The Thorn Within

A Supernatural fanfiction by Merrie

Disclaimer: How I wish the lovely Winchester boys belonged to me! But alas, they belong to Eric Kripke and all associated.

Summary: Dean's an incubus, Sam's forced to have crushing visions of his brother's exploits and something seems to be hunting both of them. Life is clearly not all fun and games for the brothers Winchester, but then again, when is it ever?

Author's Note: Remember that this in an AU second series fic that takes place after 'Children Shouldn't….' There have been no deals, no revelations about Yellow Eyes, none of that.

Rating: M for violence, naughty language and sexual content.

How can I be lost?
In remembrance I relive.
So how can I blame you
When it's me I can't forgive?

'The Unforgiven III' by Metallica

Chapter Thirteen

"I'm sorry about your father, Sam," Missouri said before anything else. "I'm also sorry that I have to offer condolences again but I suppose that's the way of things." She gave Sam a sympathetic smile and held gestured for the two men to take a seat on the couch.

Sam frowned and gave a little one-shouldered shrug. "Thanks. And don't worry about it. Not your fault." He wasn't here to talk about Dad. He didn't want to think about Dad. Not now, not when he had so much other shit to deal with.

"But you're not here to talk about him. This is about Dean," Missouri stated calmly before turning to Bobby. "I hope you're not planning on keeping that hat of yours on while you're in my house, Bobby Singer."

Clearly Bobby had been but removed the ever-present cap and did his best to smooth back unruly hair while Missouri watched. "Yes ma'am."

Missouri nodded in response and turned back to Sam. "I know something has happened to Dean. I can feel that much just by looking at you. But what that something is---oh mercy. He's a what?" She raised her eyes to the ceiling as if appealing for patience. "Trouble does seem to find that boy wherever he goes but I have to say I didn't see this coming." She slumped back a little in the deep couch in disbelief.

Sam winced. "Yeah. That pretty much sums it up." He looked to Bobby for reassurance before turning his gaze to the psychic. "But that's not why I'm here. I mean, if you have any insight on how to fix Dean's…problem then I'll be happy to hear it. But it's worse than that." Missouri didn't interrupt, didn't ask what could possibly be worse than Dean becoming an incubus, she simply listened. "I have visions. Every time I touch Dean when he's…not himself, I have these horrible visions."

"Of what he might do," Missouri stated. "Or what he wants to do."

"Yeah," Sam said, running a hand through his hair in hesitation and embarrassment of Dean's new "needs." "Only I can't control what I'm seeing. I can't push it away like the…" he glanced at Bobby, "other visions. I wind up unconscious and hurting like someone kicked me in the head."

"I see," Missouri said with a nod. "Well it's easy enough to see what's causing them, Sam."

"It is?" Sam asked incredulously. Clearly, he'd missed something important.

"Of course. He's your brother. Simple as that. You're tuned into him, his moods and thoughts more so than anyone else on this Earth. You're on the same wavelength, so to speak. And now that he's an…incubus," she shook her head at the word as if still disbelieving it, "you're attuned to him even more. Any psychic would be."

"Are you telling me that all the psychics in the area are going to be able to sense Dean coming now?" Sam asked with a worried frown. That would make staying under the radar tricky. Hell, who was he kidding? Dean's very nature would make staying out of sight, out of mind more difficult.

"Perhaps," she said with a slight nod. "If they're looking for him. Or something like him. They might sense something or someone different nearby but it'll be vague." She shrugged. "It also depends on the strength of the psychic."

"So how does he stop it? The visions, I mean," Bobby put in.

Missouri looked to Sam with sympathy. "I don't have an easy answer for you, Sam."

Sam sighed and nodded. He hadn't really expected one. Not with Winchester luck.

"It's not that there isn't a solution, there's just not an easy one," Missouri added. "You're going to have to learn to control them yourself." She frowned in thought. "It's like teaching yourself to realize when you're dreaming. You have to take control of the visions. You can't let them control you." She laughed. "I know it sounds like a lot of mythical mumbo jumbo from the crazy psychic but it's the truth."

Sam laughed in spite of himself. "It doesn't sound like that. It sounds like something I don't want to hear—"

"But need to," Missouri finished for him. "Your brother tried to call you just now by the way."

Sam blinked. "What?"

Missouri shrugged with a smile. "Psychic, remember?"

"Well check your phone, son," Bobby hastened him.

Sam hurried to pull his phone out of his jacket pocket and saw that the psychic was right. He put the phone to his ear and listened to Dean's message.

"Hey bitch. I hope you're alright. I'm fine. Don't come looking for me. It's safer this way."

"Damnit, Dean," Sam growled as he hung up the phone.

"That boy has a good heart but not a lick of sense," Missouri agreed. "He's in Utah, Sam. Go find him."

Sam intended to do just that. And to beat the every living hell out of his stupid older brother once he found him.

WWW

In the end it wasn't that hard to track Dean down. Not when he could spot the Impala on sight and he had a psychic on his side. But even if he hadn't had Missouri's help, even if he hadn't had her guiding him every step of the way Sam would have been able to guess where his older brother would hide out.

The motel was no different than the hundreds they had used in the past, unremarkable and ordinary enough that it's occupants wouldn't be anything but unremarkable and ordinary themselves. It was the anonymity that Dean would seek now. That much Sam knew. It didn't matter how much his brother had changed or what he had changed in to, home was a place apart. A place you could be safe and not worry about someone coming after you.

The fact that that was exactly what Sam was doing wasn't lost on him. He wasn't coming to hurt Dean, however. Well, not intentionally. He was hoping that he wouldn't have to make that choice, that Dean would be his brother and not the incubus he had become. Sam sighed. He knew it was foolish to hope, knew that the real world didn't work like that, but he couldn't bring himself to think the worst of Dean. Not now, not ever.

Shaking himself out of such thoughts, Sam pressed on. He hadn't asked Missouri which room was Dean's and as it turned out, he wouldn't need to. The Impala was parked practically on the doorstep of room 102, the parking job sloppy enough to make Sam's mouth draw down in worry. It was clear Dean had been in a hurry but even at his most frantic Sam's older brother would always take time to park his precious car properly. Even if it meant a vicious spin of the wheel and the squeal of tire upon pavement. This poor job had none of those signs. Sam's worry deepened as he leaned over and saw keys still dangling from the ignition like portents of doom.

The door to Dean's room was locked but that didn't slow Sam down. He had no idea just how many locks he had picked over the years but this wasn't the first and it certainly wouldn't be the last. "Dean?" he called out softly, not wanting to startle his brother. He had absolutely no idea what sort of state Dean would be in right now and he didn't want to risk anything. "Dean? Are you here?" Sam called out again as he squinted in the darkness of the room. The lights were all off and the curtains were closed. Groping the wall for a light switch, Sam flipped it on and saw his brother.

"You shouldn't have come, Sammy. You should have left me alone," Dean muttered from his position on the floor. He didn't bother looking up. He knew it was Sam. Knew it was him as soon as he heard the unfamiliar car in the lot, knew it was him when he heard the telltale sound of the lock being picked.

"What the hell, Dean? Who did this to you?" Sam cried out as he ran to Dean's side, taking in the handcuffs and bloodied wrists. Dean was sitting next to the radiator not for the warmth but because he was handcuffed to it.

"Don't, Sam. Just go. Please," Dean pleaded, pressing himself up against the wall to avoid Sam's searching fingers. "It's not safe."

"You did this. You locked yourself in here." He rose to his feet and stood looking down at his brother. "Are you going to tell me why or am I going to have to guess?"

Dean shifted uneasily under Sam's harsh gaze. "I didn't want to hurt anyone else. It's safer this way. I can't control it, Sammy. I tried." As if to emphasize this, he gave the cuffs a sudden jerk. They didn't budge.

"Stop that, you jerk. You're only hurting yourself," Sam said with a frown, seeing the blood dripping down from Dean's raw and bloody wrists. "Have you been here long?"

Dean lifted a shoulder in a shrug. "A few hours."

"And how long can you last without sex? Without feeding?"

Dean blinked at the blunt question from his brother's lips. "I don't know. I guess I'll find out."

Sam sighed and took a cross-legged seat on the carpet near Dean. "It seems to me that while I have your attention we're going to talk. No buts, Dean. You're a prisoner and that means you're going to listen."

"Fine," Dean muttered. "Where's Bobby?"

"I borrowed his car because some ass drove off without me so he's back at Missouri's. Now shut up." Sam got comfortable. He had a feeling that they would be here awhile. "Explain it to me. Explain how it works. If we have to deal with this thing until we find the cure then I need to know. So explain it to me."

Dean didn't bother asking what Sam was talking about. He knew. "It's not easy to explain." At Sam's frown he spoke quickly, "I'm not stalling, it just is. It's more than want, more than need. It's like an addiction, Sammy. It's like a horrible addiction to something that's killing you as you take it but that will surely kill you if you don't."

"Is it like the need for food or sleep?" Sam asked, taking all of this in.

Dean shook his head. "It's more than that. Much more."

"And what happens if you don't get it?"

"I haven't quite gotten that far yet but I'm sure it sure as hell won't be pretty," Dean muttered. He gave a short cynical laugh and gestured at his wrists with his chin. "They hurt like hell but that doesn't stop me from pulling on them. I want free and I think I'd do about anything to get there."

"Does the…need get worse the longer you wait?"

"Oh yeah," Dean whispered.

"Does it have to be sex or can it be something else? Like…does it have to be the act itself or can it just be intent? Can you feed off of lust?"

"I don't know. I haven't exactly been in the right frame of mind to experiment, Sammy," Dean said with a shake of his head.

Sam nodded. "Fair enough." He rose to his feet again. "Then we're just going to have to find out for ourselves. Where'd you throw the keys?"

"What? No, Sammy. Don't be stupid. I'm not going anywhere. I won't…I'm not going to hurt anyone else." Dean argued.

"Then what the hell are you going to do, Dean? Just sit here handcuffed to the radiator until you either shrivel up and die or rip your own arm off?"

"I…I don't know, Sammy. But I can't control it. Don't you understand that? I could go after you for all you know."

"I'm way out of your league," Sam said dryly. "We're going to fix this thing, Dean. I swear it. But for now we have to deal with it. But I won't let you hurt anyone."

Too late, Sammy. Too late. There's no cure. No salvation. Dean wanted to say as much, wanted to tell his brother the truth about he girl he had killed, about Mya, but he couldn't force his lips to say the words. Not when freedom was in the offering.

"Oh and I had a vision of the person who might have done this to you. I think her name was Mya. Definite bitch."

Dean's eyes widened in shock. He hadn't wanted Sam to know about her. "What did you see?"

Sam frowned. "It was pretty vague but she was clearly after you. I think another woman might have been there but I can't be sure. These things don't exactly come with a manual, you know."

"I know," Dean said with a sigh. "Still, it's something. Mya, huh?"

"Yeah. That name mean anything to you?" Sam asked, pulling out his lock picks once more. If Dean wasn't going to come clean about where the key was then he'd have to make do without.

"Don't think so," Dean lied. "Of course if I remembered pissing off someone or something that could have done this to me I would have mentioned it by now."

"Right," Sam agreed. "Gotcha!" he cried in triumph as he freed Dean's right wrist and hauled his brother up to his feet, the other cuff still dangling on Dean's left.

Dean barely had time to rub some circulation back into his aching right hand before he heard the click of a cuff being closed. "You didn't think I was going to let you run off by yourself again, did you?" Sam asked dryly. Dean looked down and saw that his brother had closed the open cuff around his own right wrist, thereby cuffing them together.

"What the hell do you think you're doing? Give me that pick," Dean growled in anger at his brother's utter stupidity. Who handcuffs themselves to a starving incubus, honestly?

"No," Sam said sternly. "We're in this together, remember? We're going to figure this out. That and I don't trust you as far I can throw you."

Dean snorted. "If you tried that now you'd end up sending us both across the room."

"Exactly," Sam agreed with a sunny smile.

"This is a very, very bad plan, bitch," Dean muttered, a smirk tugging at his lips to match his brother's infectious grin.

"Probably. I just asked myself, 'what would Dean do?' and this is what I came up with. You have only yourself to blame," Sam said solemnly.

"Shut up. So what now, oh fearless leader?"

"Now we figure out how this incubus thing of yours works."

"Or die trying."

"Drama queen."

TBC

A/N: I'm alive! I'm now married, taking classes full time to finish my degree and working but I'm alive! And writing! See you next time. : )