Dean gets his ass handed to him by a witch named Missy Jenkins on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
That's it. She's not ancient. She's twenty-two. She just graduated from the University of Georgia. She has blond hair and a pretty face. She isn't a possessed girl. She's a witch, and her name isn't Hecate, or Medusa, or like, Maleficent. Her name is Missy Jenkins.
So Dean gets his ass handed to him by a twenty-two year old girl on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
He's conscious just long enough to call himself a dumbass.
When he comes to, he's chained to a cold stone wall in what looks like some kind of basement. How cliché. There's a creepy-ass blackest-of-black-magic shrine directly across from him against the other wall, about twenty feet away. He's got shackles around his ankles and his wrists and since they're holding all of his weight, his arms and legs are so sore he can hardly feel them anymore. His clothes are gone and he's got some kind of rune carved into his chest that's sheeting his stomach in blood.
It really fuckin' hurts.
Missy Jenkins is standing in front of him, bathed in a fluorescent glow from the overheads lights hanging from the ceiling. She's wearing blue jeans and tennis shoes and a bubble-gum pink t-shirt, and she's got a wicked looking dagger in her hand that she's mouthing at the tip of lovingly, her full lips pulled into a wide smile. She looks both completely demented and kind of like a Care Bear.
"Hey," Dean says, plastering his most charming smile across his face. "If you wanted to tie me up, sweetheart, all you had to do was ask."
Her grin widens eerily and she starts to sway, like she's got too much energy to stay still. "I'm glad you're here," she says. "When you and your brother started snooping around about Addison and Katie's deaths, I knew I wanted you."
"That's mighty flattering," Dean says. He's got a little twang to his voice that he can only assume he picked up out of a movie or TV show somewhere when he was a kid, because it's sure as hell not natural and he only uses it to get laid. He's been wooing the ladies with it since he was eleven years old.
"You're so pretty," she tells him. He shrugs as well as he can with his shoulders nearly dislocated and nods. Ya can't argue facts. She takes a step closer, the dagger held loose at her side now. "Tall and dark and hurting."
He was waiting for 'handsome', not 'hurting'. He frowns at her. "What?"
"Your brother is hot too. So big, all that power. But he's missing something. He doesn't feel right. I'm not sure what. Can't quite figure it out, but…something, something is gone from him."
"What'd you do to Sam?" he asks, low and furious. Sam was, after all, in the hotel room with him when she got the drop on them.
"He's fine," she says, reassuring, smirking. "He's sleeping. Just missing something. Inside." Of course he is. He's missing his soul, but Dean doesn't tell her that. She presses her tongue to her top lip and sighs gently, her voice getting a little breathy, lusty as she continues. "I didn't want him. He doesn't feel like he should. But you? You're nothing but feeling, Dean. You hurt all the time, so deep down, so intense. It's suffocating you. It's beautiful."
Dean is suddenly rather less amused than he was moments ago, and he wasn't exactly all chuckles then. Her face is flushed and her blue eyes blown black like she's all hot and bothered. It's intensely discomforting. "Look," he says, but she cuts him off.
"I like to hurt things, Dean. I like to make them scream. I like their outside to match their inside." She wets her lips in a completely inappropriate fashion and closes the distance between them, taking the last few steps at a jog. The dagger slams into his right shoulder with superhuman strength, slices through tissue and shoves all the way through the back, buried to the hilt. Dean makes a shocked, strangled noise in the back of his throat and clenches his teeth, his entire body tensing as waves of pain radiate outward from the wound and roll over him. She's pressed against him now, as much as she can be with him chained two feet off the ground. She stands up on her tip-toes and laps kittenishly at the blood that's rolling down his side. "I want your outsides to hurt as much as your insides, Dean. I want to hear your scream."
She pulls away, taking her dagger with her. It hurts even more coming out, makes a disgusting squelching sound as it pulls loose. Dean swears furiously, sweat dripping down his temples and curling under his chin. It's not like he's never been stabbed before, but there's such a difference between Hell Pain and Real Pain. It's like a whole new experience.
And it fucking hurts, damn it.
He clenches his hands above the cuffs around his wrists, strains against them. His knees are bent and sticking out awkwardly, his legs just wide enough apart to leave him fully exposed and hey, this is kind of violating.
"So," he pants, voice rough and low from pain. His shoulder is throbbing in opposing time to the sigil cut into his chest. It's chaotic and disorienting. "Is there a point to this? Or is it a mindless torture sort of thing?"
Missy Jenkins wets her lips again, twirling the bloody dagger idly in her small hand. "I'm young," she says sweetly. "I'm still practicing. This is…gaining experience."
That would be a plus one for mindless torture then. "Great," he says. This blows.
Missy Jenkins walks slowly to the shrine and lifts something sharp and dirty white. It kind of looks like a reptile tooth...
Y'know, of like, a T-Rex.
"When I was a little girl," she says, her voice lilting and musical and more than a dead giveaway that she is batshit insane, "I dreamed up a monster. He was seven feet tall and covered in scales like a dragon, but he stood like a man. He had sharp teeth and sharp claws and he liked to hurt things, just like I do."
"That's precious, darlin'," Dean says lightly. That sounds ominous as hell. "Every little girl's fantasy. Right up there with marrying Prince Charming and selling more Girl Scout cookies than anyone else."
"And then," Missy Jenkins continues, like Dean hasn't spoken at all. Her eyes are lit up now with excitement. "I brought him to life."
"Oh, son of bitch," Dean says, but before he even gets the sentence out, the thing she described is standing right there next to her. It's huge, built like a brick wall…built like Sam is now but even bigger. It's pitch black with shiny scales and bright silver eyes, though it's shaped more or less like a human. Its teeth are sharp and gray and it's got wicked-long claws on each of its overly big hands and it's looking at Dean like it wants to eat him alive.
So she can summon monsters. From thin air. From her imagination.
That's fucking spectacular.
Dean heaves himself back against the wall as well as he can, putting strain on his ankles and wrists. His arms and legs are shaking from exertion. His skin is crawling just looking at the thing and his heart is hammering in his chest. He's running scared and this is too much, too soon. This is too much like Hell, hanging on a rack all set up for mindless torture and all those memories and all those feelings he's so, so carefully and so, so firmly suppressed are clawing at the mental lock box he's forced them into. They're dark and painful and Dean knows anguish, and he knows despair, and he knows what it's like to have his insides ripped out and to hold his own guts in his own hands and to rip someone apart piece by piece. He knows these things intimately; they're just as much a part of him as his skin and his bones and his kid brother.
Dean's not afraid of what this thing might to do to him. He's not afraid of this little girl with her piddly, naïve, human idea of what torture might be.
What he is afraid of, is that this pale imitation is going to skate just close enough to memories of the truth, that this is going to go just deep enough inside him to pick the lock on his Pandora's box and he doesn't know if he can bounce back a second-third-fourth-fifth time from this shit. He'd lost half of himself when Cas pulled him out of Hell, and he lost everything else when Sam fell willingly into it. He doesn't have anything else to give.
"This is Alisec," Missy Jenkins says. "He's been with me since I was a child."
"You still are a child," Dean tells this stupid, stupid little girl playing with things she couldn't possibly begin to understand.
"Alisec," Missy Jenkins murmurs sweetly, and the monster flexes its every muscle. "Go."
His body is burning and tearing apart at the seams, all his threads snapping. He feels crushed and contained and shattered and his mind is fracturing under the pressure. There's blood on his skin and hands that burn and burn and burn, flayed skin and heat, and Alistair is whispering in his ear soft and loving, stroking through Dean's bloody hair and twisting his hand sunk deep inside Dean's stomach until Dean's insides are spiraled into a bloody tangled mess and he's choking on his own blood. "Just say yes, Dean. Let me heal you. Let me save you. Let me teach you. Just say yes."
And Dean chokes, "Sam," and Alistair screams in rage.
It's dark and dull. There's a draft over his body. He's cold, and when something touches the very tip of his shoulder so lightly he flinches. Pain wrenches through him, every nerve in his entire body screaming, but his mind feels weak and drunk and slow. The hand touches him again and he jerks away and the pain this time forces a quiet cry of agony out of his bruised, chapped throat.
"Hey," someone says, so familiar and Dean would know that voice anywhere even if there is something horrifically off about it. "Hey, Dean, it's okay. It's just me. God, I can't believe you're still alive. Easy, man, it's just me. It's Sam."
"Y'r not Sam," Dean replies immediately. He forces his eyes open, sees rusty red at first and then Sam's blurry face comes into focus. He looks genuinely concerned, which is strange, his eyebrows drawn together and his lips pulled down into a hard frown. Dean wants to punch him in the face and throw up. He's never hurt this bad before. Not topside. The thing that isn't Sam rolls its eyes.
"I know," it—he—says. "But I don't have another name to go by, okay?"
"S'witch?" Dean asks.
"She's dead," Sam says easily. He's got a pair of bolt cutters. The blade makes Dean shy away again. He's woozy with blood loss. He can feel it like a film over his chest and legs. His arm is broken and he can see the bone where his skin was torn off by sharp, sharp claws. He gags on the bile rising in his throat.
Sam is efficient and careful about cutting him down. He frees Dean's left leg, first, and then his right. When his feet slide down the wall his hips throb excruciatingly and Dean grits his teeth and breathes through it, though his nasal passages feel clogged and sore. When his right arm is freed, Dean doesn't have the strength to hold it up, but Sam catches it by the wrist, which is raw and ripped open from the cuffs, and lowers it carefully to the wall. As blood starts to circulate again tears of unadulterated physical pain sting Dean's eyes. Not that he doesn't have plenty of manly reasons to break down bawling anyway, thanks.
Sam is more careful with Dean's broken left arm, and he wraps a Hulk-like arm around Dean's waist to catch him immediately, softening the blow as much as he can but the agony that washes over Dean in waves isn't something he can cope with. Sam lowers them both to the floor and Dean is gagging, retching onto the cold, bloody stone at their side. Sam cups the back of his neck, strokes slow circles there with the pad of his thumb, and Dean knows he's only doing it because he remembers that he should, but it's something Dean's Sam, the real Sam, would do and it feels so good after everything and God, he's too fucked up to handle all this shit right now.
"I'm sorry it took me so long to find you," Sam says. "She hid her tracks really well."
Over Sam's shoulder, Dean can see the remains of what was once Missy Jenkins and is now an unrecognizable pile of blood and bone. Her head was crushed. Into a pulp.
"You were angry," Dean says, somewhat awed, somewhat disgusted.
"She took you," Sam answers, without thought or hesitation.
Dean doesn't know what to say to that. This Sam doesn't get angry, or scared, or happy or sad or anything but efficient and cold because this Sam isn't supposed to be able to feel. Dean closes his eyes and slumps against him, his cheek resting on Sam's shoulder, familiar flannel shirt body-heat warm and soft on his bruised skin. "I miss him," he breathes. "I miss him. I miss him."
"I know," Sam says, sighing. The hand is back, warm on his neck, soothing.
"I wish you were real."
"It'll be okay."
Dean snorts softly, tucks his face into Sam's neck. Sam's heart is beating slow and steady against his own and they're huddled together on the floor, Sam's huge fucking body wrapped around Dean's, Dean on his knees between Sam's legs, all of his weight on him.
"Fuck," Dean whispers. "Fuck, Sam, this is so fucked up. All of this is so fucking insane."
"Christ," Sam says, and he sounds much more like Robo-Sam now than he did before. "Will you just pass out already so we can get the hell out of here?"
For reasons beyond Dean's comprehension, he finds that excessively funny. He laughs into Sam's neck until the internal bleeding bubbles blood into his mouth.
"You're going to kill yourself if you don't stop moving," Sam says, and he sounds reasonably worried. "Here. This has to be done anyway."
He's careful about manhandling Dean around, but it still hurts like a motherfucker. Sam settles Dean with his bare ass on the freezing cold and bloody floor and pulls him back against his chest, Dean's head falling back onto his shoulder. Both arms come around him, big hands gripping Dean's left arm.
"Sam, what're you—"
Sam sets the break with a practiced twist, and Dean screams his way into unconsciousness.
The next time Dean wakes up he's warm and ungodly sore, his entire body drenched in an all-encompassing ache that's like a living, breathing entity, pulsing inside and out. It takes him four tries to open his eyes. He's got an awful taste in his mouth so he knows he's been given drugs, and the room around him is familiar in its unfamiliarity. It's some hotel, somewhere nicer than they usually stay because that's how they roll when one of them is injured. Dean has a cast on his left arm like Sam had a few years ago, up to just under his elbow. His broken ribs are wrapped and his stomach is pretty much swathed in clean bandages. He can feel gauze on his legs, too, his inner thigh that he intimately remembers a long claw burying itself in. There's more on his neck, where teeth sunk in and a long lizard tongue lapped at his blood.
The memory makes him shudder, which makes all that pain throb unforgivingly, which drags a rough and completely involuntary sound out of Dean's throat.
"Hey." Sam's voice comes from somewhere to his left. Dean laboriously turns his head to see him. Sam walks over from where he's been sitting on the other bed with a book and settles carefully on the foot of Dean's, tucking one leg under him on the bed and keeping the other foot on the floor. Dean follows every movement. Sam doesn't even move the same as he used to. This isn't Sam, and it sucks that Dean keeps getting hit with this blindsiding sucker-punch of loss every time he thinks about it.
"Hey," he responds. His voice comes out rough and wrecked. Sam's hair is damp and rumpled, like he took a shower not too long ago. It makes Dean's chest ache. "How long've I been out?"
"About a day," Sam answers. "I called Cas. He fixed the internal injuries, but he said he couldn't do the rest…said he was afraid you'd succumb to shock or something if he did. Sounds like complete bullshit to me, but whatever. He saved you, didn't stick around long after. I patched up the rest. That thing she summoned tore you apart, man."
"I remember," Dean says dazedly, trying not to dwell on his feelings being hurt like a kid by Cas's refusal to fix him up right. It does sound like bullshit, but Cas must have his reasons, some prior case or something like that. "What'd she do to you, anyway?"
"Knocked me out with some kind of spell, I guess," Sam says. "I woke up and it was twelve hours later and you were gone."
"Fuck," Dean says dully. He blinks and it takes him a long time to reopen his eyes. Sam is studying him clinically, head tilted to the side. He looks more like how Cas used to look at Dean back when they first met than he does like Sam, now, which is a little comforting. "How'd you find me?"
Sam looks away shiftily, and Dean mentally sighs. That means that Sam is either about to tell him something completely weird and unsettling—like he doesn't sleep at all anymore—or that he's done something highly illegal and dangerous and wrong—like killed a civilian in the line of duty.
"I. Uh, I could y'know. I followed her scent. I could smell her."
Door number one it is, then. Dean makes a face that hurts his bruised and lacerated face and shakes his head slowly against the pillow. His hair ruffles the pillowcase. It sounds overwhelmingly loud in his ears.
"That's so fuckin' creepy, man."
"Hey," Sam says, somewhat defensively. "You asked."
Dean sighs, his breath hitching in his throat in pain when the full expansion of his lungs shoots hurt like shards of glass straight through him, down into his stomach.
"I guess I did," he grits out tiredly, and when he opens his mouth next his voice is accusing and disappointed and totally judgmental, but he's exhausted and in pain and he was just tortured by a crazy-ass witch and her pet monster. He's feeling a little too overwhelmed to play nice with his robot brother. Give him a fucking break. "Why'd you come after me, anyway?"
Sam frowns deeply, curious. "What d'you mean?"
"I mean why'd you come after me," Dean repeats. He lifts his good hand and rubs it over his tired eyes, and then looks back at Sam. "You didn't have to. Did you do it just because I told you you're supposed to want to?"
Sam frowns harder, eyes narrowing a little, but not like he's angry. He scrubs his hand over one of his giant arms and shrugs slowly. "You're my brother. You were taken. I came to get you."
"I'm not your brother," Dean says with a soft laugh. "And you know that. You don't really give a fuck about me, dude. You pretty much told me that."
Sam shakes his head, sighing. "I'm not actually a robot, Dean," Sam says, and he sounds so condescendingly patient that it's almost like his real brother is back with him. "It's probably past time we talk about this. I can't…I can't feel a whole lot, but I still have a brain. I don't go around hurting people because I think it's a good idea. I want to help people. I want to get rid of dangerous things that hurt people. You keep looking at me like I'm a dog you have to train or something you're trying to reprogram, and I've let you because what the hell, it seems to make you happy, but I'm still a person. I didn't like the idea of someone hurting you. I was worried. I wanted you with me. So I found you." And then he smiles, just a little, and says, "It was the only logical conclusion, Captain."
When he throws up the Vulcan hand signal thing, Dean closes his eyes and turns his head. He knows he's been a little unfair with this version of a person he used to know and that he still loves so fiercely it's his entire fucking world. Having Sam point it out like this is unfair though. It's easier to think of him as something unfeeling in all aspects, some empty shell that used to be something. Something not whole. Dean was gone. RoboSam wanted him back.
"You're dangerous," he tells Sam.
"I know," Sam says. "But I'm not a stupid kid who needs to be lead around on a leash, either. I'll do it, if that's what makes you happy, but you don't need to worry about me not coming to find you if something takes you, or letting you die as a means to an end."
"You let me get turned into a—"
Sam holds up a hand. "I know. I know I did, but there was a cure, and I knew it would work."
Dean squeezes his eyes shut. He's hurting, aching in every possible context. He just wants to sleep. "'m tired," he says, because he really, really doesn't want to keep having this conversation.
"You should sleep, then," Sam says, almost gently. His hand touches Dean's ankle through the covers for just a second, and then he's unfolding his miles-long body and standing up, grabbing his jacket from the small kitchenette table and shrugging into it. Dean watches him, mouth closed. "I'm gonna hit the store. We're out of food. And beer."
"Mm," Dean says.
Sam zips up his coat and walks to the door and Dean closes his eyes, waits for him to leave, waits to be alone, but he doesn't hear the door open, and after a few seconds, Sam speaks again.
"I know you want him—the other Sam—I know you want him back. I'm going to get him back for you. We'll figure it out. I'm still him, in some ways." The door opens. "I'll keep you safe until he gets here."
There's the soft click of the door closing and Dean opens his eyes. They're stinging and his throat hurts and he's so fucking over this whole mess. Hell is scratching at his mind and he misses his stupid fucking brother so much it's killing him. He could maybe get used to this other guy, this Sam that isn't, who's smart as Sam has always been and has just made totally relevant points. He's got a brain. He's got at least somewhat of a moral compass, though it points too far west for Dean's liking. Still, he's a person, a nearly whole person who breathes and eats and thinks and talks and is. And is, admittedly, at least a little fond of Dean despite not being able to feel much at all.
And Dean is going to sacrifice him like Mary's little lamb to get his baby brother back.
Dean melts into the pain, pure and physical and clean, and sleeps.