A/N Massive thanks for the last time to katriel1987, formerly known as katerina17, for being my beta, she's done an absolutely amazing job and turned this into something you might actually like to read. Any mistakes are my own.

DISCLAIMER TYPE THINGY: Eric Kripke owns Supernatural, Dean, Sam and Bobby. Please don't sue me.

Chapter 8

"Wake up."

The voice pulled Dean reluctantly from the darkness of sleep. Dean wasn't sure if he was dreaming. It was dark and warm, and there was a comforting, familiar mechanical drone that was almost hypnotic.

"Dean, wake up."

A feeling of déjà vu overtook Dean. Oh man, is this ever gonna end! He thought as his eyes snapped open and he came instantly alert.

"Dean. Come on, man, you're drooling," said Sam, a grin playing across his lips. The grin broadened when he saw his brother's eyes open to look at him. Sam breathed an inward sigh of relief. He'd been trying to coax Dean back to consciousness for the past fifteen minutes.

"Goddamn it, Sam," growled Dean, scowling at his brother. Without thinking, he wiped his hand across his chin. "Can't a man just rest his eyes?"

"Nice to see you too," Sam responded, his eyes fixed on the road ahead as he drove the Impala at a steady pace. Actually, at that moment Dean wasn't very nice to look at; the pale green illumination from the dashboard probably didn't help. Dried blood and plaster covered Dean's face, and two beautiful bruises were in full bloom over his temple and chin. Sam caught a glimpse of himself in the rearview mirror; he didn't look much better if he was honest with himself. Minus the dried blood, he too was covered in plaster. Sam couldn't tell whether the paleness of his skin was due to the plaster, or the shock of almost loosing his brother. Plus he had taken a nasty crack to the ribs as he had fallen through the floor.

Dean groaned as he hitched himself around in his seat to sit upright. He had awakened in a slumped position facing his brother, and his neck had stiffened uncomfortably. His other aches and pains woke up to remind him they also needed his attention, but they were by no means as intense as earlier. His head still hurt, but a couple of painkillers and some rest would sort out all his physical problems.

Sam shot a furtive look at his brother as he heard him groan. Sam knew how much Dean hated it when he did that, but he did it anyway. Dean, seemingly preoccupied with the view out of the side window, didn't respond.

Sam gave a deliberate cough and let his eyes slide in his brother's direction, this time with a more obvious move of his head.

Still there was no response.

It was almost dawn, and Dean stared out the passenger window, watching the small patches of light thrown by the headlights on the edge of the road. He tried hard not to think about the night's events, the things that had been said. Unconsciously, he moved his right hand to his mouth and began to bite his fingernails.

Sam saw the small movement from the corner of his eye. Oh man, he thought miserably. I did that, I'm responsible. Sam unconsciously took his right hand from the steering wheel to rub it over his face. The last time had Dean bit his nails had followed an unpleasant conversation they'd had in a field just outside Medford, Wisconsin, where they'd taken down a Rakshasa.

A conversation where Sam had pushed Dean too far, said too much, like tonight. And now Dean had retreated into himself.

C'mon, Dean, talk to me. I need to let you know that I didn't mean all that stuff. I was scared for you.

Sam cleared his throat. "Dean, I..."

When you didn't move, Dean, I thought you were dead.

"Thanks for getting me out of there," Dean interrupted, his voice faltering slightly as he spoke, but he still gazed resolutely outside instead of looking at Sam.

I can't deal with this now, Sam, please.

"I just smashed a window and pulled you out, it's no biggie," said Sam matter-of-factly, and glanced over at his brother. "You know that was Dunhill's body you were trying to move?"

I know you thought it was me, Dean. I heard you call my name, and I had to pry your fingers from Dunhill's wrist before I could move you.

Dean gave a non-committal grunt. He couldn't trust his voice not to crack if he told Sam he'd thought it was him under the rubble.

I thought it was over, Sam. I thought you were dead.

Dean turned his face forward to look out of the windshield. He shoot a look at Sam to remind himself what he looked like. It wasn't that Dean had forgotten how his brother looked; he was looking to make sure Sam was still there, still safe.

Sam felt his brother's gaze, and for a fleeting moment managed to lock eyes with him before Dean broke contact.

"Where we going?" asked Dean as soon as he knew his voice was stable.

"We'll stay with Bobby for a few days while you get back on your feet," replied Sam, relieved to be conversing at some level with his brother.

"What did Bobby say?"

"Well, the old guy's name was Joshua Stevens. The information is a bit sketchy about his history, but his wife and child went missing fifty-odd years ago. Other than that, it was the usual stuff: Ghouls possess the living, eat the dead, yada, yada, yada. Bobby still hasn't been able to find out how it got trapped in that house." Sam paused and glanced again at his brother, who had a perplexed expression on his face.

Thinking Dean was confused, Sam continued. "The thing that possessed Stevens must have been slaughtering people for food for years, used all sorts of tricks to get its victims into that house. Dunhill was a PI, so he was probably hired and fed some tall tale, but he was just a victim, like the others," Sam said with a snort. Dean still hadn't responded.

"What's up, Dean?" asked Sam, keeping his voice neutral. He wasn't sure whether Dean was sick or being a pain in the ass.

"Nothing," responded Dean hesitantly. "When I asked what Bobby said, I meant about me screwing everything up tonight?"

Sam bit his bottom lip. He'd said some harsh things to Dean earlier, things he now regretted saying. It nevertheless surprised him that Dean thought he would have told Bobby.

"Hey, we don't answer to Bobby, right?" Sam shot Dean a lopsided grin, then quickly changed the subject by asking, "So, what was Dunhill asking you?"

"He wanted to know where Laura Stevens was." Dean sat back in his seat. His relief that Sam had not told Bobby was almost tangible. "I think the demon told Dunhill that I'd kidnapped her."

"Laura? That was the name of Stevens' daughter," stated Sam, glancing at Dean, who still looked mildly puzzled.

"So what're you thinking?" asked Dean. "'Cause that demon seemed to be getting a woody when Dunhill was torturing me for information."

"Dunno for sure, but maybe it thought it could use you to find Laura somehow."

"So, what? You think Laura's still there, in the house? Stopping the demon from getting out?" asked Dean, intently watching Sam's profile.

"Well, if she was, I ruined that when I did the unbinding incantation," said Sam. He paused for a few moments. He couldn't stop the jumble of thoughts that sprang into his head: that he had been responsible for Dean's torture, that he had released the demon and now it was free.

Dean saw the frown appear on Sam's forehead and knew he was in turmoil. "Hey, Sam," he said gruffly, and waited until Sam glanced in his direction. "You did what you had to do, buddy. We'll hunt down the freak, if it's the last thing we do."

Sam's heart gave an unpleasant twinge at Dean's words. Damn it, thought Sam. Damn you. Sam's eyes smarted the instant the thought flitted across his mind. This is tearing me apart, Dean. You're going to leave me, and I can't go on, not without you. Unable to speak, he nodded in agreement with Dean's statement.

Both brothers stared ahead, and the silence bore down heavily on both of them.

"So, when the demon trapped you in the room...it didn't hurt you?" asked Dean, turning to look directly at Sam.

Sam took a deep breath. "No, not really, it got its rocks off by scaring me."

"You're not telling me it just wanted to scare you, because I don't believe you," he said, his eyes wide as if he was trying to peer into Sam's soul.

Sam glanced over to meet Dean's penetrating stare and knew it was no use trying to cover up how close he'd come to losing his life. He hesitated, knowing the potential damage his answer would cause Dean.

"No, not just scared. It was going to kill me, Dean," said Sam, then quickly added, "And would have if you hadn't been pounding on the door."

There was an uncomfortable silence where neither of the brothers spoke.

Dean turned away. Sam hadn't said that to him in the bedroom, when he would have been justified in doing so. Dean's breath caught in his throat and he turned his head to gaze out the passenger window at the countryside rolling past, lit by pink streaks of pre-dawn light. He regretted that he had failed to save Dunhill, but failing Sam hurt worst of all. Dean knew Sam had been right when they had argued back at the house. He also knew that a line had to be drawn. So, he wouldn't discuss it with Sam againfor Sam's sake and his own. If that made him a selfish bastard, then so be it.

-x-

"GODDAMN IT," shouted Dean, breaking the silence as he shot forward in his seat. Sam stood on the brakes, and with tires smoking, the car fishtailed to a stop in the middle of the road.

"What?" shouted Sam almost as loudly, his hand on the door handle, ready to leap out the car. Panic covered his features as he gaped at his brother, who had sat forward in his seat and was now frantically struggling to pull off his leather jacket, grunting in pain at his vigorous movements.

"For God's sake, Dean, what's wrong?" Sam let go of the door handle and attempted to grab hold of his brother, who seemed to be having some kind of fit.

"What do you think you're doing?" Asked Dean, instantly stopping his struggle to give Sam his 'you called it what' look.

"I wanna hold your hand, Dean," Sam said sarcastically. "Man, I thought you were having a fit or something! What's with the Houdini stuff?"

"Dude, he shot me!" exclaimed Dean, with a look of anxiousness covering his battered face.

"Yeah, you said it was just a scratch," said Sam, his heartbeat thumping almost painfully in his chest. Not again, thought Sam desperately. What have I missed?

"It's my jacket!" exclaimed Dean as he again struggled to get out of it.

"Yes...it's your jacket," said Sam, trying to humor his brother, because clearly the bash on the head had scrambled Dean's brain cells.

Dean finally managed to shrug the jacket off his shoulders, and peeling it off, he held it up against the lightening sky, feverishly turning it in his hands, looking at it from all angles.

"It's yours, Dean," Sam said soothingly, trying to calm Dean down.

"TWICE!" Dean shouted, a look of horror spreading across his face as he stared at the jacket.

"Dean, you're scaring me."

"Oh crap, look!" Outraged, Dean held up his jacket to show Sam two small holes in its side along the seam.

"Man, you scared the s…"

"And my favorite t-shirt!" Dean interrupted Sam, showing him the rips across the front and the side. Dean pulled the t-shirt away from the wounds on his side, grimacing as it stuck slightly.

"Do you think they'll scar?" asked Dean, showing Sam the gashes along his side.

"Yeah," said Sam, rolling his eyes heavenward.

"Great. Chicks dig scars," Dean said, a satisfied grin spreading across his face. "You hungry?"

-x-

Epilogue

Dr Walter Stafford's eyes were red-rimmed and sore. He glanced up from the box of bones for the umpteenth time that evening to sweep the room. Walter bit his bottom lip and returned to his report, focusing his mind on completing the assessment. He was unusually keen to leave.

Tonight, Walter took the bone and tooth samples himself. When he'd finished, he put the child's bones back in the small box and placed it gently in the storage area. He put the samples he had just taken in the evelopes for their respective departments, and spent a few minutes tidying up the room, getting it ready for the next day.

Putting on his overcoat, Walter realized he was, as usual, the last to leave. He stopped at the examination room door and paused before clicking off the lights. A shiver ran down his neck and back, and he turned to double-check the room. Everything was as it should be, but lately he just couldn't seem to shake the feeling that he was being watched. Maybe I need a break, thought Walter. With a sigh and a flick of his finger, he extinguished the lights and gently closed the door behind him.

The End

So, thats it. My first attempt at Fanfic. I hope I didn't disappoint too many of you with the ending. I've picked up a lot of hints and tips on the way so hopefully the next one will be better. And will, for sure contain much more whumpage. I liked writing those bits for some reason!!

I quite liked the freaky demon too, and, it did seem to take a special shine to Sam. So maybe... Wendy xx