“Get away from me, Sammy. I’m done for.”
Dean’s eyes flashed, bloodshot and full of dread. Sam shook his head.
“I’m not leaving you like this.”
“It’s dragging me under, I can’t stop it. Take off, man.”
Dean sounded as beat up and ragged as he looked. Sam glanced round the circular pit they were standing in: thirty feet across, twenty feet high and the only door in and out securely locked. He wasn’t going anywhere.
“We’re trapped, Dean. Try and stay calm.” He kept his voice low and quiet. Dean was right on the edge of meltdown.
“You’ve gotta kill me, ‘cause in a few minutes…”
Dean’s voice tailed off and tears pricked at his eyes. He sounded terrified and Sam knew it wasn’t fear of dying. He glanced at his watch, the hands luminous in the half light. His stomach twisted as he realised time was almost up.
Dean was staring at him, breathing hard, fighting to keep it together.
“I was supposed to save you, Sammy. It wasn’t supposed to end like this.”
The tears overflowed and ran down his bruised, battered face. Sam pulled him close and hugged him tight. He smelled of blood and sweat; Sam could feel his heart hammering in his chest. Way too fast.
“I’ll get us through this, Dean. Just don’t….”
Dean shoved him away roughly. “What the fuck are you?”
He sounded hostile but uncertain. He backed up until he was pressed against the concrete wall. He scrubbed at his eyes and squinted.
“Sammy? For a moment there I swear…” He grimaced and threw an arm across his face. “Turn the friggin’ lights down; you trying to blind me?”
Sam frowned. If anything the yellow sodium lights, thirty feet above, weren’t bright enough. The pit was a gloomy hole, rank with gasoline and exhaust fumes which had impregnated it over time. The shadows couldn’t hide the patch of dried blood near Sam’s feet and his eyes were drawn to it like magnets. It was Dean’s blood and he knew exactly how it had gotten there. He’d watched it happen, helpless to intervene as his brother was systematically put through hell… Sam tore his gaze away. He couldn’t bear to think about it.
He heard a sharp intake of breath and glanced up. Dean was staring at the viewing gallery which ran round the top of the pit. His expression was manic. He was losing the fight.
“Look out for the demons, Sam.”
His voice was too loud but utterly sincere. Sam knew there was nothing there except the sadistic bastards who’d dreamed up this nightmare but Dean wasn’t lucid, wasn’t thinking right. He barrelled across the pit and threw himself at the wall with a sickening crunch. From above came jeering and taunts. A voice filtered down clearly and Sam recognised it.
“Coming to show me a good time, honey?”
“Toss me a rope and I’m all yours.” Dean snarled the words into a cacophony of mocking laughter.
“Don’t sweat it, asshole; soon you’ll be flying.” A different voice, off to Sam’s left. He pictured what he’d do to its owner when he got free.
Sam wanted to yell back at them but he kept a lid on it; raising his voice would only agitate his brother. Besides, he’d already made every threat, every promise of hellish retribution in his vocabulary. There was nothing more to say. The taunting got to Dean though and he was growling a stream of curses as he attempted to scale the twenty foot wall, gouging at the rough concrete blocks, scraping his fingers raw but oblivious to the blood and pain.
Sam strode forward, grabbed the waistband of Dean’s pants and hauled him back. It was like trying to hold onto a grizzly bear. Dean struggled and yelled, impossibly strong. None of his recent injuries, not even the bullet wounds were slowing him down or holding him back. Sam knew he wasn’t hurting right now.
“You can’t stop me, you yellow eyed son of a whore.”
Dean turned fast, breaking Sam’s grip and his right fist whipped out. Sam jumped backwards, feeling the rush of air past his jaw. He countered the move quickly, punching Dean square in the face and splitting his lip. Dean staggered and crashed into the wall but bounced right off and then he was approaching again, slow and deliberate.
Sam backed up until he hit concrete and Dean stood before him; flushed, breathing hard and swaying slightly. Every muscle in his body was tense, tendons popped in his neck and his eyes were darting round the pit, tracking things only he could see. He was muttering steadily under his breath and Sam tried to break through the delirium.
“I’m not a demon, Dean, I’m your brother. Look at me, really look. Try and…”
“Shut your hole, you bastard.” Dean’s voice was a guttural growl. “You fried my mom, took my Dad, turned my brother into a freak and now it’s time for payback.”
This close, Sam could see the blankness, the dead look in his eyes. This wasn’t Dean anymore; Dean was in a different reality where all he could see was the thing he most wanted to kill. More laughing and jeering came from above him.
“Lay your bets, fellers, here it comes.”
He didn’t dare take his eyes off Dean. His brother had the look of a predator, eyes narrowed and calculating. Sam took a few steps to his left, keeping his back to the wall and Dean moved with him.
“You bought a one way ticket downstairs; and I’m punching it.”
Sam made a quick feint and Dean covered it easily. He laughed; an eerily hollow sound. “I’m faster than you… stronger. You can’t escape.”
Sam believed it. If this was a regular fight he could have guessed Dean’s strategy and movements; could have countered them effectively. They’d been coached together, taught to think the same way in combat situations. In normal circumstances it was one of their greatest strengths, but now he was facing something supercharged and unpredictable as a rattler.
Dean tensed, tight as a spring and Sam got ready to move. His heart was pounding, adrenaline pumping through his system but the years of unique, John Winchester-style training served him well. His head was calm and clear, except for a small voice telling him to wake up. Clearly some part of him still hoped this was nothing more than a ghastly dream but Sam knew better. It was too vivid, had gone on too long and there was nothing he could do except try and survive it. The only thing which really scared him was what he’d have to do to his brother in order to achieve that. If his brother didn’t kill him first.
A wolf whistle from the catwalk distracted Dean and he pointed at something up in the darkness. Real or imaginary, Sam had no way of knowing.
“Pack your panties, bitch; I’m coming for you next.”
The promise in his voice was frightening. Sam used the moment of distraction to move away quietly, putting some distance between them but Dean was like an attack dog. He heard the scuff of Sam’s boots on the gritty floor and his head swung back round.
“Going somewhere, asshole?”
Sam gave it one last shot. He raised both his hands, palms up in supplication, trying to appeal to any part of his brother who was still awake in there.
“You’re stronger than this, Dean. You can fight it.”
Dean grinned and there was blood on his teeth. “Save your breath, shithead; it’s lights out.”
He hurled himself at Sam and they crashed into the dirt. Sam tried to remember he was fighting for both their lives.