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An Act of Deliberation, Chapter 13

Title: An Act of Deliberation
Author: November’sGuest
Characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester
Category: AU/Angst/hurt!Dean
Rating: T (PG-13)
Spoilers: Possible spoilers for any of Season 1-2.
Disclaimer: Supernatural and its characters belong to Eric Kripke. No infringement intended – just dabbling in your sandbox, Mr. Kripke, sir.
Summary: Sam works to stop a deadly vision of his brother.

Read Chapter 1/Chapter 2
/Chapter 3/Chapter 4/Chapter 5/Chapter 6/Chapter 7/Chapter 8/Chapter 9/
Chapter 10/Chapter 11/Chapter 12

A/N#1: As I go to post this, I want you to be aware that I did some last minute tweaking even though I’m barely awake right now. I tell you this so you’ll know why if something isn’t quite right or seems a little wonky. Don’t blame the betas, it’s all me. I wouldn’t even post it without another go through on a fresh mind, but I promised a few people I would have it up tonight. So please forgive any and all mistakes.


Chapter 13: When Morning Comes

The fragrance of dark roasted coffee and something cheesy teased him awake. It would’ve been pleasant if not for the spinning room making his stomach lurch and roll. The last thing he remembered was Sam’s back disappearing behind the bathroom door.

Still weighted down by the effects of the drugs, he allowed himself to drift in and out of the conversation surrounding him. There was talk of rites, ingredients and other things said around mouthfuls of food. His head throbbed sharply. Moving it even just a little made the room pitch and sway nauseatingly. In close competition was the stinging ache of his shoulder, the skin blazing as if burned, and a vague painful itching sensation across various parts of his body. He’d been lying in the same position too long and needed badly to shift. It didn’t matter in what direction; any change would be welcome, anything to ease the numb tightness in his lower back and hips.

Wincing, he pushed his heavy lids open. Glaring light stung his eyes and he blinked against it. Slowly, the piercing stabs eased enough so he could keep them open; take in his immediate surroundings. He was surprised to find the curtains pulled closed. It seemed impossibly bright to his sensitive brain, much like staring into the sun. He must’ve made a sound he wasn’t aware of because suddenly two pairs of concerned eyes fixed on him—probing, searching and perhaps weighing.

“Hey,” came Sam’s gentle voice, “feel like sitting up, maybe eating something?”

Dean worked his thick tongue around in his mouth and swallowed, nearly gagging on the dryness in his throat.

“Water would be good.” He was startled at how weak and rough his voice came out. It didn’t even sound like him and that was a little unnerving. Levering his arms against the bed, he pushed his body upward.

Sam was at his side in two strides, a strong hand under his arm and another behind his back. A short bark of pain broke loose involuntarily, but was forgotten when the sudden feeling of free falling had him grasping and clutching at the solidness of the bed. He must’ve looked a sight too, because when his vision cleared, Sam’s face had tightened into a menagerie of fear, worry and…was that guilt? Leave it to Sam to feel guilty for something Dean had done to himself.

“You okay?”

He started to nod, then thought better of it. “Yeah…I think so.”

His brother’s fingers remained curled around his bicep, lending solid support while he gained his bearings. Off to the right, Bobby stood with his thumbs hooked in his pockets, face guarded. Breathing steadily through his nose, Dean clenched his jaw against the pain and nausea washing through him and waited while Sam propped several stiff pillows behind his back. Fetching a large Styrofoam cup from the table, Sam handed him the drink and then seated himself on the opposite bed.

Looking apologetic, Sam said, “I’d have gotten you coffee, but you need to re-hydrate.”

Dean sipped tentatively from the straw and then grimaced. “Dude, what is this?”

“PowerAde,” Sam grinned. “Helps restore electrolytes. I got us some egg, cheese and bacon biscuits, too.”

Suddenly his brother was off the bed and coming back with a white paper sack dotted with greasy spots. Dean took another sip of the blue concoction, just thankful to have something to wet his mouth and throat. He eyed the normally coveted breakfast fare with suspicion – Sam holding it out like a peace offering.

Just the idea of food made his stomach flip-flop. “I don’t know, man. Not really hungry.” He waved the still-warm sandwich away.

Disappointed, Sam pointed at the glass. “Well, just make sure you drink as much of that as you can.”

Sam tossed the wrapped biscuit back on the table. Features sober and hesitant, he fidgeted with his hands in his pockets. “So, how’re you feeling?”

Dean’s mouth quirked as he peered up from under sooty lashes. “Like I shot myself in the head.”

“Yeah, well, lucky for you you’re a terrible shot when you’re drunk.”

Though said as if it were light banter, the tightness around Sam’s eyes never left. He had been hurt by what Dean had done. Not hurt as in betrayed, but hurt in the sense that the memories would play out in the dark of night for some time to come. Yeah, Dean thought, definitely hurt and scared. Dean would have to tolerate his brother’s mothering as penance. Damn.

Inhaling deeply, Dean glanced between the two men and asked, “So, when’s the party?”

Lips making an ‘o’ and eyebrows high, Sam answered, “Well, that kinda depends on you. Bobby’s wards are getting weaker by the day…but, we need to wait until you get some of your strength back.”

“Well, there’s no time like the present,” Dean said, shifting as if to get up.

“Easy there, tiger,” Bobby interjected. “There’s no rush…you look like death warmed over – twice.”

“Look, I appreciate the concern, but I’m good.”

“No, Dean. Bobby’s right. You aren’t ready for this. You can barely sit up, man. Just give us another day.” Sam’s voice rose along with his indignation.

“Sam, I’m fine. Sore as hell, but fine.”

Pushing himself upright, Dean’s face crumpled as bolts of lightning exploded in his head, temporarily blinding him. He held his body still and waited for the moment to pass. Meanwhile, Sam and Bobby stayed still—allowing him to learn this lesson without interference. Raising an unsteady hand to his forehead, Dean held his breath against the pain and blinked as colors began to reform into recognizable shapes.

He stubbornly pushed his legs over the side of the bed, one arm clenched to his side and the other dropping from his head to wad the bed sheets. By the time he was sitting on the edge of the mattress, Dean had turned a sickly shade of pale green, sweat dampening his hair and glistening on his skin.

Cocking a pain-laced sideways grin, Dean said, “See? Good as new.”

Huffing disgustedly, Sam shook his head in disbelief. “Yeah, green’s a good look for you, Dean.”

Suddenly Dean was pressing a hand to his lips, eyes large and wide.

Shifting his weight forward, Sam asked, “Dean?”

Swallowing hard, Dean groaned, “Maybe sitting up wasn’t such a good idea.”

And that was all the permission his brother needed. Sam lowered Dean back against the mound of pillows, not suffering any protests, muttering something about idiots that don’t listen. Still grumbling, Sam’s gaze darted quickly between his brother and the trashcan, apparently evaluating the need for the plastic receptacle. The spinning slowed, but the sickness in his gut was sharply present. Dean squeezed his eyes shut against the undulating room with a hand pressed to his stomach and prayed that everything stayed where it belonged.

“You gonna be okay? Need the trashcan?” he heard Sam asking.

He gave an abbreviated shake of his head, but didn’t trust himself enough to speak just yet. After a minute or so he forced out a tight-lipped, “Dude, quit hovering! I’m okay.”

Without even opening his eyes, he knew exactly what his little brother was doing. Sam’s attention had always been a tightly focused beam burning his skin and making him hyper-aware of every little nuance of his own body. He forced his hands to stop their shaking and smoothed his features out the best he could, unable to completely release the set of his jaw and the tension in his brow. Finally, he heard Sam scoot the trash can nearer to the bed before retreating with a sigh. The sound of a chair scuffing against carpet gave away Sam’s new position. Giving himself some privacy by throwing an arm over his eyes, Dean listened as the conversation picked up where it’d left off.

“So,” his brother was saying, “where are we gonna get this stuff? I mean, amber, juniper, black pillar candles, orris root, powdered iron, frankincense…an athame? We aren’t exactly equipped with this stuff.”

Bobby replied, closer now, “I guess someone’s gonna have to make a run into Phoenix. I can probably make it there and back in about six hours.” Metal keys clinked together as they slid free from a pocket.

“Oh, hey, Bobby, I can—”

“Nah. I already know what most of that stuff looks like. It’d be better if I go. You boys need anything before I hit the road?”

A pause during which Dean was certain he could hear Sam’s thoughts doing triple overtime and then, “Uh, no. No, I think I got everything earlier.”

Dean imagined Bobby nodding as he headed toward the door. “Okay. Listen, you boys stay put. No one outside this room. Got it?”

“Yes, sir.” There was a short pause, then, “Hey, Bobby?”


A clunk of plastic knocking against wood as Sam picked up the phone. “Take my phone…just in case.”

Dean heard Bobby catch the phone and say, “Yeah. Okay, Sam.” before shutting the door behind him.

Sam’s chair squeaked as his weight shifted, and then papers rattled as they were shuffled and reorganized. Dean knew Sam was going back through everything one last time, checking and rechecking the plan. Air being forced out his nose meant either Sam was geared up and ready to get on with it or anxious about something not working just the way it should. More shuffling and then a pen scribbling furiously across a page filled the empty space between them.

Sam liked to note his concerns or thoughts in writing. It made them more solid and real to him, Dean guessed. Gave Sam more control than he maybe felt he actually had. It had always been important to his brother, that feeling of control. Sam needed to have a firm grip on things at all times, to have stability in his thoughts and actions. Dean had long ago accepted the uncertainty of life and knew that control was only an illusion at best.

Even now the only thing keeping him sane and in possession of his own mind was the wards Bobby had set. Without that, he had no doubt the demon would be here, now, tormenting him with Hannah’s skin. The worst part of it all was that he’d allowed himself to be worn down; he’d bought every image and every word completely. He hadn’t been strong for Sam. But the memory of Hannah had been so real. From the moment Daniel’s hand had slipped away, she’d been foremost on his mind and in his dreams. And, now, with Daniel…just one more thing, the weight of one more life on his shoulders.

But that was no excuse for what he’d done. For what he’d tried to do. It wasn’t that he was unwilling to give up his life for Sam’s, not at all. If the situation came down to it, if he really had to decide, there was no question what he’d choose—without hesitation or reservation. This had been different, though. More than one motive had been involved. If he was honest with himself, he knew it wasn’t as simple as choosing between Sam and himself. Oh, it had definitely been a factor – a huge factor – but deep down he knew he’d wanted the escape. He’d wanted to make the pain stop and that’s what really scared him. How could he take the easy way out? How could he do that to Sam?

Awesome, Dean. Tell your brother you’re responsible for the death of a friend and then saddle him with your own death. Real selfish bastard way of doing things.

He wouldn’t blame Sam if he were angry. He wouldn’t blame Sam if he never forgave him or trusted him again. So, why was Sam being so calm about it? His brother didn’t act pissed or even hurt beyond the obvious terror of almost having lost him.

“You wanna talk about it?”

Dean startled at Sam’s voice, lifting his arm away from his face.

“Talk about what?” he stalled.

Gingerly, he eased himself higher on the pillows – careful to go slow and easy. Sam remained at the table – had been watching him for some time, evidently.

Sam shrugged. “Whatever’s on your mind.” Seeing that Dean meant to duck and weave, Sam lifted a hand, palm out. “No, Dean. Don’t lie to me about this…or to yourself. You’re strong silent crap is fooling no one. Things got bad and you’re still dealing with it. Let me help.”

There it was. Proof that Sam had lost confidence in his ability to deal. He thinks I’m weak because of what happened.

“I don’t need your pity, Sam. I—”

“Pity? You think that’s what this is? Well, it’s not. I just meant—”

“Oh, c’mon, Sam! We both know I screwed up—hell, I handed the damn thing the keys and showed it the door. God, Sam, I just…” Dean shook his head, tried to shake loose the useless feelings and thoughts that circled and replayed through his mind.

“You just, what, Dean?’

Dean lifted one shoulder and looked off to the side. Face pulled tight, he said, “Nah. Nothin’, man.”

“Whatever it is, it’s not nothing. Dean, talk to me, please.”

Dean paused, then with utter genuineness asked, “Aren’t you pissed, man? Aren’t you mad as hell about Hannah…about all of it? The truth, Sam. If you want me to be honest, then tell the truth.” Dean’s voice held enough self-hatred for both of them.

For a long moment, Sam didn’t move. He just sat, unmoving. Then, he pushed his chair back and moved to sit opposite Dean, hands hanging loosely between his knees. He needed to be closer to his brother to say this. Needed to be fully understood.

“Sure, when you first told me about what had happened with Hannah…I was angry…hurt. I couldn’t believe you’d kept this from me. And it’s not like you to involve anyone else in a hunt. I was pissed that you’d put her in that kind of danger.”

Hearing the words, Dean flinched. No matter how prepared he thought he was it still hurt to hear Sam say the words. They lodged in his heart, jagged and sharp. He pressed his lips together and let Sam continue.

“But…after I left, after I had time to think about it, I realized you cared about her…and that you’d never intentionally put anyone at risk unnecessarily. Hell, I knew Hannah, how stubborn she could be. The girl I knew…you’d have little choice but involve her. Better to bring her in than have her poking around on her own, right?”

The corner of Dean’s mouth lifted in a bittersweet grin. That’d been Hannah, all right. Brave, tenacious and hardheaded. But also sweet, trusting and sincere in all ways that had mattered.

“Look, man, I’m sorry about what I said. I know you’d never use someone like that, use the job like that. What happened…it wasn’t your fault, Dean. And, I’m sorry I walked out on you.”

Dean winced at the lost quality in his brother’s voice. “No, Sam. Don’t. You had every right. You needed—”

“I needed to be there for my brother.” Sam met Dean’s gaze with quiet intensity. “I pushed you into talking to me. I promised I wouldn’t leave no matter what. Dean, I’m sorry. I was the one who messed up. If I had stayed—”

“Dude, do not blame yourself for this,” Dean interjected, his tone steel and granite. But not mad, just earnest in being heard. “Just don’t do that. What happened…it’s not your fault.” Sam shifted uncomfortably, uncertainty coloring his features. “I mean it, Sam. It’s not.”

“Yeah, but—”

“No. You’ve gotta stop taking the blame for stuff, man. You’re not responsible for what I do.”

Sam’s head bobbed in agreement. “But, neither are you, Dean. Not really. It’s the demon doing this.”

Immediately, Dean averted his gaze, his head dipping low. Still wrapped tightly in self-blame. Not caring that Dean didn’t want to hear it, Sam just steamrolled right into it. He needed his brother to put the blame squarely where it belonged.

“It was amazing how long you fought the thing off. You did that, Dean. You held in there long enough for me to find you. Bobby says most people are dead within a week. You held in there for two.”

Dean cocked an eyebrow and smirked but didn’t raise his head. His fingers were busy rolling a loose thread between his fingers, distracting him from the discomfort of Sam’s words.

“The power this thing has,” Sam continued, “it’s like nothing I’ve – we’ve – ever seen, man. This thing, it’s older than anything we’ve ever encountered. Or anything Dad ever encountered, for that matter.”

Sam let the thought hang, the noisy hum of the air conditioner the only sound in the room. Dean continued to pick at the coverlet, but Sam could see by the movement of his eyes that he was thinking, absorbing, accepting. It was a step in the right direction.

“So, you think this plan will really work?” Dean finally asked.

“Yeah. I mean, it has to, right? I’m not letting this thing win.” Sam’s weak grin was meant to be reassuring.

Dean looked up. “Got a back up plan?”

Sam’s turn to avert his gaze, study the lines in his fingers and hand. “No.” Then peered up from lowered brows, apology etched in every corner of his face.

“All right. Well, I might able to help with that.”

Uneasy, Sam asked, “What do you mean?”

“If Bobby’s hoodoo doesn’t work, I’ve got an alternate idea. But…you’re not gonna like it.”

Sam’s face crinkled in confusion, then gradually fell flat. “No, Dean. You’re not killing yourself—I’m not doing it for you, either. That’s not an option, it’s—”

“Chill, dude. Nothing that permanent. While I was,” he gestured with his hands, “gone, I called Joshua looking for a way to kill this thing. He said that it only has until the next new moon to get its next soul. In the meantime, it will become desperate enough to take the soul by force…but, if the life of the person is taken by another on that last night, it will weaken enough to be killed by more conventional methods.”

“Okay, so?”

“So, if we can get Bobby to mix up one of his special concoctions, something that would temporarily stop my heart, and you or Bobby give it to me on that last night, then we could kill it. You revive me and all’s well that ends well.”

Sam’s eyes rounded as he asked incredulously, “What?! You want us to kill you and then try to bring you back?”

“Why not? I’m like a cat with nine lives, dude.”

“No, Dean. Just—no. What if it doesn’t work? What if we can’t bring you back?”

Dean schooled his features, patience giving him a calmness he knew Sam needed right then. “Sam, look, man, we’ll try your way first…but if it doesn’t work, then we can use this as a backup. I mean, we’ll have nothing to lose. It’ll take me by force if you can’t stop it. One way or another, I’m dead. At least this way, we have a shot.”

Sam stood and paced from the door to the bed and back again. “I don’t like it, Dean.”

“Well, tell me about it! I don’t like it much, either, but we have to consider it as a possibility.”

All he got was silence with the classic bitch-face.

“Sam, you know I’m right.”

More silence and a bitchier bitch-face.

“You got any better ideas?”

C’mon, Sam. Work with me here.

He just needed Sam to agree to this. It was taking massive effort to keep from giving in to the pounding of his head. The pain behind his eyes was increasing, red sparks blooming with each blink. But, he couldn’t let go until Sam was with him in this.

Studying his brother, Sam didn’t miss the pinching around Dean’s eyes. Knew his brother needed to be resting, but wouldn’t until this was settled.

“Okay,” he finally relented. “I’ll call Bobby and fill him in after I’ve checked a few more things.”

Relieved, Dean relaxed into his pillows. Fatigue tugged at him and he wanted nothing more than to close his eyes against the pain, but Sam continued to sit across from him, poised to say more.

“What, Sam?”

“You know, if you want to get your strength back, you really should eat something. We’ve got other stuff besides the sandwich…” He pointed to the white, plastic sacks bunched in the corner of the room.

“If I eat, do you promise no more talking for the next three hours at least?”

Sam laughed and held up his hand, “Promise. No talking if you eat.”

Dean rolled his eyes as he groused, “Toss me the sandwich.”

Though it was slow going and felt like way too much work for such a simple act, he finally made it through half the breakfast concoction before his stomach refused to be bombarded any further. He tossed the remains into the wastebasket left by his bed earlier and set the cup that had been planted between his legs on the side table. He followed Sam’s movements out of the corner of his eye – still wondering how he’d managed avoiding a more in-depth talk about Hannah. He’d thought for sure Sam would zero right in and insist on having an emo hash-fest about her. Maybe he was still trying to deal with it himself, not yet ready to tackle a full-on confrontation.

Before he could envision what a full-on confrontation might look like, an electrifying surge of pain blanked out his thoughts, forcing him to clamp his teeth down on the cry fighting for release. His vision filled with white light and he fisted his hands against it, unwilling to cause Sam more concern. It would pass. In a minute or two, it would pass. He just had to remain calm. Breathe in and out. In and out.

The blistering heat built and then mushroomed, forcing both hands to his head. He couldn’t hold back the sound building in the back of his throat. “Ahhh!”

Sam’s head whipped around in his brother’s direction. “Dean?!”

Before Sam could fully rise from his chair, an invisible wall of pressure knocked him back into it. He opened his mouth to call out once more and felt a gag made of air seal the sound off. Terror-filled eyes snapped toward Dean. His brother was curled on his side, head tucked in with palms pressing the sides hard enough to be painful in and of itself.

An unstable image began to fluctuate beside Dean and Sam could just make out the shape of an extended arm reaching for his brother’s head. Dean’s body shuddered before going stiff as he reared back, a cry of pain turning into an angry growl. Using every ounce of his determination, Dean rolled off the bed and away from the figure that was becoming more solidly Hannah. Sam struggled against the force holding him to the chair, fear and frustration pouring off him in waves. He had to break loose, get to Dean. But, no matter how hard he bucked and twisted, nothing worked.

Helplessly, he watched as the creature walked right through the bed and knelt beside his brother who was desperately trying to crab-crawl away from it. Defenseless. Dean had no weapons and their bags were on the opposite side of the room. Once the wall stopped his backward escape, she – it – reached for his head again.

“Get away from me you freaky bitch!” Dean kicked out with his leg, but it passed through her as if she were nothing, leaving her completely unaffected.

Seeming to enjoy the resistance, the creature smiled, spilling bloody saliva down the sides of her chin and neck. Slowly, she advanced, straddling Dean and moving in until they were nose to nose, his head pushed against the wall.

“Dean,” she cooed. “I’ve missed you.”

“Well, I haven’t missed you, sister.”

“Aw,” she pouted, “you hurt my feelings. You know I just want what’s best for you.”

“Yeah, well, I’m a big boy. I can take care of myself, thanks.”

“Dean,” she breathed into his ear, caressing his neck on the opposite side, “I’m hungry. Feed me.”

“Screw you!” he spat, trying to jerk away.

“Feed me,” she groaned, pressing herself into him, no longer transparent. “I need you.”

Dean would’ve told her what she could do to herself, but the contact made the air in his throat dry up, lungs frozen in place. Suddenly more solid than he realized, she was kissing his open mouth, smearing her blood on his chin. Revolted, he tried to break the contact, but there was nowhere to retreat.

Pulling back, her soulless eyes bore into his. “Feel my pain, Dean. Feel what you did to me.”

Raising her hands to his head again, she laced her fingers through his hair. Gasping, Dean tried to suck in air – eyes bulging – and wrapped his fingers around her wrists, trying to jerk them away. Brilliant light flooded his mind, taking him back to the night he lost Hannah, forcing him to relive it as if it were actually happening. His mind resisted, tried to remember where he really was, but the creature’s power was strong. Undeniably, he found himself being drawn into the nightmare of long ago.

“No,” he whispered. “No…please.”

Behind them, Sam watched, rage and fear clawing through his soul and making a hole there big enough to fall into. He could see his brother struggle against whatever the creature was doing to him, his fingers scratching loose the rotted skin on her wrists and his legs moving wildly against the carpet. It didn’t take long before Dean’s hands fell away and his legs ceased their movement. As his eyes rolled back into his head, a soft moan announced the agony inside. Pleased, the demon’s grin grew wider as it began the torture Dean had endured during his days without Sam.

“Save me, Dean. Please, I don’t want to die,” it pleaded with Hannah’s voice.

Sam swallowed hard, his heart in his throat. He knew this show was for him, Dean already locked deep inside his own mind. The fear on his brother’s face was potent and wrenching. It made him sick to see Dean toyed with like this.

“Don’t look down. I’ve gotcha.”

He heard Dean say the words, heard the undeniable urgency in his brother’s tone and knew Dean was afraid. Sam’s stomach knotted and he bared his teeth as he fought back with all his strength, desperate to protect his brother from his tormenter.

Keeping its death-hold on Dean, the demon turned to look at Sam with glee as it faked, “I’m scared. Please, help me. I’m slipping.”

“N-n-no, no. Please, just—NO! Hannah!” One of Dean’s legs thrust out and his whole body jerked.

His brother’s broken cry pierced Sam’s heart, sending hatred, pure and fiery, rushing through his veins. Hatred liked he’d never felt for anything or anyone before. His jaw ticked painfully as he gritted his teeth and glared at the demon, his head straining to move.

Dean slumped loosely now, held vertical only by the evil thing perched in his lap. Wetness glistened under his bottom lashes, despair-cloaked green eyes fixating on images no one but he could see. A small, thin line of blood oozed from his nose onto his lips.

“No,” he whimpered. “God, please.”

The creature turned its full attention back to Dean. She placed both hands on either side of his head and leaned closer.

“Dean, you let me die. I trusted you.”

Swirls of unearthly light reflected in Dean’s eyes and Sam knew his brother would believe anything the demon wanted him to.

Crushed, Dean blinked, sending a tear falling to the floor. “I’m sorry.” It was spoken so softly that Sam barely caught the words at all. “I’m sorry,” Dean repeated.

“What will Sam say? He’ll hate you for this,” it goaded.

“Sam?” Dean blinked. Then, realization dawning, he said, “You can’t tell him. Please, you can’t.” Then he gulped and softly mumbled, “He’s all I’ve got left.”

The demon laid a hand on the side of Dean’s jaw, causing him to flinch. Smug and arrogant. “There’s only one way out of this, Winchester. Only one way the pain can be stopped. Come to me and I’ll show you the way.”

Dean paused. “But, Sam—”

“—doesn’t want anything more to do with you,” she filled in. “Remember? He hates you for what you’ve done. And if you go to him, he’ll die…just like everyone you touch.”

The cords in Dean’s throat pulled tight as he swallowed the pain that brought. Sam closed his eyes. He couldn’t bear to watch anymore. He hated being used against his brother. Knew Dean wouldn’t want him to see this. Despair welled inside as he listened to the conversation continue. How had his brother ever endured this for so long? It was overwhelming and cruel in the worst way. This thing was clever, though. It was going to walk Dean right out that door and into its waiting arms. Bobby’s wards must’ve weakened to allow the current display of power, but not enough to grant full privileges.

Or, maybe this was a last ditch effort. Maybe this was taking everything it had left, weakening it further. Maybe…

The form before Dean glimmered and shifted. For a second, Sam felt lighter, freed. Focusing on the unseen bonds, he renewed his attempts to break them. Winking in and out, the creature appeared next to Dean rather than on his lap and his eyes returned to their normal color. Hannah’s form looked outraged at being interrupted…she’d been so close to winning. A flashflashflash and she was gone, once again repelled by the wards.

Sam’s chair banged heavily against the floor as he flew from it. Dean slid sideways, the 90-degree angle of the wall stopping his downward motion. When Sam reached him, he was still disoriented and caught between what had been forced on his mind and what really was. Withdrawing further into the corner, he cringed when his brother’s fingers grazed his skin.

Sam’s breath hitched in his throat, but he kept his voice easy and loose, pretending he hadn’t noticed. “It’s okay. She’s gone. Guess it must’ve saved up for an all-out blitz on the wards but couldn’t sustain it. Probably off licking its wounds somewhere, getting ready for another try.”

He tipped his brother’s head back and looked at the reddening marks left behind on his jaw and neck – anywhere the creature had touched bare skin. “Damn, Dean,” Sam muttered, wiping away the blood under his brother’s nose with a thumb. As he fussed, awareness lit within Dean’s gaze and grew into recognition.


“Yeah, man. ‘S okay.”

Sam righted his brother and waited, one hand resting on Dean’s shoulder for support. Dean drew his knees to his chest and leaned his head against the wall, eyes shut against the pain still exploding inside his skull. He said nothing, just sat and gathered everything back to him silently. Wrapping his arms around his middle, Dean shivered as if chilled.

“You okay?”

A half-nod.

“Wanna talk about it?

Barely a shake of his head, but nothing further.

“Okay, but I’m here…and I’m not going anywhere.”

Sam eased down beside Dean and sat shoulder to shoulder with him, taking on a good deal of his brother’s weight as Dean leaned into him. They sat, each lost in their own mind and saying nothing, because things had been too deeply personal – open and raw. It would be hours later before either one would be ready to emerge from the safety of their small Winchester cocoon on the floor.


A/N#2: Well, here we are, on the downward slope of this thing. I figure one maybe two more chapters plus an epilogue left to go. I had really hoped to get this done before the premiere, but it’s not looking good, folks. I’m not saying I won’t try, just saying there’s a good possibility it won’t happen. I’m sorry it took so long in between posts this time, but that’s the way it goes. Thanks for your continued patience with this and for your patience with my slothful review responses. I can almost guarantee they’ll be a little late again. Not on purpose, but just because.

Starting a week or so ago, I started posting updates on my progress here on my LJ so you can see what’s going on and know I am actually still working on it. So, there’s that if you want to check in on me and see what’s up. Once again, I thank you all profusely for following along and giving me the boost I need to get this done…can never say that enough. Thank you all!

Special thanks to my betas, Mady and Tidia, who help make this possible in a lot of ways and special thanks to Gaelicspirit for actually joining in on the fun this time around. I appreciated all of the comments, corrections and guidance from all three of you wonderful ladies! If you haven’t already, you really should stop by and give each of these awesome writers’s a read as they all have their own great collection of stories available.

The title of this chapter is a special shout out to

lsketch42 here at LJ for her amazing SN vid, "Morning Comes."



Tags: an act of deliberation
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