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The Paper Asks Nothing

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            The worst mistake you can make, John Winchester always said, is to think something is easy. Sam believed that. Researched everything. Every salt and burn. Every poltergeist. Fought Dean to try to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. Not that they could really ever get all the intel.

            Sam never took demons for granted. Hated possession more than anything.

            Sulfur didn’t always smell like swamp gas, like rotten eggs. In the darkness of this suburban foyer, Sam smelled match heads. It was a smell with both bad and good associations, with demons and bone burnings. He followed Dean’s back, his shotgun pointed down because even if it was rock salt, if Dean turned around abruptly, two shot gun shells of rock salt from three feet away would permanently blind him at the very least.

            Everything narrowed down in a hunt, everything was right now. There was no sound except a muffled something that stopped, but that was enough to take make them back out of the living room that even in the light from a streetlight looked as if no one used it and go up the stairs. Pitch dark hallway. Dean picked what was probably the master suite because demons had the imagination of cockroaches and inevitably liked master suites and nurseries. The smell of match heads was stronger. When they went somewhere that was really demon infested, where the meatsuits were long dead or where the demons had been staying—like one of Crowley’s places—that was when the sulfur smell was really rotten egg bad. Then Dean was more likely to gank first, ask questions later. Maybe they could save the people here.

            Sam felt the back of his neck prickling and glanced over his shoulder but he couldn’t see anything in the blackness. The furnace kicked on and he startled just slightly. There was a bedroom and the streetlight showed a bed with a pile of unfolded laundry and on the floor was a cardboard box with X-mas decorations stacked on it. Sam had been in a lot of houses and seen a lot of ‘guest’ bedrooms. He ignored it.

            Dean stopped by the half open door to the master suite. Sam knew where Dean was, couldn’t say how he knew since he couldn’t see Dean, could just sense him in the darkness. Someone was crying inside, hopeless little hitches of breath. They weren’t expecting any help.

            Some things, when you flicked on the light, they’d be blinded. Vamps and werewolves were sensitive to light. Demons and ghosts, not. As best as they’d been able to work out, a couple lived here and the crying sounded like a woman. If they had time, they could have set up a devil’s trap, brought the possessed husband into it, but that wasn’t going to happen.

            The light in the bedroom flicked on. A man’s voice said, “Come in.”

            Dean stood a moment, silhouetted, adjusting to the change in illumination.

            It was an aspirational bedroom. Sam thought of them as cable TV bedrooms, inspired by decorating shows. It was small but the walls were painted some shade of blue instead of left off white and there were a bunch of fancy pillows on the floor, some marked now with rusty streaks of dried blood. There was a woman tied up in a kitchen chair, eye makeup running down her face. There was a man sitting on the fancy patterned sheets of the unmade bed.

            “Hunters,” the man said and blinked black. “It’s your lucky day, Emma.”

            She whimpered.

            Dean fired a round of salt into the guy’s chest and Sam chanted, “Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus omnis satanica potestas…”

            The thing wearing the woman’s husband reeled back. Dean took a couple of steps forward to keep it in his sights and when it started to get back up he flung holy water at it. Timing was everything. The job was to keep it from shutting them up until they could get it exorcised.

            The woman screamed. Sam chanted. He had his own holy water out for when Dean ran out—something punched him in the chest and slammed him back and up the wall and the back of his head bounced against the wallboard.

            Dean’s shotgun went off and his slid back down the wall and started chanting again. In the back of his head Sam remembered his dad making him learn ‘this is my rifle. There are many like it but this one is mine.’ Teaching him the importance of not losing focus of what ever is the most important thing he was doing in a fight. Like not losing his place in an exorcism.

            He still had his shotgun, too. He heard Dean grunt so he fired his shotgun. He hoped the woman had her head down. She screamed, he chanted—

            The demon smoked out before Sam got halfway through the exorcism. And the room was suddenly silent.

            Sam’s ears were ringing. Shotgun blasts did that.

            “Sam?” Dean said.

            “Okay. You?”

            “I’m good.”

            Sam got his feet under him and used the wall at his back to help him get up. The woman started crying again. Dean was on the floor by a set of drawers but he was running the back of his hand under his nose to see if it was bleeding and he looked pretty normal.

            Sam checked the guy who’d been hosting the demon. He was alive, breathing, not conscious. He didn’t look great.

            “Julio?” Emma said.

            “He’s alive,” Sam said. “We’re going to call 911.”

            “What was, what was… he hurt me.”

            “It wasn’t Julio,” Sam said. He knee walked to her. The knots were good, too tight. Her hands were purple from lack of circulation and the ropes around her chest cut into her upper arms. She looked a little like Ruby only she was Latina, darker. Sam cut her loose and took her hands in his and tried to gently work a little circulation back in.

            “It hurts,” she said.

            She had a cut lip and he could only imagine what the blood on the pillows meant.

            “Do you have someone you could call?” Sam asked. “Your mom?”

            “Did it say what it wanted?” Dean asked.

            “Who are you? How did you know?” she asked.

            “I’m Dean. This is my brother Sam.” Dean put the demon hunting knife on the chest of drawers. “We’re hunters. You want to give her the—” Dean made a kind of circling motion with two fingers meaning ‘things that go bump in the night talk’.

            Her eyes lit up and blinked black and she threw her hands out and threw them both hard against the opposite walls. “Sam and Dean? Winchesters? You’re kidding! I feel all tingly!”

            Sam couldn’t speak, couldn’t breath. He could see Dean on the other wall. Stupid. It had never occurred to him that both of them might be possessed. That this might be some sort of trap.

            She stood up, picked up the demon knife.

            “I’ve heard all about you!” She looked at Dean. “You’re a Knight of Hell! Well,” she pouted, “you were. And you didn’t do much. If I were a Knight of Hell, I’d do so many things.” She tested the edge of the demon blade.

            She glanced at Sam, frowning. “You’re Lucifer bait. He’s, like, obsessed with you. Wants to make you watch.” Then back to Dean. “But you…I don’t really think he cares so much about you. I mean, Crowley does but fuck him. I only want to try you out.”

            Sam was seeing black spots and he could see his brother was choking out, too.

            “You’re protected,” the demon said, her voice getting farther away. She walked up to Dean and looked around his neck. “Oh, nice tattoo!”

            No no no no no no no.

            She slashed Dean’s tattoo, threw her head back and opened her mouth as Sam blacked out.

            He gasped and blinked in time to see Dean stand up. He was still too anoxic to do more than try to drag in air.

            “Whoa,” The demon in Dean said. “This is like going from a Kia to a Maserati. Talk about meat suits. You are awesome!” It said ‘awesome’ just like his brother.

            “Dean,” Sam gasped.

            “Hey there Sam. Did you know your brother is built for performance?” the demon said. “I mean, you ought to try this! Well, except for the fact that you chose to stay human and all that.” Dean leaned way down to look him in the face. Beyond him was that stupid rusty-blood streaked decorator pillow and beyond that Emma. “Looking a little out of breath, Sammy-boy.” He grabbed Sam around the neck and hauled him to his feet.

            Sam saw black at the corners of his vision again.

            “Dean’s never been possessed!” he said. “Can you imagine! Sam practically advertises on Craig’s List, the whore!”

            No, Sam kept thinking. Dean couldn’t be possessed. He couldn’t— Just no no no no no.

            “Not the first time you’ve been in a position to kill Sam, I see,” the demon said, smiling just the way Dean had stalking through the bunker with a hammer. “Everybody thinks you’re soooooo close but dude. Look at the inside of your head. You’re just both all messed up. So complicated! Can’t live with each other, can’t stand to be apart.” The black was creeping in, the voice of the demon who sounded like Dean getting farther and farther away. “Calling him to restaurant to kill him? The whole on his knees thing? You’re a sick fuck. Blame it on the mark on you want but that has to have something to work on—”

            He passed out.

            Fear first, then sound, then maybe a mash of sensation and then the sense that wait, he was on his knees. Someone was talking. Something on his face. He made out what— “Hey, hey, hey,” Dean said gently. It was cold under his knees and he was slumped down on his heels. Awkward. Uncomfortable. Dean had him, a hand behind his head supporting him because it was hard to hold his head up. Dean’s chest was close and Sam could feel the warmth of him.

            “Sammy,” Dean said. “Look at me. Look at me. You’re okay. I’ve got you. I’ve got you.”

            Sam could feel his mouth open, slack. He tried to focus. Dizzy as fuck.

            Dean was looking at him.

            “You blacked out, dude. Demon. Remember?”

            Remembering took a bit. “Dean?” Sam blinked. He was in a garage. Suburban two car garage, at night. There was a white SUV parked on one side. The floor was concrete and cold. Weed whacker. Those home depot shelves with paint cans and tools and storage bins and shit.

            “Look what I found?” Dean said. He held up a hammer. Wooden handle, steel head.

            Sam felt his heart stutter.

            Dean blinked black.

            Cas, Sam prayed in an instant, his first and last coherent thought, Dean is possessed and he’s going to kill me. You have to save him. I’m sorry. He tried to throw himself away from his brother and then there was nothing.