Chapter Four
Something Wicked

I was at my house getting my things together. Sam and Dean had told me that I couldn't bring a lot, which wasn't a problem because everything in the house brought back memories.

I had only one bag and it was filled with clothes and a few pictures of my mom and of my friends.

I had told Layla that if she had wanted anything from the house she could take it and the ones she didn't want I would give to Goodwill or some kind of charity.

I would do the same to my mom's clothes and the rest of her belongings. The furniture would be sold with the house, which would up the price a little, but I didn't care about that.

I was going to bring along my laptop and my Ipod. The Ipod was Sam's idea. He had said that all Dean listened to was classic rock and, while I liked classic rock, it wasn't the only music I listened to.

It was going on eight o'clock at night now and I had had a pretty full day. I had gone to the lawyer's office to get the house situation sorted out and then I had gone to Layla's house.

We had talked for over an hour and I had ended up signing my car over to Layla. We had gone to the DMV to do that.

I had then told Layla that I was going to leave for a while and I didn't know when or if I would be back. Layla had made a fuss about me being alone and I had told her that I wouldn't be. There had been questions about who I was going to be with. I had told Layla part of the truth: that I was going with Sam and Dean because they were the only ones who could protect me. I had told Layla not to tell anyone and I knew she wouldn't. Ever.

Layla had wanted to be there to see me off, but I knew that would just make it harder to leave, so I had told Layla not to come. I had given Layla the house key and had told her what I wanted her to do with the things in the house.

Sam and Dean were supposed to be picking me up at eight-thirty and I was getting nervous.

I had made the decision to go with them because I had known it was the only thing to do. That didn't mean it wasn't a hard decision to make and it didn't mean I wasn't going to miss everyone.

The sound of my cell phone ringing brought me out of my thoughts. It startled me, even. I pulled it out of my pants pocket, flipped it open, and answered it.

"Hello?"

"Hey, it's Dean."

"Oh. Hi."

"We're outside. We didn't know if you wanted us to wait out here or to come in."

"You can come in. I'm upstairs in my room."

"We'll be right there."

They were by my side in thirty seconds.

I could tell they wanted to ask me something because they were looking at me and were being too quiet.

"What?" I asked softly.

Dean was the one who answered. "We were wondering when you were going to tell us what was in that letter your mom left you."

"Oh." I had been meaning to do that anyway. I'd just been preoccupied with everything that had been going on. "Okay. You can read it if you want to. I don't actually understand it. Maybe you will."

I handed them the letter after I got it out of my jacket, which was lying on my bed.

Things were quiet while they read it. After they finished was a different story.

"So, this doesn't mean anything to you?" Sam asked.

"No. I mean, my mom never mentioned it to me."

"Well," Dean said, warily. "At least we know why the demon is after you. Even if we don't know what it means."

------------- -

I was now in the backseat of the Impala. We had been on the road for almost three hours and I had realized we had only traveled on back roads.

"Wouldn't it be quicker to go on the interstate?" I asked.

"There are fewer cops on back roads than there are on the interstate," Sam said. He was in the passenger seat, so he turned to look at me while he talked. "We try to avoid cops."

"Why?" I was intrigued. "Are you in trouble or something?"

"Well," Dean began to answer, "I'm not actually supposed to be alive and if anyone saw me and recognized me…I'd probably be locked up-for life."

I was shocked, to say the least. "Why?"

"We worked a case a while back with a shapeshifter-it's something that can change into anyone. It hurt this girl while it looked like me. They blamed a couple of murders on me. I shot the thing and it still looked like me."

"So…" I took a deep breath, taking what he'd said in. "You were up for murder and people think you're dead?" Wow. I hadn't expected that.

"Yeah. That pretty much sums it up," Dean said.

"Okay. Yeah. I see how you being recognized would be a problem." I sighed. "I feel like I went to sleep and then woke up in some kind of bizzaro world."

"You kinda did," Sam said, smiling slightly.

All was quiet for about a minute, but then I said, "are you going to teach me how to hunt?"

I didn't really see any other option. I wanted to be able to help them. I wanted to be able to look after myself so they wouldn't have to if they didn't want to.

"Are you sure you want to know how?" Sam asked.

"No. I'm not," I said honestly. "But I don't wanna be useless and I want to be able to defend myself."

"We'll see," Dean said. "But this job…it changes you."

I nodded. I knew that. "It doesn't change the fact that I need to know."

------------- -

Dean had driven until we reached Coaldale, Nevada and then he had checked us into a motel room with two queens and an adjoining room.

I had been the one to suggest the two room thing. It wasn't because I wanted to be away from them; it was because I wasn't exactly comfortable sharing a room with two guys whom I didn't know very well.

Both Sam and Dean had been reluctant to let me stay on my own and I knew the only reason they didn't want me to be too far away was because they were worried the demon might come looking for me, so I wasn't angry at them.

They finally agreed when I told them I would keep the door that joined our room's together open.

The night had been as normal as my life was ever going to get and we were now sitting in a local diner waiting for breakfast.

Dean was skimming a newspaper that Sam had picked up on the way there. Dean hadn't said anything, so I assumed he hadn't found anything.

Sam was talking to me about their dad, John Winchester, whom they had been looking for.

Apparently, they had run into him a few weeks back, but had sent him away because they thought he was weaker when they were around.

"You have no idea where he is?" I asked sympathetically.

"Nope," Sam said. "Sometimes he calls or sends us a text, but not very often."

"Wow. That's gotta be frustrating," I replied.

"That's definitely the word for it," Dean said, putting the newspaper aside.

Sam looked at him and then down at the newspaper. "Find anything?"

"Nah. Nothing really sounds like our kind of thing," Dean answered.

At that, our waitress came out with our food. Dean's plate looked just like a pile of grease. I didn't know if he ate like that all the time, but if he did, I didn't see how his arteries put up with it.

Sam's plate looked slightly healthier, which made me feel better about my own plate. It was a small stack of pancakes, but I wasn't even that hungry, so I probably wouldn't finish it anyway.

------------- -

Dean was back in the driver's seat. Sam was in the passenger seat. I was in the backseat.

I had asked them to go through some of the more interesting cases that they had worked, so Dean was in the middle of explaining what a woman in white was.

By the name, I would have said it was the ghost of some girl who was mourning a man who had left her at the alter for some other chick.

Turns out I wasn't too far off.

"So, they stick around because their husbands cheated on them?" I said skeptically. "That's why they kill people?" Stupid reason if you ask me.

"Not all people," Sam corrected. "Just guys who have been unfaithful."

"That's because men are evil," I said jokingly.

They didn't seem offended, so I figured they had known I was just joking. That was good because I liked kidding around. Sarcasm was like a second nature to me, but to some people it was a foreign language. But, thankfully, these two understood my language quite well.

"But, seriously," I started, "why didn't she just get over it? I don't get it. I mean, someone cheats on you, you have yourself a good cry, dump them, and forget about them."

I had never actually been cheated on, but I knew that's how I would react. Actually, I had never really even dated. It had never been on the top of my list of priorities. All the guys in my school had been obnoxious.

"I agree with you on that one," Dean said. "But ghosts and spirits…they don't have a conscience. They have no morals. If they want revenge, they want revenge. It doesn't matter to them how they get it."

"Okay, well, if they're dead, how do you get rid of them? I mean, they have no butt to kick."

"You find their bones, salt them, and burn them," Dean said. "It lays the spirit to rest or whatever."

"You can repel spirits and demons with salt," Sam explained. "Or iron."

"Yeah, you know, I read that somewhere," I said. "The salt thing. It's because it's supposed to be pure, right?"

"Yeah." Dean sounded impressed. "Why were you reading stuff like that?"

"I told you before. I like learning. Just not school stuff. If it was weird or unexplainable, I was into it. I just never knew it was real." I hadn't realized it, but my voice had been getting lower and lower.

"I'm sorry you had to find out," Dean said sincerely.

When no one said anything else Dean put a tape in the radio and turned up the volume.

It was Foreigner. I could deal with that.

------------- -

"Okay. If you're gonna become a hunter, you're gonna need to know how to shoot a gun."

Dean had pulled off on the side of the road near one of the many fields we had been passing.

He was now popping the trunk of the Impala open and lifting the cover off his weapon trunk.

There were knives, guns, crosses, stakes, and other weapons that could fight off demons or ghosts. Another reason cops were bad, I assumed.

If we ever got pulled over and they had to look in the trunk for any reason, we'd be in jail faster than I could blink.

Dean picked up what looked to be the smallest gun he had and made sure there were bullets in it. He looked at me. "You ever shot a gun before?"

"No," I replied, looking at the gun in Dean's hand. "And something tells me it's not going to be easy to learn."

"It really depends on whether or not you're a natural," Sam said, from inside the car. He had been sleeping and Dean had wanted to let him sleep for a while. Or at least until the first shot was fired. Apparently, Sam had been listening in to the conversation.

"Alyson," Dean said, getting my attention again. "We're going to go about ten yards into the field and we're going to work on your posturing. You know, how you hold the gun. You can seriously hurt yourself if you don't do it right."

I didn't mention that I would probably heal instantly if I did get hurt, because I wasn't sure I would. I didn't know if the stomach thing had been a one-time deal or not. Neither boy had brought it up and I hadn't either.

Dean started walking and I followed him. "We won't worry about your aiming today. I just want you to get used to the feeling of the gun in your hand. Get comfortable holding and shooting it."

Dean handed me the gun and I kept it pointed at the ground. The safety was still on, but still…holding the gun made me uncomfortable.

"Now, before you go shootin' that thing, let me tell you something. You're arm is probably going to be sore. That's why you're starting with the smallest gun I have."

"Okay. Show me how to do this."

Dean looked at me and grinned. "Leave the safety on for now. I'm gonna be in front of you for a minute of two."

"I wouldn't pull the trigger if you were in front of me. I wouldn't even touch the trigger." Not that the bullet would have hit him anyway, because the gun was still pointed at the ground.

Dean seemed satisfied with my answer, because he stepped in front of me. "Now, when you fire a gun, it's going to jolt you. You need to be able to keep you balance. The gun you're holding won't do much. You might have to step back a little when you shoot it, but try to avoid moving at all."

"Okay," I said, letting him know I understood.

"Let me see how you think you're supposed to hold a gun," Dean said.

I looked at the gun, took a deep breath, brought it up with my right hand, and aimed it somewhere Dean wasn't standing. I brought my left hand up and cupped half of my right wrist and the part of my right hand that was holding onto the gun.

"Am I doing this right?"

"Mostly. Your hands are where they should be. Your shoulders are off, though."

"What am I supposed to be doing with my shoulders?"

"You left arm is supposed to be supporting your right one."

"My right shoulder should be loose?"

"Not completely. But if it's tense you have more of a chance of hurting it." Dean got behind me and touched my left shoulder, moving it to how it should have been. "You should be fine now."

Dean stepped back and I turned to look at him.

"Can I shoot now?"

Dean looked toward the road, probably making sure there wasn't any oncoming traffic; there wasn't anything on this road but us. He gave me the go-ahead.

I took the safety off of the gun and my arm started to shake. Dean must have noticed, because he told me to wait.

"What?" I didn't lower the gun.

"You don't have to do this if you don't want to." He paused like he was reconsidering what he'd just said. "Not today, anyway."

Now I did lower my arms.

"Look…this job that you and Sam do…something tells me I'm not going to be able to help. At all." I let out a small laugh. "I don't even know what I'm doing. And you're not going to be able to be with me all the time. Neither is Sam. I need to know that I can at least stall until one of you gets there."

Dean must have seen the reasoning behind that, because he nodded. "Okay. I just wanted you to know that you have a choice."

I smiled slightly. "Thank you." It meant a lot, him saying he'd give up his time to keep me safe if I didn't want to learn how to do this yet.

------------- -

I stood in the field, feeling Dean's presence behind me, his words going through my mind.

Did I really want to do this? No. But unlike Dean had said, I didn't feel that I had a choice. I didn't want to have to depend on Dean and Sam all the time. I wanted to be able to protect myself so the boys wouldn't have to.

I had already taken the safety off of the gun, so I steadied my arm, positioned my shoulders the way Dean had shown me, and pulled the trigger.

Dean had been right. I did have to take a step back. Also, I felt like I could feel the vibration of my ear drums. That's how loud the gun had been.

"You okay?" Dean asked, still behind me.

"Yeah," I replied reassuringly.

"You wanna try again? You have five bullets left."

"Yeah. I do."

I got in position again only this time I placed my right foot a little bit behind me so I'd be able to stop myself from moving easier. The five years of martial arts was going to pay off in this profession.

I took the safety off again. The gun had individual bullets and not clips.

I braced myself, took a deep breath, and pulled the trigger again. This time only my upper body moved; I didn't have to take a step back.

"I don't see how you and Sam aren't deaf," I said. My ears were ringing.

"What?" Dean asked.

I lowered the gun and turned towards Dean. "I said-" Dean was grinning. "Oh. It's possible you were joking." I grinned too.

"Maybe a little bit."

I handed the gun to Dean. "I think I'm done for the day."

"You sure?"

"Yep. You and Sam need to find a job and help save lives, remember?"

"Right," he said.

We walked back to the car in silence. I thought about how my life was changing on the way.

------------- -

About a day and a half had passed and we were now somewhere in Nebraska. We had checked into another room because Dean was tired and so was Sam. And Dean wouldn't let me drive his car.

When he'd said I couldn't I'd wanted to stick my tongue out at him and pout, but I was too mature for that.

So we were in a motel room. We hadn't been able to get adjoining rooms, but I didn't complain. I couldn't always have my way.

Dean hadn't wanted to leave me alone, so Sam had gone out to get food and I went to sleep…until Dean woke me up because he was bored. I could've smacked him in the head. I wanted to, but I didn't. I'm nice like that.

I yawned and stretched, but didn't sit up. I was comfortable and I refused to get up. I looked around the room. "I take it Sam's not back yet?"

"Nope. Hence my boredom."

"And you thought I could help with that?"

I yawned again and Dean looked like he almost felt guilty for waking me up. Almost, but not quite.

"Well, no, but you are the only one here."

"Thanks ever so," I replied sarcastically. "You could have gone with Sam, you know?"

I looked over at the clock. I'd only been asleep for fifteen minutes. I was going to kill Dean. I was plotting his death as we were speaking.

"And leave you here alone? I don't think so," Dean said, and it sounded like his full-blown protectiveness was kicking in. "Look, it's Sam's and my responsibility to keep you alive and I intend to do it."

"So I'm just a job to you?" I was half-joking, but part of me wanted to know.

"That's not what I meant," Dean said. "That's part of it, but we wouldn't have asked you to come if we didn't want you with us." He paused. "I'm not leaving you."

"Because that thing's coming after me?"

Dean nodded. I scoffed.

"Yeah, well, with my luck, it would kill whoever was with me before it even tried to get to me." I looked away from him. "I don't want anyone else to die because of me."

Dean sat down beside me, but fidgeted afterward. It was like he was uncomfortable…and maybe he was. This conversation was bordering on emotional and something told me Dean wasn't the overly emotional type. Or maybe he was and he just didn't want anyone to know.

I didn't blame him if that was the case. I didn't like showing a lot of emotion around other people either.

He cleared his throat. "Yeah, well…that's what Sam and I are here for. We're good at what we do."

At that time Dean's phone decided to vibrate. It was on the nightstand in-between the beds so he reached over and grabbed it. He flipped the phone open and looked at whatever was there.

"Hm."

"What?"

"Coordinates," Dean said.

"Your dad sent them?"

"Yeah."

"Finally something I already know how to do." I'd learned how to look up coordinates in the ninth grade so at least I could do that."

"Look up coordinates?"

"Yeah. Do you want me to do it?"

"Yeah. I'm going to call Sam, let him know what happened. After you find where the coordinates point to, get on the computer and find out if anything strange is going on around there."

"Shouldn't you be doing that? I mean, I might miss something."

"How else are you gonna learn?" He grinned. "Besides, I'll go over it after you do."

I smiled my first full-blown smile in over a week and said, "Okay."

------------- -

We ended up staying at that motel for the night mostly because Dean had said no again about me driving his car. Although, truth be told, I didn't want to drive if they were going to be sleeping anyway. I had no sense of direction; I'd probably end up lost and they would have to wake up and drive anyway.

At around eight o'clock the next morning, Dean woke me up again. I hoped this wasn't going to become a habit between us.

At least this time he actually had a reason. We were getting ready to leave. We were heading to Fitchburg, Wisconsin and I wanted a jacket. I was freezing.

It's not that it was even that cold…I was just used to warmer weather. Thank goodness I had packed a sweater, which I was now in the bathroom changing into. It was light blue and it came down to just below my butt. It went well with my blue jeans.

Aside from brushing it, I did absolutely nothing to my hair. It was pretty much a lost cause that day, so…whatever.

I walked out of the bathroom, grabbed my bag, made sure everything was in it, and started to go outside, when Dean's voice interrupted my actions.

"Whoa, where are you going?"

"To put my stuff in the car," I said obviously.

"Wait for one of us," Dean said.

I sighed. "Dean, it's just a few feet outside and it's broad daylight."

Sam picked up his bag and came up to me. "Best to just listen to him," he said. "He's impossible when he's like this."

I nodded. I was getting that.

Sam and I walked out to the Impala and I, once again, got in the backseat. I didn't really mind this time because that meant I could go back to sleep. Yay me! Really.

Once Sam got situated in the passenger seat, he turned to look at me. "Does it bother you?"

"What?" I had no idea what he was talking about.

"Dean. Does him being like this bother you?"

"Him being all protective?" Sam nodded. "Not really. It's kind of endearing, actually. I'm just not used to it. My mom was…irresponsible. She wasn't a bad mother. Far from it. But I took more care of her than she did of me. I'm pretty sure the bills wouldn't have been paid if I hadn't been there to remind her to do it every month."

I laughed at the memory and Sam was smiling slightly.

"Anyway, it feels nice, having someone look after me for a change. So yeah, the protectiveness is okay. I just don't want you two feeling like you have to walk on eggshells around me. I promise I won't break."

Sam nodded. "I'll try and remember that."

"Thanks."

------------- -

Dean had woken me up again. I really needed to talk to him about this waking me up all the time issue.

To be fair, this time it was as much Sam's fault as it was Dean's. They had been arguing and I couldn't just drown them out because I was in the backseat of the car.

From what I could hear, they were accusing each other of getting something wrong about the place we were going.

Dean was accusing Sam of not looking thoroughly enough at the local Fitchburg, Wisconsin newspaper articles. I trusted Sam enough to go with his instincts, but that was because I didn't really know enough to say otherwise.

I hadn't found anything either but, like I said, I didn't really know what I was doing.

Sam was complaining that Dean could have gotten the coordinates wrong, for which Dean denied. And the argument went on.

"Will you two please shut up?" I said, sitting up.

Dean looked at me through the rearview mirror. "Well, look who finally decided to wake up."

"How long was I asleep?"

"Nearly four hours," Sam said, looking at his watch. "Do you always sleep this much?"

I didn't want to blush, but I did. "I haven't had a decent nights sleep since before my mom died. I'm catching up on my rest." I sat up so I could lean my arms on both of the front seats and stick my head between them. "Or at least I'm trying to catch up, but someone keeps waking me up."

I looked at Dean pointedly and he grinned. "It was time for you to get up anyway."

"Right." I leaned back in the seat. "So, where are we?"

"About five minutes from Fitchburg," Sam said.

"Which is where we're supposed to be," Dean said smugly.

"Well, I don't know why we're here."

"Yeah. You probably missed somethin', that's why."

And the argument began again. Oh, how fun.

"Dude," Sam began, "I ran LexisNexis, local police reports, newspapers-I couldn't find a single red flag. Are you sure you got the coordinates right?"

"Yeah, I double-checked. It's Fitchburg, Wisconsin."

I spoke up. "Not to mention if he had gotten the coordinates wrong, we wouldn't have come up with the same place."

"Thank you," Dean said, winning that argument. He then looked at Sam. "Look, Dad wouldn't have sent us coordinates if it wasn't important, Sammy." He turned his head toward the road again.

"Well, I'm tellin' you, I looked, and all I could find was a big, steaming pile of nothin'. If Dad's sending us hunting for something, I don't know what."

"Well, maybe he's gonna meet us there." Dean sounded hopeful.

Sam actually rolled his eyes. "Yeah, 'cause he's been so easy to find up to this point."

Now Dean was annoyed. "You're a real smartass, you know that?" He paused and then said, "don't worry. I'm sure there's somethin' in Fitchburg worth killin'."

"Yeah? What makes you so sure?" Sam was skeptical.

"Well, I'm the oldest," Dead started, uncertainly, "which means I'm always right."

"No, it doesn't," Sam scoffed.

"Yeah, it totally does." Dean grinned.

We drove past a sign that read Fitchburg. Population 20,501.

I leaned up to the front again. "Actually, I'm the female here, so that means I'm always right."

Dean turned his head toward me. "Yeah, but you're not an adult yet, so you don't count."

I blinked a few times and couldn't come up with a comeback so I just stuck my tongue out at him and sat back in my seat. Clearly, being with these two was bringing out the kid in me.

I wasn't angry. Dean had been joking and the two boys had stopped arguing, so, the way I saw it, my job was done.

------------- -

We stopped to get coffee as soon as we spotted a café. Dean went in to get it while Sam stayed outside with me.

I usually didn't drink coffee or caffeine, period, because it made me jittery. But I figured I might as well make friends with it if my sleep was going to keep getting interrupted.

I got out of the car to stretch my legs and my whole body, for that matter, and looked around.

There were stores up and down the street behind me and on the other side of me was a playground. The problem was, there was only one little girl playing there. She was with her mom, I assumed; there was a woman there, sitting on a bench, watching the little girl.

"Sam?"

"Yeah?" he said, getting out of the car. He probably needed to stretch too. I mean, as tall as he was it couldn't be comfortable being in the car for long periods of time.

"What time is it?"

"A little after four. Why?"

"Look at the playground," I said and he did.

"Huh," he said, more to himself than to me. "School should be out, shouldn't it?"

"Yeah," I answered. "So, where is everybody?"

Sam nodded. "You're right. This place should be crawlin' with kids right now."

I decided I wanted to know what was going on and why there was only one kid on the playground, so I began to walk forward, but Sam pulled me back.

"Where are you going?"

"To talk to that girl's mom," I said. "You wanna come?"

"No," Sam said, as if he was remembering what I had told him that morning. "I'll wait here. Just tell me what she says when you get back."

"Sir, yes, sir." I mock saluted him.

He was amused and he smiled before he said, "go on. Get over there."

So I did. I headed for the playground again and this time Sam didn't stop me.

When I got to the playground I walked over to the bench and sat down next to the woman there.

"It sure is quiet out here," I said, just trying to make conversation. I watched as the little girl started climbing the monkey bars.

"Yeah," the woman said. "It's a shame."

"What is?" I looked away from the little girl and towards the mom.

"You know, kids getting sick. It's a terrible thing."

Wow. "How many?"

She looked at me now. "Just five or six, but serious-hospital serious. A lot of parents are getting pretty anxious. They think it catching."

"Wow." This time I didn't just think it, I said it out loud. "And nobody knows what's causing it?"

The woman shook her head. "No, that's why some of the parents are on edge."

"Oh." I didn't really know what to say to that, but it didn't really matter because Dean was calling my name from across the street anyway. "Sorry. I have to go."

The woman looked in the direction of Dean's voice and smiled. "Possessive boyfriend?"

I actually giggled at that. "Nah. More like overprotective big brother."

"Ah. Well, at least he cares," she said.

"Yeah." I stood up. "Anyway. It was nice talking to you. Even if the topic was less than pleasant." I began walking, but stopped and turned back around. "Those kids that are sick…did they have to go to a special hospital. You know, for a certain thing?"

"No," the woman said. She didn't look suspicious and I was grateful. "They're at the local hospital."

"Oh, okay." I smiled slightly. "Good-bye for real this time."

I walked back to Sam and Dean. He handed me a coffee.

"Thank you."

"Mm-hm."

I reached into my pocket to get some money to give him for the coffee, but when I tried to give it to him, he wouldn't take it.

"Dean…"

"Tell me what you found out and we'll call it even," he said. "Okay?"

"Yeah," I said. "There's not much to tell though. The playground is almost empty because kids are getting sick. Hospital sick. Nobody knows what's causing it. Oh, and they're at the local hospital."

------------- -

As soon as Sam and Dean found out about the hospital, they decided to pretend to be workers sent from the Center for Disease Control.

"You're kidding, right?" I asked.

"No," they both said.

"Well, what am I supposed to do? I'm too young. I mean, unless I'm job-shadowing or something like that."

Dean looked at me. "That might actually work. We're gonna have to get you the right type of clothes though."

"Oh no." That meant I'd end up wearing some sort of woman business-type suit thing…with heels. I hated high heels. They were shoes that were made in Hell, I was sure. They were designed specifically to make you fall and break your butt bone or your ankle.

And there we were in out suits in the middle of the hospital and Sam and Dean were arguing again.

"Dude," Sam said. "Dude, I am not using this ID."

"Why not?" Dean asked.

"Because it says bikini inspector on it."

Dean laughed and so did I…but mine was more from being nervous than anything else. I mean, they were using fake ID's and Sam didn't want to use the one he had.

"Don't worry," Dean was saying. "She won't look that close." He was talking about the receptionist, I assumed. "Hell, she won't even ask to see it. It's all about confidence, Sam."

Dean pushed Sam toward the front desk and grabbed my arm to pull me away with him. We stopped a few feet away from Sam.

"Hi," I could hear Sam say. "I'm Dr. Jerry Kaplan. Center for Disease Control."

"Can I see some ID?"

Dean, who was standing right beside me, tried not to laugh. Sam glared at him, but smiled at the receptionist.

"Yeah, of course." He took the ID out of his jacket and quickly showed it to her, and then put it away.

I probably would've asked to see it again, but thankfully, she didn't.

"Now, could you direct me to the pediatrics ward, please?"

"Okay," the receptionist said. "Just go down that hall, turn left, and up the stairs."

Sam smiled at her. He turned to Dean and glared at him again as he walked towards us.

"See?" Dean said. "I told you it'd work."

Sam shook his head and said quietly, "follow me. It's upstairs." So we followed him.

As we walked down the hallway, I started to feel weird. I didn't know if it was because I just hated hospitals or if it was something else, but I felt weird.

Suddenly I was having trouble breathing. My breaths were coming in short gasps and I felt like my head was spinning.

I looked around and saw that Dean had fallen behind. He was looking into a room that we had passed a few seconds ago. The door was open and I didn't know what he was staring at, but I didn't really care, at that point, because I was focusing on my breathing.

"Guys?" That was Sam. It got Dean's attention…and mine. Sam must have seen the way I was acting, because he looked concerned all of a sudden. "Are you okay?"

"I'm…I feel weird," I said.

"Weird?" Dean asked.

"Yeah. Like…I don't know. Just weird. Dizzy and like I can't breathe."

Dean looked at Sam. "Should we let her rest?"

"No." I said. I refused to hold them back. "We can go. I'm good. I just hate hospitals."

Sam nodded hesitantly and we started walking again. Dean walked right beside me and I tried matching my breathing with his. Within a minute, I was feeling better.

"You good now?" Dean asked as we turned into another hallway and went upstairs.

"Yeah."

"What was that?"

"I don't know," I said. "Honestly. The only other time that's ever happened to me is before that demon attacked me the second time," I whispered even though hardly anyone was around.

"Hm. Were you freaking out?" Dean asked and he wasn't joking around. I must have freaked him out.

"No." I had no reason to have freaked out. "I just felt…not right. But it had nothing to do with what we were doing. It was odd."

"You're odd." He was joking again and I smiled slightly.

"That's not news to me," I said.

------------- -

We found Dr. Hydecker, who was the lead doctor for the pediatrics ward, and tried talking to him.

"Well, thanks for seein' us, Dr. Hydecker," Dean said. He wasn't freaked out over my little episode anymore, so that was good.

I still felt weird, but I could breathe and I wasn't dizzy. My hands were shaky and I felt semi-nauseous and I was a little cold, but I'd been cold for pretty much the whole day so I didn't know if that counted or not.

"Oh, I'm glad you guys are here," Dr. Hydecker said. "I was just about to call the CDC myself. How'd you find out, anyway?"

"Oh, some GP, I forget his name, he called Atlanta, and, uh, must have beat you to the punch."

It amazed me how Sam and Dean could come up with this stuff at the drop of a hat.

"So, you say you got six cases so far?" Sam asked.

"Yeah. In five weeks." We walked toward one of the rooms. It had a window-glass thing so you could see into the room without actually going in. "At first, we thought it was garden-variety bacterial pneumonia-not that newsworthy. But now…" they doctor trailed off.

"Now what?" Sam and I asked.

"The kids aren't responding to antibiotics. Their white cell counts keep going down. Their immune systems just aren't doin' their job. It's like their bodies are wearing out."

A nurse walked up to us. She looked tired. I felt a surge of sympathy towards her go through me.

Her nametag said Betty. She seemed nice enough. "Excuse me, Dr. Hydecker." She had a clipboard in her hand, which she handed to the doctor. He looked down at the paper on the clipboard and pulled a pen out of his shirt pocket.

"You ever see anything like this before?" Sam asked.

"Never this severe." The doctor signed whatever he was holding and gave the clipboard back to the nurse-Betty.

"The way it spreads, though-that's a new one for me.

"What do you mean?" Sam asked.

"It works its way through families, but only the children-one sibling after another."

Dean spoke up. "Do you mind if we interview a few of the kids?"

"They're not conscious."

"None of them?" I asked.

"No," the nurse said, sounding sad.

"Can we, uh-can we talk to the parents?"

"If you think it'll help." Maybe it was just me, but the doctor had sounded slightly agitated at that question. Maybe he was just tired.

"Yeah," Dean said. "Who was your most recent admission?"

Dr. Hydecker told us about two girls-sisters-that had been admitted a couple of days earlier. Mr. Tarnower, the girl's father, had agreed to talk to us, so we were now asking him questions.

I felt bad that we were taking his time up. If we couldn't fix this, his girls were probably going to die, along with the rest of the kids who were sick. So, hopefully we could fix it.

"I should get back to my girls," the dad said.

"We understand that," Sam said. "And we really appreciate you talkin' to us. Now, you say Mary's the oldest?"

Mr. Tarnower nodded. "Thirteen."

"Okay. And she came down with it first, right? And then…"

"Bethany the next night."

"Within twenty-four hours?" I asked.

"I guess. Look, I already went through all this with the doctor." He was being impatient, but I didn't blame him. I would be too.

"All right, now, just a few more questions, if you don't mind." Dean was trying to calm him down. "How do you think they caught pneumonia? Were they out in the cold? Anything like that?"

"No. We think it was an open window."

"Both times?"

"The first time, I don't really remember. But the second time, for sure. I know I closed it before I put Bethany to bed."

"So, you think she opened it?" Sam asked.

"It's a second-story window with a ledge. No one else could have."

"Thank you for your time," Sam said.

We walked away from the dad and started going towards the stairs.

"You know, this might not be anything supernatural. It might just be pneumonia," Sam said.

"Maybe. Or maybe somethin' opened that window. I don't know, man. Look, Dad sent us down here for a reason. I think we might be barkin' up the right tree."

"I'll tell you one thing," Sam said.

"What?" Dean asked, stopping when Sam stopped.

"That guy we just talked to? I'm bettin' it'll be a while before he goes home."

Sam and Dean exchanged a knowing look and started walking again.

"Wait," I said, following them. "What are you talking about?"

Neither of them said anything until we got to the car. They didn't get in the car, so I didn't either.

"How do you feel about breaking and entering?" Dean asked.

I looked at him. "That depends. Are you in any way kidding?"

"No," both Sam and Dean said.

"Oh. You expect me to come with you?" I couldn't use the excuse that I wasn't feeling well, because I was feeling fine now. I wasn't even nauseous. It must have been the hospital that was making me sick.

"Yep."

"Oh. Well, sure, it sounds great. Except for the I'll-definitely-get-caught factor."

Sam smiled slightly. "You won't have to do anything. Not yet, anyway. But if you're going to learn to be a hunter you need to know these things."

I nodded. I knew that was true. "Well, let's go then."

------------- -

We're going to jail, I thought. Any minute now the police are gonna show up and put us in handcuffs.

I was standing in the middle of Bethany Tarnower's room, watching Sam and Dean do their thing.

Dean was doing something with an EMF meter thing. I knew it was supposed to be used to let you know if spirit activity was going on, but it wasn't going off at all. So, apparently, we weren't dealing with a spirit.

"You got anything over there?" Sam asked. He wasn't using an EMF; he was just looking around.

"No, nothin'," Dean answered.

"Yeah. Me neither." Sam moved around the room and toward the window. He made a face, so I assumed he'd found something. "Hey, Dean."

"Yeah?"

Sam opened the window and both Dean and I made our way toward Sam.

"You were right. It's not pneumonia." There was a black handprint on the window ledge. It was the longest handprint I'd ever seen. Clearly, it wasn't human.

"What the hell leaves a handprint like that?" Sam asked.

I looked at Dean for the answer, but he was staring at the handprint intently…like he'd seen it before.

"Dean?" He didn't answer me, so I put my hand on his upper arm to get his attention.

"Huh?" He looked at me and then at Sam. "What?"

"What leaves a handprint like that?" Sam repeated.

This time he did answer. "A shtriga. I know why Dad sent us here. He's faced this thing before."

Sam looked confused.

"He wants us to finish the job."



Anyway, how do you like it so far. I didn't know if I did a good job with the relationship between Alyson and the brothers or not. Like does it seem natural or not? Is Dean being too over the top with the protectiveness? Review please. I can't do better if I don't know what I'm doing wrong.