Rating: PG-13

Chapter 5 – Truth?

Dean slept. Sam sat on the floor of the small room, his back against the wall to the left of the low cot, one leg stretched out in front of him, the other bent underneath him. He watched his brother. The early morning light stole through the small window, filtered by a sheer white curtain. The fire had long since died down, but every once in awhile a wayward crack would send a spark up the chimney.

Sam sat, listened to the near silence, and just watched his brother sleep. Dean's eyelashes cast dark shadows in contrast to his still-pale features. His lips were slightly parted. A bare arm rested lightly on the left side of his chest. Sam knew how thick the bandages were on the right side. He'd put them there himself. Dean's silver ring glinted on is right hand, resting by his side atop the sheet. And that leather-strapped necklace that Dean was never without lay slack on his neck, the medallion resting in the hollow of his throat.

Sam ignored the hard floor, the cramped space he'd wedged himself in just to be close to his brother, and simply kept his eyes on Dean – almost afraid he could vanish. Brenna had cleaned his head wound, put in a couple of stitches, and declared that he did not need magic healing. Her attempt at levity had fallen on deaf ears as Sam had practically sprinted back to the room, the fear of letting Dean out of his sight just that little bit wrapping around his heart and squeezing the breath from his lungs. He couldn't believe how close he'd come to losing him tonight. Forever. For always.

Dean was his constant. His one truth – the one person who was just always there. He'd taken some pretty bad beatings in his young life, and he'd always come back swinging with a sharp retort and a light in his eye that Sam used to try to emulate when he was younger and simply admired as he grew older. Dean's way of attacking the world had taught Sam more about life than any number of years at Stanford, or any number of drills his father had put them through. He owed Dean. He owed him his life. Watching his brother breathe he wondered if he'd ever told him that. He could remember telling Dean he needed him, that he missed him, but…had he ever just said thanks?

Dean's brow furrowed once and he tightened his back, and then relaxed. He'd been doing that off and on throughout the night, as though caught in a dream, but too exhausted to pull himself out of it. It never looked too violent, too scary, so Sam let him sleep. Lord knew he needed it. Sam knew that he should be in a hospital, on oxygen, with machine's monitoring his heart, and blood restoring the mass that he lost – but Dean hated hospitals. He would be pissed if he woke up in one. And truth be told, Sam didn't know if he could stand to see him there again. Not after Nebraska.

Sam looked at the cell phone held loosely in his limp hands. Call Dad, Dean had said. Twice in fact. During the first few hours of the night, Brenna sat with him as he kept his vigil over Dean. He'd asked her about her comment in the Impala…about following Dad's orders. She told him what she knew – she'd known only that Dean had spoken with their father and that the outcome was that he had to believe Brenna was evil. Sam had cringed for Dean. He knew what that meant. Evil dies, end of story. No wonder Dean had been in pain. He never went against Dad. Never.

What could he say? Dad, you were wrong? Next time maybe you'll listen to your son? Listen. John Winchester didn't listen. He was the authority. He was the rule. Dad, Dean died last night. But a witch brought him back. Sam actually shivered at the thought of telling is father that. What if he doubted the miracle? What if he thought Dean was…wrong? He still feared the day he would have to tell his father about his visions.

Dean took a shaky breath and Sam focused on his face, hoping, but his eyes didn't open. Sam knew he needed his rest, but he missed him. He missed his eyes, always steadily watching, noticing more than anyone – even Sam – gave him credit for. He missed his movement, the way he was always in motion… unless he didn't know what to do, and then he'd stop, dead still, until he could see his way clear. He missed his incessant chatter when he was in a good mood. He missed the sounds that were his brother.

He missed those things more now, in this moment, than when he'd been away from him for two years. He suddenly recalled how Dean had said their Dad had driven by Stanford – just to check on him. He wondered how their hunts had managed to bring them to California so often. He wondered if Dean had been with him. Obviously his brother had known where he lived. He looked at Dean's bar arm, resting above the clean sheet Brenna had put on the bed. He thought knew every scar on his brother's body – he'd been there when most had happened. But last night, sewing up the angry gashes across Dean's ribs, Sam had seen one that he didn't remember. One that he hadn't been there for.

"Not get him…:" Dean mumbled. Sam's eyes flew up to his brother's face. His brows were once again pulled together, his eyes frantically darting back and forth under his closed lids.

Sam reached a hesitant hand up and rested it on Dean's hot forehead. Brenna said that the fever was burning out the infection, but he felt awful hot to Sam. He was sweating, though, so maybe Brenna was right. Sam knew from experience that a hot, sweaty brow was a lot better than a hot dry brow. Though Dean was unconscious, it still bothered Sam that he didn't pull away from this touch.

"Take me…"

"Shhhh… it's okay, Dean. I'm here. You're safe."

"Take me…" Dean whispered again, turning his head toward Sam's touch, his eyes roaming the closed lids faster, his breathing picking up. "Promised…I promised…"

"What did you promise, Dean?"

"Take care of Sammy…"

"You do take care of me, big brother. It's okay, you're okay."

"Tell him…"

"What, Dean?"

"Tell him…" Dean's voice grew more anxious, more adamant.

Sam tried to swallow and found that he couldn't. He nodded, stroking his brother's forehead. "I'll tell him, Dean."

Dean seemed to settle with that, and sighed a bit, his frantic search of the darkness behind his eyes slowing, and then stopping as he sank back into a restive sleep.

Sam closed his eyes, and then gripped the cell in his fist, pounding it twice against his forehead. You want betrayal…how about 22 years of loyalty and obedience discarded in one night… Sam clenched his jaw, his brother's voice bouncing around in his head, haunting him. I did everything the man asked me and 'pah' just gone, without a word… Even the shape shifter had known. I could see this wound inside of him. Something that had scarred over and been ripped open several times. And it was…it was like it was bleeding... Brenna trying to explain his own brother to him.

With a low growl, Sam stood. He looked down at Dean's sleeping form for another moment, then left the small room. The house was quiet. Brenna and Declan had gone to bed hours ago. Sam didn't want to go far in case Dean woke up. He didn't want him to wake up alone. He stepped out onto the porch, leaving the door open.

He flipped open his phone, scrolling down the list of names until he stopped on Dad. Swallowing again, he hit the send button. Part of him, he suddenly realized, hoped against hope that his Dad would actually pick up. He realized that he needed to tell him what had happened, needed to hear his Dad say that it was going to be okay, that Dean was back now, that he wouldn't leave him, that they'd done the right thing, that getting the banshee wasn't the priority, getting Dean out had been…

This is John Winchester…

Sam let out a shaky sigh, waiting for the message to finish. At the beep he cleared his throat. "Dad. It's Sam." Dean's hurt really bad. He died, Dad. I got him back, but he needs you. She took him because he doesn't know how much he needs you. She took him because you made him a soldier before he ever learned how to be a kid. She took him because he lost his Mom and his Dad in the same night. She took him because no one ever told him that they were proud of him, that it was okay to cry, that needing his Dad was normal... "Ah, listen. Dean and I found the thing that's after the Kavanagh's. It's a banshee. It's cursed, Dad. And that's why it's after Declan. So, ah, Dean just wanted you to know not to come after Brenna. She's not what you think she is, Dad."

He clicked the phone shut. No goodbye. No, I miss you. No, do you hate me. No, can I come back home now.

"He knows, Sam," the soft voice behind him made him jump.

Brenna stood, barefoot, wearing a short sleeved white T-shirt and a pair of gray sweatpants with the word Terriers down the leg. Her hair was pulled into a knot at the back of her head, and her eyes looked puffy, like she'd been asleep moments ago. Sam's lips quirked. If Dean could see her at this moment he would probably ignore the fact that his entire right side was a mass of stitches.

"What?"

"He knows that Dean needs him, that you need him," she whispered.

"How do you know?"

Brenna shrugged. "I just do. I can't explain it more than that."

Sam sighed. "Well, it's a beautiful lie, his telling himself that he's taking care of us by abandoning us."

"He's scared, Sam."

Sam clenched his jaw, narrowing his eyes at her. "Of what?"

"Losing you."

Sam shoved the cell phone in his pocket and walked back into the house, closing the door softly, but firmly behind him. "He lost me a long time ago. He doesn't even know who I am. And he just about lost Dean last night – and he almost lost him once before – but he has no idea."

"He hasn't lost you, Sam. You're too much alike."

At that, Sam started. Like his father? He was nothing like his Dad. Dean was the strong one, the warrior, the protector. Dean followed orders, got things done, never complained, did the job. Sam fought his Dad at every turn, argued, questioned, wondered. Dean had the heart of a rogue, Sam the heart of a romantic. Dean was just like his Dad, not Sam.

Suddenly, Sam was reminded of Declan's greeting to Dean. Boy, you must take after your mom, because there ain't a hint of John in you. It occurred to Sam that he had no idea what his mother was like. He always assumed he was like her because he saw Dean as his father's son. But, then, he looked at Brenna, her softness, her stealthy beauty, her obvious power, and he realized that Dean hadn't just been attracted to her pretty face. He'd been pulled to her because he saw inside of her, probably without actually realizing it. A lot of what Dean did was done by instinct, without the thought process Sam generally agonized through. That was the feeling he'd been trying to explain to Sam before they went into the mill house. Behind his pirate's smile, Dean felt true emotions for her.

For a moment there, Sam had been ready to mark her as the enemy and be done with it. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if she hadn't been able to save Dean, he would have had no qualms about letting the banshee take her. That's where people got him wrong. He was darker than they gave him credit for. And that was like John. That was exactly like John.

Sam sighed again, realizing that he'd been staring at Brenna without speaking for nearly a minute. She stared right back, waiting for his thoughts to cease their tumble. He blinked at her, thinking.

"Yeah, well, maybe if we weren't so alike, he'd actually like me more," he said, brushing past her and going back to Dean. He sat back on the floor, watching Dean breathe. "I called him," he said.

Dean turned his head toward Sam's voice.

Sam sighed, suddenly very tired. He reached up and touched Dean's forehead. When his brother didn't react, he rested his hand on the top of Dean's head. The touch, the connection between them comforted him, balanced him.

"Thanks, Sammy," Dean sighed in his sleep.

Sam blinked, then blinked again. The time between his eyes actually being open lengthening. Shifting forward, he rested his head on the cot near Dean's left shoulder, keeping his hand on Dean's head. In minutes, he was asleep.

www

Dean was standing in a field of grass. He had no idea how he got there, just that no matter which way he turned, there was knee-high, blowing grass as far as he could see. Kansas had looked like this, he remembered. But this wasn't home – Lawrence hadn't looked like this. And where the hell was Sam? For a year now he'd not been anywhere that Sam wasn't – or at least knew how far away Sam was to him. Now… he couldn't remember where Sam had gone. And why he wasn't there.

As he slowly turned, surveying each direction, panic clutched his heart. Maybe Sam was hurt. Could he have been hurt? Someone was hurt. He remembered that. Someone had been hurt, and there had been screaming, and…Sammy had cried. What the hell? Sammy had cried. Maybe Dad was hurt. But he couldn't remember the last time he'd seen Dad either…

Dean stopped turning and stood still, his ears straining to hear something, anything outside of the wind. He never liked being alone. He was better when he had someone to take care of, someone to focus on, someone to protect – he was better when Sam was with him. He didn't like being alone because he didn't know who he was with when he was alone. The only person that scared him was himself, and he never left – he was always there. Even John's fiercely barked orders or seemingly cold indifference didn't scare him. Sure, it hurt him, but ultimately, who really cared about that?

He was getting anxious. The wind picked up and tossed the long grass around more, turning it silver. He used to like the wind – sometimes he even felt like he could lean back and the wind would just hold him up, care for him. And he might even let it. But this wind…this wind was starting to get on his nerves. It was…it was screaming at him. Screaming that it was going to take someone…someone…Sam. It was going to take Sam.

"No!" He cried into the nothing. "Take me!"

The wind screamed Sam's name. Louder, shaking him from the inside out.

"Take me!" He screamed again, his arms spread wide. He didn't know who he was yelling at, or where they were going to take Sam, but he could feel that it wasn't good. It wasn't a good place they were going to take him.

He heard it clearly then. The wind asked him why.

"Because I promised," Dean said, turning in a full circle again, trying to pin down the location of the voice. The sky seemed to darken like the coming of a summer storm. He felt a rumble beneath his feet. "I promised I'd take care of him. Take care of Sammy."

He turned to look over his shoulder at the nothing. "You hear me? I PROMISED."

The wind mocked him. He doesn't care, it teased. He doesn't know. He doesn't understand.

"Then I'll tell him," Dean cried. "I'll tell him!"

What?

"Whatever I have to," Dean said, whipping around again to face nothing. "Whatever you want me to. Just don't take him."

You can't tell him. You don't believe.

"Sure I do. I believe."

Liar.

"Hey! Who you calling names? You don't even exist. You're in my head."

If we don't exist, why are you afraid?

Dean felt his knees tremble. "Just…just please. Please don't take him. He's all I have. He's everything I am… he's the only good in me. Please…"

Do you deserve him, Dean?

Dean gave in to the weakness and sank to his knees in the massive field of grass. "No," he whispered.

Does he deserve you, Dean?

He brought his head up, not sure how to answer the wind. Did Sam deserver a brother who was always giving him a hard time? A brother who was only half as good as he was himself? A bother who only knew how to follow orders, how to jump in front of a bullet – fired from a number of different kinds of weapons – and not much more? A brother who had pulled him from a normal life – a life with a girl he loved – back into the Winchester craziness just because he couldn't stand to be alone anymore?

"No," he whispered. And suddenly, the summer storm turned into a tornado. The sky around him turned green. Dean felt the wind pull at his coat, his arms, try to pull on his legs. He heard its wicked laugh. He felt it pierce his side and slash his ribs. He felt its scream in his bones.

He tried to stand, but his strength deserted him, left him vulnerable, shaking, and alone. He tried to fight the wind. Desperate to grab onto anything to keep him where he was… then he felt warmth on his head. He felt fingers in his hair. He looked over his shoulder, but saw nothing but angry, empty sky. He felt, rather than heard, a tired sigh, and the fingers felt heavier. Sam. It was Sam's hand he felt.

The wind slowed, the sky changed from a dangerous green to a steel gray. The grass began to sway gently. And Dean found he could stand up. With Sam's hand on his head, he could stand against the wind.

"Thanks, Sammy," he whispered. And the wind stilled.

www

This time when Dean awoke it was in stages. The first thing he was aware of was a dull ache in his back. The next was what felt like a cement block laying on top of his right side, trying unsuccessfully to smother the cold fire that was hovering over his ribs, shoulder, and lower right side. The third was an unbearable thirst. Without opening his eyes, he tried to lick his lips, but found his tongue was dry and felt too large for his mouth.

He braved the world and slowly blinked his eyes open. His eyes were gritty, and they burned with the onslaught of light filtering in from the small window. He looked at the light for a moment. Just looked. Because, he realized, he could. He smelled the dying embers from the fire in the fireplace and tried to turn his head to the left to see it. That's when he realized that Sam's hand was resting heavily on top of his head.

He turned his head carefully so as not to dislodge Sam's hand, and saw that his brother was sitting on the floor, his freakishly long legs apparently spread out under the low cot, and his head burrowed against Dean's side. For a moment, Dean's breath caught in his throat. How many times while Sam was growing up had he fallen asleep against Dean, forcing his older brother to either scoot over in the bed and let him lay there, or pick him up and carry him to his own bed?

"Sam," he tried to say, but it came out as a dull croak. He forced himself to swallow and tried again. "Sammy."

Sam's head popped up like someone just shot off a starter pistol. He stared straight ahead, not at Dean. Dean could see even from this angle that he wasn't fully awake. His brown eyes were dilated and he blinked very slowly. Dean had seen this before. He had taken advantage of this before. Sam was very pliable for information when he was hovering in the realm between waking and sleeping.

But Dean was so thirsty, and Sam had fallen asleep on his left hand, which was now tingling with pins and needles. He said his brother's name again and Sam jerked like he'd been hit.

"Easy, tiger, it's just me," Dean calmed. Sam blinked again, and Dean watched awareness seep in with relief.

"Dean?"

"Hey."

"Hey back, man. How are you feeling?" Sam had finally moved his hand from the top of Dean's head and was now clutching his left arm like a life preserver.

"Like I slept with a hamster in my mouth."

"It's probably the potion. I'll get you some water."

Potion, Dean thought. The events of the night before slammed into him with the force of a sledgehammer. The banshee's torture, keeping the pain from driving Sam insane, the complete and utter exhaustion chased by fear, the coldness, and then…nothing. No sound, no light, no sensation whatsoever. And worst of all, no Sam…no Dad…and no hope.

But then there had been sensation. Lots of it. Pain. And light. And noise. And Sam. Because of Brenna. Because of magic. Because he had disobeyed a direct order. Sam was gone for just a few seconds when he returned with a cup of water and helped Dean tilt his head up to drink it.

His thirst satiated and his lips wet from the water, Dean lay his head back against the pillow and sighed. Sam sat back down on the floor, leaning his back against the wall, and tilted his head toward Dean.

"We didn't get her, did we." It wasn't a question.

Sam didn't meet his brother's eyes. "No."

Dean nodded. "We'll have to go back, Sam."

Sam lifted a brow at him. "I plan on it."

Dean shifted his heavy eyes to meet his brother's. "You're not going alone."

Sam's jaw hardened with equal determination. "You're not coming with me."

Dean struggled to sit up, needing the leverage to sufficiently yell at his brother. The pain in his side stopped him cold. Sam didn't even bother to wince in sympathy. "See?" he said.

"I just need a boost, Sam."

"Dean, please," Sam swallowed, then looked directly at his brother. To Dean's surprise, there were tears swimming in Sam's eyes.

"Sam…what is it?"

"Dean…you died last night."

Dean pressed his lips together, his eyes shifting away from Sam. He didn't know what to say.

"Part of me went with you."

At that, Dean looked at Sam, surprised. "What?"

"I can't lose you, Dean. Not like that. Not again."

"You're not going to lose me, Sam."

"My vision could still –"

"Sam," Dean's voice caught. He stopped, took a breath and tried again. "I crossed Dad with this one. I have to make it right."

Sam's eyebrows practically met over his nose. "Dad was wrong, Dean."

Dean shook his head once. "Doesn't matter. I have to make it right."

Sam's lips quivered. He looked away from his brother's green eyes and pale face, trying to find a place on the wall he could stare at and gather strength. "Why do you have to be so damn stubborn," he whispered.

"I think I learned it from you," Dean said, a small smile in his voice.

"What?"

"You ever hear that saying that insanity is genetic – you get it from your children?"

"I guess."

"Sam, your will almost defeated me a million times over when you were a kid. I had to be able to bully you into doing what I needed you to do. Then you had to go and get all…ginormous."

Sam lifted an eyebrow, "Really."

Dean nodded. "I kinda had to relearn how just to be your brother."

"You were always my brother, Dean," Sam said softly, clearly stating that was better than the pseudo-parent Dean had been forced to become at such a young age. As though the word 'brother' carried with it all the love and appreciation Sam felt toward Dean, but never figured out just how to say to him. Sam couldn't remember the fire that took their Mom, he couldn't remember leaving Lawrence, but he could remember Dean teaching him to tie his shoes, ride a bike, dunk cookies, throw a punch, drive a car… he remembered like they each happened yesterday.

"Well, as your brother, I'm telling you, I have to do this. I have to make it right."

Sam set his jaw. "Fine. You get out of that bed, and we'll talk."

Dean tilted his head. "What?"

"You get up out of that bed, and we'll see if you can fight a banshee."

Dean relaxed his mouth into a half grin. "Well, seeing as how we don't even know what will kill it –"

"So not the point, Dude."

"Fine."

Dean took a breath. He gripped the side of the bunk with his left hand and slowly, painfully rolled to that side. He bit his lip bloody to keep from crying out. He didn't look at Sam. Instead, he focused on a knot in the wood floor. His whole universe became that knot. There was nothing but that knot. He shifted his left leg to the floor, sill lying on his side. Then he began the horrendous task of swinging his right leg over and using that momentum to sit up. Once upright he paused for a moment to catch his breath and fight away the black crowding his vision.

Sam scrambled out of the way, not wanting to help – because he wanted Dean to stay in bed – but also not willing to be party to Dean's hurting himself more than he already was. He watched Dean's eyes close, his breath forcibly become deeper and slower, trying desperately not to pass out, his color go from pale to gray. Then, as if by sheer will, color returned to his face and his green eyes opened. He looked up at the mantel piece, seemed to realize that it was too high, and instead reached out his left arm for the stone fireplace.

His fingers gripped the stone, and, keeping his right arm tight against his heavily bandaged right side, he forced his legs to bare his weight. The change in altitude sent his color plummeting again, and Sam thought he was going to have to catch him when his eyes closed, but he breathed through it and after about a minute was able to open his eyes again.

"See?" he said, his voice weak, "Nothin to it."

Sam glared at him. "You keel over and I'm not catching you."

Dean licked his dry lips. "Don't be such a girl, Sam." He looked down at his partially bare torso. He never liked being shirtless too long. Too many scars…too many memories of how they got there. He'd taken his shirt off more on this job than any other. And he knew who to blame for that. "Think I could get a T-shirt, Sam?"

"Right. Like you could lift it over your head."

Dean lifted an eyebrow. "Think I could get something?"

Sam sighed and went to the chair on the other side of the armoire. Dean leaned a hand back against the fireplace when Sam turned his back. It was then he noticed his jeans were clean – no blood collecting around the waistband. How the hell… maybe he didn't want to know.

Sam handed him a button-down green shirt. Dean took it with his left hand, removing it from the fireplace, and contemplated the best way to pull it on. Sam took pity on his brother, watching his hand shake from exertion.

"Here. Let me help you," he grumbled.

Dean smiled, though it was ghosted by the pain in his side. "Thanks, Sammy."

"Listen, I think I might've found something in the journal. Give me a sec and I'll bring it back to you."

"It still in our room?"

"Yeah," Sam said, pausing at the doorway. "You gonna be okay?"

Dean sighed. "I promise not to do anything about the banshee until you get back."

"That's not what I meant," Sam said, his eyes leveled on Dean's.

Dean pressed his lips together. "I'll be okay, Sam."

After taking a few tentative steps, Dean realized that his legs weren't nearly as shaky as he first thought they were. He was exhausted and sweating by the time he reached the door way, though. Once through it, he wasn't sure if it would be a better idea to turn back to the cot, or just let gravity take over. Then he heard her.

"Catch the wind, see us spin, sail away, leave today, way up high in the sky. But the wind won't blow, you really shouldn't go, it only goes to show that you will be mine, by takin' our time."

He made his way slowly to the kitchen, focusing only on the sound of her voice and putting one foot in front of the other. He reached the worn kitchen table and grasped the back of one of the chairs like it was a lifeline. His knuckles turned white as he gripped it and he blinked away the blurriness to look up at where Brenna stood in front of the stove, hair up in a knot, white T-shirt and gray sweatpants…dancing. Good Lord she was dancing. Her back was to him and he could see the tattoo on the back of her neck.

She started singing again, her hips swaying and her shoulders rotating to a beat apparently on she could hear. "And if you say to me tomorrow, oh what fun it all would be. Then what's to stop us, pretty baby. But What Is And What Should Never Be."

God help him, the girl was singing Led Zepplin. Dean clenched his jaw to keep it from dropping open. She turned suddenly then and saw him, letting out a yelp and dropping the wooden spoon she was using. Dean jumped, swayed, caught himself, and eased down into the chair he had been gripping. Sheepishly she pulled the tiny white earbuds from her ears and touched a button on the iPod fastened to her hip.

"Dontcha just love Zepplin?"

Dean gave her a half grin. "More than life itself," he said as honestly as he could.

"Good to see you up," she said, grinning at him.

She had flour across the bridge of her nose and smeared on her right cheek. Kill me now, Dean thought. He never usually went for someone so…natural. At that thought he almost laughed. Brenna was as far from natural as Sam.

"I'd say good to be up, but it seems my body has other ideas," Dean gave her a shaky smile.

She looked instantly concerned. "You want some help back to –"

"Nah," Dean hastened to reply. "Sam'll be back in a minute. I'll just wait until he gets back."

She nodded, retrieved her wooden spoon and rinsed it in the sink. "I'm making pancakes. Think you could eat?"

Dean's eyebrows went up. "Chocolate chip?"

Brenna gave him an impish grin. "Is there any other kind?"

"There's blueberry," Sam said from the doorway, looking with surprise at his brother sitting in a chair at the table. He was leaning heavily on his left arm, though, and he wasn't taking his eyes off of Brenna. "But chocolate chip always seems to win."

"You just gotta have an in with the chef, Sammy," Dean said, still looking at Brenna.

"Uh-huh," Sam sat down next to Dean, close enough that their shoulders touched, and opened the journal. He didn't say anything when he felt Dean's weight shift to lean on him. They turned their attention to the page Sam had opened in the journal. It was an entry on witches who could foretell death. The brother's read in silence as Brenna hummed Zepplin and made pancakes. She was on such a high she didn't think anyone could bring her down. The power she'd felt course through her last night had her buzzing this morning.

"Boys," a world weary voice called from across the room. Dean and Sam looked up. Declan walked in, T-shirt untucked, shirt unbuttoned. He sat down across from Dean. "We have to talk."

Dean sighed. "It's about friggin time, man."

"You're not going to find what you need in that book," Declan said, shifting his eyes to Brenna, then back to Sam and Dean. "John's never been up against this before."

Dean's jaw set. "You knew that all along, didn't you?"

Declan nodded.

"Why did you call him then? You could have gotten him killed!"

Sam looked at his brother in surprise. The fear for their father, the worry in his voice shocked Sam. It had been Dean who had nearly died – scratch that, who had died – and he was worried about what might've happened to their father.

Declan ignored Dean's question and seemed to sink a bit in his chair. Sam thought he watched him grow older in front of them. "She was a druid," he said.

Brenna dropped the wooden spoon again.

"What?" Sam asked.

"She was a druid. She had sight. Just like Brenna." Declan indicated Brenna with a jerk of his head. "She fell in love with the clan chief's son. They were to be married. The clan chief's son was wounded in battle. The chief called her to heal him, promising her that no matter what, she would be safe, have a place in his home. She tried," he looked at Dean. "She failed. In his grief, the clan chief had her brought to the town square and said that they were going to cut out the power from her."

Dean winced, his left hand going to cover his right side in an answer to a sudden, fierce twinge.

"As she bled out, she cried that no one in the clan would know peace until the last druid in the Kavanagh line was dead. She said that the Kavanaghs would know pain that can be felt but not seen, and it would make them crazy. The druid's tried to save her. They failed. In her grief over the loss of her love and the betrayal by her king, she screamed and the druid's turned her into a banshee."

Sam sat very still, listening. He felt the weight of his brother against his shoulder and the energy shimmering off of Brenna across the kitchen. He knew that this was the first time she heard this story, too. "So, if all this happened… back then… why is it happening again now? And… why here?"

Declan sighed, then looked at Brenna.

"Me?" her voice trembled.

"You're from his line, girl. The clan chief. And you have the sight."

Brenna's jaw hardened and her eyes grew predatory. "You ever planning to tell me about this? Or were you going to wait until all our kin was killed off or crazy?"

"I was trying to protect you."

Brenna looked at Declan, then her eyes shifted to Dean's pale face. "You almost killed him, Da," she said softly. "Protecting me almost got him killed."

Dean said nothing. Sam, surprised, looked over at him. His eyes had clouded a bit with pain, but he was alert and watching Brenna. Sam could see him thinking, could see him turning over something, but couldn't figure out where his brother's head was at. With a decisive move, Brenna pulled the rubber band from the knot at the back of her head, her hair falling down her back in waves. She practically stomped past the table, heading for the narrow stairway.

"NO," Dean barked out.

"Yes," she said over her shoulder, not stopping.

Dean tried to get up, but couldn't get his legs under him. "Brenna, no."

One foot on the stairs, she looked over her shoulder at him, "Try to stop me, Dean," she challenged, knowing he wasn't strong enough even to stand.

Sam's eyes darted back and forth between them. "What the hell is going on?"

Dean whipped his head around. "Stop her, Sam."

"From doing what?"

"She's going after the banshee."

"How do you know?"

Dean's chin trembled once. "Because it's what I would do."

www

Sam figured that they would be safe enough in the day. He had yet to hear of a spirit attacking during the day. Or a zombie, vampire, werewolf, wendigo… there were all kinds of reasons to fear the dark. So, when he couldn't get Brenna to open her door by pounding, finally kicking it in to reveal an empty room and open window, he didn't worry too much. When he marched back downstairs to Dean to declare he would head out after her, patting empty pockets for the Impala keys, he started to worry.

When they heard the unmistakable rumble of the Chevy's powerful engine, he panicked. Too late he realized that in the hustle and confusion of getting Dean inside and saving his life, he completely forgot to get the keys back from Brenna.

"No. Fucking. Way," Dean declared, this time succeeding in pushing himself into a standing position.

"She didn't," Sam groaned, hitting his forehead with the palm of his hand.

"Sam…"

The Impala's roar faded as it pulled away from the house and sped down the road.

"She did."

"Sam, get her back. NOW."

Sam whirled on his brother, intending on sounding off a sharp retort, but then he saw him. Dean was leaning heavily against the table, and Sam could see the shaking from the doorway. His eyes held a fierce and terrible light - not quite pain, but more than worry. Sam shifted his eyes to Declan. "Give me your keys."

"Keys?" Declan asked, blankly.

Sam stepped up to the old man, thus preventing Dean from attempting what had immediately been written on his face. And while ripping the old man's arm off and beating him with it was suddenly high on Sam's priority list as well, he thought Dean would probably pull some stitches.

"The keys. The keys to your car."

"Oh," Declan reached into his pocket and tossed them to Sam.

He looked at Dean. "I'll be right back," he said, then ran out the door.

Dean suddenly had a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach. He recalled saying those same words to Sam yesterday. And the hot pain in his side was a sharp reminder of what condition he'd returned in. He lowered himself to the chair. He would give him an hour. If he wasn't back in an hour, wounded or not, Dean was going after him.

He began to count.

www

The number grew too large.

"I need your help old man."

Declan had slipped further into melancholy since Sam had left over an hour ago. "Hey," Dean snapped his fingers in Declan's face. "You with me?"

Declan looked up as though just realizing Dean were still sitting across from him.

"I need your help."

"With what?"

"I'm going after them."

"It's not night yet," Declan said, looking around, "They have time to get back."

Dean set his jaw, cursing himself for not thinking this before Sam left. "It's night in that house."

He stood, unbuttoning his shirt. Declan gave him a nervous look. Dean rolled his eyes. "Look, I need to tape my arm down against these stitches or I'm not going to be able to move."

Declan went for the medical tape, and helped Dean ease the shirt off his shoulders. Dean pressed his arm against his side, fisting his hand over his heart. Declan wrapped the tape as snugly as Dean could bear. Dean then put the shirt back on, but left the right sleeve hanging empty. He was shaking by the time they were done and sat slowly back down.

"Now," he said, his voice trembling. "I need you to go to our room and get me some things." He told Declan where the spare sawed-off was, the rock salt, and the machete. He didn't think he could carry more than that. He didn't think he could carry that, but he was not about to let Sam fall into this bitch's hands.

Declan shook his head, looking at Dean's pale face. "I can't do that, boy. You can't even lift it."

"I'll be the judge of that."

"It's not right… you got free of her… it's not right."

Dean's eyes hardened as he looked at the old man standing in front of him. He knew that if the banshee got Brenna, this man would not be able to hold out for long.

"Listen," he said, stressing the importance of his words as best he could. "My brother is out there. He's my responsibility. Mine, no one else's. I don't care what happened yesterday. That was yesterday. I'm here now, and I'm going to get him back." He took a deep breath and stood. "Now, either help me, or get the hell out of my way."

Declan looked at Dean's green eyes, turned on his heel and left. Dean sat shakily back down, conserving his energy. He hoped like hell Declan was going to return with what he asked for, because he didn't think he could go after him. This was a one-shot deal. He either got there for Sam, or it was over.

Declan returned inside of five minutes with the weapons. Dean talked him through loading the rock salt into the sawed-off, and then had him strap the machete to his back with more medical tape.

"Now, I need a car."

Declan blanched. "I gave my keys to Sam."

"Shit."

Declan thought for a moment. "There's what's in the garage."

Dean rolled his eyes. "I've seen them. Not a one of them can run."

"The cars, no. But there are two tractors in there."

Dean went still, "You gotta be kiddin' me."

Declan shook his head.

Dean sighed. "Fine, but you're driving." He thought briefly about Brenna in the Impala. "Man, the thought of her driving my car…"

The sun reached its peak in the metallic blue sky as the tractor lumbered out of the lot and slowly down the five miles to the mill house. I'm coming, Sammy.