SUMMARY: Casefic. The tables are turned on Sam and Dean – this time they're the hunted, and it's a new enemy who wants them.
SPOILERS: Set late in Season 7. References to canon incidents through Season 6, and some oblique references to a couple of Season 7 incidents but no plot spoilers for anything in Season 7. This is a casefic which takes place in-between canon hunts.
DISCLAIMER: The characters of Supernatural belong to Eric Kripke & Co. I am playing in their sandbox, with their toys, with much gratitude.
RATING: T for swearing, including the 'big boy' words, as Jensen once called them, adult situations, and violence.
WORD COUNT: 30K+
A/N: And here it is, the final chapter. Thank you all so, so much for the amazing support for this story.
I've done research for the medical and Voodoo aspects of this story, but am certainly no expert in either. For the medical info, please forgive any inaccuracies. For the Voodoo, I have done what Supernatural itself does – take factual elements and present them in a fictional way, mixing together lore from New Orleans, Haiti and West Africa.
Written for JaniceC678 and LittleLady, based on a plot bunny they came up with, and gave me to play with. The full prompt appears at the end of this chapter. Beta-ed by the always awesome Harrigan. Merci, mon ami. I tinkered post-beta, so any remaining goofs are mine and mine alone. Enjoy.
BLOOD OF THE BAYOU
The drummers led the procession and were the first to enter the peristyle. They knelt on the floor to the right of Kalfou's altar, goatskin drums between their knees, and began to play, slowly at first, their syncopated rhythm gradually picking up speed.
Sam and Dean, flanked by their guards, stood in front of Erzulie's altar and watched as a steady stream of Ti-Jean's followers wended their way to the river from the cabin. The bobbing lights of the candles they carried were visible long before they were, the sound of their voices, chanting to the rhythm of the drums, echoing off the bayou waters as they surrounded the peristyle.
There were hundreds of them. The rising moon and all the candles made it easy to see the individual faces even as they moved as one, bobbing their heads and stomping their feet in unison with each beat of the drum.
Caught up in the spectacle, Sam jumped at the sound of his name but quickly snapped his attention to Dean. DaCoste had a firm hold of his brother's arm, gripping tighter each time Dean tried to wrench it free and growing more pissed with each attempt. Sam had no doubt that Dean was pushing his captor's buttons intentionally, distracting him from the fact that he was working to free his hands.
Dean nodded his head is a show of solidarity. "Do what you have to. Whatever it takes."
Sam had barely given a terse nod in response when DaCoste jammed an elbow into Dean's ribs. His brother grunted in pain as he jackknifed forward reflexively.
"Shut it." DaCoste glanced at his men and jerked his head toward Sam. "That one first. Ti-Jean wants his blood."
Sam's eyes widened as he was shoved forward. Blood? A second shove slammed him into the post at the center of the peristyle. He stumbled as they spun him around, almost going down, but his two guards grabbed him and forced his bound arms over his head, securing his wrists to a large nail high on the pole. The rough handling sent pain ripping through his injured arm, causing his knees to buckle, in turn putting even more stress on his arms. It took a moment to register that the agonized yell echoing around him was his own.
"Leave him alone, you son of a bitch. There's no fucking demon blood in him." Dean's livid voice cut easily through the drums and the chanting. "He-"
Sam shakily regained his feet in time to see DaCoste drive an elbow into Dean's temple, reopening the cut there and dropping his brother to his knees, quickly cutting off his protest. Demon blood? That's what Ti-Jean was after?
The crowd fell silent, riveted by the fracas in the peristyle, but the drums continued. DaCoste and another guard kept Dean on his knees, each now maintaining an iron grip on a shoulder and his biceps to ensure he didn't move.
Chest heaving and blood running down his temple, Dean lifted his head and glared up at DaCoste before offering an apologetic shrug to Sam. He'd known that Ti-Jean wanted Sam's blood. Why the hell hadn't he said anything?
Dean read his mind. "You're tapped out, Sammy. I was hoping the son of a bitch would figure that out. Guess he's-"
DaCoste shut him up with another blow to the head as six women, junior priestesses, all in long red dresses, filed into the peristyle. Each carried a large flat basket holding flowers, fruits, money – more gifts for the loa. As the baskets were set down around the big altar, one priestess began to chant, the cadence of her words a perfect accompaniment to the drumbeats. The other five priestesses added their voices before the worshipers outside again joined the chorus.
Parise entered next, also dressed in red, but with a long black snake draped around her neck. The snake, a water moccasin, represented Dhamballah-Wedo, the father of all loas who brought forth creation. She was followed by Carrie, who held a large basket filled with flowers, perfumes, sweets, all things loved by Erzulie, and it was placed in front of the small altar. The two women then turned to face the front of the peristyle, standing at DaCoste's side, almost directly in front of Sam.
Ti-Jean entered last, dressed all in black and carrying a six-foot staff, topped by a large ceremonial rattle. He'd timed his entrance so that the moon had just topped the trees. It was full and bright, a massive yellow-red sphere turning night into day and waters that had been blue-green in daylight to reddish black.
Ti-Jean banged the staff on the floor three times and the chanting and drumming stopped instantly. Suddenly, there was complete silence, broken only by Sam's harsh breathing.
The bokor walked slowly up to Sam, opened his arms wide and began reciting an incantation in a French dialect. He lowered the staff so that the rattle touched Sam's chest, turned and pointed the staff at the moon, shook it so that it rattled loudly, and then banged it on the floor three more times.
The drumming started again, then the chanting, the crowd outside undulating with it as before. Ti-Jean nodded at Parise who stepped forward, lifting the snake from around her neck and holding it up in front of Sam while she chanted, eyes closed. Ti-Jean then joined her in the incantation, placing his hands on the snake, on either side of the mambo's. When they finished, he stepped back and Parise slid her hand along the snake until it was behind its head. She kissed the snake's head, then lifted it so that its flicking tongue almost brushed Sam's face. Instinctively, he pulled back but when the snake hissed and extended its fangs, Parise moved the snake to Sam's arm, allowing it to plunge those fangs into Sam's biceps.
"You bitch!" Dean's voice was low and furious but there was no question that Parise heard it. "You are gonna pay for that."
Sam winced at the bite, but the only sensation that followed was the feel of warm blood running down his arm. The moccasin was a poisonous viper but he experienced no telltale signs of venom. It was a dry bite, leading him to think they'd milked the snake before the ceremony. He nodded at Dean to signal he was OK.
Dean took no solace in that, eyes still full of fury and locked on Parise.
"Pay for it?" The mambo handed off the snake to Carrie and took a ceremonial cup and knife from another priestess. She met Dean's glare as she turned and smiled. "To get what this will give us, I will gladly pay that price."
Parise stepped in front of Sam, pressed the flat edge of the knife blade above the bite and used it to pump Sam's blood into the cup.
When she stopped, Sam was light-headed, the blood loss just the latest stressor for his body to battle. The room was spinning as he watched Parise hand the cup to Ti-Jean who held it up in front of the big altar.
The bokor brought the cup to his lips and drank.
Sam closed his eyes, that image bringing back all kinds of horrific memories of his own addiction to demon blood, to the powers it fueled. Was that what Ti-Jean hoped for? That whatever made Sam respond to the blood still lay dormant within him?
When the bokor spoke, this time it was in English. "We invite our father Kalfou to join us, offer him this vessel through which to speak to us and whose loa and body will serve him for the rest of his days. Bless me with the power and guidance to shape him into your servant – one all others, human and loa alike, will fear in your name."
Sam could barely breathe, waiting for the blow that would signal Kalfou had possessed his body and evicted his soul, wondering how different it would feel to Meg and to Lucifer. He glanced over at Dean; his brother looked like he couldn't breathe, either.
Dean was struggling to break free of his guards' hold, his eyes wide and locked on Sam.
But nothing happened.
Ti-Jean went from puzzled to pissed in heartbeat and turned on Parise, eyes flashing with fury. "Imbecile. You said you had unlocked the door."
There was nothing submissive about Parise's response as she smiled smugly up at him. "I unlocked a door."
She turned and walked over to Dean, holding her hand against his cheek as she closed her eyes. Dean pulled away from her touch, but her fingers threaded through his hair, holding his head in place. She spoke a brief incantation in French, ending in English with, "Accept this gift as a symbol of my loyalty and service, and as a pathway to the retribution we seek."
She had barely stepped back when Dean was thrown forward with enough force to pull him from his guards' hold and slam him face-first to the floor, as if something had run into him from behind.
Parise held up her hands; the crowd fell silent and the drumming ceased.
There was an audible snap as Dean broke the rope holding his arms behind his back. He placed his hands on the floor and pushed himself up to his knees. When he lifted his head, he was smiling. He held out his arm and Parise moved in quickly, taking it to steady him as he stood up.
Parise bowed her head. "We are honored, Maman."
Maman? Sam's chest was rising and falling rapidly. That was the mambo's term of endearment for Erzulie, not Kalfou. Erzulie had possessed Dean.
His brother moved with an almost feminine grace. He – she – gave a perfunctory nod of the head to Parise, then turned to the altar in the corner, surveying the gifts laid out for her. Erzulie nodded as if pleased, then picked up a mirror, frowning as she closely studied the image reflected back at her. "He is damaged." She ran her fingers lightly over the mottled bruising and swollen skin of Dean's black eye and the broken skin of the gash on his temple; the bruising faded to healthy pink and the cut healed beneath her touch.
"Much better." Erzulie smiled at her reflection. "You did not lie, Parise, he is a beautiful man. But when I walk among humans I prefer a feminine vessel." She turned to the mambo, running a hand down her cheek. "A far better way to experience a man such as this, ne-c'est pas? Still, for now, his form will do."
Erzulie turned toward Sam in time to see Ti-Jean lurch forward and fall to his hands and knees. The bokor lifted his head almost immediately and rose to his feet. When he turned his stance was completely different, as was his voice when he spoke. He held out his hands, clenching and unclenching them. "Not the host I was expecting."
Unable to jump into Sam, Kalfou had taken over the bokor's body. The loa glared at Dean before turning to Parise. "So, it is not your magic that is suspect, just your motives."
Parise seemed unnerved by Kalfou's attention, but Erzulie quickly stepped between the mambo and the bokor. To Sam's eyes, the protective gesture was far more Dean than the loa now driving his meatsuit.
Erzulie shook her head. "Do not turn your anger on my mambo, my brother. She only did what I asked, to prevent your… greed."
"Greed?" Now Kalfou seemed even more pissed. "These souls were unclaimed. I found them – they're mine."
Erzulie laughed softly, shaking her head. "That's where you're wrong. This one already bears my mark – he's mine."
Kalfou's expression darkened. "Then I have no use for either one of you."
Sam's breath hitched. Minus a zombi astral on a leash, he had no clue if one god could kill another, but he was damn sure that Dean would be collateral damage in the attempt.
Erzulie, however, didn't seem the least bit ruffled by Kalfou's threats. She shook her head. "So much bluster in a man is not attractive, Kalfou. Now, unlike you, I'm not greedy. I'm willing to share." She moved in front of Sam, studying him closely and tapping his tattoo with her finger "My mambo personalized the lock on this one. Agree to my terms, I shall allow her to unlock it and you shall share in the spoils."
Kalfou glowered at her. "And if I don't? If I strike down your vessel where it stands?"
Erzulie shrugged. "Then I will strike down my mambo, the key dies with her and we both leave here empty-handed. The power of the Blood Moon will have been wasted."
Sam's attention jumped to Parise. She seemed neither surprised nor scared by the threat against her. He turned back to Dean, the face so familiar but the expression so foreign – the choice of words, the speech patterns definitely not his brother's. And the eyes…. As much as Dean tried to mask his emotions, as good as he was doing it after so much practice, the eyes to Sam were always a giveaway, letting him know how hurt, how angry and, on rare occasions, how happy Dean really was. Now, there was nothing. The spark that was Dean was missing.
Was that how he'd looked, Sam wondered, when his soul was AWOL?
Erzulie turned back to Kalfou. "So, brother, do you agree?"
Kalfou seemed barely able to contain his rage, but Erzulie had backed him into a corner and he knew it. "Unlock this vessel. We have an agreement."
Erzulie chuckled. "See, was that so hard? The terms are the same as you proposed to your bokor. For one year, my mambo and your bokor each have the use of the zombi astral to do their bidding and ours – especially when there is business to attend to in those places neither you nor I dare tread."
Sam swallowed, his mouth suddenly tinder dry. They'd been right. It sure sounded like there were grudges to settle in Heaven and Hell, and that he and Dean would be the weapons used to settle them.
Kalfou's eyes narrowed. "Send your soul-eater into my house, and you'll start a war."
Erzulie smiled. "Then give me no cause to steal from you. After one year, the captured souls are ours to reclaim… to consume. I'll add my own clause. The power they give us, the knowledge we gain from their… experiences, can be used against anyone except each other."
There was no humor in Kalfou's deep laugh. "What would be the point? We'd destroy each other in the process. But if we are chasing the same thing?"
Erzulie shrugged. "We work together, as difficult as that may be. Share the spoils. The power of these two souls combined to would be worth swallowing our pride, at least for a short time, ne-c'est-pas?"
Kalfou turned his attention to Sam. "Get on with it."
Erzulie shook her head. "Don't be petulant, brother. Another unattractive trait." She turned to Parise. "Unlock the door, but first…." She turned and walked over to Carrie. As much as the goddess had stated she preferred a female vessel, she seemed to delight in the height advantage Dean's body gave her over the young priestess. Carrie looked terrified.
Erzulie laughed. "And you should be afraid. You pledged your allegiance to me and yet you've been working with Kalfou's bokor to undermine me, to rob me of this prize. All in the hope that my brother here would strike down my mambo, allow you to take her place."
Carrie could only stammer out her protest. "I… I…."
"Hush. I have no place in my service for those who turn their back on me." Erzulie snapped her wrist and Carrie's neck snapped with it, dropping her to the ground to a collective gasp from the onlookers outside the peristyle. Here, Erzulie had lived up to her name as the Goddess of Vengeance. She turned angrily toward Kalfou. "Let this serve as a warning to your bokor if he decides to send more spies into my service. Now take your spoils and make sure your dog delivers me my zombi astral."
She glanced over at Parise. "All goes as planned, ma cherie." Erzulie again picked up a mirror from the altar, popping a strawberry into her mouth as she stared at Dean's reflection. She wiped her lips, then turned back to the mambo. "Steel yourself and know I walk with you. Before this night is over your most fervent wish will be granted."
Erzulie turned toward Sam, her energy briefly visible as it separated from Dean, before dissipating. The connection with the loa broken, Dean's body was flung backwards. The mirror Erzulie had held, still in his hand, splintered into shards as it hit the floor, while Dean smashed into the side wall of the peristyle before crumpling to the floor at the base of the goddess's altar.
"Dean!" Sam fought against the ropes binding his hands above his head. His brother wasn't moving, just lying face down on the dirt floor now that Erzulie was gone.
Parise moved to check on him but Kalfou grabbed her arm to stop her. "No. He is Erzulie's now. Let her care for him." He pointed at Sam. "Cast your spell, witch, so I may claim what's mine."
Parise nodded, but then motioned to one of her attendants to go to Dean. One of the young priestesses was forced to step over Carrie's body to get to him, but after she ran her hands over Dean's neck and chest, she glanced up at her mambo and nodded.
Sam exhaled in relief and turned his attention to the mambo and Kalfou as they stepped in front of him.
Kalfou again grabbed Parise's arm, this time eliciting a pained gasp. "Don't even think of betraying me. My patience has been tried once too often today."
"I can't." Parise wrenched her arm back. "You know that to maximize the potential power of these souls, they must be claimed under the Blood Moon. Believe me, if that was not the case, my lady would have taken both long before now."
Kalfou leaned in, his face inches from the mambo. "Your lady has no idea how to wield the power we are about to possess. It is wasted on her."
"She will do what she must, as will I. What happens beyond that, the fates have already decided." Parise turned away from him, walked over to Erzulie's altar and retrieved what to Sam looked like a partially smoked cigar. She lit it, waved her hand in front of it until the embers glowed red, and was already chanting as she walked back to him.
Sam pressed against the pole at his back, letting out a series of rapid exhales, knowing what came next. Pain still ripped through him though when the burning embers were pressed against his skin. The mambo barely acknowledged Sam's pained grunt before turning to Kalfou. "This time the door is open."
Dean felt strange – like he was floating. He couldn't see, he couldn't hear, he couldn't feel – he just was.
He could sense an incredible peace encircling him, just beyond his reach, but something was holding him back, like this was the wrong time and place for him. So what else was new?
And then he felt like he'd been hit by a bus. Something slammed into him and dropped him hard. When he came to, his face was in the dirt – literally. Every inch of him hurt – right down to the nail on his little toe. He groaned and forced open his eyes; everything was blurry and sideways. "Shit." Dean screwed his eyes closed as his head began pounding, making it hard to think.
No. It wasn't his head – it was drums. And voices, lots of voices, mingling seamlessly with the drumbeats. The memories flooded back – the Voodoo ceremony, Ti-Jean drinking Sam's blood and then… and then…. Shit. He had no freaking clue what happened next. He forced his eyes open and waited as his vision slid into focus.
Sam was still tied to the pole at the center of the peristyle, Ti-Jean and Parise standing in front of him. The mambo backed away and Ti-Jean moved directly in front of his brother. Dean didn't know exactly what was happening but behind the defiant set of Sam's jaw, his brother was scared, and that was all he needed.
"Get the hell away from my brother." His voice was little more than a croak. With a groan he pushed himself up, but froze when Ti-Jean jerked and fell to his knees and Sam slammed backwards into the post with enough force that even through the drums Dean heard wood crack. Sam hung from his bound arms for a moment, leading Dean to think he'd been knocked out. But then Sam lifted his head, straightened himself to his full height and nodded.
It wasn't Sam anymore.
"No…no… fuck." Dean knew what that meant. Kalfou had jumped on board. The cold smile on his brother's face as he stared down at Dean confirmed that fact.
Sam/Kalfou pulled his wrists apart, snapping the leather rope that bound him to the post. He lowered his arms, flexing his hands as if getting use to the feel of the new meatsuit. The drumming stopped and the crowd fell silent.
Ti-Jean was still on his knees but lifted his head as Kalfou stepped forward. The loa shot him a look of disgust. "This soul is mine – and yet I still feel cheated. Why? Because your blindness, your inability to see that your own mambo was conspiring against us, means I now have to share my prize with that vain brat Erzulie."
Erzulie had shown up? How the hell had he missed that? Dean's insides twisted. Oh, fuck – Erzulie had jumped him. There went his possession-free record, and it sure as hell explained why Kalfou was pissed. Erzulie had laid claim to his soul.
Ti-Jean was groveling now, or as close as a bokor came to it. "Take the soul. As much as I could do in your service with a zombi astral, if you feel it best serves you to take it now, do so. I will be content with the demon blood and the zombie this vessel will become."
Kalfou laughed heartily. He turned Sam's arm, studying the snake bite and trailing his fingers through the blood that stained the skin. "This vessel is scarred… the Lightbringer's wounds run deep, but no demon seed germinates within its blood. At least none that you can cultivate."
A whole host of emotions played out across Ti-Jean's face, from confusion to fury. "But you said-"
"I said the demon blood was the source of this vessel's dark power – which is true. But real power comes from balance – there is also much good within this boy, something you are sadly lacking in." Kalfou smiled petulantly. "It seems neither of us will leave here tonight with everything we expected."
Ti-Jean looked like he wanted to kill the loa, but Kalfou ignored him, walking towards the open end of the peristyle. "As for the soul, if I wanted it now, I'd take it. It's not something I need the blessing of a bokor to do." He glanced outside at the full moon, now high in the sky. "Taken under the Blood Moon it will be a powerful entity tonight. But a year from now, after a year of service consuming the loa of every one we send him after, it will be a thousand times more powerful. Then I will take it… then I will be unstoppable – even among my brethren."
"You know, this whole eating souls thing…." Dean staggered to his feet. "Got a friend who tried that. Didn't work out so well."
"Shut up," Parise hissed. "Let this play out as the fates have ordained."
Dean scowled at the mambo. "The fates? You keep saying that. What the hell does that mean?"
Sam – Kalfou – was suddenly in his face, all hard edges and anger, with no visible signs of the compassion which defined his brother, of the good Kalfou had just referred to. "You are Erzulie's now. It's fortunate for you that I have no desire to deal with her tantrums or I would snap you in half just to spite her."
Dean forced a grin. "Lucky me."
Kalfou grabbed Dean by the neck and flung him across the peristyle. For the second time that night, he slammed into wall and crumpled to the floor. Before he even got his breath back, Kalfou was standing over him again. Dean slowly pushed himself up with a groan. "You know, you're the third son of a bitch to take over Sammy's meatsuit and beat the crap out of me. This is getting really old."
Kalfou's cold smile returned. "Your meatsuit, as you call it, will recover from the bruises to become Erzulie's zombie… her whore. Your soul is intact, as is my deal with her." He turned on Parise. "Of course, I made no such deal for you."
Parise glared at him defiantly. "Do what you must."
"Oh, I will." Kalfou studied her curiously. "There is so much hatred for my bokor within you." His smile turned cruel, a world apart from the crooked grin that normally played out across Sam's features. "Perhaps because you know he asked me to kill your father so that he could take your mother, have her for his own."
Dean's eyes widened at that revelation. That explained a lot.
"I've known for a long time, bided my time until I could avenge her." Parise shot a look of complete hatred at Ti-Jean, then turned back to Kalfou her eyes flashing. "Before this night is over, I will have my revenge – I have seen it."
"Really?" Kalfou's laugh was chilling. "Then perhaps you've seen this." He grabbed the mambo by the neck, easily lifting her off the ground, and carrying her to the entrance of the peristyle, her feet kicking helplessly, her strained gasps for air audible even above the muffled screams from the onlookers outside. The crowd parted as Kalfou stood in front of his followers. "Let this be a lesson to anyone who feels the need to turn against me." He flung Parise over the heads of the crowd, her terrified scream followed by a loud splash as she landed in the bayou. There was a muffled roar as the alligators sensed the unexpected prey, more splashing, and three piercing screams before an uneasy silence settled again over the peristyle.
Kalfou glanced up at the moon then strode back to the center of the peristyle. "Time grows short. Get this done." He glowered at the bokor. "I doubt I have to tell you that your next mistake will be fatal."
Before Ti-Jean could answer, there was a flash of bright energy and Sam's body jerked backwards, smashing into the center pillar hard enough to shake loose dust from the rafters. He toppled forward and slammed face first onto the floor at the bokor's feet.
"Sammy!" Sam wasn't moving and Dean was torn; jump to his brother's aid or set their plan in motion. He glanced over at DaCoste; his attention was riveted on the bokor and on Sam, not on his prisoner. Now was Dean's chance. It went against a lifetime of instinct, but he took it.
As Ti-Jean used his toe to flip Sam onto his back and motioned for the drummers to start up again, Dean snaked his hand under Erzulie's altar where he'd hidden their improvised scatter bombs, and grabbed a handful. The drummers picked up the pace, their syncopated rhythms quickly pulling the crowd out of their shocked silence. They began chanting again in time to the beat.
Dean needed the altar's help to haul himself to his feet, his back protesting loudly against the most recent abuse. A quick glance over his shoulder told him DaCoste's attention was still on the bokor.
He steadied himself, then lobbed the grenades one after the other over the crowd into the big fire pit outside. The gunpowder inside ignited the moment the flames burned away the silk, blasting the pearls like shrapnel through the crowd. They weren't going to do much damage but Ti-Jean's followers didn't know that. The loud bang as each exploded and the sting from the shot were enough to quickly incite panic.
The explosions and the screams that followed as the followers began stampeding away from the river sent DaCoste's guards scrambling outside, guns drawn, but soon seeking cover themselves from the shrapnel. DaCoste turned to follow them but glanced to the side in time to see Dean tossing the last of his grenades. He charged at Dean.
Dean was ready for him, channeling all his pent-up fury and frustration into his first punch. It connected solidly with DaCoste's jaw and he staggered, his head snapping sideways. He turned back to Dean, blood running from a split lip, his glare filled with hate, and reached behind his back. He was going for a gun. Dean's hand shot out toward Erzulie's altar, fingers closing around the ceremonial knife Parise had used to pump the blood from Sam's arm. He lunged forward, burying the blade in DaCoste's heart before the gun made it past his hip. Shock was the last expression to ever register on DaCoste's face; he dropped to the floor of the peristyle, the hilt of the dagger still protruding from his chest.
Dean's attention snapped back to the bokor and Sam before DaCoste even hit the ground. "No!" His anguished shout was barely heard above the din of the continuing panic beyond the walls of the peristyle.
Sam was just coming to, his confusion obvious in the wake of his possession. Ti-Jean knelt at his feet, ignoring the screams and stampede of followers, totally focused on his task. At some point while Dean was lobbing the grenades, the bokor had donned a pair of black leather gloves. Now he held a small, ornate silver pot in one hand, a long black feather in the other. As Dean turned from DaCoste, it was to see Ti-Jean dip the feather into the pot, then draw the feather and the white powder that now coated it up the soles of Sam's bare feet, one after the other.
All ambient noise disappeared, the rapid beat of his heart the only sound Dean heard. That powder was the neurotoxin, the first step in creating a zombie. The bokor was killing Sam.
Ti-Jean set down the pot and feather and raised his hands in supplication, his focus on Kalfou's altar. "One life-force ebbs to fuel two, both in your service, my father. He-"
The crack of a gunshot cut off his prayer. Dean had grabbed DaCoste's gun and buried a bullet in the bokor's shoulder, the impact of the shot knocking Ti-Jean sideways and away from Sam. Dean scrambled to his brother's side in time to see Sam's look up at him, confusion giving way to fear. Then, his eyes rolled back and his body convulsed briefly before going deathly still.
"Sammy!" Dean's heart was trying to punch a hole in his chest. He shook Sam but there was no reaction. He slammed his head against Sam's chest, pressing his ear above his brother's heart but there was no evidence of a heartbeat, no signs of breathing.
Dean scrambled over to the bokor and grabbed him by the shirt, the bullet wound bleeding heavily but not fatal. "Where is it… the antidote?"
Ti-Jean smiled. "Once I have his loa, he will have the antidote."
Dean knelt on the bokor's chest, pinning him in place as he jabbed the muzzle of the gun in Ti-Jean's cheek. "No, he'll have it now – or your loa will check out long before his."
Ti-Jean grunted as Dean's weight pressed down on him, but his expression didn't change. "You heard Kalfou. Without his prize, my life is forfeit. If it must be, at least I have the satisfaction of taking you insects with me."
Dean was shaking with fear and anger. Your next mistake will be fatal. That was last thing Kalfou had said. If Ti-Jean didn't deliver Sam's soul, he was dead, no matter what Dean did to him. He was never going to give up the antidote.
He glanced over at his unmoving brother. Sam's eyes were open and unseeing, his mouth lax. Dean let out a primal yell which echoed over the bayou water, cutting through the screams and shouts of the bokor's panicked followers and the occasional gunshot. When he looked down, he saw Ti-Jean smiling, a cruel chuckle rumbling in his throat as his gloved hand snaked toward the pot of neurotoxin.
Dean snapped. He tossed aside the gun and grabbed the bokor's hand as it closed around the container of poison. They struggled for control; Ti-Jean had size on his side, but Dean had experience and fury. He was the better fighter and this man, this bokor, had just killed his brother.
Ti-Jean's eyes widened and his smile faded as he recognized the strength of his opponent. He slammed his free fist into Dean's ribs but with a bullet in that shoulder, there was little force to the blow. Dean shifted his weight, one knee staying on the bokor's chest, the other pressing down on Ti-Jean's injured arm, pinning it to the ground. With one hand wrapped around Ti-Jean's gloved hand, forcing the pot of poison towards the bokor's face, he used his free hand to pull open the bokor's mouth before dumping in the entire contents of the jar. A vicious uppercut slammed shut the bokor's jaw and forced him to swallow.
Dean scrambled backwards in case the bokor tried to spit any of the poison at him but convulsions were already racking Ti-Jean's body, milky white bubbles dribbling from his lips. Then he stilled, dark eyes frozen open.
Dean riffled through Ti-Jean's pockets for the antidote, but there was nothing. He pushed himself to his feet and lurched over to the big altar, scanning the bottles, jars and pots that covered the surface, looking for anything that resembled the jar that held the poison – but all the ornate jars were decorated with the same filigree silver. Who was he kidding? He had no clue what the fuck he was looking for. He was much more likely to really kill Sam giving him the wrong thing than save his life finding the right thing by chance.
He stumbled back to Sam's side. "OK, Sammy. I know you're still in there. You just hang tough, keep hold of that kite string on your soul and we'll get the two of you back together in no time. You got my word on that. We're gonna do this."
Dean had only one option. He'd carry Sam out of here, grab one of the cars from up by the cabin – the gun would help with that even if the current mass panic didn't – and get Sam to the nearest hospital and hope to hell they could figure out an antidote.
He reached for DaCoste's gun and jammed it into the waistband of his pants before grabbing Sam's arm and hauling him up to a sitting position. The next part was the toughest; getting Sam over his shoulder in a fireman's carry. But he did it, ignoring his battered back's loud protests over Sam's considerable weight. With one last glance down at the unmoving bokor, he staggered toward the doorway.
There was time to save Sam. There were stories of men and women given the poison and buried because their families really believed they were dead. They were brought back to life, so he could bring Sam back, too. No way was that son of bitch bokor taking his brother from him. Fury was again ripping through Dean and he hesitated briefly in the entrance to the peristyle, staring down at a ceremonial candle still flickering in a glass holder. His expression darkened and he kicked it over, then moved as quickly as his burden allowed down the steps. The candle tipped forward in its holder, sliding into the veve. The pool of wax around the wick extinguished the flame – but not before it ignited the gunpowder within the ceremonial artwork. There was a small explosion followed by a series of larger bangs, followed by a massive blast as the entire peristyle blew.
The concussive force knocked Dean to the ground and Sam from his hold, dazing the elder Winchester and sending his brother rolling across the ground. Ears ringing, Dean shakily pushed himself to his knees and crawled to Sam's side, giving only a quick glance to the fireball that the old shack had become.
The voice was muffled, sounding like it was coming from the inside of tin can. Dean instinctively grabbed the gun from his waistband and pointed it toward the voice. His eyes widened in surprise when he saw who it belonged to. "Jack?"
When the hell had he gotten here? "How-"
"We're a little late to the party. Took us a while to figure out where it was." Jack lowered his rifle, as he glanced over at the burning building. "Although it looks to me, mon ami, like you've got a handle on things." He turned back, admiration quickly turning to worry when he realized the younger Winchester still wasn't moving. "Sam? Is he-"
"It's poison… the zombie neurotoxin." Dean shook his head, still unable to clear the ringing in his ears. "Ti-Jean started the zombie ceremony before I could stop him. We gotta get Sam help, get him to a hospital. He-"
Jack silenced him with a squeeze of the shoulder, then turned and delivered a piercing whistle that even cut through the fog in Dean's head. "Pierre – get the box. Toute de suite!"
For the first time, Dean realized Jack was not alone. Three men stood behind him, each holding a rifle as they stood guard around the brothers. As the middle of the three took off at a run, Dean also saw there were bodies on the ground – DaCoste's armed men. Apparently, Jack and his men were behind some of those gunshots Dean vaguely recalled cutting through the screams of the crowd.
Pierre returned quickly with a shoebox-sized wooden crate and handed it to Jack. The hunter flipped it open, glancing over at Dean as he riffled through the contents. "White powder, black feather… on the soles of the feet?"
"Thank the gods that son of bitch is a creature of habit." Jack pulled a small glass vial from the box, rolled it briefly between his palms, then peeled open the packaging on a syringe. He pulled the cap off with his teeth and filled the syringe with the clear contents of the vial. Quickly knocking out the air bubbles, he then stabbed the needle into Sam's heart and depressed the plunger.
Dean held his breath. For a terrifying moment, nothing happened. Then Sam's body convulsed, the arching of his chest accompanied by a loud inhale, loud enough even for Dean's impaired hearing.
Not trusting his ears, Dean pressed his hand to Sam's chest. The welcome thump of heartbeat met his palm, along with the rise and fall of lungs again pumping air. He smiled, and as his gaze shifted to Sam's face, familiar hazel eyes were staring back at him. His brother's confusion was obvious but he was breathing and awake.
Dean patted Sam's chest. "Hey… how you doin' in there?"
Sam frowned, as if he didn't understand the question.
Dean turned worriedly to Jack, but the hunter just shook his head.
"His eggs are gonna be a little scrambled for a while, but he'll be OK – as long as we get him outta here before that mob up there regroups." Jack gestured with his head toward his friends. "You want us to carry him or are you up to it?"
"I got him." Dean shot him a look that brooked no argument, his expression softening as he turned back to his brother. "Come on, Sammy, we're going home."
With Jack's help, he got Sam to his feet. His brother still seemed completely out of it but as Dean wrapped an arm around his back, pulled Sam's arm across his shoulders and nudged him forward, Sam obediently put one foot in front of the other. As Dean turned toward the path away from the river, Jack placed a hand against his chest to stop him.
"No, not that way. Our ride's over here." Jack started walking toward the old dock and as they got closer, Dean saw that an old skiff, a wide shallow draft boat perfect for the bayou waters, was tied up to it. An outboard motor was attached to the back but long oars also lay on the bottom of the boat.
Dean nodded as he watched one of Jack's men jump easily into the boat and hold it steady against the dock so the rest could climb aboard. "The oars – that's why nobody heard you coming."
Jack was now in the boat and reaching up to take Sam from Dean. "These ceremonies, they're usually kinda noisy. The drums… the singing…. The little chug-chug of that motor ain't much of a problem." He grinned. "But the oars are good for bashing gators when they get too close." The boat rocked precariously as Sam unsteadily stepped off the dock and more or less fell into the skiff. Jack caught him and had him settled against the side of the boat by the time Dean climbed in.
Pierre, the hunter who'd retrieved Jack's Voodoo first aid box, settled on the seat in front of the outboard and gave the cord a quick tug. The engine roared to life and the one hunter still on the dock untied the mooring rope and neatly jumped aboard.
They were already turning away from the dock and heading down river as Jack reached under a seat and handed Dean a blanket. Dean took it and wrapped it around Sam. Out on the water, the temperature was much cooler than on land and Dean's bare skin was quickly pebbling in the chill. Jack passed him a second blanket but Dean just dropped it in his lap as he settled into the boat beside Sam. "How'd you'd know? Where we were, to bring the antidote…."
Jack smiled. "I've been doing this a long time, mon ami. It ain't the first time I've had to undo some of Ti-Jean's hocus-pocus." He glanced back toward the bokor's compound, the glow from the burning peristyle still visible above the trees. "When we found my truck at the motel but no sign of you two, we knew something was up - and it wasn't good. Sam gave us the location of that truck stop, so we knew the ceremony was going down somewhere fairly close to it, but it was still a lot of real estate to cover. But then I remembered Parise's daddy talking about a camp his family had up here, how he loved to go fishing for crawfish with his granddaddy. Bill inherited the camp, I knew that much. So, I did some digging and sure enough, he passed it on to his daughter in his will. A little after-hours poking around in county records and we found out where it was.
"As for this…." He tapped the wooden crate with the toe of his boot. "It goes everywhere with me when Voodoo's on the menu. Pierre over there calls it my fix-it box. It's got a little bit of everything, just in case – kinda like the trunk of that Chevy you like to drive around in."
"Damn, Jack, we owe you…." Dean glanced at Sam, still huddled in the blanket at his side. The wind as they moved along the water at a good clip was whipping Sam's hair across his face but also seemed to be blowing away the confusion. His color was better, his eyes more focused. "Big time."
"You owe me nothing, son. If positions were reversed, you'd haul my sorry ass out of the line of fire." Jack nodded back toward the camp. "Besides, I think it'll be a while before Ti-Jean recovers from the mess you made tonight. That's done me, and everyone who's ever had to deal with him, a huge favor."
Dean snorted. "That bastard's not recovering from anything." He shrugged at Jack's look of surprise. "He was kinda inside the peristyle when it blew up – after I stuffed him full of the same poison he gave Sam."
Jack's surprise gave way to a deep chuckle. "Then, son, once we get you two checked out, the drinks are most definitely on me. We've been trying to remove that blight on our community for years." He glanced back toward the camp. "What about Parise?"
Dean just shook his head, choosing not to share the details of her grisly death. "Ti-Jean was behind her father's death… wanted Bill out of the way so he had a clear shot at her mom. For magic, for sex, to use Parise's psychic abilities… I dunno. But somehow Parise found out, and has been cooking up payback for a while. She knew… that she wouldn't make it through tonight." He shrugged. "Seemed at peace with it because she knew Ti-Jean wouldn't walk away, either."
Jack stared out across the water. "I reached out to her mama a few times after Bill died, tried to pull her out of Ti-Jean's web, but she'd have none of it. Part of me thinks Parise tried, too, with no more luck. After Marie died, I guess she decided to fight fire with fire."
"Guess so." Dean shivered, stubbornness finally caving to need, and wrapped the blanket around his shoulders, pulling it tight around him as he stared out across the water, at the long reeds that lined the banks and at the bright green algae that was pushed aside as the skiff moved through it.
He shook his head as he studied the boat. "You know, Jack, I'm grateful for the ride – believe me – but if you were gonna come by boat, you could've picked something with a bit more style. This thing? It's kinda like the boat world's answer to a minivan."
Jack snorted. "Beck moi tchew."
Dean smiled. "We've already been over this. Me biting your ass – it ain't happening." He kicked the side of the boat. "It just would've been cool if you'd ridden to the rescue in something like… you know, one of those airboats. The ones they used on Gentle Ben, the show Sammy watched when he was a kid. I always wanted to ride in one of those things."
"I never watched Gentle Ben."
Dean's head snapped to his left. Sam's frown now had nothing to do with confusion; it was directed right at his brother. Dean grinned. "Look who's back. And sure you did – every day after school."
Sam cleared his throat, glancing around as if getting his bearings. "Dude, that was you. Where are we?"
"On our way home. And Gentle Ben - definitely you. A kid and his pet bear? Way too sappy for me. The only thing cool about that show was that airboat the ranger got to ride home in every night."
Sam's frown deepened into a scowl. "You seem to know an awful lot about a show you never watched?"
Jack laughed heartily. "He's got you there, Dean." He nodded at Sam. "And it is damn good to hear you two bickering like brothers should."
Sam offered a confused smile. "Jack. Good to see. I'm pretty sure I owe you one helluva thank you – only right now, I'm not sure for what."
Jack smiled. "You've got your brother to thank for dragging your ass out of the fire – literally. I'm just the cab ride home."
Dean snorted. "More cavalry than cab."
Jack waved a hand, dismissing the compliment.
Sam turned to Dean, shaking his head. "Dude, I've got Swiss Cheese for brains right now. I remember Erzulie possessing you-"
"Wait…" Jack raised an eyebrow at Dean. "You were possessed – by the love goddess herself?"
Dean glowered at Jack. "So he says. Personally, I don't remember a damn thing."
Sam bit back a smile. "She liked you… thought you were beautiful. How's it feel to have a girl inside you?"
Dean gave Sam the middle finger. "Besides, she only stayed for a few minutes – too much testosterone, I guess. Meg was inside you for a whole week. What does that say, huh?"
"Man, our lives are screwed." Sam pinched the bridge of his nose. "Seriously, dude, last thing I remember is you getting thrown across the room when she left. After that… nada. Blank slate, 'til… Gentle Ben. What the hell happened?"
Dean rolled his eyes at Jack. "He falls asleep when we watch movies, too. Always misses the ending, then wakes up all, 'What happened? That didn't make sense….'"
"Oh, bite me." Sam elbowed Dean through the blanket.
Dean grinned. He had no clue what crap the world was gonna throw at them when they got off this boat, what the next day, the next week or the next month held in store for them, although re-locking their tattoos would be high on the agenda. But for right now, after all the shit they'd been through at the hands of Ti-Jean and Parise and all the crackpots in their entourage, they were OK. Beat to hell, sure, but all parts – and souls – intact.
Dean shifted to face Sam, freeing an arm to pull the blanket more snugly around his brother. "OK, Sammy, here's what you missed. Get comfy – this may take a while."
A/N: And there you have it – another adventure completed.
As promised, here's the prompt from JaniceC678 that set this fic in motion: "A couple of my online friends and I have this awesome, albeit somewhat vague, idea (In fact, at a con last year, I won a 45-second "pitch the movie" contest…) involving a job in New Orleans that ends up leading to an encounter with a voodoo cult. Beautiful voodoo priestess, of course. Maybe they want Sam because they can sense he's special. Maybe he'd make a good sacrifice. Maybe it's just part of the hunt. Dean falls under spell of said voodoo priestess. Maybe turns on Sam at some point, but of course overcomes it and saves him. Maybe a giant snake and bonfires in the bayou, maybe the guys shirtless and just wearing those loose fitting white pants..." So, yes, we have Janice and her pals to thank for the mental images of shirtless Sam and Dean in white pants! *g*
Thanks so much for reading and (hopefully) enjoying. Now all is said and done, I'd love to hear from you, so please drop me a line. Until next time, cheers!