Five minutes driving from the Bunker, Dean parked and pulled a bloody glass beaker from his jacket. "You there?"
Two women materialized in his rearview mirror, Men of Letters lab assistants killed trying to recreate Herbert West's reanimation experiment in 1932. "You mentioned a deal earlier," said the oldest, "What do you want?"
His breath fogged, and he rubbed his hands. "My brother's researching a job, so I got a few hours on my hands. We can go anywhere you like. Roller coasters, horse race, mini-golf-"
"In exchange for what?"
"When it's my turn in the dungeon, you lovely ladies can keep me...company."
The women conferred in Japanese and seemed on the verge of refusing, when chain lightning broke across the sky, the rim of the world glowing pink in the west with new stars blinking in the east. They could hear birds, jetliners, and farther still the souls of astronauts floating in the International Space Station at a plane of existence one millionth of a second slower than their own. Their own dungeon could wait for one night.
They glanced at the vintage 'Busty Asian Beauties' on his passenger seat and sniffed. "That magazine is an heirloom."
"Which is why I won't risk hiding it under a loose brick," said Dean, a smile creeping one side of his face, "C'mon, detox is lonely and every bad party needs a stag film."
"Your brother would never lock you up."
"I'm running around with a stick of dynamite stuck to my arm," he said, itching at the Mark, "It's what I'd do."
Six months and a failed attempt to steal Abaddon's demon army later, Dean found himself lashed to a hospital bed with Sam on the other side of a barred door. "It's just for three days," Sam insisted, Dean's shirt already dark with sweat where the Mark burned, "Cas and I are upstairs, we'll hear you if you need anything."
Dean set his teeth and listened to Sam's receding footsteps, another door closing. Except for the bed and a bucket beside it, Sam had cleared the room for anything Dean could potentially use for a lock pick. This did not include checking the bucket for a false bottom, where Dean had hidden the beaker long ago and then casually placed the whole thing on a supply shelf at Sam's eye level.
An eternity passed, but the fever would not allow him to sleep. No visitors came, nor food, and the walls seemed alive with, of all things, the sound of frogs. Fuck this. he thought.
"Okay girls," he said, leaning over the side to whisper, "Showtime."
The lab assistants had swapped clothes at a haunted school while traveling with Dean, so that the older girl stood in pearls and a black dress tailored with a lot of snap while the younger sat behind a desk in uniform. The Teacher began Dean's prepared script, slapping a ruler against her open palm.
"I must say I am SHOCKED at your grades, young lady."
"Oh Professor, isn't there ANYTHING I could do to pass the final?"
"Why should I waste my time?" she said, circling the desk slowly, "Lazy sluts like you should be punished."
"Oh PLEASE don't beat me Professor!" she said, eyes wide, twisting a button over her ample bosom.
"Very well then. Let us review."
The banter was admittedly cornier than Dean was used to, but with Heaven out of sorts there was the slim possibility that his mother's ghost could waltz in, and the conspiracy to vanquish the demon queen of bathroom dye jobs with a mule jaw and a Cracker Jack tattoo would be hard enough to explain. Dean waited to see what she would say next, and grew hard inside his jeans.
She walked around front and lifted the girl's chin with the end of the ruler. "What is the medical definition of brain death?"
That's not in the magazine. he thought.
The world shifted suddenly. The ghosts were still there, but in some hidden pocket of his peripheral vision, and now it was Dean who sat at the enormous desk with...someone else on the other end of the ruler. Composed. Respected. The nagging voice in the back of Dean's head whenever a girl turned him down for being too poor and built him up again whenever he outsmarted his opponent.
The best spirit animal a man could hope for on this magic carpet ride.
Sam wore a handmade charcoal three-piece with a pocket square and matching tie tucked into the waistcoat, hand on his hip and head tilted back to study Dean through his eyelashes. "Well?"
Dean swallowed. "I don't know."
Sam nodded and showed his teeth, though the smile didn't make it to the rest of his face. "Come on tough guy, can I call you tough guy?"
"That's not my name."
"What made you pick that?"
"I don't think you hear it enough."
"I still don't understand your question."
"Take a second. Think about it."
A tiny ribbit sounded in Dean's ear, and he looked over just in time to see a frog leap under the desk. Sam lowered the ruler to loosen his tie, and laid his hands flat on either side of Dean. "Now. Answer the question."
"Honestly dude, I played a lot of hookey in science class-"
The ruler slammed against the desk with a resounding crack, and Dean jumped. "Now it's a test grade," said Sam, his words low and clipped, "Tell me the answer."
When Dean remained silent, Sam lifted the frog from the floor and showed it to him. "Nice, isn't he?"
A ribbon of sweat slid down Dean's cheek. "Yeah, uh, they're okay."
Sam put away the ruler and ran a fingertip over the frog's back, soothing it.
Dean licked his lips. "You here to scare me?"
"That's not my intention."
"I wanted to see you."
"Sure. Kick me when I'm down."
Sam smiled, pretending he hadn't heard. "What do you know about frogs?"
"The Muppet or the beer-battered kind?"
"You run the numbers and you'll find that nearly any ranine population will abandon it's mating site five days prior to an earthquake, and will not return until weeks after the last aftershock. We forget how frightening they can be, for they are the herald of powerful trials to come."
"That's just superstitious."
"It's true. It's especially true for you. For of what use was the plague of frogs in Egypt then to signal the death of the First Born?"
"Am I gonna die?"
"That depends. You haven't answered my question."
"Maybe I don't care to know the answer."
The Teacher stood to one side, her hair drawn back into a bun with a large pin, and Sam pulled it out slowly until her hair fall in thick curtains around her face.
"Sometimes it helps to illustrate a problem," said Sam, "With a visual aid."
The frog squirmed in Sam's grip, his thumb pressed against the soft underbelly. And locking eyes with Dean, Sam raised his fist and drove the pin into the frog's brain. Dean said nothing, the Mark burning faintly in sympathetic response. In his experience it did not pay to interrupt a fever dream.
Sam produced a scalpel from his jacket and spread the frog out on the desk before cutting open its' chest, where its' heart continued to beat. Blood dripped on his shoes and down into a floor drain.
"Now tell me," he said, holding up the ruined animal to Dean, "Is it alive or dead?"
Before he could reply, someone clattered down the stairwell, and Dean exhaled in relief as Castiel opened the door and surveyed the room.
"Dean, I heard screams."
Dean was confused, had he been screaming? He looked from Castiel to his brother, then back again. "Get me out of here."
Castiel kept his hand on the door, tentative. As if he knew what was coming. "I'm sorry Sam. It's time for him to go."
Dean noticed it first. A dark current hummed in the stones as Sam froze and wave upon wave of pressure spun out from him until the room expanded, the ceiling reaching into shadows and the lightbulb devolving to a brazier burning coals on a tripod in the corner. But if Dean noticed these changes he did not show it, afraid to look too closely at the rest of the room. That if he stood up and walked away he'd step past the footlights of whatever stage his brother had constructed and into the unknowable darkness forever.
Sam stood beside the brazier, ashes floating to the stone floor. His face was lost in shadow, and tossing the frog on the coal he licked the blood from his fingers and wiped them on this slacks.
The dead frog hissed on the coals. Castiel took a step forward, but Sam drew a line in the air and before Dean's eyes Castiel began to shrivel in his clothes, grow thinner, darker, his head sinking below the collar and curling in on himself until his clothes crumpled on the ground. A cockroach emerged from the trenchcoat, and Sam took some pleasure in watching it scurry back and forth across the room before bringing his heel down in a muffled crunch.
Upstairs, the real Sam played chess out of a book in the library. And when Dean's mouth fell open and his screams flew out the door and up the stairs and rang through the Bunker and were left to fade, Sam took it as reassuring proof of Dean's enduring will to live, and poured himself another mug of tea.
Down in the dungeon, Sam scuffed his shoe on the stones. "I've been wanting to do that for years."
Dean stared at the stain on the floor, willing it back to life. Sam turned on his heel with his back to Dean and drew circles with the end of the ruler. "So, still no answer?"
The room was hot, as hot as if someone were burning trash under a blanket, and Dean looked up with a gray tear swimming in each eye and gripped the edge of the desk until his fingers went numb. Sam waited on his reply, eyes glittering, but Dean stared down at his hands in silence. He knew saying 'I don't know' a third time would mean the end of him.
"You must answer, Mister Winchester," said the Japanese student, though far away as if she were speaking from the next room, "It is important that you remember."
Dean felt hands on either side of his face, lightly as if he'd been bruised.
"Look at me Dean."
"Fucking kill me already if you're gonna do it."
"I would never do that."
"Why'd you have to kill him?"
"Nothing stands between us now. We are together. This is what you asked for."
"Yeah but it's not what I wanted."
"The grief will pass. We will pass. The universe is cyclical, and a million years from now a new age will look upon the ruins of our conquests and know that we were once great. Until then, I will be your strength," he said, as Dean's eyes swung upward, "I will forge you a new heart."
Sam pressed his mouth to his, and something snapped in Dean. For he knew that should he consummate this dark contract it would sever all obligations he had with mortal men. Sam would kick over the chessboard for a new game of blood and fire, with Dean as it's greatest practitioner, and together they would inherit a degenerate world purged of all it's loveliness, empty save for them, the ghosts, and the echo of unseen laughter.
Sam pulled away, said an ancient word so that the Student was made flesh, and she pressed a trembling hand to her throat, crying out when Sam coiled her hair in his giant fist and arched her backwards so that her breasts jutted through her blouse.
Sam's eyes took it's time memorizing the shape of her, and pulled the scalpel from his pocket. Dean tried to stall.
"Don't Sam. I thought you were here for me."
The older girl huddled in a corner and scratched at the door for help, but the rest of the world was very far away. Sam leaned forward, the girl at his feet pitching her head back and forth until she drew blood, and his eyes snapped black.
"Wait your turn."
And scalpel glinting he bent her over and carved a sigil of obedience at the base of her neck. The wound glowed white and when she stood again her cheeks were pink and her eyes indifferent. He snatched up the teacher to do the same, and standing them side by side Sam put his mouth to their ears to whisper instructions as a man will direct newly broken horses.
"What did you do?"
Sam ignored this. "Get him ready."
The girls walked out and materialized a moment later with a toolbox, from which they took box cutters to strip Dean's clothes away and ball up in the fire. Only then was he stretched over the desk, legs splayed, hands tied to one end. The Student ripped off a strip of duct tape, tracing the curve of his spine with her eyes until it rested on his bare ass.
"When I come into my kingdom," said Sam, lifting Dean's chin with his finger, "You will sit at my right hand."
"You don't have to do this."
"This isn't a punishment," he said, as Dean's ankles were ductaped to the table legs, "This is a knighthood."
A canvas strap pinned his body down, the Teacher ratcheting it until he was secure, then the girls presented themselves for Sam's inspection.
Sam pointed at the Student's saddle shoes. "Take those off."
The Teacher bent down slowly, hands on the ground, never breaking his stare, and pulled the laces free with her mouth.
"Good," he said, as the shoes were removed, "Now her skirt."
It was a pleated tartan fastened on the side, and closing her teeth around the button she bit hard and spat it across the room. The younger girl pushed her skirt down slowly, lip curled in an insolent twist as she revealed cotton panties stretched tight across her hips, then stepped out and kicked it away.
"Get on the desk. Both of you."
From this position Dean could turn his head, but not enough to see Sam. "What is this?"
"The last stage."
"Before I die?"
"Before the Mark changes."
"You've got Angel on your shoe. You don't need me."
"A king always needs his general."
"I don't have the Blade."
"The Blade is only a byproduct of the real thing. I can work without it."
"You didn't have to go to so much trouble on my account."
"I did. The Mark is important to our success. It takes a hard and holy act to bring it out of dormancy."
The girls kneel on the desk one in front of the other, facing Dean but not close enough for him to touch. The Teacher wound her fingers in the Student's hair, pulling her head to one side in frank admiration. "She's so young," she said, undoing the Student's top shirt button one-handed and resting her finger on the next button to await his answer, "Do you want to see?"
Dean shook his head, but she smiled and set her teeth against the Student's throat, sucking a lovebite below her ear as she undid one button, and then the next, and then wrapping her arms around the girl's waist to grab both sides of the blouse and slowly prize it apart.
"Look at her Dean."
"I don't want to look."
Sam's hand slammed his chin into the desk. "Look at her."
The women shaped their bodies against one another, listening to each other breath. The younger girl lifted her arm to bring her teacher's face in close, barely connecting on silent, open-mouthed kisses as her hair coiled in sweaty ringlets around her breasts. Dean's cock lay swollen beneath him, cold air skating over his bare skin as he broke into a sweat.
"Please," she begged, and Dean suspected the words My King were not far from her thoughts, "Let me have her."
Sam said yes and the student planted her heels on the desk, white knee socks capping her slender legs like fox feet. And looking at Dean with her little tongue showing she spread her teacher's hand on her chest and slowly pushed it down the length of her sweat-slick body. He watched her fingers slip beneath for the knot that all girls know and boys can only scrabble for like a gem lost at the bottom of a dark lake, and biting back a noise the Student took the Teacher's pearl necklace in her teeth and strained with unspoken emotion.
Their eyes locked on Deans' as if they shared a secret. And they did. He too was hungry for oyster fruit. He tried to turn away but Sam still had a hold on him.
"Why are you doing this?"
"I'm trying to make the transition easy Dean."
The Student's panties now hung off her left ankle, the Teacher's hand shielding her cunt as she sunk the first finger inside. Not innocent, but not well-used, she rose and fell on her lover's finger until the tumblers in her head fell into place and the pressure built and they fell into a smoldering rhythm that filled the room with the stink of sex. She could finish if she wanted, but she did not. The dark little space in her belly burned as if it had tasted something too hot too quickly, and could now only be extinguished with heavy cream.
"It's not enough," she whispered, watching Dean through narrowed eyelids, "I need more."
Dean shook his head, though the Mark urged him on. "This isn't you."
She spat in her hand and greased him to the hilt until his cock hung off him like a crime scene, red and leaking. Her arms were soft around his neck, tongue painting his lips wet. "It won't feel like a dream."
He closed his eyes for a half-second, then a little longer, and then finally responded to her kiss, mouth parting to let her tongue slip between his teeth. The girls passed him back and forth, sometimes trailing down the line of his jaw, sometimes jamming a finger in his mouth to suck clean before using it on themselves.
She caught Dean's lip in her little white teeth. "Love me."
She unhooked the utility strap but not the ropes on his wrists, and with the girl beneath him and Sam pushing from behind Dean felt like a plow caught between its' master and unbroken clay.
"I won't do it."
Sam twisted his fingers in Dean's hair and wrenched him back, flames reflected in his black eyes like coals set deep in his sockets. "Every decision you made before now brought you here. It's not important whether you understand your role, only that you play it. Who would you be if you didn't follow through?" he asked, though it wasn't a question, "What will happen if you stop?"
Dean said nothing and Sam flung his head away so hard it bounced off the table. He unsnapped his belt and flattened against him, his cock a hard line inside his slacks.
"The soul bends toward evil as easily as it bends toward good," he said, teeth bared, cockhead right up against Dean's ass, "And either way you will give it up in the end."
"I'm not a killer."
He leaned close, breathing the words in a whisper that carried only to Dean's ears. "You will be."
It takes years to harden a man into a demon. It takes only a few minutes to soften a man so that he may be harnessed for some greater purpose. And clutching Dean's hips in both hands, he slammed him forward into the girl, and at the same moment opened the ring of his virgin ass and buried his thick cock in a single violent thrust. A stricken noise caught in Dean's throat.
The table rocked beneath them, a tangle of dazed limbs as Sam pumped into him with the girl as a counterweight, hair swinging in his eyes, strong fingers digging into Dean's shoulder until he marked the skin.
She lifted her slender hips off the table and slowly began to fuck herself on his cock, her flushed cheek pressed against the other girl's neck, teeth sunk into her plush lower lip as he scraped deep inside of her. He deserved this, said the hand on his shoulder, This is the fruit of a good and faithful soldier. A space for something new was being carved inside of him for Sam to claim, and he felt his soul begin to curdle.
"Repeat after me Dean."
"I here swear fealty, to ever be a good knight and true..."
Dean panted, the Mark flaring on his arm in response to Sam's words.
"...foremost in battle, obedient to my liege-lord..."
The Japanese schoolgirl twisted beneath Dean, shuddering as if she might die, as if whatever desire Sam had planted in her cunt would ignite and leave her a smoking crater unless Dean finished inside of her.
"...and to see that no enemy of the Kingdom may live," said Sam, almost tenderly, "For I love my King, and anything that lives without his love lives without his consent."
Sam watched with cruel fascination, knowing that the harder Dean fought it the harder he sealed down on Sam's wooden leg of a cock, that here on the dissection table Dean would share a common destiny with all men everywhere, to be the object of an ancient hunger that had syphoned off it's desire on a pale substitute of love and craved the real thing. Impaled on the end of Sam's fork.
"Do you yield?" he asks, breathing hot air on the back of Dean's neck.
For reply, Dean gathered the last of his willpower and bore down in a hard hot squeeze that made Sam reel in cockbound agony.
"I...am not having this." he hissed in Dean's ear. In a long history of monster fuckery Sam could have conspired to end the world with a hundred more dangerous creatures, and it was only for the great love he bore his brother that he endured this obstinance. And fearing he wouldn't last, Sam bit into his hand and clamped it over the Mark. Blood always strengthened great magic.
Dean closed his eyes. He was close. Not just in body but to saying yes, to saying he would follow whatever path Sam laid out for him.
To say, My king.
He opened his eyes. It was the Teacher, the only one set apart from this horror show. When she spoke her words echoed, as though she was both very close and very distant.
"You haven't answered his question."
"What is the medical definition of brain death?"
Dean had a vision of Sam on a respirator, poisoned by the Trials with a doctor rattling off made-up words in the background. He tried to remember.
"No ability to breathe on their own, no response to pain," he said, trying to and failing to flex his fingers. In fact when he thought about it, he hardly felt any control over his limbs. "And were the patient to be removed from life support...they would surely die."
His heart began to slow, and the room dilated to encompass Sam's face until he was a mask floating in the dark. "Don't listen to her. Listen to me."
"I am listening."
He opened his eyes, and his Sam was there, mouth closed on his to breath for him. Dean sputtered and coughed, his restraints on the floor and the lady ghosts cowering on the ceiling. He moved to beckon them, but they sank into the stone leaving only tendrils of smoke, and after a moment those faded as well. Deal's a deal.
Sam ran a hand through his hair. "Fuck's sake, we almost lost you."
Dean's chest caved in and out, his vital signs reasserting themselves. "What day is it?"
"Day?" asked Sam, showing him his phone, "I was barely gone ten minutes."
Something moved in the bucket by his bed, and he looked down to see the frog, alive and in one piece.
"Huh, who are you tough guy?" asked Sam, holding it to his chest with both hands.
Dean huffed out a breath and eyed them both warily. "My spirit animal."