AN: Ok, I don't know if I should continue... so it's all up to you, let me know. As usual... I don't own anything of Supernatural, or Kripke's creations, just playing in his toybox, I'll put it all back later. :)
Dean woke with a start and knew instantly what day it was. Every year on the same day for the last six years he had the same dream as if it were his penance for him being alive and not his brother. "Not good enough." He muttered softly as he worked his way slowly out of bed. He felt older than his twenty six years, but he also knew that most of that was his own doing. Neither he nor his father took a break unless they were injured and even then they had to be dying or in a coma leaving the other to deal with whatever nasty creature had put them in that state.
As he wearily made it into the bathroom, he made sure to shut the door so his dad could get a couple more hours of sleep, one of them needed to be half way alert. Looking into the mirror he knew instantly that he wouldn't be able to hide his nightmare from his dad, but also knew that the older man wouldn't say anything – didn't have the right to say anything.
"Dad, I just don't understand. Why can't we just go to her and ask her to stop." Sam said as he watched his father and brother get their gear ready for the next hunt. He saw Dean look at him as if he were crazy and his dad freeze up as if the mere thought of moving a muscle was well beyond his control. Instantly he knew that once again he should have just kept his mouth shut, but he honestly wanted to know why no one went to find out why this particular witch was casting wishing spells on people. Sure the consequences seemed vicious, but that could just as easily be a horrible mistake.
John turned to his youngest son and ignored the thought that was tapping away at the back of his brain that his son might have a point and instead concentrated on a whole other point, his son was questioning him… again! "Sam, you need to get your head out of the clouds before you get someone killed, you understand me?" he asked, his voice edged with steel. "Just because you refuse to see what's in front of you doesn't mean that the rest of us are going to turn away from our obligations."
Knowing that this was the time that a smart person would just nod and acquiesce to the higher authority, he was just as shocked as everyone else when his voice sprung out of his mouth unbidden. "But Dad, not everything supernatural could be evil, right? So what if…"
"Dammit Sam, why the hell can't you just do what your told?" John asked aloud while thinking the rest of his meaning, 'why can't you be more like Dean?'
Standing off to the side, Dean knew that this wasn't as big of a blowout as some that his brother and dad had lately, but something told him that this was just the beginning and if something drastic didn't happen then this 'conversation' would carry over throughout the hunt and the whole way back. Frustrated, he could only stand by and watch as his little brother look at their dad as if seeing him for the first time and wonder what it was that he had just missed.
Seeing the end of his youngest son's rebellion, John led the way to the Impala and in just a few more moments they were racing off towards the town's witch to confront her about her extracurricular activities.
Everything was going fine and according to plan, leaving each of the Winchester men feeling more than just a little cocky and sure of themselves. What they didn't expect was their nice, friendly 'conversation' would backfire so spectacularly.
As the witch, also known as Missy Brown to the locals, stood there listening quietly to the ritual that the eldest one was reciting, she couldn't help but turn her attention to the boys and notice their differences as well as their similarities. Smiling she turned to John Winchester, "So, the mighty hunter has once again found his prey. Was it everything you had hoped for John?" she asked as he faltered only slightly before continuing in earnest once again with his boys acting as backup for whatever was needed to make sure she didn't escape. "You know, not everything out there is evil John." She said calmly while catching the stricken look on the younger boy's face and used that to her advantage. "All I do is grant the people their wish, that's all… if it's pure then there are no problems."
"What if it's not?" Sam asked, unable to pass up an opportunity to learn something new. He wasn't sure why he thought he needed to know this, but then again who knew when they might meet someone like her again. Seeing his father's displeasure he took an involuntary step back before he noticed something… she was about to attack!
Dean wasn't sure exactly what happened, one minute he was groaning inwardly to his brother's question, then the next he was being shoved out of the way by that very same annoying little brother. It took a moment for everything to catch up in his shocked brain but when it did he couldn't believe what had just happened. The witch had conjured up an energy ball and threw it at him. He knew her aim was dead on and there was nothing he could do to prevent getting hit, but then something blocked his view before it was hit by that ball and forcibly thrown into the concrete wall where it came to rest under the severely newly damaged cinderblocks. Seeing that it was his brother that had blocked him, he looked shocked at his dad and saw the same disbelief in his eyes before they both rushed to Sammy's side not fully registering that the witch was escaping, nor her cryptic answer, "Disaster."
Cradling his little brother, he noticed that Sammy's right pupil was completely blown with a ring of blood around the retina leaving no doubt about the kind of injury he had. He heard his dad calling for help, but knew that this was one time that help wouldn't come in time. "Shhh, little brother, it's ok, you're going to be ok." He whispered, hoping that somehow he was right, even though the dazed look in Sammy's eyes proved him wrong.
Sam looked at his brother and tried to smile while his panting breathes carried his message to his hero. "It's ok Dean, I get it now… why Dad's the way he is… I get it and if one good thing can come out of my death, I'm glad it's your life… maybe that makes up for taking Mom away from you and Dad."
Refusing to accept what sounded like a good bye, Dean started shouting at the limp body in his arms and didn't stop until he was pulled away by the paramedics and his dad.
The sound of his dad's phone ringing pulled him out of his memory and he half listened to the conversation in the other room as he washed up, pointedly ignoring the scars on his arms as they were only a reminder of another failure.
"Dean, get ready we have to go… there's been some strange occurrences in Wanesburg, Oklahoma and we're needed to help figure out what's going on."
He heard the sound of rustling and knew that what clothes that been taken out were now being repacked into his dad's duffle and he couldn't help but feel the loss all over again. It used to be him and Sammy putting the clothes in the duffels, but they would joke around while doing it sometimes to the point of getting their dad on their asses in the process. A short fleeting memory came and went making Dean wonder not for the first time if he had completely lost his mind. Shaking his head he finished quickly and left the bathroom only noticing how long he actually had been when he saw a flash of worry on his father's face.
John knew that the pain of losing Sammy was still burdening Dean, but he had no idea what to do to get through to him anymore; he hated to admit it, but he lost both his boys that day and that knowledge sometimes weighed heavier on his heart than he could ever imagine. He watched as the shell that once was his son got his gear packed up and knew that this was going to be an extremely long day, but was thankful that they had gotten past the point of having to hide any and all sharp objects away from Dean.
Waynesburg, Oklahoma was in the western part of the state where only the more adventurous people dared to claw out a living. Amazingly though the townspeople survived keeping the town itself afloat if for no other reason that just by sheer spite since the founding fathers had been told that they would never survive in such inhospitable surroundings. With a small blinking four way stop light swaying from its wire in the middle of the main intersection, it was easily determined that the one store, gas station and diner were the main sources of income for the town itself, however it was still close enough to some of the surrounding communities that were starting to grow that if anyone wanted to work, there were jobs available that didn't entail farming or ranching of any kind.
Visitors were an oddity but still a welcome one which explained why no one really took too much notice of the new vehicles parking in front of the diner on a Saturday morning. After all, there were more than one tour group who would stop for a bit just to stretch their legs while on their way to New Mexico.
Maude's diner had at one time been the home to a bed and breakfast that finally went bankrupt in the early eighties when the economy across the nation was completely in the toilet. Now it was a diner on the ground floor with the upper level being home to no other than Maude and her 'roommates'. No one ever second guessed Maude about anything, it was just a given; if she said the sky was green then the only explanation was a tornado was coming, even if it was mid December, and everyone prepared accordingly. She looked ancient, moved slowly, and sounded more like a fortune cookie at times but everyone respected her… mainly because of her age, but her roommate Lucas Mayfield also helped. The tall muscular man who lived in Maude's home but acted more like her bodyguard than her boarder, making sure everyone toed the line when dealing with the old woman.
The regulars in the diner continued to eat while keeping an eye on the strangers that had made themselves at home. Although visitors were welcome, they only were so if they didn't start trouble, and by the looks of them it looked like any of them could start a whole mess to brewing.
"Hello gentlemen, sorry it's taking me so long, my normal help is trying to take care of a delivery for me and it's taking longer than usual." Maude said as she placed the tray on the edge of the table and handed out water and coffee for everyone. Smiling, she sized each of them up and had a suspicion what they were there for. "Now don't tell me that you boys have come all this way for those silly rumors that have been flying around." She said amused. Although there had been no change in any of the men's expressions, the charge in the air was an indicator that she was right. Laughing, she shook her head and made it around the wrap around counter to get more menus before starting back to the table.
The sound of a door slamming shut towards the back of the building brought the attention of all the men at the long table around causing Maude to laugh once again. "Oh don't mind Lucas, he don't know his own strength half the time, but don't worry about him… more like a big puppy you know."
Laughter erupted around the diner before one of the patrons spoke up, "More like pitbull Maude and you know it."
Before anyone else could comment, a young man in his mid twenties burst through the door looking as if he'd ran a mile at a full sprint. Looking around his eyes finally locked on Maude and it was like a switch had been flipped in his brain. Rushing towards the old woman he grasped her by the arms and shook her. "You shouldn't be here, you're not where you're supposed to be!" he shouted, all the while shaking her harder until finally he let her go and rushed back out the door screaming, "None of you are supposed to be here."
A large figure broke through the swinging kitchen door and jumped over the counter, shocking several people but only made Maude yell after him as he raced through the door. "Don't kill him Lucas… Tommy didn't know what he was doing!"
It didn't take long for the man Maude called Lucas to catch up to Tommy and it was obvious that there wasn't going to be any words involved. As Lucas proceeded to beat the other man harshly in the middle of the street, a small crowd gathered and watched in a mix of horror and fascination until finally Lucas had enough and dropped the man to the ground before walking back into the diner. Ignoring everyone else, he immediately went to Maude and checked her for any injuries besides the bruising he was sure she was going to have by the end of the day.
"You worry too much Lucas, I'm fine… now go tend to your hands." She said gently as she tried to push him towards the swinging door. Seeing his amused look, she huffed, "Oh now go… leave this old woman in peace, I'm fine I tell you. Now go soak those hands."
Finally seeing Lucas disappear behind the door, she managed to get the menus to her customers but could only look at them as they all stood in shock at the swinging door.
"Is there something wrong?" she asked puzzled by their attitude.
Dean hated to admit it, but he really didn't want to be there. Seeing everyone that his little brother had used to call friend and family sitting there at the table made his skin crawl and he couldn't help but wonder why they had stopped him from doing what it was he knew he should have, it wasn't like his life really meant anything anymore anyway; his Sammy was gone, his purpose done. Sighing, he couldn't get the words his dad threw at him after he woke up from his last attempt out of his head. "Does your brother's sacrifice mean so little to you? He gave you his life, why do you want to throw it away?" He hadn't tried again and it was a mixed blessing since he could now go to the bathroom without an escort but now he had to prove that his life was worth living, not for himself but for his little brother.
Looking around the table he saw those familiar faces who had helped him piece his life back together as much as it could be without all the pieces. Bobby and Caleb had been the silent strength that he drew from when all he wanted was to end it all, Jim had been the one to repeat how much Sammy loved him and was watching over him, and his dad who had stopped more than one hunt to make sure he was doing ok and double check any and all information. It was this last person that he was secretly angry with but he knew one day his anger would blow and he had no idea what the outcome of that would be. He could remember each and every time his little brother would ask questions just to make sure they hadn't missed anything but was put down for it and even made to feel as if he was holding everyone back, and now here the same man was following in those same footsteps; too bad he didn't do that while Sammy around… then his little brother would still be alive.
He ignored the old woman who seemed a little too interested in what they were doing there in the miniscule town that didn't seem to have anything to offer besides poverty and depression. It wasn't until the strange man barged in and started to shake the old woman that he started to feel a part of his old self perk back up and take notice. Before he or any of the other hunters were able to move in and help, the man was gone but someone that the woman called Lucas had run through the diner as if he were going for the gold and all he could do was stare.
'Nah...it can't be…' he thought as he continued to watch the fight that was going on outside. When the guy returned, he and the others slowly stood up and watched as his tended to the old woman before disappearing in the back. Her question startled him though and he slowly turned and watched her all the while thinking, 'Nah, nothing's wrong, just that you have someone here who's a dead ringer for my dead little brother.'