Disclaimer: This fic is going to need a whole lot of disclaimers if I start naming the things in it that I don't own individually, so suffice it to say that I own nothing – in most cases not even the plot – and no money is being made off this.

Author's Note: This story has been a long, long time in the writing. And, in truth, I still haven't finished – but I'm on the last chapter, so I figured I could start posting. Didn't want to keep you guys waiting for the Hellatus-filler. ;-) Also, before you begin, please note that there's a geek warning on the story.

Many thanks to Cheryl, for reading and listening to me geek out, and to SandyDee84, for a wonderful plot bunny.

Summary: A disgruntled witch casts an unusual spell on the boys. It's going to take all their guts, ingenuity and badassery to get out of this one.

In Libris Libertas


The witch is occupied with Sam – I cringe as I hear the sound of his head hitting the wall, that has to hurt – and she doesn't notice that I'm back on my feet and scrambling for her altar.

I spare a glance in their direction as I look for what Sam told me would be there. It doesn't take me long to find it – a medallion engraved with some freaky circular symbol. Hecate's Wheel, Sam said, and then he gave me one of his geek-boy lectures about chthonic deities and witchcraft at crossroads and some dead Greek dude who was apparently as big a nerd as Sam.

Doesn't take a nerd to know the medallion needs to go.

I grab it and throw it on the fire the woman has burning in the hearth. It smells of herbs and the flame is blue, honest-to-God electric blue. If anything's going to destroy that Wheel thing it has to be this.

But when the medallion hits the fire, the fire goes out and the medallion just freaking sits there twinkling at me like it's freaking smirking.

"Dean!" Sam yells from somewhere behind me. I can tell from his voice that he's in trouble, and I can tell precisely what kind of trouble – it's that weird, strangled sound that only comes out when something's choking him.

"The damn thing won't burn!" I say, grabbing the medallion. I expect the fireplace to be hot, but the ashes are as cold as though there hasn't been a fire in the grate for days. "Any ideas?"



"Water, Dean!" Sam breaks off into a groan and I hear another thud. "Get it wet!"

Wow. Talk about Judy Garland in blue gingham.

Right, water. There are like a zillion flasks and phials on the altar, one of them has to be water, right? One of them –

Damn it! The first three are – well, I don't know what they are and given how they smell I'm pretty sure I don't want to know. But they're not water.

And now the witch has realized what I'm doing. It's bad because she tries to stop me, but good because it means her attention's off Sam. She dives for me, and I get out of the way, hit the ground hard and roll towards the window and then I'm on my feet –

And oh, thank God, it's raining.

This witch doesn't melt. Which is good, because after the miserable day we've had, cleaning used-to-be-human goo off the floor isn't top of my list of things to do. The medallion melts as though the rain is pure acid, and then there's a flash of green light – damn it, that can't be good – and Sam and the woman and I are staring at each other in a suddenly silent room.

She laughs, a hard, cold laugh, and I have a sense of foreboding. It isn't over. The woman's done something

She bolts for the door, and I pull out my gun, but Sam chooses that moment to collapse to his knees and suddenly I have more important thing to do than chase crazy bitches.

I haul Sam to his feet, grunting under the weight of all that muscle.

"Seriously, dude, enough with the bodybuilding or next time you get hurt I'm going to have to leave you until they can bring in a bulldozer. No wonder our mileage is getting worse – my baby has to haul your heavy ass around." There's no comeback, and now I'm worried. "OK, come on, Samantha. Let's get you back to the motel."

It's a long drive back in the pouring rain, made longer by Sam's gasps and flinches every time we hit a pothole. To make matters worse, I can't shake the feeling that we're not through with the witch yet.

I sneak a glance at Sam. He hit his head pretty hard a couple of times – I heard the thunk each time – and hard-headed as the kid is, nobody takes that much of a beating without a concussion to show for it. His pupils are blown and we've already had to stop twice, once so he could throw up and once so he could dry-heave miserably while his stomach tried to find something to reject.

Other than the concussion he doesn't seem seriously injured, and I suppose that's something to be grateful for. I banged up my shoulder pretty bad – not dislocated or broken, but there's going to be one hell of a bruise – and it wouldn't have been fun for either of us if I'd had to stitch Sam up one-handed.

"Almost there, Sam," I say. I've been saying it for the past twenty minutes. It seems to keep him calm.

"Dean," Sam says. That's pretty much all he's said since his collapse in the witch's hideout. Just 'Dean' with different inflections depending on whether he means, "Yes, Dean," or, "No, Dean," or, "I can walk, Dean," or, "Stop being such a jerk, Dean!"

"Yeah, OK. Just another mile."

This time it's true: I just saw the sign. Fortunately we got ourselves a room before we went after the witch, so all I have to do is pull into the parking lot and get my concussed brother indoors without either of us getting too wet.

Oh, yeah. This is going to be fun.

Sam seems to be improving, so I decide to hold off on the 911 call. He managed a shower himself – even threatened to impale me on the curtain rod if I tried to help him – and he ate half the salad I got him from the diner next door. I was expecting him to eat one lettuce leaf and then start bitching, so it was a pleasant surprise.

Now he's tucked in bed, a little loopy but otherwise OK.

"Sleep if you want, kiddo," I tell him. "I'll wake you up in the morning."

"I'm not sleepy."


Sam scowls at me, but he shuts his eyes obediently.

I hold my breath and count –


– because this is Sam


– poster-boy for insomnia even on his good days –


– and there's just no way we're getting off this lightly –


– because the universe –


– isn't ever going to be that nice to us.


"I can't sleep."


"You tried for about a quarter of a minute, Sam."

"I can't sleep."

He sounds like he's eight, and I groan. I could've had the brother who got into fights in the schoolyard or the brother who got busted for dealing or the brother who wound up in Juvie Court, but no, I got the freaking insomniac BFG –

Who's looking at me like he thinks I'm the answer to all his problems.

One day, Sam, you're going to make those eyes and it's not going to work. Really.

But not today. Because, you know, the kid's already been thrown around by a witch and he's concussed and confused and I don't want to confuse him more by holding out against the eyes now. But this is the last time – tomorrow on, Dean Winchester doesn't fall for puppy-dog eyes. Ever.

"Fine," I grumble. "I'll read to you."

Sam cocks his head. "Dean, are you OK?"

Yup, little brothers are a pain. They pull the eyes knowing fully well that you'll cave, and when you do cave they get cute about it. Yeesh.

"Shut up, Sam." I get up, go to his bag, open it, grab the first thing I see that's made of paper, and stalk to his bed. I pull the chair up close, settle down, and look at the book. "Lord of the Rings? Seriously, Sam? Can you get any geekier?"

Sam looks puzzled. "Really? It's a war epic. I'd've thought you'd like it."

"Dude." I shake my head. "I have to admit, that Elf-chick in the movie was hot, but… OK, that's it, no talking. Lie down, shut your eyes, and if you haven't forgotten this tomorrow morning then I'll beat the memory out of you with a crowbar. We clear?"

"Yes, Dean," Sam says, and I have a feeling he's going to remember it tomorrow morning just to call my bluff. Damn kid.

I open a page at random.

"Frodo woke and found himself lying in bed…"

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