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22 February 2015 @ 08:02 am
j'adoube: Poisoned Pawn (chapter 3)  

He'd waited for it all night. Rigid and keyed up, he'd polished his son's amulet, sawed his finger over and over its horns, pressing into them with the soft pad of his thumb until they'd left indents



J'adoube

Chapter Three
Poisoned Pawn

****

He'd waited for it all night. Rigid and keyed up, he'd polished his son's amulet, sawed his finger over and over its horns, pressing into them with the soft pad of his thumb until they'd left indents. He'd mentally and physically braced himself as his vigil crawled toward morning, watching the boy tick and whicker in his drugged sleep. Strange how it came as a shock, then, Dean's abrupt return to life with a coltish lurch. John's body jolted as if he'd been struck by lightning.

Dean flailed this way and that, trying to rise. The cuffs at either end of the bed stymied his movement, and in his doped confusion he stuttered about like a swing wobbling between its chains.

John splayed a hand behind him, shuddered Sam awake. "Here we go," was all he said, but it was enough. The boy scrambled from the bed, blinking the sleep away, getting his head in the game. He'd been waiting for this too.

Dean's first word crunched like thin ice. "Hhhheyyy!" He attempted to brush off the handcuff, scolding it when it didn't comply. "Hhheyy!" John knew the kid's thoughts were still too loose-spooled to recognize it for what it was. Dean smacked his lips, pleated his brows as he tried to make sense of it. "What the..."

"Shhh." John stepped close, waved a warning to Sam, signaled him to stay put. He encircled the teen's wrist with his large, calloused hand. "Shhh, don't do that, now. You'll hurt yourself."

Muddled, Dean squinted at the man through one eye; the other remaining glued to his bottom lash. "Dad?"'

John's heart leapt. He sat on the bed, gripped Dean's shoulders. "Yeah kiddo, it's me. You with me?"

Dean tottered, scraped his tongue against his teeth, more interested in the sour taste that had crawled in there and not liking it one bit. Fanning out his tongue, he worked saliva around his mouth to rinse the paste away. His curiosity in that soon wavered, though, and he tugged the handcuff again, still trying to parse out what it was and why he couldn't get it off. John jiggled his shoulders to bring him around.

"Son. Hey…hey…you with me?"

The teen pinched his eyes with his free hand, unsticking the gluey one, scanning the man's face, taking time to focus. And as he did so, John witnessed his son's last conscious memories wash over his face as he internally fast-forwarded through the entire abduction. His eyes mushroomed, morphed from drugged lassitude to stone-cold terror in a matter of seconds. Dean's back arched as he dragged in an audible breath, cranking up his inner engine to let loose with an ear-shattering scream. But John had been waiting for this, too.

"Don't!" John clamped his hand over the boy's mouth. "Don't!" he reiterated, shifting on the bed, using his weight to subdue the frightened adolescent. "Don't do it. You're safe. We're not gonna hurt y—Ohmotherfucker!"

Pain sliced through John's palm, sizzling up and into his elbow. Damn boy had latched on and was gnawing like a rabid beaver. John worked to remove the teeth while straining to maintain coverage over Dean's mouth, but the kid had jaws of fucking steel and only bit harder when he moved.

"God dammit, kid. God dammit, son! Stop!"

John had no desire to go this route, but with Dean bucking like a wild bronco beneath him and his hand in danger of sustaining nerve damage, he had no choice. John drew his Colt from his waistband and pointed it at his son. He'd removed the bullets, of course, just in case something like this played out, but Dean didn't know that.

"Let go, son. I'm not playing games."

Dean's body froze mid-throe, his eyes ballooning with fear. He let go of John's palm with a terrified whimper.

"God…fuck…my fuck!" John huffed and puffed but kept his hand in place over Dean's mouth. After a few pained breaths to recover his cool, he continued, his voice quiet with deadly threat. "Okay, we're gonna try this again. We're not gonna hurt you. But if you scream, if you try to escape, I'm gonna find that sister of yours and I'm gonna make you sorry you didn't cooperate." His son's eyes sprinted around the room in a panic, no doubt worried the girl had been taken, too.

"Dad…" Sam's malediction came from somewhere behind him. John ignored it.

John put the boy's fear to rest. "She's not here. Macy's at home. She's safe. But that'll change if you don't settle down and do exactly as I say. I have friends watching her. One wrong move and I'll make the call. You get me? We clear?"

Dean blinked and nodded. He said something incoherent, his words smothered beneath John's palm.

"I'm gonna move my hand. And we're gonna have a quiet chat. Deal?"

Dean nodded again.

John removed his hand tentatively, testing Dean's reaction, ready to clamp down if the kid tried anything. He didn't. John put a finger to his lips, ignored the runnel of blood sluicing toward his wrist. His words tick-tocked, soft and steady, like a metronome, "Shhh. Quiet. Calm. Easy. Good."

He stayed close, tucked into Dean's space, crowding him as he assessed the boy's physical and psychological state.

Dean strove to stay still as John had commanded, but his whole body quivered and shivered with adrenaline and fear. Blood covered his nose and mouth, not all of it John's either. During the altercation most of the small blisters under his nose and around his mouth had popped, stretching and rending the skin underneath.

"Get some towels, Sam."

Sam ran to the bathroom and returned quickly, passing the towels to his father. Wadding one, John wiped Dean's mouth, chin and nose while the boy traced his every movement. The poor kid's chest hiccupped beneath John's elbow while he worked, engaged in a fierce battle to remain calm. He was struggling, but he was doing it. God love him, his boy was doing it.

"You're doing good, son." He sought to encourage him as if this were nothing more than an intense training exercise. "Keep it up." Taking the second towel, John wound it around his wounded palm, applying one-handed pressure while keeping the gun poised in his other.

"Now let's just take some deep breaths, here. Relax. Can you do that?" Dean nodded and took several strained breaths as his eyes combed the room, settling on John.

He started to say something but stopped.

"It's okay to speak as long as you're quiet and calm."

The teen took a deep breath, then, "Don't hurt my sister." The demand came out garbled by chloroform and long sleep. He pinched his brows, cleared his throat and tried again. "Don't hurt Macy."

"Like I said. You cooperate, she'll be fine. I promise you. I'm sorry about your throat. I know it feels like you swallowed fire. It'll be scratchy for a couple of days, but you'll be fine."

Dean paused, worked up the courage to ask his next question, then, "Where—where am I?"

"That information is on a need-to-know basis, and you don't need to know." Defiance kindled in Dean's eyes at that. John picked up a glass of water from the bedside table he'd set there during his vigil. "Here, drink this."

He brought the glass to Dean's lips, but he clamped this mouth shut, twisted away.

John sighed. "You know," he offered it again, and again Dean cranked his neck, refusing, "when you find yourself captured by the enemy, the last thing you want to do is refuse food and water. It only makes you more vulnerable, weakens you." He cocked his head. "Just a little bit of friendly advice."

Dean's face hardened. With the shock of his predicament passing, John could see the boy erecting his defenses. "Thanks for the tip, there, Patton. I think I'll pass."

John suppressed a smile. So like his son. "Suit yourself." He shrugged, set down the glass. Settling back, he drew Dean's attention, hovered in his line-of-sight. "Do I look familiar to you?"

Dean opened his mouth with a truculent snort. "Yeah, you're the spitting image of the pervy freak who kidnapped me."

Here we go, indeed. "Watch that smart mouth of yours, kiddo." When he reached across Dean to check his cuffs, the boy flinched and panted, fearing the worst.

"Relax. I'm not gonna touch you like that, you hear me? You have my goddamn word. I just want to make sure you haven't hurt yourself." He spoke with such emphatic, fatherly sincerity that Dean relaxed and let him check the restraints. They hadn't broken skin yet, but they were well on the way.

John waved the gun toward the cuffs. "Same deal? I take these off, let you sit up, let you hit the head, and you cooperate. Yes?"

Dean nodded.

"Sam, key's on the table, there. Bring it to me." Taking the key from Sam, John opened the cuff, watching Dean the whole time. He ticked his head toward Sam. "This is Sam. I'm John."

"Yeah, I remember everything."

Sam gasped, lunged forward. "You do?" John warded off Sam's charge, halting him with a hand to his chest.

"Yeah yesterday…remember? You introduced yourselves right before your dad Jeffrey-Dahmer'd me. Remember that, Pugsley? ‘Cause I sure do."

Disappointed, Sam slumped, withered away from Dean's biting sarcasm. John moved to the foot of the bed and unlocked the ankle-cuff and motioned for Sam to step away.

John swiped his bloody hand over his stubble. "Let's get you up and moving. Got to tinkle?" He grabbed Dean under his armpits and helped him sit. "Stay right here…one last thing." He took the handcuff, put it on Dean's other wrist and shackled it to his own, tethering them together.

"You're kidding! I ain't going to the bathroom with you!"

"We'll work it out, Dean. Don't worry about that."

"Dean?"

John hadn't realized he'd used the name, but it had to happen sooner or later. He took a big, cleansing breath, sat back down.

"Yes, Dean."

"But my name is—"

"Dean." John cut him off.

"Are you insane? My name's Will. Will Darnell."

"No, that's kind of why we're all here. It's not. Your name is Dean Winchester. You're my son, Sam's brother."

Dean glanced from John to Sam and back, digesting, processing. "Holy cow," he said at last, tapping his temple. "You guys are more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic, aren't you?"

"I know how it sounds. But it's true, son."

Emotions—anger, hurt, fear—flushed his face. "Don't call me that! Don't you ever call me that. I'm not your son! I'm not!" His eyes blazed. "My name is William Michael Darnell. My parents are Joseph and Cheryl Darnell. And you're…you're both crackers!"

"Keep your voice down." John brought the gun up, reminding him.

The boy modulated his voice but not his contempt. "Well you are. You're a couple of freaks. I know who I am."

"No you don't. Sorry kiddo, but you don't." John held up his hand. "Sam, get my journal."

"Yes, I do! I live in Albuquerque with my parents. I just graduated from John Adams Middle School this last spring. At the end of the month, I'm gonna be a freshman at West Mesa High."

John woofed disinterestedly, flipped through his journal, fingered some worn, creased photos and tossed them into Dean's lap.

The teen picked up a picture of Mary cuddling him in her arms.

"Your name is Dean Winchester. You were born January 24th, 1979. Your mother's name was Mary. She loved you more than life itself." John's voice took a quiet, reverent tack. "That one there," he said as Dean dropped the first photo and grabbed another, a snapshot of him at about ten years of age, carrying a smiling Sam piggyback, "that one is you and Sam a few years ago. And this one," he pointed to another, "was taken just five months ago. Bobby snapped that at his place in South Dakota. We were doing some target practice." Dean raised his eyebrows, traced a finger over the gun the boy in the shot proudly displayed. "That's my son. That's Dean." Dean met his eye. John nudged his chin toward the pictures. "That's my boy. That's you."

Dean blinked, peered at the prints, rechecking them one at a time.

John studied him. "So, what do you think about that?"

A smug smile crept up Dean's face. "I think you had a damn good-looking son. But I'm not him. You got the wrong kid, pal."

John snorted at that. "No I don't. You make that clear with every word you say."

"So…what? You had this kid, and he looks like me? He die or something?"

"No, he's very much alive and sitting in this bed."

"You're loopy, Mister. I look like him, yeah, but it doesn't change facts. I'm not him."

"You're him, all right. And I'm sorry you have to go through this. And I get it. This feels real to you. But it isn't. The memories of that family in Albuquerque aren't real. Up until three months ago you were with us. All the memories you have of your past—all the memories of your parents, your sister, your friends—they've all been planted there by someone or something. We don't' know what yet. But we're working on it. And we're gonna fix it."

"Some…thing?"

"Yep. Some thing." John tore off the band-aid, no time for a buffer. "Could be a demon…might be ghost possession…a witch…hell, it might also be caused by a cursed object for all we know. We have to find out. You haven't picked up any strange coins or mysterious talismans lately, have you?"

Dean stared at him for several beats, head shaking, mouth gaping, caught in a loop of snort-panting until he found his words. "Ho…ho…ho…holy shit! Sorry Mom…" he squinted at the ceiling with a guilty shrug, "…but seriously ho-ly shit! You two really are insane. I mean, insane—insane. Like Jack Nicholson drooling in a straitjacket—insane."

"Sorry kiddo, it's all true. Every word. You're a hunter. Like me. Like Sam. We hunt supernatural creatures—ghouls, banshees, shapeshifters, poltergeists—evil creatures like the one that killed your mom." He touched the picture of Mary. "We hunt them and we kill them. We're still tracking the thing that murdered your mother—your mother, who loved and adored you more than you will ever know. We haven't found it yet, but we've killed a hell of a lot of other nightmare things, helped a lot'a people. And three months ago something happened to you. Something got you, played with your head, altered your memories. Those people you call your parents bear no relation to you. They never knew you existed, never laid eyes on you until three months ago. What they feel for you is no more real than what you feel for them. It's an illusion of some kind. And they may even be responsible for this whole thing. They may not have your best interests at heart. Trust me, son. If you were you right now, if you remembered the truth, you'd be standing by my side, itching to take them out. You're my blood. And one day, you're gonna be a great hunter like your old man."

John's passionate speech had a much different effect on Dean than the one he intended. The boy's pallor turned ashen.

He raised his head. "Don't…don't hurt them. Please don't hurt my mom and dad. Don't hurt Mace. You can do whatever you want to me, just don't hurt ‘em."

"I told you, I'm not gonna hurt you."

"Then, let me go! I won't tell anyone about this. I'll tell my mom and dad I ran away. I promise. I'll never say a word."

"Can't do that, son. Sorry. You're mine." John played his fingers through his boy's hair, but the kid batted him away.

"I told you not to call me that! You wanna hold a gun on me, threaten my family to make me obey your rules? Fine. But you don't get to call me that. That's my rule." He jabbed his thumb at his chest. Gathering the scattered photos, he threw them at John. "Take ‘em. I don't want ‘em. I got tons of pictures and videos going all the way back to my mom and dad bringing my diapered ass home from the hospital, better'n these nasty, old, dog-eared things. Even if what you said was true…which it's not…'cause you're a nutjob…but even if it was, I wouldn't help you change things back, not for a million dollars! I love my family. I won't let you hurt them. I'll kill you if you try. You hear me? I don't know you or your freaky son, and I don't want to!" Sam let out a hurt sound somewhere behind him. John put up a hand, silencing him. "You think you're so badass, beating up a kid, taking him from his family? You think you're a tough-guy? Well, you just wait and see, you loon. My dad's gonna kick your ass!"

John's heart swelled with both pain and pride. He hated putting his son through this, hated hearing him utter those words, but he knew exactly what underpinned his child's façade. And it was incredible in a way, having this opportunity to observe Dean's wolfish loyalty, his subterranean, unshakeable devotion to family. Much as he'd like to take credit, John knew these qualities were innate to Dean. And he was a ferocious, little sonofabitch, too. This was a taste of what strangers got if they were stupid enough to step between Dean and his family. Woe to the fool who tried. It was a beautiful sight to see, or would be, if it weren't so fucking annoying being on the outside, looking in.

John rose, gun loose in his grip, alert and watchful. "We'll just see about that. But I can't argue all day with you. We have a lot to do and a long drive ahead. Now, I know you gotta piss like a Russian racehorse. Let's get you cleaned up. We'll head out in a couple hours. There's a few things we gotta do first." He displayed his bitten hand with a hiss. "Like take care of this."

Dean tracked the gun as John made the universal move-it-along gesture with it. "What, you gonna shoot me, Daddy? You gonna shoot your own kid? If what you say is true…if you really believe I'm your long lost son, I got a hunch you're full of crap with that gun."

The man spun around, got in his face, snarled, "Won't stop me from shooting you in the leg if I gotta. And remember, I have people watching Macy. You step out'a line one goddamn inch and I mean one-goddamn-inch, I'll make sure you never see her again. Don't test me, kid." John put as much drill-sergeant force behind his words as he could stomach, thumping his fist on the headboard above Dean. It got the job done, though. Dean swallowed, cowing, slanting his eyes away from the man. "Now get up. I don't want you pissing the bed."

****
"What are you starin' at, Puglsey?" Will said into the mirror as he swiped his hand through his freshly cut and dyed hair. The Perv had sent his creepy son to the store to buy hair dye, and then spent the next hour cutting and dying his hair. He checked himself in the mirror, dug a glob of slimy dye out of his ear with his free hand while the other remained shackled to The Perv. Pugsley waffled from one foot to the other with this unsettling expression of pensive yearning in his dewy eyes. "I said what are you lookin' at? Take a picture, it lasts longer!"

Pugsley recoiled as though he'd been struck. "I just wanted to," he paused, his voice shaking, "I wanted to say your hair looks nice. Dark brown, I like it."

"You would, you creep. Now run back to the Enterprise, y'freakin' tribble. Stop mooning at me all the time. It's not like I can't see you boring holes into me. Go away."

Pugsley shriveled into himself, heartbroken, his sad puppy eyes brimming. Doofus must've taken pointers from Macy, because guilt needled Will as he slunk away.

The Perv gave the cuff between them a quick jerk. "I know this whole thing is hard on you, but his name is Sam, not Pugsley, not freak, not creep. You'll address him as Sam, you hear me? You'll thank me later, trust me. You'd never treat your brother this way. You'd be ashamed to know that you did." Bastard.

"It's okay," Pugsley piped up. The Perv had the kid wrapped around his little finger, brainwashed him years ago, no doubt. "I understand."

Will gave him a haughty once-over. "I don't need you defending me, Pugsley."

The Perv put his fat hands on his shoulder, his shark-eyes narrowing. "I said enough."

Will tossed a wintry smile at the man, innocent eyelashes fluttering. "Fine. He looks more like Cousin Itt, anyway."

The man loomed over him. "Dean…"

"Oh, so I have to call him Sam, but you guys get to call me Dean? That's not my name, and I'm not gonna answer to it."

The Perv grunted at him, apparently too tired to argue. Good. The bastard had to sleep sometime. Will would be ready when that happened. For now, he'd play along to protect his family. But if opportunity came knocking, he'd fling the door open wide.

This whole thing had been a huge nightmare, like a sappy B-movie plot: family loses son tragically, family loses their beans, family stalks and abducts some poor kid who bears a resemblance to their long lost, family keeps him as their pet until the kid forgets who he used to be. Wasn't that an old Little House episode? He was sure Macy'd watched that one recently on WTBS.

But he needed to keep his cool, needed to play along, up to a point. He sure as heck wasn't going to show them any respect. He wanted to draw those lines and keep them drawn. He knew about Stockholm Syndrome. He wasn't going to fall for it. Besides, being nice to them would only feed their delusions.

"You wanna brush your teeth?" The Perv wiggled a toothbrush at him.

Will's lip tweaked toward his nose. "I'm not brushing my teeth with a ratty, used toothbrush. Whose is that?"

"It's Dean's."

"Then I really don't want to use it. Don't want his cooties on me. No way."

The Perv shook his head. "You're a real pain in the ass with authority when you're cornered, you know that? We're gonna have to address that when this is over, but for now, stow the ‘tude, dude." He put the toothbrush in Will's free hand.

Will threw it on the floor. "Stow that up your ass."

The Perv collared him, marched him from the bathroom, pushed him down on the bed. "Stay there and shut your trap. And mind the salt line"

And that was another thing. These freaks had salt spread everywhere, like, everywhere—all around the bed, in front of the door. He'd seen Pugsley go behind the drapes with a bag of it earlier, so he must've dumped a bunch there, too.

Will sneered at The Perv, deliberately dragged his foot through the salt line, breaking it.

"Do it again, and I'm cuffing your legs. I don't have to be this generous. I'll carry you out'a here hogtied, gagged and stuffed into a duffel if I have to. It's no sweat off my back. This is your last warning, kid."

Will's stomach fluttered with fear. The man alternated between father-like irritation and predatory anger on a hairpin. Will knew he was pushing his luck, but something in him, something deep down wouldn't let him show his fear, wouldn't give the man that satisfaction. Saying nothing, he drew his legs up, hugged them to him, forced the guy to accommodate the move. The Perv's arm dangled at what had to be an uncomfortable angle. Good.

The Perv checked his watch. "It's after 12:00. We need to move. I want you to eat something. I don't care if it's just a little. I know you must be hungry."

The man passed him a lukewarm burger, and truth to tell, Will was famished. Last thing he had were the brownies his mom had given him yesterday, and they'd been cut into little-girl-sized pieces at that. The burger smelled like a dream, but no way would he give The Perv what he wanted.

"I ain't eatin' this thing with a ten-foot pole, pal." He dropped the uneaten burger on the bed, onions dangling from the wrapper. Damn, and he loved extra onions, too. Exactly what he would have ordered for himself.

The man hoovered in a lungful of pissed-off air, revving up to respond, but Puglsey interrupted them, pointing to the TV screen. "Uh…Dad…" He grabbed the remote and turned up the volume.

Hokey action-news-now music played as they showed footage of Will's bike lying on its side, his helmet still hanging from the handlebar. Will's school picture from last year flashed on the screen while a woman-reporter provided the smarmy voiceover:

"Yesterday, fourteen year old William Darnell was a typical teenage boy, riding his bike home from his father's auto shop." The image faded out, overlapped by a panning camera that focused on the sign of his father's garage.

Will sat up straight, legs shaking with adrenaline and homesickness.

Voiceover-lady continued as the scene shifted, revealing the corner by Mr. Adler's butchers shop and Will's forlorn bicycle lying there with crime-scene tape fluttering in the wind around it. "But all that changed in the blink of an eye right here on this corner. There was a scuffle. There was a scream for help. A dark four-door sedan, speeding away even as help arrived—and now, William Darnell is a missing child—leaving his family…his entire community…in crisis."

Next, the reporter-lady stood next to Mr. Adler, baldhead, marshmallow apron and all, volleying her microphone between them as she questioned the old man.

Mr. Adler nervously stared straight at the camera when he answered. "I heard poor Will shout. He rides by my shop most every day, it seems. Good kid. Hard working. Honest. Never raises a ruckus. Did yard work for me to earn money to buy that bike of his. That thing's his pride an' joy. Such a tragedy. We're praying for you, Will"

"And you saw the car?"

"Sure did, Barbara!" Mr. Adler said, his voice upbeat, enjoying the reporter's attention. "It was an older sedan, black, like something from the late 60's or early 70's, maybe. Now, I don't know much about cars a'course, but Will's daddy works on ‘em for his living. He showed me some pictures last night when the police took my statement."

The scene cut away again with more dramatic music and another voiceover. "The car is believed to be a black, classic era Chevy Impala…" They showed a 1969 Chevy Impala.

"Wrong year, y'dummies!" Will shouted at the TV.

"And police are now investigating all possible leads on the car's whereabouts."

The Perv sprang to his feet, began ferreting around, collecting whatever he could within arm's reach. Pugsley also ran about, bagging things up, tossing duffels toward the door. Will remained planted in front of the TV while chaos erupted around him.

"Authorities are asking anyone who may have information on this crime, anyone who may have seen the car or its driver to call the Albuquerque Police Department or the FBI."

"The FBI?" Will blinked, amazed. "Holy crap!"

The glamorous reporter strolled down the street where Will had been abducted, talking into her microphone, "Less than an hour ago, the Darnell Family held an impromptu press conference, personally reaching out to William's abductors, pleading for his safe return."

The scene changed, revealing Will's front doorstep. His mom and dad, Macy, Granny and Grampy, even Aunt Becky all the way from Clovis, everyone huddled there, subdued, like the world had come to an end. Will noticed Mr. Adler standing amongst the police officers, dignitaries and other suits, his meaty hand clapped to his cheek in consternation. True to form, Macy had her face plastered to her mom's skirt, peeking every now and again, eyes and nose red and puffy from crying.

Will stood, walked as close to the screen as he could with The Perv bustling around him. "Aw Mace, you spaz. Always afraid of strangers, even now."

His dad stood tall, flanked by microphones and the constant flash and whirr of cameras. He looked thin and pale, like he hadn't eaten or slept. He cleared his throat, checked his notes. "Cheryl and I want to address the people who have Will." He drew a breath, took another beat to swallow and gather himself. His mom white knuckled his hand, tugging on it in support. He continued reading, glancing up periodically. "Our son Will is a great kid; though, I'm sure you know that by now, having spent a day with him. He loves cars, bicycles, and music—spending time with his little sister. Last year Will led his school's track team, The Panthers, all the way to the State Finals. Will has a family and friends who love him dearly and miss him more than words can say, people who are praying with everything they have that, somewhere deep down within your soul, you recognize your mistake and find the courage to rectify it." God love the old man, but no way did he write that. This had his mom's touch all over it. "He's just a kid, a frightened, homesick kid, and he's looking to you for help. So, be a hero and help him, please. Help him by doing the right thing. We're begging you, please, please return Will to us. Please bring Will home."

Once his dad had finished, the reporter-lady stuffed her microphone under his mother's tear-streaked face. "What about you, Mrs. Darnell?"

Will catcalled the reporter despite The Perv jerking his arm, trying to hand off items to his son while they packed. "Leave her alone, you pushy bitch. Can't you see she's upset?"

"Mrs. Darnell? What do you want to say to Will's abductors?"

At that, his mom's head snapped up, her face hard, resolved. "I don't have anything to say to his abductors, but I do have something to say to Will."

"What, Mrs. Darnell? What do you want Will to know right now? What comfort can you offer your frightened boy?"

"Oh, shut up you idiot," Will yelled at the reporter.

His mom's voice quavered and his dad squeezed her shoulder, steadying her. "Will, honey. It's Mommy. I want you to know we're doing everything we can to get you home. Don't worry about your bike. The police are going to bring it home, and it'll be right here waiting. It'll be waiting for you, baby. You stay strong and brave, and we're going to bring you home. Just know that. Okay, Monkey? Mommy and Daddy and Macy, we love you so much and we miss you so much and we're going to get you back." Her face crumbled and his dad gathered her in his arms, resting his weary chin on her head. Will had never seen them so broken, and that broke him. His mom turned to the camera again, her face desperate. "Please don't hurt my baby." Tears flowed and she wheezed out the words. "Oh, God, please don't hurt him." His dad curled her face into his shirt and the camera mercifully cut away to the reporter.

"There you have it. This is Barbara Mason reporting for KRQE News 13."

Will glared at The Perv who stood next to him. The man's glacial eyes showed no emotion, except perhaps a tinge of suspicion and scorn as he switched off the TV. And it was that cruel act, that flippant dismissal of his parents' agony, ignoring their plea for mercy, erasing them with a flick of the off-button that finally snapped Will's resolve.

His poise evaporated. Tears tracked down his face, and he pointed to the blank TV, aching for his family but powerless to help them. "Still think they're in on it? You think that's fake?" He turned his face away because he couldn't suck his grief back, couldn't stop his stupid tears from spilling everywhere. And he hated—truly hated—that this man…this thing…saw him cry. But like his mom, he couldn't hold back. After trying so hard to be brave, he full-on lost it. Bracing his free hand against his knee, he folded over, convulsing with dry-heaving sobs.

That must have had some impact on The Perv, because his stance gentled. "It's gonna be all right." He said it soft…like he actually gave a crap. "I know you don't believe that, now…but it's true."

It took a moment for Will to respond, because fear and sorrow choked the words right out of his throat. He found them at last, though, "You're a monster. This may all be some big game to you, but you're putting my family through hell, and they're never gonna be the same again. Because of you. You're a monster, you perv! You don't get to play with their lives like that, do whatever you want just because you can! And I'll make sure you pay for this. So help me, God. I'm gonna make you pay."

After that, a sticky silence descended, except that creepy Pugsley-kid who stood by the door amidst a sea of duffel bags, plump tears wobbling in his eyes, snuffling like his dog just died.

****

They'd been on the road more than three hours, passing small-dot town after small-dot town. Nearing Flagstaff, Sam tried not to eyeball Dean too much, since his brother yelled at him whenever he caught him doing it. But he couldn't help sneaking a glimpse here and there, checking on him where he sat in the front seat, as far away from their dad as he could get. His head rested against the window, locked inside himself. He had to be uncomfortable with his arms cuffed behind him, his legs also cuffed together, no way to spread out and relax.

Sam hated every horrible minute of this fiasco, hated that Dean sat there, bound hand and foot, but they had to keep him in the car. They couldn't take the chance of Dean trying to get away. When they'd stopped for gas and supplies, Sam had been the one to pump the gas and haul food and several jugs of water into the car by himself while John kept Dean under control. Sam had no clue where they were going, but his dad had made sure they had provisions for at least a week.

After Dean's breakdown back at the motel, he hadn't cried again, which was a blessing. Sam couldn't have endured another second of that, couldn't bear the pain of witnessing his brother's raw anguish. Dean hadn't spoken much, either, but when he did he'd been rude and obnoxious. Sam'd observed that side of Dean before, his bravado, that massive chip on his shoulder. He'd seen it several times, pointed at different people: school officials, social workers, doctors and ministers, anyone who ever got in the way of the internal workings of this family. Whenever Dean felt pinned, whenever he felt terrified deep inside, he'd whip out a smug, nonchalant exterior to hide behind. Sam saw it now, but for the first time ever, all of it, every caustic word and sneer, was pointed directly at Sam and his dad.

On one level it hurt to know Dean hated him, but on a whole other level it hurt far more to know that Dean, cuffed and leaning against the window, idly blowing breath steam, was scared out of his mind with nothing to pillow his pain. He wanted to give his brother a hug, wanted to tell him how much he meant to them, how much they'd missed him, how much everything his fake parents were going through now were mere shadows compared to what he and his dad had experienced the past three months. Sam wanted to tell him how much he admired him, how much he loved him, but this Dean would only throw it back in his face. Heck, even a full-powered-Dean…his Dean…would laugh off such declarations. But this Dean, now…this Dean would eat Sam alive for them. So he said nothing, nothing at all.

Dean sighed, twitched his nose. "Stinks like ass in here."

John stretched his neck, coming out of his thoughts. Sam hoped they were less gloomy than his own had been. Adjusting his bandaged hand on the wheel his dad canted his head. "Yeah, an upset stomach full of chocolate'll do that to a car."

Dean shook his head, focused on the passing landscape, avoiding John. "You don't deserve her. She should be with someone who takes care of her."

"Ah," John indulged in a rare smile, "so you're at least still friends with the car, eh?"

His brother shrugged. "Not her fault she's owned by an asshole." John snorted at that. Dean craned his neck at the man. "She should belong to someone who knows what in the hell a piston slap is—someone who appreciates her."

"First off, I'm well aware what a piston slap is, just so you know. And as for the car needing someone to take care of her…? Well, she does. She has you. You take real good care of her. You always have."

Dean huffed in contempt, shaking him off, staring out the window. "Don't start that crap again. I ain't your kid. I'll never be your kid."

Silence descended. Dean's irises stuttered and flickered as the outskirts of Flagstaff flew past. While the exits rolled by, Dean's muscles tightened, and Sam saw his feet tap-tap-tapping the floorboard, his leg jouncing with nervous energy.

As they snaked their way through the last few exits of Flagstaff, Dean doubled over without warning. With a cry, his whole body seized and he slammed against the seat, gasping. "What the…?" His eyes snapped shut, like he was having a stroke or something. "Ahhh! Ugh!"

Sam leapt up, put his hands on Dean's shoulders. "Dean? Dean! What is it?"

His dad's arm flew out to steady the teen, but he didn't pull over or slow the car.

Dean peered about, bewildered, like he was seeing everything for the first time. His neck craned this way and that, and he tugged his arms and legs as if only just now noticing the restraints. "What's going…? What's going on! Dad? Sam? Where am I?"

"Dean?" Sam hinged his torso over the seat. "Dean?"

"Yeah, Sam…it's me! What's…what's happening? Dad—Dad…stop the car! I remember! Pull over!"

Sam reeled on his Dad, hoping for validation. "Dad?"

His dad kept his focus on the road, took a quick sniff in and cocked his head. "Remember everything do ya, huh? So, what's your name?"

"What do you mean what's my name? Dad, you know what my name is. It's Dean. Dean Winchester. What's going on? You guys playing a joke on me or something?"

Sam's stomach flopped with excitement. "Dad?"

Unimpressed, his dad sucked his teeth. "When's your birthday?"

"It's…it's January 24th, 1979. My mom's name is Mary. And this is Sam. C'mon Dad…stop the car. What's with the cuffs?"

Sam bit his thumbnail. His dad might be unconvinced, but Sam couldn't help but dare to hope. He so, so wanted it to be true. He glommed onto the flimsy tether with all his might.

"Uh huh," John said dryly. "What's your favorite rock band?"

Dean's eyes shifted from side to side then down. "What a question, Dad…it's Metallica, of course."

Sam hit his dad's shoulder. "It's him!"

Dean winced. "Dad, I don't understand any of this, and I feel—" He cried out in pain again, his shoulders straining, fighting the handcuffs. "Ahhh! You better pull over."

"Dad, he said Metallica!" Worry and joy warred, making Sam dizzy.

His Dad rolled his eyes at him. "Look at his shirt, Sam." Sam noticed the Metallica logo.

Oh.

"Besides, Metallica is only one of his favorite bands. I can think of a few more he'd put before them, can't you?"

Oh.

"Dad? Why is everything so hazy? My head, Dad. Oh man, my head! Please, pull over!"

John smacked his lips. "Last question, and then I'll stop the car. How do you take down a skinwalker?"

Dean ceased writhing, his body swaying, making little adjustments. "Pffph, you know what takes out a skinwalker, Dad. Why are you asking me?"

"M'asking to ask. How do you kill a skinwalker?"

"You…shoot it." It sounded suspiciously like a question.

"With…?"

"Uh…um…a big ass gun?"

Sam's heart sank into his toes.

John chuckled humorlessly. "Better leave the thespian routine to Sam, over there. You're a terrible actor, kid."

Dean's body slumped, but he treated each of them to a full-frontal, self-satisfied smirk. "Can't blame a kid for trying." He sighed, paused a moment, then perky, "I have to go to the bathroom."

John released a haggard groan. "You don't say." He swerved the car into the fast lane, increasing his speed through the last of the suburbs, leaving Flagstaff in their rearview mirror.

"What? You gonna make me piss myself? What kind of sadistic nutjob are you?"

"Sam, pass Dean the mayo jar."

"The what? Oh you've got to be kidding me!"

"Nope. Might have to get creative because of the handcuffs, but we'll get ‘er done."

Another lull, then a whine, "But I have to go #2."

"That's not what you just said."

"It came on suddenly. This could be bad, Mister. I'm about to chunk in my pants!"

"Fine, shit yourself then," John snapped.

Dean's mouth fell open.

John counted to ten. "We'll be at our destination in another hour. We'll deal with the mess when we get there. Until then, keep your cake hole shut. You're being a royal pain in my ass, and I'm sick of your lip."

Dean made no answer, but he flounced his head and grunted, the equivalent of: Good! My work here is done!

A half-hour out of Flagstaff, about twenty country-bumpkin miles from anywhere, John turned the car onto a rickety dirt road, eastbound. As soon as Dean realized they were heading into open desert, he tensed, his mask cracking.

The mood of John's voice softened. "Relax. I told you, I'm not gonna hurt you. I promise, okay? Hey…" he put his hand on Dean's shoulder until the boy met his eye. "You have my word. You're okay, son."

Dean jack-knifed himself against the door, flying out of reach of the man's hand. "I told you not to call me that! And keep your damn pervy paws off'a me!" Dean released a frustrated, bellow from deep inside his diaphragm. It came out a raw croak because of his sore throat. Unsatisfied and unable to release his tension, he lifted his tethered feet and slammed them against the glove compartment.

"Hey!" John twisted his fist in Dean's shirt, shook him. "Now, that's enough!"

Dean swallowed and collapsed into the seat, mask in place, defenses secure. Shutting out Sam and John, he tucked his head into the window, nudged it, "Sorry Baby," he murmured to the car, "I didn't mean to, but your owner's an asshole."

Sam couldn't help but smile when he overheard the private conversation. Like his dad had said—Dean was in there, just begging to bust free.

As they sped deep into the desert, the grill of the Impala muscled through clouds of dust, splitting and twisting them into coiled tendrils that followed in her wake. With both the car and the afternoon sun barreling toward the stark horizon, turquoise sky above, Sam couldn't help but ask, "Dad, where are we going?"

John glanced at Sam through the rearview mirror then back to the road. "Off the grid. Way, way the hell off the grid."

Continue to Chapter 4

 
 
 
jpgr: SPN Deanjpgr on February 23rd, 2015 02:49 pm (UTC)
I love how you worked in all three views. Chubby Sam is Pugsley, eh? I like how will/Dean tried to fake them out and of course it would be hunting that would catch him out. Again, I smile every time I see a new post from you
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 23rd, 2015 10:47 pm (UTC)
Dean was just awful to Sam, wasn't he? Poor Sammy. He was brave, though...and even though it hurts, he understands that Dean is not himself. I had a lot of fun writing their banter...got to do things you don't normally get to do with SPN fanfic. Dean is never dreadful to Sam.

Thanks so much for the comment. I'm so glad you're enjoying.

Kat
tifachingtifaching on February 23rd, 2015 03:52 pm (UTC)
I am feeling so bad for everyone involved here. And Dean...biting the shit out of John. LOL. How did he not see that coming? I have a feeling it's going to get worse before it gets better. Can't wait to see what happens next!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 23rd, 2015 10:53 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, John kind of dropped the ball on that one. Won't be the last time he effs up in this story. :P But hey...he wouldn't be John if he didn't! :P

Yeah, it'll be a while before Dean "returns". But that was the fun for me.

Thanks SO much for the comment. You're my hero.

Kat
jennyjennygeee on February 23rd, 2015 08:20 pm (UTC)
LOL Dean had me fooled there for a bit!! I thought that when they'd passed Flagstaff that the hold on Dean had been broken :) Poor John and Sam it could nver be that easy for them.

I also felt really sorry for his 'mom and dad' because it seem like they're under a 'spell' as well.

I'm loving Dean's attitude (you do that sooooo well!!)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 23rd, 2015 11:02 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, right? Just a little too tidy of Dean was spontaneously "cured". I'm sure that's what gave him away to John right away. Heh. No way could the Winchesters get off that easy.

Yeah, my heart went out to the "parents" in their scene. This is as real to them as it is to Dean and being in that situation where someone has taken your child is...well...it's unthinkable.

Oh yes, I had the best time writing Dean's 'tude. We see it all the time pointed every which way but at his family. I think this was a huge eye-opener for them.

Thanks for taking the time to comment. You're lovely!

Kat
(Anonymous) on February 23rd, 2015 11:31 pm (UTC)
What an amazing story! And so sad. I'm starting to root for Will/Dean. His life was so happy and "normal," until John and Sam kidnapped him. And of course it feels so real to everyone -- as a mother I can't help feeling for Cheryl and her agony, and of course Will/Dean is a wonderful, wonderful kid who so much deserves a happy life with people who can keep him safe from monsters and crazy shit! Of course John and Sam want him back too, but maybe they need to see Will/Dean's side of this a little more (yeah, fat chance! Stubborn, stubborn John!)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 23rd, 2015 11:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! My heart really went out to Will's parents here...genuinely. Whether Will is their son or not...they THINK he is....they feel as if he's been a part of their lives this whole time...so what they're going through is unimaginable. Ugh.

I wrote Will as pretty much my concept of what Dean would have been like if Mary hadn't died and the supernatural world had not touched him. So will is very much (my idea of) Dean as he should-have-been. And you're right...he does deserve that family...because that family represents the Winchesters "untouched". Makes me sad for all of them. Because John and Sam have lost that, too. It's tragic here for Dean/Will because he at least "has it".

But you're right...no way will John and Sam let him go.

Thanks again for the comment. I appreciate it!

Kat
taylorariel on February 24th, 2015 12:08 am (UTC)
Another satisfying chapter. I fully understand Dean/Will's anger and fight- and so does John and Sam. But, I admit, I will be glad when he is Dean again. In the meantime I look forward to the next chapter and furthering along this mystery. I hope this is a long story.
Thank You.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 24th, 2015 01:15 am (UTC)
It's always hard to see Dean go through this, for sure! And yeah, he's got a bit of a journey ahead of him, but we all know where Dean's true loyalties lie...and they will realign again....you know...after I mess with him some more... ;)

Thanks so much for the comment!

Kat
lidia1991_anlidia1991_an on February 24th, 2015 03:28 am (UTC)

Wonderful chapter! I love Will / Dean so much!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 24th, 2015 04:52 am (UTC)
No matter what form he takes, Dean is always awesome. Hehe.

Thanks so much, lidia. So glad you enjoyed the chappie. :)

Kat