Title: A Bond of Brothers

Author: Disasteriffic Kaz

Info: The Winchester boys find an old legend and danger on the Salton Sea. Stand-Alone hunt set Post 2x15 "Tall Tales"

Author's note: Unlike most of my stories which I have the general plot for first and then pick a location, this one started with the location and then the story so, we'll see how this turns out. LOL The Salton Sea just caught my imagination though and begged for a nice, creepy story to be set there.

WINNER Author's Note 2012 for Best Suspense! Supernatural

Do please Review once you've read. :D Every comment and vote of support helps keep me writing. Not to mention if I've pooched anything, someone can always tell me. :P

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CHAPTER 1

Bobby watched Dean scouring imaginary rust from the chassis of the Impala and sighed, shaking his head. Fixing the car and keeping it in perfect condition seemed to be the thing he was holding on to hardest these days since their Dad had died. Bobby understood. It was the one thing he felt he still had control over and who could blame the kid.

"Dean." Bobby called his name and smiled when Dean slid out from beneath the car. "Think I got a job for you boys."

"You think?" Dean stood, wiping his hands on a rag that hadn't been cleaned in far too long.

"Don't smart at me, boy." Bobby growled and handed the handful of newspaper clippings he'd brought out to him as Dean smirked. "Been some tourists goin' missing out west. Salton Sea. Ever heard of it?"

"Driven by it a few times." Dean shrugged and glanced at the faces of the missing on the pages Bobby had given him. "Dad used to say it was one place you'd never find a ghost." He gave a pained laugh. "Too much natural salt around."

Bobby nodded. "He's right about that. Demon free too I'd bet. Now, I aint sure exactly what's happenin' to those folk but my nose says it's our kinda thing."

"Well, far be it from me to argue with your nose." Dean said and gave a lopsided smile at Bobby as he headed past him to the house.

"Smart ass." Bobby followed him with a long suffering laugh. "I already showed Sam."

"Awesome." Dean jogged up the steps to the house. "He's probably got the life history of the place already mapped out for us."

Bobby snorted a laugh as they entered the house knowing he was likely right. Sure enough when they entered Bobby's living room Sam was bent over the computer with a stack of newly printed papers beside him. The youngest Winchester looked up with a smile.

"Guys, this place has one hell of a history." Sam said and then looked on quizzically when both men chuckled. "What?"

Dean waved a hand and leaned on the desk. "Nothin'. Whatcha got, geek boy?"

Sam ignored the jibe and sat back, picking up the papers he'd stacked in front of him. "Salton Sea was actually formed by mistake."

"Wait, how do you accidentally make a whole damn Sea?" Dean asked in surprise and took the beer Bobby handed to him.

"Couple guys back in 1905 tried to steal water from the Colorado River and ended up flooding the salt plane instead. There was an Indian reservation there and a small city as well, all under water now."

"Indians?" Dean's brows went up. "So, maybe some weird tribal thing's snatching people up."

"Gotta be a reason though." Bobby went around the desk to stand over Sam and look at the computer screen. "If it is a creature of some kind, they don't just start killin' for no reason."

"I don't know if it is a creature yet." Sam shook his head. "The articles are real thin on details other than close to a dozen tourists having gone missing over the last year, bodies never found and all their personal effects and cars left behind. Could just be a serial killer or something you know?" Sam looked up at Bobby but the older man was shaking his head.

"Naw it's hinky. I'm sure of it." Bobby took a long pull from his beer. "You boys should go check it out. I'll keep diggin' here and see what I come up with."

"Bobby?" Dean set his now empty beer on the corner of the desk and looked at him with a crooked smile. "You tryin' to get rid of us? What, you got a hot date or something?"

"Could be I'm getting tired of all this brotherly love crap you two idjits got goin' on since the Trickster." Bobby gave an exaggerated shudder. "Startin' to miss the old days with the yellin' and the fightin'."

Sam laughed and stood, punching Bobby's shoulder lightly before looking at Dean. "I think he just misses having a reason to knock us upside our heads."

"Startin' to feel a reason comin' on right now, boy." Bobby growled at Sam who ducked away with a chuckle, following Dean out and to the stairs. "Idjits." He muttered fondly after them.

"Heard that!" Dean called from the stairs and Bobby groaned, slapping his head into his hand.

Sam followed Dean upstairs laughing softly. "You keep teasing him he's gonna change the locks before we get back." Dean said nothing, just snorting in good humor. Bobby was right in that they'd been a little less at odds with each other since Ohio. Sam was sure it wouldn't last, they were too much alike in so many ways and sooner or later they'd butt heads again. In the meantime, he enjoyed the respite of actually seeing Dean smile and mean it.

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"Come on, Jay!" Pete called and turned back to see his new wife slogging through the hot sand and dead weeds a few yards behind him.

"You know…" Jay stopped to wipe sweat from her face as the midday sun beat down on them. "This is not…how I pictured our honeymoon!" She pushed wet, blonde hair off her forehead and scowled at her husband. He'd stripped to the waist and the expanse of well-muscled chest reminded her of one of the many reasons she'd married him. She felt her mouth quirk up in a smile despite the oppressive heat and trudged on to catch up to him. "Don't know why you wanted to stop here."

"Never been here before." Pete said and shrugged with a grin. He pulled his camera from his back pocket. "Salton Sea's supposed to make for some awesome pictures."

"Right." Jay glanced around at the sands, dead scrub grass and what she was pretty sure were fish bones she was walking through and groaned. "Very photogenic."

"Right? Totally!" Pete waved her on. "Beach should be just over that rise." He waved behind him. "Hurry up." He knew he was testing her patience but he just couldn't resist the opportunity to shoot a place as cool as Salton Sea. He frowned when she stopped again. "Jay, seriously, we'll be here all day if you don't keep walking."

"The ground moved." Jay said; her voice unsure and looked down in surprise as the sands shifted lightly over her feet.

"Probably just a little tremor." Pete said reassuringly though he had felt nothing. "They happen a lot around here from what I've read."

"Didn't feel like a tremor." She called back.

"Come on. It's already passed." Pete looked over his shoulder, wanting to get a look at the lake. "We'll be perfectly safe." He looked back and then jerked in surprise. "Jay?" She had disappeared. "Honey, what…?" He whipped his head back and forth and jogged to where she'd last been standing. There was literally nowhere for her to have gone that he couldn't see. "Jay!" He shouted and stopped when he felt a rumbling beneath his feet. He looked down as the sands vibrated, feeling himself beginning to sink. Pete stumbled back and tugged his feet free. "What the hell is going on?" He backed up again and shouted in fear as the sands pulled at him again. A muted roaring sound came from beneath him and he took a last look up into the clear blue sky, feeling the sun beating mercilessly down on his face before he was pulled from sight.

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Sam veered off the interstate into Cedar City Utah with bleary eyes, squinting to bring the signs into focus. Dean was in the passenger seat, head back and snoring softly for the last several hours. He knew Dean wanted to drive straight through but a day and a half on the road from Bobby's and Sam was done. They both were. They needed actual sleep in a bed rather than short shifts taken in the car when they still had a day's worth of driving ahead. Three in the morning and the town was quiet. He didn't bother being picky, just stopping at the first Motel he came across.

"Wha's goin' on?" Dean mumbled sleepily as the Impala came to a stop, the engine quieting.

"Sleep." Sam said firmly. "Before one of us ties the car around a mile marker. Back in a sec."

"Woos." Dean scowled at him but couldn't argue with the logic. Though he was awake, sleep was still pulling at his eyelids. He felt them drooping even as Sam got back in the car. "I'm 'wake."

Sam chuckled. "Uh huh." He pulled around the side of the motel and parked beside their room. "Wake up, sunshine." He nudged Dean and ducked the elbow sent his way. They both got out and got their bags from the trunk in a fog, stumbling in to the darkened room. Sam pulled the canister of salt from one of the bags and it took him a full second to blink his eyes back open and realize Dean had taken it from his hand.

"Geez man." Dean chuckled and pushed him toward the far bed. "I got this."

Sam managed only a relieved grunt as he flopped face first on the bed, closed his eyes and blissfully drifted off to sleep while Dean poured salt lines at the door and window. Since they had found Ava missing and evidence she had been taken by Demons, they were taking no chances. He glanced over at his brother, snoring softly into his pillow and swallowed the worry that was now ever present. There we just too many questions and too many dire warnings for him to ignore that something bad was coming for Sam. Dean tossed the salt can back into the bag, flipped off the light and stretched out on his bed. He slid his favorite knife beneath his pillow and silently vowed that whatever big bad wanted Sam was going to come through him first.

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Dean woke early, having gotten a few more hours than Sam in the car and groaned as his stomach rumbled loud enough to be heard. He rolled off the bed with a glance at Sam, still sleeping soundly and rolled his eyes. He was definitely too hungry to wait for sleeping beauty to wake up. He scribbled a quick note on the hotel stationary that he was sure Sam wouldn't wake up to see. He made a quick stop in the bathroom to brush his fuzzy teeth and then went outside into the morning heat. It slapped him in the face as he closed the motel room door.

"Awesome." Dean said as he felt sweat instantly spring out on his face. He looked around, something he hadn't been awake enough to do last night and smiled seeing a donut shop less than a block down the street. "Breakfast of champions." He decided against walking, opting instead for cranking the Impala's air conditioning for the short drive. He sighed in relief as cool air blew across his face for the short drive. Dean left the engine running as he got out and jogged into the shop, looking forward to the frosty interior that would be waiting for him.

"Good morning, sir!" A bright eyed, blonde teenage girl called from behind the counter. Dean gave her a short wave and turned his attention to the display of delectable donuts awaiting him with a happy sigh. "What can I get you this morning?"

Dean perused the choices, practically drooling and smiled. "Two large coffees and I'm gonna need a dozen." He cheerfully pointed and picked among the confections and snagged one from the box before the clerk could get it closed. She smirked at him and bent to pouring out coffees while Dean dumped handfuls of sugar and creamer in a little bag.

"You passing through?" The Clerk asked conversationally with a smile. "We get a lot of tourists through here on their way to Cali and Mexico and stuff."

"Hmmph." Dean nodded and hastily swallowed. "Heading to Salton Sea. Know anything about it?"

"Oh yeah." She grinned and set the first coffee on the counter. "My granddad actually worked at the resort there back in the sixties when it was still, you know, around."

"Yeah?" Dean raised a brow. "He ever see anything….weird?"

She cocked her head at him. "Weird how?"

Dean shrugged. "Just curious. We've heard stories you know, ghosts and monsters and stuff."

She laughed. "Oh those. They're just stories to scare tourists. No offense."

"Right." Dean smiled and pulled a few bills from his pocket, tossing them on the counter. "So what kind of stories are we talkin' about?"

"Oh my gosh!" The girl shifted to peer over Dean's shoulder, her eyes widening in surprise. "Is the Motel on fire? Oh my god!" She scrambled with the phone, hastily dialing 911 as Dean turned in slow motion, dread falling into the pit of his stomach. Sure enough, as he looked out the window, over the Impala, the Motel he had left his brother in was quickly vanishing in a wall of flames.

"No. No, no." Dean sprinted from the shop. He left the Impala where it was and ran to the Motel. The flames had reached the room next to theirs, biting and jumping over the dry roofing with a roaring crackle. "Sam!" Dean shouted as he reached the building. He raised an arm as he reached their door to protect his face from the searing heat and kicked the door in. "Sammy!" Smoke filled the room and he was forced to drop to his knees to see beneath it. The ceiling above him was pouring smoke, little licks of fire beginning to peak through as the roof burned and the wall beside Sam's bed was a wall of red. "SAM!"

"Dean!" Sam's voice came hoarsely, coughing and Dean could vaguely see the shadow that had to be his brother roll from his bed to thump onto the floor.

"Hang on!" Dean crawled across the room and reached out, snapping a hand around one of Sam's arms. He pulled him forward, pushing to keep his little brother's head down. "Stay with me." Dean back pedaled, crawling back the way he'd come. He snagged their bags from the table on his way past and threw them out the door that was now wreathed in flames. "Come on!" Dean reached back and felt Sam's hand slap into his arm. He grabbed the sleeve and pulled his brother after him.

It was one of the longest minutes of Sam's life, crawling behind his brother, choking on smoke while fire burned just above his head. Dean's shout had woken him in time to feel the heat from the fiery wall beside him and the smoke he'd been breathing for who knew how long. He'd rolled in a panic off the bed, beating the tendrils of flame out that had caught along his right sleeve as he went. He felt Dean grab his arm and tug him forward again and then blessed cooler air free of smoke hit his face as they emerged from the door.

Dean pulled Sam up with one arm, grabbing their bags with the other and lugged them all to the other side of the parking lot and the narrow grass berm there. "Sam?" Dean let him drop to sit and knelt in front of him. His face was dusted with ash, skin pale beneath it and his eyes blood shot. "Sammy, you ok?"

Sam gave him a weak nod and looked up, confused at what had been their motel. It was now completely engulfed in flames, burning high into the morning air. Other people were gathered on the grass as they were, some sitting and coughing like Sam, others just standing and staring in mute shock. "Dean…what the hell happened?" Sam gave in to another round of choking coughs as his lungs worked to evict the smoke that he'd breathed in.

Dean pounded him on the back a few times. "I don't know." He stared at the inferno and had a sinking feeling that it had happened because of them. "I was getting breakfast." He said softly. "Come on. We gotta get out of here before the cops show up." Sam let him pull him upright and hooked his bag, drawing it over his shoulder and doing the same with Sam's. "Car's just down the street."

They went quickly through the growing crowd of people and passed near the Motel Manager who was speaking animatedly to several people. "I don't how it happened!" The Manager waved his hands in the air. "I swear to god I smelled rotten eggs and then this bolt of electricity jumped from the radio to the wall and whoosh! Whole place went up! Strangest thing I've ever seen!"

Dean's blood ran cold as they carried on down the street toward the donut shop. Rotten eggs could only be the smell of sulfur, confirming his suspicions; the fire had been demonic in origin. Sam was still bent over, coughing hard into his hand and he saw the singed fabric on his sleeve as they reached the Impala. Dean opened the passenger door, sighing as a wave of cool air rolled out to meet them. He'd never been so glad he'd left the car running as he folded Sam inside, tossing the bags in after him.

"Be right back." Dean told him, shutting the door and went back inside the shop. The girl was out from behind the counter and watching out the window with wide eyes.

"Oh my gosh are you ok?" She asked Dean, glancing from him to the car and back.

"Yeah, we're fine." He scooped up the donuts from the counter and the coffees. "You have any bottles of water? My brother could use a drink."

"Geez, your brother was in that?" She stared back out the window as the first fire truck blew past, screeching to a stop in front of the motel. "Yeah sure. Hang on a sec." She dashed behind the counter and bent from sight. A moment later she stood back up, tipping several cold bottles of water into a bag and handed it to him. "No charge."

"Thanks." Dean spared her a smile and pushed back outside. Sam was lying back against the seat now, head resting on the back. More sirens were sounding in the distance, growing closer and he quickly got back behind the wheel, juggling donuts, coffee and bag as he shut the door. He pulled out one of the water bottles and passed it to Sam. "Drink." Sam nodded, smiling gratefully and emptied half the bottle with his eyes closed. Dean put the Impala in gear, pulling out just ahead of the first police cruiser and headed back for the interstate. A slow rage started to simmer inside him, knowing the Demon or Demons had waited until Sam was alone to go after him. He wondered again for the millionth time what exactly was going on. Sometimes it seemed they wanted Sam dead and others as though they wanted him alive for something. Sam coughed again beside him, draining the last of the water and Dean took a breath, settling himself. They had a case to work. He'd just have to make sure Sam didn't leave his sight for a while.

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To Be Continued…