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The Rat Pack pt 7

by StarWindDancer

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The Next Day:

Sam slept later then he usually did, waking slowly in the soft warmth of the bed. Lauren was still out like a log but was on the other bed. Dean was at the table, coffee and part of a McD's breakfast demolished around him.

"Lauren woke up earlier and was pretty hungry. You wouldn't wake up so I thought best to leave you."

Sam nodded, drowsily swiping at his eyes. He took a sip of the luke warm coffee and found himself having drunk it all. Sam stared at the cup blandly- surprised before grabbing a mcmuffin to eat. That he inhaled more then ate. Despite the extra butter and syrup, just the way he liked his pancakes, Sam wolfed those down with barely a pause.

"At this rate, I'll have to go back and get more," Dean chucked as he slid his partially eaten breakfast across to his brother. Sam held an internal debate, all of a second before attacking the left over food and what was left in the bag, this time actually chewing. He even grabbed Dean's half finished coffee, despite his brother's protests.

Sam sat back on the bed after setting the coffee maker to make another pot. He scrubbed at his face, trying to wake up. Dean was at the table researching something on-line on Sam's laptop.

"What 'cha lookin' at," Sam asked musilly. Dean looked over at Lauren, his eyes watching the still figure, reassuring himself she was still asleep.

"The demon shouldn't have been able to get in, Edith shouldn't have died."

Sam looked at his brother confused. Dean turned the screen so that Sam could see. He brought up a browser with pictures of the Winterborne home. "The Herb Sense Garden club is online. I've been looking at pictures of their home and something doesn't add up. There's not just protection symbols but protection spells all over the house and garden. The house is almost an encyclopedia of protective gates, spells, symbols, carvings, etchings, hangings, and objects. The house is sacred. The Shadow Man should not have been able to get in."

Sam stared blankly at the screen, his brain still sleep fogged. It was true, he could spot a half dozen things that would have kept the Winterbornes safe, at least from every ghost and boogie that he knew of but there was so much out there. And not everything worked against the same creatures. Sam told Dean so.

"But everything is here, Sam. Even things I've only heard mentioned about. Look at this." Dean scrolled to a picture of the houses corner, symbols visible and the plants. "See this red line?" Sam had to look to see, since he wasn't expecting it.

"What's that? Red clay?"

"Close. Brick dust. Voodoo'ists use it instead of salt. Nothing malevolent can cross. The house is completely circled with it." Dean switched to another picture, this one showing the garden beds dug up inside the fence. (An Iron fence, Sam noted.) The group in the picture was posing with new, flowering plants. The dirt was completely dug over, a mass of black and brown piles. Totally empty- except for a jar. "That's a witch's jar," Dean said as he pointed it out. "It's buried after being filled with nails, tacks, broken glass or mirrors. Some witches even urinate in it or put menstrual blood inside."

Sam nodded, shivering a little in sqeemishment. Dean switched to an inside scene, of the women cooking in the kitchen. Dean pointed out brooms and crystal Christmas balls hanging over the windows. Then he clicked to the front door. More Christmas balls, hand blown glass ones on long silver cords. Here there were several brooms, standing on their handles, bristles up, again, looking handcrafted. One very fancy broom had cats' eye shells, eagle feathers, goddess figurines, and carved stones tied to the ornate broom with gold and silver thread.

"Witches balls," Dean snorted. "Used to protect and define the home and the home's sacred space. In one pic, you can even see they're decorated with the Nordic runes of Algiz and Tyr. The broom is also a sacred object, warning the owner of malevolent company. Forewarned is forearmed." Dean scrolled thru the inside pictures, pointing out more items of power and protection. Wufu bats, stone obelisks, cat statues, stones, herbs, and so much more.

Dean and Sam compared notes, filling in on what and which did this or that. Yesterday, Sam was so distracted by the case that he didn't fully look around to see everything the Winterbornes had.

"You're right, Dean. This house was covered and then some. But you're forgetting about overload. It's all double negatives." At Dean's protest, he continued. "So much magic and spells and items don't always re-enforce but can cancel each other out. It becomes a lightning rod. So much charge, positive we'll call it since these are white Magics; so much charge in one direction attracts its opposites, much like a lightning rod. But What I don't understand is why wait until now?"

"Jessica," Dean said. Sam winced. "It wasn't that long ago it killed Jessica. It's stepping up its plans, gathering strength."

The implications that The Shadow Man was stepping up its plans and was actively hunting the Winchesters (and Winterbornes) were frightening. It weighed heavy on his mind.

Sam closed his eyes, concentrating on the vision yesterday and the journey in the Afterworld last night (or early morning.) Already the images were getting that dull tone of faded memory but Sam held onto as many details as he could.

"I think it's getting stronger. Even with the idea of all the magic things at the Winterborne place canceling each other out, it shouldn't have been able to get it. I think it is stronger and has learned a few tricks since it killed mom." Sam ignored Dean's wince. Sam had more memories of bus drivers then he did of his mother. But despite the 22 years, Mary was still fresh in John and Dean's memories. "There is some thing that has always bothered me about Jess's death. I'm not new to the supernatural and even without counting in the dreams, I had taken precautions."

Dean raised an eyebrow.

"I had two evil eyes, one by the front door and another by the back door. I also left a line of salt under all the openings before I left. Jess wouldn't have cleaned or vacuumed the salt up. She thought my superstitions were cute and endearing."

A sleepy voice came from the bed. "Who's Jess?"

The brothers froze, turning towards the young woman guiltily. Dean shot Sam a scathing look, getting up to go sit on the bed next to her, running a soothing hand up and down her back as she yawned and stretched, blinking blearily in the morning light.

"How you doin', kiddo? Sam ate the rest of your breakfast but I could get more, if you'd like?"

Lauren shook her head, yawning so hard her jaw cracked. "I'm doing ok. Need a shower and a change of clothes though. It'll make me feel more human."

"I can take you in the car. Your home isn't far."

Lauren nodded, yawning again. Sam yawned loudly and Dean looked at the two siblings with evil eyes as he clamped his jaw shut, fighting back the yawn.

Lauren giggled, yawning again herself as she buried her head in Dean's shoulder. "I guess maybe another nap is in order, especially if this keeps up."

"No naps." Sam turned to the coffee maker, badly stifling his yawn. "We've got to wake up. We can't waste the day sleeping. I can't believe I'm so tired."

"I know. I've never felt so drained before. Have you?" Lauren looked up at Sam expectantly.

Sam grunted, "I've worn myself out a time or two."

"No, I mean crossing the realms. I've never gone so far or for so long. I was wondering what your experiences were."

"Sam?" Dean's voice held a hint of warning, concerned for his young brother. He hadn't liked what happened last night at all.

"Uh, no. I've not been that far before."

"Sam, what are you talking about?"

Lauren pulled away from Dean, tucking her legs into her chin and hugging herself. "I'm sorry," she whispered.

Sam ignored Dean, concentrating on stirring the coffee creamer in vigorously. "It's ok. You're safe now, Lauren."

"I'm sorry; I didn't know it'd get you in trouble." She closed her eyes and tilted her head to the side. "You're confused and frightened. You don't know… you're not sure about what happened. You don't know what to feel about it all. It's not like the other times. What other times? And who is Jess? There is so much about and around a woman named Jessica. Who is she?"

Lauren opened her eyes to find Sam and Dean staring at her with intense gazes.

"What did you just do?" Dean asked.

Lauren looked away from Dean's intense gaze, biting her lip. She didn't say anything. Sam contemplated Lauren for a little while.

"You have powers too. Telepathic?"

Lauren shook her head no. "Empathic," still not looking at the brothers.

"But you talked about Jess… Jessica."

"Sometimes I can read things, see things. Usually if you're feeling really intense about something. Or something in the front of your mind. I could read mom's mind and a few others. Other wiccans, usually just women. You two are the first males that I could read things. You think about Jessica and home cooking and want things normal and the ocean and friends and lots of big words. Are you a doctor?" Lauren asked Sam.

"Law student."

She nodded. She turned to Dean, gazing intently into his eyes, squinting a bit. "And you think about fire, a woman in a tight red dress leaning over to shoot pool, a loud noise- oh, music. Is it Metallica? Sam told me you like Metallica music. And a car. Vroom. It's a woman. Oh." Lauren blushed. "And there's something else. Another woman. Mom? Gold hair, she kissed you on the cheek. Oh, it's your mother, Mary. Dad had the same tastes in women. Have you ever noticed how my mom and your mom looked so alike, like sisters? I've always wondered about that. And she smelled like lavender and honey too. And fire, oh gods, fire, she's burning!" Lauren pressed her hands into her temples; eyes squeezed tightly shut, tears starting to leak out.

"She's on fire, burning. Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods."

She started rocking, pressing her hands against her temples, occasionally thumping. Dean reached out, grabbing her arms to keep her from hurting herself. Sam grabbed the gratis tissue box and sat next to Lauren, wiping her tears away. She fought against them both, mumbling about a fire, screaming, a shadowy man, and other things the brothers couldn't really make out.

Dean held Lauren tight to his body, holding her hands away from her face as she cried. Sam felt stupid sitting there but stayed, stroking her hair, and wiping the occasional tear. Lauren clung to Dean, crying into his shoulder as he murmured soft words, pulling her into a deeper, protective embrace.

Dean looked up from Lauren's head, his green eyes meeting Sam's. There was determination and anger in those eyes and Sam knew that Dean would do anything for Lauren now.

There were no further questions on this.

Sam replied with his own look, reaching out to grasp Dean's right fore arm. Silently, while Lauren broke apart at her tragic life, the two brothers clasped arms and made silent vows, silent vows expanding upon their previous ones. "Brothers now, brothers forever. Always have each others back and protect each other to the end. Go down fighting." And the new addendum. "Protect Lauren, our baby sister."

It was official. Lauren had been initiated in those moments. They, all three, were now family.

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Note: Thank you for reading my story. I love all the feedback and reviews you all have given me. It's inspiring. I'm sorry I've been so late in updating but the story kind of hi-jacked me and said, "No, this is how I'm going to end now. And it'll make it longer too." So I hope you don't mind the new twists. After all, we still have The Shadow Man to contend with. He's a slippery ba$+erd and wants his say.