Disclaimer: Everything was written for fun, not profit. Sadly, I do not own any right of the Winchesters and the nasty was taken from the web. I borrowed all of them, except the OCs.

This was written for the Dean-focused hurt/comfort fic challenge on http:// community . livejournal . com / hoodie_time (without the blanks).

Original prompt was: Outside POV. The brothers find themselves locked up in some place narrow with some random people in peril. Problem, Dean is claustrophobic. Gen, please.

So. Here's what I made of it.


In the closet

I can't believe it. I've seen it, but I still can't wrap my head around it. Seriously? Salt?

How the hell is stupid salt out of some little paper-bags supposed to save our collective asses? And why did we have to hide in here of all places, without even a window, just this stupid lightbulb up there, not even a cover around it. And it keeps flickering, not to mention it should have been exchanged with one of those bio-luminescent, hyper-environmentally friendly, extra-expensive bulbs long ago. I know that, it was in the memo. I had to put one of those crap-things in my desk-lamp, and I hate the creepy light it gives off. I know, I know, there are wonderful bulbs with a nice, friendly and warm colour out there and I certainly believe we all should do something – at least this much – towards keeping global warming at bay. But it would be too expensive, said Mr. Collainy.

Asshole.

I bet his office has those expensive bulbs all over the ceiling. Or those LED-thingies. Come to think of it, now that I'm about to die in a fucking tool-closet in the cellar, I'm seriously pissed at myself that I didn't just keep my old bulbs. I mean, I still worry about the world and stuff, but since I won't get to see any of it anymore anyway, I wish I would have done at least one pathetic thing just for my own comfort. Has been a while. Seventeen years, to be exact. No, seventeen years and nine achy, puke-filled, working-towards-barrel-size months. I'm just glad that Mike will have to finish Allison's last bout of teenage-angst and misery. And they say boys hit puberty later and longer… hah! Ok, the longer part… maybe that's correct. I mean, look at this guy there. Sam. His hair has certainly not seen a barber in years, he looks like one of those emo-boyband-singers Ally keeps weeping over. I have to say, though, he looks pretty nice. Would like to see him without this mane. Or without the clothing… Good thing Mike'll never know what my last thoughts are, they most certainly would disappoint him. Or maybe not, he is strange, that man. Maybe he would even understand. God, I hate this understanding crap. I wanted a MAN, not a wimp. Sure, sure, a wimp to raise my kid, that is fine. I'm pretty sure he has a much better connection with Ally than I'll ever have. But I'd like him to hit the table at least once a year. Or fix the damn kitchen-cupboard, like he promised. The way I see it, I will have to do it.

Or no, I probably won't.

Damn.

I wish Mike'd know how to handle a hammer. Or hold a nail. Shit…

********

Anyway. You're probably wondering what I'm doing in a closet? With a giant? No lion and no witch, as far as I can see, but the night's still young. You got me. I'm wondering myself. You see, I was on my late-night work-spree – I have to do this once a month to catch up with my workload – minding my own business, when this … well, when Darla, the bossy cleaning-lady suddenly screams like being skewered by a lion. Turns out, she was. Skewered, that is, I'm not sure about the lion. But some large, animal-ish thing was gnawing on her when I rounded the corner and she was still… still alive. Screaming. …

I'm so glad Allison is gonna be ok.

Problem was, the moment I saw this thing, it saw me too. It …meowed or something and I didn't hang around to get eaten, so I turned and ran. I can't even remember why I took the stairs instead of going for the elevator, but I'm sure glad I did because I would have been instant goulash if I'd had to wait for the 'ding'. Sitting here I can see that I fell at least once, my hands are a mess. Must have twisted my wrist, maybe even broke it and my ankle is definitely wrenched. Ligaments are torn. I'm sure, I know that pain. Tore them playing basketball when I was in school, hurt like a bitch. Swelling is familiar too.

I guess I'm lucky. Darla would probably swap places with me in a second. Poor woman. Was a hag, bossy as if she owned the company, but nobody deserves that. Poor woman.

I'm glad it wasn't me, though.

Anyway. I can't remember how I managed to get to the ground-floor, but somehow I did. And fuck old-man Collainy and his security-issues! As if anyone would steal records from us. But there I was, doors closed and locked and my key-card was upstairs in my bag. And no way would I manage to get there and come back. No way. So I guess I might have whimpered a little when I heard them. First, I heard Angus, the night-guard. Old grump, so happy somebody finally agreed to give him a gun that he can't keep his fingers off this thing. But now, in that circumstances the idea of Angus and a weapon made me nearly pee my pants in relief. So I whisper-called his name.

He didn't answer. I heard him talking to someone around the corner of the corridor, and when I went there… Well.

Okay, first of all: I'm a very, very faithful woman, I love my useless husband and I even sometimes love my teenager. But hell, I'm female and human, so my first thought when I saw who Angus was talking to was: Holy Fuck!

Maybe I said that out loud too, because one of those perfect examples of human maleness switched his gaze to me… My legs were already pudding, but that was just … wow. I was glad I wasn't a man then, no pants would have covered my reaction if I'd had some outwardly visible genitals.

So, Angus was holding those gorgeous men at gun-point and even though he looked as uncomfortable as I would in that situation, the two guys seemed to be annoyed rather than scared. And that should mean something, cause six-foot-something-broad-as-a-closet-black-as-night Angus with a gun is a very scary sight to see. Maybe they didn't shiver because the taller of those two was even taller than him? Maybe, but now that I know more about them, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have been stirred if the man in front of them was eight feet and built like a cement-truck.

How do I come up with those images?

Uhm.. So, Angus was there and the two were arguing with him.

"Come on, man. There is something here in the building, I assure you, you don't want to waste a bullet on us." That was the tall guy.

"And I tell ya, the minute you shoot one of us, you're dead." Wow, the smaller-still-tall guy growled. Sounded nearly as scary as the cat-thing.

"Dean, you are not helping here" I guessed Tall was right, cause Angus shifted his aim to Dean.

"Just stating facts, Sammy"

Uh. 'Sammy' was the last name I would have picked for Tall. He looked more like a … Ben. Or Steve. Bruce maybe. But Sammy? Ok, I know now his name is Sam, that is alright, I guess.

Still think he looks more like a Steve. But I couldn't stand there and watch the probably fascinating stand-off, cause just then I heard more screaming from the locked front-door.

"Help, help, help… we're trapped, anyone, HELP" Angus twitched and that was all t'was needed. Didn't even see what happened, but suddenly Dean had the gun and Angus stared at his empty hand like they do in those Jacky Chan-movies. Even had the mouth open. Still, no time for that. Tall – Sam – grabbed me (my, his hands are huge!) and asked me in a tone so gentle I would've never thought possible in giant if I was alright. I had to giggle.

"No, I'm not alright. I've just been chased down six floors by some mutant cat after I watched it chewing on one of the cleaning-staff. No, I'm definitely not alright!" I was possibly screeching a little. But Sam just bent down and looked into my eyes – he has nice eyes, that one – and asked "But you're not hurt? Did it bite you? Scratch? Anything?" I could only shake my head, too woozy to get out a word. NOT because of his eyes!

He straightened rather sudden and then I too heard the commotion behind me. I must have lost some time, because Dean had obviously made his way to the door and was now leading some very dishevelled-looking people to us. One of them was arguing like crazy, and man, I've never been more delighted to see my boss. It's only fair that if I die in this awful company-building, Collainy will too. Fair's fair, after all. His oh-so-carefully styled silver (I still say it's grey) hair was in a very interesting and funny state of disarray and his designer-glasses were askew. His shirt was buttoned wrong, the jacket was AWOL and his belt unbuckled. Oh, and in case nobody got why the boss would be in the office at night, his fly stood open like a barn-door. Yeah, sure. Late-night work.

Behind him, Maggie DeSilva was limping in one high-heeled shoe, sniffing and looking so miserable and puffy-eyed, I nearly felt bad for her. Wasn't really her fault that she usually looked like a Victora's Secrets-model and the boss couldn't keep his dick in check. Stupid macho-man. And his wife is such a fine, attractive and intelligent woman… Maybe that's the problem? But on the other hand, Maggie is not stupid either. I mean, who would sleep with that ostentatious fool without having a plan in the back of her mind? She's pretty, but she ain't dumb, Mr. Dick-out-of-pants! On the other hand, she's a little uncomfortable to be around, being so close to the boss's ear and all…

Collainy huffed and puffed and Dean looked ready to shoot him, Angus didn't look much different. I certainly wouldn't mind, maybe that thing would eat him and get severe stomach-ache, like I always do after meeting the man? Probably, but with my luck, it would just get cranky on top of murderous…

"Who the hell are you people, what's going on here. Who let his dog roam free – August? That yours?" the old buffoon demanded and Dean and Sam winced simultaneously. I had to agree, it's certainly stupid to shout like that in the presence of… something ferocious. Something carnivorous and ferocious, with good ears. I was only assuming the good-ear part then, but now I have proof – even though I would have been happy to learn that this thing was deaf and I had been wrong. Mike says I hate being wrong, but just then, just now? I wouldn't have minded one fucking bit.

"Would you please shut up now? It has good ears, and it's certainly no dog." Dean growled again. Collainy hates to be reasonable and he hates to listen to anyone but himself even more. "I don't think I know you. I'm Richard Morton Collainy the Fourth. I own this company, have been chairman since before you were born, young man. I don't think – no, I'm absolutely positive" and here he looked Dean over like something disgusting that had crawled from the toilet "you don't have any say in this building!"

The fart can even sneer at the top of his voice, and I heard Dean's hackles rise. No, seriously. I heard that.

"Listen…" he started, but Sam interrupted. "Look, Mr… Collainy. I'm really sorry your… uhm… late work got interrupted, but what's in this building is no dog. And I would really advise that you and your… friend and co-workers would leave the premises. Is there another exit?" he asked Angus now, who would know such a thing and who nodded.

"Yeah… down the stairs, there is the delivery-entrance."

"Please tell me you have a key" That was Dean again.

"No. It's on the same key-ring that's in the bathroom now – where you two yahoos dragged me away from!"

"You were about to get eaten, you ungrateful…"

"Dean!"

I had to smile, the scrunched, unhappy face and mumbling under his breath was so much like Allison when I tell her she's not allowed to stay out till after ten. Sam seemed to be the voice of reason between those two. I was just about to wonder what role the shorter man had in the team – and a team they are, you see it in everything they do – when Dean held up his hand and surprisingly, everyone in our little group stood stock still, not daring to breathe. Even Maggie suppressed her sobs. Then I heard it too.

A very, very silent swabswab, like crepe-soles on marble. When I concentrated, I could hear a silent growl, way scarier than Dean's. From the corner of my eye, I saw Collainy open his mouth and I just knew he would kill all of us, but once again I was surprised when Dean put his finger to his lips and the Boss shut his trap. Impressive.

Without a word, without even a swish of clothing, Dean moved to the corner, as stealthy as the cat-thing and … yeah, Mike, graceful as a ballet-dancer. Damn, that man can move! He peaked around the wall and that's when I noticed Sam had taken a stand in front of us, a gun, which hadn't been visible seconds ago, in his hand pointed towards danger. He was protecting us, but more importantly he was covering his partner.

Sam did not look friendly anymore, he looked lethal. It felt like hours but was only seconds until Dean came back and motioned us to move further down the corridor, looking expectantly at Angus. The guard nodded and he too moved quite and fast, leading the way. I watched as, before Maggie could follow, Dean grabbed her shoulder and slunk down in front of her, lifting her foot and removing the shoe. He did so very gently and looked in her eyes from below, so she wouldn't freak.

Freak more, that is. I couldn't help but look at my own feet and my very sensible, rubber-soled, worn and trusty jogging-shoes. I was a little jealous, and I totally know that it's nuts beyond nuts and absolutely inappropriate to lust after a stranger during what very possibly would be my last hours. But there you are, apparently danger really does heighten the urge to reproduce. Or to have sex, I definitely don't want another kid, ever.

He put the shoe down, carefully so it wouldn't make a sound, stood up and urged her after Angus, the Fool and Sam. And then he looked at me and I noticed that I was still standing where I first stopped, hadn't moved a muscle except maybe my eyeballs and lids. Huh. He cocked his eyebrow and without opening his mouth he said 'You comin', or what?'.

I followed Maggie and the others, well aware of his presence behind me.

*******

Of course we made it, sneaked into the sub-basement and out the delivery-door without even loosing a hair. I'm sitting in the kitchen now, a hot cocoa in front and tell my kid and Mike about my awesome day…

Yeah. Right.

And pigs can fly and all that.

********

No, we didn't make it. We nearly did, though. We reached the door to the lower level, where parking and maintenance and some absolutely fascinating stuff is situated, and Sam reached out to the handle, pulled back the door oh-so-slowly and carefully… but when he did that and ushered Collainy and Maggie and Angus through, the guard looked at me and waved so I wouldn't keep standing like a statue and get eaten. He wanted to help, women first and all that, but when he twisted, his hip-holster banged against the door.

Everything stood, frozen. Dean looked across to Sam, didn't even blink before his eyes were back at the corridor behind us. It had been a very, very silent bang and it shouldn't have made a difference. But of course, it did. When I peeked to Dean, trying to measure what use he would be on the run and in a fight – a lot, I gathered from his stance, maybe even as much as Sam – I watched something move. The thing had heard us and it was moving fast and furiously towards our scruffy group.

"Move, move move NOW!" bellowed Dean, every intention of subtlety gone. He pushed me down the stairs and I briefly wondered when Sam had crossed the threshold since he had been standing right there a blink ago and was now running in front of the others, covering Angus who shouted "left, left left". The guard had his gun back, I noticed.

When I reached the bottom of the steps, I heard a bang that rattled my teeth and reverberated through the stairwell, all the way up to the twelfth floor and out through the roof. It made my knees buckle and my ankle twisted and I heard Maggie scream in terror, Collainy swearing at her to "!" and then I braced my legs and pressed on, following the others. I'd never heard a gunshot in my life, not a real one. Only on TV. But that? That had been a shot and the loud and heartfelt

"GodDamn FUCK this pussy-cat!" from behind made me want to run faster and laugh hysterically at the same time. I heard Dean come up, his boot-soles nearly inaudible. I felt his body-warmth and for a second I was strangely reassured, but then he shouted "Salt, the thing's dead, Sam!"

I stumbled to a stop because the thing being dead surely was a reason for stopping? Dean couldn't halt his momentum and crashed into me, toppling me and catching my arm before I hit the hard tiles.

"Whoa, lady, you got a death-wish? Run!" I didn't question, picked up the pace even, while the man stayed a little behind, firing once again. Up front, Sam was urgently asking Angus where they could get salt. I didn't need to see it to know the disbelief on the guard's face. But something in Sam's voice must have convinced him and he wheezed "Next turn, left, closet, door 007". If I could have spared the air, I'd have giggled.

********

"Sonofabitch" and another crack of the gun from behind – around the bend, actually, had Sam turn to me. The look on his face was… petrifying. His brows were slightly furrowed in concentration, his eyes blazing and with the gun, his size and posture, he was a picture of a warrior from either long ago or far in the future. I'm glad he is on our side.

"Dean?" he bellowed and started to turn, already on the move to help his partner. Just when he reached me, last in the line of frightened, scrappy survivors, Dean appeared at a dead run.

"Don't stop, don't stop. Hasn't figured the whole foggy thing out yet, but it's fast. Run!" and he overtook his friend, going for the front in line and just by running past all of us he managed to get us moving again. Sam took over at the rear, just as much reassurance behind me as the other had been. Angus was wheezing now in earnest, Maggie was pretty much a mess, though to be honest, she was putting up good speed. Collainy was fit, fitter than he should have been considering his belly, but when I came closer I noticed his bright red face and the ragged breathing.

Good, maybe he'd drop dead, be a distraction.

No such luck, of course. 007 came and Dean nearly ran past it, only Angus shout stopped him. The door was shut, of course. Who would leave salt out to be stolen? Dean fell to his knees and I was briefly wondering if I should join him in prayer, but he took out some flat leather-sachet and picked the lock in seconds, opening the door just as Sam reached our scraggly group, screaming "In In IN!" We didn't wait around, Dean pushing first Maggie, than Collainy inside, Angus went willingly – smart man, that Angus – and Sam grabbed my shoulder and nearly threw me into the room. I heard the door slam shut just as something huge crashed against it from the other side. It rattled the doorframe and the metal-shelves and that's how we ended up here.

*******

I stood and panted, peered into the absolute darkness as if something nasty would jump us and tear us into tiny pieces. Considering the day I've had, not such a strange idea. But nothing moved and apart from our collective heavy breathing, no sound came from the depth of the storeroom. Maggie screamed a little and I have to admit I jumped too when suddenly a lightbulb illuminated the room, blinding my eyes which had just begun to get accustomed to the dark. When I heard a muttered "Oh crap…" I opened them again and took in the view.

Not much to take in.

The room is filled with metal shelves, high up to the ceiling, which isn't that high, maybe eight foot. The shelves are not too wide, but since they covered every wall nearly completely, the space inside is further reduced so all we have to store six adults in is a narrow rectangle of perhaps eight by twenty feet. Crap indeed.

We weren't given time to marvel about the unfairness of the universe, though. The thing outside screamed a terrible, high-pitched, roar-like scream and the two strangers, who I just then noticed were pushing against the door with their shoulders, swore such colourful curses that I was tempted to write them down and shock Mike later with them.

If there is a later, I'm gonna ask Dean to repeat them.

"Angus, where is the salt? Get it, now!"

Angus scrambled along the shelves and wedged between some table-clothes which smell dusty and a little mouldy and a carton full of stationary, the guard-man found another carton, filled to the rim with tiny salt-packages.

"You're kidding me, right? We need a LOT of salt!" Dean was grinding his teeth. "Get them opened, make a line across the doorstep."

"Hurry up!" Sam added when the metal door kicked them in the shoulder and the roar from outside turned into something that I imagine a banshee would sound like. I shook myself out of the stupor and grabbed a handful of salt, pushed them into Maggie's hands and tore my own share open to do as those men said. What the hell salt would do us good I still have no idea, but up until further notice I will follow their lead, since they at least have a convincing attitude.

I'm hoping that attitude is based on experience.

We poured a thick line across the doorstep, which took longer than any of us liked. But once we'd finished, the screaming rage from outside turned up a notch and the crashing against the door stopped.

We collectively exhaled and when I looked at Maggie, her wonderful long black hair a mess, eyes puffy from tears of terror, blouse still not fully in her skirt which was torn at the bottom so she had more leg-room, I couldn't suppress a huge grin. We were alive and she looked gorgeous. And then I found out what I'd never believed possible: Maggie is classy. She grinned back and started to giggle which turned into a full-out laugh.

I joined her so she wouldn't be so alone.

"Oh wonderful. Now can you get your oestrogen-induced giggle-fit under control, Margaret? I think we have enough on our hands without the girls loosing their sanity." Yeah. Collainy is better than a cold shower. I'm pretty sure Maggie interpreted my raised eyebrows the right way, because her look said 'What can I say? I need the job' even more clearly than words could have.

"Sorry" is all she spoke, though.

"Well, whatever. Now, you… guys." Oh, Collainy is able to move his brow too. I already knew, since his superior sneer wouldn't be complete without his bushy but carefully plucked and groomed hair-streak to meet his receding hairline. I was impressed that neither Dean nor Sam seemed to be intimidated. They just ignored him.

"So why didn't the gun work? Silver should be perfectly able to kill a phantom-cat."

"Yeah, should. Is in fact able to. But that? That's not alive anymore."

Sam groaned and threw his hands in the air.

"Oh fantastic! We have to clean up the mess of amateurs now? As if we don't have anything better to do."

"Yeah, I'm with ya. But what difference does it make, huh? It's killing people, no matter what."

"Well, for one, if we'd known this is… a clean-up, we would've brought salt? Just sayin" he added when the other man gave him a pissy look.

"Hey, you … freaks!" Collainy didn't like being ignored very much. He stepped closer to the two, towering over them – or at least over Dean. He is about Angus' height and came pretty close to Sam's

"Who are you. What are you doing here. What… is that in the corridor. How did you get it in here and what are you planning to do with it." Perfectly valid questions, but he wasn't asking so much as making statements. Pretty annoying for the poor fucks that work for him, but downright rude – and admittedly quite ballsy – to do that to strangers. Strangers with guns that move like freaking Navy- SEALs.

Dean took a step back, more for comforts sake than for any form of acknowledgement to Collainy's superiority. The boss didn't see it that way, I knew.

"We are the guys who just saved your regal ass, Dicky. Now shut up and let us work!" Dean bared his teeth when 'Dick' bristled and stepped closer again, crowding him. I noticed the balled fist and the nervous play of the trigger-finger, but before Dean's muscles reacted, Sam intervened again. I have the feeling he has to do that more than once, his move was practised and fast and his face was so full of disarming sincerity that Colainy backed away.

"Sir, Ma'am" he looked at me and Maggie "we are… my name… is Sam. That's my brother Dean. That outside? That is – uhm, this is gonna sound a little crazy, but that is the spirit of a phantom-cat. It… well, alive those things are pretty viscous and they –"

"Sam!" Dean interrupted. "They don't need a lecture. Look, ladies. Angus. That was once a nasty thing with claws and a bad temper. Then someone killed it and didn't stick to the basic rules of burning the body, so now we have not a nasty thing with claws anymore, but a very nasty thing with claws, an even worse temper and the ability to make itself incorporeal." He winked at Sam who in turn rolled his eyes.

Collainy huffed disbelievingly, and in a way I agreed.

"You are absolutely out of your mind. Did you escaped from a mental institution? I'm going to call the police and they're going to shoot this … dog. It's just a dog, Margaret, no ghost. There is no such thing as a ghost. Those two are crazy, that is all." Maybe he intended to console Maggie who was pretty much back to her stoic, usual self, but it was Angus who spoke then. He stepped between a slow-boiling Dean and the man that paid his cheques.

"Sir, if you don't mind me saying… Do you think it's wise to rile two crazy men with guns? Sir?"

Surprisingly, the old fart got the point, mumbled something and stepped further away, taking the table-cloths from the shelves and placed them on the floor in one corner. Really, I shouldn't have been surprised, but there you go… Instead of offering the cushion to his secretary and plaything, he seated himself on the cloth, grumbling all the way about the unfairness of the world and the fact that people didn't know their place anymore these days.

"So… what do we do now?" I think it might have been the first time I spoke, my voice sounded rough and foreign to me. Sam huffed a sigh. "We can't really do anything. We can't step out of the door, the minute we do, this thing will kill us. Dean, you got reception in here?"

Turned out, Dean didn't. Maggie had one bar but sadly, she also had only one bar left for the battery of her cell, so the only thing they could do was send a text-message.

"Oh fantastic!" my boss sneered. "And who are you going to text? The police won't answer texts from crazy people."

"The police can kiss my ass" Dean sneered back. "And they wouldn't do any good. Shut up or I'll see if the thing might like some hors d'oevre." He went back to ignoring the old man, peering over Sam's shoulder. The bigger man hit "Send" and they waited anxiously. When the "message sent"-beep beeped, they exhaled in unison and groaned together when the battery died only seconds later.

*********

That happened about twenty minutes ago. Right now, all of us are sitting in the cramped closet, staring with empty eyes into the gloom. I can hear them breathing, Maggie is back to sobbing every ten breaths, Angus sounds like a fright-train and the Boss is grumbling insults. Sam is quietly looking through the shelves and Dean is doing the same, only a little less organized. He is shifting from one foot to the other, picking up stuff, fumbling it and putting it down, only to take it in his hands again a minute later. He seems more than nervous.

"Dean, sit down. You make me itchy."

"Should have washed, Geek." He picks up a box of stationary that he'd sorted through already. Sam turns and takes it from his hands.

"Sit. Down. There is not enough room for two to do this."

"How about you sit down and I sort this?"

"You can't even sort your socks, Dean. And they are all black." Sam raises his brows when he looks at his brother. The way Dean scowls shows that it's a gaze he throws at him often. Kinda bitchy.

"Come on, bro. Sit." Muttering under his breath, Dean sits, looking at the floor rather than anyone. In the poor light, he seems a little pale and sweaty, but then again I guess everyone looks terrible.

Adrenaline leaving the body, I start shaking.

"Hey, you ok?" Sam, the gentle giant. I nod. I'm probably a little shocky. My fingers shake. Seconds later, Sam puts his jacket around my shoulders and boy, does he look nice in a shirt. A little peek over to the brother gives me time to compare them. Dean's jacket had been on Maggie's shoulders the minute she sat down, as far from Collainy as possible without making her dislike obvious. I wonder if she'll let him fuck her again…

The brothers don't look that much alike. Dean is smaller, which doesn't mean much since he is still pretty tall. His hair is shorter, he looks more like a soldier than his brother. I suddenly realize that he is the older one. I would have thought Sam to be the older, but no, looking at their faces, now that Sam has sat down next to Dean, I see the deeper lines in the older man's features. He is stockier and yet, at the same time, seems more slender. Funny, because there is nothing that would make him appear fragile, but next to Sam with his impressive pectorals and shoulders, Dean seems to be small and in need of protection. Not while in motion, but now, here? Yeah. I get the same feeling I have when I look at my sleeping daughter. I want to make sure that nothing will ever hurt him. Funny. That would've not been on my mind when I first saw him. Shows how much things are relative when you have something to compare them against.

Dean starts shifting again and Sam gives him a cursory glance that intensifies suddenly. He looks closer and nudges Dean's shoulder so the other man makes eye-contact. The look is subtle and not easy to see for outsiders, but this little gaze tells me a lot more than it would anyone else. It's not just love and trust and concern. It's all that and yet it's more. There's a whole story in this look which leaves onlookers out, tells everything necessary without words.

I know that look, I see it day by day between Mike and Ally.

I love both to pieces and I know they love me back. But there is something between them that I envy deeply and can't ever have, as much as I want. They smile at the same jokes in the same second, know what the other will say before he does, even if he never says it at all. It makes me feel like the odd one out, helpless and small and insignificant. And I know it isn't their intention, it's just… I guess they get each other in ways no-one else ever will. I fear for the day when Ally meets her one true love, but I'm not sure if I fear for Mike or for the poor shmuck that has to compete against my husband.

So this look passes between them and the wry smile Dean gives Sam for the unspoken question tells me nothing really.

"Uhm… what now?" I dare to ask. I'm not really feeling very well, I'm hungry, tired, my foot hurts and my wrist is agony. But despite that distraction, when Sam looks over I notice Dean subtly rubbing his hands on his jeans. Maybe I'm imagining things, but it looks like he is sweating more now, instead of less. He shifts again before Sam speaks.

"We wait. I sent a message to one of our friends, he will be able to… do something. I'm sure. We just wait."

A huff of anger and frustration from my boss. "Right" he scoffs. "We wait. There is a monster out there – and I'm still not convinced this isn't a bad joke – and we sit in here, behind a small door with salt? Great idea. Who is this friend anyway. Some bozo with a shotgun?"

Sam opens his mouth to answer, but he isn't fast enough. I never noticed the motion, but suddenly Dean is kneeling in front of Collainy, expansive shirt knotted in his fist, his mouth inches from the old man's nose.

"Listen, you prick. Listen good. I don't give a flying shit about you or you opinions. If I had a say in this, I would gladly let you walk out that door and get ripped in shreds. Hear me? But there are real people here, who do not deserve to be killed. So there are only two options. Number one? You shut up and don't open your fucking mouth ever again until me and my brother leave this building. Number two – and that's the one I really, really like: I shut you up. Permanently. Capice?" Old Fart opens his mouth again and Dean shakes him so his head bounces against the wall. "Understood?"

Collainy nods.

"So" the soldier lets his shirt go, mock-straightens the wrinkles he put in the fabric. "You want number two?" When Collainy shakes his head, Dean just nods, pats his cheek and when he turns to his seat again, I hear him mutter "shame, though". I don't even try to hide my grin.

*****

Time goes by slowly. Minute after minute the small room gets warmer and more stuffy. It isn't built to hold so many people and after a brief twenty minutes of napping, I open my eyes again and look around. Collainy is sweating, shooting hidden glances at Dean every second. I'm sure the younger man is aware of them but doesn't acknowledge 'em. The low murmur that had lulled me to near-sleep comes from Sam, who is talking to Angus about what I can't make out. Something about a war, I gather from the snippets I catch. Maggie is asleep, her head resting on Dean's thigh. She is curled in a ball and I wish I could have slept too. Dean is awake. His gaze seems to be lost somewhere in space, his eyes are glassy and blank. When I look closer, I can see his hands clamping and relaxing, he's sucking air in short, flat breaths. There is sweat on his forehead. I clear my throat, nudge Sam's foot with mine. There really is no room for that many legs. When he looks up, I nod in the direction of his brother, and in an instant his relaxed face sharpens and he scuttles over to Dean.

"Hey." He doesn't say anything more, just nudges his brother's shoulder. Dean swallows, closes his eyes and when he looks over to Sam, his gaze isn't blank anymore.

"Hey."

"You.. uh, you ok?" Sam asks, eyes on his hands in his lap.

"Sure" Dean looks at the ceiling.

"Okay. Good."

"Yeah"

For a while, they sit in silence. I can't help but see Dean starting to sweat again, his posture is as rigid as mine was at my wedding. Stiff as a plank. When his hand starts to clench again, Sam speaks.

"So, you remember?"

"What?" This time, Dean looks over.

"That day Dad tried this … what did he call it. "Exercise in endurance"?"

"Yeah? What about it."

"You ever wonder if maybe CPS might have been right to take us?" Dean chuckles, but it's no happy sound.

"Sometimes. I guess… That was a real bunch of crap he pulled that day."

"Yeah."

They are silent again, both looking at nothing and I wonder what they mean. It doesn't sound like something anyone sane would want their child to learn. Then again, how many things does one teach ones children that seem pointless and cruel. I start to drift into memories of Ally and her stupid teenage-behaviour and wonder if I have ever done something that strangers would consider worthy of calling CPS on me. I start to drift off when a sharp exhale snaps me awake again. Sam speaks up just as I glance over, his voice smooth and sure.

"Man, I peed my pants. Did I ever tell you?"

"What?" Dean's voice is croaky.

"Yeah. When he let me out, I needed to piss so bad, I never made it to my feet. Wet myself the minute he opened the door."

Dean swallows "Old man was a mean fucker sometimes."

"Yeah." Sam agrees. They are silent once again, but it doesn't take that long for the younger brother to start again.

"What was your task? I never asked. Too busy cleaning my pants." Dean barks a short laugh at that. After a while, he answers, though.

"Handcuffs. Tied me to a pole. Hated every second."

"Really? You are pretty good at uncuffing."

"Yeah, but…uh… I had nothing on me."

"No shit. Would have been stupid to leave you with the keys, right?"

"Hmhm. Yeah. But, uh… I mean, I had nothing on me. Like, nothing"

Sam is still. "Really? He cuffed you naked to a pole?"

"At least I didn't pee my pants."

Sam grins.

*****

"Never did it again." Dean says. "I think…I guess he scared himself that day."

I can't stop listening. I want to, this seems like a private thing, something that isn't meant to be heard by strangers even if the fact that we are all together in a room that resembles a huge coffin makes us a bit more than casual acquaintances. Sam never looks at Dean directly, only then and again do I see him sneak a peak out if the corner of his eye. The older is still tense. Strung like a bow and his shirt is damp with sweat. I see him worrying his lower lip, biting it. Every now and then he chews on the nail of his right thumb.

"Still, did come in handy." Sam starts once more after the brief silence.

"Huh?"

"All this training, I mean. I hated it, every tiny bit. But… at least it wasn't pointless. He didn't do it out of cruelty or something."

"Did you think that was why he did it?"

Sam shakes his head slowly. "No. I don't think I ever thought about why he did it, back then. I just… I hated it. But… I never thought he'd do it just out of… fun, or something. He wasn't that kind of man."

"Damn right, he wasn't." Dean blinks, it looks like he is fighting tears. "He was a damn good man. The best."

"Yeah. Maybe."

I get it now. Sam isn't just talking when something pops into his mind, he is waiting. Waiting for Dean to start fidgeting, or getting antsy. I wonder… No, I don't, really. I'm sure. And now that I know, I notice the other signs. Dean's wide eyes, the concious effort to breath, the tremble of his fingers and the wild gaze he sometimes sends into the room, pupils widening and searching for something, anything to keep his mind off the fact that what we all are sitting in isn't much bigger than an elevator-car.

He's fighting hard not to panic.

"So… Bobby'll contact someone to burn the cat?"

"…yeah" Dean's voice is a croak. "Sure. He'll…he'll call someone. And than he'll.. uhm… Sam? Sam, I …" His breathing is getting erratic, his hands try to clench in the fabric of his jeans, rubbing and scratching. He'll wear them thin, that way. Sam doesn't look at his brother, but his gaze, which is set on the top-shelf of the storage rack I'm leaning against is full of worry and compassion. Those two are more than tight. I see Sam's adams-apple move up and down in his long throat when he swallows. Dean's breathing is getting harsher, and I can see Collainy throwing disgusted glances over at him. If the old jack-ass opens his mouth, we'll have bloodshed in this tiny room.

"Yeah. Hey, did I ever tell you how I met Jessica?" Astonishingly, this snaps Dean to attention.

"No."

"Really?" Sam glances over now. "Huh." He is silent for a while, and I marvel at his ability to calm his brother, manipulate him into attention. Sneaky, that one.

"So? You gonna tell me?"

The tall man allows a gentle smile to cross his face, and his features soften to something incredibly soulful and compassionate. And a little sad. Whoever Jessica is, he loved her.

"About three months after I started. I had just settled and... accepted that I had to get to my classes alone, no pain-in-the-ass brother to do wake me in time and charm my teachers - professors. Just got used to using my own name for everything. She was there on campus, right in front of the library. Arguing with some guy. Jason, I think was his name, but I never met him again and anyway, it doesn't matter. That dude was like six foot something, a real football-jock and he was just as furious as she was. She kept saying that he should be able to understand a simple 'It's over', even with half his brain out on the football-field. He looked ready to punch her, so I stepped close. I asked if something was wrong, and boy, did I get an ear full. I was scared, I tell you."

"Did he hurt you?" An expression of contained anger clouds Dean's eyes. I wonder what their life must have been to have such a strong connection, such a protectiveness towards your sibling. Dean seems to be more outward with his, but that doesn't mean Sam's isn't just as strong. Only a fool would try to step between them.

I glance over at Collainy.

"No, man. Not him. Jess tore me a new one. Boy, was she pissed." He chuckles, his eyes lost in a memory. "What was I thinking, sticking my nose in other peoples business. If I wanted to be a lawyer, or what, messing in things that I had no idea of. You should have seen her, she was beautiful. Terrifying, but beautiful. I think I fell in love with her right then. Hair in a mess, face aglow, eyes blazing… Man…"

Dean is smiling, a little wistful, a little sad. I wonder if Jessica is dead. The way they talk about her… He says something inaudible.

"What?"

"'Twas the women, not the warriors, turned those stark enthusiasts pale. Cause the female of the species is more deadly than the male" he repeats.

Sam stares at him in amazement. "Dude, Kipling? I'm impressed."

"Yeah, well. Every hunter should know that fact, right? The males may be bigger but… Never mess with a woman, no matter what she looks on the outside – they are all deadly."

I snicker.

Dean looks over and winks, and I'm gone. Holy, his face lights up when he smiles. It's a face made to smile. I can't help wonder what happened to make him look so old and worn. Not so much in his features, the wrinkles he has are all laugh-lines and crinkles, but the eyes…

Oh Lord, what have you done to this man?

******

"So, what? After she bit your head off she was all over you? Kissing, fumbling – the whole nine yards?"

"Dean, life isn't porn."

"Not yours, anyway."

****

"She glared at me for two weeks whenever we saw each other. I couldn't escape her, we had two classes together. And for some reason, we always crossed paths on campus."

"Dude, she was interested!"

Sam chuckles. "Yeah, I got that."

"Oh please, tell me it was you who made a pass at her." His greenish eyes are pleading with his younger brother.

"Well…"

"Sam… how did you ever figure you'd survive on your own?"

*****

"But it worked. I got her in the end."

"How long did it take?"

Sam is a little embarrassed, I think. He shifts a little.

"Come on, how long?"

"A month."

"… How can we possibly be related?"

*****

"Dude, how long does it fucking take to fucking burn a fucking cat-corpse!"

"Chill, man. It could take a while. We haven't been here that long."

"No? How long have we been here, then, huh? Because it feels like…like… "

"Dean!" Sam stands up too, tries to calm the brother down who had snapped after about an hour fidgeting and twitching and humming something that sounds suspiciously like that song Mike loves so much. The one with the kid praying at the beginning. Creepy-assed song, but oddly fitting. It's just the beasts under your bed, in your closet, in your head…

Anyway, Dean had been humming and Sam had tried to distract him again and again, but it hadn't done much good anymore. So now Dean is pacing in the small room, and even I can tell that that isn't gonna help with claustrophobia. Only makes you more aware of the size of this damn shoe-box. Even I get a little twitchy, and I have no problems with small places.

"Two-and a half hours."

Angus'd won so many brownie-points with me so far, but that? Stupid. Sam sends him a wild glare, makes the huge black man cringe like a tiny kid being chastised by his father.

"You are not helping! Dean… come on, man. Sit back down. It won't be faster if you run around like a hamster in a wheel…" he cringes and damn well right, that analogy wasn't really the smartest picture in this situation. Tiny animals in cages, only able to run in a sick idea of fun and appropriate entertainment? Yeah…not so much.

"Yeah, yeah…" Dean drags his hand through his hair, rubs the back of his neck. He settles down and jumps up the second his ass touches the floor.

"Was that a scream? Maybe it disintegrated. I could look…"

"Oh fantastic. Not only are we in a box with two freaks, hiding from a 'ghost'," I swear, I hear the fucking air-quotes! "- no, one of the freaks is crazy on top…" Maybe Dicky-Dick Collainy thought his mutter so silent no one'd hear. In a way, he's amazing. His risk-assessment-skills are so far off, this firm must have been bankrupt the minute he had to make a decision.

To my astonishment, it isn't Dean who cuts his throat. No one does, not literally – pity – but Sam stops and kicks him without even hesitating, without any of the compassion he had shown to us so far.

"Shut the fuck up!" he hisses. I shudder. That second of unrestrained fury is more terrifying than the cat-ghost. A blink and Sam is back to normal and his voice is honey-smooth again.

"Dean, there was no scream. And no way, bro, are you going out there to check." I notice he doesn't touch his brother.

"Come on, Sam. Just a peek? We could open the door, maybe? The salt would keep it outside anyway, right?"

"Really, can we open the door?" Maggie. I think I have to revise my evaluation of her IQ. I can hear Sam's teeth grinding against each other.

"No!"

Buro-Barbie flinches and looks down between her bend knees, embarrassed. I feel a little sorry, but only a little. I wouldn't want this door opened for anything. Sam smooths his voice again.

"Dean, sit down. Come on, you're scaring the girls. And Angus." Dean actually chuckles, does the hair-swipe again. It's an endearing move, makes him look young and sweet, like a little boy that you'd want to cuddle. Somehow I doubt he'd like a hug right now. And he'd probably prefer Maggie doing the cuddling anyway. But the urge is there, the desire to smother this man in gentleness. Mike would have a field-day. He'd always been so sure there was a mother in me somewhere , no matter my denial…

Whatever it was, the joke or the cajoling, Dean huffs and settles down again.

"I promise you can shoot the next thing we hunt, ok?" Sam smirks.

Dean looks up – hell, that makes him look even more adorable – and gives an answering grin.

"Can I shoot him?" he points at Collainy, and I can't restrain myself from whispering a heartfelt "Yes, please!"

************

Everyone is looking at me. Maggie and Angus impressed, Dean and Sam in open wonder and Collainy stunned. I'm pretty sure I just lost my job – at least my pay-grade – but it's so worth it when Dean starts to laugh. Really, actually laugh. It's a bit hysterical, a sharp edge to it, but it's close enough. Maggie and Angus join in with light, suppressed chuckles, moving on their probably numb asses to ease the tension in their bodies as much as the one in the room.

And Sam smiles.

It's a soft smile, full of astonishment and wonder, like someone just gave him the world's best birthday-present.

No.

He looks like I gave him the world's best birthday-present. His smile is a 'thank you' that doesn't need words and I understand that Dean laughing hasn't happened often lately, if at all. I smile back, a 'you're welcome', but his eyes are on his brother again, soaking up the unguarded happiness in Dean's face.

"So" Dean says when he stops, way too soon. But his smile is still there on his face and he looks rather relaxed. "So, how about Twenty Questions? Famous person. I start."

Sam rolls his eyes but grins.

"Are you Steve McQueen?"

"Fuck you, Sam."

"My turn. Animal."

**********

It's about sixty-five questions later and Collainy has started to spoil the fun we had. He behaves like a bully in second-grade, throwing mock-questions every now and then and huffing and puffing loud and obnoxiously. I'm pretty sure his mother never cuddled him when he was a child, and I can't say I blame her. He is insufferable. Dean has started to fidget again. I must have missed the beginnings, I've only realized it when Sam had begun to ask funny questions, trying to make his brother relax. The older man is gritting his teeth, his hands clenching and he consciously moves his shoulders to keep them from stiffening. He's stopped answering.

Quite a while ago Maggie had moved her head from Dean's legs to a pile of jackets that the men had abandoned, not only for her comfort but rather because it had begun to get hot in here. The air smells used-up and there is the sweet-sour stench of male sweat in the air. Female sweat too, but the men in this room outnumber us and in any way, they sweat more. And smell worse. There is no danger of suffocation, but it's still not pleasant and I'm pretty sure it won't help Dean fighting his anxiety. He's looking at Collainy with murder in his eyes.

"I'll check the salt"

"Dean, just..stay here. I can do it."

"Yeah, no. I…" he's already risen, scratching the side of his neck. I can see red marks on his skin; he must have been doing this for some time. Dean moves to the exit, a few more packages of salt in his hands, puts his head against the metal-door and his brows furrow in concentration.

"I think it's gone. I can't hear anything. Maybe if – "

BAM

Something heavy must have been thrown – threw itself? – against the barrier between Dean and the outside and the man falls backwards on his ass, scrambling away on his hands.

"FUCK"

Two more bangs, rattling the metal in its frame like that steal-trapdoor in the San Francisco Zoo, when the polar-bear hadn't approved of being separated from his mate. Ally had stared at the door, twelve years old and full of wonder and amazement – and a little terror – over the strength and power of that cute, fuzzy animal. She'd never looked at bears the same way but since then she is fascinated by them. I suddenly want a polar-bear outside, fighting with the cat. I think it would win…

Collainy and everyone else – including me – were startled by the sudden sound and we yelped in surprise, but the asshole had caught himself fast. He's laughing, sniggering at Dean, who is still sitting wide-eyed – Ohmygod, huge eyes – on the floor. That's enough to have Sam over at him in a flash. He doesn't grab his shirt like his brother did. He grabs his arm and yanks him off the ground, pushes him against the shelf and growls at him like my neighbour's Doberman. In his fury, he lost the ability to form words, but I'm sure Collainy gets what he's not-saying anyway. The old man pales and I suppress a shiver. Sam is a scary son-of-a-bitch.

*******

Dean swallows.

"Sam…" he clears his throat "Sam!"

"You still want to toss him out, I'm ok with that." Sam is not looking at Dean. Still glares at Collainy.

"Yeah, I still want to. But you were right, I really don't want to open that door. Let's just … uhm…dunno." He looks around. "Hey, we could gag him. There are some napkins here. And if we tie him to the shelf…"

Amazingly enough, Sam draws a deep breath and unclenches his jaw and his huge hands. Paws, more like. He lets my terrified boss drop to the floor like a bag of garbage and turns around, looks at his still-pale brother.

"Maybe later."

"Tim Robbins."

"Huh?"

"You were Tim Robbins."

"No." the younger smirks.

"Aww, Sammy, you so were" There is a twinkle in Dean's eyes, an answering huff of fond exasperation in Sam's exhale.

And I get it. The two of them balance each other out. Completely. One catches if the other stumbles, and I fear for the day one of them won't get up again. It will be disastrous.

It's rather anti-climatic. Two hours later with a twitching, nervous Dean, a screech from outside, some crackling like fire and the brothers look at each other, saying 'Sure?' 'No' 'Let's check?' 'Yeah' without a single word. Sam grabs salt-packages and empties them into his palms, ten or more. Dean follows suit and after that they stuff some more loose salt into their pockets. They must have noticed my frown, because Sam explains:

"Not the best way. Salt repels spirits. Filled into shot-gun-cartridges is better, faster and the nasty stays gone longer. But for a quick check, this'll do."

"Come on, smarty-pants. Cover me."

"Yeah… and why?" Dean stares at him, a little incredulous, his eyebrows raised.

"I mean" Sam hurries to explain "why do I cover you, not you me? Uh…"

"Because, Sam, you are freakishly tall and can throw the salt over my head without jumping up and down. But you can crawl, if you feel better to be the covered one?" he snarks. The twitchy, shaking little boy is gone, left is the sure, confident soldier that he really is. Or maybe he really is the little boy and the soldier is the mask? Or maybe my hormones are acting up again. Need to check those out, next week. Sam has assumed a good position behind Dean, who has a hold on the doorknob. Two crazy guys with guns and salt. Prepared to storm out of a closet to fight against possibly-already-vanquished animal-ghosts.

"Ready? Go!"

My life is so weird.

fin


a/n: So, I know. OPV isn't everyone's cup of tea. But in case you made it this far and liked this fic a little at least, PLEASE do consider leaving me a note.

It won't take long, I'll answer everyone who does and I'll be forever grateful, because I don't get many and I so love reviews. And also, I don't think my writing is THAT bad.

In case it is, though, please tell me, so I can do better next time.