Chapter 1

The wood cracked and splintered as something large and heavy crashed into the opposite side of the wall. Stella lurched to the side and turned her head away, trying to avoid the debris, but some chunks of shoddy board hit her anyway. She grimaced; that was going to leave a mark. Off balance, Stella slipped on a bunched-up braid rug and went down on one knee. She forced herself up. There were shape-shifters here and going down was as good as being dead. And if one touched her, it could turn into her, shedding its outer skin and creating itself exactly in her image. Then it would have access to Sam and Dean, and Stella wasn't about to let that happen. She adjusted her grip on the hilt of her silver knife; there were four of them here.

A grunt and a curse came from the kitchen. It sounded like Sam and Stella started to turn towards the voice. A shadow materialized in her peripheral vision. In that split second, Stella knew there was another shifter in the house, one they hadn't accounted for. And she knew she was in deep trouble. Seriously deep trouble. Something flashed in the dim light, and then a searing pain in her side made Stella's vision flare white. Her entire body convulsed as the blade slid into her and she dropped her own weapon, her only defense. As the blade was torn free from her side, Stella dropped one hand down, instinctively trying to stanch the flow of hot, salty blood. She cried out in pain, staggered and dropped to her knees. Another flash of motion crossed her vision in the dim light.

Stella put a hand up, a feeble attempt to defend herself that failed miserably. Pain exploded in her right shoulder and chest. Then the presence near her disappeared. Stella, her attention only on the pain wracking her body, didn't see what happened to her shape-shifting assailant. She gasped for air. Everything grew fuzzy, unfocused. Was that Dean? Was he shouting for her? Sam? They sounded so very far away. Where were they? It was so hard to breathe… She fell heavily to the floor, striking her head on an end table, and was consumed by darkness.

Dean Winchester rounded the corner just in time to see the shape-shifter plunge a long, flat-head screwdriver into Stella's unprotected chest. It was a scene directly out of one of his worst nightmares, and Dean Winchester had some dark, dark nightmares. His scream of pain and rage surprised the shape-shifter. It spun to face him and only had a moment to react as Dean hurled himself across the room. He tackled the creature and they careened into a low table.

"Dean! DEAN!" There was blood spatter on Sam's face and shirt when he ran into the room. Stella lay on the floor not moving and Dean grappled with shape-shifter. Sam had no idea where this one had come from but there was no time to worry about that now. He threw himself into the fray and grabbed the changeling from behind. It gave Dean just the opening he needed. He twisted and thrashed, stretching to reach Stella's knife which had skipped across the floor when she dropped it. His fingers reached the handle as the shape-shifter threw an elbow back, catching Sam in the chin. The younger Winchester brother's head snapped back and he saw stars, but didn't let go. Dean twisted back and drove the blade into the shape-shifter's side. The creature screamed and arched. Dean knew it was a death blow, but that wasn't enough. He pulled it out and stared at the creature clothed in human form for just a moment before he slammed the knife – up to the hilt – into its heart.

In the next instant he and Sam were both next to Stella's prone form. She was on her side, unconscious, and bleeding from a stab wound in her side. The screwdriver was still embedded in her chest. Dean fought back the urge to pull it out, knowing that could very well make the bleeding worse.

"She's got a pulse," said Sam. His voice was tense. "She sounds wheezy; I think the screwdriver punctured her lung."

"We have to get her to a hospital. She'll die if we don't; she's losing too much blood." Dean looked up at his brother as he pressed his hand on her side. "She can't die, Sam. She can't."

"She won't," said Sam. "Let's get her to the car; we don't have time for an ambulance. I'll carry her. Keep the pressure on her side." Sam was as gentle as he could be, trying to balance Stella and not dislodge the screwdriver. They put her in the back seat of the Impala and Dean wedged himself onto the floor next to her. He had a spare shirt in the back and he pushed that into her side, sopping up more of the blood. Stella whimpered and groaned but didn't quite regain consciousness.

"Hang on, baby. We're going to get you some help. Lie still. Don't move. Just hang on." Dean whispered to her, using his free hand to stroke her hair. Stella groaned and rolled her head to the side. Dean's insides clenched when the sunlight showed how pale and sweaty she really was. She's going into shock.

"Drive, Sam! Get us to a hospital now!"

Sam threw the Impala into drive and prayed that the road wouldn't be too bumpy. And that the hospital wasn't too far away.

So, welcome to my Supernatural fanfic. I'm a relative newcomer to the series, but I've found myself quite enthralled by the Winchester brothers. I hope you'll enjoy the story. I always welcome feedback… if there's something about the way I write that you like, please let me know. But at the same time, there is always room for improvement: helpful, constructive feedback is always welcome.