Rating: PG-13

Chapter 8 – The Journey's The Thing

Dean slept through the rest of the day and into the night. He awoke once to see that Sam still hadn't cleared the guns off the second bed and was lying on top of the covers, his back to Dean. He smiled a little at that. Whenever he'd been scared when he was little, Sam had always climbed into Dean's bed, pressing his back against Dean to feel the warmth of his brother's presence. This time he wasn't touching Dean, but his closeness on the bed was comforting. Dean drifted back to an easy sleep.

The next morning, he awoke sore, stiff, but for a change, not completely exhausted. Sam was gone; a note lying next to him said he'd gone for coffee. Dean slowly stretched his arms above his head, shoving his hands under the pillow. He couldn't raise his right arm very far because of the way it pulled at his stitches, but it felt good to be able to move it at all. He suddenly realized he was starving. He honestly couldn't remember the last time he'd eaten anything. He got slowly to his feet and went into the bathroom. He was relieved that he could get through that whole process without having to call for Sam. When he emerged from the bathroom, clad only in a pair of semi-clean jeans, Sam was sitting at the small table, tapping on the keys to his laptop.

He looked up and a genuinely happy smile lit his entire face at the site of Dean. "Mornin', Sunshine," he chirped.

"Hey," Dean said, looking at the laptop. "We got a gig or something?"

Sam shook his head. "Hardly. We aren't going anywhere until you can swing a machete at least as good as me."

"Sam," Dean said in a warning tone. "You know I'm a quick healer."

"Aw, shut up. Here. Sit. Eat."

Dean eased himself onto the chair, pulled the lid off of the cup of coffee and downed half of it in one gulp.

Sam shook his head. "How you have any taste buds left is beyond me."

"What else you got?"

"Chocolate donuts, Lucky Charms, travel size at least, and bagels."

Dean immediately downed two of the chocolate donuts and poured himself a bowl Lucky Charms. Sam was amazed that Dean was in as good of shape as he was – when not wounded anyway – as he seemed to exist on greasy foods, sugar, and black coffee.

"Hey," Sam said when he was satisfied that Dean had some food in his system. "Brenna came back yesterday while you were asleep."

Dean just lifted his head. He said nothing.

"She wanted me to give you this," Sam passed the medal across the table to Dean who picked it up and studied it carefully.

He sighed. "You got any idea where she is?"

Sam shook his head.

Dean looked up at him through his lashes, "I have to talk to her."

"I know."

It took him about 30 minutes to find a shirt that wasn't covered by blood or sweat, and another 10 to give in and ask Sam to help him pull it on. By the time he'd gotten his boots on, he was panting from exertion. Sam put a steadying hand on his arm as he walked to the door.

"I'll, uh… I'll just wait here," Sam said. He knew that if Dean wasn't back in a bit he would go looking for him to make sure he wasn't passed out in the dirt somewhere. And he knew Dean knew that. So he didn't bother saying anything.

Dean started out in an aimless slow wander and then realized that he was heading straight for the garage. It made about as much sense as any place she might be. He rounded the corner and found that he wasn't at all surprised to see her sitting in the backseat of the '65 Mustang, looking for all the world like someone had just shot her dog.

He moved into the garage slowly, knowing that she was watching him – and that she'd probably known he was coming from the moment he stepped out into the bright daylight from the dim light of the motel room. He paused at the door of the Mustang, and just looked at her. She shoved over to make room and he climbed up and sat down slowly, clenching his teeth against the burn in his side.

She said nothing, just turned in the seat to look at him, her yellow-green eyes steady and sad.

"How's your ankle?" he asked, surprised to find his voice a bit rough.

"Sprained."

He nodded.

"But, y'know, good thing they didn't have to amputate or anything."

"My thoughts exactly."

They sat in silence for a few minutes more.

"You talk to Declan yet?" Dean asked.

"Not really… not sure when I will be ready to."

Dean sighed, and although he wanted to strangle the man for he'd done to his Dad... to him... he had to remember that he was Brenna's only family. "Just… just remember that he did what he did to try to save you. And, however it happened, we're all alive."

"Some of us are perforated," Brenna grumbled, casting a side-long glance at Dean's left hand protectively resting across his right side.

"Well you can't have everything," he sighed.

They sat in silence again.

"So, St. Christopher's medal."

She looked at him, her eyes going just a bit wide.

"Patron Saint of travelers, right?"

"That's right."

"Guess that's fitting since Sammy and I are always on the road."

"That's not why I wanted you to have it."

Dean turned and looked at her full-on. "Well, why then?"

"Because you're on a journey, Dean. And I'm not sure when you'll reach the end or what you'll find there. So I wanted you to have some…protection while you traveled."

It was such a sweet, honest answer – and completely devoid of any ulterior motive – that Dean had to swallow before he spoke. "Thanks."

"You're welcome," she said softly, hearing more behind that word than he knew he'd released.

He leaned over slightly, resting his left shoulder on her right one. She pressed back, acknowledging the gesture and appreciating the touch. They sat like that for a moment, and then Dean turned to her, cupping her face in his right hand. He rubbed a rough thumb over her lips, and looked directly into her eyes.

"I'm no good for you, Brenna."

She lifted her eyebrows, keeping her eyes on his. "If this is your seduction technique, we should talk."

"My brother and I are going to leave as soon as we can," he continued, ignoring the familiar move of using sarcasm to mask discomfort. "We have to find our Dad. And, well, there's more."

She narrowed her eyes. "There's a demon."

He looked away for a moment, unnerved that it had been right there in his eyes for her to see. "Yeah."

"So."

Dean looked back at her, surprised. "So, this… this whatever it is between us isn't going to work."

"You know this for sure, do you?"

"How can it?"

"Well, what exactly does it have to do?"

"What do you mean?"

"You say know it's not going to work, but… Dean, all I want is you. Now, in this moment. In the next moment, in the moment after that. I mean, well, life happens, doesn't it?"

Dean narrowed his eyes. "And you're okay with that?"

"Dean, I'm female."

"I've noticed."

"That means I want things to be the way I want them to be. Logic and reason don't always have a place in my world, and I can exist on pure emotion for days. But, I'm also a druid. I have seen things other people can't. And I know that you have a purpose that's beyond me, beyond us."

Dean sat very still, watching her, listening to her, believing her.

"That doesn't stop me from wanting to kiss you right now. It doesn't stop me from wanting to make real the things my imagination has been teasing me with since you walked into the bar. Your stitches stop me, but not the reality of you leaving."

"You're unreal."

"Oh, I'm completely real, Dean," she whispered, her eyes flashing wide and wild, as she leaned close. She was careful to touch only his face, though her hands ached to roam his body. She knew for a fact that he was basically being held together with stitches at the moment. She paused just before touching her lips to his, allowing him to make the last move.

He tightened his fingers in her hair pulling her face in and crushed his mouth down on hers. As if they felt the sudden desperation inside of each other at this moment, they held the first impact of the kiss for a long, long while, just feeling the sensation of having each other close, touching each other, not being alone. Dean pulled back for a breath, then slanted his mouth over hers again, drawing her breath into his lungs. He wanted to press her back against the seat. He wanted to ensure that there was no space, no air, nothing between them. But as he simply leaned in closer, his side burned with a sudden intensity and he pulled back with a hiss of pain.

Brenna pulled her lips in to keep the taste of him close to her for a moment more. She watched him close his eyes tight against the pain, then open them to look at her in apology. She smiled at him, then reached into her jacket pocket.

"Here," she said, her voice rough from unspoken emotions.

He took the small jar of purple paste and looked at it. It looked strangely familiar. "What is it?"

"It's the salve we put on you the other day. It will help speed up the healing process."

He lifted an eyebrow and quirked his lips. "Will it really."

"Completely altruistic motives, I swear."

"Sure sure." He sat back against the seat, his shoulder touching hers again. "Thanks."

"You better head back before your brother finds you here," she said, giving him a gentle shove. "I'll see you later."

He looked up at her, the question plain in his eyes.

"I promise," she assured him.

www

Brenna's salve did help Dean heal quicker. Never being one to sit still longer than he absolutely had to, he spent his time pulling parts from around the garage and using them to fix the 1982 Grande National, the one abandoned car that was in the best shape. At first his movements were very slow and deliberate. He was conscious toward the middle of the day of every breath he took as it stretched taunt the stitches across his ribs.

On the first day, Sam had to practically carry him back to the motel room – Sam grumbling that Dean was a stubborn bastard and Dean grumbling that he would go stark raving mad if he didn't do something so back off… only not too far because he may need help later. On the second day, Dean was able to make it back to the motel room on his own, and even managed to stay awake through dinner, sleeping a heavy dreamless sleep that night. By the third day, however, he moved without thinking about every twist of his side or swing of his arm.

Sam helped with the car as much as he could, but mostly just came down to the garage to hand Dean tools, and talk to his brother. They had been on the road for over six months together and Sam thought they shared more in those three days than they had in the endless hours in the Impala. Brenna was scarce, but around. She brought them drinks, food, and was always ready for a bit of verbal sparring.

When Sam remembered to tell Dean he'd called their Dad, he thought Dean was going to be angry with him for neglecting to share that information sooner. He wasn't expecting to hear the worry for their father in Dean's voice. He was lying under the car on a dolly, his legs bent and was only visible from the knees down. Sam heard the wrench he'd been using stop, then start again.

"You actually talk to him?"

"Voicemail."

"He call you back?"

"Not so far."

"You… you tell him we were staying here for a bit?"

"Yeah," Sam said, instinctively knowing where his brother was going with this. "I told him that you needed to heal up from the banshee…"

Dean was silent, and the wrench worked faster. "Wish you hadn't done that, Sam."

"Why?"

"'Cause Dad hates it when we're hurt."

"Dad hates it when we're stalled in our never-ending quest to eliminate evil from the earth," Sam said bitterly, wondering as he said that if it was even possible…and what would result. If you rid the world of evil, he thought looking at his brother, would you end up living in a world without hero's?

"He'll worry."

"Doubt it, Dean."

The wrench stopped again. "Sam," he said with that tired note of warning in his voice. The tone that clearly said how many times do I have to say this…

"What evidence do we have otherwise, Dean? The time he showed up in Lawrence when you called him? Or the time he came to the hospital because I'd called him when you were fucking electrocuted? Oh, wait, no…"

Dean sighed and pushed the dolly out from under the car. Sam braced himself for a tirade of defense against John. But Dean just sat on the dolly, holding his right side, looking sad.

"Sammy," he said, his voice low and soft, "he's our Dad. He's the only one we're ever gonna get. And he's not perfect. And he hurts us without realizing it. And he's stubborn as hell… but," Dean swallowed and looked up at Sam, his eyes pleading for understanding. "He's ours, y'know?"

Sam swallowed his reply. "Yeah," he said. "Yeah, I know."

Just then, Sam's phone buzzed, making him jump. He stood and fished it out of his pocket. He flipped it open, his eyes widening and looked up at Dean.

"What?"

"Coordinates."

Dean closed his eyes and shook his head. They'd gotten three days. Three days to regroup, heal, pull themselves together. It wasn't enough. He wasn't ready.

"And a message."

Dean opened his eyes. "What does it say?"

"Good job, boys."

"That's it?"

Sam nodded.

"Well… that's something at least," Dean sighed. He looked at the wrench in his hand. "Guess we can leave tomorrow."

Sam walked over to him, offering a hand up. When Dean was standing, he looked his brother in the eye. "I'll go look up the deal. You got some stuff to tend to."

Dean nodded, wiped his hands on the shop towel sticking out of his back pocket, and started walking toward the bar.

www

Good Lord, he was wearing the gray T-shirt. He walked into her bar/café, his green eyes scanning the room, a smear of grease above his right eyebrow. His lips were slightly pursed and his jaw muscle jumped. She stood in the shadows and gave herself a moment to just watch him. She knew why he'd come looking for her. She'd told herself she'd be ready when the moment came. She'd known then that she was lying to herself.

He moved forward in a slow gait, his arms hanging loosely at either side, his legs slightly bowed at the knee, his hands open, but his fingers slightly bent. He stepped down the stairs and walked up to the bar, ignoring Declan and the other patrons to turn around, lean his back against the bar and hook his elbows on the edge. He looked dangerous and approachable at the same time. She wondered if he were aware that every female eye in the bar was gravitating toward him like he was magnetized.

As she observed this, a sly smile crossed her lips. She set the tray she was holding down on the nearest table, removed her apron and set in on top of the tray, then walked out of the shadows toward him. She felt her heart rate increase when his eyes caught sight of her. He didn't move, however. He let her advance, as if he knew exactly what she was doing. While everyone – or at least every female – in the room watched, she stepped up to him, so close her leg fit between his, took his face in her hands, and kissed him hard, effectively branding him as her own. At least for that one moment. He kept his arms where they were, but she could feel him tense to touch her.

She pulled away and said loudly, "What'll it be, stranger."

His mouth quirked up in a half grin. "Whatever's on tap."

She nodded and moved behind the bar. He rotated and leaned his elbows on the bar, looking at her intently. She pulled a beer for him, set it in front of him, then leaned forward and matched his stare.

"He called didn't he?"

Dean nodded.

"How soon?"

"Tomorrow."

Brenna nodded. "Go for a walk?"

Dean nodded and pushed away from the counter, ignoring the stares of the other people in the bar. He waited until Brenna was next to him, then put his hand on the small of her back, leading her out of the bar/café. The walked silently for a bit, aiming for the general vicinity of the garage with no real intent to get there.

"I'm not ready," she confessed. Dean put a hand on her arm and stopped her. He turned her to face him, liking the way she always met his eyes.

"Me neither," he said.

"So don't go," she challenged, but as soon as those words left her mouth she saw her answer.

In the few days he'd been allowed to just…just be she'd caught glimpses of him in his eyes. She'd seen sweetness and light along side darkness and vengeance. She'd seen the boy inside laugh at least once. But with those three words, all that retreated back into whatever protective fortress Dean had spent over twenty years building and once again she saw John and she saw Sam. She saw duty and obligation. She saw fear and she saw love. But the thing that broke her heart was the raw need that never seemed to be too far from his eyes.

"I have to," he said, his hand still on her elbow.

He pulled her close to him so that her head tucked under his chin. In a moment of real tenderness, he kissed the top of her head, lingering longer than he meant to when her arms wrapped around his waist and she held on. She held him tight, but not so that it was painful.

"I don't want to let go," she whispered.

Don't, Dean thought, but he didn't say anything. He just kept his hand on her back, and he lips pressed to the crown of her head.

They stood like that for a long moment, then Brenna released him, turned around and walked away. He let her, watching silently as she wiped tears from her face in an impatient gesture. He waited until she'd gone into the house and he couldn't see her anymore, then he turned and went back to the motel room and Sam.

www

The last of the weapons was loaded into the Impala and Dean was shoving his remaining clothes into his duffle. He paused when he finished, unconsciously rubbing his right side. The pain was still there, but not as sharp. Not as obvious. Sam stepped around him and grabbed his duffle. He didn't say a word as his brother tossed his bag into the trunk and closed the lid. Sam tossed him the keys and Dean ran his thumb over the familiar metal. He'd added the St. Christopher's medal to the key ring. If anything needed protection, it was his baby.

"You gonna go say goodbye?" Sam asked, leaning on the passenger side of the car.

Dean shrugged. "Never was much good with goodbyes. I figure we just… just go."

"Like hell," he heard behind him.

Brenna stood next to the railing on the outside of the motel, her arms crossed, hip cocked, eyes hot, and hair blowing behind her in the wind like a red-gold wing. She looked like a wild thing. He stood in the open door of the Impala, feeling slightly torn. He knew he had to leave her, and truth be told, he wanted to leave her. He wanted to be back on the road with Sam, looking for their Dad, saving people, hunting things. He wanted his life. But he also wanted one last time…

"Oh, hell," he growled and crossed the lot in four long strides. He literally swept her up, his arms wrapping around her, his hands fisting in the hair that hung down her back. She tightened her hands into fists and pressed them into his back. Their mouths crashed together a mutual understanding. Dean pulled away first, looking into her unusual eyes.

"Don't forget me," she said.

"No possible way," he said huskily. "I owe you my life."

"Don't forget me for other reasons, too," she grinned.

Dean grinned back and cupped her face gently as he kissed her once again. "Bye, Brenna," he whispered.

"Slán leat," she replied.

Sam watched from the car, smiled, and ducked into the passenger seat to wait for his brother. When Dean sat down in the driver's seat, his smile was still present.

"Where are we going, Sammy?" He asked as the Impala roared to life.

"Chicago."

"Ah, the Windy City. Good pizza."

"Also? A woman murdered in her home, all doors and windows locked, alarm still on, and apparently it looked like a wild animal attack."

"At least we won't get bored."

Sam decided he had to go there. "Maybe Dad will meet us there this time."

Dean looked over at his brother with a grin, the purely Dean-like twinkle back in his eyes. He smacked Sam once on the knee. "Maybe he will, Sammy."

www

Declan watched as the black car pulled out of the lot. His hands fingered the note he'd found impaled on his beer tap this morning.

Grande National runs. Needs keys. Make amends, old man.

The phone on the bar rang and Declan jumped. He picked it up. "Yeah?"

"My boys gone, Kavanagh?"

Declan's blood felt like ice water in his veins. "Just pulled away, John."

"Good. I'll be there in ten minutes. We need to talk. You have some serious shit to explain."

Declan set the phone down with shaking hands. For a moment, he wished the wrath of the banshee had taken him and spared him the wrath of John Winchester. Declan knew his boys had no idea how fiercely protective he was of them.

"I am in serious trouble," he whispered to the unsympathetic air.

Fin


The bean-sidhe (woman of the fairy) may be an ancestral spirit appointed to forewarn members of certain ancient Irish families of their time of death. According to tradition, the banshee can only cry for five major Irish families: the O'Neills, the O'Briens, the O'Connors, the O'Gradys and the Kavanaghs.

As you will soon be able to tell, I'm going to take the banshee lore a bit outside the box. But, that's the great thing about fiction.

a/n: Gaelic translations: Imeacht gan teacht ort May you leave without returning. Titim gan éirí ort. May you fall without rising.

Curses should be used with great caution.

the Hail Mary: Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death.

Playlist:

The song Brenna is singing is "What is and What Should Never Be" by Led Zepplin. This show has fueled my already crazy classic rock obsession.

The song Sam hums and Dean quotes is "Hero of the Day" by Metallica.