caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,
caranfindel
caranfindel

Fic: Come lay bones on the alabaster stones (2 of 2)



At the hotel, Sam takes out his map and adds a red dot for the newest site. The three deaths aren't enough to show a pattern - not a straight line, not moving toward or away from any one point on the map... and then he sees it, and feels something frigid crawling under his skin.

"Dean, come here and look at this."

Dean pulls up a chair and watches Sam mark a spot on the map with a green marker (the red dots spread toward it, like droplets of blood, weaving angry scarlet paths, all pointing to Sam.) "This is our first hotel. Where we were when the first two vics were killed." He marks another green dot. "And this is our hotel now, where we were when the third victim was killed."

He watches Dean put it together. "They're getting closer to us."

"Right. The first killing was about three and a half miles away from our first hotel. The second was two miles. This last one was only a mile away from our current hotel."

Something in the back of Sam's brain is screaming run, run.

{Like it matters, Lucifer frowns. Like it isn't going to find you wherever you go. Like you aren't a fucking beacon calling out to every possible kind of evil shit, Sam.}

Dean drums his fingers on the table, thinking. "Could be a coincidence, but I don't like it. We probably ought to make ourselves scarce anyway. The hunt's over; there's no reason to stay here. If this thing is after you - if it's after us - we'll find out."

Sam turns away to pack his bag. When he looks in Dean's direction, his brother is shoving instruments of torture into his duffle. Sam scrapes a nail across his wrist until they turn into a pile of folded clothes.

Four hours later they're in the Texas panhandle, typical crappy hotel on the outskirts of a typical dusty little town. Six hours later Sam is completely wasted, drinking straight from the bottle, finger drunkenly tracing the scabs on his wrist and palm. Seven hours later he passes out.

Sam is hanging from the ceiling, shackled wrists gone bruised and bloody, hands numb, shoulders screaming from the strain, toes straining to touch the floor, Lucifer and Dean bathed in flickering firelight, Lucifer caresses his side, cold chill creeps down to his bones, don't be jealous because Dean is here, you're still my favorite, we have such a profound bond, you and I.

Lucifer sings softly, don't you weep pretty baby, draws two long sinuous strips of metal out of the fire and hands one to Dean, it cracks across Sam's back like a whip, cuts and burns and Sam jerks in the air, Lucifer is in front of him, slowly drawing a line of fire down his cheek, across his throat, his breath icy on Sam's bare skin, you're so beautiful like this Sammy, sings don't you weep pretty baby.

Dean works his fiery whip harder, takes off his shirt and ties it around his waist, sheen of sweat as he paints stripes of agony across Sam's back in the firelight, slicing through skin and muscle, he seems angry, Lucifer murmurs, why is that, why is he so angry with you today, and Sam knows, Dean lost everything because of Sam, Dean is here in Hell because of Sam -


"Oh fuck," Sam moans, as the hell-dream congeals into a whiskey hangover. He stumbles outside. It's just after midnight, dark and cool. He stares into the featureless field across the highway for a while, then has to shield his eyes when the darkness is split by headlights as trucks from an oil drilling company pull off the road to scatter across the parking lot. Tired-looking men in filthy coveralls slowly emerge from the trucks.

Their own door opens and Dean steps out, blinking sleepily at the parking lot lights. He leans against the wall next to Sam, silent, close enough that he can feel the warmth bleeding off him. Sam watches the men shuffle into their rooms, bags slung over their shoulders. A tall young man with dark hair brushing his collar opens a door at the end of the strip of rooms, and Sam's stomach lurches. Maybe he can tell him he's in danger, that he should run. Maybe he can pound on the stranger's door and say "you should get as far away from here as you possibly can, because you look enough like me to get you killed."

{I wouldn't, Lucifer comments. That's the kind of thing that gets you locked up.}

Then the parking lot is quiet again, deserted except for the two (three) of them.

"You should go back to bed," Dean says.

Sam turns to his brother (shirtless, slick with sweat, gripping a long strip of red-hot metal edged in Sam's blood) and says "You go ahead. I'll be there in a minute."

///

They spend the next day scouring the internet and police scanner for suspicious deaths. Lucifer is relentless, and Sam scrapes his wrist until he opens the scabs, leaving it bloody. It catches Dean's eye again and again, and Sam's face reddens with shame.

"It's Lucifer. He's worse when I have the dreams. The sleeping pills seem to knock him down a little bit."

Dean looks stricken. "So either you're drugged out or you're..." He makes a spinning motion at his head, and Sam sighs.

"Yeah, crazy."

"Shit, Sam. I'm sorry. This is just all so fucked up. I don't even know what to say."

"I do." Sam gets up and rifles through his bag. "I can't do this. I'm sorry, but I can't. I'm going to try taking half a pill and see what happens."

Dean's expression could mean either of course you will, because you're a failure and fucking coward or good idea, I fully support this decision. Sam can't tell, and doesn't particularly care.

///

Half a pill doesn't keep all of his dreams away, but they're unfocused and disjointed; flashes of Bobby's panic room and the baying of hellhounds and someone furiously pounding on a door, and then suddenly Dean is roughly shaking him awake. "Sam. Get up. We've gotta get moving."

"What?" he mumbles, waiting for the fog of sleep to clear. "What the hell?"

"I said get up, Sam." Dean's voice is panicked. "We gotta get the fuck out of here. It found us."

Sam's instantly awake, a prickly cold sensation of fear running down his spine. "Found us? What do you mean it found us?"

Dean tosses his bag on the bed and begins gathering clothes from the floor. "What I mean is there's a dead guy at the other end of the motel, and I don't know what the fuck happened to him, but it's bad."

"Oh, jesus," Sam moans, his guts twisting, "what did you see?"

"Enough to know he's one of ours. Get your shit together. I want to get out of here before they decide they need to interview everyone at the damn hotel."

Sam packs quickly, with a brief stop to push the pill bottle into Dean's hand. "Don't let me have these," he pleads.

Five minutes later, in true Winchester style, they're out the door. As they leave the parking lot, Sam cranes his neck to see in the open door at the end of the row of rooms. Through the blinking of red and blue lights, around the web of yellow police tape, he catches a glimpse of someone hanging upside down, arms spread, long dark hair dragging along the floor.

{In the backseat, Lucifer leans forward, pressing on Sam's shoulder with icy fingers. I guess you should have warned him after all. What do you think, Sam? Think that guy's eyes are pinned to a wall in there? So he could watch? You think maybe he'd still be alive if you'd warned him?}

As Dean pretends not to watch out of the corner of his eye, Sam uses his pocketknife to scrape a bloody trail around his scabbed wrist.

///

Sam doesn't sleep that night. Dean dives into a bottle of whiskey, and Sam can't blame him for trying to make his own dreams a little blurry. They move on again the next day. By nighttime, Dean's twitchy and irritable, and Sam's doing push-ups to try to stay awake.

"Go to sleep, Sam," Dean snaps.

"I'm okay," Sam insists.

"No, you're not." Dean stands - a little shaky, and how did Sam not notice he was hitting the bottle pretty hard again - and begins pacing around the tiny room. "Look. You can't do this forever. You need to fucking sleep."

Sam ignores him and digs in his bag for his running shoes.

"You're gonna run now? Seriously?"

"Yeah, seriously. I don't want to visit Hell tonight, if that's okay with you."

Dean stops, anger collapsing into remorse, and sighs. "Listen. I know what you're dealing with. But Sam, you're the one who said that when you stop the dreams, people die." His voice turns soft and pleading. "Don't you think refusing to sleep stops the dreams too?"

Jesus fuck.

Sam sinks onto the bed in defeat. "But... but I didn't sleep last night. And no one died."

"No one we know of," Dean points out, "but we're 700 miles away from where we were last night."

Sam pulls out his laptop. "I'll check. It would be news by now."

"Fine, whatever," Dean sighs, with no sign of his earlier remorse. He drains the last of the whiskey bottle and sprawls onto the other bed, on top of the covers. "Do what you want. I'm sure it will be fine," he drawls sarcastically. "It always is."

Sam searches the local news but finds nothing. {It's okay, Lucifer says. I'm sure everything is fine. You should look up that last death, though. I really want to know if that guy's eyes were poked out.}

Dean's breath evens out in sleep, and Sam tries to interest himself in anything he can find online, anything that will keep him awake.

{Next to him, Lucifer softly sings. Go to sleep little baby, go to sleep little baby, your mama's gone away and your daddy's gone to stay, didn't leave nobody but the baby.}

Sam scratches his pocketknife across his palm and around his wrist. Lucifer leaves him alone long enough that he's able to take a shower, shivering under chilly water until his bones ache, but when Sam decides to walk a couple of blocks to a convenience store for energy drinks, the archangel reappears at his side, carrying a length of heavy chain that scrapes cold and sharp along the sidewalk.

{It's not right, Sammy. You need your rest. And what if Dean's wrong? What if the dreams are the reason people are dying? Maybe, if you never had another dream again, no one else would die.}

Sam stares at his reflection in the window of the convenience store. He looks haggard and haunted.

{Next to him, Lucifer smiles. They're not visions, Sam. You know this. You've had enough visions to know one when you don't see one. They're just dreams. The pills aren't hurting anybody, Sam.}

There's something wrong with Lucifer's logic, but Sam's thoughts are too fuzzy; he can't figure out what it is. He turns on his heel and heads back to the hotel.

{They're just dreams, Sam. And you don't have to have them if you don't want to.}

He slips back into the room as quietly as possible. Dean doesn't stir. Sam moves the curtain a tiny bit, just enough to faintly illuminate Dean's jacket, slung over a chair. He picks it up and settles onto his bed to methodically check each pocket, coming up empty until his fingers catch on an interior pocket he didn't even know was there. But what he feels isn't a small plastic bottle. He slides it out.

It's a stiff little bag of brownish-red cloth, tied off with twine. Oh, fuck, it's a hex bag; it's been there all along.

"Dean," he stammers in shock. "I found..." His voice trails off as he holds the bag up to the weak light and examines it more closely. It's actually made of a scrap of blue plaid fabric, covered with red-brown stains, and he recognizes it. It's from the shirt he was wearing the day they fought the poltergeist. The bloodstained shirt Dean stuffed into his duffel for safekeeping.

{Look at that, Lucifer says, It was a blood spell after all}.

Sam's hands are trembling too hard to untie the bag, so he slips his pocketknife under the twine and cuts it open to reveal the contents - not a collection of tiny bones and powerful herbs, but a small pile of powder. The pungent aroma is familiar, and in a second he identifies it.

Dreamroot.

{Lucifer rubs his chin thoughtfully. Dreamroot. And your DNA. It's like a little teabag specially made to let someone wander through Sammy's dreams. Just add water. Isn't that clever? And it was in Dean's pocket. What do you suppose that means?}

Oh god, oh god, Sam knows exactly what it means.

He feels the mattress dip with the weight of someone sitting next to him, but he can't look up. Dean's hand moves into his field of vision, and Sam numbly drops the bundle of cloth into his palm. His mouth is almost too dry to speak (dry sound of his bones clattering to the cold hard floor).

"It was you."

Dean carefully twists the bag shut again, holding it as if it's something precious. "I'm sorry, Sammy. I tried, I really tried. But you brought it all back to me. Your dreams, ever since you got your Hell memories back. You're just so... you scream all the time, you know that? You scream and you whimper and you moan and it's like I'm back there, and I miss it. I miss it so goddamn much."

"You miss Hell," Sam chokes.

"I told you you'd never understand. And even now, after you've been there yourself, you can't understand. My Hell was so different from yours. I loved it there at the end, Sam, and I was so fucking good at it. And when you finally told me about your dream, I just. I had to do it. I had to experience it again. I thought it would be okay. You'd get some sleep and I'd get it out of my system and it would be okay."

He takes Sam's hand and gently traces the scabs circling his wrist, his voice dropping to a whisper. "I did just like you said. I cut here, and I shoved my fingers under his skin, and I pulled, and jesus, it was good, it was so goddamn good."

Sam yanks his hand out of Dean's grasp, still not looking at him. "You dreamwalked me so you could torture me in my dreams? And then you reenacted it on innocent people?"

"I had to," Dean says, earnestly. "When you didn't dream, I couldn't get into Hell with you, so I had to use other people. But it's not as good as you, Sammy. It's never as good as it is with you. They scream and then they die, but you and me, it's so beautiful. We can just keep going and going and I don't have to worry about the noise or anyone catching us and we don't have to stop. We don't ever have to stop."

Dean puts his hand on Sam's jaw, and Sam flinches (hand that wrapped him with razor wire, carved him open, ripped his tongue out, flogged him with red-hot metal), but Dean simply turns his head and forces him to meet his eyes. "And if we do... if we do stop, Sam, if you lock me out, I'll have to keep using other people. Do you understand?"

{Lucifer leans against the wall, hands in his pockets. Doesn't look like you've got a choice, buddy. Ready to throw yourself on that cross?}

Sam looks at Dean, really looks at him for the first time in forever, searching for the brother whose heart cracked in two every time he had to cause Sam pain by stitching a wound or setting a broken bone. Searching for I'm sorry Sam, this isn't your fault or actually, this is pretty fucked up. He doesn't find any of that. He sees Dean in pre-hunt mode, ready for action: (carefully sharpened eyeballs, feral smile, barely contained glee) confident smile, cocky grin, eyes lit with excitement. He sees anticipation. Dean fucking loves this.

Dean gets up, releasing him, and Sam drops his head into his hands. Four people. Four people tortured to death because Sam told his brother about a dream. He hears Dean rustling in the kitchenette, heating water in the microwave. Hears him softly singing under his breath, you and me and the Devil makes three, don't need no other lovin' baby.

Dean sit on the bed again. "Drink up, kiddo." He waves a bottle of whiskey under Sam's face. "I know this stuff puts you right out."

Sam can't smell the whiskey; all he can smell is the mug in Dean's hand - a brew of dreamroot spiked with Sam's own blood. He chugs as much of the cheap whiskey as he can stand, feels it burn his throat as it goes down. Then he lies down on the bed, still dressed, facing the wall. Someone slides behind him and throws an icy arm over him. {I'll see you soon, Lucifer whispers, then he softly sings come lay bones on the alabaster stones and be my ever-lovin' baby}. With Lucifer's breath cold on the back of his neck, Sam presses his scarred palm until it bleeds.

//////

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