[ PRAISE BE TO THE ALMIGHTY TACO! I finally got through a horrible writer's block and Finished this chapter! I am SOOO Incredibly sorry for my absence and inability to update Nightmares sooner. We all know that life can truly make things just that much more interesting when we least expect it. Emotional whirlwinds are ever soo much fun when we're just tryin' to get through the day. -sighs- So again, to All my Wonderful Readers (Including you Lurkers) I am so very sorry for taking so long in gettin' this finished. This is one helluva chapter. I'm not kiddin' when I say my head spun after re-reading this. So don't be surprised if you find yourself, Emotionally, on the edge of your seat. -Smiles- Again and again, thank you for staying with me on this insane journey I've put the boys on -Hugs- Now, sit back, relax and as always…Enjoy!]


Face as unreadable as possible, Dean couldn't help averting his gaze every time Cat looked his way. He couldn't help it…because ever since he'd heard Delphine's words…the truth he'd been fighting so hard Not to believe… His heart hurt to look at those beautiful amber eyes. Knowing that every time he'd been close enough to touch her, that odd weight in his gut was actually a reaction to her. That when he'd been able to touch her, no matter how innocent or brief the contact…he'd ached for more. Then there was a deeper level of his subconscious that growled in a jealous rage at the thought that Sam was able to lay next to her while she slept…was able to touch her in ways he'd never imagined…and god…to kiss those lips…

Fighting the urge to clench his jaws, he forced himself to appear as aloof as possible…especially when he looked up briefly as Bobby went over research possibilities and caught the odd look his little brother was giving him… As if he knew Dean was holding in some terrible secret.

If he only knew…

"Alright," Bobby suddenly announced while getting to his feet and looked to Sam, "mind helpin' this old man?"

Sam blinked, "uh, sure Bobby." He replied and followed Bobby's lead. "What do you need help with?"

Bobby motioned for Sam to follow him as he went toward the front doors of house, "Got some paperwork I need lookin' through and you've got a better eye for detail than that brother a yours." He mused with a hint of sarcasm which caused Sam to chuckle.

Dean scoffed, "I resent that remark!" He quipped in his defense and noted the evil grin on Cat's face, "Yes?"

"Don't you mean You Resemble that remark?" She retorted in a sly tone and received not only a frown from Dean, but a chorus of chuckles that cut off when Sam and Bobby exited the house.

Green eyes narrowed as a smirk appeared across his handsome features, "Ha, Ha." He drawled out and grumbled when she merely rolled her eyes, stood and headed into the kitchen.

Going through the motions of making a fresh pot of strong coffee, Cat decided to initiate some small talk…in hopes that it would somehow drown out the horrible sensation of negative energy that seemed to swell into an invisible typhoon as soon as Bobby and Sam left the house…

Ignoring that bad energy spilling from Dean, she focused on her words…hoping she could get him to finally spill the beans. "How come you never like a little milk'n'sugar?" Cat questioned softly and turned just slightly to give Dean a curious look and noticed a strange emotion in his eyes as he appeared to be staring off into space. She let out a soft sigh, knowing that he didn't really hear her, "Dean."

"Huh?" He muttered, as though being snapped out of a different world and realized she'd spoken to him. "Sorry, what was that darlin'?"

A small flutter danced through her chest at the tone he'd just used; like a fine whiskey sliding heat into every inch of her body…and how he called her darlin'… Cat took a steadying breath and hoped to the gods her voice came out normal, "Just wonderin' why it is that you never like any milk or sugar with your coffee." She mused softly and thankfully…sounded completely calm. Even though just beneath the surface, she swore she felt a tingle along her chest plate…

Dean thought about it for a moment and shrugged, "I've always drank it black." He explained in a thoughtful tone and watched as Cat leaned back against the counter near the coffeepot as it started brewing.

John drank it black too…a voice spoke faintly in the back of her thoughts, but instead of saying this truth aloud, she merely nodded and murmured, "Easier just to drink it as is then waste time addin' things to it when you've got somewhere to be."

His features softened as a half smile clung at the edge of his full lips, "Exactly." Dean replied in a low rumble and found himself trapped within her gaze… And for those few seconds…he felt his heart break. He cleared his throat and the moment was gone, "think Steve'll wake up soon?" He asked, completely changing the subject.

Cat had felt the electricity shoot through her when Dean had looked into her eyes…and felt a strange kind of pain when he looked away. Instinctively, she knew there was something going on behind those soulful green eyes…but she wouldn't press it. Not yet anyway… "Honestly," Cat began to reply and brought her arms across her chest, "I don't know what's got its claws in him."

Dean nodded as an uncomfortable silence fell between them. He couldn't get himself to say the things that needed to be said and Cat wasn't about to push him. A part of him was relieved while another part of him was angry that she was suddenly giving him time to get his thoughts sorted out when at any other time, they'd be practically yelling at each other.

She stole a quick glance in his direction, heaved an inaudible sigh and turned away to retrieve two mugs…not knowing that as she turned…his eyes were on her, pain evident in his features as he watched her move.

How could he tell her? How in the hell was he going to explain to her that the only way to save her…was to do the one thing, he as a Brother, swore he'd Never do. She'd hate him…think he was just makin' all this shit up just to get laid. Even if she knew him better then that…didn't she? Wait…Cat did know him better then that…the girl was a Reader for Christ's sake! Which could only mean…no, she couldn't know…could she? Was it possible that she was biding her time, letting the moments stretch into eternity just to torture Dean as he sat stewing in his self pity…and she'd known…all along?

"Dean?"

Her worried voice caught him off guard causing him to jump in his seat. He blinked and realized she was setting a full mug of black coffee down on the table in front of him as she took a seat across from him…her coffee just as dark as his.

"No milk'n'sugar?" He found himself asking as she mirrored him; taking a sip from her cup.

Cat shook her head and swallowed the small mouthful of bitter heat, "felt like havin' it black this time." She replied softly and noted the slight crease forming between his brow. "What?"

A gradual curve pulled at the edge of his lips, "Nuthin'." Dean mused and felt a grin forming as Cat narrowed her eyes at him.

"Uh-huh." She bit back with a playful lilt to her voice, obviously not buying what he was selling. "Fess up Winchester."

Dean gave her an innocent look. "What? Can't a man enjoy his coffee?" He chimed and couldn't help licking his lips; dimples showing as he fought back the smile that wanted to appear on his face.

"You are soo full of shit." Cat spat at him and chuckled as he feigned a hurt expression. "And don't you dare look at me like that!"

His resolve broke and was suddenly glaring at her; his grin mischievous. "You wanna know the truth, huh?" Dean purred in a husky timber… Slightly huskier than he'd meant to…

She appeared unmoved by his words, though inwardly…it was completely different story. "Yes, Dean, that would be ever so thoughtful of you." Cat mused with the same edge to her voice and kept the amusement from forming on her face at the very slight reaction Dean gave her…which meant he wasn't the only one who could use his voice as a weapon.

It took him a second to get his brain back on track; which if you knew Dean as well as Cat, Sam or Bobby… Let's just say that was incredibly impressive, especially for Dean.

For a moment…they just stared at each other. Well, glaring being the better term as they sat across from each other at the old table, fingers idly tapping against the edge of their coffee mugs as small vapors of steam twisted up and away, only to vanish into the air that suddenly seemed filled with unspoken secrets only the dead could hear.

Again that strange energy swelled between them, but this time…a sharp jab of pain pulsed against Cat's chest…as if the Mark of the Siren wasn't too keen on this game of cat and mouse and just decided to give Cat a little warning that it would only get worse until he pulled his head out of his ass and finally told her the truth.

She sucked in a hiss at the pain that seemed to dig just beneath her skin and stood up, as if being this close to Dean was actually hurting her.

"Whoa, you alright?" Dean's worried voice was closer than before, and when Cat finally looked up she noticed that he was damn near right in front of her, ready to catch her if she suddenly collapsed. "The hell bit you on the ass?" He mused in a playful sarcasm, masking the fact that he'd felt a chill run the length of his spine when a soft blue glow emitted from beneath her shirt at the exact moment she'd jerked back.

"Shuttup." Cat retorted through clenched teeth, while her eyes showed warmth which meant she was just irritated.

Dean picked up on it and gave a half smile, his voice softer as he spoke, "Well what was I s'posed to think with you jumping back like that?"

She took a deep breath and realized that his eyes…the way he was looking at her…just like how Sammy looked at her… "I need a smoke." Cat announced in a rough voice, grabbed her cup and made her way outside toward the patio…

Dean stood there…at a loss…wondering if he should follow…when he noticed her pause and give him a look that said, 'You comin'?'. He smirked, grabbed his coffee and followed her as she just shook her head at him.

As they sat in their usual spots, Cat lit a fresh cigarette and exhaled slowly; eyes closed as the first rays of a warm sun began to spill lightly over her face.

The sun was starting to come up. Which meant no one had really slept the night before. Dean, Bobby and Steve driving out and back from Joshua Tree should've done them in. But obviously, it didn't. And after that nasty little dream with Yellow Eyes, Cat refused to go to sleep and poor Sam decided to stay up with her. The only one getting any kind of sleep was Steve.

"Alright, I can't take this anymore." Cat announced with a sigh and kept her eyes closed, "What's wrong?"

Dean sat there for a moment wondering what the hell he was going to say… Should he let out the truth that was eating him alive? Or should he just buck it up and hold it in? He felt his heart flutter for a moment when he finally found his voice, "Nothin's wrong." Dean finally replied and felt a little shitty that he'd once again…avoided another opportunity to open up.

Cat sensed that he was now avoiding her questions and had enough. She'd given him more than enough time to get his head together. He wasn't gettin' outta this without a fight. "Really?" She bit out in soft, unconvinced tone and Felt him tense; readying himself for a possible verbal smack down. So she decided to throw him a curveball, "You've never been this quiet around me, Dean… What are you afraid of?" Cat asked softly as a swirl of purple tinted smoke danced away from her lips.

He sipped his black coffee and felt his emotions tug at his gut as if his intestines had twisted themselves into one helluva knot. "Just been thinkin'." He muttered, continuing his internal struggle over his emotions, not knowing that Cat's intuition was starting to pick up on it.

She turned her eyes to him, flicked the ash of her cigarette into the ashtray to her right on the table between them and then softly inquired, "About?"

He sighed, set his coffee on the table and looked off into the glowing horizon. "Like Bobby said, it's complicated." Dean said, unable to let her in to the catacombs of his thoughts.

"Then un-complicate it and just tell me." Cat replied, a hint of frustration coating her gentle words and leaned forward enough to lean her elbows on her thighs. "I can't read your mind, Winchester."

"Ya well, you could've fooled me." He muttered under his breath and met her gaze. "Somethin' Delphine said…"

She waited patiently as he trailed off and struggled to get the words out.

"Look, I don't know any other way of sayin' this…so I'm just gunna say it." Dean exclaimed; emotional strain evident in his deep timber. He closed his eyes for a moment, and when he reopened them…he looked away, unable to meet her curious gaze, "She said…" His words trailed off again as a horrible knot tangled itself in the back of his throat. Dean had to force it down with a mouthful of coffee, coughed and got his voice back. "She said we had to…ya know…or you'd die."

Cat had literally strained to hear him because Dean had decided to whisper…but when her brain registered what he'd said… "I'm sorry, run that by me again?" She asked in an unsteady octave of disbelief, her eyes growing wide.

"Damn it," he growled under his breath, ran his hand through his hair and looked down, "We've gotta be intimate or that Mark you've got…will kill you."

Nothing was said for almost seven minutes…

Cat sat back in her chair in dumbfounded silence as shocked confusion etched across her features at what she'd heard. She couldn't wrap her brain around it…even if a part of her knew there was truth in what he'd said… But that didn't mean it was going to happen. It didn't make it right. How could she…with Dean…when she knew he'd Never move in on his little brother's woman, didn't matter if she knew he'd felt something for her. Sam would never do that…Hell, she'd never do that! This was all wrong…and beyond fucked up. She'd rather DIE than do anything to hurt the bond between the two most important Men in her life. There was no way in hell she would get between them. Family comes first, period.

"Let me get this straight…" Her voice was faint at first as she tried to get her thoughts in order, "this woman, tells You that if we don't do the nasty…I'll die."

Dean could only nod in response, in fear of the wrath she was probably about to reign down on him.

Cat blinked, face hard, eyes cold and spat, "I'll die before I hurt you or Sammy."

Brow creased, he couldn't help but finally bring his gaze to her face and saw an expression he'd never witnessed before. For a brief moment…she reminded him of his father…

"Don't You say that." Dean said suddenly, his voice sharper than he'd meant it to sound, "don't you dare say that, do you understand me?"

Burning amber met shocked green as Cat brought her eyes to his, "Are you deaf, Winchester?" She threatened in a clear voice and watched his anger flare behind his eyes causing them to shimmer emerald in the early morning light.

"After everything we've gone through, after how close…" Dean's timber deepened as his chest tightened at the thought of how easily she'd sacrifice herself for them…just like Their Father…

And at that moment…something snapped, and Dean was suddenly on his feet and standing a foot in front of her, "You're gonna shut the hell up and listen to what I'm gonna say or so help me Aiden…" He growled, his words suddenly knives that would've caused her to flinch if she wasn't just as pigheaded as he was. Instead she clenched her jaws in defiance and just stared at him, waiting for him to just get on with it.

So he continued; his rough timber clearer due to the anger swelling in his chest, "I didn't want to believe anything she said. But she knew things, things she couldn't have possibly known… I swear to you this woman heard my thoughts… I knew she wasn't lying," he paused and swallowed the hard lump that formed in his throat when his voice wavered; his emotions breaking through to the surface, "and it scared the hell outta me."

Cat's expression softened just slightly when she literally felt his emotions curl off of his body like smoke and became helpless in their wake as she was forced to breathe them in. So much pain…so much more then she ever thought a person could carry…it almost choked her.

She took a slow intake of air and exhaled silently before whispering, "go ahead…" she couldn't continue being a hard ass when Dean was showing her a side to him she'd only seen in very brief glimpses.

He fought it…fought to keep them back, to stop them from spilling forth…Dean only succeeded in keeping his emotions at bay when a veil of tears threatened to freefall down his face as he spoke, "I would never hurt muh little brother, understand me? He's the only family I got left…" he paused, licked his dry lips and clenched his eyes shut to regain some of his composure when a single tear…fled his right eye and trailed down his face. He choked back a sob and gave her the full force of his gaze; ignoring the liquid emotion that dripped down his chin, "…but I couldn't live with myself if somethin' happened to you. Do you understand what I'm sayin' to you?" he watched her give a meek nod, her gaze reflecting the pain that danced openly across his face, "I couldn't live with myself if somethin' happened…you got any idea what that'd do to Sam?" he paused again when his voice broke; another tear escaping from his shimmering gaze, "…what that'd do to me?"

"I don't wanna die…" Cat finally whimpered, voice no more than a whisper as she too fought the tears that threatened to dash trails of emotion down her cheeks. "But…I can't come between you. I won't."

Dean searched her gaze, bent his head down, let out a strangled sigh and wiped the offensive things from his face before he knelt down before her, took her hands in his and looked up into fearful eyes. "I know baby," he murmured in a rough octave when his lips trembled into a half smile, "I don't want this anymore then you do. I mean…just 'cuz I'm in love with the same woman that my little brother's got his heart set on don't make…"

Cat cut him off, "what?" her voice was gentle as she whispered and searched Dean's expression, which suddenly looked completely and utterly terrified at what he'd just blurted out. Eyes wide, heart in her throat, she could barely breathe as she looked down for a moment and then glanced back up into his gaze beneath her lashes, "you…" her voice cracked and she had to take a steadying breath, "really?"

He could see the shock on her face at his words…but it wasn't the kind he was expecting. It was the kind of shock where a person realizes they're not the only one feelin' a certain way…which didn't make a damned bit of sense. Cat didn't love him. There was no way. Convincing himself that he was right, instead of back peddling like he would have at any other time, he actually went ahead and told the truth, "I admit it…can't believe that I'm actually saying this to tell you the truth… But ya… I love you." Dean paused as a dark chuckle left his lips; it was an unpleasant sound filled with the echoes of a broken heart, "but that's okay," he gently squeezed her hands and clenched his jaws for a moment before giving a sad smile, "not your fault."

Her lips trembled as well as her voice when she choked out, "that's where you're wrong."

The smile left his face, replaced by confusion. "You think this is your fault?" he asked and sighed, slightly frustrated, "C'mon Cat, just 'cuz I'm feelin' a certain way doesn't mean you gotta take the blame for it. I'm responsible for my own emotions, remember?"

But she wasn't lettin' up. Cat shook her head, sat up and leaned forward so that their faces were inches apart and looked deep into those green depths. "This Mark in my flesh, this god damned curse…" her body trembled but her voice stayed surprisingly calm, "it is the reason you feel the way you do. It's the reason why both of you think you're in love with me…and I don't wanna live a lie." She explained and tried to keep herself together…but her walls crumbled and the tears flowed like rain down her face…

"You're sayin' that what Sammy feels, what I feel…none of it's real?" Dean said slowly, eyes partially narrowed as Cat gave a weak nod…as if she'd just given up on everything. He wasn't convinced, "so this whole time…you've lied to my little brother, led him on to believe you loved him?"

She didn't realize he was provoking her into revealing the truth. Her reaction told him everything he needed to know.

Cat jerked upright as if she were about to clock him right across his face but somehow managed to stop herself; rage boiling rivers of blood in her eyes, "I've never lied to him about how I feel!" her voice had dropped to a deadly octave; filled with unspoken promises of pain if he even so much as thought she would do something so incredibly low. "I didn't want this… I didn't want to hurt anyone! Why do you think I tried to get you to leave? Ya ever think about that? I tried so hard to drive you away, and it almost fucking worked! But no…the fates have a fucked up sense of humor! And decided, that me and Sam, were gonna have a linked dream and I'd remember everything! And you two, would be forced to come back!" The words all flew out in rush and just as she was trying to catch her breath; heart hammering, blood boiling…

A pair of strong hands gently took her by the face and suddenly everything stopped…

…at the feeling of those full lips…pressed ever so softly against hers.

Dean waited until her body went from being completely rigid…to nearly melting into her chair before he pulled back and looked in her eyes. He couldn't help the smile that tugged at the corners of his mouth, "See?" He rumbled softly and used his thumbs to wipe the remaining tears from her eyes.

Cat began shaking and couldn't hold back the confusion from her voice, "see what?"

The green of his eyes shimmered for a moment as more warmth bled into his smile, "that Mark, has nothin' to do with how we're all feeling." Dean explained while searching her hazel depths and let out a quiet sigh, "in fact…correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember someone tellin' us that it only Amplifies our emotions…so in conclusion, we're all just really screwed in the head."

Cat couldn't help but let out a small laugh, which sounded like heaven to his ears… Relieved that he'd finally gotten her to lighten the hell up.

"You're a bastard." She quipped in a strained voice and shook her head, smiling as he merely grinned that stupid Winchester grin and winked at her, "you're going to a very Special Hell, you know that right?"

Dean thought about it for a moment; brow knitted together, smirked, shrugged and chimed, "Ya…and I'm pretty sure you're comin' with me."

"Well, fine…long as I'm driving." Cat retorted with an even brighter smile when Dean frowned.

"The hell you are!" Dean spat and chuckled when she smacked him playfully on the chest and rolled her eyes. He watched her for a moment, enjoying the calm energy that seemed to pulse through her when he suddenly realized…they never really did finish the conversation…just, danced around it. Which he was fine with, really…except that it wasn't somethin' they could just push aside and not acknowledge.

If they didn't do, what needed to be done… She was going to die. It wasn't a maybe, and there wasn't any other way around it. Dean suddenly felt a great deal of sympathy for Sam…somehow being reminded of Madison…and how there wasn't a way to save her. But Cat could be saved. My god…if Dean didn't do this…and with what happened with Madison… There really wasn't a choice.

Sometimes…you gotta make some damned hard decisions in life… And if you can't do somethin' smart, do somethin' Right…

And just like any typical Winchester, Dean was about to do the dumbest thing imaginable…

-End Chapter Twenty Six-