Author's Chapter Notes:

I want to send a thank you out to Bambers, for beta'ing this one.

"Beth, honey, can you run out to the car and grab my purse?" Karen Walsh called from the dining room. After hearing no response, she again called out to her fifteen-year-old daughter. "Honey, grab my purse. I'm running late, I was supposed to be at the shop an hour ago."

As her daughter continued to ignore her plea, Karen abandoned the casserole she was preparing and set out to find her. As she walked into the living room, she saw her daughter. Lying on the couch, her toes tapping, her eyes closed, a pair of headphones settled upon her ears.

Smiling, Karen approached her. As she reached her side, she gently tapped a finger on Beth's jean encased leg.

Beth's scream, was echoed an instant later by her mother's. On her feet, in an instant, the teen's gaze darted warily about the room as if she was searching for something.

Karen stared at her daughter in surprise. "Honey, are you alright?" she asked, though it was obvious by her daughter's too pale face and her rapid breathing, she was far from all right.

Beth dropped back onto the couch, clutching her arms. "I'm fine, you just startled me, what's up?" she asked, careful to avoid her mother's sharp gaze.

Karen not only heard the lie in her daughter's voice, she could see it on her face.

Beth had always been their golden child. Her tanned skin and red gold hair set off the green in her eyes. Tall, slender, and athletic, she drew attention everywhere she went. Smart, funny, and outgoing, she cruised through life seemingly wrapping everyone she met around her little finger. It was as if she'd been touched by an angel, until now.

Lately, Karen had watched as a new Beth had begun to surface. This Beth was a pale imitation of the girl Karen knew. Always tired, she now spent hours staring into space. This Beth had circles under her eyes and seemed to avoid making eye contact. And what bothered Karen the most, was that she now seemed to have closed herself off from everyone, friends and family alike were now kept at a distance.

It had all started with the nightmares, they were disturbing to say the least. They'd begun about a month ago. The first night Beth had woken them, telling them someone had been in her room. A thorough search of the house had turned up nothing, and yet Beth had been insistent. So much so, Bill had notified the sheriff the next day, just incase she hadn't imagined it. The following weeks, the dreams had come more and more frequently, finally culminating in a spate of sleepwalking.

Every morning now, it was unsurprising for them to wake up and find their fifteen-year-old daughter asleep on the floor, her head cradled in her arms, unsurprising, but still unsettling. Karen had already taken her to the family doctor, fearing that the dreams were being caused by a physical ailment, so far nothing had indicated that was the case.

Every time Karen tried to question Beth, she was shut down. Beth had become an expert at deflecting questions, and changing subjects. Or, if left with no other recourse she bluntly refused to discuss it, claiming, most commonly, that she didn't remember.

"Mom, earth to Mom."

Karen was pulled back to the present by the sound of annoyance in her daughter's voice. "Sorry, Honey, I didn't mean to startle you, I just needed my purse."

Beth nodded. "Sure, Mom, I'll get it."

Karen watched as Beth left the room, she couldn't help but notice her daughters slumped posture, it was as if she carried the weight of the world on her slim shoulders.

888

Beth awoke with a start. She lay there in her bed, unwilling to open her eyes. It was back, Beth knew it. She could feel it standing beside her, one shadowy hand reaching out to touch her cheek, it's fetid breath caressing her skin. Beth shrank back against the pillow, trying to avoid the hand that was now stroking her cheek.

It was just a dream, it was just a dream, this was the litany she had chanted each night for the past month. It never worked, after all, Beth knew she was awake, telling herself something different wouldn't change that fact.

Unable to remain blind, she opened her eyes to the now familiar sight of two, black, fathomless, orbs only inches from her own face. Swallowing her scream, she held herself still. Her only movement was to reach one trembling hand toward her nightstand. Grasping the glasses that laid there, she drew her hand back and quickly put them on.

As the world once again, regained it's focus, she breathed a sigh of relief to see that she was once again alone. Unable to shake off the nightmare, she pulled the blankets up under her chin, and remained vigilant for the rest of the night.

888

One Year Later

"Pull Over, Dean."

"Nah, I'm good, Dad. I can go for a while yet."

"Now," John answered his tone brooking no argument. "We're too close to Fall River. It wouldn't do for anyone to see you driving, especially since you're not sixteen yet." John continued, his words and wry grin taking the sting out of his order.

Dean knew his father was right. At fifteen, he'd been driving for over a year. He had a license, claiming he was of legal age, but it didn't match up with his school records. So, for at least another four months he needed to be careful. Pulling into a gas station, he maneuvered the big black car to an empty pump. Shutting off the engine, he turned in his seat and lightly tapped his brother's leg.

"Wake up, Sammy."

Sam's mumbled, "We here," paid testament to just how tired the young man was. Two days of sleeping in a car had left the eleven-year-old miserable and stiff.

"Move it, boys. I wanna be at Fall River in an hour. You've got ten minutes to grab a bite, and hit the head. Go," John ordered as he slid out of the car. Moving to the bumper, John opened the gas cap and within minutes, he was pumping gas.

Climbing out of the car, Dean opened the rear door for Sam. His baby brother had shot up this past year, trading in his baby fat for a couple of extra inches. His added height now made it near impossible for the kid to stretch out in the back seat.

Dean cuffed Sam lightly on the shoulder. "Let's go Tiger, time's wasting."

The two brothers made their way into the dimly lit store, Dean heading for the coffee machine and Sam toward the array of boxed bake goods.

Dean quickly fixed two coffees and headed for the drink cooler. Choosing a bottle of orange juice, he met Sam at the register. Pulling out his wallet, Dean fished out his last ten-dollar bill and paid for the Winchesters breakfast.

As they left the store, Dean handed one of the coffees to his father.

"I got shotgun," Dean said as he moved toward the front seat.

Sam's expression turned stubborn, he crossed his arms and said, "It's my turn. You got to sit upfront last."

"That's a load of crap and you know it. You rode up front for over two hundred miles. I only drove for about fifty, it's still my turn."

"It's not fair, we're not taking turns by the mile, it's every time we stop."

"Boys, get in the car," John called, out as he moved to take the driver's seat.

Dean opened the door to the passenger seat, determined to ignore Sam's whining.

"Dad, Dean's not sharing," Sam yelled, his voice reaching near glass shattering octaves.

Dean's face reddened in anger as he slammed the door shut and moved to open the rear door. Dropping onto the backseat, he pulled his walkman out of his pocket and settled back in the seat.

"Dude, stop giving you brother a hard time," John said, as he waited for Sam to settle himself in the front seat.

Dean nodded at his Dad, and fitted his headphones to his ears. Cranking the volume as loud as it would go, Dean slumped down into his seat, the sounds of Soundgarden's 'Black Hole Sun' washing over him.

888

Dean was tired. Tired of traveling, of living out of the trunk of the car, of staying in motels with cockroaches the size of mice and rats the size of gophers. He was tired of being in the car, driving from nameless town to nameless town, tired of take-out food and sharing a bed with Sam.

Kids his age were supposed to spend their summers, raising hell. Sleeping in late, going to the movies, and ragging on their friends, not digging up dead bodies in 100 degree weather. Not patching up their father's injuries or being patched up in return.

Not him though, no he'd gotten his first real taste of what a hunter's life was like. And after three months, he could honestly say he'd hated it.

His father, having deemed that Sam was finally old enough, had packed up the boys and their few belongings and had hit the road. His intention to train his sons and in turn track down and destroy as many evil beings as possible.

At first, it had been all Dean could do to contain his excitement. After all, his past summers had been spent playing babysitter to Sam, at the homes of his father's friends. Watching as his father drove off, leaving them behind, intent on his next hunt.

The idea of a road trip, hunting evil, training, and spending time with his father had overroad any nagging doubts. At least until he had spent his first night, knee deep in mud digging up the grave of a Texas woman. Though alive she had probably been very nice, in her death she had taken up the unfortunate habit of strangling people. That was the night he'd realized it wasn't all fun and glamour.

Now, well now he wanted nothing more than to settle down. To fall into a routine again, one that included his own bed, clean sheets and a full night's sleep.

Then there was Sammy, he'd faired even worse than Dean. Most hunts had found him taking on the more menial jobs, Shoveling graves, laying salt lines and reading incantations.

Sam had been willing, if not particularly enthusiastic, to help, unfortunately for Dean at those times it always fell to him to watch out for Sam. Something that was easier said than done. After all Sammy seemed to be a magnet for supernatural trouble.

Yeah, Dean was tired. As he closed his eyes, his one thought before slipping off to sleep, was a hope that this time, they would get to stay for a bit. At least long enough for him and Sam to rest.

Chapter End Notes:

Hey thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the ride. As always reviews are what keep me going, so please let me know what you thought. - K