Title: Where the Weeping Willow waits

Author: Disasteriffic Kaz

Info: Nothing is ever quite what it seems in the forest in the dark. Set after 7x14 "PPMM" hurt/comfort/awesome!Sam/Dean

Author's Note: This picks up directly after the end of "Plucky Pennywhistle's Magical Menagerie" so the beginning is a bit of a tag to it but this is a stand-alone hunt. This chapter sort of wanders for a bit. XD It got away from me.

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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Oh Willow Tree, oh solemn tree
with each wind you bend.

Oh Willow Tree, oh weeping tree
beneath your bows I end.

Oh Willow Tree, oh healing tree
my brittle soul please mend.

Oh Willow Tree, oh hungry tree
I come with life to tend.

~Disasteriffic Kaz

Chapter 1

In the darkness the breeze drifted through the whispering wood, spinning leaves along the forest floor and sighing between the branches. It followed a lone figure as she ran, drying the tears on her flushed cheeks. The moon high above sent cold light to illuminate the trees around her in shadowed light and each seemed to her to be a threat. She spun one way and another, small sounds of terror taken away by the breeze to carry deeper in. The shadows seemed to move and shift around her. Her eyes followed the swaying limbs, widening at every creak of wood, every snap of a twig. Her breaths rasped from lungs too long hard-used and she stopped within the moon dappled forest to find her breath.

A shadow moved. A branch lifted. Long, thin limbs reached out of the dark while dim, red eyes grew ever nearer. Had she turned her back she would have seen; could have run but she did not. Graceful limbs like lithe snakes took hold of her. A leafy branch swallowed her scream as wood covered fingers wrapped tight around her throat and stole the last of her breath. She fell softly, cushioned by the killing limbs. Her eyes stared sightless up at the watching moon while the breeze lazily caressed long, blonde hair from her face as she was pulled and vanished beneath the silent trees.

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Sam leaned his head against the Charger's window and closed his eyes with a smirk. Dean was still chuckling in the driver's seat each time he looked over at him. The glitter, well most of it, was gone down the drain of a rest stop bathroom and that in itself had been a lesson in humility with the clerks laughing so hard their eyes had watered as Sam had glittered past them. He was sure they hadn't even noticed the blood. He pulled his head up from the window with a grimace as the lump on his right temple pressed into the glass, reminding him it was there. The Hoodoo clowns had done a number on him. The longer Sam sat still the more he was beginning to notice every bump, bruise and ache. He raised a hand to rub at his jaw; those clowns had had fists like sledge hammers.

"You gonna make it, Sparkles?" Dean asked with a laugh. Sam gave him a look that managed to be both amused and disgusted at the same time. Dean hadn't told him yet that though he'd gotten most of the glitter off in the restroom his back was now covered in it from the car seat when Sam had gotten back in. It frosted the back of his hair and winked in each passing headlight. It made it very hard for Dean to keep a straight face.

"Peachy." Sam replied and shook his head. "I am never going to live this down, am I?"

"Nope!" Dean said cheerfully. It was the best, the lightest he had felt in a long time. The laughter at seeing his little brother coated in glitter had helped to lighten the load on his shoulders just a little. It wouldn't last he knew but right now, it had felt so good to just laugh.

Sam shifted in the seat and tried to find a comfortable position as his back began to burn. The feeling of crashing into the truck's windshield was still fresh in his memory. With it that memory brought the reminder of the far too large wrench slamming into his stomach, the gloved fists that had pummeled him and he flinched.

"Hey." Dean's good humor lessened slightly as he realized Sam was shifting around on the seat uncomfortably. "You ok? How bad did those clowns beat you?"

Sam looked over and rolled his eyes. "I'm fine. It's nothing a good shower and maybe some brain bleach won't fix."

Dean snorted and looked back to the road, his humor returned. "I don't know, dude. Could be a good look for you."

"You suck." Sam retorted with a laugh and let his head drop back. His bruises could wait. There was no way he was going to be responsible for bringing Dean down when he was actually smiling. Sam jerked forward and grabbed a handful of the napkins Dean had tossed in, crushing them to his nose as it started bleeding again. "I hate clowns."

Dean couldn't help it, he laughed.

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Two hours later Dean had finally taken pity on his brother and got them a motel for the night. The simple room was refreshing after the Tiki heaven they'd stayed in. He grabbed a bottle of water and flopped on the bed, flipping on the tiny tv. He heard the shower turn off and chuckled. Sam had been in there for almost an hour, no doubt finding glitter in places it didn't belong; trying to wash away the evidence of his clown beat-down.

Sam pulled on his sweatpants and opened the bathroom door in a cloud of steam. The hot water had helped lessen some of the aches that had quickly become bad enough to make him want to whimper. He looked up and saw Dean push himself up with wide eyes.

"Holy crap, Sam." Dean came around the bed eyeing his brother's stomach. "What the hell'd they hit you with? A sledge hammer?" A vivid, purpling bruise rode high on Sam's stomach surrounded by other, smaller bruises and it hurt just looking at it.

"It's ok." Sam said offhandedly. He turned to find his shirt and then realized what Dean would see if he did. He tried to turn back and hide it too late as his brother grabbed his arm and made him stand still.

"Ok my ass." Dean scowled at the pattern of bruises across Sam's back. They spread out in almost a butterfly shape across his shoulders. "How are you even walkin?"

"Shower helped." Sam tugged his arm free and gave him a half smile. "Looks worse than it is."

"Bullshit." Dean went to his bag and rummaged through the first aid kit for the painkillers they kept there. No way was Sam getting any sleep without them.

Sam eyed the bottle when Dean turned back. "Dude, I'm fine. Doesn't even hurt that much."

"Really?" Dean smirked. "Then why don't you drop and give me twenty. I mean, if it doesn't hurt that much…" He waited while Sam scowled at him and finally his little brother reached out and took the bottle. "That's what I thought."

"I'm only taking these so you won't whine like a girl all night." Sam grinned at him and tossed two of the pills in his mouth.

"Oh I will find a way to make you pay for that one, Sammy." Dean laughed. He kept the easy smile on his face, watching as Sam lowered himself stiffly to his bed and then rolled back with a weary sigh.

"I'm never moving again." Sam closed his eyes and smiled. It felt good to being lying down finally. He jumped when he felt a hand on his head and flinched back.

"Whoa, just me. Sorry." Dean pushed Sam's shower damp hair away from his temples. There was a small dark bruise at his hairline on the right side and a small cut at the hairline on the left. "Least they left you your good looks." He smirked and stood back up. Dean had needed to see for himself since with Sam you could never count on a straight answer about how injured he was.

Sam shook his head and closed his eyes again. "Knocked the teeth outta one of them." He said and smiled, rolling to his side and pulled the blanket up over himself.

"Damn right." Dean grinned and went back to his own bed. He set the bottle on the nightstand between them, figuring Sam would need them again in a few hours once those bruises really sank in.

Sam shifted and opened his eyes only to flinch back in the bed as Lucifer's smiling face greeted him, lying beside him. He wore white-face with a huge, red grin sloppily painted over his mouth and a ridiculous, red foam nose.

"Night night, Sammy."

Sam resolutely turned away from him to face Dean instead. It had been too good a night, all things considered to let the devil in his head ruin it. He closed his eyes and willed himself to sleep.

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Sam groaned out of bed the next morning and hunched on the side of the bed against the pain and stiffness in his back. He vowed to make it his life's work never to be thrown into a windshield again. It never ended well for him.

"Mornin' grandpaw." Dean said as he came out of the bathroom. He ran his hands through his hair a couple times, expertly flipping the dirty blonde spikes into place and smiled. "You up for breakfast or should I just find you some hospital food?"

Sam waved a hand and stood. "Not hungry. You go grab something." He passed Dean into the bathroom. "I'll see about finding us a job."

"Nope. Wrong answer." Dean tossed the jeans and shirt Sam had left out the night before to him. "We're going to breakfast."

"Dude…"

"Don't 'dude' me." Dean gave him a stern glare. "We're eating as in you and me, both of us. You don't stoke that hulk of yours once a week it's gonna fall down." In truth there was a pallor to Sam's face this morning that he didn't like. Though Sam seemed fine other than the obvious aches, it was a symptom Dean had had all of Sam's life to learn; it meant he was thinking of coming down with something and no wonder after the clowns, the barely eating, barely sleeping most nights and Devil-vision in his head twenty-four-seven.

Sam rolled his eyes but took the clean clothes into the bathroom with him. There was no use arguing when Dean got this way. It would be easier to just go along and pick at something while Dean scarfed every ounce of pork in the county.

Ten minutes later, dressed and as ready as he was going to be Sam followed him out to the car and then groaned at the passenger seat. It was dusted in glitter from the back of his head and jacket the previous night.

Sam looked across the Charger's roof to Dean and smirked. "Can I drive?"

Dean threw his head back and laughed. "Hell no! Your mess. You sit in it."

Sam ducked into the car and in sudden inspiration he pulled Dean's jacket from the backseat and draped it over his own before getting in. He smiled as Dean sat beside him and then saw what he was leaning against.

"Oh you little shit, Sammy." Dean growled as he spied his jacket. There'd be glitter on it for months. "One more reason to get you back."

Sam chuckled and leaned back a little more firmly, pressing the coat into the glitter. "Don't know what you mean."

Dean rolled his eyes and started the car. "Paybacks are a bitch, little brother." He said ominously while Sam laughed.

"You made me get up." Sam reminded him.

By the time they reached the diner of Dean's choice, he had settled for randomly smiling at Sam in a way that was making his little brother nervous. "Knock it off." Sam told him when he looked up from the menu to find Dean just smiling at him again.

"Knock what off?" Dean asked innocently.

"You're smiling at me." Sam rolled his eyes. "It's not natural."

"Don't know what you're talking about, Sammy." Dean's smile became a grin as their attractive waitress came to take their orders.

Sam decided ignoring him was the only to make him stop and pulled his laptop up onto the table.

"What can I getcha, sugar?" The waitress nudged Sam's shoulder and he looked up, chagrined. He'd forgotten they were supposed to be ordering food.

"Oh, uh…coffee, toast, scrambled eggs." Sam smiled and went back to his laptop.

"Dude, you're hopeless." Dean shook his head. "Get him some bacon too." He smiled winningly at the waitress, enjoying the instant flush on her cheeks as she nodded and walked away.

Sam rolled his eyes and focused on research. Dean happily flirted with the waitress as they ate and Sam buried his head in news reports of the strange and unusual. Every so often Dean would slap the laptop closed and make him eat a few bites before going back to it.

"You know you're annoying?" Sam glanced up from the screen when a piece of bacon dropped onto the keyboard. Dean just nodded and smirked, making Sam chuckle. He sat back with a groan and stretched his stiff back. "You hadn't bugged me so often I might have found this hunt a lot sooner."

"Dude, you found something already?" Dean laid down the piece of jellied toast he'd been about to launch at his brother's face. "Whatcha got?"

"Missing people, three confirmed dead. Latest body found this morning and two dead kids." Sam said soberly and closed the laptop. "Dude, they were eaten."

"Oh man." Dean pushed the rest of his breakfast away, suddenly no longer hungry. "What the hell eats kids?"

Sam shrugged. "Could be a few things. I won't know until we get some more information. Look at the…remains."

"Don't think we want to go flashing FBI credentials with big mouths lurking everywhere." Dean sighed, frustrated at the way the Purgatory escapees had infringed on every aspect of their lives. They couldn't even use a hospital anymore without fear of ending up on the dinner menu.

"Well it's a small town. We can probably sweet talk our way in past the guard at night." Sam smirked. "It's two states over. Take us about nine hours."

"Well no time like the present." Dean tossed money on the table and gave a last admiring glance to the waitress. If children were dying he wanted to get moving. Those were the cases that always haunted him and his brother both. He grabbed Sam's arm under the elbow as he tried to unfold himself from the booth and hunched over.

"Damn I hate clowns." Sam said ruefully and straightened himself up.

"Oh honey, are you alright?" The waitress was at their side instantly, her face heavy with concern.

"He's fine." Dean told her with a chuckle. "Havin' some back issues."

"It's fine. Thanks." Sam blushed with the attention and shouldered his laptop. "Let's go."

"Ya'll take care now." She ducked her head, batting her lashes at Dean as they left.

"Almost makes me wanna stick around an extra day, Sammy." Dean whistled appreciatively as they stepped outside.

"Thought you were off one night stands." Sam reminded him and smiled as Dean nodded his head forcefully.

"I was just day dreaming. Trust me. No more monster spawn." Dean shivered theatrically as they rounded the building and headed for the car. He wasn't ready to think to hard about his short stint as a father or how it had ended. "You need help gettin' in the car, grandpa?"

Sam snorted a laugh as he rounded the trunk of the car near the back of the restaurant. "I think I can manage."

"Oh good you haven't left yet!" The waitress came from the back of the restaurant with a big smile. "You looked like you were in so much pain!" She went to Sam and put a hand on his arm. "I just had to see if you were really ok."

"Uh, thanks." Sam looked over at Dean, brows rising.

"Bad back you said?" She looked to Dean and then delivered a hard punch to Sam's back, slamming him over the trunk. She wrapped an arm around Sam's neck and pulled his head up as Dean growled and started around the car.

"What the hell, lady?" Dean's hand inched to the gun at his waistband only to think better of it. He had a sudden feeling and went for his flask instead.

"Imagine my surprise when the brother's Winchester wander into my restaurant. I know someone who would forever grateful if I took care of you two little problems." She tightened her grip on Sam's neck as she tilted her head back. Her face changed, her mouth becoming impossibly huge and filled with vicious teeth.

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To Be Continued…