Title: From Yesterday
Characters: Dean, Sam, and OCs
Disclaimer: They're not mine. More's the pity. Title is from a 30 Seconds to Mars song of the same name. Rated very much PG-13 for language (mostly Dean) and a couple of mature scenes
Summary: See Prologue.
Part 2: Chapter 13-A
As they entered the room, however, Sam felt as if they'd walked right into a storm. The quiet pressure in the room seemed to push against his ears and he felt his skin tighten. A quick glance at Dean revealed that his brother was affected similarly, his head up and shoulders back as if ready to ward off a physical blow.
Brenna was standing next to the kitchen table with her arms crossed and fury turning her eyes bright; Virgil was across from her, hands on his hips and faced raised to the ceiling as if he was having a private conversation with God.
"Uh…," Dean muttered. "What'd we miss?"
"Nothing," Brenna stated. "Are you ready to go to the mine?"
Sam tilted his head wondering how she was able to say such an innocuous statement and yet it came out sounding like, cross me and I will kill you painfully and laugh while doing it. He glanced over at Dean who looked back at him and folded his lips down in a shrug before looking back at Brenna.
"Yep," he replied. "Just let me change clothes."
"I'll be outside," she announced and moved fluidly past all three men standing between her and the door.
Sam looked at Virgil who just shook his head once, jaw tight, expression clearly stating don't ask.
"I need two minutes," the bald man said, his blue eyes alight with an unidentifiable emotion.
"You got it," Sam said, nodding back once.
Dean smacked the back of his hand on Sam's chest and pointed toward their duffel. Grabbing a change of clothes they hurried to the showers, not daring to speculate on what had transpired between their two friends. As they stepped out of the fire station into the bright sunlight curving around the mountain peaks, Sam knew that what they found out today could be the deciding factor in what happened next in the lives of four people.
Argo was small enough that driving almost anywhere along the main drag was a waste of gas. Sam and Virgil parted ways with Brenna and Dean, heading toward the police station. Virgil held the envelope in one hand, whacking it distractedly against his leg in time with his thoughts as they walked. Sam caught him tossing a look over this shoulder a few times, though they were far enough apart there was no way he could still see Brenna.
"Want to talk about it?" Sam offered.
Virgil just shook his head.
"I can imagine how you gotta feel—"
Virgil skidded to a halt and turned to face Sam, forcing Sam to stop in the middle of the sidewalk. He glanced around quickly, but saw that no one nearby.
"You got no goddamn clue how I feel, man."
Sam pressed his lips together, nodding once. "Okay."
"Y'know…lately there's not a day that goes by where I don't wonder where my life would be if I hadn't been working that day you guys got trapped in that church fire."
Sam frowned, but waited Virgil out.
"If I'd never met you, I'd've never met her and…," he pulled off his red baseball hat and rubbed at his bald head, pulling the hat back on with a rough tug. "There are just as many days I wish I'd never met her as there are days I can't imagine my life without her in it," he concluded.
"Listen, you love her, I get it, but—"
"No," Virgil interrupted him again. "You don't get it. Because I don't even get it. I don't even know if I love her anymore," he confessed. "I think I just…don't know how to quit her."
"What do you mean?"
"I've been looking out for her for a long time now, y'know?"
"I just don't know how else to be with her," Virgil sighed, then rotated on his heel and started walking again. It took Sam a moment to catch up. "There are days where I wish I could just…leave."
That caused Sam to stop. "Leave?"
Virgil turned, squinting against the glare from the sun as it crested the mountain top behind Sam. "Just leave. Start over. Find someone who actually loves me…not someone who never really got around to it."
Sam just stared at him, trying to process the information. "But…the way you were with her back before…, I just—"
"I did love her, Sam, but," Virgil just shook his head. "It's gonna sound like a cheesy '80's song, but sometimes love ain't enough." He looked away, his eyes sad and tired. "Today's one of those days I wish I had never met her," he said quietly.
"But…what about Aislinn?" Sam asked.
Virgil looked back at him. "What about her?"
"Well, if you hadn't met Brenna…," Sam let the words hang between them.
Virgil simply looked at him, the sad expression spreading from his eyes across his face until there were lines of it drawing his lips into an upside-down bow. Something kicked sideways in Sam's brain at that look, but before he could chase down the errant thought, a shout from across the street caught their attention. Both turned to see a man in a brown sheriff's uniform standing next to a parked squad car wave at Virgil.
"It's Maddox," Virgil told Sam. He waved back and they began to cross the quiet street.
"You got something for me?" Maddox asked, sparing Sam a glance.
He was a thin man, taller than Virgil, eye-level with Sam. His thick, snow-white hair lifted his wide-brimmed hat off his head a bit, giving it the illusion of floating. Age lined his face, pulling his white mustache down around his mouth to hide his lips completely.
"Yep," Virgil started to hand the envelope over, but then paused, pulling it back. "You got a sec?"
Maddox frowned. "Was just about to go out and check on LeAnne Jurgen, get her statement."
"Ten minutes, tops," Virgil cajoled.
Maddox shifted his small-eyed, sharp gaze to Sam. "Who's your friend?"
Sam stuck his hand out to shake. "I'm Sam," he replied, not offering his last name.
"Friend of mine," Virgil replied. "He and his brother are visiting; his brother found the body yesterday."
Maddox nodded slowly, then leaned slightly to the side and spit out a stream of tobacco. "Reese," he said.
Virgil tilted his head. "Reese? Jack Reese?"
"The same," Maddox nodded. He looked hard at Virgil another moment, then jerked his head over his shoulder. "Ten minutes."
As they followed, Sam whispered to Virgil. "Did you know him?"
Virgil shook his head. "No. But he hassled Brenna a couple of times."
"Tried to get her to close up her herb shop. Said something about it being witchcraft or whatever."
Sam's face knotted in confusion as he followed Virgil inside. "Seriously? Herbs?"
A young woman with long, dark hair looked up from the front desk, her fingers poised over the keys of a black typewriter, a name plate identifying her as Rebecca Holden on the front edge of the desk. Sam registered immediately that she had a typewriter and not a computer, but said nothing. Maddox nodded at her and pointed to a room behind her, door partially opened.
"They still at it?" he asked.
"They've been arguing since you left," Rebecca replied. "It doesn't sound good."
"Arguments rarely do," Maddox replied, sighing, and removed his hat. He turned around to Sam and Virgil. "Start talking."
Sam frowned and tried to peer around the sheriff into the next room as Virgil began asking about the signs of electrocution on the first victim, Elliott, saying Reynolds had mentioned something to him.
"Reynolds was a first responder to that one," Maddox said, pulling at his mustache. "Never sat well with him, seeing the marks on the man's neck. Wasn't your typical drowning."
"None of these deaths have been typical," Sam remarked. "Do you have any suspects?"
"I got a town full of 'em," Maddox replied.
"Nothing to connect the victims?" Sam pressed as Virgil remained silent. "They're not all part of the same club or…have the same priest or something?"
Maddox didn't look at him; instead he inspected the patter of the linoleum floor as the raised voices from the other room spilled out to the main reception area.
"Sheriff," Sam said, trying to get the man's attention. "Did you search the houses of the victims?"
A that Maddox did look at him. "Why do you ask?"
"Did you find anything in there that seemed out of place?"
Maddox hooked his thumbs in his belt and shifted his weight to one hip. "Define…out of place."
Sam sighed. "Maybe a bag with odd bones or bits of hair—"
The door to the room behind Rebecca slammed open and four people surged out into the small reception area – a woman and three men. The woman, pale, with a pleasant face and fire-red hair, had her mouth pinched in a scowl.
She spared Sam a passing glance, saying shrilly to the men who accompanied her, "You're wrong not to take this as a warning. What more proof do you need?"
"Siobhan," said one of the older men, his black suit and white collar identifying him as a priest. "You understand that proving the deaths were the result of witchcraft does nothing to help your case."
"How can you say that?" Siobhan yelled, causing Rebecca to flinch back and away. "It would prove that it's real! That I'm not crazy."
"Mr. Riker," Maddox said, stepping up to another of the men. "I think you should take your daughter home."
"And I think you should mind your own damn business," Riker replied, tugging off his tie and folding it with furious jerks of the silky material, stuffing it into a pocket of the tweed jacket he wore. "Not listening to my daughter in the first place is the reason my niece is dead."
"We don't know that—" the fourth man, who looked to be of Asian descent, tried to speak up before he was cut off harshly by Marcus.
"Stuff it, Hiro. You've already done enough."
"Mr. Riker," the priest tried. "I think we all need to take a moment and—"
"I'll give you a moment," Riker growled, his fist flying before anyone had a chance to react.
The priest took the hit like his jaw was made of glass, dropping in a boneless heap at Sam's feet. Virgil moved forward as if on instinct and Sam grabbed him back at the last second as Maddox unsnapped his weapon and put his hand on the butt of the gun, barking out a sharp, "Hey!" as Hiro and Siobhan reached for Riker.
"Enough!" Maddox bellowed. He looked at Virgil. "Check him," he said, jerking his head toward the unconscious priest. "You two," he looked at Hiro and Siobhan. "Out. And you," he grabbed Riker and turned him. "You're gonna cool your heels here for the rest of the day."
Virgil was already attending to the priest, who was coming around. He'd dropped the envelope with the autopsy report on Rebecca's desk and was easing the priest to a seated position. Sam stepped back out of the way as Hiro began to move past, but Siobhan stopped, staring up at Sam.
"You know about the hex bags," she said, causing everyone in the reception area to freeze. "I heard you. You know about the rituals, too, don't you?"
"I don't—" Sam started, his hands up and open.
Siobhan's eyes darted to his scarred palm. "What is that from, a blood spell? It is, isn't it?"
"Siobhan," Maddox said. "Go. Hiro, take her."
"I don't want anything to do with this," Hiro said, shaking his head. "We have a serial killer taking us out one by one and instead of finding out who it is you're distracted by all this nonsense about witchcraft."
"You wait until you're the one they come after!" Siobhan screamed. "We'll see if you think it's nonsense then!"
"Is that a threat?" Hiro stepped out of the doorway and approached Siobhan. Moving forward as if to protect his daughter, Riker tried to push Maddox out of the way.
"Son of a—" Maddox looked at Rebecca. "Where the fuck is Lennox?"
Rebecca regarded him with wide, scared eyes, unable to look away from the people screaming at each other in front of her desk. "He went to the mine. T-to check in with Bruce."
When Riker made it past Maddox and reached for Hiro, Sam stepped in, grabbing the older man by his tweed jacket, turning him and slamming him against the wall by the door. When Riker struggled, Sam grabbed the man's arm, twisted him around and pushed him face-first against the window, crinkling the blinds with the man's face.
"Stop!" Sam snapped, his jaw clenched. "Just. Stop."
Siobhan stared at him with shock and Hiro took a step back. Sam looked over at Maddox.
"Is Lennox your deputy?"
"Maybe better call him, then," Sam said. "I'll just wait here until you have some help."
"Appreciate it." Maddox glanced over at Virgil and the priest.
"He's okay," Virgil said, pulling the other man to his feet.
Maddox looked at Siobhan and Hiro. "I want you two gone. Not one more word or I'll arrest every single one of you."
Hiro backed out of the room and Siobhan shot a look at Sam before following suit. Sam saw them start to head off in opposite directions. Several minutes later, the priest left, thanking Virgil for his help and nodding at Sam. Once the room had been cleared out, Sam let Riker step back and pull his face away from the window. Maddox cuffed him, then glanced at Sam and Virgil.
"Sounds like we got a few things to talk about," he looked around, his face knotting. Rebecca set a coffee cup at the edge of her desk and Maddox grabbed it and spat into it before looking back at them. "Wait here."
As he escorted Riker back to where, presumably, the cells were located, Sam glanced at Virgil who shrugged back helplessly. Sighing, Sam carded his hair with his fingers and turned to face the window with the crumpled blinds.
"You guys want some coffee?" Rebecca asked, standing and picking up the mug Maddox had used as a spittoon.
Sam glanced over his shoulder and saw Virgil eying the mug with trepidation.
"You got a different cup?" Virgil asked.
"My dad was the one who could have really told you about the cave-in," Bruce Frazier said, his back to Brenna and Dean as he pulled files from a cabinet and stuck them in a white, cardboard box. "He knew the history of that mine inside and out. More than Susan Smith over at the library, even."
"Susan…," Dean spoke up, wandering the office and looking at the multitudes of framed black-and-white photos, dating back to the 1890's. "Her nephew the one who works the desk?"
"Gimpy kid? Yeah, that's him," Bruce replied. "Her brother died in the cave-in and she likes to think she's the resident expert." He paused, turning, and looked at Brenna. "But no one knew more than my dad."
"I'm really sorry about what happened to him," Brenna said, her voice a bit choked.
The sound of her distress had Dean turning around. Brenna stood in the center of the room, arms crossed over her middle, eyes on Bruce. She appeared relaxed, until he saw the tension in her shoulders and the muscle coiled along her jaw. For whatever reason, Dean realized, she was holding herself tightly in control.
"You found him," Bruce said, files in his hands, hovering over the open box. He tilted his head, studying Brenna. "Didn't you?"
Dean took a step forward, waiting for Brenna's answer.
"Yes," she replied tightly.
"Was…," Bruce paused, his throat bobbing as he swallowed. "Was it awful?"
Brenna pulled her lips in and looked down before answering. "Yes."
"You haven't seen him?" Dean asked, moving to stand next to Brenna.
Bruce shook his head. His wheat-blond hair was longer than Sam's, and fell into his eyes at the motion. His hands shook slightly and he gripped the files tighter.
"Said the body was evidence in an open investigation."
"Not even to identify him?" Dean pressed.
"They said we wouldn't be able to." Bruce turned away. "Whoever killed him mashed his face in. With rocks, or so we were told. Had to ID him with his finger prints."
Dean looked down at Brenna, who was still studying the floor. "Anything you could tell us about the cave in would help, Bruce," he said. "It'll be more than we know now."
"Why do you want to know?" Bruce asked. "Why do you care?" He looked at Brenna. "This got something to do with your shop getting busted up?"
Brenna looked up. "Something like that."
Bruce sighed, then grabbed the back of a rolling desk chair. He sat heavily, putting his feet up on the desk, motioning for them to take a seat. As he spoke, Dean watched Brenna take in the information.
She'd been acting off from the moment he and Sam walked in and found what looked like the end of an argument between her and Virgil. On the way to the mine museum, she'd gotten a call from Virgil's aunt and had spoken in low tones to her daughter, words that Dean couldn't – and wasn't meant to – understand. She'd seemed reassured when she hung up, but there were lines around her eyes that Dean wasn't used to seeing. Lines of worry. And regret.
"Mostly what I got is rumor…with some stuff I heard my dad talk about," Bruce began. "Like twenty years ago, or so, a man named Fletcher Reese bought the mine. His grandfather had been from here or some shit. Anyway, he was Mr. Moneybags and wanted to commercialize the mine, take tours through it, all that jazz – even though it was still a working mine."
Bruce picked up a pen from the deck and began rolling it along his fingers, staring at the toe of his boot as he talked.
"August Smith was the foreman back then." He glanced at Dean. "Susan's brother. He was flat-out against it, man. Said the liability was too high or whatever. Had petitions against it and spoke about it at church and the town council. Said it would ruin the town's history and heritage." Bruce shrugged. "I was in high school at the time; I don't remember much. I didn't really care then – I was too busy trying to figure out how to get the hell out of this town." He tossed the pen on the table. "Ironic, I guess, that I ended up here anyway."
"What happened with the council?" Brenna asked, leaning forward in an effort to bring Bruce's attention back to point.
"Oh, well, the town was divided about it. There was this…sect or faction or something in town that claimed there were secrets in the mine. Really spooky shit," Bruce gave them jazz hands and rolled his eyes. "They said that the secrets shouldn't be revealed to the world and they supported Smith and his protest. Reese thought it was bunk – just people trying to jump on a protest bandwagon and claimed they would end up destroying the town's economy."
Bruce took a breath, then dropped his feet from the desk, leaning his forearms on the surface.
"This one night, Smith said he was going to show Reese how real the secrets were and he told Reese to meet him at the mine in one of the little-used arms. No one really knows what happened next, but there was an explosion, the tunnel caved in, and both men – plus two rescue workers trying to get them out – died."
"Did Smith say anything about the bastnasite?" Brenna asked, her whole body tense now.
Dean frowned, hearing something in the way she asked the question that caused the hairs on the back of his neck to stand on end.
Bruce nodded slowly, then stood and crossed the room to one of the pictures. Pulling it down off its hook, he handed it to Brenna, Dean peering over her shoulder.
The picture was of two men standing at what appeared to be the original entrance to the mine, a wheelbarrow between them and in the barrow a collection of rocks that appeared to have crystal centers. Dean could see burned into the base of the picture, Argo 1898.
"Yes," Brenna replied. "Was it in the arm of the mine that collapsed, do you know?"
Bruce shrugged. "Must've been. It's nowhere now. All gold, gold, gold."
A rap against the glass on the door to the office had Dean jumping in surprise. Bruce crossed the room to open the door, allowing a man in the brown police uniform to enter.
"Lennox," Bruce nodded. "You come for the files?"
Lennox nodded at Bruce, then shifted his eyes to Brenna. He smiled, showing a flash of teeth that had Dean narrowing his eyes.
"Miss Brenna," the deputy said. "How's your daughter doing?"
Dean pulled his head back slightly at the mention of Aislinn.
"She's good, thanks, Paul," Brenna smiled sweetly at the deputy. "Thanks again for your help getting my place boarded up."
"Don't mention it," Lennox said, twisting his hat around in his blunted fingers. He was shorter than Dean, stocky to boot, but looked like he could fell a man with one powerful punch. "Just sorry it had to happen at all."
"Yeah, me too," Brenna said.
Bruce handed Lennox the box he'd been filling. "This is all I got on Dad and the construction that was going on under Mr. Elliott. Not much on Reese, though."
Dean looked over at Bruce. "Isn't that the name of the guy you said bought this place?"
Bruce nodded. "The last guy they found was his nephew, Jack. He didn't even live in Argo. Was just back to sign some papers or something that would turn the mine over to the town."
Dean shared a look with Brenna. "Did he sign them before he died?"
Lennox shook his head. "Shame, really."
"What?" Dean studied the deputy.
"Well, now the mine will probably have to be closed," Lennox hefted the box. "No contractor, no one to run the museum, and now with Reese's nephew – and only descendant – gone, ownership will go into probate. Bad for the town, you ask me."
Bruce pressed his lips with a yeah, that's a shame nod. "I'll walk you out. I need to talk with Maddox about setting up guards here, anyway," he said to Lennox. Glancing back at Dean and Brenna, he asked, "We good?"
"Yeah, Bruce," Brenna smiled. "Thanks."
As they left, Dean stood and started pacing. "You thinking what I'm thinking?"
"Rarely," Brenna replied.
"It's all coming back to this place, the mine…. Did your friend Abby have anything to do with the mine?" Dean asked.
Brenna shook her head. "Not that I know of. Her life was the church."
"And Turner ran the fire station," Dean frowned. "That's connected to the whole town, not just the mine." He sighed, rubbing the back of his head. "Hell, maybe we do need Sam's super computer for this. There are too many players to keep track of."
"Let's get back to Sam and Virgil," Brenna said, standing and moving toward the door.
Brenna stopped, but didn't turn. Dean watched her shoulders tense and he moved closer.
"What aren't you telling me?"
Without turning, Brenna huffed out a humorless laugh. "How long you got?"
"About this case, Brenna." Dean stepped forward. "Like maybe how you were the one to find Frazier?"
She glanced to the side, not really looking at him. "I told Sam."
"And what about this bastnasite?"
Brenna turned to face him. "I told you about that! The druids believe—"
"Yeah, I heard you. Healing powers. But you knew before we came in here that it was in the arm of the mine that collapsed," he accused. "Did you know about Smith and Reese? About the town being divided?"
Brenna didn't reply, but when Dean stepped forward, she stepped back.
"Yesterday, I met a few people in the diner," Dean told her. "They said you've been crossing the streams."
"I don't choose sides is all," Brenna said. "It's stupid."
"But you knew, didn't you? About the bad blood in this town." He took another step forward, feeling the air between them tighten and crackle with tension.
"What if I did?"
"We're here because of you," Dean said, brows gathering as he stared at her, trying to catch her eyes with his. "We had all-but retired. No more hunting. But you called and we're here."
"I didn't call!"
"Semantics," Dean snapped. "You're in trouble, you need our help, so what's with all the secrets?"
Brenna's back was against the office door, but she leaned forward into Dean's personal space. "What's with the third degree? You've been here a day and you think you have a right to every little thought in my head?"
"The ones pertaining to this case? Hell, yeah!"
"Fine! I found Frazier and I want the bastnasite. You figured me out," Brenna snapped, finally looking at him. "Happy?"
"Why, Brenna?" Dean asked, purposely dropping his voice. He tilted his head, studying her, thinking. "Why do you need it so bad?"
He stepped closer, feeling a pull low in his gut, a low-simmering heat in his chest. He was moving on instinct.
"Don't," Brenna pulled up, away from him, but had nowhere to go. "You…you don't get to do this."
"Do what?" Without consciously realizing it, he had all-but eliminated the space between them, now standing close enough he could feel her breath against his face.
"You were dead, Dean," she snarled, teeth clenched. "You didn't get a say in what happened next in my story."
Dean shook his head, confused. "I never said I—"
"You have no idea what it's like, how this feels, the control that I have to maintain every day—"
"Holy shit…," Dean breathed, watching as Brenna closed her mouth with a click, biting off whatever she'd been about to reveal. "You don't want it for your daughter…you want it for you."
"I have to protect her," Brenna breathed. "I have to keep her safe – even from me."
"But you control it," Dean argued. "You only see when you want to now."
"You don't know what you're talking about!" Brenna snapped, her fury seeming to blast him, the simmering heat kicking up until Dean gasped with the power of it, yet he couldn't back away. The magnet had flipped and he was caught in its pull. "I have to think about it every time I touch her, each time I hold her. I can't ever let my guard down, not once!"
Dean felt the skin around his eyes tighten as her pain shook between them. "Brenna, I'm sor—"
"No!" She pushed at him, not budging him, but making him flinch from her touch. "You don't get to say that. You died, Dean. You left. And I hated you for it. I hated you so fucking much—"
He was against her before he consciously realized what he was doing. The full length of his body pressed Brenna against the closed door, his forearms braced on either side of her head as he closed his mouth over hers in a fevered search for contact. The moment their lips met, images and sensations flooded his senses. He could barely breathe from the intensity, but was unable to pull away.
Dimly, in a part of his brain that still registered his surroundings, he felt Brenna's hands slipping up under his shirt, seeking skin, fingers ghosting over the scar on his back as she pulled him closer. The force of his need pushed her up slightly on the door, propped there only by his weight as he buried his hands in her hair, fingers on the skin at the back of her neck, their mouths a clash of tongues and desperate breath.
He saw everything – his truth, her memories, both consciousnesses blending and meshing and then ricocheting as they parted telling the story of their four lost years. He felt the pain rip through her body as Aislinn came into the world and then the overwhelming joy and love unlike he'd ever experienced as the baby was placed in Brenna's arms. He saw the inside of his grave; felt that first gasp of air as he climbed from the Earth into the world once more. He saw Bobby and felt his friend's arms around him and Sam's tears as he finally believed Dean was really alive.
Brenna clutched at his hair, her mouth moving over his face, lips at the scars around his eye, along his jaw. Her leg curled around his waist as he pressed his knee between her legs in an effort to lift her higher, putting his mouth at her throat. He inhaled the warmth of her skin as her hands – God, her hands – found every curve, every bend, every scar along his back, neck, face, arms. Their breath was ragged and wordless as they fought to instinctively blend their bodies as the memories and sensations connected.
He could see Virgil walking away, Brenna holding her baby close as her heart broke once more, unable or unwilling to cry. He watched as she searched, endless books, words blurring, tears wetting her cheeks as she worked to comfort her daughter without connecting. He felt the fury and frustration of his fight with Sam, his brother walking out as Dean lay bleeding on the floor. He felt the fear and relief at finding Sam again, his brother helping him drive a blade through Ruby just before Hell opened up.
The memories grew and built, the emotions becoming stronger, the impressions vivid until Dean thought he was going to pass out from the intensity, but he didn't want to stop. He was no longer aware of anything outside of Brenna's touch, her mouth, her memories, her emotions. He craved more, more, needing to feel it all, to see what she saw.
He pushed into her mind, trying to find her next memory and her next. Seeing inside of her with such freedom and abandon was intoxicating, addictive. He opened himself, barring her from nothing, letting her see it all. The images and sensations began to overlap, coming at him too rapidly for him to really separate, absorb, understand. He saw Virgil yelling, and then Brenna's reflection in a mirror, eyes puffy from tears. He saw nightmares of fire and wraiths.
He saw himself shut Sam into the panic room and felt the tear in his heart as his brother cried out. He saw a blend of blood and pain, unable to differentiate if he'd caused it or if he felt it. He saw himself kill Zachariah and saw the sky inside of Heaven.
Then, without warning, light shot through his mind, searing his vision and blasting a wave of heat between them strong enough they were suddenly stumbling apart. For several moments, Dean could see nothing but the light, his eyes burning with it, his body feeling as if it were on fire. He clutched at his head, registering that he'd fallen to his knees, unable to stop the inevitable collapse of his body. He cried out as the heat grew, until he thought he was panting from the intensity, then as quickly as it came, it was gone. The light, the heat, everything.
It was silent in the office once more; save for the harsh breathing of two very confused people.
Hands trembling, Dean dropped them to his sides, looking over at Brenna with trepidation. She was still leaning against the wall, her hair askew, her lips swollen from his kisses, her T-shirt twisted at the waist, but otherwise intact. Her eyes were wide, the pupils large and black, gold barely around the edge, but Dean could tell they were returning to normal.
"What the hell was that?" Dean rasped. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," Brenna whispered, then louder, "Are you? Your skin was on fire. It hurt to touch you!"
Dean pushed to his feet, his hip protesting, and dragged a hand down his face. "Did you see that light?"
Brenna shook her head, straightening her shirt and pushing her hair back as she got her breath under control. "I saw a lot of stuff…."
Dean peered at her, confused. "You didn't see that light? It was…it burned my eyes it was so bright."
"Nothing," she said, moving away from the wall with careful steps, as if afraid she was going to fall over if she moved too fast. "No light."
Dean rubbed at the scar along his jaw. "Man, that's weird. It felt like…," he stopped suddenly, looking at the scar on his right hand.
Brenna was twisting her hair into a loose bun at the nape of her neck. "Like what?"
"I saw light like that," Dean replied, unable to take his eyes from his scar, "when I grabbed onto Sam back in Stull." He didn't bother explaining to her what Stull was. Either she got it from connecting with them, or she didn't. "Then I saw it again when I tried to wake him up after he got knocked around by a ghost."
"What does the light have to do with Sam?" Brenna asked, trying to keep up.
"Nothing. I don't know. Maybe everything." Dean looked up. "Are you okay? Really? I mean…I kinda feel like I overloaded us or something."
"I'm okay," Brenna said, offering him a small smile. "I'm stronger than I look. Although, that was one helluva kiss."
"I've never had that happen before," Dean shook his head, looking at his hand once more. "The visions thing. It was…," he struggled to find a word that she wouldn't take offense to.
He glanced at her, nodding carefully.
"Until you about burned up," she amended.
He opened his mouth to say something, thinking about how both he and Sam had used the heat to their advantage, but was interrupted by her cell phone. Frowning, she answered.
"Virge? What do you mean—okay, okay! We're on our way."
"What is it?" Dean asked, already heading toward the door.
"Something about trouble down at the police station," Brenna said, on his heels.
Dean's frown was fierce as he downshifted to find another gear, all thought of connecting with Brenna or psychic heat that could literally melt them forgotten as he thought about Sam being tangled up in whatever trouble had Virgil calling for back-up.
He didn't even notice when Brenna was forced to jog to keep up with him.
"Well, that escalated quickly," Virgil muttered, sitting on the curb of the sidewalk outside of the fire station, an ice pack on the side of his face, another on his knuckles.
The moment Maddox had returned to talk with Sam and Virgil, noise from outside had drawn their attention.
Sam and Virgil had gone to the door, narrowly avoiding being hit by a brick that sailed through the front window, the glass shattering inward and cutting Rebecca's forehead. Sam wasn't sure who'd thrown the brick – Siobhan or Hiro – because chaos started soon thereafter with Lennox's return. Somehow Riker had gotten free, but Sam didn't see how because roughly a minute after he'd stepped outside, Hiro had pulled a Bruce Lee and roundhouse-kicked Sam on the side of the head.
He'd opened his eyes to see Dean wading into the melee, flattening anyone who stood between him and Sam, using his left fist and right forearm to subdue whoever who took a swing at him. It had almost felt like a dream, Sam remembered, his vision hazy, his head throbbing, watching with distracted amazement as his brother moved with a kind of lethal grace through the small mob of angry people.
"I think the little guy actually bit me," Dean muttered, working his tongue along the cut on his bottom lip, flexing his left hand where teeth marks bruised the skin between his thumb and index finger. His knuckles were scuffed, his cheek starting to reveal a bruise, but other than that he appeared in one piece.
Sam took the ice pack from Brenna and dropped it across the back of his neck. "I miss everything," he complained.
"That's what happens when you get yourself knocked out before the fun starts," Dean told him.
"I thought his getting knocked out was what started the fun," Virgil countered.
"Oh, yeah," Dean bobbed his head.
"You guys have a really weird definition of fun," Brenna muttered with a frown, tilting Dean's face to the dying light of the late afternoon sun, inspecting his left cheekbone. "I don't think that'll bruise too badly," she said.
Dean lifted a shoulder. "Eh. I've had worse."
"Next time, try attacking a group of people from the right," Brenna said softly, releasing Dean's chin. "That guy wouldn't have been able to hit you if you'd seen him."
Brenna smiled at Dean and Sam blinked at them, noting a decidedly different energy between them than had been present that morning. Something had transpired at that mine that was for sure. But with the present company, he was going to have to wait to get the full story.
As they tended to their wounds, Sheriff Maddox talked with Captain Reynolds out of earshot. Hiro – who Sam had learned ran the mercantile – and Riker were cuffed and sitting in the back of Maddox's squad car. Siobhan had been taken home by Lennox and the priest – whose name, Sam learned, was Damien.
He was pretty sure Dean was the only other person who would find that funny.
Rebecca was sitting in another car, gauze taped to her forehead, waiting for Maddox to take her home. And a woman Sam had never seen was writing down every word Reynolds was saying to the sheriff. Sam sighed. This was the weirdest case he'd been on in a long time, not counting anything involving angelic vessels.
"So…let's recap," Dean said, his voice a low rumble against the subdued air.
Sam liked listening to his brother post fight. There was something soothing about the irreverent up yours, world attitude Dean voice always seemed to capture when they managed to walk away from another struggle, more or less in one piece.
"We got Sheboygan –"
"Siobhan," Sam corrected.
"Right. Hot crazy chick is sure that witches killed five people in her town – including her cousin. Knows about hex bags and spells. Right so far?"
"Yep," Virgil muttered, his head hanging low.
Sam watched as Brenna moved over to sit next to him and hold the ice pack in place on this hand, listening quietly.
"Asian guy is on the opposite side, saying the killer is some crazy dude in town and seems pretty sure that this Riker guy is it," Dean said, pointing to the two men in the back of the squad car, not looking at each other.
"Right again," Sam told him.
"Priest guy is in the Crazy Dude camp, and Riker says he believes the hot chick. Reynolds, Maddox, and that poor kid Rebecca don't know what to believe," Dean shifted his eyes to Rebecca, then looked down at Sam. "Match that up with what Brenna and I picked up back at the mine, my money is on the Crazy Dude theory."
Sam smiled wanly at his brother.
"You put that together pretty fast," he said.
Dean rubbed gingerly at his bruised cheek. "What can I say; I kinda got the corner on 'crazy'."
"I still don't know how you got here so fast," Sam said, adjusting the icepack from his neck to the back of his head.
"Felt a tremor in the Force," Dean said, giving him a wink that said we'll talk later. "Think we can use your mini WOPR to plug the names in and figure out whodunit?"
"I don't know," Virgil said suddenly.
"You don't know?" Brenna asked, shifting so that she could look at all of them.
Virgil dropped the ice pack from the side of his face, a nasty bruise contrasting with the bright blue of his eye. "I don't know about this Crazy Dude theory, I mean."
"What are you thinking?" Dean asked the paramedic.
"I just keep going back to that wizard," Virgil said. "Last time we worked with you guys. You remember?"
"Burned onto my brain," Dean replied, glancing sideways at Sam, perhaps remembering, as Sam did, how the wizard had used the Kestrel dagger to cut Sam, causing Dean to nearly bleed out, thanks to the spell that accompanied the blade.
"He was just a regular guy once, just a," Virgil glanced at Dean, "Crazy Dude. And he messed with something evil and turned himself into a monster."
"Witches are human," Brenna said, adding to the counter-argument. "They use spells and rituals and find ways of gaining and subverting power. I mean, some of them do. Not all are evil."
"The ones who kill are," Sam muttered.
"I'm just saying…the vision I had when I touched Frazier," Brenna said, pointedly avoiding the quick, shocked look Virgil shot her at this news, "wasn't of a crazy dude. It was a Wicker Man. In druid rituals, this figure is used as a symbol of sacrifice."
Dean sighed, then looked at Sam who shrugged in return. "Three of the people who were killed were connected to the mine," he said, still looking at Sam, but no longer seeing him. "What if the other two – Abby and Turner – what if they stood on one or the other side of this whole…town rumble." He waved his fingers toward the squad car.
"Abby would've believed," Brenna said, sounding pensive. "She had faith in everything – even my herbs. If Siobhan had talked with her at all, Abby would have been all-in."
"Not Turner," Virgil countered. "He was your basic seeing is believing kind of guy. He would have laughed at the idea of a witch causing his death."
"We need to look in their houses," Dean said to Sam. "See if we can find any hex bags or something that marks them as victims of a spell. With or without the electrical burns, if it is a witch, they would have used some kind of spell, you can bet on it."
"And we need to find out more about the Wicker Man Brenna saw," Sam concurred.
"The Wicker Man is a symbol of the draiocht," Brenna said. "If we can find out how to summon the draiocht, we might be able to find out how they're choosing victims."
"And then who they are," Virgil concluded.
"I'm going to go out on a limb here and say we don't have a lot of time," Dean said. He looked at Sam. "You take Brenna up to her house and go through her books." He looked at Virgil. "You and me'll take the houses."
No one argued with him. Sam stood and rested a hand on his brother's shoulder.
"Be careful," he said quietly, remembering too clearly the hex bag that had almost killed Dean once. "I feel like we're flying a little blind on this one."
"You're just rusty," Dean said, his mouth pulling up in a half grin, his eyes dancing a bit.
"Oh, and you're not?" Sam raised an eyebrow at him, realizing that while Dean had been willing to back his Crazy Dude theory, the prospect of this turning into an actual hunt after all excited him.
Dean pulled his head back, his face folding into a look of false incredulity. "I don't get rusty." He clapped a hand on Sam's arm and grinned, whispering, "Yoga."
"Swell. New Age Dean. Just what the world needs."
"Call me when you find something," Dean told him. "And, uh, Sammy?"
Sam turned to face him once more. "Yeah?"
"Watch out for yourself."
Sam tried to alleviate some of the concern he saw in Dean's eyes by smiling widely enough his dimples appeared. "Always, man."
He and Brenna stood watching as Virgil and Dean approached Reynolds and Maddox, asking for the addresses of the victim's houses. Sam knew that Dean would find a way in, even if it wasn't exactly sanctioned by the Sheriff of Argo. Glancing down at Brenna, Sam smiled, trying to reassure her. She had managed to avoid being caught up in the ruckus, standing by to help them pick up the pieces when it was over.
She nodded. "Care if we drive? It's been a long day."
Sam glanced back at Dean. His brother had the keys to the Impala. "You got a car?"
Brenna grinned. "It's even Winchester approved," she said, leading him across the street to a black, '77 Charger.
The door squeaked as Sam opened it. He smiled and climbed inside, chuckling slightly at the completely incongruous sight of the car seat in the back. Brenna started up the engine. The stereo blasted Pearl Jam, startling Sam. Brenna turned down the volume quickly, Eddie Vedder's voice fading to the background.
"It's a really good song," she said sheepishly.
The light had faded significantly, the sun having slipped behind the mountains, dumping shadows across the town like a bracing splash of water. Brenna hit the headlights as she headed up out of the business district to the winding mountain road that led to her house. Sam narrowed his eyes, trying to see into the darkened wooded area as they drove, studying the house by the headlights as they pulled to a stop in front.
The house was small, with a small front porch and hooks where a few hanging plants had once resided. Sam saw broken pots now sitting in a pile of clay on the ground just off the edge of the porch, the front windows boarded up as if the residence was ready for a bad storm.
Brenna led him inside and turned on the lights, exposing more disarray inside. She set her keys on a sideboard behind a couch that was situated in front of a stone fireplace. Off to the side, Sam saw a TV that had been smashed out, and above the fireplace a mirror had been broken.
"It was weird," Brenna said, following his traveling eyes. "They broke all the glass. Even in the picture frames on the tables."She nodded to a stack of black frames on the sideboard.
Shrugging, she started down a hall, calling out over her shoulder. "I'll bring the books out to the kitchen. There'll more room to look through them. There should be some soda or beer in the fridge. Help yourself."
Sam nodded and started to head toward the kitchen when he saw what she meant about the picture frames. Several five by seven frames were stacked near where Brenna had tossed her keys, the glass face gone, the pictures exposed. Sam wandered over, picking up one and smiling at a photo of Virgil, ever-present red baseball hat turned backwards, leaning on a fence and grinning at the camera. Another was of Declan, sitting back at the pub where Sam and Dean had first met Brenna, a pint in one hand and a pipe in the other.
He wondered idly if there were any existing pictures of him and Dean outside of the few childhood ones he knew his brother kept tucked into John's journal – and the ones on file in various and sundry law enforcement establishments. He set the two frames aside, turning to look through the rest.
But then he paused.
Three frames in, he saw one of a smiling Brenna crouched next to a child – a girl with shoulder-length, fine, light brown hair and large green eyes, a small scattering of freckles across her cheeks and the bridge of her nose, and her mouth pulled up in a half-grin so achingly familiar Sam's knees went weak.
He turned the frame over, pulling the picture free and saw written on the back Aislinn, 3 years old.
"Oh, my God," he breathed, turning the picture back over and staring once more at the child's eyes, not at all like her mother's, but well-known to Sam.
"I have too many books," he heard Brenna saying from down the hall, her voice getting closer. "It's actually funny, because when we left you guys, I had hardly anything, remember? Pretty much all my stuff burned up when Declan—"
She came out into the living room, three encyclopedia-sized books in her hands, and froze at the look on Sam's face. Her eyes darted to his hands, seeing the picture clutched there and then back up to his face.
"Oh, hell…," she said quietly.
"Brenna…this is Aislinn?" Sam said, needing her to confirm it.
"Sam…," Brenna's voice trembled. She set the books down on a small end table next to her couch, approaching Sam with her hands out as if in supplication.
"This is why you and Virgil don't live together…," Sam continued, holding the picture up in accusation. "Why you never married. This…this is why he's okay to leave and start over."
"I didn't know how to tell him," Brenna offered, and Sam knew at once she wasn't talking about Virgil. "I don't know if I can."
"You have to," Sam said, his voice hard, his eyes hot. "You have no idea what my brother has been through over the last four years."
"I'm starting to get an idea," Brenna said, wincing as if at a memory.
"Then you know I'm right. You have to tell him."
"Sam, how am I supposed to—"
She never got to finish her sentence.
In that moment, the lights around the house went out and before Sam could do more than rotate to face the door, it was kicked open and three figures rushed in, shadows against the dark. Sam dropped the picture, his fists up to fight but a pain unlike any he'd ever experienced slammed into him, crashing through his system and freezing his muscles.
He fell to the floor, hitting hard as his body convulsed. Blinking blurrily up through the gloom, he saw a baton descend, bright lights dancing on the end. It touched him once again, electricity coursing through his system, wave after wave of agony causing him to buck and writhe, unable even to call out, to breathe, to defend himself.
The pain abated for a moment, but Sam was too far gone to appreciate the reprieve. His world was gray, flashes of light gathering at the periphery of his vision, tunneling rapidly forward as he gasped weakly, tears slipping unheeded from eyes pressed tightly closed. His ears were ringing, his mouth wet with a sick taste, and then the pain slammed into him again and his body jerked once more before darkness took him, mercifully, into its protection.
Continued in Part 2: Chapter 14
a/n: If you're using a crib sheet to keep track of the cast of characters in Argo, don't worry. I've got one, too. *smile* And if I do it right, there's really only one who will ultimately matter. You just have to figure out which one…. *grins*
For those of you who guessed where I was going with Brenna's daughter, kudos to you! I hope you'll enjoy how the rest of the story plays out as I'm excited to bring the rest of it to you.
For those of you who don't like this direction, I just want to say that I've been planning on writing this story for about five years now and have a very specific way I want to end it, thereby book-ending my multi-chapter SPN fics. I know this direction in a story (girlfriends, spouses, kids, that sort of thing) isn't wildly popular in our fandom, but I thought this a story worth telling and I hope those of you who aren't thrilled will give the rest of the story a chance.
As always, thank you for reading! I'll see you in a couple weeks.