Chapter Ten

"I can tell you right now to save your breath, Sam. I'm coming with you. Case closed. Now where's the bathroom?" Annie linked her arm through his and pulled him back towards the house he was now staying in. It belonged to the parents of one of the students he and Jess had been living with in the house that burned down.

She could hear Dean grumbling behind her as he followed them inside.

Sam made her some tea to settle her stomach and sat across from her, his sad eyes trying to reason with her when he knew arguments weren't working.

"Don't you dare. Puppy eyes are hitting below the belt. Annie pointed an accusing finger at him. She settled back against the grey velvet couch, her stomach considerably eased.

"So this stigmata just started a year ago?" Sam asked reaching for her hand. He lifted the gauze, the blood now dried.

"Yeah, around the time Jack..." Annie's breath caught as the pain of his loss shot through her. She cleared her throat and stiffened her spine. "Around the time he proposed." Dammit, she could not turn into a dribbling mess every time she thought of Jack. She needed to be strong to go after this demon that killed him.

Sam sat back and stared at her, pensively and then up at Dean who sat on the arm of the couch, nursing his third cup of coffee.

"She's right, Dean."

"What's that now?" Dean asked, not bothering to hide his irritation.

"She has as much right to go after this demon as we do."

"Let's not forget daddy. If my real mother has anything to do with this demon, he'd know about it right? He needs to know what I saw and the only way to do that is to find him."

"He's still not answering his phone?" Sam asked, looking at Dean.

"You know how he gets when he's on a job. The man has tunnel vision." Dean explained. "Which brings me to my other point. Annie hasn't hunted with us in five years. She's easy pickings for anything supernatural. She needs re-training. She's been out of our world for too long."

"Okay, first of all, I am in the room." Annie snapped, her cheeks warming. "Secondly, being raised in this family, raised to be a hunter, I resent that you would think I'm such a bubble headed moron that I would forget everything I was taught."

"I don't think he's saying--" Sam interrupted.

"Sure I am. You can't live in 'Normal-ville' and keep the ghost hunting mentality." Dean explained.

"Bullshit. Maybe you can't, because you can't possibly fathom that there is more to life than burning bones and rock salt, but I've never forgotten any of it. Like you, it's been drilled into my head from day one. God forbid I should have been allowed to think about anything normal like the other girls my age, not if I wanted daddy dearest to even look at me twice!" Annie blinked back tears. She hadn't meant to go down that route but all her old feelings seemed to constantly rise to the surface around Dean.

With Sam, they had other things in common. Other things they could talk about and enjoy that had nothing to do with hunting. There were times they could spend a whole day together and the subject never even came up.

But hunting was all Dean had. It was all he wanted and it hit all her repressed nerves to where she couldn't even stand to be around him. Like now.

Crying would prove to him that she was too weak to join them again. She would not! Though she could feel the moisture begin to well up in her eyes.

She rose up off the couch. "Move your damned legs," she hissed pushing against his out stretched feet, propped up on the coffee table.

"Yes, ma'am," he dripped sarcastically, letting her pass.

She punched at the bag with vicious ferocity, her arms tight and her body warm. Annie was glad she had found the tiny gym in the basement. Weights and a punching bag. She felt her tension begin to ease as she released her anger on the bag, sweat tickling down her back.

John Winchester never had much use for a girl child. So Annie became what she thought he wanted, a hunter like his strong fine sons. She'd be just a strong, just as brave and then daddy would love her and smile at her and laugh with her like he did with Dean and Sam. He became proud of her when he saw how good she was, how she always followed orders and fought and was never scared of the big n creepies. That was when she knew John loved her.

"I guess I don't have to ask whose head you're seeing on that bag." Dean's soft drawl pulled her thoughts back to the present and for once, she was grateful.

To prove him right, she narrowed her eyes at him and gave the bag a high kick as well as a last punch. Panting, she stood back and turned away from him, pulling the bandages off her hands. Her entire body was trembling with exertion. She considered herself fit. Ran every morning, worked out three times a week, but the adrenaline mixing with the loosened rage inside of her took more out of her than she had realized.

"Look, I came down here to give you this." His eyes met hers and then lowered down along her neck to her chest, following a bead of sweat she could feel making its way down her skin. Now she trembled, and not just from exertion. Dammit! Annie mentally shook herself. How could he continually do this to her? Make her want to smack and sleep with him all in the same breath.

She reached for the leather bound book in his hand. John's journal. Her fingers brushed his. Dean's thumb reached over her forefinger and held it for a fraction of an instant too long. The charge sizzled palpably between them and Annie couldn't breathe. She focused on his mouth; the memory of the feel of them on her skin had never dulled. Despite five years and other lips. Annie remembered Jack with a guilty stab and jerked her hand back. The journal fell between them. Dean reached down and picked up. He was going to hand it to her again but most have thought better of it and decided to leave it on the weight lifting bench.

"Thought you might want a refresher." Dean offered with a curt nod. He started to walk away. Annie wanted to call out to him, she wasn't quite sure why. She was right, he was wrong but she didn't want them to stay angry with each other. Dean turned in the doorway. "Not that you need it, of course. Hope you read fast cause we leave in the morning." His eyes shone mischievously at her. He quickly raised his hand. "I was out voted, okay? As usual. Sam took your side so you're coming. Fine. I don't like it, but he's right. You have every reason to want this demon dead and I'm not gonna stop you. I would feel a hell of a lot better if you go after it with us than if you go it alone."

"Geez, and here I thought we were having a moment," Annie said, fighting a smile.

"Hell, you know me better than that, girl." Dean reminded her then turned and left her alone with John's journal.

She had made it to couch when she finally reached the last page. Sam and Dean had long since gone to sleep. The inside of the back cover held a pocket. When she looked in it, she pulled out snapshots. Some she had seen before. A few school photos of Sam, Dean and herself.

One pic was taken in the backseat of the Impala. Sam and Dean were on either side of her, with their fingers in their mouth, spreading their lips wide and sticking out their tongues. Annie sat in the middle, about 6 years old, crossing her eyes.

A photo of her and John made her eyes burn with the threat of fresh tears. She was 3 years old and John was carrying her in his arms. She had her small arms wrapped tight around him and she was looking at him with adoration in her eyes. His smile was wide and warm as he gazed back at her. Mary had taken the picture. It was a month before she died.

In another picture, she was holding Baby Sam, very carefully on the couch. There was a similar shot where Dean was holding his little brother.

There was picture of Mary alone. All blonde hair and vibrant blue-green eyes.

In another one she was very pregnant with Sam. She stood, painting the nursery, with Dean 'helping' her. He had more yellow paint on him than the walls.

There were pictures of her with Sam, throwing cake at each other at Sam's birthday party.

In the last shot, she was two, lying on the couch, Dean tickling her and blowing on her stomach. Annie's hand subconsciously went to her stomach, remembering how that was his favorite way to make her dissolve in fits of giggles until she gave in and said he was the king of everything.

John had kept all these pics. Snapshots of a world that didn't involve hunting, or ghosts or darkness.

As much as he obsessed over the evil in the world. As deep into that world as John Winchester was, he'd kept these pictures, refusing to relinquish this last piece of his humanity. It was his hope. The belief that someday, there would be a life of pictures and new memories.

Annie felt as if it was her hope as well. He could hang on. So could she.

Dean walked into the dimly lit living room. The lamp was on and Annie lay on the couch, the journal clutched close to her chest as she slept, peacefully. Beautifully. Her face shone in the soft light. The woman got him right in the heart, like a bullet, even when he wanted to scream at her. He'd have to remind himself that there could never be anything between them. It would be hard, seeing her, being with her and yet not being with her. But Dean would do it cause he had a job to do. Nothing could get in the way of that. Not even the way Annie made him feel inside cause that would distract him, weaken him and make him stupid. And stupid got him dead.

He hoped she'd finished reading. They'd be leaving to find their father, and the demon right after breakfast. He covered her with the sofa throw and turned off the lamp, then, unable to resist, Dean leaned down and pressed a soft kiss on her forehead.

"You won't take her too. I swear to fucking God, you won't," he vowed to the evil that he knew was out there.

The End

A.N: This is just the end of episode one. Rest assured that there will be more episodes/books. Actually, I'm looking for a title for the next book which will involve the three of them fighting high society posh vampires. Any suggestions are very welcome. Hope ya'll follow me into episode two!

Zelinia: Thanks so much for your feedback. You've been there from the beginning and it's so appreciated! Hope you like this chapter.

SJPearce: I'm tickled I could take your mind off work for a while. Thankie for your feedback! Hope you enjoy this chapter too!

Jj2629: Thankie for your feedback. Hope you like this chapter.

Jforce: (laughs) Thankie! Glad you enjoyed!

Adraia: That is a pretty name! Hope the wait wasn't too long!

DovesCry: Dean is definitely gonna be put in his place a few times but he isn't really gonna change and he'll give to Annie as good as he gets too! (laughs) Thankie for your entertaining feedback. Hope you like this chapter!