The shower washed away the dirt and grime and blood, but it didn't wash away the cuts and bruises, or – Dean grimaced as he soaped up the back of his neck – the mosquito bites.

He was glad Sam had gotten cleaned up at the hospital. All the motel room's hot water was now Dean's for the taking, and he took it. His body ached all over. There were livid bruises all across his shoulders he couldn't account for, and a nasty purple shiner he attributed to Lisa's baseball bat. The blow had also split open a cut across his right brow. Both knees were scraped raw and he couldn't tell if that was from his fall going up the path, or from the manhandling Lisa and Missy had given him while he was unconscious. The chains had left bruises around both wrists and ankles.

In a nutshell, he looked and felt like shit.

The shower helped tremendously. He stood under the spray for a long time, relishing the warmth. He vaguely remembered the sensation of cold that had swept over him during the possession. It had lingered even after the fact. He'd sat in the hospital waiting room while the doctors poured over Sam, shivering despite his heavy coat and two shirts, and wondering if it weren't actually shock.

He didn't remember much after the demon took over. Only once had he managed to fight his way back up, only to be struck by an agonizing pain that sent him tumbling down into darkness again. One thing he was sure of was that the demon had possessed him and it was now gone. Why it let him go, was going to remain a mystery. That was frustrating. Dean hated loose ends.

Dean concluded his sabbatical with the shower at the first hint of the water growing colder. Wrapping a towel around his middle, he exited the bathroom rubbing his hair with another towel, and lowered said towel just in time to see Sam closing the door behind him. Apparently they'd had a visitor while Dean was cleaning up.

"You look like shit, Dean," Sam said bluntly, almost absently.

"Mr. Obvious strikes again," Dean grunted. He finished with his hair and threw the towel around his neck as he rummaged through his bag for sweats and a t-shirt. Sleep beckoned. He couldn't suppress a yawn. "Who was that?"

"Sheriff Dunbar. Missy is dead."

Dean started. "What?"

After she'd healed Sam, Missy had collapsed. Weak, but definitely alive, she'd been hospitalized along with Sam so that doctors could make sure they were both going to be all right. Sam was a little rough around the edges to be sure, but he would be fine once he got some rest. Dean had assumed Missy would likewise recover.

Sam sat down on the end of one of the beds. If Dean looked like shit, Sam looked like shit warmed over. He was still very pale. "She made a full confession. Dunbar put her under arrest, posted a guard outside her room. When they went back to release her into his custody later..."


Lowering his gaze to the floor, Sam tried to hid the tears in his eyes. "She, uhm...hung herself, Dean." He shook his head slowly. "There was this steel shelf...for the television. She took a sheet and...hung herself."

"Christ." Dean pulled on his clothes, brow creased. "Why? I mean...

"She killed herself," Sam repeated softly. "Just like Max."

Dean felt a chill run up his spine. He tossed his wet towels onto the credenza and sat down on his own bed. "Don't, Sam," he said firmly. "Don't even go there. Missy wasn't like Max, and you aren't like them."

"But my abilities are like theirs." Sam looked at him pleadingly. "I don't want to be anybody's pawn, Dean. I don't want to go crazy. I don't want to do bad things."

"You're incapable of doing bad things," Dean replied, and attempted a smile. "You're already crazy, and the only person going to use you as a pawn is me, because I'm your big brother and that's what little brothers are for."

"I'm serious."

"So am I. These mosquito bites are driving me bat-shit crazy. You have to go get me some Benadryl, Calamine, something..." To prove his point he scratched the back of his neck. "I'm dyin' here, Sammy."

Sam glared at him, exasperated. "I can't talk to you."

"Sam," Dean sighed. "I promise, I'm not going to let anything happen to you. So just...stop worrying about it, okay? Please."

Because you're scaring me.

There was no reply, and Dean knew Sam wouldn't stop worrying about it. He'd just stop worrying about it out loud. For now though, that was all Dean could ask of him.

Sam pulled the Impala's keys from his pocket. He toyed with them a moment before he stood up. "Dean, there's something else."


"In the hospital, before they released me, I talked to Missy. I asked her what happened. The ritual was successful. You were possessed, Dean, and it let you go. I asked Missy why, and she said she didn't know, but that it was arguing, with another demon, just before she lost consciousness."

Dean frowned. "Another demon?"

Sam nodded. "Dean," he whispered. "I think it might have been the one that killed Mom. I think Kokabiel was forced to let you go."

A shudder ran through Dean's body. The very idea of possession made him queasy in the first place. If he could have opened up his head and washed out his mind in the shower he would have done it. He felt unclean already, but to know that the demon had been there and it had saved him...

"How do you know?"

"I just...have a feeling is all." If it were possible, Sam looked even more miserable. His voice was plaintive. "What does it want with us, Dean? What does all this mean?"

"I don't know," he replied softly, echoing the words he'd said to Lisa. "I wish I did, Sammy."

With a heavy sigh, Sam turned toward the door. "I'll be back. You need anything else?"

"No. Thanks."

Sam nodded, and left the room.

When he was gone, Dean waited a until he heard the Impala's engine roar into life and the sound of the car pulling away from the curb. Thus assured Sam was truly gone, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and pressed speed-dial.

Voice mail. No surprise. It took him a second before he could get it together enough to start talking.

"Dad," he stopped and cleared his throat. "We're in Arkansas. We might have had a run-in with the thing that killed Mom. I think it's heading West again. Watch your back."

Dean hung up. He'd felt the need to say something more, but didn't know how to say it. For all that he was afraid for Sam, there had been times here recently when he'd felt afraid of Sam. The power he'd felt unleashed this night had been terrifying, and to know it had come from his little brother...

"Nothing is going to happen to Sammy," he reassured himself softly. "I swear."

As always, he slipped a hand beneath his pillow as he lay down, to make sure the gun was still there. The cold steel was even more reassuring. Nothing - no demon, no witch - was going to get his brother and warp him like it had warped Lisa Holland.

Not as long as Dean lived.