Vengeance is Mine
Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me. I will pay them back, declares the Lord.”-The Bible
“Oh yeah,” Dean moaned with pleasure as warm hands slid over his slick skin. He closed his eyes reveling in the firm strokes. “That’s it.”
“You’re exceptionally stiff today.”
Dean was glad he was facing the floor, his head cradled in the weird table contraption. Marla would not have approved of the lurid grin. He was beginning to think the old bitty never smiled, but her hands were amazing. “You try being the head of a secret organization dedicated to protecting the world from evil during the apocalypse and see how limp noodle you can get.”
Marla dug her elbow into Dean’s upper back, leaning her weight into it as she rolled it over knotted muscles. “Have you been using the rub I suggested?”
“Mmmm.” Dean was noncommittal. The balm Marla gave him smelled like rose petals and peppermint. He would rather live with the pain than have Sam find out. His brother assumed Dean was out making time with some chick. It wasn’t exactly a lie. The only reason Dean had agreed to Mac’s suggestion, taking the former Scholar’s appointment with the legendary Marla the Magnificent was because Mac swore not to breathe a word to Caleb or Sam.
“You would be surprised at the powerful men who heed my advice.” Marla made it to his neck, her fingers kneading into muscle. “Pride can be such a detriment to your gender.”
Dean groaned, not wanting to think about Marla’s clientele or her philosophy on men. He hoped she would cut the chatter and let the Sounds of the Serengeti CD fill the room. Dean hated to admit the massage was his new second favorite way to deal with the stress of the job. On the table, sometimes he could let himself drift away to a place the sounds of Hell were distant and he didn’t see Jo and Ellen’s faces.
“Harder?” Marla asked.
“Have your way with me, sweetheart.”
Pain flared from the base of his skull. Dean thought the massage therapist had found the recent injury from the battle with the wraith. His back and ribs were still tender from the fight. The chill racing along his spine gave him cause to rethink.
The phantom ache spread over his back, heavy like a flack jacket, the bulk of it finally coming to rest in the pit of his stomach as dense as lead. Marla’s touch disappeared and her anxious voice sounded close to his ear.
“Mr. Winchester? Are you all right? Was that too much?”
Dean pushed against the table, not caring if the sheet covering his body fell past his hips. His right hand tingled, the burning sensation localized at the base of his ring finger. He looked down, his silver band glowed brightly back at him and he knew whatever had just happened had absolutely nothing to do with Marla’s heavy touch or an old injury. This was Guardian mojo. “Shit.”
Dean grabbed his phone from where it lay on top of the pile of clothes. He hit speed dial as he slipped on his jeans, ignoring the reprimanding look Marla gave him. Cell phones were encouraged to be left off while in her van/mobile work area, but she made an exception for special clients. Dean growled when Sam’s voicemail picked up. He tried Caleb next, another aching dread rippling through him as his best friend’s phone went to a recorded message. ‘The person you are calling is not…”
“Goddamnit.” Dean pulled his tee shirt over his head, grabbing his leather jacket. Something was wrong.
“I suppose we’re rescheduling for next week then?” Marla began putting her oils away.
“I’ll have my people call your people.” Dean bent to shove his feet in his boots. He couldn’t believe how much things had changed in the last month since he officially took on the role as The Guardian. Dean not only had people, he had a standing late night weekly appointment with a woman who wasn’t a hooker but a roving masseuse. On the other hand his brother and best friend were in some kind of serious trouble. Some things in his life would never change.
Silas Fox picked up on the first ring and Dean didn’t give him a chance to speak. “Where are you?”
“In New York.”
“Is Mac at home?” Dean dug his keys out of his jacket pocket as he made his way out of Marla’s trailer. The Illinois air was biting cold after lying on the heated table.
“He and Esme are having dinner.”
“Do you have a visual?” Dean jogged to the Impala.
“I don’t suppose Caleb is joining them?”Even as he asked he knew The knight could not have made it to New York from Bobby’s. Dean opened the door, the cold leather sapping the last of the warmth from his body.
“No. Is there something wrong? Should I interrupt them?”
He hesitated. It was second nature to turn to The Scholar, but Mac was no longer in that position. Old habits were hard to break. “Not yet, but make sure you stay close.” Dean requested Silas stay on as extra protection for Mackland at least until the apocalypse was straightened out. He refused to have his own security detail, insisting that the new Triad was completely capable of watching each other’s backs. He was beginning to question that decision.
Joshua was Dean’s next call, answering on the second ring with a breathy anticipation.
“What? Are you psychic now?” Dean started the Impala, cranking the heater to fight off the eartly winter chill.
“No. I didn’t expect to hear from you.”
“Girl Friday told you where I was?” Dean detected the hedging, heard whispering in the background. Carolyn was proving herself an asset in the day to day running of Brotherhood business, but her loyalty to her fiancé was a pain in the ass.
“I might have accessed Carolyn’s calendar on her Blackberry by accident.”
“Or my business might have been pillow talk. Don’t you two have better things to discuss, like setting a date for the happy occasion?”
“Why aren’t you where you’re supposed to be?”
“Something’s happened to Caleb and Sam…at least I think so.” Dean pulled out of the parking lot. He headed towards Geneva where he and Sam had been investigating the Fabyan Windmill after a recent phantom mauling.
“You don’t know for sure?”
“I can’t reach either of them by phone.” Dean wished he hadn’t been so quick to dump the research of the Fabyan family and their beloved pet bears, Tom and Jerry on his brother.
“Although atypical, I’m not sure it’s cause for immediate alarm.”
“I had a strange feeling while Marla was working her magic.” Dean knew both Sam and Caleb had experienced something akin to mental alarm bells when he had been tortured by Rose. Other Triads had documented situations when they had inexplicably known another member was in jeopardy or in dire straights. Mackland only recently shared with them he knew the exact moment when his own Guardian and Knight had died. Dean tried not to think about it, filing it away under all the other psychic freakiness woven in their lives.
“It’s not unusual for men to experience certain ‘sensations’ during massage…”
“A Triad kind of feeling, asshole.”
“Right. Where are you?”
“Illinois, a little suburb outside Chicago. I’m not far from the motel where I dropped Sam.”
“When is the last time you spoke with Caleb?”
“Early this morning. He was going to Mac's place.” Dean turned on the wipers as it started to rain. He thought he saw a couple flakes of snow mix in.
“I don’t think you should go back to the motel alone. This could be a trap.”
Dean couldn’t help but to think of the last trap that had been laid for them. Jo and Ellen had paid the ultimate price. “I’m not waiting for back up. You’re in D.C.”
“Carolyn could find someone closer.”
“There’s not time. Sam could still be there.” A different kind of intuition whispered to Dean that wasn’t the case, but he shoved it aside in hopes of catching a lucky break.
“So could Lucifer, Michael, or a host of others waiting to get the drop on you. At least call Castiel and have him meet you there. I mean it, Dean. Do not go there alone. ”
Dean gripped the steering wheel tighter. Joshua was determined to rain on his attempt at optimism. “Is it me or are you sounding more like your little brother every day?” Dean had not grown tired of taunting Caleb or Joshua about their official sibling status. “Pretty soon you’ll be tossing around nicknames and…”
“I’m going to the airport. Carolyn has a contact at Dulles. I can get a quick flight anywhere you need me to be.”
Dean heard the distinct shuffle of papers, imagined Joshua stuffing files into his big black man purse. Carolyn’s voice was clear now, more than likely already on the phone arranging for Joshua’s flight. Her employment with the federal government had its perks. “I’m surprised she can’t get you a ride on Air Force One.”
“I’ll inform Mackland and Bobby that there could be trouble.”
“You do that.” Dean sighed imagining the spin the PR king would apply. He was glad to hand off the responsibility. “I’ll be in touch.”
“Make sure that you are because as far as I know Advisors are not included in The Triad’s clairvoyant equivalent of an Amber Alert.”
“Right.” Dean cut the connection, squeezing his right hand into a fist. His ring finger pulsed with an echo of energy, like the shaky feeling after an accidental brush against the electric fence at the farm. He took a slow, steady breath and hit the number five on his speed dial. Castiel answered before the phone had a chance to ring.
The Corinaldo Motel was nicer than most places Dean and Sam tended to stay, a quaint tidy place for a quaint tidy town. The busted and splintered door was more auspicious in the setting; the smear of blood on the white panel door more ominous.
“This isn’t the work of angels. The blood is human. I can’t be sure it’s Sam’s.”
“Yeah.” Dean studied the muddy boot prints on the beige carpet. There were several sets; a couple looked like a woman's. The room was trashed as if it had been haphazardly searched. The only thing untouched was Sam’s laptop. It was sitting open on the table with his cell phone, a cold cup of coffee and half-eaten sandwich arranged beside it. Then there was the cloth he’d found by Sam’s overturned chair, it was damp, stinking of something stomach turning sweet that had made Dean’s head spin when he’d taken a deep breath. No supernatural being he knew used chloroform. “Zach and entourage aren’t exactly the black bag, motorcycle gang type.”
“It rules out Lucifer also. If he had discovered Sam’s location and wanted to take him, he wouldn’t have needed accomplices or medicinal agents.”
Dean wasn’t sure if the observation was to make him feel better or worse. “Demons? Maybe Crowley thinks taking Sam out is a way to spoil Lucifer’s agenda, or maybe they’re after me.” Dean knew Lucifer’s minions were gunning for him. He was a double threat. Michael’s meat suit and The Guardian of The Brotherhood.
“The salt line was breached,” Castiel pointed out what Dean first noticed upon entering the room. “Demons would not have been able to cross.”
Dean twisted the ring on his finger. He was grasping at straws. “I know.”
Castiel lifted his chin, his nose wrinkling. “This was something else.”
Dean frowned. “What?”
“They have an odd scent. Something I’ve not encountered before.”
Dean lifted a brow. “Eau du kidnapper?”
“They’re not human-not exactly.”
“That leaves a lot of territory wide open, Cas. You’re not exactly Captain Worldly.” Turns out angels knew very little about other creatures roaming the vastness of earth.
“It isn’t as repugnant as demon.” Castiel walked the length of the room. “But somehow similar.”
“Not like Caleb,” Castiel said, unaware his comparison was insulting. “This is more pronounced.”
Dean was spared defending his best friend by the ringing of his cell. He pulled it from his jacket pocket. “Bobby?”
“Where you at?”
“Motel. Sammy’s been taken.”
“Yeah. Slick filled me in on what’s going down. Think I might just have gotten a hit from my police scanner. You’re not going to like it.”
That was beginning to be the theme of the evening. “Tell me.”
“One of the patrolmen a couple of counties over was called out on a farmer’s vandalism complaint. Seems the old guy went out to check his livestock this evening and discovered someone ran a fancy car with New York plates through his fence line. Bandit left the scene of the crime without his vehicle.”
“Damien.” Dean pinched the bridge of his nose. “Damn.”
“There was no sign of the driver, but the car was ransacked and the driver’s door was torn off. The rookie was real excited about finding the equivalent of Bruce Wayne’s car in bumfuck Athens. As of a few minutes ago Barney Fife hadn’t yet figured out how to spring the compartment in the back.”
“Thank God for small favors.” Dean glanced at Castiel, who was watching him. He knew the angel could hear what was being said on the other end. “Can you get someone to tow it in before they discover Batman’s stash of secret weapons?”
“I know a guy from the impound yard.”
“Of course you do.”
“Any idea who or what’s behind this?”
“Our room’s been searched. The bastards left footprints and somebody was bleeding. Looks like they used chloroform to take Sammy out, but Castiel doesn’t think they were human or demon.”
“That narrows down the list of suspects a bit.”
“What the hell is going on, Bobby?” Dean could understand demons, minions of Lucifer. They were constantly vigilant against Zachariah, but this caught him off guard.
“Did you have typical protection in place?”
“Nothing fancy. Run of the mill demon defense,” Dean admitted. “We just blew into town, looking into some rabid animal spirits.”
“Then it could have been a number of things from a fucking ghoul to a shape shifter, although I’ve never heard of them being so methodic.”
“They don’t run in packs either. I’m telling you there were at least six of them here and they weren’t just interested in grabbing Sammy. They were looking for something.”
“I know a certain trouble in semi- human form that does travel in packs or nests rather.”
“Shit.” Dean rubbed his eyes, his mind not as quick to take the same leap as Bobby’s. “Vampires?”
“Immortals? Like the Cullens?” Castiel’s interest was piqued. He frowned. “I didn’t imagine Rosalie would reek of death.”
Dean rolled his eyes at the angel. He had not had Twilight in mind when he suggested the library as a good place for Castiel to pick up more information on the typical supernatural forces they dealt with. Caleb found it far too amusing that Dean’s guardian angel had the literary tastes of a thirteen year old girl. “What the hell would vampires want with Sam and Caleb?”
“I have an idea. You better call Mac, Kid.”
Dean didn’t like Bobby’s tone, or that Mac insisted they travel Angel Airways, despite Dean’s sensitive colon. Cas could get Dean and Bobby to New York faster than any contact at the airlines or the Ames’s jet. Dean was mollified he wouldn’t be the only one to suffer, but Bobby seemed nonplussed by the prospect.
“Have you heard anything?” Dean asked as Silas opened the door of the New York condo for them. Dean had given Castiel instructions not to rematerialize or whatever the hell it was he did inside the high rise. Dropping them in unexpected with hunters in security mode was not a good idea. Castiel might be bullet proof; Dean and Bobby were not.
“Joshua’s flight will be arriving shortly,” Silas said. He motioned them in. “Mac is sending a car for him. He’s in the kitchen.”
Bobby propelled his way toward the dining room, called by the aroma of coffee and beef. Esme had been thoughtful enough to leave the table set with clean plates and an array of food. Mackland was the only one waiting to greet them. He was on the phone, but waved a hand that they should sit. Bobby didn’t hesitate, rolling his chair up to an empty spot where a seat had been removed.
Dean hovered, tuning an ear into the former Scholar’s conversation.
“I understand, Missouri," Mac was saying. "I know you're concerned. We’ll keep in touch, I promise.”
“What did the Wicked Witch of Kansas want?” Bobby managed to scoop potatoes onto his plate and slide the rolls his way. “She have any clue as to where Dorothy and Toto might be?”
“Missouri had a disturbing vision.”
“Is there any other kind of vision?” Dean closed the distance between him and Mac. He hadn’t seen the former Scholar since the Triad ceremony, but had kept in touch with him via phone and Sam’s Facebook page.
The older man reached out and pulled him in for a hard hug. “No. I suppose there isn’t.”
Dean pulled back, pushing the brass compass he had dug out of his brother’s things into Mac’s palm. The doctor’s psychic gift was not as bleak as death visions and often offered hope. “Speaking of which.”
“I already tried telemetry with one of Caleb’s old journals.” Mac took the compass, closing his fingers over it with a weary exhale. He closed his eyes. “I’m getting the same thing. I know they’re alive, but I’m unable to get any kind of images. Why that is, I’m not sure.”
Mackland offered the instrument back to Dean, stepping around him to acknowledge Castiel. He extended his hand to the angel. “I’m not sure how to greet a messenger of the Lord, especially in one's humble home, but it is an honor to finally meet you, Castiel. Thank you for helping us, for all you’ve done for Dean. I’m Mackland Ames.”
“I know who you are.” Castiel hesitated briefly before shaking the doctor’s hand. “Dean thinks highly of you.”
“Please,” Mac gestured to a chair beside Bobby, “have a seat.”
“What about Missouri’s vision?” Dean slid the compass back into his pocket. It had been a long shot at best, but he was disappointed Mackland was unable to get more than a sense of Sam or Damien.
“She believes it was a distress call from Caleb.” Mackland moved to the counter, retrieving a fresh pot of coffee, which he brought to the table.
Dean pulled one of the empty mugs in his direction. “Damien was able to send her a psychic S.O.S.?”
“Or he instinctively reached out to any help in the area, possibly hoping to connect with Sam. Missouri saw a flash of cars, the faces of several men she didn’t recognize. There was a woman with them also. She picked up on Caleb’s anger, then everything went black.”
Dean waited for Mac to fill his and Bobby’s cup. Castiel declined the doctor’s offer. “So tell me about the vampires.”
Mac took a seat, glancing to Bobby before facing Dean. “We don’t know for sure we’re dealing with vampires.”
“Bobby seemed to think it was a good possibility.” Dean had to admit it was a leap of logic, but he didn’t have any other way to explain the number of perps, or the chloroform. “Why would that be an obvious conclusion for him to draw?”
“Bobby is on dinner break.” Bobby concentrated on his plate when Mac’s gray gaze swiveled to him.
“Mac?” Dean pushed.
Mackland picked up his coffee, staring at the dark brew for a moment before facing Dean. “There was an incident with a nest of vampires last year when you weren’t with us. It prompted me to have an intervention with Caleb and Sam, but I’m afraid I put my foot down a little too late.”
“Sam and Caleb tangled with some blood suckers while I was in Hell?” Dean knew his brother and Caleb had hunted together, assumed their new passion for bowling had not been enough to keep them busy.
“Mangled would be a better word,” Bobby spoke around a mouth of green beans.
“I thought Bobby was on his dinner break.” Mackland frowned at the mechanic.
“No point sugar coating it just because we have company.” Bobby pointed his fork at Castiel. “From what we’ve seen of angels so far, his kind appreciates a good smiting.”
“What exactly did they do?” Dean looked to Mackland.
“It was bad timing.” The doctor ran a finger over his brow. “Rufus turned them onto a nest of vampires living and feeding in the Pittsburg area, Oakland, I believe. They were using a bar as cover, several college students had gone missing. Caleb and Sam went in and took care of the problem.”
“And?” Dean leaned his elbows on the table.
“They did it with gusto.” Bobby resumed his eating. “Rufus said it was like throwing chum into shark infested waters. He had to burn the place to the ground to cover their tracks.”
“So you think this is revenge?” Dean ran possible scenarios through his head, the worst one being that the vampires might do the unthinkable and try to change his brother and Caleb.
“Vampires are very protective of their territory,” Castiel interjected. “They can also be extremely loyal to their brethren. Perhaps the vampire council has been alerted of this transgression.”
“If this were a Stephen Minor novel, Cas, that might be true,” Dean said. The vampires Dean knew were concerned only with their own nests. They stayed more solitary to fly under the radar, keeping themselves out of the crosshairs of The Brotherhood.
“Stephanie Meyers,” Castiel corrected.
“Whatever.” Dean glared at the angel. “The vamps we’re talking about aren’t cohesive enough to care about what happens to someone else’s nest. If Caleb and Sam wiped out a family of them they only opened up more territory for another group to move in.”
“A few years ago I might have agreed with that,” Mac said. “Over the last year we’ve noticed a shift in their behavior. With the apocalypse at hand and now Lucifer walking the earth, their patterns have become odd.”
“What do you mean?” Dean had a feeling he wasn’t going to like the answer. His last dealings with vampires had been while he and Sam were separated. It had been a quick, one man job.
“Mac’s trying to tell you the blood suckers got themselves a union and their very own Jimmy Hoffa.” Bobby grabbed another piece of bread. “They’re organizing.”
“You’re kidding me. A vampire revolution?” It sounded like a novel, or the subplot of a bad television show.
“There have been rumblings in the covens,” Mac said. “It seems that the vampires have decided there is safety in numbers, and that if they are going to survive Armageddon they need to have a new battle plan, which includes some inner structure.”
“Wait, why the hell would the covens be in the know about a bunch of bloodsuckers?” Mac may have worked hard to align forces with the covens, but Dean would never completely trust them.
“Witches and vampires have a great history, Dean.” Mac had taken on his Scholar tone. Apparently, it would not be going into retirement. “Vampires often courted and seduced witches and mystics for their abilities.”
“They are intrigued by humans with gifts,” Castiel added. “It makes them more interesting when they are changed.”
“Exactly,” Mackland said. “In the past the vampires have used witch talents to help cloak and protect them from other humans when they were most vulnerable offering in return the reward of immortality.”
“And if it’s one thing the witches know about it’s that power comes in sticking together,” Bobby said. “Lone wolves are shunned in their world. The covens have a hierarchy and inner structure rivaling The Brotherhood. They’ve learned to watch over and govern their own to prevent exposure to the normal world.”
“Are you telling me that vampires and witches are working together?”
“Possibly,” Mac said. “No one is admitting to anything. Right now it is all speculation and hearsay.”
“Why am I just now hearing about this?”
“We haven’t exactly had the time to sit down and talk about all The Brotherhood irons in the fire, Son. The Guardian has had his plate full with more important issues. I told you I would maintain the day to day workings, which include research and recon.”
“The Guardian has managed to lose two-thirds of his Triad, Mac.” Dean ran a hand through his hair. “I knew this job would suck.”
“Perhaps the vampires are looking for leverage, a way to align with the new power seat of The Brotherhood?” Castiel suggested. “This may not be about revenge.”
“You’re not helping, Cas,” Dean growled.
“He could be right,” Mac said. “They would not be the first to attempt such a thing.”
“Taking on The Brotherhood would be the last thing a floundering militia of the undead would want to try. Our ranks far outnumber theirs. We would obliterate them.”
“Hasn’t kept North Korea from poking the tiger,” Bobby muttered.
“Shut up, Ironsides.”
Bobby put his spoon down. “Before you go and get your undies in a bunch, John Junior, look at this from the point that at least we know some witches that we can talk to. Hell, your Advisor has a prefect in with them. It’s not like there are a long line of vampire contacts we can run down.”
“I know one.” Dean ran a hand through his hair, trying to control his temper. He could feel all the knots Marla had worked out earlier regrouping along his shoulders. He pushed away from the table. “She owes me a favor.”
Mac stood. “Dean?”
start on the witch connection when he gets here. I’m going to introduce
Cas to his first live member of the undead.” He hoped Lenore hadn’t
gotten her union card.