Casey: Now you've got chaos. A war without front. Hundreds of demons, all chalking for power, all fighting for the crown.

In a war with no front, enemies are not always obvious, reality may be nothing but illusion...


Dean tossed another handful of popcorn into his mouth then reached with his left hand for his bottle of Dr. Pepper to wash it down. His right hand, arm, in fact most of his right side was occupied with one little brother. Thankfully Sam stopped squirming, hiding his eyes, and squeaking a good twenty minutes ago, was now asleep, leaving Dean to watch the rest of the show in peace and solitude.

Of course he merely tolerated Sam's snuggling to shut the younger boy up, it'd been Sam's idea to watch this show to begin with, so Dean had only a small amount of sympathy when it scared the bejesus out of the kid. Dean thought it was a great show, Sam spent the majority of it with his face pressed to Dean's side, squeaking every time he managed to pry his head around and watch the TV.

Dean made it perfectly clear to Sam on many such occasions, Sam dared breathed a single word, hinted at, thought of saying out loud to anyone Dean Winchester so much as considered letting his brother hide under his arm, he'd kill Sam.

Rubbing the top of Sam's head, to wake him up of course, Dean grinned. The oh-so-suspenseful ending to the show was coming up, Sam would be angry if he'd missed it. "Hey, Tiger, come on, bedtime."

"Wuuaa…?" Sam stirred, peered up at him from under messy bangs, eyes groggy and barely registering life was in there.

Dean nudged Sam's shoulder getting the reflexive action he was looking for. Sam turned his head, looked around, eyes falling on the TV.

"Entire towns used as test sites for our government, or maybe others. Average citizens guinea pigs in a grand scheme to determine how we all would react in the face of ultimate disaster, ultimate take over, the ultimate end of all…Urban legend or truth? Is reality merely an illusion perpetrated for the masses? You decide…"

The rest of the broadcast was lost to Dean, covered by Sam's groan and Dean's laughter.

"You're the one who wanted to watch this crap, not me. What do you even pay attention to this stuff for if it bothers you so much?" Dean couldn't resist rubbing his knuckles over Sam's shaggy head a few times.

Sam's eloquent retort of, "Asshole," brought more fits of laughter from Dean. Even Dean's butt hitting the floor didn't impede his laughter any.

"Dean, what if it's true?" Sam finally asked, voice small and uncertain, eyes large and round.

That hit Dean's middle like a sucker punch. Bracing against the couch to pull himself off the floor, Dean sighed heavily. "Aww Sammy, you're way too gullible sometimes. They do that to make people watch the show."


"But nothing, Sammy." Grabbing Sam's arm, Dean gently pried him from the couch. "No big, bad evil cloud of nothing is going to get you, or me."

"How do you know?"

"I know 'cause I'm older. It's just a TV show Sam. Besides, there's nothing out there big enough or evil enough or bad enough to go through me and get you." He turned Sam, giving the younger boy a gentle shove between his shoulder blades. "Now, go brush your teeth and go to bed." Dean stretched and yawned.

Stopping at the bathroom door, Sam turned, looked back at Dean.

Tipping his chin toward the bathroom, wanting forward motion from Sam, Dean let his face and voice soften, "Don't worry Tiger, I'm right here, go on. I'll be right here, always."

A desolate mountain road, Smokey Mountains, Tennessee…Present Day…

"We're lost."

Dean ignored his brother, concentrated on the road, the far too slippery, far too fast road. The patchy fog wasn't helping his cause any.

"Are you listening to me?" Sam huffed, plainly annoyed.

"Not really Sammy, I'm trying to keep us from careening off the side of a cliff. It's called concentration."

"You're admitting we're lost?" Sam's voice change at once to astonishment. The car slipped sideways on the road, making the younger brother's hand move quick to brace against the dash.

"It doesn't really matter right now." Dean snapped out. "We're on this road. The car is going sideways more than straight. The only location I'm concerned with at this moment is the pavement."

Sam's lips smacked shut, whatever reply he was going to toss out was cut short by another sideways slide. Dean righted the car, exhaling in a deliberately slow breath. His right hand left the wheel, pressed against Sam's collarbone for a few seconds, pushing him farther back against the seat. Swallowing loud enough Dean heard it; Sam was watching him with eyes a bit too wide. The kid never once tried to remove Dean's hand, testimony to his edginess at the road conditions.

Wriggling his fingers Dean pulled his hand away from his brother, back to the wheel, and the task at hand. Sam's eyes shifted between Dean and the world outside the Impala. The dark, misty, wet, slippery world intent on claiming them for its own.

"No one drives better than you." Sam's voice was low and soft, his breathing a bit quicker than normal.

Dean smiled just a bit, leaned forward and gripped the wheel more firmly, wondering which one of them Sam was trying to convince. Maybe a bit of both he finally decided. Jerking his foot off the gas pedal, squinting into the dark, "What the hell? You see this?"

"Yeah, Dean, there's a spot to pull over."

Following the line of Sam's extended arm Dean guided the big car to the side of the road, hoping no one came along and rear-ended them, or it would be good-bye Impala. Good-bye Winchesters too if they were in the car.

Pelting, frozen mist hit Dean's face as he climbed from the car, "Sam, stay in here. No point in us both getting soaked and sick."

Sam simply arched one eyebrow, smirked at him, and shook his head a bit as he swung out of the car, stretching, and trudging to meet Dean at the rear of the car. Handing Sam a tool box, Dean didn't try very hard to hide the small smile playing his lips. Sam elbowed him when he wiped a hand over his face and ducked his head a fraction, grabbing a jack. Sam may not have been very mechanically inclined, but he made an excellent assistant. He'd paid attention over the years, mostly knew all the tools' names and purposes, had them ready and at hand when Dean needed them. Repair time for anything was generally cut in half with his kid brother around. Dean suspected Sam's natural curiosity revolving around how things work combined with his genuine desire to be helpful, especially to Dean, motivated him even further.

Stopped, Dean really wouldn't consider how the car haphazardly sat at the roadside parked, a few yards from the Impala was a small, green car Dean immediately identified as an Accord. A woman, maybe in her mid-thirties stood outside the car. Dean saw three children, two boys and a girl inside the car. Who he took to be the oldest of them, one of the boys, watched Dean and Sam approach the car like a hawk watching field mice. He could only imagine what he and Sam must look like to strangers, especially after driving the fifteen or so hours they'd just driven. The damp almost at once plastered Sam's hair down, so despite his height and the hole in one leg of his ragged hem jeans, he looked like an overgrown six year old. This wouldn't be the first time either one of them put that look to good use, put others at ease.

"Hey, you okay?" Dean raised his voice only enough to be heard over the rain, put his friendliest rated G smile on his face.

The woman looked ready to bolt, or clobber him with a crowbar, Dean wasn't sure which. Her pale skin and round brown eyes were accentuated by her hair also being plastered to her face. Maybe she and Sam could form a bad hair day support group.

She nodded once, "Yes, we almost…I t-think…t-ti-tire blew out." She backed away, stopping next to the driver's door, hand on the latch. "I'll call a tow truck." Her voice was edgy, she stood her ground there, cell phone in her other hand.

Dean sure knew how she felt, having come a bit too close to going off the cliff's edge a few times in the last hour. He was certain she no more wanted to see her children plummet down, trapped in a car, anymore than he did Sam. "I'm Dean," he dipped his head back at Sam, standing behind his right elbow, "my brother, Sam." Leaning to the side so he could see the opposite side of the car, Dean spotted the offending defunct tire. "Ya know, this weather is crappy; you don't want to have your kids sit out here waiting who knows how long for a tow truck. Gotta spare?"

She nodded mutely.

"Pop the trunk, we can get this changed and you on your way in no time."

She looked from Dean to Sam to her children in the car then glanced down the road. "I should just call—"

"Mom, it's freezing in here." The oldest boy had the window cracked, face close so he could talk to her.

"Roll that up and make sure the doors are locked." She hissed.

That made Dean smile to himself, he resisted an almost irresistible urge to glance back, check on Sam. "Honestly, it'll take me ten minutes."

Eyes again flitting between him and her car, she finally agreed, nodding slowly. Waving at her kids, "Come on, out for a few minutes." She hit a button on the car's remote, the unlatching of the trunk lid echoed through the air for a few seconds.

"They can wait in there." Sam offered quickly.

"You betcha they can." Dean added. "You too, if you want."

"You don't mind?"

"No." There was no way Dean was leaving a car full of kids stranded at the roadside in a storm. Already moving to the far side of the car, not giving her much chance to argue, Dean took the tool box from Sam. "Why don't you go back to the car? I think one of us might be less scary than two of us. It's just a tire, not much help needed anyway." Kneeling next to the car, he already had two lug nuts off.

Sam hunkered down beside him, gaze shifting up and over to the woman. "Dean just 'cause they look innocent and afraid doesn't mean…"

"They aren't going to steal me." Dean huffed and threw Sam an annoyed look before starting on lug nut number three. "Just keep your eyes open." He took another few seconds to glance around at their surroundings. Sam was right. It was a great place for an ambush. Not that Dean was paranoid or anything.

"You're way scarier than me anyway." Sam grumbled, tapped Dean's bicep and pushed up from the ground, wandering away a few yards, closer to the guard rail and turned so his angle let him look out at the scenery and see Dean all at the same time.

He would have preferred Sam to be safe and dry inside the Impala, but he wouldn't be much longer. Besides, being completely honest Dean liked it better when Sam was within reaching distance, just in case. The hair on the back of his neck rose, causing him to stop and take a look around. Snorting softly in the next second, he turned back to the task of tire changing. Fine lookout Sam turned out to be, his attention now completely focused on the drop off and mountain countryside beyond the cliff. Someone could have come along and stolen Dean, the kids, the woman, both cars and Sam wouldn't have known the difference.

Feeling the Accord shift slightly, Dean glanced up. The boy, he was maybe thirteen or fourteen, stood at the back fender, watching him. Hands in pockets, arms straight and pressed against his sides, shoulders scrunched under his coat, Dean recognized the expression the boy wore. He'd worn it enough himself since being handed his six month old brother and told to run from a burning house with him.

"Everything okay in there?" Dean stood, giving the jack a few more pumps to raise the car higher.


Old tire off, "I'm Dean," new one on.

"Peter. You an axe murderer or anything?"

"Naaa...I prefer guns."

Peter snickered. The kid's chin jutted in Sam's direction. "That your younger brother?"

Not even trying to suppress the smile Dean wondered, not for the first time, how siblings seemed to universally know the younger and older of another set. "Pain in my butt."

"Yeah, mine are too." Peter shrugged. "Guess I should go back in the car, Mom thought it would be easier for you to lift it up without her and me inside. But she told me not to bother you."

"You're not."

"What's he doing?"

The odd tone Peter's voice took on, too suddenly and too sharply, made Dean stop and turn to look again at the area around them. Heart seizing painfully, Dean's voice caught in his throat. Arms and legs scrambled to catch up to his brain screaming MOVE at him, loud and insisting. Dropping the tire iron, Dean spun, was up and running in the same motion.

What Sam was doing was taking a header straight off the cliff.