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[personal profile] last01standing
Title: The Shadow Men [8/11]
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Kripke owns SPN, not me
Summary: The campus of Stanford lies in ruins. The veil between hell and earth is getting thinner by the day and the only thing worse then the fires are the mysterious men emerging from the flames. [AU, apocafic]
Previous Parts:1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 



THE SHADOW MEN
CHAPTER 8


Sam didn’t sleep the rest of the night, just stared at the box of IDs and tried to do the calculations in his head. These IDs were more then twenty years old and Dean didn’t look that much older then the pictures. Which meant Dean had been in hell for twenty years or more. That meant Dean had been in Hell almost as long as Sam had been alive. And before that... well Sam didn’t know much more then Dean himself did. The collection of fake IDs seemed to suggest he was some sort of confidence man, but the memories that had resurfaced all seemed to be about hunting.

That didn’t mean he was a bad person though. Sam kept having to remind himself that Uncle Bobby hadn’t been as squeaky clean as he liked to pretend and there had to be hunters who weren’t cut from the same mold as Mason. The sun crawled up the horizon spilling light into the car as Dean yawned himself awake. Sam scrambled to put the box back in the glove compartment but then paused when he realized this was going to be news for Dean who’d lost everything he’d known about his old life.

“What you got there, Sam?” Dean asked.

Sam handed him the box wordlessly, watching as calloused hands flipped through ID after fake ID. His expression didn’t change much through the entire ordeal, remaining one of quiet concentration until he reached the last one, looked up and said, “I don’t think my real name’s in here at all.”

His voice was quavering just a little. Sam felt like he’d been slammed in the chest. He’d made things worse. Even if Dean was a con man in his past life, Hell was surely punishment enough to pay for those sins. “Too bad they’re not more up to date,” Sam said. His voice sounded funny to his own ears. His throat was starting to clench. “We could have used these earlier.”

Dean tossed the remainder of the identification in the box. “Hey, look on the bright side.” He unconsciously stroked the interior of the car. “This baby may actually be my ride.”

Sam laughed and shook his head, completely missing the troubled look that crossed Dean’s face. “You think maybe Uncle Bobby knew you?” Sam asked. “I mean he did have the car for going on twenty years.”

Dean shrugged. “You could always ask him.”

Even after all this time, Sam still felt the sting of the statement. Can still hear Uncle Bobby’s dying words, Sam there are things out there, thing coming from the dark—

“Uncle Bobby died a few years ago,” Sam said. “Hunting accident. I get the feeling that it might really have been a hunting accident.

“You’re new to this aren’t you?” Dean asked. “No offense, but you don’t seem like the hard core hunting type.”

“Yeah,” Sam admitted, folding his hands into his lap. “Only been at it for about a week before I ran into you. Mason wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for hunters.”

“What happened?” Dean asked. He placed the box to his side, sitting up and rubbing at his eyes. “No one gets into this without a reason.”

Sam pressed his own eyes shut trying to force back the memories of Jess and Stanford. “A few weeks ago I came into my apartment at school and found my girlfriend on the ceiling. The next thing I knew damn near the entire campus was up in flames.” He took a deep breath, forcing the air out of his lungs, forcing his body to relax. He opened his eyes. “What was it for you?”

When he opened his eyes, Dean was frowning. Not the frustrated frown of someone with a memory just out of reach but something thoughtful and just a little bit afraid.

“What is it, Dean?” Sam asked. “Is anything wrong?”

“I don’t remember,” Dean said. There was a thickness to his voice that Sam hadn’t heard before. “I think it was a long time. Me and my dad...”

“Your dad?” Sam asked. This was the most personal information Dean had ever volunteered. “You remember anything about him.”

Dean pressed the palms of both hands up against his eyes and bent at the waist. Sam watched him, unable to tear his eyes away. Finally Dean straightened back up and said, “I think we hunted together. I don’t remember if he was there when I---“ He cuts off abruptly and pushed the car door open, taking the two steps outside before climbing back into the driver’s seat. “He’s probably dead now. Twenty years is forever for a hunter. If he’d have made it, he’d be pushing seventy now.”

“We could look him up,” Sam offered. “I’m sure it wouldn’t be—“

“I don’t remember his name and I don’t remember my name,” Dean said. “The only thing I can do is keep hunting.”

_______________________________________________________________________


And there was no shortage of things to hunt. In Denver they took out a nest of vampires and Sam broke two fingers. In Peoria there were four bodies found completely eviscerated and they traced it to a trio of demons with black eyes and knowing smirks. Sam learned to tune them out complete. He stopped flinching every time a barbed word shot his way.

The world was changing alongside him. Every town they entered seemed to have a bulletin board of people looking for lost loved ones. The smell of smoke seemed to have pervaded the atmosphere clinging to everyone and everything around it. At night Sam dreamed of Jessica, of Stanford, of people he’d never seen in towns he’d never heard of and woke up in a cold sweat with a twisting knot forming in his stomach. Dean didn’t sleep soundly unless he was in the car. He clawed the sheets of beds, thrashing against some invisible foe. Sam tried to wake him up a few times but all he ever got for his troubles were blows the face as Dean acted quickly and remorselessly. He asked the same question every single time he woke up: “Am I out?”

Sam said, “Yeah, Dean, you’re out,” every single time, but at the same time he had to wonder. The sky was taking on a vaguely greenish tinge and sometimes when Sam was sleeping, he could swear he heard screams in the distance.

“It’s like the gates are opening,” Dean told him one day. “Not all the way but enough for some of Hell to slip out.”

Slip out like Dean himself had slipped out. Sam refused to point that out so he just memorized the exorcism and started stealing holy water from the every church he passed.

People were starting to notice the monsters. Sam remembered Mason saying, When the civilians start noticing, you know things have started to blow up. On the six o’clock news the female anchor tore her male counterpart’s throat out in front of millions on live television and then the station went dead for two weeks. When they roll into Boise and try conning their way into the police station, the on duty cop asked if they were hunters. Dean looked at him, mouth hanging open but Sam quickly answered in the affirmative. “Thank God,” the cop said. “We’ve been waiting for someone to show up. I’ve got no idea what I’m dealing with here.”

They were dealing with possession. Or, more accurately, an epidemic of possessions. Sam did four exorcisms a day for a week and slept roughly six hours in that entire time. Dean looked a little worse each demon they found, face falling with every word they threw in his direction, Soon now, Dean. Whole world’s going to burn. Not even going to find him before you watch him die.

When the possessions leveled off, they stayed a few extra days, teaching the cops how to go about an exorcism and the basics of fighting demon. In exchange, the police department cut them a check for their expenses. Dean took the check said thank you and managed to work Christo into the conversation six times before being satisfied that this was real. Before they left town, they both got inked, a small symbol on the left shoulder, almost invisible amidst the fresh scars. Sam had found it in one of Uncle Bobby’s old books, showed it to Dean and two hours later he’d been trying not to rub at the fresh tattoo marring his skin.

Dean could see demons. Sam recognized it somewhere in between the first exorcism and Toledo. He could pick demons out of a crowd even before they went for the holy water or said Christo. Sam didn’t ask about it. Didn’t know how but he felt bad for Dean. He didn’t even have the option of ignorance and while Sam still wanted out of this life at the end of this all, Dean was stuck permanently, held fast by twisted faces and rotting souls. Still, Dean managed to never be in the same town as the fire, almost like he was afraid of the flames sucking him back into hell. They rolled into town just after the last flames had been quenched or just before the town burned.

They were in some nowhere town in Tennessee when they got their first big shock. The town was more or less abandoned when they got there. The ash from the flames settled heavily on the ground. A bar was the only building left standing. Dean was fidgeting as they drove past it but Sam insisted they pulled over to check it out. He rounded the car, propping open the brand new weapons trunk with ease and he tried not to think of just how many laws they were breaking with this arsenal. Sam made it a point to organize the weapons after he cut his palm on an unsheathed knife back in Idaho and now the trunk was scarily organized. Dean had the habit of throwing things everywhere in barely controlled chaos, but Sam liked it better neat and organize.

Sam picked out his favorite gun and a bottle of holy water and tried not to think about how he actually had a favorite gun when a month ago he didn’t want to touch the things. Dean looked over his shoulder, as if expecting that they were being watched and grabbed a pair of iron knifes. “I don’t like this town, Sammy,” he said.

“We’re here aren’t we,” Sam said, walking toward the scorched building. “Might as well check it out.”

He pushed open the door and went inside. The old bar was still mostly intact, all walls stand, the floors in absolutely no danger of caving it. The place was dark despite the green haze from the sky filtering in through the smoke stained windows and it took Sam’s eyes a minute to adjust to the light. He felt something graze his forehead, a wire of some kind and he ducked habitually, more interested in the room’s interior. There was something in the shadows, suspended about midway between the ceiling and the floor. Sam cocked his gun, anticipating an angry spirit or even one of the shadow men.

Then his eyes brought the figure into focus and he stumbled back in shock.

It was a man.

Or at very least it had been a man at some point in time. Sam didn’t think he was alive anymore. He was suspended by a half dozen meat hooks. There was one going through his shoulder, another through his side. One at the palm of each hand and sinking into the tender flesh of the calf. There was blood dribbling out of his mouth and drying on his chin. The man’s mouth was open but he wasn’t breathing. It looked like the last thing he’d done was scream. “Dean,” Sam said. His voice was shaking. “Dean, what the hell does a thing like that?”

He turned around. Dean was staring at the sight with a slightly open mouth. His whole body was shaking in violent tremors and for a wild second, Sam was sure he was going to pass out. “Dean?”

“We should get him down,” Dean said thickly. “We can’t just leave him like that.”

“Yeah,” Sam allowed. It had been a while since Dean let him see this level of weakness. He hadn’t lost control like this since the first exorcism. He was starting to seem normal. He’d looked at some of the most gruesome murders Sam could imagine without even blinking but this sight, this scene had sent him quaking. “Yeah, we can do that.”

Sam approached the man, took a deep breath and reached out to touch his leg. The light contact on the exposed flesh wasn’t enough to send him spinning in his place. The skin was cool to the touch but the blood was still slightly damp. He hadn’t been dead for long. He’d just been hanging here, stretched taunt by meat hooks, unable to move. Sam swallowed and tried to unhook his left leg but he heard something in the foundation of the house shift as he tried. Frowning, Sam let go and took a step back to examine the scene again. And then he saw it.

It was the man holding the building in place. Unhooking any limb would send the walls crashing down all around him. “Dean,” Sam said. “I don’t think I can—“

He blinked. Dean was gone. He caught the barest flash of a person leaving the building through the open door and sprinted out to catch up. He found Dean three blocks away, collapsed on all fours emptying the contents of his stomach onto the ash covered pavement. “What’s wrong, Dean?” Sam asked.

Dean looked up at him with a glassy, unfocused gaze. “I’ve got to get out of here,” he said. “I’m not going back.”

“No one’s trying to take you back to hell, Dean,” Sam said.

Dean pushed himself backward, sitting heavily on the curb and pulling his knees towards his chest. “They’re not taking me back,” he muttered again.

Sam crouched down hesitantly next to him and said, “They’re not taking you back Dean. I won’t let them.”

They’d reached something in the weeks on the road, not a friendship by a symbiosis. When he woke up, the first thing Sam did was check for Dean. He started noticing thing about him almost unconsciously: the nervous ticks when he was flashing back to hell, his tendencies in a fight, his standard operating cover stories. They fit into each other’s strengths, filled in their weaknesses and if it weren’t for the world going to Hell, Sam might have been all right with it. It was as close as he’d ever had to a family.

Then in Guthrie everything changed. They weren’t headed anywhere particular, just driving through. Dean could usually tell when there was something wrong with a town without even getting out of the car.

The first two blocks of Guthrie are dead quiet, deserted almost, but that’s not that strange. With the television blaring thoughts about the end of the world, no one really trusted anyone outside their own house. “Another ghost town,” Sam muttered.

Demons got them first, he thought. We were too late.

“Not quite,” Dean said, putting a foot on the break as the impala idled noisily. He extended an arm down the street. “Look.”

There was a guy tearing down the sidewalk, continuously glancing over as he ran. He was a short guy with dark curly hair and an oversized jacket with fraying sleeves. “What the hell?”

He spotted the car, look of unbelievable relief springing into an otherwise unremarkable face. He skidded to a stop in front of the impala, darting over to the driver’s side and banging on the window. “Hold on,” Dean grumbled, rolling the window. “Christo,” he said by way of greeting.

The guy didn’t even blink. “You’ve got to let me in.”

“Yeah,” Dean said, reaching over to unlock the door to the back seat. “Sure, come on.”

Sam stared at him. Dean didn’t like strangers. He was silent and guarded and unwilling to let his guard down for even a second. Sam slowly reached into the glove box for his gun. The guy clamored into the backseat, breathing heavily. “Drive,” he said.

“All right,” Dean said and puts the car into drive with a jerky, not-quite-Dean motion.

Sam pulled the gun, spinning in his seat and aiming it squarely at the guys forehead. Very deliberately he said, “What the hell are you.”

The guy’s hands rise upward in a defensive, slightly panicked motion. “Put the gun down,” he said. And when Sam didn’t comply, his eyes widened and he tried again. “Put the gun down.”

“Shoot him, Sam,” Dean said. He ran a stop sign and two stop lights, eyes never leaving the road.

“My name is Andy,” the guy sputtered. “And I’m in trouble. I swear to god I’m not going to hurt you. Put the gun down.”

Sam could hear the inflection in the order, see the strange glint in his eyes. He thought of Dean’s immediate obedience and the impala roaring through the empty streets of Guthrie. “Powers of suggestion,” Sam said, slipped the safety off the gun. “Haven’t seen a demon that can do that yet.”

“Demon?” Andy sputtered. “I’m not a demon!”

“He’s not,” Dean confirmed. “But things that can do that aren’t quite human anyway. Shoot him.”

Sam felt his finger tensing on the trigger. He trusted Dean. He liked Dean but at the same time they didn’t know a thing about this guy other then the fact that he was scared. And Sam didn’t much like the idea of killing someone one based on a recommendation from someone who had gone to hell.

“Put the gun down,” Andy said putting that special inflection in his voice that tickled something in the back of Sam’s mind.

“Doesn’t seem like it works on me,” Sam said.

Andy’s face creased into a frown and Sam felt a sharp pain shooting through his temple. He grunted and tried to blink back the images and for a second, Andy’s pale face swam in and out of focus and then he lost everything to the images.

__________________________________________________________________________________________


I'll be back Wednesday. Promise. And apparently by Wednesday, I meant Tuesday. Here's | 9 | 


(no subject)

7/9/08 16:32 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] morganslady.livejournal.com
One of the 'special' children, how will they play out in this series?? Watch out boys.

(no subject)

7/9/08 17:16 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I swear, you read these immediately after I post. I'm super impressed.

And the special children. *cackles and leaves to finish chapter 9*

(no subject)

7/9/08 18:53 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] redrikki.livejournal.com
Excellent chapter. I loved Dean's reaction to the cops knowing who, or rather what, they were. And Sam's reaction to having a favorite gun, loved that too. And Andy. Yeah, he's always fun.

(no subject)

7/9/08 22:33 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I like this chapter too. It's kind of transitional as far as the story goes, but it's the lull right before everything hits the fan and it makes me kind of happy.

(no subject)

7/9/08 23:55 (UTC)
ext_47: a wolf looking at reflection in a lake (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] silverblade219.livejournal.com
Great timing for that vision, Sam, just as Dean is telling you to kill the other 'special'... Though Dean could blame it on Andy's influence, but he is probably too paranoid for that...

And what was that tattoo they got for? Was it supposed to be unclear, or did I just read too fast and miss a line?

I also like the fact that the police is starting to hiring hunters out, and Dean's reaction to them.

(no subject)

8/9/08 23:14 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Funny about timing. It's always awesome when you're controlling it.

The tattoo is a Jus in Bello reference nothing more.

Glad you liked the little touches. They'll be more soon.

(no subject)

8/9/08 04:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] tabaqui.livejournal.com
Oooooooooh, interesting stuff. I love how this is just puzzling the hell out of me. Twenty years? What?
*bounce*

And the guy with the hooks - gah! That's just clever and horrible.
And Andy! Wheeeeeeee!!
*dances*
Love it.

(no subject)

8/9/08 23:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I love reading your reviews. The story's vaguely apocalyptic and you're just so damn happy about it. It makes me laugh.

I'm actually just finishing Chapter 10 right now. I might even post 9 early...

(no subject)

9/9/08 00:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] tabaqui.livejournal.com
Wheeeeeeeee!
The happy just keeps comin'.
:)

(no subject)

15/9/08 11:25 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sophiap.livejournal.com
Wow. So much goodness in this chapter. From the cops being grateful to have hunters show up, to Dean's reaction to seeing the guy who'd been tortured the way we saw Dean at the end of last season, to Andy (yay!)...

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