Rating: PG-13

Chapter 6 – The Fight

"You know you're an idiot."

"So not the time."

"Well, sorry, but when we may only have minutes more to live, I feel I have to speak my mind."

Sam flattened his lips and looked toward her voice. He couldn't see her in the inky blackness of the mill house labyrinth, but he knew what her expression would be anyway: a cocked brow and wry half grin. Just like Dean's.

"Thanks for sharing."

"You don't want to know why you're an idiot?"

"I'm not an idiot."

"Says you," her voice was a low pout. Sam could picture her eyes narrowing and her lip pushing out like a child's.

They were sitting side-by-side on the cold, damp floor of the mill house basement room, just to the left of the ladder. Brenna was much smaller than Sam, and her shoulder rested against his left bicep. When she'd occasionally twist her neck to ease the sore muscles, he could feel the brush of her head against his shoulder. He'd caught up with her just as she was attempting unsuccessfully to jam the heavy wooden door shut behind her so that no one could follow her in. He'd snaked his arm in, grasping hers, and attempted to pull her back out with him.

Suddenly, the vertigo that always hit him just before the blinding headache of a vision swam through his sense and he released her arm, stumbling into the mill house entry room. Brenna had sprinted away from him with a muttered oath, and Sam sank to his knees. Damn, she had put a whammy on Dean, he thought. The vertigo passed almost as soon as her running feet were out of earshot. Sam swore, pushed himself to his feet, and followed her into the utter blackness.

Because he had planned on dragging her stubborn self back to the house well before they entered the mill house, Sam hadn't brought his flashlight. The only weapon he had was Dean's silver .45 he'd thought to grab at the last minute tucked into the back waistband of his jeans. He had no idea what Brenna had brought with her. Way to go, Sam, he thought. Dean would justifiably beat your ass if he knew.

The darkness they sat in was suffocating. It was almost as if the stone walls exuded a sense of fear and foreboding. They had held the spirit of a woman existing only on rage, pain, and betrayal for so long those emotions echoed off the stones, twisted in the darkness, and turned into a palpable terror. Sam tried to keep his breathing deep and even so that he didn't give Brenna a reason to worry. He almost wanted her to start talking again just to have something to hear besides the deafening silence. He felt her do the neck stretch again.

"You shouldn't have come after me, Sam," she said softly.

"I had to."

"Why, because Dean told you to?"

Yes. "No – because you were going to get yourself killed."

He heard her huff out a breath. "Well, swell, now I'm going to get both of us killed."

After stumbling down the long corridor in the black, Brenna had fallen down the large hole left by the open trap door he and Dean had used to escape the day before. Sam had heard her cry of surprise and then the low curse when she landed. His hunter instincts had served him well as he cautiously felt his way along the corridor until he, too, found the trap door. He called her name and when she responded, he maneuvered himself down the ladder – which was all but invisible in the dark.

If her ankle wasn't broken, it was damn close. He'd been able to straighten her leg by touch, but unable to see the extent of her injury had been hesitant to do anything else. He'd leaned back against the wall next to her for a moment to think. He was usually a mobile thinker – if not physically moving, then doing something…reading, surfing the Internet, writing down lists... Dean was the one who would go eerily still. And Dean was also the one who usually got them out of situations such as this.

"Here's what we're going to do," Sam said, taking a breath, and feeling in the dark for Brenna's hand. "I'm going to carry you out of here and you're not going to argue with me."

Brenna was silent for a moment. "Sam, I had to."

Sam shook his head, knowing she couldn't see him. "No, no you didn't."

Her voice lost its apology. "Yes, yes I did. I did this, Sam. It's happening because of me. All of it."

Sam ignored the recognition that echoed from somewhere inside of him at that sentiment. He had as much said the same words to Dean about the situation they were in, about their mom's death, about the fact that his brother had never really had a life. He could practically hear Dean's adamant rumble of denial in his head.

"That's bullshit and you know it. You weren't even born for half the cars in the garage. And I'm still not convinced that Declan doesn't know more than he's saying."

"You heard him; I'm from the clan chief's line."

"I heard what he said," Sam grumbled. "But what concerns me is what he hasn't said. You just going to take him at his word?"

"He's my family, Sam."

Sam sighed, knowing what she meant. Family, really, was it. They were your last line of defense, your first enemy, your only friend. Family knew all the buttons and just the right order to push them. Family cursed you, saved you, betrayed you, protected you, and if you were really lucky, loved you completely without the necessity of complete understanding.

"I know. And I know why you thought you had to come," he thought about what Dean had said. Because it's what I would have done. "I know you thought you could do something to stop her. But sacrificing yourself is not the way to go."

He felt Brenna shrug. "Your brother is willing to do it, and you don't have anything to say about that."

He stiffened at her casual mention of Dean. "What are you talking about?"

"Sam, you of all people should know this. He would lay his life down if he knew it would save someone – especially you."

Sam sat with that a moment.

"But he would die before he'd let someone do the same for him," she finished softly. "That's why I had to come."

"What, you're protecting Dean now?"

She sighed and Sam suddenly felt her weight against his shoulder. "I'm trying."

Sam opened his mouth to say something, but closed his with an audible click. He suddenly realized that he could see his legs stretched out before him – dimly, but he could see them. He looked over at Brenna, and saw her eyes had gone predatory and she was staring at something in the distance over Sam's shoulder. Cold fear wrapping around his heart, Sam slowly turned his head to see the rag-shrouded figure standing in the doorway of the far room – the room where he'd found Dean. Her mouth open in a silent scream, her skin stretched taunt, and her dead light brightening the utter darkness. At first she stood and they stared. Then she began to move toward them.

"Oh shit," Brenna muttered.

"We are in serious trouble," Sam said.

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Tractors were not passenger vehicles. Knowing that he would be unable to control the wheel of the ungainly machine, Dean had insisted that Declan drive and positioned himself to the right of the seat, bracing himself with his left hand and leg against the wheel base. Even with his right arm taped firmly against his wounded side, supporting it, Dean felt every bounce, every shudder of the tractor like a knife in his side. After one particularly hard jolt, he knew stitches in his shoulder pulled loose and he couldn't help the cry of pain that escaped.

Declan hadn't looked at him since hauling him onto the tractor for the slow ride to the mill house. He knew Dean was already in bad shape, and this ride was doing nothing to help him. But one look in the young hunter's eyes had stilled any arguments Declan had been considering tossing out. He was going after his brother if he had to walk the whole long way. Declan knew he'd never make it… and, wounded or not, this boy was his last best chance of saving Brenna.

They rolled to an ungraceful, lurching stop next to Declan's car, and behind the Impala. Dean gasped as he tried to shield his broken body from the unexpected shift. Declan's shoulder's slumped as he turned off the engine. He rolled his eyes to look at Dean. The hunter's face was pale, his skin pulled in taunt lines of pain around his eyes and mouth, but his eyes held a unique light – one that Declan had only ever seen once before in his life. During his tour. Soldiers in battle were brothers born in fire and pain and strife and survival. They would die and kill for each other without hesitation. This is what he saw in Dean Winchester when it came to Sam. And it was made all the more potent by the love that was evident between the brothers.

"Need a hand down?"

"I got it."

Dean pulled in a breath to steel himself and stepped down from the tractor. His knees nearly buckled when his boots hit the dry earth, but he held onto the tractor until he had his balance. He could feel the machete still in place against his back and he reached back up on the tractor seat to retrieve the rock salt filled sawed-off.

"Here."

Dean lifted his head, eyebrow cocked in a question, at Declan's voice. He saw his small black flashlight in the man's hands.

"You said it was night inside. Thought this could help."

Dean barely acknowledged him, merely lifting his chin and instinctively reached for the light. With his left hand. Which still held the gun.

"Damn," he muttered.

"Hand it over," Declan said.

"Sorry, man, you can't – "

"I ain't no hero, boy. I just have an idea."

Dean tilted his head in a question, then handed him the gun. Declan twisted on the light, positioned it in the divot between the barrels, and wrapped the last of the medical tape around it to hold it in place. He then handed the gun back to Dean.

"Nice," Dean nodded appreciatively.

Dean turned from the tractor and walked toward the back door he and Sam had used. He heard Declan's whispered, "Good luck, boy," just before he walked out of earshot. He couldn't help but wonder at the fact that though the crime scene tape was still wrapped around the site, it appeared that no one had returned since they got the sheriff's wife down from the tree.

He entered the small room and swept the light around. He instantly recalled Sam's vision the minute his brother had stepped into this room. He tried to stifle a shiver and moved further into the mill house. He felt as though he were walking through water. He couldn't see anything outside of the cone of light provided by his flashlight, and it was hard to breathe. He wanted to call out for Sam, but something held him in check. His approach was cautious, but deliberate, and he found himself strangely missing the intense connection he'd felt to his brother the last time he'd been here.

Even though it had killed him to hold that pain away from Sam, knowing that Sam knew what was happening to him had been an odd solace. And hearing his brother's low hum of Metallica had given him the strength to fight on a little longer. Now, though, Sam was somewhere in the depths of this darkness with a witch and a banshee, and Dean never felt more alone.

He pressed that thought back, not willing to let his weakened body give him permission to lower his defenses, his wall, his resilience. He had to be tough, to be the soldier he was trained to be, to stand it to get Sam back. One more step into the darkness, one more sweep of the light, a little bit closer to Sam.

The scream literally shook him and it took him a moment to realize that it wasn't the banshee's scream he heard, but Brenna. It was a cry of pain and terror and he felt it deep in his wounded side. As the scream faded, he felt his energy slowly leave him, as though it were tied to her, as though she were leaving him. He stumbled and fell against the nearest wall, his shoulder sliding a bit on the wet moss. He raised the gun light with a shaking arm, and saw the trap door in the distance.

That had to be right. Sam had to be there. All he had to do was figure out how to get down that ladder with one hand and not drop the shotgun. He blinked hard, shaking the gun light once as the light seemed to fade. When his head swam, he realized it wasn't the light that was fading, it was him. He leaned his head back against the wall and took a deep breath. Fight this, Dean, he scolded himself. His knees buckled and he sank down the wall, his side protesting when he hit the floor in a heap.

"Sam," he said weakly.

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As the banshee glided closer to them in silent ghostly strides, Sam pushed himself to his feet with his hands crawling up the wall behind him. He took one step to put himself between Brenna and the banshee when he heard Brenna suddenly gasp. He looked down at her predatory eyes and realized a second too late what she was trying to do.

As the scream tore from her throat, her head fell to the side and her back arched. She looked like someone had a large fist wrapped around her body and had started to squeeze. Decisively turning from the banshee, Sam crouched down and wrapped his large hands around her shoulders, bringing her to a sitting position. Her head lulled backwards.

"Brenna, what the hell do you think you're doing? Get… out of her mind!" he cried out, shaking her once.

"Oh, Jesus, Sam," she moaned, the corners of her mouth crinkling downward in a painful frown. Her eyes were wide and darted back and forth in panic. "Her pain…it's…it's terrible." Her back arched again as another scream tore from her throat.

"Brenna!" Sam shook her, twice. "Stop it. Stop it!"

Brenna's head snapped back up and she reached up awkwardly to grab at Sam's shoulders. "Oh, shit. Sam, we were wrong… we were wrong… God she's so mad at him…" Brenna had felt the banshee's rage – her terror at being tortured, her anger at being betrayed, and her sudden wrath for the person who had escaped her curse.

"What? What are you talking about?"

"She's not after me anymore," Brenna choked out. With those words, the room plunged into complete darkness. Their hands tightening instinctively on each other, Sam and Brenna drew closer out of defense from the black.

"Who is she after," Sam asked, his voice ragged, already knowing the answer but praying he was wrong.

"Dean."

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Brenna's second scream shot through Dean like a shot of adrenalin. He used the back of his left arm as leverage and forced himself to his feet. His side was on fire and he could feel something warm and wet running down his side and soaking through his bandages to his arm. The trap door was several feet away. He took one step away from the wall, then was suddenly aware that the room was illuminated by more than just the white light taped to his gun. This time, he heard her breath.

He whirled around and found himself once again faced by the banshee. She stood about five feet from him, staring with her empty eyes. Dean swallowed, "Honey, you should have taken the hint when I didn't call you back."

He didn't even see her move. One minute he was staring her down, trying to figure out his next move and the next he was in the air. When his body hit the wall, he cried out. His side felt like a glass bulb had shattered beneath his skin. His head bounced violently off of the stone and he saw stars.

He landed in a heap, curling in on his side in an instinctive move to protect his wounds. He lifted his eyes and saw that the banshee was inches from his face. Blood from his forehead ran freely and dripped into his eye. Her face was terrible, and a sudden helpless feeling rolled over Dean. He realized how close he was to losing it when the word please almost escaped his lips.

Listen to me, Son. She is evil. You do your job, you hear me? Do. Your. Job.

Dean blinked. John's voice had been so clear in his head it was as though his dad were standing next to him. He fisted his left hand as the banshee continued her chilling survey of his battered face. It suddenly occurred to him that he shouldn't be able to make a fist – he should have a gun in that hand. Dammit…where the hell was the sawed-off?

Dean felt the edge of consciousness slipping closer… he'd stared death in the face before. He'd felt its cold greedy hands on his head, had felt the vacuum of want death had used to pull his will, his soul, his life from him. He'd almost given up that time. He'd been so tired, he'd hurt so bad, and he'd almost let death win. Almost. But then he'd thought of Sam, alone – or worse, with their Dad without him – and he'd found himself pushing back. Sam was his reason when nothing else mattered.

So he stared back at the banshee's empty eyes. He put all of his will into that stare, forcing the dreaded harbinger of death to face his rage, his pain, his fears, his hope, his light, his life. To his complete amazement, the banshee pulled away. She seemed to pause a moment, then lifted her face. Dean braced himself for the effects of her scream, when suddenly she was gone.

"Yeah, that's what I THOUGHT!" he yelled to the darkness.

He caught sight of the gun out of the corner of his eye. He slowly pulled himself across the stone floor the few feet and bridged the gap. The journey of that few feet felt like it took years. As his hand wrapped around the barrel of the gun a sudden burst of panic slammed into him. His breath sped up and he felt the gun tremble in his hand. The panic turned quickly to anger and…an almost righteous indignation. He blinked.

He didn't understand at first. Then, when the anger flared hot and turned to fear, he realized what – or rather who - he was feeling.

"God, Sammy," he choked out, shuddering as he pulled the gun against his chest. He knew his mistake then. It's all I see when I look at you. I look at your eyes and you don't reflect back at me – it's just your Dad and Sam. When he'd forced the banshee to see him, he'd shown her Sam. He didn't know why he wasn't feeling Sam's physical pain…didn't know if Sam were aware of the connection…but Sam was scared, that much he knew. Then he heard it. One word echoing in his mind. Dean.

He'd promised. He'd promised Sam that nothing bad was going to happen to him while he was around. Hearing the unmistakable sound of gunfire behind him, he pushed himself to his feet, swaying for a moment, and turned to make the arduous journey to the trap door.

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Sam had just succeeded in getting Brenna to her feet, supporting her wounded ankle as best he could in the pitch black, and had gotten both of them to the base of the ladder when the dead light once again illuminated the room behind him. After a moment of complete panic, Sam pulled the .45 from his waistband, turned, and fired in one fluid motion. As the bullets slammed into the banshee, Sam felt his lip curl in anger.

"That's for my brother, you bitch," he growled.

"Sam?"

"Brenna, get up the ladder."

"I – I…"

"Go. NOW!"

Brenna felt in the darkness for the wrung, her left ankle hanging limply and started to pull herself up. Daring a look over her shoulder, she saw Sam begin to advance on the banshee. What the hell? She thought. What is he doing? The bullets won't kill her…

Sometimes in moments of complete terror we are left defenseless and other times we see the world very clearly. For Brenna, this was a moment of utter clarity. She heard murmurs of Gaelic in her head, verses of old spells spoken in voices long since dead. She could see by the dead light of the banshee that Sam wasn't stopping. It was as though he'd been pushed past logic and moved straight into vengeance. When the chamber clicked empty, and the banshee paused in her retreat, Brenna gasped.

The banshee's nails ripped through Sam's shirt and dug furrows into the flesh of his arm and chest as she backhanded him across the room. He hit the wall with a terrible force and his body slumped like a rag doll on the floor. The banshee, ignoring Brenna completely, advanced on him. Brenna took a breath, allowing the murmurs in her head to grow in volume.

Sam blinked hard. His ears were ringing and even in the dim light from the banshee he could tell black spots were sifting across his vision. His arm and chest burned. He shook his head to clear the cobwebs and looked up, seeing the banshee move closer to him. God but she pissed him off. He pushed himself into a sitting position, then to his feet. She wanted Dean, Brenna had said.

"You're not going to have him," he growled out. Dean would rather die than have someone – someone else – sacrifice their life for him. Sam knew this. He also knew that if that someone also happened to be his brother, it would kill him. Sam had no intention of dying, but if it kept the banshee's curse from hurting Dean, he was willing to try anything.

"You killed him once. I'm not going to let you do it again," with that oath, Sam did the only thing left to him. He backhanded her with the barrel of the gun. The banshee's head whipped back and to the left. Her scream was brutal, but Sam had been expecting it. When she lifted her head to release the nerve-shattering wail, he barreled into her, wrapping his arms around her and brought her to the floor. Truth be told, he was completely surprised to find that she was in fact corporeal. Even though her nails had marked him, and even though their bullets had hit her, he still half expected to fly through her and land on the floor.

Their impact, therefore, drove the air from his lungs, and he was caught off guard when she grabbed his hair and threw him. He hit the wall with the flat of his back and before he could catch his breath, she was on him, her cold, brittle fingers wrapping around his throat with an impossible strength. His lungs screamed at him, his head swam. He clawed ineffectively at her fingers, but felt himself losing his tenuous hold to consciousness.

He had one thought clear in his head…Dean.

Then, through the fog in his head, he heard someone murmuring... a deep voice full of power.

"…Imeacht gan teacht ort... Titim gan éirí ort…"

The banshee's grip loosened as the words continued. Sam pulled harder against her boney fingers. With another abbreviated wail, the banshee released him and was gone. Sam rubbed his bruised neck, dragging in huge gulps of air, trying desperately to keep the internal darkness at bay. They were once again plunged into pitch and Sam tried to call out Brenna's name. His throat worked convulsively to help him pull air in. He knew he had to get to Brenna, but he was completely turned around. He had no idea which direction the ladder was in.

The air seemed to press in on him. He was very aware of the fact that they were in the basement of the mill house. His skin began to crawl with imagined insects, and he forced himself to not squirm. Not that anyone would see him; just that giving in to an irrational fear when there were plenty of real things to fear was not how a Winchester panicked. Not that Winchesters panicked, of course. However, he felt panic creeping in when he turned his head and realized that no matter where he looked or how wide his eyes were, everything was dark, silent, and cold. When he felt the hand on his right leg, just above the ankle, he nearly bit his tongue in half to keep from screaming.

"Sam?" Brenna's voice sounded young and scared…not at all the voice of the druid witch he'd heard moments before. "You okay?" Was I fast enough?

"Yeah," he croaked out. "What was that?" He winced and continued to rub his throat.

"Gaelic curse. Not very powerful, but… it was all I could do…"

"It was enough," Sam rasped out.

"We need to get you out of here," Brenna said, remembering the sight of the banshee tearing into Sam's chest and arm.

"Dean," Sam said, referring to her earlier comment.

Brenna swallowed, "I'm so sorry, Sam." She curled her fingers into fists in his denim pant leg. "She must have been at this so long that it stopped being about getting back at all the Kavanaghs. When…when I read her, she could have cared less about me."

Sam swallowed painfully, then took a breath. "If she's after him, that's where she is…"

"Well, he certainly pissed her off by eluding the curse," Brenna sighed, running her hands carefully up Sam's chest to check on the gashes. She couldn't feel much blood and breathed a sigh of relief. Remembering Dean, she'd feared the worse.

"He does have a way with people," Sam quipped, using the wall behind him to push himself to his feet, then helped Brenna to stand. She had to lean on him as putting weight on her ankle was out of the question. They began to feel their way carefully along the wall. After a few moments, they found the ladder. Sam help Brenna into position and pushed her up with his shoulder, much the same way he'd done to Dean just the night before.

When Brenna breached the top of the opening, she turned and reached down for Sam. She felt him grab her hand and as his face came closer to hers she suddenly registered that she could see him. With a gasp, she looked up just as Sam leveled himself out of the opening.

"Aw no," she whispered, her eyes pinned to the terrible site of the banshee, simply standing on the other side of the opening, waiting for them. As though she had calculated the best way to break their spirits. As though she'd known that torture was about more than physical pain. Sam stood quickly, pulling Brenna with him and wrapped her into his arms, preparing to run with her or protect her from the banshee's wrath as long as he could.

"Sam! DROP!"

The roar was once again the sweetest sound Sam had ever heard. The command in it was unmistakable. Without thinking he tucked Brenna under him and dropped to the ground. The roar of the sawed-off shotgun echoed through the air over their heads. Sam heard the banshee scream and cautiously lifted his head.

Dean stood on the other side of them like an avenging angel. He held the sawed off in his left hand, blood ran down the left side of his face, and Sam saw more blood on the right side of his shirt from his previous wounds. His right sleeve hung empty. As Sam watched, Dean pressed his lips together and his eyes narrowed slightly, but they never left his prey. He momentarily lowered the sawed-off, held it against his leg to pull back the hammers, then raised it again with his left hand and fired – first one barrel, then the other.

"Go, Sam!" Dean ordered, his eyes momentarily flicking down to meet his brother's. Sam found it hard to see Dean's clearly with the light from the flashlight taped to the gun throwing his brother's face into shadow. But he didn't need to see his eyes now to know… he'd seen them before… three times. Rage. Pain. Fear. Desperation. Sorrow. "GO, Sam, get her out of here."

Sam trembled as Dean raised the sawed-off again. The banshee had retreated as the sting of the rock salt blasted into her, but she kept coming back. Sam scrambled to his feet, pulling Brenna with him. He started to run towards Dean, but Brenna's cry of pain brought him up short. He'd forgotten about her ankle. Without a word, he picked her up and slung her over his broad shoulder. He turned to Dean, who was still focused on the banshee. Sam hesitated next to him, and Dean glanced over once, his face set in fierce determination.

"I'll come back for you, Dean," he said, then took off down the pitch black corridor, navigating by memory. He heard Dean fire again when he reached the entry room. He bent low and put Brenna on the ground. He wasn't going to even bother to check if she was okay, but she put a hand on his arm, stopping him. His desperation to get back to Dean nearly swamped him.

Suddenly, he heard Dean roar, "Sam, keep going! Don't look back! Don't come back for me!" The sawed-off cracked again and the banshee screamed.

The fear for Dean almost doubled him over. He reached out with one hand and wrenched the heavy door open for Brenna. He spared her a brief glance. She nodded, "Get him back."

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When Sam had passed him, Brenna in his arms, and promised to return, Dean had felt the strength of his will. He had felt Sam decide he was ready to die for his brother. He had felt Sam choose him. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world. It was also the most terrible. Because he couldn't let it happen. If this was the evil that ended him, he was not about to let his brother go down with him. The banshee came at him again. Dean reloaded again, one-handed, then raised the gun and fired.

Out of nowhere it seemed, he suddenly wished that his Dad was there. For a moment, he just wanted to let John be the one that decided what happened, that took charge, the fired the last bullet out of the last gun. For a moment he wanted to know what it was like to be a kid and know that Dad would take care of everything and make everything okay. The moment passed and he felt ashamed of his own weakness.

Then on the heels of his own weakness, he felt Sam's desperation acutely. He suddenly knew that if he didn't do something – do it now – he would lose Sam to the banshee. He called back to Sam to keep going, and put the last rounds of rock salt into the barrels. So far, all they had done was cause the banshee to scream in pain and back up a few paces, but that was the right direction at least. He felt his knees tremble with exhaustion; they hit the stone floor with a jarring impact. He saw the banshee advance beyond the trap door, coming closer. He emptied his mind of everything – Sam, Dad, Brenna, the hunt, joy, love, sorrow, want, desire, fear, pain. He would not let her see anything but death in his eyes.

The banshee raised her hand to strike and he fired once more. She screamed and he dropped to the ground. He had one last desperate attempt to destroy her. He reached behind him to pull the machete from its hiding place…but found nothing. No knife. No more weapons. It must have come lose when he hit that wall, he thought with despair. As though sensing his complete helplessness, the banshee advanced. Dean pushed himself to his knees, determined to face her with as much fight and fire as he could muster. She wailed again and Dean could almost swear he heard glee in the shrillness of the scream.

As she lifted her hand again to strike, Dean felt a presence behind him. A distinctly Sam-like presence. As though choreographed with precision, Dean ducked his head and rolled his shoulders low from left to right. Sam's powerful swing of the lost machete effectively removed the banshee's head from her shoulders with a sound like a blade slicing through a ream of paper. Dean cautiously straightened, instinctively avoiding Sam's follow through with the machete.

The sudden silence was shocking. The flashlight pointed uselessly at the floor, the gun hanging limply from Dean's left hand. Through the muted glow of the white light, the brothers could see the banshee's body begin to shrivel. Her hands curled in and retreated into the opening of the rag dress. Her feet turned in on themselves like atrophied muscles. They couldn't see where the head ended up. Both were panting from their exertions. Dean broke the silence first, not looking away from the wasted body of the banshee.

"Dude. You totally Sosa'd that bitch."

Sam licked his lips. "Here I always thought I was better at soccer," he panted.

Dean started to turn his head to look at his brother. He never made it. The blood loss, the exhaustion, the fear, and the effort to make it right hit him like a freight train. He heard Sam say his name as if from a distance as he collapsed into the waiting arms of complete darkness.