Title: Pandora's Box
Category: A/A, Angst, Drama, Horror, Hunt Fic
Spoilers: Through Dream a Little Dream of Me
Summary: After Sam opens a mysterious box, he and Dean find themselves battling the same bogey their father defeated sixteen years ago. As they fight alongside an unlikely ally to safeguard the town, Dean struggles to tie up loose ends in his life while Sam continues to search for a way to save his brother's soul.
Word Count: ~31,145
Disclaimer: Supernatural and its characters are the property of Eric Kripke and co. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This is for entertainment purposes only; no financial profit has been gained from this story. This story is not mean to infringe upon the rights of the above-mentioned establishments.
"Come on, man. That's the fifth place you've shot down."
Sam glared at Dean. "Dude, no Burger King. I'm not going through that again."
Dean mumbled something under his breath, but it was too muffled for Sam to understand. "Fine, what about that taco place?"
"And deal with your refried beans?" Sam flipped one of the glossy pages of the magazine in his lap. "No."
From the corner of his eye, he saw Dean muttering again. "All right, then what do you want?"
Sam paused, taking a moment to strum his fingers on the magazine while he thought. Outside, a light rain had started to fall. Normally, the sound of gently falling rain provided him some comfort, but each drop that pinged off the hood of the Impala, the ground, and the local signs set him on edge.
"Earth to Sam."
Sam turned his head, noting Dean kept sneaking quick worried glances in his direction. Sam let out an aggravated sigh. He was tired of Dean looking at him like that. He should be worried about more pressing matters.
"Look, I'm just not hungry," Sam said, turning back to the magazine.
"Well, too bad. We're eating." Dean glanced down at the dashboard before hitting the gas. "So, pick something already."
Sam rolled his eyes and looked out the window. Through the rain, he could see the city limits ahead. He frowned at the name on the sign. "Have we been here before?"
"You're changing the subject."
"All right, whatever, Dean." He flipped another page. "Chinese."
"I can't eat Chinese while I'm driving. And we're not stopping to chow down. We already wasted a whole day cataloguing dad's stuff at that new place. We can't waste any more time."
"Well, it was important, Dean. Bela broke in once. I don't need to remind you that she has the Colt. We don't need her finding the new storage unit we set up."
"Damn straight," Dean muttered. "Which is why we have to find that bitch and get the Colt back."
"I know." Sam shrugged. "So, if you're so hungry, you pick a place."
Dean started mumbling to himself again. Sam kept quiet, watching as he finally got aggravated enough to pull off to the side of the road next to a small roadside diner. Dean opened the driver's side door with a creaking groan, and slammed it hard enough to make a point. He gave Sam a hard look before he stormed off to the diner.
Sam wasn't blind. Dean had been strung out since they'd encountered Jeremy in the dream state. Sam wanted to believe it was just about losing the Colt, but he knew better. He knew something had to have happened when they were dream walking. Dean just wasn't talking.
Whatever had happened in the dream state, at least Dean seemed more engaged in finding a way to save himself. At this point, Sam would take whatever he could.
Sam glanced out the window. When he was sure that Dean was in the diner, he shut the magazine and started rummaging through his bag on the passenger side floor. It didn't take him long to find the small box he'd shoved inside.
The box was silver, highlighted with several embellishments. Sam didn't recognize some of the ornamentation, but he knew that a few of the symbols were definitely astrological, possibly lunar, and undoubtedly used in magical rites. Just what kind of rites? That was what Sam hoped the box would tell him.
He knew he shouldn't have swiped it from his dad's old personal belongings. After the incident with the cursed rabbit's foot, Sam would have to be stupid to mess around with the magical objects and old family heirlooms his father thought to keep locked up in storage.
Yet, here he was with a strange box sitting in his lap, almost yearning to be opened. Sam couldn't really explain the pull he felt toward the box, how his fingers itched to hold it, how he longed to break the lock and peek inside. He kept trying to remind himself of the tale of Pandora's Box, and with all the weirdness in their lives, it wouldn't be a stretch to be literally holding such an evil object.
In his hands, he held something that could either destroy the world or could help Dean.
Even now, he wasn't sure why he thought this box was so important in saving Dean. It just was.
It could be the symbols. He thought the middle symbol was a pentacle of the moon. From what he remembered, moon pentacles could protect the soul, or assist in travel. Since Dean could use some help in both of those areas right now, whatever was hidden inside had to help.
That's what Sam kept telling himself.
He breathed out, glancing once more at the diner. He could see Dean leaning over the counter, flirting with a young girl. Sam knew it was now or never.
He slipped out his lock pick and jimmied the lock. Slowly, the box creaked open revealing an inside lined with soft violet felt. Sam found a small piece of paper with awkward and stilted handwriting scribbled across it, and two small silver medallions engraved with two circles inside a square that were carved into two larger circles, enhanced by Latin and some religious symbols.
Sam swore he had seen these somewhere before.
He reached into the box and flipped one of the talismans over. Another symbol was etched in the back. This one had a serpent engraved in the shape of a circle, devouring it's own tail. Sam was positive he'd seen this symbol too, but he couldn't place the memory. He realized it could have been anywhere. His head was about to explode with all the occult knowledge he'd accumulated over the years.
Sam held onto the talisman and reached for the small piece of paper. There was a spell or a blessing – something – written entirely in Latin on the yellowed paper. Sam had no problem with reading Latin, but deciphering the print was becoming increasingly difficult, to the point he realized he was mumbling some of the words aloud. He squinted at the print; it appeared purposefully coded, as if someone had taken great pains to be cryptic about the text.
"What the hell is this?"
Sam stiffened and clutched the talisman harder. "Dean."
Dean opened the driver's side door and tossed a greasy bag in the back. His gaze immediately focused on the box in Sam's lap. "Is that Dad's?" Dean's face grew darker. "You're stealing Dad's stuff?"
"It's not what you think."
"The hell it isn't." Dean slammed the door. "That thing could be cursed!"
"Dean, it's not cursed." Sam tossed the parchment back into the box. He glanced down at the talisman in his hand one more time, pausing to rub a spot of dirt off the surface.
He felt a jolt.
"Uh…" Sam shook his hand, feeling the tingling creeping up his arm. Without a second thought, he tossed the talisman back in the box, but it was too late. His muscles were already beginning to spasm.
"Sam?" He heard Dean's voice shaking. "Crap. Gimme that."
Dean lunged at him. Sam felt a rush as Dean's hand clamped down on his arm. The energy shot through his body, like lightning seeking a rod, and for a brief second, Sam saw Dean's neck snap back as if struck. Before Sam could fully understand what was happening, he felt a hot whiteness fade his vision. The last thing he heard was Dean grunt and a loud thud beside him.
When Sam woke, the rain had cleared and the gray afternoon was quickly giving way to cloudless evening. He found himself slumped against the door, staring into the bare woodland that lined the open highway, and didn't catch himself until his eyes started to burn. Sam shook off the feeling and closed his eyes, wondering why his body felt like dead weight.
Then he caught sight of the closed box that had fallen between his leg and the passenger side door.
Sam's face fell.
"Dean?" He flinched, hearing his voice crack. "Dean?"
Sam winced at the dull pain in his limbs and fought against the fatigue, forcing himself to sit up. He still felt as if he could fall asleep at any second, like all the life had been zapped out of him, but he wasn't about to give into the feeling.
"Dean?" Sam turned his head. What he saw made him go cold.
Dean was white as a ghost. He had slumped over on top of the steering wheel, his head tilted in an awkward and painful direction. Sam couldn't even tell if he was breathing.
He should have never grabbed that stupid box.
"Dean." Sam pushed past the heavy pain and shook Dean's shoulder. "Come on, man. Don't do this." He gave him another desperate shake. "Dean!"
Dean made a small choking sound. Sam encouraged him by shaking him again, this time more forcefully. Finally, his eyelids started to flutter.
"Come on, Dean." Sam helped push Dean back into the driver's seat and eased him against the headrest. He never protested. When Sam noticed his eyes were starting to roll to the back of his head, he gave Dean another good shake. "Stay with me, okay?"
Dean coughed and tried to move his head. "I feel hammered." He swallowed hard. "What the hell happened?"
"You don't remember?"
"I don't know." He winced as he struggled to wipe his face. "I was hungry and—" He suddenly stopped, turned to Sam, and narrowed his eyes.
Sam eased back onto the passenger side. "You remember."
"I told you not to touch any of Dad's stuff. We don't know what's hexed. You should know better than that." He hissed as he rubbed his neck. "God, everything kills. This must be what it feels like to get hit by a truck."
"Look, Dean. It was a mistake, okay? Let's just pack up, find a place to crash for the night, and figure out what's going on."
Dean glared at him, but didn't say anything more about the box. He glanced back to the back seat and wagged his fingers. "My food better not be cold."
Sam reached back and grabbed the bag before chucking it at Dean. He greedily accepted it, wasting no time ripping through the bag to get to his burger. He took a giant sized bite and moaned with contentment.
Sam just shook his head.
"Here." Dean tossed him a wrapped sandwich.
"I told you I wasn't hungry."
"Yeah, well…" Dean's voice trailed off and he frowned.
"What?" Sam asked.
"Where the hell's the diner?"
Sam snapped his attention to the diner. Or where the diner should have been. Instead, there was nothing but open grass and a few aging trees dotting the spot where the diner should have been standing.
There was no rational explanation for it.
Sam jumped when he heard the driver side door slam. Outside, Dean hobbled alongside the Impala, leaning on it for support. After tossing his sandwich aside, Sam exited the Impala, and like Dean, grabbed the side of the car for support as a dizzy spell hit him. When his vision righted itself, he stared at the empty lot.
"It's not there," Dean said simply. "Hell, it doesn't look like it's ever been there."
Sam shifted his weight. "That's not possible."
Dean stared at him.
"Maybe we were teleported somewhere," Sam offered.
"Teleported? Sam, do you see Captain Kirk or any hot aliens chicks around here?" Dean winced and leaned forward, crossing his arms alongside the hood of the Impala. "What were you trying to do? Just what was in that box?"
Sam sighed. He didn't really want to go into this with Dean right now.
"I thought maybe it could get you out of your deal."
"You thought a little box would get me out of my deal with the demon?" Dean let out a short laugh. "You got to be kidding me."
"Dean, there's a pentacle on the front. Now pentacles of the moon can be used in spell work involving soul protection and travel."
"And they also can be used to open doors that shouldn't be opened!"
"I didn't open anything!"
"You opened that box!"
Sam shook his head. "You just have to trust me on this one."
Dean wrinkled his face with disgust and frustration. "Please don't tell me this is some psychic thing again."
"No, it's not. I can't really explain it."
"That's a huge help."
"I'm not joking, Dean. But your time is running out. We can't just sit around and hope an answer will fall into our laps. We have to take some chances."
"That's just fantastic. So let's go ahead and open every single thing out there. Why don't we open one of Hell's Gates while we're at it?" Dean gave him a hard glare. "You know stuff like this doesn't ever end well."
"Making diners disappear?" Sam asked in a huff. "Because that's real evil, Dean."
"What about the people inside?"
"I don't know."
Dean pushed himself off the car and opened the door, throwing himself into the seat. He held his head in silence until Sam followed him into the Impala.
"We'll find a way to fix it," Sam said. "Fix everything."
Dean didn't say anything and instead started up the engine. The two of them remained in an uneasy silence while the Impala headed down the highway toward the next town. As they approached the outskirts of the town, Sam held onto the hope that his instincts were right and he hadn't started a chain of events that would spell their doom.