Rating: PG-13

Chapter 3

I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three.

Author Unknown

He watched Brenna blink as if coming awake from a long nap. Her eyes kept their wide, predatory gaze. "He saved my life," she repeated, her voice trembling. "After he killed my parents."

Dean stared at her a moment, curling the fingers of his right hand into a fist. Son of a bitch, he thought. No way is this happening… Something close to adrenaline shot through him. He felt powerful and weak at the same time. He felt the strength that always flowed through him when he had a mission, a purpose clearly laid out in front of him, but at the same time, he felt the dizzy weakness stemming from the pain in his head. He glanced at Brenna's eyes once more, watching as they returned to normal and looked almost innocent in her fine-boned face. His decision was made.

He pushed himself to his feet, stepping away from the table and walking into the bedroom with a measured rhythm of steps. One foot in front of the other. An equal-lengthed stride. That was the key to staying on his feet. To keeping his knees from buckling in a reaction to the cadence of pain radiating through his body as a result of the gash in his head. Damn Irish bastards and their whiskey bottle… Grabbing the bag of weapons from the foot of the bed that was covered in shop towels and engine parts, he returned to the table and dropped it with a jarring thud in front of the chair he'd recently vacated. He'd lost too much… Sam had lost too much… Brenna should be spared. She shouldn't have to lose the only family she had left.

He saw Sam look up at him, but he ignored the probing eyes. Sam always wanted to know more than he needed to know. He was always asking. Even if he never said a word… his eyes were always asking. Dean sometimes hid from Sam's eyes.

"Dean, what are you –"

"You track that phone, Sam," he interrupted him. "You find where he is."

Sam's fingers were already flying over the keyboard. "What are you going to do?"

Dean pulled out one of their shotguns, ejected the spent shells, checked the triggers, and broke the barrel so that he could look down the empty chambers. He wasn't going to let them get away with it, that's what he was going to do. He was going to stop the pain in someone's life – even if it couldn't be in theirs – he was going to goddamn save somebody from the pain he felt every day of his life, that's what he was going to do.

"I'm going to kick some ass."

"What?" Sam's voice was incredulous. "Are you nuts?"

Dean lifted his eyes briefly to his brother's, raising an eyebrow as he reached into the duffel for their homemade rock salt shells. Sam's eyes were dark in their anger. He was staring at Dean like he wanted to belt him while at the same time looking like he was afraid Dean was going to fall over.

"Dean." Sam's insistence was unapologetic. "You can barely stand up."

Dean looked down at the weapon in his hand as he shoved the shells in. He lifted a shoulder. "Doesn't matter."

Out of the corner of his eyes he saw Brenna push away from the table, stand quietly, and move into the kitchen, the glass from the shattered wine glasses crunching beneath her boots.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Sam snapped. His hands were poised above the keyboard of the laptop, but Dean could see that his whole focus was on him. Dean set the loaded shotgun down next to the duffel and reached into the bag for another.

"It means that we have a job to do, Sam."

He didn't think it needed more of an explanation. It was the way of their lives: evil found, evil dies. It was that simple. It was how John raised them. He'd trained them to be expert marksmen, to field-dress near-mortal wounds, to be invisible if necessary. He'd trained them to be hunters, warriors. Somehow in the middle of all of that, Sam had managed to learn how to also be a person, but Dean didn't know if that level of humanity was inside of him.

He heard Brenna in the kitchen banging cabinet doors. He heard water running. He heard pots clatter against the stove. He set the second shotgun, now loaded with rock salt, down on the table and glanced briefly up at Sam before reaching into the duffel for his .45. Sam was looking at him with shadowed eyes, his lips pressed together, his left hand clenching and releasing as it rested on the keyboard. Dean could practically hear him thinking. Sam was usually very still, the eye of Dean's hurricane. Except for when he was working a potentially impossible problem in his head. He'd been that way since he was little. He couldn't hold still until the problem was solved to his satisfaction. Dean knew that at the moment, he was Sam's problem.

"What it is, Sam?"

"Nothing," Sam grumbled, but didn't look away.

Dean shrugged. Sam wanted him to ask. So he wouldn't. It was the best way to get Sam to talk. "Whatever."

"Dude, we don't even know what we're going up against!" Sam snapped.

"You're research boy," Dean shrugged, shoving a clip into the base of the .45's grip and flicking the safety on. "Go research already."

"So you can go off and get yourself killed?" Sam argued.

Dean set the gun down. That surprised him. "What?"

"Just a couple of hours ago," Sam said, a tremor in his voice, "You were unconscious and bleeding in my arms."

A pot was slammed onto the stove in the kitchen. Dean could hear Black Dog echoing over the tension in the room.

"Sam," Dean said, leaning forward on the table, his arms braced to hold him balanced. "I've told you. I'm fine."

"I'm so sick of you saying that!" Sam almost yelled. "You say it all the time, Dean. And it's not true."

Dean pulled away from Sam's glare, his hands hanging loosely at his sides. "You add mind reading to your list of abilities?"

"No, but—"

"But nothing. I say I'm fine, I'm fine. End of story."

"No, Dean–"

"You got a location for Declan's phone or not?" Dean was beginning to lose his patience. Sam was nothing if not tenacious. As a kid, he would push until he got his way just because John and Dean would tire of resisting him. As an adult, he wasn't much different.

"Dean," Sam's voice dropped an octave and Dean found himself squaring his shoulders as if expecting a blow. He knew that tone. "Let me do this."


"Let me go find Declan, banish the wraith. Let me handle this one."

"No," Dean shook his head, taking a step back from the table. He cursed the weak spin of his vision that forced him to grab the back of the chair next to him for support. He glared at the victorious light in Sam's dark eyes.

"You aren't in any shape to—"

"No fucking way, Sam," Dean cut him off, his voice low and dangerous. "No way you're going against this thing alone."

"Dean," Sam pushed himself away from the table, standing slowly, his hands out as if calming a cornered animal. "I'll just find Declan, get the banishing spell, and end it. Easy as that."

"Not without me, you don't."

"You could get killed, Dean."

"What, and you can't? Last time I checked your visions didn't make you immortal."

"I don't have a concussion, Dean!" Sam took a step toward him, and it was literally all Dean could do to keep himself from taking a step back in reaction. "I'm not hanging on to a chair to keep myself from falling over."

Dean let go of the chair. "You're still my brother, Sam."

Sam's brows pulled together. "What's that got to do with anything?"

Dean shook his head once, ignoring the answering throb he got in reaction to that movement. "I'm not going to let anything bad happen to you is all."

Sam's shoulders seemed to sag, and he swallowed hard, "Dean—"


The voice was harsh, loud, and final. Dean turned to look into the kitchen and saw Brenna standing in front of the sink, a wooden spoon brandished in her hand like a club. He felt Sam shift next to him. They both remained silent, staring at her.

"You two are the most…" she paused and shook her head, shifting her eyes to the floor. Reaching up with her free hand, she rubbed at the back of her short, wild red-gold hair. With a sigh, she looked up and her eyes met Sam's, not Dean's. "We're all going. All of us. And that's the end of it."

Dean's heart jumped painfully at the thought of Brenna's life in his hands. He opened his mouth to counter her and she shifted hot eyes to meet his. They were her eyes – not the druid vision that he dreaded. They were hers and they were angry and they left no room for argument. He closed his mouth with an audible click.

Dean looked over his shoulder at Sam, watching his brother struggle with wanting to resist the idea of Brenna coming with them when he already had a hard enough time with Dean. Sam pressed his lips together and Dean saw a muscle in his jaw flex. He shook his head once and sat back down in front of the computer grumbling, "Fine, have it your way, but you're gonna go in there and get yourself hurt and I'm going to have to be the one to carry you out…"

"What was that, Sam?" Dean asked, a grin evident in his voice.

"Nothing," Sam pouted, tapping the keys of the laptop with renewed force.

Dean turned back to the duffel of weapons and reached in for his knife. The silver blade had saved them from more than one encounter with evil. He hefted the weight in his hand, balanced the knife at the hilt where the grip met the blade on the flat of his index finger, then flipped it around so that his fingers carefully held the flat of the blade.

He wasn't really thinking about what he was doing. His mind was on Sam. On Sam's sudden desire to protect him… on Sam's seemingly ardent fear of something bad happening to him. It was confusing… not too long ago, Sam was able to leave him behind, at night, while he was sleeping, while his guard was down. Left without a note, without word, without a way for Dean to protect him… a way for Dean to save him.

His hands trembled and the blade slipped slightly. Before he could adjust the balance, a slim hand snaked in and grasped the hilt, relieving him of the knife's weight. He blinked, tracing his eyes from the hand up the pale but shapely arm and met Brenna's eyes.

"Careful," she whispered. She rotated her wrist so that she could look at the knife in her hands. "Never did understand how you could sleep with this under your pillow without cutting your fingers off," she commented.

Dean saw Sam's head snap up. "How did you know that?"

Brenna flicked her eyes up to Sam's and her rosebud lips curved up in a hint of a smile.

"Never mind," Sam said, tapping the air with his fingers. "I don't want to know."

"I have food," Brenna said.

As if in automatic response to the idea, Dean's stomach grumbled. Brenna smiled at him, setting the knife down beside the guns, then turned from the table and walked back into the kitchen. Dean noticed that she again walked over the glass on the floor without a reaction to the sound of it crunching under her boots.

"It's not spectacular or anything," she said over her shoulder. "But you guys showed up at the bar at practically dawn. I doubt you've eaten."

"That's good thinking, Brenna," Sam said, sitting back in his chair, his hands resting on his thighs. "Thanks."

"Don't thank me yet," she said. "You haven't tried it."

"Brenna," Dean said, looking at the glass on the floor and all over the counter. "You, uh, want me to get something to clean that up?"

"No," she shook her head, not looking at him.

Dean glanced over at Sam and saw the same question in his eyes.

"Why not?"

"It stays," she said, her voice strangely dull, her shoulders curving in, away from them, protecting herself. "It stays until this is done."

Dean stared at her back, at the tense set of her shoulders, the slope of her neck, the tattoo that was there to remind her to believe in something. There was strength in her stance, but also an almost visible weakness that struck Dean's heart. He found himself wanting to cross the room and pull her into his arms, pull her against him, allow her to absorb his warmth and pull her pain from her. He forced himself to stand very still. He knew she wouldn't welcome his touch in this moment – and more than likely he would come away bloody from the attempt.

He slid his eyes sideways to Sam, who was also watching Brenna with a strange expression on his face. Immigrant Song hummed softly over the silence.

"Find him, Sammy," he said softly. Sam looked at him, his eyes softening in response to Dean's tone.

"Yeah," he whispered.

Dean walked from the table to the stove toward Brenna, trying to ignore the glass that crunched under his boots. At his approach, Brenna straightened her shoulders, reaching above her head to pull down some plates. He saw that she had made several sandwiches and what looked like enough macaroni and cheese to feed a platoon. He stepped up behind her, close, and reached around her to take the plates from her hands. She looked up at him over her shoulder and gave him a shaky smile.

"Not exactly five star cuisine," she said.

"It's fine," he said, setting the plates on the counter, then putting his hands on her shoulders, turning her to face him. He expected to be slammed by their odd connection. He was slightly surprised when all he felt was the soft curve of her shoulders.

"You're shaking, Dean," she said.

Dean saw Sam's head snap up out of the corner of his eyes, but he ignored him.

"I'm okay," he said.

"Does it hurt?" her eyes shifted to the stitches running along his hairline.

He opened his mouth to offer the same reassurance that he frequently spoke to Sam, but suddenly remembered Declan's words. Brenna can see people. You can't lie to her. She sees who you really are, not who you tell yourself you are… Aware of Sam's eyes, but not looking at his brother, he nodded in response to Brenna's question.

"You need something for it?"

Dean could see how badly she needed to be doing something. He recognized the same desire for constant movement in himself. Movement to him meant action. Action meant solution. And solution was the opposite of problem. So as long as he was doing something – even if it was simply tapping his finger in time to the music – he was one step closer to a solution.

"Yeah, I could use something," he said, releasing her shoulders.

She turned and crunched her way out of the kitchen to retrieve the aspirin from the bedroom. Dean filled two plates with macaroni and stacked several sandwiches on each. He carried them back to the table and set one next to Sam.

"Thanks," Sam said softly. Without looking at Dean, he started in on the meal.

"You find anything yet?"

"Getting close," Sam said around a mouthful of sandwich. "Trying to get the cell phone company to believe I'm Declan."

"Not a chance," Brenna said, returning to the room. Her voice held a forced lilt. She tapped three aspirin into Dean's outstretched hand. "You actually think about the people around you, Sam."

Sam lifted the corner of his mouth up in a smile of thanks. "Declan cares about you, Brenna," he offered.

Dean leaned forward on the table, resting his weight on his forearms. He hadn't touched his food yet, and was hoping Sam wouldn't notice. The idea of eating was at the moment tilting his world sideways.

"I suppose," Brenna sighed and walked to the stove, scooping out some macaroni for herself and returned to the table. Dean saw her look at him, his plate, and then frown. He braced himself, but she said nothing.

"When he called to me," she said, pushing the noodles around on her plate, staring at the piles of papers on the table, "he sounded so… so desperate. And incredibly sad. Like something was ending…"

"What did he say?" Dean asked, making an attempt to eat one of the sandwiches.

"Just my name," she said. "I just heard my name, but his voice was… full." She shook her head. "That doesn't make any sense, I know."

"Yeah, it does," Sam said softly.

Dean looked at him, waiting for him to elaborate, but Sam's eyes stayed fixed on the computer screen. Dean could see his jaw muscles working, and wondered what was going on in that head of his.

"He's had me since I was four," Brenna continued, distractedly sliding the tube-like noodles onto the individual prongs of her fork one at a time. "I don't really remember much of my life before him."

"What happened to them? Your parents, I mean," Sam asked, pausing in his search to look up at her.

Brenna lifted a shoulder and tilted her head, still not looking at either of them. Dean was grateful for the distraction of their conversation; he could allow the aspirin to again take effect, could not hold his body so still, could breathe for a moment. Immigrant Song was fading with the last lines. Dean rested his hand on his thigh, softly beating the time of the song as the words filled the quiet that awaited Brenna's answer.

"So now you'd better stop and rebuild all your ruins, for peace and trust can win the day despite of all your losing…"

"My Dad was from Belfast, my Mom, Dublin. He met her in Dublin in school. I only really know this through Declan," she said, glancing briefly at Dean. He'd finished one sandwich, but he saw her eyes flicked across the rest of his meal in a non-verbal challenge. He picked up another sandwich, listening to her.

"They moved to the states before they married, bringing Declan with them. My Dad's family had supported the IRA for many years. So, when they moved here, I guess they hooked up with a group that supported the same."

"Jack Collins' group," Dean supplied. Brenna nodded.

"My Dad worked in a currency exchange office. My Mom was a teacher. Declan… he knew about their involvement with the IRA, but said he kept out of it."

"But something happened," Sam guessed.

Brenna nodded again. "In December of '83, a car bomb went off in front of Harrod's in London. It was the work of the Provisional IRA. Killed ninety people."

Dean winced, sitting back, his eyes leveled on Brenna, waiting.

"My parents decided they wanted out after that. Jack apparently decided there was no out." Brenna licked her lips, setting her fork down. "Declan said that Jack and a group of his men came to the house and killed my parents. One of them went after me. Jack stopped them. He was the one who took me to Declan."

"Brenna," Sam breathed. "I'm so sorry."

Dean heard the true sympathy in Sam's voice and relaxed in the knowledge that Sam could always be counted on for empathy. He had an uncanny ability to see a situation from another's eyes, and feel for them. Dean had watched his brother do this all of his life. He didn't understand how Sam did it – to Dean, the world was black and white. But Sam lived comfortably in the gray of the world.

She lifted a shoulder. "Why? You didn't do it."

"Yeah, but –"

Dean looked over at Sam when his brother stopped talking. Sam was looking at the computer.

"I found him," he said.


"What the hell is it with this town and abandoned stone buildings," Dean grumbled, resting his forehead on the cool glass of the passenger window.

He'd given in to Sam's stubborn insistence that he be the one to drive. Sam hadn't really had to put up much of a fight, and Dean could see that in and of itself worried his brother. But while Dean considered himself fit to banish a wraith and save Declan from his own stupidity, he did not consider himself fit enough to drive his baby when he couldn't truly bring anything into focus. He wasn't about to put her in jeopardy for the sake of his pride.

Besides, it made Sam happy. And though he was a self-proclaimed ass sometimes, Dean's one concern in life was making Sam happy. Not that he'd ever tell Sam that.

"At least it's not a mill," Sam commented, turning down the overgrown gravel road toward the empty stone church.

"I can't believe I didn't know this was here," Brenna commented from the back seat. She was sitting forward, her arms across the back of the front seat, her chin on her folded hands, looking out of the window between the brothers.

Sam pulled up to a stop a few feet from the empty doorway of the church. Dean opened the door of the Impala, squinting as the mid-afternoon sun hit the green-tarnish of the bronze bell that hung silent and still in the belfry above them. To the left of the old church was a cemetery surrounded by a black wrought-iron fence. One side of the fence had toppled over slightly like an iron barricade barring the way of anyone's entrance.

Dean saw Brenna tilt her head as she got out of the car. She rubbed her upper arms as though to ward off a chill, even though Dean thought it was rather warm for this time of year. He watched her slowly approach the old gate of the wrought-iron fence. Just before opening it, she looked at them over her shoulder.

"You guys smell that?"

Dean started to answer when he saw Sam shake his head.

"No," Sam said. "I don't smell anything. Dean?" Sam turned to look at him over his shoulder, a clear message in his eyes. Go with me on this.

Dean shook his head and Brenna shrugged, shaking her head at her own craziness. She stepped into the small cemetery, looking down at the weather-worn headstones. Dean lifted his eyes to watch Sam walk around the Impala to the trunk. Sam opened the trunk, then looked over at Dean, lifting his chin in an indication for Dean to join him. Dean stepped up next to his brother, protected from Brenna's line of sight by the Impala's trunk.

"You know what that smell is," Sam whispered.

Dean nodded. "You think it's Declan?"

Sam grimaced. "Unless one of Eamon's men found this place…"

Dean reached for one of the shotguns, pressing his lips together. "It fits, though, doesn't it? He called Dad's phone two days ago, Sam."

Sam nodded, a pained expression on his face as he reached for the other weapon that Dean had readied back at the house. "If it's not him… where has he been all this time?"

Dean closed his eyes briefly, then looked over at Sam, his jaw tight. "How are we going to tell her?"

"Tell me what?"

Dean jumped, he started to straighten and turn toward her and was prevented from hitting his already wounded head on the underside of the Impala's trunk by Sam's protective hand. He felt Sam's light touch guiding him out from underneath the trunk and then let go. He glanced a brief thanks at his brother before focusing on Brenna.

"That you're not going in there with us," he covered.

"The hell I'm not," she countered, her hands instantly going to her hips, her eyebrow raising in a challenge.

"Brenna," Sam started, his voice soft and patient, his eyes gentle. "It's better if we check this out by ourselves first. You can come in when we give the all clear."

"But –"

"No," Dean cut her off. "You heard him. It's a solid plan, and it keeps us as safe as it keeps you."

Brenna narrowed her eyes at Dean, pushing her lips out in thought. "Fine, but I want a gun."

Dean rolled his eyes. "I didn't bring one for you," he said.

"I did," Sam chimed in.

"What?" Dean whipped his head over to his brother in surprise. "When did you have time to do that?"

"When you were loading the bag into the car," Sam said, pulling the Glock from his waistband and handing it to Brenna. "She did the same thing when we went to get you from the banshee," Sam shrugged. "Tiger doesn't change her stripes."

"Is that right?" Dean said, unable to contain his quick grin of admiration.

Sam leveled his eyes on Dean, a secret conversation held in their depths that only Dean would understand. "Yeah," he said, a dimple appearing in an answer to Dean's grin. "That's right."

Dean cocked the shotgun, then rested the barrel on his shoulder. "You ready?"

"If you are," Sam said, raising his eyebrow significantly.

Dean shook his head and started toward the church.

"Hey," Brenna called after them. "What am I supposed to do?"

"Guard the car," Sam called back, following Dean into the church.

Dean heard her grumble as she climbed onto the trunk to wait, "Guard the car… all they ever have me do is guard the friggin' car… like it's a member of the family or something…"

He paused just outside of the doorway, glancing back at her. "She is," he said, meeting her eyes and grinning as she rolled her eyes in response.

He stepped into the dimly lit abandoned church, letting his eyes adjust from the bright of the daylight outside. They'd walked into what once had been the sanctuary. Dean could see pews and an altar with a bent, tarnished cross lying on top. Paintings of saints were curled with age at the front of the room, and images depicting Jesus' benevolence were interrupted in the broken stained glass in the windows lining the length of the room.

Dean brought the shotgun down to rest in his two-handed grip. He felt rather than heard Sam walking directly behind him. He knew from experience that Sam was mirroring his stance. He made sure to watch Sam on every hunt when they were younger to ensure his brother did as John instructed. He needed to know for himself that Sam could survive without him if that ever became necessary.

"You think it's still here?" Sam asked, his voice hushed.

"Dunno," Dean said, his eyes scanning the dark corners of the sanctuary. "Spooks usually come out at night."

"Yeah, but wraiths are different," Sam said and Dean heard him rotate to check behind them quickly.

"Different how?"

"Dad's journal said that because they basically exist to protect…whatever they're supposed to protect, they can attack anytime."

"Well that's a cheery thought," Dean grumbled. "So if the… whatever Brenna called it…"


"Yeah, that," Dean nodded, moving to the doorway at the back of the sanctuary. "If it's still here, then the wraith's still here."

"Pretty much," Sam said. "Dean."


"That smell…"

"Yeah, I know," Dean said. It was the smell of death. And it was getting stronger. "Stay sharp, Sam."

"I know," Sam snapped, an automatic response to being told what to do by his older brother.

They breached the doorway and found themselves in a small alcove that looked like a preparation room for the priest. On the other side of the room was a set of stairs leading down. Dean glanced back at Sam who nodded. Dean moved forward into the darkened stairway, the light that had seeped in from the broken windows receding as they moved into a lower room. At the base of the stairs was a long hallway flanked by several doors.

"Dean," Sam whispered.


"You feel that?"

Dean furrowed his brows and looked over his shoulder at Sam. "Feel what?"

"That… I don't know… pull."

Dean clenched his jaw. "I don't feel anything, Sam."

"It's like… static electricity."

"Maybe you should get your Ouija board… see what the wraith wants," Dean tossed out without really thinking. He had his shotgun up and ready and was moving down the hall to the first door.

"You remember that?"

Something in Sam's voice made Dean pause and look at his brother over his shoulder. "Remember what?"

"The Ouija board."

Dean tossed him a look. "Whatever, Sam. We'd never use something like that," he started to move forward again.

"But we did," Sam protested. When Dean looked back at him he saw that Sam hadn't moved, his gun was down at his side, and his face was slightly pale. He was blinking owlishly at Dean.

"What do you mean, we did?"

"At the hospital," Sam said, as though forcing the words out with considerable effort.

Dean blinked, a sudden, unbidden image of his hands, of Sam's hands, knuckles cut and scraped, fingers resting on a triangular shape, guiding it to a letter… He shook his head, his vision blurring. What the hell? His ears began to buzz and he shook his head again, trying to focus on Sam standing down the hall from him, but all he could see was Sam sitting, legs folded, face bruised and cut, eyes achingly young… It hasn't been the same without you, Dean…

He tried to draw in a breath, but it was as if someone had suddenly flattened his lungs, cut off his air supply, denied him that one relief. He took a step forward and felt himself go down to one knee, the shotgun still gripped in his hands. He closed his eyes tight, forcing himself to concentrate, forcing himself to open his mouth, to pull in air…

"…there you go, it's okay, jeeze, man, don't scare me like that…"

Sam. Sam was next to him. Sam was talking to him. Sam's hand was on his back, just between his shoulder blades. Was that a memory? And if so, where were all these random memories coming from?

"Maybe it's from the concussion," Sam was saying.

Dean blinked up at him. He hadn't realized he'd asked it out loud. He swallowed, keeping his eyes on Sam until he could remember the normal pattern of his breathing.

"Weird," he wheezed.

Sam braced him under the arm and helped him to his feet. "Well, it is your head we're talking about," Sam joked.

"What are you guys doing?"

They both lifted their heads to the base of the stairs. Brenna stood there, Glock gripped in her right hand, left hand braced on the stone wall. Here eyes were wide, her lips pressed into a thin line. Dean suddenly wanted to protect her from finding what he was sure they were going to find. But he knew that to do so, he'd have to physically force her out of there. And he suspected he wouldn't come away from the encounter unscathed.

"Just dealing with some old ghosts," Sam said. "Why aren't you by the car?"

"She can take care of herself," Brenna retorted, shifting her eyes to Dean. "You lied to me."

Dean knew she could see it now. He was actually surprised she hadn't seen through them before.

"We don't know it's him, Brenna," Dean whispered.

"Where?" There was a bite in her voice, a hard edge that hit Dean like a physical blow.

Sam kept his hand on Dean's arm and stepped forward, almost as though he were putting himself between Dean and Brenna. "We don't know yet," he said.

She approached them, here eyes hard. "What the hell are we waiting for?"

Dean shrugged off Sam's hand, irritated by his weakness, by the betrayal of his own mind. He hefted the shotgun and turned to move further down the hall. He heard Sam and Brenna fall into step behind him. The first two rooms were empty of everything. The third was filled with empty chairs set up at empty tables.

As they approached the fourth, Dean felt Sam slow behind him. He reached for the door, and looked at his brother over his shoulder as he did so. Sam lips twitched and he narrowed his eyes. He didn't say a word, but Dean had spent his life watching out for his brother. He knew when Sam's Spidey sense was tingling.

"Brenna, get behind Sam," he ordered.


"Now," he snapped, watching as Sam grabbed her arm and pulled her back, forcibly shoving her behind him.

She was completely hidden by his 6'4" frame. Dean pushed the door open. The room that he stepped into was an entry way into a lower, larger room, accessed by a series of stairs. Shotgun at the ready, he moved through the entry room, and began to make his way down the stairs. At the base of the stairs, he realized he could actually see better in this room. He glanced up to see that while the room may be below ground, there were slim windows near the ceiling that would be at ground level outside. Like all the other windows in the church, these too were broken. Birds flitted in and out of the openings, screeching and calling to each other.

The pale light that illuminated the large chamber exposed what appeared to be a cement crypt and several gold urns recessed along the back wall. He moved on silent feet toward the crypt, breathing shallowly. As he approached, he scanned the darkened corners. The problem with the dark is that the longer he stared, the darker it became. He couldn't penetrate the shadows with his gaze and trying to do so was beginning to make his head spin.

He dropped his eyes and they rested on a boot sticking out from the opposite side of the crypt. He released a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. Even before he approached the boot, he knew. He'd found Declan. And he hadn't prevented a damn thing. She was going to feel this…

"What is it?" Brenna's voice trembled, and he realized she knew the answer to her own question.

"Brenna stay back there with Sam."

"Go hIfreann leat!"

He didn't have to understand Gaelic to know she was telling him to go to hell. Her tone said it. And it's what he would have said in the same situation. She managed to push past Sam and approach the crypt. She stopped next to Dean, seeing only the boot. He felt her arm against his arm, and with that contact her pain and fear stabbed into him. He caught his breath and stepped away from her, closer to the boot.

He moved cautiously around the crypt. Declan was on his back, his arms up, limp across his chest as though they had been raised in defense and dropped there in defeat. His face had started to swell, but the expression of abject fear was still visible. His eyes were open, but the color had been leeched by death. Next to him lay his cell phone. He was propped slightly on his side against the crypt.

"Oh, Da," Brenna breathed. Before Dean could catch her, she moved past him and up to Declan. She stopped suddenly at his side as if she ran into an invisible wall, then she fell to her knees. "What have you done?" she whispered.

Dean tried to swallow, but found that his throat had closed up. As he watched her reach a trembling hand to touch the impossibly pale, slightly bloated skin of her grandfather's hand, he felt his breath catch. He saw Sam's eyes as they stared at John's body in the morgue. He saw Sam reach out to touch John's face – a gesture Sam hadn't attempted with their father since he was three. He saw Sam's devestation as they wrapped John in the sheet and smuggled him out of the hospital. He heard Sam's heartbroken tears when he asked Did he say anything to you as their father burned. And he heard himself lie because the truth would have destroyed Sam in that moment.

"Dean?" Sam's voice was at his shoulder.

"We were too late, Sam," he whispered.

Brenna was whispering words that Dean couldn't understand and didn't want to follow. He didn't hear anger or resentment in her voice. He didn't hear accusation. He heard only loss.

"Tá grá agam duit…"

"Dean…" Sam tried again. "We got here as fast as we could."

"I didn't stop it, Sam," he said, shaking his head. "He used the spell, called it, and it took him. It took him and I didn't do a damn thing."

He felt Sam's hand on his shoulder. "Hey," Sam's voice was still soft, but this time there was a note of insistence in it that Dean couldn't ignore. He looked over at his brother. 'Who are you seeing there, Dean?"

Dean blinked at him. "What?"

"Declan died before we even knew he was in trouble," Sam said, his fingers beginning to dig into his shoulder.

Declan… Dean blinked. "Yeah," he said. He looked back at Brenna. "We have to get them out of here."

His only warning that evil had arrived was a brief tightening of Sam's hand before his brother was literally ripped from him and tossed into the wall across the way. Sam slid to the floor and lay there blinking.


The wraith stood on the top of the crypt. Dean whirled away from the direction Sam had been thrown to face the wavering ghost-like image in front of him. It was transparent, yet seemed solid. It looked like a breath, like a thought, like every scary image of the evil lurking in a childhood closet. It's face was featureless with the exception of a large maw of a mouth, black and oily as it opened and closed silently. It moved toward him on and he raised his shotgun.

He fired a round of rock salt into the wraith at close range. He registered Brenna flinching and clapping her hands over her ears. The wraith vanished without a sound. Dean looked wildly around the room with wide eyes. He grabbed Brenna's arm and hauled her to her feet, ignoring her protests, and pulled her toward Sam, who was, thankfully, pushing himself to his feet.

"Sam, get her out of here," Dean bellowed.

"I'm not leaving him here," Brenna shouted.

"I'll get him, you just get the hell out!"

He literally tossed Brenna into Sam and turned back to face the crypt with the shotgun.

"Dean—" Sam tried.

"Go, Sam! Get out of here!"

He heard Sam move up the series of stairs, Brenna protesting the whole way. He hurried back across the room to Declan's body. He started to pat down Declan's pockets, keeping his eyes up, watching for the wraith.

"C'mon c'mon c'mon…" he grimaced as he pulled at Declan, turning him over to check his back pockets. "Where is it old man, I know you had to have it—"


The panic and pain in Sam's voice literally stopped his heart. Forgetting about Declan, about the banishing spell, about the Ardagh, about anything other than getting to Sam, he broke into a run up the stairs and through the door. He ran down the hall, shotgun held ready, and when he reached the stairs he heard Brenna scream something in Gaelic, her voice viscious. It almost sounded like she was chanting.

The wraith was descending on her, backing her up against a wall of the sanctuary adorned by broken stained glass windows. Her eyes, large and predatory, were pinned to the ghostly form. As the wraith came closer, the remaining glass in the windows behind Brenna shattered in colored confetti of shards.

"Brenna, get down!" Dean bellowed. She complied instantly, dropping to the ground and covering her head.

Dean blasted his second round into the wraith, causing the spirit to once again disappear in an eerie silence.

"Where's Sam?" Dean stalked over to Brenna, grabbing her arm a bit more roughly than he'd intended in his fear for his brother. She looked up at him, her eyes wide and he pushed her away from him a bit so that he wasn't caught by her gaze. "Where is he?"

"I-it tossed him," Brenna's voice shook. "He tried to push me out of the way, but it tossed him."


Brenna pointed toward an open doorway just a bit down from her leading to the side yard. Dean let go of her arm.

"Get to the Impala," he said, moving toward the doorway at a run. He didn't bother to see if she listened to him this time. Fear fueled his motion. He felt no pain, heard no sound, saw nothing but that doorway.

As he crossed the threshold, he saw Sam. "Sammy…" he breathed.

He was slumped against the wrought-iron fence that surrounded the small cemetery. His head was low, his chin touching his chest. And he was so still. Dean stopped breathing as he approached. He realized that the sun was beginning its decent into the west. Long shadows were tossed across the small piece of grass between them. He didn't stop until he was next to his brother, shotgun dropping into the grass. He crouched next to Sam, reaching out cautiously to touch his brother's neck.

"Sammy?" he whispered.

Just before his fingers pressed against Sam's neck, his brother's head jerked up with a pain-filled gasp.


"Hey, hey," Dean said, reaching out to grasp Sam's left shoulder. "I'm here, it's okay."

"It didn't get you…"

"No, Sam, I'm okay," Dean looked anxiously at Sam's pale face. "We need to get out of here, though."

"Gonna need some help," Sam said, his voice slurring. Dean narrowed his eyes, working to see where Sam was hurt. He attempted to pull Sam toward him and was stopped cold when Sam cried out.

"God! No, no, Dean… stop… stop."

"What! What is it?"

"M-my shoulder," Sam panted, eyes pressed closed.

Dean adjusted his stance and looked at Sam's right shoulder. He'd missed it by the angle Sam was sitting.

"Son of a bitch," he muttered.

One of the wrought-iron spokes from the fence had stabbed through the top of Sam's shoulder, above his collar bone. The tip of the spoke barely poked out from the other side of Sam's shoulder. Blood colored only a small patch of his shoulder in the front, but as he carefully examined the wounded area, he felt blood soaking the back of Sam's shirt. Dean's stomach turned to ice at the thought of the pain it was causing his brother.

"Okay, man, I see it, I see it," he muttered. He looked anxiously over his shoulder. The abandoned stone church was silent and dark. He was fairly certain the wraith was bound to the church as long as the Ardagh was still inside. But he had no guarantees of that and the last thing he needed was to fight off a soul-stealer with Sam pinned to a cemetery fence.

"Sammy, listen," he said, grasping Sam's chin and lifting his brother's face to his. "This is going to hurt like a bitch, but I gotta pull you off of here, okay?"

"I know," Sam's voice was faint. "Do it quick, okay?"

"You got it," Dean promised. He straddled Sam, balancing himself as best he could. He tucked his arms under Sam's and leaned forward so that his cheek was close to Sam's ear. It was as close as he'd come to hugging his brother since… well, in a long time. "You ready?"

"Do it," Sam whispered, reaching up to grip the back of Dean's jacket in his left hand.

"On three, okay? One, two…" he pulled Sam up and toward him, sliding him off of the spike as carefully as he could. Sam screamed, his left hand fisting in Dean's jacket, his entire body tensing.

Dean staggered with Sam's weight and fell a bit to his side, Sam still in his arms. He felt Sam go limp, his head resting on Dean's shoulder, his arms around Dean as if he was afraid to let go, even unconscious.

"Shit," Dean panted. His head was spinning and he could feel his heartbeat in the cut on the side of his head. He tried to pull himself out from under Sam to get him in a better position but his brother was at an odd angle. He couldn't seem to roll Sam off of him or get out from underneath him without causing Sam more pain. "Shit shit shit…"

"I got him," Brenna's voice came out of nowhere and Dean thought it was the sweetest sound he ever heard. "I got him, Dean, get out of there."

Dean let Brenna hold Sam a moment and scrambled out from underneath him to get a better balance. He took Sam from Brenna's arms, rolling him to his side to look at his shoulder.

"It's bad, but it could be worse," Brenna said, probing the wound with gentle hands. "Went through the top, missed his bone it looks like."

"Can you help him?" Dean asked, surprised to hear the tremor in his voice.

"Yes," Brenna said with conviction. "Get him up."

Dean crouched low and moved behind Sam to get his arms under Sam's shoulders. Sam's chin dropped down onto his chest. Dean knew that on his best day he couldn't carry Sam, and today was decidedly not his best day. He ended up dragging Sam backwards to the Impala, his brother's shoes skidding and tripping over the grassy earth beneath them.

Once at the Impala, Brenna scrambled into the back seat and helped Dean lift Sam in, pulling him across the seat. Dean had to turn him so that his long legs would fit into the car. Brenna held his head in her lap, pressing a spare T-shirt she'd picked up on the floor of the car into both sides of Sam's wound. Sam groaned and turned his head as she pressed down.

Dean grasped his brother's leg, "Hey man, it's okay," he said.

"Dean?" Sam called weakly, his eyes blinking slowly, not truly conscious.

"I'm here, Sammy," Dean said. "I'm gonna get you out of here. You hang in there, you hear me?"

"Yeah…" Sam whispered, grimacing and trying to pull away from the pressure Brenna was putting on his shoulder. "Dean." This time when Sam said his name, Dean heard I trust you I need you I hurt. He suddenly understood what Brenna meant by her name sounding full in Declan's voice.

"We're going, Sammy," he said, squeezing his brother's leg in reassurance.

"'Kay," Sam whispered, then his eyes closed and he seemed to sink into Brenna's arms. She lifted her eyes and nodded to Dean.

Dean hurried around to the driver's side of the car, sliding behind the wheel and turned the keys in the ignition. As the Impala roared to life, the adrenaline rush that had pushed Dean through the last several moments suddenly began to ebb. He saw black spots in front of his eyes and rested his forehead on the steering wheel, closing his eyes and willing the darkness away.

"You can do this, Dean," Brenna said from the back. "Just ignore it. It doesn't exist. There is no pain."

There is no pain… Dean swallowed and lifted his head. He met her eyes in the rearview mirror. The focus of her druid sight hit him and he gasped. There is no pain… He blinked, looked away from her, shifted into Drive and pulled away from the church.


"At least this time it isn't you," Brenna said as she cleaned Sam's shoulder.

They'd managed to get Sam inside together and Dean laid him on the bed that he'd been resting on that morning. Sam had blinked awake again as they'd laid him on the bed. He'd called for Dean, then, reassured that his brother was close, had closed his eyes again. Brenna removed his shirt with a practiced ease that Dean remembered from New Orleans. Her small hands were strong, sure, and gentle. She had instructed Dean to gather supplies and was now cleaning the puncture wound with the same cloudy liquid she'd prepared for him that morning.

"I wish it was me," Dean whispered, watching Sam's face.

Sam pulled his brows together as Brenna worked, his cheek muscle twitching. Dean reached down to wrap his hand around Sam's forearm, trying to reassure his brother with his touch. Dean had stitched Sam up before, both when he was awake and when he was unconscious. Every time he'd done so, however, when he was finished, he'd hurried to the bathroom and emptied his stomach of whatever food he'd consumed that day.

"I know you do," Brenna said. "But you can't jump in front of every bullet, Dean." Her voice was almost too calm, he thought. Too… controlled.

"It's my job to protect him," Dean said, his eyes never leaving Sam's face as Brenna began to stitch up the wound on the front. "I have to save him…"

"Don't you think he feels the same way about you?"

"You don't understand…"

"Yeah, Dean, I do," she said, carefully easing Sam to his side so that she could get to his back. "Here, hold him."

Dean crouched down to gather Sam up, holding his brother against him as she worked on his back. Sam groaned as she probed he wound on his back, but he didn't wake. His forehead rested on Dean's arm. Dean lowered his forehead to rest on the top of Sam's head.

"I know what your father told you," Brenna said softly.

Dean didn't even flinch. Somehow he wasn't surprised. She got in, got under his wall, saw what he didn't want anyone to see… what he couldn't allow himself to see. He continued to hold Sam as she wrapped his shoulder. When she was finished, he eased Sam back onto the bed and slid his arms out from behind his neck. Sam's head rolled on the pillow toward Dean. Brenna turned away, mixing something in a coffee mug, and handed it to Dean.

"Help him drink this," she said.

"But he's out," Dean protested.

"Well," Brenna crossed her arms over her chest. "That's why you need to help him." She turned away from him and headed to the doorway.

"Where are you going?"

"To the bar," she said without looking back. "I need a drink."

When she'd left the room, Dean looked down at Sam. He looked so young in his sleep. He looked like he did before he'd left for Stanford, before Dean had been forced to figure out a way to survive two years without his only friend, before Jessica died, before they found Dad, before the cabin, before the demon, before the accident, before Dad…

"Dammit, Sammy," Dean whispered, pushing a chunk of dark brown hair away from Sam's eyes. "I promised to watch out for you…"

"Dean?" This time, Sam's voice was groggy, not pain-filled.

"Hey, man," Dean said, the smile on his face an automatic reaction to the sound of his brother's voice. "How are you feeling?"

"Fantastic," Sam blinked his eyes open, attempting to focus on Dean's face. "Didn't get it, did we?"

"We'll get another shot," Dean assured him.

"It tried to go after Brenna," Sam said, licking his lips, his face pulling together in a wince. "Like it knew her or something."

"Don't worry about that now," Dean said. "I got something for you."


Dean grinned. "Not exactly," he cupped the back of Sam's head and lifted it slightly, setting the mug against his brother's lips. "Down the hatch, brother."

Sam took a tiny sip and tried to pull away. "What the hell is this?"

"It supposed to help you," Dean said, holding the cup steady. "Brenna made it."

Sam shifted his eyes up to Dean's and he saw something reflect there that he couldn't identify. Whatever it was, though, Sam allowed Dean to help him drink the whole thing, grimacing as he swallowed the last amount. Dean eased him back down.

"Go find her, Dean," Sam said, blinking slowly.

"What are you talking about? I'm not leaving you," Dean protested.

"She needs you," Sam said. "She just won't admit it."


"I'm not goin' anywhere, man," Sam said, his eyes closed. "I know you'll come back to check on me… just… go find her…"

Within seconds Sam was asleep. Dean pulled the blanket up to his shoulders and brushed his long hair out of his eyes.

"Never could keep that hair a normal length," he said softly.

Sighing, he pushed himself to his feet. He rubbed a hand over his face, looked down at Sam again, then turned to leave the room. At the doorway he looked back over his shoulder at his sleeping brother. He wanted to stay, but Sam was right - he needed to check on Brenna. Since finding Sam pinned to the fence, she hadn't mentioned Declan once. He wouldn't put it past her to go after her grandfather's body by herself, wraith or no wraith.

He walked the short distance from the house to the bar. He wanted to get back to Sam as quickly as possible. When he saw Brenna, he stopped. She was standing behind the bar, staring at her own reflection in the large mirror. Her shoulders were tight, and her eyes hot. He stepped from the shadows so that she could see him.

"What are you doing here?"

"Making sure you're okay," he replied. "And that you aren't going to do anything stupid."

"I'm planning on getting drunk, so if that's stupid, then the answer is yes. And I'm fine."

"Yeah, you look it."

"Just go, Dean," she growled, whirling on him, her short hair like angry wings on either side of her petite face. Her eyes were large, pain-filled, and dangerous. "Go stay with your brother. I don't want you here. Just go!"

"I can't." He suddenly knew he couldn't leave her, not now, not like this. Not when she'd saved him – twice - not when she'd just fixed Sam, not when he'd let her down so completely…


"I can't."

"Get out of here, Dean!" She could have screamed it, but it was a low growl. The pain in her wide eyes simmered into anger.

"Brenna, I can't leave you like—"

Moving quickly, she stepped out from behind the bar and stood in front of him. He held himself very still, unsure how to deal with her in this situation. His head gave a sharp throb and he clenched his jaw.

"Sure you can. Declan's dead. You came to help him, but he doesn't need your help anymore. Just go. Just walk away."

"I can't," he repeated. It was built into him; he had to take care of it – whatever it was. He had to put it right. She was broken because they hadn't gotten there in time… because he hadn't gotten there in time.

"I want you to, Dean," she said, stepping forward, her eyes widening further, purposefully drawing him in. "I want you to leave," she stepped closer, and he stepped back. "I want you out," closer still, back another step. "Do you hear me?" He stepped back again, at last feeling the wall across from the bar behind him. "GET OUT!" The back of his head touched the wall and he looked down at her, her eyes, her mouth.


And then he was falling. Her anger amplified the pull of her power and he fell. His walls crumbled. He felt her expose him, felt her see him – see his pain, see the fear, the doubt, see him unable to save Sam, see Sam with opaque eyes and a devil's smile, see Dean having to kill Sam because he'd failed to save him… He tried to pull back, tried to hide, tried to keep the darkness inside, but Sam's eyes, Sam's pain, Sam's loss flooded over him and he was suddenly drowning. He had to stop her… stop her before she saw it all, before she saw the rest…

He felt her reach her hands up to his face, reaching instinctively to comfort in a reaction to what she was seeing, and he forced his hands up, grabbing her wrists. He wrapped his fingers around the slim bones and with a strong heave pushed her away from him. Her gaze dropped and he found himself leaning against the wall for support, trembling and panting.

"No," he whispered.

"No what," she panted.

"No. You can't see any more… I won't let you," he growled.

He suddenly didn't care that she, too, had lost. Declan may have wanted to protect her, may have only called to her in his last moments out of longing or desperation, but he'd never been the protector he should have been. He hadn't sacrificed himself for her. He hadn't made a deal to save her life. He hadn't died to save her. He'd just died. He'd just left her.

"You won't let me?" she asked, venom in her voice. She was standing against the bar, leaning against it for support in a mirror of his position against the wall. Her chin was down, her eyes pinned to his.

"No," he growled.

"John left you, Dean. I saw it. He told you that if you couldn't save Sam, you'd have to kill him and then he left you."

"It's not the same!"

She tossed her chin up, flicking damp bangs out of her large eyes. "Sure it is."

"Shut the hell up."

"Why? He tells you – for the first time in your entire life – he tells you he's proud of you, dumps that on you, then dies?"

"Shut up, Brenna," Dean was trembling. If it were anyone else slamming these words into him he would have started swinging long ago. John did what he had to do. The only thing he could do. It was the only way to protect Sam. The only way.

"It's the same. He left you. Declan left me. They betrayed us."

"You're wrong."

"You only want me to be!" she straightened, pushing away from the bar, standing with her feet braced apart, her hands spread, inviting him in and closing him off at the same time.

"You're wrong."

"Dean, he killed you with those words," she said softly.

"Stop it," Dean panted, still leaning against the wall, his head low, his eyes up. The pain in his head, in his back, had taken a back seat to this strange mixture of anger and desire she was feeding in him. He watched her step closer to him. Watched her mouth. Watched her lips.

"Why? Because you don't want to hear it? Because you're tired of the truth?"

"Because I fucking can't, okay?"

"Can't what?" she yelled at him, stepping closer, and he watched her eyes flick from his eyes to his mouth to his hands to his shoulders and back to his eyes.

"I can't not do my job," Dean breathed, watching her step even closer to him. He felt gutted and on fire at the same time. He felt as though her words were hollowing out his soul and her eyes were filling the empty space with hot coals of pain and anger – her pain. Her anger. "I have to protect him."

"Who, Sam?"

Dean just blinked at her, surprised to feel his lashes flick sweat from his cheeks into the air to land in the void between them. He was pressed against the wall from shoulder to ankle, his arms splayed against the wall, his fingertips digging in.

"You can't save him from everything, Dean," she said, her eyes searing his.

"I can try," he whispered.

"You'll lose yourself," she whispered back, and pulled the anger from the air to punctuate her sentence.

"Maybe," he said, blinking sweat away again. "But he's my brother."

"You'll die for him," she said, and he couldn't tell if it was a question or a prediction.

"If it comes to that," he said, looking down at her as she stepped close enough that her breasts pressed against his black T-shirt-clad chest, her hips melded into his, her hands pressed against the wall near his elbows. He looked down at the tip of her nose as she directed her gaze at his throat. She lifted her wide, predatory eyes and he sucked in his breath.

"Would he do the same?" she asked, her voice barely above a breath of sound.

"Stop it," he ground out, feeling himself react to her closeness.

"No," she said, canting her head to the side, and pressed her body harder against his. He knew she knew him, knew his body, knew how to get him to respond, knew how to weaken him, how to harden him, how to make him sigh, how to make him moan. But he also knew hers, and he knew how to make this stop, how to make her stop…

"Yes," he growled, pushing away from the wall suddenly, making her stumble backwards. He caught her elbows before she tangled her feet and fell, held her up, held her against him. He stepped forward forcefully until her waist was pressed against the bar.

Then before she could say anything else, he descended. He pressed his mouth to hers, hard, forceful, unrelenting. She pressed back against him, lifting her hands and digging her nails into his forearms hard enough to draw small crescents of blood. She bit his lip, hard, and he pressed his mouth harder on hers so that she couldn't get a breath. He moved his hands to her waist, lifting her up on the bar.

She allowed that, wrapping her legs around his waist and pulling him to her. His stomach slammed against the bar with the force of her strong legs. Her head was higher than his now, and to maintain control, he reached up and fisted his fingers into her short hair, pressing her face close to his, pulling her lips to his, and bruising them, crushing them against his. She pushed against him, resisting and his instinct was to release her, allow her space, allow her to recover. Instead he lifted her, turned her – not letting her get her feet to the ground – and in three strides had pressed her against the wall with just shy of a bone-jarring slam.

She reached up to his shoulders and dug in, wrapping her legs around him, pulling him close. They were panting, desperate for air. But he couldn't stop. He couldn't release her, couldn't give her quarter. He reached for her shirt and she moved his hands away, tearing away her own buttons as she pulled open her blouse. He held her against the wall with his hips, pulling his shirt over his head. She stared at him, her lips red and swollen, her eyes wide.

He held her eyes for a moment and knew. After this moment, the future was tainted, the past shadowed. There was only this present, this moment, this feeling, this release, this redemption. They could pour their anger and pain into each other now, stopping it from consuming them, or they could walk away and forget this ever happened. Dean pulled back, breathing hard, watching her eyes, asking her...

"I've never hurt like this, Dean. Never. And I never want to again. I want you to take it away."

"It won't go away," he whispered.

"But you can change it," she argued, her voice cracking, her swollen lips hovering near his, her legs tightening around his waist pulling him closer to her, her back pressing against the wall. "You can make me remember you… remember this instead."

"It won't go away," he repeated. "It never goes away. It sneaks up on you, Brenna. It takes you when you least expect it."

"Please," she whispered.

His eyes were hot on hers. "We do this, there's no going back," he said. He wasn't talking about sex – and he knew she knew it. They'd already tasted each other in that way. He was talking about replacing the hurt with something physical. He was talking about using each other.

"I don't want to go back," she said, gripping the back of his neck and capturing his mouth with hers in a kiss of anger, power, and fear.

He held her against the wall, quickly rid them of their clothing. He felt her heat, felt her strength… he let her feel his pain, his desperation. He heard her gasp as his honesty poured from him in wordless motion. He pressed her back repeatedly against the wall, pressed his face to her chest, his breath hot across her smooth skin. He heard her sob once, felt her shudder, and then felt himself tip, spinning, falling over the edge.

He was spent, empty, trembling. He could barely hold her up. He eased her off of him and helped her find her footing, stepping back. They pulled their clothes on in silence. His head swam. He'd let it happen, allowed her desperation to sway his judgment. And he wasn't sure that he was all that sorry.

He saw her swollen lips, the slight bruising there, and without thinking he reached out to press a gentle hand against them. Her lips had been one of the first things he noticed about her. Until her eyes had virtually sucked his soul from him. She reached up to his hand, closing her fingers around his and pressed her lips against her fingertips before letting him drop his hand.

"We make our own future, Dean," she whispered, holding her torn blouse together with a trembling hand as she turned away from him.

Dean licked his lips, looking at her profile, curling his fingers up against the palms of his hands. "Brenna… this… we…" he could only shake his head.

She stopped and turned to face him. "Even if I wanted that… which I don't… I know it's not possible, Dean. You can never belong to me – you already belong to someone else."

Dean pulled his head back at her choice of words. "What?"

She continued as if he'd not said anything. "The thing is, you give yourself willingly… you are so far down inside of yourself you don't really even know if you truly exist anymore… without Sam… I can't see you."

He trembled a bit at how closely that hit to the truth. "I'll do what it takes to save him, Brenna," he whispered. "I have to."

She lifted her eyes and met his – this time they were her eyes. Her eyes seeing only him and not too deep, not too far, not to where he couldn't protect himself. "I know."

She walked away from him and through the swinging doors that led to the kitchen, pausing only to grab a bottle of tequila by the neck from the shelf behind the bar. His eyes followed her as his body trembled. For the moment he was touching her, holding her, the pain in his head had been a distant memory and his strength had been fueled by anger and desire. Now that she was gone, he felt weak and the ache in his head spread down his neck to the bruise on his lower back. He wanted nothing more than to curl up on the floor where he stood and sleep for a week.

Instead he walked back to the house to check on Sam. He made his way across the empty dirt lot, the night wind drying the sweat on his skin, cooling the pain in his head, alerting his senses. He saw a light turn on in the garage and heard banging. He knew Brenna was working off more of her anger, and he didn't blame her. He just hoped she didn't go back after Declan's body without help.

He walked into the house and to the bedroom, pausing in the doorway to look down at Sam. He was sprawled in his normal complete-bed-take-over sleep position, his face peaceful, devoid of lines of pain or haunts of memories. Brenna's remedy had done the trick in allowing Sam apparently dreamless sleep, allowing him to heal. Dean rubbed his forehead, closing his eyes. You belong to someone else… without Sam, I can't see you…

He looked back up at his brother, approaching the bed carefully. "She's right, Sammy," he whispered. "I will keep you safe. I promise you that."

He rubbed the back of his neck, the bruises on his back and side making themselves known from his activities moments ago. How had he let it go that far that fast? He'd lost complete control of this situation. He was remembering things he shouldn't be able to remember, Sam had gotten hurt, and now Brenna… With a low growl, he clenched his hands into fists, looking at Sam's face once more.

"This ends now, Sammy," he whispered. "I'm ending it."

Sam stirred softly on the bed, muttering something unintelligible in his sleep. Dean knew he couldn't let Sam wake and not know where he was. He knew the horror that would seep through him upon waking up alone. He'd felt it two weeks ago. He had to let Sam know he'd be back. That he wouldn't have left him if there had been any other choice.

He went to the kitchen, glass crunching under his boots, and opened a few drawers until he found what he was looking for. He scrawled a note, signed his name, then turned back to the bedroom. Picking up Sam's left hand, he stuffed the note into Sam's palm and folded his fingers over it in a tight grip. Sighing, he grabbed his leather jacket from the foot of the bed, straightened and went into the kitchen, retrieving several rounds of rock salt from the duffel and stuffing them into his pockets. He flipped through his father's journal, checking one last time to see if there was a banishing spell.

Not finding one, he closed the book, allowing his fingers to trail over the soft leather of the book. I want you to…watch out for Sammy…

"Yeah, Dad," he whispered. "You know I will."

With one last glance at Sam, he left the house and climbed behind the wheel of the Impala, heading back to the church to bring Declan home to his granddaughter and finish off the wraith before it had the chance to hurt anyone else Dean loved.