Author's Beginning Note Thingy: The same way most stories come to me, I was sitting at my computer desk, drawing, and minding my own business when this One-shot smacked me in the face and made me get writing. Hope you like it.


Dean opened his eyes in the darkness, and glanced over to the bed beside him at Sam. For once, it seemed, his baby brother was getting some good rest, undisturbed by nightmares as it usually would have been.

In the dim blue light given off by the motel alarm clock, he got up out of bed, tossing the blankets off himself, and pulled on a pair of jeans conveniently lying on the floor nearby. The leather jacket went on over his T-shirt at the same time as he pushed on his shoes on the way out the door.

He hadn't bothered to bring along his keys, for this he wouldn't need the car, no need to put extra miles on her.

What he was doing he could only truly do at night... as terrifying as the night often was to him, what with his line of work. It was when Sam was asleep, along with the rest of the world, and nobody would question him, or judge him. The night held secrets in it's vast darkness, and never relinquished them. That was just the kind of atmosphere he needed.

Taking a deep breath of cold air, and watching the mist curl out of his mouth as he exhaled, Dean pulled his coat closer to him, and quickened his pace across the dark ground, his footsteps echoing quietly along the empty sidewalk. He could already see the mid-November frost stretching it's spidery fingers across car windshields and storefront windows he passed.

Drawing up to a tall building at the end of the road, nearly a mile away from the motel, he quickly proceeded up the many steps to the front door, glad to be out of the cold.

Inside the air was musty, and dry, missing the wet nip that the outside had. All in all the temperature wasn't that different... heat was hard to circulate with this building's high sloping ceilings. The shadows hung heavy up there, amidst the smoke-stained wood and gilded designs.

Dean walked purposefully up the mosaic-like marble pathway, primarily grey, decorated with huge black and red crosses, and weaved between the slightly staggered rows of long brown benches. Nobody was here right now... at least, no other people like him. There was a quiet flurry of activity behind the stained glass windows of the separate rooms off to the sides, which he guessed were some night-owls up preparing for tomorrow's services.

The decorations of the church were obviously straining towards the Christmas season already. Festive evergreens lined the altars, lit almost magically by the votive candles that never seemed to go out. They flickered gently, giving off their soft glow from within the gold-tinted glass that surrounded them.

When the wooden benches faded away at the very front, he shifted off to the left side, approaching one of the side-altars where the votive candles mainly were. Beside a half set-up manger, in there for the season, was the normal yearly display: elegant statue of the Virgin, her arms out as if to embrace the currently nonexistent parish, her head bowed down to look sadly at them.

Dean swallowed... he always felt a little nervous being in places like this. Almost like he didn't belong. He stared up into the stone face of the lady, and took a deep breath, sinking to his knees, and raising his hand to cross himself as he did so. Biting his lips nervously, he inched forward until he could rest his arms on the padded rail. He stayed like that for a long, long time, just staring up into the expressionless face of the statue, before he had to look down, and a hand moved and rummaged around in his jacket pocket.

He pulled out his wallet, and flipped the thing open, searching around inside it. He took out two things: first, a small handful of coins and two crumpled $1's that he had withheld from the waitress who wouldn't flirt back with him at the diner he'd eaten lunch at, and an old, creased picture of his mother.

For now holding the money in his fist, he glanced down at the photograph while putting the wallet away. How many times had he heard his dad whisper her name...?


With a sigh, he looked back up to the statue, and stood, reaching forward, he stuffed the money into the little donations slot on the box that hung from the side. Leaning precariously over the rail, he lifted a match that had been stuck into a small tray of sand, and lit it off one of the candles, promptly moving it over to light another.

Putting out the match in the sand, and sinking back to his knees, he crossed himself once more, and closed his eyes, softly muttering:

"Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners, now,
and in the hour of our death,

At the end, his wavering voice was nothing more than a breathy whisper. He swallowed, sighed, and bowed his head, crossing himself a final time while murmuring under his breath, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit..."

He trailed off, remaining still and silent in his spot, while the quiet folded in around him gently. At last he found the will to speak, his voice breaking as he did so.

"Dear God..." he pleaded softly, "...I know... what happened to me... wasn't right." he started off haltingly, "...but I can't help that. I know we don't... don't do this much, but..." he swallowed, "...I made a promise. And right now I'm keeping it. Right now I'm praying for a miracle. Please. Somewhere in the back of my mind, a little voice is telling me that all this is ridiculous, and that I'm wasting my time and losing my sleep, but for once in my life, I'm not listening to that voice right now."

He took a shuddering breath, closed his eyes, licked his lips, and at last looked up again, "If there's anything... anything that can be done for Layla... please, let it happen." it wasn't often Dean begged. Not for anything. But this... was an entirely different situation. "She deserved it better than I did. God, please... she deserved it."

His head hung again, and his eyes slid closed once more. He stayed like that unmoving for several more moments, before sniffing deeply, and rising at last. He looked up into the blank eyes of Mary, and as an afterthought moved the picture of his mother from the rail where he'd left it to rest against the candle he'd lit. That done, Dean turned back around to face the cold.


Author's Ending Note Thingy: As always with me, setting being very important, I think I set the mood well with it... and I hope I included the necessary amount of emotion without going overboard and getting tacky.