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Title: The Shadow Men [5/?]
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 


It was the past tense that got Sam more then anything else. I think my name was Dean. It caught in his head pushing all thoughts of death and fire and Jessica out in its wake. He couldn’t do a thing but stare. Chris recovered faster, giving a smile no one but Sam could tell was fake and saying, “Well it’s good to meet you Dean. You going to be all right here for a second while I go talk to Sam here?”

Dean shrugged, reaching a hand to his neck to touch the small bronze pendent on his neck before saying. “Yeah, sure.”

Chris dragged him out of the room and into the parking lot, not letting go until they were safely out of earshot. “All right, Sam,” she said. “Where the hell did you find this guy?”

“Lawrence, Kansas,” Sam said. “Me and Mason were investigating one of the fires. Why does it matter?”

“It matters because he’s acting like a freaking torture victim! Who the hell else doesn’t consider their name a viable current part of them? I would have said amnesia with all the words he’s forgetting but---“

“He sounded worse when I first brought him here,” Sam said, taking care to keep the outlook positive. This man may start out messed up but he’d get better. “He sounded like he hadn’t talked in years.”

“He shouldn’t be in a motel in the middle of bumfuck nowhere,” Chris said indignantly, “He should be in a hospital!”

“I can’t take him to a hospital, Chris,” Sam said. His voice had lowered to just above a whisper. “It’s just not an option. Especially not now.”

“What? Are you afraid of the fires, Sam? There’s no pattern saying if they’re going to strike here or anywhere else. He’d be just as safe in a hospital as he is here! Safer even. I know you’re smart but you’re not a doctor, Sam. He needs a doctor.”

“I can’t take him to the hospital because I think he’s one of the shadow men, alright?”

“Are you freaking insane,” Chris hissed, low enough to keep Dean from hearing it through the wall. “I’ve seen the news reports those guys are supposed to be dangerous.”

“I don’t know,” Sam said. “I’m not so sure. The guy in there doesn’t really seem dangerous at all. He just seems hurt and a little confused.”

“The what happens when he gets better, Sam?” Chris asked. “What happens when he’s not confused anymore? How do you know he’s not going to snap and bite the hand that feeds him?”

“He’s not going to,” Sam said. He liked to think he was a good judge of character. After all, he’d liked Jess the second he’d met her and he’d called Uncle Bobby and offered Chris a job when he’d first caught her trying to steal one of the cars in the junkyard instead of calling the cops. He’d seen cons, lying and liars and if Sam was good at one thing, it was telling one from the other. “Chris, you’re going to have to trust me.”

Chris crossed her hand over her chest, adopting a position she probably thought looked tough but really just looked insecure. “Fine, but first thing you do is hop in that Impala and get me back home. And I mean first thing as in right now.”

Sam nodded and pushed his way back into the room. Dean had struggled into a pair of Sam’s jeans in their absence as well as one of Sam’s button down over shirts. He was in the process of doing the buttons, fumbling with shaking fingers under too-long sleeves. Sam looked at Chris and smiled. This man didn’t look the least bit threatening.

“Hey, Dean,” Sam said, “We’ve got to get moving. Are you all right?”

“I’m out,” Dean said. “Never better.”

He didn’t explain what he meant by out and neither Sam or Chris asked. They just filed out the door, Sam hovering a half step behind Dean to make sure he didn’t fall. Sam didn’t bother checking out of the motel because checking out would mean he’d need to explain the bloodstains on the sheets. He didn’t care as much as he thought he’d might. The owner had asked him cash or credit when he’d first come in and hadn’t even blinked when he’d hauled Dean back just ten minutes later.

The restored Impala was a real thing of beauty, all sleep black lines and glossy paint. Dean seemed even more captivated by the sight, a dreamy far off smile crossing his face. He ran his hand over the hood and Sam could tell that it wasn’t just for keeping his balance. The man genuinely appreciated the appeal of a classic car. “She’s a sight for sore eyes,” Dean mumbled, fingertips snaking on up to the roof in a disjointed zigzag pattern. It was the most Sam had heard him say without stumbling over the words.

Chris beamed at him, reservations about his presence momentarily swept aside. “Isn’t she beautiful? Just put the finishing touches on her. It’s been a hell of a project.”

Sam could appreciate the car’s beauty but he’d grown up on a junkyard and seen many a beloved car reach the end of its life span. It tended to spoil the glamour of the now. “Yes,” he said. “It’s gorgeous, it’s shiny, but all that really matters is that it drives.”

Both Dean and Chris shot him positively scandalized looks as he threw the duffle bag into the back seat along with the shot gun and the iron knife Mason had given him as a parting gift before striding around to the driver’s side and pulling open the door. Chris tossed him the keys and he bent down and moved the driver’s seat all the way back before getting in himself. Chris slid into the back seat and Dean slowly, almost reluctantly, took shotgun.

They drove the first fifteen miles in nearly complete silence, trying not to notice the plumes of thick black smoke snaking up from the occasional towns dotting the highway. Sam turned on the radio, scanning through all the channels but all he found were religious shows preaching redemption and the end of the world. Sam turned the radio off in disgust. From the back seat, Chris offered, “I think there are some tapes in the glove compartment. I get the feeling they’ve been here for year but we might get lucky.”

She unbuckled her seatbelt and reached past Dean to grab the box, shoving one at random into the tape player. The player sucked the tape in hungrily and a few seconds later music cut in mid-song. It took him a few seconds, but Sam recognized the riff from Back in Black and nodded to himself. Chris sank back, frowning a little but didn’t protest. Dean on the other hand, snaked his hand over to the controls and twisted the volume up a few clicks. A minute later, the song was over and it switched to a Black Sabbath song Sam recognized as Iron Man from a friend’s classic rock collection at Stanford. Sam felt a chill creep over him, prickling up goose bumps along the way. This car had been sitting at Singer’s Salvage for going on twenty years. Which meant that whoever had drove this car last, whoever had made and listened to these tapes was probably dead. He pushed the thought away and glanced over to the passenger’s seat to find Dean not only smiling, but singing, softly and a little off key, but singing all the same.

Then for the first time since Jessica died, Sam let himself smile too.


They stayed at Bobby’s place for eight days, Dean either sleeping or eating, Sam pouring over Bobby’s old books for anything he can get on demon lore. Chris ignored the both of them, spending all her time working on old cars or running the business part of the Singer’s Salvage. There were no customers. In point of fact, Sam had barely seen another car on the road. There were fires everywhere and with them the shadow men stalking out of the flames.

He found Dean watching the news on the forth day, chewing slowly on a burger. Sam stayed just outside the room, gazing at the older man. All the news seemed to indicate the shadow men were dangerous, unpredictable, but Dean didn’t seem to be either. His movements were guarded and measured and he spoke in short precise sentences, taking great care not stumble over his words.

The difficulty with speech was fading the more Dean talked. Sam had the sneaking suspicion that once Dean was up to speed he wouldn’t shut up. He wanted to ask what had made him forget. What could have possible forced something as important as speech out of someone’s mind.

Either the injuries healed with extreme speed or Dean was just better practiced with dealing with them because within a week, Sam couldn’t discern any visible weakness in the man’s flesh. The bandages were still there, but he didn’t walk with the stooped hunch of someone in constant pain anymore.

New people still set him on edge. He’d managed to douse two customers with what Sam later discovered was holy water before Chris had chased them both out of the office. There were more people headed to a salvage yard then Sam would have expected but after the third special on the end of the world, he reconsidered. People’s plans for more natural disasters were to get as far away from their current whereabouts as possible.

Sam got the feeling they were moving out soon as well. The only thing Dean had done outside of eat, sleep and attack customers was watch the news and stock the Impala’s trunk with every single weapon he could find and a few dozen of Bobby’s thick books. It was the books that fascinated Sam. He’d never ever pegged Uncle Bobby for a reader but the collection was unreal. Some of the prints were well over four centuries old. Sam handled them carefully, holding the fragile paper between his fingers like a relic from another world as he jotted down everything he could find about demons and exorcism and ghosts and werewolves into a leather bound notebook, he’d found tucked in his old room. Dean watched him work sometimes, folded himself up and leaned against the wall and just stared without blinking until Sam finally met his eyes. Then he’d disappear into the back room and come back with exactly the weapon needed to kill the monster Sam had been researching, throwing it into the Impala’s massive trunk.

It wasn’t until they’d been at Bobby’s a week when Sam finally found the collection of weapons Dean had been raiding. It was in the back room. The room that had been completely off limits to Sam as a child, the room where he’d found Mason pouring over books. There was a compartment, an almost invisible crack in the flooring that Sam hadn’t picked up on his entire life but Dean had discovered within days. The weapons trunk stashed underneath that compartment was extensive and varied and Sam wondered if he had ever really known his uncle at all. When he replaced the almost invisible trap door, he realized that there was no possible way to find that place if you didn’t already know it was there.

That night when Dean was eating something unidentifiable from the gas station down the road, Sam slid down into a chair across from him and said, “How did you know Uncle Bobby?”

He asked the question when Dean was in the middle of his bite and he took his sweet time chewing it over, savoring every scrap of what could only loosely be referred to as food and said, “Are you serious? I can barely remember my name.”

“Dean,” Sam said, trying to rearrange his face into something comforting. He’d had practice with this part. Back when he was a kid, Uncle Bobby had him pull out the puppy dog eyes on more then on occasion. Sam hated using it, but he used it anyway. Anything that got him an advantage at this point was fair play. “Come on, you don’t even know your last name?”

“What do you want me to close my eyes, and make a freaking wish?” Dean spat. “You know what? I’ll just borrow yours. Dean Winchester’s got a ring to it.”

Sam opened his mouth to protest, but paused because there was nothing really wrong with that at all. In fact, it could almost be considered a complement, a small homage for not allowing Mason to put a bullet in his head.

Dean shoved the last of the food into his mouth, swallowed without chewing and asked, “There anything else to eat around here?”

Back at Stanford, Sam might have made fun of someone for eating this much, might have even gone so far as to tease Jessica about a relapse of the freshman fifteen, but Dean looked like he could use it. Sam got the impression that he used to be fairly well built, but inaction or torture or whatever had happened had beaten it out along with most of his memories.

“Dean,” Sam said finally. “Where the hell happened to you?”

“Hell happened,” Dean said. He stood up, almost toppling over the chair and added. “Forget about the food.”

Dean slept fitfully that night. Sam could hear him from the next room over, creaking mattress and screaming. It got so bad that Sam found himself creeping into the next room to watch Dean thrash. Hell happened, Sam thought. Sam had never really considered it before, but it was conceivable that if demons exist, hell must too.

And what kind of person went to Hell? Certainly not a good one. He realized in a panic that there could be a serial killer sleeping in that bed, that this man may well have been better off dead to the world. Every single indication about the shadow men on the news had been that they were evil soulless monsters, but here was Dean thrashing at the covers like a toddler in the grips of a nightmare.

Sam almost didn’t want to consider the other option. He didn’t know if he wanted to consider Dean a good man because that would mean a good man could wind up in hell alongside all the demons and the scum of society.

Sleep clawing at the edges of his vision, Sam made his way back into his room, staring at the old posters from his youth on the wall. He drifted off to sleep thinking of hell and dreamed of fires and a man suspended by meat hooks thousands of feet above ground and woke up in a cold sweat as the light from the cracks in the blinds were just beginning to seep into the room. He stood up, feeling more tired then he was when he’d gone to sleep the night before. He walked into the hallway and out of habit, checked on Dean to make sure the man was still breathing. He wasn’t in the bedroom. Puzzled, Sam wondered through the old house looking for him only to find him out in the junkyard, fast asleep in the back seat of the old impala. It was the most peaceful Sam had ever seen him. Most of the time, Dean was hunched in tight almost like he was constantly anticipating blows. Or torture, Sam reminded himself. An eternity of blood and pain and entrails because that’s what you got in Hell.

But in the Impala his features had softened and he was so still he could have been a corpse if not for the faint rise and fall of his chest. As quietly as he could, Sam pulled the door open. Apparently it wasn’t quiet enough because Dean snapped awake with a completeness and a suddenness that Sam didn’t think was possible.

“What are you doing out here?” Sam asked.

Some of the tension leaked out of Dean’s face, but he was still tensed, muscles ready to fight or run at a second’s notice. He was in Hell, Sam thought. He was in Hell and now he’s not.

“Been waiting for you Sammy,” Dean said, flashing a smile. In the soft morning light Sam could make out a smattering of freckles on his face. “We’ve got work to do.”

“Work on what?” Sam asked.

Dean blinked blearily and pulled a crumpled collection of papers out from the leather seats. There were obituaries circled in red, half a page of rough notes. Sam recognized pieces of the jargon from his brief sojourn with Mason. “Demonic omens?” Sam asked, flipping through the pages of scrawl.

“You were hunting when you found me,” Dean said. It wasn’t a question. “Here’s a job. I say we find this son of a bitch and we kill it.”

Sam hesitated counting the hundreds of thousands of reasons this wasn’t a good idea. Hunting was dangerous. Hunting could get you killed. Sam didn’t really know much about the paranormal. Sam didn’t know a damn thing about Dean. Dean just clawed out of hell.

Then there was Jessica on the ceiling and Stanford on fire and his whole life consumed in flames. “Yeah,” Sam said. “Sounds like a plan.”


More soon. Plot Soon. Good times
 | 6 | 

(no subject)

29/8/08 21:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I loved *my* chapter!

I have theories, but I'm going to keep them to myself for a few more chapters I think. This is seriously good stuff.

(no subject)

30/8/08 04:35 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Oooh. Theroies are fun fun fun. Do share. I cannot confirm or deny but I love watching guesses.

Your chapter indeed. If I really haul ass I might be able to get another out before the end of the weekend but we'll see...

(no subject)

29/8/08 22:08 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Oooooooooooooh. So, so interesting! The whole Stanford/Jess thing is throwing off a 'now' timeline so....i dunno!

Teeny thing:throwing it and threw it into the Impala’s massive trunk.

Got a couple 'throws' there.

(no subject)

30/8/08 04:41 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
(Feces! Typo! Ahh! Thanks for the heads up)

Glad it's keeping your interest. More plot soon.

(no subject)

29/8/08 22:57 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
The Impala has Dean's tapes. I wish I could figure out what the hell was going on. Good thing you're going to eventually explain it all...right?

(no subject)

30/8/08 04:44 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
All will be explained in due time. I've actually got the decent amount of foreshadowing and hints in place. I'm trying to parcel it out slowly this time but rest assured there is a plan.

(no subject)

29/8/08 23:59 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Love how Dean decided to take Sam's name.. And that he sleeps soundly in the Impala. Can't wait for the next chapter.

(no subject)

30/8/08 04:46 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I guess I should get cracking on that next chapter then. You know, keep posting now before I am crushed under the combined weight of all my science classes. =)

(no subject)

15/9/08 10:55 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I'm finally catching up on this, and in a way, I'm glad I got behind since I now don't have to wait anxiously for the next chapter!

I'm enjoying watching how Sam and Dean are getting to know each other, plus all the hints about Dean's history, etc.

On to the next chapter!


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July 2015

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