The barn
Location unknown

"Hey, Winchester!"

Dean gasped when a bucket of ice cold water hit him in the face, soaking him and making him even colder than he was already. But despite the shock of the water, he still had a hard time keeping his head up.

Scarface, as he had dubbed Andy by now, put the bucket down and stepped closer, holding out Dean's phone for him to see. "Your brother's name is Sam, right?" he asked with a smirk on his lips. "What do you say we call him and invite him to the party?"

Dean flexed his jaw painfully. "Bite me," he rasped and wished he could pass out again. Sam wouldn't come if Dean didn't talk to him. At least he hoped Sam wouldn't come.

"Not likely," Scarface countered, raised the phone to his ear and waited patiently.

Dean let his head drop again and tried hard to disassociate himself from the pain. His hands had gone beyond pain at this point. They were numb and cold, a cold that was slowly creeping down his arms. It wasn't a good feeling either and he knew he would have a hell of a time getting his arms down if he got out of this one alive. The thought that maybe he should call that damned crossroad demon for help to protect her investment had crossed his mind, but he figured she'd like to see him sooner than later, so she probably wouldn't have a problem with this.

"Nobody's home," Scarface said and flipped the phone shut. "I'll just try him again a little later. Once he realizes how poorly you are, he'll come running. And we'll be ready for him."

"He won't," Dean rasped and didn't even bother to try and raise his head. "He's too smart."

"We'll just have to see about that, won't we?" Scarface countered. "The good news for you is ... we won't have to beat you up any more."

"Oh joy," Dean muttered sarcastically.

"I thought you'd like that," Scarface said, sounding pleased with himself. "So, I'm assuming that your little brother is somewhere in the area where we found you. Problem is, there are just too many damned motels out there and we don't want to attract attention to ourselves. It's easier if we have him come to us, rather than the other way around."

"Told you ... we split up," Dean countered and wished that moron would stop talking to him.

"See, I have a problem believing that, Winchester," Scarface said. "Where's your dad, by the way? How come he's not hanging out with you guys? Can't stand that his youngest is a monster?"

Dean raised his head despite the agony this caused and gritted his teeth. "My father is dead," he ground out. "Otherwise he would be with us."

That bit of news seemed to have some type of impact on Scarface. He looked a little shocked. "Damn. That's sad news," he said. "He was a good man. My condolences."

"Screw you," Dean countered. "He would have pumped you full of buckshot for doing this."

Scarface sighed. "Ah well. I guess he's better off. Can't be easy, having a demon kid for a son," he said, shook his head sadly and walked over to some of the others.

Inside Dean was fuming. He didn't have much strength left to show it or do anything about it and that made him even more angry. Some part of him was starting to wish that Sam would go bad and that he would burst in here and kill them all. He shifted a little and flinched. Bill the juggernaut had beaten him up pretty good, but beatings he could take. What he couldn't take was the baseball bat to the shin. There was no doubt in his mind that his right leg was broken and that he had several broken ribs too. The likelihood that he was going to get out of this one alive was not very big at present and all he could hope for was that Sam could cope and would stay well away from these bastards.

He sneered, which reopened the cut on his lower lip. The blood started oozing again and he spat the blood onto the floor. Right in front of a pair of boots he hadn't seen before. Slowly, he raised his head again and eyed the woman standing there. She was a bit on the heavy side and her grey eyes were haunted. She also looked pretty much ready to rip his head of and before he could make any move or say anything, she had slugged him in the face.

Once more, he flexed his jaw. "Thanks," he growled and ran the tip of his tongue over his teeth to check if they were all still in place. So far so good.

"A monster like your brother killed my kids," she snarled at him.

Dean eyed her as best he could, which was kind of a one-eye show since his left eye was pretty much swollen shut by this time. "Sorry to hear that," he growled. "But my brother is no monster, lady."

Again she slugged him, obviously abusing the fact that he couldn't fight back. And none of the others raised a finger to stop her. "They're monsters. All of them!" she spat hatefully. "They need to be put down like diseased cattle."

Without another word, she swirled around and strode off until one of the guys stopped her and consoled her. Dean felt sorry for her that she had lost her kids, but it ticked him off big time that she took it out on him and was willing to put a bullet in Sam for something others had done. Reasoning with this bunch was impossible, so all he could continue to count on was that Sam would stay well away from here and the only way that was a done deal was if Dean refused to talk to him.

Shifting his weight a little again, he tried to flex his fingers and realized they barely moved. "Crap," he muttered under his breath. Even if Sam turned up and managed to get him down before any of them got to Sam, Dean wouldn't be much good to him. He closed his eyes and let his head drop while only one thing went through his mind. 'Stay way, Sammy. Stay away.'

***

The motel close to Lovelock
Nevada

Sam woke up with a start when his phone started ringing. The headache had once again receded, but that did not mean he felt much better. Disoriented, he grabbed his phone and flipped it open. "Yeah?" he muttered.

"Sam? Sam Winchester?"

The voice, although not familiar, sent a shiver through him and he was wide awake in a flash. He pushed himself up on one hand and briefly pulled the phone away from his ear to eye the display. Whoever was on the other end was calling him from Dean's phone. And that again activated the anger, which bubbled up inside him like lava in an erupting volcano. "Who are you and what are you doing with my brother's phone?" he snapped and sat up.

"Easy, pal. One thing at a time," the voice replied. "My name is Andy. And we've got your brother right here." There was a brief pause and Sam could hear this guy saying something to someone in the background. But there was no response apart from that. "Well, seems like he doesn't want to talk to you right now," Andy said, a smile in his voice. "Anyway, we were kind of hoping you'd join this little party of ours, so ... why don't you come on out here?"

Sam felt like hurling the phone across the room, but settled for staring angrily ahead of himself. "I know what you're doing to him," he growled darkly.

"Oh, you do, do you? So, you're what? Psychic?" Andy asked and chuckled. "Well, here's the deal, slugger. You come on out here and we won't have to hurt your brother any more. Does that sound like a deal you can live with?"

He had to consciously focus on not squashing the phone as he got up. "Where are you?" he asked, his tone tight.

"Out by the Rye Patch Reservoir. At the end of Old Emigrant Road," Andy said.

"I'll find it," Sam growled.

"Oh, I'm sure you will. It's not too far from where we picked up your brother, actually, so it shouldn't take you too long. About half an hour from Lovelock," Andy said. "We'll be expecting you." With that the connection cut off.

Sam just stood there for a moment, the phone still pressed against one ear, then he lowered his hand while red-hot anger rippled through him with enough force to release whatever he had been trying to subdue all these months. Then he grabbed his jacket and the keys for the Impala and left the motel room with nothing on his mind but saving Dean's life. Because there was no doubt at all that Dean would die if he didn't get there fast. He knew without knowing how he knew that these people had no intention of letting either of them live.

He slipped onto the driver side seat and backed the Impala out of its slot, then floored the gas pedal without consideration for anything and anyone else. He was suffering from single-minded determination right now and nothing in this world would stop him.

Except for one thing. The characteristic headache announced another vision about fifteen minutes into the drive and Sam had to quickly pull over to the side of the road before he crashed the Impala into the nearest tree.

This vision was jumbled, racing through his head at breakneck speed, and it made fairly little sense. He saw the hunters shooting at something that kept appearing and disappearing at random. Whatever it was, it took out one after the other, ripping throats out as it went, and the intensity of the scene was so strong he could almost smell the blood. And then they were all dead, all except for Dean. There was this girl standing in front of him, watching him, and Dean looked scared.

Sam clawed his fingers into his head, groaning in agony and fear, while the girl took a step toward his brother, her eyes wide and just a little bit crazy.

And then the vision ended. Sam slammed back in the seat, nearly giving himself whiplash in the process, his hands grabbing the steering wheel impossibly hard. "Dean," he gasped.

Whoever this girl was, Sam thought she might be the same thing that had killed all the hunters and it scared the hell out of him that Dean was alone with her now. Despite his thudding head and watering eyes, he pulled the Impala back onto the road and drove as fast as he dared toward the destination of the reservoir. He was terrified at what he would find there, already envisioning his brother dead.

The Impala tore through Poker Brown and onto the Rye Patch Reservoir Road. He followed the 401 up to the Old Emigrant Road and floored the gas pedal once more until he reached the end of the road and brought the powerful Chevy to a skittering stop.

He armed himself to the teeth, unsure of what to expect, and then glanced around. About half a mile off the beaten track of the road was a big, new-looking barn and Sam assumed that was it. It was out of the way and it would be hard to approach the barn without being seen, but Sam didn't care much about that right now. There was most likely a back entrance and he intended to get into the barn that way.

Generally speaking he was pretty much in predator mode right now. Nothing mattered but getting to Dean in time and he didn't care if what he had seen in the vision had happened already or not.

With that on his mind, he set out for the barn and whatever might expect him there.

***

The barn
Lovelock
Nevada
Half an hour earlier

Dean was pretty much out of it most of the time. He felt miserable, but wouldn't allow it to show too much. Even if it was the last thing he could do in this world, he would not beg, no matter what.

Some sort of commotion roused his attention and he laboriously raised his head a little and squinted at the hunters. Most of them had gotten up and were looking around, confused. Then one of them suddenly dropped to the floor, screaming bloody murder as he went.

The others rushed in and Dean couldn't make out what was happening. Then someone fired a shot, which was answered by another one being dropped and for a moment Dean thought they had started to shoot each other. But then he caught sight of something moving very rapidly into view before it disappeared again into thin air.

He straightened up a little, careful to keep his weight off his injured leg, and tried to make his one good eye focus enough to see what the hell was going on. Something was picking the hunters off one by one, ripping them to shreds, and at first he thought it was a demon of some sort.

More hunters were pulling their weapons and their numbers had now been decimated to seven. One of the downed hunters was still alive, because he was screaming in agony, while the two other bodies lay still on the floor while their blood soaked into the hay.

Andy, who had been loitering around close to Dean, took a step forward.

"Cut me loose," Dean rasped and tried to shift around.

Andy glanced at him and made a face. "Why should I?" he countered. "That's probably something sent by your brother after all. I'm sure you have nothing to worry about."

"You idiot. That's a demon," Dean snapped, putting his last reserves into getting all worked up. "My brother doesn't control demons. He doesn't do much at all. Now cut me the hell loose."

"And what are you going to do, huh? Crawl out of here?" Andy asked, shook his head and walked away to grab a shotgun.

He joined the others in an attempt to fight off this menace. Dean, who was essentially watching from the sidelines, had a clearer view of what was going on and at one point began to understand that there was more than one. He had no clue who or what the attackers were, only that they moved very quickly and took the hunters out without much trouble at all. In the commotion it was hard to decipher who was shooting who and a couple of shots got very close to Dean.

It was getting harder by the minute to keep his head up and eventually he gave up on it. The cacophony surrounding him faded into a dull rumble in the background while he faded in and out of consciousness. He had no strength left and in part didn't care if these demons or whatever they were ended up tearing him to shreds. At least he would ...

That thought trailed off when his sluggish mind focused on what would happen once he died. Not a good bargain, that. He wouldn't get any peace. He was going to Hell and that made him cling to life with a vengeance. He couldn't give up, not yet. He had to know Sam was safe first, that Sam would be able to cope without him.

The screaming around him became more pronounced as he fought his way back into consciousness and he slowly raised his head once more to squint at the barn surrounding him. There was definitely more than one of those things and they were making minced meat of the hunters.

Eventually even Scarface fell and that left nobody left standing. Dean struggled to keep his head up, to face whatever this was without flinching, but when one of these things appeared before him, out of thin air, he couldn't subdue the fear. Because it looked like a girl and she looked just the tiniest bit crazy.

A vague smile rippled over her lips, her eyes a little wide from the rush of killing all the hunters. It wasn't a look Dean approved of in anyone, but he could still understand how the adrenaline influenced her.

The desperate wish that he could move, could get out of the way, asserted itself when she took a step forward and raised a hand toward him.

***

Sam found the backdoor to the barn as predicted and eased inside, careful not to make any noise and even more careful not to trip over anything that might get him killed. But there were no trip wires on the floor and no sign of any guards in the back.

Carefully, he made his way through what was obviously supposed to be booths for horses or livestock, edging closer towards the front of the barn. The subdued sound of voices reached him and he assumed that meant his vision hadn't happened yet. But then the voices stopped and everything fell silent.

Sam stopped and listened carefully to the barn. There were still sounds out there, but nothing he could identify as people talking. A muffled moan followed by a death rattle, then silence, then another more distant moan. People were dying out there and whoever had killed them had vanished.

He made his way through the stable to the back, where a door led into the front part of the barn. It stood ajar and he pushed it carefully open, then stepped through and almost stumbled over the feet of a dead guy. The sight of the dead body in and off itself didn't bother him that much, but the fact that the guy had had his throat torn out did. It reminded him too much of the encounter with that achiri in Cold Oak. He made a face and sidestepped the body, then edged further into the barn before realizing that he didn't need to be careful any more.

The smell of blood in the air was overpowering and became almost nauseating when mixed with the ripe scent of hay. All of the hunters he had seen in his vision were here and they were all dead.

He scanned the barn, searching for Dean, and finally his gaze locked on a rope dangling from the rafters above. He strode over there, ignoring the bodies he had to step over, and stopped short of the place where he had seen his brother in the vision, his eyes locked on the end of the rope. It had been cut through and there was no immediate sign of his brother.

"Dean?" he called and glanced around. His quarry was answered by a low moan close by.

He squinted at the bodies and finally focused on one still moving. Moving slowly, he made his way over there and stopped beside the man lying on the floor with his chest ripped open; the man with the scar on his face. Andy, Sam realized. His expression tensed.

Andy reached a hand up toward him, obviously too far gone to realize who he was. "Help ... me," he gurgled, blood seeping from his mouth and from the deep lacerations on his chest.

"Help you?" Sam asked and hunkered down so Andy could see him. "After what you did to my brother? I doubt it," he said. "Where is he?"

Andy's hand dropped away as his eyes widened. "You," he rasped.

"Yeah, me. You wanna shoot me now? You wanna kill me? I'm not the one you should have worried about. Now where is Dean?" Sam countered.

"Don't ... know," Andy confessed.

Sam grabbed the front of his ruined shirt and hauled him off the floor. "I hope you rot in hell," he snarled, then shoved the dying man back down on the floor. "Lie there and bleed to death, you damned coward," he added and rose. "There's no way in hell that you could have taken on Dean if he had been free and unharmed. He would have pulverized you."

That said, Sam turned, intent on getting the hell out before someone else turned up and maybe blamed this carnage on him. But Andy grabbed his ankle. "Please," he rasped.

Sam glanced back down at him and sneered. Then he pulled his ankle out of Andy's hand, shook his head in distaste and walked away. He was furious and scared out of his mind at the same time. Scared for Dean, furious with these bastards. And a small part of him felt that these people had gotten what they deserved. With that somewhat disconcerting thought running through his head, he left the barn behind and headed quickly back to the Impala.

Something told him that Dean was no longer in or around this barn and he would have to start the search all over again. It infuriated him to such a degree that he was trembling with rage. A new part of him wanted to go back there and put Andy out of his misery, but the part of him that still had a moral code to live by was disgusted at the mere idea.

For right now, there was nothing he could do but head back to the motel room and call Bobby again. At this point in time, he was actually beginning to wish that he would have another vision that would tell him where Dean had disappeared to.

When he reached the Impala, the rage was beginning to subside and left behind a bone-deep weariness. He braced himself against the hood of the car, let his head drop and closed his eyes. "Dammit, Dean. Where are you?" he whispered, then raised his head and glanced around for a moment. He had the odd feeling of being watched and it made him want to get the hell out of there while he still could.

He sent another glance around the area, then slipped into the car, pulled it around and drove off.

A few feet away from where he had just been, the girl he had seen in his vision appeared out of thin air and watched the Impala disappear in the distance. She smiled vaguely, then winked out of existence again.

***