A/N: This story is the third installment in the War with No Front Series. I have had the privilege of being able to help create the series and to write this collaborative piece for it with the talented Bayre. She has done an amazing job with the first two stories, and we'd love for you to check out The Road Less Traveled, and Terror Town, U.S.A. Both of which are on her account. While Colt & Winchester is part of a "bigger picture" you do not have to have read the previous two stories to be able to fully understand the contents of this piece, though we do encourage it! However, if you choose to read this without having read the first two, there are a few things you do need to know about the series. It picks up after the heartbreaking Season 3 finale, and therefore all spoilers for seasons one through three of the show are fair game. This is a Season 4 Alternate Universe series.

The Road Less Traveled takes place two weeks after Dean's death and focuses on his mysterious return and his search for Sam. Neither come to understand the circumstances behind Dean's return or the cause, but both have been significantly changed by the collection and return of Dean's soul. Terror Town, U.S.A. focused on the dangers of Sam's uncontrolled abilities in a town where everyone is slowly going mad. Colt & Winchester could be referred to as our version of "In the Beginning." This series focuses on the unique and mysterious connection between Dean and Sam and deviates from Kripke's season four, and the war between angels and demons.

Both Bayre and I hope you enjoy and as always feedback is appreciated!

Rating: T

Special thanks to Vanessa and noelani618 for your betas.

Disclaimer: As painful and utterly sad as it is to admit, we don't own Supernatural. 'Tis property of the CW and the Krip.

CW—Chapter 1

Bobby Singer: Everybody got into hunting somehow.

July 4, 1954 Bay Village, Ohio

Leaning against the open window of their weather-worn French doors, Mary Shards took in the warm, July night. The scent of lilacs and azaleas perfumed the humid air. Her home offered her a wonderful view of Lake Erie. The land sloped gently down the three or four hundred yards from the house to the lake. There was a breeze blowing the fragrance of water and freshly cut grass to mingle with that of the flowers. Polaris was barely visible over the calm, smooth water. Later that day she and her husband, Sam, would be out yachting on the lake with friends to watch the fireworks.

Now, a few hours after midnight, everything was quiet. Rubbing her stomach a bit, smiling down at the pronounced bump, she'd tell her son at the picnic they planned for the afternoon about the baby she'd have in early winter.

She glanced away from the tranquil lake and to the den door. Sam kept himself locked away in there too much these days. No matter, she'd done her duty, provided one son and another child on the way. Mary had her own life, water skiing in the summer—well that wouldn't happen until next summer—the library committee, and raising funds for the hospital Sam and his brothers maintained.

It was the lot of the rich, the debutants, like her. Marry well, look good on your husband's arm, add to his business, be a pillar of the community, an example. She could do those things. In fact, she was more than happy to do those things and never share a bed with Dr. Sam Shards again. He provided her a good home, plenty of money, and a fat trust fund for her children. She had friends and more than one offer for potential lovers, a life of her own. Maybe it wasn't the fairytale ending she'd dreamt of as a girl, but it was a good, stable life. That's what she'd wanted, marry more money than her father had and be secure.

Turning away, she was about to close the doors when the sound of someone clearing their throat drew her attention.

"Who is there?"

"Good evening, Mary."

Stepping from the shadows of the tall lilac bushes lining the one side of the patio behind the house, Mary squinted at the man.

"Do I know—" Taking a step back into the house, "It's you."

He followed her into the room, stopping just inside the French doors, eyes drifting to the hallway and stairs beyond the living room. "It's been ten years, but little Sammy, he's not a baby anymore. Seems I'm about seven years too late." He leaned forward and sniffed her neck.

Stalking around her, until he stood in the middle of the room, he smiled. It was feral and sent shivers through Mary. Eyes sliding to her stomach he sighed again and clasped his hands together in front of him.

"What do you want?" She sounded far braver than she felt. For a brief second she wondered why Sam hadn't heard, but then he didn't hear a lot of things going on in this house.

Waving grandly at the room and the land outside, "You have all this and your sister. The only thing I asked in return was an invitation in to visit your child. Your infant child." Eyes flashing yellow, he smirked. "Guess things aren't too happy in this house, all these years and only one and a half kids. Pity." This time his eyes rose to the ceiling. He stopped directly under her son's room. "You broke the deal, Mary."

Mary's eyes followed. "No." She whispered. "He's a little boy."

The man with yellow eyes shrugged. "Not for long."

She didn't really give it much thought. Mary flung herself at him, scratching at his eyes with her nails. Bone chilling laughter erupted from him as he simply lifted one hand and tossed her away as if she was a rag doll.

Pain rocketed across her middle then blossomed out to encompass her entire body. She tried to fight, to scream, to do anything, but it was impossible. The only thing Mary could do was mourn her unborn child and hope her son was spared. Finally, the vague sensation of damp across her body and cold in her hands and feet combined with the thought there was so much blood were the last for Mary Shards.

Present Day

It was Dean Winchester's deepest, darkest, dirtiest secret, and every time Sam witnessed it he was amazed. Simply and utterly amazed. Standing in the middle of a nice, well cut lawn, open book in one hand, Sam glanced around, seeking out his brother.

There he was, right where Sam expected him to be. Dean Winchester, world's greatest hunter, then, now and forever—at least in Sam's opinion—caretaker, protector, slayer of demons, the man who'd probably taken a poke at the Devil's nose when he was in Hell, was now standing amongst baby clothes, old dishes and ugly knickknacks…bartering.

Dean loved yard sales. He'd even barter for porn. If the price was fifty cents, Dean felt the need to pay twenty-five, and usually did. The fact they mostly frequented yard sales run by women or gay men had never gotten past Sam. Dean knew what he was doing, flirting and using that disarming smile of his, and today a limp was added in for more sympathy. If it had a pulse and was interested in men, Dean had it wrapped around his little finger. Not to mention he had himself a bargain.

With a shrug and smile, Sam glanced down at the book; he'd pay the requested dollar. Dean would have it for him for a nickel. Sam couldn't complain, heck Dean's talents for stretching a buck had kept Sam in clothes, rarely hungry, and up to date on any technological device he'd wanted for his entire life.

The fact Dean handed over a five-dollar bill for a box tucked under his arm—clearly marked five dollars—more than a little piqued Sam's curiosity. Juggling the book, he arched up on his toes for a better look, but the box was closed.

Hobbling across the grass, stopping for a look at a few other things along the way, Dean finally made his way to Sam's side. Leaning over a bit, shifting the box against his side and rubbing the spot he'd just removed it from, Dean glanced at the book. "You're not paying a dollar for that."

"It's my money."

"Says the guy who doesn't hustle it. Gimme that."

Before Sam could do anything, Dean snatched the book and moaned and groaned his way back to the woman he'd handed over five dollars for a box to. Sam watched as she flushed, then tilted her head, giggled. She squeezed Dean's bicep—twice. The words my brother…curious kid…gets nervous in the car…just me to take care of him…drifted at Sam. Christ, he was never going to live down the temper tantrum in the Impala, the one just a few weeks ago.

The woman took the book and set it on top of the box, patted Dean's arm—it was sickening the way she leered at Dean's ass when he walked away—and called a cheery good-bye to them. Sam waggled four fingers at her and offered her halfhearted smile.

Dean was grinning like he'd won the lottery when he handed Sam the book. "There ya go, Sammy."

"Want me to carry that?" Sam reached for the box. His curiosity quadrupled when Dean shoved it away and partially behind his back. "It's just a box, and there's a surprise in it for you."

"You fell through a few floors, um three I think." It hadn't been one of Dean's most graceful moments.

"I can carry a box, Sam. If I have to, I can carry you too."

"I was just saying—"

"You're not seeing what's in here till I'm ready to give it to you. I paid five of my hard earned dollars, not to mention the price of this…" he took the book from Sam and stopped, taking a good look at it. "Sam, this is just gross. I paid for this?"

"No, you let a sixty year old woman grope you for it."

"Payment is payment, doesn't have to be monetary."

Sam snorted and trailed behind Dean to the car. "Think about it Dean, all those murders, serial killers, unsolved, uncaught. Take that one," Sam's finger pointed to the page Dean was staring at. "Mary Shards, over half a century later and still her murder was never solved. I've always wondered, now more than ever, do demons and this war have something to do with things like that? Bizarre, inhuman acts committed by humans against humans. Maybe not as much human as everyone thinks?"

Dean stopped, snapped the book shut and handed it back to Sam. He arched one eyebrow and spent a few seconds looking Sam up and down with an intense enough gaze Sam started to wonder if his clothes had melted away or turned some embarrassing shade of candy pink. "You honestly think that?"

Shrugging, Sam sniffed and wiped one hand across his nose. Stupid, dusty old junk at these things. "It's a theory."

"Well, aren't you just Mr. Cheery." Dean shook his head, opened the passenger door for Sam and shuffled to the driver's side. The box was placed carefully in the back seat. Turning to Sam as he started the car, Dean wagged a finger at him. "No peeking, Sammy."

Sam flipped around to face forward. "I wasn't peeking."

"You were peeking."

"I wasn't—" This time Sam was cut short by sharp, wet coughs that rattled up from his chest in quick waves, "—eeking."

Dean gave him a more serious appraising look. "What you say we find a motel for the night?"

Sam nodded and smiled, settling back he read his book.

Pine View Motel, Strongsville, Ohio

They had been running since Cutter's Landing. For nearly two weeks now, the two of them had been living out of the Impala, gas stations and diner bathrooms, rarely staying at the local motels for more than a few hours a night. Running from what exactly, Sam wasn't entirely sure anymore. He understood Dean's fears, knew that when Dean was scared for his brother's safety, this was exactly what he did. Sam had been expecting Dean's on-the-move behavior to ease down a little. Especially when the money ran out. But Dean had risked hustling pool in a few bars in the same town, the same night, and had almost walked away with a broken nose and bruised jaw for his rushed and dicey efforts.

The money had afforded them another week on the road.

Sam hoped a hunt would slow them down, and found one as soon as he could after the pool hustling disaster of Terre Haute. A common salt and burn in a house anything but common in its condemned state was what had been available along the Ohio-Indiana border. Dean had rushed the hunt, stating the entire time they needed to be on the road by morning, and how they should burn the whole house and do the community a favor; remove the eyesore. That was when Sam figured the house had somehow taken on a life of its own, and in the name of self-preservation had swallowed Dean through the weak floorboards of the third floor.

Sam had thought he'd lost Dean all over again, never wanting to relive those terrifying moments where he'd sprinted to the first floor, only to find Dean swearing, coughing, surrounded by a miasma of dust and debris, a bed from the second floor having broken his fall and joined him on his descent to the first. He was ordering Sam to get the gasoline, searching his pockets for his lighter angrily, hell bent on revenge; ignoring the fact he'd ripped open his leg on the way down. He played it off as long as he could…until he was reduced to having to ask Sam to help him move, to get off the bed.

They burned that house, watched it go up in a glorious ball of flame, Dean grinning while it was reduced to pitiful ashes. A few stitches in a rest stop bathroom, and Dean swore he was good to go.

Then they were back on the road again.

The yard sale had been a godsend as far as Sam was concerned. Dean's eyes had lit up like they hadn't in a long time and Sam welcomed the small break. Now he had something to read, and Dean had his mystery box. From the sound of things, they would be staying in an actual room for the night. He was silently hoping they would be able to stay longer than that, even though the set of Dean's jaw and the determination sparked in his eyes told a different story. Sam wanted him to rest. Sam was sure demons were behind the events in Cutter's Landing, and the things Sam and Dean had learned about each other. There was no denying they were going to have to fight this war. They could, as long as they stuck it out together, but how long were they going to keep running?

Dean had pulled into the Pine View and after grabbing the keys for their room he'd ducked back inside the Impala to grab his box, eyeing Sam suspiciously.

"Did you look?"

"No," Sam started, a laugh burbling roughly inside his lungs and exiting as a cough instead. There had been a lot of dust at the garage sale, and he'd been telling Dean he was okay, but on the drive there, Sam wasn't even sure he could believe that lie.

Dean didn't look like he believed it either.

As Sam started into another coughing fit, he groaned and rolled his large shoulders forward, folding into himself before pushing open the door. He'd been noticing this coming on for a while, ignoring it. Those last few nights in the backseat had been cold, the tickle and burn in his throat, the wet heaviness in his chest, all signs he'd been trying to be blissfully unaware were even there. One sidelong look at Dean told him that he should have said something sooner.

Hunters couldn't get sick.

Dean's shoulders sloped, the lines in his face deepening as he studied Sam, who tried to give him a reassuring smile. It came off weary, he could feel it, and saw it reflected in Dean's stance as he leaned into the car. Sam knew where Dean's mind was going and he shook his head, ticking up a shoulder. He was fine. It wasn't Dean's fault. Sam could have made him stop at any time; let him know he needed the rest. He'd just been waiting to see how long it would take Dean to stop on his own. Sam knew that look, the one that edged his brother's eyes and aged him at least ten years. Sam knew the Pine View Motel was going to be their new home for a while.

"I think we should stay a while," Dean said. "Get you rested up."

"I'm fine," Sam shrugged, shutting the passenger side door. His voice had cracked up at the end as he swallowed another cough. "You need to get off that leg."

"'M fine," Dean sighed. The hobbled and painful looking gait to Dean's walk told a completely different story.

Sam shook his head, grabbing the duffels. "Whatever, man."

Suddenly the ache and chill that had set into Sam over the last half hour was welcomed. He decided to embrace the damn cold if it meant Dean was going to lay down on a bed tonight and hopefully stay off his leg for the next few days. Sam let the subsequent cough come as it wished, let it rattle around in his lungs as catalyst of change. They could stop running now.

Sam set the duffels on the table next to where Dean had dropped the mystery box, and started to rifle through them for a few hoodies. He'd slipped two over his head and was working on the third when he caught Dean's look.


"Sure you're fine," Dean shook his head.

"Just a little cold in here," Sam smiled sweetly through the lie. "You gonna let me check your leg? I brought in the stuff to change the bandages."

Dean shifted his eyes to the box. "After I show you what I got you."

Sam recognized the not so smooth diversion of his attention. Dean wasn't going to dodge Sam all night about that leg. But for now, mostly because Sam could feel this cold hitting fast, and arguing would only prolong how long they danced around this box, he relented and waved at the mangled and greasy cardboard.

"What did you get me?"

Dean grinned mischievously and Sam huffed. "If that is a huge box of porn, dude…"

Sam watched his brother dig into the box and hold up a dog-eared and worn-out leather book. He tossed it to Sam and waited, looking pleased with himself. It only took a few pages as Sam thumbed through it for him to realize what it was his brother had found.

"This is a hunter's journal," Sam's awe wasn't hidden from his voice. "You found a hunter's journal at a yard sale?"

Dean nodded. "I knew I'd hit paydirt right away, and the beauty is that you can actually read this one, unlike Dad's chicken scratch. Thought you'd like another resource."

Sam poked his nose over the edge of the box and saw that there was more there: a hat and one really old looking camera. Sam tried to date the junk, putting it around the 1950's. "Why did you have to get the rest of the stuff?"

Dean pulled out the fedora, flipped it around in his hand and then set it on his head, grinning. "Because I look damn good in a fedora."

"Okay, Dr. Jones," Sam smirked.

Dean shrugged. "Woman would only sell me the whole box. I wanted the journal, so I got these groovy door prizes as a bonus."

Sam huffed and lifted the camera, being careful, feeling like it would bust apart in his hands. It looked like one of the old newspaper photographer's cameras. He looked through the dusty lens at Dean in his fedora and shook his head. "Trash and treasure…" he muttered.

His brother was like a kid with that fedora. Sam was wondering if Dean would start wearing it out in public. It was going to be at least a day before his brother relinquished the dirty, old hat. Dean had set himself up against the headboard, arms crossed, fedora down over his eyes like he was ready to take a nap.

Sam took up the other bed, journal in hand, plopping down onto the creaky mattress. Sam didn't care. After all their traveling, the noisy spring mattress felt like memory foam, and he let his achy muscles sink into the grooves.

Dean had been right about the journal's legibility, and Sam was impressed by the organization and the span of time it covered. Over twenty years of this man's life were archived, interspersed with the things he'd learned on various hunts. Sam flipped through the newspaper articles and pictures, coming across the names Jake and Benny more than a few times. He realized it was written from Jake's point of view and two of them had faced a lot of the same things Dean and he had: wendigos, women in white, poltergeists, and demons.

Curious how the two started hunting, Sam went to the first entry and dove in. They weren't always hunters and had lived somewhat normal lives up through the early fifties. He skimmed the entries, gleaming from them that Jake and Benny Colt were brothers orphaned during the Depression, born in 1925 and 1929. Jake had been with the Cleveland Police Department since his early teens and had eventually gone into the force, working two jobs and as a foot cop for a while to get his brother Ben through school. He became a detective in his late twenties and was able to dodge the war because of sketchy records, which had allowed Jake to stay and take care of Ben.

Sam read Jake's story with an eerie sense of familiarity, likening how the guy never had a childhood, and was always looking out for his brother to someone else he knew. Sam's eyes slid over to where Dean was, arms still folded across his chest, breaths even. He'd been quiet for a while.



"Just checking," Sam said. His eyes glanced down at the next entry in the journal and his heart caught with excitement. What were the odds?

"Dean, there's an entry here for July 4th, 1954."

"Yeah…" Dean mumbled, shifting his weight.

"The other book you got me… I was just reading about Mary Shards' murder on this date," Sam said, skimming the entry quickly. "Jake Colt was a detective before he was a hunter, and he worked that case. Listen to this: I've been pulling for Benny to take photos for us, make more than he's making at the Press or at least on the side. Today's his chance, and I'll be walking the kid through my crime scenes this week. Not sure he's got the stomach, but I know Benny's got the heart to get done what he's got to get done…Then he writes later that day about arriving at the Shard's Lake Road home: The smell of blood was so thick, I hadn't even made it to the front porch before I could tell this was personal. Benny was whiter than I'd ever seen him before we passed through that door. Welcome to your first day, Ben. He held in there. I was proud of him. But that woman…there aren't any words to describe what happened to that poor woman…"

A light snore escaped from under the fedora, and Sam looked over at Dean, shaking his head. He'd probably passed out right after Sam had started reading. At least he was resting. Sam set down the journal and looked at the clock. It was almost five p.m. He sniffed at the moisture collecting along the lining of his nostrils, tightening his arms around himself as he tried to shake the cold ache in his joints and core. He knew that soon enough he'd be burning up. Stupid colds. Stupid fevers.

He'd grabbed a few blankets from the shelf, draping one over "Indy," and adding the other to his bed, the chill driving him crazy. His lids were heavy, and he knew a nap wouldn't kill him. They could go get something to eat when Dean woke up. He closed his eyes, setting some internal clock for a half an hour, but not two breaths later he was blissfully oblivious to such things as time.

July 4, 1954 6:15 AM, Bay Village, Ohio

Jake Colt guided his car around police cars and the coroner's wagon, stopping along the side of the wide drive and about halfway down from the house. Some had pulled their vehicles onto the lawn, but he refused to do that, be so disrespectful. Besides, his car might get stuck in the damp ground under the well-watered grass. The 1937 Chevy Sedan was heavier than many of the other vehicles already assembled in the drive and along the street near the Shards' household.

"If you'd give up this old car and we could get something new and sporty, and smaller you wouldn't have to worry about parking." His brother, Ben, seemed to read his mind.

Jake's head twisted around so he could watch the man in the passenger seat fiddle with his camera. "Ha! This baby will still be getting you from one place to the next for another twenty years." He watched as Ben reached in the back seat for another camera bag, hauled it to his lap and started rooting around like a dog digging for its last bone. "Benny," he laid one hand softly on Ben's shoulder.

Ben's head turned to the side, but he didn't look up. Dark hazel eyes slid to meet Jake's gaze, the brown strands of hair dripping in his eyes were impatiently brushed away. It was that fast. Jake's kid brother stopped looking twenty-five and started looking about five. "I think another black car, though." Ben mumbled more to his camera than at Jake.

"We're not getting another car, Benny, this one is just fine." It was one of the two things he and Ben had left of their parents, or any family for that matter. Jake's fingers squeezed. "You don't have to do this, there's plenty of other—"

"Yes. I do." Ben straightened and pushed against the car door until it was open, and he was standing on the lawn. "Even if it's not what you want for me. It's what I'm going to do."

Stepping free of his car, Jake grabbed his suit jacket and hat. He took a deep breath, appreciating the fresh lake breeze and scent of lilacs in the air. Jacket and hat on, he stepped away from the car and waited for Ben to join him. "Ah, murder in the morning."

Ben pulled up short next to him and openly gaped. "You're kidding, right?"

"Benny, you take this stuff to heart too much, get yourself wrapped up in it, and it'll kill you from the inside out. I've seen that happen to too many good men."

Nodding solemnly, Ben fell into step beside him as they walked to the front of the house. Jake let his hand slide from his brother's shoulder as they approached the front door. Everyone there, at least everyone whose opinion mattered to Jake, knew how he felt about Ben being here, doing this, but he didn't want to embarrass the kid by coddling him either.

Jake had to be here, he was a detective with the Cleveland Police Department, and this was a huge case. It was more than a compliment and honor to be involved in this investigation. That didn't mean he had to like it. It didn't mean he had to like his kid brother seeing what he was about to see either.

Ben was up the stairs a few steps ahead of Jake, forever the curious little boy who had to see everything and always asking why. Jake pushed thoughts of the boy he'd raised deeper down in his mind, and concentrated on the here and now. They made their way through the front part of the house. Mary Shards' body was in a room at the back.

Ben's eyes widened and he turned sideways to keep from getting run over when one of the younger uniformed cops ran by, hand over mouth. The poor guy barely made it outside before tossing the contents of his stomach everywhere. Jake felt sorry for the poor kid who was probably about Ben's age. The first ones were always the worst.

The smell hit them then. The smell was what always did the new guys in. Jake could see where the body lay, not everything but enough to know where she was in the room. Ben stopped in the doorway, all six-foot-four of him, which meant he pretty much took up the entire doorway.

Stepping up close enough to Ben he could talk to him and not be heard by anyone else, Jake kept his voice low and spoke into his ear. "I think you're supposed to put the camera up by your eye." With two knuckles pressed into Ben's side, Jake nudged him forward a few steps.

Most the color dropped from Ben's face. His eyes went from Jake to the camera held loosely at his side. "Y-yeah."

Jake closed his eyes for a beat, took a deep breath and opened his eyes, looking right at the body. "Just take the pictures, Benny. Don't think about her, take the pictures just like you did of the buildings and railroad tracks you'd drag me to."

"There's so much blood." Ben exhaled.

"It's just red stuff." Gripping Ben's shoulder for a few seconds, Jake gave him another slight push toward the body. "I didn't work extra shifts pounding a beat and putting up with that crap security job with those annoying socialites and their bratty kids down at the Halle Building during Christmases to put you through school for nothing. You wanted to do this, and I got you the chance with the PD so you'd make more than at the Press. Don't you dare let me down."

Ben visibly jerked at Jake's last words, but it worked. He took a few deep breaths and raised the camera, getting a few shots. "Never mind the fact you took half those socialites to bed." Ben muttered, a few adjustments to one of the camera's dials, and he took more pictures.

Jake grinned and let the flat part of his fingers press a bit further into Ben's side for a few seconds more before he stepped back a few paces. If Ben could sling smartass remarks, he was doing okay. Another minute and he was moving around, getting shots from different angles.

"Told ya he'd do fine."

The voice behind him and the hand slapping his back made Jake jump. That earned a snicker from the man behind him.


"Captain Gareau to you when we're on the job."

Jake rolled his eyes and shook his head.

"Guess no matter what you do it seems Ben is bound and determined to be a cop just like his big brother."

Snorting to cover his smile, Jake couldn't help feeling a swell of pride in his chest. That's exactly what Ben was trying to do, be a cop, merely a different type of cop.

His pride was overwhelmed for a moment with an anxious knot that had tied up in his gut. Benny always looking up to him had been the reason he'd had to fake that limp during the war. Ben was tall enough back then, would have lied about his age, gone to war just to be there alongside Jake. He couldn't have that. He still got shit from Del about that faith healer in Akron. Fake limp, fake healing, what was the big deal? In the end, he knew Del saw it his way. Jake would have fought, but not if it cost him the only family he had.

Ben stopped and straightened, glancing at Jake and Del. He'd been about to step over the body but was clearly now seeking approval. He may have had the entire procedure book memorized since he'd been fifteen or so, but he'd never actually been to a crime scene and Jake knew he wouldn't want to disturb anything.

Del nodded and waved one hand indicating Ben was fine doing what he was doing. "You did good with him, Jake. Ben's a great kid even if you did make him read all those comic books."

"I didn't—" Jake pressed his lips together and shook his head again when Del turned and walked off to the coroner. Before he'd put on a uniform, Jake worked cleaning the police department downtown offices. The only books he could afford to buy Ben were comics. More than once he found comic books, school supplies, and other odds and ends thrown away in a trashcan. Sometimes it was the other cops; most times it'd been Del Gareau making sure Jake could provide some extras for Ben. A lot of the guys at the station had looked out for them. Giving Jake opportunities to make something of a life for Ben and himself.

Using the pretext of examining the scene for evidence, Jake made sure to stick close to Ben. He wouldn't have blamed Ben if he needed to get out of there, but he wasn't surprised he was holding his own. Still, Jake stood at a safe distance, gaze shifting between his brother and the body, and around the room.

"Any witnesses? Leads?" Jake asked Del.

"A few…nothing we can use."

Jake tilted his head. "Why do you say that?"

"Trust me," he said with an emphatic wave toward the front door. "When I asked one guy to describe the man he saw leaving the house, he told me the guy's eyes were some strange color. If you ask me, someone's been watching too many creature movies. Too Black Lagoon for me."

Jake arched a brow then smirked. "Okay then."

Ben and he had caught that show. Jake had enjoyed watching Ms. Adams prance around the screen in her bathing suit, running from the creature. Ben had wanted to discuss the likelihood there were things like that out there. Maybe Del was right about all those comic books.

Jake looked back at Ben and something else caught his eye. A small face in the doorway staring in at the body on the ground, eyes frozen to the spot…

"Shit," Jake breathed. "Who's supposed to be watching the kid?"

Jake crossed the room and maneuvered the boy back outside, closing the door behind him. This was the woman's son, Sam Jr. Kneeling in front of the kid, he could see the hollowed out depth to his glassy eyes. His gaze was still on the closed door, and Jake tried to put himself between the middle distance and the image that had to be seared into the poor kid's brain. Sam had been the one to find the body.

"Hey, kiddo, you need to stay out here, okay?"

"She's not sleeping, is she?" Sam asked.

For a moment he couldn't think, Sam's eyes melting away to Benny's and the smell of fire and singed flesh, a painfully similar question asked through large tears and trembling lips. They're not coming back, are they, Jake?

Jake shook his head and sucked in a breath as the boy slammed into him, wrapping small arms around his neck. Again, Jake could feel the weight of Benny's arms as he ran them through the burning halls of their house. He closed his eyes, breathing in the lake water air, trying to reorient himself. He straightened and picked the boy up, looking around for an officer, wanting to hand Sam off.

That was when he saw Sam's father, getting loud and angry. Dr. Shards claimed he'd been chasing the man after he'd heard a commotion, had fought with him. Now Jake could see he was being handcuffed and pushed into the back of a car. His protests reached his son who broke from his trance and looked back toward the cars. The boy wriggled free from Jake's grasp and started to run after his father. Before Jake could catch up to him, another officer stepped in to pick him up while he screamed and struggled. Christ, what a mess…

"Were you the one watching him?" Jake barked.

"S-sorry. His aunt is coming…I turned my back for just—"

"Get him out of here and keep him away from the house!" Jake ordered, pointing toward the cars along the road. He wanted the boy as far from the scene as he could get.

He paused at the door, taking a second to clear the memories that shimmied through him of the night Ben and he lost everything but each other. Here he was almost twenty years later and still haunted and unable to escape. He pressed his fingers into the bridge of his nose, took another deep breath, and ignoring Sam's cries, pushed open the door.

Ben couldn't mess this up. He knew what lengths his brother had gone to, to be able to get him here. It was why he was trying as hard as he was to still the tremor in his hands, wrapping them tighter around the camera until they were bloodless white. He felt Jake's eyes on him, Del's too, and he didn't want to foul up the pride he could see in both of their faces. He was being tediously careful with where he put his steps and with the content of his shots. If there was anything useful to help them solve this poor woman's case then he was going to find it and have the photo evidence to back it up.

Jake had left him alone to go get the boy who'd been looking in on his dead mother. Ben's stomach had twisted at the look of devastation, and in combination with the metallic blood and some other peculiar putrid scent, he almost lost his stomach's contents. He'd paused, placing a hand to his mouth to keep the bile down, shooting a weak smile to Del who looked worried. He set back to taking pictures to let him know he was okay, and he didn't have to worry about him, even though the absence of Jake's presence was blaring like a siren through his head. Del had nodded and had taken his leave, giving Ben some unwanted one on one time with the body.

He could do this. He didn't need his brother or Del to be able to prove himself. The pictures would speak for themselves.

That didn't stop the wave of relief that washed over him when Jake returned, looking worn. He was about to ask if he was okay when that same scent struck out at his nose again, causing him to gag and put a hand to the back of his mouth.

"Do you smell that?" he asked, on the verge of retching.

Jake narrowed his eyes. "You mean besides a couple hours of death and the blood?"

"Something smells like…like rotten eggs."

That received a weird look from Jake and he shrugged, crouching down near Mary's face. He'd been saving this picture for last, trying not to look her in the eyes. He wasn't ready for them, for the absence of light, the last moments of fear etched into the blown pupils. He swallowed against his constricting throat and shot the photo.

Something caught his eye at the crook of her unnaturally bent neck. Beneath her was a small pile of yellow powder. He touched it before thinking and drew it back to his nose, recoiling. That was where the smell was coming from.

"Jake," Ben said, turning toward his brother. "Come look at this."

He turned back to the woman, just in time to see her dead eyes were on him, pupil's fixed.

"It's you."

The words gurgled up from a throat steeped in fluid and then all he could see were yellow-eyes and blood, Mary's screaming shredding through his very soul…

Sam startled awake violently, flailing his arms out to stop himself from spilling over the side of his bed in a bundled mess of sheets and disorientation. He steadied himself, and instinctively sought out Dean, eyes meeting his brother's as he too was up like someone had run an electrical current through his body. Sam watched Dean take off the fedora, Jake's fedora, and stare at it like it would come to life at any moment, expression haunted before he turned wide eyes back to Sam.

In unison and completely at the shock of the other, they both blurted out. "Dude, I just had the most freaky-ass dream."

Blinking, seeming to soak in what Sam was saying, Dean shuddered and threw the fedora at the end of the bed.