The Reason I Live 4/?
Title: The Reason I Live
Characters: Sam, Dean, John
Genre: Gen, hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural except in my dreams where schmoop abounds.
Warnings: Those of you who think John Winchester was a good father doing the best he could under terrible circumstances may not like my portrayal. He's not deliberately cruel, but he is negligent and he treats his sons as though they are soldiers, not little boys. Just remember this story is AU and Sammy knows what his daddy does at a much younger age than canon Sammy.
Chapter warning: This is a warning for general squickiness. Although there is no real violence, the monster has Dean and its not pleasant for him at all.
Word Count: ~3,200
Summary: Sequel to I Wish I was a Growed Up and second story in the Wish 'verse. Something is lurking near Sammy and Dean's new school and John thinks this is the perfect opportunity for Dean to research his first hunt. AU hurt!!Dean protective!Sam Wee!chester Ages Dean 9 Sam 5 and 24
A/N: If you're still in the holiday spirit please leave me the gift of your feedback. Comments are cherished.
The Reason I Live
Chapter 4 Come to do Battle with the Monster in the Basement
The worst part isn't the all-consuming, mind-blowing terror, although that part is pretty bad. But no, the worst part is when the terror abruptly stops. It's as if Dean is screaming in his head and then the screaming cuts off leaving an empty silence in its wake, a silence that can only mean one thing, catastrophe. Because the terror doesn't gradually fade as though Dean has realized there's no reason to be afraid, it doesn't morph into some other emotion like relief or embarrassment, nope the terror is just suddenly gone. Dean is gone.
Breath hitching urgently, Sammy climbs to his feet. He feels like an awkward colt and has to take a few precious seconds to flex his arms, get used to the strength and power of his adult body, let his mind adjust to more mature thought processes.
The nature of his Wish always throws him directly into the heat of a crisis and he struggles a bit at first, but there's no time to waste on accommodating his need to adapt. Dean's in trouble and this time Sam doesn't even know where to find him or what kind of trouble he's in. All he knows is that Dean was here at the school no more than thirty minutes ago so the school grounds are now his personal crime scene and he's not going to rest until he's found his brother. No other options exist.
Impatient with himself, Sam hurries into the building and realizes he has no clue where Dean's classroom is located. His brother had dropped him off and picked him up and Sam had never bothered to find out where Dean was spending his school hours, had never even asked Dean his teacher's name. The thought makes him feel as low as dirt because it had simply never occurred to his five year old self to ask. Whether being five is a reasonable justification or not isn't important to him at the moment.
He storms down the hallway, intent on tearing the place apart, just as the tardy bell rings. The last teacher disappears into a classroom, shutting the door behind her, and the halls are empty. There's no one left to answer his questions, but that's okay, the abandoned corridors work just as well for him, no one to interfere with his search.
Temporarily at a loss for where to start, he contemplates barging into each classroom one by one until he finds his brother's class. After all, it won't really matter if he causes an uproar among the students and teachers as long as Dean is in one piece when he's found. He debates whether he should go home to enlist his father's aid in the search and quickly rejects the idea. It'll take too long.
Dread is eating away at his insides. The longer he stands undecided in the hall the tenser his muscles become until he thinks he's going to turn into one massive seething knot. There's still no emotion coming from his bond with Dean, not even the subconscious emotions he can usually sense when Dean is lightly sleeping.
He refuses to consider the unthinkable. Dean isn't dead, there has to be some other explanation. He bites into his lower lip, hard, letting the pain ground him before his thoughts can cycle into despair.
The logical side of his brain finally kicks into gear. He can at least limit his search to the fourth grade wing to start off. By scanning the signs at each intersection he locates the fourth grade classrooms, knocks on each door and asks for Dean Winchester. The teachers shake their heads and give him quizzical looks until he reaches room number 512 where the teacher steps out of the classroom into the hall and shuts the door, telling her students to continue reading chapter two on her way out.
"Are you his parent or guardian? We aren't allowed to give you any student information unless you're on file." She looks at him over the top of the glasses perched on the tip of her nose and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to read the non-verbal message she's sending. 'You're interrupting my class and I'm much too busy to deal with the likes of you.'
He almost makes a mistake, he almost tells her Dean is his brother, but in the nick of time he catches himself. Employing his most earnest and heartfelt gaze, he pleads, "I'm his uncle, Sam Winchester, and it's an emergency. Please, is he in your class?"
He can see the moment she relents in the slope of her shoulders. "Dean didn't come to my class this morning, but I saw him near the stairs to the basement before school began." A calculating glint enters her eyes. "I thought it was strange for him to be there. Is something wrong?"
It clicks the instant the words leave her mouth. The basement. Dad told Dean last night to continue looking into some strange stories about monsters he'd heard from his classmates. He wishes he'd listened to what they were talking about more closely, but he'd mostly been distracted by the range of emotions emanating from his bond with his brother and by the end of their discussion Dean had been really happy so Sammy hadn't been too concerned about what was going on.
He curses his five year old attention span, growling his irritation and wondering when he'd begun to think of himself in terms of his child self and his adult self, as if he were two separate people.
That's not important though. What is important is that if Dean was looking into tall tales involving monsters, the basement would be a pretty legitimate place to start.
He realizes the teacher is waiting for some kind of response from him and shakes his head. "I hope not. Thanks for your help."
Dean's backpack is lying halfway down the flight of stairs. He recognizes the scuffed black canvas immediately. It's the first thing he sees when he opens the door to the basement and flicks the light switch.
"Dean! It's me Sam. You down here?" He means to sound strong and capable, reassuring, instead his voice comes out in a gasp, barely enough air behind it to be heard beyond the last step. Reaching down to retrieve his brother's backpack, he clears his throat and tries again. "Dean? Where are you?"
His ears strain against the silence, listening, listening, holding his breath least he miss the faintest hint of a sound.
No sound comes.
In the basement by an open door he finds Dean's flashlight. There are no distinguishing marks on this particular flashlight, but Sam knows it belongs to Dean as surely as he knows Dean was here and Dean was scared and Dean isn't here anymore. His brother was taken by something or someone.
He can almost see the events unfolding in his mind; a brave boy, flashlight in hand his only weapon, come to do battle with the monster in the basement. Or maybe he wasn't planning on fighting the monster, perhaps he only wanted to catch a glimpse of it. That would make more sense seeing as how Dean is smart enough not to go into battle without the proper tools and he had none of the customary hunting gear with him, not even his beloved knives.
If he had been trying to get in and get out without alerting the monster that would explain why he'd needed the flashlight and hadn't turned on the basement light.
The faintest whiff of foul air floats through the open doorway and Sam is gripped by an unreasoning fear, the same type of fear he'd felt from Dean earlier. It's his first real clue, a fear inducing smell, possibly a gas of some type or an airborne substance.
He backs up, waits for the odor to dissipate and sure enough the fear ebbs away as well.
The room beyond the open door is no bigger than a broom closet. Except for a slew of cobwebs hanging from the walls the space is empty. Another door opens onto a short flight of stairs up to the school grounds. Whatever took Dean probably left the school using this exit.
Sam's jaw clenches so hard his teeth grind together and the muscles there ripple. He stares at the immediate area, the playgroung and the little bit of parking lot he can see from here, and then into the distance, looking for movement, any trace of recent passage, and finds none.
There must be some way to use their bond to find his brother, some way to sense him or communicate with him. Sam concentrates on the pinprick of light within himself that he associates with the bond, his Wish and his brother. He pours every bit of love and hope he can muster into that brilliant spot and he waits for a response, but no answering pulse or spark comes. His entire 6'4" frame trembles and he sinks to his knees and bows his head, a sob trapped behind his teeth.
Dean wakes up slowly and the only thing he's really aware of is that he's wet. Well, not just wet, he's submerged in water up to his neck. He wonders why he decided to take a bath because he outgrew baths in favor of showers long ago. The temperature of the water, hovering just on the uncomfortably cold side of lukewarm, makes him think he must have been asleep for quite a while.
There's a relentless pounding at his temple, but he can't get his hands or arms to work well enough to investigate. Confused, he rolls his head from side to side, moaning softly in the back of his throat.
"Delicious-s-s-s." A guttural voice whispers.
His eyes snap open, fully awake, as the smell and the voice both register in his foggy mind. The fear hits him a second later like a physical blow and he recalls being snatched from the basement.
Eyes watering from either the stench or the pain, maybe both, make it difficult for him to see and he tries to move away from the hulking shape in front of him only to discover that something is wrapped around his arms and legs, circling his torso and his neck. The more he struggles the tighter his restraints become. Remembering his dad's lesson on treating each training exercise as if it's a life or death situation, Dean struggles harder heedless of overexerting his muscles or chaffing his skin. This is the real deal, his life on the line, and he can't afford to give up before he's given it his best shot.
Fear quickly turns into panic because he can't get free. His skin feels rubbed raw from rope abbrassions and the ill-defined shape chuckles darkly, clearly enjoying the show.
"Now, now, calm down, my pet. You won't last long at that rate." And the shape unfurls from its crouched position in the water and looms over him, becoming something vaguely humanoid.
The monster (for that's what it is, the word describes the creature perfectly) stands on two legs, haunches bent at an improbable angle. A long muzzle and peaked ears on the top of its head give it the appearance of a dog, but its arms are long and sinuous, fingers twice as long as a human's. The descriptions he'd heard from his classmates of tentacle-like arms make a whole lot more sense now. Its body is completely hairless, a dark grey color, glistening and wet.
Dean's breath wheezes in and out faster and faster, his lungs can only expand so far because of the bindings and the constriction around his neck limits the amount of air getting through his throat.
"S-s-s-s-so good. S-s-s-s-so good." The repulsive monster hisses happily as it strokes rubbery fingers along the side of his face.
A wave of dizziness engulfs him and he lets himself float away for a little while.
When he comes back to his senses the sun is directly overhead and the monster is still bending over him. Unable to move more than an inch in any direction, Dean cringes. He's frightened by his helplessness. "Get off me."
Instead of moving out of Dean's space the thing puts its large snout in his hair and takes a huge whiff. "You're better than the others." It exhales. "Sadness, devotion, love, remorse and fear. It's all inside of you. I'm going to enjoy you."
"No, you aren't." Dean tries to object, but ends up gagging when two slimy fingers push into his mouth and down his throat.
"You should stop talking." It gurgles with its mouth full of water before extracting its fingers.
Dean keeps his mouth shut from then on.
For the entire day the dog-faced creature never leaves his side, stays crouched in the water within touching distance. It won't leave him alone. Always caressing and cooing at him, touching his hair, his chin, his eyes. He's being treated like a living doll, a favorite toy. Shivers of revulsion travel along his spine. Overriding fear and the monster are his constant companions.
The monster never seems to eat and it never offers Dean any food, not that he'd be able to eat anyway. He should be hungry, having eaten little over the last couple of days, but he's really, really not. At least it hasn't decided to start chewing on him…yet. Aside from unconsciousness it doesn't let him sleep either.
His arms and legs have long since gone numb from a combination of chilling water and loss of circulation. Dean begins to hate the cloying water.
In those rare moments when the creature ceases its obsessive fondling and Dean can think past the gibbering fear he tries to devise a plan of escape. He knows he's in shallow water, but he can't figure out where. The water isn't running, so it's not a stream or a creek and it's not as big as a lake. More like a pond or a waterhole.
Tall grass grows on the muddy banks of the pool aside thick fluffy cat tails and water reeds. Every once in a while something brushes against his legs under the surface of the water, small fish or water bugs he supposes.
He appears to be bound with seaweed or supple vines. For the second time in as many days he wishes he had his knives on him. They would make short work of the fibers tangled around his limbs and preventing his every move.
Sammy must be wondering what happened to him by now. Dean hopes the school called dad to come and get his little brother when Dean didn't show up to walk him home after school and then he remembers the Wish.
He's never actually longed for his little brother to grow up and come to his rescue before, although he's certainly benefited from it. Those times when Sammy has transformed into an adult to help him have always happened too quickly for him to anticipate them. Now that it's occurred to him though, Dean can't stop thinking about it. What he wouldn't give to see his grown up brother or his dad come striding through the tall grass at this moment!
Using his empathy, Dean pulls his brother's emotions along their bond until he can sense the undercurrent of grief, frustration and suffering. On top of those sentiments though, he feels determination, hope, anger, and love. His brother's emotions are so much better than the fear and powerlessness he's been living with all day and just knowing Sammy is out there looking for him makes him feel better. Channeling his brother's emotions over a long period turns out to be more of a drain than he had imagined it would be though and coupled with the lack of sleep the previous two nights and the adrenaline chasing through his system he just can't keep the link open.
As soon as the sun goes down, things go from very bad to oh so much worse. The creature curls its garden hose length arms around him and pulls him in close to its body so that his nose and mouth are scrunched up against its grey rubbery flesh and he feels like he's going to suffocate. Fumes pour into his airways and it doesn't matter whether he breathes through his nose or his mouth, either way he gets no relief from the assault on his already frayed nerves. He can imagine how a teddy bear owned by a psychotic child might feel.
Adrenaline born of terror keeps him awake all night and by the morning his brain seems to have turned into mush. His head has slipped further into the water, prevented from slipping all the way under only by the creature's spongy stomach which is acting like a pillow. He hasn't the will or the strength to lift his head out of the water and, honestly, he kind of welcomes the release. Phantom pins and needles prickle under his skin when a tongue licks his ear. He wonders if that's how nauseating water monsters say good morning and shudders in reply.
( Chapter 5 )
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