CHAPTER SUMMARY: Sam and Stella have a little hurt/comfort thing going on and Dean and Kelly take out the lamia.

Chapter 11


While Dean and Kelly headed to her house after lunch to grab a book, Stella eyed Sam warily as he straightened a bit, digging a fist into a spot on his lower back. "You okay?" Stella asked, looking concerned.

"Fine," Sam assured her as he stood up, trying to ignore the knot in his back. Apparently when Crowley yanked him out of Hell, he hadn't bothered to erase all of the physical scars like Castiel had done when he pulled Dean out.

"You're not fine," Stella insisted as she followed her fiancé out of the diner. "First this morning and now—"

"I was fine this morning," Sam replied, defensively. Sure it had taken him a little longer than usual to get going but that was common for him every now and then.

"You were moving like an 80-year-old lady," Stella, said, undeterred. Putting a hand on Sam's arm, she stopped him as he started towards her car. "Hey, come on. Talk to me. What's wrong?"

Sam had told Stella about the first time he'd died more than three years ago but he'd never told her about how he'd died. He could still feel the knife cutting into his spine. He even still had the angry looking scar on his back. Ever since, Sam still woke up with back pain now and again. Crappy motel mattresses only made things worse, as did riding around in the Impala so much.

One of the reasons Sam missed driving his own car had been because of the heated seats. True, they didn't cure the back pain but they certainly kept it to a manageable level.

Turning to get in the car again, Sam suddenly pitched forward as his right hip suddenly locked up. Without thinking, he threw both hands out in front of him, nearly screaming when he felt a 'crack' and a sharp pain flaring up in his right wrist—the same one he'd broken running from a zombie more than 4 years ago.

"Sam!" Stella shouted, dropping to her knees next to him.

Sam groaned as he tried to get up but it felt as though he might have strained his back and his wrist was killing him. "Hurts…" he groaned. Part of Sam—a big part—didn't care that he was acting like he was dying. When he was finally lying on his back, he felt someone help him sit up. "Stella?"

"Yep, I'm here," Stella replied, bending down and putting Sam's uninjured arm around her shoulders before hauling her oversized boyfriend to his feet. "Come on," she muttered, helping Sam into the passenger seat of the car.

"I'm fine," Sam said as Stella got into the driver's seat and started up her car. "It's just my wrist. Broke it a while back."

"I swear to God, you're even worse than my brothers," Stella muttered, aggravated as she pulled out of the parking lot and headed towards the hospital. "Anything short of life-threatening and they're saying it's just a scratch. Hell even when it was life-threatening, they just shrugged it off sometimes."

Sam couldn't help but laugh at that as Stella zipped down the street. "Dean's the same way. Won't let anyone know when he's really hurting." After another minute, he said, "I don't know if I'm okay with this."

"You mean going to a hospital or being with a girl strong enough to haul your ass up off the floor?" Stella asked with a smile. After a moment, though, the smile faded and she glanced over at Sam. "Or do you mean actually looking vulnerable with someone other than your brother?"

"All of the above," Sam replied after a long pause. He hated feeling weak but with Dean it was okay because his older brother felt the same way. Both of the Winchesters downplayed injuries until one of them called the other out on it. And even then, the brothers didn't mind leaning on one another as they stumbled into their motel room or—worst case—the local emergency room.

But to Sam, the idea of needing a girl to save his ass—admittedly a really, really hot girl who happened to also be a hunter—was a bit hard to take sometimes. Glancing over at Stella as she turned into the hospital parking lot, Sam thought that if he'd been with Dean when he'd met Stella, then Dean would probably have been the one to hook up with her.

"Hey," Stella said as she started towards the main parking lot. "Do you think you can walk from…?" But after looking at Sam who looked like he was only barely concealing how much pain he was really in, she sighed. "Never mind," she muttered under her breath before pulling up to the emergency room doors.

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Walking up to the front door of Kelly's house, Dean was more than surprised when Kelly simply opened the door and walked inside. Looking around, Dean hesitantly walked into the house. "Dean, the place isn't booby trapped," Kelly assured him as they headed upstairs to her bedroom. "'Course, I wouldn't recommend walking barefoot in the basement. But other than that…"

Dean raised an eyebrow at that but when Kelly didn't elaborate he let the subject go for the moment.

In Kelly's bedroom, Dean was almost surprised by the shocking absence of personal items. Everything seemed to be related to hunting, from books on creatures and lore to weaponry of all shapes and sizes including rifles, shotguns and what looked like an actual sword in one corner. But as he looked around more closely, he realized that the personal items were concealed by the books, weapons, amulets, and charms littering almost every inch of the place.

Piles of papers and books on the desk hid photos of Kelly with her father and mother. On the very bottom shelf of her book case, there were some old mystery novels Kelly must have enjoyed reading before her mother died and she'd dove headlong into the realm of the supernatural.

Dean picked up one of the framed photos on the desk and studied it for a moment, a little surprised. Kelly was wearing a beautiful homecoming dress in dark purple and she stood with a guy that looked a little like Sam when he'd been in high school. Glancing in Kelly's direction as she rummaged for something on the other side of the room, Dean found it suddenly hard to believe that Kelly Gibbs had ever truly acted like a girl.

"You gonna help me look for that book or are you just going to stare at my ass all day?" Kelly said over her shoulder as she searched yet another pile of books. Dear God, when had she become such a hoarder? She could remember when it had started with a few books, a couple knives and the 9mm her father had taught her to shoot when she was a kid. Now there was barely any space left in her bedroom except a narrow footpath around the bed and closet.

"It wasn't your ass I was looking at," Dean replied, quietly. When Kelly straightened up and looked at him, he handed her the photo, a smirk on his face as he simply said, "Nice dress."

Kelly chuckled as she blushed looking at the photo for a moment before putting it back on the desk. "Yes, believe it or not, there was a time when I was actually a girl," she said with a smile. Turning back to the task at hand, she finally found the book she'd been looking for and sat on the bed to look up lamias.

"So what did you want to do?" Dean asked, his curiosity starting to get the better of him. Catching Kelly's puzzled look, he clarified. "Back when you were just a girl. What did you want to do when you grew up?"

Kelly laughed out loud, the blush on her face spreading up to her ears. "Oh… let's not go there, okay?"

"Come on," Dean said, coaxingly as he gave her his most charming smile. "You can tell me."

Kelly set the open book down and crossed her arms, preparing herself for jokes. "Alright. When I was in high school I wanted to be… a chef."

Dean didn't laugh at that. As he studied Kelly, picturing her in a professional kitchen, he could totally imagine her chopping, cooking, shouting out orders and directions to the other cooks. "Well, if you handle a knife the way you handle a gun…" he said with a smile.

"What about you?' Kelly asked, grabbing the book she'd been looking for and looking for what it said about lamias.

"What about me what?" Dean asked. Realizing what Kelly had meant, he shrugged. "I don't know. Never really thought about it much. My dad always trained Sam and me to be hunters. I never really thought about alternate careers." Watching Kelly reading over the book, Dean could feel the old, familiar instinct stirring inside him and for once, he wanted to keep it quiet. The idea of sleeping with Kelly—while appealing, certainly—was also potentially far more hazardous to his health than any demon or monster he'd faced before.

"Okay, good news and bad news," Kelly said with a sigh.

"What's the bad news?" Dean asked. Sam always asked for the good news first, but Dean always wanted the bad news first since it was a better way to judge just how 'good' the good news was.

"Bad news, it is a lamia we're dealing with and they're really strong, ugly sons of bitches," Kelly said with a slight grimace as she handed the book to Dean. "Good news is the best way to kill them is a silver knife blessed by a priest and—" She cut off as she looked around the messy room. "Um… I've got one around here. Somewhere," she added, shrugging as she looked a little embarrassed. Standing up she started to rummage through the various weaponry.

"Ever think of cleaning your room?" Dean asked, with a smirk as he started to help Kelly look.

"Some day," Kelly muttered quietly.

"Why don't you just take one of your other knives and get it blessed?" Dean asked, noticing plenty of silver knives lying around.

"Because there's one in particular… Ah! That one, by your foot!" Kelly said, pointing to a sheathed blade poking out from under the bed.

Dean bent down and picked up the knife, pulling it from the leather sheath. It was a K-Bar knife with a short serration on the blade near the bolster. The handle was black and textured and there were initials engraved on the blade on one side. "'E.B.'?" Dean said, looking curious.

"Elizabeth Birnbaum," Kelly said with a smile. "When Ziva found out I was a hunter, she gave me the knife for my birthday. It was her mother's."

Dean nodded, remembering a similar conversation with Jo Harvelle. Sheathing the knife, he handed it to Kelly who had grabbed a bag and was packing a few other items into it. "What's the rest of the gear for? Thought you said the knife would work on this thing."

Taking the knife from Dean and tossing it into the bag, Kelly replied, "It should." Throwing the strap of the bag over her shoulder, she headed out of the room, Dean right on her heels. "Rule #20: Don't always count on 'plan a'."

"Got a rule for everything?" Dean asked.

Kelly felt a slight squirm in the pit of her stomach and she replied, "Everyone needs a code they can live by." Once in the kitchen, she rummaged through the cupboards and pulled out a couple bottles of dried rosemary and dropping them into the bag along with a small mixing bowl.

"So how'd you come up with your code?" Dean asked, interested as he followed Kelly out to the garage where she grabbed a few more items including a small propane torch.

"My dad," Kelly replied, simply as she and Dean headed out to the Impala. After tossing the bag into the backseat, she got into the passenger seat while Dean got behind the wheel. "Although, really it was my mom. She told Dad that she had a rule—never date a lumberjack—and Dad eventually started making his own rules."

Dean wanted to say something about the idea but couldn't think of the right thing to say. Once he and Kelly were heading down the road, he asked, "So where do we find a lamia?"

Kelly let out a breath, grateful for the change of subject. "They like the woods. So I guess we'll start there."

"Yeah, and how many forests and parks in DC?" Dean asked, not liking the idea.

"Too many," Kelly admitted. After a moment, she said, "Okay. Let's try going back to Langley Park first. Maybe this thing leaves a trail or something that we can follow."

"Guess that's better than just sitting around waiting for this thing to attack someone else," Dean replied, turning to head towards the park. After thinking on things for a while, though, he glanced at Kelly but before he could ask her the question that had been on his mind, his phone rang. Answering it, he said, "Yeah. What?"

"Dean, it's Stella."

"Stella?" Dean said, sounding a little confused. "What's going on? You and Sam okay?"

"I'm fine," Stella replied, quickly. "Sam… not so much."

"What happened?" Dean demanded, every terrible scenario running through his mind at triple speed.

"Oh, just a minor crash and burn," Stella said, calmly. "He'll be fine. We're still at the hospital but I'm going to get a room at the Hays-Adams Hotel."

Two of Dean's basic instincts were in conflict at the moment. The first and primary was to go to Sam and make sure his brother was really okay. But glancing over at Kelly again he also knew that he couldn't let her go after this lamia thing alone. If Kelly got hurt or killed, Dean had no doubts that Leroy Jethro Gibbs would NOT be happy. "Listen," Dean said, deciding on compromise. "Kelly and I have something to take care of but we'll meet you at the hospital."

"Dean, just drop me off," Kelly interjected. "I'll scout out the park and call you if I find anything."

"Like hell," Dean snapped, giving her a look. "No way I'm letting you go after this thing alone."

"Dean, just go finish your hunt and then meet me," Stella insisted. "Sam's okay, I promise. Just go do what you need to do."

"Fine," Dean said before hanging up the phone. Looking over at Kelly he said, "Let's go gank a lamia."

Kelly started to respond when Dean stepped on the gas, making the car go even faster.

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It took the better part of 4 hours to find where the lamia had gone and after tracking the monster to a nearby church, Dean was about to go in quietly when a loud scream sounded from inside.

Kelly and Dean burst in and stopped dead when they saw what looked like a half woman-half snake looming over a body on the floor, the dead priest's chest ripped open.

The lamia hissed loudly at the two hunters, exposing what looked like snake fangs. When it lunged at Kelly and Dean, they both dove out of the way, rolling away from the lamia which whirled around to try again.

Kelly and Dean looked at each other before noticing where Kelly had dropped the bag in the doorway. "I'll hold it off, you go for the knife!" Dean shouted, keeping a close eye on the lamia's claws and fangs.

"Are you freakin' insane?" Kelly said, her heart pounding. "I'll hold it off, and you go for the knife!"

Dean started to object when Kelly suddenly scrambled to her feet, making a run for the rectory, the lamia hot on her tail. "Kelly!" Grabbing the bag, he dashed after the two, ducking just as Kelly suddenly went flying over his head after being thrown by the lamia which quickly turned to go after Dean who made a run for the door.

Lying on the floor, Kelly groaned as she tried to get to her feet. Her head was pounding and it hurt to breathe a bit. When her phone rang, she was tempted to ignore it, but recognizing the ringtone as the one she'd set for Ducky, she answered it quickly. "Talk fast, Duck!"

"Is this a bad time?" Ducky asked, sounding concerned.

Kelly made a run for the bag and started rummaging frantically. "No. What's going on?"

"I thought you ought to know," Ducky replied, talking a bit faster. "Toxicology from PFC Gibson showed high levels of a hemotoxin in his blood."

"Oh, great," Kelly groaned, grabbing the knife and throwing it to Dean who started trying to stab the lamia.

"Yes, the toxin is very similar to that of the western diamondback rattle snake," Ducky went on. "You know I once had an associate who was bitten by—"

"Kelly!" Dean shouted as he went crashing into a wall, the knife flying out of his hand and out of reach.

"Bye, Ducky," Kelly said, quickly, hanging up the phone and making a mad scramble for her bag, grabbing the salt and rosemary and blending them in the bowl just as Dean joined her.

"This isn't the time to work on spice mixes, Kelly!" Dean shouted, his heart pounding in his chest.

"Plan B!" Kelly shouted back, shoving the propane torch into Dean's hands. "I'll season, you flambé!"

Both of them froze as the Lamia suddenly reared up in front of them, fangs and claws bared.

"This a bad time to tell you that those fangs are poisonous?" Kelly said as she froze for a second.

"Then let's not get bitten!" Dean said, dodging a strike, wincing as he felt the lamia's claws catch him across the shoulder.

"Dean!" Kelly said, panicked. Throwing the salt and rosemary at the monster, she ducked as the lamia tried to cut her with its claws and dropped to the floor as she said, "Now, Dean!"

Dean turned on the torch and when the flames hit the lamia it let out a bloodcurdling scream before being consumed in a fireball.

With the lamia dead, Dean turned off the torch, wincing as he stood, the pain in his shoulder getting worse as the adrenaline rush started to wear off. Going over to Kelly, he was pleased to see that she didn't look like she was too badly hurt. "You alright?"

Kelly started to nod but as she stood, she winced as her ribs throbbed. "Oh, that's going to kill in the morning."

"Alright, come on," Dean said, helping Kelly to her feet. "We'll swing by the hospital. I can check on Sam and you can get those ribs looked at."

Kelly didn't argue as she and Dean grabbed their things and headed for the car. She usually just stopped at NCIS after getting hurt during a hunt or just called Ducky and had him meet her at her house but right now, she just wanted to lie down and take some painkillers.

As he and Kelly headed for the hospital, Dean couldn't help but go over the fight in his head. For it being their first case together, they'd actually done pretty good.

Now if only he could stop fantasizing about having sex with the gorgeous redhead sitting in the passenger seat of his car.

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Stella found Dean and Kelly sitting on a bed in one of the exam rooms in the ER an hour after they got to the hospital and was relieved that they didn't look too badly hurt. "You guys okay?" Stella asked, looking from Kelly to Dean. The ever so slight bulge under Kelly's shirt around her midsection indicated she'd had her ribs wrapped up and the missing sleeve of Dean's t-shirt exposed the white bandages across his shoulder while his arm was in a sling.

"Just a dislocated shoulder and a couple of busted ribs," Dean replied, shrugging his good shoulder. "No big deal." Looking at Stella, he asked, "How's Sammy?"

"Way too tall," Stella replied with a sarcastic smile. Seeing that Dean wasn't amused, she shook her head. "Sam was having back problems. He tripped and went face down in the parking lot outside the diner. Broke his wrist. Docs said Sam's got some arthritis in his right hip and back. Nothing serious."

"Where is he?" Dean asked, hopping off the exam bed and wincing as the action jostled his arm.

"Sleeping," Stella replied with an amused look. "They're keeping Sam overnight and he's… thoroughly drugged."

Dean couldn't help chuckling at the thought of his brother on painkillers. Even when the aches and pains got really bad, Sam wouldn't take the good stuff unless Dean all but shoved the pills down his throat. Which was probably just as well because on the higher strength meds Sam got extremely loopy. "I think I'll go check in on the Sasquatch anyway," Dean said, heading out of the room.

Stella studied Kelly for a moment, noticing the barely masked pain on the younger woman's face. "Need anything? Painkillers?"

Kelly shook her head as she gingerly slid off the bed. "I've had broken bones before. Both legs, left arm… even a skull fracture when I was in a car accident when I was 8." Wincing as she gently massaged her midsection, she said, "Broken ribs, though… That's just a special pain, right there."

Stella nodded, a reminiscent look on her face. "First time I broke a rib I was sure I was dying." Leading Kelly out of the room, she said, "I doubt we'll tear Dean away from Sam tonight so why don't you and I go grab a bite?"

"Sure," Kelly said, nodding. After a moment, she added, "And maybe stop and get some painkillers after all. God, this kills."

xx

As if sensing his brother's presence, Sam's eye cracked open when Dean entered the room. "Hey, Dean," Sam said, drawing out the words with a big, goofy smile on his face. After a second, however, Sam opened both eyes all the way when he noticed Dean's arm in the sling. "What happened?" Sam asked, concerned. "Are you okay? Was it the lamia?"

"Don't worry about it, Sammy," Dean insisted, pulling a chair over to his brother's bedside. "Son of a bitch cut me up, dislocated my shoulder. Nothing I haven't had before."

Sam nodded slowly and tried to sit up, wincing at the pain in his wrist. Giving up and laying back again, he saw Dean's look and raised his right hand now encased in a white cast. "I broke it again. The docs had to put a pin in my wrist this time."

Dean didn't say anything right away. He could see two looks in his brother's eyes—one was the grown-up 'You're gonna make fun of me, aren't you?' and the other was the little kid 'Can you make it better?'. "Yeah, I hear if you break a bone once it makes it more likely you'll break the same bone again." After a while, Dean leaned forward and grinned as he said, "Arthritis? Seriously, dude?"

"It's not funny, Dean," Sam grumbled. He wasn't sure if he was just working through the haze of the drugs or if they just weren't as effective because he was so freaking big.

"I know it's not, Sasquatch," Dean replied, sympathetically. After a moment, he adjusted Sam's hospital bed so he was sitting up and said, "Guess you need to start taking better care of yourself, huh? No more sitting in front of that computer of yours all day eating burgers and drinking beer."

Sam gave a pained laugh in return. "I hate being so tall."

"Yeah, but what can you do?" Dean replied, leaning back in his chair. After a while, he said, "I'm sorry, Sammy."

"What for?" Sam asked, his brain starting to feel slightly fuzzy again.

"Things are always harder for you," Dean replied. "I should have made sure you took better care of yourself."

"Dean, stop," Sam replied, hazily. Sleep was threatening to overtake him again and before he could finish the half-formed thought in his head, he closed his eyes and quickly fell into a deep and restful sleep.

Dean watched his brother fall asleep and lowered the bed down again before smiling to himself. Scooting back just a bit, Dean kicked off his boots and propped his feet up on the bed. After a few moments to get comfortable, Dean also closed his eyes and soon fell asleep.