Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Supernatural or any of its characters. I do not own the rights to any works by the late great Edgar Allan Poe either. I'm not making money off this stuff, so please just read it for what it is!

A/N: A few of you wanted to see some more Sam whumpage in my last fic (Storm Chasers) so I dug in and tried to figure out how to write for Sam.
This is what I've come up with...

Also, just a warning. There's some material in here that's a bit on the NC-17 side.
If you're uncomfortable with it, I suggest skipping the italicized text somewhere in the middle of this...


[October 3rd, 2007]

It never got easier - the smell. No matter how many times they did it, the whole torch and burn routine, it never smelled any better. And while it was multitudes better than the smell of burning bones and flesh, it wasn't anything remotely resembling a walk in the park. Or a happy jaunt through the garden for that matter. Not that Dean expected the bones to suddenly smell like roses. He wasn't stupid.

He turned away from the fire as it crackled its own sweet symphony in the ditch he and his brother had labored away to create. It had taken them 2 hours to dig up the Civil War era grave, which wasn't altogether unusual either. But, Dean had to admit, it was almost like mother nature was working against them today.

…or rather had been for a few days, before they got here.

Hunting down the sucker this time had been amusing, albeit dangerous on a whole new level. Dean had seen a gamut of spectral abilities, depending on how an upset spirit had shuffled off the mortal coil. Some of them could shoot little jolts of electricity. Some preferred to carry a weapon of some sort, most notably something sharp. Others could drain the life right out of you with little more than a touch. However, Dean was pretty sure this one took the cake in terms of crazy.

This bastard ran around shooting cannon balls. The best part? They shot out of his chest.

At first, Dean had laughed when Sam had found the evidence. The gun powder residue, the broken bones and lost limbs of the survivors.

…The enormous holes in the victims that didn't dodge out of the way in time.

A snort of laughter left his lips again at the thought of it. So what if he was a little warped for thinking it was funny? They saw death and destruction in a supernatural way every single day. More often than not, it was gruesome, bloody and gut churning.

Not that this one hadn't been any of those things. Dean just hadn't been expecting a cannon.

A civil war cannon-ghost.

A sharp note of laughter slipped past his lips before he could help it. He faked a cough and glanced about more to check that Sam hadn't heard him laughing at the messed up situation (again) than to make sure he hadn't drawn attention to himself. It was a habit.

He sniffled a bit and rubbed his hand up and down his arm briefly to generate a little friction. Autumn had waltzed in early this year, putting a little chill into the air that heralded the early arrival of its chilly cousin, winter. Unfortunately, early cold meant digging graves was going to get a whole lot more difficult. The colder the ground got, the more solidified the dirt got. It meant a whole lot more work and a longer hot shower to get rid of the knots that strung themselves along the Winchesters constantly tense muscles.

Shifting his weight, Dean inspected the cemetery grounds again. His nerves were already frazzled today. He had had too much coffee and a close run in with a cannon ball less than an hour ago; his lips curled in an amused smile at the thought. Then, as Dean jumped into the hole that Sam had started to dig, Sasquatch had mumbled something about "sightseeing" and "an American icon" before he nervously ran his hands through his hair and stalked off. For the past half hour or so, Dean had been watching his back, digging out the rest of the grave AND getting rid of the ghost on his own. That kind of multi-tasking could be brutal, especially if a decent amount of high-test coffee was speeding its way through your system. Being a little paranoid right about now was a complete understatement.

Dean sighed, seeing a thin trail of his warm breath in the air materialize in front of his eyes. He could feel the warmth of the still roaring fire spreading along his back and easing some of the tension from the tight muscles there. He was grateful for that effect. Dean stretched, turning from side to side, and scanned the area. He was satisfied to see that him and Sam had still gone undetected.

Where'd he get to anyways?

Anxiety tickled along the outskirts of his already nervous thoughts. Dean batted them away, trying to focus on the task at hand - making sure this thing burned completely without anyone sporting the Winchester name getting caught.

Yea, that's helping.

He scanned the area to the north, vaguely remembering his brother stalking off in that general direction. He wracked his brain for anything else his brother might've said about where he was going.

Sam had gotten really excited, in his quiet geek boy kind of way, when he had found their apparition's burial plot because of where it was. This cemetery, the Westminster Burying Grounds tucked away in Baltimore, held someone of great importance.

At least, Sam thought he was important, which gave Dean another clue. If Dean thought he - or she, the elder Winchester conceded - was important, they must've done something cool to get Sam's attention. Cool to Sam was something dorky like discovering Penicillin was an antibiotic or that snowflakes were all unique in a mathematically perfect way.

"C'mon, college boy," Dean muttered under his breath.

"You miss me that much, Dean?" Sam asked from somewhere behind his brother's left shoulder. The jolt that went through Dean made Sam smile in arrogance.

HA!

"Miss you? Mr. I-ate-Mexican-tonight-even-though-that-makes-me-toxic?" Dean shot back, effectively wiping the smirk off his little brother's face. His eyebrows were raised, his arms wide in question as he continued, "I'm just glad I got the fire started before you got back. Coulda blown up everything if you were around and let one rip."

Sam rolled his eyes and huffed in irritation, shifting his weight and throwing his arms in the air in defeat. Dean had been on his case all night. Actually, all week. It would've been just fine with him if his big brother were making him laugh or just generally trying to make him feel better. Instead, Dean was being irritating and abrasive in a way that only Dean could.

It had been hard for Sam - to let go of Jess, to let go of their father, to feel something other than distraught, to open himself up again to someone else. Just thinking about Jessica now made his heart clench uncomfortably. It wasn't fair, even if he had managed to make his peace with it.

Just over a year later, Sam had met Madison. To say he found her attractive was probably an understatement. He was surprised he hadn't started drooling when she opened her door that first time. Sure. She was the opposite of Jess in every sense when it came to physical appearance, but she had a strength and polarity in her personality that resonated with him. It was the same way he had felt when he first met Jess too.

He had wanted to protect her even before they had suspected she really needed it. He had been elated when they had destroyed the werewolf that had infected her. When the sun had risen and she hadn't changed, his heart had practically leapt into his throat.

Sam hadn't seen a future with someone since he had been with Jess, but he could see something more unfolding with Madison. He wanted it, her - to be with her.

When Dean had left, implications and suggestions dropped before Sam could stop him, the energy buzzing through the entire apartment had been almost too much for him to take. Sam had pounced, surprised that she seemed just as wanting and needy as he had been. They hadn't progressed slowly from there either.

When they had made it to her bed, breathing hard with lust shining in their eyes, Sam had suddenly felt shy. Apparently, Madison had sensed it, because in no time at all, she had touched, caressed and otherwise pleased Sam until his whole mind was one lust filled haze. He hadn't wasted time after that, pressing himself against her heated with desire.

They had ravished each other to the fullest extent. Sam had never felt his body so taut with passion - so completely consumed by the fiery need like he had with her. Maybe it had been because he hadn't been with a woman for close to a year, but he was pretty sure it was because Madison had managed to break down the walls that he had constructed around his heart.

And the way she moved?

Sam had to take a deep breath to quiet the stirrings he was feeling at the memory alone. A flush rose to his cheeks at the vivid memory of her writhing beneath him and, at one very pleasurable point, in his lap as he held her. By the way the cool air became frigid against his skin, Sam knew he needed to distract himself before he had other problems - namely the one that would harass him for his current state.

He swallowed as the next night's event resurfaced. How Sam had woken up to her snarls. How she had changed despite everything that they had tried to do. How she had killed again. How she had come back and awoken the next morning to Sam's tear filled, disappointed face.

She had asked Sam to do it, breaking his heart and damming up the floodgates she had opened the night before. The future Sam had seen crumbling away like sand scattering in the wind. Sam had taken the gun from Dean, seeing the tears welling up in his big brother's eyes as he walked into her room.

He had hesitated a moment, just staring into her warm, brown eyes. She hadn't cried - hadn't said anything. She only gently caressed his face and pulled him to her, kissing him sweetly and passionately at the same time. When they broke apart, she had placed her hand over his heart and smiled sadly up at him. Sam had taken a shuddering breath and raised the gun to her heart. She had nodded, never quivering or showing anything other than her complete trust in him.

He wanted to stop himself, to let her live in the hopes of making it work out - saving her. He knew it could never happen. She was a blood thirsty monster, even if she couldn't remember what she did in the middle of the night while most people were sleeping.

He could feel the tear trek down his cheek and dribble past his chin as the gun shot resounded somewhere deep within the memory he watched. He had only known her for a handful of days, but Sam was pretty sure that he had fallen in love with her. The thing that made his heart ache was knowing that she had fallen for him too.

It wasn't fair.

"Somethin' in your eye, there, Sammy?" Dean asked with soft concern. He knew Sam was reliving it again. He had been since he had been forced to take her life. His little Sammy was breaking apart from the inside out and Dean absolutely hated it.

"Geez, Dean. Who shoved a stick up your ass, huh?" Sam asked with anger rolling through him in tight, violent waves. He swiped at the few tears that had followed after the first one, frustrated with himself for being weak and even more frustrated that Dean felt the need to rub it in his face.

It wasn't his fault that he was sensitive - that he took life seriously in most regards. Maybe if he had been more like Dean, the player with no attachment, it wouldn't have hurt so much. But if the way even Dean's face had been streaked with tears after Sam had walked out of Madison's room for the last time, he knew it wasn't true. Dean was just as soft as he was. He just managed to keep it safely on the inside where no one else could see it.

Dean, who had gone to the edge of their excavation site to check on the dying fire, turned to Sam with arms crossed and an eyebrow arched. It was his response to Sam's question - Dean's trademark "I'm the big brother here" stance.

"God, Dean! You're such a jerk!" Sam sniped at him. Jerk was probably an understatement here, but Sam was too frustrated and emotionally drained to come up with anything original.

"Yea? And you're a whiny little bitch," Dean replied as he began to drop dirt back into the hole, effectively smothering the embers of the bones that remained. The soft sounds of the falling earth mixed with the mild strain in his voice as he asked, "So what else is new?"

Sam sent a hard stare at his brother, one that would've broken glass and caught timber on fire. Fortunately, Dean was human and merely stopped shoveling, plunging the blade of the shovel into the firm ground, and stared right back.

"What?" Dean asked, trying to get the whole situation to blow over. He hadn't realized Sam was nearly as upset as he apparently was.

"Dean, just cut the shit," Sam said exasperatedly. His hands danced wildly with his words as he continued, "If you're trying to get me to feel better, fine. Just… Enough with the berating and harassing. Dean, I just lost someone I lov-"

Sam's words stopped short, caught somewhere in the circuit between his voice and his mind. He hadn't meant to admit that to anyone other than himself. He wasn't supposed to love Madison, especially not so soon after losing Jess. It wasn't cheating, but it almost felt like it.

"God, Sam. I didn't… I mean you never…" Dean said with more than just a little surprise. He hadn't realized Sam's feeling ran so deep for Madison, but he should've seen it. Sam wasn't one for casual flings; he never had been.

"Never what, Dean? Told you?" Sam asked with impatience and indignation.

Sam clenched his fists in time with the throbs of rolling rage that coursed through him. He wanted to scream at Dean - to hold his head still as he let the words tear into him. But he knew it wouldn't accomplish anything, especially now. Madison was dead, Fate deciding the course of action for him. Sam never had to make the choice between his happiness and what he knew he had to do with his life.

He reigned himself in and chose his words carefully as he spoke, "Would it have changed anything, Dean? Would you have let me stay?"

Dean looked at his brother for a second before he picked up the shovel and turned his attention back to pushing the dirt into the hole it came from. He knew they both didn't need to actually hear the answer to know what it was.

Dean would never have let Sam stay there. He would've come up with some excuse about needing Sam to watch his back while they were hunting, but he really needed Sam to be where he could see him. It was irrational, but Dean couldn't shake the thought that if he could keep his brother in his sights, he could protect him - the only thing that remained of his family.

You're all I have left, Sammy, he thought to himself. The twinges of remorse and loss began shortly there after. It wasn't an unusual feeling these days. It was probably the only one he still could feel lately.

As much as Dean pretended he was okay since Dad had sacrificed his life for his own, he knew he was anything but just that. The guilt of everything had left him feeling empty and confused about everything he had thought he understood about life.

Sam had called him lucky and told him to count his blessings, but Dean couldn't help but wonder why. Why him? Why did his life mean anything more than someone else's?

This wasn't the first time Dean had struggled with this weight - the decisions that determined life and death. The whole fake faith healer fiasco had left Dean's world upended for a while too. It bothered him, but it wasn't quite so personal then; a complete stranger had more or less traded heart's with Dean then - a trade that had cost the other man his life.

Then there was Layla. The reaper had come for Dean to heal the woman's cancer. It felt almost like poetic justice to the elder Winchester then. He had been given a second chance by borrowing someone else's life. Why shouldn't he have to repay the favor for someone else?

But Sam had freed the reaper, preventing Dean from dying and dooming Layla to the fate that awaited her. It had pinned him, a crushing weight of his own disappointment matched by the weight of his relief at the time. He had felt lucky, but so incredibly guilty. Layla had been asking to be saved for months, whereas Dean had merely shown up once and been healed. Where was her justice? Why had Dean's complete lack of faith been rewarded where Layla's faith and been punished?

…and then there was Dad.

Dean jumped slightly at the sound of dirt being moved out of rhythm with his own. He was surprised to see that the hole had filled itself into something just slightly deeper than a depression in such a short amount of time. When he glanced up, he saw Sam working wordlessly beside him and he smiled weakly when his brother caught his glance.

"So where did you disappear off to before?" Dean asked, not entirely ready to have the heart to heart with Sam that he knew needed to happen.

Sam, in turn, shook his head and recognized the deflection, but knew not to press.

"I told you," he said with a bit of strain as he continued to work, "Edgar Allan Poe's memorial's here. I want to pay my respects."

"Poe? You mean like," Dean paused, wiping his dirt covered sleeve across his forehead and leaving a trail, "'Late upon a midnight dreary' Poe?"

Sam froze mid-scoop and looked at Dean.

"What?" Dean asked, uncomfortable under the scrutiny.

Sam continued, "Nothing, Dean. I'm just surprised you know his work."

"I read from time to time," Dean shot back scooping up the last bits of the dirt and adding it to the filling grave.

"Hustler doesn't count, Dean," Sam quipped.

"Oh, ha, ha, jackass," Dean countered, sending his brother an appreciative smirk.

The brother's packed down the freshly turned earth to make it as inconspicuous as possible. They knew it was pretty much pointless though. There was a big patch of deep muddy brown in the middle of a field of yellow-green grass. Yea, no one would notice that…

"Did ya find him at least?" Dean asked after a moment of companionable silence.

Sam shook his head and started picking up the supplies that lay in a neat pile on the ground near their latest successful salt and burn. He didn't want to admit that he had probably stalked off in the wrong direction, his infallible compass skewed a bit with the north star hidden behind the clouds overhead.

"Let's find it then," Dean said, swinging his shovel onto his shoulder like a he would've done with a rifle.

Sam blinked at Dean in surprise. After the way Dean had been riding his thin nerves to the breaking point, Sam was a little suspicious of his brother's seemingly innocent intentions.

"Yea?" Sam asked, excitement at seeing Poe's grave starting to take hold.

"Yea," Dean answered with a genuine smile, "When in Rome, right? Let's just get all this crap back to the car first."

+SUPERNATURAL+

The Winchesters never made it to the car as, much to Dean's chagrin and Sam's embarrassment, the famed poet's grave met them before their '67 Chevy did. Dean had pinned Sam with a look and pursed lips that screamed inappropriate laughter.

"Dean," Sam shot as a warning.

"What? You don't find irony funny, Sammy?" Dean asked as innocently as possible. The dangerous gleam in his brother's silvery green eyes told Dean he was failing.

"I just don't see how this situation is ironic, Dean," Sam shot back. It was an obvious lie. Of course this situation was ironic. If Sam hadn't been the one to miss the grave marker entirely, he would've thought it was hilarious too. Unfortunately, he had walked right past it and Dean had noticed instead of the other way around.

"Okay, fine," Dean said. He wasn't ready to let this one go. It was too good an opportunity to pass up. He licked his lips before he continued, "Its not ironic that you didn't notice the big grave with the big bird sitting in the little circle at the top of it. It's friggin' hilarious!"

Sam stared at his brother with a face devoid of anything. It was a silent plea for him to stop and drop it. He saw the flicker on Dean's face as he debated whether or not to continue. Sam was grateful when his brother picked the "middle ground" option with his response.

"Seriously, Sam. You don't think it kinda… Oh, I dunno, stands out?"

Sam scanned the area as Dean watched and another flood of humiliation hit his system. It was the largest marker around…and also the only one with a raven embossed into the top of it. Now that he thought about it, it was kind of pathetic that he had missed such an obvious landmark.

"Whatever," Sam muttered as he put down everything in his hands and approached the carved granite prism.

A chill pranced up and down his vertebrae as he stood before the memorial and read.

EDGAR ALLAN POE

FROM

OCTOBER 9, 1849

UNTIL

NOVEMBER 17, 1875

Sam squinted at the marker trying to make sense of it. He spoke more to himself than to Dean, but he spoke none the less, "That's not right."

"What's that?" Dean asked, coming up even with his brother. The same shiver trailed up and down his spine as they stood shoulder to shoulder.

"The dates. They're not right," Sam said, pointing to the grave.

Dean read the dates and turned back to his brother. Sam would notice something as trivial as someone's dates. Hell, only Sam would memorize someone's dates in the first place.

"So? Its just a marker. A memorial," Dean said.

"Yea, I know Dean," Sam spit out with a slight edge, "but why wouldn't they put real dates on the marker?"

"Beat's the hell outta me," Dean replied. He turned away, picking up the supplies Sam had carried earlier, leaving one of the shovels. Dean shot a glance at his watch and was pleased to see it was only 2:30.

"C'mon, Sam. Let's get an early night tonight."

Sam nodded, not breaking eye contact with the marker. It was thrilling almost as much as it was disappointing. He loved Poe, but he'd never tell Dean that. After all, the guy wrote mostly in prose and poetry. It was far from manly in style, but the subject matter was often grim and dark. To Sam, it was an intriguing and enthralling blend.

With a last glance at the marker and a bit of a nod in tribute towards the raven at the top, Sam turned away, picked up the shovel on the ground and followed his brother back to the Impala.

+SUPERNATURAL+

Dean flopped down on his bed, warm and refreshed after a nice steamy shower. He felt relaxed and happy, which was saying a lot given the circumstances lately. He faintly registered the sounds of Sam typing and clicking away at internet versions of obituaries in search of their next case.

In fact, Dean didn't hear Sam announce a new hunt. He never heard Sam chuckle as he was found, passed out on his stomach and oblivious to the world. He did, however, dream.

+SUPERNATURAL+

It was late, the sky mottled with angry clouds threatening to spill their contents as Dean pulled into the parking lot of the hotel. Everything was calm and clear for the time being, but he knew it wouldn't last long. He stifled a tired yawn in his fist as he cut the engine.

The door to the Impala creaked as he opened and closed it. Dean softly patted the hood as he walked past, ignoring the immediate response to wipe off the finger prints that he probably had left behind. It wouldn't completely ruin the paint job if he left it for the night.

The hotel room was empty, just like he had left it, when he arrived. Nothing had been disturbed, not even the pile of mud encrusted clothes near the corner. At least the motel staff had listened to him for once. Cleaning service was always a bad idea, especially when Dean had a knife hidden under his pillow in case of emergency.

He started peeling the damp clothes from his body. The sweaty, musky smell of man wafting through the air. It wasn't altogether unpleasant, but it definitely made Dean feel a little less than fresh.

He started undoing the button on his jeans when he heard the door to his room open and close behind him. A familiar gait slid towards him and a smile graced his lips as a pair of soft, feminine hands wrapped around his torso.

"Hello, lover," cooed Cassie as she pressed her chest against his back.

Dean's smile grew as her face pressed against his shoulder blades and he stilled his hands…for the time being that is.

"Cassie."

The word left his mouth in a heady breath instead of the surprised declaration he had intended. Her name left his lips as a lover's whisper, one that made the woman smile against his back and kiss the flesh exposed to her.

Dean tensed, feeling heat spread through his body and curl in very pleasant places. He placed his hands over hers, their comfortable pressure trailing paths against his chest, and gently pulled them away.

Their fingers intertwined for a moment and then broke contact completely as he turned and wrapped his toned arms around her lithe waist. She shivered against him and he felt a pressure pooling low in his belly.

Fire.

It exploded abruptly and without warning within him. Dean claimed her lips hungrily. He had missed her, needed this. The contact, the physical passion. He groaned as their tongues battled.

Gently, yet firmly, he pushed her back until her legs met the foot of his cheap motel bed. He threw her down without enough force to hurt, only startle. He smiled wickedly as she gasped in pleasant surprise. It was a power play and they both knew it. But this is what she wanted…and they both knew that too.

Cassie disposed of her shirt in one fluid motion, leaving her completely bare from the waist up much to Dean's delight. He licked his lips and bent towards the bed, towards her, his amulet swinging as he crawled. They locked lips again with a passionate, smoldering kiss.

Dean leaned back, pinning her legs beneath him as he ran his hands from her chest down to her hips, savoring the silky feel beneath his palms. Goosebumps jumped up where ever his touch went, making him smile smugly at the effect he had on her.

It wasn't more than two minutes later that they both were nude, taking in the sight of each other - memorizing curves and sculpted muscles. Dean ached with need and was pleased to see Cassie's eyes filled with the same lust.

Slowly, he lowered himself over her taking as much of his weight on his arms as he could. He stared into her deep brown eyes, getting lost as he pressed against her, dominating her frame as she wrapped her legs around his waist.

The rhythm was slow, gentle and tender. They both shook with the effort to keep themselves contained - in control of the magma like passion that was boiling just below the surface.

He kissed and nipped at her neck and the sensitive spot just below her ear as they moved. They were one and it was beautiful.

Energy, momentum, speed. It was building, climbing and spiraling around them. Sweat glistened in the moonlight as it spilled in the cracks of the blinds. It didn't shy away from the lovers as they danced their intimate tango.

Dean panted, his neck buried into the crook of her shoulder and neck as he bucked, momentarily losing control, before picking up the pace. The soft gasps and mewls jumping from Cassie's lips egged him on.

Without warning, Cassie shifted, flipping and dominating the situation. She pinned his arms above his head as she took control of their actions. Dean gasped, his eyes closing of their own accord as she swiveled above him. It was bliss and she was so close to taking him to paradise with her.

Cassie leaned in and licked under Dean's jaw. That's when everything changed. Any control they had slipped away completely as she began to squirm above him. She rocked, her grip on his wrists loosening as her eyes closed and she bit her lip.

Not missing the cue, Dean sat up and wrapped his arms tightly around her, moved with her, pressed her impossibly closer to him. Adding to the crest of the waves as they swept into their private beach, Dean picked them up and scattered them amongst an explosion of stars and complete ecstasy.

They fell together, Cassie resting her head against Dean's chest as they lay there glowing.

"Was she worth it?," she husked in his ear.

Dean blinked at her, lazily, not understanding why she would bring up someone else after the amazing sex they had just had.

"What? Who?"

"Lenore," she said again, lifting her head and pulling his arms off of her body.

Dean raised himself to his elbows and watched as she quickly got dressed, a sad expression etched into her face.

"Lenore?" Dean asked in confusion. This wasn't making any sense.

"What? No round two? Cassie?" Dean asked, attempting a crude joke to get a rise out of her.

but she wasn't paying attention to him anymore. Dean felt the panic rise to near suffocating levels. This wasn't how it ended. This wasn't how it was supposed to end.

"Nevermore," she said as she kissed him softly, a tear melting into the kiss, making it bitter in more than one way.

Dean's eyes widened in shock as Cassie began to melt away, becoming transparent, as she hovered inches away from him. Tears streamed down her face as she reached out to take his hand. He knew that tears tracked down his face to as he reached out to take hers as well.

+SUPERNATURAL+

Dean awoke with a start, panting and covered in sweat. Thankfully, that was the only evidence of his…ahem…pleasant little dream of his. He ran his hand over his face and thought for a moment, a sudden aching filling his heart.

Maybe the dream hadn't been completely pleasant. He knew it had been incredibly hot and unexpected, but it reminded him of Cassie. It reminded him of how he had hurt her when he left, even if she had been the one to throw him out of her life.

She had hurt him too, which sucked more because it was the first time Dean had honestly been totally willing to have something more with her than just a casual thing. As hard as he tried to show her what she meant to him, she had shoved back just as hard to have him out of her life.

She didn't trust him or the way he seemed to disappear during the night. She had suspected - accused - him of living a double life and Dean had denied it. He knew he was living that double life she thought he was, but not in the way she thought he did. He had loved her, but she had thought there was someone else.

Women, Dean thought derisively to himself as he checked the bright red glow on the nightstand by his bed. It was a little after 10 o'clock.

He took a deep breath and stretched a bit, pleasantly surprised to find the muscles he had overtaxed yesterday to be pain free. Hauling himself up, he picked his jeans up off the floor and took the loose change from his pocket. He pawed at it, counting it while walking out the door and heading to the soda machine he had seen around the corner last night.

He was surprised to see how overcast it was today after it had been so beautiful yesterday. Dean studied the clouds and was sorry to see that some were much darker than others; it was almost certainly a sign that rain was eminent.

Dean started stuffing quarters and dimes into the soda machine as soon as he reached his destination. They clattered away inside the machinery, sorting into tubes as Dean paused to review the selection. He settled on Dr. Pepper, his finger poised to jab at the button when a short "caw" behind him made him turn.

There was a crow strutting around near the sidewalk, its black eyes shining as it took in the sight of the bed-headed hunter. Without warning, the crow inched towards Dean, eyeing him curiously as it approached. Dean's brows wrinkled as he watched it. He had never seen a bird act like this before.

Without warning, the crow plunged its beak at Dean's feet, making the man yelp and jump in surprise. However, he laughed a moment later when he saw the ebony bird holding a French fry, practically a pancake now from heavy foot traffic, in its beak.

"Well, I'll be," Dean mumbled to himself, pressing the Dr. Pepper button as the crow leapt into the air and flew off into the dreary day.

Dean slurped happily at his drink despite the fact that it wasn't Dr. Pepper like it was supposed to be. The sickly sweet flavor of Mountain Dew ran over his taste buds as he entered their room. He wasn't surprised to see Sam awake.

"Mornin', sunshine!" Dean called out, shutting the door behind him.

Sam only responded by waving his hand in a shooing motion before collapsing his head into both of his hands, elbows resting on his knees.

"Somethin' wrong?" Dean asked, sitting on his bed, facing his brother with a mild dose of concern etched into his features.

"Think I'm comin' down with something," he muttered back. Dean winced at the hoarse quality of his brother's voice, but didn't mention it.

"You don't sound too good," Dean saed with sympathy. If its one thing a Winchester absolutely abhors - other than the beasts and ghouls that try to take innocent lives, that is - it's a good old fashioned rhinovirus.

Sam eyed his brother out from under the shadows of the hair that flopped in his face. Not feeling so well would be a mild oversight at this point. His joints ached, his muscles were sore and there was a nice little headache building up behind his eyes. Maybe, knowing his luck, he had caught a flu or something.

That would go over like a ton of bricks.

"Think we could get some breakfast in ya and then maybe skip town?" Dean asked, finishing off the can of Mountain Dew as he spoke.

Sam thought about it for a moment, then sat up, stretching. His shoulder popped at the movement and even Dean winced at the sound of it.

"Yea," Sam responded, choosing to ignore the way Dean eyed him like he was about to fall over, and stood, "I'll just try to sleep in the car."

Dean nodded in happy approval.

+SUPERNATURAL+

Breakfast was mediocre at best, but the coffee had been some of the best they ever had at a small town diner. They were cruising now, headed north towards upstate New York. Apparently Sam had found reports of the Headless Horseman plaguing Sleepy Hollow.

Dean hoped it wasn't the hoax it sounded like it might be. He sighed as another cassette came to an end. Ordinarily, he would've just let the tape flip from side A to B and back ad naseum, but this particular album reminded him of the time he shared with Cassie. Dean opted to free himself from his heartache for a while and popped in a mix. He smiled as a little AC/DC crooned away through the speakers.

Sam had been out since they hit the highway and practically comatose by the looks of it now. Dean didn't like the way his face had started to flush either. Maybe Sam really was coming down with something. If that were the case, he'd need to rest in a real bed, not the front seat of the Impala.

Almost as if he knew Dean was worrying about him, Sam's eyes suddenly snapped open and he bolted upright in his seat. His eyes were wild with panic, flitting from detail to detail to understand what was going on.

"Calm down, Sam," Dean said with mild amusement, "Its only New Jersey."

Sam's brows wrinkled in confusion as he spoke cautiously, "How long was I asleep?"

Dean smiled and looked at his brother for a second, "A while."

Sam nodded, understanding his brother's short hand for "long enough to have missed some tolls and a few rest stops." Sam felt like complete crap again and that dream of his? Definitely sending shivers up and down his spine.

…It had nothing to do with the fever he knew he had.

"You don't look so good, Sammy," Dean declared. He was careful to keep too much of the concern he felt from leaking into his voice.

"It's Sam," the younger brother started, "And I'm fine. Really."

Sam watched as Dean nodded, thoroughly unconvinced, and kept his attention on the traffic that was rapidly thickening around them. Sam let his thoughts drift back to the dream or rather nightmare he had just had.

It had been dark and shadowy, really depressing. Sam was fairly certain that he had been sitting in a study or something of the like. There had been a fire roaring away happily in its fireplace, but it didn't really cast out the heavy feeling that pressed in on him even now. He closed his eyes to help himself recall bits and pieces of detail that might help tell him more.

There had been a statue of a goddess, right? It seemed oddly familiar…or that it should be familiar. Someone else familiar had been there too. He realized with a heavy heart that Madison had been there…as a ghost. He shifted himself, scooting down into the seat, which only pinned his knees uncomfortably against the dashboard; a flash of something dark entered his memory. It was a bird. Actually it was more than that. It was a raven.

Probably there because I just visited Poe's memorial.

Sam shrugged it off, not really registering that he was shivering. Dean didn't miss it though. As his giant of a brother dozed off, Dean turned up the heat and searched for any exit signs that said "lodging."


A/N: Well then! Now that that's out of my system...
Please let me know what you think!

xoTrebleMaker