Previously: The escapees spend the night in the forest in a shelter they made from loose branches and brush. Dean grows closer to his companions, bonding with Tyler and sharing a kiss with Jenna. Sam and Quinn wait in the fire tower and let's just say they too ended up 'bonding' lol.
A/N: Zoneofk, thanks for the review. I guess the answer to your question would be 'now' lol. I try to post once a week but on occasion, RL slows me down but there may be the odd week I get two posts in (like this week).
CHAPTER 10 – Chaos and Calm
The forest fell into that brief, silent lull that happens right before dawn, just after the nocturnal creatures have settled and just before the daytime wildlife begins to stir. Dean shifted uncomfortably on the hard ground in their makeshift shelter, not wanting to disturb Caitlyn, who they had allowed to sleep the whole night through and was now curled up at his side, giving the hunter a small measure of warmth since she was still wearing Jenna's leather jacket and was the only one not shivering.
As promised, Jenna had climbed back up the rock to relieve him from watch during the night and he had grudgingly granted her a two-hour shift while he huddled in the cramped quarters with Tyler and Caitlyn, reminding himself she had some hunter's training and was more than capable of keeping watch. He had managed to get an hour or so of actual sleep before waking and heading back up to spend the following three hours on a shift with a chatty Tyler for company.
Jenna had re-emerged topside around 5:30am, insisting Dean try for one last hour before they had to get up and keep moving. She and Tyler were still on watch now but sleep just wasn't finding Dean. His mind was churning with worry and a doomed sense of responsibility for the members of his little entourage, this little group of psychic kids he had quickly become so fond of.
There was a rustle of leaves that had him instantly alert and suddenly Jenna's anxious face was peering in the open end of the brush shelter. "Voices!" she whispered urgently. "Demons, close by." She looked to Dean, who was sitting up and shaking Caitlyn's shoulder to wake her. "Do we run or hide in here?"
The options raced through Dean's hunter-trained brain. If the demons were close, they would surely hear them running and without a headstart, it wasn't likely the humans would be able to outrun them for long. Demonswere tireless. Better to hide and hope they passed them by. It was still dark out and their shelter was made to look like a natural pile of brush… sort of.
"Hide," he answered decisively, shuffling over to make room for Jenna and Tyler to squeeze in also.
No sooner had they all made it inside than the voices reached Dean's ears. The four fugitives huddled close, all holding their breath for fear of making a noise. The shouts grew louder then fainter then louder once more as the demons moved about in the trees. Damnit, they must have kept searching all night.
Dean's heart sped up when the two voices he could make out drew so near the heavy thuds of their footsteps could be heard and the rustle of leaves at their feet.
"What's that?" one of the demons called out and Dean cursed inwardly when he recognized the voice as that of Darksuit, or Cole as Reagan had known him. He was the demon that had the freaky mojo that could fling people with a flick of his wrist.
"What?" came another male voice, sounding frustrated and irritated.
"That over there. That pile of brush. And that mound of tree roots over there. You go check them out. I'm gonna see what's over this hill."
Crap. That 'pile of brush' was no doubt the makeshift shelter they were currently huddled in and that 'mound of tree roots' wouldn't keep that demon busy for long. On the plus side, Darksuit was heading over the hill, which was in the opposite direction. Dean felt the others crouched behind him tense up and held a steady hand in the air to indicate they needed to stay still. He would wait as long as he could and let Darksuit get as far away as possible before they broke cover and ran. They stood a chance if it was only against one of the regular demon lackeys without that damn mojo.
He could feel someone quivering against his back and wasn't sure if it was Caitlyn or Tyler but was thankful they all did exactly as he ordered, remaining as still and quiet as possible while the demon noisily investigated the mound of tree roots close by. A tree had fallen over, leaving its vast expanse of roots jutting high up off the ground and over the following years, branches and brush had grown over it and piled up around it. It took the demon less than a minute to determine there wasn't room for fugitives hiding beneath its cover and his footsteps moved ominously towards their shelter.
When they scuffed noisily right outside, Dean gathered his legs beneath him and started pushing the others out the far side. "Go! Go! Go!" he barked at them just as he felt the grip of a strong hand on his shoulder through the partially covered 'door'. He spun and swung at it, hoping like Hell the devil's trap he had scratched deeply into the hard earth beneath the shelter didn't get broken by frantic footsteps scrambling to get out.
His fist impacted something hard, hopefully a jaw, and a howl of angered pain escaped the demon, who began ripping the branches off the roof to get at the hunter below. By this time, Caitlyn, Tyler, and Jenna were out the other side and running but the fist now wrapped in Dean's shirt was stopping him from following.
He drew the knife from his belt and slashed viciously at the hand. A pained hiss sounded and when Dean's boot landed in the demon's shin, it finally let go. Dean scrambled out to follow the others, turning only once to see the demon run into the invisible wall of the supernatural trap and stop short. A smirk formed on the hunter's face when the demon cursed its displeasure into the night as it was forced to watch its prey disappear into the trees.
He caught up to the others fairly quickly and urged them to keep moving, knowing Darksuit would be hot on their heels by now. They were in the lower slopes of the mountain and had a long, uphill haul to go before they got to the top. Unfortunately, now that the demons knew where they were, making it to the radio would probably be pointless. Even if he did manage to get a hold of Sam somehow, they wouldn't be able to stick around and wait for rescue with the demons only a minute behind them.
He was still trying to figure out their next move when they were suddenly at the edge of a twenty-foot deep gorge, a dried up riverbed at the bottom. They could make it across but it would be dangerous and slow-going so the choices were downhill and back into the river valley or uphill towards the fire tower.
"This way!" Dean shouted, steering them uphill without a second thought. They weren't going to run to freedom either way – he knew that - but he still needed two minutes on the fire tower's radio to convince some Park Ranger to call Sam and warn him the visions were fake.
They ran right through the orange rays of the dawning sun and kept going, tired and panting on the rough, uneven ground but unable to stop or relent in the slightest for they could still hear the pursuit behind them. Caitlyn was rested and replenished and was managing on her own but worry about how this was possibly going to end well far outweighed any relief Dean was feeling at not having to carry her.
He knew they were screwed the instant the demon in the dark suit appeared out of a line of trees just fifty feet behind them as they crossed a rocky clearing. Dean kept running but glanced back just in time to see Darksuit raise his arm towards them. Next thing he knew he was off his feet and flying through the air only to come crashing down into the rocks upside down and with brutal force.
Momentarily stunned, he wasn't aware of much except the throbbing in his head and shoulder and the blood trickling down his cheek until he pulled his wits together enough to look around and seek out the others. They too were down, though they seemed to have fared better than he had. No signs of blood, anyway. They were at the edge of the clearing, all four of them trying to get back to their feet.
Damn demon mojo.
Another flick of Darksuit's wrist and the four of them were tumbling backwards again, pressed up against large rocks or trees, unable to move as the demon advanced liesurely towards them.
"Dean?" Tyler gasped in panic, squirming against the large rock he and Caitlyn were pinned on. "What do we do?" His eyes were wide with fear and begging the older hunter for help. Dean was suddenly reminded how young the kid was and struck by how terrified he looked and he cursed himself for letting him down.
"Don't worry," he assured them all in a calm voice low enough the approaching demon couldn't hear him. "I won't let him hurt you. If they take us back, we'll just escape again. It'll be alright."
Tyler nodded but as the demon got closer, the teen turned to Jenna. "Can't you do what you did yesterday?"
Dean cringed as he heard the question asked of the blonde, remembering how she had practically vowed to never use her powers again. She swallowed and her gaze met Dean's for a fleeting instant, looking more apologetic than scared. She looked back to Tyler to answer his question.
"I don't know if I can," she admitted. "I can pull them into me but I'm not sure if I can pull them out of another person."
"Please try," Caitlyn whimpered, turning also to beg the blonde.
Dean's heart sank in pity when Jenna nodded. He had promised her she wouldn't have to do this.
"Of course," she agreed hurriedly. "I'll try."
He would have told her not to if it was just his life on the line but he took one look at the terrified younger pair on the far end and kept his mouth shut.
They waited the thirty seconds that seemed like an eternity for the demon to reach them. He stopped about ten feet away, smiling triumphantly at each of them in turn, his hands on his hips. Tyler and Caitlyn were side by side against a large, jagged rock, just ten feet from the overhanging edge of the gorge while Dean and Jenna were pressed against trees a few feet away.
Jenna's face pulled into a strained scowl before Darksuit could even speak and he frowned at her in return. The silent stare-off continued for a full minute and Dean's eyes darted back and forth between them. Finally, Jenna slumped back against her tree once more, panting.
Darksuit started to laugh. "Jenna, dear," he gloated. "You're learning quickly. I'd be proud of you if I wasn't quite so furious right now." He took a step closer. "You really think you can pull me out of this meatsuit?" he taunted. "That's unlikely, even if I didn't have this." He unfastened the buttons at his left cuff and pulled his shirt and jacket sleeves up to reveal a symbol burned into his wrist. Dean instantly recognized it as the binding mark Meg had placed on Sam's skin to prevent herself from being exorcized from his body.
"You see…" Darksuit continued, clearly enjoying having a captive audience, even if it was quite literal, "...it seems the younger Winchester has been tearing his way through my subordinates, sending them back downstairs faster then we can replace them." He smirked at the blonde. "Creating more work for you to bring them all back, I'm afraid."
Sam? Dean's heart lurched with renewed hope and fear for his brother.
"In light of these unfortunate events, however, the boss thought it prudent to tighten up security," the demon continued with a snarl, holding up his wrist. "I hate bearing this mark. It's uncomfortable to say the least." He narrowed his eyes at Dean. "Your brother is proving to be quite the challenge. And resourceful, I must say. He even made it to our house."
The house? Sam made it to the house? Did the demons have him?
Darksuit kept talking. "You fools may not realize it, but you are lucky I found you when I did. You only had until noon before the boss was going to bring in one of his hounds. Have you ever seen a Hellhound?" He chuckled and shook his head. "Of course you haven't; you can't see them unless you're marked. But I can tell you, Hellhounds don't capture – all they do is kill. They would have torn you to pieces."
Oh crap. Dean didn't know much about Hellhounds but he did know they wouldn't be able to sneak around in the woods with giant sniffer dogs with fricking walrus fangs chasing them, even if they did manage to get away from their current predicament, which didn't seem likely in light of Jenna's failure. He fingered the handle of the knife in his belt behind his back. If he could somehow get off this tree and slice the mark on the demon's arm…
"S-so you're just gonna take us back to the house?" Tyler asked, his voice sounding hopeful. The kid was clearly remembering the demon conversation they had overheard yesterday about deciding whether to capture them or just kill them and be done with it.
The demon snorted out a malicious sounding laugh. "Oh dear boy, you four have no idea how much trouble you've caused me with this little runaway stunt of yours. No, my child, I think you need a lesson."
He turned to Dean. "I would love to use you to make my point here but since your brother is still eluding us and the boss really wants his hands on him, I need you for bait. So I guess I'll have to make my point another way."
He made a show of waving an arm in the air and Caitlyn suddenly flew away from the rock she shared with Tyler. A terrified scream escaped her as she sailed over the gorge but ended abruptly when she slammed into the rocks on the other side with a sickening crack. In a gruesome display of physics, she bounced and hit more protruding rocks, twisting and turning before landing on a ledge half way down the other side, her body contorted and splayed at every possible unnatural angle.
Dean was vaguely aware of Jenna's horrified scream as he stared helplessly at Caitlyn's still body, shock fury, and guilt taking turns sweeping through him. All he could think was he had sworn to protect her, to get her to safety, and he had failed.
Fuck... he had to get down there… check on her.
Tyler was whimpering loudly in broken, heaving sobs against his rock, his eyes screwed shut. Jenna was standing deathly still a few feet from Dean staring down into the gorge, her face unreadable.
Darksuit was laughing… fucking laughing.
But then Dean felt it, a momentary slip in the force holding him in place, probably caused by the demon's distraction or glee at the sick spectacle. He reacted, seizing the opportunity before it was gone and lunging at Darksuit. He hurled himself into the demon, trying to knock him off his feet.
It worked… sort of. He managed to get Darksuit onto the ground and landed a couple of punches but he hadn't exactly been in a clear frame of mind to think his plan through and within seconds, the demon had Dean on his back on the rocks, ramming the hunter's head repeatedly into the ground beneath him. Dean took the punishment, not like he had a choice, but he also took advantage of the demon's blind fury to slip his hand back and draw the knife. He struck in between the blows that were dizzying his vision, swinging the knife around sharply and hitting his mark on the first try.
The blade sliced neatly right through the center of the binding symbol on Darksuit's wrist.
The demon reared up for a second, bellowing out in pain and surprise. Dean used the brief reprieve to catch his breath, his intention being to call Jenna to do her thing but the blonde was already there. He blinked the blood out of his eyes to see her standing over him, behind Darksuit. She raised a hand towards the demon and her eyebrows knitted together in a look of intense concentration.
Dean remembered Darksuit's taunt that she wouldn't be able to yank him out even without the mark but held out hope she could pull this off. As much as he hated everything about demons and whatever they had done to these kids, Jenna using her powers now was the only chance they had.
Darksuit snarled and turned towards her, getting up off Dean to advance on the hastily retreating girl. She had her arm outstretched towards him even as she stumbled backwards, her hand trembling furiously. Dean didn't think it was working but suddenly the demon was doubling over and belching, black smoke coming out of his mouth in spurts. Jenna stood her ground and suddenly the entire whirlwind was spewing out of Darksuit and spiraling into her, disappearing down her throat in spastic gulps.
She stood panting for a few seconds before waving her hand wildly at Dean. "Devil's Trap," she croaked, sinking to her knees next to the empty, dead meatsuit. There was a trickle of blood running from her nose.
Dean pushed himself up off the ground, his head fuzzy from the abuse he had taken at the hands of the demon. Still holding the knife, he started to scrape the symbol into the ground. It was difficult between the blurry spots in his vision, the rocky terrain, and the distraction of multiple angry voices in the distance growing closer with every passing second.
"Oh shit, you're fucked up," he heard Jenna whisper but the meaning of the words was complately lost on him as he concentrated on drawing the symbol.
As soon as the last line was etched into a flat rock, Jenna shuffled into it and forced the demon out. It swirled and bubbled around her but finally disappeared into the ground. Dean gripped her shoulder and pulled her to her feet. "You okay?" he said urgently.
She nodded, breathless but steady so Dean quickly turned to Tyler. "Run, Ty!" he ordered the wide-eyed teen standing behind them. "Get going! Run!"
Satisfied when Tyler nodded and disappeared into the woods beyond, Dean steadied himself on his own feet. "You too," he told Jenna, stepping past her towards the gorge. "Those demons are close. Go."
"Wait, where are you going?" she asked, fisting a hand in his shirt. "We have to run!"
He shook his head, his mind working frustratingly slowly. "I gotta check on Caitlyn," he slurred.
"Dean, no." Jenna said, shaking her head and tugging him towards the woods where Tyler had fled. "She's gone. We have to go."
Dean couldn't accept that. There was a chance…
"Dean! She's dead! You saw her… she's dead. We don't have time." The words tore into him like a stake through the heart, his foggy mind finally processing the truth in them.
The way the young girl's body had been twisted… the way her neck was bent way too far around… how still she had been when she came to a stop on that ledge…
"Dean, please," Jenna pressed, her tugging becoming more urgent.
He nodded groggily, trying to shove the thoughts of Caitlyn into the usual dark recesses of his mind for processing and future self-torment. His muscles seemed to be extremely slow in obeying some of his commands, but he finally got them moving in the direction of the woods, Jenna just a step in front of him with her fist still wrapped in his sleeve.
"Hey Tiger, you're on my jeans."
"Sorry." Sam rolled one hip up so Quinn could pull them out from under him. He was naked, lying on his back with his fingers laced behind his head and a moth-eaten blanket they had found in the first-aid drawer draped over his lower half. He was also well aware of the goofy grin on his face as he looked up at her. The same grin he had ridiculed Dean for on countless occasions after the elder Winchester had returned from a proclaimed wild night of shameless carnal indulgence.
Quinn gave him a wary look as she slid her foot into her pant leg. "You're not gonna get weird about this are you?"
Sam shook his head, his smile never wavering. "No, I'm a big boy."
She laughed, glancing downwards to the folds of the blanket. "You can say that again, Tiger."
He was surprised at how comfortable he felt with Quinn right now and after having spent an entire night having the best sex of his life, he was reluctant to let the intimacy end. "So I'm Tiger now, am I? Not Winchester?"
"You earned it."
"Does this mean I can call you Talise?"
She snorted, pulling her jeans up to sit loosely on her hips and grinning back at him. "Not if you value your life. And it's Talise with an 'ess' not a 'zee'."
Sam rolled on his side and let his eyes drink up the view of her slim, athletic form standing before him. "It's an unusual name," he pointed out.
"It's Muskogee. My mother was Native."
Wow, Quinn actually mentioned a family member. Progress. "What does it mean?" he pressed.
She rolled her eyes, turning to search the small room for her bra. "Beautiful water or some such shit."
"Well, they got the beautiful part right."
She blushed. It could have been the hint of the dawn's first rays just breaching the eastern horizon, but Sam would put money on that pink hue being a blush and he grinned again.
"You have a lot of tattoos," he observed, enjoying the easy small talk. He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bunk, grabbing her hand and pulling her towards him until she was standing between his knees. She was looking down at him, a relaxed smile on her face that he hadn't seen before now. He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the US Army star on her hip. "I know what this one is, but... what's this?" He spun her around to brush his lips over the tattoo at the small of her back, a pentagram in a circle with fiery waves around the perimeter.
"Anti-possession tat... duh," she answered, turning back around to face him as her face pulled into a frown. "Hey, come to think of it, I didn't see one on you. Don't you have one?"
Sam shook his head. He'd never heard of an anti-possession tattoo. It certainly sounded more reliable than the charms Bobby had given them after the Meg incident.
"No wonder you got possessed by that Meg bitch. You and your brother need to get properly inked, especially these days."
He pulled her down by the hips so she was straddling his lap. "I might just do that," he acknowledged quickly, not wanting the conversation to return to business so soon. "So, what's this one?" He let his fingers trace a row of Chinese lettering around her right upper arm."
"It says Fú wú zhòng zhì, huòbùdānxíng."
He laughed at her terrible pronunciation. "Say what?"
"Loosely translates to mean 'Fortune never comes twice and misfortune never comes alone'."
He raised a quizzical eyebrow and she shrugged.
"It sounded a lot more profound when I was sixteen and angry at the world."
Quinn at sixteen was hard to picture but the image that came to mind had Sam chuckling. "And these?" He moved his attention to three banner-scroll tattoos on her upper left arm, each bearing a set of initials
Quinn's expression saddened as she lifted her arm to drape over the taller hunter's shoulder and tilted her head to look at the tattoos.
"That's an Army thing. Fallen comrades. That's Tim Reilly and that's Juan Ellis." She pointed to the top two in turn but stopped at the last one. Sam noticed a small heart on either side of the initials JAH.
"And that's Jason Harrison," he finished for her softly.
"Yeah." She gave him a sheepish look. "You know, until tonight, I haven't been with anyone since him."
"Really?" He quirked an eyebrow at the surprising revelation. She was forward and had flirted with him relentlessly, even if she had later admitted it was because she didn't think he would act on it. "The way you look, I would have thought you'd be beating them off with a stick."
She laughed as she backed off his lap and resumed the search for her lost bra. "Well, you may find it hard to believe, but some men find my sweet disposition a little hard to take. Turns out most men don't like girls who can strip and reassemble an M4A1 and kick their ass while they do it." She found the bra and pulled it on. "For some strange reason, I tend to scare them away."
"And how much of that is intentional?" Sam challenged.
"Hmph. Okay, Dr. Phil, I'd like Sam Winchester back now, please."
He smirked. "Sorry, you wore Sam out last night. The doctor's filling in until he recuperates."
She chuckled and leaned back against the desk facing him, her t-shirt bunched and forgotten in her hand. "Well, I guess, the doc might be right on that one. It's just easier, you know?"
"You mean, if you don't let them in they can't hurt you," Sam repeated her words from the night before.
She gave him an accusing look. "You trying to say you don't play that tune? Thought that was the hunter's anthem."
He shook his head. "No. For me it's more like if I don't let them in, I can't hurt them."
He threw aside the blanket and rose to his feet, grabbing his boxers off the floor.
She studied him for a moment before pulling her t-shirt on. "Are you talking about Dean?" she asked finally. "You can't be blaming yourself for his situation."
Sam pulled his jeans up and sat back down without zipping them. "No, it's not that exactly." He sighed, his thoughts steering from Jessica and his mother to Dean at the mention of his brother's name. "I just want to get him back."
"You guys are close, huh? Even for brothers. I mean, I've seen dedication before but... what you guys seem to have is something different. Have you always been that way?"
He thought about the question and nodded. "Yeah. I just didn't realize it before. I guess I'm just now really starting to understand Dean, to see him for who he really is - to appreciate him for who he really is." He bit his lower lip in thought before continuing, pleased to have a willing ear he could open up to without having to skip the part about being a hunter.
"When we were kids, he was always there for me. I mean, he did everything for me - more than I ever realized. He was always the hero, you know? My awesome big brother who everybody at our schools wanted to be and who always got the cheerleader... and the cheerleader's best friend. Then somehow, as we got older, he became the annoying big brother who always did what Dad said. He was always following orders and telling me to just do what Dad wanted, not to argue, not to challenge, not to question. Suddenly he wasn't the big hero anymore. To me he was a mindless foot soldier. And the more I argued with my dad, the less respect I had for Dean. When I went to Stanford, I just wanted to get away from the life I had so badly... from all of it. I didn't realize how much I hurt Dean when I left. Now, after Dad died and everything we've been through the past year and a half, I see him differently. He's strong but... but he needs me and I need to be there for him more."
He swallowed, his heart heavy with thoughts of his missing brother. "I just never realized how damaged he was. How little self worth he has despite the cocky attitude and the false bravado he puts on. I don't understand how I didn't see that before. How I could let him think I left him for four years?"
Quinn gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. "Well, you didn't leave him this time. Hell, you almost got killed more than once trying to find him."
"I haven't found him yet," Sam pointed out somberly.
Dean knew there was something wrong as he ran. His vision was still blurring and he was stumbling far more than he should be. His head was throbbing and he was fairly certain he wasn't going to make it to the fire tower. Jenna was keeping pace with him but he was slowing her down and he knew it. They had completely lost Tyler and the hunter could only hope the teenager would somehow make it out of here unscathed. And Caitlyn… well, Caitlyn was gone.
His foot hit a rut and he went down, his knees slamming onto the hard ground with jarring force. He didn't get back up.
Jenna was soon crouched in front of him, repeating his name and trying to haul him to his feet. He struggled to pull his thoughts together but they kept flying apart and he fell back onto his ass in the brush with a groan.
"Dean, get up!" Jenna pleaded.
He shook his head. "I'm slowing you down," he said, reaching to feel the bumps on the back of his head. "Darksuit, he… I'm feeling dizzy… concussion maybe. You need to go." He would get up if he could figure out which way 'up' was.
"I can't leave you here. Let me see." She pushed his hand aside and prodded his injury with her fingers. He could feel the sticky heat of blood in his hair and winced when she touched a particularly sensitive spot.
"Get off," he said brusquely, batting her hands away. "Get away from here, Jen. Go. Go or you'll end up like Caitlyn."
"Dean, you don't know what you're saying. We stick together."
"Yeah that worked out so well for her." It was suddenly overwhelming. He buried his face in his hands, feeling the familiar weight of failure smothering him, the harsh despair of not living up to expectations, of letting someone down. "Fuck, she was just a kid."
"Dean, what happened to Caitlyn wasn't your fault. The demons killed her. Demons and nobody else. In fact, you're the only reason they haven't killed us all. It was you who got us this far. Me and Tyler, we're better off here than locked up being forced to using demon powers every day, eating away at us from the inside out. You saved us from that. Caitlyn wasn't your fault. I need you to get up. I can't do this without you. Dean, please, I need you."
Jenna was saying nice things, encouragement and absolution he wasn't used to hearing and for a brief moment, he swallowed it up, letting himself belief what she was telling him.
But his head was still spinning and his legs were like Jello. He wouldn't make it to the tower.
Sam. A flickering moment of lucidity suddenly gave him a clear picture of the situation.
Darksuit said Sam had been at the mansion. Which meant he likely knew Dean had run into the woods. Which meant he would know where Dean was headed.
"Sam's at the fire tower," he blurted.
"What? No, Dean, you're not thinking straight."
"I am. Right now I am. He'll be there."
"How do you know?"
"Coz I know Sam. But Jen, I can't… I'm seriously going to pass out. You need to get there. Sam'll find Tyler and we can get out of here."
"I can't leave you here," she insisted. "What if they bring in that Hellhound early?"
"Jesus Christ, Jenna, would you just go?" He managed a chuckle at her stubbornness. "We're kinda screwed here. We need Sam."
She gave him a hard stare but eventually nodded. Leaning in, she pressed a quick kiss to his cheek before standing up. "Try to stay awake," she warned him. "Your concussion could be serious. And stay hidden. I'll come right back for you."
He gave her a haphazard salute. "Yes, ma'am," he grinned.
She gave him a lingering look but finally turned and ran, not looking back as she made her way through the brush and up the steep slope.
Dean sighed and looked around. He was fairly well hidden where he was - thank God because he really didn't think he could have moved. Hell, he was barely staying conscious.
He may have very well blacked out for a while but voices snapped his head back up. He blinked a couple of times and looked around as he tried to pinpoint where they were coming from. He groaned when he recognized Keanu's voice and then Lefty's, shouting loudly from a couple of hundred feet away.
He sank lower into the brush, hoping like Hell Jenna had enough of a head start. A chortled gasp escaped him, however, when he heard another voice. A young, scared voice begging someone not to shoot him.
"Tyler!" he called, though his voice was weak and barely audible. He struggled frantically to get to his feet. "Tyler!"
He saw him. The teen was standing in the distance, his hands in the air. Two demons stood facing him, laughing while one held the gun outstretched towards him, taunting him. The stand-off didn't last very long, however, and soon the demons had holstered the gun and were gripping the boy by the arms, marching him away down the hill and into the trees.
"Hey! Over here!" Dean slurred, pissed and frustrated that his voice just wasn't carrying. Shit, they had Tyler… Shit, the kid needed him… the kid was alone... He slumped to the ground and darkness swallowed him.
It was light out now and Quinn stood silently watching out the east window, towards the river valley the hunters believed was hiding Dean and Jenna. Sam was playing with the radio again, searching through the frequencies in hope of any communication that could be between demons or demon-possessed Park Rangers. He rooted through the duffels in an effort to find something he could use to better the reception but to no avail.
He did, however, find a Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum revolver in Quinn's bag and pulled the huge gun out with a laugh. "You weren't kidding about liking big guns, huh?" he teased.
A smile finally pierced her tense expression and she grinned back at him. "That's Dirty Harry's gun," she informed him proudly.
He rolled his eyes as he put it back in the bag and came to stand next to her.
"You know why I really joined the Army?" she offered out of the blue, her voice pensive.
He remembered she had insisted it was because she liked to shoot big guns and found he was extremely curious what the real reason was. "Why?"
"I wanted to belong. See, I know you had issues with your father, but mine left before I was even born. My mother didn't particularly want me; hell, she barely waited 'til I had popped out of her womb before she hit the bottle again. I was raised by my grandparents who didn't want to be raising another brat at their age; their own kids had all moved out years before."
Sam was surprised at the sudden flow of information he had been trying to pry out of her for three days and stayed silent, not wanting her to stop.
"So basically I wasn't wanted anywhere and I never belonged anywhere," she continued, still gazing out the window. "I enlisted the day I turned eighteen and suddenly, for the first time in my life, I felt like I had a family."
"I get that. Would you have stayed if they hadn't discharged you?"
She shook her head. "Nah. I'd run into a brick wall in the Army anyway."
"That 'problem with authority' thing?"
She slapped his arm. "No, the boob thing, actually. See, women in our military can be 'attached' to front line infantry units but never permanently assigned to them. I mean, we can be pilots, mechanics, drivers... but I kept getting assigned to supply units or first aide units." She ginned up at him. "I wanted to drive a fricking tank. Was that really too much to ask?"
"I would pity the enemy," he acknowledged with a laugh.
"Hooyah." She folded her arms across her chest and resumed her scanning of the forest below. "The problem is there's this common belief that the emotional battering soldiers take in combat would be worse if they saw women fellow soldiers dying as well as men. And then there's what they call 'misplaced chivalry'. They say if soldiers are captured, men would give up information quicker if the women were threatened."
Sam didn't want to get into a political debate with her but he shrugged one shoulder. "Well, there could be a bit of truth in that," he defended. "I'm not saying it's fair but… I can tell you Dean would cave sooner if the demons threatened say, Jenna rather than some dude."
"And he wouldn't cave just as quickly for you?" she argued.
"No, he would," Sam admitted freely.
"And you're a guy."
"Yeah, but I'm his brother."
"Soldiers are all about brotherhood. It doesn't matter if that brother has boobs or not."
Sam grinned. "Eloquently put."
"You've watched GI Jane too many times, Winchester."
"So how'd you get into hunting?"
"I met Jason when I touched a possessed broach and he stopped me from decapitating a Private who bumped into me by accident. Some kind of rage curse. I helped him track it down and that ended with me punching my CO, who happened to be under its influence by the way, but poof, my Army days were over." She sighed. "I was so shocked to find Jason waiting outside the prison when I got out. I joined him and never looked back." She gave the tall hunter next to her a chastising look. "See, hunting doesn't discriminate. Equal opportunity ganking."
Sam groaned and rolled his eyes. "Oh my God, you remind me so much of my brother at times."
Her lip curled in apparent distaste and she laughed. "That's kind of a creepy thing to say after what we just did all night. I didn't realize you Winchesters were that close."
"Ha ha." He ignored the tease. "So after the incident with the cursed broach, you decided you belonged hunting?"
"I decided I belonged with Jason," she corrected. "Hunting came a distant second. Oh! Uh, sorry, I guess that was an even creepier thing to say after what we just did all last night."
"No, that's fine," Sam disagreed honestly. "I mean, I thought I belonged with Jess. At the time, anyway."
"Now I realize I didn't belong there at all. With her, at Stanford, studying to become a lawyer, going on dinner dates, meeting her parents, working part-time to pay the rent and the cable bill. She was normal and... and that's not my life."
"Do you still want it to be?" Quinn asked seriously.
He shrugged. "Doesn't matter. So much has happened since then. Then there's this demon connection I have, this psychic thing, that's inside me. I can't hide from that."
She frowned. "These visions of yours don't define who you are; what you do about them does. And trust me, everything you're doing is the right thing. Just keep making the human choices at every turn and stop doubting yourself." He recognized her now-familiar bossy tone creeping back in. "I keep trying to get that through Jenna's thick skull too. There's nothing wrong with you."
Sam listened but shook his head. "Try telling that to Jessica."
"Wow. You're one stubborn knucklehead, you..."
"Oh shit! Quinn!"
He was already reaching for the trapdoor in the floor. Emerging from the treeline below and stumbling across the open mountain peak towards the tower was a slim blonde girl.
Quinn gasped. "Jenna!"
A/N: Chapter was called Chaos and Calm - not hard to tell which scenes were which. I hope the 'Chaos' parts weren't too upsetting and hope the 'Calm" parts weren't too boring! Thanks for all your reviews so far and alerts and faves - they are very much appreciated, every one. Very excited to hear about Baby Ackles - it would have been a shame to let those perfect genes go to waste! Congrats Jensen and Danneel!