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 14-A
"Who were they, Brenna?" Dean demanded.
"We want to know the same thing," bellowed a voice behind Dean.
He stood quickly, turning to face four people suddenly standing in Brenna's doorway and porch. He recognized two of them from the ruckus earlier at the police station, the other two he'd seen at the diner the first day they arrived.
"What the hell are you guys doing here?" Virgil demanded, helping Brenna to her feet.
One of the diner guys lifted a walkie-talkie. "Heard it on the police scanner. Bruce Frazier's dead."
Dean heard Brenna gasp behind him.
"That's six," said the Asian man from the earlier fight – Hiro, Dean remembered. "Six people are dead and whoever did it came after you."
"You don't know that," Virgil rebuked. "You guys just need to go home. Let the cops figure this out."
"She's key to this!" Siobhan Riker practically screeched, pushing her way forward into the room. "My cousin is dead. My father is in jail. Five other people are dead and it all started when she started digging up history she had no business getting into."
"Everybody needs to calm down," Dean tried, making sure he stood between the town's angriest citizens and his friends. He lifted his hands in a show of peace, though he felt anything but peaceful. "Go back to town and we'll figure this out."
"I'm not going anywhere without her," declared the diner-guy. "Far as I'm concerned, she's the reason for all of this. I want answers or I want to hand her over to them."
They began to push forward and Dean squared himself, dropping his chin, his eyes on the crowd.
"Back off," he ordered, his tone dangerous and cold, his body heating up. "You're not touching her."
The other man from the diner who hadn't said a word as of yet, pulled a snub-nosed pistol from the pocket of his coat and pointed it at Dean. "Yeah. We are."
At that, Dean smirked. "You sure you want to do this?"
The man with the pistol finally looked away from Brenna and narrowed his attention on Dean. The flinch on the man's face told Dean all he needed to know. The heat had been building inside of him, warming him and causing his heart to slam at the base of his throat. It had happened enough times now, he was starting to recognize the signs and was pretty sure his eyes were unnaturally bright.
"What the hell…?" The man with the gun muttered. "You're one of 'em!"
"What?" Virgil bleated, confused.
"Dean, wait!" Brenna called, her voice betraying that she knew what the man was seeing when he looked at Dean's eyes.
Dean didn't wait. He surged forward, knocking the pistol from the man's grip with a well-placed hit across his outstretched arm, then lifted his arm and cracked the man across the face with the flat of his forearm.
"Virge! Get her out of here!" He yelled.
Hiro and Diner-Guy jumped Dean in defense of their now weaponless friend as Siobhan stumbled back and out of the way in surprise.
"I'm not leaving you with this!" Virgil declared and Dean saw Brenna step forward and push Siobhan over the back of her couch just as the red-head reached for a lamp to use as a weapon.
Dean dodged a swing, took a hit to his ribs, delivered two quick jabs, and kicked at a knee, felling one of his attackers.
"Go!" He growled, using his forearm in lieu of his damaged right hand once more.
Mason's voice echoed in his head: jab, cross, punch punch punch, dodge, jab jab, cross. He wasn't even aware of taking the hits when they connected, he just moved, disconnected from his surroundings, focusing only on the danger. An elbow came out of his blind spot and crashed against his temple, stunning him a moment and he crashed back against a side board, sending picture frames and a lamp scattering across the floor.
He started to draw back his fist once more, aimed at Hiro who was launching forward, when the unmistakable crack of a bullet stopped everyone in their tracks. Breathing hard, Dean slid sideways, rising from his sprawl against the side board and getting his balance back. He tasted blood in his mouth and his ribs were protesting his harsh breathing, but other than some bruised knuckles and a tender forearm, he seemed to be intact.
Everyone turned toward the outside, just off the front porch.
Brenna stood with the snub-nosed pistol that he been pointed at Dean a few minutes earlier then lost in the fray. Virgil had apparently been successful at getting her out of the house, but that's as far as she'd let him haul her. Standing square, pointing the barrel of the gun slightly up, aimed at no one, she glared at the people crowded into her home.
"There is something wrong with this guy," Siobhan yelled, pointing a trembling finger at Dean. "You didn't see his eyes!"
"Yes, I did," Brenna told her, pointing the weapon at Siobhan. "Now, back the fuck off."
Hesitant to get too close to Brenna and the gun, the men eased out of her house, sliding along the wall of the porch, allowing Dean room to exit. He moved past the men and through the doorway, glancing at the doorframe as he did so, and breathing a quick sigh of relief.
As he stepped down next to Virgil, he glanced at the paramedic and realized he'd seen Dean check the doorframe out.
"No Latin?" Virgil whispered.
Dean shook his head. "Whatever reason they had for taking Sam, it wasn't to sacrifice."
"Now what?" asked Hiro, still eyeing Brenna and the gun.
"I'll take it from here," came yet another voice.
Dean turned, wincing at the pull of muscle across his ribs, and saw Maddox exiting his squad car, flashlight up, hand on his holstered weapon. Diner-Guy and Hiro jumped from the porch, both talking at once, but Dean saw that Maddox's eyes were on Virgil and himself. And the man was pissed.
Ignoring the voices surging around him from the battered faces of his towns-people, Maddox stepped up to Dean.
"Don't you have a crime scene to cover, Sheriff?" Dean asked.
"Told you to stay away from the houses," Maddox said.
Dean lifted his chin. "I got bigger problems than your jurisdiction." He tilted his head toward Brenna, who had lowered her weapon when the Sheriff arrived. "My friend was attacked and my brother was kidnapped."
"You've been bringing a whole lotta attention to yourself that you could've avoided," Maddox stated, keeping his flashlight pointed at Dean's face, forcing him to squint and look away. "You coulda kept your brother outta this."
"You're kidding, right?" Dean snapped. "Sam had nothing to do with what's happening to your town. We're trying to help you."
His hand suddenly throbbed, like a knife stabbing through his scar. He flinched, shaking it out, but not taking his eyes from Maddox. Movement from behind the Sheriff drew his attention as he saw the deputy approach Brenna, taking the gun from her and escorting her to the Sheriff's car, with Virgil obviously torn between following her and keeping an eye on Dean.
"I think you better come back to the station with us," Maddox told Dean.
"He's one of them, Sheriff!" Siobhan screamed. "He's sacrificing people for his power!"
Maddox jerked a thumb toward the hysterical woman. "See what you've got me dealing with?"
"Sorry, Sheriff, but I could give a rat's ass about the crazy in your town," Dean replied. "This was happening long before my brother and I got here."
"His eyes were glowing!" Siobhan continued as Virgil snapped, "Get her outta here!" to the other two men standing in Brenna's front yard.
"And yet, you're my best suspect," Maddox informed Dean.
Dean stepped forward. "Maybe you didn't hear me," he said, his voice hard. "But my brother is missing."
"And we all pray he's found with a heartbeat," Maddox replied, undisturbed by Dean's tone. "But until then, you're coming back with me."
Lennox moved over to Dean, grabbing his arms and shoving his hands behind him. "What about him?" Lennox asked, nodding toward Virgil.
Dean felt the cold metal of cuffs going around his wrists and shot his eyes quickly over to Virgil.
"He's one of Reynolds' boys," Maddox said. "I'm not ready to fight that battle quite yet."
Dean realized they might still have a chance at doing their job. "Find Reynolds," he said to Virgil. "He's the only one around here who isn't buckets of crazy."
Virgil nodded, following as Lennox pushed Dean toward the squad car. "What do I tell him?"
"Tell him about the Latin," Dean said, trying not to stumble in the dark. "Check the rest of the doors; check the doors of the families."
"He's still planning his attacks!" Siobhan yelled.
"Somebody shut her the hell up!" Maddox yelled over his shoulder, grabbing Dean's other arm to either steady him or hurry him along, Dean wasn't sure.
"What about you?" Virgil called, opening the door of his truck.
"I'll be okay; I won't be there long," Dean replied, pulling up short at the back door of the car, making sure Virgil heard him.
"Not if I have anything to say about it," Maddox muttered, opening the door.
Dean resisted for another moment, leaning close, but speaking up so that anyone in proximity would be sure to hear him, "Sheriff, if you try to stop me from finding my brother, there's no one here who can protect you from what I'll do to you."
For the first time since Dean met the man, Maddox seemed troubled, his perpetual frown flinching as he pushed Dean up and into the back seat of the car next to Brenna. Dean grit his teeth, closing his eyes as he was forced to sit back on his hands, his right one burning again, the pain of it cutting up his arm and radiating around his jaw before slowly abating.
Steadying his breath as the pain faded he opened his eyes and glanced sideways at Brenna. She was watching him, her lip still puffy and a bruise around her eye, but her expression determined and grim.
"You can find him," she whispered.
"You said you're connected to Sam," she leaned forward, not hampered by handcuffs. "You can find him."
"I'm only connected when we make skin contact." Dean shook his head.
"That's enough, you two," Maddox hollered, banging his fist on the wire mesh separating the front seat from the back. "We'll be in town soon enough." He looked at Lennox. "Check in with Lorne and those two he brought with him. See what the status is back at Frazier's."
"Where we gonna keep 'im?" Lennox asked. "Riker's in the holding cell."
"You're thinking Riker'll do some damage," Maddox stated.
Lennox turned, glancing at Dean. "Or he will."
"We'll take him to the library," Maddox said. "They have that book cage with the padlock."
"What a frikkin' Podunk town," Dean muttered. "Book jail."
Secretly he was relieved. It would give him more time to get away and not be officially booked for whatever charge Maddox would think up; at the rate Sorenson was going, Dean couldn't afford to be arrested if he was ever going to give Sam a real chance at the normal life he wanted so badly.
"You should have just stayed out of it," Maddox said, glancing up at Dean in the rear-view mirror.
Dean just looked out through the window, into the dark, thinking about what Brenna said. His hand throbbed again, though not quite as painfully this time. He curled forward, trying to get his weight off of it until the pain abated. A cool hand slipped behind him, tucking a small fist into the small of his back and easing the pressure on his hands.
He glanced over at Brenna gratefully and she smiled softly at him, not saying a word.
"So, that Siobhan, huh?" Lennox said in the front seat.
"Stow it," Maddox muttered.
"Just saying, she's been seeing witches everywhere for years – now it's random strangers. She'd have been popular in Salem few hundred years ago."
"Said shut it, Lennox."
"Her old man shoulda locked her ass up long time ago."
"She's not wrong," Dean spoke up. He felt Maddox's eyes on him in the rearview mirror. "You are dealing with a witch. It's just not us."
"You found something?" Brenna asked. Dean nodded.
"I am not interested in some drifter's theory about what's going on around here," Maddox replied.
"Figured," Dean replied. "Just don't say I didn't warn you when you get body number seven."
They pulled up in front of the library and Dean wasn't surprised to see half the town gathered outside of the Sheriff's office across the street. Brenna hopped out on her own as Maddox dragged Dean free from the backseat and began to haul him inside and up the steps. The desk where Dean had met David Smith was empty, as were the rooms Maddox hauled him through, following Lennox as he turned on every light in the place.
Thankfully, Maddox removed Dean's cuffs before pushing him into the book cage, locking the metal door with a padlock. Dean rubbed at his wrists, beginning to pace the small space as he watched people begin to file in, demanding answers of their Sheriff. Brenna stayed close to the cage, watching the commotion.
This time when his hand stabbed, the heat seemed to fill Dean, causing him to bow in pain, clutching his hand against his chest. Random images jumped behind his tightly closed eyes – mostly of Sam. They were disjointed with no clear meaning, but when the pain faded and he could open his eyes once more, Dean saw an after-image of his brother burned into the backs of his eyes, as if Sam had been standing in front of him.
"You okay?" Brenna asked, fingers clutching at the hard mesh wire of the cage.
"Yeah," Dean panted, trying to catch his breath.
Sweat ran down his temples, tickling his hairline. He started to shrug out of his jacket, the weight of it a bit too much, when he realized he still had his Bowie knife on him; neither of the cops had bothered frisking him. He let the garment stay where it was, choosing to keep his weapons close despite the discomfort.
"Were you and Sam able to find out anything before they hit your place?"
Brenna shot him a look, its meaning clouded as the noise level grew around them. "I only had time to take a quick look at the books to make sure they were the right ones before I brought them out to Sam," she said. "I saw something about the number three – it's always been powerful in witchcraft."
"Makes sense," Dean muttered, shaking out his hand and wondering why the hell it was giving him such problems now when he needed to be clear-headed. "Six murders, a pattern of methods…."
"It's not done," Brenna stated.
"Not even close," Dean replied. "I'm thinking three sets of three."
Dean leaned close to her, the wire mesh of the cage between them. "Virge and I found markings on three of the houses. Latin meaning your death my life."
"Latin," Brenna repeated, turning to face him, her breath on his face. They were whispering, barely audible to each other over the din, yet he felt he could hear her in his head. "That's what made you think witch, not serial killer."
"Pretty much the same thing right now," Dean replied, letting his gaze ghost over her bruised face. "Virge is getting Reynolds to check the rest of the houses."
They both glanced back at the growing crowd, which Maddox and his deputy were working to keep away from the book cage with alternating pleas and threats. Dean heard their radios squawk that the coroner – Lorne – and one of the cops was coming back with Bruce Frazier's body while the third stayed behind to catalogue evidence.
Telling Lennox to hold down the fort so that he could meet the others back at the station, Maddox left the library. Dean actually felt sorry for the skinny Deputy. He wasn't really the talk 'em off the ledge type.
"They're all connected, aren't they?" Brenna asked, turning back to Dean.
Dean shook his head once with a shrug, unconsciously pulling his right hand against him as he laced his fingers in the cage near Brenna's. He was acutely aware that whether intentional or not, she was putting herself between him and the crowd.
"It's all tied to that mine. To whatever they are trying to hide inside the caved-in tunnel."
"And I stirred it up looking into the bastinite."
Dean nodded, his eyes traveling down to her wounded mouth. He saw her dart her tongue out, touching the tip of it to the cut on her lip. He looked back up at her eyes, stretching his fingers to cross hers in the mesh. Glancing over Brenna's shoulder at the milling group of people collecting in small worried knots to discuss the night's events, Dean caught Lennox staring at them.
Or, more accurately, Brenna.
"Dude," he called out, catching Lennox's leering attention. "Eyes on your own paper."
Lennox colored slightly and turned back around. Brenna's lips quirked and she shifted slightly so she could keep the crowd in her periphery as well.
"What did you mean I could find him?" he whispered, drawing her attention back to their conversation in the car. "Sam. How can I find him if I'm stuck in here?"
"I can close my eyes and see my daughter," she replied, illustrating. "I can feel her, let her feel me."
"So, you and Sam are connected," she opened her eyes and looked hard at him. "Whatever happened to you in that cemetery, it…fused you with more than just your amulet."
Dean frowned. "You think I can reach out to Sam without touching him? Like with my mind?"
"How do I tell him?"
His hand burned, the ache like cold in his bones and he pulled it close to him again, his face tightening as he tried to keep the pain at bay. Brenna looked at his hand, then up at him.
"Maybe he already knows."
It was getting colder.
Sam felt the chill creep up his spine and spread through his aching limbs as he sat still in the darkness. He'd been sitting, staring into the dark so long he'd lost track of time. Could have been minutes, could have been hours. His whole focus was on Dean, trying to think through the pattern his brother would have followed, remembering how he'd used the heat to bring Dean out of his flashback, remembering how he saw through Dean's eyes so clearly when they were connected. Wondering if there was more to their connection than just contact. Hoping he could somehow make his brother hear him.
But he was shivering. And he needed to move.
He felt the anxiety kicking up inside of him the same as it had since watching Dean on a ventilator in the hospital. The only thing that had tempered the rising panic, the desperate need to act out – scream or hit something – was moving. Pacing, running, sex, if he was able to move he could work the rising panic down to a manageable level.
In many ways, Sam thought, his need for movement mirrored Dean's need for noise.
Feeling his way up the side of the tunnel wall, he stood to his full height, reaching up. His fingers blunted against rock mere inches above his head. He knew the skeleton was roughly four feet away from him, so he turned from it and began walking the length of his tether, the rattle of the chain swallowed by the sheer silence around him.
Dean would go crazy inside this quiet. Since Stull – hell, since Hell, if Sam really thought about it – his brother hadn't been able to handle life without noise. Sam was pretty sure he knew what happened inside his brother's complicated head when there wasn't anything to distract him; after all, he'd seen a lot of it, thanks to their Winchester Mind Meld.
He was starting to agree with his brother, though. The quiet allowed too much internal noise to blossom. Like the puzzle pieces of the case they were on. Sam paced and pictured the database he'd worked on, wishing he was able to plug some names into it now and see what it narrowed down to. He figured he was in the Argo Mine, and by the complete darkness and silence, determined it was part of the caved-in section now closed off. He was pretty sure the skeleton rooming with him in this tunnel was either August Smith or Fletcher Reese.
If they hadn't been blown up or crushed in the cave-in, trapped in the dark would have done them in. He shuddered at the thought. It would have been an awful way to die. And with his discovery, he was certain Dean was right about everything being connected to the mine. He just wasn't sure why he'd been taken; he had no connection to the mine. The only thing he could think was that they'd started to get close and he was to be a distraction.
Someone was threatened by their being in town, connected to Brenna – it was clear to Sam that Brenna's questions about the mine had made several people in the town a bit skittish. If Sam were a betting man, he'd wager that whoever was intent on completing the series of sacrifices had grabbed Sam to throw Dean for a loop.
Jesus, Dean, Sam groaned inwardly, rubbing his face.
Dean was a father. And he didn't know. Sam wasn't sure Brenna would have ever told them if Sam hadn't discovered that picture. That picture of a little girl with his brother's eyes and his brother's sly half-grin. What was he going to do when he found out? Would it convince him to retire, finally live a normal life? Would he want to leave, not willing to expose his daughter to the nightmare he'd lived?
He knew Dean's mind would instantly process the evil in the world and his inability to protect her from it. He knew how his brother thought when it came to protecting innocent, when it came to keeping safe those he loved. He knew it better than anyone because he lived it. The only reason he was alive today was because of his brother.
Dean had given him the childhood his own father had never been able to, such as it was. And the result was that Dean became an ancient child. He soul was older than anyone would ever know, having survived decades of torment and torture, and yet his spirit was still a child, seeking peace in family and finding joy in the little things: music, the road, his car, pie.
Sam found himself smiling despite his predicament. If Dean would accept that he was worthy of being Aislinn's father, he would make a great one. Sam knew this from experience. He would make a better father than Sam ever could.
On the heels of that thought, Sam's pin-balling brain shifted to the fact that he hadn't talked to Stella since finding out about Crowley showing up in Lawrence. He missed her voice. The little crooked tooth that showed up when she smiled. The way her hair felt as it slid between his fingers. God, he missed her.
He didn't just miss having someone, as he'd wondered when she first talked about moving away from Lawrence. He didn't just miss the companionship of a woman. He meant what he'd told Dean back at the station – he missed Stella: the person who had somehow managed to make him believe that his fucked up life was an acceptable version of normal.
Sam rubbed his face, the chain connecting his wrists bouncing against his chin a bit. He made another lap, and suddenly realized that the darkness was thinning. Blinking, his eyes aching after trying to see any light for so long, he winced as a hooded figure with a shallow-beam flashlight emerged from around a corner Sam hadn't realized was there.
He stumbled back, lifting his arms in instinctive protection from the light.
"Who are you?" He demanded, angrily.
The figure didn't reply and he tried to pick out any distinguishing features or traits before his world went dark again. Slight build – could be a woman or a smaller man – face covered by a ski mask, hair covered by hood, gloves on hands meant no way to determine race. The figure handed him a bottle of water. Sam hesitated, but the person simply stood with the water held out, not moving.
His thirst taking over, Sam grabbed the bottle, twisting open the cap and swallowed half greedily.
"You're the one killing those people?" he asked, wiping his mouth with the back of his arm.
The figure stayed silent.
"You gonna add me to your kill list?"
The figured turned away, taking the light with it and Sam reached out, nearly dropping the water bottle as he tried to stop the figure from leaving.
"Wait, don't go! Listen, whatever's going on here, you don't need me to get in your way. You don't want me to die – at least not yet – or you wouldn't have brought the water."
The figure paused.
"Let me go," Sam tried. "You don't want me getting in the way of your plans. Just…let me go."
The figure half-turned and next to it in the odd shadows tossed by the flashlight Sam saw something he wasn't sure he could categorize. It looked like a figure of a man, but the edges were smudged shadow, the face and limbs made of what appeared to be sticks. He blinked, stepping back, his fingers tightening around the bottle of water.
The human figure clothed in black turned to fully face him, then tilted its head a bit in what appeared to be curiosity.
"What the hell was that?" Sam exhaled.
"Some hunter you are," the human said, the voice modulated by some kind of tonal devise turning it into deeper and more robotic than any normal human voice. "You don't know of the Wicker Man?"
"I know it's not real," Sam said, trying in vain to find the image in the shadows once more. He couldn't tell if it had been a spirit or just a trick of the light, and he needed to know if the thing was still here with them.
"Everything is real," the figure told him. "The Wicker Man awaits the final sacrifice to come forward."
"The Wicker Man is your draiocht," Sam stated, getting his bearings.
"Your tongue cannot hold the language of the druids," the figure mocked. "Keep it silent or lose it entirely."
Sam closed his mouth, thinking furiously. "What will the Wicker Man do for you?"
"He will return the druids to this mountain," the figure told him, its voice rasping oddly against the silence. "Where we can once more live as we wish, free and powerful."
"So you…you kill people just so you can live free?"
"I warned you."
Sam felt an icy hand at his face, squeezing. He tried to reach his manacled hands up to push the vice-like grip away but there was nothing to hold onto. The invisible hand tightened, forcing his mouth open, the insides of his cheeks scraping against his teeth. Falling to his knees, Sam gagged a bit, his tongue forced through his lips as the icy fingers dug in.
This voice, Sam realized through the haze of pain, was not masked.
"He needs to be taught a lesson."
"He's chained up in the dark," other voice said.
The hand released him and Sam fell forward coughing, a hand cupping his sore mouth, unable to stop himself from rolling his tongue around against his teeth. He tried to calm his breathing, listening for any clues that might tell him who was holding him and why.
"The brother has been caught. We need to keep this one intact just in case."
Male, Sam realized. Young. Bitter and determined, but young.
"You have secured the seventh?"
The black-shrouded figured started to move away from Sam, taking the light.
"You try to kill my brother, you're in for the fight of your life," Sam rasped, his tongue feeling fat and heavy in his mouth.
"It's not your brother you should worry about," the young male voice spoke from the shadows. Sam wasn't able to see him.
"You kill me," Sam warned, "and my brother will tear you apart."
"We'll see about that."
Both figures moved away, the light receding with them. They'd said that Dean was caught; Sam wasn't sure what that meant, but he also knew that Dean wouldn't stop until he found him and that thought both reassured and terrified Sam.
With the clocked figures gone, Sam was once more in the dark, left to wonder if the image of the Wicker Man he'd seen was a play of light or if the creature was actually in the tunnel with him.
"At least I know which way is out now," Sam muttered into the dark.
And then a breath whispered across his neck.
Oh, swell, Sam thought. Trapped in the dark with mystical firewood.
"Either kill me or back off," Sam muttered to the dark. "I'm not in the mood for anything else."
When nothing happened, he sat down and dug the throwing knife from his boot. He was done acting like a human buoy. Finding the latch to the manacle with his fingers, he began the arduous task of picking the lock blind.
Dean was pacing, shaking his right hand as he thought through what Brenna had said. If she was right, and Sam was causing his hand to hurt like that, then Sam had gone quiet for a while now, which cranked up his worry level to eleven. He wanted to believe he'd know if something happened to Sam, but he had no idea his brother had been taken in the first place, so he kind of doubted the power of this mystical connection.
"Sure would've been nice to know the side effects of using the amulet before I called down the lightning, Cas," Dean muttered to himself.
He was just looking for someone to blame; as far as he knew, Castiel hadn't even known the extent of the binding spell's effects; all either of them had been thinking about at the time was saving Sam from the Cage…without destroying the world in the process.
He was sweaty, his heart rate fast enough he could feel it every time he swallowed. A thousand terrifying images of what might be happening to Sam right now kept shifting over his vision making him blink and shake his head, forcibly dismissing them. He didn't want his imagination trigging another flashback; he needed to stay present. He needed to stay here to get Sam back.
Brenna had moved closer to Lennox, watching the groups of people gathered in worried knots wondering about the safety and security of their town. It was going on midnight and Dean was surprised that so many still had the energy to focus on these events. He could see the people from the diner – even the old, stoic couple – and the group that had tried to lynch Brenna back at her place, except for Siobhan. Someone had apparently finally taken her home.
He could see a few others he'd noticed from when he'd helped Virgil put out the fire at the Jurgen's house, but none of the firemen were present and, interestingly enough, neither were David and his aunt. Seeing as how they were holed up in the library, Dean had expected to see the kid doing his Matrix thing on the computer while sullenly watching the crowd.
He brought his head up at the sound of Virgil's voice, watching as the paramedic worked his way through the crowd squeezing Brenna's arm reassuringly as he made his way over to the book cage.
"Hey, man," Dean greeted, still pacing. He felt like a live wire, his heart jack-hammering inside of him like he'd been the one hit by electricity instead of Sam. "What'd you find out?"
"First, what the hell are you doing in here?"
"They've got Riker over at the jail," Brenna explained. "Thought it might not be a good idea to put them both in the same cell."
Virgil bounced his head at that. "So, you were right," he said, glancing over his shoulder as Reynolds and two of the other fireman worked their way through the crowd to stand behind Virgil. "Every house had the words burned into the doorframe."
Dean nodded, dragging a hand down his face. "No other bodies?"
Virgil shook his head. "You're back to thinking witch?"
Dean darted quick eyes to take in Reynolds and the two men on either side of him. They didn't so much as flinch at the word, or at the implication that Dean might know what to do about it. He nodded.
"I've been thinking it through," he told Virgil, resuming his pacing, feeling his scar heat up. "These are not just killings…they're sacrifices. The markings indicate that they're chosen. And they all tie back to the mine, or to—" He darted a glance at Brenna. "Druids."
"Except Turner," Virgil said.
"Turner had a connection to the mine," Reynolds informed them. "That's why he wanted the job as the fire station manager." He looked between Virgil and Dean. "His brother was one of the ones killed in the cave-in."
Dean motioned to Reynolds. "There you go. Now…did Elliott have any family?"
"No," Reynolds told him.
Dean was aware that the groups of people in the library were slowly quieting their individual conversations to listen in. He ignored them. They didn't have to believe in witches, they just had to let him out of there so that he could find Sam. And if he could save a few more people along the way, added bonus.
"Virge and I worked down the list of houses geographically; that's how we found Frazier's kid. But Abby has family in town."
Reynolds nodded. "Siobhan and her father."
"You need to put them both in protective custody. Same goes with any other family members of the vics here in town," Dean said, tightening his pacing pattern as he continued to think.
"Riker's in jail," Virgil pointed out. "Siobhan's probably at home. That leaves—"
"Hold on just a goddamn minute," Lennox finally broke in. He looked at Reynolds. "You're actually believing this bullshit?"
Reynolds looked at the deputy with an expression Dean had seen on his brother's face a time or two when he was simply tolerating Dean.
"The guy currently doing an impression of a caged tiger back there," Reynolds jerked his thumb over his shoulder at Dean, "is the only one in this town – including our illustrious sheriff's department – to have connected the dots of these murders and give us a glimmer of a chance to save some lives."
"He's talking voodoo, Reynolds," Lennox countered.
"Actually, voodoo is a lot different," Brenna spoke up.
"Yeah, he's just talking about witches," Virgil said.
Lennox looked from Brenna to Virgil, then shook his head and shifted his attention back to Reynolds.
"The victim's houses were marked with Latin words," Reynolds said. As Dean watched, the two firemen that came in with Virgil and Reynolds moved to flank their boss, standing between Dean and the deputy. "They were systematically killed by being drowned, stoned to death, and impaled. If he's got a way to stop the next one, I'm taking it."
"And you don't care if he's talking…broomsticks and flying monkeys?" Lennox demanded, his hands on his hips, his chin thrust forward indignantly.
"He could be talking green skin and warts," Reynolds said. "I don't want to wrap another body in a bag." With that he turned to face Dean. "We'll send someone to Siobhan Riker's house. Only family in town Jack Reese had was killed twenty years ago in that cave-in. That just leaves Turner."
"Doesn't he have a nephew?" Virgil wondered.
"The new preacher," called one of the people gathered in the back of the library. "Damien Frye. He's Turner's nephew."
"Someone go find the preacher," Reynolds said over his shoulder. "Luke here," he nodded at one of the men flanking him, "will go find Siobhan. Bring them both over to the jail and we'll keep everyone together."
"For how long?" Someone called out.
"Long as it takes," Dean replied.
"Want to let my friend out?" Virgil said, leveling his eyes on Lennox.
"Maddox locked him up for a reason," Lennox protested.
"Yeah, well, I've had about enough of Maddox and his reasons," Reynolds grumbled, motioning to the other fireman.
As Lennox stepped aside, his silence as good as permission, they each pulled out a Swiss Army knife, loosened the hinge on the opposite side of the door, then popped out the pin, pulling the door from the hinge and stepping back to allow Dean to exit.
Dean grinned, tossing them a salute. "Thanks, fellas."
"Listen up, folks," Reynolds addressed the crowd of people left over at the library.
Lennox stormed down the stairs and out the front door. Dean was pretty sure the deputy was about to run and tattle on them to Maddox.
"Show's over," Reynolds continued. "It's late and there is still someone out there killing people. I want you all to go home, lock your doors, and stay safe."
For a moment Dean doubted that anyone was going to move, but then apparently reassured that someone was in charge, they began to follow Reynolds' instructions. Grumbling accompanied the sounds of chairs being pushed out, stairs creaking and the front door opening and shutting after the people filing out.
When it was once more quiet in the library, Reynolds turned back toward Dean.
"Now what?" Reynolds asked.
Dean turned to Brenna. "There were three people who broke into your house you said, right?"
Brenna nodded. "I couldn't see their faces. They wore hoods. And ski masks."
"Did any of them say anything?"
She shook her head, then closed her eyes, concentrating. "One was big – taller than the rest. That was the one who focused on Sam. They were all thin. Slight build. One of them—" She paused, opening her eyes.
"Well, I was going to say that one could have been a woman."
"Why do you think that?"
She touched her lip. "I'm about to set the feminine movement back on its heels, but…they hit like a girl."
"Back-handed you, you mean." Virgil said, filling in the gap.
"A man wants to put you down," Brenna brought up a fist. "They put you down."
Dean looked at Virgil and Reynolds. "Anyone you can think of fits that description?"
Both men looked at him blankly.
"Right," Dean sighed. "It's not much to go on. I—"
He cut himself off mid-sentence as pain burst from his scarred hand once more so intense he thought for sure he would see flames shooting from his fingers. Gasping, he curled around his arm, going to one knee as light filled his vision, bright and hot, stealing his breath completely and leaving him spinning. In that moment, he saw Sam – dirt-smudged, anxious, and angry, but alive.
He could hear Brenna's voice as if from a distance and he opened his mouth, desperate for air, unable to get any. Dark spots started to gather at the edges of the light and Dean felt hands grip his shoulders, questions swirling around him. He reached out with his right hand, seeing the light move and shift with the motion and felt someone grab him, hanging on, feeding coolness across the heat until his vision started to clear.
After a moment he was able to take a breath and he felt his lips begin to tingle as the oxygen raced through his system. He sank back from his knees to sit on the floor, tenting his arms on bent legs and hanging his head low.
"That was different," he gasped, shaking his head slightly to try to clear it.
"War injury you said?" he heard Reynolds ask.
"Uh…yeah," Virgil's voice was near and Dean could feel fingers on his wrist, at his neck, checking his racing pulse. "Iraq. Four years ago."
Dean lifted his head, looking at where Brenna still had his hand in hers, her eyes on him. He wasn't sure if the light was still in his eyes, but he knew it had been. He needed to get control of this, and fast. He just wasn't sure how.
"You okay?" Brenna asked.
He nodded. "Freakin' arm was on fire."
He turned his right arm over and let Reynolds see the scar on his palm, trying to help back up Virgil's cover story. It was one thing for the Fire Chief to concede witches…it was another to explain he was magically fused with an angelic charm.
"I'm okay, guys," he said, pushing to his feet. He let Virgil steady him with a hand on his elbow and looked at Reynolds. "We need to check out the mine."
"If you're thinking it's got to do with that cave-in," Reynolds said, still eyeing Dean carefully as if afraid he was going to collapse any moment, "they never got around to clearing it out."
"I still think it's our best place to—"
The walkie-talkies on the belts of both firemen suddenly squawked causing everyone in the room to jump. Reynolds grabbed his and barked a greeting.
"Chief, you're not going to want to hear this." Dean recognized the voice of the other fireman, Luke, on the other end. "I'm at Siobhan Riker's place."
Dean looked at Brenna, then Virgil, dread making him heavy. Brenna squeezed his hand it was only then he realized he was still holding it.
"She's dead, boss."
Reynolds closed his eyes, then looked at Dean. "Let me guess," Reynolds said into the walkie-talkie. "She drowned."
"In her bathtub," Luke replied. "Fully clothed."
"Call Maddox," Reynolds said. "Then meet me at the mine."
"Next one is going to be stoned," Dean told him. "And if they stick to pattern, it's either Riker or your preacher."
"We'll get them both at the jail," Reynolds said.
"I'm not sure that's going to matter," Virgil muttered, starting to lead the way down the stairs.
"Hey," Dean suddenly asked as they reached the bottom of the stairs. "How did Maddox have a key to the library? He got some kind of master ring for the town?"
Reynolds shook his head, following behind and hitting the lights before he closed the door. "He's Susan's uncle. This town is really family-business friendly."
Dean paused on the sidewalk. "Wait, Susan's uncle? So…August Smith, the dude that died in the cave-in, that was his nephew?"
"Yep," Reynolds replied, heading down the sidewalk toward the mine. "Families settle here and stay," he explained. "There are generations who inherit the same houses and just stay on the mountain."
They followed Reynolds and Brenna said, "It was one of the things that appealed to me about living here. I don't have any family left; thought it would be good for Aislinn to grow up around some decent family roots."
Dean tucked his right hand up under his left arm, holding it against his chest. "No offense, Sweetheart, but I think some of those roots got a bit twisted."
"So it would seem," Brenna muttered.
Dean saw her glance at Virgil, saw Virgil look back and shake his head, then stare resolutely ahead. Reynolds and the other fireman were several lengths ahead of them; the odds of them overhearing anything at this point were slim.
"You guys want to tell me what the hell is going on?"
Virgil glanced back at him. "What do you mean?"
Dean pointed two fingers between him and Brenna. "You two. Earlier today, Sam and I felt like we walked into the aftermath of a hurricane. And I swear there's something you've been trying to tell me all day, man."
Brenna kept walking, not looking back. "Not now," she said.
"Sinatra?" Dean looked at the paramedic.
"Brenna's right," he sighed. "Let's get your brother back and melt some witches…or whatever the hell you do with 'em. Then we can talk."
"I'm holding you both to that," Dean stated, putting enough weight in his words they knew he was dead serious.
As they passed the Impala still parked along the road in front of the fire station, Dean paused, opening the trunk. He saw Brenna and Virgil pause as well, moments later joined by Reynolds and the fireman.
"If we're talking people messing with black magic," Dean said, grabbing up a handful of shotgun shells filled with rock salt, "we'll try not to actually kill them. Virge, grab that shotgun." They'd left the sawed-off back in Virgil's truck. "Here, you'll want these." Ignoring the looks of growing horror on the firemen's faces, he grabbed his 1911. "Brenna, you get Sam's Glock," he said, nodding. "Use these bullets. There are crosses etched into the tip. If we're talking about someone who's full-on gone to the dark side, that's basically like a demon and the only thing that'll slow them down are these bullets."
"Wait…demon?" Reynolds asked.
Dean shoved a clip of bullets into his 1911 and tucked it into his waistband. "Witches aren't what you read about in fairy tales," he said. "They're disgusting. Dirty. They kill without remorse and for power and personal gain. I've never met one I haven't immediately wanted to put down."
"Right. Okay." Reynolds nodded, swallowing.
"You two," Dean said, nodding toward the firemen. "Grab the salt."
"Put it in a circle around you or someone you're trying to protect, toss it at the witch. Salt is a powerful anti-dark magic element."
"Of course it is," Reynolds muttered, taking the container of salt from the trunk.
As an after-thought, Dean grabbed the flask of holy water and saw Brenna dart her hand in to grab a brown pouch that was lying next to a couple of crucifixes.
"You know that's just a sewing kit," he told her.
"Of course I know," she scoffed. "I gave it to you."
"Oh, right," Dean nodded, frowning. "Forgot about that." He closed the trunk and turned to face Reynolds and Virgil. "You ready?"
"I'm starting to see why you scare the shit outta Lennox," Reynolds muttered.
The group reached the entrance to the mine and Dean and Brenna hung back as the three firemen used their combined force and the hinge trick once more to get the door open. Dean hadn't been inside before, feeling the coolness and claustrophobia settle around his shoulders as the darkness closed in.
They moved into a cement-floored anti-room, goggles, helmets and jackets hanging on hooks fixed across the room.
"This is the gathering room for the tours," Reynolds explained. "There are service entrances for the folks who still work the mine."
"Still get gold after all this time?" Dean asked.
"Oh, yeah," Reynolds nodded. "Enough to keep a town this size going, anyway."
He moved over to a map on the wall. To Dean, it looked like an intricately layered subway system. He could see tunnels and shafts labeled with numbers, letters and names, several with large X's across them and a few highlighted in yellow.
"This here is the shaft system that caved in twenty years ago," Reynolds said, pointing to a good portion of the left side of the map. "You can see there are several tunnels, and roughly three layers of shafts. Deepest one goes down about 100 feet into the earth."
"Yikes," Dean commented, frowning.
Sam was in there somewhere. He knew it. He felt like a magnet flipped on its wrong side, something tugging at his skin with a cloying heat that said find him and it'll all go away…find him and it won't hurt anymore. He rubbed his hand on his jeans, this time not to clean it of blood, but to try to stave off the stab of pain he could sense coming.
"They run tours of this, this, and this," Reynolds continued, pointing to different shafts on the map. "None of which, of course, is anywhere near the cave-in."
"You know a lot about this place," Dean commented.
"Who do you think they call when a tourist freaks out or a miner has a heart attack?" Virgil retorted.
"Good point." Dean nodded. "How do they run the tours?"
Reynolds pointed at the gear. "Folks suit up, ride the elevator down about 40 or 50 feet, and follow a cart track through pre-marked paths."
"So…how are we going to get here?" Dean pointed to the sold double line over the closed-off portion of the mine.
Reynolds frowned. "You sure that's where these guys are?"
Dean nodded, feeling his hand start to shake and tucking it up under his arm. "I'm sure."
Reynolds looked Virgil and his other fireman. "What do you think, guys?"
"There's one of the service entrances, here," said the fireman, pointing to the top portion of the map. "Been closed off for years, but if we can get through, we could follow one of these tunnels."
"We can't just…blast through here?" Dean asked, nodding toward the internal entrance, not trusting that his hands wouldn't shake if he tried to point to the map.
Reynolds replied, "You have any idea how unstable that would make this place? Could bring the whole thing down on us."
Dean nodded, eyebrows up. "So, that's a no."
Virgil grabbed a set of goggles and a hard hat, handing one back to Dean, then another to Brenna.
"What are we supposed to do with these?"
"Wear them," Virgil told him. "No one's going in there without protective gear." He pulled off his red hat, folding it by the bill and tucking it into his back pocket, and pulled the goggles on, looking over at Dean.
"Nice. Very Sand People," Dean smirked.
"Suit up," Virgil told him, pulling the goggles down so that they were hanging around his neck and grabbing a hard hat. "We're going in."
"I'll take Rush," Reynolds said, finally giving Dean a name for the other fireman, "and head on up. You guys bring up the rear."
Dean nodded, frowning at the map, his body tense, barely noticing when Reynolds and Rush left the room.
"What is it?" Brenna asked.
"How'm I gonna find him in all that?" Dean whispered, eyes tracing the tracks and lines on the map. "I know he's in there. I know they took him there. But…," he shook his head, "how am I gonna find him?"
Brenna took a breath. "Focus, Dean. Find him through your connection."
Dean rubbed the back of his head, frowning. "It doesn't work that way."
He turned on her, growling. "You don't get it. It doesn't work that way!"
She grabbed his arm. "It. Can."
He jerked away from her moving across the room, pain staring to sear through his scar. They both were oblivious to Virgil's presence, turning their attention solely on each other.
"You don't know," he shook his head. "You don't know what you're talking about. You don't know what this is like."
"I don't know?" she fired back, her voice growing hard. "I don't know what it's like to see inside of someone? To see what they see?"
Dean shook his head, pacing. "It's not the same." He tucked his hand under his arm, feeling the heat burn through his chest. "It's not the same."
"I can help you!"
"HOW?" Dean turned, yelling the word so loud he saw Virgil take a step back. Brenna stood still, her face pale, eyes large as she kept them pinned to his face. "I don't even know what the hell is happening to me!" He took a step toward her, but she didn't back up. "All I wanted to do was save Sam."
"I know," Brenna whispered.
But Dean didn't hear her. Couldn't hear her. He was lost in the heat and the pain in his hand and the memories of the light that had surrounded them and the words he'd spoken through broken lips.
"I didn't know what it would do to me; I just wanted to save my brother," he said, sweat running into his eyes. "I'm just this guy…I'm just a guy, y'know?"
Brenna nodded, her eyes pinned to him.
"I don't have…powers."
"Yes," she whispered. "You do."
Dean stopped moving. He could feel his hand shaking, could feel it shimming up his arm into his jaw.
"Doesn't matter how it happened," she continued, her voice growing in strength. "Doesn't matter if you wanted it or not. It's here. It's real. And you can use it. You can use it to find Sam."
Dean nodded, eyes on Brenna, using her as a life raft. Trying not to drown.
"Let me help you."
"Wh-what do I do?" he heard the fragility of his own voice, hating it, but unable to make it stronger.
Brenna swallowed, then took a breath. "Do you remember New Orleans? When I was able to link you and Sam?"
Dean nodded. "He showed up in my dream."
"Use me like that again. Use me like a…like a lightning rod." She reached out a hand, carefully, gently as if he might blow up if she touched him.
Dean licked his lips, then reached back with his trembling right hand, letting her clasp his stiff fingers, his knotted scar, and he closed his eyes. He tried to picture his brother, feeling ridiculous and hopeful at the same time.
All he could see was a child. He tried to look past her, around her, but she kept coming back.
"What do you see?" Brenna asked.
Dean opened his eyes, matching her frown. "Just…this kid."
"What, you mean Sam as a kid?"
He shook his head, letting go of Brenna's hand and rubbing his neck. "I think it's my mom." He looked at Virgil, the back at Brenna. "It's a little blonde girl, looks exactly like my mom. Has her eyes and everything."
Brenna seemed to freeze, then look at Virgil, her eyes wide.
"What?" Dean asked, eyes darting between them.
She swallowed, turning back to him. "Just try again, and this time, focus."
"I am freakin' focusing!" he snapped. "I can't help what my damn subconscious calls up."
Brenna frowned, took a breath, then grabbed his hand again. "Where is he, Dean?"
Closing his eyes, Dean pictured Sam, thinking about the tunnels, willing himself to find him and suddenly without prelude, his hand seared and Dean cried out, going to his knees, dragging Brenna with him.
He saw Sam. He saw the path to reach him as clear as a beacon. And then his mind opened and the images that escaped burned through them both until Brenna screamed.
The throwing knife wasn't a lock pick, but it had worked in a pinch. Sam had only stabbed his ankle four times, trying to work the blade into the lock without the aid of a light. When he felt the latch give, releasing his ankle he almost didn't believe his luck.
Rubbing his skin while holding onto the knife, Sam sat back against the rocks behind him, catching his breath.
"Now, I can—"
The pain shot through his left hand so sudden and sharp, Sam cried out. As if he were standing in front of him, Sam saw Dean, soundlessly calling out to him.
"Dean?" he rasped, holding his left hand against his chest. "What the hell?"
As quickly as he appeared, Dean was gone and the pain abated. Sam rubbed his eyes, remembering the time he'd connected to Dean and saw his brother rather than what his brother saw. It was just like this: Dean standing and yelling something…something he couldn't hear.
Working his thumb into the scar on his hand, Sam nodded. "C'mon, Dean. Figure out where I am."
"I know where he is, Brenna," Dean shot back, tripping as his blind spot threw shadows. "And Virgil's way ahead of us."
"I can't keep up with you," Brenna panted, falling behind as he surged ahead.
"Then meet me there," Dean shot back, moving as quickly as his body would allow up the hill Virgil had pointed out, following the narrow, overgrown mountain trail through the eking morning light. He guessed it was nearing five in the morning, another sleepless night in the bag.
Scrambling up the hill, Dean reached the crest, scanning for the service entrance and pulley system that would lower them down into the mine. He turned in a circle, eyes scanning the dusky horizon, searching for something that could be the entrance, the silence on the mountain so thick it felt as if he were breathing molasses.
Muscles coiled, eyes darting, not seeing anything but rock, Dean listened with everything, every molecule trying to determine where to go next. He felt himself teetering on an edge of control that was razor thin; he didn't register reaching for his gun until he saw the barrel pointed at Brenna's face.
"Whoa, whoa, easy," she said, pulling up short, her hands up in surrender. She'd followed him up the crest of the hill and seemed to appear out of nowhere, startling him into defensive action.
Dean stood still, his body tense, eyes burning, the gun steady in his left hand, barrel pointed between her eyes.
He could see a vein down the middle of her forehead, the gray light turning her pale face to marble, strands of her red-gold hair clinging to her lip. She kept her eyes on him, and he watched the pupils widen as she held still.
It took him a full minute to lower his weapon.
She didn't lower her hands.
Flexing his fingers on the grip of the gun he forced himself to unclench his jaw.
"Just because you saw something," he told her. "Something inside of me…," he shook his head. "Doesn't mean you know what happened. Or how I feel."
"I know," she assured him softly.
"It made you scream."
"I felt what you felt, Dean," she explained.
He stared at her, thinking, remembering the last few images that slammed through their connection as he was searching for Sam. Remembering the shocked look in her wide eyes and the way she stepped back from him as they'd released each other.
He nodded, working his jaw loose once more, then tucking his gun back into his waistband.
"Where the hell is this entrance?"
Brenna lowered her hands and moved around him, searching. They parted, working a grid. Dean shook his head.
"Virgil couldn't have had more than five minutes on us," he muttered. "Where the hell is he?"
The tone in her voice had him hurrying toward her. He blinked, uncomprehending at first, as she stood with a red baseball cap in her hand. Looking beyond her, he saw what looked like a metal door pressed into the side of the mountain, the lock broken. He headed for the door, pulling it open, the morning beginning to slowly brighten as the sun first reached for the horizon.
"Son of a bitch," Dean growled as he stared into the opening of the mine's service entrance at the bodies of Reynolds and Rush, both shot with a neat hole in the center of their foreheads, both propped up against the wall of the entrance, their legs stretched across the opening.
"Where is he?" Brenna demanded, her voice devoid of emotion.
Dean just shook his head. Aside from the red baseball hat hanging from Brenna's fingers, there was no sign of Virgil.
Continued in Part 2: Chapter 15.
a/n: Those of you waiting for some more hurt!Dean…I think you'll be happy with the next chapter. As always, thank you for reading! I'll see you in a couple weeks.