Dean was all for leaving the kids exactly where they were, but Sammi didn’t want to be too far away from him, so they agreed that once he and Sam had checked the gateway for any traps or wards, the kids would wait there. Not in direct line of sight of the shed but well within shouting distance.
The trees came right up to the property wall, but inside was clear ground. The sun was high in the sky, giving them very little cover from the shed once they were past the remnants of the old house.
Deep in his gut, Dean felt the whine of something about to go wrong – even as he faced his brother behind the crumbling bit of wall, scraps of old wallpaper by his head catching slightly in the breeze. He nodded at Sam, gun held up, ready to make the move across the empty land between them and the shed. Sam nodded back and they both moved out.
Dean took a deep breath and pushed the door to the shed gently with one hand; the power inside was so strong that even he could feel it humming through the door, but the damn thing wasn’t even latched. What kind of idiot used a shed for his magic rituals and didn’t even lock the fucking door?
The door had swung open wide enough for Dean to see a man, thin to the point of emaciation, chunks of hair missing from his scalp, kneeling with his back to the door. The room smelled thick with the salty tang of blood and a cloying sweet incense. On the floor behind the man was a pool of blood, already half sunk into the wooden floor and drying, a body-shaped clear spot right in the middle. When he spotted the wolf pelt being used as an altar cloth, something roared loose from the back of his head and he brought his gun up to aim at the back of the man’s head.
“I am busy – not deaf, Dean Winchester.” The man rose to his feet slowly, not even turning around to face them; back and arms still sticky with blood. Dean stepped forward into the shed. It was empty except for the altar, a table loaded with books and magical supplies and the blood on the floor.
“Your mind is a cesspool,” the man continued calmly. “The little bitch is better off dead than living under your influence.” Dean steadied his arm, breathing through his nose, trying to calm the rage that was causing his hand to tremble. “Put your gun down, old man. You will only tire your arms.” The man finally turned to face him and Dean saw his eyes flash black. “Filthy little, old, man, all grease and dead bones.”
A bottle of holy water flew over Dean’s shoulder and shattered on the man’s sunken chest. Sam exhaled loudly behind him as the man didn’t even flinch, despite the hissing smoke that the holy water caused. The bastard just smiled, one hand absentmindedly rubbing at a long scar starting right beneath his neck.
“Archibald Johannsen,” Sam said, and there was another black flash as Archibald turned to his brother. “Exorcizamus te, omnis immúnde spíritus,” Sam intoned, a rosary clutched in his hand. The man just laughed at Sam, threw back his head and roared.
Dean threw more holy water, hitting Archibald in the shoulder. Blood mixed with water as it burned.
“Omnis satánica potéstas, omnis incúrsio infernális adversárii, omnis légio.”
“Enough!” Archibald flicked his hand and the rosary shattered in Sam’s hands, beads falling to the floor. A knife flew from the altar into Archibald’s hand. “I am not possessed,” he said. “I cannot be forcibly expelled from my own body, no matter how prettily you pronounce the words.” The knife shot out towards Sam with an effortless flick.
Sam grunted as the blade hit him. Dean had to force himself to keep looking forward, keep his eye on the enemy.
“I’m okay, Dean.” Sam didn’t sound okay but at least he was still alive.
“Imbecile,” Archibald retorted. Another twist of the hand and Sam howled, his knees cracking.
“Give it up now.” Sam was spitting out the words, and Dean felt his finger tighten on the trigger. “Dean and I have been doing this for years. You’re as good as dead, Archibald Johannsen.”
Dean’s shot hit true, right to the heart, but the bullet just passed straight through, as if the man was not there at all.
“Son of a bitch!” Dean stepped backwards over his brother and grabbed him, pulling him out of the shed door.
“I think he’s made a compact with Horus, Dean. He’s invulnerable. You need to destroy the jar on the altar.”
“What if it’s not the freaking jar?”
“Then we’re screwed.”
Dean brought his gun back up, and readied himself, breathing deliberately in and out, finding his center. He flung himself back into the shed and ran towards the altar, firing shots at Archibald as he grabbed the jar. As soon as his hands touched it, Archibald screamed. “Don’t even think about doing anything else, you freak,” Dean warned, holding the jar up over his head.
“Do you really want to die tonight?” Archibald hissed. “That can be arranged.”
Dean shrugged his shoulders, cocked his head. “I’ve been missing my woman for five years. As long as you die, too, I don’t really mind. I should have been dead more’n forty years ago.”
He snorted when Archibald’s eyes widened. “What’s the matter? Never faced a man who wasn’t afraid to die?” Dean grinned. “Oh, that’s right. You’ve never faced a man. Because you’re a pussy who hides behind magic like you probably hid behind your mother’s skirts.”
The evil fuck looked like Dean had rammed something right up his ass but then a whisper of Latin drifted in from outside. Archibald laughed. It was Sammi, chanting the one bit of Latin they all knew – the childish prayer that all the kids had memorized. “Nos tali animati confidentia ad te, Virgo Virginum, Mater, currimus; ad te venimus; coram te gementes peccatores assistimus.”
“You didn’t even teach the little bitch what little you know. That’s not an exorcism.” He snorted. “It’s just a prayer.” Archibald smiled. “A stupid prayer to the mother. I wonder if she’ll still be able to pray when I crack her chest open. You do realize she’s the only one I need alive.” He smirked. “For now.”
Molly taught the kids that prayer. It had its own power. “No prayer’s going to save your sorry ass,” Dean roared. He flung the jar down, watching it smash against the floor – a human heart, still beating, rolled out stopping at his boot. Archibald screamed, clutching his chest, when Dean investigated it with his toe. “Looks like your little compact is short-lived.”
“If you kill me,” Archibald warned, “I will come back. Your family will never be safe from me.”
“You keep coming after my family, Archibald Johannsen, and you’ll figure out how many different ways a hunter can keep killing you.” The wind was howling and Archibald looked out of the door, hearing the yipping coming towards them through the trees. “But I’m thinking you fucked around with the Wolf one too many times.”
Dean raised his foot, the howl rattling through his ribcage, and slammed it down through Archibald’s heart.
The end was a small shiver to his body as Archibald Johannsen toppled backwards, one hand clawing feebly at his chest. He didn’t say anything as he died, eyes rolling back up into his head, and there was another howl – a final rush of something brushing through the shed and Dean was left listening to the sound of his own breathing.
“I think my leg’s broken,” Sam groaned from outside. “Like my knees weren’t already shot.”
Dean was still staring down at Archibald Johannsen’s dead body when the kids started making their way over to the shed. He didn’t want them seeing this; hell, if he could take back the last few days, he’d do it. But all he could do was drag the body as close to the altar as he could manage before his back started spasming and hope that Sammy would keep them outside.
Mel was binding Sam’s leg to his cane, trying to keep the broken bone from moving too much. She helped Dean pull him to his feet but she stayed back when the two of them went back to the door of the shed.
“Anything we want to salvage?” Dean asked.
Sam shook his head. “Only book I saw that I didn’t recognize was his journal.” He frowned. “We can burn the rest. It was a bunch of crap all warped together but some of it could be…dangerous…in the wrong hands, and we don’t want to give him anything to come back for.”
Dean started to spread rock salt was everywhere, liberally covering Archibald Johannsen. “You know, Sam. I don’t get it. The dude was insane.” Dean frowned, dousing the altar with lighter fluid.
“People are crazy, Dean.”
“No shit. Demons I get…” Dean’s voice trailed off. “You’re going to write this up, aren’t you? Put your next goddamn book.”
“Hey, this was our first real case in decades.”
“This time around, I think you need to let your handsome hero get laid…”
“Yes Dean.” Sam shook his head. “Can we get moving now?” He gestured to his splinted leg. “This isn’t entirely comfortable.”
Dean nodded. “Get everyone clear. I’m going to torch this sucker.” He walked Sam back to Mel at the door, then returned to the altar, reached into his pocket and pulled out a lighter. He waited until Sam called ‘hurry the hell up’ and sparked it into life. He flung it onto Archibald’s corpse and waited for the fire to catch before he turned and walked out of the shed.
It was colder than he remembered outside.