At three a.m. Dean had finally broken down and popped a couple Tylenol with codeine.
He’d been dangling on the edge of sleep, not entirely relaxed but at least resting, when Sam had abruptly flailed both gangly arms as if trying to catch himself in mid-fall, the right slapping down hard across Dean’s chest.
A displaced rib ground against his sternum and one of his lacerations began leaking blood, and Dean decided he was done with the bed for the night.
After washing down the pain medication, he scanned the room, assessing his options.
A brown leather jacket rewarded him with keys, and he went to stretch himself out in the backseat of his Impala.
Gentle hands carded through his short hair, and relief bolstered by longing expanded to fill a void he hadn’t realized was there.
“Zellynnexia,” and the name was both a plea and prayer.
Fingertips traced his forehead. “I’ve missed you.” Hot breath misted over his left eyebrow, tip of her tongue tracing the ridge, and he shivered with want.
He slid the fingers of both hands into her hair, marveling at its weight and softness. “I’m glad you’re here. I’ve been trying to find you.” He drank her in, hungry to memorize each detail of her features. “I need…” The burning in his eyes closed off his throat.
“Shhh,” she admonished, and delicate lips whispered across his own, her tongue darting out to lap up his moan. “I know.”
He closed his eyes, curling his fingers into her dark locks, pulling himself into her mouth, sucking her lower lip, then her tongue, chasing it back with his own, invading and exploring, desperate to taste her sweetness, frantic for its balm.
She broke away to explore the side of his neck, the underside of his jaw, and he moaned again, straining towards her, heart drumming insistently.
It wasn’t until her nails scraped tantalizingly across his chest to tease a tight nipple that he realized he was nude. Her teeth closed over that small but sensitive nub, and she held it carefully while the tip of her tongue stroked across it.
The feeling was electric, and he arched into her mindlessly.
“Lynne,” this time a demand as well as a promise.
She heard, and adjusted her hips, guiding him into her.
She is devouring him, soft-moist-sucking warmth, and his back arches as he groans, and it feels so incredibly good, he can't remember why it wouldn’t, and he tries not to let it over-power him, but it does, and their hands and mouths move faster, and his skin is tingling and his heart is racing and he feels the build and he knows it's coming and tries to slow it and he can't and it's everything and the wet sucking heat is filling his head and a wordless moan pours from his lips as his torso folds and his orgasm erupts and
“Zellynnexia,” and his whisper was a song of praise in the starry night.
A black car in an open lot in the desert turns into an oven by seven a.m.
Dean awoke to that awareness, slick with sweat, body heavy and feeling...sated.
He focused on that, and on the pleasant tingle in his groin, the less pleasant stickiness, and the invasive suffusion of happiness that was the afterglow of Zellynnexia.
For the first time in a long time, he thought it might turn out to be a good day.
“I’m gonna drop you at Bobby’s this weekend.”
There was barely a hitch in the rhythm of the whetstone gliding across the machete blade. “Just for the weekend?”
“No.” John paused, knowing this wouldn’t go over well with his oldest son, trying to find some way to get him to accept it anyway. “You’re gettin’ stir crazy here and Bobby could use your help. I’m gonna leave ya with him, then come back and stay with Sam until his school year’s over.”
John couldn’t read the mix of emotions in his son’s face, but he knew none of them added up to ‘pleased’.
Shame and hurt won out, and he watched helplessly as Dean set the tools down, stood, and turned away, tears glinting in his eyes.
“Dean, it’s not a punishment, okay? I’m not banishing you or anything, but there’s no hunt right now, and Bobby could use some help with those cars of his, and research on this ‘cubi thing.”
Dean had moved to his duffle bag and begun rummaging through it.
“Even if there was a hunt, you need time to heal -- “
He watched, dumbstruck, as his oldest son walked into the bathroom and shut the door.
He's never walked away from me like that before.
He sat down on the bed, running a hand through his hair. “Christ. What the hell am I doing?”
Dean turned on the shower, letting it heat while he slowly peeled off his clothes and bandages. They didn’t usually shower twice in a day with no hunt or training in between, but he figured the blood, sweat, and antibiotic ointment coating his torso gave him an excuse.
The steam was almost thick enough to choke him and the water scalded his skin. He ducked his head into the spray, turning, soaking every part of himself.
Shampoo, let it sit, soap every millimeter of flesh, even between each of his toes.
Sending me away.
Not good enough to hunt with. Can’t trust me to have his back, to keep Sam safe, to...whatever.
before he can wonder if this is a vampire nest, someone is devouring him, soft-moist-sucking warmth, and his back arches as he groans, and it shouldn’t feel so good, he can’t remember why but it shouldn’t, and he tries not to let it, but it does, and the hands and mouths move faster, they are everywhere, and his skin is tingling and his heart is racing and he feels the build and he knows it’s coming and it shouldn’t and it is and he can’t and it’s wrong and the wet sucking heat is filling his head and a “No” boils from his lips as his torso folds and his orgasm erupts
He pressed his thumb hard into the area on his chest where his rib had slipped off of its facet on his sternum, hissing at the sharp lance of pain.
Should have been able to stop them. Shouldn’t have been there in the first place. And I…
He looked down at himself, cringing. How could I let that get me off?
Everything I thought I was...I’m not. And Dad knows….he’s always known. That’s why he….
There were no words, just a cloud of memories, of strong words, harsh looks, merciless hands.
Dean sat in the bottom of the motel bathtub, knees drawn up, head bent low, hands laced over his skull, and rocked, too lost even for tears.
“He’s gone, Caroline.” The pain and fear in his voice carried clearly through the phone.
She pictured him pacing, running a hand through his hair. “Who is gone, John?”
“Dean. He was in the shower; I left to get Sam, came back and he’s gone. His duffel, his car, both gone.”
“Text and phone?” She knew the answer, but had to ask.
“Not answering. Phone goes straight to voicemail.”
“And I assume he’s had no contact --”
He cut her off, impatient. “No contact with Sam or Bobby, and the guys I got watching the doc that treated him haven’t seen him, either.” There was a pause, and she suspected that he was drinking. “Bobby told me -- “ his voice choked off, and he cleared his throat. “About Dean’s...surgery.” His voice sounded off, and she knew he was crying. “I almost killed him, Carol. It’s no wonder he took off.” Another pause, and the distinctive sound of glass on glass could be heard. At least he’s not drinking straight from the bottle. “I just don’t know why he bothered to stick around for so long in the first place.”
“Can you come over?”
“No. I’ve got Sam.”
“Bring him. It may help.”
His silence voiced his refusal, and she wondered, not for the first time, what he was so afraid of.
“What will you do then?”
He blew out a long breath. “I don’t know, Caroline. I just don’t know.”
And he ended the call.
Dean turned the manila envelope in his hands. He’d been in plenty of police stations before, but couldn’t ever remember feeling this nervous.
He stepped to the window at the front desk.
“Help you?” the uniformed officer asked, sparing the tall young man the briefest glance before returning his attention to his computer screen.
“I’m looking for Detective Hedley. Is he in?”
“About?” The man’s fingers tapped away on the keyboard.
“I...I need to give him this.” Dean raised the envelope slightly.
“Just leave it here. I’ll make sure he gets it.”
Dean shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
The man looked up.
Dean found that he couldn’t meet the officer’s eyes. “I’d really prefer to give it to him myself.”
Now he had the uniformed man’s undivided attention. “What did you say your name was?”
“Dean...Dean Kayser. The detective questioned me about something when I was in the hospital. I had a concussion and was doped up.” He held up the envelope again. “I have more information, but I don’t….” I don’t want just anybody to see it . He shrugged. “No offense, but I don’t want to risk any of it getting misplaced.”
The officer looked at him for a moment, then picked up a phone. “Hey, Dave. You know a guy named Dean Kayser?” There was a pause, and the man flicked his eyes over Dean as he listened. “Yeah, that sounds like him. He’s down front, got a package he wants to give you. Won’t leave it with me.” He listened again, then put his hand over the phone. “He wants to know if you want to go up.”
Dean took an involuntary step back. “No...kind of in a hurry.”
The man removed his hand from the mouthpiece. “Nah, you’re right, he don’t wanna come up.” He nodded. “Alright. Thanks.” He replaced the receiver in its cradle. “He’ll be right down.” He gestured toward a wooden bench. “Have a seat.”
Dean glanced quickly at the cameras placed at ceiling level before concluding that they covered the room in its entirety. He moved to the bench, but sat perched on the edge of it, one knee bouncing in agitation.
He stood as soon as he saw the detective approaching through the glass doors.
“Dean,” the man smiled warmly, extending his hand. “What can I do for you?”
Foregoing the handshake, Dean pressed the envelope into the man’s palm. “I thought about what you said.” He dropped his chin, worrying his lower lip with his teeth. “You’re right. They have a house…” He shifted his weight, stuffed his hands in the front pockets of his jeans, and hunched his shoulders. “I don’t think...I don’t think I was the first.” He swallowed visibly. “ It’s all in there: what I remember. The bar they...that I met them at. Photos. Address of the house.” One hand rose, pressing hard into his chest. “I left a t-shirt there, on the floor in the bathroom. ‘S probably still there.” The hand rubbed, and Dean flinched. “Living room...there’s no furniture. Just mattresses.”
He stepped back, then turned toward the exit, and the detective caught his arm.
Dean jerked away instinctively, one foot dropping back into a balanced stance, arms rising to block or strike, eyes both fearful and angry.
“Sorry,” Hedley offered, hands up, one holding the envelope, the other palm out. “I just wanted to thank you.” The detective’s voice was low, pitched so that only Dean could hear him. “This wasn’t your fault, and coming in here like this took a lot of courage.”
Tears glinted brightly in the young man’s eyes as he turned and shouldered his way out the door.
By the time he got back to the motel, it was dark.
The black Impala purred as he guided it into a dark spot in the corner of the lot, far enough from his father’s room that he shouldn’t hear the rumbling beast, but close enough for Dean to see his family one last time.
He had a fresh bottle of Jack on the seat next to him. He opened it, tipping his head back to drink deeply, enjoying the bite of the harsh liquor.
The barrel of his Colt 1911 gleamed in the weak light of the one street lamp that managed to stretch its influence this far. Dean ran his fingertips over the pattern etched there. It was a beautiful piece, and as much as he tried to tell Sammy that it was the action and precision that he loved about his gun, it was the pearl handle and intricate design that had first caught his attention.
He was proud of his weapon.
He took another long drink, grimacing as he swallowed, and tipped his head back against the seat. He could see the room through the curtain of his lashes, lights still on, shadows shifting across the windows.
Someone was pacing inside.
The brown liquor slid down his throat a bit more smoothly the third time.
He pulled his phone out, turned it on.
Seven voicemails, eleven text messages, and too many missed calls to bother counting. His dad, his brother, Bobby….
The bottle rose, tipped, and was lowered once more.
Three people. Three people to care, to mourn. That wasn’t so bad, right? Not like he’d be leaving a couple dozen behind.
One less hunter among those four. Hunters knew how to cope. They’d get over him pretty quickly.
He raised the liquor in a silent toast. “Sorry, guys. Sorry I’m not who we thought I was.”
One long swig, and he capped the bottle, dropping it on the seat.
The grip of his pistol felt so right in his hand.
John carried one of the straight-backed chairs out and set it next to the door, closing Sam inside. He sat facing the Impala, a shape that was only vaguely discernible in the dark night, but one that he would recognize anywhere.
Heart in his throat, he dialed the familiar number, praying his son would answer.
Just when he thought he would be forced to walk over to the car, a whiskey-roughened voice spoke in his ear. “Hey, Dad.”
The vice around his chest loosened.
“Dean. What’re you up to, son?” He kept his tone gentle.
He counted three uneven breaths before Dean answered. “Drinkin’, I guess.”
John sorted through responses, feeling like he was diffusing a bomb and not sure he was up to the task. “Oh, yeah? Whatcha drinkin’?”
“Good choice. Caroline has this stuff called ‘Branton’s’, or something like that. Bottle looks like a hand grenade. ‘S got a jockey on the cap. We should split a bottle some time; it’s nice and smooth.”
“You want someone to share that Jack with?” He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt this afraid.
“Nah. Not very good company right now.”
“Why’s that, Son?” He tried to put every ounce of love he felt for the boy into his words.
More uneven breaths made their way to John’s ear.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be….” Dean’s voice faded out.
John sat forward, gripping the phone tightly. “Couldn’t be what, Dean? You’re everything I ever hoped you’d be, everything I’ve ever asked you to be, and more. What are you sorry for?”
He’s crying. Dean never cried, never, and the sound crushed John’s soul. He stood, pacing, wanting more than anything to go to his son, afraid that it would be the wrong thing to do. “Please, buddy. You’re scaring me. Talk to me.”
“I can’t --” His voice broke on a sob. Panic crested in John’s throat, and he began striding toward the Impala.
“You can, Dean, you can. I’ve made so many mistakes with you, so many things I regret, but I love you and I’m proud of you, and there’s nothing you could tell me that would change that.”
“I’m not who you think I am.” The voice was a whisper, and John stopped in his tracks, cold rushing down his spine.
“What do you mean?”
He held his breath, listening to his son struggle to control his own.
“I couldn’t stop them.”
John strained after words that were barely a whisper. “Couldn’t stop who?”
There was a single sob. “They drugged me.” His voice was even softer.
Jesus, no …. John began moving toward the car again. “Who drugged you, Dean? When?”
A sharp, hiccuping breath preceded the words. “Guys from the bar. Night Sammy took off.”
John put a hand on the hood of the Impala, legs suddenly weak. “Dean….”
“They…” John could see his son through the windshield, hunched over the steering wheel, phone in one hand.
He was rubbing the barrel of his Colt against his temple.
“I couldn’t...I didn’t want….”
“Shhh,” John crooned, moving slowly towards the driver’s side door. “It wasn’t your fault. It doesn’t change who you are.”
Dean sobbed, and John watched the boy press the side of his pistol into his forehead, grinding against it.
John put his left hand on the door handle before crouching down to his son’s eye level.
“Why did they pick me?” And John heard all that the question entailed, all the self-doubt, loathing, and shame.
“Because you’re a good-looking kid, Dean. Your whole life I’ve caught people looking at you, and I’ve worried, and I should have warned you. This my fault, Dean. Mine, not yours.”
Dean rested the wrist of the hand holding the gun against the steering wheel, head rocking side to side as he cried.
“I’m here, buddy. I’m here.”
John slowly opened the door.
Dean dropped his phone, shoulders heaving, sobbing against the steering wheel.
John slid his right hand across the boy’s shoulders, pulling his son into his chest. With his left hand he took the Colt from Dean’s limp fingers.
Dean turned into him, fists gripping his father’s flannel, helplessness and shame racking his body as it boiled out of him uncontrollably.
John crushed the boy against him, doing his best to hold the fragments of his son’s soul together, whispering, “I’m sorry,” “I love you, Dean,” and “It’s going to be okay,” over and over again.
As soon as Dean went limp, either from exhaustion or an alcohol-induced blackout, John called Bobby.
“I know it’s late, but somethin’s happened to Dean. I need to take him to Caroline. Can you get here, keep an eye on Sam?”
“‘Course I can. I’m actually just one state over right now, workin’ a case. Be there in about two hours.”
“You just make sure Dean’s okay.” There was a pause. “You didn’t hurt him, did you?”
John closed his eyes. Knowing he deserved that only heightened the pain of it. “No, not this time.”
“Good. Might give ya a chance to make up for it.”
“Thanks.” John’s tone was sardonic.
The line was dead.
With some effort John managed to force an unresponsive Dean over into the passenger seat, knocking a nearly empty bottle of Jack Daniels onto the floor in the process. He slid in behind the wheel before pulling his son over to lean against his shoulder, the boy’s body heat and soft snore somehow comforting.
John texted Sam. “I’ve got Dean. He’s okay, but we need to go do something. Bobby’s on the way.”
Then he leaned his head back against the seat and tried to absorb the bombshell his wrecked older son had dropped on him.
Dean... raped. The cocky smile, the mischievous glint in his eyes, the determined set to his jaw, the childlike glee...To think that someone had missed all of that, had looked at his son and seen only a piece of flesh to be used and discarded….
Thank God they didn't kill him.
But John wanted to kill them. To have hurt Dean this way, forcing him to doubt and hate himself, that was something John could not forgive.
He began piecing together the bits of information that Dean had given him.
There wasn’t much: more than one man; a bar; the night Sammy left.
John suddenly remembered what he’d asked Dean the day he’d come back from hunting a shape shifter to track down his younger son. What he had assumed Dean had been doing, and the answer his boy had given: “Yes.” John remembered the way Dean’s shoulders had dropped, his entire being limp with guilt...and acceptance.
He knew I was going to beat the hell out of him, and he let me. Because he thought he deserved it, for what those piles of vomit did to him.
John leaned his head against his unconscious son’s, and his tears were lost in the boy’s sweat-damp hair.
I will make this right. If it’s the last thing I do, I swear to God, I will make this right.