grianchloch: (victor)
[personal profile] grianchloch


Back to Part Three

The summer after they dealt with the shifter, Dean got a call from John.

Sam listened to the conversation as he went through a book on demons that Bobby had given Dean the last time they’d swung by.

“Hey Dad. You got it? I wish I could have been there. Sure, I’m on my way.”

The surprise and regret in Dean’s voice made Sam pay closer attention as his brother ended the call and put the cell phone down on the table.

“Dad found the demon that killed Mom and took it out.”

“He killed a demon?”

“Yeah, he did.” Dean’s eyes shone with pride. “I wish I’d been there.”

Sam sat back. It was a lot to take in. He closed the book he’d been reading with more force than necessary, knocking it off the table. He didn’t know what use it would be, him studying from a book that stated demons couldn’t be killed, not when John had done exactly that.

“How?”

“I don’t know. He’s waiting for me at the Roadhouse. I guess we’ll find out when we get there.”

Sam nodded and watched Dean pack. They were on their way half an hour later.

The Roadhouse was somewhere they usually avoided. Too many curious hunters and one small ghost didn’t seem like a good mix, so Sam became increasingly agitated the closer they got.

“Relax, Sammy. I’ll park right at the back and grab a drink with him to celebrate. You stay with the car, and if anyone gets too close, get as far away as you can.”

Sam nodded, but impossible butterflies raced around his insides.

Dean ruffled Sam’s hair before he left, and Sam settled down with another book which he lay down on the seat in case anyone came close and saw a book floating in mid air. He was so engrossed that he didn’t realize how long Dean had been gone until the light began to fade. There’d been no activity in the parking lot for an hour, so Sam slipped through the Impala’s door and towards the bar. He didn’t dare go in, so he stood on tiptoe so he could look through one of the windows

He could see Dean and John and a woman with long dark hair sitting at a table, an almost empty bottle in the middle of it. Dean was slumped back in his chair. Sam couldn’t ever remember seeing him as drunk before, and as he watched, John stood up, and helped Dean to his feet, manhandling him towards a door in the back.

John had no idea that as he picked Dean up and carried him to a room he could sleep it off in, Sam was watching through the window. Sam had been worried and hated being kept in the dark, but now he felt something worse. A deep longing to be included in what was going on. To be able to sit and talk to his Dad and the other hunters. And he couldn’t help the pang of jealously that stabbed him in the chest at the sight of John taking care of Dean. This was his existence. He was on the outside looking in. Outside his family, outside the hunting community and outside of life.

He thought himself away from the Roadhouse, to the limit of where he could go from Dean and sat by the side of an empty road wishing he could hitchhike away to some other place far away. He expected Tessa to appear, perhaps sensing that he was vulnerable, but even she left him alone. Just as he reached the bottom, when it was all he could do not to scream that he was ready, that he wanted to go, a large tabby cat walked towards him, purring when he reached out to stroke it. It stayed with him until he felt able to go back to the Impala and wait for Dean.


~*~*~*~*~*~


A few months later, John called asking for Dean’s help with another possible shape shifter, and Dean didn’t hesitate to say yes. Their paths were crossing more frequently now, with meets at the Roadhouse every couple of months and calls and texts creeping back into their routines. But Dean was always wary of how John would take the news of Sam still being around if he ever found out, so working with John came with conditions for Sam.

“You have to stay away, right? One hint of EMF and he won’t let it go, you know that.”

“I know, Dean. Quit nagging.”

Sam was sitting cross legged on the bed furthest away from the door in their latest motel. He was petting a large ginger cat that had appeared from nowhere. It even let Dean stroke it, but Sam knew that never having spent time with cats before, Dean couldn’t get used to how they would wander in and out of the place as if doors didn’t exist.

“I’m serious, Sam.”

“I know, okay?”

“I know you want to see him, but just in case …”

“Jeez, Dean I get it. Quit hitting me over the head with it,” Sam sulked. The cat purred and slinked around Sam’s back.

When John arrived, right on time, Sam and the cat were long gone, leaving Dean on his own to face his father.

~*~*~*~*~*~


Sam ran through the streets, dodging between the Saturday afternoon crowds on the main street of the small town he and Dean had found themselves in. He laughed as someone starts as he zips by, and leaves their hair blowing around their head.

He ran faster, stretching out his legs, and he wondered why it still felt as if his muscles and bones were working beneath skin when he didn’t have any of those things any more. He could be at his destination in the blink of an eye, fade out of one place and into another. It’s a skill that came in really handy on a hunt, but he liked to pretend sometimes that he was a real boy, so he ran. He could feel the sun warming him, and stretched his arms up, whooping as he went and causing the more sensitive souls around him to glance around. They could feel something, but he’s rarely come across anyone else who can see him.

Now he could see it, a wide green strip towards the edge of town. He often wondered why grave yards are so well kept, when all that was left in them was bones and the occasional lost soul. He’d found that he was drawn to them and he thought it was because there were often others like him to be found. Unlike Sam, most of them are waiting to go, needing a pause between life and death. Sometimes, they stay by their graves, lost without the people they’d left behind. Unintentionally, Sam had gotten into the habit of acting as reassurance for those that need it in wherever he and Dean happen to be. Some, especially the older ones, will smile at him, and talk about their lives. Some appreciate him slipping his hand into theirs.

In the last town, he walked through the graveyard with Doris Walton. She held on tightly to his hand and told him about her grand children. Her face brightened as she told him how they loved playing in her yard and climbing into the tree house in the big oak out back. By the time a reaper arrived to take her, she was ready to let go. She hugged Sam, and kissed his cheek and when she turned to go, the reaper nodded at Sam over her shoulder. Some reapers seemed to appreciate his presence, some ignored him altogether, but only Tessa talked to him.

Sam ran through the gates, and straight off the path onto the grass. Several geese were sitting around the place, some on head stones, and Sam ran into them, hollering. They scattered, honking in protest, and Sam chased them, grinning.

“Can you see me?”

Sam ground to a halt at the sound of a girl’s voice, letting the geese waddle off and settle further down the bank. He turned slowly around, but he couldn’t see anyone.

“I’m right here,” a girl grumbled.

Sam swung round and looked deeper into the shade. Sitting with her back against a large tree was a girl who looked about eighteen. Sam walked over, taking his time. Girls still mystified him and he wasn’t sure what to say.

“Hey,” he said as he got closer.

“Hey? You can see me and all you can think of to say is ‘hey’?” she rolled her eyes and got to her feet, smoothing down a pretty flowered dress. “You think they would have buried me in something I liked,” she grumbled.

“Um …,” Sam wished Dean was there. He’d know exactly how to talk to a hot girl, even a dead one.

“It gets better!” Her words dripped sarcasm. “I’m a ghost you know. Gonna run away screaming now?”

“No,” Sam shrugged. “I’m a ghost too.”

The expression on her face changed dramatically and she walked up to him. “Seriously?”

“Yeah.”

“How long?”

“Five years.”

“No way!” she yelled, and spun away, turning back, wide eyed. “I’m going to be here for years? Like this?” she panicked.

“Oh, no. There’ll be a reaper along to take you to the other side soon.”

“A reaper? Like the grim reaper?”

“Not exactly,” Sam explained. “There’s hundreds of them. Has to be for all the souls they take care of.”

“So why are you still here? Did they forget about you?”

“No, I had to stay. My brother, he needed me.” Sam bit his lip.

“So I get a choice? I can stay if I want?”

“No, you have to go. It’s the natural order of things,” Sam quoted Tessa.

“But you stayed.” The girl glared at Sam.

“It’s different,” Sam shrugged. “My family isn’t exactly normal.”

She snorted, then eyed him from under long lashes. “What’s your name?”

“Sam. What’s yours?”

“Rachel. So what was wrong with your family?”

“Nothing.” Sam looked affronted.

“You said they weren’t normal,” Rachel shrugged.

“I didn’t mean there was anything wrong with them. My brother and me, we were … we were attacked. We promised each other that we’d always be together. He lived, I died, but I couldn’t leave him. I swore I wouldn’t.”

“That’s so … noble,” she sighed.

“I suppose.” Sam didn’t know what to do with the compliment so he sauntered over to the tree and threw himself down on the grass. He crossed his legs and sat with his back against the scratchy bark, staring up through the branches into the soft afternoon sky.

“How old are you?” Rachel sat down beside him, close enough to make Sam feel uncomfortable.

“I’m, well I was, fourteen.”

“So if you’d lived, you would be …” she paused to calculate. “Nineteen. You’d be nineteen. Don’t you wonder what you’d look like now if you were still alive?”

“No,” Sam lied.

“I would,” Rachel paused again, her face thoughtful. “I’m never going to get older.”

“I guess not.”

“Never going to fall in love or get married,” her voice was rising and her eyes were getting wider.

“No, but you’ll get to do other things.” Sam wasn’t sure about that, but it was the only reassurance he had to give.

“I … I’m never going to see the world or have kids or …” Rachel burst into tears.

Sam didn’t know what to do. Dean would know, he was used to dealing with girls, but Sam was out of his depth. He reached forward and put a hand on her shoulder, squeezing gently.

“It’ll be okay,” he said, and wondered why it was the first thing that came to mind, because he knew it could never be okay, not as far as having the life she thought she’d have went.

“It won’t be!” Rachel threw herself into Sam’s arms.

Sam put his arms around her slowly, as if she might rip herself away when he touched her, but she continued to sob on his shoulder. They sat there for a while, Sam stroking her back, for longer than it took for her to stop crying. Calmer, Rachel settled, and it seemed natural for Sam to leave his arm around her.

“Don’t you want to know what’s on the other side?” she asked.

“Yeah, but the only way to find out is to go there, and I can’t leave Dean,” Sam stared off into the distance. “He doesn’t do well on his own, and I promised. If I could go and come back when I wanted, then yeah, I’d do it.”

They sat for a while and watched the clouds go past.

“Did you have a girlfriend?” Rachel suddenly asked.

Sam snorted. “I was fourteen, am fourteen, whatever.”

“But you’d kissed a girl? Before you died?”

“No not a real kiss,” Sam squirmed under her intense gaze.

“Never? Really?”

“It’s no big deal,” Sam shrugged.

“Course it’s a big deal!” Rachel squawked. “Do you want to kiss me?”

“No!” Sam shuffled backwards, shocked at the suggestion, but curious at the same time. Then he realized he might have hurt her feelings. “Not that you’re not pretty and if I was nineteen, then, of course, but I’m not.”

Rachel bent forward, smiling. “But you are.”

Her mouth was on Sam’s before he had time to object, and by then he didn’t want to object. It wasn’t the best kiss in the world, but for Sam, it was amazing. When she sat back, he stared after her, blushing.

“That was … nice.”

“Rachel, it’s time to go.” Tessa appeared and they both scrambled to their feet, Sam’s face still red.

Rachel grabbed Sam’s hand and stared fearfully at Tessa.

“But I don’t want to go,” she whispered. “I want to stay with my family.”

Tessa raised an eyebrow and looked pointedly at Sam.

“It’s time,” Sam smiled sadly. “You can feel it inside, can’t you? Something’s pulling you on, and you know that’s where you need to go. Let it happen, let go.”

“You feel it too?” Rachel asked.

“Yes, but I can’t.” He hung his head.

“Because of your brother.”

“Yeah.”

Tessa held out a hand, and Rachel took it, holding on to Sam’s for a second longer.

“If you ever do decide to cross over, I might see you again,” Rachel smiled, and Sam had to look away as Tessa wrapped her arms around her and took her to where she was meant to be.

Sam started when Tessa came back.

“I heard what you said, Sam. Do you want to go?”

Sam shook his head, but swallowed and looked down, his face miserable.

“Sam?”

“Sometimes I wonder what it’s like, on the other side. I can feel the pull, like a tug on a piece of string and I wonder …”

No, he didn’t want to go, and he didn’t want to think about it anymore. Without a word, he took off, running fast and hard, tears streaming down his face. He ran all the way back to the motel, and straight through the door, curling up in the corner until Dean got back. He could hear John’s truck pull away as Dean let himself in, and made himself invisible until Dean was settled in bed. He didn’t want to talk, he just needed comfort. He threw himself onto the bed beside Dean.

“Jeez, Sammy, some of us need our beauty sleep,” Dean mumbled and curled around his brother, asleep again in seconds.

Sam closed his eyes and tried not to think of Rachel.

~*~*~*~*~*~


Reluctantly, Victor was persuaded to take a vacation and he headed to Florida. He reckoned a week in the sun might help him come to terms with the dark side of life he’d been on the edge of for years now.

He called Reidy.

“Cal, how’s it going?”

“It’s quiet. I haven’t got you around to find me things to do. You do remember you’re on vacation, right?”

“Yeah, I’m heading down to Florida.”

“Nice! Don’t for get to bring me a present.”

“Idiot.”

“Moron.”

“See you when I get back.”

“Sure thing, Vic. Take care.”

He felt better after talking to his partner. He was a link back to a normal life. Knowing what he knew, it was getting increasingly difficult to do a job that brought him into conflict with hunters. And after he’d made it his ambition to bring John and Dean down, it was difficult to let it go without causing suspicion.

Victor didn’t get far. That night when he stopped, he treated himself to a decent hotel which had a good restaurant attached. He dined on surf and turf, and felt oddly out of place. Everything was too shiny too bright. He’d once aspired to a life with money, a life with status. A decent house in a good neighborhood and a perfect lawn. He’d partly given that dream up after two failed marriages and now he could see it for the sham it would have been. Now he knew what lay beneath the surface of a world most people took for granted.

He sat in the bar later, a handful of empty shot glasses on the counter in front of him. When he looked up he saw a woman looking back at him from across the bar. She smiled, and Victor smiled back, but even though he could see she was interested, he downed his last shot and headed to bed alone. There was only one person he wanted, and it wasn’t her.

In the morning, he dug out the cell that Dean had given him, and sat and stared at it all the way through the sumptuous breakfast he had room service deliver. It took him until he was on his last cup of coffee to make the call. It was hard for him to keep what he had with Dean casual. But it wasn’t like they could ever have much else together.

“Dean, it’s Victor. No, there’s nothing wrong. I’m headed north again. Where will you be tonight?”

~*~*~*~*~*~


They met in a bar, grabbed a few beers and headed to Dean’s motel room. When Dean closed the door behind them, and pushed victor up against the wall, Victor expected it to be a quick, hard fuck. They hadn’t seen each other for a while, and Victor felt hunger for Dean clawing at him, but Dean undressed him slowly, pushing his jacket off, then taking his time unbuttoning his shirt, kissing him in between buttons, his mouth curved into a smile. Victor followed Dean’s lead, undoing his jeans and pushing them down over his hips. He sank to his knees, rubbing his face against the bulge in Dean’s boxer briefs as he untied the laces on Dean’s shoes, so he could slip them off, followed by his jeans and boxers.

Victor nuzzled Dean’s dick, drinking in the scent of him before opening his mouth and tasting. Small licks at first, then full swirls around the head, which made the length of it twitch. Victor grinned as Dean’s hands ran over his head.

“Please,” Dean begged.

Victor rewarded him by opening his mouth and leisurely sucking his cock, until Dean’s hips began to pulse forward in search of more. But that wasn’t how Victor wanted him to come. He pulled back, working just the swollen head, running his tongue over it then sucking on it, enjoying the effects it had on Dean as he whimpered and moaned. Victor slipped his hands over Dean’s ass cheeks, cupping them and pulling him closer, so close that the thatch of hair at the base of his dick tickled Victor’s nose.

One last lick from root to tip, and Victor pulled off, standing and dragging Dean towards the bed. He shed the last of his own clothes and tugged Dean’s t shirt off over his head, turning him over as soon as he was naked. He kissed his way down Dean’s back, his intent plain, which made Dean writhe and tense up in anticipation of the warm, wet tongue swiping down the crease of his ass. As Victor pulled Dean’s cheeks apart, he dove deeper, pushing the tip of his tongue against Dean’s hole, running it over the furled muscle, which quivered as he licked it.

“Vic, please, you’re killing me,” Dean groaned, canting his hips back in such a wanton display of lust Victor couldn’t help slapping his ass. Dean instantly stilled, but then pushed against the hand that was still lying on the reddening skin. Victor raised his hand again, bringing it down with the same force, and Dean whimpered, his hands clenching in the bed covers. Victor smoothed his hand over Dean’s ass, and slapped it again, watching as Dean gasped out, his eyes closed.

Victor couldn’t wait any longer. He slipped off the bed and grabbed lube and a condom from his jacket. He got back on the bed between Dean’s spread thighs, and nudged them wider with his knees as he stroked his neglected dick, rolling the condom on and slicking it up. He pushed a lubed finger inside Dean, as deep as it would go, twisting it and turning it, grazing Dean’s prostate, but not lingering, teasing him until he begged again.

“Fuck me?” Dean groaned. “Please, Vic?”

Victor pushed another finger inside, drawing out his preparations which made Dean squirm and pant and so when he finally gave Dean what he wanted, Victor slipped straight into Dean’s body, sighing as it gripped him, hot and tight. Victor pulled Dean onto his knees, fucking him slowly, holding Dean’s hips steady so Dean couldn’t push back against him. He stroked his thumbs over Dean’s pale skin, and took one hand away to wrap around Dean’s dick. He worked it hard, stopping briefly to raise his hand to his mouth and lick at the salty pre come that had leaked from the slit. He moaned at the taste and let go of Dean, fucking into him as Dean pushed back, demanding more. Victor bent forward, covering Dean’s body with his, kissing his neck until Dean turned to kiss him. Victor’s tongue slid over Dean’s lips as he tugged on Dean’s cock, pulling an orgasm from him as he kissed him, feeling Dean’s mouth soften as he came over Victor’s hand, come dripping down onto the bed.

Dean’s body pulsing around his dick had Victor straightening and grabbing Dean’s hips so he could power into him, thrusting harder with each stroke until Dean’s head snapped back, and Victor came with a growl, his hand grasping Dean’s shoulder.

Exhausted, sweaty, stuck together, they lay wrapped around each other and Victor stroked Dean’s hair until the young hunter fell asleep.

He woke up to find Dean watching him. He guessed from the lack of light coming in through the curtains that he hadn’t been sleeping long.

“Hey.” He reached up and traced a finger down the line of Dean’s jaw.

Dean closed his eyes and leaned into the touch. When he opened them again, he bent down and kissed Victor. It wasn’t a hot and dirty kiss, it was tender, gentle almost, the kind that lovers shared. Victor lay quietly and soaked up the affection Dean gave him until Dean sat back and began to talk.

“Sammy died in Kirby Woods. We were hunting what we thought was responsible for the abductions in Albion, and Sam had the idea that it was holed up in some disused mine workings. We were only an hour in when it came out of nowhere. It picked Sammy up like he was a doll, and as it threw him away, it disemboweled him. He was dead before he hit the tree. I ran at it, and that’s how I got these.”

Dean ran his hand over the faded scars on his stomach.

“Dad carried me back to the car and drove me to the hospital. A friend went in and brought Sammy’s body out and he was given a hunter’s send off while I was still out cold. Salted and burned, even though he hated the life. He only ever wanted to be a normal kid.” Dean’s voice had died down to a whisper.

Victor reached for him and pulled him close.

“I’ve never told anyone that before.”

“You didn’t have to tell me.”

“Yeah, I did.”

Victor held him until he fell asleep.


They went their separate ways in the morning, but not before Victor caught hold of Dean’s wrist and pulled him close, kissing him goodbye. Dean left with a grin on his face, and Victor drove back to DC thinking that his vacation had been a good thing after all.

Two weeks later, Dean got a call from Victor.

“Hey, FBI. What’s up?” Dean couldn’t help grinning.

“I came across something today that seemed more like your thing than mine.”

“The FBI needs my help? Wow, that’s a first.”

“No, I need your help, because this case is dripping with all kinds of crazy and David Duchovny doesn’t actually hang out in the basement here.”

“Okay man, give me the details.”

“It’s a big file. Is there anywhere we can meet?”

“I’m heading towards South Dakota. Should be there by tomorrow afternoon.”

“Okay, I’ll head in that direction, and call you when I get close.”

“Sure, man. See you then.”

Dean rang off, and grinned at Sam, who’d been listening to the conversation with curiosity.

“Looks like you’ve got your inside man after all.”

~*~*~*~*~*~


Dean missed a call while he was in the shower, and picked up his voicemail as he dried himself off.

“Dean. Can’t make South Dakota. I’ve been pulled onto a task force looking into more abductions in Albion. I’ll call you when I can.”

“Damn it.” Dean cursed. He called the cell number, but it went straight to voicemail.

“Vic, watch your back. You know this is more my thing than yours. I’m on my way.”

Dean immediately began stuffing his things back into his bag.

“Sammy!!” he yelled into the empty room.

“What’s up?” Sam appeared in the corner.

“Vic’s headed to Albion on an abduction case.”

Being a ghost didn’t stop Sam from blanching. “It’s early. Are we going? Dad told you …”

“I don’t care what he told me! That was seven years ago and I’m not letting anything happen to Victor.”

Sam nodded and they worked together, gathering their stuff and packing it into the Impala. Dean left a message for John before they set off, and he drove like hellhounds were on their tail, his mouth set in a grim line. Sam knew how much Victor had come to mean to Dean, even if he didn’t talk about it. Dean didn’t have friends. His family wasn’t exactly normal, with a ghost for a brother, a father he stayed away from out of necessity and a grouchy adopted uncle in Bobby. Now he had Victor too, and Sam was determined that no matter what happened, Dean wouldn’t lose Victor.

They drove through the night, to a place they’d never returned to after Sam was killed. Sam sat beside him, staring at Dean’s journal as he reread everything they had on the thing that had ultimately turned him into a ghost.

He glanced in the rearview mirror. If he’d lived, he’d have been twenty-one now. Perhaps he’d have been tall, given his genetics, and the way he’d just about started to sprout before that had all been taken away from him. He turned his face to the side and back again. He looked like the same kid he’d been before he died, but he wasn’t. He found it easy to act like a kid, bouncing around, getting excited when Tessa found him a dog to play with, but there was another side to him. The side that had fought side by side with Dean for almost seven years. The part that was a store of knowledge built up over years of hunting. He wasn’t a kid anymore, but he’d never grow up. Sam shook his head and went back to reading.

They got into Albion and holed up in a motel on the far side of town from the small neat house they’d been living in the first time around. Memories hung in the air, and Sam shivered. He was antsy, and disappeared when Dean went to get something to eat.

Sam materialized on the edge of the woods where he’d been killed. He remembered the monster, the screaming, he remembered flying through the air and then the silence as he and Dean stood together looking out their bodies in the trees.

“It’s probably too much to ask, but did you come here because you feel it’s time to cross over?” Tessa asked as she appeared by his side.

“No,” Sam said, shaking his head. “The thing that we were here to kill the first time round is awake again. Unfinished business, you know how that is.”

“I do.” Tessa smiled.

A cat curled around her ankles, purring and looked up at Sam. He squatted down, and held out his hand. The pretty grey cat with amber eyes slinked around his wrist, rubbing her head against him.

“What’s she called?”

“She hasn’t told me yet.”

“Where does she belong?” he asked.

“You know the answer to that,” Tessa smiled. “Anywhere she pleases.”

Sam sighed, glad of the warmth of the cat’s fur under his fingers.

“It’s getting harder to stay,” he whispered. “But I can’t leave him alone.”

“Would he really be alone? It’s harder for him to be around other hunters because he doesn’t want them to find out about you. And what about your father?”

“Go to hell!” Sam yelled, startling the cat so much she hissed at him and arched her back.

He silently apologized even as he was storming away. She was right and he knew it, but it was him and Dean against the world, and he couldn’t leave him, especially not now.

“What about when this is over?” A traitorous thought slipped through his mind. When the monster was dealt with, this time for good, would it be time to move on?

Sam kicked at a rock, then fizzled into nothingness.

~*~*~*~*~*~


Victor recognized the Impala parked outside a motel, and wandered over to her, stretching his arm down along the line of the windshield.

“Victor? You okay, man?” Dean’s voice made Victor smile.

“Hey, Dean. Yeah, I’m fine, I think.” He reached up and touched his head, frowning when his fingers came back bloody. “Almost fine.”

“What happened to you?”

“I was following up a lead.”

“What kind of a lead?” Dean reached him, and gently pulled him towards the motel room door. “C’mon man, let me look at that for you.”

Victor looked at him for a moment then shrugged. “Okay.”

“Have you been drinking?”

“Not on duty. Never on duty.” Victor looked offended.

“Okay.” Dean held his hands up. “You just look out of it.”

“It’s been a long day. And I saw the car. I thought you were heading to South Dakota.”

Dean sat him down on the bed, and cleaned the small cut just above his ear.

“I got your message and had to warn you. This case is my kind of thing, not yours.”

“Sorry, but we’ve got jurisdiction.”

“Doesn’t matter. The monster that’s taking people doesn’t care about who’s got what, it’s gonna take two more victims then disappear for another three and a half years if we don’t stop it this time around. It halves it’s hibernation each time it wakes up, and I’m guessing it’s getting stronger every time it feeds.”

“Three more. The first one was a false alarm. The guy was found wandering round a parking lot at a mall on the edge of town.”

“False alarm? That can’t be right.” Dean sat back. “What happened?”

Victor laid it out for him. The assumed missing person was a man in his twenties. He lived an ordinary life, no enemies, no family money that might attract someone looking for a ransom. His family had been distraught, his fiancée in tears. The last time he’d been seen was three days earlier after he left work to head towards home. His car was where he’d left it at work although it wasn’t unusual for him to meet a friend after work, and go home from there, only he’d never turned up, neither at home or in the local bar. Then he’d been found and Victor had headed out to take a look at the area.

“Okay, well, we’ll start there.” Dean brought up a map of the town on his laptop. “Now, make nice with your FBI pals while I check it out. And get some rest. You really do look like shit, man.”

“Whatever.” Vic hand waved him away, and called his assistant director. It went straight to voice mail, so he left a message.

~*~*~*~*~*~


After Dean left, Sam appeared in the motel room. Sam liked Victor. He was smart and funny from what he’d seen so far, and Sam could feel the affection he had for Dean. They were more than friends, Sam knew. Dean had stopped bringing girls back their motel rooms a while back and Victor was the first man his brother had slept with who’d been allowed to stay. Sam knew Dean liked men too, he’d seen the sidelong glances Dean would give sometimes, but no-one else had ever been more than a casual thing.

So Sam sat down on Dean’s bed, and watched Victor sleep. He hummed to himself, an AC/DC track he’d gotten stuck in his head. He got louder as he sat there, studying Victor’s face, then he started singing off key.

“She’s a whole lotta woman!” Sam wailed.

“Keep the noise down, will ya?” Victor pulled one of the pillows over his head and snuggled back down to sleep.

Sam clamped his mouth shut, putting his hands over it and staring at the pillow. He looked warily around. There were no other sounds, bar the quiet hum of the occasional car as it passed the motel. He began to sing again, quietly to start with, no more than a whisper, then ramping it up again.

“She’s a whole lotta Rosie!”

“If you wanted me awake, there are better ways to do it …” Victor muttered sleepily, emerging from under the pillow and looking over at Dean’s bed. He froze.

“You’re not Dean.”

“You can see me?” Sam threw himself over the bed, and onto the floor on the other side, peering over it at Victor.

“See you? Course I can see you. Now scram. The room’s already taken.”

“I, er …” Sam panicked, and blinked out of sight straight into the Impala.

Back in the motel, Victor blinked, now fully awake.

“That wasn’t quite what I meant,” he said to an empty room. He sat up, and fumbled around on the bed for his jacket.

Outside, Sam decided that it couldn’t possibly have been true. Victor must have been dreaming, he couldn’t have seen him. So he strode back in, straight through the wall, whistling. Trying to be confident that Victor wouldn’t see him.

“What the fuck?” Victor yelled, clutching his jacket against his chest like a shield. “This is what I get for keeping bad company.”

“Dean’s not bad company,” Sam scowled. “He’s a good man, and you’re lucky to be his friend.”

Victor took a breath to reply, then he stopped and peered at Sam.

“I know you.” It was a statement, not a question. “I’ve seen your photograph, in the glove box of Dean’s car.”

“Maybe you have,” Sam sighed. That Victor could see him could only mean one thing. “I’m Dean’s brother.”

“You’re dead.” Another statement, this one edged with fear. “You’re a ghost?”

“Yeah,” Sam replied, not wanting to tell Victor the truth, not yet.

And at that point, the door slammed open, and Dean stood there, eyeing them both. “I think we’ve got a problem.”

“No shit, Sherlock.” Victor glared at Dean.

“You’re missing.” Dean pointed at him.

“No, I’m right here.” Victor was getting really pissed at the way the day was turning out. “But I’ve just met your brother, your dead brother.”

“He can see me,” Sam said miserably.

Dean nodded, clearly upset. “Has anyone come for him yet?”

Sam shook his head.

“This is gonna sound all kinds of crazy, but I can’t stress how much I mean it. Don’t go into the light, okay? No matter how hot the chick is that comes for you,” Dean warned Victor. “We need to figure out what’s going on.”

“He’s dead, that’s what’s going on. He wouldn’t be able to see me otherwise.” Sam shook his head.

“Dead? I’m not dead, I’m right here!”

“Look, Vic, tell me everything you remember before you arrived in the parking lot yesterday.”

“I got up, had breakfast with Reidy, called in for more men, went to check out the parking lot on the edge of town …” he paused, frowning. “Then I, er that is we … then I was here, and you were walking towards me.”

“Ah crap.” Dean rubbed a hand over his face. “The FBI just asked for volunteers to sweep the area looking for you. You went missing from the parking lot. Did anyone know where you were going?”

“Yeah, I called it in, it’s in the logs.”

“Okay, so they’ll have checked out the parking lot and not found anything.”

“Wait, back up. I’m … here. With you. And your walking, talking dead brother. On second thoughts; I’m pretty sure I must be dreaming.”

“You’re a shade, a spirit. I can usually tell the difference straight off. ”

“But I can touch things, I … touched you.”

“Yeah, you did.” Dean blushed and glanced at Sam.

Sam slapped his hand down on the table. “Some of us can do that. Some stuff takes practice.”

“So whoever took me killed me? Ah no, I can’t be dead.” Victor got up and paced around the room. “Not dead, so not dead.”

“Sam, can you speak to Tessa? She might be able to help us find out where the body … where he is. He’s gotta be close.”

“You want me to ask a reaper here? She’ll have to try and take him.”

“Sammy, she’s got a soft spot for you.”

“Fine,” Sam grumbled.

All he had to do was think her name, and she appeared beside them.

“Who the hell are you?” Victor backed away, buttoning his shirt up, and looking around for his gun.

“This is Tessa. She’s a reaper,” Sam made the formal introductions. “Please don’t take him yet, we need to know where his body is.”

“Take him? He’s not ready to be taken, Sam.” Tessa peered at Victor. “He’s in between life and death.”

“Ask her if she knows where his body is,” Dean asked.

“You can’t see her?” Victor queried.

“No. Humans can’t see reapers. Not under normal circumstances.”

“I get the feeling things will never be normal again,” Victor grumbled.

“No, there’s a powerful aura around the woods, it’s muddying everything,” Tessa frowned.

Sam repeated what she’d said to Dean.

“Great. Damn it, we have to find you, and fast.” Dean whirled around and faced Victor. “How do you feel?”

“Apart from shell shocked and pissed off? Peachy.”

“No, do you feel the same as yesterday? When I first saw you, you were a little out of it, like you’d been drinking.”

Sharp memories lanced through Victor’s skull. Black, tree bark, the impression of a large bulk nearby, and a sharp slice to his arm. Then things became woozy.

“It drugged me.” Victor looked down at the crook of his arm and gasped as a ragged wound appeared.

Sam pulled the laptop towards himself as Dean grabbed his journal, both of them coming up empty.

“Venom?” Sam asked.

“That’s my guess.” Dean slammed the journal closed.

“Dean?”

Dean turned around just in time to see Victor flicker and vanish.

“No!”

The door behind them burst open and Sam leapt back as John ran into the room.

“Dean! You okay?”

He grabbed Dean by the shoulders and steadied him.

“Whatever killed Sam has a friend of mine. He’s still alive, but barely. You’ll have to trust me on that.”

John nodded, and Sam watched as he dug into his pocket and pulled out two small freezer bags full of powder.

“What the hell?” Dean questioned.

“If I’m right, this is how we defeat it. Blind it with this, and bind it with this.” He held up a page torn from a notebook with neat handwriting all over it. “Blow the powder into its eyes and use the spell to bind it back to its tree. I think it’s a dark dryad. Very rare, and fast growing in power. It was never living in the mine shafts, it’s connected to a tree.”

“If you’re right? You think? That’s not good enough!”

“I’ve spent every minute I could from the day it killed Sam researching and tracking down sources who helped me identify it. You have to trust me on this, Dean. You used to trust me, remember?”

Sam stared at John, shocked at the naked longing in his eyes, the need to have Dean rely on him again.

“I do. Trust you.” Dean nodded and took a bag from John.

“Okay, lets finish this.” John led the way outside, but Dean walked towards the Impala, and John nodded.

With Sam sitting on the back seat, the Winchesters drove off towards Kirby Woods. Sam fidgeted, nervous at having John in the car with them, but happier than he’d expected to be that his family was together again.

It was tough going, and Sam danced backwards and forwards, hating the sense of déjà vu he was having at being back in the ancient woods that he’d died in. He sprang back to Dean’s side.

“I’m gonna see if I can sense Victor.”

Dean gave him a small nod. Sam hung back, until their footsteps faded a little and he could concentrate. He thought of the man they were looking for. His easy smile, his quick wit, the affection he had for Dean …

Sam started, suddenly standing in a dank cave, hardly able to see anything.

“Victor!” he hissed.

Victor woke up, hardly able to say a word through chapped and parched lips. “Sam? You shouldn’t be here.”

“Dean’s coming for you.”

“I’m bait, Sam. It wants you and Dean. You got away last time.”

There was a creak behind him, and he spun around, coming face to face with the monster that killed him. It was ancient, gnarled and wizened, a tree spirit twisted and corrupted into something horrifying and wrong.

“I remember you,” it hissed. “You died, yet here you are. I’ll have you again, and then I’ll take your family. Suck every last cell dry, until all that’s left is ashes and dust.” It grinned, the gaping maw of its mouth twisted up at the corners.

Sam shuddered, but squared up to it, despite the way it towered over him.

“Nothing you can do to me.” He slammed his hands forward, but neither his touch nor his energy had any impact. The thing looked down at him, and shook in a mockery of laughter.

“Wrong, child. Even the dead can be mine.”

It reached towards him, and it’s hands slipped around his waist. Sam twisted to get away, terror striking his heart when he realized that he couldn’t escape. He thrashed and lashed out, but the thing held him tight.

“You hardly count as an offering. Lucky I’ve got him too,” it scoffed and glanced at Victor, turning towards him, its claws out stretched. Sam screamed as he felt himself begin to disintegrate. “Your brother won’t escape me again, nor will your father.”

“Sam,” Victor croaked. “Go. Warn them. Get them out of here.”

Through the haze of pain, Sam knew what Victor didn’t. There was only one way out for him.

“Tessa!!” He screamed.

Tessa was there, by his side, reaching out for him. Sam’s hands slipped into hers, and the pain stopped as she pulled him away, and into her arms. He sobbed against her shoulder, wishing that he could have seen his brother one more time.

“Dean!”

Sam opened his heart, letting his love for Dean fill the dank cave with a starburst of light that poured out of the cave, blasting up through the tree’s roots and the cracks in the earth, piercing the dark forest above, a beacon to light Dean’s way to Victor.

Sam sank into warmth. He’d always thought crossing over would be cold and lonely. That’s the way the idea of leaving Dean made him feel, but it was warm and comforting, like putting on a soft, worn shirt straight from the dryer and relishing the heat as it soaked into his skin. As he passed through Tessa into the unknown, he was embraced, wrapped in love and tenderness and surrounded by a scent he remembered from memories buried so deep, he felt like a baby again, cradled and safe in arms that loved him.

“Mom …” Sam breathed out.

And then he was gone.

~*~*~*~*~*~


Victor closed his eyes tightly against the blinding light, sagging forward against his bonds. They dug into his arms, making him whimper, and the dark thing swung round to face him. It staggered, and Victor wondered through the fog that filled his mind whether it had been the light, or the love that the thing couldn’t stand.

He’d felt it, pure and clean and powerful. It had made Victor want to be home, not his apartment, but to the house he grew up in, where his parents always welcomed him with open arms and smiles.

Victor felt a single tear drip down his nose. He was about to die in the dark, and he wished he could have seen them one last time.

~*~*~*~*~*~


Dean ran blindly through the trees in the direction Sam had been going, ducking under branches and cursing when others whipped across his face as he went. The flashlight in his hand wasn’t much use at the speed his was going, and he stumbled more than once on his headlong race to get to Sam and Victor in time. He could hear John behind him, heavy footfalls and following close behind.

Ahead and to the right, something lit up the woods, so bright Dean had to shield his eyes as John came to a halt beside him. For a moment, it was bright as day, sunbeams shining upwards through the trees instead of down, reaching out fast in all directions. It hit them both, wrapping around their hearts and blazing onwards, and as it began to fade, they could see where it originated.

“There!” Dean yelled, running towards the ebbing light and towards the base of the tree, which concealed the way underground. Together, they charged headlong into the gloom.

John’s flashlight lit the way, but they slowed by necessity to keep from tripping over exposed roots and rocks strewn over the uneven floor. The strong earthy smell was gradually overpowered by a stench that had them both retching.

“Jesus, that can’t be good,” John coughed and put his hand over his nose.

The cave opened out into a space that was smaller than Dean had expected. Something cracked beneath his feet and he shone the flashlight downwards, grimacing.

“Lives on the bones of the dead,” he muttered under his breath. “Fuck. Victor?” Dean looked around, not seeing the man he’d come for.

“Dean. You gotta … get out,” Victor gasped.

“Shit, Vic?” Dean crunched his way across the floor of the cave, following the sound of Victor’s voice. He paled when he saw Victor hanging by his wrists, the shackles bloody. “Let’s get you outta here.”

“No, go, it’s a trap. It wants you.” Victor passed out again, hanging from the shackles.

Behind him, Dean heard the crunch of heavier feet than his on the carpet of bones. He turned and swung the flashlight around.

“You’re uglier than I expected.”

“It matters not what you think. You escaped me once, and now your energy will feed me and sustain me. Every time I rise, I am stronger, and soon …”

“There’s not gonna be a next time, pal,” Dean snarled.

John ran at it, swinging the axe, and almost severing one of its cruel limbs. Moisture leaked from the wound, more sap than blood, and when it turned to go after its attacker, John blew the powder into its face.

With a roar, it reared back, hands clawing at its eyes.

“Blind it and bind it,” Dean muttered and started the incantation. “By earth and water, air and fire, you will be bound as I desire. By three and nine, your power I bind. By moon and sun, my will be done. By leaf and vine, your power decline, by ash and rowan, the goddess I summon. Let she who made you now enslave you. Back to the earth, back to the earth. Power be bound, power be sealed.”

As he said the words, the monster screamed its rage to the heavens, but the powder and the power of the words held it fast, and drew it down towards the floor of the cave, and the root system of the tree. It bent low, its back cracking and popping as it fell to its knees and its fingers dug into the earth, taking root and becoming as one with the tree that had given it shelter for so long. With the last of the words spoken, Dean took his knife, cut his hand and let a few drops of blood drip down onto the new root system. They disappeared, consumed by the spell that had turned the monster into wood for all eternity.

Dean turned, but John was there, hacking at Victor’s shackles with the axe. Dean caught him as he fell, and held him up, putting all his energy into getting Victor to a hospital. He couldn’t think of Sam. He’d felt his brother leave when the light washed over him, and he couldn’t think about that until Victor was safe. Dean felt his load lighten, and turned to see John slip under one of Victor’s arms, helping Dean get him to safety. Dean looked around at the bones on the floor.

“Once he’s safe, we’ll come back and torch it,” John growled.

“Yes sir,” Dean agreed.

The walk out of the woods took longer than Dean was comfortable with, but even with two of them carrying him, Victor wasn’t a small man. Dean had never been happier to see the Impala as he was when they finally emerged from the woods. John helped him lay Victor on the back seat.

“You’re John Winchester,” Victor slurred and blinked up at John. “I dunno whether to take you in or buy you a beer.”

“Let’s get you to a hospital first, then you can decide,” John said, and patted him on the shoulder.

“’kay.” Victor passed out again, much to Dean’s relief.

Dean drove to the emergency room in Albion, helping Victor inside, then telling the nursing staff he was going to move his car. He wanted to stay, to make sure Victor was fine, and be there when he came round, but he knew he had to go, to disappear from Albion again. And this time, once the bones were burned, he wouldn’t be coming back.

Dawn was breaking as he drove to the motel to pick up his stuff. John’s truck was already parked in front and Dean parked the Impala next to it. He packed his bag methodically, making sure nothing was left behind. Now he focused on the task at hand, and followed John to the edge of the woods again, one last time. Dean was running on empty, which must have been clear to John.

“I can do this. Why don’t you grab some sleep?”

“No, I need this.” Dean grabbed the bag of salt as John picked up the gasoline can, and they walked with purpose into the woods.

As deep as they were, not much light reached the forest floor until they got to the tree they were looking for. It stood in a clearing, surrounded by a ring of barren earth. Nothing grew close to it, and the closest trees seemed to be shrinking away, pulling their branches out of it’s reach. The handful of leaf springs growing from it were the only signed that there was life left in it. The rest was dry, brittle, and almost black with age.

As they reached it, Dean steeled himself and made his way into the cave. He took great pleasure in dousing gasoline on the misshapen lump he knew had been the monster that killed Sam. John scattered salt about the cave, over the bones on the floor, and as they made their way back into the woods, Dean flicked his lighter open, made sure there was a decent flame, and tossed it back into the depths of the cave.

He heard it take light, and scrambled the rest of the way out. John grabbed his arm, and pulled him into the clearing. As the roots burned, they did the same with the tree, and stood back to watch as it began to blaze. The barren earth around it acted as a fire break, and Dean was sure the woods were still too damp for the fire to spread. Even so, they kept watch.

Dean could have sworn he heard an inhuman shriek as the ground collapsed beneath the tree, forming a huge fire pit in the earth.

“That’s for killing my brother.”

“For Sammy,” John added.

They stood in silence for a while, then began to make their way out of the woods again.

“The light last night. That was Sam. I felt him.” John didn’t ask, he stated.

“Yeah.” Dean guessed it was time to come clean. “He didn’t cross over when he died. He stayed around. Took me a while to figure it out, and be able to see him, but yeah, that was Sam.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I thought you’d send him away, and I didn’t want to lose him again. He was a ghost, and that’s what we do. We get rid of them.”

“It would have been the right thing to do.” John shook his head. “But I couldn’t have done it either,” he admitted.

Knowing that lifted Dean’s broken heart enough to get him back to the Impala. They headed to Bobby’s, Dean continually glancing at the empty passenger seat, something he knew he’d never get used to.

It was dark when they arrived at Bobby’s. He fed them, and shooed Dean upstairs to sleep in the small room Sam and he had once thought of as their own. Only then did Dean let himself think about Sam.

Dean didn’t know what had happened in the cave, not yet, but he guessed that Sam had given himself up to save Victor, which was, Dean admitted to himself with a snort, the Winchester way. He buried himself under the covers of the small bed, wishing with all his heart that Sam would materialize behind him, sharp elbows digging in, but that was gone for good.

Dean slowly let it out, the loneliness and anger, the pain and the hurt. All he’d wanted was to have Sam with him, but not as a ghost. He’d wanted his brother alive, wanted to see him grown up. And when the chance of that was ripped from him, he’d gladly taken the next best thing.

As Dean silently cried, the bed dipped and for a moment, Dean thought it was Sam. But John’s larger hand soothed his back, never once lifting the covers off him, letting him have the privacy he needed to let out everything he’d held in side since Sam had died the first time.

John didn’t leave until Dean was done, and was breathing easier. He patted his shoulder through the covers and Dean heard him say, “sleep, son.”

Dean curled up into a tighter ball and slept for twelve hours.

When Dean finally climbed out of bed and hauled his ass downstairs, there was a pan of stew sitting on Bobby’s stove. John served him up a huge bowl full and he dug in as if he hadn’t eaten for a week.

“I called the hospital, or rather assistant Director Marshall did. Your FBI friend is going to be okay. It’ll take a while before he’s fully recovered, but he’ll be fine.”

“Good.” Dean nodded.

After breakfast, Dean pulled on his jacket and wandered out into the yard. There was a blue two door Impala standing by the sheds at the back, and Dean nosed around in her engine compartment, musing to himself that it wouldn’t take much to get her going again.

He jumped when he heard a squeak behind him, and he turned to find Buster panting up at him, his toy by Dean’s feet.

“You miss him too, huh?” he asked the dog as he picked the toy up and threw it as far as he could.

Buster woofed happily and chased off through the cars looking for it.

Dean turned back to the car, but there was someone standing beside it. He was tall, and he was gazing around with a wistful look on his face. Dean took a step back. The man’s shaggy chestnut hair hung down across his face and as Dean watched, he pushed it back and turned his gaze to where Dean was standing. A smile grew, causing deep dimples to appear on his cheeks.

“Sammy?” Dean’s voice was hoarse.

“Yeah, Dean, it’s me.”

“But you’re so … big!” He’d never expected to see Sam again, and seeing him all grown up was like a punch to Dean’s chest. Dean eyed his brother, estimating he was at least three inches taller than Dean was himself.

“Soon as I let go, I became what I should have been.” Sam walked closer, his hands deep in his pockets.

“Is it ... are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, better than fine. It’s … well, you’ll have to wait and see for yourself. But you’ve got a whole life to live first.”

“I miss you.” Dean found himself choked up, and blinked back tears.

“I miss you too.” Sam sounded like the kid who’d been driving around with Dean in the Impala three days ago.

Dean strode forward, and pulled him into a hug, clinging on to the solid form. Sam’s arms wrapped around him, and they stood there until Buster came back, impatient for their attention. Reluctantly, they let each other go.

“What happens now?” Dean asked,

“I have work to do.” Sam smiled again. “But I can’t tell you about it.”

Dean rolled his eyes.

“How’s Victor?” Sam asked.

“He’s going to be okay.”

“Good,” Sam smiled. “I guess I should be going.”

“I guess so.” This time, Sam grabbed a hold of Dean and wrapped his arms around him, while Dean held on tight, not wanting to ever let go.

Reluctantly, Sam backed away, beginning to fade into nothingness.

“Wait! If no-one can come back once they’ve crossed over, how did you get here?”

“I learned a lot from cats.” Sam winked. “See you around, Dean. And play with Buster when you’re here, I think he’s got a long wait.”

Dean raised his hand to wave, but Sam was already gone.

~*~*~*~*~*~


Victor stood by the window in his apartment and gazed out over the city. It was three am, and there was hardly anyone out in the neighborhood. It didn’t stop a shiver going down his spine.

“Take some time off, book an appointment to see the counselor.” His section chief had suggested. A politically correct way of saying, “pull yourself together”.

Thing was, if he talked about everything he remembered, he’d never be allowed to set foot in the FBI building again. He couldn’t talk about the thing that had taken him and held him captive. Even if he could come clean, he could only remember flashes of a monster with sharp claws and bad breath.

Victor threw back the contents of the glass he was holding, needing the warmth that came with the bourbon hitting his belly.

Truth be told, he was scared. His ordered life had been torn apart in more ways than one. A monster had almost killed him, and a dead kid had helped rescue him. Victor strode to the dining table where his jacket was thrown over the back of one of the chairs. He poked about in the pockets until he found the cell that Dean had given him.

He pressed the button, and it rang twice before a sleep roughened voice answered and damn if the sound of it didn’t catch deep in Victor’s gut.

“Hello?”

Victor closed his eyes and sat down at the table.

“It’s Victor.”

“Hey FBI. You know it’s the middle of the night, right? I mean, they teach you how to tell the time in the academy, don’t they?”

“You think you’re funny.”

“I know I am. So, what can I do for you?”

“What really happened? I’ve got memories … dreams maybe, of things that shouldn’t be real.”

There was a sigh, then silence. Eventually, Dean spoke, and Victor was flooded with relief.

“This isn’t a conversation I want to have over the phone. Can you meet me? I’m in South Dakota.”

“I can be there in a couple of days.”

“Okay.” Dean gave him a place and time.

~*~*~*~*~*~


Dean was already sitting in the diner when Victor pulled up in his new truck. They ordered and waited until the waitress had walked away before they talked.

“You doing okay?” Dean asked.

“Yeah, I think so. I’ve decided to take some time off and visit my folks. I haven’t seen them in too long. There’s nothing like a near death experience to put things into perspective.”

“I can’t argue with that.” Dean poured them both water from the pitcher, drinking most of his straight down.

“And I’m thinking need a hobby. You called me a weekend hunter once, so …”

Dean almost choked on his water.

“Don’t go dying on me now, I need someone to show me the ropes.”

“You’re not serious?”

“As a heart attack.

“You think you can pull it off? FBI by day, badass hunter by night?”

“I have to try. And if it doesn’t work, I can always walk away.”

Dean looked as if he’d been stung. Victor rolled his eyes, and reached out, brushing the side of Dean’s hand with his fingers. It was a brief touch, but a heartfelt one.

“From the FBI, not from hunting.” Not from you went unsaid, but Victor reckoned that Dean was as good as reading between the lines as he’d become. He wasn’t ready to make any sweeping declarations of love, but he liked having Dean in his life, and that was enough, for now at least.

The waitress came back with two laden plates and two large coffees.

“Eat your breakfast, we’ll talk later.”

“Least I’ll still have my inside man.”

“Your what?”

“Sam was all for you being some kind of double agent, feeding me information.”

“Yeah, Sam. Your brother, right?”

“Er, yes, my brother.”

“You’re going to have to fill in a few blanks. Everything after I arrived in Albion is more than a little hazy.”

“Sure, but it’s a long story.”

“I’ve got plenty of time.”

Dean grinned and tucked into his breakfast.

~*~*~*~*~*~


On the far side of the diner, a tall man with shaggy chestnut hair listened to them, and smiled to himself. He finished his coffee and left, walking through the parked cars, running an affectionate hand over the Impala as he passed.

“Sam.”

He stopped and turned around to find Tessa watching him.

“Are you ready?”

“I am.” He grinned. “So where do we start?”

“At the beginning.” Tessa smiled.

Sam glanced at the diner one last time, and then he and Tessa were gone. A small black cat rubbed itself against the Impala and followed them.


THE END




NOTES

Heartfelt thanks to my lovely beta [livejournal.com profile] seleneheart for being so much more than that. And also for the awesome header pic for the story :)

Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] hobnailedboots for the portraits of young Sam and Buster.

And huge thanks too go to [livejournal.com profile] wendy and [livejournal.com profile] thehighwaywoman for giving me the time I needed to make this the story I wanted it to be.

This story was inspired by the book "The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud". There's also a small homage to Michael Marshall Smith if you know where to look.
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