TITLE: Sherlock the Demon Hunter Part the 2
AUTHOR: Lady Ra
E-MAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
PAIRING: Gen for right now, but it will be slash, Sherlock/John, Dean/Castiel
SUMMARY: The game continues, and Sherlock learns why Dean hates witches so much.
EPISODE SPOILERS: None really. This goes AU after Death “fixes” Sam, but in this version, he really does fix Sam. Sam has gone off to find himself, and Dean has been left to hunt on his own. None of that heaven stuff is going on, so Castiel is just around. For Sherlock, it’s after the first 3 episodes.
WARNING: Sherlock deduces that someone was raped, and he isn't very nice about disclosing it (read ugly). There's a reason for that, but be forewarned. And remember, it's Sherlock talking, not me!!!! Oh, and yes, for those of you who don't watch Supernatural, fanfiction, including Wincest, is canon.
DISCLAIMER: Sherlock BBC and Supernatural are owned by people much cleverer than I. Honor and praise to the creators. I love playing with these guys.
DISTRIBUTION: My home site: www.visionsofprettyboys.com, and who knows where else
FEEDBACK: I love friendly feedback. I also appreciate people pointing out typos and continuity gaffes to me, as they are BAD! I have no patience for negative feedback. I do this for fun and I do it for FREE, so if you aren't enjoying the story, channel your inner adult and use the back button.
FORMAT: Available in ebook formats pdf, epub and mobi.
THANKS: Thanks to my vunderbar alphas and betas. My stories are always so much better for their hard work. For this story that includes: Ruth for brit-picking, Annie, JillsJourney and Joolz. You guys are awesome!! And thanks to Teresa and Heidi who always let me talk their ears off about upcoming stories while at Media West.
Chapter 2: In Which Sherlock Discovers Things Bite Back
"Are we there yet?"
"Jesus Christ," Dean griped. "You're worse than Sammy when he was five years old. We've only been driving for two hours."
Sherlock didn't appreciate John's giggling coming from the front seat. He sat back in a fit of pique.
"Maps?" John asked Dean, hand poised over the glove box.
"And some other stuff," Dean warned him.
Sherlock leaned up far enough to see what 'other stuff' entailed.
John popped open the glove box and had to hold his hands up to stem the tide of identification badges. "FBI?" Sherlock asked as one flipped open on John's lap.
John picked it up and handed it and a couple of others back to him, despite Dean's grumbling about it.
Sherlock took a good look and saw immediately that it was shoddy work. The pictures were clearly glued on, and the fonts didn't match or line up. "Do these really work?" he asked scornfully.
"Yup," Dean answered shortly. "No one looks too closely at badges, and I got someone on a phone who backs me up."
"Says the man who steals coppers' badges for fun and uses them whenever convenient," John remarked, digging through more badges before pulling out a battered map of the United States. "May I write on it?"
John circled one area on the map and then, after peering for a long while at a particular spot, circled another. "Here," he said, handing it to Sherlock. "First place is where we started, Lexington, Massachusetts, and the next is where we're going. Asheville, North Carolina."
"Where are we now?"
Grabbing the map back and after Dean said, "Outside of Hartford, Connecticut," John circled another spot and then gave the map to Sherlock.
Sherlock frowned at the map. "We've barely started," he complained.
"Should take us about fifteen hours," Dean said, smirking.
Dismayed, Sherlock opened the map further, taking his first good look, in a long time, at the United States of America. "This country is enormous."
"Yes," John said. "Yes, it is."
"How on earth did we think we'd win in a war against them? And they call me arrogant." Sherlock scoffed at the historic monarchy that launched a war against a country this large.
"Sherlock," John said incredulously, turning and staring.
"What?" At the look on John's face, Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Oh, what, is this something else like who the prime minister is, or if the sun goes around the moon?"
"The earth goes around the sun, and yes," John stated strongly. "Thirteen colonies? Ring a bell?"
"No doubt I've deleted it as unnecessary information."
"Are you sure he's not a retard?" Dean asked John. "Even I know about the thirteen colonies."
Sherlock refused to discuss it anymore and studied the map. Looking at the legend, he realized the whole of Great Britain wasn't much bigger than the state of Minnesota. He started counting states.
"Fifty," John said.
Sherlock looked up at him. "What?"
"There are fifty states. And a territory or two, I never can keep up."
"It never ceases to amaze me how much truly useless information you have in your head. No wonder you never know anything of import."
"If you plan to be a hunter, you better know where each one of those states is," Dean snapped at him.
Interesting that Dean was defending John. Why was he defending John? "It seems to me that flying would be a much more efficient way to move around a country of this size."
"And I'm sure airline security wouldn't have any problem with me taking all my weapons with me," Dean said.
Sherlock conceded the point, but this driving thing was a ridiculous waste of time. He tossed the map to the seat and went back to reading. This particular tome was a gratuitous account of historic hunters. Sherlock was sure much of it was artistic license and hyperbole; however there must be some useful information in here if Dean kept it for a resource. On second thought, Sherlock surmised, that wasn't necessarily true at all. Dean seemed much more the sort to make it up as he went along, rather than base his actions on scholarly research.
His phone cheeped at him, and he pulled it out of his pocket.
TO: SHERLOCK HOLMES
DON'T BE RIDICULOUS. COME HOME AT ONCE.
It was a belated response to the text he'd sent Mycroft over three hours ago.
TO: MYCROFT HOLMES
NO. I'M NOT BORED.
Of course Sherlock was bored, but that was because of the interminable car ride. Once they arrived, he knew he wouldn't be bored at all.
There was a long pause, minutes actually, and Sherlock found himself running through all the possible responses Mycroft might be pondering. Finally there was a chirp, and he read,
TO: SHERLOCK HOLMES
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU ENGAGE WITH DEAN WINCHESTER.
Sherlock was not happy at this proof that Mycroft knew enough about demons to know his current tutor. Mycroft always got to the interesting things first; it was infuriating.
"What?" John asked.
Sherlock handed him his phone.
John's eyebrows went up. "Mycroft knows Dean?"
"Sherlock's brother," John said.
"Did your mother hate you guys, or something?" Dean asked. "Mycroft? Sherlock?"
Sherlock sent him a narrow-eyed glare.
John turned so he could look at Sherlock properly. "How on earth does Mycroft know about Dean?"
"Mycroft knows everything," Sherlock said disgruntledly. "I despise him." On the other hand, he was doing exactly what Mycroft was telling him not to do, and that was always a good use of his time.
"And why would he tell you not to work with him?" John asked, still puzzling over the texts.
"What do you mean?" Dean asked, trying to get a glimpse of the phone.
"Sherlock has this brother who works for the British government…" John began.
"He is the British government," Sherlock interrupted.
"Right. Anyway, he does seem to know everything about everything in a fairly disconcerting way," John finished.
"And he knows about me?" Dean asked, alarmed now, slamming on his brakes and driving the car to the side of the road. "How does he know about me?"
Sherlock removed the hand he'd used to brace himself against the front seat, frowned at Dean, and said, "No idea." His phone chirped.
TO: SHERLOCK HOLMES
I TAKE IT FROM YOUR LACK OF RESPONSE THAT I AM TOO LATE. UNDERSTAND THIS: DEAN WINCHESTER CANNOT DIE, BUT YOU CAN. LEAVE HIM AT ONCE.
That was intriguing. He showed the text to John and Dean. "Explain please."
"I can, too, die," Dean said, affronted, as if being not allowed to die was a grievous wrong. "I've died plenty of times, and none of them were any fun."
That got a rise out of Sherlock's eyebrows. "You've died plenty of times? Surely you mean that you almost died."
"Forget about that. This is bad that your brother knows about me, especially if he knows how to find you. I'm kind of wanted."
Sherlock shot him a scathing look, finding that difficult to believe. Maybe wanted for a night of sex by some giggling brainless waitress in the no doubt endless diners Dean thrived on, but surely not for more than that. "Wanted for what?"
John, once again, seemed to catch on first, which aggravated Sherlock. It wasn't fair that John seemed to be off and running with this whole change of lifestyle, stranding Sherlock at the starting gate.
"Wanted, as a criminal, yes?" John asked Dean nicely. "I suspect you break some laws fighting off the supernatural?"
"And then they take everything the worst way possible, and end up blaming me for the damage done by whatever the hell it is that I've just killed. Forget about getting thanks," Dean added bitterly, "I just end up on the Most Wanted list."
"I'd still like an explanation for your comment," Sherlock stated firmly. "How exactly have you died?"
Dean waved a hand as if the subject bored him. "What kind of government job does your brother have? Is he with the police?"
Sherlock rolled his eyes and texted.
TO: MYCROFT HOLMES
YOU DO NOT HAVE PERMISSION TO HAVE DEAN WINCHESTER ARRESTED.
To Dean, he stated again. "Dead?" Dean, for all the fact that he seemed, aside from the demon hunting, so boringly predictable, was proving himself to be a delectable puzzle.
Dean ground his teeth noticeably, put the car back in drive and pulled onto the road. "Do not tell him where we are."
"He undoubtedly already knows," John said. "Both the Holmes brothers can be very annoying that way."
"Will he make trouble?" Dean asked.
"You may be sure of it," Sherlock complained. His phone chirped.
TO: SHERLOCK HOLMES
D. WINCHESTER'S RECORD NOTWITHSTANDING, IT IS AN UNDENIABLE FACT THAT HE ALWAYS STANDS IN THE VORTEX OF THE MOST DANGEROUS SUPERNATURAL ACTIVITY.
"Lovely," Sherlock murmured, choosing not to respond. He slid the phone into his pocket. As far as Dean's reticence to speak of his own death-courting behavior, well, he and John tended to do their own dance of that sort, repeatedly. He was sure he'd hear the stories eventually. And it wasn't as if Dean actually had died. Even in the midst of this--previously thought impossible--adventure he and John were on, there were some things too ridiculous to contemplate.
They were just crossing over the border into North Carolina when his phone chirped again. Sherlock retrieved it and slid his finger across the bottom to open the text.
TO: SHERLOCK HOLMES
AVOID WITCHES AT ALL COST.
"Witches?" Sherlock said out loud. There had been nothing about witches in any of the books he'd read.
"I hate witches," Dean said vehemently. "They suck."
Castiel suddenly appeared in the back seat, causing Dean to almost drive off the road and Sherlock's heart to skip a few beats. Sherlock's mind was racing with the vast numbers of physics laws being broken by this man every time he appeared. It was vexing.
"Jesus, Cas, give a guy some warning will you? And how did you find me?"
"Sherlock and John," Castiel said. "There's been an additional complication."
"Witches?" Sherlock asked hopefully. The thrill of being able to defy Mycroft in so many ways in one day was a rare experience.
"Yes," Castiel said.
"Fuck," Dean said. "Fuck, fuck, fuck. How many?"
"I am unable to ascertain that information."
"How do you know there are witches, then?" Dean asked, even as he took one of the small bags Castiel was handing out, tucking it into a pocket.
Castiel handed Sherlock one, and then reached over the seat to hand the last one to John. "These should offer you some protection."
"Fuck." Dean shook his head, slammed his hands on the steering wheel, then squared his shoulders, and said, "So where am I going?"
"I will direct you as far as I am able. Then you will need to continue on your own to eliminate the sigils that keep me out."
"I'll just bet whatever witches they have are guarding the sigils," Dean said morosely.
"It is possible you will only need to eliminate one sigil. If it looks like this," Castiel added, showing a picture of a roughly sketched symbol Sherlock committed to memory, "then destroying it alone will be sufficient. If they have done their homework and use either of these," this time Castiel held up a piece of paper with two quickly drawn symbols on it, "then we have a bigger problem."
"Which means what?" Dean asked.
"They will all need to be destroyed. There will be one on every wall that connects to the outside."
"How do you destroy them?" Sherlock asked.
"Cut a hole through one of the lines," Dean said. "Like a finger through a salt line. Or an axe through a wall."
Sherlock would need an appropriate weapon; one of Dean's knives from the boot of the car would do. He took one of the drawings. "What are they made with?" He was speaking of the sigils, but his fingers worried the contents of the small bag in his hand, curious as to its contents.
"We better hope they don't actually know any angel banishment sigils," Dean said, ignoring Sherlock's question. "Bad enough they can keep you out, without sending you on a field trip." Dean sighed. "Fuck," he said, then pulled back out onto the road, popped a cassette into the car's tape player and very loud music filled the car.
"Is this completely necessary?" Sherlock yelled, even as he was uncomfortably mentally toying with the word angel.
"Yes," Dean said loudly, ending the conversation, drumming a riff on the steering wheel. "Bitch about it again, and I'll turn it up."
Sherlock frowned at him then shifted it to John when he saw the corners of his lips were curled up. He was no doubt comparing Sherlock's behavior to Dean's, which was radically unfair. He sat back in a huff. As soon as he knew what he needed to know, he and John would get their own vehicle.
Castiel chose that moment to disappear. Sherlock spent a long moment trying to come up with any plausible explanations as to how he did that, while he flipped through all the books looking for entries about angels or witches. When that proved remarkably unhelpful, he let it go for the moment. He opened the small bag he'd been given and, surreptitiously so no one would notice, poured out the filling into his hand for perusal.
When they finally arrived and scoped the place out, they were no wiser than they'd been before, and there was nothing else for it but to just go in to get a closer look. Dean had them wait until dark before entering.
From the outside, it appeared to be a nursing home, and the sign read: The Dogwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The yard was filled with dogwoods--cornus florida--hence presumably the name. It wasn't a large building, Sherlock thought, assessing its size, wouldn't hold more than thirty residents with a small staff. Probably fewer, given the ragged shape of the place.
It was located across from a shopping centre where Dean had parked. It had several shops boarded up, and ones that weren't were closed due to the time of day. While many of the large lights in the parking lot were out, there were enough to throw some illumination on the nursing home. They were parked in a darkened area, glass shattered around the base of the surrounding light poles.
There was an enclosed dirt field at the end of the street and a few small houses beyond that. Down the other side of the nursing home, the dogwood trees abutted against some woods. Sherlock's gaze ran over the nursing home property. Something caught his eye. "There," he pointed. "I see a pair of shoes that, by the way they are laying, must be connected to a body."
John had the door open immediately. Dean reached across him and shut it. "Okay, listen up." Dean waited until Sherlock and John were looking at him. "Worst case scenario, everyone in there, from staff to patients, is dead, or taken over by demons. Don't help anyone until I tell you that it's okay, otherwise you could end up dead really fast. Demons love to play games and fuck with your head, and witches who help demons are worse."
"I can't just not help someone--" John started.
"Yeah, you can," Dean said firmly, "because if they're dead, you can't do anything about it. If they're dying, you can't do anything about it until we take care of what's killing them in the first place, and if they're not dying, they can wait. Our first order of business is to take care of the danger. If we find unharmed civilians in there then we can try to rescue them, but don't get your hopes up. Demons like to make a mess."
John's eyes were dark with frustration. He opened his mouth as if to argue then shut it, his hands fisted on his thighs.
"I'm all about saving people too, but this hunt's a little different. This is Cas’s business, which means it’s really bad news. Normally he'd take care of this on his own, or maybe I'd lend a hand, but he can't get in without our help. Soldier first, this time, then a doctor," Dean said. "Can you do that?"
John nodded reluctantly.
To Sherlock, Dean said, "Just try not to get us killed, okay?"
Sherlock sent him his most scathing glare.
Dean sighed. "I can't believe I'm taking you two in there. This is such a bad idea."
In all seriousness, John asked, "Would it be better if we stayed out here? I don't want to get in your way."
Sherlock did. Not the get in the way part, not that he would, but he had no intention of sitting this out. When there were demons inside? And witches?
"No, Castiel was right, I do need some help. So here's the plan. We get in, we assess the sigil situation. If you see the easy one, just take care of it and yell out for Castiel. If you see the other kind, we'll have to hunt for them all. Try not to let anyone notice you." He let out a mirthless laugh.
"What's so amusing?"
"The fact that I know they're waiting for us. For me, anyway. They're always freaking waiting for me. I'm just not sure what they're doing here. There's no point in breaking any more seals; been there, got the t-shirt. I guess they could be trying to raise something." His lips tightened. "I hate going in with so little information."
"I believe they are attempting to let Lucifer out of his cage," Castiel said, from his spot in the back seat that had been empty a second before. "They will not be successful, but they could open a hole that will allow other demons to exit."
Dean scowled, closed his eyes for a moment, breathed out a long breath, and then reopened them; Sherlock could see the fierce determination in them. "Okay, here's the plan, take two. One, destroy the sigils so Castiel can get in there and kick some ass. Two, if you see an altar or something that looks like a serious ritual going on, mess it up. Three, don't get killed." He opened up the car door. "Let's get some weapons."
Sherlock was first at the back of the car.
Once the boot was open, Dean unzipped a bag, slid out a pistol, a Colt, Sherlock thought, and tucked it in the back waistband of his trousers.
Dean handed John a serrated knife. "Good news: this kills demons. Bad news: it kills the human, too, unless you don't go for a killing wound. That may or may not kill the demon, although they usually leave at that point. Humans with demons inside can be exorcised, and sometimes we can save them. Got it?"
Sherlock and John nodded. Sherlock couldn't wait to get inside; there was so much to see and learn.
"Sherlock," John snapped at him. "Are you listening to him at all?"
"Yes," Sherlock said irritably. "Try not to kill any humans, demon-infested or otherwise." The orders were very concise; what made it all exciting was that Sherlock had absolutely no idea how it would all play out. He truly couldn't recall a time when he was entering a situation with so little to go on. He rubbed his hands together in glee. So much could go wrong! Of course, he'd have to make sure John wasn't harmed. That was essential.
"I'll wait out here, listening for your call," Castiel said, looking worried. "Return if it is too dangerous."
Sherlock noticed John looking at himself and Dean and rolling his eyes. Now that he'd brought it to Sherlock's attention, Dean had a somewhat manic look in his eye.
Dean handed Sherlock a second knife. "That's to cut any sigils you find," he explained. He thrust a pistol at Sherlock, grip first. Sherlock also tucked it under his back waistband after checking to ensure the safety was on. Then John was handed a shotgun, a pistol, and both of them were handed flasks. "Holy water," Dean explained, and packages of salt, "Demons hate salt too." Dean pulled out an axe for himself.
Sherlock put everything away, committing their location to memory for easy retrieval. He found himself captivated watching John capably handle all his weapons, looking dangerous and steadfast. So much power in someone so small, Sherlock mused. Another one of the paradoxes about John.
"You have to do what I say," Dean stated. "I need to know I can count on you. If I yell out an order, you do it, no questions."
John nodded easily. Sherlock nodded, only less so. Dean gave him a look that said he’d seen the difference; it was followed by a scowl and a look of resignation, ending with an abbreviated eye roll.
With that, they were on their way toward the back. Close up, the building showed more signs of disrepair. There were several cracked windows, and the flowers that had been planted at one time close to the house were dead or dying, the earth dry and cracked.
Dean sneaked a peek through one of the cracked windows. He shook his head, and moved on. Once at the back of the facility, Dean again peeked in. He quickly moved away to the side of the window. "Two demons and a woman, who I'm guessing is a witch." He took another quick look. "I can't see if there's a sigil or not. The window's too dirty."
He gestured them to a window well encasing a window that led into what was presumably a basement. Dean took a look around, crouched down, testing it, and then shoved it open. He handed his axe to John, and with a graceful economy of motion, he swung himself inside, then reached up for the axe.
John, in turn, handed Sherlock his shotgun, then followed Dean inside, not quite as gracefully but with remarkably little noise. In under a minute, they were all inside, and Dean was shutting the window.
The house was unnaturally silent, and Sherlock found himself shivering in response. He'd never considered himself psychic in any way, never needed to be with his ability to ferret out the truth so easily, but there was something wrong in this place; it made him doubt that any of the residents were still alive. Sherlock prided himself on not letting his imagination get the best of him, but this building smelled like death and worse.
Dean was silently checking out the room they were in. It was large; Sherlock guessed it was half of the footprint of the building. It was used for storage: stacks of laundry, crates of paper towels, toilet paper, bottled water, basic medical supplies, as well as boxes labeled with names, belongings of the residents that wouldn't fit in their rooms.
Sherlock heard a subtle beat and, for a quick moment, thought it might be his own heartbeat, but he moved to a wall and put his hand on it. The wall was vibrating with a rhythm generating on the other side. "In there," he said quietly.
Dean joined him, putting his hand on the wall as well.
Now that Sherlock was close, he could hear chanting going on in some deep guttural language he didn't recognize. Quietly, they left the room they were in, and found themselves in a short corridor that held the staircase going up, as well as two other doors. John moved to the far door, the one that probably didn't connect to the room where the ritual was taking place, and carefully opened it.
He took a quick look around then moved inside letting the door shut behind him.
Sherlock gave him ten seconds and then he was moving to follow when John came out. "Bathroom," he mouthed. Then he swallowed. “There’re two dead people in there.”
There was nothing to be said about that.
Dean turned the knob of the remaining door and barely opened it. Sherlock's height allowed him to see over Dean's head, and he felt John peer in lower down. In the two seconds the door was open, Sherlock saw an altar with a body on it, cut open, like a butcher might gut a pig, intestines spilling out of the body, the floor covered with blood and several feet of small intestine.
There were five people around the altar chanting, all of them elderly, Sherlock put their ages at seventy plus, except for one younger woman, perhaps in her thirties, who had her hands inside the person's body, holding the intestines. The four older peoples' eyes were completely black.
The door snicked closed, much to Sherlock's dismay. He could have stood there for hours watching that, trying to understand.
"Divination," Dean whispered, a look of disgust on his face.
John looked like he might be sick to his stomach. No suggestions were forthcoming about rescuing whoever was on the table, because they were clearly dead. They might not have been at the start, but there was too much blood on the floor to be compatible with life.
"Should we try to stop it?" John asked softly.
Dean shook his head, answering just as softly. "It doesn't look like they're summoning anything yet. They're looking for information."
Dean began to move silently up the stairs, and Sherlock was impressed at how he moved, the years of training and discipline obvious. Dean put his ear against the door at the top. He studied Sherlock and John for a long moment, and Sherlock wondered if he was considering giving the whole thing up as a bad idea. But then he turned the knob slowly and cracked the door open.
"Dean Winchester," an old woman's voice called out. "We were wondering when you were coming to the party."
"Wouldn't miss it," Dean said tightly, gesturing at Sherlock and John to stay hidden. He walked out through the door, pushing it almost closed.
Sherlock tried to see what was going on, but the angles were all wrong. He let out a subdued grunt of frustration. He could smell something sweet burning. Sweet grass, he thought to himself. He listened intently, trying to determine if there were more than the three Dean had sighted through the window.
"We know you brought friends with you," she said. "Introduce them to us. We can have some fun with them while we wait for Starlight to get us the information we need."
"Starlight?" mocked Dean. "Give me a fucking break. The witch bitch downstairs, up to her wrists in blood and guts, is named Starlight?" He snorted.
“This one's name is Athena,” the same woman said with an edge of merciless delight. “She’s very good at what she does. Very. She might not be able to kill you, but she can make you wish you were dead.”
“Looks like she’s busy doing something else,” Dean said. “Guess it’s my lucky day.”
There was that 'not being able to die' issue again, Sherlock thought. Was it possible? He dismissed that thought and refocused on Dean’s conversation. They knew Sherlock and John were there, but Dean was trying to give them what information he could before they entered the fray. Considering the situation, Sherlock felt it safe to assume that the witch was, indeed, doing something to power the sigil that kept Castiel out.
He pushed the door open and stepped into the room, attempting to leave John behind but, as usual, John was having none of it, and followed Sherlock in. Sherlock's eyes took in the room with a single glance.
More dead bodies, ten at least that he could see. Two octogenarians were staring at him and John: the woman in bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, the man in an alarming pair of plaid pants, old, topped with a washed-out striped short-sleeved shirt.
They were a feast for his eyes. From their appearance, their clothes, even her lipstick and his cologne, Sherlock deduced much about them, their lives here, how long they'd been here. But he knew none of it was true, not anymore; they moved wrong, smiled wrong, spoke wrong, everything conflicted with the other information. Needless to say, the all-black eyes were a dead give-away: while their bodies might be old, what was inside was no doubt older. The dichotomy of their appearance and their activity was striking.
“Who’s your friend?” the old woman said in a seductive voice, her eyes trailing all over Sherlock in a highly disturbing manner.
“Sherlock Holmes,” Sherlock said. His gaze fell on the presumed witch. She was young, in her thirties, attractive, auburn hair, blue eyes, clear skin. Her eyes were also ancient, but he suspected it was due to life trauma, not because someone else inhabited her skin.
“Maybe I’ll move into you,” the old woman said, moving closer, running her gnarled, loose-skinned hands over his chest, brittle fingernails catching on the fine silk of Sherlock’s shirt.
Sherlock guessed that didn’t mean sexually. “I’ll pass, thanks.” Though a part of him was intrigued; what would it feel like to have whatever was in this woman, in him? He caught Dean’s eye quickly, and Dean nodded toward the witch.
Orders to distract. Sherlock could do that. He hadn’t missed the witch’s approving eye as she glanced at Sherlock. Following that, a dozen emotions had crossed her face, attraction, horror, anger, frustration, determination, anger again, and some mixture of unhappiness and satisfaction. She'd pinched hard at her side, squeezed her thighs together, and committed several other tells that told Sherlock everything he needed to know about her pathetically tragic past. This would be all too easy. Distract her? He'd eviscerate her.
“Did he brand you?” Sherlock asked, slipping away from the thing offering to take over his body and focusing all his attention on the witch.
The witch’s eyes flew to his, startled. “What?” she said.
“When he raped you. Did he brand you?”
Her eyes grew hard, and she started muttering under her breath, going back to her spell work. Sherlock caught her looking to her right several times; as though her eyes were drawn there by something she needed to be sure of.
"Dean," he called. "That wall."
"Shut him up," one of the demons said, and Sherlock could hear footsteps heading in his direction.
"How about I shut you up?" Dean asked.
Sherlock left the demons to Dean and John's care, and refocused on the witch.
“How long did it take you to work up your nerve?" Sherlock asked. "How long did his actions fester inside before you thought to kill him? I expect you wanted to castrate him but lost your nerve, resorting to poison, despite how much you despised him. And despise him you did, mostly because a part of you liked what he did to you. Not the branding, of course, no one would like that, but the sex. You like sex. You need it. It must be difficult for you to hate men so much, and yet be only too willing to spread your thighs for them. I saw how you looked at me, how you shifted. Under different circumstances, you'd be trying to get me between your legs. You're like a black widow, luring them in, only to cry foul and turn to murder.”
She chanted louder, desperately, losing her focus. A sigil, the first one Castiel had shown them, flickered on the wall then was gone. Sherlock could hear the sounds of fighting behind him, heard John grunt, then curse. Signs of him being still alive, which was good.
It appeared again. "Dean," he called, to get the man's attention. Sherlock reached for his own knife, thought about lunging for the wall himself.
He refocused on the witch. "You were married." He'd seen her thumb touching her ring finger of her left hand. "Did you think he wouldn't notice how damaged you were? How much your body craved the sex, while your mind hated it? Is that why you became a witch? To get your revenge? How many have you killed now? A dozen? More?"
He heard something whiz by his head and saw Dean's axe make a perfect landing on the wall, severing one line of the sigil.
"Castiel!" Dean yelled, and then Castiel was there.
Sherlock turned his attention away from the witch, having done what had been asked, and saw Castiel slam his hand against the old woman, watching light pour out of every crevice as she screamed in terror. At the same time, the old man opened his mouth and a dark, fetid, black smoke poured out of him, circled the room, and then left through a crack in the window.
His mouth having dropped open, Sherlock snapped it shut. Was that a demon? That smoke? What was it? He strode to the window to see if it had left any residue behind.
Too late, he realized he shouldn't have turned his back on the witch, because she started chanting again, and his guts began to roil. He bent over, and then fell to his knees. His gut was on fire, so much so that he looked down, expecting to see flames covering his torso. He coughed and spat out blood.
“Stop it,” a voice said, and he looked up to see John’s gun against her head. “Stop it right now or I will kill you.”
Despite his agony, Sherlock thrilled at John’s words. He loved it when John was the angry soldier, protecting Sherlock as if he were the hill upon which John would win or die trying.
He spat out another mouthful of blood, saw, to his horror, that it had a bee in it, stumbling around, still alive. His whole being recoiled at the thought that his belly was full of those things, that the fire was the stings of countless numbers of insects. "John!" he cried out in desperation.
"Stop it," John demanded again, "or I will shoot."
"Go ahead," the witch taunted. "It's too late. They'll keep stinging him, filling him with venom until he dies in excruciating pain."
John punched her, hard, and she spun around, slamming into the wall, before she fell to the ground, unconscious. John was immediately beside Sherlock.
Sherlock coughed, gagged, and threw up, blood and more insects falling from his mouth.
"Oh, God!" John cried. "Dean!"
Dean came running from wherever he'd been and skid to a stop next to Sherlock. "Fuck. Okay, that's disgusting. I told you I hate witches!"
Sherlock now understood why. He was sorry he'd ignored Mycroft's warning. He gagged and threw up again, a dozen bees now on the floor, buzzing angrily, slipping through the blood, several attempting to fly away. One landed on his hand and stung him. "Make it stop!" he cried, undone completely. How could this be happening? He could feel the effects of the bee venom spreading through his body. Sherlock grew short of breath. He coughed and felt the buzzing of a bee in his mouth. He tried to spit it out, and it stung his tongue. He rammed his fingers in his mouth to scrape it out.
"We need to take him to the hospital!" John demanded. "Now!"
"And tell them what? That he ate a hive of bees? They'll commit him."
"At least he'll be alive!" John yelled. "We can break him out later."
"Right, right. No, wait." Dean threw the door open to the basement. "Hey, Cas, is this a bad time? I need your help."
Cas was suddenly there looking pissed off and dangerous, his hands covered with blood. "What, Dean? I am rather busy at the moment."
"Fix him and then you can go back to your party."
Castiel looked down at Sherlock, who could feel the bees stinging his throat and mouth as he threw up more blood and insects. Sherlock wouldn't have cared if Castiel killed him. Anything was better than this. Anything.
Two fingers touched his forehead, and it was all gone. The pain, the effects of the venom, even the sting on his hand and tongue was healed. All that remained was the blood and insects still on the floor. John stomped on any that remained alive, then pulled Sherlock away, sitting on the floor and wrapping his arms around him. "Jesus Christ, Sherlock, are you all right?"
"Thanks," Dean told Cas. "Call if you need help."
Then Cas was gone.
Sherlock rolled into John, his head on John's chest, the beating of his heart a soothing counterpart to Sherlock's frantically racing one. He felt as if the insects were crawling all over him still, inside and out. "They're gone, right?"
"All gone. I promise. Christ." John held him tightly, rocking him. "Christ."
"What I want to know is where the hell your hex bag is?" Dean asked sharply. "She shouldn't have been able to hurt you so badly."
It was in the back seat of the car, dismembered, little seahorses, and black beans, eyes of some creature, a cross, some dried out organs, a heart and a liver, Sherlock had thought at the time, a tiger eye, a piece of red jasper and turquoise, an image of St. Francis, and a half-handful of herbs and roots. Ridiculous. Sherlock had been so sure that such a motley assortment of detritus could never protect him.
"Sorry," he managed to choke out, afraid if he opened his mouth that bees would fly out.
"You're gonna be one of those hunters who have to learn every lesson the hard way, aren't you?" Dean said, half-annoyed, half-amused. "I just hope you don't kill me or John along the way."
"What will happen to her?" John asked grimly.
He was still holding Sherlock, and Sherlock was glad of it. Never had he felt John's strength and solidness more keenly.
"I don't know. Nice punch, by the way."
"Are any of them still alive?"
Sherlock assumed John was talking about all the bodies surrounding them.
"No. They're all dead. Sorry, Doc."
He felt John shrug, and then John's arms tightened around him, as if he were saying without words that at least Sherlock was alive. Suddenly needing to prove that point, Sherlock sat up, pulling away from John, even though a large part of him wanted to stay where he was.
John gave him a long look, as if to ensure for himself that Sherlock was okay. From the expression on John's face, Sherlock assumed he looked anything but. However, John left him his dignity and didn't hug him again. "I should have shot her right away," John said. "I’m sorry I didn't. I can see I have some social conditioning I’ll need to get past. I don’t like the idea of killing a woman.”
Sherlock didn't think John would hesitate next time.
Dean stretched out some kinks, then said, “I’m gonna go down and see if Cas needs any help.” He turned toward the stairs, and then turned back. “By the way, what was all that bullshit you were talking about with her?”
“It was hardly bullshit. It was the truth,” Sherlock said indignantly.
"What I heard of it sounded like bullshit. But it worked, so good job." He turned to John, "I need the knife back."
John handed it over.
Dean held it in his hand, the gun still in the small of his back, and he opened the door and headed downstairs.
Sherlock wiped his mouth and saw blood on his fingers. He panicked for a moment until he realized it was from before. Apparently Cas hadn't cleaned him up. “That was exceedingly unpleasant.”
John barked out an unhappy laugh. "That was the worst thing I've ever seen, and I--"
"Invaded Afghanistan, yes, I remember," Sherlock finished for him. He inched back until he was leaning against a wall.
"Still want to stay?" John asked.
It was a reasonable question. Sherlock searched John's face, but didn't see anything there that spoke of John's desire to go home. Rather it was full of worry for Sherlock, for his tendency to leap before he looked. This new career might actually purge Sherlock of that habit. Unlikely but possible. Certainly he would be more wary of witches in the future.
"Yes." He watched John to see what his reaction would be. He found himself adding, "But only if you want to." After what had happened today, he wouldn't keep John here just to satisfy his own unquenchable thirst for something new. It could as easily have been John who'd fallen prey to a witch, being destroyed inside by some unforeseen horror.
"As if I'd leave you here alone," John said with a wry and tired smile. "You'd be dead in a week."
"Probably true," Sherlock said. "I reluctantly admit that I am woefully unprepared for this lifestyle." But he'd learn. He'd learn everything there was to know. "But that's not what I meant. I meant if you want to go back to London, I'd go with you." He wouldn't be happy about it, but he'd go. What he wouldn't allow was for an ocean to separate him from John.
John reached up and tugged at one of Sherlock's curls, as if it was a blonde ringlet. Sherlock tried to be annoyed, but he still, if he were being honest, wanted to curl up in John's lap just like a little girl, so he allowed it.
"We'll stay a little longer," John said. "And then we'll see."
Sherlock nodded, largely relieved that John was as addicted to danger as he was, as Sherlock wanted to stay and learn and be endlessly captivated by things new and terrible. But he also noted that small part of him that felt a flash of fear at the memory of throwing up bees, and feeling them swarm and sting inside his body. He found himself leaning toward John and John put his arms around him and hugged him close. "Jesus, Sherlock," John said quietly. "Try not to do that again."
The door to the basement slammed open. "Cas found out what he needed to know, and kept them from finding what they needed to know, so score one for the good guys. And if you guys are done hugging like little girls, we should blow this joint before someone calls the cops."
"What about her?" John asked, letting go of Sherlock, standing, and putting out a hand to assist Sherlock in rising.
Sherlock made a point of not looking at the blood on the floor that had over a dozen dead bees in it. He swallowed hard.
"And I need to check to make sure no one is alive, or in need of medical care," John added.
Dean gave John a look that said plainly what he thought of that idea.
"Dean," John said carefully, "I would understand if you wanted to be well rid of me and Sherlock, but you have to know now, that if you keep us on, I will never leave a place where there might be someone in need of care I could provide. I won't do it."
"You'll end up arrested one day," Dean said.
"Then I end up arrested. I'd rather be arrested than think I could have helped someone and didn't."
Dean let out a long, put-upon sigh, but Sherlock could see the respect for John in his eyes. "Okay." He gestured at them to 'come-on'.
It didn't take long to find that no one remained alive. It was even disheartening for Sherlock, but that might have been because he had hoped there might be someone alive for John to help.
By the time they got back into the main room, the witch was gone.
"Fuck," Dean said.
Sherlock agreed entirely.
Apparently John did, too, because he handed his hex bag over to Sherlock. "Keep this one."
Sherlock intended to.
"Let's go," Dean commanded, and this time neither John nor Sherlock argued.
Dean went out drinking and for sex. Sherlock and John went directly to their hotel room. Sherlock, for once, wasn't feeling an end-of-case letdown. In fact, he was looking forward to some peace and quiet.
While John was in the shower, Sherlock paced the room at first, checking his face in the mirror occasionally, opening his mouth, still half afraid bees would crawl out. In the heyday of his drug habit, he'd had hallucinations like this, but nothing had come close to the reality. He wasn't looking forward to the nightmares.
He got out his phone.
TO: MYCROFT HOLMES
IN RETROSPECT, YOUR WARNING TO AVOID WITCHES WAS A SOUND ONE.
He hit send, and Sherlock listened to John moving around in the shower, breaking into occasional bursts of song quickly shut off as if aware Sherlock was listening, which he was. John didn't have a terrible voice, and Sherlock wouldn't have minded listening. It was distracting. His phone chimed.
TO: SHERLOCK HOLMES
I ABHOR WITCHES. I ADVISE HEX BAGS AT ALL TIMES. ARE YOU ALL RIGHT? DO YOU REQUIRE ASSISTANCE? I WILL PHONE JOHN IF YOU DO NOT RESPOND.
TO: MYCROFT HOLMES
I AM FINE. I HAD THE NECESSARY ASSISTANCE WITH ME. THERE IS NO NEED TO PHONE JOHN.
Sherlock heard John's phone chime despite his response, and he rolled his eyes at this childish display of Mycroft's. His phone chirped a minute later.
TO: SHERLOCK HOLMES
THERE IS WORSE OUT THERE. COME HOME.
That gave Sherlock pause. Clearly Mycroft knew of which he spoke. But leaving now would feel like defeat, a dog surrendering with his tail between his legs. It crossed his mind to wonder how Dean had done this for his entire life, and he reluctantly recognized that Dean probably had a great deal to teach him and John.
TO: MYCROFT HOLMES
After hitting send, Sherlock put his phone down, and paced the room a few more times. Finally he heard the water turn off, John now humming softly under his breath as he puttered around the bathroom. "Shower's ready for you," John called. He had offered the first shower, but Sherlock anticipated staying in there for a very long time, so had declined the offer.
He started unbuttoning his shirt, kicking his shoes off. The thought of steaming hot water cleansing him of the evening's activities sounded like heaven. Pushing the bathroom door open, he ignored John standing there wrapped in a towel, brushing his teeth. He dropped his trousers and pants, and stepped out of them and into the tub, shutting the shower curtain.
The water was hot with a surprisingly heavy flow, and Sherlock opened his mouth and let the water pour in, spitting it out when it felt full. If he could, he would let it spray down his throat, into his esophagus, into his stomach and intestines.
He scrubbed himself down, and then stood there, eyes closed, until he heard John call him. "Sherlock? Are you all right?"
Sherlock shut the water off. "Fine."
There was a pause in the air as if John wasn't sure he agreed, but then he heard John settle into one of the beds. The one on the left, closest to the door.
Sherlock dried off with a barely adequate towel, wrapped it around his waist, and brushed his teeth. He entered the main room and rooted through his bag for his pajamas.
"Why's Mycroft texting me about how you are?" John asked.
"I don't think he believed me when I told him I was fine."
Sherlock glanced at John, but for all intents and purposes, John appeared to be reading. Sherlock stepped into his pajama pants and put on a t-shirt. He checked his own phone but there were no messages. Sherlock eyed his bed, and found himself pacing again.
"Sleep here tonight," John said, patting his bed.
Sherlock spun and faced him. "Excuse me?"
"I know I'm going to have nightmares about you, and I'd just as soon have you close. Don't worry, I'm not making a pass."
His body moved before Sherlock could even phrase an answer, and he found himself slipping into bed next to John, glad of his presence and heat.
"Thank you," John said, even though Sherlock half suspected he was doing this entirely for Sherlock. Sherlock would never have asked. To be truthful, it wouldn't have even occurred to him.
"Hex bag?" John asked.
"Right here," Sherlock said, pointing to the bags on the night stand. He'd reassembled the one he'd taken apart earlier. "Did you salt the door and window?"
Sherlock lay on his back, staring at the ceiling.
"Come this way," John cajoled him, encouraging him to roll in John's direction, facing him.
Sherlock rolled, not sure what to expect.
"No, here." John was now pulling at him.
Sherlock allowed himself to be manipulated, trusting that John, in this particular instance, knew better the machinations of comfort, and soon he found himself with his head on John's chest, and John's hand softly carding through his hair.
"Perfect," John said.
Sherlock agreed, and he closed his eyes and thought of nothing but John.
He woke up early; it was still dark outside, but through the flimsy curtains, Sherlock could see dawn fast approaching. He was surprised he'd slept as long as he had. He was still curled around John, or rather, they were curled around each other, but John didn't stir as Sherlock got out of bed.
Sherlock plugged in his laptop and waited for it to warm up. He thought of brewing some tea, but the hotel supplies were woefully inadequate. He sat down in front of the laptop; now that he'd read all the books Dean had with him, Sherlock needed more information.
He found a multitude of sites that he dismissed immediately as trite and new age. A site called Ghostfacers seemed somewhat legitimate and even spoke of Dean and Sam Winchester. Out of curiosity, Sherlock typed in Dean Winchester in the Google toolbar. His eyebrows rose when he saw over four million responses. He scrolled down the entries, his eyebrows rising even higher.
At breakfast, several hours later, Sherlock waited until Dean was lulled into a sense of security, before asking, "Fanfiction? Explain please."
Dean coughed around a sip of coffee he'd just breathed in. "What?"
"Fanfiction?" John asked.
"Apparently--" Sherlock started.
"Shut the fuck up," Dean demanded.
"Dean and Sam, and Dean and Castiel, and sometimes Dean and--"
"I’m serious," Dean said in a deadly tone. "Shut up."
"What are you talking about?" John said, looking perplexed.
Sherlock handed him a story he'd printed out. Dean was pregnant in it.
John scanned it. "I don't understand. What is this?"
"It's a story where Dean and Sam have sex, and Sam gets Dean pregnant,"
Sherlock explained, enjoying himself so much.
"You have sex with your brother?" John asked, appalled.
Dean slapped a hand over his face. "Could you say that any louder?"
"Sorry," John said, his shoulders hunched, looking around the diner, chagrined. "Sorry, but it isn't true, is it?"
"No, it's not true," Dean snapped. "Jesus H. Christ. None of it's true. It's just a bunch of crazy people on the internet."
"Writing stories about you," Sherlock pointed out.
"I don't want to talk about it," Dean said.
"Even the tentacles?" Sherlock asked innocently. "It would seem that you would want to talk about them."
Dean made an interesting sound composed of outrage, embarrassment, and the intent to murder, before getting up and stalking out of the diner.
Chapter 3: In Which Sherlock gets asked to sell his soul.
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