Characters/Pairings: Dean, Sam, OCs
Rating: PG-13, but note: there are some mature themes/scenes
Spoilers: set directly after 3.10, Dream a Little Dream of Me. Includes references to characters and situations from previous stories.
Summary: An unreal heat, an unusual enemy, and an unresolved relationship buffet the brothers through the storm of Dean's deal. No wound is healed without leaving a scar.
Disclaimer: They're not mine. More's the pity.
A/N: So, turns out I've been doing it wrong here in the LJ world. Many thanks to bayre for helping me with the code and whatnot. I hope this is better for ya'll.
Chapter 1, A and B
Chapter 2, A and B
“Unless you’re here to say goodbye, I got nothing to say to you,” Sam said, his voice low and dangerous, the moment Griffin dropped into Dean’s empty chair.
“Easy there, kid,” Griffin smiled, the scar along the side of his face folding his mouth into a grimace. “You’re gonna hurt my feelings.”
Leaning forward, his hands beneath the table, Sam slipped his hand into the inside pocket of his jacket, resting his palm on the butt of his Glock. He watched Griffin register the move.
“C’mon, Sam,” Griffin said. “We both know Dean’s the hot head.”
Sam simply raised an eyebrow.
“You tell me what you guys have found out,” Griffin continued, “I get rid of this bastard. Everyone’s happy.”
“Exactly how does that make me happy?” Sam inquired, his face stoic.
“You keep your brother in one piece,” Griffin stated, any semblance of friendship gone from his voice.
Sam slipped his gun out, laying it on his thigh. “You stay away from my brother.”
“Or what?” Griffin huffed.
Sam felt his eyes empty, felt cold certainty seep in. “Or I’ll kill you.”
Griffin sat back, regarding him silently for a moment. Sam kept his eyes on the swarthy hunter’s face, feeling no regret, no remorse, no hesitancy at saying those words. He would kill this man if he did anything that harmed his brother, or got in the way of Sam’s chance to save Dean from the pit.
He’d seen moments — heartbeats of time that Dean tried to hide — when the memory of Sam’s death, of Sam dying, of Sam simply being gone crawled across Dean’s face. Those moments were so full of fear and pain and loneliness that they took Sam’s breath away. He couldn’t fathom life without Dean around. A world without his brother’s roguish demeanor was not a world Sam wanted to be in.
And if he failed, Sam knew he’d never be right. He’d never be the same again.
Nodding, Griffin finally sat forward. “Fair enough. Straight up? I need your help.”
Sam raised his chin. “What happened to leave me alone and I won’t have any more blood on my hands?”
Griffin tipped his hand up in a gesture so Dean-like that Sam blinked. “Had a change of heart.”
“You have to have a reason?”
“Yes.” Sam’s voice left no room for maneuvering. You want my help, you gotta give me something in return.
Griffin sighed. “I may have found… something.”
“Well,” Sam sat back. “That’s specific.”
“Listen,” Griffin leaned closer, his voice low, drawing Sam in despite himself. “This guy is a freak of nature, and is, no shit, older than dirt. But… I gotta be the one that takes him down. And I can’t do that as long as he has that fuckin’ knife.”
“What do you know about the knife?” Sam asked.
“I don’t give a shit about the knife,” Griffin spat. “I want Adoamros.”
“The wizard’s name is Adoamros. He is — or used to be, anyway — human. He’s been using that knife to stay immortal.”
“Swell,” Sam sat back, tucking his gun back in the pocket of his jacket. “So, what do you want from me?”
Griffin ran a hand over his mouth. “I kinda screwed myself when I blew off that red-head. She was all ready to get this guy. Coulda used that.”
“Yeah? How?” Sam narrowed his eyes, remembering the last time he’d seen Brenna, kissing is brother goodbye on the deserted highway in front of her burned-out home and destroyed life. Could she have really become a hunter?
“Distract her with going after the knife, find out how to get it away from the wizard,” Griffin said matter-of-factly. “If she’s focused on that, she won’t get in my way.”
Sam tilted his head. “Why do you want this guy so badly?”
Griffin looked away, his face unreadable. “It’s for Beck.”
Griffin held himself perfectly still. Sam wasn’t even sure he was breathing.
“The wizard summoned the dearthair. Turned it loose on us. On Beck.”
Sam looked down, chewing on his bottom lip. Dean would be pissed as hell when he found out, but logically, he could see the benefit of working with Griffin — he wanted the Kestrel dagger, Griffin wanted the wizard. He could make this work; all he had to do then was figure out how to harness the power of the dagger.
“What do you think you found?” Sam said, his voice directed toward the table.
There was a pause long enough that Sam brought his head up to look at Griffin, catching the mixture of triumph and gratitude in the hunter’s eyes.
“I think I know where the bastard lives.”
“Sammy, answer your damn phone,” Dean barked into his cell. “I’m heading to a place called the Iron Bar, downtown Brookville. Find a way to meet me there.”
He slapped the phone shut, dropping it on the seat next to him. He twisted his head over his shoulder awkwardly, trying to get a glimpse of his wounds. The heat of the day was nothing compared to the heat radiating from his skin and tracking down his arm. He knew they were infected, and he knew he was an idiot not to treat them.
Huffing out a resigned sigh, he slammed the gear into drive and, checking quickly for traffic in the quiet town, peeled out in search of a pharmacy. A train whistle in the background faded into the almost metallic feel of the heat that wrapped around the car. He caught sight of the train as it followed the tracks between the trees and into town.
The empty box cars made him thinking of Sam organizing the contents of their dad’s stash of pictures this morning. He rubbed his eyes, feeling slightly guilty for leaving Sam to his own devices, but he knew his brother was savvy. He could more than handle himself. He was okay getting to the bar alone.
Dean dialed Sam’s phone once more. “Where the hell are you?”
Instinct alone had him slamming on the brakes just before he hit her motorcycle broadside. The big car jerked to a halt in the intersection, Dean gasping with a jolt of surprise, his eyes meeting Brenna’s in confusion, relief, and the fear that accompanies a near-death experience.
She turned her bike, pulling over to the side of the road. He curbed one wheel of the Impala parking it. He slammed the door with extra force, stomping toward her as she yanked her helmet free and slapped it down on the seat of her bike.
“What the hell were you thinking?!” They yelled at each other.
“Me?” Again, in unison.
“You ever hear of a four-way stop, Winchester?” Brenna shot back at him, her red-gold hair flying around her sweaty face in angry wisps.
“You ever hear of the right-of-way?” Dean pushed his face closer to hers. “I could have killed you!”
Brenna pulled back slightly. “Looks like you still want to.”
Dean closed his mouth with a click. “What are you doing here?”
“Looking for you,” Brenna answered, crossing her arms over her chest, staring up at him. He was close enough that he could count her freckles. “What are you doing here?”
A horn honked, reminded them that they were standing in the street. Without a word Dean turned, his head in a tangle and warring with his heart, and started for the Impala.
“Wait,” Brenna reached out, grabbing his right shoulder to turn him around.
The sudden shock of pain that reverberated through his body, shaking his hand in an uncontrollable spasm, caused him to cry out, jerking away.
“Whoa, easy,” Brenna said, her voice dropping an octave and becoming like liquid. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Dean said tightly. “I just—“
“Hey!” Called an irritated voice. “People got places to go here!”
Dean waved at the driver and stepped up onto the sidewalk. Brenna followed.
“I messed up my back a few days ago,” Dean explained, thankful for the small amount of shade that the building they stood beside provided.
“Let me guess,” Brenna said dryly. “You haven’t gotten it looked at.”
“Sam looked at it.”
Tilting her head, she commented, “And here I thought Sam was trying to go to Law School. Didn’t realize he was pre-med.”
“Smart-ass,” Dean grumbled, heading toward the car once more.
He needed to get away from her. Her scent, her eyes, her presence was drawing him in like the gravitational pull of a black hole and if he didn’t turn away now, he wouldn’t want to turn away at all.
“Dean, please,” she said, softly. “Please don’t go.”
He halted, his hand on the door of the Impala, and closed his eyes. His body was thrumming with the effect of the sun beating down on his head and neck and the pain in his shoulder seemed to increase as the heat built.
“I-I think,” Brenna stepped closer to him. Even with his eyes closed, he felt her move closer. “I think I had a vision.”
That brought his head up. “What?”
“Only it wasn’t like usual,” she hastened to add. “It wasn’t from touching someone.”
“What was it, then?”
“It was a dream — I’ve been dreaming about these murders, this… this knife.”
Dean dropped his hand from the door, watching her.
“I dream about the victims, and I, uh,” she swallowed.
“I dreamt about Sam.”
“What?!” Dean moved around the end of the Impala, backing Brenna up as he moved toward her. “Tell me everything. Now!”
As he reached for her arm, the dizziness he felt in the morgue earlier washed over him like a wave and he staggered. His vision went white, and he felt a rush of moisture hit the back of his throat. He felt Brenna’s small hands reach for him before he fell into her, catching him about the waist, her shoulder tucking up beneath his arm. Without a word she pulled him close and began to move them forward.
“Wh-Where are we going?” Dean slurred. He blinked his eyes wide, trying to clear his vision. It was as if a layer of wax paper had been pulled over the world.
“Get you out of the sun, first of all,” Brenna pulled open the closest door to them. “And get you some medical attention second of all.”
“Brenna, no, I—“
“Oh, chill out,” she said, hauling him up to an information desk. “I won’t sic a doctor on you.”
Dean blinked again, his head clearing in the coolness of the indoors. He planted his feet, bracing himself as she stepped away, a bright smile on her face as she approached the elderly lady sitting at the desk.
“Hi, ma’am. I was wondering, do you have a place where my friend might lie down? The heat today—“
“Oh, isn’t it dreadful?” The lady agreed. She looked over Brenna’s shoulder, meeting Dean’s burning eyes. Clicking her tongue she shook her head. “You poor dear. Hang on, there’s a room in the back. I’ll just get the key.”
As she pushed herself to her feet, Dean saw the sign behind her. Brookville Railroad Museum.
“We’re at the museum?” He asked softly.
Brenna looked back at him. “Yeah, why? You want a tour or something?”
Dean chuckled softly, feeling more revived by the second as the cool air soothed his super-heated skin. “Not exactly. This is where the first two victims were last seen.”
The museum information lady returned with a key attached to a large board that red Storage.
“Ma’am,” Dean asked as he and Brenna made their way back to the storage room behind the elderly lady. “Is there a place called the Iron Bar around here?”
The lady shot him a surprised look. “It’s next door,” she said, “but I don’t think it’s that kind of drink you’ll be wanting right now.”
Brenna laughed nervously, slipping Dean’s arm over her shoulder. “It’s the heat, ma’am,” she offered. “He doesn’t know what he’s saying.”
The lady clucked once more. “’Course not, poor dear. There’s a sink and some towels and a couch back here,” she pushed the door open after unlocking it. “Just move those mops and signs and such.”
Brenna thanked her and took the key. Dean shoved aside a couple of display signs and dropped gratefully onto the couch. Leaning to his left, he rested his forehead on the arm of the couch, smelling the moth balls and musk scent of the old furniture.
“I’ll be right back,” Brenna said from the doorway.
Without lifting his head, Dean asked, “Where are you going?”
“I’ve got something that’ll help you,” she replied.
She closed the door behind her, leaving Dean to the cool mercy of the dark. He patted his jeans pockets looking for his cell phone to call Sam once more.
“Dammit,” he muttered, sitting up as he realized he’d left it on the seat of the Impala.
Not two minutes later, Brenna returned, locking the door behind her and dropping her saddle bag on the couch next to Dean. She flicked on the light above the small pedestal sink and began searching through boxes and cabinets. Dean sat still, feeling slightly disconnected from the world.
“So, about this dream,” he prompted.
Brenna stopped moving for a moment, then resumed her quick, efficient pace. “It was different.”
“Different how?” Dean grunted as he carefully pulled his T-shirt from his body, hissing as the cotton came away from his wound with a painful, sucking tug.
“In the other dreams, I never heard anything, and in this,” Brenna turned around, a wet and a dry towel in each hand. Dean heard her breath catch in the back of her throat as her eyes hit his semi-naked body.
He could only stare back at her. “Brenna?”
“Nice… tat,” she said, blinking. Her eyes pulled slowly from his chest to his mouth to his eyes. “Is it new?”
“Yesterday,” he answered.
She shook herself slightly, and when she spoke next, her voice had a ragged edge to it that coiled deep in his belly. “In this dream, I heard you and Sam speak.”
“What did we say?” he asked softly, shifting on the couch so that she could sit next to him.
“You just said each others’ names. Here,” Brenna said, handing him the towels. “Hold this for a sec.”
She turned and grabbed her saddle bag.
“What’s in there?” Dean asked warily.
Brenna pulled out a small jar filled with what looked like purple face cream. “You oughta know. I’ve used it on you enough.”
Dean grinned. “Right.”
“Gave you the recipe for this once before, if I recall.”
“We’re, uh, more the… dining out type,” Dean explained. “So, we said each other’s names…”
Brenna took the wet towel from Dean’s hand, turning him slightly so that his back fully faced her. “Damn, Dean. You really know how to screw up your body. What happened to your face, by the way?”
“Just keep talking,” Dean demanded, gripping the arm of the couch as Brenna carefully cleaned the bruised area around the worst of the wounds, dabbing away the pus.
Her voice was soft as she continued, “I couldn’t clearly see where we were — but it was muddy. And dark. I heard Sam say your name first and it looked like he was hurt — his arm or his shoulder.”
Dean frowned, feeling as if he could picture her dream himself.
“I heard you say his name from the other direction, but I couldn’t see you. And then… I saw the knife. Same knife as every other time. Diamond blade, heavy hilt. It stabbed Sam in the back—“
Dean tensed as her words bowed him with a pain just as real as what he felt in his back.
“What?” She asked, pausing her ministrations.
“What happened next?”
“I saw you… kinda catch him and you were holding him and I heard you say his name again—“
“Enough.” His memory replayed the moment like a negative image slapped across his vision.
“But, Dean, I saw him get killed by this wizard!”
“No, you didn’t,” Dean said, shaking his head. “What you saw… it already happened. Just finish this up, okay?”
Silently, Brenna applied the salve to his shoulder. As her gentle fingers slathered his hot skin with the balm, Dean felt the pain immediately ease. Muscles he hadn’t even realized he’d been holding stiff began to relax. He felt Brenna shift once more, then detected the texture of a large gauze patch being taped over the wound.
“I don’t have anything for these bruises,” she said in soft apology.
“That’s okay,” he said, turning. “Already feels better than it did.”
He froze as her cool fingers reached up to gently touch the crescent-shaped bruise at the corner of his mouth. He watched her lips twitch as her fingers touched the healing cut caused by Griffin’s meat-like fist.
Turning from her, he grabbed his T-shirt. “This is a mess,” he frowned. “Wonder what they have back here in storage.”
He stood, tossing his stained shirt onto the couch and moved carefully through the boxes, knowing he was going to have to explain to her what happened, not wanting to look at her large eyes when he did so.
“Y’know,” he sighed. “I kinda think I liked it better when I didn’t have a choice what you found out about me.”
“Yeah, ‘cause then you didn’t have to talk about it.”
He swallowed, opening a box marked 20th Century. “Few months ago,” he started, “Sam was killed.”
Brenna was silent behind him.
“It’s a long story, and if I hadn’t lived through it, I probably wouldn’t believe it myself, but he was… caught up by a demon and forced into this, like, battle to the death thing.”
“Not just any demon,” Brenna guessed quietly.
Dean pulled out a conductor hat and set it aside. “No,” he confirmed, not ready to offer more.
“What happened, Dean?”
He swallowed, clenching his jaw tight, and removed a dark blue jacket with gold buttons free from the box, setting it next to the hat. “I got there two seconds too late,” he said, his voice barely slipping past the knot in his throat. “And… he died.”
He heard Brenna sniff, but didn’t turn. He couldn’t move. He stood with his hands on the edge of the box, his bare skin gathering in gooseflesh as the air conditioning chilled his heated skin. Digging deeper, he found a white shirt — more Sam’s size than his — and pulled it out.
“He died and all I could do was hang onto him, y’know?” He could see Brenna nodding slowly from the corners of his eyes as he turned. “I laid him on this bed in this run-down old cabin, and I just watched him. And I… I kinda…”
“You disappeared,” Brenna whispered, her voice thick with tears.
Dean turned to face her. “Yeah.”
“Wait, I’m confused. You told me he was fine,” she wiped the back of her hand across her wet face. “You said… you said he looked at your wound. And, back in the diner, you said you had to get back to him.”
“I did,” Dean licked his lips, feeling a tight fear build in his gut as he prepared to say the next words.
“But… how did you…”
“I brought him back, Brenna,” he said softly, forcing the words out. Making himself say them. “I went to a crossroads, I summoned a demon, and I made a deal.”
Brenna blinked, her large eyes swimming with sorrow. “Come again?”
Dean licked his lower lip. “I traded my soul for Sam’s life.”
It sounded so simple when he said it aloud to her. It sounded as if his soul were something he could pick up at the store. As if he had several extra tucked away on a shelf, or hidden in a storage unit.
Brenna’s eyes went flat, disbelief crossing her smooth features chased by anger. “You… what?”
“You heard me.”
Dean pulled his brows together over the bridge of his nose. “You really need to ask?”
She stood up, wrapping her arms around herself as if she were cold, and crossed the room, her back to him. Her hands moved up and down her biceps in a nervous motion. “I can’t believe… I mean, I can but I don’t want…” She whirled suddenly. “How long?”
“A year from the day.”
“So… when? When do they come to collect?”
“’bout six months. Give or take.”
She gaped at him. “Give or take?" Then, in a hiss, "You selfish bastard.”
Turning away, she crossed the room once more, and he watched her shoulders tense as she began to pace at the opposite end of the small room. He peered closer and realized her lips were moving in a rapid, near-silent litany of what he assumed was disappointment and rage.
As she turned she flailed her hands in short, tight circles, muttering in what he finally recognized as Gaelic. Her voice rose as she worked herself up and every two seconds she shot him a look with heat in her eyes.
“…twigim…brionglóid,” she muttered and he tipped his head closer, as if catching her words could possibly bring meaning. “… ceangal… Declan,” she crossed herself quickly, “ar dheis de go raibh a anam…”
“Is this going somewhere?” He finally inserted.
“You don’t get it, do you?” She turned, stepping toward him. “You just have no clue what you’ve done.”
“I got a pretty damn good clue,” Dean protested. “I saved my brother’s life! I brought him back.”
“What if he wasn’t supposed to come back?” she cried.
“Don’t say that,” Dean commanded, his voice cold. “Don’t you say that. Sam is supposed to live. He’s better than… he belongs… Just… you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!”
“Don’t I?” Brenna reached out, pushing her fingertips against his chest. “It’s all I know about you, Dean! You have no fuckin’ clue how important you are, do you? How much you matter?”
“What are you talking about?” Dean demanded, stepping forward, wanting her to cower back, finding instead an immovable force of female ire and will. Her eyes glistened with something he hadn’t seen before. Not in her eyes at least.
“When I could see inside of you,” she said, tipping her chin up so that she could meet his eyes. “All I saw was your brother, your father. They made you who you are.”
Dean said nothing, feeling the electric heat from her body shimmer into his skin. Waiting to see where she was going to take this.
“But you’re in there, too, Dean.” She pressed her palm flat on his chest. “There are times you shine in there. You are a gift; everything about you, everything you do, everyone one you save, everyone you meet… they can’t help but see that.”
“Brenna,” Dean shook his head, not wanting to hear this. Not wanting to feel her devastation.
“And you gave it away,” she whispered. “For Sam.”
“Yes,” he replied, unhesitant and unrepentant, his eyes hard, his jaw tense. “And I’d do it again.”
Her lower lip trembled. “I know.”
They stood for a moment, staring at each other. Dean couldn’t read her, saw only sorrow in her eyes.
“You want to go now, feel free.” He tried to level his voice, keep the distant tone he thought he’d perfected. “Thanks for the goop.”
“I’m basically a dead man walking, right?” His whole body was tight, his skin seeking touch as if it could reach out of its own accord. If she walked away now, he felt certain he would shatter from the inside out. “No reason for you to get tangled up in that.”
“You really are a bastard, aren’t you?”
“So I’ve heard.”
“That how you push the rest of your girls away?” Brenna’s eyes flashed with a challenge: put me in a box; categorize me. I dare you.
“No,” Dean shook his head. I always left first.
“You’re saying you didn’t tell them the truth? Use it as a ploy?” She brought herself closer to him, sliding her feet, her chest practically touching his. “Someday isn’t good enough? We’ve only got tonight?”
“No.” Dean’s voice was ragged, needy, open. She was laying him bare without a touch, without her power. “I never told them the truth.”
“Why not?” she breathed.
"Because they weren't you."
The sound that escaped her was split between a laugh and a moan, and suddenly his arms were filled with her, his senses flooded with her. She gripped his shoulders as if hungry to get to the core of him. He wrapped her close and let her kiss him.
Her lips were gentle on his wounded mouth, her tongue a gentle caress. He felt himself breathe her in, his hand cupping the back of her head to press her closer. She pulled away, and continued to kiss him, her mouth trailing coolness down his neck and across his shoulders, down the plane of his belly, lingering on each scar, caressing the ones she had repaired herself with the tip of her tongue.
He wasn't fully conscious of moving from the center of the room to the ancient, broken-down couch. His next rational thought was that he had to get his boots off in order to slide his jeans from his ankles and not act like a teenager in heat rutting against her.
"I'm scrunched on this thing," she gasped, wiggling lower as her shirt landed in a heap on the floor and her bra found its way over the edge of one of the storage boxes.
"I know," he huffed, kicking his boots off finally and wiggling out of his Levi's. "I think you're onto something with that bed idea."
Muffled laughter turned to moans of pleasure as skin slid against skin and he forced himself to slow, to savor. In the back of his mind was the knowledge that this could be it. His last moment of peace, his last moment of unfiltered happiness. The last time strings were cut and knowledge was secret. The last time he was simply Dean and she was simply Brenna and they were all about what made them feel good in that moment.
He pressed her hands above her head, kissing her collar bone, wanting to linger, tasting the salt of her skin, the tang of the honey-like scent that was all Brenna. She shuddered slightly as he made his way down between the valley of her breasts, arching against him as he captured one tan bud in his mouth and pulled it deep.
What a fascinating sensation that was. Watching her eyelids flutter closed, her mouth open as he tasted that part of her gave him a thrill unlike any other. He wanted to see that again. Wanted to feel the liquid heat that followed the trail of sweat down his body to his center, shaking him and rolling inside of him. He turned his attention to the other breast and the sound of her breath tripping along the back of her throat as she gripped his short hair made him moan.
Ragged need took hold of him and he had to taste her. All of her. Her belly was soft and her hip bones jutted forward, thrusting into the air as if in search of their counterparts. Brenna seemed to realize where he was going and tried to tug him up by the hair. Part of her wanted his mouth, he realized, when her hips rocked up as if on a cord of need.
He ran his tongue inside her heat, feeling himself harden at the sweet, soft taste. Brenna tightened, her breath becoming desperate, whimpers easing the grip of her fingers, turning instead to thrusts of concession. When at last she shook, he crawled his way back up her body.
“Holy…” she breathed. “That was… new…”
“Practice makes perfect,” he muttered, bracing his hands on either side of her head, holding his body away from her.
“Yeah? Lucky for you I’m a quick study.”
His blood heated up at her tone, rolling inside of him to a boiling point.
He felt her heels creep up his calves, tucking him close, drawing him down the length of her. He let her control the situation, keeping his eyes on hers. The feel of her bare skin against his was stimulating — she was soft where he was coarse, pliant where he went hard, curved where he was angled. She was everything different and fascinating and he wanted to meld them until he forgot where he ended and she began.
With a slight tick of her hips, she brought him up against her, teasing him while holding him away with her legs. He bit his lip, working to keep the moan inside, fighting to resist what she was doing to him. She rocked once, her heat melting him inside and he gasped.
"Son of a bitch…"
She thrust her hips up and forward, taking him in, shifting until his length was buried inside.
Her moan destroyed him, taking him apart brick by brick, leaving him exposed by the sheer power of who she was, not what she was. He tried to hold still, tried to savor the moment of connection, tried to register what it felt like to be one with someone he had genuine feelings for, but the heat was too much, the need was too much.
"Move," she pleaded.
He rocked over her, feeling himself slide against her, feeling the warmth coil in his belly, feeling his body go taut. Brenna's fingers tightened on his shoulders, gripping him against her like a lifeline, their bodies sealed with desire, heat, the slick sweat of the moment, of their past.
"That's it, like that."
"Hold on… hold onto me."
They glided against each other. Speed increased, the sound of her breath in the confines of the storage room amplified everything — the blood rushing in his ears, the heat in his groin, the tension in his belly.
For one brief, heartbeat of a moment, everything stopped. The earth stopped. Time held its breath. And then… the world exploded. He felt liquid gold spread through his limbs, wave after wave of ecstasy spilled over him, through him, out of him, carrying him toward what felt like the sun. He couldn't breathe, couldn't move, couldn't think.
He heard her cry out beneath him, heard her gasp, heard her whimper, "Oh, my God."
And then everything was still once more.
"Can you, uh… get off me? Please?"
He pushed himself up on trembling arms, realizing that with his collapse into the void of pleasure, he'd nearly crushed her with his weight.
He tucked his arm beneath her, pulling her close, then rolled, wincing slightly as his bruised back made contact with the couch. Brenna held still for the ride, tucking into him when he settled so that she lay on top — separate but a part of him.
"Sure," he whispered, absently drawing her hair from her face and tucking it behind her ear.
The repetitive motion began to calm him, his heartbeat slowing, his breath regulating. He felt her fingers begin to hesitantly trace the healing scab of ink that created the sunburst sigil tattooed on his chest.
“Declan used to tell me a story about the sun and the moon,” she said. He felt her lips move against his chest as she spoke.
“Yeah?” He knew they shouldn’t lay here long. He knew he had things to do.
“He’d tell it to me in Gaelic to put me to sleep when I was a little girl. After my parents were killed. Said it was a Celtic fable about the creation of the sky.”
Her fingers bounced gently along the pattern and Dean closed his eyes, blocking out everything: the discomfort of his back, the passing of time, the fact that Sam was elsewhere, the hunt, the knife, the victims… Hell. He turned it all black, for this one moment allowing himself to feel only Brenna, her head on his chest, her legs tangled in his, her fingers on his skin.
“He said that when time was still new, the world was a place of eternal light. That the creatures on Earth wished for darkness because the light was relentless. The sun found out and got angry, so he vowed he’d never shine again.”
She sighed slightly and shifted so that different parts of her pressed against him, but continued to trace the tattoo. “One of the creatures on the Earth was a beautiful maiden with flowing silver hair. She would sit in the dark and sing for the light to return. The man in the moon heard her singing and fell instantly in love with her; his love was so great, in fact, it reflected from him and washed the world in a soft glow the color of her hair.”
Dean smiled, continuing to stroke her hair.
“This made the sun angry, so he returned and drove the moon below the horizon. But, the maid sang for her love to return and the moon heard her, and his love was so powerful that he forced the sun to hide. The maid knew the sun would be back, though, and so she climbed the tallest mountain, trying to reach her love. She couldn’t fly, of course, and ended up plummeting to the rocks below as the moon watched in horror.”
Dean’s hand stilled and he felt his breath catch slightly, caught up in the images her voice evoked. He suddenly had the feeling that this story was going somewhere specific, not just post-coital pillow-talk.
“Seeing this, the sun realized he’d caused the tragedy by his selfishness. He cried to the gods to save the maid and promised to share the sky with the moon. The gods were moved by his generosity on another’s behalf. So, they scooped up her body and threw it into the sky. Her soul, bursting with happiness that she would be with her love forever, exploded in a million points of light that became the stars we see today.”
Her fingers stopped their repetitious tracing of his tattoo and she turned her head, balancing her chin on his chest, her large eyes drawing him in.
“Which one am I?” Dean asked, his voice husky.
She smiled sadly. “You’re the maid, Dean. I just hope the gods see you’re worthy of stars.”
Dean shook his head slowly, his chin rubbing the top of her head. The soft knock at the door startled them both. Dean sat up quickly, very aware of his nakedness, and was suddenly reminded of their location.
“Y-Yes?” Brenna called, hesitant and surprised.
“Everything okay in there, dear?” the elderly museum lady’s voice called.
Brenna covered her mouth, hiding an uncontrollable grin. “How loud were we?” she whispered.
Dean shrugged, scrambling for his boxers. “How the hell should I know?”
“We’re fine!” Brenna called to the lady. “Be out in a minute.”
“Okay, well, take your time, but… well, there’s a young gentleman out here for you when you’re… when you’re ready.”
Brenna looked at Dean. “Virge.”
“Sam,” Dean said at the same time.
“Where the hell are my clothes?” Brenna stood, casting about.
Dean pulled on his jeans, watching her with frank appreciation. “You should never wear clothes.”
“Funny,” Brenna grumbled, finding her bra and jeans. “I know I had a shirt when I came in here…”
Dean grabbed the conductor shirt he’d pulled from the box earlier and slid it on, rolling up the too-long sleeves and allowing the shirttail to hang over his rear-end. After another moment, Brenna had dressed and grabbed her saddle bag.
“Brenna,” he said, knowing that everything was going to come rushing back to swarm them the moment they stepped through the storage room door. She simply looked at him, waiting.
“I didn’t have a choice.”
“There’s always a choice, Dean.”
“Yeah, but,” he stared hard at her, willing her to understand. “I didn’t have one.”
They stepped through the door, heading back down the hallway to the still-empty entrance of the museum. As Brenna turned to the elderly lady and handed her the storage room key, Dean caught sight of a red baseball hat in the lobby.
“Heads up,” he said softly to her, snapping her attention outward.
“Virge,” she said, compelling the other man to turn and face her.
“Brenna, where the hell—“ Virgil stopped when he saw Dean. “Oh.”
“How did you find me?”
Virgil returned his attention to Brenna. “You really have no faith in me, do you?” he asked sadly. “Your bike’s outside. I was worried.”
“Nothing to be worried about.”
Virgil flicked his eyes to Dean once more. “Yeah, well, that’s good to know since I saw that other hunter skulking around next door.”
“What other hunter?” Dean asked, stepping forward.
Virgil narrowed his eyes slightly. “The dark-haired one that called you Patti Smith.”
Dean raised an eyebrow and looked down at Brenna.
“Don’t ask,” she said.
“At least pick a good rocker chick. Lita Ford, maybe.”
Dean brought his head up at the sound of his brother’s voice. “Sam?”
“You said the Iron Bar,” Sam accused, his eyes shifting to Brenna. “What are you doing here?”
“How did you find me?” Dean asked, unconsciously echoing Brenna.
“Impala’s out front, dumbass,” Sam scowled. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Dean and Brenna protested together.
As if on cue, Sam and Virgil stepped forward, Virgil taking Brenna’s hand and Sam grabbing Dean’s arm, separating them.
“I need to talk to you,” Sam hissed through clenched teeth.
It had been exactly ninety-eight minutes since Griffin dropped into Dean’s chair in the library.
“Tell me you went to the morgue,” Sam demanded, his eyes flicking over Dean’s shoulder to the huddled form of Virgil and Brenna, caught in a heated conversation.
“Dude, enough, okay?” Dean said, shaking his arm free. “You’re acting like a jealous boyfriend or something.”
“No, Dean,” Sam snapped. “I’m acting like a brother who is up against the clock and looking for a way to save your ass.”
Dean looked at the floor.
“I know she gets to you, man,” Sam relented, “but we have to stay focused.”
“Yeah? Why?” Dean demanded, raising his voice. “We break the deal, you die, remember? Maybe this is my destiny. Maybe I only have this time left, and maybe,” he grabbed Sam’s arm, capturing his attention, “maybe I want to know what I’m missing.”
“You haven’t missed a piece of ass in months, Dean,” Sam growled.
Dean narrowed his eyes, releasing Sam’s arm. “I’m just gonna,” he looked to the side, then back at his brother. “I’m gonna forget you said that about her.”
Sam blinked, realization slowly dawning that this was bigger than he’d thought. He took a breath, and stepped back, resting his hands on his hips. Unbidden, vivid, the image of Lisa sitting on a blanket, calling out to Dean when he visited his brother’s dream snapped Sam’s attention.
“I’m sorry,” he said softly. Dean huffed. “I am, man. I was just… I was worried.”
“What did you need to talk to me about?” Sam could hear forgiveness, and maybe a little bit of understanding, in his brother’s voice.
“Griffin is here,” Sam said. “In the bar. Waiting for me.”
Dean narrowed his eyes. “For you? Why?”
“I told him I’d help him,” Sam replied. He raised a hand. “Long story short, the wizard’s name is Adoamros, he summed the dearthair that poisoned Beck, and Griffin wants revenge.”
“Again?” Dean lifted an eyebrow. “This guy is a broken record, man.”
Sam shrugged. “Whatever. The point is, he doesn’t care about the knife, and he needs my help to get it from the wizard.”
“Again, why you?”
“Because I know Latin. And there’s a spell in Dad’s stuff we got from the storage unit that we might be able to use.”
“I know Latin,” Dean protested. “If… y’know, I have a book.”
“Griffin thinks he found the… lair, or whatever.”
“Some old mine outside of town. Guess he’s been doing his own brand of research. There’s a train stop here at the museum that can take us to it.”
“I’m going with you,” Brenna said suddenly from behind.
“What?” Virgil protested. “Are you crazy?”
“I need to find this guy, Virge,” Brenna said.
“Why?” Virgil and Dean asked.
Brenna darted a desperate look between them.
“It’s your powers, isn’t it?” Sam asked softly. Brenna turned to him and Sam pulled back slightly at the rush of emotion he saw in her eyes. “You think he can give you your sight back.”
“You don’t understand—“
“I understand,” Sam said, “more than you think. Believe me.”
“Folks?” the elderly lady called from behind her desk. “We closed at six…”
“Okay, enough with the caring and sharing,” Dean said, raising his hands between Brenna and Sam. “Here’s how this is happening. You,” he pointed at Sam, “aren’t going anywhere near that psycho.”
“He was willing to sacrifice you once, Sammy. No way I’m letting that happen again.”
“And you,” Dean pointed to Brenna, interrupting Sam’s protest, “aren’t going to the darkside to get your powers back.”
“I’m going to the bar to meet Griffin,” Dean cut off Brenna’s protest with clipped tones, “we’ll get this Adocarewhathisnameis guy — and his knife,” he looked at Sam. “And bring them both back.”
“I’m going with you,” Virgil said, interrupting Sam’s automatic denial.
Dean opened his mouth to protest.
“No offense, man,” Virgil said, stopping Dean’s rebuttal, “but I’ve seen you after at least one of these hunts of yours. Might not hurt to have a former paramedic along for the ride.”
Dean closed his mouth and nodded. “Okay, you’ve got a point.”
“Dean,” Sam protested. “You can’t possibly think I’m gonna just stay back here and wait.”
Dean turned to his brother, and Sam saw raw honesty hovering at the edges of his brother’s eyes. “I need you to… watch out for her, Sam. Okay? Just… stay safe. Keep both of you safe.”
“What about you?” Sam whispered. “What am I gonna do if—“
“Nothing’s gonna happen, man, okay?”
“I’ll be in the back locking up,” the lady said.
The group ignored her as the brothers regarded each other for a moment, then Dean clapped Sam on the shoulder.
“You ready, Sinatra?”
“Right behind you.”
Sam turned, watching his brother walk away once again, wondering why he let him go, why he always let Dean walk into the fire.
“I can’t believe you let him go,” Brenna said in a dull voice from behind him.
“Didn’t see you trying real hard to stop him,” Sam accused.
“He’s your brother,” Brenna said. “He sold his soul for you, Sam.”
Sam turned to her, advancing on her, backing her up against the nearest wall. Pressing close, but not touching her, Sam slapped his hands on either side of Brenna’s head, making her jump.
“He tell you that? Or did you see it for yourself?” Anger at this woman surged through Sam the likes of which he hadn’t felt since he’d had Meg inside him calling the shots. He grabbed Brenna’s wrist and slapped it hard against the wall next to her head, his fingers tight enough to bruise. “What do you see now, huh?”
She flinched, but didn’t cry out. Her eyes sought his and he watched her lip tremble.
“I see a little brother,” she said, her voice choked, “scared shitless because the only person he truly loves in this world is living with a death sentence.”
Sam clenched his jaw, feeling emotions trip the muscles in his cheeks. He stared at her, looking for something — anything — that would justify his desire to keep Dean away from her. As he searched her eyes, he suddenly flinched back. Her irises widened, her large pupils drawing him in.
She gasped and suddenly Sam could see a reflection in those large eyes — only it wasn’t his reflection. It was Dean.
He saw his brother’s face in her eyes.
“What the hell?” he breathed.
“Five and six,” said a raspy, reedy voice from off to Sam’s left suddenly punctuated the quiet lobby, “pick-up sticks.”
“Oh, God,” Brenna whispered, instinct pulling her close to Sam’s body.
“What?” Sam whispered back, automatically wrapping an arm around her, feeling her tremble.
“So sorry to put an end to this, but you won’t be apart for long…” the voice continued, sounding… hungry.
Sam blinked as the figure of a man, ageless in appearance, eyes alight with madness, hands rising to reach for them, emerged from the shadow of the museum’s entrance.
“What the hell?” Sam said, seeing something in the man’s grip as he tried to move Brenna behind him.
Brenna’s fear-laden reveal of, “God, Sam, it’s him,” were the last words Sam registered before he was suffocated in a cloaked wing of black.
a/n: The Celtic legend that Brenna tells Dean is derived from a short story by thruterryseyes called “Why the Crickets Sing.” She allowed me to give it to Brenna for the purposes of this story.
Hurt by Johnny Cash (originally recorded by NIN, but I think Cash’s version is heartbreaking)
Black Metallic by The Catherine Wheel
Hot For Teacher by Van Halen (in passing reference)
Coimhéad fearg fhear na foighde. Beware of the anger of a patient man.
Ni dhiolann dearmad fiacha. A debt is still unpaid, even if forgotten.
Twigim I understand
Ceangal connection or bond
ar dheis de go raibh a anam… May he rest in peace
Part 4 (A and B)>