He rubbed his eyes and sniffed. “You didn’t tell me it was a giant fucking rat, Sammy.”
Sam scratched his head. “An Ao Ao is supposed to be more like a sheep or a big peccary.”
“A pecker what? A pig? Dude, it has a long naked tail. And look at the teeth. It’s a rat.”
“Maybe the translation was wrong. I’m sure it’s still South American. Maybe the word was capybara? Try to think of it as a really big guinea pig. With a long tail.” He turned beseeching eyes on his brother. “It wasn’t supposed to be a rat. I would have told you.”
He hated when Sam went all dewy-eyed and innocent looking. “You wouldn’t have told me ‘cause you knew I wouldn’t’ve ever come in here … well I probably would have, but still.” He looked around and sneezed. “This nest is just disgusting, and it’s in a cave, and …” he broke off to sneeze again. “It’s a rat and you know I hate rats.” He scrubbed his face and eyes and huffed out an exasperated noise. Damn genus rattus.
“Quit scratching your arms. And it’s not a cave.”
“What?” He looked down. He was scratching his arms. “Oh.” He tried to stop. “Yeah, that’s right, it’s not a cave. It’s an ‘underground lair’. Still a cave no matter how many syllables you throw at it.” Damn genus little brother smartass know-it-allus.
“Did you take the benedryl like I told you?” Now Sam looked all bitch-faced instead of dewy-eyed. He hadn’t decided yet which was better.
“I can’t be allergic to every furry thing we hunt.”
Sam rolled his eyes.
“What – I can't! I'm not. And they make me feel funny.” Damn, he sounded like a five year old. Go manly. He rubbed his nose along the length of his sleeve, making Sam wince. “I can handle a little fur, Sam.” The effect was ruined by a sneeze. He absently wiped a gob of phlegm from his palm onto the side of the ‘cave’. Served the underground lair right. He didn’t suppose they had a genus. He realized he was leaving red furrows down his arms, and shoved his hands in his pockets.
“Quit scratching. Take a pill.” Sam said, walking around the corpse, pensively studying it.
He faced the inevitable and dug in his duffel and popped two pills. “You’ll have to carry me out of here.” He blew his nose into his fingers and found a fresh stretch of wall and rubbed it off. He looked up to see Sam staring at him, slack jawed. “It has to go somewhere and I’m not leaving it in my head. I’ll drown.” He walked over to Sam and looked at the Ao Ao. “What next? Do we deconstruct it, then burn it, then do the ritual? Or”, he sneezed, “do we ritualize, burn…” he sneezed again.
Sam looked at Dean critically. “I’ll take care of the body. You go outside.” He started to unpack his duffel.
“And do…?” he raised an eyebrow at his brother. “The car is miles from here, so what? I go out there and just sit? I can help set up all the ingredients because that”, he said, pointing to a pile of envelopes and clear plastic bags, “is a serious amount of secret herbs and spices.”
“I’ve got it under control. You need to go somewhere and breathe. If the union produced progeny, they’ll return to the nest as soon as I start the ritual. And I can’t finish until they’re all here. And the creature’s, um, mate, will also be drawn here and will need to be handled.” He put his hands on Dean’s shoulders and turned him to face the exit. “You can do that away from all this dander and monster pollen, or whatever it is that’s setting you off.”
He shook off his brother’s hands. “Union? Progeny? You mean the babies and then the sick freak that was willing to screw a giant rodent to produce them will show up. And I should let the little Ao Aos by so the ritual will kill them, but stop the shit for brains, right, Mr. Polysyllabic McSmartass?”
"Yeah, pretty much. Just keep the guy outside of the…” he looked a little sheepish, “cave. The ritual will take care of him too but I need time to complete it.”
Dean nodded. “Got it.” He sneezed and started to walk down the passage to the outside. “Glad to get out this stench.”
“Don’t forget the guy is dangerous, Dean. This is the worst kind of black magic ...”
He left Sam’s admonishments behind him and almost ran out of the cave and into the clean air of the forest. He looked at his watch. The pills would take about fifteen or twenty minutes to really kick in, enough time to deal with demonic rat babies and some seriously fucked up, he sniggered a little at the thought, magician. What could you be thinking to do a rat?
He dropped his duffel and squatted next to it. He tried to drink some water but he almost sucked it into his lungs in a pre-sneeze heave of air. He removed the clip of Ao Ao killing rounds from his Colt, double checked the chamber, sneezed over his shoulder, then slipped in and racked a clip of blessed wrought iron slugs dipped in holy water. He could shoot the freaky wizard in the leg or something if he had to.
He held up the Ao Ao clip and eyed the remaining bullet before tucking it away. How Sam thought up this stuff still amazed him. Well, he’d helped with the bullets of course - burnt thunderbird feathers and ground caiman teeth wrapped in alluvial placer gold was just freaking awesome. But Sam was the one who found the ritual. The list of ingredients was starting to make him hungry too - the coffee, chocolate, cinnamon, and sugar at least. The quinoa and the stuff Sam got in from Joshua, he wasn’t so sure of. This was really old New World shit – that made him laugh. Maybe the pills were starting to cut in.
He rubbed his hands over his face and scrubbed his hair. He stood, hawked up some phlegm and spat it into the underbrush. He checked the position of the sun against his watch – a good three hours before sundown. Plenty of time to get back to the car.
He froze, standing perfectly still, listening. Something was coming – he couldn’t place the exact direction, but it was moving in quickly and getting louder. It had to be the guinea pig lothario, the rat romancer… that definitely was the pills. He took a few steps back into the shadows at the mouth of the cave, and held his gun up by his shoulder, cupping his right hand in his left. Senses on high alert, he scanned the area for movement.
He was so intent on the trees and undergrowth, the touch on his leg made him jump, letting out a huff of startled air. He looked down and almost screamed.
Baby Ao Aos looked exactly like rats. And they were everywhere.
There was one on his boot and one was climbing his jeans. He reflexively kicked his leg out and sent both flying. He would have shot the suckers, but they disappeared into the general melee of scrabbling, squeaking, and biting rats. There were so many it looked like the cave had a fur carpet – a moving, grotesque rat carpet, undulating in furry waves toward the back of the cave. How could there be this many? He squeezed his eyes shut. Maybe if he stood still, didn’t move, didn’t breathe, ignored the occasional nip and scratch – they would just continue by, like the tide coming in.
It worked for a few minutes. Then he sneezed explosively and it was like he’d rung the dinner bell. He crushed the one that latched onto his knuckles against the cave wall and flung it, its body leaking blood as it arced over its man-eating siblings. He pulled and swatted them off his pants, and almost stabbed his own leg when they started trying to climb up under his jeans. He tried to ignore the panicked squeak coming from his own traitorous throat.
He hop scotched across the cave, killing at least one of them every time his feet touched down. He jumped onto a jumble of rocks, scrambling up until he was able to claw his way into a depression he saw in the wall about six feet off the ground. He gratefully smashed the Ao Ao biting his shoulder against the rock behind him. He skewered and crushed the ones already on him and kicked back new ones that tried to leap to his perch. He could hear himself yelling.
Then they were gone, chittering and scratching their way down the passage to death á la Sam. He was hyperventilating, sneezing, coughing, his eyes were watering, and his hands were shaking. And he had blood all over him – he wasn’t sure what was his and what was theirs. Shit. He hadn’t felt this bad since … well, the skunk apes maybe. And wasn’t that humiliating. Skunk apes were seven foot mothers with big fangs and claws – anyone would feel bad after going up against one of them. These were little baby monsters. That looked like rats.
And speaking of skunk apes, where the hell was his brother? He should have come out by now. Couldn’t Sam make the ritual go faster? Because boy oh boy, did he really need that boy to show up about now and drag him the hell out of this cave and back to the car. He needed Sam. Or Jill. Florida, Jill, rescue chopper – nope, nope, nope, didn’t need Jill that badly.
He heard a noise over the sound of his own breathing and the blood pounding in his ears. Something was coming and he had to do … he had to protect Sam. Always did. He cracked his eyes open and pushed himself up. It wasn’t until he was on the ground, at least all of him that didn’t land on the rocks was on the ground, that he remembered climbing. That was going to hurt a lot more later.
He got upright slowly, groaning, and lurched toward the cave entrance. His mind finally clicked. Gun – where’s the gun? He held up both hands, found his Colt right where it should be, clutched in his bleeding right hand. He put his shoulders back, sneezed for good measure, and stepped boldy into the clearing and right into a short guy running flat out toward the cave. The guy kind of bounced off him, staggering backwards a few feet until he fell, and his momentum caromed Dean like a cue ball back into the rocks by the cave entrance and almost onto his ass.
He pushed off and walked toward Shorty, bringing his gun to bear. He rubbed his free hand against his watering eyes. So rat fucking sorcerers looked like … preppies? Khakis, girl shirt, comb over, he glanced down, and Birkenstocks. If he didn’t already know where he was, he’d have picked California on this guy alone. Since this was northern Cali, and they were in a National Park, he’d thought the guy might turn out to be some old time hippie gone from growing weed to black magic. This little guy didn’t look like much.
“Hold it…” he wheezed. He tried again, saying “Whoa” as he brought his arm up and aimed the gun right between rat boy’s eyes. It looked like the guy was talking – his lips were definitely moving. “And no talking, you little perv”, but it was too late. Hell, he really hated this magic shit.
He felt it first in his right hand. Then he smelled it. His gun was glowing and he suddenly was holding not a gun but an incendiary hunk of metal. He shouted and jumped, shaking his hand until the gun dropped to the ground, smoking, and trailing charred skin. He pulled his hand to his chest, unconsciously cradling it with his left as his vision went white.
“You piece of shit!” He wheezed out, sucking air through his mouth. “God damn it. If you’ve hurt my gun, I’ll kill you!” Then he felt it in his legs. He couldn’t move his legs – they felt like they’d grown into the ground. “Oh, smooth move.” He got his eyes open and glared at the little prick. “You still aren’t getting in that cave.”
“Who’s going to stop me? You?” Sorcerer boy got on his feet and walked over to Dean, running his eyes slowly up and down the length of Dean’s body. “You, beautiful boy, are out of this confrontation.” He looked away from Dean toward the cave entrance and narrowed his eyes. “Business before pleasure, I always say. And right now, my business is with your confederate inside.” He ran a hand up Dean’s arm to his shoulder. “After that, it’s going to be all pleasure.”
It was like being felt up by Snidely Whiplash. Dean felt an involuntary shiver rolling over him and tried to twist away as the guy smiled and licked his lips.
“Dude, that’s just gross! You think I like guys? Guys who screw rats no less?”
“Now, now. I didn’t say it would be pleasure for you, did I?” The sorcerer side-stepped around him and headed for the cave.
“Oh no you don’t, pecker head.” He lunged out, reaching with his left arm, and managed to snag the guy’s waist, dragging him back. At least, trying to drag him back – the little shit was walking like he didn’t have a care in the world, or a one hundred and eighty six pound guy holding on to him. And hold on he did. He held on as he was pulled over backwards, his left handed grip scrabbling down the guy’s leg as he continued to move forward.
It was only seconds before Dean was stretched as tight as a wire, and just when he thought he’d be ripped in two if the prick didn’t stop, his feet came free. His boots were left behind right where he’d been standing and he was being dragged along in his socked feet.
He heaved himself toward the guy, grunting with the strain, and caused his ride to lose a step. That gave him the chance to pull himself up and forward and wrap both arms securely around the leg he’d been holding.
The sorcerer stopped and reached down to ruffle Dean’s hair. “Did you miss me already?” He pressed his hand against Dean’s cheek. “And I love the way you are holding me.”
Dean growled and jerked his head away from the hand but spared his breath and concentrated on keeping his grip with a bum right hand. A moment later, he was being dragged again. What the bleeding hell was keeping Sam? He said the ritual would take care of the guy.
And now Dean couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see for shit, and being dragged was tossing fur and droppings from the Ao Ao swarm into the air.
“Sam! You got one minute!”
He saw the rocks he’d gotten personal with earlier going by and swung his legs, jamming his socked feet down between them, pushing them as tightly as he could before cocking his toes. This time, as he was stretched back into the too tight wire impression he was face down, and what little air he was bringing in was so laden with Ao Ao crap and fur, he started to sneeze, over and over, stretching his arms until he grunted with the strain. Black spots were appearing around the edges of his vision. He arched his back, bringing his head away from the cave floor, sucked in as much air as he could and screamed for everything he was worth.
And then his mouth and nose and throat and lungs just stopped working. The black spots became one large spot that filled his vision and he slipped into it.
Disclaimer: Everything is owned by Kripke and the CW. Nothing by me.
Written for a Fan Fiction Auction on ff.net for winner Heather03nmg.Rated T for Language.
Thanks as always to my betas Merisha and Scotia.