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Weapon and the Wound, 2B/7, PG-13, Dean , Sam, OFC, OC, GEN

Disclaimer/Spoilers: See chapter 1. Please note: from this point on in the story, there are some scenes that may be considered potentially "racy" as well as some harsher language and scenes. I am keeping the rating at "T" or "PG-13," but ask that you keep this in mind as you read.

a/n: As this will most likely be the last chapter posted prior to the Christmas Holiday, I wanted to wish all of you a Merry Christmas—or the equivalent for the holiday you celebrate—and thank you most sincerely for your support, your encouragement, and your time throughout this past year. I write these stories for myself, yes, but I also search for your thoughts and wait for your feedback with bated breath, smiling again once I've seen your reviews.

Thank you for always giving me something to smile about. With that, I give you the 2nd chapter of a story that I've been dying to tell ya'll.

***continued from Part 2A***
 


Dean swung from the back and grabbed the radiator fluid, making his way to the front of the Chevy. In his periphery, he could see Brenna pulling her helmet off, the pencil-thing holding her hair tumbling loose and spilling a mess of shoulder-length red-gold curls out to hang limply around her face.

He found himself stopping and looking. There was something arresting about her face. Conventionally, she wasn't beautiful. Her large eyes were hard to look at sometimes, and her rosebud mouth was set in a quirk of humor that made people think she knew something they didn't.

Which, Dean surmised, leaning into the engine, she usually did. But she made up for her lack of cover-girl beauty with the way she used her face, the way she held her slim, strong body.

The way she climbed under his skin and made herself at home.

"I forgot how pretty she is," Brenna's voice filtered toward him, making him jerk upright, barely missing cracking his skull on the underside of the hood. "You've got yourself a nice machine here, Dean."

"Yeah," Dean nodded, pouring the rest of the radiator fluid into the opening, the greasy cap resting on the edge of the engine. "My own damn fault for not taking better care of her."

"You were distracted," Brenna said, indicating his back with a tip of her chin and leaning against the front passenger door. She propped her feet up on the tree so that her denim legs made a bridge.

Watching her, he immediately thought of crawling under her legs.

Stop it. Where had these cravings come from? Was it simply his ticking clock, his world turned sideways? Was it a desperate reach for the impossible? Brenna wasn't one of the Double mint twins. She wasn't a sexy bartender or a classy pool hustle. She was real, dammit.

"No excuse," Dean said.

"That you talking? Or your Dad?"

Dean twisted the radiator cap closed and shut the hood, drawing her eyes. "You never knew my Dad."

"I knew enough," she said softly, reminding him with a glance how much she had seen when she looked inside of him.

He stared at her for a moment, watching the heat draw moisture from her skin to bead on her upper lip and run down the side of her face. He felt it tickle the curve of his spine and wanted to pluck his T-shirt away from his body.

"Thanks for the ride."

Brenna ran a tongue across her lips, looking down. Dean held his breath, waiting for her to say something. Anything. Wanting her to call his bluff, tell him he was being an ass, launch herself at him. They were like opposing magnets, he thought. Drawn to each other and yet kept apart by an invisible force that emanated directly from them.

Someone just needs to flip over.

Instead, she pressed her hands flat against the Impala, dropping her feet and looked over at him, tipping her fingertips to her forehead in a salute.

"You're welcome," she said. "Maybe I'll see you around again… someday."

And there it was.

The promise they'd made before there were deals with demons. Before Hell had opened its arms for him, a place all picked out, devils salivating for his arrival. Hot or cold, there was a Hell, and he was facing it.

Alone.

"Brenna," he called. "Wait."

She stopped at the trunk of the Impala, turning her head to look at it, not him. She brushed her fingertip along the black body.

"I don't know what to say…"

She turned to face him. "Why do you have to say anything?"

"A lot has happened to me—to Sam and me—since… since I last saw you."

She raised an eyebrow. "Yeah? Well, I've been living in a plastic bubble."

Dean huffed out a laugh. He'd almost forgotten her. Almost. Her meaning was clear. He wasn't the only one with a story. He watched as she let her eyes travel from the tips of his dust-covered boots to his sun-heated face. Parts of her voice, her touch, her sight lingered in his memory.

Yet it had been Lisa he'd seen in his dream—that Sam had seen. But was it Lisa he wanted, or the stability she represented? The hope…

"I can't see you, Dean," Brenna said quietly.

"Why is it that you're always telling me that?" He felt his sweaty face pull together in a frustrated frown.

She shook her head. "No, that's not what I mean." She stepped forward. "When… when Declan died, something changed. I… lost it."

"Lost it?" Dean asked, somehow sensing that she wasn't talking about tears. Wasn't talking about emotions. I can't see you… "You mean, you lost your, uh, powers?"

Brenna nodded. "When I touch people… they're just… people. They are what they show me."

"But—"

She shrugged, the motion stopping his protest. "I can't explain it. But there you go. Sometimes gifts are gifts and sometimes they're simply moments in time."

Dean thought of Sam's premonitions, his death visions. They had all ended when Azazel died.

"I'm… sorry, Brenna," he said sincerely. "That's gotta be…" He turned his hands over helplessly.

"It's like learning how to breathe again," she said, taking another step toward him.

He felt her yearn for his touch. He felt her want to reach out to him and hold herself away at the same time. He recognized the dichotomy of feeling only because he'd been there. So many times before.

He took a step toward her. No more space than the body of another person separated them now.

Why now… he wondered helplessly. Why run into her now, in this moment, in this place? Why couldn't I have just left it at someday and had her wonder for the rest of her life what had happened to that screwed-up hunter who had crossed her path a few times?

He didn't want her to know he was going to Hell. He didn't want her to know that Sam had died. He didn't want her to know that his world had stopped in that moment and until his breathless confession of I don't want to die…I don't want to go to Hell…everything he'd said and done had been a façade. A way to keep the mask in place.

He didn't want her to take away the mask. He was safe inside that act.

"Brenna…" he breathed softly, reaching out carefully to lightly touch the smooth, bare skin of her arm. What the hell am I doing?

"It's okay," she took a step back. "I know what you're thinking."

He frowned, his fingers freezing in motion against her arm. "Wait, I thought you just said—"

She rolled her eyes, looking so much like Sam in that moment that he flinched. "Not because I'm a druid, Dean. Because I know you."

He drew his shoulders back, dropping his hand. "Oh yeah?" He challenged.

"Yeah," she tossed back, cocking her hip against the Impala and crossing her arms. "You're thinking, what the hell am I doing?"

He felt the blood drain from his head and race itself to his belly.

"You're thinking, Sam's waiting for me, I’m already running late. You're thinking, I've got a job to do, and she's not in the plan. You're thinking, I don't have time for this, and even if I want to touch her, to hold her, to kiss her, I can't."

She straightened and he saw her pulse beating at the base of her throat. His blood pounded against itself to get to the bend of his hips, flooding his groin with heat, shaking his knees with need.

"You're thinking," she stepped toward him once more. "I can't because it doesn't make sense to be focused on the damn job one minute and something that I want the next. You're thinking, she's not just a fling, a roll in the hay, the barmaid from the Down and Dirty. You're thinking, she counts and that's scary as hell and I don't want to—"

Dean grabbed her arms, pressing her against the Impala, the curve at the small of her back absorbing the jut of the door handle, aligning the length of his body with hers and capturing her mouth with his in a drink of flesh.

God, she tastes so good…

It was like water, wine, and poison all at once. He slanted his mouth, feeling her press her arms forward, reaching for him. He breathed in the heady scent that traveled along her skin, the scent of sweat and road and wind and woman. He relaxed slightly, allowing her to dig her fingers into his biceps and arch up into him.

"What am I thinking now?" he asked against her mouth.

"Who's thinking?" she breathed.

He wanted more. He wanted it all. He wanted to feel her inside and out. He wanted to be safe with her, just for a moment, just pretend that none of this was real. That Hell was a place demons went. That angels were watching over him and heroes who saved the day were rewarded with a kiss.

The sound of her breath as she broke from him briefly was intoxicating. It was rough and needy and rich. He slid his arms from her elbows to her neck, fingers slipping on the sweat there, skidding up into the hot nest of her long curls, pressing her mouth closer.

She gripped at his loose, damp shirt, pulling at it like she was desperate for skin, trying to hold her self closer. Her body felt like it was gasping against him, pushing close and slipping away with every rocking heartbeat.

It struck him suddenly as he swept his tongue along the insides of her lips that they had rarely been together when he wasn't damaged. He could think of one time out of three…one time where she hadn't had to be careful of hurting him more…where he just took her and branded her as he was doing now.

"Someday—" she whispered.

"Shhh…" he pulled his head away from her mouth, looking at her wide eyes, her swollen lips. "Don’t."

"I was just going to say," she panted, dropping her head back against the roof of the Impala as he gripped her thighs and lifted her so her legs could wrap around his waist. "That someday we should really think about doing this in a nice, big bed."

He almost laughed. His grin shook through him and he watched her eyes drowsily find his.

"You sure?" he asked.

"Sure, I'm sure," she said. "A king size would be great…"

"No," Dean shook his head. "I mean about now…"

"Dean, I swear to God if you don't fuck me right now I'm going to—"

He silenced her threat with a kiss that pulled her exhale into his lungs, filling him. He breathed her in, offering her nothing back, making her fight for every gasp, hearing the small whimpers in her throat turn into moans as he pulled his mouth away to trail kisses down her salty neck, licking the sweat away, turned on by the idea that he was taking more of her into him.

She thrust her denim-clad hips against his, almost growling when he pressed his open mouth over her T-shirt-covered breast.

"Oh, God," she whimpered. "You're gonna kill me…"

"Don't worry," he whispered. "I know what I'm doing."

She went suddenly stiff, confusing him. She released her hold on his hips, shoving him back with trembling hands.

"What am I doing?" she muttered, pushing her sweaty hair away from her face.

"Me, unless I am really off my game," Dean frowned.

He couldn't move away from her now if his life depended on it. He needed her mouth, her hands, the honeysuckle and salt smell of her. He needed to bury himself inside of her so deep he would need a guide to find his way out again. He needed to forget everything but her. Feel nothing but her.

"You do know what you're doing, don't you?" She asked, her voice trembling. "Do you know that ever since that damn banshee, there's been no one else for me but you?"

Dean instantly thought of Sinatra and felt a cold splash of pity wash through him. "Brenna—"

"But you…" she shook her head, sliding down the Impala until she crouched next to the door, her head resting on the door handle. "You've got the seduction technique down. You know exactly what you're doing. And I know you've used it on plenty…"

Dean thought of Lisa…the double mint twins…the beautiful, natural act he'd teased his brother about. He thought of Casey, and Cassie. He thought of all the girls who had just been a way to make the demons go away and had only ended up adding to his roster.

"Doesn't matter," he said, a dawning realization coursing through him, filling him, making him hard enough to shake.

"Yeah?" She challenged, tilting her kiss-swollen lips up at him in a pout. "Why?"

He sank to his knees in front of her, the shade tree offering solace from the dying sun, its heat as intense as it was in the strength of the day. He reached out and with gentleness he thought beyond him, caressed the edge of her jaw, running his thumb across her lips.

"It just doesn't," he said, swallowing, unable to find a reason good enough, unable to put a coherent voice to the screaming in his head.

She looked at him then, her eyes raking over him, taking in every line, every scar, every place the world had wounded him, every moment he had resisted. He felt himself react to her eyes.

"I need to leave," she said suddenly, pushing him away and gaining her feet, using the heated metal of the Impala for balance. "I can't do this now. Not now… not like this."

Dean clamored to his feet. "I want to see you again," he said.

"You will," she promised, turning to face him. "Someday," she added with a sad grin.

"Someday's not good enough," he replied, his eyes burning.

She frowned. "What do you mean?"

"Just that… shit happens, y'know? And someday… one of us might not be here." He swallowed as his voice broke, feeling exposed as he'd never been when she'd used her druid sight on him.

She stepped up to him, touching his cheek, the back of her smooth hand bumping softly against the barely-there stubble on his chin. Her lips were no longer swollen, but his scruff had rubbed the edges enough that they looked used and raw. He'd branded her after all.

"What do I need to see, Dean? What aren't you telling me?" She dropped her hand.

"Nothing," he lied. "Just that… I… I want more."

Brenna looked down. "I woke up one day… soon after we left Declan's place… and somehow knew exactly what I was supposed to do." She lifted her eyes. "In the months since then, it's all gotten really cloudy."

Dean shivered in the heat, unsure why he suddenly couldn't stay warm. He wanted her hands on him again. He wanted that loss of self again. He wanted more than just a climax; he wanted the fall, he wanted the feeling of being held when he landed.

"Go back to Sam," she commanded. "Finish the job."

"We're always finishing the job," he sighed, looking down.

"It's what you do," she smiled, sadly. "It's what you always do."

And now the job is going to finish me…

"Somehow… I think we'll find each other," she continued. "I know that sounds cheesy, but…"

Dean sighed dramatically, looking over the top of the Impala to the deserted road. "And she rode off into the sunset…"

Brenna laughed slightly. "Something like that." She looked over her shoulder as the crazy-heat of the sun slowly faded, the brilliant star tucking itself beneath the horizon in a slow give of power. "We both have someone waiting for us."

Dean nodded, grabbing her wrist as she turned away. She met his eyes one last time and he felt his body react. He let her go, watching as she mounted the bike, turned, and headed back to the truck stop and, supposedly, Virgil.

Dean looked down dust-covered boots. His back burned, his muscles ached, his body was taunt with an unresolved need. Scratching the back of his head with a frustrated hand, he turned and walked around the side of the Impala, tossed the shirt and the jacket that he'd used as a towel when filling up the Impala's radiator into the back seat, climbed behind the wheel, and turned on the car.

The silence mocked him. He could still hear her sigh. He turned on the radio.

"…got a freight train running through the middle of my head, oh, oh, you cool my desire… ooh, ooh, ooh, I’m on fire…"

"Friggin' Springsteen," Dean muttered, reaching for the dial.

"In my life there's been heartache and pain. I don't know if I can face it again. Can't stop now, I've traveled so far to change this lonely life…"

"The hell?" Dean punched the dial again.

"…still hear her voice in the wind. I still thing of you in the night. Well, I guess she'll never know how much I need her so…"

"Are you freakin' kidding me?" Dean yelled, punching the dial again. "What the hell is this, the Universe versus Dean Winchester night?"

"You must understand this, I've watched you for so long that I feel I've known you, I know it can't be wrong. If we just get together, I want to make you see, I'm dreaming of your sweet love tonight…"

"Argh!" Dean beat the palm of his hand against the steering wheel. "Shit on a friggin' stick," he growled, turning the volume off and listening to the heady rumble of the Impala. Taking a breath, he caressed her steering wheel, rolling his tender back against the still-warm seat and pulling in her heat, letting it ease the ache in his body.

Pressing the accelerator flat, he reveled in the jolt that slid through his body as the one lady in his life he knew he could count on responded to his touch. Letting his still-dry lips flatten against his teeth as he grinned, he began to belt out his own retaliation back at the universe.

"Oh, baby, you're the only thing in this whole world that's pure and good and right," he sang as he turned on the headlights while the torturous sun gave way to twilight, his voice catching on the wind that whipped past his open window and spilling free into the night. "And wherever you are and wherever you go, there's always gonna be some light…"

www

Sam paced.

It was usually Dean's method of dealing with stress, but he was at the end of his tether to sanity and trapped in Boxcar Willie's spare room with nothing except boxes from his father's past to keep him company.

"Where the hell are you?" He asked aloud for the fiftieth time to the empty room. The opened curtains fluttered limply in the tease of air that skipped in. "This is not happening again, Dean."

He'd stacked the contents of each box in orderly piles, delineated by situation, year, or hunt as near as he could match them to John's journal. He'd translated four of the spells written in Latin. He'd lingered over each photograph, staining several of them with quiet tears unashamedly shed over the loss of a lifetime of memories.

He'd pulled everything he could find that might have anything to do with the Kestrel dagger, and found a few other pieces of information that shed some light on the dagger that Ruby had brought into the mix. He'd all but packed and repacked their clothes, and was about to start cleaning their guns—a duty strictly left to Dean—when his cell phone rang.

He jumped, startled, at the sound. He stared at the read-out for two rings before pulling it together and answering.

"Bobby?!" A crackle answered him. "Bobby! Wait, wait, don't hang up… give me a second to…"

Spinning in the center of the room, Sam tried to think of how to bring the signal in stronger. Darting through the opened door, he checked his bars, yelling Bobby's name into the receiver as the bars grew in strength. On a burst of inspiration, he swung up onto the old ladder in the back of the rail car, making his way to the roof.

"Bobby?"

"Sam! What the hell?"

"Don't ask, man," Sam half-laughed, giddy at hearing the older man's voice clearly. "How you been?"

"Been better," Bobby admitted. "Where the hell are you boys?"

"Pennsylvania."

"Still?"

"Again," Sam said, quickly explaining about the storage unit and a lead that might help Dean. He decided not to go into detail, not convinced that what he planned on doing was exactly… kosher in the good versus evil war.

He didn't exactly care about the line he might be crossing, however. Dean had already crossed a line for him, to save him, and he was not about to let Hell have its way with his brother. He was going to save him. Or die trying.

Because living in this world without his big brother would turn him into someone he wouldn't want to be anyway.

"You still with me, Sam?"

"Yeah," Sam cleared his throat, turning to face the direction Dean had driven away more than four hours ago. A train whistle echoed in the distance. "Yeah, I'm here."

"You boys have any, uh…" Sam waited as Bobby searched for the right words. "Aftershocks from that dream root?"

Sam frowned, detecting a small cloud of dust in the distance. He had to press his cell close to his ear to hear Bobby over the noise of the train as it raced passed him. "What do you mean?"

Bobby's sigh was telling. "Bruising, bleeding, insomnia—"

"Oh, shit, Bobby," Sam sat down, hard, unable to believe that they had neglected to call their friend. "Listen, yeah, yeah, we did."

As he continued to talk, he realized the small cloud of dust was growing and from it birthed the shape of the Impala. Relief washed over him, making him dizzy.

"You're saying it's all in my head?" Bobby pressed.

"No, it's real alright, but the wounds are psychosomatic. You believe they're real, so… they're real."

"I'll be a son of a bitch."

"The morning after Dean and I talked about what we'd really seen in his head… the bruises were gone."

"Oh, swell," Bobby groused. "I gotta go find someone and have open and honest hour."

The Impala turned down the road and Sam stood up. "Maybe not," he said to Bobby. "Maybe this was enough."

"Alright, well," Bobby groused. "I'll just click my heels together and tell myself there's no place like home. And Sam?"

"Yeah?"

"You two be careful, okay? I don't know what you're up to, but I got a call from Ellen."

Sam pulled his attention from the approaching Impala to the phone. "Ellen?"

"You remember Griffin?"

Sam closed his eyes, still tasting the fear and anger from that night in the rain as it ran down the back of his throat. "Yeah, I remember him."

"Well, he's hot after some knife and she said he's in a take-no-prisoners mood."

Swell. "Any idea where he is?"

"Ellen just said somewhere in the northeast."

The Impala stopped and Sam nodded. "We'll be careful."

"It's okay to call and say 'hi' once in awhile, you know?" Bobby muttered. "Take care of that brother of yours."

"I will," Sam promised, hanging up as Dean exited the vehicle, moving stiffly. "Decided to come back, did you?"

"Well, as much as I like a good crime scene, it wasn't the same without you," Dean said, closing the door and leaning a hip against the car.

He was hurting, that much Sam could see from his overhead perch, but he was relatively intact.

"Who was that on the phone?"

"Bobby," Sam replied swinging a leg over the top rung of the ladder.

"You tell him to unplug from the Matrix?" Dean moved forward and Sam saw that his jacket, tie, and button-down shirt were gripped in his hand.

"More or less… Dude, what the hell happened to you?"

"I'd tell you, but you'd gloat so damn much you'd be impossible to live with," Dean sighed, moving past him and into the rail car. Sam saw that his T-shirt had stuck to the seeping wounds on his back.

"The car overheated, didn't it?" Sam grinned.

"Shut up," Dean sighed. "Tell me there's at least beer in this sorry excuse for a fridge."

"There is," Sam nodded, following his brother inside.

He took the ruined clothes from Dean's hand, tossing them across one of the two chairs that flanked the card table positioned across from the small refrigerator. Dean opened the door and Sam heard the clink of bottles in the door. Dean's sigh of relief drew another smile from Sam as he slid first one hip, then the other onto the countertop.

"Well," Dean sighed after taking a long pull on the bottle of Budweiser. "We got us one freaky-ass case."

Sam narrowed his eyes as Dean reached back blindly for the chair not covered with his ruined clothes. "Dude… you are red."

"I was out in the sun for awhile, Sam," Dean said. "Don't make a big deal about it."

Sam's quick eyes found the marks on his brother's arm—scratch marks. He frowned. There weren’t any other bruises on Dean's face…

"Were you in a fight?"

"What? No," Dean took another drink of beer. "Listen, we need to get back into Brookville tomorrow. Talk to that Sherriff guy. Get him to give us whatever he's holding back."

Sam slid off the counter and went for the first aid kit. "What makes you think he's holding something back?"

"Get the scissors, man," Dean sighed, leaning forward, his elbows on his knees. "I'm not pulling this thing off."

"Okay."

"For one," Dean continued about the hunt. "The bodies are placed where they're found. The people aren't being killed there."

Sam took this in, not even thinking to question how Dean knew this. Dean might not be able to explain what a quadratic equation was, but when it came to street smarts and hunting savvy, there was no one who could match his brother in skills.

He stepped over to Dean, standing in front of him and slid the cool blade of the scissors along his brother's spine, cutting the soiled T-shirt free from his body. Dean hissed as Sam pulled the cotton away from the deeper wounds, and with it not only the gauze bandages but the beginnings of scabs that had finally started to form.

"Sorry," Sam winced.

"Not gonna lie to you," Dean breathed. "Hurts like hell."

"I bet," Sam said, wetting a rag with antiseptic. "You ready?"

"No," Dean muttered, turning so that he straddled the chair, gripping the back of the furniture and giving Sam easy access to the wounds.

"Now?"

"Still no," Dean grumbled. He stiffened and cried out when Sam began to clean away the pus and blood from the edges of the wounds. "Jesus Christ!"

"Okay, so not killed where they're found," Sam encouraged, trying to keep his brother talking, keeping him focused on something other than the pain. "Where is he killing them?"

"Beats the holy hell out of me," Dean muttered, teeth clenched. "Fuck!"

"I'm trying to take it easy," Sam informed him, wincing as he cleaned another of the small, meaty wounds. "You're not exactly holding still. Good thing I'm not giving you a tattoo or something. You'd end up with a freaky-assed design."

Dean chuckled, then stilled.

"Dean?"

"Y'know," Dean said straightening, his sun-burned profile turning to catch Sam's eyes. "That's not a bad idea."

"Dude," Sam stepped back. "I so draw the line at tattooing you."

"Not you, dumbass," Dean stood, grabbing his sliced-up T-shirt and wiping the sweat streaks from his chest. His amulet bounced against his breastbone. "Getting tattoos."

Sam lifted an eyebrow. "I think you have heatstroke."

Dean frowned and reached for Sam's shirt collar. Sam flinched back before he realized that Dean was going for the charm Bobby had give them to ward off possession.

"We keep wearing these charms, why not make it permanent?"

Sam blinked. He opened his mouth to protest, closed it and blinked again.

Dean spread his arms out in a tell me why this isn't a good idea gesture.

"Huh," Sam said finally. "Where did you come up with that?"

Dean flinched then turned away, his exposed back reminding Sam that his job wasn't done. He pushed his brother back into the chair and started applying ointment on the red sores.

"Dean?"

"Hm?" Dean answered, jaw tight as he fought against the urge to cry out once more.

"It's a good idea," Sam relented. "Just not something I thought I'd ever hear from you."

"Well, if we're seriously gonna use that knife against any demons, I'd rather have something other than a—ow, damn, man!—can of spray paint and a shotgun full of rock salt to keep it from getting all up inside me, as Bobby says."

"Got any idea where we go?"

"None," Dean said, dropping his forehead on his folded arms, drawing Sam's eyes to the bend in his neck.

Sam continued to bandage his brother's back, thinking. The only person he knew in recent memory that was tattooed had been that demon Casey. Well, the demon and Brenna Kavanagh, of course, but she wasn't—

Sam stopped, looking at the scratches on his brother's biceps, thinking about the gap of time between Dean's departure and his return.

"Dean?"

"What?"

"Anything else happen in Toby?"

"Like what?"

"Dunno," Sam shrugged, tapping Dean's shoulder to indicate he was finished. "Anything."

Dean shook his head as he stood. He flipped the chair back around and went to the fridge once more. "Highlight of the day was getting shown up by my little brother and having to get radiator fluid for my car."

Dean plucked another beer from the fridge, running the cold glass across his forehead before positioning the cap on the edge of the counter and smacking it free of the bottle with one sure hit.

"Okay," Sam nodded, turning away and digging into his bag of clothes.

He knew Dean better than anyone. He knew when he was hurting, and when he was hiding. Something happened while Dean was gone, something he suspected involved a certain red-headed druid. But from the set of Dean's shoulders, now was apparently not the time to talk about it.

From the look of those scratches, whatever it was didn't go well, Sam thought, grabbing a clean shirt from the bag. Or… it went a little… too well.

Without warning, the memory of his illicit dream of Bela sprang to his memory and Sam shook slightly with the impact of imagined sensations. "I'm gonna grab a shower."

"Fine," Dean nodded. "Then I say we head into Brookville, check out the first crime scene."

"Fine," Sam replied, realizing only when the spray of the putrid-smelling well water hit his face that he'd forgotten to tell his brother about Bobby's warning of Griffin.

www

"You're right," Sam said softly as they played the beams of their flashlights—both having remembered to bring one this time—over the empty alley of the first crime scene. "There's no way someone bled out here."

"Plus, look at the position of these posts," Dean said from behind him. "He put them there for a reason. He needs them to be facing one another."

"Yeah, but… why?"

Dean switched off his light and stepped into the circular glow of Sam's. "Let's do it by the numbers."

Sam raised a brow. "Dean, your version of doing it by the numbers is paper, rock, scissors."

Dean crossed his arms and Sam heard his swift intake of breath just before he uncrossed them once more, resting his hands on his hips. "Fine, so I got that from an episode of CSI. My point is, let's break it down."

Sam nodded and they moved toward the entrance of the alley, guided by Sam's flashlight. "The deaths occur in pairs, the pairs are connected somehow. If he's using the Kestrel dagger, there is something about the souls of the pairs that is important."

"Or maybe it's not their souls, so much as their connection. I mean, they're people. They have souls," Dean pointed out. "That's not so unusual. But… mother and daughter? Siblings? Lovers? That's unique-ish."

"Good point," Sam conceded. "Okay, so he needs the connection… but… how does he… feed off of it? What does that give him?"

Dean sighed. "I don't know, but I think not getting it is what is turning this into the hottest autumn on record."

"Gonna have to agree with you there," Sam said, puffing his T-shirt from his sticky chest rapidly to try to create a breeze. Dean squashed his attempt by slapping a hand across his chest. "Hey!" Sam protested.

"Eyes front, Sammy," Dean ordered, a grin plain in his voice. "We are go for tattoo's."

"What?" Sam looked in the direction Dean indicated, seeing a neon sign that read Cadillac Jack's Ink Emporium. "Seriously?"

"Having second thoughts?" Dean challenged, already starting to cross the empty street.

"Well, no, but—"

"C'mon, little brother. I won't let the big biker dudes molest you," Dean teased over his shoulder.

"Jerk," Sam grumbled, flicking off his flashlight and jogging after him.

They were the only two in the store at this hour of the night, and it took some convincing for Cadillac Jack to agree to two tattoos, but when Dean sketched out the sigil, explaining they wanted it for protection, Jack's thick, gray handlebar mustache twitched with curiosity and they were in.

"Want me to hold your hand?" Dean asked, eyes dancing.

"Bite me, dude," Sam grumbled. "I don't know why you're so excited about this. We're getting needles stuck into our flesh."

Dean shrugged. "Not much different than any other Saturday night."

Jack lifted a brow, but didn't speak.

"Why do I have to go first?" Sam heard himself whine. Once a little brother, always a little brother.

"Because I'm an awesome brother," Dean said, swinging a leg over the seat of a chair and resting his chin on the back rest. His sunburn had faded somewhat from garish pink to simply rose-colored glow and his eyes were alight with the excitement of someone sneaking out past curfew for the first time.

Sam almost chuckled as he removed his shirt per Jack's instructions, then held still as the artist pressed the outline of the sigil on his upper left peck. Dean looked happier than he'd seen him since—

"Ow!"

"Hold still, Sammy."

"You hold still," Sam grumbled, watching as Jack's needle carefully traced the outline of the protective emblem. The tiny needle darted into his skin so quickly Sam couldn't see the motion, but he felt the pinch of each insertion.

After several minutes, though, his skin seemed to go slightly numb, spiking with a tiny, tight pain again when Jack started to fill in the black, constantly wiping away the blood brought forth by the needle's intrusion. It took less time than Sam thought it would. As Jack finished, he patted the design one last time, covering the whole thing with ointment and instructing Sam to grease it up every so often over the next several days.

"Don't pick the scabs," Dean said, standing and preparing to change places with Sam.

"What are you, five?" Sam tossed back, but couldn't help but grin. "How are you going to sit back in that chair with your back messed up like it is?"

"Huh," Dean frowned. "Good point. Jack? Suggestions?"

Jack shrugged, flipped a padded, black tattoo chair around, then shoved the backrest down so that Dean could straddle it and lean forward without actually leaning on Jack.

"Situation solved," Dean said, wincing as he pulled his shirt over his head.

Sam watched his brother remain stoic and still as the sigil was branded by ink into his upper left peck. It was always startling for him to see Dean's bare chest, the scars there a testament to a life hard won.

Jack applied loose gauze patches over their new body art and they pulled their shirts back on before paying the man. Dean bantered with Jack for a moment before they left the parlor, the neon light flicking off behind them.

"Heh, we got inked," Dean chuckled as they walked down the street back in the direction of where they left the Impala. "That's awesome. Gotta say, that's something I didn't see happening."

The street was empty and dark, save the alternating red, green, and yellow glow of the traffic lights, and the halo of light from the staggered street lights. Sam grinned widely, bounced a shoulder against his brother, good naturedly jostling him toward the shadowed entrance of an alley.

"Well, it was certainly a different way to kill time. Next thing you know, we'll be—"

His words were stolen by the night as a figure swept from the alley, slamming into Dean's wounded back and shoving him face-first against the brick wall of the nearest building.

"Hey!"

Shaking off the shock of seeing his brother's legs disappear from under him, Sam rushed forward. The looming figure halted his advance with a well-placed elbow to the cheek.

Sam fell back, a hand at his face, spitting blood from where he'd bitten into his tongue upon impact. He looked up blearily to see Dean being turned around roughly, held against the brick wall by the formidable arm of their attacker, the point of a dagger glinting off of the street light and bending the vulnerable flesh at the base of Dean's throat.

"Coimhéad fearg fhear na foighde," the man growled.

Sam struggled to his knees, working to blink his vision clear.

"You want him dead, by all means, keep moving forward," Sam heard the man say, his face inches from Dean's.

Sam froze. "What do you want?"

"Kid, there are so many answers to that question, I wouldn't know where to start."

Sam felt his lip curl in anger. "What do you want with us?"

"I want," the man said, pressing the knife a little deeper, causing Dean to breathe in sharply, "you to go away."

In that moment, Sam knew he wasn't going to be fast enough.


a/n: More to come the week after Christmas.

I wanted to share with ya'll the link to the downloadable version of an awesome vid by LSktech42. She made it for me after I completed In the Light. *grins* Thanks, girl!

Please to enjoy: http:// www.4shared.com/file/75294456/55a0094a/Supernatural-_Thunderstruck.html

Playlist:

Black by Pearl Jam

I'm on Fire by Bruce Springsteen

I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner

The Ballad of Jayne by L.A. Guns

Let Me Take You Home Tonight by Boston

Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf (Kelly, that one is for you)

Translations:

Coimhéad fearg fhear na foighde. Beware the anger of a patient man.

Part 3 (A and B) can be found here: http://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/33944.html 

Tags: author: gaelicspirit
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