IN VINO VERITAS

Chapter 13

Dean paced the floor of the cell. He did it by counting steps since it was too dark to see his hand in front of his face. Six paces forward, turn round, six paces back and every one of them hurt. With adrenalin pumping through his system earlier, he hadn’t really felt the punches and kicks delivered by the Tweeds. Now he could feel everything but he didn’t stop moving; it was the only thing keeping him sane. He wasn’t only in a dark place physically; with nothing to kick against, no means of escape, all he could do was think. It was worse if he sat down; then the walls of the cold, stone tomb seemed to close in on him, like he was dead and buried already.

Dean wasn’t afraid of dying, he’d had the sorry experience enough times to know the score; it was what came after that terrified him. He took little comfort in the fact his most recent encounter, on the wrong end of a point-blank shotgun blast, delivered him to heaven. That had been part of a bigger plan, courtesy of the God squad and before things up there went to shit.

He couldn’t help thinking how the other place was a more likely destination, how he might still be in debt to somebody in the basement. Lilith was gone but that didn’t mean his contract was cancelled. Those bastards in Hell excelled in lies and manipulation and if he wound up back in the pit, nobody would come rescue him this time round.

Dean’s hopes of rescue were dwindling by the minute but, all the same, he couldn’t help wondering what Sam was doing. Three days was long enough for a seasoned hunter to locate somebody… anybody, and anything more than two was sloppy in Dean’s book. Sam had apparently managed to get Castiel back on the payroll as well but, just as he was beginning to get mad, Dean reined it in. He reminded himself that if he didn’t have a clue where he was being held, how was his brother supposed to find him? That led him straight back to the bleak certainty he was going to die and the whole thing went round in a vicious circle. With every rotation Dean got more desperate, more convinced he was breathing his last hours on earth and nobody was coming to help him.

It was around 4.30pm when he’d been locked in here, the ritual was going down at midnight and Dean had absolutely no idea how much time he had left. At some point the door was opened briefly and food was tossed into the room. He had no appetite but he ate it for the distraction and because he was damned if he was going to die on an empty stomach. He couldn’t see what it was, probably something the dogs didn’t want, but he choked it down anyway.

He asked Castiel for help. He prayed for help. Eventually he got down on his knees and, because there was nobody else to see, begged for it. None was forthcoming. Thanks to the damned sigils carved all over his ribs no angel could locate him unless given a precise location. The only way Cas could communicate was in a dream and there was no way on earth Dean could sleep now, even if he wanted to.

At some point he became aware of activity outside the cell. He stopped pacing and put his ear to the door. It sounded like a bunch of people out there, talking and laughing and he could hear the clink of glasses. If he didn’t know better Dean would have said it was some kind of celebration but, the more he listened, the more he became convinced that’s exactly what was going down. Now he had something to really get mad about; those sick bastards were having a friggin’ party, then they were going to watch him die bloody.

When the bolts on the door were eventually pulled back, Dean braced himself against the furthest wall of the cell. He planned on throwing himself at whoever came inside, take one final shot at resistance and let the whole crew know he wasn’t going down without a struggle. But he’d reckoned without the overhead light. When it was switched on it almost blinded him and he threw an arm across his eyes, off balance and cursing. Dennis Yates’ mocking voice drifted into the room.

“Come on son, out of the closet.”

Dean walked out slowly to the sound of mocking laughter. Yates was waiting, a wry expression on his face and the Tweeds were flanking him; ready for action. Dean eyed them appraisingly and Yates read his mind.

“Play nicely, Dean. You know they bite.”

The light in the wine cellar was more subdued and his eyes adjusted enough for him to check out the action. The place was lit entirely by candles and the smell of wax mixed with food was pungent in the air. A feast was laid out on long tables and Dean saw dozens of the distinctive Casa de la Cosecha bottles placed conspicuously amongst the bowls and platters. His stomach growled; even though he was nervous enough to puke.

A few curious revellers stood nearby, gawking at him. Groups of people were mingling in the cellar; talking, laughing and everybody was holding a glass of wine. Dean noticed movement off in the shadows of the cavernous room and did a fast double take. There were more people out there and he was certain they were copulating. His jaw dropped.

“Really? A friggin’ orgy?”

Yates smiled. “Are you looking to gate crash?”

Dean shook his head. “That ain’t my idea of a good time.”

The room fell silent as the guests realised there was some entertainment on the table. They drifted towards him, staring at him like he was a piece of meat and Dean didn’t like it. Their age range was varied but the guys seemed a lot older than the chicks and wore finely-tailored suits in autumnal shades of gold, russet and burnt orange. The women were clad in slinky cocktail dresses and had vine leaves and pine cones braided into their hair. Every guest wore the distinctive ring on their pinky finger and Dean watched disdainfully.

“This is the Dionysus fan club, huh? He must be real proud.”

Most of the women giggled and Dean couldn’t figure out why until he looked closer and recognised the dazed expressions on their faces. The same expression Destiny had habitually worn. It made him queasy and he eyed Yates with disgust.

“You jack up the chicks so you and your loser buddies can get laid?”

“You’ve got it all wrong, Dean. I told you before, they like it this way.”

Dean snorted. “Do me a friggin’ favour.”

Right on cue, seemingly without bidding, one of the doped-up girls drifted across and put her hand on his chest. Dean was appalled, pushed her away and she looked at Yates imploringly.

“He’s so pretty. Can I have him?”

Yates took her arm and steered her back into the crowd. “He’s reserved, honey. Find somebody else.”

She obeyed meekly and Dean felt an overwhelming sense of relief. For a moment he’d thought Yates had the ultimate humiliation lined up for him. He scanned the faces in the group surrounding him, at least fifty of them and found Destiny. She was staring at him blankly, not a flicker of recognition in her eyes and he shook his head in disbelief. There was really nothing else left to say.

Yates clapped his hands briskly. “Okay folks, back to the revelry. The show starts in forty five minutes.”

Dean’s stomach twisted; now he knew exactly how much time he had left. He looked round the cellar, seeking some way out of this mess and the Tweeds reacted instantly. They drew pistols and pointed them at him. Dean smiled sourly.

“You think I give a damn if I die in forty five minutes or right now?”

“They won’t kill you, Dean, but they’ll bring you an ocean of pain.” Yates sounded like he was explaining something to a small child. “I suggest you come quietly.”

He walked towards the doors with the Dionysus symbol carved into them and Dean followed hesitantly. The Tweeds were right behind and he felt the muzzle of a pistol pressed into his back, urging him forward. Yates threw the doors open and Dean pulled up short as he took in what he could only described as a full-on temple.

It was about half the size of the wine cellar with the same high ceiling. The wall hangings and rugs were tones of orange, red, brown, green and gold and there were tapestries bearing various images of Dionysus in various guises. The room smelled of herbs; predominantly sage and like the cellar was lit entirely by candles. Under better circumstances Dean might have been impressed by the décor.

At the far end of the temple was a long, stone table. He figured it was an altar since it was draped with a russet cloth bearing Dionysus’ mark and there was magical-looking paraphernalia laid out on top. There was also a small selection of knives which looked like they belonged in a butcher’s shop. In front was an ornate chair, more like a throne with arms fashioned into cat’s paws and draped with garlands of vines and acorns. To either side of the altar was a pillar which ran from floor to ceiling. High up on each was a set of metal shackles, embedded in the stone. Dean pulled up short and whistled.

“Your set designer’s watched way too much Hammer Horror.”

One of the Tweeds shoved him in the back and he stumbled. They grabbed him, steered him to the pillar on the left, yanked off his coat and locked his wrists into the cuffs. The restraints pulled his arms high above his head and Dean hadn’t realised the knife wound had stopped bleeding until the strained posture tore it open again. He glanced down at the widening stain on his shirt; it hurt some but that hardly mattered now.

Yates was sitting on the fancy chair, watching with a satisfied expression. Dean eyed the other pillar, the other set of cuffs.

“His and hers, huh? Who’s the lucky lady?”

Yates smiled. “She’ll be here presently.”

Dean stared at him, horrified. Was there really some helpless girl involved here? How the hell was he supposed to save her when he couldn’t even save himself?

“Is it Destiny? Is that why she got to…”

“… bang Dean Winchester as a final treat?” Yates barked out a laugh. “Don’t flatter yourself; she was just following orders.”

The Tweeds sniggered and Dean felt his face burning. “Go to hell, all of you.”

Yates got to his feet. “We’ll give you some alone time, son. Try and put it to good use.”

He left the room, still chuckling. The Tweeds followed him out and the doors clicked shut softly. Dean went to war on the restraints; twisting and yanking at them until his wrists were bleeding but he couldn’t get free. Exhausted, he slumped forward, breathing hard. Inevitably his eyes were drawn back to the altar and the evil looking knives. They commanded his full attention.



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