Sam woke up wrapped in Benny’s arms. He smiled as he looked at the clock, then gasped. “Oh, shit, I’m late!” he said, then tried to push Benny’s arms off him.
“Mmm, no, you’re not,” Benny said, then kissed Sam’s neck.
“Yeah, I am!” Sam said, wriggling in Benny’s grip.
“No,” Benny growled, nipping at Sam’s neck, “you’re not, because they rescheduled for three o’clock.”
Sam relaxed into the embrace. “Oh, okay. Cool. I can’t believe I slept so long. It’s already after eleven.”
“Well, I wore ya out last night,” Benny said with a grin.
“Yeah, you did,” Sam said with a happy sigh.
“Workin’ on that translation took a lot outta you too,” Benny said, wrapping his left leg around Sam’s legs.
Sam huffed. “Yeah, it did.”
“You look really sexy when you’re workin’ hard on translations,” Benny said, his erection poking Sam in the side.
Sam chuckled. “Is that what Walter thinks?” he asked as he wriggled back against Benny’s cock, “or did you think of that all by yourself?”
“Well,” Benny drawled, “Walter was very turned on by it.”
Sam reached back and palmed Walter. “He still seems kind of excited. He must’ve really liked it.”
“Oh, he did. You get all serious-lookin’, heftin’ around all your books and makin’ notes,” Benny said, a smile evident in his tone of voice. “Walter also likes mornin’ sex.”
Sam barked out a laugh. “So do I,” he said, stroking Walter.
“I happen to have lube here,” Benny suggested in a not-so-subtle way.
Sam nodded. “Yeah, I’ll need it. And you’ll have to open me up some. I haven’t been fucked in a few days.”
Benny pushed two lubed fingers into Sam, making him moan as his back arched. He loved feeling the burn, and Benny was great at making it hurt without damaging him.
“You did such a great job of fuckin’ me last night,” Benny said as he stretched Sam, “I oughta return the favor.”
“Mmm, yeah,” Sam groaned as Benny found his prostate and pushed hard.
Sam loved rough sex, and he’d been able to get rough with Dean quite a lot over the years, but Dean was always worried he’d hurt Sam too much. It frustrated Sam, because he wasn’t easily breakable, no matter what Dean thought of his baby brother. Sam knew it was a big brother thing and not something he should take personal, but he wanted rough sex, damn it.
Benny was a perfect mix of slow and teasing, then rough and sometimes vicious. He knew just how to tease and frustrate Sam to get him riled, then the two of them would pounce on each other and fight for dominance, whoever won getting the privilege of fucking the other.
Sam didn’t think they were in love with each other. Sure, they loved each other, but it just felt like a comfortable relationship where neither of them owed each other anything other than a good time. Sam liked it, and he knew Benny did too. Sam wouldn’t be opposed to it being more, but neither of them ever pushed for it being anything else, and Sam was fine with that too.
“Your ass isn’t too sore, is it?” Benny asked, his fingers trailing over Sam’s ass cheeks.
Sam chuckled. “I’ll live.”
Benny kissed Sam’s shoulder. “I don’t like havin’ ta spank you guys.”
“Well, then I shouldn’t have mouthed off at you yesterday,” Sam said. “Gabe got his ass beat just two days ago for the same thing, so I really should’ve known better.”
“True,” Benny said, making Sam gasp as he played with his prostate. “But I’ll admit it was pretty hot watchin’ you squirmin’ around on your chair while you were doin’ the translation.”
Sam grinned, the . “You don’t feel guilty about liking that, do you? Because I know you have a really fuckin’ huge spanking kink, but I also know that you don’t enjoy doing it for discipline. You didn’t get hard, and I can tell by the look on your face you don’t get a kick out of it.”
“Yeah, well…,” Benny said, trailing off.
Sam rolled his eyes. “You can enjoy watching me squirm on a chair, you big softie.”
Benny growled, pushing harder on Sam’s prostate and making him wince and moan. “Now that I have permission…,” he said, pulling his fingers out of Sam’s asshole, then squeezing his left cheek.
Sam hissed as Benny pushed his cock in, the stretch after only having been barely prepared by two fingers a delicious burn. Benny lazily fucked Sam, and it was just frustrating enough after he’d had a cock shoved into him that Sam tried to thrust back, get Benny moving faster. It didn’t work. It never did. It was hard to rile Benny, and Sam loved that about him.
They didn’t talk. They didn’t need to. Benny rocked into him, mouthing at his neck, sucking on his earlobe, rubbing his nose through Sam’s hair and scenting him. Sam didn’t know how long Benny fucked him, and he didn’t care. It felt great to be held, to have the quiet intensity that was Benny entirely focused on him. Benny wrapped his hand around Sam’s cock and stroked him with the same lazy rhythm he was using to fuck him.
Finally Benny started fucking him faster, panting against Sam’s neck. Sam closed his eyes, breathing in Benny and enjoying a quiet morning with him as Benny stroked him faster. Benny shoved against him, fucking into him hard a few times before coming in his ass, nipping at his neck and growling.
Sam rolled onto his back as Benny slipped out of him, and Benny kissed him, slow and messy while he stroked Sam’s cock. Sam came with a moan muffled by Benny’s mouth, his hips thrusting up against Benny’s hand. Benny squeezed his cock just right as Sam licked inside Benny’s mouth, then slapped Sam’s cock against his belly a few times, making Sam smile.
“Shower with me?” Sam asked after they stopped kissing.
“Mmm, yeah,” Benny said, nuzzling at Sam’s neck. “It’s a good thing these showers are built for big guys like us.”
Sam snorted. “Yeah, because they know we’re gonna be fucking in them.”
“You know it,” Benny said with a chuckle.
“Sam!” Cas yelled from the hallway.
Sam flinched, having never heard Cas yell like that before. He sat up quickly and was already halfway out of bed by the time Cas was standing in the doorway, his eyes wide as he held an envelope out to Sam.
Sam took the envelope. “What’s this?” he asked.
“Read it!” Cas barked.
Sam’s eyes widened, but he did as he was told. Cas looked way too spooked to ignore. He wanted to ask him what the problem was, but as soon as he saw the first few words on the page from the envelope, he knew why Cas was freaking out.
“Castiel,” Sam read out loud so Benny could be kept in the loop, “The house will be getting a call from me soon, and I just wanted to make sure you’re the one to answer. Dean would really appreciate it, because I told him he’d lose a finger if it was anyone but you.
“I’m sure you’ll understand why I’d rather you not call the authorities or anyone from the Alpha Prime House, but Dean wants me to make sure you know I’ll cut off his entire hand if you do that. I didn’t see the need to threaten you, because I’m sure you know what’s at stake, but he thought it was important you know. In fact, he felt the need to scream at me as he said it. He’s very excitable. I have ways of settling him down, but I don’t think he’ll like them. I hope to talk to you soon. Don’t disappoint Dean, would you please? It would break his little heart.”
“It’s not signed,” Cas said, his hands clenched into fists.
Sam flipped the envelope over, but he saw only Castiel’s name in script. “Where was it?” Sam asked as he sniffed the paper, frowning when he didn’t catch a scent.
“I don’t know how long it had been there,” Cas said, shaking his head. “Someone left it on the doorstep.”
Sam took off toward Sarah and Charlie’s room, not caring he was naked, jizz leaking out of his ass and all over his stomach. The room was empty, so he headed downstairs. He wasn’t freaking out. He couldn’t. Dean needed him to keep a level head. He depended on all of them.
Sarah’s eyes widened as Sam stormed into the office. “Sam?” she asked, standing up, dropping her book on the coffee table, obviously aware something was really wrong if Sam was storming in naked and covered in come.
“Dean’s missing. How long ago did he leave?” he asked.
“Charlie said he left at seven forty-five,” she said, and Sam was pleased to see that she’d already slipped into protective-alpha mode.
Sam nodded. “I need you to get a hold of Charlie, make sure she’s okay,” he said, knowing she’d gone grocery shopping with Nick.
Sarah nodded, already pulling her cell phone out of her pocket before Sam was even done talking. “Hey, Charlie, are you okay, sweetie?” she asked, her voice the perfect mix of relieved and authoritative. “Okay, I need to know what you picked out for Dean to wear today.”
Sam tilted his head a little. He hadn’t realized Charlie had dressed Dean. It would help if Charlie could tell them, and Sam was impressed Sarah would know that about Charlie and already be a step ahead of Sam.
“Okay, that’s perfect,” Sarah said with a nod. “Now, I need you to come home.”
Sam nodded. “Dean’s been kidnapped,” he said softly enough that Sarah would hear, but Charlie wouldn’t.
Sarah nodded again. “Drive carefully, keep an eye out for anyone suspicious or anyone following you, but come straight home. Are you walking toward the door with Nick?” she asked, still calm. “Okay, good. Keep going. Don’t stop. But I want you to stay calm. Someone has kidnapped Dean. I know, sweetie. Everything will be okay. We don’t want anything to happen to you or Nick either, so come home. I’m going to get off the phone so you can concentrate on driving. I love you,” she said, then ended the call.
Sam handed the letter to Sarah just as Benny came into the office, pulling his shirt over his head, his jeans unbuttoned as if he’d quickly struggled into them.
“I’m assuming he’ll call on the land line?” Sarah asked.
Sam nodded and said, “That’s what I’d assume, but we’d better get everybody’s phones in here just in case it’s one of the cells.”
“I’ll round ’em up,” Benny said, then turned and headed back out of the office.
Sam knew Benny was worried about Dean. The two of them had hunted together plenty of times, so Benny knew Dean could handle himself, but they had no idea who they were dealing with. Sam had grown up with a warrior as his mother. He knew sometimes their emotions weren’t as obvious as everyone else’s, so to see the set of Benny’s shoulders, to hear the tightly controlled voice and clipped words, and to nearly feel Benny’s anticipation of a fight told Sam just how much Dean meant to him.
Benny’s emotions were slipping out around the wall warriors used when they were battling an evil. Sam knew not to worry about it. It didn’t mean Benny would let it trip him up, and if anything, Benny would use it to be even more fierce than normal when it came to saving Dean. Benny may never fall in love with Dean, but he sure as Hell loved him, cared for him more than simply as a house alpha watching over his housemates.
“I’d like your help,” Sarah said.
“Anything,” Sam said.
“I want to try scenting this, reading it,” she said, holding the letter in the air. “If I can’t get a read on it, I want to try again when Charlie’s here. She can boost both of us without draining us, that way the three of us may be able to pick up on things I wouldn’t be able to see by myself.”
“Okay,” Sam said with a nod.
“Get yourself cleaned up and dressed,” Sarah said. “I want everyone out of the room for the first time so there’s nothing to distract me. I might be able to get a read on it before Charlie even gets home.”
“I’ll knock on the door before I come back in,” he said, already walking out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Gabe was walking in the front door as Sam headed for the stairs. “Forgot your clothes, Sam,” Gabe said with a grin. “Mmm, and damn do you smell good-oh!” he said, freezing in the middle of the entryway, his entire demeanor changing from light and joking to serious and concerned. “What’s wrong?”
Sam knew Gabe could smell the fear and urgency in the house, could feel it. “Walk with me,” Sam said, heading upstairs.
Gabe did as he was told, keeping quiet as Sam walked into the bathroom and wet a washcloth, wiping himself down.
“Dean’s been kidnapped,” he said, keeping Gabe in his peripheral vision in case the man freaked out. Gabe didn’t, and Sam felt the relief of knowing they’d chosen so many good alphas for the house. “We were given a letter telling us Cas needs to be the one to answer the phone when the kidnapper calls.”
“Any idea who it is?” Gabe asked.
Sam walked back out of the bathroom, hurrying to his drawer and pulling out some clothes. “No. Sarah’s getting a read on the letter and the envelope, but none of us know anything about him yet.”
“What does he want?” Gabe asked.
Sam buttoned his jeans and shoved his feet into his shoes at the same time. “He didn’t say. You can read the letter when we get back down there, but he threatened Dean’s finger for Cas not answering and Dean’s hand if we contact anyone about this.”
“I want to pull all Dean’s files,” Gabe said. “Someone who’s disgruntled over a decision he’s made is the obvious first choice. I need to know when I can go into the office.”
Sam tugged a shirt over his head and walked out of the room, Gabe trailing behind him. “I felt Sarah’s magic flare as I was getting dressed. She’s done.”
By the time they got back downstairs, Cas, Kevin, and Benny were standing in the living room, obviously waiting for Sam to tell them they were allowed back in the office. Sam didn’t bother saying anything, he just walked down the hall and knocked on the door.
“Come in,” Sarah said.
“Anything?” Sam asked.
“It’s completely clean,” she said, shaking her head.
“What do we do now? We’ve got nothing!” Kevin said, his eyes wide.
“No, I didn’t say we’ve got nothing,” Sarah said.
Sam nodded. “The fact that it’s completely clean means someone with a high level of dark magics was able to wipe it,” finding it a little odd Kevin didn’t know that. Sam had been worried from the beginning that Kevin was too young for this job, but he was willing to give him time.
“There’s a very small chance Charlie can help us once she gets here,” Sarah said, “but don’t bet on it.”
“Can I help?” Kevin asked.
Sarah shook her head. “No, but it’s nothing against you personally. Your magics are still healing from the infection. If we all started using our magics and you tried to help, our magics would be pulled to yours, trying to help you heal.”
“Oh,” Kevin said, his shoulders slumping. “I understand.”
Cas took his coat off, tossing it over one of the overstuffed chairs. “I scented the front walkway and the door. I couldn’t smell anything. There was nothing of the outdoors or even our scents until I got to the sidewalk, and then it was a mesh of everyday smells.”
Sarah nodded. “Wiped clean,” she said, and Sam nodded in agreement.
Sam turned to Gabriel. “Gabe, go through his files,” he said, pointing toward the computer, pleased when Gabe immediately did as he was told. “Kevin, bring me all the mail that’s come today and any that’s in the living room basket,” he said, and watched Kevin run off to do as told.
“Sarah,” Sam said, turning to them. “I want you to wait out front for Charlie in case someone’s following her or is waiting somewhere around here for her.”
Sarah nodded, then walked up to him, a concerned look on her face. “Watch Kevin,” she said, her tone low enough that it wouldn’t be heard by anyone outside the office, which meant Gabe, Cas, Benny, and Sam would hear her. “I haven’t sensed anything odd from him since we cleansed him, but Charlie doesn’t trust him, and I trust her instincts even more than mine when it comes to people.”
Sam nodded. “Okay,” he said, and by the look on Benny’s face, he wasn’t at all surprised by Sarah’s words.
“I’m goin’ out front with Sarah,” Benny said. “If there’s a threat, two sets of eyes are better than one.”
“Agreed,” Sam said with a tight nod. “Cas, search the house. Start with your room and I’ll catch up with you.”
“Yes, sir,” Cas said, then hurried from the room.
“I’m having trouble reading everyone,” Sarah said, shaking her head. “In tense situations, I keep sort of an open channel going in my head that let’s in stray thoughts from everyone, but the only ones I can hear are in this room.”
“Something’s really wrong,” Gabe said, sounding frustrated. He stood up and dropped some files on the desk. He looked up at Sam. “I can’t remember why I came over here.”
Sam’s stomach clenched. “We’re all compromised,” he growled.
“Call Charlie,” Benny barked.
Sarah took her phone out, her eyes wide. She hit send, then frowned. Then she growled, shoving the phone back into her pocket and stalking over to the land line in the office. She picked it up, hit a few buttons, then put it back in the cradle.
“It’s dead,” Sarah said, then she growled. “The same thing happened when Jesse sent out his distress call. We assumed it was Jesse who knocked out the cell towers and land lines, but it wasn’t him. It was a trial run on cutting off our means of communication while we were busy dealing with Jesse.”
Sam’s chest burned with anger, but he controlled himself. “Was Jesse pushed? Whoever did this. Did they push Jesse to do what he did or did the kidnapper just use the situation.”
“I can’t say for certain,” Sarah said, “but we read Jesse, and it had been building up for a long time, after a lot of abuse. I’d say knocking out the phones before was the kidnapper taking advantage of our focus being elsewhere.”
“Can you reach Charlie?” Benny asked.
Sarah closed her eyes, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. They all watched as she concentrated for a few moments, then opened her eyes again.
“No,” she said, sounding much more calm than Sam had assumed she’d be if she couldn’t feel her mate. “I should be able to, but I’m blocked. And I can’t use Sam’s magics without Charlie here.”
“Can you sense anything?” Benny asked.
Sarah looked around the room, as if looking for things that weren’t there. “No!” she growled. “I can’t sense anything outside the house, and even inside the house I’m limited.”
“Same here,” Sam said, feeling numb without the use of his magical sense. “I’ve gotta do something. I can’t just stand here. I’m going to help Cas search the house.”
“We’ll wait out front,” Benny said, nodding at Sarah.
Sam nodded, then headed out of the office. As he walked into the living room, on his way to the stairs, he stopped cold. Cas was lying on the floor, blood dripping from his forehead. He wasn’t moving.
He heard Sarah and Benny behind him, then a whispered “go” from Benny. He knew Benny and Sarah would have his back while he went to Cas, so he didn’t hesitate.
Sam put his fingers on Cas’ carotid artery, breathing a sigh of relief when he felt a steady pulse. Cas moaned, and Sam helped him roll onto his back. Cas’ eyes fluttered open, and Sam held a finger up to his lips.
Cas squinted up at him, but didn’t make a noise. Sam helped him sit up, checking Cas’ head for damage. There was a small cut and what would become a large bruise on his forehead, but the bleeding had already stopped. He’d be okay. He helped Cas stand up just as Sarah and Benny met them at the middle of the living room.
“It’s clean down here,” Benny said.
“Where’s Kevin?” Sarah asked.
“I suspect he’s gone,” Cas said.
“Why do you say that?” Sam asked.
“He’s the one that hit me,” Cas said.
Sam felt a flare of anger run through him, and an icy cold feeling followed it. It had been Kevin all along. No, not just Kevin. “He’s not strong enough.”
“Kevin?” Sarah asked, and when Sam nodded, she shook her head. “No, he’s not.”
“Someone else is behind this, but Kevin was helping them,” Sam said.
Sarah huffed, looking toward the front door. “Charlie should be here by now.”
“Let’s go,” Benny said, heading for the front door, and Sarah took off after him.
Sam watched Benny leave, an ache in his chest as the image of Benny’s pain-filled eyes refused to get out of his head. Benny thought it was his fault. Sam knew it without even asking. Benny was blaming himself because it was his job to watch out for the rest of the housemates, more so since he was the warrior. Sam couldn’t address it now because there was no time, but he’d have to reassure Benny later. There was no way any of them could’ve known what was going on, especially if an outside source of magics was at work.
“Give us your phones,” Sam said, taking a few quick strides toward them. “They’re not working anyway, but we don’t know what the kidnaper is going to use to call us.”
Benny and Sarah handed him their phones and then walked out the front door. Sam walked back to Cas and handed both phones to him.
“Let’s go into the office,” Sam said. “There’s a land line in there and we can all listen on the speaker phone.”
Cas nodded, already walking to the office. When they got there, Gabe was still standing at the desk, a dazed look on his face.
“Gabe?” Sam said as he crossed the room.
Gabe looked up at Sam, blinking as if the room was too bright. “Yeah?” he replied, his voice breathy and soft.
“What’s wrong?” Sam asked, reaching out and putting a hand on Gabe’s shoulder.
Gabe gasped, flinching away from Sam. “Nothing. It’s nothing,” he blurted.
Sam turned to Cas, giving him a ‘what the fuck is wrong?’ look. Cas slowly approached Gabe, telegraphing his movements as he reached out and cupped the side of Gabe’s face. Gabe leaned into the touch, his eyes closing.
“Cas,” Gabe whispered, sounding scared. “I can’t remember anything. I don’t remember how I got here or where I am. I remember you, I remember something, I don’t know what, but it hurts. There’s something missing, and it hurts, like a void inside me, but I don’t remember what it is.”
Cas pulled Gabe closer, wrapping left arm around Gabe’s midsection. “It’s okay,” Cas said softly. “We’re going to fix it.”
“I’m sorry, Cas,” Gabe said, opening his eyes and looking at Cas as if he’d destroyed everything Cas ever wanted. “I’m so sorry,” he said, a few tears running down his cheeks.
“Why are you sorry?” Cas asked.
Sam felt as if he was intruding. It was so intimate, what they were sharing, and he felt as if he should leave, but he knew he had to stay. It was important.
“Because I lost it for you too,” Gabe said, “and you have a void in you, and it’s my fault.”
Sam turned to the desk, glancing at the papers Gabe had been going through. He didn’t say anything, didn’t think hard about what he was doing, and instead filled his mind with thoughts of killing an intruder, someone who might have hurt Dean.
He used it like a wall, hoping that anyone reading him would see that instead of what he really wanted, which was whatever was on those papers. He stayed still as Cas and Gabe held onto each other.
“It’s not your fault,” Cas said, his voice gentle. “Something bad happened, but it’s not your fault, and we’re going to fix it.”
“It feels like it’s my fault,” Gabe said, whimpering as he leaned against Cas.
“I know,” Cas said. “But it’s not. It’s not your fault.”
Sam skimmed over the papers, looking for names, and at the top of the stack was a receipt for the renovations on the house. Sam frowned, wondering what that had to do with anything, but he kept most of his focus on the wall in his head.
At the top of the page was the logo for the company that remodeled the house. He didn’t recognize it, but he hadn’t been involved in the plans. The company name was Alastair and Sons, the logo being a circle around the letter A with a small triangle hovering above the circle.
At first glance, it looked almost like a house with a roof, but why would the house be round? Sam tried to remember if he’d ever heard the name Alastair, but it didn’t ring a bell. He couldn’t see anything abnormal about the receipt. They’d contracted Alastair and Sons, then paid in full.
“It hurts, Cas,” Gabe whispered.
Sam turned back to Gabe and Cas. The way Gabe was talking, it sounded like a physical pain. He knew full well that Dean was what Gabe was missing, that someone had done this to Gabe because he’d found something.
He needed more of a distraction. If he could read over what Gabe had been looking through, he might make a connection, but if whoever was doing this was powerful enough to shield the house, cut off communication, and dull all their senses, he was strong enough to push through a haphazard wall.
“Gabe?” Sam said softly.
“Yeah?” Gabe replied.
“If you’re in pain, I can help,” he said.
Gabe looked up at him, pain in his eyes. “You can?”
Sam nodded. “Yeah, but you have to let me use my magics. Can you do that?”
Gabe nodded. “Yeah. I want it to stop.”
Sam smiled. “Okay, I’m going to stand back a little, then stretch my magics out over you. It’s going to feel funny. It’ll tingle.”
“Okay,” Gabe said. “Will it help me remember what I lost?”
Sam shook his head. “No. I’m not strong enough to do that.”
“Oh,” Gabe said, a frown on his face. “Okay, at least you can help with how much it hurts,” he said, rubbing at his chest.
Sam took a few steps back, around behind the desk, and held his arms out. He concentrated on Gabe, on easing his pain, not fixing what was wrong or breaking whatever hold was on him. As his magics expanded from his hands, he felt something wrong, something dirty. He didn’t pull back, and instead acted as if he hadn’t felt the wrongness.
He wrapped his magics around Gabe and Cas, soothing Gabe’s pain and concentrating on not reacting to the sour taste of the hold on him. Gabe sighed, the pain receding. Cas looked up at Sam, giving him a slight nod to let him know he knew what Sam was doing.
Sam knew Cas well, knew he was a good hunter, and Sam wasn’t concerned Cas knew what he was doing. Even though Cas had no magics himself, he wasn’t stupid. He’d been trained to deal with warlocks and sorceresses, and he would know how to put up a wall of his own.
As Sam eased Gabe’s pain, he also let his magics flare out over his himself as if it was something he normally did. It would help to keep anyone from reading him, but it was a subtle enough move that it could be explained away by his desire to help Gabe.
Sam maintained his magics as he took a step to the left, putting him behind the desk with all the papers in his reach. He pushed the papers around quietly, and Cas started talking, comforting nonsense that not only soothed Gabe more, but it covered the sound of Sam moving the papers.
When Sam found what Gabe had, it took all his resolve to keep himself calm, not give himself away. Dean’s signature was at the bottom of the document, but there’s no way in Hell Dean would’ve agreed to what was on the paper, not if he was in his right mind.
The property to the south of them, the house next door, had been abandoned six months previous. The document Dean signed canceled renovations and inspections for the house and listed the property as re-zoned.
If this document had really been approved by Dean, it meant that the Palo Alto Alpha House had claimed the property as their own after it was abandoned.
Dean wouldn’t have made a decision like that without saying something to the rest of them. He didn’t need their approval, but Dean talked with them about everything. He’d even mentioned that he had raised the house budget for electricity and lowered the budget for water because of the way they were all using the house facilities. If Dean told them something as simple as that, surely he’d let them know he was re-zoning the property next door.
Sam knew this was it. This was what Gabe had found. Whoever had Dean, there was a good chance he was right next door. Now what did he do with this information?
Charlie kept herself together, knowing they had to think of something. Nick was worried about her, the concern radiating from him nearly distracting her, but she could handle this. Sure, she was upset. Dean had been kidnapped, her mate was stuck in their house with no way of communicating with her, and Charlie didn’t know what to do.
She’d parked the car two blocks from the house, just behind the Impala someone had obviously abandoned there. Charlie and Nick sat in silence, both of them staring at Dean’s car as they tried to figure out a plan. After trying to call Sarah on the way home, alarmed because she’d suddenly lost the ability to sense her mate, Charlie wasn’t able to get through on any of the lines, including the land line.
The entire house was shielded. Charlie could feel it. There was a void in her senses, and at the center of it was the house.
Kevin was a part of it. She was sure of it. She’d known from day one something was wrong with him, but she’d been unable to pinpoint why she felt that way. She still didn’t know exactly what was going on, but to save her family, she needed to figure it out.
“Should we call the primes?” Nick asked, his voice reasonably calm.
Charlie shook her head. “We don’t know what the situation is. If we start getting others involved, Dean’s kidnapper may hurt him.”
Nick nodded. “Dean has some weapons in the trunk of the car, but if we’re dealing with a warlock or sorceress powerful enough to shield an entire house and block communication, weapons won’t do a damn thing.”
Charlie sighed. “Nick,” she said, turning in her seat and putting a hand on Nick’s arm. “I think we can help them, but I’m going to need your help to do it.”
“I don’t have any magics,” he said, an apology in his tone of voice.
“I know,” Charlie said with a smile. “That’s not the kind of help I need.”
“Whatever you need, I’m giving you permission to do it,” he said. “They’re stuck in that house, Dean’s been kidnapped, and I have no idea what to do about it.”
Charlie nodded, giving his arm a squeeze. “Okay, what I need you to do is think about Dean. You can close your eyes or keep them open. Whatever makes you more comfortable.”
“Okay,” he said, then closed his eyes.
“Think about what you feel for him first,” she said, watching his facial features closely. He wasn’t lying about giving her permission, and she was relieved that he was so willing to work with her. “I’m going to think about him along with you, but as I do, I’m going to use what you know of him.”
“Are you going to read me?” he asked.
She smiled, happy that he didn’t sound upset or scared. “I’m going to do a little more than that. I’m going to see him the way you do,” she said as she eased her way into his head.
“Why?” he asked.
“So we can save Dean and the rest of our family,” she said softly, and she felt a warmth as Nick immediately let her in because of what she’d said.
“I love Dean,” Nick whispered.
“Yeah, and he loves you too,” she said.
Nick smiled. “He’s a great alpha. He’s strong. Stronger than he thinks. He really cares about people.”
Charlie watched as Nick showed her Dean’s thoughtfulness, the way he’d stayed home all weekend when he was fourteen because Sam had been sick and asked for his big brother to say with him even though Dean had been invited to a party.
“He does care about others,” Charlie said. “He uses his compassion to make the right decisions even when it hurts him,” she prodded, slowly introducing the idea of Dean sacrificing himself.
She’d heard from the primes what Kevin had done to Dean. She’d been shocked not only that it had happened, but that Dean had let it happen, that the others had ignored the things they knew about Dean. They’d grown up with Dean. Why couldn’t they see what was happening?
“Yeah,” Nick said, then huffed. “Sometimes he goes too far when he does things for other people.”
Charlie watched a seventeen-year-old Dean taking the blame for a prank. Nick and Dean had been involved with the prank war, Dean having been the one to instigate it by putting itching powder in Sam’s underwear, but the prank that had gone over the top was Sam’s fault.
Sam had been furious about Dean taking the blame, but he hadn’t found out about it until after Dean had been punished. Charlie watched Dean trying to convince Sam there was no reason they both had to be punished for it, especially when Dean started it. Sam still wasn’t convinced, so Dean reminded Sam that he’d already lied to his parents when he took the blame and would get punished a second time. She felt Nick’s stomach clench as Sam angrily backed down, only because Sam knew he’d be responsible for Dean getting punished twice.
Nick had talked to Dean later that night, telling him he needed to knock it off, that Sam needed to learn from his mistakes instead of being shielded from the consequences. Dean had shrugged it off until Nick had pointed out how upset Sam had been, turning it around and asking Dean how he’d feel if Sam took the blame for him.
Nick didn’t know if Dean continued taking the blame for Sam over the years because they hadn’t spent all that much time together, but neither Sam nor Dean had ever told him of another instance.
“Has he always been like that?” Charlie asked Nick.
“Yeah, but I think the added responsibility of being in an alpha house has made it worse,” Nick said, shaking his head.
“How so?” she asked.
Nick flinched as he remembered ordering Dean to get on his knees and blow him. Charlie knew he wasn’t ready yet, so she pushed him, encouraged him to move on and find something else to show her.
He shivered as the next thing that he thought of was Dean strapped to the breeding bench, getting fucked by Kevin. Charlie could tell Dean wasn’t having a good time.
“He didn’t want to do it,” Nick breathed, and it sounded as if it was a new idea to him.
“Why?” she asked, keeping her voice gentle and soft.
“Bondage freaks him out,” Nick said, flashing to a time when Sam said the same thing to him, confiding in Nick.
“Sam knew it,” Charlie said.
Nick nodded. “Yeah, and so did I, but I didn’t… I couldn’t remember that when he was strapped to the bench. I don’t know why. It was stupid of me.”
He showed her Dean freaking out when Nick had threatened him on the bench. Nick didn’t flinch away from the image of Dean’s frightened eyes, his panicked breathing, the tears. He was showing everything to her.
“Nobody let him up,” Nick said bitterly. “We all fucked him. And even though Kevin didn’t know about Dean’s phobia, Sam and I knew it.”
“You didn’t mean to,” Charlie said, encouraging him to explore why, to turn it on himself, but she did it gently. This wasn’t meant to be an attack on Nick. He’d been influenced. Charlie could see it now. Whatever was fucking with Dean’s head, it was fucking with everyone else as well.
Nick gasped, remembering the night he made Dean warm his cock. Charlie could see the look on Dean’s face. He was pissed about not being able to finish what he was doing, that much was obvious.
“He was tense,” Nick said. “I made him do it. I’ve never done that before. I’ve never… Why did I do that?” he asked, sounding bewildered.
“You didn’t hurt him,” Charlie soothed, because even though Dean hadn’t been thrilled about it, Nick obviously was careful with him.
“Not physically,” Nick whispered.
“What did it feel like to fuck him?” Charlie asked, trying another approach.
Nick snorted. “He’s got a great ass. It’s so fuckable. I wanna ride that thing all day long and make him scream,” he said with a smile.
Charlie winced, the taste of darkness bitter as she felt his desire to shove Dean down and fuck him even if Dean cried out.
Nick whimpered, his eyes opening wide. “What the fuck?” he yelped, pulling back and hitting his head on the car window. “What was that? Why did I say that? Why did I think that?”
“Why did you?” she asked, keeping herself separated, part of her deep inside Nick’s head and the other in her own head so she could feel his reactions and watch them at the same time.
Nick shook his head, panting. “I don’t want that! I… I love him! I’d never do… I don’t… Why?” he asked, thinking about all the alphas sitting in the living room while the primes were visiting, listening to them talk about what had been done, about Kevin doing everything he’d done.
He thought about Meg’s reaction to Kevin making Dean kneel in the salt. She’d been upset, but he knew Meg better than that. She was fierce in defending her family. She wasn’t the type to easily lose her temper, but in a situation like that, she had every right to take Kevin down, to force him into submission and make him bare his neck.
They all had that right, especially Dean. But Dean didn’t. He’d let Kevin do it all and never said anything to them. Sure, Dean was self-sacrificing, but he wasn’t a pathetic little puppy, running after everyone and following every command no matter how absurd. He was an alpha.
Charlie pushed deeper, letting Nick get upset. “Where is it coming from, Nick?” she asked, even though she knew he didn’t know.
Nick growled, grabbing his head and pulling at his hair. “Black! It’s everywhere!” he yelled.
Charlie tried to hold onto him, both physically and psychically. He was upset, he was scared, but she was almost there. Suddenly everything started leaking black as Nick showed her all of them standing in the living room.
The black was all over the house, all over their skin, coming out of their noses like oil, and it was getting worse the longer they stood there. She pushed the idea of Kevin, asking Nick to show her what Kevin looked like.
Nick whimpered again, manifesting Kevin in the room. He was a swirling mass of yellow and black, but he wasn’t controlling it by himself. He wasn’t strong enough to have that much power. Nick twitched in his seat, unable to explain what he was seeing.
Charlie knew exactly what it was, but Nick would have no frame of reference. He’d never seen black magics before in person. The movies could try to make it look real, but it was always different when you were standing in front of the real thing.
“It’s okay, Nick,” she said, enunciating her words, calming him. “I need to see where it’s coming from.”
“But why does it look like that?” Nick said. “I don’t remember seeing that before! That didn’t happen!”
“Don’t fight it,” Charlie said soothingly. “I need it to help Dean. If I can see where it’s coming from, we can save him.”
Nick calmed himself. She heard him taking measured breaths in and out. He concentrated on the black and yellow swirling around Kevin, but instead of seeing a trail, something that might lead them to the source, the picture in his head shifted and he was lying in bed.
Charlie quickly oriented herself, but she could feel Nick’s stomach protesting the shift, even if he hadn’t physically moved.
Kevin wasn’t in bed with him. They’d been sharing a bed since they got to the house, even though Kevin said he didn’t want anyone to know. Nick sat up, then reached out and touched Kevin’s pillow. It was still warm.
Nick stood up, a strange feeling in his head making him crave Kevin’s presence. He headed downstairs in time to see Kevin walking out the front door. Nick didn’t say anything. He just followed Kevin.
Everyone else was asleep, the house was dark, and Kevin had been in his pajama bottoms. Nick opened the front door and looked around. Kevin was walking through the grass, so Nick walked out on the porch. He watched Kevin make his way to the next-door neighbor’s yard, hopping over the little fence that divided the two properties.
“Kevin?” Nick said. “Where are you going?”
Kevin froze, a panicked look on his face. “What are you doing out here?” Kevin asked.
Nick shrugged. “I woke up and you weren’t there.”
Kevin frowned, then he growled as he stomped back to the porch. “Get back in bed and forget you saw me,” he said.
Nick gasped as a flash of yellow magics came from Kevin, hitting Nick in the head. He was dazed and nearly fell to the floor. He caught himself by grabbing onto the doorjamb. As he steadied himself, he realized he was really tired.
He looked back out at the yard and saw Kevin making his way up the walkway to the house next door. Nick shrugged, walking back into the house and heading upstairs. By the time he got back into bed, he’d forgotten why he’d been up in the first place.
Charlie had enough information. She slowly eased her way out of Nick’s mind so as to make it a pleasant experience for Nick. He didn’t need to be jerked around for his troubles.
Nick was shaking, but he sat up straighter, a frown on his face. “Now we know where Dean is,” he whispered, sounding lost.
Charlie could feel the devastation radiating from Nick. He’d fallen in love with Kevin, that much was obvious. He was hurting, but Charlie could also feel some anger coming from him.
“What do we do about it?’ he asked, his voice low and threatening.
Charlie smirked. “We get him back,” she said.
Sam felt life he should be doing something. Anything. Instead he was sitting on the arm of an overstuffed chair in the office, staring at the cell phones on the coffee table.
Benny and Sarah were out front, waiting for Charlie, but Sam had a feeling Charlie wasn’t coming. Sarah said she couldn’t feel Charlie anymore, and Charlie would know something was wrong. She wasn’t stupid, and Sam hoped she and Nick could do something from the outside.
Cas was standing so still it was creepy, Gabe was sitting on the couch, still looking very bewildered, but at least he’d calmed down.
The phone rang, the land line, and Cas moved so fast Sam wondered if he really did have magical powers. He hit the speakerphone button.
“Hello?” Cas said.
Sam was impressed that Cas sounded calm. He had to be scared. He had to be feeling protective, wanting to find whoever did this, but he controlled himself.
“Castiel,” a voice drawled through the speakerphone. “Dean will be so happy you answered. Aren’t you happy, Dean? Oh, yes, he nodded and looks very appreciative.”
“What do you want?” Cas asked.
“Aww, don’t you wanna know how Dean’s doing?” the voice asked.
Sam tried to place the voice. It was very distinctive, a very odd way of phrasing, almost like the man was caressing every single word as it oozed from his mouth.
“Yes,” Cas said, “I would like to know how Dean is doing. Thank you,” Cas said politely.
“Dean’s doing well for the time being,” he said, “but he’s got quite the attitude. I told him he should behave, but, well, you know Dean. He may not be as dumb as everyone assumes, but he’s not the sharpest boy either.”
“May I speak with him?” Cas asked hopefully.
“Oh, he’s a little tongue-tied at the moment,” he said. “You can speak to him, but he won’t be able to do much more than make pretty noises in response.”
“I don’t need to speak with him,” Cas said, shaking his head even though the man on the other end of the line couldn’t see him.
“No,” he sing-songed, “you asked, and I’m sure he’d like to hear your voice.”
Cas looked up at Sam, worry in his eyes. They had no idea what the man would do to Dean, and if Cas pushed too much, they could easily get him hurt.
“How about it, Dean?” the man said, and the sound of labored breathing came through the speakerphone.
“Dean?” Cas said. A grunt was his reply.
“See,” the voice said, “he’s willing to listen, but he’s a little concerned about why I called you.”
“Why did you call me?” Cas asked.
“I called you to offer a trade,” the voice replied. “You see, I rightfully earned something a long time ago, but it was taken from me, and I told Dean I was gonna ask you for it. He told me no, that I couldn’t have it, and when I told him my plan for getting you to give me what I want, well, let’s just say you might wanna bring a dry pair of jeans when you come to make the trade.”
Sam squeezed his eyes shut. There wasn’t a lot that scared Dean. If this guy had scared or hurt Dean badly enough to make him wet himself, it was bad.
“What do you want?” Cas asked. “What was taken from you?”
“Let me tell you a story,” the voice said, then a grunt came over the line.
Sam tensed. He knew it was Dean that grunted. If the kidnapper was going to hurt Dean while he rambled on, maybe they could convince him to speed things up. Sam pushed his magics out, tasting the air as he felt along the waves coming from the phone.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” the voice drawled. Sam stopped, pulling his magics back. “Dean wants me to ask that you keep your magics to yourself, Sammy,” he said, then there was a wet noise followed by a growling that continued for a few seconds before becoming a muffled scream of agony.
“Stop!” Sam yelped. “Stop, please! I won’t do it again! I’m sorry!”
The screaming stopped. “Good boy, Sammy,” the voice said, and Sam could hear Dean panting in the background.
“Continue with your story,” Cas said.
“Oh, yes,” the voice said, sounding happy Cas had requested the story. “Years ago, there was a sweet little baby. He was a very powerful baby, but nobody knew it back then. His mommy and daddy loved him so much. So very much.”
Sam sat back down on the arm of the chair, willing himself to remain calm. Anger would do nothing to help Dean.
“Anyway,” the voice continued, “I visited the baby, and I gave him a gift. Just a token of my devotion, because I knew that one day, that little baby was gonna do great things. Mommy and Daddy were in the way, though. They were gonna make him into a nice little boy, so after I burned Mommy and Daddy to death and the house was going up in flames, the baby showed me just what a big boy he was gonna be when he grew up.”
Sam was trembling. It couldn’t be. He was filling in the blanks, and he had to be filing them in wrong. He looked at Cas, whose eyes were wide with surprise.
“The baby,” the voice said, making it sound like the baby was a cherished thing to this man, “put the fire out with his magics, pushing me out the window as he did it. And I’ve gotta tell you, it was beautiful. The way his magics transformed from red to orange as he mixed his magics with my gift, oh yes, it was beautiful.”
Sam stood up, unable to remain sitting any longer. “You want me, you can have me,” he said, nearly shouting at the phone, his hands clenched into fists, wanting to hurt the man, get him away from Dean.
“I wasn’t finished yet, Sam,” the man said, then Dean let out a whine of pain. “Apologize for interrupting me.”
“I’m sorry,” Sam said, trying to keep his voice sincere. He had to remember to keep his tongue in check for Dean’s sake.
“All right, now we can finish our story,” the man said. “You see, Sam, your magics aren’t just orange magics. They’re a wondrous mix of red and yellow without ever turning black, and even though you don’t see it yet, I can help you unlock the full power you really have. All I want is for you to let me do that.”
“Okay,” Sam said without hesitation. “I’ll do it.”
“Oh, Sam,” the man said, tutting him. “I knew you’d see it my way. Dean was skeptical, but I just knew you’d want to live up to your full potential. Dean’s always been holding you back, you see. Had I raised you and not his soft excuses for parents, had he not coddled you and taught you to do good things with your magics, you’d be a perfect leader, a flawless ruler who could do anything he damn well pleased.”
“Let’s make a trade,” Sam said, ignoring the dig at his adoptive parents and brother. They’d taken him in and raised him as their own. He’d never felt like an outsider, even when he’d expressed a desire to go to college. Hunting had never been something he wanted to do, but he still wanted to help people. He just wanted to do it on his terms, in his own way.
He knew going to college had hurt Dean, knew full well that Dean took it as a rejection, but Sam also knew actions meant much more to Dean than words, and when Sam had been the one to get the ball rolling on setting up an alpha house with all of them, it had been just what Dean needed to know Sam never rejected him.
Going to college was something Sam needed for himself, and Dean was just too hurt to see that Sam was preparing himself for life in an alpha house by choosing social sciences as a major and taking extra courses in spellcasting, languages, and applied magics. Dean had a big character flaw, and it was his inability to see what was right in front of him when he was hurting, but Sam was confident it would work out and their relationship would heal. Sam was right.
And as far as Alastair’s claims of Dean ruining Sam’s chances at world domination? Well, Sam tried not to laugh. He knew Dean was listening, knew Dean would be freaking out over the implication that he could’ve possibly stifled Sam in some way, and Sam couldn’t wait to give Dean a hard time about being upset over such a ridiculous thing. Yeah, Dean was such an ass for not letting Sam start an apocalypse. How dare he not raise Sam to be the antichrist?
Sam put his arms over his chest, his stance radiating alpha to anyone who cared to look. He could keep Dean safe, whether Dean liked it or not. “Me for him,” Sam said.
The man chuckled. “Always so impatient. That’s another thing Dean failed to teach you by coddling you. I’ll work with you, help you learn patience and so much more. In the meantime, I’ll tell you why I insisted Castiel be the one to answer the phone.”
“Okay,” Sam said, nodding.
“See, I know that Dean has recently started courting a couple of his housemates, namely Castiel and Gabriel. Now, while Gabriel can get a bit emotional over things, most likely given his skill as healer, I can count on Castiel to keep his head on straight and see the importance of doing exactly as he’s told,” he said. “And I want all of you to fully understand the repercussions of deceiving me or trying to rescue Dean without making a fair trade.”
“You don’t have to do that,” Sam said. “You’re holding all the cards. You can have me if you let Dean go, and I won’t fight you. Cas and Gabe won’t fight you.”
“Let’s call it a lifetime reminder for his future mates,” the man said.
“No, please,” Sam said. “We won’t fight you. Please don’t hurt him,” he begged, not giving a damn that he sounded desperate.
Sam held his breath as he heard grunting and a shuffling sound. Both Cas and Sam flinched as Dean let out a growling scream, muffled by whatever was in his mouth. Cas leaned over, bracing himself on the edge of the desk. It seemed to go on forever, the sounds of a struggle and the muffled screams. They finally tapered off to a whimper, then panting.
“I’ll come to you,” Sam said, his voice hoarse. “I can come to the house now.”
“That’s a good boy,” the man said. “Come to the door alone, but Castiel can stay on your front porch to help Dean in.”
“Okay,” Sam said, but the man had already ended the call.
Gabe gasped, standing up suddenly, eyes wide. “Sam!” he growled, obviously no longer under whatever spell the man next door had him under. “We have to do something. You can’t just…,” he started, but trailed off, his hands out to his sides.
“We don’t have a choice,” Cas said. “All we can hope for is that Sam is as powerful as Dean’s kidnapper claims.”
“No one has ever found black magics in me,” Sam said, shaking his head. “I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know if he’s telling the truth. I’ve never been very powerful, but Mom and Dad said I’ve had orange magics since the day they took me in.”
“I’ve never heard of anything like it,” Cas said.
“We have to go,” Sam said. “We have no choice.”
“Stay here,” Cas said to Gabe.
“No!” Gabe said. “I’m not staying here while you guys –,” he started, but Cas cut him off.
“Gabriel,” Cas barked. “He has Dean, he’s a powerful warlock, and he can most likely do much worse than simply kill Dean. We can’t risk it. Stay here. Be here for Dean when I bring him home.”
Gabe looked as if he was going to fight them, push the issue further, but he sighed, his shoulders dropping in defeat. “Okay, Cas,” he said softly.
“Let’s go,” Sam said, walking out of the room.
Charlie shook her head. “We have to go in. There’s nothing we can do from out here without knowing what’s happening inside.”
“You and Sarah are powerful together,” Nick said. “If you have Sam helping, could you defeat a level ten warlock if that’s what this is?”
Charlie sighed. “Sam’s stronger than he realizes. Stronger than anyone realizes. I felt it in him yesterday.”
“He still hasn’t unlocked his magics?” Nick asked, his eyes widening in surprise.
“Not fully, no,” Charlie said.
“Can you help him do that?” he asked.
“I can,” she said, wincing, “but if he’s not ready, he could end up with brain damage or lose the use of his magics altogether.”
“Sarah uses green magics,” Nick said instead of asked. “That means she can use anything organic.”
“Yeah,” Charlie said with a nod.
“So why can’t all of us help?” he asked. “I give you permission to use me, and I can tell you without a doubt Gabe and Cas will give you permission whether you ask for it first or not.”
Charlie nodded. “Okay, I can do that.”
“This neighborhood is full of people,” Nick said.
Charlie turned to Nick, her eyes wide. “No! I couldn’t do that.”
Nick raised one eyebrow. “These people think the world of Dean. And because of Sarah’s green magics, you can use them without draining any of them.”
Charlie huffed. “I can’t. I can’t do that to all these people.”
“Charlie,” Nick said softly, getting her attention. “Part of what makes Dean a great alpha is that he knows sometimes you don’t get a good option. Sometimes it’s two shitty choices, and you’ve gotta take the less shitty option.”
She shook her head. “He would never use hundreds of people to save one person.”
“Bullshit,” Nick barked, and Charlie’s eyes widened. “You’re not talking about killing hundreds of people to save one. What I’m saying is we use a few dozen people in the neighborhood to stop a black magics warlock from destroying an alpha house and possibly killing all the alphas in the process. We don’t know what the fuck this guy wants. Maybe it’s to infect everyone in the house and take over the city.”
Charlie’s breath caught in her throat. “Oh,” she said softly.
“Yeah,” Nick said with a nod. “Given everything we know, the fact that Kevin was a plant, this isn’t just some joke or some guy who’s disgruntled over a decision Dean’s made. This took time. He’s planned this, and it’s for damn sure been longer than just a few weeks. He was powerful enough to make sure the primes forgot why they came.”
Charlie gasped. “Why do you say that?”
“Have they called?” he asked. “Have they questioned any of us since they left? Have they told us how the investigation’s going? You know, that little thing where Missouri was convinced Kevin was intentionally infected?”
“Shit,” Charlie hissed.
“Kevin made me forget I ever saw him walk over there in the middle of the night,” Nick said. “If Kevin was powerful enough to do that, then why can’t a level ten warlock living in the abandoned house next door wipe all the primes’ memories as they leave?”
“Okay,” Charlie said, nodding as she made the decision. “Let’s do this.”
“That’s my girl,” Nick said triumphantly.