Dean looked down at his hands. The physical is real. Everything else is Athena's head games. Dean's eyes strayed to his swollen, bruised hand. The physical is real. Dean grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze. He let out a yell of pain.


There was the sound of a body slamming into the door. Dean closed his eyes and focused on the pain. The pain was real. Another slam followed by the door crashing open. The pain was fading and Dean gave his hand another squeeze, grunting in pain.

He felt Sam's hands on his shoulders. "Dean, Dean. Thank God you're okay."

Dean knocked his hands away. "Don't touch me!" He's not real. He's not real. Dean started rocking on his knees and occasionally squeezing his hand. He mumbled quietly to himself. "Not real. Not again. He's not real. Not real."

"Dean. What's wrong? What did they do to you? Your hand looks bad."

Dean felt Sam's hands on him again. He lunged to his feet and staggered back away from Sam. "Stop it, Athena! Just fucking stop!" Dean backed away from Sam until his back bumped into the wall.

Sam looked around the room when Dean had spoken but saw nobody there. His eyes were filled with confusion and worry. "Dean, nobody's here. Just you and me. Look," Sam gestured to the busted open door. "Let's get out of here."

"You're not here! You aren't real! I won't go anywhere with you! Every time I do, you die!"

"What are you talking... Look, Dean, it's me!" He came over and held out his hands to Dean, but Dean kept looking wildly about the room. He squeezes his hand and groaned again. Sam took his brother's face in his hands. "Dean, look at me! Stop! I'm right here!"

Dean knocked Sam's hands away again and shuffled along the wall away from him.

"Dean. What's going on?"

Dean grabbed his throbbing head in his hands and dropped to his knees. Tears had started trailing down his cheeks. What if he's real this time?... Gimme a break, man! You know it's another one of that bitch's mind games!... But if it's really him, then this could be my chance to get the hell out of here... Dean let out a frustrated shout.

"Dean, tell me what's wrong? Just talk to me!" Sam was getting unnerved by Dean's behavior. He took another step toward him and when Dean jerked away, he stopped. "Dean." He pleaded quietly. "Dean, just talk to me."

"You want me to talk?!" He screamed, not at Sam, but at the room in general. "Fine, you bitch! I'm a guilt-ridden, selfish asshole! Are you happy?!"

Sam backed away another step, unsure of what Dean would do.

"Sam is more than just a brother to me! He's also like a son. I was the one who helped him with his first steps! I was there when he lost his first tooth! I taught him how to ride a bike and drive a car! Hell, his first word was my name! I have raised him like my own since I was freaking four years old, damn it! Because of that, I have felt the need to protect him as my own, too, and failed miserably at it!" Dean took a deep shuddering breath and lowered his head.

Quieter, now, he continued. "I was a horrible parent because I was still a child myself. I smothered him. I was over protective. I wouldn't let him be himself for fear he would get hurt, physically or otherwise. I could see that he idolized me and I used that against him. When he decided to go off to college, it wrecked me. I was selfish. I didn't want to be alone. I knew, deep down, I was the weaker one of us."

"After he left, I tried so hard to forget him. I found my thoughts of him distracted me on hunts so I decided a clean break was best. I never called him or contacted him and I became single minded and focused solely on whatever hunt we were on at the time. I honed myself into a deadly weapon, but something was always missing."

"When dad disappeared I pulled Sam back in. I let my selfishness win out. Because of me, he'll never have his apple pie life. Shit, because of me, he's died and even took a trip to Hell. His soul lost... It's all on me."

All was quiet. Sam took a tentative step toward Dean. "Dean... I..."

"No!" Dean got up and stalked over to the sink. "I'm done, Athena! That's all you get! Please just leave me alone!" Dean was wiped out. He had nothing left in him.

"Dean, whatever is going on, we'll work through it, but we need to get out of here."

"You're not real! Damn it, Athena! What more do you want!?" Sam's hand came down on Dean's shoulder and Dean spun and shoved Sam back, almost knocking him on his butt. "Stay the fuck away from me!"

Sam set his jaw and when Dean turned back to the sink, he cracked him on the back of the head with the butt of his gun.


Dean lay naked on a bed as Athena crawled up between his legs and started licking and sucking. There was laughter from the side. Dean turned his head and there stood Sam, bullet hole in the head, and blood pouring down his face. He was laughing at him.

Dean gasped awake and sat bolt upright. He was on the couch in Bobby's den. His right hand was in a splint with a few metal pins poking out. His wrists were carefully bandaged. Movement to the right caught his eye.

"Well good morning, Sleeping Beauty. You finally decide you've had enough beauty rest?" Bobby had walked in from the kitchen, coffee mug in hand.

Dean didn't answer but looked around the room and then down at his hand.

"Doc says you really did a number on your hand. There are pins holding everything in place. You're going to be taking a few weeks off from hunting I'm afraid."

"And at the first mention of any Terminator jokes, I will personally kick your ass." Sam came down the stairs buttoning the last button on his shirt. "How are you feeling?"

Dean frowned at them. "Am I awake?"

Bobby raised his eyebrows. "Ya look awake to me."

"You sure?"

"It's the Skoti." Sam answered. "It's got you a little messed up."

"The what now?"

"What you and I were actually hunting, and what got a hold of you, was a skoti."

"Yeah they attack people through the unconscious mind."

Sam hesitated. "Yeah. Umm... you were pretty messed up when I found you."

"Who the fuck is Tanya?" Dean asked, glossing right over Sam's concern.

"Remember a year or so back, my college friend, Marissa, called?"

Dean frowned. "The one with the step sister or some cult thing?"

"Yeah. Tanya was her little step sister whose dad had gotten them messed up in some weird cult. We got Tanya out and she's living with Marissa now."

"So Athena, or the skoti, what the fuck ever...must have been the head of the cult. Athena really wanted her back."

"Enough that she really screwed with your head." Sam sounded concerned again. He exchanged a glance with Bobby. "What did she do to you, Dean?"

Dean looked down at his wrists and hand. "You know what? Oddly enough... I don't wanna talk about it."