IN VINO VERITAS

Chapter 5

NOW

Dean struggled and swore as he was pulled from the cell and along a dark passageway. It was mostly habit; he didn’t stand a hope in hell of escape with his wrists shackled behind his back and four guys surrounding him. Two of them had vice like grips on his upper arms, almost cutting off his circulation; a third walked ahead and Blondie brought up the rear, prodding him in the back and tossing out taunts like Hallowe’en candy.

The passage opened into a large room and the light in there was way too bright. It hurt Dean’s eyes and the blood running into them wasn’t helping matters any. Temporarily blinded, he kept his head down and waited for it to pass. He was pulled further into the room and there was a brief exchange as one of the gang was instructed to keep watch outside. The dude wasn’t happy about missing the action and groused at somebody called Jake before being told, bluntly, to follow orders and get the fuck out.

Dean managed to open his eyes and get them focussed. The room he was standing in was mostly empty save for a pile of debris swept into a corner; like somebody had made a half-assed attempt at cleaning up. The floor was wooden, squeaked like a nest of rats and was full of termite holes. Everything about the place looked abandoned but at least it didn’t smell as bad as the last room he’d been in. There was a skanky looking couch pushed up against a wall and it was occupied by a man in a flannel shirt; older than the rest of the gang and sporting a scrubby, itchy-looking beard. Blondie threw himself down on the vacant cushion and both of them sat there, just watching. Dean stared back until he couldn’t take the silence any more.

“You want me to strip tease?”

The man he assumed was Jake finally spoke. “That’s a lot of blood, Dean. Hurt much?”

Every part of him hurt like a son of a bitch but Dean wasn’t about to give this bastard the satisfaction of the truth. “I’m awesome. Where’s the party?”

Jake smiled. “We’ll do that, once we get you prettied up.”

Blondie got to his feet, grinning. “Over to the basins, princess.”

Dean was forced out of the room through a different door which led to a small, outside yard. The first thing he spotted was a water barrel in a corner and he struggled ferociously; he knew exactly what was coming next. It didn’t do him much good though; Blondie punched him in the guts and knocked the wind out of him. They pulled him over to the barrel and shoved his head into the water. It was cold enough to rob him of any breath he had remaining but a hand on the back of his neck held him under until his lungs were burning and he was close to passing out.

When they finally let him up his legs gave out and he fell to his knees; coughing up water, almost puking and fighting for breath. He was pretty much carried back into the main room and dumped on the floor; his two handlers releasing his arms but staying close. For a while Dean couldn’t concentrate on anything except dragging air into his lungs but when he could focus again he discovered Jake still on the sofa, Blondie beside him. He struggled to his knees and glared at them, imagining what he’d be doing if he could only get free. Jake seemed pleased with the reaction.

There’s the spirit. That’s what our clients are blowing their load over.”

Dean didn’t miss the sarcasm but wasn’t really on his ‘A’ game right now. It took a moment to process the information and he frowned, confused. “Clients? You pimping me out to the highest bidder?”

Jake shook his head. “There’s only one player in town, and they pay well.”

Dean was amused by the apparent promise of money. “What’s their policy on soiled merchandise, huh?”

Jake eyed Blondie distastefully. “I told you not to hurt him.”

“It’s Dean friggin’ Winchester.” Blondie couldn’t keep the whine out of his voice. “Did you think he’d come quietly?”

“You got your rocks off though, didn’t you, Blondie?” Dean scowled, recalling the fixed fight in the lot. Then he remembered the solid kick he’d delivered back in the cell. “How you doing down there, anyway?”

Blondie lunged from the sofa and Jake grabbed his coat and hauled him back down. Dean smirked. Mission accomplished.

The man who’d been keeping watch came back into the room. “They’re here.”

Jake stood up as three men come in. Dean tried to get up as well but was instantly shoved down by the assholes behind him. He sized up the newcomers; two of them dressed almost identically in dark, casual clothes. They were probably the muscle; large and not especially bright. He mentally dubbed them Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber; The Tweeds. The third man was leaner, older and Dean put him in his late fifties. He was clearly the boss; wearing a smart, charcoal-coloured suit which complemented his coiffured, silvering hair. He looked at Dean appraisingly; didn’t seem impressed with what he saw.

This is what we’re paying ten thousand dollars for?”

Dean’s jaw dropped; not just because he was apparently being sold to this asshole. Why would anybody pay even ten bucks for a worthless piece of crap like him? Jake noticed his expression and laughed.

“Meet Dennis Yates. He’s your buyer.”

The whole scene was getting so depraved Dean couldn’t resist making a crack. “You want me to squeal like a pig now?”

One of the guards punched him in the mouth and he spat blood on the floor, adding to the splatter painting already down there. Yates, however, didn’t appear to get off on it like the rest of them.

“That’s enough. We told you to bring him in one piece.”

“He didn’t come quiet.” The whine was back in Blondie’s voice and Yates frowned at Jake.

“If we have to fix him up, it’s coming out of your fee.” He jerked his head at the larger Tweed. “Check him out.”

The guards pulled Dean to his feet and he experienced a brief but intense rush of vertigo which made him stagger. The grip on his arms tightened, holding him fast as the Tweed pulled up his shirt and began the inspection. Dean squirmed, feeling repulsed and violated.

“Get your hands off me you kinky bastard. I ain’t your rent boy.”

One of the guards sniggered. “Don’t play coy, Winchester. We know you like a little AC/DC.”

Dean twisted his head to glare at him. “How about I show you a little Slayer; you son of a bitch.”

The Tweed ignored the exchange and Dean grunted with pain as something jabbed against the wound in his side. It was a signet ring which the man wore on his pinky finger; there was an ornate symbol engraved on it, which might mean something, but he was distracted by all the damned prodding. The fucker wasn’t being gentle. When he’d finished he headed back to his boss, wiping blood from his hands.

“He needs a doctor.”

Yates nodded. “That’s a thousand off the agreed price, Jake. Doctors aren’t cheap.”

Jake’s face was a picture of indignation. “Now wait a goddamned minute; we took all the risks…”

Yates interrupted and his tone was menacing. “It’s not negotiable. Take it or leave it.”

Dean snorted; he’d seen that one coming down Broadway. Yates looked at him sharply.

“What part of this do you find amusing?”

Dean just shook his head. It wasn’t worth stating the obvious and getting another punch in the mouth for his trouble. Yates instructed the second Tweed to settle up and he took a roll of bills from his pocket, peeled some off the top and handed the rest to Jake.

Yates approached Dean, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. He was wearing the same kind of ring as the Tweed; same finger, same symbol. He nodded to the guards and they released their hold. Dean hadn’t realised they’d been mostly holding him upright until the support was gone. He teetered for a moment, not sure his legs would hold him, but stubbornness prevailed and he managed to steady himself.

Yates was eyeing him like a particularly disappointing lot in a livestock auction. It irritated Dean and he embraced the feeling; it gave him something to hang on to. He took an aggressive stance and put on his best game face; promising hell. Yates seemed more impressed now.

“Really? You can barely stand.”

“Oh I’m still kicking.”

That wasn’t entirely true. Dean’s vision was blurring, his head beginning to spin and the shackles on his wrists felt like they weighed a ton. Yates was talking; it took a lot of effort to concentrate on what he was saying.

“That’s why we wanted you, Dean. You’re strong, you’re tenacious, you never give up… Of course you’re a little stupid as well.”

In spite of the impending blackout, the words stung. “Screw you, man.”

Dean’s balance was precarious now. He was close to losing it but Yates beckoned the Tweeds across and they stood close; ready for action. Yates addressed him again, mock concern in his voice.

“Are you certain you want to do this?”

“Uh…” Dean blinked at him for a moment, trying to remember who he was as his legs buckled. “I guess not.”

The floor raced up to meet him and he hit it hard.



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