Pairings/Characters: Sam/Dean, original characters
Total Word Count: 3708
Summary: a 1920s AU *very* loosely based on the film, Public Enemy.
Notes/Warnings: abuse, dub-con, harsh images, morally challenged Sam, troubled Dean. There are hints of abuse, physical and sexual, but nothing terribly graphic. The rating is for the overall fic—it varies according to update. For a large part of the fic, the boys are underage.
follows from Public Enemies Book One
one/ two/ three/four/ five/six
The car rolled to a stop right inside the open garage doors. Sam waited for Assasi to climb out. He kept his eyes glued to the floorboard, blocking out the quiet murmuring between Louie and A. The punk, still parked in the front seat—Cocker—turned slightly and gave Sam a sympathetic smile. Sam glanced up, finally recognizing him. Right, this guy was one of the boys who'd gone with him…but not too far, this one. Nervous. Scared. There'd been, once or twice, mutual hand jobs in the shadows of Mr. A's garden, at least until Sam had lost interest. It'd been…kind of a dare, just Sam seeing how far he could push someone who didn't really bend the way Sam did. Thinking about the boy's face twisted in fearful pleasure sent a little stream of warmth snaking down his gut….
And now, here was that same little punk, smiling that sad, sappy smile that made Sam want to tell him to shove his sympathy where the sun didn't shine. Common sense kept his lips zipped—even worried out of his mind over Dean, Sam was no idiot. He gave the kid a watery smile instead, and curled his hand over the seat back. The kid covered Sam's hand with his—squeezed—a tentative but warm pressure.
"Don’t you worry much, Sam. Mr. Sam…uh, Sam," the punk—Cocker—said, wide forehead wrinkling slightly in confusion. He knew Sam was getting to be a big deal in the organization, but wasn't completely sure how big, or what exactly his position was…still, when Sam flipped his hand over and linked his fingers briefly with Cocker's, the kid smiled wide, his eyes held…concern, respect…and maybe a touch of fear. That was good, that was swell. Hell, if Sam had all that from the punk, then he held him in the palm of his hand. Sam squashed down a grin…in hand again, he guessed. Anyway, Sam could tell, Cocker saw Sam's loyalty to Dean, and it made quite the impression on him. Sam bet dollars to donuts, when the time came, he'd have Assasi's man at his back.
"Don’t you worry much," the kid went babbling on—"because Mr. A'll make it right, betcha. And Mr. Dean, well, he's a hellofa fighter, he is. Class act alla way. He does time, he'll show 'em all how ta do it."
Sam smiled again, squeezed Cocker's hand one last time before pulling his fingers free. Assasi was gone, back to the townhouse, and Louie was at the open car door. He held it open for Sam, like he'd hold it for Assasi, soft cheeks flushed a dull pink and his mouth twisted in a frown that sure wasn't aimed Sam's way. He stepped back to let Sam out. Dropped a heavy hand on Sam's shoulder, patted it once or twice before whipping loose the square of silk in his jacket pocket. Mopping his face, he sighed, "Listen, Puddy, don't worry none, hear? Everythin's gonna turn up roses, 'swear. 'S'all gonna be alright." He nodded decisively, crumbled the handkerchief and shoved into his pant's pocket.
"Everyone keeps telling me that, Lou, but I don’t see how," Sam said. "They gonna take Dean away and I won’t have nothin'. Nothin'."
Sam jerked away from Lou when he tried to pat Sam again. He raced up the stairs to where Dean was waiting.
"Send yer brother down," Lou called to him. "The Boss wants ta speak wit 'em."
Sam whirled around at the landing before their door, every nerve on fire, twanging like over-tightened violin strings. He felt desperate, wild, and about to explode….
He had no idea what was on his face but Louie, who loved the both of them like sons, Louie took a step back. His face paled, pink flush going the color of milk. The man blinked, swallowed, croaked out, "Yeah, well…don’ take too long, y'hear? Boss only got patience for so long." He wheeled around and headed for the garage doors, the baby-faced gunsel trotting after him.
Sam stared after them for a moment, before he flung himself at the door and tore it open.
Dean was sprawled on the small settee that once upon a time, they'd found on the street and hauled up the stairs, those first weeks they'd come to live with Assasi. Sam frowned, not overmuch pleased with the way he looked. Dean was blasting attitude like fucking radio; he was dressed like a street hustler: chinos and a too-tight tee shirt. A leather jacket, like the ones the flyboys used to wear, was thrown over the settee arm, and he was running the bill of a squashed down newsboy cap through his fingers. Even from where Sam stood, he could smell booze, smoke.
Dean twisted to look at Sam and his face creased in what was meant to be a grin. "Hey, little brother."
The floor lamp had only one bulb lit, casting most of Dean's face in shadow, lit the rest with a golden glow. He was an angel, he was Sam's life, his reason for living and breathing and his, his, his—and now the world was trying to take him away. "Dean…" Sam felt like his heart was being ripped down the middle.
"Nah, hey, Sam. Hey, it's gonna be okay. I fi-figured that Mr. A wouldn' be able ta get me off scot-free." He shrugged and tried to smile and Sam nearly jumped over the settee, rage making him light-headed.
"But—but Dean—" He wanted to drag Dean off the damn thing and wipe that daft, foggy look off his mug, fuckin' looking like…like some crucified saint. Bastard.
"C'mon, Sam—but me no buts." Dean smirked at Sam's ferocious scowl, but that smirk quickly faded into a flat stare, all spark drained out of it. "Just—lemme talk to A, personal. Don't…don't do nothin' 'til I get back, okay?" He dragged himself upright, shrugged into the jacket and jammed the cap on, cocked it so it tilted over one eye. He winked, but without his usual wicked little light, it was just an act, and a poor one at that.
"It'll be fine, kiddo. Come up aces all over again, just like we always do—trust me." He looped an arm around Sam's neck and pressed a kiss on his forehead. "Aces, right?"
Before Sam could speak, Dean was out the door and down the stairs heading towards Assasi. "I do trust you," Sam whispered, "It's A I don’t trust, far as I can throw that chiselin' mug."
Walking into Assasi's study hit Dean's stomach like freefall in an elevator—happened nearly every time he entered A's private world.
Assasi was sitting at his battleship of a desk, wreathed in darkness. As far as Dean knew, no natural light had ever lit the room, at least not ever that he could remember. The thick blue drapes were pulled to, as usual, little lamps threw dim light in the room—just enough to pick out A's sharp features, and make his eyes glow amber.
He smiled at Dean and jerked a thumb towards the wingchair parked in front of his desk. A half-full glass already stood on the little table next to one arm, something not made out of grain alcohol and color and who knows what by the smell of it. Dean sat and wrapped both hands round the heavy tumbler, took a serious belt. It was scotch all right, top shelf stuff—the real deal. He wasn't even sure he wanted to know how A came by it when the rest of the mooks were drinking bath tub gin….
"So, raggazzo. We got business to hash out, eh..." Assasi sighed heavily, the very picture of sorrow. "Went a few rounds 'bout this problem of ours with that sfaccimme Wagner but…we got nothing. Eh, smart guy like you, you figured that, am I right?"
The hot path the scotch had burned down his throat turned to ice. Dean sat there, staring at Assasi, silent because…there were no words. He knew what was coming, the truth…not the big words, the careless shrug, no world-weary laugh or shaking the head. This was it. First step into hell…the world tilted; Dean felt achingly empty and too full at once. He'd thought he was prepared for the worst outcome, thought he'd handle it like he always did…but Assasi had shattered that bubble, was telling him—no hope. Jail time. Jail time in a prison practically filled to the brim with Big Moe's mooks. No matter how many fingers A had in the pot, Dean would be on the floor, surrounded by his father's killers. What could he say that didn't start and end in screaming?
He gripped the glass, slung back another splash of scotch—tried to pull the ragged bits of himself together. He heard Assasi's voice, like it was coming up from deep water….
"But it won’t be all bad, Dean-o. Short time, time you can do easy. Nothing like yer old man did. You go in there, hook up with my people. Let everyone know that you're my man. That you stepped up. And that I took care'a you."
"How long?" Dean whispered.
Assasi shrugged. "Coupl'a years. Not more'n ten."
"Ten?" Dean gasped, a hot roil of nausea rushed up his throat. Almost gagged him. "Ten years?" he choked, trying not to imagine a life avoiding Moe's thumb breakers . Ten…Jesus. He'd be thirty before he ever breathed free again—Sam would be grown, used to life without him—
"Ten," Assasi nodded. "For manslaughter, that's the minimum. See, I can't afford ta go ta war with Big Moe, not yet. I need ta get all the ducks in a row, need to have your place nailed down, Sam's as well."
Sam…Dean jerked back to the here and now. "What about my brother?"
"Dean, Dean, Dean. Don't you know Sammy's taken care of? I'll always watch over him, just like he's my own. He'll always have a place at the table, sitting pretty to my right, like it should be."
Dean nodded sadly. Sam was gonna be okay—if he bent that stiff neck of his and did what Mr. A said. Now it was going to be someone else's job to make sure Sam did just that. Lou maybe, Sam loved Louie. As much as he could love anyone not Dean.
"Okay, now what?" he asked. "Trial…?"
"Yeah, but. You're a model citizen, right? A upstandin' guy caught inna wrong place, a wrong time. The judge is gonna listen. He better. I got him in the bag." Assasi winked and flicked a gold dollar on his desktop. It spun like a top, glittering, catching Dean's eye—it spun and spun as Dean watched, flickered and burned yellow, bronze, yellow, bronze—
Dean dragged his eyes away and back to Assasi's, tried to smile but a hot flush rose up his neck, into his face—his chin went weak and wobbled and he hoped to god A didn’t see him just about bawl like a little bitch.
Assasi palmed the coin, leaned back in his chair. "Tell ya what, Dean-o. You gwan, beat it back home. Calm that brother of yours down 'cause I know he's about ready to tear tha walls down. We'll get a game plan together tomorrow. My lawyers are gonna make it good as possible. And know this—I see the sacrifice you're makin' here, I know you give it freely, and I don’t forget. I'm a lot of things, but I'm not a liar. I'll never lie to ya, Dean, not you, not Sam. You come out; you come out as my ready right hand.
Dean flinched. He swore for a moment Assasi had said 'red right hand', until his brain caught up with his ears. Ready. Of course. But…hadn't he said Sam was going to be his right hand? Maybe they would be…together.
Dean left Assasi's office but instead of going right back to the apartment, he cut out the front door, past A's guys lounging on the townhouse's marble steps. He remembered how terrified he'd been the first time he'd come to Mr. A. How he thought he'd died and gone to heaven when Assasi let him touch those beautiful cars. "Bello raggazino," A had called him and Dean had sort of…kind of…fallen in love.
Yeah. A little.
With barely a nod to them, ignoring curious eyes, he headed up the street, no actual destination in mind, just…walking.
Walking, breathing, feeling fresh air on his skin and a breeze in his hair. He walked steady—fast—until he looked up and found he was downtown, passed on all sides by people about their businesses, going about life. Surrounded by people who didn’t know him and didn't give a shit about him, he slowed some, ankled past a deli him and Sam favored like he was on a Sunday stroll.
Dean reached in his jacket pocket for his cigarette tin. He flipped one out and lipped it, snapped a match head with his nail in a practiced move. He set the gasper to the flame and inhaled, deeply, held it for a moment, then let the smoke drift out of his nose, his mouth, on a sigh…grey tendrils thinned into nothing as they rose. He blew out smoke and breathed in good smells: fresh baked bread, meats, cheeses, hints of different spices—the smells Sam'd grown up with, well, at least since throwing in with Mr. A.
A lot of good came out of this life with Assasi, a lot of stuff that'd been important to him and Sammy back then, like running to Swan's for sandwiches for A's guys, always getting a little extra cash to get whatever him and Sam wanted. Knowing they could go to Faye's luncheonette for ice cream sodas whenever they felt like it, fuckin' Faye's, best sodas in the world…he crossed the street, down to the next corner and past another store—Shafer's, the place they'd go for penny candy when they could, still did when Sam was in the mood. Dean stared at the candy shop's red and gold window and remembered. Little, round-cheeked, pudgy Sammy, clutching his bag of taffies and lemon drops, god he'd been so sweet. So young. Dean shook his head. Young, but never innocent, no matter how much he'd wanted it to be so.
He dropped the butt, ignored until the cherry burned his knuckles. "Shit," he muttered. Sudden warmth streaking his cheeks startled him. He hastily dragged a sleeve over his face, rubbing punishingly hard. He wasn't crying—at least, not for himself, fuck that. He was crying for Sam, his baby brother, who was going to be alone.
Dean walked a little faster, past the nice shops with cheery signs, past the neat, clean doorways and windows hung with pots of flowers. He was headed down, into a darker, grimier part of the city, heading in the direction of what they used to call home.
He skirted across the outer edge of the nearly silent fish market—closed to business until dawn, but something was always happening there, booths set up, ice brought in—a few heads turned his way but either he looked like a regular joe or he was known, he got a nod or two but mostly was ignored. Safer that way. In his mind, little Sammy raced around the stalls, kicking a can as he ran, laughing at the curses the young fishmongers flung after him.
Walking even faster now, Dean cut between side-streets and alleyways and it wasn't long until he found himself in a familiar place. He headed down a non-descript street between a row of darkened warehouses. Came out at the mouth of it to honky-tonk music, voices raised—Dean heard laughing, heard screaming—ignored it all. He rubbed his nose at the stink of rancid garbage and booze, cabbage and horseshit—the familiarity of it all was like a sharp, unpleasant punch to the gut.
Here he was, back in the old place. Back where they'd begun. Right there in front of him was the old 'gentleman's club'. He stared at the windows, the punks going in and out the double glass doors. Dean couldn't believe it was still there, almost five years later. He spit, hard, on the sidewalk.
Alone and almost invisible under the shadow of the el, Dean stopped, leaned against the grimy wall behind him to watch the building across the street. He snagged another butt and flicked another match to life, his palm curved 'round to hide the flame. No sense advertizing his position…habit that, and a smart one.
He smoked the cigarette down, eyes locked on that place. Remembered the things he'd done there, the things he'd had to do. For Sammy. Wondered idly if Boggs was still kickin'—he'd never asked A what happened to that fucking daisy diddler. Dean realized that he could ice Boggs cool and easy right now—with the big house in his lights and a ten year stretch that was a death sentence sure as shit, bein' dropped in the middle of big Moe's soldiers. Hell, he could draw it out nice and slow if he wanted to; he could toss dead old Boggy in the river to sleep with Percy and Albert, god if anyone deserved it, it was Boggs. Dean's breath hitched in his chest with a smothered sob. Percy, Albert, he hadn't thought of them in forever but tonight, with all this hanging over his head, he kept seeing their blank, dead eyes….
"Screw this, screw everything and alla this," he muttered and dropped the butt to the street, ground it into the concrete with his heel. Fuck everything.
He huffed---better grab a drink, crunch a few mints before going back. Sam always had a hissy whenever he smelled smoke on Dean's clothes…like Sam was some kinda angel himself, Dean grinned ruefully. He shook his head, glanced once more at the building that in the long run, ended up being more good to them than not, the place their real life had more or less started in, and walked away. Home back to Sam. Back to whatever small bit of comfort he had until…until.
It was dark in the kitchen when Dean came in, darker than when he'd left. He closed the door with a bang. Sam was there, straddling one of the kitchen chairs, his elbows planted on the table and both hands dug deep into his hair, gripping double handfuls. He jerked at the noise—his eyes were wild, green-blue, the color of the river in a storm. They glittered with tears and locked on Dean and, "Where have you been," he shouted—screamed—kicking his chair over in his rush to get at Dean. Before Dean could even lift his hands to hold him off, Sam had a death grip on Dean's shirt, nails raking down Dean's neck, his chest. Sam ignored Dean's surprised hiss of pain—he shook him until the tee shirt tore. "Where tha fuck you been? You sonofabitch, left me here alone!"
They staggered around the kitchen, tripping over shattered plates and cups, sliding on a blizzard of pages and broken books. Dean slipped in a puddle of milk as he tried to duck Sam's flailing hands—struggling to get free without hurting his brother.
Dean cursed when Sam managed to snap the tip of his ear—it burned like fire, and Dean hit back harder than he meant to. But it caught Sam's attention, cooled him down a little. The wild, wolf-like look in his eyes faded somewhat, the snarl twisting his lips eased and Sam transferred his grip to Dean's head. He pulled it down, tilting it as he inspected Dean's ear, pawed at the thick scratches on his throat and chest. He pulled his fingers away, both startled they came away smeared red.
"Sam," Dean whispered, "Sam, calm down, Baby Boy, okay? I talked to A and then, then after, I—I hadda go for a walk. I had to clear my head, y'know? Please, Sam."
Sam was still so angry, so Dean stood still and let Sam push against him until his heart stopped beating so hard it felt like it was bruising Dean's chest, his breath slowed…Sam's eyes closed and opened in a long, slow blink. He took a half step back. "Dean," he said, as if he were coming back from some distant, confusing place.
Dean chuckled weakly, and Sam narrowed his eyes at him, at least not clawing at him now. Dean eased Sam's fingers loose, took a step back himself. "I, ah—I ended up in the old neighborhood."
Sam made a small noise, his fingers slid up Dean's neck, smoothing his hair back into place, before coming to rest on Dean's cheek. "The old place, hunh?" he said finally, an expression of mild interest on his face.
"Yeah…and you know what? I'm glad we got outta there. I got no regrets, Sam," Dean said and led Sam back to the table, not letting go of Sam's wrist even as they sat. "We'da died there, Sam, and you were right. You always been right. We're gonna get past this, kiddo. We're gonna do the time and come out tha other side and we're gonna fine, y'hear me? We're gonna be fine."
Tears were running down his face by the time his words stuttered to a stop and he wished like hell he could stop but they just kept running, like he was some damn broad.
Sam's face was twisted in grief, at the point of tears himself. "Yeah, yeah, Dean—we're gonna be all right, sweartagod, we'll be okay…."
Dean surged up from his chair, crashed into Sam and Sam's arms wrapped around him like rope. They clung to each other, desperate and lost and scared, like the little boys they'd been in Boggy's basement. Having no one to turn to, no one to trust but each other.