Title: From Yesterday, Chapter 17
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 17-A
Dean tested his healing side, pleased when it was barely sore as he pulled the skin tight.
"Nice job," he said to Mason as his friend put the scissors and tweezers away.
"You should protect that," Mason cautioned him. "Skin's still new."
"It'll be okay," Dean said, pulling on his T-shirt.
He was about to say something else when Murphy suddenly jumped to his feet, hair on end once more, lip pulling up in a snarl. Dean looked down at the dog, then over his shoulder through the frosted glass window of Mason's office door. He could see two figures stepping into the shop through the side door.
"Mason," he asked in a low voice. "You put Devil's Traps around the far door, right?"
Mason looked over Dean's shoulder at the two people entering, then shot his eyes up to the ceiling where he'd painted the Devil's Trap. That was all the answer Dean needed.
"Dammit," he muttered, then looked down at Murphy. "Stay," he ordered.
The dog sat, but did not look pleased, the low growl he emitted reverberating through the small room. Mason and Dean exited the office, Mason crossing over to Jackson before Dean could stop him. He wanted Sorenson to come his way, stepping under the Devil's Trap, but he followed Mason, reaching out to shake Jackson's outstretched hand.
"Good to see you back, kid," Jackson smiled. "And in one piece."
"Thanks," Dean replied, offering the officer a genuine smile. "Good to be back."
"I'm surprised you didn't reach out," Sorenson said, not offering his hand, his eyes cold. "After hearing how urgent it was that we speak."
Dean pressed his lips together, shrugging. "Sorry, man," he said casually. "Had other priorities."
Sorenson took a step toward Dean, his expression hard. "You need to make me a priority."
"Is that right?" Dean asked, bringing his chin up, not taking his eyes from the Detective's cold expression. "And why would I want to do that?" He was aware of Mason and Jackson closing ranks, moving closer, sensing something was off.
"I believe you know why," Sorenson stated. "I've been looking into you, Mr. Winchester. And what I find makes my superiors very, very…anxious."
"I just bet it does," Dean smirked, then turned away, wanting to lead Sorenson away from his friends and toward the Devil's Trap. "Now…would these be your superiors in Kansas City…or Hell?"
Dean never got a chance to hear if Mason or Jackson reacted to his words. Murphy's suddenly ballistic barking grabbed his attention for the split second time he needed to react and he found himself lifted off the ground and flying across the room, his back cracking against the side of the elevated Dodge just before he slipped to the ground to land in a gasping heap.
Sorenson advanced on him, but as he reached the edge of the Devil's Trap painted on the ceiling, he was tugged short. Confused, the possessed man looked down, around, then up, his eyes going full-black as he realized he'd been caught.
Dean shakily pushed himself to his elbows, trying to encourage his lungs to work again. He looked up with bleary eyes as Mason started forward, Jackson still staring, dumbfounded.
"Wait," Dean wheezed. "Go around."
Mason looked up, then nodded, understanding. He grabbed Jackson's arm and pulled his brother-in-law around the edge of the Devil's Trap he'd painted on the ceiling, circling until they reached Dean. With thankfully steady arms, Mason reached down and helped Dean sit up.
"You okay, kid?"
"Yeah," Dean gasped, still trying to get air. "Wind knocked outta me."
"Surprised you didn't break your ribs," Jackson remarked, staring at the dent in the side of the Dodge.
"I've hit my share of walls," Dean groaned as he used Mason's arm to get to his feet. Coughing, gathering his wits, he regarded Sorenson – or, more accurately, what was wearing Sorenson. "So, how long you been inside this guy?"
Sorenson's demon, eyes still black, snarled. "Long enough."
"Since we left, I'd reckon," Dean guessed. "Long enough to help your boss track us to Lawrence."
"You have something he wants," Sorenson said. "And he'll do anything to get it."
Dean lifted an eyebrow. "Yeah, I'll bet."
Mason and Jackson exchanged confused looks.
"What the hell is he talking about?" Jackson asked.
"Guys, our friend Sorenson, here, is possessed," Dean told them. "He works for the King of Hell," he glanced at Mason, "who just so happens to be after me and Sam."
"Possessed," Jackson exhaled. "No wonder he's been acting so—"
"Buckets of homicidal crazy?" Dean interrupted, then nodded. "Sorenson's still in there somewhere," he said, "but before we get him out, I got a couple of questions." He stepped forward, trying not to wince as the muscles along his back protested. "Starting with…what does Crowley have that he can use as collateral?"
Sorenson's demon simply hissed at him. Just then, Sam stepped in through the side door. Sorenson turned to face him, but didn't move, all-too aware of the confines of the Devil's Trap. Sam met Dean's eyes across the room, quickly taking in the situation.
"Yeah," Dean replied.
"If you don't count a few cracked ribs," Mason muttered.
"I'm okay," Dean repeated. "Glad to see you, though."
Sam made is way over to where the group stood, his cat-quick eyes catching sight of the dent in the Dodge. "You?" he asked, pointing at it.
Dean shrugged. "Listen, we need to find out what Crowley knows," he said, deflecting the attention from himself. "Especially about…collateral damage," he leveled his eyes on Sam.
Sam nodded, turning to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with his brother, facing the demon.
"What does Crowley have on us?" Sam demanded.
Sorenson's demon pressed his mouth closed, his thin lips practically disappearing.
"Where is he hiding out?" Dean asked.
"How big is his army?"
"What is he planning to do about the chaos in Heaven?"
When Sorenson simply stood silently and grinned, his eyes coal-black and empty, his skin seemingly stretched across the bones in the man's face, Sam sank back on his heels, tilting his head to the side and spoke to his brother.
"Y'know, when I was possessed," he started, "I remembered everything the thing inside of me did."
"Everything?" Dean asked, knowing the answer, but liking the way Sam was playing this demon.
"Everything. Every word, every action, everything."
Dean lifted a shoulder. "So…what you're saying is…we don't really need this douchebag."
"We send him home," Sam nodded.
"Wait, wait," Sorenson's demon lifted a hand.
"Naw, it's all good." Dean waved the demon off. "You can head on back down to Hell and tell your boss that you weren't able to find this weapon. I'm sure he'll understand. He's a pretty forgiving sort of demon."
"No, wait, listen," the demon tried again. "I don't know anything about chaos in Heaven, but Crowley's pulled together an army twice the size of Azazel's. He's got every Earth-bound demon under him and hordes of minions below."
"Hordes?" Dean mocked. "Is that like…bigger than a troop, but less than a legion?"
"He wants to hold the contracts over all souls," the demon continued. "The only way anyone's going to Heaven is if they manage to break their contract."
Sam shifted uncomfortably. "There's no way to break the contracts," he said.
The demon shrugged. "It's a win-win."
"What collateral's he got on us?" Dean demanded.
"I don't know," the demon said. "I swear I don't. All I know was something about some women or maybe a kid. I don't know."
Dean went cold. If Crowley knew about Aislinn, he was going to skin the demon alive. He'd done it before; he was quite good at it, in fact.
"Where is he now?" Dean growled, all light gone from his tone.
"He moves around," the demon said. "Doesn't want anyone to get a bead on him. Last I knew, he had a safe house somewhere in Louisiana. French Quarter."
Dean looked at Sam, finally feeling his brother's eyes on him. He shook off the visuals of peeling Crowley's skin from his flesh, the demon's blood spilling over his hands, and nodded at his brother to go ahead. As the demon inside of Sorenson increased its protests, Sam began to recite the exorcism. Dean stood, rubbing his hands on his jean legs, trying to banish the feel of the knife in his hand.
With a scream the brothers were familiar with, but which visibly shook Mason and Jackson back a few steps, the demon launched out of Sorenson's mouth in a thick plume of black smoke, sending the human vessel to his knees and slipping through the cracks in the cement floor to be sucked into the vortex of Hell.
When the smoke was gone, Sorenson fell forward, caught from falling on his face by Jackson's quick action and bracing arm. The Cold Case Detective gasped for air, shuddering with the after-effects of the possession, then looked up at Dean.
"Thank you," he rasped.
"Don't thank me," Dean told him. "My brother's the one who set you free."
"Both of you," Sorenson said, closing his eyes. "Thank you."
"Hey, listen," Sam said softly, crouching down to where Jackson sat propping the detective upright. "You're gonna be okay. You're gonna feel like crap, and you might have some pretty nasty dreams, but you're lucky. You're alive and you get to go back to your wife and daughter."
"You remember anything?" Dean asked, his voice not changing in pitch and tone as Sam's had when regarding the man and not the monster.
"Yes," Sorenson said. "But…nothing more than it told you already. Just…all the ugly, dark thoughts and the ways it—" Sorenson's eyes flew open wide and he looked over at Jackson. "I think I may have hurt someone!"
"You didn't," Sam reassured him. "It did. You have to remember that."
"You remember if he knew where the women were? And the kid?" Dean pushed.
Sorenson shook his head. "I'm not even sure the…it…he told his boss about them." He sagged against Jackson, shivering once more as the memories washed over him.
"I'm going to take him home," Jackson said.
Sam nodded and helped the officer settle Sorenson on his feet. As Jackson started to steer Sorenson to the door, the detective stopped, turning to face Dean, glancing over to include Sam. He was pale, sweaty, his black comb-over hair in disarray, but his eyes were clear and human.
"I am very sorry for what I put you through," Sorenson said. "I didn't know…," he looked down. "I didn't know how important you are."
Dean swallowed, then looked away, resisting the urge to clear his throat. He felt sweaty and lightheaded and not quite there. He could practically smell the blood on his hands.
"Thanks," Sam replied. "Just…if you could? Close our case."
"Consider it closed," Sorenson told them. "No one will bother you about Stull Cemetery ever again."
Dean looked back at Sorenson and nodded, not trusting his voice. Jackson led the man outside and Sam, Dean, and Mason watched them go. When the door closed behind them, Sam took a breath.
"Guess we can cross that off the list," he said. Dean felt his brother's eyes on him as he turned away to head to the office and let Murphy out. "Dean?"
"'m okay," Dean shot back, anticipating Sam's question. He felt hot and his vision was slightly blurry, as if the world was just outside of arm's reach.
"You're not," Sam insisted, catching up. "Let me see."
Dean kept moving. "It's fine, Sam."
"Dammit! Let me see!" Sam reached for his shoulder, grabbing him and turning him and suddenly Dean was back in that room, blood on the walls, the rack in front of him, screams silenced in fear and awe, and a figure before him, wings spread and blue light filling the air around him.
He felt himself fall back against the gore around him, the carnage he'd become used to, that he'd caused, and he tried to hide. He wanted to hide his darkness, his knowledge, the fact that he'd been so very good at causing pain. He wanted to hide his blood covered hands, unable to ever imagine them clean again.
But the blue light was everywhere, and the touch burned him, searing him with its heat until he was crying out, screaming from pain and relief and fear. He couldn't escape the light and was afraid of the fact that he wanted the darkness. He knew the darkness. It was familiar and safe, no matter how badly it hurt.
He tried to push the light away, but it pulled him up and hauled him from the room where he'd spent forty years. He wanted to fight, but all his fight was gone. All his will was gone. He simply wanted to disappear. The weight on him kept him present, kept him close to the light until he felt wetness and looked down to see something cleaning the blood from his hands.
"You back with us?"
Dean blinked, looking around, confused.
Sam was crouched in front of him, Mason leaning over from the other side, both with faces knotted in concern. Murphy sat in front of him, his black head pushing against Dean's chest, leaning hard until Dean took a breath, feeling his slamming heart begin to slow. He was covered in sweat, his hands shaking, but at least he was breathing again.
"Hey, man," Sam gave him a soft, shaky smile. "There you are."
Sam exchanged a look with Mason.
"How long was I out this time?" Dean amended, knowing too well, based on the tremors still coursing through his system, what had happened.
"Only a few minutes this time," Sam told him. "Mason let Murphy out of the office and he knew exactly what to do."
Dean realized he'd not moved far from the spot where Sam had exorcised Sorenson. He was sitting against a wall next to a tall, red tool box, his legs splayed out before him, his right hand in his lap, scar facing up, and his left hand buried in Murphy's soft, dark coat.
"You okay now?" Sam asked.
"How about you give it a minute?" Mason suggested.
Dean felt his breath evening out, his pulse slipping back toward normal. "I'm okay." He started to push to his feet, feeling the twinge in his back increase to more of a pull. He winced, cursing silently that he was unable to hide that tell from two sets of watchful eyes. "Just sore, guys. It's okay. I'm not going to break."
"You still look pretty pale, man," Sam told him, stepping back so that Mason could get a grip on Dean's arm and help him to his feet. "What…triggered it?"
Dean took a breath, then leveled serious eyes on Sam. "I did it to myself."
"You made yourself have a flashback?"
"When that demon mentioned a kid, I just…," he looked down at his blood-stained hands. "I was really good at killing, Sam. In Hell. I was a fuckin' prodigy of the rack." He looked up and noted that it was his brother who looked pale now.
"Well, you're not in Hell," Sam told him, his voice much stronger than his expression. "And you're not going back."
"How about you two go get some rest?" Mason suggested. "Rufus'll be here in the morning, and sounds like he's going to keep you busy."
Dean nodded. "Yeah, okay."
Sam clapped Mason on the shoulder. "Thanks, man."
"Don't mention it," Mason murmured, his eyes following the brothers and Murphy as they headed out through the side door.
Dean paused and turned before shutting the door behind him. Patting the wall with his right hand, he said to Mason, "Put some whirly-gigs here, okay?"
"You got it," Mason nodded, tipping Dean two-fingered salute.
Dean let Sam drive, too distracted by the after-effects of the flashback. Murphy hung his head over the edge, his soft breath at Dean's ear.
"Stella went grocery shopping for us," Sam told him.
"You two okay?" Dean asked.
"I don't know," Sam answered honestly, drawing Dean's eyes. "I told her I wasn't going to quit hunting."
Dean nodded slowly. "She wasn't good with that?"
"She doesn't know…not that I blame her," Sam lifted a shoulder. "It's not an easy life."
"What if she decides she's not okay with it?" Dean asked. "You can always leave, y'know."
Sam glanced at him, but said nothing. He pulled up and parked alongside the curb in front of their house, behind Stella's car.
"You can't quit who you were born to be," Sam said softly.
Dean found himself smiling sadly. "Brenna said that to me once."
"She was right."
The afternoon was quiet, spent mainly with Dean watching TV and ignoring the sounds coming from Sam's bedroom. That evening, Stella fixed them dinner and Sam told Dean about the database idea, which Dean agreed would be useful, if for no other reason than Sam looked so excited about it Dean didn't have the heart to tell him he didn't know if it would make any difference to the beat-down the world was intent on giving them.
That night, Sam and Stella retreated once more into Sam's room and Dean sat up, Murphy next to him on the couch, his head on Dean's leg, and read his father's journal. He fell asleep around two in the morning, his head canted back against the couch, and was nudged out of a nightmare of a man with yellow eyes by Murphy's muzzle at his chest once more around six.
Sitting forward, rubbing bleary eyes, it took him a moment to realize that he'd been woken by a knock at the door. He stood, his spine and neck cracking as he stretched upright. Sam stumbled from his room, his sleep-spun hair twisted around his head and his eyes puffy from sleep.
"You gonna get that?" he rasped in a sleep-rough voice.
"Yep," Dean replied, shuffling over to the door and pulling his T-shirt back in place.
Six in the morning was not a time anyone should be up, let alone out and knocking on doors as far as Dean was concerned. With a long sigh, he grasped the door knob and pulled the door open, gaping uncomprehendingly at Brenna standing on their stoop, Aislinn asleep in her arms, her head resting on her mother's shoulder.
"Brenna?" Sam muttered, confused.
"Took me all of about twelve hours to realize that I was being an idiot."
Dean continued to stare at her as Sam replied, "That's a lot faster than some people."
"Can we come in?" Brenna asked, hefting Aislinn against her.
"Uh, yeah," Dean replied finally, stepping back and letting her through. "Yeah, sure."
She stepped inside, dropping a purse-like bag on the floor by the couch. "Is there somewhere I can lay her down?"
"Here," Dean reached for Aislinn and took the sleeping girl from Brenna's arms, turning her carefully and shifting her into his own arms just as her mother had been holding her.
Aislinn's head settled comfortably against his shoulder, her little hand resting on the nape of his neck. Cupping the back of her head, he led the way to his bedroom, Brenna following, and laid the little girl down on his bed. Without being told, Murphy jumped up and laid down at the foot of the bed, his head next to Aislinn's sock-covered feet. Dean grabbed a blanket from a pile on top of his weapon's trunk and covered her up.
He shooed Brenna from the room and pulled the door closed behind him. Wordlessly, they headed back to the kitchen. Stella had gotten up as well; she was sitting at the table wearing one of Sam's too-big shirts and the pair of boxer shorts.
"Hi," Brenna said.
Stella lifted her chin. "Hi. Want some coffee?"
"Oh, God, yes."
"Stella, this is Brenna," Sam said, leaning against the counter next to the coffee maker. "She's Dean's…uh…."
"Friend," Dean and Brenna replied in unison.
Stella glanced at them. "In that case, I better make it Irish," she said, grabbing the whiskey from the cabinet and adding a shot to the coffee.
"What are you doing here?" Dean asked. "Better yet, how did you find us?"
Brenna gave him a look. "C'mon, Dean. It wasn't that hard. I knew you were in Lawrence. And I knew you worked for some guy named Mason." She took the coffee mug from Stella with a nod of thanks. "All I had to do was google him, and then I called yesterday for directions."
Dean shot a look at Sam. "Think Crowley knows how to google?"
Sam shrugged. "Everyone knows how to google." He paused, glancing at Dean. "Except maybe you."
Dean narrowed his eyes at his brother before turning back to Brenna. "Does Virge know you left Argo?"
Brenna nodded. "I called him on the way, told him where I was going. He's got a lot to figure out back in Denver."
"Okay, so you found me," Dean chewed on his bottom lip, staring hard at her. "Big question is…what now?"
"She's talking, Dean."
Dean shot a glance toward his bedroom.
"No, I mean…she started talking," Brenna elaborated. "Morning after you left, she just…I mean, she started talking to me, asking me for things, telling me things, just like she had been doing it all her life."
"Talking?" Dean asked.
"She's still quieter than most kids her age, but she's using words and phrases – and she's mixing Gaelic with English…," Brenna's eyes were filling with tears, but her expression was elated. "I knew she'd been listening to me, but…she'd never actually said anything before."
"What…how did it start?" Dean asked, finding that he needed to lean back on the couch.
"When she touched your hand," Sam guessed.
Dean looked at his brother, then over a Brenna, watching her nod.
"In the clinic," she said, "I saw you both kind of…gasp. And I almost pulled her away, but you just looked so…." She paused, spreading out her hands, looking for the right word.
"Happy," Sam supplied.
Brenna pointed at Sam, nodding her agreement.
"You think I…, what? Started it?" Dean asked, struggling to accept that he had anything to do with the little girl's sudden burst of speech.
"Why not?" Brenna challenged. "You have a power inside of you that you don't understand and can't control," she pointed out. "Why couldn't it help a little girl feel safe enough to talk?"
Dean dragged a hand down his face, trying to put everything she was saying into a bucket that made sense in his head.
"Sorry, but…who are we talking about?" Stella broke in during the pause in conversation.
Three sets of eyes turned to look at her.
"That little girl Dean took back to his room," Sam elaborated.
"Aislinn," Brenna said. "She's…." Brenna stopped, looking over at Dean, silently asking if he was going to claim her.
"She's my kid," Dean said, finding the effort of saying those words out loud less than he anticipated. "My…my daughter."
He looked up at Sam, then over at Brenna, noting the same expression of acceptance and appreciation mirrored in their eyes.
"Wow," Stella exhaled. "That was some hunt you boys went on."
"We need to talk," Dean said to Brenna.
"We can go…." Sam offered.
Dean shook his head. "Not here. Not where Aislinn can…."
"I can't leave her," Brenna said. "Not in a strange place."
"We'll watch her," Sam said. "She knows me."
Brenna looked at Stella, then shifted her eyes to Dean, and finally rested them on Sam, seeking, it seemed, some familiarity to reassure her of her daughter's safety.
"Are you sure?" she asked.
"I'm sure," he said. "Stella got food yesterday; we'll just have cereal and watch cartoons."
"Buying food for these guys is kinda like shopping for a couple of kids," Stella chimed in. "There's plenty of Lucky Charms and Mac 'n Cheese."
Stella smiled and Dean noticed how her whole face seemed to relax with the motion, the lines of worry around her eyes virtually disappearing as the warmth in her expression filled up the room.
"And you'll call me if she wakes up or need me?" Brenna asked, needing to be convinced.
Sam nodded, but said, "Something tells me you'll know anyway."
Taking a decisive breath, Brenna looked back at Dean. "I just need to tell her," she said.
Dean nodded and watched as Brenna moved quietly, bouncing quickly on the balls of her feet across the room, barely making noise as she opened Dean's bedroom door. Dean followed carefully behind, watching as she smoothed back Aislinn's sleep-tangled hair, her lips close to her daughter's ear as she whispered something. Aislinn nodded in her sleep, then turned to her side.
Brenna kissed Aislinn's temple, then rubbed Murphy's ears, standing up and exiting the room.
"Okay," she whispered. "I'm ready."
Dean pulled on his boots, grabbed his jacket, and reached out his left hand to pluck the keys Sam tossed his way from the air.
"We'll be back," Dean said, giving his brother a look that held more than just an inform. It was a warning and a request in one.
"We'll be here," Sam replied, smiling carefully in return.
The morning was bright, warm but not yet hot. The humidity had yet to take over the day and Dean took a deep breath, feeling oddly weightless as he climbed behind the wheel of the Impala and waited for Brenna to join him. It felt odd, having her in Sam's seat. Like a foreshadowing he wasn't quite ready for.
Windows down, he pulled away from the house and just drove, aimlessly. They were quiet, letting the music wash over them, Zeppelin's When the Levee Breaks an ironically fitting soundtrack to the moment. Dean glanced at Brenna and noted how she let her head fall back, eyes closed against the sun, arm out, fingers parting the slipstream of air. Her long hair fell around her face, twisting in the wind.
For a brief moment, she looked peaceful, maybe even happy.
He looked away then, not sure how to categorize the ache in the center of his chest. There were so many what ifs floating around him right now and not one led to a conclusion he thought he could live with. The blood that saturated his life wasn't something he was willing to let stain another's, let alone someone he might love. It was bad enough that Sam was tainted; that had happened so long ago and had been beyond his control, but it still left a bad taste in his mouth.
"Where are we headed?" Brenna asked finally.
"Not sure," Dean replied, looking around and realizing that he'd been driving toward the spot where they'd burned Bobby's body.
He took the side road, a gravel turn-off that dead-ended several feet away from the river, then pulled over toward the trees, shutting off the engine and listening to the river and a distant bleat of a train whistle. They sat in silence for several minutes, not looking at each other, then Brenna got out of the car, walked around the front and stood at the edge of the river. Dean watched her, taking in the changes to the way she stood, the way she held her shoulders, the curves of her hips.
She wasn't the same girl he'd met seven years ago. He could still see that fire in the way she looked at the world, but the anger wasn't there, not like it had been before. When he'd met her, her powers – her sight – was something that controlled her. Now it was something she controlled. Her heart had been wounded by what life had taken from her: her parents, her stability, the camouflage every person secretly desires. She'd been desperate to hide behind a wall; now, she was the wall.
He saw her standing as protection between her daughter and the world he knew could so easily destroy her. If not physically, then inside, where everything that made her unique lived. And he couldn't be part of bringing that darkness into their lives, letting it breach Brenna's wall.
Decision made, Dean stepped out of the Impala and walked up behind her, taking a breath.
"Don't say it."
He closed his mouth with a click. She turned around and he was taken aback by the danger in her eyes. It wasn't the wild, bird-like look she got when she could see into him, but he felt stripped bare none-the-less. He blinked, bringing his head up and away instinctively.
"You are not allowed to decide for me," she continued.
"No, you listen," she broke in. "I've had to listen to people tell me what is best for me – what's best for my daughter – since she was born. And because I know every one of them means well, I've tried to take pieces of advice and shape my life around what might be the best for my girl, but…." She shook her head. "This?" She stepped forward, waving her hand between them. "This falls outside of those well-meant words of advice."
Dean started to shake his head, but stopped when he saw her reach into her back pocket and pull out a worn envelope. One he recognized all too well.
"I read it," she said. "And then I read it again. And again. And you know what I couldn't figure out?" She took a step forward and he backed up, feeling like he was in the vicinity of an unexploded land mine. "If you meant this…what you wrote here? Why did you never reach out to me when you came back?"
"I was messed up, Brenna," Dean replied. "I'm still messed up. You don't want any part of that."
"If I did have a choice in all of this, I would choose to find you. And I'd choose to stay this time," she quoted. "Your words, Dean."
"I also said I wanted you to be safe. To have a home and a family and nothing hunting you," he shot back. "You think you can get that with me? You're crazy."
"Maybe I am!" she shouted, the heat in her words turning her eyes wide. "Maybe I've always been!"
"I can't—" he swallowed, turning away from her and stalking back to the Impala, trying to find the words he needed to push her away, to convince her he was poison, he was dangerous. He could barely get through a night without falling into the blackness that threatened to consume him. She had to get her daughter away from him.
He pressed his left hand flat against the warm roof of the Impala, looking down at his right, at the blood he saw there even now.
"I've done things since I wrote that letter," he said quietly. "I've killed and I've…destroyed. I have blood on my hands that won't wash away."
He could sense her standing right behind him.
"I know," she said quietly. "I saw it. I saw you with a knife in your hand, covered in blood, cutting into someone chained to a…a platform, or—"
"And then I saw you climb from your own grave. I saw you come back. I saw you save people…so many people, Dean." She put her hand under his right one, cupping it in her own. "I saw you save Sam. I saw you sacrifice yourself for him."
"I turned myself into a weapon," he said, looking at their joined hands.
"You already were a weapon," she said, causing him to look up at her in surprise. "You've been a weapon since before you could hold a gun." Her pupils widened, turning predatory. "You remember what I used to tell you I saw when I looked into you?"
She nodded. "I saw Sam…I saw your dad…and I saw a hole where you should have been. I saw everyone but you." She closed her other hand over his scar and he looked down, seeing blood stain her fingers. "Do you know what I see now?"
"Pain and blood," Dean whispered, his lip curling in disgust.
"Light," she replied. "So much it…it hurts my eyes. It's like it's…hovering on the edge of something. Like you're…holding your breath. Waiting for something."
Dean shook his head, pulling his hand away from her. Once, years ago, Brenna's Granddad had told them that it wasn't just that Brenna saw the truth inside the lie. She saw who people really were, not who they told themselves they were. But all he saw was darkness and all he felt was pain and he couldn't believe she was seeing the truth.
"Just because you see light inside of me doesn't mean I'm any good to you, Brenna. You need to take your daughter and go. Get as far away from me as possible."
"No." Her voice didn't so much as tremble.
He turned away, bracing his hand on the trunk of the Impala. "You almost brought a town to its knees looking for something to protect your daughter from your own power."
"And I was wrong," she replied calmly.
Too calmly. He wanted to shake her up, scare her off. He whirled, facing her, backing her up with his intensity.
"How are you going to protect her from me? From what's hunting for me? From what I hunt?" Brenna's back was to the Impala, but she wasn't cowering. She stood silent and still, staring him down. His voice rose in intensity as he warmed to his topic. "Are you going to tell her why we paint symbols on the doors and windows? Why we always have weapons in the house? Why salt is more than just a friggin' condiment?"
"What?!" He was breathing hard, his hands trembling. He could feel his heartbeat at the base of his throat, threatening to choke him.
"She's your daughter," Brenna said, the quiet intensity in her voice making her words shake. "How and when she learns the truth about her father is something we decide together."
"It's not fair to her." Dean shook his head.
"Not having you in her life is what's not fair to her," Brenna shot back. Dean started to turn away and Brenna grabbed his arm. "It's not fair to me!"
Without thought, operating on instinct and need alone, Dean pushed Brenna back against the Impala and brought his body flush against hers, his mouth capturing her parted lips in a hungry inhale. The moment their skin touched, Dean's eyes went blind to what was around them and he saw inside of her, her memories, her heart, the way she saw him.
He saw the light, felt the heat, and was lost to both. Their vision swirled and blended and he pushed away from her, desperate for breath.
"No," he shook his head panting, once more seeing her face, her kiss-swollen mouth. "I can't just…fall into this. There is very real danger here, Bren. I can't let that hit you."
"You're not letting anything hit me, Dean," Brenna snapped, her voice rising. "You're running."
Dean brought his head up. "What? No, I'm not. I'm protecting you."
"You're hiding from me," she shouted. "You're scared to death to have anything different from the pain and darkness you know. You pull that around you like a fucking cape, using it to stay an arm's length from anyone who might actually give a damn about you – including Sam!"
"Now wait just a goddamn minute—" Dean started forward.
"You have a chance to let yourself feel something beyond fear and obligation and that scares the shit out of you," Brenna continued, heedless of his anger. "You could have a life with me, an actual life where someone loves you and cares about what happens to you and watches for you to come home at night. And you don't have a fucking clue how to handle that."
"You're right!" Dean shouted, close enough to her face he saw her blink at his volume. "Okay? You're right. I don't know what the hell to do! I don't know how to protect you and Sam and Aislinn and not get…lost."
She took a breath and squared her jaw. "What do you want, Dean?"
He pulled his head up, thrown by the shift in her tone. Her whole being felt suddenly quiet to him; even her eyes had returned to their normal golden shade.
"What do you want?"
He opened his mouth, then closed it silently.
"Because I want you," she continued, pressing forward so that they were once more flush from the hips down. "I want all of you. All the nightmares and fear and lame jokes and weapons obsession and borderline co-dependency issues and hunting and bad guys after you and heroic attempts to keep everyone else but you safe from pain."
Dean felt himself leaning toward the heat of her body, his eyes darting from her eyes to her lips as she spoke. Her lips had been one of the first things he'd noticed about her and he suddenly found himself unable to tear his eyes from them, soaking in the way they formed around her words.
"I want every sleepless night and every grouchy morning. I want to know every scar you have so I can tell when there are new ones. I want to know exactly how many times you've listened to Metallica's Black album and your favorite pie."
"Brenna," he whispered, unable to find another word in his rapidly depleting lexicon to match the rush of emotion coursing through him.
"What do you want, Dean?" she whispered against his lips.
This time there were no disorienting visions. There was just her, and him, and heat. He couldn't get close enough to her and felt her nails on the sensitive skin of his belly as she pulled at his shirt. In minutes they were bare from the waist up and he was holding her, skin to skin, arms threaded around to each other's backs, his face buried into the nape of her neck, breathing her in. He felt her tremble against him and pulled back slightly to cup her face.
"You," he answered. "I want you."
He fumbled with the latch but the Impala's back door finally opened and in seconds they were stretched out across the back seat of the Impala, their feet sticking out through the opened door. She wiggled her hips to get out of her jeans, pushing his from his ankles with dexterous toes. He let himself just feel the differences in their bodies for a moment: the smoothness of her skin, the way her curves fit against his angles like a missing piece of his puzzle.
She arched up to him and he let his mouth trace her neck, the valley of her breasts, her stomach. He surged up and caught her mouth with his and felt her grip his backside, her legs hooking around his. As he let his hands trace her skin, he felt his blood rush in response to her gasp and groan, surprised when she pushed at him, forcing him to turn them so that she sat on top of him.
Letting her control the moment, he closed his eyes as he felt himself sink into her, holding her hips as sensations flooded him. He sat up, pulling her close, needing the connection and felt when she released control of her visions, her power.
As they moved together, her feelings flooded him, sending his mind spinning, forcing him to catch his breath. He felt what both of them felt, saw what both of them saw, rapidly losing his grip on whose eyes he was seeing through. The rush of memories and need and loneliness surged through him as he held her, pulling her close and turning them so he was once more on top, moving with instinct in a primal rhythm that required no sight.
He felt himself tip over the edge and pulled her with him; they were falling together and for a moment he felt nothing but the liquid gold sensation of floating, weightless and free, tangled up with her. His breath caught, his heart paused, and there was only this moment.
"Look at me," Brenna whispered beneath him. "Dean…I need you to look at me."
Groggy, disoriented, still rolling through the rush, he raised himself on his elbows and blinked down at her through bleary eyes. She reached up and put her hands on either side of his face.
"Can you see me?"
He nodded against her hands.
"I'm not going anywhere," she told him. "I'm here. I'm right here and I'm not going to leave you. Do you understand me?"
His vision cleared and he met her eyes, not quite able to speak, not sure if he should.
"I'm gonna stay here. Right with you."
Swallowing, Dean smiled, not doubting that in the least. He kissed her lightly, hesitantly. "I'm always going to be a hunter," he told her. "I can't change that."
"I know," she replied. "I'm always going to be a druid."
"I can't stop hunting and just…become a mechanic," he told her.
"I wouldn't want you to. I'm not going to stop working with herbs to become a soccer mom."
Dean shifted so that he wasn't putting all of his weight on her. "Maybe she won't like soccer," he said.
"Maybe," Brenna conceded.
As Dean sat up away from her, Brenna pulled her legs up and wrapped her arms around them, sitting comfortably naked in the back of the Impala. He found he liked seeing her there. Seeing her there exactly as she was now.
She looked at him. "Declan – my Grandda – always said that you don't find someone who completes you…you find someone who compliments you. You have to be complete on your own."
Dean frowned slightly, waiting her out.
"Neither of us is complete, really. We're both kind of broken in our own ways. But we can figure out how to glue our pieces back together so that our daughter doesn't break like we did."
Dean licked his lips, nodding. "There's something I gotta do before we figure all that out."
"Does it have to do with summoning an angel?" Brenna asked.
He looked at her, surprised. "Yeah, how did you—"
"I pretty much got a hefty info download just then," she smirked. "And I kinda think I hate some British guy…?"
"You do," Dean nodded. "Everyone does."
"Well," she reached up and rubbed his head affectionately. "Sounds like you've got work to do."
Chapter 17 continued here in post 18-C.