A/N: A huge thanks to LilyBolt, mb64, deanstheman, mandancie, and Bunnykiss for your recent, wonderful reviews! They're the inspiration that keeps me writing when sometimes I just don't feel like it! Thanks also to those who have favorited, followed, or just read this. It means a lot! And as always, I don't own Supernatural, just borrowing the boys!
Fortunately for Sam, if Dean had any idea that his brother had had another nightmare, one in which he was flambéed on the ceiling, no less, he didn't let on to Sam otherwise. A thought which frightened Sam on more levels than just the past events twisted in his subconscious. Was this a premonition like before? Like when he had witnessed Jessica's death for days before? Sam honestly believed that this time around, it really was just a dream, but considering Sam Winchester's track record, anything was possible. About half an hour after the youngest Winchester had dressed and left for a quick coffee and breakfast run (even though, in all honesty, Sam wasn't particularly hungry), Dean had awakened and at least acted none the wiser when he accepted his large black and breakfast burrito. In typical Sam fashion, he dug into research, trying to identify the mysterious woman who had helped him out the night before. Unfortunately, after the incident at the tourist site, there was no way that the Winchesters would regain access, no matter how often Dean flirted with the pretty young woman at the counter.
"What about museums?" Dean suggested between a mouthful of egg, sausage and cheese. "The way this place pushes the Viking crap I'm sure there's gotta be more than one tourist trap."
"Good thinking," Sam agreed, clicking on a search engine and typing furiously. A few moments later, several links to other museums related to the Nordic people popped up on screen. "Not really any useful museums, but there is Memorial University in St. John's. A little out of the way but we can see if we can set up a meeting with the head of history or something." A few minutes later, he tossed his phone on the counter and stretched. "We've got a meeting with the head of the history department tomorrow afternoon. Elizabeth Hamilton." He quickly finished his coffee and headed to pack his things. A drive would hopefully be the perfect distraction from his unsettling nightmare. "Anytime, Dean," he muttered, zipping his bag shut and reaching for his coat. Dean rolled his eyes and followed suit. Another reason for him to wish the nightmares would stop: maybe Sam wouldn't be as cranky. On second thought…
"The Vikings had originally attacked the natives around 1000 AD." Dr. Elizabeth Hamilton tucked a strand of honey blonde hair behind her ear as she led the Winchesters into a secluded section of the Memorial University library, her pumps clicking on the tiled floor with each step. Dean smiled, eyes lowering to her long, slender legs, only to hear a grunt coming from Sam. Little brothers. Fortunately, Dr. Hamilton didn't seem to notice, or at least care. "A few of the Skraelings managed to survive the initial attack, and shortly thereafter the indigenous people counter attacked, hence the killings of the Nordic people."
"Do you have any records of women with long hair, about your colour, around my brother's height, rather thin?"
"That description is rather vague. And why would you care about a particular person if your paper if your research is on the attacks?"
"Just want to make sure I have everything." Something Sam would have likely done even if he wasn't researching a hunt. The young woman nodded, leading Sam to another section around the corner from where they were. "There are some death records hiding around here somewhere, they include the physical description of the person in question. Maybe that will be helpful." She stopped before a shelf, scanned its contents, and finally pulled out a fairly thick volume, dust covered in its infrequent use. She handed the boys the work with a look of wariness in her eyes. "Please be careful. These documents are irreplaceable. If anything should happen to them…" her voice trailed off, clearly hinting the worst. "Of course," Dean agreed. "You can count on us." He looked like it was taking all the self-control he could muster not to salute her. "When you're finished please leave them with the librarian and she'll take care of the rest." The brothers nodded their thanks, and Elizabeth Hamilton turned on her heels. "If you need me I'll be in my office."
Alone at last, the boys set to work sifting through the massive pile of death records. The work was tedious; several hundred deaths, including those of natural causes or those who had passed away before and after the massacre. Sam closed his eyes briefly, trying to push aside thoughts of the charred victims as their homes burned around them.
It's your fault, Sammy. You killed Mommy. I wish you hadn't even been born.
You left me alone, Sam. You left me to die. I hate you.
Scared of a little ghost, Sam? You're pathetic. Can't understand what Dad wanted me to protect you.
The last thought, loud and clear in Dean's gravelly voice, made Sam freeze in mid-turn. Fuck. Maybe he couldn't do this case after all.
"Sam, you ok? You're looking a little pale."
"I'm fine, Dean." God, he could still hear his brother's voice, taunting him worse than his images of Jessica or even his mother had ever done. "Come on, there's more stuff to look at."
"Stop lying to me, Sam." In a voice surprisingly void of anger. "I get that this is bothering you, I really do, but you need to focus. I can't have you freaking out on me on the job. I can't have you get hurt." He paused a moment, as if weighing the pros and cons of initiating one of his dreaded chick flick moments. Finally deciding that the benefits were too much to pass up, he continued. "It's my job to protect you. And I can't lose you. Not after….well, you know."
Any traces of doubt caused by the latest vision, or hallucination, or whatever it was, was gone in an instant at the sound of his brother's voice. The soft, gentle voice of the brother who loved him, who would die for him, hell, had died for him. And would be more than willing to do it again, in a heartbeat. Anything for Sammy. Sam swallowed the lump in his throat, and simply nodded. "I know." That was all Dean needed to hear. He nodded in slight satisfaction, and turned back to the documents at his side. "Moving on."
Several hours had passed, with no record matching the physical description of the phantom woman. The brothers were achy, tired, and nearly to the point of wanting to throw the papers to the wall, priceless artifacts or otherwise. Sam, in all his love for all things academic, was nearly at the point of doing something equally drastic when one woman's name stood out from the page.
"Just a sec," he murmured, pulling out his list of names from his jeans pocket. Carefully he read through the names, scanning the description on the certificate as he went. After a moment, smiled. "Gotcha."
"Finally." Dean rubbed the back of his tired neck. Research had never been his thing. Too tedious. More of a Geek Boy endeavour. "What've we got?"
"Helga Frederiksson," Sam read, "aged twenty-nine. Wife of Odin, age thirty, mother of a newborn son. No name provided. Her physical description matches the spirit perfectly, even down to the braids in her hair." He smiled grimly. "At least now we have a name."
"That's if she's our homicidal ghost's wife," Dean countered. "But it is the closes lead we've had. Don't understand how she got out without being burned herself."
"Guess she wasn't quite dead, managed to crawl out."
"Or maybe she was kept alive."
Helga can feel the smoke filling her lungs, the pain excruciating in her belly. She can feel the flames tickling at her feet, the heat unbearable; the stench of burning flesh fills her nostrils, and she can feel her breakfast threaten to come back up. The little home is deathly silent, no moans from her husband or cries from her child. They are dead, she concludes, and tears spill from her eyes, stinging from the acrid plumes of smoke.
"Help me," she croaks faintly, one hand outstretched. She coughs, blood trickling from the corner of her mouth. A figure towers over her, gazes at Helga with sympathy in his dark eyes, and gently lifts her from the floor. He speaks to his companion in a foreign tongue, who nods in agreement. Helga would have felt fear if not for the weakness, unconsciousness threatening to overcome her. "Please," she whispers faintly, closing her eyes. The men lead her past her husband's body, out the door, to a secluded spot behind her burning home. The two men continue their one sided conversation, a thought which, even in dying, frustrates Helga. "No," she continues weakly. "Save…baby."
"Your child is dead." The first man finally speaks in her native tongue. "We shall put you out of your misery." Before Helga can even grieve her family, she feels the cold of steel as it slices her throat, draining what little life she has clung to.
The drive back to the motel was increasingly quiet, and not only because of the treacherous roads. Sam still couldn't erase the last, horrible nightmare from his mind, or the images of the Frederiksson family. He had read shortly after identifying the family that Helga Frederiksson had been drug away from her home, throat slit, in what was actually considered a mercy killing. He shuddered, trying to push the horrible images away. Beside him, Dean was staring straight ahead, not even humming his beloved Metallica as he maneuvered the narrow cliffside roads. Sam sighed, looked out the window at the passing ocean. The lull of the engine and the warmth of the heater, including the rattle of Dean's childhood Lego blocks, lulled him to sleep, one, fortunately, free from nightmares.