Pairing(s): Sam/Castiel, OC's with various minor SPN characters, such as Patrick the manwitch/OC (sorta), Lucky the dog shapeshifter/OC, OC's with other OC's, Crowley should pop up somewhere eventually.
Word count: 9,800+ (this part)
Rated: PG-13 right now
Warnings: Character death, monsters, abuse of artistic license is likely
Notes: This is a WIP. I know, that's a scary thing. You might like it though. Chapter One is here.
Her jaw was broken, but the ghoul woman still managed to sink her teeth into Sam’s forearm and hang on. A wraith clambered over her with its spike out and ready, trying to reach Sam’s throat with it, but he twisted away and kicked out, knocking him hard against the bars of a cell. The wraith was momentarily stunned by the blow, but Sam didn’t have time to worry about that or finish him off, others were coming for him. He finally got the ghoul off of his arm by bashing her against the wall, but something else got an arm around his neck and sank its teeth into his shoulder.
There was a lot of noise in such a confined space, howling and screaming and gibbering, all of it echoing and bouncing off the walls, loud enough to make Sam’s ears ring. One creature with a birdlike face even chirped at them all, though he burned himself on the iron bars trying to get out of the way instead of going for Sam’s eyes or throat. Over it all came a voice, a male voice that cut through everything and crashed off the walls. Sam didn’t understand the words, but he recognized the rhythm of an incantation when he heard it, even under a dog-pile of monsters that were all slobbering to rip his throat out.
Sam held back a starved vampire with sharp, gnashing teeth and in the back of his mind vaguely hoped that whoever was speaking was on his side in this because if not, he was about to die and become vamp chow.
A woman’s hand, pale and pretty with indigo blue tattoo marks writhing on her skin, descended on the shoulder of the vampire holding him down and the vampire screamed in pain. He fell off of Sam and retreated from that hand, curling in on himself in agony.
Panting, Sam looked up through the hair in his eyes and saw a woman standing over him with long ringlets of black hair and a mischievous smile on her face. She held a hand down to him and he shook his head, wary of touching her.
“I won’t poison you, I promise,” she said. “I don’t eat people. Not… really.”
Sam still didn’t really know if he trusted her, but he took a chance. He could see already that he was going to need to make some friends in this place and fast. “Ah, thanks,” he said, taking her offered hand.
“Sam Winchester, right?” the girl said. “You might not remember me, but your brother killed my father. You killed my brother. Your--grandfather was it?--killed my other brother, then gave me to a demon who wanted to torture me.”
Sam ran his tongue over the back of his teeth and swallowed. Now that she brought it up, he did recognize her. Castiel was supposed to have killed her. “Um. Hi,” he said lamely. He was still holding her hand and she squeezed his a little, which made him incredibly nervous. “Look… I’m really sorry about that. I know that’s lame, like really… lame. But I am. I really wasn’t myself back then. I know that sounds stupid, but I’m serious.”
She smiled at him. “I know,” she said. She let his hand go. “I’m Jane. Jane Ezra Van Jasper. And you’re welcome.”
Sam blinked at her. “For…?”
“Saving your pretty, pretty arse, Sammy boy,” said an accented and very familiar voice. Patrick stepped over the body of an unconscious creature and stood behind Jane’s right shoulder. “I don’t remember you being stupid.”
“Patrick?” Sam said, eyebrows shooting up in surprise.
“Not expecting to see the likes of me here, were you?” Patrick said. He slipped an arm around Jane’s waist and wiggled the toothpick in his mouth with his tongue. “Indeed, you look rather stunned. I’m flattered, truly.”
“Ah… actually I’m just surprised that you… you know. Saved my ass,” Sam said, looking around. Some of the monsters were regaining consciousness, but none of them tried to come after Sam again.
“Well, you see, it’s like this,” Patrick said. “Word across the globe these days is that you’re not quite the unassuming halfwit you would appear to be. Something I can vouch for personally, I think. In fact, one might benefit in the long run from your friendship in a dump such as this.”
That, Sam could believe. “Oh,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’ve accrued quite the stockpile of years in here,” Patrick said. “Funny how people…er, things in such desperate circumstances will still throw it all away to live forever. Warms my heart, it does. Still, the accommodations are not what I‘m used to.”
“But we did try to kill you,” Sam said, fairly sure the moment he mentioned it that it was not a wise thing to remind the witch of.
“Water under the bridge,” Patrick said dismissively.
“Alright,” Sam said, perfectly happy to let it go. “Look, what the hell’s going on here?”
Patrick shrugged. “Monster prison. It’s supposed to be more humane I would wager. The monsters, I‘m sure, would beg to differ,” he said. “You’ll be needing a place to sleep now. It’s a little crowded in here, but I might know of one.”
Sam stepped over the vampire that had tried to chew on his face a few minutes earlier and tried to get around them all. Patrick had knocked them all out with something. At least Sam thought they were only unconscious.
“What I really need is something to eat. I haven’t eaten in three days,” Sam said.
Patrick lifted a brow at that and looked him over. “You are looking a bit peeked,” he said. “Hunger strike?”
“Sort of,” Sam said. “I tried to bite one of them.”
“Ah. And how’s that going for you?” Patrick asked.
“Not great,” Sam said dryly.
Patrick grinned at him. “It’s good to see you, Sam. I always did like you. Come on, let’s get you settled.”
They crossed the yard to another block and Sam craned his neck to look up at the devil’s trap over their heads. It was a masterpiece of wrought iron, made in sections and then put together when it was placed over the prison. Each section was on hinges, the whole thing held in place by the symbols inside the circle.
“Already plotting your escape, are you?” Patrick said beside him.
Sam looked down at him and blinked. “What?”
“I see that mind of yours working. Fascinating stuff, that. Like watching clockwork cogs turn,” Patrick said.
“Be nice, Patrick,” Jane said, nudging him gently with her elbow.
“I’m always nice, luv.” He winked at her.
Sam rolled his eyes. “I’m not plotting anything. I’m just looking.”
“That’s how it starts, though, am I right?” Patrick asked.
“Ah… I don’t know,” Sam said. “I guess. I mean I don’t want to stay here, but no one wants to stay here, do they? So…”
“True enough,” Patrick said. There was a dog stretched out and sleeping in the doorway and he stepped over him. “Don’t step on Lucky. He’ll bite you.”
Sam carefully stepped over the dog, but then he stood there looking down at him. He was a German Sheppard with markings common to the breed. His coat was now dull and unwashed, his ribs pressed against his skin and his stomach was sunken with hunger, but he had once been a fine example of his species. Except he wasn’t really a dog at all.
“I know him,” Sam said.
“Aye, and he’ll remember you I’m sure,” Patrick said. “Leave him be. There‘s a room for you down this way.”
Sam followed Patrick and Jane down the long aisle of cells to the last one on the left. The cells closest to it were all empty. They had occupants and they looked lived in, but no one was home. There was another iron door at the end of the hall like the one Sam had been shoved through when he got there, except this one had a slit in it about two thirds of the way up at eyelevel. Curious, Sam went over to peer through it, thinking he might be able to look along the corridor, see the guards or the outside.
Something heavy and wild threw itself against the door and screamed at him. Its voice broke like the voice of a wildcat and it shrieked in rage when Sam jerked his head back. Long, slender, stick-like fingers poked through the slit in the door, reaching for him and the creature roared at him.
“Don’t tease the wendigo, Sam,” Patrick said, just like he was accusing Sam of teasing a puppy.
Sam gaped at him. “Wendigo?” he said. “Seriously?”
“Always,” Patrick said. He slung an arm around Sam’s shoulders and steered him to the door of the cell that was apparently going to be his. “This is you.”
A man sat crouched on his heels at the end of the top bunk bed eyeing them with sharp, shining eyes as he chewed agitatedly on his own forearm. Sam looked at him and he looked frankly back. He stopped chewing on himself long enough to bare his teeth at them all and growl. His canines, top and bottom were long and pointed, as were the points of a couple of teeth going back from the canines into his mouth. When he growled, it was the low, animal growl of a dog, not a human sound at all.
“This is Dex,” Patrick said. “Say hello, Dex.”
Dex curled his lip at Patrick. “Fuck you, witchy woman. What do you want now?”
“You say that like I make daily visits to your little boudoir, LaGlass,” Patrick said. “He’s pouting,” he told Sam.
“You cheated,” Dex snapped.
“I most certainly did not,” Patrick said, offended. “You lost fair and square. I don’t cheat.”
“Whatever,” Dex muttered, chewing on his arm again as he eyed Sam.
Patrick sighed. “I don’t know what you’re so upset about anyway,” he said. “You’re immortal. It’s not like fifty years gave you any wrinkles.”
Dex chuffed a bark of laughter. “Not the point, is it?” he said. “CHEATER!”
Sam winced at the sudden boom of Dex’s voice against his eardrums and worked a finger in his ear. “Damn, man.”
“This is why Dex is down here,” Patrick said. “With the wendigo. He tends to get quite loud. It’s a bit off-putting.”
“Fucking pussy,” Dex muttered, eyeing Patrick with annoyed distaste. “All of you. PUSSIES!”
“And he’s just a ray of golden sunshine,” Patrick said sarcastically.
“You can be my prison bitch anytime you want, Patty,” Dex said, a growl sliding into his voice. “Say the word.”
“Don’t you wish,” Patrick said, more amused than offended.
“Smarmy fucking leprechaun,” Dex grumbled. “I’d probably make you cry.”
Sam snorted and coughed back an involuntary burst of laughter at that. Beside him, Jane was smiling to herself and humming under her breath, listening to all of it but not saying a word. She noticed Sam trying to bite back his laugher and turned her smile on him.
“It’s okay to laugh,” Jane told him. “He is funny.”
“Your face is funny,” Dex said.
Patrick sighed. “Dex, this is Sam. He’s going to be your new roommate,” he said. “Unless he decides to murder you, that is. Sam, welcome to your new abode.”
“He’s not going to try to eat me, is he?” Sam said, thinking of those sharp carnivorous teeth Dex had.
“Probably not,” Patrick said.
Dex snickered and shook his head. He scratched his arms and shifted back a little from the edge of his bunk. “That’s why he wants to put you in here with me instead of Reno the lu-lu kitty,” he said.
“Reno the…?” Sam said. That made no sense at all.
“Shifter. Sort of,” Patrick said. “Like Dex, here. I believe Reno is a tiger on the full moon. He’s also batshit insane, but a really nice guy. He ate his first roommate.”
“He doesn’t believe in hunger strikes,” Dex said, then laughed like this was hilarious. “Ate the body right off a little girl demon. CHOMP!”
Sam made a disgusted face and walked into the cell. “Great.”
“It was awesome,” Dex said. He watched Sam walk into the room and leaned over the edge of the top bunk to look at him upside-down when he sat. “The fuck are you doing in here anyway? You’re just a human.”
Sam put his face in his hands and pinched the bridge of his nose. “How do you know?”
“I can smell you,” Dex said.
Sam sighed. “Of course you can.”
“We’ll just leave you alone to get acquainted, then,” Patrick said.
Sam grunted inarticulately and turned to crawl up on his bed and sleep. He was exhausted and sleep would make it easier to ignore the hollow ache in his belly. The mattress was stained and smelled musty, the pillow was lumpy and the only sheet on the bed was a faded grey top sheet, pilled with age, tucked into the bed frame. It was all clean, though, at least as far as Sam could tell. He was so tired that it really didn’t matter. The simple act of laying down made his muscles ache.
Patrick and Jane left and Dex watched Sam for a few minutes before he withdrew back to his own bed.
Sam lay there for a while, his thoughts too loud to let him just sleep. “Hey, Dex?”
“There’s a guy supposed to be in here. He’s… He was an angel,” Sam said.
“They don’t really do a lot of was in this shit hole,” Dex said. “Is he still an angel or isn‘t he?”
“I don’t know,” Sam said.
“Fallen angel?” Dex asked.
“Oh, yeah. Definitely,” Sam said.
“He might be here,” Dex said. “They keep the angels up top. That’s what I hear. Might just be complete bullshit, though. Because angels? Come on. That’s a bullshit plot device if I ever heard one.”
Sam blinked up at the underside of Dex’s bunk, thinking. “What?”
“Plot device,” Dex repeated. “What are you, a moron?”
“Sometimes,” Sam said tiredly. He closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind. In a little while, he was asleep. He did not dream.
Dinner came that evening, lowered through one of the grate sections of the devil’s trap into the center of the yard. Two crates of Plumpy’nut wafers and two kegs of tepid water to be divided up however the prison creatures chose to divide it, that was dinner. Sam hadn’t eaten in days and, unlike some of the prisoners, he wasn’t entirely carnivorous, so he ate the stuff. It basically amounted to peanut butter, sugar and powdered milk and was intended to treat starvation and survive a nuclear holocaust. The less fun bastard cousin of Twinkies, that was Plumpy’nut. He didn’t like it, but it assuaged his hunger.
He watched some of the others go over to the crates and dig around in them, sniff their fingers and a few even tried to eat it out of desperation, but most of them retreated again, unsatisfied and in despair. The way Sam had been attacked upon his arrival began to make a lot more sense.
Dex ate a little, but he wasn’t that interested in food. He disappeared about the time the food arrived and stayed away for a couple of hours. Sam noticed it, but he didn’t pay it much attention. Dex had been in there longer than Sam, long enough to make friends and gamble away fifty years of his life to Patrick. His apparently immortal life. Which did make Sam wonder what the hell kind of shifter lived forever, but not enough to ask him yet. It seemed like it might be a little bit rude and while Dex himself was absolutely rude, Sam didn’t know him. Still, Sam kind of liked the surly bastard. He got the impression from the way others avoided their cell and Dex in general that he was one in a very small minority who did.
Sam didn’t go far from his cell while Dex was away. It was a false sense of security, he knew that. Anything that wanted him badly enough could walk right in and take him and Dex was just as likely to laugh while he was eaten alive as save him from it. Sam didn’t know him well enough to be certain which it would be, either. But no one came near their cell and after Patrick had put his magical smack-down on the ones who attacked him when he arrived, Sam hoped they wouldn’t bother him. He didn’t know yet what he was going to do, how he was going to escape or even if he could, but it would all be a lot harder if he had to fight off vampires and ghouls while he figured it out.
Sam was sitting on the side of his bed, drinking water and listening to the occasional screams and laughter that came to him from other cells farther off when something low to the ground dashed into his cell and under his bed. Something a lot bigger, snarling and hideous, man-sized and man shaped, though only in the most basic sense, came scuttling along the floor after it. It moved too fast for Sam to really get a good look at it, but it saw him sitting there, smelled him, and changed direction to go after him. Forgetting the creature it had been chasing, it leaped at Sam.
Sam jumped off the bed and its momentum carried it onto the bunk. When it whipped around to face him, Sam got his first good look at it and recognized it. It was a fully transformed rugaroo, it’s skin scaly and hair like earthworms in its wrinkled face, teeth that were rotted and pitted points bared at him. It snarled and Sam backed up to the wall across from it, eyes darting around for an escape. He could go for the door, but there was a good chance he wouldn’t make it. The rugaroo was a little closer to it than he was.
The snarling of the rugaroo had excited the wendigo and it was shrieking and pounding on the inside of its secluded cage with its fists. Along the block, other creatures added their voices to it, screaming, howling and hooting in agitated excitement.
The rugaroo came at him and Sam twisted out of its reach. He jumped up on the side of the bunks and was climbing up to the top one when the rugaroo caught the back of his shirt in its hands and started to drag him down from it. Its breath was hot and putrid on the back of his neck. It smelled like the decaying scraps of flesh he imagined were stuck in its crumbling teeth. Sam held onto the bed railing, but his fingers were slipping when the rugaroo suddenly let go.
Sam scrambled up onto the top bunk and looked around to see where it had gone. He saw Dex standing there first, then looked down and saw the rugaroo spread out on the floor, unconscious. Dex was holding a length of pipe in his right hand and there was blood and hair hanging from the threaded end of it. He turned it in his hand and rolled his shoulders, eyeing the rugaroo with a kind of mad calculation that Sam found a little frightening.
He hadn’t given a lot of thought to what kind of creature Dex might actually be. He was a shifter, but that could mean a lot of things. Watching him looking like that, it made him really wonder.
Dex ran his tongue over his sharp teeth and growled. He seemed to make up his mind about it and suddenly hit the rugaroo again, then again. He hit it until its skull broke under the pipe, then kept hitting it until its head was in pieces on the floor. His chest was heaving and he was breathing hard and fast when he was done, but he showed absolutely no remorse at all for what he had done. He dragged the body out into the hall like it was garbage in his way.
“You alright?” Dex asked. There was blood spatter on his cheek and he wiped it away with the back of his hand.
Sam swallowed. “Yeah, I’m… yeah. Thanks.”
“No problem, but I wasn’t talking to you,” Dex said. He crouched down on his heels on the floor and looked under the bed, then held his hand out in a beckoning gesture. “Come on, now. You hungry?”
A dog’s nose poked out from under the bed and Lucky cautiously crawled out from beneath Sam’s bunk and went to Dex. His tail thumped on the floor and he went on his belly over to where Dex waited for him. Dex had a piece of the Plumpy’nut and he broke some off and fed it to Lucky, who whined, but he ate it.
“Fucking monsters, man,” Dex muttered. He patted Lucky’s head and sat down on Sam’s bed to pet him.
“Ah, I think you need to burn the body,” Sam said.
Dex looked at the crushed remains of the rugaroo’s skull and brains by the door and snorted. “You think so?”
“Yeah,” Sam said. “We… My brother and me, we hunted one this one time. You’ve got to burn it.”
“What, you think its head’s gonna just grow back?” Dex asked. He let out a bark of laughter that made Sam jump. “I’ll take care of it.”
Sam heard Dex lay down on his bed, which he took to mean it was okay if he did the same. He stretched out on his back and stared up at the ceiling. Enough light reached into the cell that Sam could see words written in charcoal on the stone over his head. He peered at it and made out the words of a poem.
When the shaman calls to us/ In the radio dark night/ We are already eating each other/ And you do not stir.
“Hey, Dex? Did you write this?” Sam asked.
Dex laughed. “Nah, I just transcribed the shit. Fucking Reno, he’s been singing that crap for months.”
“It’s good,” Sam said. “Creepy, but it’s good.”
“That’s Reno to a goddamn T,” Dex said. “Good and creepy. He lives next door.”
“Okay,” Sam said, not sure what else to say to that. He wasn’t so sure he wanted to meet this Reno.
“HEY, RENO!” Dex shouted.
Sam winced. “Dude, do you have to do that?”
“Do what?” Dex said. “RENO, COME OVER HERE AND MEET MY NEW ROOMIE!”
There was no reply for a few minutes. Sam didn’t think Reno was going to say anything at all but eventually they heard the soft strumming of guitar music from the cell beside them.
“He says hi,” Dex said. He laughed, that barking laughter that Sam found so strange and surprising.
Something occurred to Sam and he asked, “Dex, are you a dog?”
“No,” Dex said. “I’m a wolf.”
“Right,” Sam said. If Dex wanted to lie to him, fine. “Never mind then.”
Sam was wakened in the middle of the night by screams that bounced off the stone walls and made his ears ring so painfully he actually lifted his hands to them to make sure they weren’t bleeding. For a moment upon waking he thought they were in his head, screams following him out of his own nightmares into the world. They stopped long enough after he opened his eyes that he started to believe that. Then they began again, loud and agonized, urgent and demanding of attention like the squalls of a baby. There was an otherworldly pitch to them that let him know they were not human, but Sam had never heard anything in his life like them.
“That’s Iliya,” Dex said. He had a ball made out of rubber bands and he was bouncing it against the underside of the top bunk just under Sam’s ass. “She likes it.”
Sam rolled over on his stomach and looked under the bunk at Dex. “What?”
“Iliya. She likes it. They wouldn’t let them do it to her if she didn’t,” Dex said.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Sam demanded. “Who is Iliya and who are they?”
“They are the strongest,” Dex said indifferently. “Whoever has the power. Iliya’s just a demon.”
“And you’re a monster,” Sam said, finding Dex’s dismissive attitude heartless and cruel. “You’re all monsters in here. Doesn’t that shit bother you?”
Dex grinned and his eyes flashed with chatoyant light. It made Sam’s heart leap in alarm, reminding him with startling intensity that he was in the small confined cell space with a shifter, whose nature he didn’t really understand yet and whom he had trusted not to eat him while he slept.
“What shit would that be?” Dex asked.
“The screaming,” Sam said.
Dex sniffed and rolled one shoulder in a shrug. He bounced the rubber band ball off the bottom frame of the upper bunk and caught it. “History is nothing but monsters and victims,” he said.
Sam frowned at him and narrowed his eyes. “Yeah, and?”
“And I know which one I’d rather be,” he said.
“You are so full of shit,” Sam muttered.
“I think you’ll find that I’m not,” Dex said.
Sam sat up on the side of the bunk, then slid down on his feet to the floor. He winced as more screaming crashed down the halls and against the walls. “I can’t believe that doesn’t even bother you.”
“If you wait a couple hours, it’ll stop,” Dex said. “She gets tired, they get bored.”
Sam ignored him and started to leave. He expected to find the decapitated body of the dead rugaroo in his way, but it was gone. There was some smashed brain tissue and bits of crushed skull still in the hall outside the doorway, but the body was gone.
“What did you do with the body?” Sam asked Dex.
Dex smirked. “Fed it to Clyde.”
“What?” Sam said. He turned back around to look at Dex. “What eats… rugaroo meat? Who’s Clyde?”
“The wendigo,” Dex explained. “I call him Clyde.”
Sam blinked. “Why??” he finally managed.
“Have to call him something. We’re neighbors,” Dex said, like this was the most ordinary thing in the world, naming a wendigo. “I can’t understand a fucking thing he says, so I call him Clyde. He doesn’t mind.”
“No, not that,” Sam said. “Why would you feed the rugaroo to it?”
Dex picked his head up from the mattress and regarded Sam with raised eyebrows. “He’s gotta eat, don’t he? I wasn’t gonna eat it. That‘s fucking nasty.”
Sam didn’t even know what to say to that. He stuck his tongue out in disgust at the idea and tried not to picture what it must have been like, Dex feeding pieces of the dead rugaroo through the slit in the iron door to the waiting wendigo. He would have had to rip it into pieces small enough to fit through that little hole and the bones were gone, too. He couldn’t possibly have pushed those through the hole as well… Except he probably had.
Disgusted, Sam left and paused outside the door to look at the iron door of Clyde’s private cell. It was smeared with blood and some few hanging meatier bits that he didn’t want to identify. There was a pile of the rugaroo’s inedible parts tossed aside in a corner. Scraps of clothing, mashed pieces of skull and clumps of stringy hair.
Somewhere in the other direction, the demon, Iliya screamed and Sam put his hands over his ears, swaying back against the bars. “Jesus Christ. What the hell are they doing to her?”
“Whatever they want,” Dex said from behind him.
Sam scowled at that and shoved himself away from the cell bars. He didn’t care what Dex or anyone said, those were not screams of pleasure and enjoyment and he had known monsters all his life; they were goddamn creative and no one liked some of the shit they came up with when they put their twisted minds to it. Demon or not, Sam followed the sounds of Iliya’s agony, not sure what he was going to do, but needing to do something. Stop it. That was, after all, what he did, wasn’t it? He stopped the monsters from hurting the innocent. Innocent in this place might be a relative and subjective concept, but Sam couldn’t just stand by and allow someone to be tortured. He couldn’t roll over and go back to sleep when he could save them from being tortured. He couldn’t sleep when the demon was shrieking like a storm wind that echoed along every hall and against every stone wall of the prison anyway.
Where were the hunters that were supposed to keep order in the place when the other creatures were eating each other and tormenting each other? That was a damn good question and Sam didn’t like what he was beginning to suspect was the answer. They had built the prison, following instructions from somewhere or someone, beyond that they had no more control over the supernatural creatures they put inside it than they had before. Except now the supernatural creatures that usually had the world to roam and could build their territories away from one another and stay out of each others’ way were jammed into cells together, unable to leave and slowly starving. It wasn’t really that astounding that they would turn on each other in their desperation. Whoever the sick person was who had come up with the idea of a prison for monsters must have been a real sadistic son of a bitch because killing them outright was a kindness compared to this. The prison had stripped them all of the last shredded vestiges of their forsaken humanity. Even the shadow that usually remained, enough that they could pass through the world in brief moments unnoticed and unhunted, was slipping away. Most of them had lost it or given it up already. It died because of their desperation in such a place, because it had no place here and would only make them weak. Being forced together with other monsters they might never meet outside the walls of the prison, their natural freedom taken from them and forced to survive in a way that was not even kind to the strongest, they had become, incredibly, more monstrous.
When Sam looked at it that way, he was a little afraid. He was still human, he hadn’t moved anything with his mind or pulled a demon from a human host in a long time, but the potential for it all to overcome him again was always there, waiting. He was still the same Sam Winchester who let the devil in. To survive in this place, he would have to become that person again. Not like he had been without a soul. Soul or no soul, that didn’t matter. The creatures here were starving in the most basic sense and couldn’t give a shit about Sam Winchester’s mutilated soul. He couldn’t buy them, all he could do was be one of the strongest.
“Might is the right of the strongest,” Sam muttered to himself under his breath, then startled himself by laughing.
The sound of his laughter echoed along the stones of the wall and Sam stopped, waited and listened. He didn’t hear the screaming Iliya anymore, but the sound of laughter, not his own but the laughter of many others, came to him as if through a long tunnel. He followed the sound and came to a staircase that lead down into the dark beneath the prison.
Sam stopped and slumped back against the wall, staring down into the abysmal darkness as the chattering, hooting, howling laughter bounced up the stairs to him. He hadn’t really thought about what he was doing and he realized he didn’t even have a weapon. If his intention was only to make the screaming stop, well it had stopped, so what the hell did he think he was doing?
He rubbed his face with his hands and dragged his fingers through his hair, mentally calling himself an idiot. He should just go back to bed and try to sleep. He was one man, one human, and God alone knew how many monsters were down there. They had left him alone after Patrick drove them off, but if they were in some kind of blood frenzy celebration, doing some kind of demon gathering thing, then would that even matter? It would be like monsters with herd mentality and Sam could easily picture himself being ripped apart and eaten alive by a mob in the underground dungeon of some fucked up prison in the desert. And for what? So he could save a demon he didn’t even know? One who, according to Dex at least, probably wouldn’t thank him for it anyway?
He went down the stairs. As he descended further into the dark, the darkness started to lessen, become filtered like the darkness before a fire, and hold shadows. Sam’s own shadow sliding down the stairs before him was a familiar comfort, but the stairs twisted on the way down and as the firelight grew brighter, the strange shadows of the creatures below danced and stretched up the wall like gruesome specters in a dream.
When Sam took the last step and stood at the bottom of the stairs, just inside the room, he expected something to happen. He expected silence to fall or heads to turn and monsters to stare. He expected to find a dank, dark underground where the walls and floor were splashed and soaked in blood. A few creatures close to the bottom of the stairs sidled out of his way and one hissed at him in annoyance, but they largely paid no attention to him at all. There was blood, but there was very little. The way the demon had been screaming had led him to expect more gore than he found, but there was almost no blood at all and the woman herself had stopped screaming before he even started down there.
At first, Sam didn’t see her. He followed the line of sight of those around him, trying to see what so fascinated them, but he stood at the back and there were so many. There were torches, but the light they gave off was mellow firelight and so many monsters in a room cast too many shadows. The light was deceptive and not very bright. He tried to slip between some of the demons standing in front of him, get closer and get a good look. What he really wanted to know was if it was a situation where he should even try to save her. That had of course been his reason for venturing down there in the first place, but he realized while standing there that he still might not interfere if this demon, this Iliya, were not honestly in danger.
He wasn’t sure who had said it to him, though he remembered it in Crowley’s voice so it had probably been him, but he had once told Sam that all demon’s were really masochists. When he found out later the way Crowley had redesigned Hell, as a never ending waiting line, he had remembered that and laughed. He wondered at the nature of that masochism among demons though. Did they enjoy humiliation as well or was it only the physical pain that didn’t truly hurt them? Either way, what kind of heinous things could they be doing, what kind of pain might they be inflicting, that could force a demon to scream the way those screams had echoed through the hallways of the prison all the way to the surface? What about this torture could so fascinate the other monsters, who must have seen horrible things like torture and death all the time and laughed about it, that they would stand around watching it now like they were at a circus?
In front of Sam, a demon shifted on his feet just enough for Sam to squeeze through and get in front of him, closer to whatever they were all watching. He could finally see and it was horrifying, but it took him a minute to actually make sense of what he was looking at.
Iliya, for that was who it must have been, was in the middle of the floor. She had been stripped naked with her arms spread above her head and shackled there. Thick chains came down from the ceiling and held her, holding her in place, but also holding her up. She appeared to be unconscious and was slumped, her long dark hair concealing her face. What blood there was, was on her, spotting her alabaster pale skin, saturating her hair so that it looked black, though Sam couldn’t be certain at all what color it was.
As they all watched, a creature Sam didn’t recognize by sight alone grabbed one of Iliya’s arms and pushed, turning her body to face the crowd of monsters, putting himself behind her. Some humanoid creatures hooted and stomped in the dirt, egging him on to whatever he intended to do. The creature, who was also humanoid, but had misshapen, non-human features, raised one hand to display fingers longer than human fingers, tipped in long, sharp claws. They gleamed in the lamplight as he dragged them softly down Iliya’s back.
Sam had thought the demon woman was unconscious, but she tensed at the touch and soft, pained whimpers escaped her. She didn’t lift her head and he watched, wondering if she were even able to. He couldn’t see her well enough to note her injuries, but she was obviously hurt and in no condition to continue to give consent to anything.
Sam opened his mouth to speak, intending to say stop, to say no more, to say anything because he didn’t see a demon in her, he didn’t even see a woman engaged in risky, consensual or non-consensual behavior, he saw a person hurting and without the power to stop it herself. Before he could say anything at all, the creature with the claws shoved his hand inside her, right through her back. His fingers were longer than any man’s and the tapered, clawed ends came out the front of Iliya’s chest, tearing through her left breast, ripping through the lung and smashing the ribs as the monster punched its fist through her body.
Iliya screamed and arched, her head thrown back and her eyes, which were a bright and vivid shade of blue that clashed with the black and red blood on her face, wide open and unseeing. The quiet room exploded with noise, screams that mocked the woman joining hers, agitated chattering and excited howls all drowned out Sam’s voice as he finally raised it to yell for them to stop. No one listened. No one even heard him.
Sam pushed through the bodies in front of him, between himself and the hanging woman, and yelled again for them to stop. He couldn’t even hear himself. The creature with its hand in her chest flexed his arm and Iliya’s body rose on the end of his fist like a grotesque puppet on the hand of a puppeteer. Sam was fighting his way to the middle of the room, pushing against heavy, strange bodies that crowded him back, some larger, thicker than himself and as unmovable as giant boulders, when Iliya’s eyes flashed bright with light like it was water pouring out of her. It hit the rough hewn ceiling stone and splashed over their heads.
Sam froze in shock and stared at the light. Around him, the others watched in a kind of suspended, hungry awe, but with much less surprise than Sam. They had seen it before.
A spark of light came close to his eye and Sam looked away. He hissed in pain and rubbed at his eye, his attention drawn back to the center of the room. There was silence as they all looked on and watched and Sam could finally push his way forward and be heard.
“Stop! You’re killing her!” he shouted. His voice fell like the crash of drums in the silence and shook the onlookers from their stupor.
They snarled and jeered at him. “Oh, stop it, you’re killing her,” a whiny, high-pitched voice mimicked him.
There was laughter and as Sam drew closer to Iliya, the creature that had shoved his fist through her chest bared his teeth at him and growled. Sam reached out and tried to turn her head to look for signs of life. It was impossible that she could be alive, but she wasn’t human and so, anything was possible.
“What do you think you’re doing, human?” the beast demanded. He still had his fist inside Iliya’s chest and she opened her mouth and gasped, trying to breathe as he moved his hand.
“Stop it,” Sam said. “Don’t move, don’t do that. You’re hurting her.”
He grinned at Sam and did something, spread his fingers inside her chest, and Iliya screamed and kicked out with one leg, trying to escape it. “That’s what she’s here for, boy… human boy… Winchester boy. Don’t be a hero. No one likes a hero here.”
“I’m not a hero,” Sam told him.
He had never believed himself to be one or claimed it. Dean had, but that had been a long time ago and before he grew up. Before he knew better. Sam had fallen too far in too many ways to ever be a hero, it was Dean who was the righteous man.
The creature saw the truth of this on his face and looked perplexed. “Then why do you care what happens to her?”
Sam shook his head. “I don’t know. Because it’s wrong.”
“It’s wrong,” the beast sneered. He hefted Iliya’s weight on his fist and she shuddered. “Is it?” He lowered his voice and ducked his head close to Iliya’s ear to whisper to her. “Is it wrong, hmm? What do you think, pretty one?”
Iliya’s mouth worked, lips parting like she meant to speak, but they all waited and nothing came out.
“She can’t speak, you’ve ripped through her lungs,” Sam said. “Come on, man. Put her down.”
The creature rolled his eyes up to look at Sam over her body. His pupils were like the pupils in the eyes of a frog. “I’d rather take her heart,” he said.
He spoke softly, but the monsters all around them cheered, clapped and stomped their feet in enthusiastic agreement. Sam was tense and quietly freaking out inside because he knew perfectly well just how little power he had to influence them all. They were the things he and Dean had hunted all their lives, usually one at a time though, not ever in these numbers. He didn’t like to think what a crazed mob of supernatural creatures might be like. He wasn’t even sure what stopped them now from ripping him apart, but if they got worked up into a frenzy, whatever it was wouldn’t matter anymore. If he didn’t do something, Iliya wouldn’t be the only one of them who died down there.
Sam held the monster’s gaze, took a breath, and said, “Let her go.”
“What will you do if I say again no, hmm?” he replied. “What can you, a boy, do?”
Sam broke eye contact then and looked down. He let his eyes linger on Iliya, her skin that was white with a soft color like she had the sun inside her flesh, spotted with black oxidized blood and streaked with the unnaturally bright red of blood that was still wet. In his mind, he heard Dex tell him, Iliya’s just a demon.
“Not much, I guess,” Sam said. He ran his fingertips down Iliya’s throat, through her blood. It was cold, but it was still wet on his fingers. She shivered under his hand, but didn’t otherwise move or make a sound.
“No,” the creature with his hand on Iliya’s heart said. He sounded almost sympathetic to Sam’s predicament.
Sam felt a strong and deep flash of disgust and anger at that false sympathy, which made him feel slightly better about what he did next.
“But I can’t just let you rip her heart out,” he said. He took his first two fingers, coated in Iliya’s blood, and put them in his mouth. The taste, even cold, was sweet and painfully familiar.
The beast watched Sam taste her blood and a contemptuous, knowing smile spread over his face. “You’re not such a hero, Winchester,” he said.
Sam licked his fingers clean, felt the blood waking up the fire of his own power like bubbles in champagne, like stars burning to life in his belly, flowing under his own skin. He had taken the sun from Iliya and swallowed it. He had missed it, that surge of power. It had been a long, long time since he’d felt it, but he didn’t have time to savor it now.
He had never turned it on anything that wasn’t a demon and there was no reason to think that it would work, but he turned it on the beast with his fist punched through Iliya’s back, put his hand to its head and just pushed. The power rose to obey, flowed through his blood, down to his fingertips and Sam reached for the creature’s soul. He had never touched a soul before and had been told that demons didn’t have them, but he had also been told that demons, at least some of them, had once been human. Humans who had once had souls, souls that were burned black in the pits of Hell. Some of the supernatural monsters in the world, in fact most of them, were at their very core human, too.
The creature had his hand in Iliya’s body, he had crashed through her ribcage with his fist and her flesh and blood was still all over him. When Sam touched him, when he pushed with the power that the little taste of her blood had awakened in him, her black demon soul responded to it as well and reared up to obey him. The monster was flung away, his fist ripped back out of her back, fingers open in pain and empty of her heart.
Sam stepped forward as the creature flew back against the wall. He put his hand out in silent command to the force holding it, to the power that was eager to answer him and the beast screamed as his entire body lit up from the inside. His skeleton could be clearly seen outlined in white, flaming light. It flashed like little exploding firecrackers inside his flesh. Sam closed his hand and he felt the pressure in the back of his mind, the capillaries in his nose bursting with it, but he didn’t let go. He pushed more, clenched his fingers into a tight fist and the power did the same inside the monster until he convulsed and fell dead against the wall.
Sam sighed, relieved of the pressure in his mind as the thing died and the power let them both go, dissipating and falling back to a hibernating but ready hum. The smoke of Iliya’s soul had been floating around her like lingering fog and when that happened, it retreated rapidly back into her body. She gasped, her mouth opening wide and her eyes snapping open as it woke her upon its return. She threw out an arm wildly against the chains holding her, reaching for something or someone to ground her and Sam, without thinking about it, automatically reached up and took her hand.
There was a stunned hush among the on looking supernatural creatures. They watched in awe much as they had watched Iliya’s eyes rain light down upon them, but with a great deal more surprise and a growing fear.
Sam found the clasps on the shackles and opened them. Iliya fell limply and Sam had to catch her and lift her in his arms. She was once again unconscious, though she seemed to be drifting in and out of it. He still could hardly believe that she was alive at all. The strange beast with the not quite human features and the much too long clawed fingers had his hand literally on her beating heart, ready to rip it from her body. He had torn at least one lung and broken many ribs when he reached inside her to take it. Anything human--hell, anything mortal--would have died almost instantly.
Iliya’s mouth moved and Sam inclined his head, trying to hear what she was saying. It was barely inaudible, just breath passing through her lips to make the words, but he understood, “… it would have grown back.”
Sam blinked and looked at her. Her eyes were open and she stared frankly back at him. She wasn’t delirious, she was completely aware and the force of the mind behind those eyes was almost feverish in its intensity.
She smiled at him and promptly passed out.
“I always did say there was more to you than meets they eye,” said Patrick, his voice reaching Sam from the very back of the room.
Sam looked around for him and the monsters cleared a path. Patrick stood calmly with his back to the wall near the staircase. He was casually dancing a gold coin over the backs of his fingers. As Sam’s eyes narrowed on him, he caught the coin and it became a card. A tarot card; the Fool.
“You just let them do this stuff, huh?” Sam said. He started toward Patrick, carrying Iliya in his arms. “Just torture and maim whoever’s weaker. What do you care?”
Patrick spread his hands and shrugged. “That’s right, what do I care?” he said. “She’s nothing to me and besides--”
“If you tell me she likes it, I’m going to punch you,” Sam warned him.
Patrick blinked. “What exactly would you have me do?” he asked.
“Nothing,” Sam said. He hefted Iliya’s weight in his arms, holding her so her head fell on his shoulder, her long, bloody hair draped over his back. “I’ve done it.”
“Aye, you have,” Patrick said. “And now we’re all a little bit wiser as to why you’re here. But you’re a fool, Sammy, if you think she is one of the weak.”
Sam stared right at him and stopped. Patrick was blocking his way. “Move,” he said.
“And what do you think you’re going to do with her? Take her home, give her a bed, feed her some kibble? She’s not a pet,” Patrick said.
“I’m having a hard time figuring out what business it is of yours at this point,” Sam snapped.
Patrick put up his hands again, this time in a gesture of surrender. “You’re absolutely right, you are,” he said. “Take her with my blessing.”
Sam gritted his teeth and resisted the urge to say more. He could stand there at the bottom of the stairs fighting with the witch, or he could take care of the woman bleeding all over him and possibly still dying in his arms. He walked by Patrick and the rest of them all standing around staring at them and took the stairs two at a time to the ground floor. No one followed them or tried to chase him, they all stayed behind at a cautious distance and Sam was fiercely glad of it.
When Sam got back to their cell, Dex was once again on his own top bunk with his back to the room. He was either asleep or faking it. Lucky was asleep on Sam’s bed and he wasn’t a dog anymore. He woke up to the smell of blood and quickly got up and moved away from Sam to the corner of the cell, watching him cautiously.
Sam took Iliya to the bed and lay her down on it, putting her on her side so he could look at her back. He crouched down on his heels beside the bed and tried to see it by the light of the moon that came through the bars high up in their cell, but he couldn’t see anything but a wide, black, gaping hole in her back.
He sighed and sat on the floor by the bed, legs crossed and his face in his hands.
“What did you do?” Lucky asked him softly.
Sam glanced up at him and the man started like he had shouted at him or thrown something at his head. Sam frowned at him and shook his head. “I didn’t do that.”
“No,” Luck agreed. “They do that. It’s the only entertainment there is and she… I don’t know what she gets out of it. Something.”
“It’s the only game in town,” Sam said, thinking of Dean. He remembered that time now, when he had been without a soul, but it was strange the way he remembered it. Like being in a dream, watching but not really controlling his own body. Except it wasn’t quite like that either because everything he’d done without a soul was everything he would still do if he were devoid of a conscience. Soulless Sam was Sam with a broken moral compass but a very keen grasp of logic.
“I guess so,” Lucky said, eying Sam uncertainly.
“You don’t have to do that. Stand over there,” Sam said. “I’m not going to do anything to you.”
“Oh, yeah? You’ll excuse me if I don’t just take your word for that,” Lucky said.
Sam shrugged. “Sure,” he said. “Look, I’m sorry about that shit, you know? I was… I had problems.”
Lucky chuffed a soft, sarcastic laugh. “So what are you going to do with her?”
“Who, Iliya?” Sam asked. He made a helpless gesture with one hand and shook his head. “I don’t know. Hope she doesn’t die, then I guess figure it out.”
“She won’t,” Lucky said. “Die, I mean. She never has before.”
“Everyone talks like this kind of crap just happens every damn night around here. Like ‘oh, hey that’s really something to see, but it’s not even the best show I’ve ever watched.’ What the fuck with that, man?” Sam said. “I mean, I just stopped a guy… a thing… I’m not even sure what, but yeah. A guy from ripping her heart out. So when someone says something like that, it’s pretty goddamn weird, even to me.”
Lucky shifted carefully closer to the bunk and to Sam. He was still unsure, but he was starting to relax a little since Sam didn’t seem too interested in doing mean shit to him, like tying him up and poking him with a stick.
“I don’t know, I just know they do it sometimes. Sometimes they do other things. They tear… parts off. They eat her. They’ve ate her before, I saw that. I didn’t though,” he assured Sam. “I’m not… That’s gross.”
“They rape her?” Sam asked.
Lucky nodded. “Sure. There aren’t a lot of women… females or anything. There really aren’t. Mostly because they usually die. The powerful ones don’t. The other powerful ones, like the witch. Patty, that’s what Dex calls him. He’s powerful and Jane, she’s his and she’s… she has poison or something. Something fucking brutal. She’s powerful, but if she weren’t, Patty wouldn’t let them. He… sometimes they’ll stop it. Not always and I don’t know why, but that’s why the place isn’t… people or whatever being raped and killed all day long. Like Raven. Raven won’t let them do that and they’ll listen to him because he’s the dream weaver. Demons, you know, they don’t. Dream, I mean. They can’t, I guess. But Raven will give them one. If he feels like it or if they buy it or something. I don’t know, I have my own and I don’t need his weirdo Indian voodoo. Mine are nightmares most of the time, but they’re still mine. But he’s powerful and they don’t want to piss him off, either. Sometimes he’ll stop it. Dex says that’s when he’s not smoking his own peace pipe, which I think means when he’s stoned.”
Sam listened to all of this with his eyebrows raised and when Lucky made a move toward the beds again, he held up his hand in an ‘after you’ sort of gesture. Lucky climbed up onto the top bunk with Dex and slipped out of his clothes as he shifted into a dog and curled up by Dex’s feet.
Sam sat there for a while, until he felt himself nodding off, then got up. He walked around, passing the cell where Reno, who Dex called the ‘lu-lu kitty,’ watched him. At least he assumed it was Reno. All Sam could see was shining, blue eyes like the blue lights on a police cruiser, following him as he passed. Sam didn’t say anything to him and Reno never said a word.
Finally, Sam dragged a mattress he’d found on the floor of an empty cell out into the hall by their cell. He put it against the wall and crawled up onto it to lay there, trying to sleep. He couldn’t do anything now and if Iliya was going to die, then she was going to die, though the more people talked about it, the less likely it seemed. He didn’t think anyone would bother him now and he wasn’t even as afraid as he had been. The power he had, that little bit that he’d used, it had been enough. He felt safe. He could still feel it stirring in his blood and in his guts, a reassuring presence of fire, banked low and waiting for gasoline.
Clyde, the wendigo, suddenly gibbered behind his iron door and banged his fists into it twice in succession.
Sam yawned. “Goodnight, Clyde,” he mumbled.
The wendigo made a strained choking sound, growled and fell silent again.
Sam wondered where Castiel was. He tried not to let himself think that Castiel might not in fact be there at all. Sometimes a rumor really was just a rumor, but this time he needed that rumor to be more. He also tried not to think of what Castiel might have been reduced to in such a place if he were not, not anymore, one of the strong. Stripped of his power and fallen from grace, what would save him from the same fate as Iliya? He didn’t want to imagine that at all or entertain the notion that if he found him, Sam would find him dead.