|Family Ways Part Eight - Annulment
Rating: R for themes.
Note: Here endeth the story. Really. If you want more. You have my full permission to just... dig into your own psyches. Mine's scraped a little raw.
Thank you to all the people who went on this ride with me. There's safety in numbers.
The characters and situations portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings. Please do not archive this story without my permission.
Two miles down the road, a pick up truck slowed as it passed them and waited. Dean reached the passenger door first then almost knocked Sam over, backing into him when a huge dog leapt at the half open window, snarling at him.
"You can ride in the back," said the driver and Dean caught only a glimpse of a bearded face, yellow Caterpillar cap settled on hair that could have been blond or black. The dog was white.
"Thanks," he said and damn near fell again when he hauled himself over the tailgate. His shoulder was hurting like a son of bitch.
Sam caught his arm, kept him from slipping.
The driver waited until they'd settled with their backs to the cab before pulling back onto the road. After a few minutes, he spoke sharply to the dog and it stopped trying to chew its way through the rear window to get at them.
Then it started raining. Which was just oh, so, much the last straw, Dean was half tempted to wrestle dog and driver both, just out of sheer irritation. Instead, he pulled his coat up around his neck, tucked his shoulder tighter into Sam's and concentrated on how miserable he was, how much his shoulder and head hurt, and how likely he was to jump at gunshots and car backfires for a long time unless Sam was standing right next to him.
Probably hadn't been more than five minutes, maybe eight. He probably shaved that many years off his life until Sam had shown up like a ghost and managed to toss little Miss Psychopath into a closet.
Beside him, Sam had his knees drawn up, arms wrapped around them, head down. Hard to talk over the roar of an engine, the sputter of a muffler that had seen better days.
The truck hit the edge of town and the driver slowed, rolled down his window and asked. Dean revised his opinion of the backwoods locals of Hibbing, Minnesota, slightly when he dropped them off near the police station so Dean could pick up his car.
But only slightly.
"I've got a room," Dean told Sam as they both slid into the familiar interior. "But we probably shouldn't stay."
Sam nodded, hair plastered to his head and face. He looked paler under the Impala's dome light than he had back at the farm house. "Long enough to let me shower, change clothes. Need to look at your shoulder."
Sam hadn't even bothered arguing with him, just closed the door and put his head back.
It wasn't that far, but in the close confines of the car, Dean realized Sam needed a shower badly.
It stopped raining when they reached the hotel. Figured.
Dean unlocked the door while Sam got his own gear out of the car. Dean hadn't left much here; wouldn't have left even his clothes if he'd known he was going to be gone as long as he was. If Sam hurried, he'd have time to take a shower as well.
First, he'd settle for cleaning the blood off his face and hope that the burn in his shoulder hurt worse than it actually was, because burns were a bitch when they went bad.
His shirt caught on his skin anyway, making him swear just as Sam came in. He dropped his bag and helped Dean peel his top shirt back. The one good thing about cotton was that it charred when it burned; it didn't melt, didn't fuse itself into the wound. "I got it. I got it," Dean snapped and Sam's hands dropped. "Grab your shower, dude. You reek and we need to hit the road."
His first clue that not all was well in Sam-ville should have been the fact that Sam didn't argue with him. There were probably clues before that but Dean had been too relieved, tired, sore, miserable, wet, and just God-damned grateful they were both still alive, he hadn't even looked for them. But it was a clue because Sam could be downright motherly when Dean was hurt, to the point of being truly annoying, like Dean hadn't been patching himself and Sam up for years. Peeling his T-shirt off, he tried to remember if Sam had been than clingy before he went to college and decided he probably had been, only then he'd come at it with the attitude that Dean was stupid to get hurt.
Since Nebraska he'd been just as fussy but without the attitude.
The only sink and mirror was in the bathroom, and Dean tapped before shoving the door open. "Watch the pressure, man," he warned, giving only a glance toward the shower, toward where Sam's bag rested on the toilet seat. The curtain was age-yellowed white but opaque. Dean kept the cold water to a trickle, pressed it to the wound on his shoulder with a hiss. Blistered and red but not as bad as it could have been had that lunatic pressed harder or held the poker there longer. He snagged an extra towel and got the blood off his face.
Totally made a face as the steam and heat in the room brought up the same smells he'd gotten a hint of in the car. God. It smelled like Sam had been rolling in pig shit among other things. Given his accommodations he probably had been. The other smells weren't quite as overwhelming; sweat, mud, whiskey maybe -- some kind of alcohol. "Yo, Sam. Bag those clothes before you put them in the car. And remind me to get bleach. Possibly Lysol."
"Just toss them," Sam said around what sounded like a mouthful of water.
"I'm not touching them," Dean said and cut the water. He wanted a shower as well but it could wait. Burn ointment on his shoulder, a fresh shirt and jeans, they'd drive for a couple of hours, find another town, another motel.
He almost missed the second clue as well. Almost. Wasn't like they had a lot of money for clothes, and Sam was even more practical and anxious about their finances than Dean was, most of the time. The clothes were nasty, but really, nothing a simple washing wouldn't take care of. Sam would wear his clothes, his jeans especially, until they were practically falling off him; riddled with holes, worn at the pockets and cuffs.
All in all, Sam was in the shower no more than ten minutes before the water shut off. Another five before he came out again in clean clothes, jeans, and long sleeved sweat shirt, flannel over that, his hair still wet, hunting for the trash can and stealing the plastic bag out of it.
He came out of the bathroom with the clothes wrapped in the plastic and dropped the whole bundle in the garbage can. Dean stared at him as Sam grabbed his gear and headed for the car, something trying to click over in his brain, some connection trying to be made but it was totally eluding him. Something about the clothes...something about them needing to leave no traces of themselves behind made him grab the bag and shove it into his own duffel, but that was as far as he got.
Two hours later all Dean could think was thank God for automatic steering and state lines and Wisconsin motels that looked like big dairy barns. Although glancing at the way Sam stared at it, he wasn't actually sure that was a good thing.
The room itself did not look like a barn, thankfully.
During those two hours conversation had been pretty much limited to, "I can drive."
"I'm fine. Let's just get the hell out of here."
And, "thanks for finding me," which had gone into Dean's ears and settled onto his tongue and in the back of his throat like molten lead. He'd damn well nearly gotten Sam killed. He didn't even know how Sam had gotten past the first guy, or the other two, and wasn't sure he wanted to know how anymore than he really wanted to know if the old guy had actually tried to run or not. There were some things you just knew would be bad to try and picture in your mind. Sometimes don't look was good advice for things other than gorgons and cockatrices.
And yet, he'd come out way, far ahead of where Kathleen Hudak ended up. Sam was still alive, still breathing. Worn out, quiet, and slumped in the seat beside him but alive and slowly, slowly, the molten lead started to taste a little sweeter.
He headed for the shower as soon as they unloaded the car a second time, Sam going to see what he could scrounge from the vending machines. Both of them were tired and hungry, the former more than the latter, but it would be a long time before they could find actual food and Dean didn't know when was the last time Sam had eaten anything.
Which then made him worry about what the hell the crazy people might have tried to feed Sam, if they had. And if Sam had eaten it, which led him to the fact that really, he had no idea what Sam had been through in the last three days. Obviously not hurt (bad) because he'd managed to take on all three of those crazy fuckers and the girl. And okay, so Kathleen had probably helped there while Dean was being watched over by a knife wielding moppet. All things considered, probably not one of his better rescues.
When Sam came back he had sodas and chips, and Dean actually took a good, hard look at him for the first time. Reddened, bruised skin on his cheek; lower lip a little swollen; moving like he was stiff, which, yeah, a few days in a cage, a fight with the crazy clan -- stiff and sore was probably the least of it.
And quiet. Not even just Sam, "I've got nothing to say," quiet, or Sam, "Oh my God, I'm so tired, I'm too tired to sleep," quiet.
"You need something?" Dean asked gesturing to the first aid kit. "Bruised up?"
"No. I'm okay. Just sleep." He'd stretched out on the bed on his back, one foot on the floor.
Dean would ask again in the morning. He would. He reached over to turn out the light, watched Sam roll over on his stomach.
Click-click in the back of his mind.
In the dark, he heard Sam move again, opened his eyes in the dim light to see Sam on his side, facing Dean, lying on top of the covers in his jeans and shirts. The only thing he'd done was kick off his shoes and socks.
Sam slept on his back. Most of the time. Fell asleep that way anyway, had since he was a kid.
Click. It wasn't enough. Not enough to put together. Enough to know Sam was probably freaking out a little bit now that he time to actually think. Never a good thing where Sam was concerned.
Not so great for him either. Gunshots playing over in his mind, making him twitch. The sudden dump of adrenaline and euphoria in his bloodstream when Sam had come up behind the girl and grabbed her, held her with his arms wrapped around her while she kicked and screamed and tried to bite him. Held her easily, although Dean bet Sam had bruises on his shins and thighs, scratches on his arms. Rough, red bruising on his wrists when he'd just picked her up and carried her to the closet.
Sam snapping at him after he'd freed Dean and gone to try and calm her down through the door.
"That is one psycho little bitch," Dean said.
"Jesus, Dean she's just a kid. Who I just locked in the closet. You don't know--"
And Sam had shut up. For a minute. "Don't fight them. You'll only get hurt."
Sam stalking quickly through the house, finding his hoodie, finding his boots and Dean hadn't even realized he was barefoot in all that muck and filth. Pulling them on over dirty feet, bruised ankles...
The clicking rolled over like a bullet being chambered into a gun.
Sam hadn't been tied up when he found him. He'd been okay, glad to see him.
Wrists bruised, okay. They could have tied him up when they'd first grabbed him. But ankles? If they'd tied him up then, his boots would have protected his skin. Which meant they'd tied his ankles up after taking his boots off him, but Sam's jean always hung too long, and maybe it was a little paranoid thing to think of them pushing his jeans legs up to tie his feet together for whatever, but it wouldn't be ignored.
Don't look. Don't look.
He rolled over and reached for the lamp, eyes fixed on Sam when he turned it on.
Not just bruised. Abraded. Raw though not bleeding. Wrists and ankles like Sam had really fought when they tied them. Sam blinked at him and Dean stared at the reddened color painting Sam's skin all the way around both ankles and both wrists. Deep loops, scrapes across the top of his feet.
Sam blinked at him, pushed up. "You okay?"
Sam's face went utterly and totally blank for a second. Just a second, before he shook his head. "It's over. We're fine."
"Fine? I only spent thirty minutes in their scintillating company and I'm not fine. Why'd they tie you up?"
"Because I fought back," Sam said steadily, stubbornly. And Sam was so relaxed while Dean thought maybe the tension he felt would snap his spine.
He got up, moved to the end of Sam's bed and Sam started to sit up.
Dean stopped him simply by curling his fingers around Sam's ankles, watching his face. "Did they tie you up like this?" he asked both hands curving around both of Sam's ankles. "Or this...?" he asked, separating his hands and Sam's feet, pushing his legs apart.
Not surprised when Sam kicked free, sat up, caught between really, really pissed and completely terrified. He looked like he wanted to be sick. Dean knew he wanted to be.
"No," Sam said, shaking his head. "No."
"What did they do? Which...one...which one, Sam?" Dean asked, not even sure he could breathe around this. Praying it was only one of them and then feeling his stomach heave at the idea that one of them would somehow be better. Knowing he was right no matter how many times Sam said no.
How many times had he said it?
Sam pulled up and back, swinging his legs over the side of the bed like he'd get up, before all the blood drained from his face.
Dean pushed Sam's head between his knees, grabbed the trash can. Even odds on which of them would need it first.
His hand rested on the back of Sam's head, fingers rubbing his neck. He was insanely, hysterically glad Sam didn't flinch or pull away from his touch. Swallowing hard when he saw the bruises there too, hidden by Sam's hair, along the side of his throat, along the tendon. He moved his hand slowly, pulling the collar of Sam's shirt away carefully; saw the necklace of bruises pressed into Sam's skin above his collarbone. He'd totally missed them under the dirt and bad light. Smudges and mud.
He hadn't wanted to see. He still didn't.
"We'll find a hospital. There has to be one in Duluth."
"I'm fine," Sam said, sounding hollow. "It wasn't...I'm just bruised, not...nothing that needs a doctor."
"Christ, Sam...you need to get...tested at least." He couldn't believe he was able to think this clearly, not with rage pushing aside everything else. Not with his mind blanking on actually putting a name to any of it. "They... those men...God knows, where they've -- who they--" And an equally twisted part of Dean almost hoped it wasn't the old man. Hoped it was one of the others, because he'd find a way to kill them, either or both, slowly, if at all possible.
Sam started laughing. Sounded a little like crying but no, it was definitely laughing if a little hysterical. "It wasn't...it wasn't the men," he managed, which was all Dean's brain could take before Sam bent over lower and was completely and thoroughly sick.
Dean waited only long enough to make sure Sam wouldn't pass out before getting up quickly to get a towel and wet it, a washcloth too. Grabbed what was left of Sam's soda and held it for him until Sam stopped heaving. Not much came up -- he hadn't had much of anything but water and soda, but the corn chips Dean had eaten were bitter in the back of his throat.
The wet washcloth went on the back of Sam's neck and Sam used the towel to wipe at his mouth, just leaning over with his elbow braced on his knee and his head in his hand.
Not the men. Not the...that didn't leave a whole lot of options, and Dean wasn't sure which of those made him feel less sick, because that left only the girl or the animals.
The little psycho bitch girl who'd have been happy to either cut his balls off or carve out his eye. "All right...not the guys. So... tell me it was the girl as opposed to ..."
Sam lifted his head and stared at him. "As opposed to...?"
"I don't know! Pigs, Chickens, cows, horses for all I know!" Dean said and shoved off the bed and immediately felt bad for blowing up at Sam.
"It was the girl. Missy," Sam's voice was so quiet, Dean almost missed it and was back to trying to even get a grip on this. The parts of this, piecing it together like a puzzle, glancing at Sam and wanting to just ask him, to have...God. He didn't know if it would be better for Sam to talk about it, as little as Dean wanted to hear it, or just let Sam work through it on his own.
And even that much kind of shifted the pieces a little. Sam, tied up, the bruises on his throat, his wrists and ankles. They'd tied him down so the little bitch could...use him. Use his brother. Fleetingly he knew he'd always been curious about the idea of it, the fantasy of it, tied down with a willing woman...he'd never thought about the reverse of that, if he were unwilling, and Sam had been...unwilling, not wanting it, not asking for that little monster to...
And it was for damn sure she hadn't managed to tie Sam down by herself. She wasn't big or strong enough to fight Sam off, hadn't been able to. Wouldn't have been able to threaten Dean if he hadn't been tied up as well...annoyed the hell out of him to think a thirteen year old girl had...
Snap-click and he stared at Sam, at the stricken, still shell-shocked look on his face.
Reassuring her even as he'd locked her up.
Not a monster. Not to Sam. Not entirely.
He didn't quite get to enjoy the corn chips a second time but it was close, as he headed into the bathroom, splashing water on his face. Not surprised when Sam eased up against the door. At least he was on his feet.
"Did you...she made you..."
Dean put his back to the sink, met Sam's eyes; gaze darting over the bruises that were easier to see now. "She didn't do that...those...your neck."
"No, that was...one of the brothers. The younger one...when--"
"He was there?"
A nod and Sam twisted, put his back to the wall outside the bathroom.
"The whole time?"
"Both of them. So I wouldn't hurt her," Sam said.
Like Sam would or could but that was the whole problem wasn't it? Dean might have been staring at a diminutive serial killer but all Sam had seen was a girl, a child, forced to do and be and see things she never should have.
"It's not your fault, Sam. It's not," he said.
The corner of Sam's mouth twitched. "I know, but that doesn't actually seem to help much," he said and gave Dean a watery looking smile before looking away and rubbing his face. "That cop, Kathleen..."
"You think we could get a favor from her?" Dean's turn to rub his face. "Oh, God. I don't know, maybe. What?"
"She could be pregnant," Sam said quietly, looking down. "I mean...I know it's probably too soon to tell but...they should know. To check. I need to know. If she is."
"Okay. I mean, but Sam, still not -- not your fault."
"If she is, it's mine. I want to know," Sam said flatly.
"So you can what?" Dean said on a barking laugh that had no humor in it. "What? File for custody? Marry her? Sam...even if it is...if you tell them, Kathleen, child protective services -- I mean you want to tell them this? You think that girl or her brothers would back you up on this instead of hanging you out for statutory?" He snarled the last of it, watched Sam's face flush, his jaw go hard and tense, before he twisted away.
Dean grabbed his arm, pulled him back. "Sam, man...I'm sorry. Look," he said and stepped out of the bathroom so he could face him. There was no reason for him to be pissed off at Sam, to lash out at the person who least needed it. The more surprising thing was that Sam didn't hit back. "Look, even if she is, you know, there's no way short of a DNA test to know it's yours." He could not believe he was saying this, thinking it. "That family, her brothers, hell, maybe even her father," he said.
Sam shook his head. "If she is, it will be mine. I think I can be pretty sure of that..." he said in a tight voice. "She was....she's kid, Dean. She's a...was a virgin."
"You can't be sure of that. Look, those brothers of hers--"
"I can be pretty damn sure," Sam snapped finally, shoving his hand off, pacing the short distance between the bathroom and the door like he wanted to run. "Blood on my dick is kind of an indicator. Not that I don't think the brother...the younger one, didn't want her, was pissed off because I was her first--Oh, God," he said and just stopped. Looked sick; kind of wide-eyed and just close to panic or passing out again. But of course he didn't do that. What he did was take too deep a breath and let it out, in something that should have been a sob but only choked him.
"Sam, Sam..." Dean said and grabbed him, pushed him toward the bed. His shoulder stung and ached and he almost welcomed it; the pain, however minor, cutting a path through the fog of anger and just sheer helplessness.
Sam almost missed sitting on the bed, Dean gripping his arms, pushing him back while Sam leaned over, shaking and sweating, like it wasn't May in Wisconsin. Dean crouched in front of him, one knee on the floor, gripping the back of Sam's neck, trying to make sense of the words falling out of Sam's mouth and avoid being gut-punched by them at the same time.
"Her father...her own father, agreed to it, was...his bed, like she was doing something...wonderful, something special," Sam hissed out, and wet warmth struck the inside of Dean's arm, crystal clear and bitter if he could taste it. "And her brother getting off on it...watching her...watching me, wanting to know if she was tight like he knew she would be...and it hurt her. I tried...but I hurt her--"
"No. No, Sam..." Dean said sharply gripping Sam's face in both hands, appalled but not surprised that Sam would tear himself up over this. And not because he thought he was guilty of anything but because he couldn't blame the girl. Wouldn't.
Dean could, did. Even knowing somewhere, somehow this was something done to her as much as it had been done to Sam. "Sam, Sammy, listen to me. You can feel bad for her, for whatever fucked up load of crap passed for her life, for her being treated like a prized mare...but that's it. They tied you down and it doesn't matter if it was her or one of them -- you didn't put her there. You would never have put her there. And child or not, she is just as screwed up as the rest of them. You didn't cause any of it. And if she's pregnant...even if she is, if it's yours, you can't save her. You get me? You can't. Not this one."
Sam's teeth flashed and he lifted his head but it was no more laughter than Dean's words were meant ironically. "Yeah? Well, tell me that again in a year or so if she's pregnant and that's my child and there are bizarre or mysterious fires in Hibbing...you write that down, Dean, and tell me that then."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Dean asked, wondering if Sam was going to completely lose it. Which he might. Probably deserved to, but he was jumping tracks Dean didn't even know they'd been following.
"Jesus, Dean. They don't even know...she couldn't know... how even more fucked up it was...it is. You look at the way they live and you think it can't get any worse and here I come. Tell me you really think that she deserves death by fire because she or her father had the fucking rotten luck to pick me to pop her cherry. Or that her child, my child...is going to get exactly the same chance she had or you I had for a life that isn't just one nightmare after another. You write that down."
He took a deep breath but it wasn't steady and Dean could only stare at him, because he thought they'd dealt with this shit in Saginaw, with Max, but apparently not.
"Did you see this, Sam?" he asked.
"What?" Now is it was Sam's turn to stare.
"The girl...the fire. Did you have a vision in all of this?" Dean asked him which would really be too much, way too much, on top of everything else, but it would explain a lot.
Sam blinked and shook his head and the thought actually seemed to calm him down a little bit. "No...I just...her father was talking. Her brother...like they lived in a whole other world. Except it wasn't. It isn't. Like Max. Could have been us."
Sam was making no sense at all. Okay, somewhere in his really, really screwed up brain there was logic behind this fear, grief behind this anger...but right now, Sam was weaving where he sat and had tears spilling down his face while he laughed at something that was too painful and raw to really cry about. He was exhausted. Literally. And Dean wasn't far behind him. "I'll call her tomorrow, Sam. I promise," he said, then twisted around to pull his bag down, digging into the outside pocket for the bottle there. Plastic cups from the bathroom and he poured generously.
Sam stared at the alcohol. "I drink this, I'll probably throw it back up."
"Probably. But if you drink enough, you might pass out first," Dean said and caught his neck again, pressing their foreheads together. "We'll figure it out, Sam. One day at a time, okay? But not this second. Drink."
Sam took a healthy sip and closed his eyes. "Her father gave me...moonshine, I guess. Like he was toasting a new son in law." He drank again, more deeply and yeah, oh yeah. Dean could almost see it when it hit, half afraid Sam would throw it all back up, but chances were, with little food and no sleep, it would work fast enough to just knock him out for awhile. Sam really was a lightweight when he drank, even when he was at his best.
He wasn't anywhere close to that at the moment and he didn't really resist when Dean kind of pushed him down, made him stretch out.
Dean moved the trash can back to the side of the bed, made sure Sam had water at hand and stared at his own bed before just climbing in with Sam. He wasn't sure how much sleep he'd get anyway. And if the whiskey didn't work, it would be a rough night. Sam looked at him blearily, but then he rolled to his back and closed his eyes.
Dean wished the alcohol worked the same for him -- it would, if he drank enough of it, but that wasn't really a good idea, appealing as it sounded.
Surprised the hell out of him when he dozed off. Surprised him even more that Sam only twitched a little, whatever thoughts or dreams chasing themselves in his brain never erupting into anything horrific enough to make him scream or wake him up.
When Sam did wake, he went almost immediately into the bathroom, into the shower again. The water ran long past the point where Dean figured Sam was still bathing.
They needed to move. They needed to get food because even without Sam's issues, Dean was feeling shaky from the lack of food, the lack of sleep and probably the booze. He dug into his bag for clothes and found the plastic bag with Sam's.
It still reeked. Even through the bundled plastic, he could smell it faintly, wondered if that smell had spread through everything he owned; shit and sweat and fear and blood and God knew what else. More than dirt or filth, more even than just a reminder.
He took it with him when he went outside, followed the signs to the vending area and found the trash can there, shoved the bag deep under empty cans and bottles and trash from other people's cars. Buried it like he wished he could have buried all of them, the men, even the girl, for how they'd treated Sam.
God, he was dancing around this, like he danced around cops when he needed information.
They had raped his brother. His Sam. Didn't matter if it was the girl's body doing the work, committing the act. Her brothers had tied Sam down, threatened him. The father had given his permission, encouraged it, Practically thanked Sam at the end of it. There were not even words for how fucked up this was.
And if Dean knew Sam, and he did, how much this would fuck with Sam was likely to be off the scales as well. Last night hadn't even been half of it.
He headed back. He wasn't even sure what to do next except get them food, keep moving, prepare for this to be yet something else Sam would shunt over to the part of his brain that was the feeding ground for guilt and grief and all the stuff Sam thought he could conquer by sheer will and intellect alone. And Dean had such a stellar record of helping Sam through that so far.
At least Sam was out of the shower when he got back, pulling out clean clothes, looking not as pale. He turned around when Dean came in.
Oh, yeah, he kind of forgot putting his own anger and rage and fear on the list of things they needed to deal with.
He hoped, prayed, that if Sam thought he had cracked any ribs, he'd say something. He hoped and prayed the line of scratches on Sam's chest, the bruises on his hips and legs and upper arms came from something other than what they looked like.
He was embarrassingly glad that the weather was cool enough that it actually made sense for Sam to wear his long sleeved shirts and the flannel over that.
"We should get food," Sam said, calm and quiet and putting his back to Dean while he pulled on underwear and clean jeans.
"Yeah. We should."
Because barfing it back up again was always such fun.
They headed south. No real destination. Just south. Follow the road south. Maybe it would get warmer. Maybe they'd just keep driving south until they hit the gulf. Maybe keep going after that.
Dean called Kathleen from a payphone, left a message. He hadn't really expected her to be there. Tried not to think about what they'd found at that house, what they could have found. He left another message that night, from another payphone. He hesitated in leaving a number because there was no way to know if anyone were looking for him and Sam, if her story, whatever story she told, had held up.
The third time he called, identifying himself as Greg Washington, and asking for her, she answered.
"You probably shouldn't use that name," she said.
"I won't. Not again. Just needed you to know it was me."
"You probably shouldn't be calling at all."
Probably not. "Yeah. I know, but there's this thing..."
"This thing? Not helpful."
"The girl. Missy. She might be pregnant. Whoever has her, whoever is looking out for her -- you know, your people. They probably need to check. And I -- we -- need to know if she is."
For a long moment, there was silence. "I need to be able to get in touch with you."
"I'm at a pay phone."
"Of course you are," she said.
"Kathleen, I know you don't owe me anything--"
"No. I think it's pretty much the other way around. Look, buy a phone with a calling card, call back. Leave the number. Say you are...Steve Miller."
"I love that band. Give me a day or two."
She hung up.
Sam was watching him, jaw set.
"She needs a day or two. How's Cleveland sound to you?"
Dean kept waiting for something to break. For Sam to break. He hadn't realized how much energy he'd invested in just waiting for it to happen until it did.
"I had to call in a favor. A personal one," Kathleen told him when she called a week later. A week while Sam got so quiet Dean thought he'd forgotten how to talk. It was so much like how Sam had been in the weeks after Jessica died, Dean couldn't believe he'd forgotten how bad it had been. The only good thing was the bruises had faded. All the ones Dean could see. His own shoulder only held a lingering red mark and what would be a small puckered scar. Sam looked like he might have a scar on the outside of his left wrist where the ropes had cut almost to the bone; colorless, hairless, shiny skin appearing when the scabs started sloughing off. "There's a little problem of custody. Permission to do a gynecological exam on a minor. Currently, until the court gets her sorted out, that would need to come from one of her brothers."
Dean rubbed at his eyes. "They probably wouldn't give it unless they got to watch," he said.
"I really didn't want to hear that," she said.
Sam was in the room. Dean didn't have to see him to know that Sam was most likely on the bed staring at the ceiling, not even pretending to sleep, not touching laptop or newspapers unless Dean asked him for something specific. It was like living with a ghost.
"Dealing. Not great but dealing. Are you going to get out of this okay?"
There was another long silence and behind it, a rustle and click before Kathleen inhaled deeply. "I don't think I'm going to be picking up my pension. I've been suspended. With pay, but still..."
"Thanks. I think I'm done anyway. I should have...you know. He was my brother. Protect and serve." Her laugh wasn't nearly as bitter as Dean expected. "Doesn't mean much when you can't do it for the people who matter to you. I guess you know that."
"Yeah. Yeah, I do."
"No one here by that name..." he said, but he smiled.
"Riiight. Give me...a few more days. I can't promise--"
"Whatever you can do. Thanks."
Shaking down a couple of poltergeists in a town south of Cleveland shook something loose in Sam as well. Not that he suddenly got chatty, but he at least started reading again. Books, maps...making new notes in the back of Dad's journal.
Kathleen called him again when they were in the Texas panhandle, looking for something that could have been a skinwalker or a rabid coyote. Pretty much the same thing; bullets would kill both. He'd gone out to pick up food.
"She's not pregnant," were the first words out of her mouth.
"Thank God," Dean said. "Thank you."
"I went to see her," Kathleen said, and Dean eased off on the gas pedal.
"I don't know. My brother, your brother. She's different. I mean, not that I have a lot to compare her with, but she's in a foster home. Her brothers -- they've been sentenced to thirty years at Stillwater, they'll be eligible for parole in seven."
"For what?" he asked, because thirty years seemed pretty light.
"Accessory to murder, accessory to kidnapping, animal cruelty..." This time her laugh was bitter. "It was the girl, you know? She told them not to talk and they didn't. Case was made on evidence alone and my testimony was...questionable."
He had to pull over. "You went to see her."
"Yeah. I felt...bad for her. For -- I don't know. I wanted to be able to salvage something out of it. One good thing. But she's....she scares me more than her brothers. She's not right. And I can't even tell you why. She was polite. Cleaned up. She's going to be a beautiful woman. But she's..."
"What did she say?"
"Not much. Told me if she ever needed anything from me, she'd let me know. Thanked me for coming by to check on her. That it was nice of me."
"She's nuts. You know that, right?"
"She's something. How's your brother?"
He didn't correct her. "Not so great. This will help. A lot. "
"That's good. Tell him...tell him I'm sorry."
He blinked. "For what?"
"Not getting therei sooner, not...whatever. Feels like someone should owe him an apology."
Yeah. He rubbed at his eyes, checked the rearview. "I'll tell him. Thanks. And Kathleen, you did salvage one good thing out of this. My brother. I owe you for that, all kidding aside. Anything you need, anytime...legal or illegal. It's yours."
She gave him a shaky laugh. "Yeah. You're right. You owe me for that. Next time you're in Hibbing you can buy me a drink."
Dean smiled, pulled back onto the road. "That could a long while. Like a really long while." Like, never. "I'm gonna give you another number. I mean it, Kathleen. Anything."
"Okay. Take care of yourself. Take care of your brother."
"I'll do that."
When he came in, food in hand, Sam looked up at him. "Kathleen Hudak called me," Dean said.
He thought he had a handle on how tightly Sam had been strung over the last six weeks. As usual, he underestimated Sam, totally, and for once, maybe forevermore, he couldn't even find it in himself to be uncomfortable or awkward when Sam lost it. Like he'd been holding his breath the whole time, suffocating or drowning, or just unable to breathe at all.
And how screwed up was it that when the nightmares started that night, Dean actually thought it was good thing?
Maybe because Dean felt like he could finally breathe too. Holding onto Sam, eyes burning, fingers buried in Sam's hair, holding on so he wouldn't just collapse. For the first time in six weeks, the lingering scent hanging on his clothes, on his skin, on Sam's -- just barely there every time he breathed -- of mud and blood and sweat and fear and filth, finally it was gone.
They headed for Chicago.
Five years later.
The doorbell worked only intermittently, something she needed to get fixed, but it shrilled and she stared at the groceries she'd just unloaded before wiping her hands and heading to the front door. Dusk hadn't quite fallen yet, but she flipped the porch light on, caught a glimpse of a blonde braid as her visitor looked to the street, glancing at the car parked there.
She opened the door, pushed the screen door wide, dismissed the thought that she was a Jehovah's Witness. They always came in pairs. The girl was slim, dressed in a modest,pretty dress with capped sleeves, carrying a knock-off, oversized designer shoulder bag and wearing a pair of slip on sandals.
"Officer Hudak?" the girl asked with a wide smile and meeting her eyes.
Something prickled Kathleen's spine. "I'm Kathleen Hudak, but I haven't been with the police department for a few years. And you are?"
The girl smiled, her grin slightly uneven. "I'm not surprised you don't remember me, but you came to see me. See if you could help. I told you if I ever needed your help, I'd ask. So, I'm asking."
She reached into her bag and pulled out a faded and worn photograph. "You remember this feller? I need to find him. Him and his brother. I think you might be able to help me do that."
Kathleen shoved at the door at the same time Missy shoved in. Kathleen watched the hand that gripped the door.
She should have watched the other one, feeling Missy's purse push up against her stomach as they fought for the door. She only barely felt the blade that shoved through the leather, into her stomach, not until Missy twisted it.
Missy pushed her back. Closing the door behind her and watching when Kathleen staggered and fell, hands trying to hold the blood in.
"You did say you'd help." Missy crouched down and reached out to touch Kathleen's hair, feel it, then wiped her knife in it, cleaning it off. "I always thought that was right nice of you."
Family Ways Part Three - Courting
Rating: Mature Adult for themes.
Note: I was enabled. This however, is not for everyone. Heed Warnings, please.
The characters and situations portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings. Please do not archive this story without my permission.
She had to get her chores done first. Wanted them done so Pa couldn't find any reason to change his mind. Not that he would, because he'd given his word, but…best not give him any reason to think any more on it.
Plus, if she got her chores done, she could get breakfast started, get Jarrod to let her take the food out to the cages. Pa said the way to a man's heart was through his stomach. Lee said the way was something else, and she thought he might be righter than Pa, at least as far as women were concerned. But even Lee said she cooked real good. Made biscuits like Momma did. Her bread didn't never fall no more, come out like a brick.
She was almost too excited to sleep anyway, thinking about that feller. She wasn't sure what it was that she liked so much about him. Maybe because he was younger than most of the men the boys dragged home. Maybe because his face had been smooth. She didn't get to see many smooth-faced young men. He'd had soft hair too, soft skin, although she had to be careful not to let her Pa know she'd already been close to the cage once to touch him.
She hadn't opened it. She wasn't stupid. Usually she wasn't that interested either, since Pa still wouldn't let her hunt with Jarrod and Lee. Made her mad. Wasn't like she couldn't outrun both of them when she wanted too. Quieter in the woods than them, too.
But the guns were heavy. So were the cross bows. Maybe she should start practicing with them, running and carrying them. Seemed like if she was old enough and big enough to do the gutting and skinning, she should be old enough to do the hunting and killing too.
She wasn't sure how she'd feel about hunting this one though. She might like to have his hair to pet, like Pa did Mama's, but nicer to do it if he could pet back, maybe. She felt her cheeks flush at that thought of that. Wondered what that would be like, to have a man touch her the way the boys touched their women.
Now Pa and the boys touched her; hugged her, patted her cheek, but it wasn’t the same. She'd watched Lee and Jarrod touch their women. Not so they'd know, of course. Jarrod was almost always nice and gentle. Made her madder at that stupid girl -- what was her name? Darla or Dana or something -- had up and killed herself when Jarrod had been mostly real nice to her.
Killed her baby too and that just made no sense at all. None.
Now Lee's women…Lee wasn’t near so nice. He was rough with them sometimes, made their mouths bleed and sometimes other places. But he could be nice, like Jarrod. At least, he'd been nice to her that one time.
Just that one time. But it had felt good. She'd let him do it again if he asked and he had asked her. That was something Lee didn't hardly ever do. Usually he just told her to do this, or get that. Well, unless Pa was there.
She didn't understand Lee hardly at all most days. Sometimes he could be sweet as Jarrod and other days, she wanted to hit him with a shovel or something, he was so mean and nasty to her. It wasn't like she'd told Pa anything, hadn't told him that Lee had asked to touch her or that she'd let him.
And it hadn't been much more than that, hardly more than he'd done when she was little and he'd given her a bath. He told her that, that he'd touched her like that when she was real young, But she didn’t remember it. Didn't ever remember his fingers on her breasts, certainly didn't remember her nipples getting all hard and kind of shivery like that. She'd liked that, the way that felt, made her feel all kind of shivery inside too, like when she touched herself.
She'd told him to touch her there, where she put her own fingers and it was so much nicer when he did it. She'd had to hold onto the sides of the toilet seat when he did it. His fingers were so much bigger than her and rougher -- felt wonderful. She'd gotten all excited and felt like she might faint…
Then he'd gotten all mad at her 'cause she'd peed. Wasn't like she meant to. She hadn't even known she had to pee when they'd started. But oh, boy, had he been mad. So mad, she'd started laughing -- which made him madder. But it was funny., him shaking his hand off like he'd grabbed up dog shit. But it was only piss. Wasn't like the livestock didn't piss on him all the time.
Still, she'd forgotten that Lee didn't like being laughed at anymore than she did. She thought for a minute that he'd hit her -- but she had looked at him, dared him. Because while she might not tell Pa she'd let Lee touch her, she'd sure as hell tell him if he hit her.
So he'd washed his hand off, and gotten up. "I'm sorry for laughing," she said before he could leave. She really wasn't, but she also wanted more of what Lee had been doing. It had felt like almost enough for something wonderful, but not quite. He hadn't quite gotten to her the way she'd managed a couple of times on her own and it was nice not to have to twist around. Nice not to have her wrist be tired. "Come on, Lee. I said I was sorry," she said.
Hadn't worked very well. She'd stung his pride. "I ain't 'sposed to be touching you anyway. Pa,'d kill me," he said.
She hadn't known that, and the minute Lee said it she knew he wished he hadn't. "You don't finish touching me like you were, and I'm gonna tell him anyway," she said, low and sweet. She meant it too. Wasn't her fault her brothers were stupid, didn't pay attention, didn't know how to work around Pa and his rules and his threats. "You know I will, Lee. And he'll believe me," she said.
He still looked like he wanted to hit her, but they both knew he wouldn't. "I won't pee on you again," she promised.
It hadn't take that long for Lee to get her to where she wanted to be. Just with his fingers. His fingers stroking between her legs and rubbing and pinching on her nipple. She'd bit her own lip to keep from crying out, because she didn't want Pa to know. He would stop it and while she'd have gotten Lee in trouble if she'd had to, she'd much rather have him doing this to her and Pa none the wiser.
And she had managed not to pee on Lee again. She'd also made him let her hold his penis in her hand. He hadn't wanted too, or so he said, but he'd been quick to pull it out of his pants when she asked.
She's seen it before, of course. Seen Jarrod's and even Pa's once. She'd watched Lee put his in that girl…the second one with the blonde hair. The one that had damn near kicked it off until Lee tied her feet. 'Course him being the big stupid he was then hadn't been able to put it where he'd wanted to. Hadn't stopped him though.
She didn't actually think a man's penis was supposed to go into that part of a woman's body. And then Lee getting all fussy because she'd peed a little bit on him? Her brother just made no sense at all at times.
Most of the time, though, she'd just seen their parts when they were taking a piss. When they were all kind of soft and floppy. But Lee wasn’t that day. His penis had felt hot and hard, too big for her to really hold easy in one hand, so she'd used both.
She'd almost laughed at him again for the faces he'd made. Like he was in pain but kind of like he did when he was drunk. All flushed and not able to talk right. "That feels good, don't it, Lee?" she asked him and he'd just nodded, reached out and gripped her shoulders, started pulling her toward him.
She hadn't known what he wanted at first until he'd reached down and held himself, pressed his penis against her mouth.
She'd been madder then a wet cat, spitting and pushing back, kicking him when he didn't let go immediately.
Then she'd dug her fingernails into his penis. That made him let go, and she had to quick, flush the toilet, so nobody would hear him yollering. "I'm not putting my mouth over your pee hole!" she'd hissed at him and slapped him hard before gathering up her clothes and her towels.
They'd glared at each other for a couple of days afterward.
But come Sunday, Lee was back, offering to bring her up more hot water for her bath, if she'd let him stay and watch. She'd said yes -- built them a truce. She didn’t let him touch her again that day…and not long after that…well, he stopped asking to watch her take her bath. And when she asked him, he only ever said he was busy.
Made her mad. Her own fingers weren't nearly as good.
She'd lay in her bed, thinking about the feller in the barn. He had nice big hands, bigger'n Lee's. Bigger than her Pa's even. And they did have calluses but not on his fingers, just his palms. Nicks and scratches on the back of his hands. She'd put her hand up against his and it had been so big there. It'd cover all of her breast and then some.
He'd had soft lips too. A little dry when she'd touched them, but they'd left water for him in a bowl and she'd moistened them, felt them full and soft.
She hadn't never kissed a boy, not even Lee. Nothing but her Pa's kisses on her cheeks, on her head when she went to bed. When she did good at shooting or like when she'd brought that deer down her self. A fine buck. Jarrod had made her a nice hilt for her very own knife with one of them antlers. They'd sold the rest -- folks getting all excited to have such a thing hanging on their walls.
She thought maybe she'd like to kiss that feller the way she'd seen Jarrod kiss his woman. Seemed like she liked it. Seemed like she liked Jarrod too, right up until the end, talking sweet to him. She'd talked sweet to Missy too, when she'd bring food, but always with the, "Untie me, Missy. Please. It's hard to eat with one hand."
Missy didn't think she'd really been all that nice. She'd grabbed for her once, grabbing for her hair. Missy had bit her hard, and the next time she brought her food, she'd had her knife. Wasn't right for her to be so mean when Missy was the one cooking her food and washing her clothes. Emptying her piss pot. Jarrod was supposed to but he kept saying he forgot. Hard to tell if he just didn't want to or if he really did forget. He did sometimes. Forgot things, words and such. Got confused. Always real grateful when Missy would help him out though. Brought her presents as thank-yous.
He'd brought that girl presents too. Pretty dresses, made her necklaces and things -- he was good with his hands, was Jarrod. Good at carving pretty things. Made the best whistles.
She'd asked Jarrod once, just once about the touching, after Lee wouldn't come around no more. He'd just shaken his head, told her no. Told her not to ask him again. "Ain't right, Missy. Pa would tell you it ain't right."
Pa and his rules. Sometime it made her so mad. But it didn't do no good to get mad at Pa. Made it worse. And she could get him to do what she wanted most days anyway. Could ease him out of the worst moods, something the boys couldn't do. But Missy could, all she had to do was ask him about Momma -- get him talking about her and it was like he couldn't stay mad. Well, not as mad.
He wasn't mad about this and Miss would hold him to his promise. And if she liked this feller well enough, maybe, maybe Pa would let her keep him for a bit. They could hobble him like they'd done Jarrod's girl. And if PA was still worried, well, they could hobble him but good, nice deep cut just below the knee. Wouldn't kill him if they stitched it up fast enough, kept it clean while it healed, but he wouldn't be able to run. Didn't want them hurting his hands though, or messing up that pretty face. That soft skin.
She closed her eyes and touched her own breast under her night dress, thought about his big hands touching her there, soft and gentle like Lee had. Drew her knees up, and touched herself, just close to her pee hole, rubbing hard, pinching herself till that shivery feeling came up again, making her tummy all warm and heavy. She liked that part, that feeling. Pressed a little harder, down where the babies would come out. She didn't know how babies came out of there, seemed too small, but that's what they said, that’s what them pictures in those pamphlets Pa had brought home had showed her.
That had been sweet of Pa…to sit her down when she started getting her blooding. He'd told her before, but it wasn't the same. Scared her at first, the blood there, on her sheets, on her dresses. Made for more washing, that was for damn sure.
"Your Momma would have talked to you about this, if she were still alive," he'd said in that voice, the one that made her sad, made her pet his arm and his face. "Sometimes I think I should have found a woman…had a hand in raising you," he said.
"You did just fine, Pa. You and the boys. I'm fine, see? And you don't need no other woman. I take care of you, don't I? Like Momma would? I do good, don't I?"
He smiled at her, petted her hair, gotten her brush and brushed it out for her. Jarrod said he used to do that for Momma. "You do real fine, sugar. You're as good a girl as any man could hope for."
That's when he'd promised. She could pick one…if she found one she liked. Only been a couple though, that the boys had brought home. Older fellers, mostly. Too rough, cussing and screaming and threatening and begging 'til she had to cover her ears.
And then this one, with his soft hair and his sweet face. Maybe Jarrod had picked him for her. Lee never would.
She twisted her hand a little, rubbed harder. So close. So close to something deep inside her. She pinched at her nipples until they hurt, felt the slick feel over her fingers. Not pee this time, this was different, silky smooth like spit but salty tasting. A flick of her thumb there and there and she had to bite her lip, whimpering 'cause it felt so good. Be his hand next time, his mouth on her maybe -- his mouth there.
Just putting that picture in her head made her all wet and shuddering and twisting, that feeling she couldn't hardly ever get to crashing over her, leaving her feeling wrung out and shaky.
She heard the rooster start up and made herself get up. Changed her night dress, feel the damp spot on her sheets.
If she wanted to be the one to take her beau breakfast, she was going to have to get her chores done. Get breakfast made quick. Sweet talk Jarrod into letting her go with him.
She put on her best blue dress, the one with the pretty stitching at the neck. The one with the pockets. Maybe she'd take that feller some of the berry jam she'd put up this year or some of the honey, to go with his biscuits. Be nice to him.
She could be real nice to him. Let him know that if he were nice to her in return…well…
Maybe she could keep him.
He'd been alone. Wasn't right for folks to be alone, needed family. Maybe he would want to stay.