Sam dropped his hold on the gun in his hand, letting it fall to his side.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he asked the young man in front of him. "I thought we told you to stay put."

Chris looked up sheepishly. "I couldn't sleep so I thought I'd come talk to Hannah," he admitted. "But I saw her leave and you coming up and I just thought…"

"You thought what?" Sam interrupted. "You thought you'd come and get yourself killed? Is that it?" He couldn't help it – he was infuriated by the sheer stupidity of the other man's actions. Okay, so technically he was only following Sam's lead, but Sam had years of experience in this kind of thing. Chris was still getting to grips with being a firestarter. The two men were worlds apart when it came to breaking and entering.

Sam's outburst seemed to do the trick. Chris looked suitably chastised and Sam was half expecting him to start toeing the carpet any minute now. Then suddenly he looked up again.

"I need to know what's going on," he burst out, "and you and your brother weren't going to tell me. If Hannah's up to something involving me, then I have a right to know. You can't stand there and tell me you wouldn't do the same thing."

Chris's statement, as sudden and heartfelt as it was, did little to appease Sam's anger. Yes, he could understand where Chris was coming from but he didn't have the time to spend babysitting the supernaturally uninitiated. Sighing he motioned Chris over to the sofa.

Joining the other man, he stopped to look out of the window. There was no sign of Hannah, or Dean, and while he wasn't worried yet, he didn't want Hannah to return and disturb them. Trusting his brother to have put his phone on silent, he decided to quickly appraise him of the situation back at the apartment. Calling the older hunter, he was slightly perturbed when it rang and then went to voicemail. Trying to shake the voice at the back of his head reminding him of what had happened last time he got Dean's voicemail, he left a brief message, telling Dean to let him know when Hannah was headed back in his direction.

Turning away from the window, Sam realised Chris was looking up at him expectantly. He took a deep breath and came to a decision. He had to give the man something, telling him so little had proved to be a mistake so far. Sam perched himself on the arm of a chair where he had a good view of the street and Chris.

"We think Hannah's involved in this somehow," he began, holding up his hand to stave off the impending interruption he could feel coming from the sofa. "We don't know how and we don't know why. But we think she's dangerous which is why we told you to stay put."

"How can she be dangerous?" Chris scoffed. "She's a tiny little thing, or haven't you noticed?"

"She's not what you think," Sam replied, wondering how much of Dean's theory to share with him. He didn't have any irrefutable proof yet that Hannah was a witch but he was beginning to agree with his brother.

"What is she then? A man?"

"Chris," Sam tried to put himself in the other man's shoes. "You know there are things out there we can't really explain. You're a firestarter, I have visions. Hannah has other powers. She's the one who commissioned your portrait from Elaine. She's the one that wrote the list of names of people Elaine was painting or whatever. She's in this up to her neck. And until Dean and I can stop her, you need to steer clear of her. Do you understand?"

Chris still looked sceptical and Sam couldn't say he blamed the guy. He'd just come clean about his weird, freaky powers and now here were two complete strangers telling him his sometime girlfriend had supernatural powers of her own and was potentially a danger to him. He studied Sam closely and Sam found himself shifting from side to side. After what seemed an age, Chris stood up.

"I still think you're crazy," he commented. "You and your brother. I'm not going to go out of my way to avoid Hannah, but I won't call her if it'll make you happy." He pushed past Sam on his way to the door. With one hand resting on the door, he paused and turned back to Sam, a contemplative expression on his face. "How do you control your visions?" he asked.

Sam was taken aback by the question and had no good answer for it, even if he had been prepared. "I don't," he admitted. "I have no idea when or where they're going to happen. I'm sorry, Chris, but I really don't know how to control any of it. I guess you're just going to have to try your best." He gave a helpless shrug, trying not to squirm under the scrutiny of the other man. Chris simply nodded and turned away from him, opening the door and slipping out of the apartment and Sam's sight.

Sighing, Sam returned to the living room and the window. The sun was rising in the sky and the streetlights were turning off, leaving the world bathed in a soft golden glow. Wondering where Hannah had gone to, Sam debated whether to call his brother again or not. Deciding against it for the moment, he picked up the phone book Chris had been looking at when Sam interrupted him. Flipping it open at a random page Sam recognised the writing instantly. Scanning down the list of names and addresses, nothing jumped out at him and, frustrated, he slammed the book closed, replacing it where he thought it probably lived.

Coming to the conclusion there was nothing to be found in the living room, or anything further of interest in the bedroom, Sam decided to take a quick look in the kitchen while he still, apparently, had time. Pulling open drawers and cupboards quickly and efficiently, it was easy to see that Hannah was a girl who liked to eat out a lot. There were various packets of dried food and cereal, a carton of milk and some juice but not much else.

Pulling open what turned out to be the cutlery drawer, Sam froze. Caught at the very back of the drawer, behind the knives, was a fabric pouch. At first Sam thought it was a hex bag, but commonsense told him a witch wouldn't have one of those in her kitchen. Tentatively taking it in his hand, he turned it over until he found a small zipper. Opening it slowly, he took a look. The opening, however, was too small for him to see anything so he gingerly put one finger inside.

The contents of the bag were soft and, to Sam's great relief, dry. He wondered if he could identify the contents without emptying the entire bag but it was such a small pouch it seemed impossible. Casting his eyes round the kitchen, he found a small plate onto which he poured the contents.

Any other person would have just accepted the collection of herbs as a poultice or drawer freshener. Sam wasn't any other person though, and he instantly recognised the assortment of hemlock, wolfsbane and belladonna along with a couple of leaves he had never seen before. Poking the leaves cautiously with one finger, he shook his head slowly. It seemed Dean's insistence that Hannah was a witch was on the mark. The herbs in front of him easily lent weight to his brother's assertion.

Carefully refilling and replacing the pouch, Sam decided he'd learned everything he was going to from Hannah's place. What he needed now was to confer with Dean and form a new plan of action. His brother still hadn't returned his call and he was becoming a little anxious.

Letting himself out of the apartment, Sam made his way back to the alleyway where they had based themselves to spy on the girl. Taking his phone one more time, he redialled the last number, Dean's, and waited for it to connect. Half expecting it to go to voicemail once more, Sam was more than a little surprised when a voice answered on the second ring.

"Sam?"

"Where's Dean?" Sam was on instant alert. Dean rarely left his phone anywhere other than on his person intentionally.

"Dean can't come to the phone right now, Sam. Maybe you'd like to speak to him in person?"

"Who is this?" Sam demanded, back ramrod straight, muscles tight. He was regretting letting his brother out of his sight and mentally cursing Dean for not staying out of trouble. Because he had no doubt that's where the older hunter was – slap bang in the middle of trouble.

"Come down to the Lounge Club and find out," the voice taunted him. "I'm sure Dean will be delighted to see you."

"If you've hurt him…" Sam began, but he was talking to a dial tone before he even got to the end of the sentence, leaving him staring stupidly at his cell. His brain had been thrown into confusion. He slumped back against the wall, watching the street coming to life with the passing time. Dean had been following Hannah and while the voice hadn't been hers, he felt it in his bones that she was behind his brother's disappearance. What he couldn't understand was why would they take Dean? It was his name on the list, his face in Elaine's sketches. There was nothing to be gained by taking Dean.

Except his cooperation he realised with a jolt. They knew, and he knew, he wouldn't leave his brother to suffer if he could do something to stop it. They would be expecting him to come to the rescue, be a knight a shining armour, and snatch his brother out from under their noses.

There would be very little chance of snatching Dean away from witches and demons, though Sam thought wryly. Putting himself in his brother's shoes for a moment, he wondered what advice Dean would be giving right now.

Get the hell out of here probably, Sam mused. It wasn't helpful and it didn't ease his sense of betrayal as he headed back to the Impala and the motel room, somewhere to get his head round the morning's events and plan his strategy for getting his brother back in one piece.

*****

Forcing his eyes to open just a sliver, Dean gradually became aware of a chill seeping through his body, originating from his feet. Confused, he gave an experimental wiggle of his toes which met no resistance from the toecap of his boots. The information took a few seconds to filter through his muddled mind but he finally realised his boots had been removed and the cold was creeping through his socks and into his bones, working its way up from his feet to the very centre of his body.

Automatically trying to reach down to rub some warmth into his body, Dean discovered with some dismay but, on reflection, not much surprise, that his wrists were bound tightly together behind his back with plastic ties. He gave them a couple of sharp yanks to test the strength of the fastenings, grimacing when the only result was an acute pain in both wrists and a burning sensation on his skin.

Resigning himself to the fact he was clearly not going anywhere in a hurry, he coerced his eyes into a fully open position and raised his head as far off the floor as he could. In the gloom he could just make out some stacked boxes and what appeared to be a couple of filing cabinets. He guessed the rectangular shadow by the wall was a desk and it didn't take a genius to work out he had been abandoned in a deserted office of the Lounge Club.

Letting his head drop back down to the carpet, hope flared briefly when his cell phone suddenly came to life, filling the office with its musically debatable ringtone. Immediately rolling on his side, trying to pinpoint his phone's location, he realised with alarm that he hadn't been abandoned after all. His phone fell silent amid the sound of footsteps.

He recognised the voice that spoke his brother's name as belonging to the man Hannah had been conducting her business with. Listening to the conversation, he willed Sam to keep his cool and, above all, to keep away.

Dean watched with contempt as Simon moved into his line of vision and snapped the cell phone closed.

"He won't fall for that," he assured the man with a scowl. "He's not stupid."

"Of course he won't," Simon agreed, a cold smile on his face. "That's what we're counting on." As he spoke, he advanced on Dean, who felt at a decided disadvantage from his position on the floor.

Ignoring the ball of ice forming in the pit of his stomach, he couldn't stop the flash of confusion crossing his face. "What are you talking about?" he demanded.

Simon, however, didn't seem to be in the mood to answer Dean's questions. Instead, he stopped at Dean's head and dropped to a crouch, eyes burning into Dean's. Reaching out, he grasped hold of the younger man's chin, forcing his head up and back until Dean thought he meant to break his neck. Leaning forward, he smirked.

"I wouldn't worry about your brother, if I were you," he advised. "You should worry about yourself."


tbc