Title: Like They All Do
Genre: 15x07 "Last Call" tag, Stanford!era/S15, "that cult thing down in Arizona," a bildungsroman for the poorly-adjusted
Characters: Lee Webb (POV), Dean, Sam in absentia
Word Count: ~6400
Rating: R for alcohol addiction/withdrawal, drug use, fleeting body horror, a sexual slur
Summary: When that cult thing down in Arizona goes bad, it goes real bad. What Dean wants now, showing up at Swayze's bar like a body from a grave--well. That's anyone's guess.
15x07 "Last Call" tag, Stanford!era+S15--drugs, sex, and GOB.
Or on AO3, with the chapter breaks.
What happened was, he'd thought about killing the marid, but she said herself he couldn't. So he didn't. Not that he'd expect anyone to understand that, least of all Dean Winchester, but that's really how it went.
He'd known the second Dean showed up that all this was probably going to go south. Which is weird, because that thought hadn't occurred to him when he was killing her. You know, that girl. The one he'd bled, then stuffed into the trunk of her own car, not even wrapped--no nothing. It really hadn't. When he realizes that, he realizes that now he's probably going to have to kill Dean, too.
He'd always meant to get out of this monster business.
Lee is soft on border control, though not for the reasons his Bice-voting neighbors think, the reasons they hate him for. It's not like he went out and canvassed for crooked Hillary; he's not crazy. He just doesn't want them building that damn wall. Because what won't people will chalk up to chupacabras, or gangs, or desert-variety heatstroke, or all that trafficking shit, you know? Lee knows Matamoros like the back of his hand. He also knew the next bar over wasn't near far enough, but ICE had to go and make things complicated.
Dreams are always built on blood, sweat, and tears. Show Lee where it's written that they have to be yours.
His marid was hungry, and Lee is a provider.
"On the house," Lee says when Dean pulls out his wallet, having already discerned Swayze's Bar as a cash-up-front kinda place.
It's true what they say--that you never grow out of that look. (Even though, Lee saw, Dean's got plastic now.) Lee knows that look like he knows his own face. Dean does not insist on paying his own tab.
It's hard to imagine Dean's spent the last fifteen years circling the drain on missing persons and catching the odd ghost or ghost sickness or whatever the hell he's talking about, but here he is. Still hunting monsters, acting a fool with a gun and a machete. He makes everything sound funny--classic, even. He tells the story of his life the way every guy Lee's ever known tells hunting stories, or stories about having been drunk off their ass, or both. That's how you have to tell them. Otherwise it's some dark shit, and no one wants to hear that.
Lee can hear himself doing it, too, pulling some yarn about John Winchester out of the deepest recesses of his mind. The way he tells it is mostly the way he remembers it, hitching a ride in that black fucking car (he slaps Dean on the shoulder when the fucker says she's parked out front right now) and anyway, getting in that car and kind of wondering if they were gonna steal his shit then cut his balls off and throw them into the cholla. Dean laughs.
They'd had good times, the three of them, and it's exactly the kind of shit you lay on the table when you're drinking with old friends, the kind of stuff that makes you proud you'd lived long enough to turn it into a story. But there's part of him that might remember it a little different.
The day that black car ran up on him, Lee was pushing thirty, and not pleased about it. He was scraping through his life as a dirtbag wanderer, as he calls it now. No longer having fun, but too defiant and probably too much of a fuck-up to have it any other way. He'd tried the college thing but all he'd ended up with was debt and jail. (And the jail, only half because of the debt. Ricky should have made good on his half of the deal, and then probably none of that would have even happened.) That's really the only way you land in John Winchster's phone book and agree to stay there, as far as Lee can imagine. Then he'd stuck around far too long, the way he always seems to. Lee can't ever seem to get out of things in time; he's always there for last call, closing time, the sad, sticky part of the night where the beer's just sheen on the floor and the only girl's the hostess, crying on account of her hips hurting so bad, on account of standing all night, every night. Stay around John Winchester and his kid too long, and you see the ragged edges. You see the edge is really just a seam, split open.
Lee remembers wondering if that Dean kid was really going to make it. At the time Dean had been--what, the young side of twenty-something? And Dean was twenty-something stupid, which had made Lee felt wise; but they'd still been close enough in age to make Lee wary, always worried he was about to be surpassed. When you're a nearly-thirty-dirtbag-wanderer--or at least, one of the unhappy ones--you ain't never want anyone doing that. You'll do whatever it takes to keep anyone from doing that. Especially someone like Dean.
At the time, Dean had had kind of an alcohol problem. He'd been working on it, because his father had so ordered. Sort of ironic, coming from John Winchester, but that wasn't Lee's business. Anyway, there was something about a "brother being no excuse," and while Lee wasn't sure where the brother was or what might have happened to him, Lee also had a rule about staying out of other people's family shit.
Tonight, in Lee's bar, the bar he raised with his own two goddamn hands, with his name on the deed, his signature on tap at city hall, his success apparent in every drunken face around them, Lorna brings them yet another another round. Unsurprisingly, Dean still has an alcohol problem.
"Fuck me," he says.
Lee raises an eyebrow. "Listen," he says. "House rules are, y'all puke outside. I'm not here to buy a new mop every week, and Lorna's got better things to do, right?"
Dean laughs, like they all do. He mumbles something about having, at some point, resolved to drink less, having promised someone; but it's drowned out by the music and the talk and it's like if Lee don't hear it, and Dean don't, then it's not buried and festering but it also doesn't matter anymore.
"I mean, don't let me be the one to pull you off that wagon, brother," Lee says.
Dean shakes his head and drinks. Special occasion, he says, the way they all do. Birthday, anniversary, night out at the bar. Meeting a stranger again. They're all occasions. Dean drinks like someone who'd never really been on that wagon in the first place.
Lee wonders if he'd have felt guilty. You know, if that hadn't been the case.
Lee remembers moving the seat back so he could drive that girl's car into the salvage yard. He'd kept ghost-pressing a third pedal that wasn't there, right hand at a loss for things to do. He'd got her hair caught in the fucking trunk latch, the first time he'd laid her in.
Drove all the way there with her hair sticking out the back like that.
You will never throw these in the lake, the marid makes him promise of the bodies. For those are sacred waters.
The consequences? Who knows. Retribution, she'd said. The end of wealth. The unfolding of curses he cannot begin to fathom. All stuff she'd trotted out any time he'd thought about just killing her, making a go of it on his own. Leaving it all behind--really, this time. But he'd always believed her, and fuck, after that recession shit and then having to deal with Obama, and then, just when the country was under new management and things were maybe looking up, the hurricane. Which, screw sacred waters. Harvey made it clear there's plenty of fucking water to go around. Lee's not in touch with his family much, but they're all down there and he'd had a cousin he liked and she'd just had a baby and when their house and all their shit go under, he's not the kind of man who'd leave his cousin out like that. The circumstances being what they were, you don't kill a monster fronting you gold, you know? And you surely do not cross her.
But when Dean shows up, Lee knows instantly: He should have chucked that girl's fucking body in the lake.
He'd sat on a trash bag, put one down for his boots. He's smart enough to leave no evidence. Knows he can't wash it down or nothing; it's a shitbox in a salvage yard. It's gotta look like it's been in there a decade. Even so, the careful way he treats the dead girl's shitbox--all the plastic and stuff--reminds him of the job he'd been working moving cars for Cesar's down in the RGV.
It's the job he'd been working when he'd first met John and Dean. They'd come into the shop looking to replace a cracked wheel, saying they'd hit an armadillo doing 90. By that point, Lee'd been hunting long enough to know they hadn't hit a fucking armadillo. And he'd been old enough to know Cesar's wasn't what he wanted out of life.
He'd been so fucking sad. That's what Lee remembers about Dean Winchester. Like, mostly Lee remembers those months like a grand fucking adventure, he really does. He remembers the part before the lights went out, last calls turned to echoes. But he can't deny there was some weird shit going on with that family, and sometimes it'd just come out. Dean is a fun guy. Was then, is now. But fuck, man. Lee's never met anyone that fucking sad before. He doesn't know how to describe it.
Now, Lee pulls him up on stage and Dean sings like a drunk, like that thing Lee's uncle always said about whiskey taking away your key so it reminds your pals to take away your keys. The crowd still goes wild, because they're drunk, too, and Lee's the boss and Dean's his friend, and for about a minute thirty, Lee is drunk on power the way he loves to be. He is proud. Self-made. Unstoppable. Everyone and anyone sounds good when you're riding a high like that. When it's your bar and your mic and your crowd like that.
Then Dean's talking lakes and salvage yards and murders and it's fucking sad.
It's just one stupid murder, and Dean can't let it go.
You can't kill me, she'd said. The marid. You've got too much on the line.
And see, he'd thought she'd meant the money.
"What're you doing all this for, anyway?" Lee asks, on Day 47 on the road with Dean Winchester. He'd burned through his bank account over a week ago. The money was supposed to last longer than that, but Lee's beginning to suspect maybe John had taken advantage of his generosity. This makes him feel like a punk-ass kid all over again.
He's fucking thirty, and the only reason there's food in his gut is because they joined a fucking cult. Well, him and Dean did. Who knows where John got off to. Not Lee, and not Dean.
"What're we doing all this for," Lee clarifies, though Dean's not listening. Dean's engrossed in his stack of cult pamphlets, suddenly an avid reader. If Dean's not careful, Lee's pretty sure he's going to end up drinking the Kool-Aid for real. He's too good at following orders.
Lee had wanted to open fire on the whole damn operation and be on their merry. There'd been three of them, and plenty of guns. They could have taken 'em.
Son, that would be a felony, John had said. When Lee asked what of the last couple of weeks hadn't been, Dean had kicked him. Lee resented this. Stupid fuck hadn't said a damn word through all of this. Just signed up for the cult like Daddy said and went along with it.
Basically, shooting up a desert commune is a crime. A cult taking itself down from the inside is just cult stuff. If you believe that kind of thing. If you believe John Winchester.
Lee makes a grab for the pamphlet in Dean's hands, but Dean's too quick for him. "Fuck off, Sam, you're not the only one who--"
Dean stops. And see, this is what Lee meant about fucking sad. That look in Dean's eyes.
(Yeah, Lee knows all about Sam. No, not really. He'd thought the kid had died based on the away it all sounded, and had left it at that for weeks. But it turns out Sam was off at school in Cali somewhere. He'll say it again: Weird fucking family.)
Dean throws the pamphlet at Lee's face. "I'm doing it for the empanadas," he says. "Also, they're trying to summon a fucking demon. Someone should probably stop them"
"And we're just gonna hang around, eating empanadas, waiting for that to happen. Is that it?"
Dean takes a bite of empanada, pocket-squashed and wrapped in an old napkin. Lee is Texas born and bred, and no one's ever tried to prove a point at him with an empanada before.
"Just trying to figure out if they're for real or not," Dean says, around spiced potato. "Maybe the lore checks out. Who the fuck knows. But it seems like they know their shit."
And see, that's Kool-Aid talk in Lee's book. "Someone seriously needs to rescue you," says Lee. "You joined a cult because your dad told you to."
Dean doesn't so much as bristle. "You joined, too," he says. "What's your excuse?"
Lee thinks about that, the night he finds the marid.
It can't have been more than a week, but cult time is strange. It was long enough for Dean to have a desperately hard time about it, in any case: Los tres reyes del desierto does not tolerate impurities of the body. After a couple days of no impurities, he is not the punk eating empanadas, flush with all the answers any more. (He'd had kind of an alcohol problem. But maybe after this, he won't.)
There's no bathrooms in the compound, no plumbing; just pits, if you've been there long enough to dig one. Lee digs a shallow hole for Dean. The ground is thirsty but not as much as the coyotes are hungry. It's all kind of a mess, but it'll all be bile and water, soon, and that will be better.
Lee feels like it's that hole's the nicest thing he's done in a while. It makes him feel big.
"How many you buried?" Lee asks one night. He'd asked the same question hours ago, but it's clear Dean does not remember. He's too busy feeling like his skin's crawling, on fire, he is crawling through fire. Withdrawal is a bitch. He gives the same answer, though.
"You're supposed to burn the bodies, dumbass."
Lee can't believe he'd left her body in that fucking car. But the sheriff and all the rest of them were supposed to dream her off to California; you're supposed to let girls have their happy endings. Had Dean had any common decency, he would've dreamed her out there, too.
After that first week, all puke and Looney Tunes, Dean gets his marbles back. The only thing he can't shake is the yearning, the gaping hungry want, but he's used to that.
Dean doesn't dislike Lee. Dean might actually enjoy Lee's company. Dean is lonely as hell.
"What, so I'm the babysitter, then?" Lee asks. They are digging holes in the desert, which Lee thinks there might have been a book about. These are holes for posts, though; the compound is expanding.
Lee has just suggested that he and Dean, they're brothers (don't you want a big brother?). Lee has been rebuffed.
Dean chuffs. "Hell no," he says about the babysitter thing, though the retort doesn't come as quick this time. Maybe he's not as sure as he wants to be. It's hard to know the way John sees things.
Dean digs his post-hole.
Dean likes Lee better at night, which Lee takes to mean Dean likes him somewhat less than he likes digging holes. But maybe it's not so much the liking Lee's after, but the needing, anyway. And what Dean really, really needs is Lee talking all goddamn night; and Lee is happy to oblige. At first, all Lee's stories are about girls--back when he'd been a kid and there'd been girls who'd take him. It turns out all the pretty girls who'd fuck a guy like him get married or pregnant pretty quick, though. In Lee's stories, he is eternally nineteen.
Dean asks surprisingly boring questions. He's not impressed by Lee's chupacabra scare, or even the railroad ghost. He doesn't give a shit about el cucuy. But what was high school like? he asks, as though that's the key to really juicy 2AM talk. Had Lee graduated? What was that like? Did it make you feel any different, the way people say it does? Is it worth it? (Dean is both skeptical and hopeful; Lee is blank. Mostly, the question makes him feel fucking old.)
Graduating was all right. Lee'd been a solid student--C average. One time, a B. (Leadership class.) He'd done solid enough he should have amounted to more than he had. He hadn't even had to go to the transitional school--he was straight to STVT, for the Business diploma. Of course, then he'd met Ricky.
Dean hangs on this. All of it. He wants to know everything, so desperately Lee is sure it's not just the withdrawal talking. It's almost like Dean wants to know him. Almost.
Dean wants to know how far Lee would have gone--you know, to do the college thing.
"Far as it would take me," Lee says, without hesitation.
He'd made it 40 miles from home.
Los tres reyes del desierto is probably the worst cult in all of Arizona.
"Makes the demon thing more likely," Dean points out. Demon summoning is rarely, if ever, an actual religious thing. That's just the pretty wrapping.
"Have you ever actually handled a demon, though?" Lee asks.
Dean shrugs. "Monster's a monster. It'll go down like they all do."
That's stupid, because no monster goes down like the next one, ever. But Dean is cutting corners, whittling down to blistering efficiency. Because see, the reason Los tres reyes is the worst cult in all of Arizona is because it turns out no one actually believes in that "impurities" thing. One of the sisters de los reyes, Yesenia, has just invited Dean over for the night. There will be sex, and there will be refreshments.
"You know, it'll be a party. With holy water and stuff," she says meaningfully. And she winks at Lee. She's got that Norteño accent that he loves. "You can come too, naco."
April 27, 2003,1:30AM is three bottles of jäger. Then Yesenia shows up with a fucking box of Red Bull.
April 27, 2003, 2:45AM: Her sisters.
"ARE YOU FUCKING TWINS!!!" Lee shouts.
(They are triplets.)
Jäger makes for loose lips. It's Edgar who spills, all while taking shots off Yesenia's tits, which are hard and large. Lee's never met a woman who could afford that kind of work before.
You know what makes a king? Edgar laughs. The Devil, that's who. Every fucking one of them. Edgar talks about Atzlán and the Alamo, Cortez and James K. Polk. He talks about the demon. The summoning. Edgar talks about everything. It's too easy.
Or at least, it should be. They are taking a smoke break without smokes, which generally gets people suspicious if people notice. They really don't have time for this.
"They're just people," Dean insists. Dean insists on going back and forth on what they're going to do about the cult. "Weird... crazy fucking people," he admits, moral pendulum sweeping back toward Lee.
"Who are trying to summon a demon," says Lee, trying to keep Dean in his corner. "So, what. You have to catch 'em in the act before it's shoot first, no questions later? Or do we wait until the demon's actually in the room? You wanna share with the class? Or no--you're not familiar with that dynamic, are you."
Dean glares at him.
"Say they can summon a demon. Say it's Edgar, or whatever that guy's name is. He does the dirty. He still looks human. Pisses human. But in the end, you're either gonna kill him now or kill him later. So who the fuck are you trying to impress?"
Dean's eyes go wide. Who, indeed.
But in the end, that's not a question Dean ever answers. They get pulled back inside and they don't smell like smoke and that's not a good sign; because places like this, they're good at breeding two things: The first is absolute trust. We're gonna summon a demon, Edgar insists, absolutely trusting. And then, You faggots better not be chickening out. You're not, are you? YOU'RE FUCKING NOT, ARE YOU. (Which is the other thing.)
More jäger, more Red Bull. More desert, all moon and coyotes. Just after four in the morning, Víctor shows up with four felonies' worth of cocaine, made all the more impressive by the times. Lee hasn't seen a brick like that since Ricky, and that was pre-9/11 (which, as far as Lee's life was concerned, had been a significant event insofar as it was total Viagra for the DEA).
It gives Lee one felony's worth of satisfaction to see the look on Dean's face. The kid's never actually done drugs like that before, never seen them. Which makes sense, Lee supposes, given that they're more of a high school thing than a cucuy thing. This is a sticky situation, though. Los tres reyes del desierto have already decided to trust them absolutely; los tres reyes el desierto absolutely do not trust them. To deny them would be an absolute betrayal.
Dean's looking at Lee like Lee's supposed to know what to do. He searches Lee for some direction. He searches and searches.
By the time the straw comes around to him, Dean can mimic the action enough to look pro.
This is the last thing Lee remembers for sure.
In 2019 in Texhoma, Lee is just a man with a marid in his basement and a couple corpses to his name. But it's really only a few. It's not like he's Winfield Scott or nothing.
On April 27, 2003, at 5:57AM in a nameless part of Maricopa County, Lee is really fucking drunk. Dean is really fucking high. Yesenia is really fucking dead.
Her blood is on his boots. The sisters are probably back in fucking Tucson by now, Lee thinks, or maybe also fucking dead. He's not sure.
Are you fucking high??? Lee asks, a harsh whisper.
"No," Dean denies vehemently, "and stop-- fucking asking, I can't--"
There are bodies everywhere. Well, there are two bodies--Edgar and Víctor--but it's a small space. Crowded.
Then Dean trips over another one, falls smack on his face and doesn't get back up. Curls his arms over his chest--cheek digging into the dirt floor, streaking blood. He has a gun in his hand.
Okay, three bodies. Four, if Dean keeps lying there.
The third body, Lee doesn't recognize. It's probably el tercero rey--and it's that guy's fault, Lee decides. Has to be. This had all been part of the plan. It had been a whole complex operation. Not that he can remember it now, but it had been. He's sure. Lee has a gun in his hand, too.
He glances at his feet.
Yesenia, in pieces. Silicone seeping out. Stippling like mousey little footprints on her chest. What's left in the wake of a .45 ACP round, point blank. He knows the gun in his hand, and knows it well.
That all happened quick, Lee thinks.
They should get out of here.
Truth or Consequences. That's where they end up, Lee shits you not.
Dean's not listening to him. During their last piss stop, he'd crawled into the bed of what was once Víctor's truck and died there, for all Lee knows. He'd had--well, Lee figures it probably would have been considered a medical emergency if they hadn't already been surrounded by dead bodies, and the sun coming up on them like that. Shaky as hell, couldn't fucking breathe. Lots of jäger. Too much Red Bull. Adrenaline in felony quantities. Other things.
"Hey, man," Lee says, arms dangling over the lip of the truck. There'd been a Big Gulp in the cup holder up front, Víctor's melted slushie a tepid, murky purple. Apparently he'd been a "mix the flavors" kind of man. This is what Lee's offering now. "You'll feel better if you hydrate. It's got a straw."
Víctor's a chewer. Or at least, he was.
Lee closes his eyes. Tries to remember something other than the wreckage of Yesenia's chest.
Alcohol, sex, Red Bull. Edgar, smoke break. Pointless moralizing. Coke.
Right, then the demon summoning. Dean had asked Edgar what the point of the whole cult thing was, if all he wanted to do was summon a demon. Was it a team sport, or something? Edgar replied with something perfunctory and, to his mind, obvious. Something about kings without kingdoms. It had sounded lonely.
It was Víctor who'd brought the herbs and candles, borrowed from his abuela. El tercero rey was bringing the Latin.
It had all gotten a little too real after that.
Lee's hand swings to his waistband, just to make sure his gun's still there. The Big Gulp's styrofoam squeaks in his grip. He closes his eyes and wills himself not to think of Yesenia.
Do not think about Yesenia.
They are several hours further from that morning at a gas station, single pump, when Dean emerges from the truck bed to piss a sigil in the red dust. You know, a sigil for a demon summoning.
"The fuck is your problem." Lee spits, stamping the sigil out with his boots, piss be damned. His mouth still tastes like hangover.
Dean doesn't remember anything except the sigil. They've been over this. Lee remembers only the bodies. Lee's of the opinion that no one should live through a murder scene and remember the artwork.
"You're a little psycho, you know that?" Lee shouts. "What, got what you came for? Gonna put your little sigil in that journal? Was that all part of the plan? "
"What part of that was the fucking plan?" Dean shouts back. He needs to be angry at something, someone. That person is Lee. But it can't be, because--
"How would you fucking know, Dean? You said you don't remember shit."
"Because I'm not a fucking idiot!"
Because he knows what wrong looks like, what it feels like. Because a girl he'd fucked was dead. Because they hadn't even cleaned it up. Because none of this is who he is.
There's more, but it's not a fight worth remembering, and anyway they're on the lam. Dean crawls into the truck bed and dies, or whatever.
"At least there weren't any demons involved," Lee says, somewhere in the panhandle. The only reason there's still sun in the sky's because there's nothing between it and the horizon. It's all razor's edge and sunset.
Dean snorts. Four people are dead, and in the end there weren't any demons involved.
He's beginning to come around. He'd crawled his way back into the cab after Lee rounded a corner too hard, nearly flung him out the side. Which he'd been angry about, but Lee'd still had to help drag his pale ass up into the seat. It's hard to be self-righteous in the comedown.
He's still fucked up enough that this is not the first time they've had this conversation. It reminds Lee of more innocent times, when Dean was only detoxing and the two of them were only digging holes for a cult in the desert. But this time, Lee knows how to use it.
He's told the story several times now, trying out different plays and different endings. The first was the only time he told the truth.
Because unlike Dean, Lee does kind of remember. Yesenia was going to be the vessel; she wanted to know what it would feel like, to have something like that inside of her. That had disgusted him, so he'd shot her. There was more shooting after that. In the second story, it's Víctor who shoots first. Lee was going to be a hero with a gun. But that hadn't felt right, given that they'd got to take his truck, and Víctor had always seemed mostly all right. He'd been a kid, really. By the time they hit the panhandle, the gun has found its way to Dean's hands. ("You were"--Lee looks away--"really coked up, man. But I figured you knew what you were doing.")
Here is what Lee thinks:
- He thinks they were not the only ones with guns.
- He thinks the jägerbombs and the sex and the demon summoning kinda weren't supposed to happen on the same night. Who does that? That's what he thinks. That's where this went wrong. That and the coke, probably.
- He thinks, he does not have to be the one who killed Yesenia.
- He really doesn't.
"What's one more nightmare, right?" Lee assures him. He is offering forgiveness. If Dean doesn't take it, that's his weakness, not Lee's. Lee is a provider, and he is kind. He says, "You should try and get some rest, brother."
Lee thinks the next truck stop out is as good a place as any to part ways with Dean Winchester. He has the decency to wait until Dean wakes up again.
"First hunt back, after that cult thing. Where'd you end up?" Lee asks.
"Uh," Dean says.
They're outside, sun coming up. He's giving Dean directions to the salvage yard. Lee hopes they're the fucking worst, but there's not a lot to get lost in in the panhandle, even in the fifteen miles to the yard. People don't get lost up here. They go missing.
"You gotta remember. I mean, fucked us both up pretty bad, you know? And here you are, back in it, still hunting."
"Here I am."
"What does it matter, man."
Dean's tired of him. They've had their fun, and now it's over. Fuck you, Lee thinks.
Dean must notice he's worn his welcome thin. He doesn't seem like the kind of person who generally gives a fuck, but he gives for Lee. "Sorry," he says. "Look, we're both hungover. A girl is missing. She's probably dead. We have to go find a fucking body."
He doesn't sound like he wants to.
"Why are you looking for her?" Lee asks. "I don't mean-- Just. Why does it have to be you?"
Because Lee is going to regret this, isn't he. Killing him.
He watches Dean load rune-etched bullets into his gun. That's new.
"After Arizona," Dean says, instead of answering, "I ended up in Cali. Got my GED. Do you have any idea how much that fucking test costs?"
Lee laughs. "What, did you keep the receipt?"
The night he'd left Dean at that truck stop, he'd been certain that's the last he'd ever see of Dean Winchester. It's a big country--and besides, people like Dean, they slip through the cracks.
After what they'd done--what had happened to them--it's a little bit annoying, honestly, to see Dean back. Sure, they'd clasped arms and drunk and sang, made merry, but Dean is part of a past that wasn't ever supposed to catch up. It was something Lee had outrun. What he can't figure out is how Dean outran it, too.
It feels important: Lee met the marid, and here he is. Dean found something else, and there he is. Lee just needs to know what. He just needs to know. Fuck the GED.
"June 21st, 2003. Nyack, New York," Dean says, suddenly all memory and hyperdetail. Lee wonders how much Dean's really forgotten about Arizona. If he's really here for Lee. If he still knows that sigil. Dean continues, "Guy starts eating people's livers out of the blue. I put him down."
"Damn. Like a werewolf kind of thing?"
Dean shrugs. "Dunno. Sometimes you wake up one day and you're a monster."
Lee laughs. "Amen to that, brother."
Amen my ass, Dean mutters, but he doesn't give Lee a second glance. Doesn't suspect a thing.
These kinda situations, they breed absolute trust. And then they breed that other thing.
The marid promises him riches and health.
"You're not gonna make me pick?"
She says, This is America. She is a long way from home, and so is Lee. Further than 40 miles, in any case.
I can make the pain stop, she promises. She can take away that heart anguish, the thing that makes memory of nightmares, and nightmares from memory. She can take away the long drinks and the racing pulse. She can free him. (And this, see. This is what she meant when she said he had too much on the line. He can't go back, after she lifts this from him. He won't.)
"But won't that make me a monster?" he asks. The Bible cherishes the penitent.
The marid smiles. She speaks softly, like a mother to a child. Not this.
He'd hoped he'd killed him. Broke his neck in one shot like an action hero. But Lee is never so lucky, and they are well past the murky middle of this story. It's another one of those times where Lee's not getting out of something soon enough. It's just this time he thought he had. That stings.
Not as much as his shoulder does, dragging Dean back to his truck. Dean is heavier than he'd been when Lee had dragged him out of that compound, though maybe Lee's just older. Time was, he'd dragged Dean's stupid fucking body past all those posts and all those holes on nothing but an empty stomach and a bump of coke. Lee could have just left him there, but he didn't. He always reminds himself of that.
Lee knows dead weight is a bitch and a half, but lugging Dean up into the truck bed, Lee's pretty sure Dean's at least two bitches. Maybe that's why he's always fed his marid girls. He heaves, and pants, and he doesn't take the turns too easy. By the time he's got Dean down in the basement, Lee wonders if he hasn't actually killed him, he's been unconscious so long.
That girl, she'd woken up. He'd had to hold her down.
That's his skin, under her fingernails. If the Sheriff ever found her, it'd be one trip to the lab and with Lee's record, it'd be all over.
He'll throw her body in the lake this time.
He'll throw her body in the lake this time, Lee thinks, when his marid's head comes rolling out the door, and Dean behind it. Fuck it, he will. All Dean's really done is free him--he doesn't need the marid anymore. He's a businessman now; he's made it.
He made it.
But Dean can dodge a bullet, and maybe Lee's always known that. He doesn't remember if he'd taken a shot at Dean back in Arizona, but he can't imagine why not. He throws his gun to the floor.
Lee can probably take him. The guy was unconscious only moments ago, is still moving like he's spun a bearing--a little hesitation, a lot of wide open concussion. But Dean comes at him with the full force of someone who does this for a living and Lee is so fucking angry about it. Because here Dean is, still at it, outrunning all the consequences Lee never could. He'd put Yesenia's blood on Dean's hands; yet here is Dean, come up behind him.
Dean staggers back, boots crunching through bottle glass.
"I'm not outrunning anything," he slurs, yanking a chair from beside him and hurling it at Lee.
And fuck him, but Lee believes him.
There's a second, maybe two. Dean looks at him, searching and searching, just like old times, and Lee can read him like the saddest fucking comic book.
Dean is disappointed that he has to be the one to save everyone. No, he's disappointed in Lee. Or he's disappointed Lee is too far gone to take with him. He's disappointed he can't just let the fuck go; and disappointed that he wants to. Dean is none and all of these things. Dean is not his disappointments.
"We're the same," Lee tries.
Maybe Dean wishes they were. What he wants is anyone's guess. But Dean knows who he's not.
Dean shoves that cue straight through him, all splinter. You can't do that unless you're absolutely sure you want to. It's not like a bullet. Lee is shoved through, back to the wall, pinned like a bug. He loses his legs, all feeling. Feels the pain at a distance, doesn't remember what came before the shock. His hand flies out, finds Dean and he thinks Wait, don't leave me, he thinks of Dean receding, a slump of dark against the truck stop wall (he'd put him by the spigot, advised he hydrate), the death rattle of Víctor's truck carrying Lee away, away. "Wait, wait--" he gasps.
He can feel the wall at his back, he can feel--pain. Pain and pain. "Okay," he says, and he doesn't know if it's his own acceptance, if it's just Lee Webb, providing, like he always does. Like if he gives Dean permission, that saves him somehow. "Okay, okay," he burbles, and he doesn't know what it is. He can't feel his legs. He can't believe Dean run him through with his own goddamn pool cue.
Here's what Lee knows.
When Dean Winchester goes, it won't be like this.