An Old Haunt for a New Hunt

Disclaimer: Not mine. sigh

Thank you: To the lovely Jubilea for sitting out on the balcony at the vegetarian restaurant while we worked on our stories for three hours (She's not even vegetarian). Now, that's a friend!

A special thanks to the anonymous reviewers. Since I can't thank you personally, please accept this big THANK YOU! Yep, this is the last chapter. It appears I didn't break my seven chapter trend after all.

I apologize for the delay. I really, really wanted to post this in time for the spring equinox, but RL got in the way.

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"Life begins in a bloody mess and sometimes it ends the same way, and only odd people seek out blood between those times, maybe crazy people."

-- Joe Haldeman

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"Dean!" Sam hissed. "Man, you really need to give me some space here. All that knocking and humming is making it really hard to concentrate."

"Creepy old lady did warn you about the knockin'," Dean quipped.

"Yeah, she did," Sam snapped. A light slowly dawned on his features. He typed frantically for several seconds, and then fell silent as he scanned the computer screen. A slow smile stretched across his face, and he looked up at Dean. "Dean, I think I know what it is."

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"Well don't keep me in suspense, Sam," Dean groused. "Spill it already."

"She wasn't saying knockin'," Sam explained. "She was saying Nokken. With her accent, I just assumed she was saying knockin'."

"Uh-huh," Dean replied slowly stretching the two syllables out for several seconds. "What are you talking about? You keep repeating yourself." He looked Sam squarely in the eye, and tried to gauge his awareness level. He did not look like he was having trouble focusing. Sam's eyes appeared alert, and he had that look on his face. The one he wore when the pieces fell together and he had the solution in his sights. "This isn't the poltergeist versus the angry spirit discussion all over again, is it?" Dean asked already knowing the answer.

"What? No, I'm good," Sam replied. "The vernal equinox is in only a few days, and in many pagan cultures, the Scandinavian's included, it marked the advent of the New Year. Nokkens, water nixes or spirits are typically more active right before the New Year. That's why the deaths stop at the equinox."

"So, basically we have four days left to end this, or we'll lose our chance until next year," Dean stated. "What's the lore on this thing?"

"Shapeshifting, for one," Sam replied his eyes scanning the on-line article. "This one probably appears as the woman we saw with the dripping clothes, but also as a loon." Sam looked up from the computer. "Actually, that makes perfect sense."

"Right, because so many other spirits show up as harmless birds," Dean replied, raising his eyebrows and nodding his head fractionally in Sam's direction.

"No," Sam continued seemingly unaware of Dean's sarcasm, "Because the loon is considered the water spirit of the north by many Native American cultures."

Dean shook his head. "You really are a font of freaky facts," he quipped, secretly pleased with his alliteration.

Sam rolled his eyes and continued, "According to some Scandinavian legends, you can offer a gift of three drops of blood, a black animal, and brannvin, and he would teach you to play his music."

"Which relates to the three deaths every year," Dean affirmed. "But, since I really don't care to learn the Watuzzi Bertuzzi, you got anything else?"

"Uh," Sam paused. He typed for several moments, and then scanned the next page. "Iron crosses were sometimes used to repel nixes. There's also a legend of two children using a mirror to capture a water sprite."

"Patty has a metal cross hanging in her kitchen window," Dean said. His eyes moved back and forth as his mind mulled over the facts. "That's what keeps her family safe, or did, until Emma went down to the lake by herself." He looked up at Sam. "Consecrated iron rounds," Dean finished.

Sam nodded his head in agreement, and took a sip of his latte. He made a face at the cold temperature, and set the cup back down on the table. "How are we going to find it? It only seems to appear when it attacks."

Dean leaned back in his chair. "I know how, but you aren't going to like it," he replied.

Sam cocked his head in confusion and as the realization of Dean's implication set in, his expression turned to dismay. "No way," Sam replied emphatically.

"Sam, it's the only way," Dean insisted.

"Dean, we'll figure something else out," Sam protested.

"We can't let anyone else get hurt," Dean stated quietly, but firmly.

Sam sighed, but nodded his head in agreement. In an unspoken understanding, the Winchester brothers stood up, and Sam shoved the laptop into the leather messenger bag. Dean grabbed the bag, and ushered Sam out the door.

Dean opened the back door to put the messenger bag on the floor behind the driver's seat. He took the opportunity to clandestinely watch Sam sit down in the car. Sam was lowering himself very carefully into the seat, and seemed to be favoring his ribs. It was not anything unexpected, but considering how much Sam had been affected by the drugs last night, Dean was surprised. Granted, Sam had been tired, and his body had needed time to heal, but the two pills last night had knocked him for a loop. The two this morning, had only seemed to affect him for several hours. The two he took a little over an hour ago barely seemed to take the edge off.

Dean narrowed his eyes, as his suspicion grew into a theory. Dean opened the driver's side door, and slid in behind the wheel. "How you holding up there, Sammy?" he asked glancing at Sam out of the corner of his eye. He started the car, but did not pull out of the parking space, instead waiting for his brother to confess.

"Fine," Sam replied as he made eye contact with Dean to prove his sincerity. He tried to avoid giving away too much, but he knew he was ultimately fighting a losing battle. Sam always felt Dean was like a bloodhound when it came to sniffing out the truth. He instinctively seemed to know which people to trust, which ones were being honest, and which ones were full of soyashit.

"Sam," Dean said reproachfully. "I'll give you another shot at being honest with me."

"I am fine, but I'm not great," Sam relented. "Let's just get this over with, and then, I'll do whatever you want, I promise."

"You'll take your meds?" Dean asked pulling out of the parking spot.

"Yes," Sam replied.

"Get some rest?" Dean verified, as he pulled out onto the road.

"Yes," Sam replied more forcefully.

"You'll let me check that incision site?" Dean asked flicking his eyes over to Sam momentarily before focusing again on the road. "Don't think I didn't notice you were in the shower before I could check this morning."

"I checked it myself, in the shower," Sam defended.

"Really, with those ribs, you managed to twist enough to see it?" Dean asked, his voice modulated somewhere between surprise and outright sarcasm.

"Yeah, I did," Sam replied. Dean offered no response to Sam's declaration other than a raised eyebrow, and a slight head tilt in Sam's direction. "I didn't get a very good look," Sam conceded quietly.

"That's the most honest thing you've said so far," Dean stated.

"Like you're so good at admitting anything," Sam muttered turning his face towards the window.

"What'd you say?" Dean asked.

"Nothing," Sam replied.

Dean did not respond. Sam's need to talk would outweigh his need for action. He could wait Sam out any day. He barely kept the grin off his face, as he watched Sam jiggle his leg, and then flip the radio on. Sam spun the dial, rapidly running through several radio stations, before flipping the radio off again. "I don't understand why I have to tell you about every bump and bruise, and you don't ever have to tell me anything," Sam stated seemingly apropos of nothing.

"You don't?" Dean asked, finally allowing the suppressed grin to appear. "I would have thought it would be pretty obvious."

"Yeah, well, it isn't," Sam snapped snarkily. "Why don't you explain it to me?"

Dean's smile spread wider, uplifting at the left corner. "I'm the big brother," he replied simply.

Sam huffed and shook his head. "I don't believe that gives you carte blanche to be so bossy," Sam complained picking up an old argument.

"Actually, it does," Dean replied. "So, as soon as we get rid of the Nokken; we're going back to the motel; I'm going to check your stitches, and you, little brother, are going to get some rest." After his speech, Dean turned on the radio, and popped in a cassette. The heavy beat of Metallica's, 'Enter the Sandman,' drowned out any response Sam may have offered.

The trip continued in silence other than the classic rock thrumming through the speakers. As the cassette clicked, and forwarded to side B, they reached Pomme de Terre lake. Dean pulled the Impala to a stop as close to the lake as possible. He peered out towards the lake, but he did not see any trace of the spirit, or rather, the Nokken. "You up for this, Sam?" Dean asked slapping Sam lightly on the knee.

"Yeah," Sam replied. He turned in his seat to look at Dean. "Do we have enough consecrated iron rounds?" he asked.

"Course we do," Dean replied. He opened the door, and slid out. He walked around to the trunk. He was searching for the iron rounds, when Sam finally joined him at the trunk.

"You're sure about that?" Sam asked.

Dean gave Sam a hard look. He gazed into the trunk, and noticed the small black case, that held the consecrated iron rounds. "See?" he asked producing the rounds, and waving them in front of Sam's face. "I told you."

"You also told me there was a spirit in the toilet that would get angry if I didn't flush," Sam sniped. "I was afraid to sit down on it for a week."

"Sh'yeah, that was sweet," Dean said with half a laugh.

"I was four," Sam replied with a frown. "I think it just about killed me."

"Yeah, well you not flushing just about killed me," Dean replied unrepentant. He handed Sam a gun, and several of the iron rounds. "Load up, Sam. Let's get this over with," he said. Dean watched as Sam loaded the gun. "I want you to stay out of it, unless I tell you I need your help," he said.

Sam looked up from loading his weapon. "No," he said simply, furrowing his brow.

"Yes," Dean insisted. "She'll come to me, and I'll shoot her with the iron. There is no reason for you to get involved unless things heat up. You've had enough, Sam." Dean closed the trunk lid with one solid motion.

"Dean, no," Sam replied. "I'll be careful, but I'm not just going to stand around and watch while you face off against this thing."

"That's exactly what you're going to do," Dean said. "If you try to get involved before I say so, I'm going to kick your ass."

"Dean," Sam started, annoyed Dean was trying to boss him around.

"Sam no," Dean said stepping closer to his brother. "I mean it."

Sam sighed, but relented. "Okay," he said.

"Good," Dean replied. He slapped Sam on the shoulder, and walked towards the water. He kept his gun raised, and approached the lake cautiously. After several moments, he stopped and looked back towards Sam to make sure he was staying back.

"Dean!" Sam shouted.

Dean spun back around, and found himself face to face with Nokken. Without a moment's hesitation he fired the gun. The Nokken was pushed backwards by the force of the impact, but quickly recovered. There was a hole in her chest where the Dean's iron round had passed through, but it did not seem to be affecting her in the least. No blood oozed from the wound, nor did the Nokken appear to be in pain.

Dean shot her again, this time aiming for her heart. His surefire aim caused another hole to appear in the Nokken's chest. Again, she stumbled backwards, but regained her footing almost immediately and started approaching Dean. "That's it," Dean said impatiently. "You're going down."

The Nokken was within arm's reach of Dean when he shot again. The iron passed through her eye, and exited through the back of her head pushing her upper body backwards. She righted herself, and turned an angry face towards Dean. Sunlight filtered through her head and out of the hole where her eye had been. She clasped Dean's arm in a tight grip, and easily tossed him closer to the water.

"Sonuvabitch," Dean moaned upon impact. He had felt her strength, when she had pulled him into the lake, but he thought she would be weaker out of the water. He heard Sam fire his weapon, and hoped it would buy him time to regain his bearings. He pushed himself up off the sand, and saw the Nokken standing dangerously close to Sam. Sam's ribs would never hold up against the landing he had just experienced. "Hey!" Dean shouted.

The Nokken turned her back on Sam. Dean noticed she now had another wound on her chest. Sam's aim had been true. "You can't be tired of me already," Dean taunted her. "I'm an irresistible guy."

Dean swayed slightly as he faced off against the Nokken. As she approached closer, Dean could clearly see the water dripping from the hem of her skirt. "Sam, the iron rounds aren't enough!" Dean shouted.

"I'm working on it!" Sam shouted back. He hated to turn his back on Dean to head back to the Impala, but he had little choice. If the Nokken threw Dean as far as she did the first time, Dean would be in the water. Sam was sure he would lose Dean to her this time, if she managed to get him in the lake.

Sam ran back to the car, holding his ribs with his left arm to protect them from jostling. Reaching the car he climbed into the front seat, and hesitated. Dean was going to kill him. He gripped the rearview mirror in both hands, and pulled.

"Aaaaagh!" Sam yelled in both pain and frustration when nothing happened. He stopped pulling, and took a deep breath. He was deeply regretting the half dosages at this very moment. Sam could see the Nokken was almost on top of Dean now. In a burst of adrenaline, he pulled again on the review mirror.

Sam fell backwards against the seat with the mirror in his hands. He sat there panting for a few seconds, trying to regain his breath. He pushed himself out of the car, not even bothering to close the door behind him. When he saw the Nokken grab the front of Dean's shirt, he knew he was not going to make it in time.

Sam stopped, pulled out his weapon, and fired. He knew it was dangerous now that she was so close to Dean. The iron round could pass right through her, and hit Dean. He fell to his knees when the Nokken released her hold and dropped Dean. Digging quickly, he dug a hole in the sand, and shoved the mirror into the hole. He scooped the sand around it, leaving only a portion of the mirror uncovered.

By the time Sam managed to get back on his feet, the Nokken was almost to him. He saw Dean stand, and he knew Dean would again try to distract her to protect him. "Dean, it's okay!" Sam shouted over the wind.

"Right, great," Dean muttered. He rushed up the beach back towards the Nokken and his little brother. He did not want to risk Sam's life by shooting the water spirit. She was positioned directly between him and Sam. When he was only steps behind her, she started screeching.

The noise was deafening, and both Dean and Sam bent over, covering their ears with their hands. The Nokken continued to screech, her high-pitched wailing growing in intensity and volume. She no longer appeared corporeal, as her body twisted and swirled. The Nokken's features blended and melted together as she was pulled into the mirror.

The sudden cessation of the screeching left both Winchester brothers drawing great gulps of air in relief. Dean quickly crossed the distance between Sam and him. He grabbed Sam's upper arms, and looked him in the eyes. "You okay?" he asked.

"Yeah," Sam replied. "I am now." He started to kneel down when Dean stopped him.

"What are you doing?" Dean asked pulling Sam back to a standing position, and pushing him backwards towards the car.

"Getting the mirror," Sam replied. "I think the iron rounds will work…"

His response was silenced by the deafening shot from Dean's weapon. The mirror shattered into many, tiny pieces. Dean looked up, and turned towards Sam. Sam was standing with his mouth open still forming the word 'now'.

Dean smirked and remarked, "What's another seven years bad luck on top of the six hundred we already have?"

Sam simply shook his head, and turned to head back to the Impala. "Sam, where'd you find a mirror, anyway?" Dean asked. Sam did not reply. Sam wrapped his arm around his ribs, and kept walking towards the car. "Sam?" Dean called.

It was then, that Dean noticed the driver's side door was wide open. He stared incredulously at Sam's retreating form. There was no way Sam had done what Dean was thinking he had, was there? Picking up his pace, he easily caught up to Sam. Sam was already lowering himself into the passenger seat when Dean slapped his hand on the driver's side door, and leaned into the car. "You didn't, did you?" Dean asked accusingly. He was staring at the windshield where his rearview mirror had been.

"It worked," Sam replied. He winced as he pulled the door shut.

"Good thing for you," Dean said sliding behind the wheel. He had noticed Sam's wince of pain, and the way he was favoring his side. He put the facts together, and almost drew the right conclusion. "You haven't been taking the Percocet, have you?" he asked.

"Yes, I have," Sam protested. He did not look at Dean, but instead focused his attention on the lake sparkling in the light of the setting sun.

"At the right dosage?" Dean guessed again.

Sam turned to face Dean, and saw the knowing look in his face. "No," he admitted.

Dean shook his head and said, "The hunt's over."

"Yeah?" Sam asked puzzled at Dean's statement.

"Yeah, and you promised, so things are going to change as soon as we get back to the motel," Dean explained. He turned the key, and automatically glanced up to his non-existent rearview mirror to check behind him before pulling out of the parking spot. He grunted in disapproval, before turning to look behind him. He slowly pulled out of the parking spot, and out onto the highway.

Sam had not commented on Dean's declaration, and Dean glanced over at him. Sam was still holding his ribs, and breathing in shallow, controlled breaths. Dean knew Sam was hurting, and he pressed the gas pedal down further urging the Impala to over sixty miles per hour. The seven miles from the lake to the motel passed in less than ten minutes as Dean pulled to a stop outside their room.

Before Dean could walk around the Impala, Sam was already out of the car. Dean opted to unlock the motel room door instead of hovering over Sam. He had the door open in time for Sam to walk through. He followed closely behind Sam as he slowly made his way to the far bed.

Sam sat down heavily, and looked up at Dean. "I think I'm going to lie down," he said beating Dean to the punch.

"Sounds like a good idea," Dean agreed. He walked into the bathroom, and dumped two antibiotic pills into his hand. He reached into his coat pocket, and retrieved the bottle of Percocet. He poured two pain pills into his hand, and put the Percocet bottle on the back of the bathroom sink. He stopped to fill a disposable motel cup with water, and returned to Sam.

Sam was still sitting on the bed, but his head was drooping slightly, and he looked exhausted. Dean noticed Sam's jacket was thrown to the end of the bed, and his boots were off, so he had managed to do a little bit anyway. "You really should take these with food," Dean stated, holding out his hand with the pills. "I'll go get it after I check your incision."

"Don't bother on my account," Sam replied wearily. "I doubt I'll be awake long enough to eat. Besides, everything is closed, remember?"

"I know, that's why I bought a few essentials before we left," Dean replied. "It's not much, but it will at least help protect your stomach against those pills."

Sam swallowed the pills, and quickly drank the entire glass of water. When he looked up at Dean again, he noticed Dean was holding the first aid kit. He nodded his head in acceptance, and slowly eased himself into a supine position. Dean lifted Sam's t-shirt, and gently pulled the bandage off his skin. The adhesive pulled against the sensitive skin around the incision site, and Sam winced slightly.

"Sorry," Dean said softly under his breath. He pulled the swinging arm of the motel wall lamp closer to Sam and leaned in for a better look. The skin was red, but it did not look raw or infected. Satisfied the incision was healing properly Dean unwrapped a clean gauze pad, and taped it to Sam's chest. He pulled Sam's t-shirt down, and noticed Sam's eyes were closed. "Hey, kiddo, you need to eat first," Dean said.

"Hmmmm?" Sam responded without opening his eyes.

Dean did not attempt to rouse Sam further, but instead went back out to the Impala for the peanut butter crackers and the juice. He pulled the laptop out from the back seat as well, and headed back inside the room.

Sam was curled up on his uninjured side and lightly snoring through his congested sinuses. He hated to wake Sam up, but he really did need to eat a little before crashing for several hours. If the pills made Sam sick, the heaving would be painful. "Sam, wake up," Dean said, setting the crackers and juice on the side table. "Come on, I'll help you."

"I got it," Sam protested, but he made no move to sit up.

"Up and at 'em, Sammy," Dean insisted. He helped Sam sit up on the edge of the bed. Sam sat swaying slightly. His eyes were glassy and he did not make an effort to reach for the food. Dean put a cracker in Sam's hand, and unscrewed the lid on the juice bottle placing it in Sam's other hand.

Sam ate and drank mechanically until the cracker and the juice were both gone. He looked confused and unsure of what to do next, and Dean could not help but roll his eyes. He took the juice bottle from Sam, and helped him lie back down before he toppled over. Dean covered Sam with the blanket, and within seconds Sam was back asleep.

It was still early, so Dean decided to watch a little television before going to bed. Luck was with him, and he found an old movie he liked. Dean pushed his pillows up against the headboard, and sat down leaning back against the pillows, crossing his legs in front of him. He snacked on the remaining crackers, as he watched the movie.

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Dean did not remember falling asleep, but he woke with the remote stuck to his cheek, and the television was turned off. Apparently at some point, he had the sense of mind to turn it off. He stretched slowly, and looked over at Sam. Sam was still sleeping soundly, so he decided to grab a shower and pack the car.

An hour later, Dean was showered, the car was packed, his stomach was rumbling, and Sam was still asleep. Torn between whether to wake Sam or let him sleep, the decision was made for him when Sam opened his eyes.

Sam's tired hazel eyes locked onto Dean. "What time is it?" he croaked.

"It's about ten o'clock," Dean replied.

Sam slowly sat up, and stopped to rest on the edge of the bed for a moment. He started to stand when Dean said, "I need to tell you about the hunter that was here last year."

Sam looked up at him with quizzical eyes. "What, Dean?" he asked.

"It was Dad," Dean said. "I'm pretty sure it was anyway. The truck Don described sounded like Dad's truck."

Sam nodded, he was not surprised. "We finished his hunt," Sam replied, in an attempt to reassure Dean. "That's the important thing."

Dean gave Sam a sad smile. "Yeah, it is," he replied. Dean patted Sam on the shoulder. "Do you need any help, or are you good to go?"

"I'm good, and, I'll take my pills," Sam replied effectively cutting off any orders from Dean.

"I'll go check us out," Dean said watching Sam struggle to his feet. "I'll see you in a few."

"K," Sam replied walking towards the bathroom.

Dean walked out of the room, as Sam started the shower. He walked to the motel office, and found Becky reading a book. She looked up when he entered. "So, are you boys checking out today, then?" she asked.

"Yeah," Dean replied. "Thanks."

"You bet," Becky replied closing her book. "I'm a little sad to see you go. We don't get very many visitors this time of year. It gets a little boring." She handed Dean a receipt for the week, and said, "You take it easy."

"I'll take it any way I can get it," Dean said with his trademark smile, and was rewarded with a deep red blush from Becky.

"Uh, just leave the key in the room," Becky managed to stammer.

"No problem," Dean replied. He walked out the door, the small bell signaling his departure. When Dean returned to the motel room, the water was no longer running, so Dean knew Sam was out of the shower. He checked the room for any forgotten items, but he did not find any. Sam emerged moments later, his wet hair sticking out in all directions, and his t-shirt sticking to his still damp skin.

"Hey," Sam said acknowledging Dean with a nod. He sat down on his bed, and reached down for his boots, tossing his dirty clothes and the pill bottles onto the foot of the bed.

"Hey," Dean replied. He watched as Sam pulled on his boots with agonizing slowness, and stood up.

"What are we waiting for?" Sam asked. "I'm starved."

"Let's go," Dean replied jutting his chin towards the door. He grabbed Sam's clothes and prescriptions and followed Sam out the door.

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Breakfast at the truck stop was leisurely. The brothers talked while Sam poked around the Internet looking for their next case. Nothing promising reared its head, so Dean packed up the laptop and left to fill the car with gas. Sam browsed the truck stop, and found a rack full of old cassettes. The title of one song on a particular cassette caught his eye, and a mischievous grin cracked his face. It would definitely be worth the three dollars and ninety-nine cents.

After paying for the cassette, Sam met Dean on his way back inside. "I'm going to pay for the gas and we can go," Dean stated.

"Sounds good," Sam replied. He found the Impala easily, and sat down in the passenger seat. Glancing around for any sign of Dean, Sam unwrapped the cassette and opened the case. He threw the cassette into the glove compartment, and pocketed the cassette case shortly before Dean returned to the car.

Dean started the car, and eased the Impala out onto the highway. They traveled along in silence for several minutes before Dean decided he needed some music. He leaned over, and pulled a tape out of the jockey box. Not bothering to check the title, he popped it into the tape player. As the white-noise static of the tape advancing filled the speakers, Dean turned up the volume in anticipation. Moments later, the dulcet tones of Terri Gibb filled the air.

"Sam, what the hell?" Dean asked, quickly ejecting the tape, and turning off the radio.

Sam's light chuckle filled the car's interior. "What's the matter?" he asked.

"Why?" Dean asked his face frozen in mock horror.

"Isn't it obvious?" Sam asked tossing Dean's words back at him. "I'm the little brother."

Dean slapped Sam lightly on the shoulder. "A little brother who gets to sleep on the taco bed next time," he shot back. Sam chuckled again, and the brothers continued on in silence.

Fin

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Hey all, thanks so much for reading!

Don't under estimate your ability to convert your friends to SPN. Of the four friends I've pulled to Supernatural, I snagged one from Grey's Anatomy. It can be done! (c:

In the meantime, (this time copied from Tidia's most recent fic, "Dream On"):

Don't forget about the Postcard Challenge. Tell Dawn and Eric they have fans all over the world! I was given a better address for Dawn.

Dawn Ostroff
President of Entertainment, The CW Television Network
4000 Warner Boulevard, Bldg 168
Burbank, CA 91522-0002

And Kripke's addy:
(remember US residents will need an airmail stamp or two 39 cents stamps)

Supernatural Films Inc
8085 Glenwood Dr.
Burnaby BC
V3N 5C8
Canada