Dean had gone back to Ashley's apartment with her so she could shower and change for the evening

Title: Writhe

Part Four

Disclaimer: They are mine in my fantasies, and I get pleasure from them, but no money.

Welcome to the world thru my eyes.

AN: Sorry, Gaelic. I forgot to post.

Dean had gone back to Ashley's apartment with her so she could shower and change for the evening. He sat in the same overstuffed chair he had that morning and listened to the shower running.

She had returned in a surprisingly short time, trying to fasten a necklace. The deep blue halter dress she wore was made of some silky, clinging fabric that caressed every part of her when she moved and left Dean breathlessly in doubt as to whether she had anything on underneath it. It was devoid of decoration, accented only by her silver earrings and bracelets. Her sneakers had been replaced with high heels and her hair was tumbling around her shoulders in soft waves.

Dean stood without thought when she entered this time, staring at her.

She paused and smiled at him. "Well, aren't you the gentleman." Her words were amused, but her tone did not imply she thought it was funny. "Can you help me fasten this?" she added, holding out the chain.

"Sure," Dean said, as she stood in front of him, facing away, drawing her hair into a soft bundle to get it out of the way. He took the delicate chain and carefully put it around her neck, his large fingers fumbling with the clasp. The scent of roses wafted over him. He swallowed and finally got the necklace fastened. "There," he forced out, helping her resettle her hair, enjoying the silky touch against the roughness of his fingertips.

She turned, eyes wide, looking up at him. "Thank you," she said, reaching out and straightened his collar.

Dean closed his eyes briefly, wetting his lips. "You look beautiful," he finally murmured.

Ashley gave a tiny, surprised smile. "Thank you," she said again, more softly. She tilted her head to the side. "For you to say that to me means a lot."

A small line appeared between Dean's eyebrows. "What? I meant it. You are beautiful." He found his constant confusion around her incredibly…confusing.

Ashley placed a hand against Dean's face. The touch of her fingers against his cheek was soft and warm. "I know you mean it. Something tells me those kinds of words are hard for you to say when you really mean them. When it's more than just a means to an end." She raised herself slightly and touched her lips gently to his. "And I thank you for them."

Dean floundered mentally, the brush of her lips like an electrical shock, not sure, for one of the very few times in his life, what to say. He reached up to rub his forehead. "Do you want to go? To dinner I mean? If you're hungry." Good grief…he had been smoother when he was fourteen.

She studied him for a long moment — to the point of discomfort for Dean.

She smiled again, turned away and scooped her bag off the table. "Where do you want to go?"

Sam straightened stiffly, stretching his arms out, yawning, giving up trying to focus on his notes.

After staring at the computer for hours and gorging on pizza, he was having trouble staying awake.

He finally heaved to his feet and shuffled into the bathroom to splash some water on his face and try to wake up. He still had some time to kill before he had to meet Dean at the club. Grabbing a towel he dried his face, slinging the towel over his shoulder as he moved back into the main room. Sinking back into his chair, he reached out and called up the website for the club, keying in the password for the webcam. He could scan some of the videos until it was time to go. He maximized the window on the player and sat back, idly surveying the items he had assembled on the table based on what his research had told him.

The iron stiletto he had found in the bottom of the trunk buried under a box of books and a collection of assorted hand weapons. He remembered having it, but was surprised to actually find it. It had been blessed countless times but Sam had carefully and generously re-blessed it with fresh holy water and wound the black rosary from their stash around the grip, kissing the cross before tying it in place. The leather-bound book of rituals lay open to the needed page, a few notes scribbled here and there in the margins.

Next to these was an ashtray filled with the burned remains of ever-present salt, along with several small bottles of herbs and oils and including, as Sam's bandaged finger attested, ten drops of human blood. He reached out for the stiletto and dipped his fingers into the greasy ash, carefully wiping down every inch of the blade, rubbing in the ash and taking up more, murmuring soft words as he did so, binding the blade with their power.

Blood rituals were serious. Taking out this ancient evil would be tricky and dangerous and the one item that was apparently required to seal its effectiveness was the one thing that would be the most difficult to find and control. Only a blessed blade of iron, properly anointed and wielded in an act of love could destroy the creature.

They had the blade, so all they had to do was figure out who the next victim was going to be and convince him to knife the woman he was making love to before she turned into a giant snake and killed him first.

No problem, Sam thought. Yeah, he'd take care of it right after he sprouted wings and flew off the roof. He shook his head disgustedly and went back to anointing the blade, better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. They'd work out the fine details as they went, just like always.

His eyes drifted to the computer screen to watch revelers from past evenings at the Inside Club as his fingers continued to work the blade.

Dean toyed with the steak he had ordered. He had been starving when he ordered it, but after a few bites had lost interest. He hoped he wasn't getting sick again. He had a feeling it had more to do with the intimate classiness of the restaurant Ashley had taken them to. It was all small tables, white tablecloths, candles, soft music and a wine list thicker than his Dad's journal. Dean was well out of his element and knew it.

Ashley, on the other hand, didn't seem to notice Dean's awkwardness with the atmosphere and the surroundings. She was so casually confident about it all, he tried his best to relax and enjoy her company. Two and a half glasses of wine had done nothing to lessen the tension he was feeling.

"Is your steak all right?" Ashley asked, watching Dean pushing the food around his plate. Their conversation had become a little stilted after they were seated, and she had realized how uncomfortable he actually was in the rather elegant surroundings.

She found the fact that he was obviously self conscious to have a certain charm. He seemed younger, more innocent. The rakish bravado he had displayed earlier had vanished, replaced by an endearing uncertainty about his behavior and words.

His eyes flicked upwards at her question, and he nodded. "It's great. Really." He looked down again. "I guess I'm not as hungry as I thought." He Picked up his glass and downed the remainder of the wine in it, warmth spreading through him as it hit his stomach. It was a little too sweet for his taste and surprisingly strong. He rarely drank wine. It had a tendency to sneak up on him before he realized he'd had too much and always left him with a killer hangover.

"Are you okay? You seem a little…uncomfortable." She took a bite of her chicken and chewed delicately, her tongue drifting over her lips to collect stray drops of the reddish sauce.

Dean watched her mouth as she chewed, finally tearing his eyes away and rolling the stem of the goblet back and forth between his fingers. He gave a small laugh. "I guess I'm just a little nervous," he confessed.

Ashley laughed in return. "Am I that scary?"

He shook his head. "No. No. Not at all." He laughed again. "It's just…" He swallowed and rubbed his hand across the lower half of his face, glancing around for inspiration. His other hand flopped as he tried to find the right words, the trouble being that the wrong words came so easily to him. "I go out with a lot of girls-" He bit that off the instant he said it. Don't tell her that! "I mean, this is the first time I've been on an actual date date since I can't even remember. When I wanted it to be more than-" he closed his eyes and covered them with his hand. "God, I don't know what I'm saying…" He hadn't thought it was possible to feel more stupid than he already did.

Wrong again.

Ashley rested her warm hand on his cold one, feeling the muscles tighten as he almost drew away. She kept it there, looking at him until he met her gaze, and she knew he was really seeing her. "I like you, too, Dean. Don't be afraid of me, I don't expect anything more than what the evening gives us."

Dean sighed. "Can I ask you a question?"


He shifted uncomfortably, then just spit it out. "Did we have sex the other night?"

Sam finished wrapping the stiletto in a clean cloth and slipped it carefully into his jacket pocket, more to know where it was than anything. He had laid out some clothes and after a futile search through both his and Dean's bags for his dress belt with the silver buckle, he had given up and used his regular belt, worn as it was.

Sitting down in the chair by the laptop to pull on his shoes and socks, he idly watched the screen as the club webcam swept over the shifting crowd. He stopped as a sudden close up brought him face to face with Matt Lewis. He hit the stop button and ran it back, checking the date stamp. It corresponded with the evening Matt had died.

"I can't believe this," he whispered when the camera caught a woman with dark red hair from behind as she slipped between Matt and the girl he had been dancing with, a small object dangling from her fingers. Sam watched breathlessly as the scene played out before him, cursing when the camera moved on. "Go back!" he barked at it.

The camera failed to listen, and for several nerve-wracking minutes Sam stared at the screen as it panned back and forth over the crowd. The song in the background came to an end and the lens resettled itself in its former position just as Matt swung his partner around, his lips inches from hers as the camera pulled in for a close up.

Sam's eyes widened and a look of horror swept over his face. "Oh my God…" He frantically finished jerking on his shoes and grabbed up the motel phone to call a cab.

It was just past 10 p.m. when Dean and Ashley arrived at the club, and there was a crowd milling around outside already.

"Wow," Dean said as he surveyed the gathering, relieved to see his choice of attire would pass muster. Casually trendy for the men and anything went for the women. "This must be quite a place." He pulled out his wallet and fished for the gold card he had been given earlier.

"How did you get a VIP card? I thought you'd never been here." Ashley whispered as they walked through the door.

"Low friends in high places," he replied. "Have you ever been here?" He took in the glass floor, light show, already crowded dance floor and music that was so not his type, although he did like the heavy bass vibrating in the air.

Ashley shrugged. "Once or twice, as someone's guest. I don't have a card."

They moved down a shallow set of steps and Dean guided her over to a table away from the floor. Once they were seated a waitress came over immediately and took their drink order. A beer for Dean and a glass of Riesling for Ashley.

"This doesn't strike me as your kind of place either." Ashley raised her voice to be heard over the throbbing music.

Dean was searching the crowd for Sam but he obviously wasn't there yet. "Well, you're right there. I like bars with pool tables, frankly. But like I said, Sam wanted to check it out." He glanced at her. "If you don't like it we can leave, but I need to wait for Sam."

Ashley shook her head. "No, I think this place is great. So full of life, and honestly, I love the music they play."

Dean made a face. "Really?" He lifted his eyebrows. "No accounting for taste, I guess." He eyed his watch, hoping Sam showed up soon. He'd give him another fifteen minutes and then call him in case he'd fallen asleep over the computer again. He felt a little guilty that Sam had been doing the bulk of the work between Dean's illness and Dean's interests.

Their drinks came and Dean gratefully gulped some beer. Ashley sipped her wine, watching the dancers. Dean found the constant and frequently subtle changes in the lighting to be distracting, but he also began concentrating on the dancers, feeling himself getting caught up in the sway and roll of the packed bodies.

He jumped when he felt Ashley's hand cup over his and her lips brushed his ear, sending a tingle down his right side.

"Will you dance with me?" she asked, sending a jolt of horror through Dean.

Sam bounced impatiently in the backseat of the cab, dialing and redialing his phone, desperately trying to get Dean to pick up. He finally admitted to himself that in all probability, unless Dean had the phone on vibrate, if they were already at the club, he couldn't hear it ringing.

"Can you hurry it up, please?" Sam requested anxiously.

The driver eyed him in the rearview mirror. "A couple more minutes, buddy. Chill."

Sam rolled his eyes and forced himself to sit back. Nervously tapping his fingers on his leg.

"Dance?" Dean choked.

Ask me to take on a full grown werewolf barehanded, but please, God, don't ask me to dance…

Ashley grinned and shifted her body in a way that sent more jolts through Dean. "Yeah. Dance. I'll bet you're a great dancer. You move so gracefully. C'mon." She moved her head in the direction of the dance floor and tugged his hand.

Dean's eyes roved over the undulating crowd with something akin to panic racing his pulse. "I don't know how…like that…" he floundered verbally, feeling his I.Q. dropping by tens.

The song changed and Ashley became even more insistent. "Please, I love this song. You'll enjoy it. No one pays any attention to anyone else. Pleeease?"

Dean very reluctantly allowed himself to be drawn to his feet and onto the floor. He normally didn't give a damn what people thought about him, but accidentally making a fool of himself and doing it deliberately were two different things. He tried to pull back at the last second but Ashley hauled him into the crowd with surprising determination.

Sam threw some bills at the driver and leaped from the cab, bounding up the steps to the bouncer at the door. The tallest bouncer stopped Sam with a hand to his chest.

"I'm sorry, sir. This is members only-" polite but insistent.

Sam jerked the magic gold card out of his pocket and flashed it. "I am a member, I'm meeting my brother here!"

The bouncer backed off instantly and opened the door for Sam. "Have a pleasant evening, sir. Sorry for the misunderstanding."

"Thanks," Sam spat, stuffing the card back in his pocket and moving into the foyer. He could see the strobing lights and feel the music from the dance floor and started scanning the crowd for Dean's face. He had to traverse most of the surrounding area and peer into the shadowed tables at the fringe but had no luck spotting Dean. He HAD to be here.

Dean felt himself breaking out in a sweat as he tried to take Ashley in his arms. She shook her head and patiently placed his hands on her hips, pushing herself close to him. She put her hands on his upper arms. Dean couldn't help it and flinched away when she rolled her pelvis against him. She hauled him back.

"It's okay," she encouraged. "Listen to the music. Feel it. Let it become part of you."

Dean eyed the other dancers, watching the smoothness of their movement, the way their bodies answered the rhythms playing over them. This was not his kind of music, but there was a primal feel to it and, added to the heat of Ashley pressing against him, using her body and hands to urge him to move this way and that, it wasn't really that hard to get the feel of it. She was right. No one paid them the slightest attention and a few of the couples he saw looked as though they should be in a hotel room rather than on a dance floor.

Wanting to please her, he began to move with her, against her, searching out the slower beats of the song. He did have a natural grace and years of martial arts training had given him a fine sense of timing.

As the music progressed he felt himself anticipating the next move, the next throb of bass, and gradually he started controlling the movement of her body with his. Pulling her closer, bodies melted together from shoulder to crotch, hips rolling in a slow, grinding figure eight. His muscular body took them lower to the ground and lifted them up again. Leg sliding between hers, he braced her as he bent her backwards, lips tracing down the flesh from her throat to where the deep plunge of her neckline ended. Every breath he drew flooded his senses with the scent of roses.

It may not have been exactly what everyone else was doing, but Ashley wasn't complaining.

Her eyes never left his as she allowed him to shift her as he willed, her body his to command. She could feel the swell and contraction of the muscles in his arms and legs as he moved them about the floor, the pound of his heart as he held her against him, her own heart responding.

The song ended. Another began, the sound of it beating in time with Dean's pulse. One of his hands dug into the small of her back, the other cupped the back of her head, crushing her mouth to his in a blast furnace combination of lips, tongues and teeth. He couldn't block the moan that boiled from his chest or the shudder of his body as sensation after sensation ripped through him at the feel of her lips on his.

Frustrated, Sam turned and stared over the group of dancers. All the effect lighting made it difficult to see anything clearly, but a dark clad figure on the floor caught his eye, and he moved closer, mouth open, staring.

It was Dean, beyond a shadow of a doubt. But…he was dancing. With other people. On a dance floor.

To the best of Sam's knowledge, Dean had a rudimentary grasp of the waltz but that was it.

Sam continued to gape as he watched Dean dancing with Ashley as though he had been doing it all his life. Their bodies synchronized and moving in the same sinuous, graceful steps as everyone else on the floor. Their rhythm took on a familiar look, but was executed in such a slow, languid manner, Sam felt heat on his cheeks as he watched. If this was how Dean moved on a dance floor…

Sam brought himself back to reality with a jerk. This was not why he was here.

Ashley and Dean pulled apart when the need for air became too much, Dean breathing heavily and Ashley panting in small gasps. Dean kept one hand tangled in her hair, his gaze burning with its intensity.

Ashley's eyes darted over Dean's face. She almost looked frightened.

"Let's get outta here…" he growled, pulling her closer but not quite kissing her. A quick dip of his head in her direction.

She moved her head in a short nod and followed him as he left the floor, their hands locked together.

Sam pushed his way over to Dean as he swept through the crowd. It was almost as though Dean didn't see him.

"Dean!" Sam exclaimed, grabbing Dean's arm. Dean whirled, jerking Ashley behind him.

Sam took an uncertain step backward. "Dean…I've been trying to call you. We need to talk." He glanced over Dean's shoulder at Ashley who was staring at the floor. "Alone," he added.

Dean frowned at him. "Can't it wait?" he snapped, tuning away.

Sam caught his arm again. "No! It can't. Where are you going?"

Dean yanked his arm free. "None of your damned business, Sam. I'm an adult, I don't have to account for my whereabouts to you."

"I've got to talk to you!" Sam insisted. "Please! Let's go outside." He took a step toward the foyer and turned, clearly expecting Dean to follow.

Dean sighed and rolled his eyes. "Fine!" He pulled Ashley to him. "I need to talk to my brother for a minute. It won't take long."

Ashley nodded, "Sure, I'll wait in the foyer for you until you're ready." She suddenly seemed very nervous.

"Are you all right?" Dean asked, watching her.

She nodded and smiled. "I'm fine. Go talk to Sam." She crossed the foyer and sat down on one of the plush couches.

Dean grabbed Sam's arm and practically dragged him out the door onto the sidewalk, walking him a short distance away from the waiting people.

"Man, what's wrong with you?" Sam demanded.

"What's wrong with me? What the hell's wrong with you? Is this how you're getting back at me for not being more help on this?" Dean braced his feet apart, arms crossed over his chest, radiating pissed off.

Sam stared at him. "Are you nuts?" he laughed in disbelief. "Have you totally forgotten why we were meeting here in the first place?" Sam grabbed his hair with both hands. "Never mind, never mind! Dean, I think it's Ashley!"

Dean dropped his arms. "You think what is Ashley? Dude, you're not making sense!" He rubbed his forehead with the heel of his hand. A headache suddenly spiked him behind his eyes. His body felt like it was coming down from an adrenaline rush. He sank down on one of the raised flowerbeds behind him.

Sam crouched down by Dean. "Dean, listen to me!" He was gratified when Dean's gaze rolled to him. "I was watching footage from the club the night Matt Lewis was killed. Dean, he was with Ashley! She looked…different, but it was her!"

"Whadaya mean different? If she was different, it wasn't her…" Dean struggled to pull his mind from the morass of feelings assaulting him to try to listen to what Sam was saying.

Sam bit his lip. "Dean, I think she's seducing you. I think that's why you're acting this way-"

"What way? Why?" Dean snarled. "Is it so hard to believe I could actually want to be with a girl for more than sex? That she might want to be with me for more than that?"

Sam's mouth shut with a snap. "No…Dean, I didn't mean it like that…" Sam sighed. The last thing he intended to do was hurt Dean, but there was no way around this. "Dean, this isn't like you…Deep down you know it. I'd think it was great if you could find some girl you could-" Sam groaned mentally.

"So what are you telling me?" Dean demanded. "What am I supposed to do?" Despite himself, he knew something wasn't right, the wild need to be with Ashley was fading in the night air, the intoxicating scent and feel of her body against him. But still… He made a frustrated noise. "Dammit, Sam." He raked his hair angrily. "What if you're wrong?"

"Then I'm wrong and I owe you a major apology. Dean, you saw Matt Lewis. What if I'm right?" Sam continued to stare into Dean's desperate eyes, willing him to believe.

Dean let out the breath he was holding. "If what you're saying is true, then what now?"

Sam felt his body relax with relief. "Take this." He held out the wrapped iron stiletto.

Dean recognized it by the feel. "And do what with it?"

"Go home with her," Sam replied, ignoring Dean's cocked eyebrow. "If it is her, we have to try to end this. The only way to destroy her is by using a knife like this in an act of love."

Dean's other eyebrow shot up to join its partner. "Wait one friggin' minute," He exclaimed. "You think Ashley is the creature we're looking for, you want me to take her home, have sex…and then while…are you out of your mind?" Dean stood up, outraged. "Even I can't do that!" He shoved the knife back at Sam. "Figure out another way!" He started off back down the sidewalk, seriously rattled.

Sam raced after him, forcing the knife back into Dean's unwilling grip. "It's the only way. You think I haven't tried? It's how it started, it's how it has to end."

Sam was deadly serious, Dean could see it.

Eyes flicking uncertainly, Dean chewed on his bottom lip. "What if nothing happens? I mean…you know what I mean."

"Then we haven't lost anything. We keep looking. It's too much of a coincidence, Dean. You know it is."

Dean nodded, blowing his breath out in a sharp blast. "Yeah. Yeah, I know. So where will you be? Playing voyeur?" There was no humor in the statement.

Sam shrugged. "I'll be around. I won't let anything happen to you."

Dean rolled his eyes. "Just what I always wanted. A freakin' chaperone." He stuffed the blade at an angle into the waistband of his pants under his t-shirt. Carrying knives like that was dangerous, but he didn't have much of a choice. There was nothing else to say, so he stalked back to the club and sought out Ashley, a feeling of dread flooding his belly.

The ride back to Ashley's apartment was quiet. Ashley kept glancing sidelong at Dean as he brooded silently, grappling with his thoughts.

"What did Sam say to you?" She finally ventured hesitantly. "You seem upset."

Dean shot a look at her, then back at the road. He shrugged. "It's nothin'." feeling the handle of the dagger dig into his stomach, "We just had a stupid argument. I really don't want to talk about it." He shifted uncomfortably, swinging the big car into the parking space by her building.

He got out, opened her door and accompanied her in silence up to the door of her apartment.

She unlocked the door and he followed her in, pausing as she closed the door, looking out at the lights through the balcony doors.

"Dean…" Ashley began.

He sighed, turning to look at her.

"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea." She toyed with the necklace he had fastened for her earlier.

"Why? What's wrong?"

Ashley shook her head. "Nothing. I really like you Dean." Her eyes drifted to the floor and then across the room.

Dean closed his eyes, reached out and touched her arm, feeling that electric spark as he did so. Sam had to be out of his mind. "I…I like you, too. A lot."

He lifted his hand and used it to raise her face to him. To his surprise tears filled her eyes, one spilling over the dam of her lashes and rolling slowly down her cheek. "Tell me what's wrong." He spoke so softly he wasn't sure she heard him.

Ashley shook her head again. She put the flat of her hand against his chest and gazed up at him. The contact sent heat through Dean's body and set his heart racing, causing his breath to hitch. She opened her mouth to speak, obviously torn over what to say.

"I think, " she began in a low controlled voice, "that you have such an old soul. That you are so sad and so lonely…" Dean's brows drew together as she spoke. "I think you are so beautiful inside, and I can feel how much pain you're in and I want to make it all be better for you." She lowered her head, voice breaking. "I don't want to add to that pain, to hurt you."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm so lonely," she whispered, almost to herself. "I've been alone for so long." The pressure from her hand against his chest grew stronger and began to feel very much as though she was pushing him away. She abruptly shook her head. "You need to go, Dean. I want you to go. Please."

"Not until you tell me what's wrong," Dean insisted, catching her face between his hands and forcing her to look at him.

Her eyes implored him. "Please…" Then before he could move she was up against him, her fingers digging painfully into the back of his head, forcing him to her.

It was so unexpected and strong, Dean felt his teeth cut into the inside of his lip, bringing the taste of blood.

Ashley moaned as she tasted it too.

Dean, startled, tried to push her away, but she clung to him like skin. His eyes went wide and a strangled cry tore out of his throat as liquid fire suddenly seared his mouth and throat. Panicked and agonized, he found the strength to shove her away from him, losing his balance and falling heavily to his side, spitting and gagging, his hands burning where they wiped frantically at his face and mouth.

Heedless of Ashley's whereabouts, he scrambled desperately to his feet, stumbling into the kitchen, turning on the faucet. He put his mouth under the stream of water, trying to rinse the burn away, gasping and spitting blood into the sink.

"Stupid bitch,"

Dean spun at the sound of the rough voice behind him, one hand hovering over his mouth, the other supporting him against the sink.

The body that now wore Ashley's dress was more round, fleshier, womanly in a way you didn't see much anymore. It was Ashley's face too, but the lips were fuller, the eyes more heavy lidded, altered from her bright blue to a glittering silvery gray. The silky brown hair had thickened into deep red curls that hung halfway down her back.

She undulated slowly into the room, hands tracing over her curves, watching him.

Dean coughed, grimacing, spraying his hand with fine drops of blood, the fire on his tongue and palate making his eyes water. "What did you do to me?' his words slurred from trying to talk without causing himself more pain.

"I told her she didn't have a chance. But she never listens, does she? Thinks it'll be different next time." She shook her head, reaching out to Dean, who tried to pull away. His legs didn't want to hold him and he felt himself sliding down the cabinet, her fingers pressed to his face following him down.

"You're very strong," she murmured, hiking her skirt to allow her to comfortably straddle him as he lay there. "I just gave you a little taste, but that's usually enough to bring them down. Ashley does have a good eye. I'll give her that. But she's getting too soft."

"You are Ashley!" Dean rasped, as if reasoning with her would help.

"No, sweetie, you have it backwards, I'm Elana. Ashley helps me survive, day to day, I needed someone like her, a buffer, a costume I could put on when I needed it and suddenly one day, there she was. Sometimes I even use her as bait." Elana leaned close, dragging her tongue up the side of Dean's face. "She keeps thinking with each one it'll be different, I won't come out to play." She whispered in Dean's ear, "but I'll always be here."

Dean fumbled for the blade in his belt but it was gone.

"Here's your little toy, darling," Elana crooned, twirling the black knife in her fingers, admiring it. "Very clever. You and your brother. Maybe I'll take him next."

Dean flailed madly, forcing his body to move.

Not expecting it, Elana was thrown sideways, the blade flying out of her hand and skittering across the living room floor.

Dean tried to pull himself toward the knife, but Elana stepped in front of him. She knelt, rolling him roughly onto his back, staring down at him.

"Play times over." She spat. "I'm hungry." She writhed against him. "You loved pretty little Ashley. Do you love me?"

Dean watched in growing horror as Elana clasped her arms over her chest and threw her head back, her skin taking on a dusty grey color, scales forming in delicate ridges.

Her body shuddered and twisted as it reformed itself, her eyes still locked on his. She laughed, a hiss of air through lips that thinned and drew back almost to her ears as they sank into her head, hair disappearing into the skin of her skull as it flattened and grew broader. Her legs melted together, arms vanishing into her shoulders and she sank to the floor in a graceful roll of elongated flesh covered with sparkling silver skin, each fine piece tipped in black. Her writhing body as thick as Dean's thigh and at least three times his height.

Where in the hell is Sam!! Dean's mind screamed as Elana's now serpentine head dipped low to brush his face with her long forked tongue. Dean shuddered inwardly but his body refused to obey him.

Elana's head bobbed a few inches above his face, mouth slowly opening, a pair of long curved fangs unfolded from the roof of her mouth. A green droplet fell from one fang and sizzled as it hit his t-shirt and burned through.

Both the serpent and Dean jerked as the door was suddenly kicked in and Sam burst through. His shirt was torn and blood streaked one side of his face and clumped in his hair.

With an ear piercing hiss, Elana's body rose half its length, still hovering over Dean's helpless form.

Sam spied the iron stiletto lying halfway between himself and Dean and threw himself at it in a rolling dive, scooping it up even as Elana struck at him. He ended up at the far side of the living room, out of Elana's strike range.

She pulled back, her body curling around Dean, constricting as she swung back over him.

Sam yelled as he realized she was choosing Dean over him, leaping forward even as she drew back to strike. His body landed on top of Dean, blocking Elana's lunge, the knife slashing upward, entering the slick body and slicing upwards into the throat.

Sam twisted to shield Dean as hot blood spewed over them both and the heavy weight of Elana's body slammed into them.

Frantically, Sam kicked the still writhing body away. In horrified fascination, he stared as the twisting form changed and morphed back into a semblance of a human body, still covered with the silvery scales, but recognizable as a combination of both Ashley and Elana.

Sam crept over to her as she choked on her own blood, her hand grasping toward him.

Tears welled from her eyes but she was smiling, her bloodstained teeth still retaining small fangs. "Thank you…." She coughed, chest heaving. "Thank you…" her head fell back and she was still.

Unable to tear his eyes away, he continued to watch as her body crumbled into dust.

Snapping himself out of it, Sam scrabbled back to Dean, who was watching him but couldn't do more than roll his head, his hands jerking impotently on the floor as he tried to move them.

"It's okay, Dean. It'll be okay." Sam breathed.

"What…took…you…so…long?" Dean managed to force out.

"Here you go," Sam said, sliding back into the car and handing Dean the milkshake he had requested.

Repeated rinsing with multiple doses of the alka seltzer Sam remembered Dean saying Ashley had given him, had nullified the acid Elana used to burn Dean's mouth. Sam had forced him to drink the last one just in case.

Dean's mouth, tongue and throat were incredibly raw, but would heal in time, although he couldn't eat anything solid and talking was almost impossible.

The paralyzing affect of the toxin had worn off after a few hours since Elana had not injected it into Dean's bloodstream.

Sam's delay in reaching Dean in a timely manner had been caused by Sam's cab being involved in a head-on collision on the way to Ashley's apartment.

He had come to while an ambulance attendant was trying to clean the gash on his forehead, at which point Sam had insisted he was fine while the attendant had insisted he was not. A short argument had ensued. The ambulance attendant had lost, awakening a short time later in the same ambulance into which he had tried to load Sam.

Dean smiled a weak "thank you", and took the straw out of the cup, opting to use the spoon. He had been using ice chips and throat sprays to try to numb the pain. He knew his taste buds were fried when he could only tell the flavor of the milkshake by the color. It was icy cold though, melting in his mouth and chilling his throat. He closed his eyes and took what pleasure he could from the slight relief.

As Sam started the engine Dean touched his arm.

Sam glanced at him. "Yeah, Dean?"

Dean scribbled on the notepad he was using to communicate and held it out for Sam to read. "You killed her."

Sam frowned. "Yeah Dean, I did. I know how much you liked Ashley. If there'd been another way—"

Dean shook his head and began scribbling again. "How? You said I had to do it. Killing had to be an act of love."

Sam took the pad and read it slowly.

Dean tapped the pad with his finger for emphasis, closing his eyes in a grimace as he swallowed, before putting the back of his hand against his lips and returning his eyes to Sam.

Sam handed the pad back. "I think I was being too literal with the legend," he finally said, putting the car in gear and backing up.

Dean drew a large question mark and held the pad up, shaking it. Eyes angry.

Sam sighed and gazed at Dean for a long moment. "Dean…it was an act of love." He shifted into drive and hit the gas. Keeping his eyes ahead as they gunned down the road, he added. "Just not yours."

The End