Author's note: Here's the sequel to Finding Grace. I'd actually planned on a series of stories involving Grace from the get-go, so I hope you guys get what you're looking for in this. :)

Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm just playing. I'll put'em back when I'm done.

Rating: PG just to be safe.

Summary: Ruby has Sam in her grasp now and the demon war goes from behind the scenes to full-blown in-your-face warfare with the human race at the losing end while Dean is missing in action. Did everything Sam feared come true? Did he cause his brother's death and send him off to Hell?

Sequel to Finding Grace

The miserable have no other medicine but only hope.
William Shakespeare

Grace Alden's home
St. John

The phone rang, ripping Grace out of her thoughts. It had been too long since she had heard from the boys and she couldn't help but worry about them out there, hunting evil, while the world seemed to be coming down around their ears. And her concern was growing this close to the cut-off date, whenever exactly that was. 'Four months' had been a little vague in her opinion.

She picked up, hoping against hope to hear Dean's voice, or Sam's. "Hello?"

Nothing answered her but static.

She sighed and almost hung up again, tired of this oddness that undermined the telephone lines, scared of the implications of the empty town surrounding her. But she stopped dead when her sigh was answered by an identical sigh.

"Hello?" she tried again and attempted to hear something over the static, assuming it might be Bobby trying to call her again. She'd spoken to him once since she had left his place and the connection had been dreadful.


The line crackled and sparked with noise, making it hard for her to discern the owner of that voice. She stared into space for a moment, a frown furrowing her brow. "Yes?" It was really hard to hear anything specific in that voice apart from the fact that it was a man's voice.

"You need to ..." The static increased briefly, drowning out the words.

"Hello?" she tried again. "I need to what?"

"Dean is in trouble. You need to help him."

She blinked rapidly a few times. "I'm sorry, but who is this?" She felt like someone had put up a brick wall in her head and that the identity of that voice was hidden behind that wall. It sounded familiar in some peculiar, long-forgotten way.

"Do you know where Parker's field is?"

The static rushed through the line, crackling and jittering in her ear. "Yes, I know where Parker's field is," she confirmed. "Why would Dean be there?"

"No time for questions, Gracie. You need to hurry. He's in bad shape."

Her heart skipped a beat when the brick wall in her mind suddenly crumbled while recognition hammered its way through it. She pressed her lips together into a thin line for a moment while trying desperately to refuse the knowledge that came with the falling of that wall. But in the end she could no more deny the identity behind that voice than she could deny her own heritage. "John?" she asked, her tone tentative, full of disbelief.

"Yeah, Gracie. It's me."

The world seemed to tilt sharply to the right and she lashed out to grab a hold of the kitchen counter to steady herself. "Oh my god," she whispered.

"Gracie, you have to hurry. You need to get him out of there. Right now."

Action had always come before reaction with her and she nodded before she could even consider the insanity of this. "Yes, of course. I'll ..." She stopped, the frown on her brow deepening while every bit of sense in her screamed in outrage at what she was about to do. "This isn't real," she whispered.

"It's real, Gracie. You need to leave now. Please. You need to save my boy."

Again she nodded. She could always consider the insanity later, when she found Parker's field empty and untouched. "I'll go now," she said. "John ... where are you?"

"You don't have time, Gracie. Go. Now!"

"Right," she muttered just before the line went dead. She pulled the phone away from her ear and eyed it for a moment. "I'm losing my freaking mind," she told herself, rubbed a hand over her brow and then switched the phone off. Whether or not that was the case, she couldn't just ignore this. She had to drive out there and take a look around. After everything Dean and Sam had told her, she couldn't dismiss it outright, could no longer cling to the belief that they were alone in all this.

She grabbed the keys to her car and strode toward the door, her mind in turmoil. How the hell was she going to explain this to anyone? That thought again made her snort halfheartedly. Who the hell was she going to tell about it? There was nobody left out there. But it still boggled her mind that her dead brother was calling her to tell her to save her nephew from some undescribable evil.

Careful and tentative, she made her way into the garage, keeping the shotgun she had found with her at all times. She hadn't had any trouble since returning to her home, but she wasn't taking any chances either. She had raided a store for all the salt she could find and was putting it to good use around the house. She had gone to the local church and emptied the baptism basin of water, assuming that it was holy water. And she always carried a silver flask with holy water with her whenever she dared to venture outside. With a bit of a rueful smirk on her lips, she had picked up a necklace at a local curiosity shop, pretty certain she remembered something about the boys talking about the power behind pentagrams. She wore it always and put her faith in its protective power until someone told her otherwise. She had even taken it one step further and wore all the silver rings she had, just in case. And she strictly stayed indoors at night. As soon as the sun had set, her doors were locked and her windows covered by blackout curtains to minimize the risk of someone – or something – seeing light in her windows at night. She didn't know if the evil things out there cared about light or could track the living in some other way, but she didn't want to risk it and went all out to protect herself.

She got in the car and backed it out of the garage and pulled out on the road, shifting her mind into idle. She would withhold judgment about the validity of that call until she reached Parker's field, a fairly big area of fields that belonged to a farmer named Parker close to Sarles. It would take her about an hour to get there and she hoped that whatever she found there would prove that she was completely off her rocker, because anything else was just too damned horrible to imagine.


One hour later
Parker's field
Sarles, ND

It didn't take a genius to know that something had happened out here. The majority of Parker's farmland was lush and thriving apart from a fairly big patch at the very edge of the far end of the fields. Everything there had been burned to a crisp and Grace could only assume that this was where she was supposed to go to find Dean. The fact that the Impala was there too, both doors open, the keys still dangling from the ignition made it even more evident and it upped her heart rate too.

She parked her car behind the Impala and got out where the smell of singed corn hit her immediately. She wrinkled her nose while scanning the field in search of anyone or anything that might not belong there, then took a quick look into the Impala. There was nobody in the car. She retrieved the key, then closed and locked the doors before returning her attention to the burned field, inspecting it again. One thing that struck her while she scanned the area was the somewhat surreal realization that some of the corn had popped. Burned popcorn littered the edge of the field and added to the odd movie-theater scent hanging in the air. She shook her head lightly to dislodge that sensation while widening her scan of the burned patch of land.

About halfway through that part of the field, there was a cluster of burned-down trees and that was where she spotted him. "Oh god," she gasped, pushed away from the car and ran as fast as her legs would carry her across the burned area to where she had spotted the crumpled form.

Ignorant to anything other than the smoke still rising from him, Grace dropped down on her knees and grabbed a hold of Dean's shoulder to roll him over on his back. There was blood and too much soot for her to determine the origin of the blood. First and foremost, she slipped her fingers onto his neck, searching for a pulse, which she found. "Dean?" she tried, pulled the sleeve of her sweater over her hand and used that to wipe some of the soot off his face. "Dean," she tried again, but he did not respond. She glanced around the field, tried to understand what had happened, and decided not to bother. She wouldn't be able to figure it out and Dean needed help.

Instead of wasting precious strength on trying to drag him back to the car, she rose and ran back to it, got behind the wheel and floored the gas pedal, thanking her lucky stars that she had been wise enough to get a four-wheel drive. She brought the car to a skittering halt next to where Dean was lying, got back out and hoisted him laboriously onto the backseat. Whatever had happened here, he had taken the brunt of it. From what she could see, he had been pretty much at the center of the destruction.

Not taking time to think too much about what this might all mean, she slammed the rear door and got back behind the wheel and drove back to the road, then headed back toward St. John and the relative safety of her house. She had a bad feeling about all this. Something really bad was happening out there, something big, and her nephews were at the center of it. What worried her the most at this point was the absence of Sam. It was downright impossible for her to understand that Sam would have left Dean behind, but she assumed she would get some answers once Dean woke up.


Two days later

The first thing that hit him was the silence. It was silent and warm and soft. And then he became aware of the pain. It wasn't overwhelming, but it was there, on his arms, on his face and neck, his chest. He shifted a little and hissed under his breath, then cracked an eyelid to squint up at a ceiling above him.

It took time before everything started clicking into place, before he remembered why he was on his back, why he was hurting. The memory of the flight from the inevitable came back to him like someone sliding a letter under a door, slowly, silently.

Unsure of where he was and what exactly had happened right after the world had exploded in fire, he rolled his eyes to the right and stared at the wall there. Then he propped himself up on his elbows and just stared for a moment. Hell looked like Grace's house? He frowned despite the pull on his painful skin. He felt like he had a bad sunburn, not exactly what he would have expected. He would have expected excruciating pain, terror, anything other than the room he had spent so much time in in Grace's house.

Before he could make any conscious decision on what exactly was going on, the door opened and Grace stepped in. "You're awake," she stated needlessly.

It took time for everything to fall into place, he figured, and his previous assessment that he knew where he was, was completely blown out of the water. "Grace?" he rasped, then cleared his throat painfully. With a bit of an effort he sat up.

"Don't get up," she advised and stepped forward, raising both hands. "You've got a bit of a bump on the back of your head. And ... light burns covering most of your upper body."

He blinked and felt the pull of skin that felt too tight. "Where's Sam?" It was the only thing that mattered to him now that he knew he wasn't dead, knew he wasn't in Hell. All else could come later.

Grace settled down on the edge of the bed. "I don't know. He wasn't where I found you." Her expression bordered on concern, fear, confusion and yet she was trying to hold it all in. "What happened?"

He blinked again, then sank back down on the bed. "Time's up," he rasped and cleared his throat again. He felt like he had inhaled smoke and hot air and briefly remembered the flash, the sudden roar of fire that had seemed to emanate from his brother. He re-experienced the slap of something invisible that had sent him flying, had hurled him backwards away from Sam. The impact with the ground had been painful to the extreme and some part of him had been convinced that he had broken bones. The fire had licked over him, but never truly touched him. It had singed his skin and the blistering heat should have been enough to burn him to a crisp. But it hadn't. "How long have I been here?"

"What do you mean, time's up?" Grace queried, her gaze never leaving his face.

"My time ran out," he clarified. "How long have I been here?" he repeated a little more tightly.

"Two days," she replied, her expression mirroring his tone. "They came for you?"

He met her gaze dead on, nodded once. "We ran," he admitted and grimaced. "You've seen nothing out of the ordinary here?"

She arched an eyebrow, glanced toward the window and he realized it was blacked out with heavy, black curtains. "What's out of the ordinary these days?" she asked, her tone slightly sarcastic. "But no, nothing's turned up to claim you. So I guess Sam managed to find a way out, didn't he?"

Dean's stomach dropped despite his vertical position. "Oh god," he groaned and pushed up again, this time sitting up fully. His head hurt, his eyes felt dry, his mouth full of cotton. Sam had found a way out alright. Dean wasn't sure how or what Sam had done to accomplish the impossible, but the fact that his little brother wasn't with him now, that Grace had found him alone ... He trailed off and focused on his aunt. "How did you know where to find me?" he asked, suddenly a little anxious. This could be a trick, a ruse to make him believe he had made it out in one piece, that Sam had saved him somehow.

Grace pursed her lips, her gaze skirting away from his to romp over the room for a moment. "I got a call," she said and sighed. Whoever had made that call had upset her in some way.

"Nobody knew where we were except for the hell hounds and the demon. I doubt they would call you to let you know where to find me," he tried.

Grace's gaze snapped back to his and what he read in her eyes was a peculiar mixture of fear and confusion and hope. "John – called me," she clarified.

He stared at her for a moment, unsure of how to interpret that. John was a common name. But ... "My ... dad?" He had to ask, had to make sure.

"Yes, your dad," she agreed. "He told me where to find you. Said you needed help. That I had to save you. So I did."

The thing that struck him most about her reaction was that she quite obviously didn't want to believe it had happened, yet the fact that he was here, now, proved that she had done what dad had asked her to do despite her lack of faith. And that again almost made him smile. "You too, huh?" he asked quietly.

She met his gaze again, blushed a little and smiled vaguely. "He can be very persuasive when he wants to," she agreed and it struck him painfully that she referred to his father in the present tense.

"Have you talked to him again?" If there was even a remote chance that he might be able to talk to his father, he was convinced that John would know where Sam was and if his little brother was okay.

"No, but I think he's tried to get through before. All those ... missed calls," she said.

The memory of those suddenly snapped into his head and he frowned. While he had been here, recovering from the attack of those crazy hillbillies, there had been a few missed calls. For Sam, for himself and for Grace. Could that have been dad trying to warn them? "Wait a minute," he said when something else jumped to the forefront of his mind. "How'd you get out there?" He glanced up at the ceiling and noted that the light was burning.

"I drove," she said, her tone revealing her confusion at that question.

"But ... the Impala died ..." He stared at her, concern once again rearing its ugly head.

Grace shrugged. "I don't know. I got in the car and I drove out there and found you. I found the Impala, doors open, key still in the ignition. Didn't take much to spot you. I didn't know what to do about your car, so I left it there. I locked it and left it there," she explained.

Whatever Sam had done had maybe destroyed the demon influence in that area. Dean frowned again and grimaced at the tight pull of his burned skin. He gingerly touched his brow, realizing his skin was overtly sensitive right now. It felt like dry parchment under his fingers. "Holy crap," he muttered. "Is anybody left here? Have you seen other people?"

She shook her head. "No, I returned home to a ghost town. I ran out of gas, so I borrowed a neighbor's car and tried to get out of town toward South Dakota, but the car died about three miles past the town limit. I walked back, got some gas from the gas station on the way – just enough so the Cherokee would make it back to the gas station – then filled her up and returned back home. I tried calling you guys, but I couldn't get through until that one time when I managed to reach Bobby. And he said to stay put."

"Have you tried him since?" Dean asked.

"No, not yet," she said. "I was worried about you first and foremost. I did try calling Sam, though, but it keeps going to voicemail." She sighed and rose, paced a few steps away, then stopped, her back turned. For a moment she stood still, then she turned back to face him. "What are we gonna do?"

He blinked. Grace was dad's sister and some subconscious part of him had almost hoped she would take control, would tell him what to do. But how could she? She was too new to all this, didn't have dad's experience, or his experience for that matter. "I don't know," he admitted and let his gaze flit over the room in search of an answer he couldn't possibly hope to find here. "I need to ..."

His mind started rolling, the plans started clicking into place and his need to find out what had happened to Sam was temporarily overruled by his need to make sure Grace was safe. The burden of having to protect both almost overwhelmed him for a second and he knew only one solution. He had to find Sam, somehow, had to figure out what had happened to his brother, and he couldn't do that while dragging his novice aunt around with him. And there was only one place on Earth he would consider safe for Grace right now. And this house wasn't it. He looked up to meet her eyes. "We can't stay here," he said decisively. "If you could get out of town to find me, maybe we can get to Bobby that way around. I also need to pick up my car."

"Dean," Grace tried, then sighed and seemed to deflate a little. "Okay," she agreed. "I don't want to stay in this town anyway. It's spooky."

Dean nodded. The thought that maybe Fort Pierre had been hit by now made him cringe inside and he only allowed that idea to linger for a second before he violently squashed it out and got off the bed. Rising to his feet caused vertigo though and nearly spilled him onto the floor. Grace was quick to grab him and steady him.

"You're not getting up yet," she decided and there was that undercurrent in her tone again that made him think of dad and he responded subconsciously to her. He didn't even gripe about it when she helped him ease back on the bed. "We'll leave when you can stand up without falling over," she added.

"But, Sam ..." he tried, but she stopped him by pressing a finger onto his lips, her expression serious.

"You can't help Sam if you can't even stand. Now shush," she admonished. "I'll try to get through to Bobby again. Maybe he heard from Sam. Maybe Sam's there," she added.

He didn't really want to believe that, didn't really want to think that Sam had left him out there and run away. Something had happened to his little brother, something not good, and he had to find out what, had to find out where Sam was so he could return the favor and save him in turn.

Feeling useless, he flopped back on the mattress and draped an arm over his face while Grace tried to call Bobby again.


A few hours later, Dean got up despite Grace's previous warnings, and this time he didn't feel the need to hold on to something to stop the room from spinning. His head still hurt, but Grace had given him some powerful stuff that made him feel a little fuzzy, but still able to function.

He made his way out into the living room and found Grace with her phone pressed against one ear. "Hello?" she said loudly. "Can you hear me?"

"Is that Bobby?" he asked and she nodded.

He wanted to snatch the phone away from her, wanted to beg Bobby for good news, but he didn't move, just stood there and leaned heavily against the back of the couch while he watched her with worry eating through him.

"No, Dean is with me," Grace said loudly. "I said Dean is with me," she repeated. "In St. John." She glanced at him, gave him a pale sort of smile. "No, just Dean," she persisted. "We'll try to get to you. Are you still okay?" A frown slipped over her brow. "No, I said Dean is here with me. He's fine," she repeated and gave Dean the once over, then arched an eyebrow at her own words. "No, there have been no hounds around. I think ..." She nodded absentmindedly. "We'll try to get to you. Might take us a few days," she tried again. "Hello?" Then she sighed and lowered the phone. "The line went dead."

"Well, at least you got through to him," Dean said and settled down on the back of the couch.

Grace eyed him closely. "You don't look so good, Dean. I don't think you should drive," she said.

"I'll be fine, Grace. We'll just take it slow," he tried, but she stopped him in his tracks by stepping forward and cupping a hand against his cheek.

"You've been unconscious for two days. You've merely been awake a few minutes. And you're still wobbly. Don't try to bullshit me. Anything you can throw at me, I've heard before and in more inventive ways that this. So cut the crap and get your butt back to bed before I sedate you." It was all said in the kindest manner, which left him very little space to wiggle on.

"But ..."

"No buts," she cut him off, her voice taking on that commando tone again that instinctively made him respond to her. "We'll see how you're doing tomorrow. If you're steady on your feet, we'll leave then. I don't want to stay here any longer than I have to, to be honest, but we're not leaving until you're able to drive and we're most certainly not picking up that car of yours before that either."

He wanted to argue, wanted to press the part where Sam was in trouble and needed help, but he could tell from her expression that if he told her the world would explode in two hours, she still would have shooed him back to bed. "Okay, fine, but we are leaving here tomorrow, Grace. We can't risk staying here. And I need to find Sam."

"I know that, but as I said before. You're no good to him if you can't fend for yourself. So stop being so damned stubborn and get back to bed. Right now. I'll bring you something to eat in a bit," she said and nodded toward the guestroom's door.


The following morning

Truth be told, he saw the sense in her words when he woke up the following morning and didn't exactly feel as run over as he had the day before. But with feeling better his sense of urgency was upped to new levels and he had a hard time taking it slow.

"I didn't break anything," he suddenly said and focused on Grace sitting across from him at the table in the kitchen.

"Sorry?" she asked and eyed him with slight confusion.

"That ... blast or whatever the hell it was that burned down that field ... it threw me quite a distance and I landed really hard. But I didn't break anything," he said, a little surprised by that fact.

"No, you nearly broke your head, though," Grace reminded him, which had him fingering the lump on the back of his head immediately. "Be grateful for small favors," she added, rose from her chair and hunkered down next to him. She held up a finger and grabbed his chin with the other hand when he didn't look directly at her. "Follow my finger," she said and he did.

"I'm fine," he tried.

"No headache?" she asked.

"Of course I have a headache. I have an egg-sized lump on the back of my head," he countered a little sharply. "Doesn't mean I have a concussion. Even though I was out cold for two days."

She sighed and rubbed the ball of her thumb over his cheek. "How does your skin feel?"

"Like it's gonna peel off if you keep rubbing on it," he countered, grabbed her wrist and gently pushed her hand away. "Grace, I'm fine. We have to get out of here now. Not just today. Right now. Do you have everything ready?"

She eyed him for a second longer, then rose and glanced down when he realized he still had his hand wrapped around her wrist. He let go of it reluctantly. "Yes, I have everything ready," she said. "Let's get a move on then."

She was easier than dad. She didn't insist on being in command, didn't expect complete unquestioning loyalty. But, then again, she didn't know more than he'd ever know about hunting and he had to keep reminding himself of that. Especially when she took on that commando tone that reminded him of dad. "Right," he agreed, got up and briefly tested his right leg. He wasn't entirely sure, but it felt better, like something had mended over the last three days that had been a pain in his butt for the last half year and it halfway convinced him that his bum leg had been because of that damned deal and now that the deal was off – something he hoped desperately was true, but not at the price of his brother's life and soul – he was healing up much more easily.

They got their stuff together, what little there was of it, and dragged it outside. Dean was a bit surprised when Grace went for a car parked outside on the street rather than her Cherokee sitting in the garage. "Who's car is that?" he asked and nodded toward the greyish green Plymouth.

"My neighbor's. I figured we'd take this and see how far we get. If it stalls, we can always hike back and get the Cherokee and take another path," she said while closing and locking the front door.

"Where's the cat?" Dean asked and eyed the few things she was bringing. Traveling light seemed to be a Winchester-thing, he figured.

Grace sighed. "I don't know. I had left her with a neighbor, but they're gone and so is Pebble. I'm kinda hoping she's out there enjoying her freedom somewhere and that these bastards will leave her alone."

"Probably," Dean said. He wasn't that fond of cats and Pebble had ever only seen his leg as a scratching post and hadn't shown any particular interest in him after he'd gotten out of the cast. It wasn't something he would loose sleep over, but he knew the critter meant something to Grace and that made a difference. "She's better off on her own," he tried.

Grace shrugged, dumped everything in the trunk of the Plymouth and got behind the wheel. Dean didn't argue this point with her and just got in. With a little luck, he'd soon be driving the Impala again and they would be heading toward South Dakota and Fort Pierre. And once Grace was safe, Dean would set out to find Sam. He just had a feeling that might take him a while and it grated on his nerves that whoever had his brother had a three day head start on him.