Category: Gen, AU, Western
Characters: Dean, Sam, Crowley
Summary: The year is 1882, the place is Yuma prison. Fergus MacLeod is awaiting trial and less than impressed with his new cellmate, the notorious outlaw Dean Winchester. Can they resolve their differences and form an escape plan, or is there a bigger agenda in play? What follows is deception, double dealing and deadly peril as the stakes increase along with the six shooters.
NOTE: I will be updating this story with a new chapter every Sunday evening, Brit time. If you like it, you know when and where to find it.
Sam leaned in the guardhouse doorway, gazing into the shadows of the yard. The sun had set a while back and it was full dark inside the prison now. He was tense, twitchy and his eyes kept drifting towards the high security cell. There was a flicker of candlelight inside and everything seemed calm but that wasn’t going to last. MacLeod had brushed past him earlier and muttered under his breath.
“Stay on your toes and be ready to move.”
Sam glanced at the clock in the guardhouse which showed a quarter after nine. Captain Singer was at his desk writing while four other guards perused the daily reports. The place was quiet, orderly and it only served to worsen his unease.
The fury he’d experienced when he’d discovered Dean’s real agenda inside Yuma prison had subsided a little but it was still there, simmering just below the surface. It wouldn’t take much for it to explode and he’d been on a knife edge ever since he’d learned, from Fergus fucking MacLeod of all people; that they seriously intended to execute a break out.
Sam wasn’t angry because he’d travelled halfway across Arizona to help his brother implement a plan he hadn’t been privy to. He’d followed Dean without question plenty of times before and he’d do anything to protect him. Neither was it because the lofty, righteous mission he thought he was aiding was nothing more than Dean playing the Pinkerton Agency for his own ends. His real beef was that he still didn’t know exactly why Dean was doing any of this and his brother hadn’t been exactly cooperative. He’d promised to provide the full story once they were outside prison walls, which only made Sam resentful, frustrated and suspicious. It wasn’t a good place to be on the eve of a breakout.
“You looking for something to do, Campbell?”
Singer’s voice drifted across the room and Sam straightened up and turned towards him.
“No, sir. Just taking the night air.”
Singer raised a dubious eyebrow and Sam resisted the urge to squirm. It took a strong resolve to keep his expression neutral and hold the captain’s gaze.
“Take a turn round the yard if you need air; otherwise there’s plenty of reports which could use your attention.”
Sam nodded and seized his rifle. Anything was better than reading meaningless paperwork and it meant he could legitimately pass the high security cell.
He was halfway across the yard when he heard the noise he’d been dreading. There was a crash of breaking glass, shockingly loud in the near silence, followed by somebody yelling. It was unmistakably Dean and he didn’t let up. Sam began running towards the cell, his heart hammering and stomach churning. Singer and the others were charging from the guardhouse and by the time he reached the cell he was at the back of a crowd. A guard was getting jostled from all sides as he tried to get a key into the lock while inside, Dean was screaming obscenities. There was an overpowering stench of moonshine and Sam felt glass crunch under his boots. Desperate to see what was happening, he shoved his comrades aside and got a clear look through the door an instant before someone shoved it open. What he saw made him feel queasy. Fergus MacLeod was pinned to his bunk and Dean was on top, pounding him with his fists.
Sam was shoved aside in turn as the other guards rushed inside. They hauled Dean off MacLeod and he fought like a madman, trying to get back to his adversary. They were having trouble controlling him and Singer grabbed Sam’s rifle, chose his moment and rammed the butt of the weapon into Dean’s kidney. It slowed him just enough for the guards to get a firmer grip.
“Take him outside and don’t let go.” Singer was breathless. He swung round to face Sam. “Fetch the irons and be sharp about it.
Sam raced to the guardhouse, grabbed the manacles from their peg and took them to the yard. They had Dean pinned to the floor now but he was still struggling and cursing at the top of his lungs. Guards on the catwalk were yelling and other prisoners picked up on the excitement, adding whistles and catcalls to the cacophony.
More guards were pouring into the yard; some with lanterns and one snatched the manacles from Sam and proceeded to chain Dean’s wrists. Once the restraints were secure they let go of him and stood back. Dean got up awkwardly, the chains weighing heavy and six guards faced him down. He sneered.
“Takes six to do this, huh? Bunch of fucking pussies.”
He spat on the ground and received a fist in the guts for his trouble. He grunted, fell to his knees and another guard kicked him in the ribs and sent him sprawling. Every instinct was screaming at Sam to go help his brother, but he couldn’t. This was MacLeod’s plan in action, up close and personal and he couldn’t risk everything they’d worked for by drawing suspicion on himself now.
Singer was shouting and beckoning and Sam hurried back to the high security cell, hoping Dean would stay down and shut the fuck up before he made everything a hundred times worse for himself.
Fergus MacLeod was lying on his bunk. His face was bone white, covered in bruises and coated in a fine sheen of sweat. Blood was running from his nose, lip and temple and his breath was laboured and ragged. He was grimacing and had a hand clamped to his kidney. Singer had sat on the other bunk and was watching him stoically. He looked up as Sam entered.
“Go and report this to Zachariah. Come back with his instructions and don’t dawdle. I think he’ll want to interview the accountable parties while they’re still conscious.”
MacLeod snorted loudly. “I’m accountable? That cunt got drunk and tried to kill me.”
“Watch your language, MacLeod. Where did that hooch come from?”
“Damned if I know; but he drank most of it then decided to pick a fight.”
MacLeod pushed himself up on the bed, winced and flopped back down. Singer’s expression changed from sceptical to uneasy.
“Do you need to go to the hospital?”
MacLeod caught Sam’s eye as he shook his head. “Not until I’ve seen the Governor. He needs to hear the truth.”
Sam took that as his cue to leave. He couldn’t begin to speculate on what went down inside that cell but MacLeod seemed genuinely hurt and Dean to have lost his mind. He slowed his pace as he passed the guards in the yard and saw his brother sprawled face down in the dirt. He wasn’t moving and Sam couldn’t help feeling that right now it might be to his advantage.
He hurried to Zachariah’s office and the governor’s face darkened as he listened to the news. Then he issued some curt orders. Both prisoners were to be brought before him, separately and he wanted to see Singer as a priority.
Not much had changed when Sam returned a scant five minutes later. Dean was still out cold but the guards had visibly relaxed and some were smoking cigarettes. Singer was still in the cell with MacLeod, who now had a rag pressed to his face. He stood up smartly as Sam relayed Zachariah’s instructions.
“I’ll go on ahead. Find Warden Turner in that pack outside and the two of you escort MacLeod to the governor. What’s the situation with Winchester?”
“I think he’s unconscious.”
Singer nodded. “Probably for the best.”
Sam waited until he was out of the cell before approaching MacLeod menacingly.
“What the fuck did you do, MacLeod? I told you what would happen if…”
MacLeod cut him short. “Don’t be so dramatic and keep your sodding voice down. Does his face look like a slab of raw meat right now? Will he be pissing blood for a month?”
Sam thought about it. All things considered, MacLeod did seem to have come off worse by a considerable margin.
“Can you walk?”
“I can try.” MacLeod swung his legs over the bunk and tried to push himself up. The effort drained his face of its remaining colour and he winced.
“I lost count how many times that fucker punched me in the kidney.”
Sam helped him up and followed as he limped slowly across the cell, wheezing through clenched teeth every step of the way. MacLeod had no reason to act at this moment and if he was too badly hurt to bust out then it was game over. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in Sam’s opinion. It would give him the freedom to approach Singer, come clean about Dean’s identity and purpose then get them both the hell out of Dodge.
But MacLeod picked up his pace once he was in the yard and Sam whistled to Rufus Turner, who stood well away from the guards surrounding Dean. He jogged across to join them and MacLeod sniggered as somebody threw a bucket of water over the chained, motionless figure on the ground. Dean regained consciousness sluggishly and Sam gripped MacLeod’s arm and urged him forward.
“Quit loitering, MacLeod. That’s none of your concern.”
In spite of their haste they spent ten minutes outside the office while Zachariah finished up with Singer. MacLeod was ushered in and permitted to sit on a chair while Turner was dispatched to fetch Dean with warnings to keep him under heavy guard. Sam and Singer maintained a discreet distance at the rear of the office while MacLeod was questioned.
Zachariah drilled him hard, demanding every detail of the fight with intimate clarity but MacLeod’s story was simple and he stuck to it with the tenacity of a man who’d been dreadfully wronged. Dean Winchester returned to their cell with a bad temper and a bottle of hooch which he’d drunk without offering his companion a single drop. He’d become progressively more drunk and angry until a throwaway comment pushed him over the edge. He’d thrown the bottle at his cellmate’s head, managed to miss and then attacked, pounding MacLeod with the strength and stamina of someone who spent eight hours a day breaking rock. MacLeod had been unable to resist and could only endure the assault until the cavalry arrived.
His story was smooth and plausible, heightened by the blood and bruising on his face and Sam kept reminding himself this version of events was dubious at best. Zachariah questioned MacLeod with the finesse of an attorney at law, but every attempt to trip him up failed. By the time they were done MacLeod was slumped in his chair and visibly wilted. When voices outside indicated the next party had arrived; Zachariah dismissed him directly to the hospital.
Afterwards Dean was pulled inside by two guards. He was dripping wet and unsteady as he was positioned before the Governor’s desk. The guards stood behind him, rifles ready and the only positive about the situation was that they weren’t Walt or Roy. Dean was not offered the comfort of a chair, though he was swaying alarmingly and Zachariah watched him coldly, wrinkling his nose in disgust.
“You stink of moonshine, prisoner. Where did you get it?”
Dean stared back at him but remained mute. Zachariah tried again.
“I’ve heard MacLeod’s side of the story so you may as well give yours. I’m a fair man and I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve heard the facts.”
Dean snorted his contempt. “You’ve already judged and I’m not wasting my fucking breath.”
Zachariah clenched his fists, fighting to remain calm. “Anything you say has a bearing on the punishments I determine. I strongly advise you state your case.”
Dean thought about it for a moment then shrugged. “That moonshine belonged to MacLeod. I don’t know where he got it but there’s a regular supply and he drinks every night.”
“And you don’t touch a drop, of course…”
“Damned straight I don’t.” The shackles clanked as Dean pulled up his tunic to reveal the livid scar on his midriff.
“I took a bullet in the guts a year ago and they’re still messed up. If I drink hard liquor I puke or I shit, sometimes both and it’s not worth the fucking aggravation. What you smell is what MacLeod poured over me while I was asleep.”
The Governor eyed him doubtfully. “Why would he do that?”
“To pick a fight. You do that inside Yuma prison, you take the consequences.”
“You hurt him, Winchester; bad enough that he’s on his way to the hospital. He was in there the best part of two months and bellyached about it the whole time. Why would he intentionally want to go back?”
Dean shrugged. “You’d have to ask him.”
“I did ask him.” Zachariah leaned back his chair and stroked his chin thoughtfully. “This is a courtesy I’m affording you, prisoner; nothing more. I’m not especially interested in the fine print of this sorry affair but everything I’ve seen and heard points to you as the agitator.”
“No surprise there.” Dean’s voice was loaded with scorn but Zachariah continued as though he hadn’t spoken.
“I will not tolerate drunkenness or violence inside this prison. Convicts who fight are dealt with severely and I always make an example.”
His eyes flicked to the guards behind Dean and they gripped their weapons more firmly. Sam exchanged an uneasy look with Singer, who looked as unhappy as he felt. What was coming next wasn’t going to be good.
“Tomorrow morning at seven you’ll be flogged in the yard before every inmate. Ten lashes for attacking your cellmate, five more for bringing contraband into a prison.”
Dean stiffened in shock then lurched unsteadily towards the desk.
“You’re a cocksucker, Zachariah. I should have shot you Nogales along with your buddy.”
The guards prevented him from getting any closer to Zachariah, who seemed greatly amused by the display.
“And a further five for insubordination. Keep it up as long as you like, Winchester but you’ll feel the consequences come morning.”
Sam opened his mouth to protest, outraged by the narrow minded prejudice and Singer elbowed him in the ribs and muttered quietly.
“Keep your mouth shut, kid. I’ll handle this.”
He stepped up to the desk and addressed Zachariah in a firm yet diplomatic tone.
“Governor, let’s review the facts properly before taking doling out punishments. Everyone’s in a state of agitation right now; wait for things to calm down a little before you decide.”
Zachariah appraised Dean for a short moment then shook his head.
“This man is an animal and he’ll be treated like one. Take him to the hole so he can consider his actions in the dark and cold. Tomorrow he’ll pay for them.”
Sam took a silent vow. Next time he saw Fergus MacLeod he was going to deliver on his promise and shoot the fucker dead.