Dean hated stitches.

He hated them almost as much as he hated fevers. But he had both at the moment. Sam had been careful—had only stitched the deepest cuts and had butterflied the rest, applying ointment and fresh wrapping before they both went to bed, but Dean had woken a few hours later chilled, the coarse sheets of the motel bed uncomfortable against his skin. Sure sign of fever.

Careful not to wake Sam, he'd slipped from his bed and swallowed three Tylenol, climbing back into bed and hoping that would be enough to take care of the problem. He opened his eyes to a throbbing hand and joints that ached if he took too deep of a breath. Sam was already in the shower, providing Dean with the perfect cover to rise, dress, and re-bandage his now-swollen hand.

When Sam emerged from the bathroom, Dean was fake-searching the Internet for nothing of particular interest. Just something that kept his flushed face and fever-bright eyes from his ever-observant brother.

"Who are you, and what have you done with my brother?" Sam asked, staring at him.

"I'm studying up on ferry boats," Dean stated.

"Since when do you... study?"

"What? I can't have layers?"

Sam shook his head. "You ready for some coffee?"

"Thought you'd never ask," Dean shut the laptop, hiding the Yahoo home page, and palmed three more Tylenol as he grabbed his jacket. "We're heading back to the ferry, aren't we?"

"Don't see much of a choice," Sam sighed, pulling the motel door shut behind them. "We gotta finish what Dad started... right?"

"You bet your ass," Dean nodded, firing up the Chevy and pulling out of the parking lot, heading for the diner he'd noted on the way to the ferry landing from the police station yesterday.

They walked inside under a ringing bell, sat at the first booth and ordered eggs, toast, and two coffees. Dean sipped the steaming, black beverage, skimming the music selection on the table-top juke box and frowning at the Top 40 Hits displayed there.

"Are you hot?"

Dean smirked, shifting his eyes to Sam. "Now, what kind of question is that?"

"I mean... you just look like... oh, shut up," Sam waved a hand at him, sitting back and looking out of the window.

Dean suppressed a shiver. He needed to keep the fever under control until they figured out this case, got rid of the spirit, stopped people from drowning in their cars. He felt a trickle of sweat snake its way down the side of his face and wiped it away hurriedly.

Their food arrived and Dean stared at the eggs with barely-suppressed horror. Picking up his toast instead, he munched on it slowly.

"So... I think we have to figure out how to check out that car," Sam said around a mouthful of eggs.

"Yeah," Dean nodded. "None of this started until Brad died. There's gotta be something in there."

"Question is... how do we get down there?"

"Hmm," Dean shook his head, dropping his toast and picking up his coffee. "I think I left my scuba gear in my other jacket."

"Yeah, me, too," Sam sighed. "Think we could talk to some of those divers Ramsey said were on the ferry?"

"Be our best bet," Dean nodded. "We never really said anything to him about Charlie being dead, y'know."

"Yeah," Sam nodded. "I been thinking about that... I, uh... I kinda think he already knew."

"You think he killed her?"

"No," Sam shook his head immediately. "He loved her, man. Anyone could see that. No way you could love someone that much and kill them."

Dean licked his lips. "Anything is possible, Sam."

Sam frowned at him, then glanced at his nearly-full plate. "You okay? You haven't eaten a thing."

"Had a big dinner," Dean pushed his plate away. "Let's get going."

"Big dinner?" Sam echoed after him as Dean headed for the diner entrance. "We stole food from the galley!"

Dean let the door shut behind him, breathing in the cool, damp air. He opened the car door and slid inside, waiting as Sam joined him. He threw the car into reverse the minute Sam's door was shut.

"You're working awful hard to hide something," Sam commented dryly. "How long you plan on keeping that up?"

"Long as I have to," Dean replied, knowing Sam couldn't fathom how layered his answer was.

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"Dude," Dean tapped his elbow against Sam's ribs. "Isn't that Mrs. Plastic and Doilies?"

"Huh?"

"Over there," Dean tipped his chin over the rail outside of the Mystic's passenger cabin to the woman stepping out of an Audi on the upper deck of the ferry. She teetered a bit with the motion from the boat, then steadied herself.

"Hey, yeah," Sam leaned on the rail. "Wonder what she's—"

He stopped when Mrs. Sanders glanced up, directly at them. Sam froze, but saw Dean wave casually. She narrowed her eyes, then headed to the stairs. Passing directly by them, she continued up and stepped into Ramsey's captain's cabin without hesitation. The brothers exchanged a glance, then followed her.

By the time they reached the door, Mrs. Sanders had already lit Ramsey up three ways from Christmas.

"...at my door insinuating that your daughter had something to do with my boy's death! Now, I want to know where she is!"

"Listen, lady," Ramsey bellowed as Dean and Sam stepped through the door. "I don't know where my daughter is, but you can bet your $400 shoes that I wouldn't tell you even if I did! Now get the fuck out of my cabin!"

"I'm going to find out what happened to Brad, Mr. Ramsey," Mrs. Sanders snarled, anger ageing her features faster than time ever could. "And when I do, there will be hell to pay."

With that, she turned, pushed past Sam and Dean, then headed back to her car.

"Hell's my middle name!" Ramsey yelled after her. He shifted his eyes to the brother's.

"So... that went well," Dean commented dryly.

"She didn't come on the ferry before all this happened, and now that this case is re-opened, she thinks she can come in here and bully me. Bully me!"

"She obviously had no affect on you," Dean nodded.

"Damn straight," Ramsey huffed. "What the hell do you want?"

"We want to talk to your divers," Sam said, the man's bluster and red-faced yelling not phasing him in the least. "Need them to take a look around that car for us."

"Sanders' car?" Ramsey looked incredulous.

"That'd be the one," Dean nodded.

"What the hell for?"

"Something about his death started this, man," Dean said, spreading his hands to make his point. Sam saw him flinch and pull his right hand toward him. "They may have pulled Brad's body, up, but they left something down there."

"Something important enough that seven people have died because of it."

Ramsey ran a hand through his shaggy hair. "Fine," he said, turning to his wheel. "Go find Larry and Moe down on the crew deck. Tell them I sent you."

"What... no Curly?" Dean smirked.

"He's off today," Ramsey said, his face stone serious. "Now get on out of here. I've got work to do."

Dean chuckled turned to step out of the cabin. As Sam went to follow, he saw Dean's eyes flutter a bit, as if he were getting his bearings, then he took a breath and pushed against the door.

With his left hand.

Son of a bitch...Sam grumbled silently. He followed Dean down the steps and to the car level.

"We got a little time to find the Stooges," Dean said over his shoulder. "Ramsey said that the deaths usually don't happen until he's heading back from Kingston, right?"

"Hey, Dean, how's your hand?" Sam asked casually.

"What?"

"Your hand—those stitches holding okay?"

Dean shrugged, turning away. "Yeah, fine. C'mon, man we need to—"

"Let me see it, then." Sam stopped walking, holding out his hand.

"What? No. It's fine, Sam. You're wasting time."

"And you're lying to me," Sam snapped, anger beginning to simmer. "Why the hell do you do that?"

Dean rolled his eyes and faced his brother. Sam saw what he'd missed before—pale skin beneath flushed cheeks, bloodshot eyes framing bright irises.

"You have a fever, too, don't you?"

"Oh, for God's sake, Sam, I'm not twelve," Dean snapped. "I can handle this, okay?"

"Who are you protecting by—"

The scream of shock and terror caught them both off guard. Sam jumped, Dean darted to the side to look around him, his eyes widening in horror. Sam whipped around, shocked to see Mrs. Sanders' car just behind him, water filling the inside of the car to the base of the window, her small fists pounding frantically at the glass.

And just in front of the car stood Charlie Ramsey.

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"Pull up on the lock!" Dean yelled at her, reefing on the door handle ineffectually.

Her voice was muffled as she screamed back through the glass. "I can't! It won't come up! Oh, God, please, help me please... the water... the water is so cold!"

"Ramsey!" Sam yelled as he ran to the other side of the car. "Get down here!"

Dean shot a look over at the figure of Charlie still standing in front of Mrs. Sanders' Audi. She stared at the woman trapped in the car. Her ice-blue eyes, Dean saw, were like two raw slits of anguish in her pale face. He pulled again on the door handle, then looked around at the small crowd of people who still dared to use the Mystic as their transportation to Kingston.

"Get me something to break this window!" He pleaded.

Those who looked back at him didn't move. The others averted their eyes. Dean looked back inside the car; the water was now up to Mrs. Sanders' elbows. She pressed her hand flat against the window and Dean pressed his on the other side.

"We're gonna get you out of there," he promised.

"Here," Ramsey's voice came from his right. Dean was suddenly aware that he could no longer feel the hum of the ferry engines beneath his feet. "Try this."

Dean looked over and saw a crowbar thrust out to him. Without thinking, he reached out with his right hand to grasp it, crying out when the wounds contacted the metal, dropping the crowbar to the deck.

"I got it," Sam said, materializing as if from nowhere to push him out of the way, grabbing up the crowbar and jacking it into the seam of the door.

"Put your face to the ceiling!" Dean yelled at Mrs. Sanders.

He could see her shaking from the cold as she climbed up on the driver's seat, keeping her face up as the water level rose.

"C'mon, Sam," Dean encouraged.

"I'm trying!" Sam grunted, teeth clenched in effort.

"Oh, God," Ramsey suddenly breathed, and Dean's head snapped up in reaction. Looking at the man's stricken face, he realized he'd just noticed his daughter. "Oh, my God, Charlie..."

"Talk to her, man," Dean demanded.

"What?"

"Tell her you're sorry you didn't listen!"

"I listened!"

The water suddenly rose faster and Mrs. Sanders' frightened shriek was audible through the water and glass.

"C'mon, you stubborn bastard," Sam muttered and Dean wasn't sure if he were addressing the car door or Ramsey.

"Talk to her, dammit!" Dean yelled at Ramsey, grabbing the front of the man's loose T-shirt with his left hand and hauled him roughly to the front of the car.

"Charlie..." Ramsey choked out. "I didn't know... why'd you leave me, kiddo? Where did you go?"

Dean watched as Charlie looked at her father. Then her eyes turned to him and Dean felt the world slow. He could feel his clothes rub against his fevered skin, the throb of his heartbeat in his hand, the blood pumping through his veins. He could feel the brief wind move the tiny hairs on his cheeks; the pressure in his ears building until it silenced all cries of protest, grunts of exertion, sobs of regret.

There was only Charlie. And suddenly he saw through her eyes. He saw a boy with dark brown eyes, anger turning his face dangerous, swinging a fist at him. He saw the world spinning, realized that he was looking up from the ground as feather-light clouds passed swiftly over a bright, full moon. He saw the lid of a car trunk close. He saw water, torrents of water, rushing in and around him.

Dean took a breath, and was suddenly unable to exhale. He was choking on air, the pressure in his ears expanding to encompass his whole body. Breath had never felt so violent, so vicious.

Then Charlie blinked.

Dean hit his knees on the cement deck and fell forward to catch himself with his left hand. He coughed out air, dragging breaths in, trembling and he heard his brother's exclamation of surprise. He looked over and saw that Sam had stumbled back from the mangled, opened door of the Audi, the interior free of water.

It was as if the water had never been there. Mrs. Sanders sat crouched on her driver's seat, dripping wet, coughing, and staring back at Sam. Dean closed his eyes, dropping his head and continued to breathe. He heard the crowbar hit the deck, then felt Sam's hands on his back as his brother offered his silent support.

Dean sat slowly back on his haunches, leaning into Sam's grip, needing his brother's arms to stay upright. His head swam and lips tingled. He felt separated from himself, once again as if there were another pulling the strings, commanding his body, taking over such actions from him.

He looked up at Ramsey, his breaths steadying, suddenly aware of the crowd murmuring around him.

"He killed her," Dean rasped, his throat felt hollowed-out, his chest ached.

"What?" Ramsey said, looking around dazedly.

Dean pulled away from Sam once his head stopped spinning. He felt Sam's hand at his elbow as he pushed himself to a wavering stance.

"Brad..." Dean glanced at Mrs. Sanders. "He killed Charlie."

"No," she shook her head. "No, that isn't true... it can't be true."

Sam shifted away, tilting his head to study the shivering woman. "You knew it... you already knew it..." he said in wonder. "You knew he killed Charlie."

"No," Mrs. Sanders stepped out of the car, pushing the door shut behind her. The small crowd around them stepped back almost in unison. No one seemed sure where to look, what to say. "No... how could I have known that? I didn't even know she was dead!"

"Oh, Charlie," Ramsey breathed out, pressing a hand to his chest.

"Aw, Christ, Sam," Dean looked over at his brother, suddenly cold. "Not Charlie... Wyatt."

"What?" Sam pulled his eyebrows together.

Dean pulled his right arm against his chest, trying to alleviate the throb beating through the wounds on his palm. "She may not have known Charlie was dead... but she knew Wyatt was."

"What?" Ramsey exclaimed, stepping forward. Dean saw two men in wet suits standing behind him, the top part of the wet suit folded down at their waists and white T-shirts that read Mystic with the ferry's call numbers printed across the front. "Wyatt who?"

"Wyatt Abrams," Sam said, taking another step back.

Dean instinctively followed. The look on Sam's face was one of sick horror, as if he still couldn't bring himself to accept the reality of what people were capable of doing to each other. Dean felt tethered to him; the further Sam stepped clear of Mrs. Sanders, the closer Dean needed to be to him.

"Your daughter was in love with him," Sam said, eyes darting quickly from Ramsey to Mrs. Sanders. "And... and Brad knew that. You said he did."

Mrs. Sanders looked away from Sam. Her cold eyes scanned the crowd, skimming over Ramsey and resting on Dean. "You don't know what you're talking about," she all-but growled.

"I think we do," Dean said, suppressing a shudder. He could feel the heat of his skin increasing. The world around him seemed to suddenly sharpen, as if nature were turning up the contrast of the sun on the water, the metal of the cars, the color of people's clothes. "I think Brad killed Wyatt... Charlie found out... was..." he swallowed, licking his lips. "Was going to turn him in and—"

"NO!" Mrs. Sanders snarled. "No, that's not true! It can't be!"

"Charlie?" Ramsey suddenly breathed.

Dean blinked and looked over at Ramsey, then quickly followed his eye line to the rail behind Sam. Charlie stood there, staring back at them. Her wounded eyes shifted from Mrs. Sanders, to her father, to Dean, then rested on Sam. Dean heard his brother pull in a breath and knew what he was suddenly seeing, suddenly feeling.

Instinctively he reached out for Sam, but wasn't quick enough. As if yanked by an invisible rope, Sam was pulled off his feet and fell silently to the chilly waters of the Puget Sound some twenty feet below.

"SAM!" Dean bellowed, rushing to the rail in time to see Sam sink below the waves.

Without waiting for an offer of help, Dean bent and grabbed the crowbar with his aching hand, ripped off his jacket, grasped the rail, and swung over the edge after his brother.

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Sam wasn't aware of hitting the water. He wasn't aware of the journey through the dark. He was only aware of the horrible feeling of being choked by his own breath, the image of water rushing in at him, and then opening his eyes, the concentration of salt stinging them viciously, and realizing that he was inside a car... under water.

Sam tried desperately not to panic. He tried to remember not to take a breath, as his body was begging him to do. He blinked, floating his hands quickly around the interior of the car, finding the steering wheel, the back of the seat, the window, the lock. He tried to pull up on the lock, but it held fast, his fingers slipping off.

Don't panic... don't breathe and don't panic... there has to be a way out of here... there has to be some way...

His chest burned, lungs screaming for air. He released a bubble, trying to alleviate the pressure. Pushing himself to the back seat, Sam worked on the back locks and handle to no avail.

No... nononononono... I'm not ready!

He wasn't ready to go.

Dean... Dean couldn't handle losing Dad and me... Dean never has been very good at being alone. I can't leave Dean. I can't leave—

The slap of a hand on the front window brought his addled brain to the present. Letting another bubble of air slip out, Sam grabbed the steering wheel and pulled himself up to the front, pressing his hand back against Dean's. He tried the lock once more. He saw Dean wave him back and pushed himself away from the window.

He felt a muffled reverberation as Dean worked on the door. The edges of his vision began to fade. Desperate for air, Sam pressed his face against the roof of the car, hoping that somehow a pocket of air had gotten trapped.

Nothing. No air.

He wasn't going to make it.

Oh, God... Dean...

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He fought with his eyes open.

He fought the door with the crowbar, working with strength born of desperation. Through his burning eyes he saw Sam's body shake, jerk, struggle against the salt water that sought to replace the air in his lungs and fought against the panic that burst bright and hot in his heart.

With one last heave, the door came loose and Dean reached in with his left hand to grab Sam's shirt. Pulling his brother's still shaking body close, he released the hold he'd had on the base of the car's frame to keep himself in place, and started to push away. As he did, he felt a grip on his leg. Looking back, he saw a pale white hand skim down the length of his calf.

Gripping Sam tightly, the last of the air sizzling in his lungs, Dean pushed away from the car and kicked to the surface, using his wounded hand as a paddle to aid their ascent. He fought the tide, the pull of the impossibly cold water. He fought the pain in his hand, chest, eyes. He fought the heavy exhaustion that tugged at his legs.

Kick, dammit, just kick, do not let go, do not let go of him, hold him hold him hold him...

He had to fight—he had to fight until it was over. Until the job was done. Until Sam was safe. There was nothing else.

Air swept over Dean's burning face as he broke the surface, Sam's shirt gripped tightly in his left hand, his right swirling blood in the water as he kept them upright. Splashes around him brought his eyes open as he saw the two divers enter the water and a life-ring floating nearby.

"Sam," he croaked, shaking him.

Sam had stopped shaking and Dean couldn't feel his brother's chest moving with the reassuring repetition of breath.

"SAM!" Dean rasped again, fighting to keep both of them above water. "Breathe, dammit!"

As if simply complying with Dean's plea, Sam coughed, his head lolling back against Dean's shoulder.

"That's it, Sammy," Dean managed. He fumbled for the life preserver. "C'mon, little brother...need you to help me here."

The divers reached them and one grasped Sam's arms, looping them over the ring.

"I got him," he said, nodding to his partner who reached for Dean.

But Dean knew he wasn't going to make it. As the diver's hands stretched out, Dean felt another pair of hands grasp his ankles. He had one moment to pull in a quick lungful of air, one moment to comprehend that it could be his last, and then he was dragged below.

Dean let his body fall through the water, pulled by the desire of a spirit. He felt his feet hit the top of the sunken car and turned to grasp the door handle, leveling his body with the car, hooking his foot under the frame as he had when he pulled Sam free.

Casting about through the icy depths, he felt along the sandbar until he found the crowbar he'd dropped. Making his way around to the trunk, Dean shoved the crowbar into the seam, rusted by months under the salty water. He was shaking so badly from fever and cold he could barely grip the metal bar, but one thrust was all that he needed. The lid came loose and the body of Charlie Ramsey was exposed.

Time and elements had not been kind. Part of Charlie's face had been eaten away by sea creatures small enough to flow in with the water. Her eyes were two sunken orbs, her lips pulled back in a frozen grimace. Despite that, Dean reached in, grabbed the front of the girl's hooded sweatshirt and pulled her free from her watery coffin. As he did, her mangled face rolled toward him and for one brief moment he saw clear blue eyes, an unlined face, and a smile spreading in gratitude.

The image faded and the horror returned, and Dean felt himself give in to the ebb and flow of the Puget Sound. Charlie floated up slowly next to him and Dean felt his body begin to convulse with the need for breath. As he fell inside of the black, acutely aware of the sense of peace that suddenly surrounded him, he saw the silhouette of his savior swim down for him.

He closed his eyes and surrendered.

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