Disclaimer : Don't own them, a fact that has me resorting to lots of chocolate.

THE WAY OF THE DEAD

The voice in Dean's nightmares begins to haunt him when he is awake. Eventually, ignoring
it stops being an option. Dean has to respond, no matter what is waiting.

PROLOGUE

Dean woke himself unexpectedly with a full throated yell. Sam's reaction was to go from peaceful sleep to flicking on the bedside light, rolling out of bed, grabbing pistol on route and coming to a stand aiming the gun in Dean's direction. He rapidly scanned the room for the threat. Dean was now sat up in bed breathing heavily, sweat beading on his forehead. He looked across at his brother. Or, to be more precise, he stared at the gun which his brother was aiming in his direction,
"S'ok Sam. Stand down. Nightmare is all."
Sam relaxed his stance and lowered his gun.
"Jeeze Dean! So not the way to wake a guy!"
Dean's breathing began to even out and he grinned, nodding his head toward his brother.
"Nice moves though. Just one small thing…spotty boxers? Kinda spoiling the whole fearsome Hunter look."

xxxxxxxxXXXxxxxxxxx

CHAPTER ONE

It was now the third night in a row that Sam's sleep had been rudely interrupted by Dean shouting himself awake and Sam had decided that enough was definitely enough. He was determined that Dean was either going to tell him what the dreams were about, or Sam would be locking him out of their shared room at night and forcing Dean to sleep in the Impala. Without acknowledging his brother, Sam clambered out of bed and headed to the kitchenette, hitching up his sweatpants on route. Returning with a damp cloth and a glass of water, Sam sat himself down on the edge of Dean's bed. As usual, his brother was sat bolt upright, sweat trickling down his face.
"Here."
Sam handed Dean the water before reaching over to plonk the damp cloth across the back of Dean's neck. As Dean took the glass Sam noticed the slight tremor in Dean's hand. Grey shadows had begun to form under Dean's eyes as a result of repeated disturbed nights.
"Thanks."
Sam waited patiently whilst Dean drank and used the cloth from his neck to wipe the sweat off his face.
"Better?"
Dean nodded,
"Yeah. Sorry about doing this to you again Sam, really. You go on back to bed, I'll be fine now."
Sam folded his arms,
"No. Not until you tell me what your nightmares are about."
Dean raised his eyebrows at Sam,
"It's nightmare, singular, and that's all it is. Now stop being such a fuss butt and go back to bed. It's no big deal."
Sam didn't move. Dean sighed,
"Sam!"
"Dean."
Dean knew the look on his brother's face, it was the one which signalled that Sam wasn't about to move away any time soon. Not until Dean shared what in his dream that was causing him to wake himself up each night.
"I'm waiting Dean. If it's no big deal, you'll have no problem talking to me about it. Will you?"
Dean shook his head in resignation as he put the cloth and empty glass on his nightstand,
"Ok. You win. Sharing time. Honestly though, it's nothing. There's this guy and no, before you ask, I can't tell what he looks like. Everything seems kinda…swirly. Including his face."
"So how do you know it's a man?"
"His voice. I'd hate to meet a woman who had a voice that deep. Anyway, I think he's trying to get me go to him? Kinda like he needs me to do something, but the whole thing feels wrong. He's wrong. It's like he's forcing me and I want to fight against it, I do. But I can feel myself getting closer to him. I start yelling like a loon, and that's when I wake up. Really, that's all I can ever remember. It's just a dumb dream, ok?"
Sam looked intently at his brother,
"So, you're sure there's nothing familiar about the guy? What he's wearing, the sound of his voice?"
"I told you, I can't see him clearly at all. I can't even tell whether he's indoors or out. It's just a dream Sammy. We both get them."

Sam nodded. Dean was right. Both of them were no strangers to nightmares. Hardly surprising given that their lives were spent hunting the very things that other people only thought of as being the product of fantasy or fiction. The things that they had experienced and seen had to effect them. In particular, the things which Dean had been through. Really, it was a wonder that either of them remained even vaguely sane!
"Ok. I'll leave it alone, but I'm right beside you if you need me."
Dean smiled,
"I know that. Now, get back to your own bed. Some of us need our beauty sleep. You more so than me, obviously."

Dean was grateful that their next hunt was straight forward, (at least within the context of what passed for straight forward in the lives of the two Hunters). A community centre was unwittingly harbouring a small clutch of gremlins that were causing havoc amongst the ladies cooking circle. This, in turn, had resulted in a number of severe cases of food poisoning, all requiring a stay in hospital. Unfortunately, in one case the effects had proven fatal for one unlucky cake lover. Added to that, rumours were starting up suggesting that one of the ladies was intentionally sabotaging the produce to get rid of the competition. The brothers expected to go in, resolve the problem quickly and get out again without being noticed. Truth be told, Dean didn't quite feel on top of his game. He hadn't told Sam, but the figure in his nightmares was becoming more insistent about his need for Dean. Dean occasionally felt his resistance waver, being replaced by the desire to respond and go to the stranger. As a result, Dean had become more anxious about going to sleep, allowing himself to close his eyes and rest less and less. He told himself that the lack of sleep was the reason he had now sometimes begun to hear the man's voice inside his head, even when he was fully awake.

Sam, as always, had managed to pick up on the minute signs that Dean wasn't feeling 100%, but for now he was backing off and trying to accept Dean's explanation that he was feeling a bit under the weather. There had actually been a couple of occasions where Dean had come close to telling Sam that the voice had begun plaguing him during his waking hours, but Dean had stopped himself. He knew that Sam would want to make a huge drama out of the whole thing which Dean wasn't sure he could tolerate right now. So, Dean kept quiet and unfortunately, during the case which they took on after the Gremlins, it was Sam who paid the price.

xxxxxxxxXXXxxxxxxxx