Title: Never Still in Darkness (Part 1/?)
Genre: AU, horror, (dark) fantasy, sci-fi
Prompt: #15: Supernatural
Notes: Crossover with Supernatural. Yes, the tv show. Yes, I took the prompt quite literally. >_> Also an AU of my own AU, DBtT/GBtR. Is that even legal? Whatever, there it is. Mostly just taking the Changmin from the 'verse and building a new story around him. And for those of you who don't read that fic... it really shouldn't matter. This universe will be different enough that I'll cover the history and all that again. Takes place sometime during S2 of the show. I've never written Supernatural!fic before, so hopefully I do justice to the guys... :/ And finally, I am starting this fic only with the idea that I want super-powered!Min to meet Sam and Dean. I have nothing else to go on, thus I have no idea where this fic is going. Bear with me. (And, hopefully, enjoy the ride.) ^_^
Word Count: 4,514
Summary: Changmin and Jaejoong are good hunters, and there aren't many things they can't kill one way or another. When they run into one of the rare exceptions to that rule, they're forced to seek help from an outside source. The Winchesters aren't sure how much help they'll be, but they're always up for an interesting challenge. And this case is nothing if not interesting.
Warnings: some scenes of torture, platonic!JaeMin
A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night. ~J.M. Barrie
Max woke with a start, jolting up hard enough for the safety function on his seat belt to catch, and Jae glances over at him before turning his eyes back to the road. They're only about 20 minutes from the next motel, and Jae would really rather avoid totaling another car when they're so close to sanctuary for the night. "Everything okay, Min?" He tries to keep it casual; Max tends to get a bit testy when Jae attempts to baby him. Not that that generally stops Jae. For now, though, he just wants a straight answer rather than a verbal battle.
Max nods, running a hand over his eyes to clear the sleep and the last vestiges of his dream. Nightmare, really, but that's nothing unusual. "Yeah, fine. Just the typical flashback nightmare b.s." Jae reassures him on a fairly regular basis that his nightmares are normal, that he'd been through an unimaginably traumatic experience. Life. Whatever. Three years away from the Centre, though, and Max thinks the nightmares should really just lay off already. At least they only come every month or so now rather than every night. He catches Jae's second look and rolls his eyes fondly. "Seriously, hyung, I'm fine. It really was just the same thing again."
Max - still Changmin at the time, before they'd had to flee Korea and adopt more English-friendly names - had met Jae almost immediately upon his escape from the Centre. A couple hours free and wandering aimlessly since he had no idea where in Seoul he could possibly go - he'd never known the city beyond the glimpses he'd gotten through the Centre's upper-level windows - and he'd run into the older man on the street. Or, rather, had been run into. Jae had taken one look at Max's dirty, bedraggled, barefoot self and insisted on taking the boy to his place to take care of him.
Max hadn't intended on staying, not at first. It was strange, though, how safe and peaceful Jaejoong could make him feel when he'd been taught his whole life that strangers can't be trusted. Eventually, he'd given up any ideas of ever leaving Jae. Not long after that, the Centre had come for him again and this time dragged Jae in along with him. That had been their biggest mistake. They'd hurt Jae only once before Max had all the incentive he'd needed to super-power their way out. The two of them took off for the U.S. after escaping and had been driving around the country for the two and a half years since.
And even after spending so long speaking the local language, English almost as natural to them as their native Korean at this point, Max still can't quite drop the habit of calling Jae 'hyung'. He's never really tried to. Or, to be even more specific, he's never really had a reason to want to. Jae is his big brother, in every sense of the word except blood, but the phrase just doesn't sound as natural in English.
The hunting had been a pretty natural progression for them once they got to the States. Max had had a pretty broad knowledge of supernatural creatures thanks to the Centre's department on the subject. While Max had been a "student" of the organization's psychic powers division, that hadn't stopped him from distracting himself with the supernatural section's extensive library. Between that knowledge, his own powers, and their distinct lack of legal status in their new country, it had seemed to be the logical step.
Their time in the business had been relatively easy so far. Between Max's multiple mental powers and Jae's surprising aptitude for weapons of any kind, they hadn't faced much that put up too great of a challenge. He has a feeling, though - and Max knows better than to discount his gut feelings - that that fact is about to change. Perhaps it's that very feeling that had brought his nightmares screaming back after almost two months of relatively peaceful sleep.
Jae pulls their car into the motel parking lot and rolls to a stop in front of the manager's office. Hopping out but leaving the car running, he runs inside. A few minutes later, he's back with keys to a first-floor room on the end. They'd learned early on that those rooms make for the fastest escapes when necessary, and they'd quickly gotten into the habit of requesting them when possible.
They settle into their room, duffle bags tossed on a ratty chair by the window, and Max crawls straight into the second bed and falls asleep. Jae can't blame him. The younger man hadn't drifted off in the car until after 1 then had woken from his nightmare no more than an hour after that. Now, closing in on 3 a.m., he should be asleep. Jae should be, too. For whatever reason, though, Jae just isn't as tired as he should be.
He slouches down into the second chair in the room and unfolds the paper he'd snagged from the newsstand in the office. They haven't settled on a new hunt yet, have no real destination without a target, and after 2 days of driving in a generally northwesterly direction, he's getting a bit a antsy. The second headline on the front page almost immediately catches his eye. After scanning the article over, he resolves to bring it up with Max in the morning. The description is straight out of the scary stories of his childhood, and if he's right about the monster involved, things are about to get difficult.
A week later, Jae wishes with every fiber of his being that he'd been wrong. Every single aching, bruised, sore, beaten fiber. Stumbling back into their hotel room, he and Max both collapse onto the first bed they meet, sprawling side by side across the mattress. Max wipes the blood away from his eye, the small cut just over his left eyebrow more annoying than worrisome, and turns his head to look at Jae. "This isn't working, hyung. We may have to call for backup."
Cursing quietly in a mix of English and Korean - with a smattering of Japanese thrown in just to cover all his bases - Jae reluctantly admits that Max has a point. The spirit has thus far proven remarkably resistant to Max's powers as well as the traditional known weaknesses such as salt and iron and had killed three more men as they'd been floundering. They need someone with a fresh perspective, someone who may have more in-depth knowledge.
Sliding his phone from his pocket, Jae dials a few of the contacts he's picked up over the years. One name becomes a running theme in every conversation: Bobby Singer. Even better, they're only about a half day's drive from the man's home base. Jae hauls himself up to scribble down an address, phone number, and some driving directions. "Got it. Thanks, Ethan. ... No, yeah, we'll definitely make sure to call and give him a heads-up first. ... Yep." He ends the call then looks back at Max. "Rest up, Min. We'll head out first thing tomorrow morning."
"This doesn't have to be so difficult, Changmin. In fact, this could all be over now if you'd just stop. being. so. stubborn."
Strapped face-down to the surgical table, drugged and powerless, Changmin tracks Dr. Phillips's movements around the room through sound alone. He attempts to dredge up some kind of fear, anxiety, anything, over whatever plans the doctor may have for him now. It doesn't work. He's not sure whether it's because he's so drugged out of his mind at the moment or whether he's just become so used to the pain - it's been years, he's pretty sure, if only because of how tall he's gotten, though he'd really lost any sense of time after the first couple months - that he can't bring himself to be scared of it anymore.
He's not sure what it is inside of him anymore that keeps him from giving them what they want. He should. He really, really should. After being beaten, raped, tortured in every imaginable sense of the word, he has nothing left to lose. Nothing else to hold out for. Except the fact that he's gone this long, and maybe if he holds out a bit longer, they'll finally give up and just kill him. Every time they drug him up and strap him down, he prays that today's the day. This time they'll torment him into unconsciousness, and he won't wake up again.
But whether that day is now or not, he still has to deal with whatever new punishment they've come up with before he gets that release. He's not sure what else they could possible do. He's always had a fairly vivid imagination, but even he's run out of ideas.
Dr. Phillips, apparently, has not. Changmin's skin jumps at the first touch of cold metal against his back, and then his shirt is being cut away with surgical scissors. The two sides of the cloth are spread apart, exposing the mostly unmarred skin. Oh, they'd hurt him there before; Changmin can't think of a single spot on his body that hasn't been hurt at some point over the last few years. They just, for whatever reason, have never left scars. He has a feeling that fact's about to change.
"Did you know, Changmin," Dr. Phillips says, laid-back and conversational as he always is during these sessions, "that ranchers rarely use heat to brand cattle anymore? Now they use a technique called freeze-branding." A pause, and Changmin strains to angle his neck so he can see whatever Phillips is doing.
"Liquid nitrogen," the doctor explains as he slips on a pair of thick rubber gloves. He studies the curved handles hooked on the edge of a blue plastic barrel before selecting one of the metal pieces and pulling it up, revealing a flat metal bar on the end of a long rod. "Have you ever touched a piece of freezing metal with your bare skin, Changmin? The way your skin will stick just slightly until the metal warms enough to release you? How the metal will take parts of your skin if you pull away too quickly?"
Changmin tries not to imagine where this is going, tries not to think of where that metal bar will go. But the possibilities run through his mind, no matter what he tries not to think of, as the doctor walks around to stand beside him. "Liquid nitrogen boils at negative 196 degrees Celsius, becomes solid at negative 210. This has been kept in its liquid form, somewhere between those. So compare that to your sticky skin problem as a child. Just imagine it."
He starts to imagine; his brain almost tries to comprehend it. Then the metal touches his skin, vertically over the line of his spine. The mind-numbing cold hits him first, a cold so intense that it burns. He can hear the sizzle as his warm skin attempts to negate the cold of the metal bar. And then there's nothing but pain. A pain he never could have imagined, may never even completely comprehend, will never be able to describe.
The doctor pulls the bar from his skin, Changmin's not sure how long after the initial contact. His skin tears away with it, and Changmin writhes even through his bindings: relieved that the cold is gone, agonized over the new pain and the pulsing burn left behind. Tears pour down his cheeks; Changmin gasps out a cry when he can force air into his lungs again.
"We wouldn't have to do this, Changmin," the doctor continues. The rod in his hand clatters to the floor as he walks over to select another. He shuffles them around for a moment before pulling one out, holding it up to display the design. Changmin recognizes the infinity-and-six-pointed-star symbol that marks everything that comes out of the Centre. And Changmin knows that, if they touch that metal to his skin, he will be forever marked as Centre property. Forever belong to this Hell on Earth. "It's interesting, isn't it, freeze branding? Leaves the same scar, the same permanent physical marks, as a hot brand. And yet, I think the overall impression is somehow more… profound, don't you? With the cold?"
He walks around again, clutching the new metal piece. "If you just give in, Changmin, stop resisting… this can all end right now."
Changmin sobs, harsh and choking gasps, "No no no no no…," no longer sure if he's responding to the doctor's demands or the prospect of that metal touching his skin again. The doctor doesn't wait for him to clarify. The Centre logo contacts his back, a few inches below the first one, and Changmin's world dissolves into pain once more.
It's been hours, Changmin thinks. Maybe days. He's no longer sure, can't keep track through the haze of pain. He's sure the drugs wore off long ago, but he can't focus enough to actually do anything with the powers he may have regained. Phillips had burned him at least three more times after the Centre's brand before leaving the room; Changmin's whole body courses with the pain and he can't distinguish new from old. He'd screamed himself hoarse, something tearing in his throat with the last one, and something warm and thick had trickled out of the corner of his mouth when he'd coughed.
And just when Changmin can feel the dark edges of unconsciousness pulling at him, the door opens again.
For the second time in a week, Max jerks awake in an attempt to escape the memories. He almost imagines he can feel the old scars on his back throbbing, though he's sure it's more mental than actually physical. Shaking his head, he brushes off Jae's attempts to ask about it. There's nothing new to be said for flashbacks they've talked through a thousand times before. He rubs a hand over his eyes, hoping to ease the pressure behind them of what he knows to be the beginnings of a serious tension headache.
He apparently woke at just the right time, though, he notices as the car makes its way through the auto salvage yard. The old house, when they get to it, stands in stark contrast to the towers of twisted metal. Parked in front of the house is an old pick-up truck and a big, black boat of a car. Max couldn't even start to guess what kind; that's not the kind of knowledge he's ever had the luxury of picking up.
An older man, grizzled and bearded with an old trucker's hat on his head, (Max assumes this is Mr. Singer, though only Jae has spoken to the man and would therefore know for sure.) stands in the doorway of the house, staring them down as they climb out of the car. He gestures to the shot glasses on the porch as they approach, and Max would bet money the glasses are a test, not refreshments, most likely containing holy water.
A younger man with short hair and light eyes - Max can't quite tell if they're blue or green from this distance - appears behind Mr. Singer holding a shotgun most likely containing rock salt. He and Jae down the shots without hesitation and watch as both men relax just the slightest bit. Not all the way, but at least they can rule out one danger.
"Have to say," Mr. Singer drawls out when they finally get to the door, "you boys ain't at all what I was expectin'. Thought you'd be older, at least."
Max half-smirks, knowing how testy Jae can get when someone comments on their looks - whether it be their age or the "pretty-boy" faces. He tunes into Jae's thoughts just long enough to hear exactly what he'd been expecting, sarcasm and some choice insults running rampant. Jae starts to square his shoulders, and Changmin decides it's time to step in. With a quiet, "Jae," muttered under his breath, Jae visibly relaxes with a disgruntled pout.
"You never let me have any fun," Jae grumbles in response, but Max knows that's the end of Jae's almost-tirade.
Stepping forward, Max addresses Mr. Singer and the still-unnamed man at the door. "I promise we're older than we look. And no matter what our age, we have plenty of experience. Besides, sometimes looking as harmless as we can turns out to be an advantage more than anything. No one ever really expects to get their ass kicked by a skinny Asian kid."
The younger man behind Mr. Singer scoffs. "Sorry, but I'm having a seriously hard time imagining you guys kicking anyone's ass."
Max acknowledges the sentiment with a one-shouldered shrug. They could believe what they want. He even admits that, without his powers, he probably would be fairly useless in a physical fight. Jae, on the other hand, looks thin - almost waif-like - but is all hard, defined muscles under those clothes. And he's not afraid to put those muscles to work when necessary.
When the two on the porch realize they won't get any further response, they exchange a quick look then Bobby waves the two boys into the house. "Well, suppose you boys oughta get in here then. See if we can identify whatever this creature is that's got you stuck."
"Identifying it's not the problem," Max replies as he walks up the stairs and into the house, Jae protectively close behind him. "We know what it is. The problem is that it's been mutated somehow, and it's a long way from where it's supposed to be."
Another man - younger even than Shotgun, possibly around Jaejoong's age, with long, shaggy hair - stands inside the house, a silver knife at the ready. Not waiting to be told, Max grasps just tightly enough to break the skin and leave a thin line of blood across his palm that he then holds up for inspection. Jae repeats the process, and the three men relax again. Not completely, never completely as a hunter, but enough that Jae and Max understand they're no longer being considered a threat.
Mr. Singer ushers them into the living room, Max settling into a corner of the couch knowing that Jae will want to be next to him, between him and any possible dangers. Jae's over-protective even at the best of times, and this latest hunt has put him on overdrive. The other three men perch on various chairs around the room. "Assuming you already know who I am. Other two are Sam and Dean. Which one of you did I talk to before?"
Sam and Dean. Winchester, Max's brain helpfully supplies. They're practically legends in the hunting world, and Jae and Max have run into the names a few times in their years on the job. Jae raises his hand in a small wave in response to Bobby's question. "That would be me. Jaejoong, but you can just call me Jae."
"He does speak," Dean mutters; Max's not sure if he intended to be heard or not. Either way, Jae shoots him a cold glare.
"Mongchong-ah," Jae hisses back in response. Max lays a calming hand on Jae's arm and watches as Sam does the same to Dean's shoulder.
It doesn't prevent Dean from pointing a threatening finger at Jae, returning the icy glare. "I have no idea what that means, but I don't like the tone."
Jae opens his mouth to respond - most likely to inform Dean exactly what he'd just been called - but Max interrupts him with a soft but firm, "Hyung."
"Really?" Jae snaps, his glare morphing from the icy rage at Dean to simply frustrated as he turns to Max. "Really, Changmin. I just have to let him insult me to my face?"
Changmin shakes his head. "You insulted him back already, in a language they don't understand no less. We came here for their help. Just let it go before your mouth gets us into another difficult situation that I have to bail us out of."
Crossing his arms over his chest, Jae flops back against the couch. Max recognizes it for the sulk it is, and he knows it's Jae's way of caving. Just when Max thinks it may be safe to relax, though, Dean tosses out another comment. "Well, seems like the kid's the smart one in that partnership."
Turning his own glare on Dean, Max almost retorts when Sam steps in instead. "Well then it's a lot like this one, isn't it? Seriously, dude. Shut up. You don't have to antagonize them." Dean sits back in his own sulk, and Max catches Sam's eye. They trade a look of long-suffering and mutual understanding. "So you're Changmin then?" Sam asks.
Max nods. "Yep. You can just call me Max, though. Usually easier for people to pronounce."
"Great," Bobby finally speaks up. "Now if you idjits're finally done with your pissing contest, can we get down to business?"
Giving him a short, sharp nod, Max starts on filling them in. "We've been in northern Illinois for the last week or so, investigating a creature that's been leaving bodies all around over there and into Iowa. Not just bodies but blackened, dried-up husks of bodies."
"Dude, you guys took that case?" Dean interrupts. "We were gonna head out tomorrow to look into it." He almost sounds like he's pouting at the loss of the hunt, and Max shoots him a half-smile.
"We had a feeling we already knew what it was," Jae picks up the story. "We wanted to do a bit of investigating to make sure we were right. We were, but unfortunately, this thing's not acting the way it should. It doesn't respond to the traditional methods, and unlike most creatures of its type, it's only targeting a very specific group of people."
Sam's brow furrows as he takes the pieces of information they've been given and starts mentally sorting them. "What group of people, exactly?"
Clenching his jaw, Jae fights the urge to glance over at Max, knowing the other three hunters would pick up on it for the tell it is. He doesn't trust them enough yet, not for Max's secret. He knows there are plenty of hunters who utilize psychics to hunt down the beasts they kill, but he knows just as many who shoot first and ask questions later. "Psychics," he replies in a clipped tone. "Or rather, people with general psychic powers: clairvoyants, sensitives, telekinetics, telepaths."
"So what is this thing?" Dean asks, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. "You obviously know if you're that familiar with its normal eating habits."
"It's a yuryeong," Max replies, pausing to find the words in English to explain.
"Bless you," Dean chirps, taking advantage of the lull.
Rolling his eyes with a small amused smirk, Max attempts to clarify the term. "It comes from Korea, thus why we said earlier that it's not where it's supposed to be. In English, I guess you could call it a... a phantom. A monster. I don't know; there's really no good translation for it. It takes the appearance of a normal human until feeding time, then it changes into its creature form and sucks out the... life force, I guess, from the victim."
"Sounds kinda like a shtriga to me," Dean interjects.
Max nods, knowing the truth in the statement. "They are a lot alike, I guess. Unlike a shtriga, though, you should be able to kill a yuryeong at any time once you recognize what it is whether it's feeding or not. Usually."
Bobby chimes in this time. "You said it's not reacting to traditional methods. What have you tried so far?"
"All the lore we could find said iron or silver, fairly typical for a monster, but we figured out the hard way that either the lore was wrong or this particular one is resistant," Jae answers. "It can materialize like a ghost, so we tried rock salt as well. It's a good distraction, but it doesn't smoke the thing like it would an actual spirit."
Max waits for Jae to explain their other methods, but the older man makes no motion towards doing so. He can understand why, really, but he knows now isn't the time to be withholding information. "We also-"
"Min, no," Jae interrupts. It's his no-nonsense voice, the don't-argue-with-me voice. Max almost always listens to that voice. Almost but not always.
"They have to know, Jae. They won't be able to help us much if they only have half the story." Jae scowls but doesn't reply again, and Max turns back to the other three. "I'm psychic, relatively powerful I suppose. Jae's the weapons expert while I generally just rely on my powers. This yuryeong, though, is resistant to those as well. Not only resistant. I think it actually may have some kind of negation power so I can't use any of my powers directly against. Or at all, if I get too close to it. It's... disconcerting, to say the least."
The other three share a look. "Now when you say 'relatively powerful'..." Dean prompts, trailing off.
Max fills in the blanks for them. "Telekinesis and pyrokinesis mostly. Telepathy. Some light clairvoyance, but that's one I've never been able to get a handle on and control. It just kinda shows up when it wants to."
Sam had tensed up as soon as Max made his confession, and Jae watches Dean give his brother a look from the corner of his eye. Sam either doesn't notice or chooses not to acknowledge it, full attention on Max now. "This is going to be a really personal question, but I have to ask. Are both your parents alive?"
Max blinks at the question that seems to come from nowhere. Then he thinks about the question itself, and his gaze hardens. "Don't know. Don't really care, but I know that doesn't give you the information you want. Last I heard of them, I was five years old watching them drive away. They seemed fine then."
Surprise shows on all three of the older hunters' faces, Sam's tinged with guilt for bringing up the obviously sensitive subject. Just as he opens his mouth to apologize, Max softens his expression and dismisses the apology with a wave of his hand. "It's okay, Sam. You had no way of knowing, and it's been so long ago now that I shouldn't let it get to me still. But, well, there it is."
He and Sam share another understanding look, and Max thinks he could really get to like the older hunter. As much as he loves Jae like a brother, there are just some things his hyung can't relate to. Max gets the feeling that wouldn't be an issue with Sam. Now if only they could get Dean and Jae to stop shooting each other death glares...