Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds or Supernatural. This is written for funsies, not money.

A/N: I can't possible apologize enough for that break . Suffice it to say, original fiction writing tries to steal my soul on a weekly basis ("a rejection a day keeps the ego away"), and it usually leaves me with just enough gusto to put out a one-shot, but I'm back now, thanks entirely your enthusiastic emails, personal messages and reviews. Let's see if I can scrape off the rust and get this baby moving again, shall we? How about a quick recap-

Last time on I See a Darkness: Setting, Season 4. The BAU team knows the Winchesters are in town and are looking back over their history. Meanwhile, the real unsubs , ghost-Glenn and Ricky, have two children at their disposal. After a bad encounter with another hunter, Dean took a flesh wound to the arm, and Penelope Garcia, after escaping under the cabin, came back to take Roy-the-hunter out of the equation with a piece of fire wood. Which was liberating, except for the part where she and Reid are still stuck in a cabin the "delusional" Winchester brothers. Which is less liberating, one might imagine.

Chapter 8:

In for a Penny, In for a Pound

The blood was prettier than the tears, but it dried too quickly, spread out too thin. Ricky ran one hand over the other, scratching away what was caught in the crevices between his fingers. It rolled off the skin like sweat and dirt, in small, gummy balls. Made him itch, too.

"Least they're both boys this time," Ricky observed.

His voice seemed loud in the otherwise empty room. Past the closest wall, someone was crying. Ricky couldn't tell which of the children it was making a ruckus. They'd been put together during the last lesson. A few minutes in the same room would make the coming separation hurt worse. If they took to the lesson. If little Michael and little Tommy had learned anything at all…Ricky could never tell if it was soaking in until the very last blow.

"Doesn't really matter," Glenn replied. "Not if they aren't right."

His arrival was a tide of ice water over Ricky's clothed back. There was some comfort found in the chill it left behind, but Ricky pushed those thoughts away, a manic gleam to his bright eyes.

"But, Glenn, we said they were perfect." Ricky licked his bottom lip, trembling against the cold when his big brother's image flickered, reappearing closer, the scent of atmosphere he brought with him overwhelming. "These two—we can use these two. I'm sure of it."

Ricky's finger slipped beneath the collar of his shirt, reaching for the chain at his neck, but Glenn caught his wrist. "Not while your hands are dirty," the ghost hissed, glaring at the red stain. The hardness of his expression was lost in a moment though, the grasp loosening, a thumb drawing circles on the other man's knuckles. "Now, don't you worry, Ricky. I'd never let anything happen to you, would I?"

Ricky slowly shook his head. "I just…I just think we're running out of time."

Glenn smiled, looking young. Looking almost alive, despite the gray of his hue, the molt of his lips. "Everything'll be alright again," he assured. "It will. But not until we find the perfect pair."

"And if the boys aren't it?"

Glenn's teeth looked sharp, yellowed, in the faint light. His image flickered again as he leaned in close. "Then, we'll do what we've always done. We'll teach them their lesson. We'll teach them what brotherhood is about. We'll teach them what they did wrong. Then we'll find two more, and teach them, too. We've still got time, Ricky. You've still got time to get this right, for both our sakes. In the end, it'll be worth the effort, I promise."

Ricky mirrored the grin, his worry lost. "You know best."

"Big brothers always do."

"Okay, you're fine, everything's fine," Penelope muttered, her fingers trembling as she raised the rag to her face, scrubbing at a spot of mud she'd missed. She tried to not concentrate on her own image staring back at her through the mirror, because she was fairly certain she was two shades too pale, eyes red-rimmed from tears. A shaking, sputtering, panicked mess who'd been hogging the bathroom for what had to be nearly forty minutes. "You're a-okay, Penny. Crazy Guy the Third isn't dead. You didn't kill him, and he didn't kill you. A-okay…"

And she wondered why she was standing here, back in this cabin, in the first place. Despite her insistence to the contrary, Reid had made it clear, very much so, that he wanted her to run if she could, and Sam had given her the perfect opportunity with the trap door. But, she'd hesitated, first to wait and see if the brothers would send Spencer down, too. Then, when they didn't, to listen through the slatted walls and thin windows of the shack. Roy-gun-happy, the Winchesters seemed to know, but knowledge alone hadn't made him any less of a threat.

Still, hobbling to favor one leg and chilled by the winter air, she could have made off. Found the nearest road. By now the team would be on the lookout. They or the locals would find her quickly. The distraction was definitely to her advantage.

Instead, she'd found a tarp-covered stack of firewood and, ignoring the pile of guns on the front porch, lifted her own blunt weapon free. Instinct took over the moment she realized that this stranger, Roy, was going to shoot. That he wasn't going to leave anyone behind. Not Sam, not Dean…not Spencer. She'd spent a middle-school semester in softball (torture, as she'd regaled to J.J.), and put the memory of swinging a bat to good use. Home run.

"I can't believe that happened."

She'd brought a chunk of wood to a gunfight. She let that thought settle and nearly hyperventilated.

The sound of the knock at the bathroom door made her jump. She gripped at her chest, taking a breath, and reminding herself that the noise wasn't the ring of a gunshot. "Y-yes?"

"Hey, Penny, you decent?"

Penelope recognized the rasp of Dean's voice and forced herself to suck in another calm breath. She wanted to tell him to go away, but that wasn't what left her mouth: "When am I ever?"

Dean chuckled, opening the door, and peaking in, cautiously. "I hear it's polite to ask," he noted, catching her eye. For a moment, he seemed shaken by her appearance, but he covered it with a smooth smile. "You were pretty bad ass back there," he reminded her. "Definitely scored one for team Hot Geek."

"Is that guy…?" Penelope swallowed, squeezing the wet towel in her hand. Despite herself, stepped back, nearly collapsing onto the toilet's lowered lid cover. "Is he still out there?"

Dean shook his head. "Nah, Roy doesn't seem to play well with others, so Sammy and I put him in the shed out back."

Penelope's eyes widened. "He's still alive, though, right?"

Dean held her gaze, the humor gone from his eyes, as if he heard the question circling her mind, "Did you kill him while he was unconscious?" He glanced over his shoulder, as if checking on someone in the other room, and slipped a little further into the bathroom, letting the door close behind him. Penelope knew she should be scared, backed into a four-foot room with, well, The Dean Winchester, but, instead, she was hanging on his expression, watching for any slip. Anything that would tell her if his answer was a lie.

"Roy's still alive," Dean finally replied. He dropped down to one knee, holding his right arm tight against his side. "How's your ankle?"

But, Penelope was starring at his arm, tracing it back up to his neck, chin, eyes. He was a shade paler himself, and his shirt had been changed, the lump of a bandage just barely visible beneath one sleeve. "You're pretty calm for someone who was shot," she answered.

Dean's lips curled. "Oh, hell, that? Bee sting. Sam patched me up." He winked. "Yeah, I know, bad day. First you get shot at by an idiot, then you miss seeing me with my shirt off."

Penelope snorted and slapped his good arm playfully. "I always miss all the fun."

Then, she froze, eyes wide as she recapped on what she'd just done. To Mr. Murder/Torture/Grave Desecration. She felt panic building up again and swallowed it down, realizing the most disturbing part of it all was that she wasn't more worried about setting him off.

If Dean noticed, he didn't let her know, still playing along with the flirt. "I'll get you tickets to the next show," he assured, eyes back on her foot. For the first time, she noticed the roll of Ace bandages in his other hand. "Crap, I should have done this earlier. Still not broken, though. That's a plus."

His prodding sent a shock of pain all the way up to her knee, and she winced. Her foot was swelling into cankle-grade territory and slightly discolored. It was a wonder she would walk on it. "Wasn't that bad this morning," she said, watching him loosely pull the roll around her ankle with ease. "But I kind of slipped in the mud trying to find my way out the trap door. I might have made it worse."

"I'll get some ice out of the cooler. I guess this is the reason you decided not to make a run for it?" Dean paused a moment before shrugging of his own comment. "Personally, I'm kind of glad you came back, not that we didn't already have a plan for taking out Roy, of course."

Penelope caught the smile in his voice and rolled her eyes. "Sure you did."

His movements were practiced, quick, and she considered his skills and Sam's "patch" of the bullet wound. The two men had to take care of many injuries, apparently. It wasn't something that Reid had brought up. "Did Sam give you stitches?"

Dean nodded, still preoccupied by the task. "Kid has a good bedside manner when he's not pissed at you. Too bad for me."

Penelope forced a crooked smile, but it wavered. "I heard…I heard that man say something about demons. Does he believe…I mean, does he do what you do? Look for those kinds of things?"

Dean, finished, stood, holding her gaze. He seemed to be mulling it over. "Yeah," he finally replied. "He believes in the crazy crap we believe in. That's what you wanted to ask, right? Listen, Penny…" He blinked, shook his head, denying himself something. "I could sit here all day, talk to about monsters and ghosts and demons. But I'm not going to, because I like you too much to get you wrapped up in this crap."

It was the final word, and Penelope took it. "You want to know what I believe, Dean? I believe you're not a murderer."

He smiled back, but the expression was strained, weary. "Just a nutjob?"

"Maybe not even that," she said, unsure if she meant it.

Dean shrugged it off, pretending not to hear, and held the door open for her. Before she could make it into the other room, he leaned in close, whispering a reply. "It's okay, Penny. Even I think we're crazy sometimes. Life would be easier that way."

Then he sauntered past her, leading her back into the main room like she was a guest instead of a hostage. Penelope spotted Reid quickly enough, in his usual seat after a round of stretching his legs, his eyes wide as he scanned Penelope, looking for any injuries she might have received since her long trip to the bathroom. Sam stepped in front of him, blocking his view and gesturing for Penelope to sit down so he could secure her restraints.

"It won't be for much longer," he assured.

She shivered, despite herself, before plopping down for the youngest Winchester. Sam went to work on her upper arms, and she couldn't help but notice how his hands were still stained pink from Dean's blood.

"We've got a few hours longer we can stay here," Dean said, stepping back to their work table, his attention on getting their notes back in order and sweeping the glass out of their way.

At some point, one of the two had tacked a blanket over the shot-out window to keep the winter air outside. It didn't help much. The room was still frigid, even though the heater was glowing at full blast. Penelope imagined the man, Roy, was probably freezing out in the shed. If Dean had been telling the truth about him being alive and all.

Sam finished up with Penelope and stood, shooting his brother a glance. "Before Roy's partner arrives?"

Dean nodded. "My guess is that if Walt were any closer, he'd have told Roy to wait before charging in guns a-blazing. So, like I said, a couple hours. At least."

"Then where are we supposed to go?" Sam huffed, stepping around the still-wet floor where someone had tried to quickly mop up the splatter of blood. "We can't very well drag these two to a cheap motel and pick up the hunt again."

Dean rolled his eyes. "Well, Sam, looks like you're going to get your wish. We'll ditch this hunt if we haven't found the bastards by then." Then he glanced back over his shoulder at the pair, winking at Penelope in a way which clearly said that wasn't an option. Penelope wasn't sure if the gesture was supposed to calm her nerves. It didn't. He must have realized as much, and his voice softened. "Either way, when we leave this cabin, you two are going free. You can go back to your fellow g-men and chase down all the bad guys whose names don't start with Win."

Penelope snorted. "Nice."

"I try."

Morgan leaned back in his chair, squeezing his eyes shut in an attempt to indulge the exhaustion tugging at his mind for the past half hour. He'd never been the type to be satisfied with desk work, no matter how fruitful, but desk work that didn't seem to hold any promise? It was beyond frustrating, being stuck here while four people were missing. Frustration, though, was somehow better than the pure terror of stopping in his tracks and taking the time to think about what the Winchesters could be doing to Garcia and Reid, or those poor kids. As soon as he felt the nudging of that deep seeded fear, he sat up straight again, shaking off his weariness and snatching up the top paper folder again.

The team was missing something. They were missing several somethings, which was the problem. John Winchester had done an expert job of keeping his sons moving throughout their childhood, but, even still, the team should have had enough info to scrape together another, more useful, profile, if only the actions of the brothers weren't so damn contradictory.

A stack of papers slapped together, and Morgan raised a brow at the sound, realizing it had come from Rossi, who'd just slammed down his own pile of files after striding back into the room.

"This has got to be the most aggravating criminal history I've ever come tried to gather." He waved his hand, catching Hotch and Prentiss's attention as well. "I just got off the phone with Det. Diana Ballard."

Prentiss cocked her head, then flipped back a page in her file. "The same Det. Ballard who arrested the Winchesters in Baltimore?"

"The one and only," Rossi said, scowling. "I wondered why Agent Henricksen didn't have more than the transcript of Dean Winchester's confession, since his people had obviously attempted to contact the Baltimore office. Now I know why."

Hotch frowned. "I assume from your reaction that Det. Ballard wasn't helpful."

"I expected her to not be very forthcoming since, from what I understood, the Winchesters' escape, on top of her late partner's dirty laundry coming out, was considered quite the embarrassment for her department. What I didn't expect was for her to sound so pleased when I confirmed that the brothers were still alive."

Morgan found himself being drawn back into the conversation. "Pleased?"

Rossi nodded along, as if he didn't quite believe it either. "She laughed. In relief. As if that wasn't strange enough, she clammed up the moment I suggested the Winchesters were our serial killers. I didn't get another word from her that wasn't directly from the report."

Hotch's brow wrinkled in thought. "Then we can assume that Agent Henricksen's conclusion that the brothers had somehow persuaded her to aid them was more than speculation. Which is, unfortunately, becoming a pattern. There are conflicting reports surrounding each of their arrests and attempted arrests."

"No kidding." J.J. said, striding back into the room. The pinched expression on her face mirrored Rossi's. "If you think that's frustrating, try getting a detailed account of Dean Winchester's 'death' in St. Louis. I made some calls and it turned out that the corpse identified as his had already been exhumed once, after the bank incident in Milwaukee, and it was, and I quote, 'suffering from an extreme case of advanced decomposition'. Somehow it was so contaminated that they couldn't even pull DNA off it. This case just gets stranger and stranger. Why haven't we ever been put on their trail before?"

Hotch sighed, and Morgan caught it, the way the man was avoiding their eyes. "Good question," Morgan said, frowning.

"Truthfully, up until a year ago, Agent Henricksen had all but taken over their cases." He shook his head, hesitant to continue. "And, as of right now, the Section Chief doesn't know we're officially pursuing the Winchesters. She believes we're still working with our original unsub profile."

Morgan leaned across the table. "Hotch, are you saying Strauss doesn't want us following this lead?"

Hotch leveled him with a stare. "I'm saying she suggested we not pursue dead suspects, and she reacted with some hostility when I suggested otherwise."

"That doesn't sound like Erin," Rossi added, sitting down with the rest of the group. "Is she getting orders from higher up?"

"I can't say for certain." Hotch shook his head. "And frankly, we don't have time to discuss it with her further. We need to concentrate on finding the Winchesters. I don't need to remind you all, but our window is closing."

Morgan felt a chill run down his spine. He knew what Hotch meant—their time was running out if they had a chance in Hell of finding all four of their victims alive. Whatever rage he'd felt brewing was quickly squashed by the need to get back to work. Only, he still didn't know what direction to take this manhunt in…

"What do we know for sure?" he whispered. He cleared his throat, speaking louder. "The Winchesters had to have been in town longer that Pierce, the motel clerk, can account for, which would make sense, since obviously they have a secondary location where they're keeping their victims."

Prentiss pursed her lips. "True, since that's why we originally presumed they were locals, but—"

The door to the small office opened once more, Sheriff McKinney standing in the frame, as if he felt he were intruding. The young man looked haggard, aged a good ten years over the last few days. Morgan realized that he hadn't even spoken to the sheriff for the past few hours, not since he and his men had spread out, looking for witnesses who might have spotted the Impala.

"I'm sorry to interrupt, but I just had an interesting conversation with the statey who was in the car with Agent Prentiss when the Gravitt boy was abducted. He seemed to recall a similar case where two siblings were murdered a few years back, over in Bomer County—that's 'bout two hours from here. I had their sheriff fax over the file." He reached out, handing the file folder to Hotch. "You're all gonna want to take a look at this."

A crash sounded from outside the door and with it came raised voices. "Damn it," the sheriff muttered. He shook his head, gesturing for the agents to stay. "The Gravitt boys' dad is back—drunk as a skunk again. I need to handle this."

He shut the door behind him, leaving the team silent as Agent Hotchner poured over the paperwork. The minute stretched on forever before he closed the folder and slid it to across the table to Morgan. Morgan snatched it up. As soon as his eyes skimmed the report inside, he realized why the Unit Chief had remained so quiet.

Prentiss shifted, trying to read over Morgan's shoulder. "Hotch?" she asked, one brow raised.

"It appears there might have been more than six murders committed by our unsubs."

Morgan swallowed, taking in the bare facts. Two siblings dead, just as the sheriff had said, tortured and dumped in the same manner as their current victims. Gruesome photos of the youngest of the pair had been found, but the locals at the time hadn't known what to make of them. They'd been found nearly two years ago. His eyes shot up as he passed the info on to Rossi.

"This doesn't make any sense—why start two years ago, and then come back now and commit multiple murders all in one small town?"

Rossi shook his head. "This doesn't fit what we know about the Winchesters…They're practically nomadic. Wait… Did you notice this date?"

Hotch nodded, running a finger over his bottom lip. "Based on estimated time of death, Sam and Dean Winchester couldn't have committed that crime."

Morgan flipped through the other file just to be sure. "Because they were reportedly holding up the City Bank of Milwaukee at the time…What the hell?" He shook his head, adamantly denying what the facts told them. "This doesn't necessarily mean that…John Winchester could have been began the…" But even as he said it, he caught Hotch's eye and saw the doubt lying there.

"What if there's a monster?"

Morgan blinked, his attention turning back to J.J., who was propped against the end of the table, staring into space. She brought her attention back to earth, as if she'd just then realized that she'd spoken aloud. "Uh—not a real monster, I mean…"

Prentiss snapped her fingers, smiling up at her. "Of course—not a real monster, but a perceived monster! Most of Henricksen's profile might have been speculation at best, but based on what we know, it appears the Winchesters really are delusional. They believe they're hunting monsters. If you grew up looking for the boogiemen, what would you think of these brutalized bodies being found?"

Rossi cocked his head. "Then there might actually be a serial killer, or multiple serial killers, who fit our original profile, and the Winchesters are here to find them? Well…I don't have a better idea. But, are we saying the unsubs we're after don't have Reid and Garcia?"

Morgan felt something in his chest jerk. He let out a shaky breath. "They're alive." The words pulled the eyes of the others. "Think about it—the contradictory statements…If the Winchesters don't see a person as something evil, then they try to protect them. That's why so many witnesses have reported being helped by the Winchesters."

"Reid and Garcia's chances are much better now," Hotch agreed. "It's far more likely that Reid identified one of the brothers at the motel…If they're not our unsubs, then it's likely the Winchesters abducted our people because they wanted to continue the hunt, not because they wanted to hurt them."

Rossi nodded. "That is good news. But, it still means we've got two young boys who are in immediate danger. We need to find the real unsubs, and fast—the Winchesters might already be ahead of us."

Reid couldn't stop staring at the two bullet holes in the floor, as if they were to blame for the last hour and a half of his life making no sense. As much as he wanted to turn his brain off, forget his sole weapon, the profile, for a bit, he couldn't, which was why he found himself focusing on the shattered wooden planks at the center of the floor. When he finally made the conscious decision to lift his eyes from them, he moved his attention to Penelope's silhouette.

She was slightly slack-jawed, her head tilted to one side as she watched the talk show playing on the local channel, being periodically interrupted by news segments. Her foot was propped up on the stool, a towel filled with melting ice placed on her ankle. Something about her was different. She was more resolved to their situation; whether that was a positive or negative thing, Reid wasn't sure. What he did know what that Penelope had believed Dean when he'd told them they'd be freed soon.

Reid wasn't so sure, but he wanted to believe it. He could even rationalize why the delusional Winchesters would let them go, but he didn't think the decision was set in stone simply because of the unpredictability of the situation. Point in hand, over an hour ago, a strange man had appeared and threatened to kill him. A man who also believed in demons.

Roy believed himself to be a hunter.

Reid didn't want that fact to sink in, because it led to so many questions he knew he couldn't ask without making Sam Winchester angry with him again… And yet, Sam had tried to free Penelope during the exchange with the other hunter, and Sam had reacted with that now-familiar anger when he'd thought Penelope had been hurt by Roy. Reid couldn't ignore the protective reaction from both the brothers. They'd tried to save their hostages, despite the danger to themselves.

Reid wasn't sure what to make of it, but he certainly couldn't shrug off their behavior because it was convenient.

He glanced away from Penelope, realizing that she was purposely not paying him any mind, and spotted Sam behind the table, working on a map. It was fairly close to the type of geographic profile Reid would have created, and he'd admit it was impressive. Dean was sitting on the bed, packing salt into shotgun rounds like he'd been doing it most of his life. Reid was afraid that might be true.

"Are there many hunters?"

Both brothers looked up with dazed expressions, as if they'd forgotten Reid existed. Neither had spoken to the agent in over thirty minutes, keeping the chatter low and between themselves, as if they were for some reason hesitant to ask for his opinion now. Maybe they were afraid Reid would start asking questions again. They weren't wrong.

"Uh. Not really," Dean answered, and quickly went back to work, ignoring the warning glance Sam shot his way. "You hungry, thirsty?"

Reid shook his head, noting the deflection. He couldn't stop himself from trying again. "Did you fake your death a third time as well?"

Dean dropped the shell in his hand, spilling salt over his legs. "Huh?"

But his expression was clear enough. He'd heard the agent, and his eyes answered more efficiently than his mouth.

"Roy said you reportedly died last Spring." And you lied when you told him you'd faked it. Reid shivered, and tried to hide the fact that he'd seen Dean flinch. The implications were clear enough. Whatever happened to Dean, whatever that supposed 'demon' who'd been after him had done... It was what was causing the man to have nightmares. It was what had Sam behaving like the dominant of the pair. And, it was what had changed between the brothers.

Most disturbingly, whatever had happened to him, Dean equated it to dying.

Dean forced a chuckled. "You and that super memory of yours... Can you really remember everything we said?"

Reid realized Dean was going to brush the comment off. He was prepared to continue when Sam shot up out of his seat, grabbing Dean's attention.

Sam was breathless with excitement. "The earliest case—the one we dismissed because it didn't quite fit…"

"Back up, college boy. Which case?" Dean put down his tools and stepped across the room. "Did you find something?"

Reid didn't have to try hard to listen in, and he knew without looking that Penelope was craning her neck to watch the pair. Sam was too caught up in the information to restrain himself, and Reid was more than pleased to hear what he had to say—he hadn't managed to get the brothers to bring up the earlier cases they'd mentioned the previous night.

"Okay, remember when we put together that those earlier cases were related to the current ones? Well, I found that report from eight years ago, and we decided it didn't fit in because the two siblings, a teenage boy and his sister, were killed at separate times, separate places. Remember?"

"Yeah…but it didn't—"

"I know we banked on it being a coincidence but…" He lifted the map up for Dean. "The other early cases, the ones that started about two years ago, took place a couple counties away and were spaced out by months, almost like these guys were trying to keep a low profile."

"Keep the attention away from this area," Dean agreed.

"Exactly. But when they sped up their kills, each pair of victims was from this county, and their remains were left close to Attalla. That case from eight years ago was in Attalla, too, though, and the neighborhood it took place in is at the dead center of all the dump sites."

Dean made a face. "Kind of a sloppy job of covering their tracks isn't it?"

"Well, maybe…but we know they specifically chose their victims, right? They studied them, so they didn't have much of a choice when it came to where to kidnap them from…"

Reid straightened, following along. "The dump sites would have been entirely their choice, though. Was there any other reason you disregarded the case from eight years ago?"

The room went silent. Dean and Sam shared look, as if holding a silent conversation. Finally, they seemed to reach an agreement.

Sam cleared his throat. "It was a teenage boy and a young woman. Siblings. Both murdered within two days of one another. No one was ever charged. That much fit, but they were killed separately, bodies left where the murders took place, about two miles apart, and there wasn't any sign that any pictures or video of the torture were left behind."

Reid leaned forward as much as the rope holding his upper arms would allow. "But there was definitely torture?"

Dean frowned. "The article we found wasn't very descriptive, but all the keywords were there in that quaint, small-town journalist kind of way."

"And the youngest sibling was killed first?" Reid asked. When he saw Sam nod, he chewed his bottom lip in thought. "I think you're right. I think the case must be related."

It was as if someone had flipped a switch. Reid wasn't sure when it had happened, but at some point he had quit believing the Winchesters were the unsubs they were looking for…Garcia had been right, they weren't good guys exactly, and they needed to be apprehended for their own safety. Also, they were still severely delusional. But, all his profiling knowledge kept pointing him away from the pair of brothers, and he'd been denying what now seemed apparent because he'd thought it far too much of a coincidence that the Winchesters were still in town. But it wasn't a coincidence at all. Like they had told him, they were here to hunt the bad guys.

Only, the brothers thought the bad guys were monsters instead of people.

Sam gave a tight grin. "See. I'm right."

Dean shook his head. "Sure, if the FBI guy agrees with you, suddenly he's worth listening to…typical." At his brother's glare, he lifted his hands up in surrender. "Not that I disagree. So, do we check out the places where the two were killed first? Eight years is a long time. The area's probably changed by now."

"Actually I was thinking I'd check out the surviving family. Their address is listed in the phone book."

Dean stiffened when the words sunk in. "You mean, 'we'll check out the surviving family,' right?"

Sam sighed. "Look, when we were taking Roy around back, I spotted his truck a few miles up the drive. The locals are looking for two guys together in the Impala. They won't notice me in an old pick-up."

"So, I'll stoop down in the seat. Whatever."

"Dean, we can't just leave Spencer and Penelope here alone. What if Walt shows up early?"

"Oh, come on! If anything, I should get to take the truck into town, and you can stay here on babysitting duty."

"But, I'm the one who found the connection!" Sam snapped. He grimaced, as if stopping himself from shouting. When his voice returned, it was still strained, abet not as loud. "Listen. You stay here, keep at the research, and I'll report back. If I find anything, I can come back and pick you up. If you'll just let me go, we can finish this damn job and be out of here before nightfall."

Dean grew quiet. "You sure that's the only reason you want to go alone?"

Reid felt the tension in the room grow tenfold.

Sam cocked his head. "What exactly is that supposed to mean?"

For a moment, Reid thought Dean was going to shrug it off, but, instead, he widened his stance, as if preparing for a fight. "You sure this isn't about meeting up with your buddy Ruby? I saw you checking your phone, Sam. She call you?"

Ruby. Reid had heard that name already, but he still had no clue as to who she was. Obviously a point of disagreement between the men—perhaps Sam's girlfriend? Such a relationship would definitely be conflicting with their lifestyles, but it seemed as if there were more to it… Reid's eyes narrowed as he took in Sam's enraged expression. The younger brother was trying to put on a front of mere frustration, but there was more to his twitchy movements and flared nostrils. Shame. Definitely shame.

Reid considered his behavior. The moodswings, the nervousness, could all be explained by the situation itself, but Reid was beginning to wonder if Sam Winchester wasn't also an addict, possibly one in need of a fix. Reid knew exactly what that felt like, and if he was right, Dean had good reason to doubt his brother's reasoning.

"You can't just trust me, can you?" Sam almost growled the words.

Reid could practically feel Penelope's nerves setting on edge as the woman caught his eye, obviously concerned with the brothers' behavior.

Dean looked away. "I don't know."

The words seemed to freeze Sam in place. He just stared at his brother, as if expecting more. When nothing came, he shook his head, smiling bitterly.

"I don't know how much more I can…" His voice drifted. "Screw you, Dean. I'm going out. To do our damn job."

He slammed the door behind him, leaving Dean still standing by the table.

End Note: Gah, I hate it when Mom and Dad fight, don't you? Alas, this is season 4.

I know that the date when the Ruby/Sam blood exchange began is debatable, but I like to think that addiction started rather earlier than we saw on the show. But, I'll neither confirm nor deny that in this story. Also, I feel sorry for our poor team-I keep distracting them with Winchesters. Makes it very hard for them to do their job. More info on the odd kill times (8 years, 2 years, say what?) and the stressor to come.

Sorry for the dialogue-heavy chapter. Don't worry; more action to come in the next update. Thanks for reading!