?

Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

The Lamb: The Grip of a Hurricane

The Lamb


Chapter 9. The Grip of a Hurricane

“You can’t do it!” Sam screamed. Buffy watched him stagger to his feet and turn to face her. His eyes bulged hideously and his hands rose up in white fists. “I have to do it! You can’t kill her! You’re weak! Broken! What good are you? What kind of hunter are you?”

“The last time I had a friend addicted to killing, I sent her off to witch camp in England,” Buffy frowned, looking through the small iron bars welded into the door of Bobby’s basement bomb shelter. “You think they take demon blood junkies?”
“Doubt it,” Bobby frowned behind her. He rubbed the back of his head with one hand and replaced his dingy trucker’s cap.
“When was all this happening? Where were we?”
“Trying to save the world, I guess.”
“Yeah,” Buffy sighed. “Probably.”

Sam Winchester slumped down on the cot in the middle of Bobby’s basement shelter. He scratched wildly at his own skin, as if attempting to claw the blood out of his system. His screams were agonizing, barely human. It was Castiel that had finally subdued him with a gentle but firm touch to the forehead. Sam collapsed like a heavy sack on top of his deceased victim. Buffy scooped the broken remains of Dean Winchester into her arms and Castiel shipped them all back to home base. There were no other options for Sam. It was Dean that suggested they let him ride it out in the basement, where nothing could get to him and where he couldn’t escape.

The agonizing sound of Sam’s wild ranting was subdued only by the thick floors in Bobby’s old house. On the first floor, they could still hear him, faintly but distinctly. By the time Buffy reached the second floor landing, the voice was gone. She stood at the top of the stairs and swallowed a deep breath of dusty air. The windows were shut up here, lines of salt crossing their thresholds. Everything smelled old, and nothing felt safe. Their own people had been penetrated by demons, right under their noses. Everything seemed to be falling apart.

Down the hall, Dean lay on an empty bed. Buffy pushed back the door, its’ hinges creaking slightly. His face was swollen, mottled with black, red, purple, and yellow splotches of color. Both of his eyes were black and shining. His lower lip and cheek were split and bloody. Propped up on a few pillows, he held a bag of ice against the side of his face. A half-glass of whiskey with melting cubes of ice sat on the night stand beside him. Buffy pulled up a chair from beneath the lip of an old desk. She sat down beside him, her hands folding uncomfortably across her lap.

For several minutes, they sat in silence, simply staring at one another, at the floor, at the ceiling. Dean breathed in through his nose and out through his mouth, and each breath was clearly painful. Buffy took the drink from the nightstand and held it up to his lips. She tipped it back and poured a sip of the drink into his mouth. He winced slightly at the taste. The ice cubes clinked against the glass when she set it back down on the table.

“I couldn’t get to you in time,” Buffy started, looking into his broken face.
“Buffy…”
“I should have known… Sam was acting so weird, but I was distracted.”
“Hey,” Dean said, putting a hand on hers. He pushed himself up on the pillows behind him and looked at her. Even with his face pocked by bruises, she could see his expression. “Stop. It isn’t your fault. None of it is your fault.”
“Did you find out about the angels?” She changed the subject smoothly.
“Dicks with wings,” Dean grunted.
“Huh?”
“It was just a hoax to get me there. No angels were hurt in the making of this film…”
“So you’re a walking bruise because…?”
“Long story.”
“There’s a junkie in a basement and you have massive head trauma. I think we’ve got time.”
“Yeah, I guess. Just warning you. I have a lot of stuff on my chest and now’s the time to say it, right?”

Dean took another sip of the whiskey on the table. He set the glass down heavily and sat up on the bed. Woozy for a second, he paused before swinging his legs over the side of the bed and sitting upright beside the Slayer. He looked pathetically at his hands, as if trying to decide what to do with them. Finally, he set one on either side of his hips and pressed them into the mattress, making stress folds in the skin of his wrists.

“Buffy, I’m in love with you. There. I admitted it. Sounds simple, right? But it isn’t. I don’t even know how I know. Isn’t that crazy? I come back from Hell wanting…well…nothing. I drank myself into a damn coma trying to figure out how not to feel stuff and here I am, falling in love with the damn Slayer. Romantic, right?”

Dean staggered to his feet and crossed the room. He picked up the whiskey, touched the glass to his lips, and after a beat, poured the remains of the glass down his throat. He hissed slightly as the bitter taste washed over his tongue. The room looked a little steadier as he consumed the toxic liquid.

“Hell was…well, it was bad. What else can I say? It’s Hell. It’s to be expected. When I got back, everyone wanted to know what it was like. Sam pestered me with questions night and day. If I didn’t know he’d studied to be a lawyer, I’d swear he was aiming for armchair psychology. Tell me what it was like, Dean. You’ll feel better, Dean. Just let it out. Man, I just wanted to let out my fist on him. But you know what Hell was like, Buffy?

“Down there, all you do is want. You want everything. You want to live. You want to die. You want purgatory. You want forgiveness. You want to know what it all means. You want to know why you lived your life the way you lived it. You want to know where the Hell God went and why he left you down in the Pit. You want and want and want. And the worst part is they give it to you! They give you everything you want and more. But the way you get it? It isn’t ever what you had in mind.

“When I got to Hell, Buffy, I wanted to be punished. I wanted to take whatever was coming to me and I wanted to take whatever was coming to Sam too. Why waste all that time? I was in it for the long haul. Thirty years, they tortured me, Buffy. Thirty years. Every day, I’d wake up and my entrails would be stuffed back up in me like they’d always been there. By the end of the day, they’d be lying all over the floor while I screamed like a maniac. Every day, they’d taunt me and pick at me and try to wear me down. They’d ask me what I wanted and I’d spit in their faces.

“In the Pit, Buffy, you want to stop feeling it and you can’t. You go through the same shit every day. You want to die, but you’re already dead.”

--

“What makes you so special?”

Sam sat heavily on the bed, making the springs creak and whine. The back of his head buzzed, strained and in agony. The whole cylindrical iron room seemed to spin. The shelves of dusty books blended together in streaks of hazy color and the floor, stained with rust, matched the veins that bulged through Sam’s pasty skin.

“What makes you so great? The Chosen Two. You’re zombies! You don’t even care if they all live or die!”

Out of the wobbling fog of his thoughts, Castiel took up a place at the foot of his cot. His arms hung limp and loose at his sides, and his face was as illegible as bad script. He looked down at Sam Winchester in judgment. He spoke not a word.
“I’m the strongest, Castiel! I know what needs to be done! I have faith! I believe in you, in your word, in your God! Put your trust in me!”
“You, Sam?” Castiel chuckled, his bitter eyes suddenly glowing with laughter. “You? You’re a minion of the Yellow-Eyed Demon, tarnished by his blood. You have a taste for it now. You’re no good to me.”
“It will help me defeat Lilith!”
“Who told you that, Sammy? Some demon?”
“She’s not just a demon. She’s different.”
“Me too, Sammy,” Castiel laughed. His body began to mutate. The trench coat shortened and the pants changed shape. The face grew and giggled and expanded and shifted. Before long, Dean Winchester stared down at his brother, his eyes pinched and his mouth grotesque.
“You’re a drunk,” Sam spat, “and that girl, Buffy, she’s an insomniac! Can’t even sleep, let alone fight. You’re both injured and here I am, wasting away in this cell in tip-top condition! Not even a scratch!”
“Oh Sammy, don’t you know how little I care about you? I regret ever selling my soul for your stupid life.”

“They shouldn’t have sent you to the Pit, Dean! It changed you. I don’t even know you! And Dad, they killed Dad and Mom! I don’t even remember what she looked like, Dean! They need to pay! They need to die! I’m gonna kill her, Dean. You can’t do it. You’re not strong enough. I’m going to kill her. She’s going to die.”

--

“When I got back, I just wanted it all to stop. I wanted to turn it all off. I wanted to stop…wanting. Buffy, my dad died wanting revenge. Sam’s downstairs right now seething with the same disease. I got my revenge in Hell. I got more of it than I ever wanted. I’ve had enough revenge for a hundred lifetimes. After thirty years of daily torture, daily suffering, daily agony, I’d had enough. Every day, Alastair would come up to me and say You can make it all end, Dean. You can turn the tables. You can have your revenge. They killed your mother and your father. They took away your life. You could have been a normal, every-day guy. You could have finished high school. You could have married some beautiful girl and had yourself a couple kids. You could be alive right now. Don’t you want revenge? And I did. One day, I was just done. I’d had it. No more punishment. I became the damn executioner.

“I tortured other people the way the demons tortured me. Buffy, I liked it. I wanted to do it. I took pleasure from it. It was wonderful! No conscience. No worries. I broke people down. I made them scream. And then one day I woke up in a pine box, full of memories, a conscience, a realization that I’d done something so horribly wrong that I couldn’t even think about it. So I tried to shut it off. I tried to swallow it down.”

“You can’t get away from it,” Buffy sighed thoughtfully. “There’s no escape. You’re just postponing the inevitable. Instead of getting it in small, constant doses, you get it in one big chunk that rips a hole in you.”
“Literally,” Dean nodded, agreeing.
“It’s funny,” Buffy shrugged. “No matter which place you were after death, you always come back to Earth feeling as dead as you were when you were actually dead.”
“Remember the head trauma?” Dean blinked, confused.
“I died. I think I told you. It was how I met Cas. I died and went up to Heaven. Retirement for the Slayer at last. And then I got yanked back here by a well-meaning witch. As soon as I woke up in that box, I felt like a conscious zombie. You tried to shut it off, but Dean, I succeeded. I was so cut off that I killed fifty girls without even batting an eyelash. I’m scared to let myself feel. I’m scared to open the flood gates and let it all in.”
“You and me both,” Dean sighed.
“What happened in that room with the demon, Dean?”

Dean clutched the whiskey glass, but it was empty. He looked down into the melting ice cubes and set it back on the table. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Buffy lifted her eyes and looked at him. Time to face the music, kid, she seemed to say. Time to admit what you’ve been holding back.
“We’re both here for a reason, Buffy. You know yours. You already told me. I’m here because I let them in. I wanted revenge and I took it. I broke the first seal. A righteous man will become a minion of Hell. I let my emotions control me. I started the damn apocalypse.”
“It’s sorta funny, isn’t it?” Buffy tried to laugh, but the sound came out flat and artificial. “You broke a seal being too emotional. I broke the gates of Hell not being emotional enough.”

--

“What do you need revenge for, Sammy?” Dean smirked, walking slowly around the bed until he stood over Sam’s face, his eyes boring holes in Sam’s pupils. “You never even knew Mom. You hated Dad. Maybe the only thing you want to kill is yourself. Maybe you should. Maybe you should just end it right here. You’re a freak, Sammy. You’re weak and you’re scared. You can’t do what it takes to kill Lilith. You can’t beat her. I’ll have to do it. I always have to cover your ass.”
“You’re wrong! It’s you! You’re the weak one, the drunk, the freak. It’s you, Dean! It’s you!”
“Me? I’ve been fighting demons all my life, Sam. You gave up. You took your lunchbox and left town. You sent me to Hell, Sam. It’s your fault.”
“Don’t worry, Sam,” Buffy grimaced devilishly, appearing on Dean’s arm like a savage kewpie doll. She tossed her head to one side, cascading strands of perfect golden hair around her shoulder. Her mouth was as red as blood. “I’ll take care of Dean. We’ll beat Lilith and run away together. I’m stronger than you. We can do this without you. You can just stay here and get over your little…problems.”
“I’m getting out of here! You can’t beat her! You can’t do it!” Sam screamed so shrilly that his voice cracked under the pressure. Dean and Buffy burst into horrific giggles and disappeared, shrinking into the walls.

--

The floor whimpered where Dean dropped down on one knee to scoop up the bottle of whiskey laid out under the bed. Buffy’s fingers stopped him, caressing the side of his busted cheek with the side of one finger. He lifted his eyes, taking in the frame of her face, the dullness of her pretty green eyes, the grayish color in her skin. Somehow, she was beautiful. Maybe it wasn’t the Buffy he saw, but the Buffy he knew was underneath all that pain. He dropped the neck of the bottle and it clunked back into place. A scarred and crusty hand wrapped around her hip, and beneath her shirt, he could feel the firm musculature. She admired the cloudy hazel irises that peeked through his swollen eyelids. Even pulpy and bumpy, Dean Winchester was a good-looking man, a rough man, a tender man. She bent her head and carefully kissed his bloody mouth.

Beneath the floors, Sam rebelled in anguish, but above the bomb shelter, Dean cautiously removed Buffy’s shirt, pulling it over her head. She’d pulled off the bandage around her chest where the surgery had taken place. The wound was still garish but getting better. He touched the stitches with one sweeping finger. Her skin was hot, growing hotter. Murmuring anxiously, Buffy drew his attention back to her waiting mouth. She tried to remember the last time she’d had physical contact with anyone. Spike. She’d done it to feel something. She’d been so desperate to feel. The moments were fleeting. When you’re dead, nothing but death really lasts.

His lips were chapped and dry but miraculously skilled. He pushed her back carefully on the bed and removed his jacket and shirt. There were bruises on his chest and shoulders. Buffy kissed each one. By now, the burn of Castiel’s hand on Dean’s shoulder had faded to a mark barely noticeable. Buffy placed her own small hands on either side of his clavicle and pulled him close, nudging his hips between her thighs. They interlocked and fit perfectly together.

Each movement was careful, not marked with the urgency of either lover’s last intimate encounter. It wasn’t just that they were wounded. Neither party needed to feel the urgency of love-making. With each thrust came a kiss, a touch, an appreciation of another form. Dean’s nose brushed Buffy’s cheek. Buffy’s fingers blended into Dean’s hair. They moaned in quiet unison. Their arms and legs pulled in tight.

With one arm flung across her waist, Dean tucked Buffy’s smooth body against his chest. He folded his legs around her, and pulled the blanket up to their shoulders. The longest of her scars curved down and around her hip, giving Dean cause to take a second look. He leaned back into the mattress and traced the garish line with the ball of his thumb. She shivered just slightly and looked over her shoulder at him.
“What happened?”
“I got close to Death,” Buffy murmured quietly. “But not close enough.”
“Have you ever been in love?” He changed the subject smoothly, just as she had done.
“Yes, once,”
“What was it like?” Her hair smelled like war. She was like no woman he’d ever known.
“Hard.”

Buffy rolled over onto her back, forcing Dean to adjust his body across the pillows and beneath the blankets. She flipped onto her other side and peeked up at him, at his beaten face, at his bloody lip. Dean’s body was a map of recent scars. His hands were still blistered with old wounds. His face was only a reminder of other fights, other battles.
“Why do you do this?” She frowned, thinking about her own life, the life that had never belonged to her. “Why’d you become a hunter?”
“I didn’t,” Dean shrugged. “It sorta…chose me.”

--

Stormy winds swooped down across the Great Plains, picking up her yellow-gold ponytail and swinging it around her shoulder. Buffy flipped up the collar of Dean’s jacket and grasped the lapels tighter around her middle. She thought about going back inside to stare up at the ceiling while lying comfortably in Dean’s arms. Her skin tickled where she remembered his unshaven chin, his warm, chapped lips, his sore, purple flesh. In the cloudy black sky, a bolt of dry lightning crackled. Under the sizzling light, Castiel appeared.

The wind picked up around his ankles and brushed his light khaki trench coat against his knees. His face seemed subdued, as if he’d just been swatted with a rolled up newspaper. He looked sorry and sad, but an expression of understanding mingled with his bright irises.
“We’ve failed,” he admitted coldly.
“The seals,” Buffy sighed. “We missed some.”
“There were complications. You are only human.”
“Don’t apologize, Cas. You were just following orders.” Buffy didn’t make the comment snidely. She simply meant what she said. Castiel had only been following orders. He’d been instructed to tell them that they were to protect the seals. It wasn’t his job to tell them why they’d been chosen, but he’d done it anyway. It wasn’t his job to bring them together, but he’d felt they would work well as a team. All this Buffy knew without following any sort of order. Castiel had been abandoning the ways of Heaven ever since they’d met.
“I wanted you to succeed. I am the only angel on your side.”
“And what about the rest of them?”
“They want to fight. They are tired of humans, tired of demons. They want to start fresh.”
“Noah’s Ark all over again, eh? Too bad I never got that lifeguarding certificate.”
“If they have their way, there won’t be anyone left to save.”
“Total global domination, eh? They’re no better than demons.”
“I wouldn’t go that far. They are still my family.”
“Can’t pick your family,” Buffy sighed. “Anyway, what are we going to do?”
“There is only one thing I can think to do, Slayer.”
“So spill it, Cas. I’m all ears.”

Castiel turned his eyes to the sky, but when he spoke, he directed his voice at the Slayer. Whether they could hear him was a mystery. Maybe they would try to stop him. Maybe they didn’t think the Slayer was up to the challenge. Whatever the possibility, Castiel released the instruction without hesitation.
“Tomorrow, Sam Winchester will attempt the assassination of Lilith. You must kill him.”
“No,” Buffy said briefly.
“Only one seal remains, Buffy. If we can protect it, we can still prevent Lucifer’s ascent. We can still win this.”
“I won’t do it. I’m done killing, Cas. Look what it’s done to me, to the world! I’m not a killer.”
“You are the Slayer, Buffy. You have been chosen to save the world. This is how you will save it. If Sam kills Lilith, the gates of Hell open and the world will end. It will happen. You will watch it with your own eyes.”
“How do I know this isn’t another trick, Cas? The last time you asked me to kill someone, I cracked open Hell and released the scariest demon since Lucifer! One more life ends and suddenly everything is all hunky-dory again? When does the killing stop, Cas?”
“You are the Slayer, Buffy. Death is your gift.”
“Don’t start with that. I already gave that gift. Someone else gave it back.”
“How many times have you died for them, Buffy? How many things have you killed? This is your destiny. You are the Slayer.”
“He’s Dean’s brother, Cas!”
“You have done worse, Buffy. You are the Slayer. What is that old human adage? You always hurt the ones you love. ” He looked for a moment at the ground. “I certainly have.”

--

Her side of the bed had cooled, but Dean’s arm was still stretched across the pillow, welcoming and warm. Throwing off his jacket, Buffy crawled under his proffered hand and nestled against his rib cage. She stared up at the ceiling for a long time, her thoughts a tangle of wild brambles. Sleep came like it always did, insistent and difficult to ignore. For the first time in a long time, the Slayer relinquished control. Not forced by medication or yanked under in pain, Buffy allowed herself rest. She whimpered and moaned, throwing aside her arms, yanking and kicking at the blankets. In the midst of the night, Dean woke to her thrashing. Without waking her, tearing away her one full-night’s rest, the wounded hunter tucked her against his body, pulling her into a kind of safety net. His lips brushed her temple, soothing her back into calm sleep. She eased back down, tucking her arms under her cheek, pulling her legs up against her abdomen. Sleep came back again, welcome and deserved. Dean scooped up the edges of the blanket and wrapped her up.

Below the floors, beneath their sleeping figures, the iron door cracked with a whimper and hung ajar.



Chapter Ten: The Lamb and the Knife