a hug, nearly bowling him over.
“Claire - what -“ Jesse’s eyes widened as he stretched out his psychic senses. “Is Dean here?!”
Claire pulled back from him and nodded, trying to get her expression back under control. “Yeah. And we need to go help Sam.”
“How close are you?” Tracy murmured lowly.
“Almost done,” Krissy replied. “Damn, look at Sam’s wrists.”
Tracy glanced up and her eyes widened slightly. “They’re completely torn up, what the Hell is he doing?!”
“Maybe it’s part of his plan?” Krissy ventured, “He - he has a plan, right? Claire said -“
“And look where that got Claire,” Tracy hissed.
There was an explosion further down the building, and several heads turned towards the sound. Dean scowled and gestured to some of the remaining demons. “You, you, and you - go check it out.”
Sam grinned, dark and bloody, as Dean was distracted giving orders, and swiped his bloodstained fingers over ropes in a small sigil. Dean turned back just in time to see the poles and ropes holding Sam disappear. “What the Hell -“
Sam dropped to the ground on his hands and knees, chanting, “Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis -“
He stifled a grunt as Dean sent him flying.
“ - satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii,” Krissy picked up immediately, as she and Tracy broke free of their restraints, darting to opposite sides. “Omnis congregatio et -“
“- secta diabolica,” Tracy continued, ducking under a demon, and slicing at another as it jerked, black smoke starting to pour out. “Ergo draco maledicte -“
“NO!” Dean roared, eyes reverting to black, and leaped towards Tracy, Blade raised high. Tracy tried to scramble away, but then Sam was there, yanking Tracy back and out of harm’s way, and the Blade only sliced a gash up the back of her arm instead of splitting her in half.
“- Ecclesiam tuam securi tibi facias libertate servire,” Claire chanted, striding into the room with Jesse.
Jesse twisted his wrist, gathering all the demons into one cloud, and finished along with Claire, “Te rogamus, audi nos!”
He clenched his fist and the cloud of demons shrieked in agony, crackling and glowing with energy before exploding.
Sam pushed Tracy out of the way as Dean threw himself at Sam with a primal roar, face twisted with bloodlust and fury.
“Jesse, get them out of here!” Sam ordered.
“Not a chance,” Dean snarled, pinning Sam down and thrusting out his hand towards Jesse and the girls.
He wasn’t expecting Sam to slam his hand down on a quickly drawn symbol and turn his power back on him, blasting him into the wall.
Sam grunted as he picked himself. “Getting sloppy, Dean.”
Dean sneered. “Guess the demon blood brought back your mojo, hunh, Sammy.”
Sam’s lips twitched. “Demon blood had nothing to do with it. Five thousand years in the Cage, you think you’re the only one who knows how to use the blood of the tortured?”
Dean stood, twirling the Blade in his hands, and Sam shifted so he was between Dean and the others. Dean gaze lit on Jesse as the girls scrambled towards him. “You’re lucky the demon brat turned up, but your luck ain’t gonna hold out much longer.”
Sam smirked slightly. “Luck? No, Dean. I trained Claire, I knew she would understand what to do the minute she got free. Did becoming a demon shave off a few IQ points?”
Dean roared again and dashed towards Sam, and Sam dropped to the ground, his fingers marking out shapes in his blood.
“Go now, Jesse!”
Jesse nodded quickly, latching onto Tracy and Claire’s shoulders as Claire grabbed Krissy’s arm. A swirl of shadows, and all four were gone.
Sam looked up as his brother slammed into an invisible shield. The girls were safe. Jesse was safe.
It was time to end this.
Jesse and the girls reappeared in the bunker’s Infirmary, stumbling slightly as they reoriented themselves.
“What the Hell -“
“Where are we -“
Claire focused on Jesse urgently. “Jesse -“
“I’m going back,” Jesse replied immediately.
Claire nodded and Jesse disappeared.
“What the Hell?!”
Claire breathed deeply and turned back to Krissy and Tracy. “We’re in the Men of Letters’ bunker, in the Infirmary.”
“And what was that?” Tracy demanded, gesturing towards the spot where Jesse had been.
Claire’s face went white with fury. “He is Jesse Turner, and he just saved your life!”
Krissy stepped between Claire and Tracy, trying to calm them. “Guys, come on. We’re out, we’re safe, let’s just take a breath, alright?”
Claire switched gears almost immediately. “R-right, we need, uh, gauze, medical tape, antiseptic…”
But Claire was already darting away, clumsily gathering supplies.
Tracy sighed. “Claire.” She reached out and took the rolls and bottle of antiseptic from Claire’s hands. “I got it. It’s okay.”
Claire’s hands shook as Tracy relieved them of their burden, and the tremble spread up her arms and to her shoulders. Krissy braced her, rubbing circles across her back and saying gently, “We’re safe, Claire. We got out, we’re safe, we’re gonna be fine.”
Claire shook her head, her expression tight and distraught. “He has to be okay. He has - he has to.” Claire choked on a sob and buried her head in her hands.
Krissy looked at Tracy pleadingly, unsure what else to do. Tracy cleared her throat. “Look, Claire. Win - Sam - is a tough guy. He was beat to Hell and managed to come up with a plan and kick Dean’s ass. He’ll - uh, he’ll be fine.”
Claire nodded weakly, leaning into Krissy as the older girl rubbed her shoulders. Krissy shook her head. “I just… I don’t get it. The Dean I know… how could he become this?”
Claire shoved away from Krissy abruptly, spitting acidly, “Probably because he’s a fucking abusive shithead who wouldn’t know a good life choice if it bit him in the ass!”
Krissy’s eyes widened. “That’s not - Dean wouldn’t -“
Claire cut her off, shrieking, "I just watched that bastard torture the closest I've had to a father in over five years, do not tell me what he would or would not fucking do!"
“Okay!” Tracy cut in, now trying to defuse the tension between Krissy and Claire. “How about we not turn on each other and focus on patching ourselves up, okay? Danger’s over, let’s all just take a deep breath and calm down.”
Krissy exhaled softly and nodded, stepping back. Claire seemed to hunch on herself, rubbing her arms and absently noting that there was blood on them. “You’re, uh, you’re probably going to need stitches for that,” she said softly to Tracy. She looked back down to her shaking hands. “I - I can’t -“
“That’s fine,” Tracy replied calmly, “Just grab me antiseptic and a needle and thread, I can do it myself.”
Claire nodded jerkily, moving away to collect more supplies.
Krissy sighed, sitting on the edge of a cot. “Can you believe it’s not even five in the evening yet? All I want to do is sleep for a week.”
“Adrenaline crash,” Tracy replied wryly, peeling off her shirt, leaving her in a tank top. “I don’t think Claire’s come down yet.”
Krissy bit her lip, looking like she wanted to say something, but then shook her head. “Yeah. It was harder for her, right? Since she’s so close to Sam?”
“Mmm,” Tracy agreed, “Not something I expected to see, but yeah.”
Claire returned with the other supplies, and Tracy craned her head over her shoulder, cursing. “Ugh, that cut has to go right up the part I can’t see - Krissy, how good are you at stitches?”
Krissy’s response was cut off by a noise outside the Infirmary, and Claire darted to the doors. “Sam?! Oh my God!”
Sam burst into the Infirmary wearing his - extremely dusty - jacket, carrying a slightly less dusty and injured Jesse in his arms. “Claire - washcloth, gloves, water, and butterfly bandages.”
Claire nodded and turned away to fetch the items, and Sam laid Jesse down on one of the cots.
“What happened to him?” Krissy asked as Sam moved over to a sink.
“We brought the building down on us,” Sam replied, washing his hands and face. “He over exerted himself. He’ll be fine in the morning.”
Krissy looked dubious, giving Jesse a once-over. He had a large cut on his forehead and his shirtsleeve was bloody. “That looks like it needs stitches.”
“Jesse has a faster healing rate,” Claire replied, coming back, “As long as he keep the bleeding down, he’ll be fine in a couple hours.”
“What is he?” Tracy asked, standing stiffly with one hand pressing her shirt back over her injury. “What he did - normal people - normal humans - don’t do that.”
Claire stiffened, and Sam turned back, looking between Tracy and Jesse. “It’s up to Jesse to tell you the specifics, but yes, he has powers. He’s a good kid, a good hunter. Claire and I trust him with our lives, and he did save yours. He’s not going to harm you unless you attack him first.”
Claire scowled, hovering protectively over Jesse.
Tracy backed down. “Sure. Whatever.”
“How’s your arm, Tracy?”
“It’ll need stitches, but I can’t get to it easily.”
Sam nodded, dragging a stool near Jesse’s cot and sitting down. “Let me get Jesse patched up and I’ll do them for you. Claire, Krissy, what about you?”
“Cut on my lip and some bruises.”
Sam applied butterfly bandages along the cut on Jesse’s forehead, and rolled back his sleeve to do the same to the cut there. Jesse’s chest heaved with a deep breath as he weakly returned to awareness, looking around blearily and struggling to sit up.
Sam ushered him back down gently. “Jesse - hey, hey, take it easy -“
Sam smiled softly. “Hey, kiddo.”
Jesse blinked drowsily. “… Tired.”
Sam nodded, shifting the pillows under Jesse’s head. “I know, Jesse, just get some rest.”
Sam swallowed and smoothed Jesse’s hair back, squeezing his hand reassuringly. “Nothing’s going to hurt you, bud. I’ll watch over you.”
“I promise. Go to sleep, Jesse.”
Jesse was asleep before Sam could respond. Claire listed at Sam’s side, pressing her forehead against his dusty jacket sleeve and curling her hands around his.
Sam blinked down at her. “… Claire?”
Claire muttered something the others couldn’t hear and Sam’s expression softened. He shifted to bring his free hand to rest on top of Claire’s head while she hugged his other arm.
“Hey, hey, you did good, Claire,” Sam said, stroking her hair, “You did so good, I am so proud of you.”
Claire muttered something unintelligible in response and Sam smiled slightly, shifting his hand to the back of her head to he could rest his head atop hers. “You’ll need to let me go sometime, Claire. I need to get you guys patched up.”
Claire shook her head.
“I’m gonna end up getting blood in your hair.”
“I’ll take a shower,” Claire replied, louder and clearer than before.
“Which you’ll need to let me go for,” Sam responded, faintly amused.
Claire finally looked up at Sam, her eyes overbright and her face wet with tears. Sam brought his hand around to cup her face, his thumb brush away a tear. Claire leaned into his touch. “It’s over, Claire. I’m here, I’m okay, and it’s thanks to you. You don’t have to cry anymore.”
Claire’s eyes fluttered shut, her lips trembling, and Sam tugged her into a full embrace. They stayed like that for a few moments, before Claire’s eyes shot open and she pushed away. “You’re still bleeding -“
“I’ll be fine. Tracy, come here.”
Tracy started. “Uh, what?”
“Stitches,” Sam prompted, “It’ll be a while until we can get you to an ER, so I can do them for you now.”
“Sam’s really good,” Claire added, hovering beside Sam.
Sam slipped on medical gloves and gestured Tracy over.
Tracy narrowed her eyes. “You fuck this up, Winchester, and I’ll put a bullet in you.”
Sam snorted. “I’ve been doing my own stitches since I was twelve. I promise not to mess anything up.”
Tracy’s eyes widened as Sam wiped antiseptic down her arm to clean up her injury. “How old are you?”
“Older than I ever thought I’d be,” Sam replied absently, “You’re going to feel a pinch, sorry I don’t have good anesthetic on hand.”
A few minutes later Tracy blinked, twisting around to see the line of small, neat stitches running up the back of her arm. “… Wow.”
Sam’s lips twitched slightly as he reached for the gauze and medical tape. “Thanks.”
He looked over the dressing one last time. “You know how to take care of injuries like this, right?”
“Alright, you’re good to go. Claire, let me take a look at you.”
Claire remained still under Sam’s gentle touch, her eyes never leaving his face. Her eyes were wide, still faintly desperate, but she wasn’t crying anymore.
“ You’ll probably need a cold pack for the bruising. We’ve got some in the third cupboard, you wanna grab some for you and Krissy?”
“Yeah, okay,” Claire said softly.
Sam turned to the remaining girl as Claire moved away. “Krissy, your shirt’s torn towards the bottom, you sure you’re okay?”
Krissy looked down in surprise and pushed up her shirt to reveal a jagged cut above her hip. “… Oh. I don’t even know where I got that.”
Sam waved her over and took a look at it. “Looks like it was made by metal. When was your last tetanus shot?”
“Last year,” Krissy replied, wincing as Sam dabbed antiseptic on the cut. “Sam, should you be doing this? I mean, you were cut up and whi-whipped pretty bad.”
“I’m fine. I’ve patched up Dean and my Dad in worse condition.”
“That’s… not actually that comforting.”
Krissy fell silent as she looked at Sam, her brow furrowing. He worked quickly and efficiently to treat her injury, his hands skilled and experienced. He also refused to look her in the eye.
“You’re done,” Sam said at length, “Go see Claire about the bruises.”
Krissy nodded, and sought out Claire. The blonde’s back was to Sam, so only Krissy and Tracy were able to see him slump on the stool, his breathing measured, pain and exhaustion lining his face. By the time Claire turned back, though, he was sitting up, looking for all the world like his injuries had been painted on with stage make-up.
It was for Claire, he was doing it all for Claire, so that she wouldn’t worry about him as much. So that she wouldn’t see just how badly he’d suffered for her sake. If they’d had any doubts about how much Sam loved Claire, they were all gone now.
Sam sighed slightly. “Uh… we have showers and spare rooms if you guys want to crash here for a while, there’s cars in the garage if you want to head out now -“
“Sam, can we please worry about that when you’re not bleeding all over the infirmary?”
“I’m with Claire on this one,” Krissy added.
“Don’t you guys have better things to do than wait for me to shower and spend twenty minutes doing stitches?”
Tracy shrugged. “I could do with some food.”
Claire and Krissy shot her a look, but Sam nodded. “Kitchen’s fully stocked if you don’t mind vegetarian food. Haven’t really had a chance to stock up on any meat recently.”
“I don’t suppose you got any spare clothes around here?”
Sam flashed Tracy a brief smile. “If we do, they’re from the 1950s. You can have a look if you want. Take the corridor to your left, and it’s the third door on your right. Claire can show you where the showers are, and I’ve got a guy I can call to bring your truck over, so you’ll have your stuff back tomorrow morning.”
“Great,” Claire said impatiently, “Can we get back to the you-not-bleeding-out part?”
Sam chuckled, making shooing motions at the girls. “Go get food or clean up or whatever. I’ll find you guys when I’m done.”
Ten minutes later found all three girls in the kitchen, with Claire diced potatoes and Krissy stirring a pot of pasta on the stove while Tracy rooted around the fridge for sauce.
“Should we be helping Sam?” Krissy asked hesitantly, “He was cut up pretty bad, He can’t take care of that all by himself, can he?”
“We haven’t yet mastered getting Sam to let us help,” Claire huffed, “But he could give any medic a run for their money. Shit, I should call Ben and Jake.”
“Lost your phone back in the fight?” Tracy asked as Claire rooted around her pockets.
“God, that would be my luck. Mom’s not going to be thrilled.”
Krissy frowned. “Your Mom’s not a hunter, right? What’s she think of all… this.”
Claire scoffed. “She’d have to come out of her med high and actually notice me first. After Castiel took my Dad away, she didn’t really cope too well. Tracy, can you grab the garlic powder?”
Tracy passed her the container and shook a bottle of juice. “Is this mango juice?”
Claire nodded with a faint smile. “It’s Jake’s, he likes exotic fruit.”
Tracy’s eyebrows rose. “You guys are really close to Sam, hunh. You, Ben, Jake, and Jesse?”
“Yeah. He trained us, kept us safe, taught us how to balance our lives and hunting… we were just a bunch of broken kids, angry and scared, and he… he gave us a family again. I don’t where any of us would be without him, but it’d be nowhere good.”
Krissy bit her lip. “It must have been hard for you, to see what Dean did to him.”
Claire’s knuckles whitened as she clutched the edge of the counter. She replied tightly, “It’s always hard for me to watch Dean does to him.”
Claire sighed, and turned to put the garlic potatoes in the oven. “But, you want to know how he became a demon.”
Krissy nodded, and Claire leaned back against the counter. “It’s the blade he was using - the bone one. It’s called the First Blade, and it’s the jawbone Cain used to kill Abel - the first murder. Lucifer imbued the Blade with his own grace, and turned Cain into a demon - a Knight of Hell. Couple months ago, Dean went to Cain - who is still alive, yes - and asked him for help killing Abaddon. Cain transferred his powers to Dean because he was ‘worthy’ - because he already had the heart of a killer. Dean killed a lot of things using the First Blade, Abaddon included, and he got more and more out of control with each kill, until the Blade finally took over. And now he’s a demon, just like Cain.”
Krissy’s expression was pained. She’d trusted Dean, looked up to him. “But why would he even go to Cain like that?”
“Because he’s a douchebag who can’t make good life choices?” Claire snapped back.
Krissy’s lips thinned and Claire sighed again. “You’ll have to ask Sam. He’s the only one on the planet who really understands Dean.”
The girls finished preparing their food in silence.
When Sam made his way to the common area forty minutes, showered and bandaged to high heaven, the first words he was greeted with were, “You look like shit.”
Sam grimaced. “Thanks, Tracy.”
Tracy shrugged, and Sam knew she was right. His ribs were bandaged, and most of the rest of his body was covered in dressing over stitches and bruises from the whip. His hair was pulled back into a small bun to keep it away from the cut on the back of his neck, which was thin and shallow enough that it would scab over and heal on its own. There were more of those than Sam realized, though that was to say nothing of the dressing over his eye.
Yeah, he looked a mess.
He pulled out a chair and flipped it around before sitting, asking, “So, you guys figure out what you want to do from here yet?”
The girls glanced at each other, and Tracy responded, “I think we could do with some answers.”
Sam sighed heavily, his expression growing blank. “Alright.”
Claire protested immediately. “What - not now, Sam, you’re injured -“
“I’m fine, Claire.”
“I’m pretty sure you don’t actually know what that phrase means.”
“Claire,” Sam said gently, “It’s fine. You guys deserve an explanation.”
Claire still looked displeased, but Tracy nudged Krissy. The younger girl cleared her throat and asked, “Claire explained some about the First Blade and Dean being a demon… but what made him do that?”
Sam’s lips twisted wryly. “Dean… doesn’t really cope well with me dying. Back during the meteor shower when the angels fell, I was in really bad shape. I was in a coma, my insides were fried, and I was ten seconds away from crossing to the other side with my Reaper, when Dean tricked me into saying ‘yes’ to an angel. Fast-forward four months when the angel decides to lock me inside my own head and take my body out for a joyride. Dean made a deal with Crowley that if Crowley would possess me to wake me up, he’d go to Cain and get his help to defeat Abaddon for him.
“Crowley held up his end of the deal, I kicked him and the angel out, and Dean went to Cain and got his powers and the First Blade. The Blade… it’s an instrument of murder. It needs blood, has since Lucifer first touched it. Cain couldn’t even overcome it until the 1800s. And Dean… he didn’t want to resist it. I tried to bring him out of its lure as often as I could, but then Metatron - Metatron killed him. And the Blade brought him back a demon.”
Krissy looked devastated. Tracy frowned. “Wait, have you died before?”
Sam resisted the urge to rub the back of his neck. “Couple times, yeah. Dean made a demon deal the first time, and tried to break open Lucifer’s Cage another time. And, y’know, shoved an angel inside me.”
Tracy’s expression blanked and grew chilled. “You called on Lucifer. You begged. Why?”
Claire’s eyes widened and she shot out of her seat furiously. “You don’t get to ask him that!”
“The Hell I don’t, he’s the reason my family is dead!”
Sam placed a hand on Claire’s shoulder. “Claire. It’s fine; Tracy’s right.”
“She is not!”
“Claire.” Sam’s expression was pained, and he breathed slowly. “You already know I let Lucifer out -“
Sam swallowed. “The year leading up to that, demons started breaking the seals on Lucifer’s Cage. The angels told us that we had to stop them - and that killing Lilith, the First Demon, would stop the Apocalypse. They lied. They wanted the Apocalypse to happen, so that Michael and Lucifer could have a pissing match. Lilith was the last seal, and when I killed her, I released Lucifer.”
Tracy paled, staring at Sam, stunned.
Sam’s gaze was distant as he continued, “You’ll notice that we’re not in the midst of the Apocalypse right now. Dean and I came up with a plan - actually, it was the archangel Gabriel’s plan - we got the rings of the Four Horsemen and opened a gate back to the Cage. I took Lucifer into me and jumped into the Cage, dragging Michael down with me. I was there for five thousand years before Dean made a deal with Death to bring me back.”
Krissy’s hand was pressed against her mouth and Claire was trying not to cry again; all she seemed to be doing today was cry. Tracy wasn’t sure she remembered how to breathe anymore.
“Five thousand years,” Sam murmured, and no one was sure if he was fully in the present. “They were so angry. Years of planning and manipulation all undone by someone so much less than an abomination..” Sam clenched his fists, the pain shooting up his arm grounding him. “Anyway. Flashbacks - I wasn’t always sure where I was while Dean was…” Sam sighed tiredly and trailed off.
Tracy shook her head. “I don’t - why would you do that for me? I hated you!”
Claire’s palms slammed down on the table furiously and Sam grabbed her arm before she could leap to attack Tracy. His brow furrowed. “What does that have to do with anything?”
Tracy laughed despairingly as she buried her head in her hands. “You’re fucked up, Winchester.”
Sam shrugged as Claire hissed beside him. It wasn’t the worst thing he’d been called.
“How are you still sane?” Krissy wondered faintly.
Sam’s gaze shifted to the side, as if he was embarrassed. “It was touch and go for a while, but other people have had it worse.”
“No, Sam,” Claire huffed, “Literally no one has had it worse.”
Sam cleared his throat, definitely embarrassed. “Anyway. Anything else you guys want to know?”
“What was up with the demon blood?” Krissy blurted out before she could stop herself, and Claire’s ire quickly switched targets.
“That ties back into the whole Apocalypse thing - Claire, calm down, you can’t hurt Krissy.”
Claire scowled, and sat back in her chair unhappily. Sam chuckled slightly. “You’ve been spending too much time around Jake.”
Sam turned back to Krissy. “Anyway. A couple decades ago, this demon - Azazel, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him - went around trying to make a bunch of super-powered kids. He dripped his blood into our mouths when we were six months old, and twenty-odd years later, we started manifesting… gifts. I got visions, someone else got telekinesis, another girl was advanced enough that she could control demons. During the year leading up to the Apocalypse, someone showed me that if I drank more demon blood, I could boost my abilities and exorcise demons without harming their hosts. I was stupid, thought it was a good idea. Wound up getting addicted. Dean wasn’t happy, but he helped me detox, got me clean. But once an addict… it never really goes away. I’ve stayed clean ever since, though. Couldn’t let Dean down.”
“Until today,” Krissy finished sadly.
Sam’s lips twitched and he shook his head. “I bit down on the inside of my mouth and swallowed my own blood. I only smeared his across my face and teeth.”
Claire linked her fingers with Sam’s tightly and Krissy stared at him, awed.
Tracy cleared her throat, staring down at the table. “Do you know what crack babies are?”
Sam shook his head curiously.
Tracy sighed. “They’re babies who are born addicted - their Moms were hooked on cocaine while pregnant, and it got into the babies’ system. My Mom - she worked in a rehab clinic, taking care of those babies, looking after them as they went through withdrawal. And after all the years she worked there, she found that those kids - they got addicted faster and more often than others, because even if they didn’t remember, their bodies did. And it was harder for them to kick the habit and stay on the wagon.”
Sam stared at Tracy warily.
“I guess what I’m saying is… God, I don’t even know what I’m saying. I’m still angry.”
Sam nodded. “I understand. I know I deserve -“
“Not at you,” Tracy cut him off, and Sam blinked. “At the demons, at Lucifer, and Hell, maybe a couple days from now, I’ll be mad at you again. But you saved my life out there. You - let him - let Dean torture you, try to break you in every way, instead of me. And I can’t be anything but grateful for that.”
Sam blinked again, brow starting to furrow. “Uh… You’re welcome…”
Tracy bit down on a disbelieving laugh. Man, how fucked up was this guy? Claire looked at him like he hung the stars in the sky, and he didn’t even understand why she was thanking him for saving her.
“Okay, question and answer time is over,” Claire announced abruptly, and no one argued. “I live twenty minutes away, I can grab you guys extra clothes if you want to stay the night.”
Tracy and Krissy nodded, and Sam stood. “I’ll get the car keys.”
Claire shot to her feet and rounded on Sam. “What - you are not driving, Sam!”
Sam’s eyebrow rose. “You’re extremely emotionally compromised right now,” he point out, “You shouldn’t be driving right now -“
“Neither should you! You’re injured all over everywhere, can’t see out of one eye, and probably have nerve damage!”
“No nerve damage, and it’s just blood, Claire, I’ve had worse.”
“That does not make me feel better!”
Claire and Sam stared each other down, and Krissy remembered with a pang how often she and her father had acted the same way. A glance at Tracy’s wistful and pained expression showed she was thinking the same thing, too.
Sam finally sighed. “Fine, you can drive. But I’m going to be in the passenger seat.”
Claire grumbled, but nodded.
Sam turned back to Krissy and Tracy. “We should be back within an hour. Make yourselves at home.”
Sleep didn’t come easy to any of them that night.
Sam kept vigil by Jesse’s side, reading a novel and not wanting to face nightmares of the Cage when there was a psychic in the bunker. Jesse needed peace and safety to recover, not interference from his memories and flashbacks.
Some corridors away, Krissy stared up at her ceiling, wearing Claire’s pajamas. She wondered how a man she had trusted so much had turned into someone so monstrous. She wondered why she hadn’t latched on to Sam the way she had Dean, when Sam was the one to come help her first. Maybe then it wouldn’t have hurt this much. Or maybe, like Claire, she would have been a wreck.
She sighed and closed her eyes, trying not to think of Dean’s black eyes and cruel sneer.
Next door, Tracy lay on her bed, doing much the same thing. She was wearing one of Claire’s mother’s pajamas, but at least it was clean and comfortable. All told, the bunker was a pretty nice place to live, if a little utilitarian.
God, had the mess with Dean really just been that afternoon? It felt like days ago, but maybe that was just the exhaustion talking. She’d tried taking a nap earlier, but wound up jolting awake with Sam’s cries in her ears. He’d bled for her - begged Dean to let him bleed for her so that she wouldn’t be hurt. Didn’t even care that she made no secret about not liking him. He refused to take care of his own injuries until everyone else was patched up first, and didn’t let Claire see his pain.
Who did things like that?
The last people she’d known who were that… selfless… had been her parents, both of them social workers. They’d been some of the most gentle, loving people she knew, and God, did it hurt to remember them. It felt like there was a vice around her heart, squeezing and squeezing until she broke, and it was so much easier to be angry. It was so much easier to forget the pain and just be angry, to go out and kill monsters.
To not think about how her parents raised her, about what they would think of her life,
Tracy thought back to they Sam was so gentle with Claire, calm and steady and supportive, while Claire looked up to him like her was her shelter in the storm. She thought about the way Ben and Jake defended him, and the way their faces lit up when they talked about him. The way Jesse called him ‘Dad’ and how Sam coaxed him to sleep. Sam hadn’t stopped hunting all these years, even though he’d more than paid his dues. He was still trying to save people.
She’d been living in anger so long, and on days like this she was so tired of it.
Maybe it was time to start living out her parents’ legacy of compassion instead.
And when Claire woke up a few hours later, clawing her way out of a nightmare screaming “Sam!”, Sam barreled into her room, gun and the ready.
Claire threw herself at him, sobbing. “Oh God ohgod ohgod -“
“Claire - Claire, it’s okay, I’m here-“
Claire clung tighter to Sam, sobbing into his shirt as he wrapped his arms around her and tried to soothe her.
“I’m here, Claire, it’s over.”
“You were dying - and I couldn’t - I couldn’t -“
“Hey, hey, I don’t die that easy, okay?” Sam murmured gently, stroking her hair, “I’m here, I’m fine, and it’s thanks to you. It’s over. It’s gonna be okay.”
Claire fell asleep crying on him, and probably had the easiest sleep of them all this time around.
“… Are you wearing Sam’s T-shirt?”
Claire blushed slightly at Krissy’s question and shrugged. She was in fact wearing a T-shirt of Sam’s, dark purple with a greyhound across the front. She wasn’t sure if Sam knew she had it, but he probably did. “It’s comfy.”
Krissy bit down on a smile as Claire set out plates and glasses on the table. “Where’s Sam?”
“In the kitchen making pancakes for Jesse. You want some?”
“I definitely do,” Tracy announced joining them. She looked freshly showered and a lot more awake than Krissy felt. “Thanks for the clothes last night, Claire, but I am so glad to be back in my own.”
Claire grinned and Krissy nodded in agreement. They’d found their duffel bags waiting in front of their doors when they woke up, and Tracy’s truck was in the garage.
“You think Sam got any sleep last night?”
“He didn’t,” Jesse said, appearing at Claire’s elbow.
Krissy and Tracy jumped. “Holy shit, kid, what are you, Harry Potter?”
Dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, and one of Sam’s plaid shirts dwarfing his small frame, he certainly looked the part.
“He gets it from Sam,” Claire replied, ruffling Jesse’s hair. All his injuries from the day before had disappeared.
Krissy’s eyes lit up. “That was a Harry Potter reference yesterday, wasn’t it? The twelve uses of blood?”
Claire nodded proudly and Tracy burst out laughing. “Oh my God, he is something else.”
Their further conversation was cut off as two voices sounded from outside the room. “Sam?! Claire, Jesse?!”
Claire’s eyes lit up and she bolted out of her seat. “Jake!”
Jacob caught his girlfriend in a tight embrace as she tackled him at the entrance of the common area, murmuring gratefully into her hair. “You’re okay. Thank God, you’re okay.”
Ben stepped past the couple, his eyes widening as he absently hugged Jesse. “Krissy? Tracy? Wasn’t expecting to see you here - you guys alright?”
Krissy nodded. “Yeah, we’re good.”
“Sam’s making pancakes,” Tracy added.
“Oh, dude, Hell yes!” Jacob exclaimed.
Claire slapped her boyfriend’s shoulder lightly. “Jacob!”
“What?! Sam’s pancakes are like eating clouds, okay? Sweet, warm, fluffy clouds from heaven.”
“You are a five-year-old.”
“They’re an old married couple, is what they are,” Ben muttered and Krissy and Tracy snorted in amusement.
Claire and Jacob continued bickering as they returned to the table, Claire holding Jacob’s hand. Sam came out at the sound of the commotion, carrying a large stack of pancakes.
Ben and Jacob stiffened at his injuries, identical expressions of rage crossing their faces. “I’m going to fucking kill him!”
Sam raised his good eyebrow slightly. “You’re going to sit down and eat breakfast, that’s what you’re going to do.”
“And then I’m going to rip Dean’s heart out,” Jacob responded.
“Not if I shoot his brains out first.”
“Breakfast,” Sam insisted firmly, setting the pancakes on the table, a stern expression on his face. “I’m going to fetch coffee and fruit and milk - yes, Jesse, you do need to drink your milk.”
The older teens exchanged glances and sniggered as Jesse pouted.
“Ben, don’t chew with your mouth open,” Sam threw over his shoulder as he walked away.
Ben, who had been doing exactly that, stared at him in shock. “How did he -“
“Or talk with your mouth full,” Sam called out from the kitchen.
Ben threw up his hands in exasperation and the others burst out laughing.
Sam returned with drinks and fruit, settling down to eat his apple. Jacob moaned happily as he dug into his pancakes, and Claire slapped him upside the head lightly, telling him to behave. Jacob ignored her gleefully and Ben laughed, Jesse looked enviously at Tracy’s coffee and tried to ignore the glass of milk in front of him. He’d teleport it away if he didn’t know Sam would just pour him another one. It was all blissfully domestic, and Krissy almost felt bad for interrupting.
She cleared her throat. “So, uh, where do we go from here?”
Sam sat back and shrugged. “Up to you. Keep hunting, go back to school, whatever you normally do. Dean’s my brother, my problem, so I need to fix this.”
“We’re helping,” Jacob added.
“You are not.”
Ben rolled his eyes. “Jesse.”
Jesse turned to Sam, eyes wide and pleading, and Krissy and Tracy both choked on their coffee, because, damn, those were powerful puppy eyes. “Sam, let us help, please.”
“No,” Sam replied, remaining firm.
Apparently, Sam had superhuman self-control.
“We’ll negotiate something that works for us all,” Claire replied implacably, a steely glint in her eyes.
Tracy set down her coffee. “What can we do?”
“Get word out to other hunters,” Sam mused, “Let them know what’s going on, and to stay away if possible. Dean’s dangerous; I don’t want others caught in the crossfire. Stay safe, keep an eye on the soul factories. Abaddon may be gone, but her followers aren’t. Otherwise… business as usual, I guess. There’ll always be people to save, monsters to hunt.”
Tracy nodded and returned to her breakfast, the other teens following suit. She was thrilled about being told to stay away, but if anyone could fix this mess with Dean, the new Knight of Hell…
… It would be Sam Winchester.