Fic: Never Say Die (11/16)
Title: Never Say Die (11/16)
NEVER SAY DIE
Two Weeks Later
John laid down the razor and splashed cold water on his face to clean off the last of the shaving foam. He straightened, water dripping from his face and running down his neck. He liked what he saw in the mirror. He looked good for a man who had been dead for two years. He wore nothing but his underpants, and the mirror showed him every scar, every reminder of battles lost and won. John carried a lot of wear and tear but he'd earned every scar.
He slid the underpants off and threw them into the laundry with the rest of his clothing. He was about to step into the shower when Ellen tapped on the door and opened it.
She peered in. "Hey. You didn't shower yet?" She closed the door behind her.
"I decided to shave first," John explained.
"I noticed." Ellen raised a hand to cup his newly-smooth cheek. "Looks good on you."
John felt his cock swell, reacting to her touch, but he tried to ignore it. "Any luck?" he asked her. She'd come in to talk business, he assumed.
"Olsen said he'll show up. If he comes, so will King. That makes twenty."
"That's fantastic!" John's face split into a wide grin. Twenty hunters willing to meet. It was ten more than he'd expected.
"Don't get too excited," Ellen cautioned. "Most of them won't stick around. You know that."
If the war out there was as bad as John believed, enough would stick around. The difficult part would be persuading them to trust Sam. Most of Ellen's contacts had heard Gordon Walker's version of what Sam was. Some of them knew Walker for the fool he was. Unfortunately Walker's case was strengthened by the fact that both he and Kubrick died hunting Sam.
John slid his hands around Ellen's waist, gathering the coarse cloth of her shirt in his hands and drawing her closer to him. "You're right. Some won't be willing to follow anyone, end-of-the-world or not. And some are probably coming with plans to take a shot at Sammy. None of us thought this would be easy." He pulled the shirt slowly out of her pants. "But it's a beginning. Now...want to take a shower?"
Ellen raised her face to kiss him. "I thought you'd never ask," she murmured against his mouth.
John began to unbutton her pants. In the morning, they would head out to rejoin the boys at Bobby's house. For this night, John wanted to forget it all. Forget the war, forget the nagging fear that he was wrong about Sam, forget the nightmares of Hell that disturbed his nights. He undressed Ellen quickly and drew her into the shower. He turned the dial to hot and steam billowed around them with the water.
Ellen's bathroom was the only room in her apartment that must have been decorated by a woman. The walls were covered with pale pink tiles and a pattern of roses. The ceramics were white, the shower cubicle made of glass etched with a pattern of vines. The cubicle was big enough for two people to fit comfortably; perhaps the woman who designed the bathroom enjoyed sharing the shower, too.
Ellen took the soap and moved behind John, reaching up to spread lather over his shoulders. She rubbed the soap into his skin, smooth and warm as oil. "God, you're tense, John. What's wrong?" Her strong fingers found the knots in his muscles.
John sighed, enjoying her touch. But she was right about his tension. "I don't feel prepared. All this research..."
Ellen grasped his shoulders and made him turn around to face her. "You've got to be joking, John. You've been back from the dead less than three weeks. In that time you've fought demons, saved Dean from Hell, spent a week damn near living in Lincoln library and you even found time for a hunt! You're doing as much as you can."
"It's not enough." That was John's fear: no matter what, they couldn't be prepared for what was coming. As for that hunt, it was barely worth mentioning. It was just something he ran across while he was cataloguing the demonic omens across the country. As Ellen had told him, with so many demons out there sometimes the lesser supernatural critters were being missed. So when John found the obituaries - six accidents in six months along the same stretch of road - he checked it out. It was barely two days work to identify the spirit, open up the grave and salt and burn the contents. Simple.
"It's more than enough," Ellen argued. "I know you think you're missing something, John, but you were out of action for two years."
"Then you think I am missing something?" John asked worriedly.
Ellen ran her soapy hands up his chest. "No, I don't. I think you're asking too much of yourself. Your boys aren't children any more. You don't have to carry it alone." Her hands slid down, over his stomach and further down to his hips. John expected a more intimate touch, but it didn't come. Instead Ellen leaned back into the jet of water, holding his hips for balance, letting water flow over her face and hair, down her neck to form a cascade over her breasts. She shook her head as she straightened up to flip her hair out of her eyes. "Honestly, John? I think your trouble is you can't handle giving up control to someone else. To Sam."
John narrowed his eyes at her. She wasn't entirely wrong: he was used to being in charge, but that wasn't the problem. It wasn't Sam's plan for a meeting that John had issues with. It was the lack of information. John was used to going into a hunt with nothing but an obit and a tentative lead, but this wasn't a hunt. It was war. The rules were different.
Could a war even have rules when the enemy was Hell itself?
"You callin' me a control freak?" John growled, mock-angry.
Ellen smiled. "If the name fits..."
John moved quickly, closing the small distance between their bodies. Ellen stepped back automatically but there was nowhere for her to go. He pinned her to the wall with his body, holding her wrists in his hands and raising her arms above their heads. John kept his eyes on her face, watching for any sign of objection, but he saw her colour rise and knew she was enjoying his show of strength. He brought her wrists together and found he could hold them both in one of his hands. It wasn't easy with all this water and soap making her skin slippery, and if she struggled she'd get free right away, but he could hold her there. He pressed her captured arms into the tiles, careful not to hurt her. Though from the gleam in Ellen's eyes, she might enjoy that, too.
John kissed Ellen hard, using his lips and tongue to force her mouth open. He thrust his tongue into her mouth, tasting her moan of pleasure. He ran his tongue over the roof of her mouth. Ellen raised one leg and caressed his calf muscle with her foot, slowly up and down and up again. It was John's turn to moan and he ran his fingertips over her neck, and along her collarbone. Still holding her against the wall, he followed his hand's caress with his mouth, nibbling at her neck, licking up the water droplets gathered on her skin and tasting the faint residue of soap.
"John," Ellen whispered, encouraging.
John smiled and slid his hand between her legs, cupping the triangle of her hair, combing his fingers through the curls. Ellen moaned and used her leg to draw him closer to her body. John parted her warm folds with his fingers. He found her clit and rubbed gently, not sure if she was ready yet.
She was. Ellen cried out when he touched her there and he felt a rush of warmth. He circled her small, hard clit with his fingers and she whispered his name again. He loved sex. He loved the heat of it, the sounds and smells, the taste of sex on his tongue. He loved feeling Ellen like this, abandoning herself to pleasure. It was such a rush to have a woman fall apart in his arms and to know his hands, or mouth, or cock had done that to her. Ellen strained against his hold as John slid his fingers inside her. She tried to kiss him but he kept his face just out of reach, looking into her eyes.
"John!" she breathed with that little high-pitched gasp in her voice that told him she was close.
"Come for me, baby," John commanded.
Ellen did just that. She cried out, thrusting herself against his hand. John released her wrists and caught her deftly around her waist as she fell into his body. Ellen wrapped her arms around him. Her nails raked his back and she bit into his shoulder, hard enough to bruise. John hissed at the pain but kissed her neck, feeling Ellen dissolve around him.
"Ellen," he murmured against her cheek. "Ellen, baby."
Her breathing was ragged and she didn't answer him in words. Her hand slid down his back, over his hip.
John drew back before she could touch his cock. He was too ready. He wouldn't last if she touched him now, and he wanted this to last. "Let's finish this in bed," he suggested.
After, Ellen curled up against John's side. John lay on his back, stroking her still-damp hair. The week just past had been a perfect interlude, even with all the work they'd been doing. In a way, the loss of Jo made it more real, more intense for both of them. They were both reaching out to seize the moment while they could.
"John," Ellen murmured sleepily.
"When this is all over, what are you going to do?"
John rolled over to face her. "What makes you think it'll be over in my lifetime?" he asked. "This is war, my love. It's going to take a long time."
Ellen sighed. "I guess you're right." She fell silent, but it didn't seem like a comfortable silence.
John caressed the smooth mound of one of her breasts. "What's your real question, Ellen? You want to know if I'll quit fighting?"
"Maybe," she agreed, meaning, John guessed, that it wasn't exactly what she wanted to ask, but it would do.
"I'm in this to keep my boys safe," John answered honestly. "They've both proven they don't need me any more. At least, not as a protector. I have been thinking about the future...now I have one."
"What about us?"
"Us?" He kissed the tip of her nose gently.
"Don't be a dick, John."
He sighed. "I love you, Ellen. I did then and I still do."
"I don't want to lose you. I hope we can find a way to live together. But if you're asking what I think you are...well, I'm not gonna be shopping for rings."
Ellen rested her head on his shoulder, a gesture that hid her face from him. "I'm just not Mary, am I?" she sighed.
"No, you're not. But that's not it, Ellen. Really, it isn't."
"I'm not like Bill, sweetheart." He stroked her hair. "I can never be him."
"Who said I wanted you to be?"
"Listen. You and Bill were happy because you both wanted the same thing out of your marriage. But taking vows means something different to me. I think I can tolerate my girl looking elsewhere from time to time, but I can't accept that in my wife."
Ellen drew away from him. "You don't believe I can be faithful." She sounded offended.
"I don't believe you'd be happy if you had to be," he clarified. "Ellen, I do love you. I want you to be happy."
She smiled again. "I am."
"Then go to sleep. We've got a long journey in the morning."
She reached out and turned off the light.
Some time later, when John was drifting on the edge of sleep, Ellen apparently decided she needed the last word.
"Yeah?" he mumbled.
"You're still a control freak."
"My dad told me," Sam announced, a challenge in his voice, "you claimed to be like me."
David shook his head. "No, Sam. Not like you. I told John I'm the same thing you are: a psychic and last of my generation. But like you...no. You're far more powerful than I am, and most of it comes from - " he broke off abruptly.
They were at Bobby's, sharing barbeque and beer. Dean and Sam had been there since they left Colorado, since they needed a base they could protect as they had the cabin and most of it was already in place for Bobby. David had just rejoined them: he, like Ellen, had been out recruiting. The meeting, if that wasn't too optimistic a name for it, was set for three days hence.
Sam scowled at David. "You can say it. Dean and Bobby have a right to know. My power comes from what the demon did to me."
David disagreed again. "Your power comes from Hell. Azazel gave you the ability to channel that power, but the source is outside you. I suspect that's why Lilith sees you as a rival. You're both working off the same battery, so to speak."
"So why don't you have the same power, if we're both the same thing?"
"I don't have the same conduit. Demons are immortal, Sam. The oldest of them plan in millennia, not months or years. Azazel built his scheme slowly. He could afford to throw away a whole generation of psychics, or two or three generations because there's always another on the way. He waited a long time for someone like you, and when you came along he made you his perfect vessel..." David smiled at Dean, "and then you had to go spoil it all for him."
"Yeah, I'm broken up about that," Dean drawled.
"So you're saying every generation is different?" Sam leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table.
"Well, yeah. Sam, haven't you figured out yet what we are? Have you found the past generations?"
There was a coil of excitement in Sam's stomach, like the breathless feeling at the top of a rollercoaster right before it plunges downward. Something important was about to happen, he knew it. He sipped his beer to cover his eagerness. "I concentrated on finding the others like me, those my age, I mean. I guess I would have looked into the past eventually, but Dean..." he stopped. The truth was Sam hadn't realised the obvious: that there were generations of psychic kids before him, until Azazel mentioned it. And then Dean's deal wiped all that from his mind. It hadn't seemed important any more.
"Then you've got some catching up to do," David told him. "Sam, it's important you understand this. The demon didn't create us, and the others like us. There have been generations like yours going so far back they're more myth than history. Usually three generations in each century. You can find them in the legends of cultures all over the world."
Dean set his bottle down with a thunk. "You're kidding, right? I've read a lot of folklore, dude. I'd have noticed."
"You need to know where to look. The great heroes who attracted the attention of the gods, or fought the gods. Cu Culain in Ireland, Achilles in Greece: that's just two. But I think the most famous legend, one I'm sure you'll have heard about, is from England." David looked at Sam. "The powers of each generation are strongest when we work together. I think that's why Azazel set the children against each other: together they would have been stronger than he ever was."
A famous legend from England? Sam swallowed. If David was really talking about Merlin...that was a bit too much to take in.
Refusing to take the bait, Sam answered, "A bit late to tell me now. The rest of my generation are gone." Gone. What a careful euphemism. Dead. Slaughtered.
"But there'll be another, Sam. The next generation is already born, don't you see? They will be the first for a thousand years to grow up free of Azazel's influence."
Sam found he was squeezing his beer bottle so hard his knuckles were white. He wondered idly if he was strong enough to break it. Not with the strength of his muscles, perhaps, but just the tiniest spark of power...
"Sam!" Dean said sharply. "You listenin'?"
Carefully, Sam unclenched his fist from around the bottle. "I was just thinking about Rosie," he said quietly.
Bobby set another four beers on the table between them. "Who's Rosie?" he asked, claiming a bottle.
Sam explained. "In Salvation, just before the demons took Dad, Dean and I saved a woman from being burned by the demon. Rosie was her daughter." Monica, that was her name. How had she described the baby? She never cries. She just stares at everybody. Sometimes she looks at you and I swear it's like she's reading your mind. Sam looked at David, then to Bobby and finally Dean. "She'll be next. After Lilith kills me, she'll go after the children. God, Dean, they're babies. Rosie...she's not even three years old."
Sam could see it clearly. It wasn't a vision, but knowledge as certain as his own name. Lilith would take those children. She would use them as ruthlessly as Azazel planned to use Sam, and those she couldn't use would die. Or worse. Sam remembered Ava again: a normal, happy girl, looking forward to her wedding...a manipulative murderess driven insane by months of Azazel's torment.
No. Never again. It would not happen to another generation.
Sam watched understanding fill Dean's face. Back in Salvation, Dean had been determined to save at least this family from the demon. They saved Monica and even though nothing after that worked out the way they'd planned, saving her meant a lot to both of them. They had spared this one family from the Hell visited on their own lives. Now this: the certainty that it would never be over for Rosie's family.
Dean raised his eyes to Sam, distress becoming determination. "We've got to stop her, Sam. No matter what."
John gazed at the map for a long time before picking up the phone.
The pattern was clear. It was so obvious now he saw it he couldn't believe he hadn't noticed it before. His instinct was to tear up the research and keep what he knew to himself. It was the habit of twenty years: knowledge shared could put others in danger. Yet he had promised his boys he would share anything important...and this was most certainly important.
He looked at the phone in his hand and dialled Sam's number.
Sam answered so quickly John thought he must have been staring at the phone. "Hey, Ellen."
"It's me, Sammy."
"Oh. Sorry, I'm used to Ellen's number. What's up? Are you still coming today?"
"Yes." John started to roll up the map. "We might be a bit later than we planned, but we'll be there. Sam, the reason I'm calling...I think I know where Lilith is."
Sam drew a sharp breath. "How do you know?"
Interesting that how was Sam's first question and not where. "I've been tracking the omens. Storms and weather anomalies, cattle deaths..."
"Yes, but Dad, there are omens showing up everywhere," Sam objected.
"Let me finish, Sam. Alongside the omens there are reports of demonic activity: disappearances, murders, spikes of violent crime. That sort of thing. I've been plotting everything on a map."
"And there's only one place where the demonic omens are thick but there are no reports of demonic activity. Southern Georgia. She's there, Sam."
There was silence on the other end of the line.
"Sammy?" John prompted.
"I'm here. Just thinking. It's good news, Dad."
But it brings the fight closer. John understood Sam's hesitation. The boy was staring down at his own death. The thought twisted John's stomach painfully.
"We'll see you soon, son," he said.
"Yeah. Thanks, Dad." Sam hung up the phone.
There was a sense of déja-vu as John packed his research into Ellen's Jeep. It was only weeks before that they had set out together for this same journey - to Bobby's place - but it seemed like a lifetime ago. In a way, it was. So much had happened in a few short weeks.
John enjoyed driving. He liked the lonely roads between towns, the huge fields of corn with nothing but the occasional barn or farmhouse to break up the monotony of the landscape. The Jeep handled well and Ellen was good company on the road. They kept the radio on low and Ellen talked about Jo, sharing happy memories. John let her talk. If it helped Ellen come to terms with her loss, he could listen.
They were not far across the state line into South Dakota when one of the front tyres blew out. John felt the Jeep lurch beneath him in the same instant he heard the explosion. He hit the brakes and for a moment the Jeep span out of control. John wrestled the wheel around as the Jeep squealed to a stop at the edge of the road, the engine still purring.
Ellen reached for the door. "The spare is good, John," she began.
The radio crackled loudly and the Jeep's engine died. John hadn't touched the ignition.
"It won't take long to..." Ellen went on as if nothing happened, beginning to open her door.
John grabbed her arm. "Ellen, no."
The radio could have been just a poor signal. The engine dying might just mean the Jeep was getting old, but John didn't think so. Damn it, he should have made time to service the Jeep himself; then he would know. Too late.
John looked around. They were surrounded by cornfields on both sides and the plants were so thick almost anything could be hiding in there. He saw movement in the corn that could have been the wind.
"John?" Ellen asked, her hand still on the door release.
"I don't see anything," John admitted. He drew the gun from his belt. "But I'm not taking any chances. Stay inside, Ellen. The Jeep is still safe from demons."
John's head snapped around to look at the road.
A young girl stood in the road, a short distance from the Jeep. She was perhaps ten years old, dark-haired and pretty, wearing a white party dress. Even if John couldn't see the demon inside her, he would have known. A dress like that in the middle of a cornfield?
John holstered the gun; it would be useless. "We're safe inside," he reminded Ellen.
To their right, the corn parted and another demon appeared, then another behind them and more until the Jeep was surrounded. Seven of them in all.
"Safe?" Ellen said ironically.
Shut up, I'm thinking. John said it with a look. They were surrounded: nowhere to run. Exorcism wasn't an option: there were too many of them. Holy water? Most of it was in the back, out of reach, but there were a couple of bottles under the dash. Would it be enough? Holy water would hurt them but it wouldn't kill them. Nothing John had with him could kill them.
The child-demon gazed at them steadily. So far, that was all she was doing.
"Is that Lilith?" Ellen asked, fear evident in her voice.
"I don't know," John answered honestly. "The description fits. She's definitely a demon."
"Got that. Thanks," Ellen snapped. "Holy water?"
She was asking him for the plan, but John didn't have one. "Can't hurt," he answered. "First chance you get, Ellen, run. Head into the corn, go as far as you can and hide. Don't wait for me. Don't look back."
"But - "
"Ellen," he snapped. There was no time to debate it.
"Alright. I've got it."
John watched the demon (Lilith?) closely. She hadn't moved. What did she want? That she wanted them...or perhaps just John himself seemed obvious, but it left a lot of questions. If she wanted them dead, they had no chance.
The child demon raised a hand, her fingers spread wide as if to catch a ball. She locked eyes with John and slowly closed her hand.
The Jeep's suspension creaked as if a heavy weight were pressing down on it. A crack appeared in the windshield. Metal screamed and the roof above them began to buckle.
The demon slowly closed her hand.
She was going to crush the Jeep with them inside it!
Ellen reached up to the roof as if she could stop it with just her own strength. The crack in the windshield spread like a spiderweb.
They were out of options. "Get out of the car!" John snapped.
Ellen didn't hesitate. She shoved at her door but it was jammed. She kicked it hard and the door flew open. As Ellen slid down from the Jeep, John was grabbing for the holy water under the dash. Ellen wasn't carrying any.
"Ellen!" he cried. He threw the bottle at her. Ellen reached up to catch it and a demon flew at her from behind. The demon shoved Ellen to the ground before she touched the bottle. The bottle, still sealed tightly, fell to the floor. In the same instant, the windows of the Jeep exploded outward under the impossible pressure and the roof bucked above John, trapping him where he half-lay across the seats.
There was no time to get the second bottle. No time to do anything but slither out of the Jeep before he was crushed inside it. John hit the ground and reached for the fallen bottle. His fingertips actually touched it before some invisible force lifted his body upward. John flailed helplessly in the air then his back slammed into what was left of the Jeep. Pain shot through him. He tried to tear himself away but that demonic force held him in place. He looked for Ellen. She was on her knees, a demon holding a long knife to her throat. Ellen watched John, waiting for his cue, watching for her opportunity to make a break for it.
"John Winchester," the child-demon said. She stood before John and there was nothing childlike in her eyes. "I've waited so long to meet you." She smiled, all sweetness and innocence but he knew it was a lie. "You skipped out of Hell before I had the pleasure," she added. She put a stress on the word pleasure that no child would have used.
Me? Why me? I thought you wanted Sam?
Lilith answered him as if he'd spoken the thought aloud. "Oh, I do. You're going to make sure he comes right to me."
Legal Disclaimer - Site Map