Thanks to Thruterryseyes for the amazing art!





A/N: In my happy fanfic world Sam never died, so Dean never made his deal, so all that yadda yadda yadda never happened. I use plenty of facts from all the current seasons of Supernatural, however there are no spoilers.

 

 


Dean cracked one eye open and rolled his head from side to side, easing away from the inside of the car door and sitting straighter. Rubbing his eyes, he squinted out the passenger side window, straightened even more, rubbed again and looked more closely.

He glanced sideways. Sam was tapping the steering wheel with both thumbs, humming softly—and off key as usual—too, Dean squinted at the radio. Sam’s lips curled up in a small, shy smile for a few seconds as his gaze shifted away from the road and to Dean.

Sam sighed and kept on humming and driving. Dean’s mind was still trying to process two very important details: Sam was humming along to AC/DC and Dean was staring out the window at what was clearly a large body of water, not the waves of grain of the Midwest Great Plains.

“Nice nap?” Sam had a knack for sounding like an incredibly innocent child despite being well over six foot and just under two hundred pounds.

“Sam.”

“Dean.”

“That,” Dean pointed out the window, “is not very Arkansas-like. I thought even you couldn’t take a wrong turn and miss the Plains all together. What ocean is that?”

“Great Lakes, Erie to be exact.”

Dean nodded, taking in that bit of information. “Um hum.” He straightened completely and massaged the back of his neck. “You’re never driving again.”

Sam rolled his eyes, leaned to one side and dug something out of his hip pocket. He triumphantly held up two small slips of paper, grinning broadly. “We’re in Cleveland, Ohio!” Sam announced it like that was going to explain all the universal mysteries.

“Uh huh.” Dean scratched his nose. “So? Why?”

Snorting, Sam waved the slips of paper under Dean’s nose until Dean reached out and snatched them. “For your birthday of course. Happy birthday!”

Dean held the bits of paper, but didn’t look closely at them since he was too busy eyeing his brother and searching for signs of possession, insanity or some other explanation. “My birthday is in January. It’s August. You’re either very late or very early.”

“No, I’m right on time. There was a huge blizzard in Cleveland on your birthday, the entire city was shut down. So, it would have done us no good to come here then. No blizzards in the summer.”

“True, but we’re going to melt.”

Sam nodded at Dean’s hand. “Besides the exhibit is now, it wasn’t here in January. Look at the tickets, Dean.”

Dean held the tickets up, pulling them apart so one was in each hand. “This is…you kept this a secret all this time? If this date is right you bought these months before my birthday. I’m…holy crap.”

Sam chuckled. “I’ll take that as a ‘you like it’.”

“Like it? Hell, do you know what these are?”

“Uh, yeah, Dean, I bought them.”

“Tickets to the history of metal rock exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. You can’t get these.”

“But, I did.” Sam looked rather smug.

Dean grinned. “You sure did. I…thank you, Sammy.”

 

 

 

 

Sam had to admit the place was pretty cool. From the website he’d already seen it was built to look like a giant turn-table and vinyl record from the air. Car models hanging from the ceiling in the lobby delighted Dean to no end. Sam stuffed his hands in his pockets and rocked back and forth a few times on his heels, glancing around sheepishly. He hoped no one noticed the thirty-year-old, six-foot-plus little boy with him.

On the other hand, museum goers might have noticed Dean’s behavior if they weren’t acting that way themselves. Sam, it seemed, was the one who stuck out like a sore thumb. Most of the people there, in fact, were gazing up, pointing and spewing details about the display. Their comments and words floated past Sam. The most important thing he got out of it was it made his big brother happy.

He followed Dean, listening with rapt, and at times surprised, attention to everything Dean told him. It seemed Dean knew as much about the various displays as those who put it together.

“You should love this stuff, Sammy. It’s a big chunk of American history, and I know you love history,” Dean said as they carried trays loaded with their lunch to an outdoor table. There was a café overlooking Lake Erie. It was a hot, clear day, but the breeze off the lake was nice.

They sat watching sailboats and jet skis while they ate. The tables were close together and not overhearing the conversations of those around them was almost impossible. Sam stopped slurping his milkshake through a straw at the same time Dean’s burger was halted and held halfway to his mouth. Dean’s eyebrows rose and he met Sam’s gaze.

Simultaneously they both shifted in their chairs to better hear the talking from a table behind Sam and slightly to the right.

“It was the same as the others earlier in the summer,” a man said.

“Sick bastard, killing pregnant women and taking the unborn child. Who does that?” the woman eating with him said. “Lois was such a sweet girl. I’ll miss working with her. It makes me sick every time I think of her and how excited she and Mike were to be having a baby, and after they tried for so long. I heard the first victim was the wife of the director of the Natural History Museum.”

Dean leaned closer and spoke in a low voice, “I know what we’re checking out when we get back to the motel.”

 

 

Sam was happy to shut the door on the heat and humidity when they arrived back at their motel room later that evening. One advantage of their lives was they could move around the country, a good part of the winters were in the south, the summers in the north. It was a good idea and a nice plan, but plans had a habit of going awry for the Winchesters.

On this particular day Cleveland, Ohio was hot and oppressively humid and the Impala had no air conditioning. The twenty minute drive in rush hour traffic to where they called home for this trip was hot and miserable. They’d made one stop for beer and snacks, deciding to order some pizza for later.

While Sam placed their pizza order, Dean bee-lined for the A/C unit and blessedly had cold air cranking out full blast in no time.

“So,” Sam took a swig of his beer and turned the laptop so Dean could also see the screen. “The first murder with the fetus taken from the woman’s body…”

“Hopefully after she was dead,” Dean interjected.

Sam grimaced and nodded. “Yeah, I sure hope so. Anyway it was on the summer solstice and according to the report her time of death was placed between 10 pm and 1 am.”

Dean groaned. “Basically, midnight on the solstice then.”

“Yeah, I think it’s safe to say so. Each of the others was on the night of a new moon, and the two that weren’t, were on days that correlated to two obscure pagan holidays.”

“Obscure pagan holidays? How do you find this stuff?” Dean leaned one elbow on the table top and rested his chin in his hand. “Didn’t one of those people say the first victim was the wife of the director of the Natural History Museum?”

Sam nodded.

“You thinking what I’m thinking? Museum full of old stuff, the pattern started there, not that cops would see it.”

“Dean, why would the cops see that? Even if they did connect the dates, what good would it do?” Sam pointed out.

Shrugging, Dean walked to the small refrigerator in the room and extracted two more beers. He opened them, setting one in front of Sam. “Maybe someone brought something in?  We need to get to work on a list.”

Sam sighed and slouched down in his chair. His brother was right of course, but we meant him. Sam found them, Dean shot them—it was the Winchester way. “We’ll have to check the place out.”

“Get together a list of what artifacts or ancient ghosts or whatever might be responsible and we’ll head there tomorrow. If we’re really lucky, whatever we want will be sitting out in the open.”

“And we do what, smash and grab in a museum full of people during business hours?” Sam said, without looking up from the laptop. He’d already found three sites to search for possible suspects.

Slapping at his shoulder, Dean snorted. “No smartass, we go back and take an afterhours tour.” He pulled a box from his duffel and started rummaging through various ID badges they had.

“Museums have real security systems and I think we’re getting too old for the grad student approach.”

Dean chuckled, “Why Sammy, you surprise me, you of all people should know, education is a lifelong pursuit.”

Sam rolled his eyes. He grinned when Dean triumphantly held up two fake IDs. “These should get us in and we can boost badges from inside if we need them.” He tossed the IDs down next to Sam’s arm.

“FBI Department of Antiquities and Arts? Really? We have these?”

Dean shrugged. “That stuff is big on the black market, I figured they’d come in handy sometime.”

“This means wearing suits, doesn’t it?”

“Nothing is perfect, Sammy.”

 

 

 

 

Putting on a suit didn’t diminish Dean’s delight when they walked through the front door and the first thing he saw was an enormous metal ball suspended from the ceiling. It swung gently within what looked like a circle of giant dominoes without the dots.

Apparently Sam’s delight wasn’t dimmed either. Dean got a nudge to his elbow and Sam dipped his head at the display, long legs propelling him at it. Dean didn’t even try to keep up the pretext of cool and was right on Sam’s heels.

When they were very small and their father was still trying to raise two sons more than he hunted they’d gone to places like this. Dean’s memory was hazy at best and Sam’s nonexistent.  There was the odd school field trip, but those were very few and very far between.

These were the types of things they dealt with on a daily basis as hunters, but mostly information was from a book or the internet.

“This kind of pendulum was the first Earth based proof that the planet rotated.” Dean stepped back and gazed up at where the cable was anchored to the ceiling. “Wonder how much it weighs?”

Sam was bent over a small stand with a plaque fixed to its top. “Um…two-hundred-seventy pounds.” He straightened and looked around. “How come we never came here before? Check it out.” One hand flicked to an archway.

Dean grinned. “I think we could find some time to see the planetarium.” He chuckled when Sam’s face split into a bright smile and his eyes lit up. “We need to check everywhere, even the most unlikely places.” Seeing Sam perk up like that was a reward all by itself to Dean and he was going to milk it for all it was worth.

A few hours of prowling around the museum’s public areas produced no matches, so they took a break to go over what little they did know.

“So, where do we go from here?” Sam slouched against a countertop in the museum eatery drinking his soda as it sloshed around in the cup he held.

Dean shrugged. “That list you put together of totems, charms and whatnot that might be hanging onto something that could be responsible is the best lead we have. Let’s go back and do a closer check of the displays corresponding to those parts of the world.

Sam put his cup down and pulled the list from his pocket, flicking at it with one finger. “At best this stuff is vague and we’ve got nada.”

Dean saw right away that the problem with trying to find clues in a huge museum like this, was there was too much. It was a man-made jungle with only limited access to certain areas. Instead of trees and plants this jungle consisted of dinosaur bones, storerooms, classrooms and secret hiding places in the form of crates from all over the world. Many of the public areas had displays dangling from the ceiling. Dean could only imagine what they’d find in the non-public areas.

They returned to the area with an extensive Meso-American exhibit and scrutinized everything, comparing it with their list.

“You two are a little old for a school treasure hunt, aren’t you?” A female voice with a slight, pleasant accent Dean couldn’t place spoke from a point right over his shoulder.

Dean glanced over his shoulder, catching a glimpse of Sam startling back a step. The woman behind him was slender, with sleek, straight coal black hair and red lips that smiled, revealing sparkling white teeth. There was something about her that automatically sent off alarm bells in Dean’s head, but he couldn’t place what it was.

Those same bells must have gone off in Sam’s head too. His little brother squared his shoulders and took a half step back, leaning away from the woman. He fumbled in his pocket, but Dean extracted his ID first. Not giving into his own urge to step back Dean turned to face the woman fully, flashing his most charming smile as well as his badge.

“I’m Dean Morrison and this is my partner, Sam Dylan. We’re with the Arts and Antiquities division of the FBI.” When she arched a well formed eyebrow and tilted her head to one side looking from one to the other, Dean shrugged. “We’ve heard all the jokes, so let’s just skip that part, okay?”

Sam stopped his fumbling around and finally jerked his own badge free, flipping it up and open, mumbled a “hello” and stuffed the thing back into his pocket. He sucked in a few quick breaths, pulled his fist to his mouth and coughed a few times. The way his brows pulled together let on to Dean his brother was flustered and that had caught him off guard enough to fluster him even more.

She laid one hand on Dean’s bicep, squeezing ever so slightly. He straightened, resisting not only the urge to back away and take Sam with him, but the shudder that wanted to run up and down his spine like it was a track meet. “I’m Maya Corleone, and I’ve heard all the jokes too. I’m an assistant to the curator here. Is someone here to steal something?”

“That’s what we’re here to find out.” Dean kept his expression neutral and business-like. “We’re looking for something,” he held one hand out, turning far enough to motion to Sam standing behind him for the list. Her hand slipped down his arm to his forearm and—euuww—squeezed again, nails digging in slightly. He nearly ripped the paper in two snatching it out of Sam’s fingers. “That might be related to one of these items or is one of these items.”

Maya took the paper and scanned it then handed it back to Dean. “Why?”

Shuffling forward Sam finally found his voice. “That’s classified. If we tell you, we’ll…you know…have to kill you.” A short, nervous chuckle erupted from his lips before he crossed both arms over his chest and gave her something that was a cross between bitch-face and no-nonsense. Mostly he just looked like he’d sucked on a very sour and unpleasant lemon.

Some days little brother Sammy wasn’t exactly the most suave guy. The real question in Dean’s mind was why was this woman affecting them in such a way? A way that clearly put neither of them at ease.

Shrugging, Maya drew in a breath, finally let go of Dean and exhaled slowly. “All right, I’ll play along, but only because you fill out that suit so damn well.”

Dean smirked and Sam sort of hiccupped.

Tilting her head in a follow me gesture, Maya turned on her spiked red heeled shoe and walked away. Dean couldn’t help leaning down a bit to get a good look at how her rear end filled out her nicely snug dress.

Sam’s elbow gouging into his side made him roll his eyes and clear his throat. Tapping on Sam’s shoulder, Dean said in a low voice, “Come on and behave yourself.”

“Me?” Sam sputtered. “You’re the one practically getting laid right here in the corridor,” he snapped in a whisper in Dean’s ear.

Ignoring him, Dean concentrated on where the woman was taking the two of them. “This,” Maya pointed to a door, “leads down to the lower level storage area and where some of the research offices are located.” She led the way down steps and opened the door, standing in it so Dean and Sam had to brush by her to get inside. After a quick look around she waved them out. “The main library is upstairs, and so are the offices. I’ll show you.”

They went through a door marked EMPLOYEES ONLY, Dean glanced quickly at Sam, silently acknowledging what they both saw. Neither of the doors was locked. Maya led them up another set of stairs and they exited into an area lined with offices. The library was at the far end.

“I’ll arrange for you both to stay here for a few hours after closing.” Maya slithered by Dean, brushing against him and blew a soft breath in his ear. “Maybe we can have dinner later?”

“Yeeah, we have a lot of work to do. I’ll call you.”

She smiled, took his hand and wrote her number on it, planting a ruby red, shiny lip print on his palm. “I’ll be waiting.”

They watched her leave, closing the door softly behind her, but not before she turned and blew Dean a kiss.

“Hole-lee crap.” Dean shook his head and took out his phone, programming her number in.

“Her hair doesn’t move,” Sam said, staring at the door.

Dean turned and studied his brother’s profile for a few seconds. Closed his eyes and drew in a deep, slow breath. “You’re kidding, right? She’s—”

“Intense,” Sam finished, twisting around to look at Dean. “Scary.”

Dean nodded, agreeing completely. “Come on, we have a few hours, let’s put it to good use.”

“Okay.” Sam nodded and trailed behind Dean farther into the library.

They split up, Dean wandered the aisles and Sam found a computer terminal.

Twenty minutes of prowling up and down the rows of books and periodicals was interrupted by the distinct and all too familiar mushy sound of a body stumbling into something then hitting the floor. Dean would know that sound in his sleep. “Sammy!”

He bolted around the tall shelves to the computer terminals to find his kid brother slumped on the floor, fingers pressed to his forehead, eyes unfocused and dazed.


 

The world went fuzzy gray in the blink of an eye. Sam rubbed his eyes, but before he could open them, screeching and a high pitched scratchy growl assaulted his ears. A flash of something gray-brown with a roundish head and ears, black nose and wide-set round eyes dropped from above and careened through the library. A flash of white and the image changed.

Dean was grappling with something. Something big, with gray-brown fur and long claws slicing away at his face and neck. Blood spurted from Dean’s neck—artery, artery, bleed out—Sam’s brain screamed. He tried to get to his brother, pull the thing from Dean, but his limbs were weighted down and sluggish.

“Dean,” Sam half sobbed, jerking his upper body at his brother, lunging for him, desperate to stop the attack and save Dean.

There was so much blood. Torn flesh and clothes was all Sam could glimpse between the flashes of dingy fur and the reflection of light off long, dark talons. Dark red, clotting, pooling blood mixed in with material and oozing over the floor. Clapping his hands over his ears in a meager attempt to block out the horrible noise and Dean’s fading screams, Sam staggered to his brother’s side and dropped to his knees.

The screaming had stopped, both Dean’s and the brutal attacker’s. Frantically Sam pressed his open palms to various points along Dean’s chest and neck, muttering, “Stop the bleeding, pressure stops the bleeding.” He grabbed Dean’s shoulders and shook. “Too much blood, stop bleeding.”

Dean’s head fell back, jaw slack. His eyes were open, but no one looked back at Sam.

“D-de-dean?” Tears dripped down Sam’s face, hitting Dean’s skin, creating shiny spots on the pallor. “No,” Sam’s voice was nothing but a whimper. “No.” Balling his hands in fists he bit out, “Whatever you are I’m ripping you apart with my own hands.”

Something latched onto his shoulders and pulled him away, shaking slightly. Growling, he tried ripping from its grasp, nothing was keeping him from Dean or from getting Dean’s killer. He snarled, “Die bastard.”

“Sammy. Sam!”

Swinging blindly, Sam threw his weight back when his wrists were caught and he was yanked forward. The world was a swirl of grays and blacks again. His entire body twitched and jerked out of his control for a few seconds, his lungs constricted and he struggled to breathe. His stomach revolted and he clenched his lips tightly shut against the foul tasting, sharp sting of bile burning a path up his throat.

His vision swam, blurred, went gray then white and cleared. He sucked in a huge breath and stared. Dean’s face, worried and ashen stared back at him.

“Sammy? C’mon, kid, back with me.” Dean gave him a slight shake. “Stay with me.”

Gripping Dean’s arms with all the power he could muster, Sam ignored Dean’s wince. “I…you were…where?” Shoving off the floor to his feet, not remembering falling in the first place, Sam tried to turn one way, then the other, but was held in place by his brother’s hands on his shoulders. “You’re alive!”

“Yeah.” Dean guided him backwards and gently pushed him into a chair. “You okay? What happened, what was that? A vision?”

Sam let go of Dean’s arms and grabbed his head, turning it one way then the other. He pressed one hand to his brother’s chest, pulling away his tie and opening his shirt. “There’s no blood.”

“Sam?”

“No blood.” Sam lifted his head so his gaze met Dean’s. “You’re alive. You’re not bleeding.”

Dean shook his head. “No. I’m not. I’m fine.”

“I…you….” Sam looked up then back at his brother. “It didn’t happen in here. Whatever that was it dropped from high up.”

“Sam, what are you talking about?”

Lurching forward, Sam threw both arms around Dean’s neck and latched on. “You’re not dead.” Dean was going to make fun of him forever and probably slug him in a minute for overreacting, but Sam didn’t honestly give a rip.

Instead, Dean surprised him by rubbing his back and holding him for a few seconds before leaning away. “I’m not. Now, take a breath and tell me, what happened?”

Pointing up, Sam said, “Something dropped down from up there, but not in this room, somewhere else. The lobby I think, where the ball is hanging. At least I could see it too. And this thing it just—” Sam swallowed hard, voice faltering. Dean gave his shoulder a firm squeeze. He took in a few deep breaths and went on. “It dropped down from nowhere. There was this horrible screeching, really high pitched, noise. I think that thing made it. Then it was all over you. It had long, curved claws and I think it was biting, too. Dean, it ripped you apart in seconds. Literally apart. I think that woman, Maya, she has something to do with it.”

“What makes you say that?”

“This wasn’t a vision, not like the ones I had before. It didn’t hurt and I had it right after we met her. I got the feeling she was angry you weren’t more…attentive.”

Dean shrugged. “That doesn’t really mean anything, Sammy. She was a bit creepy. You’ve had flashes of things before. Maybe the more you have them the more detailed they’ll get. Maybe it’s because it was me involved.” He pulled Sam up, giving his arm another squeeze before letting go completely. “We know where and have a vague idea of what to look for. Let’s figure out if it’s related to the murders or something different.”

Giving himself a mental shake, Sam glanced down at his watch. “How long did your girlfriend say we could stay past closing?”

“Dude, she is so not my girlfriend.” Dean grinned and faked a shudder. “Don’t even go there. Don’t even pretend to go there in jest.” He headed back to one of the aisles he’d been looking over. “I had just spotted something that might help when you went all fuzzy on me.”

Sam snickered and turned back to the computer he’d been working on. “I found some things before I started having…seeing…before.”

“Me too.” Dean leaned around the end of a set of shelves and held up a thick notebook, jogging back to Sam. “Someone’s been keeping tabs on all this already. It seems Maya was one of three people on a team that have been working on certain myths from Central America. The curator’s wife wasn’t the first person to die, there was another victim a—” He flipped the page, “Sandra Fry. They were separated by a day. Both were pregnant, as far as anyone could see both mother and fetus were killed, stabbed. One of the team, a Doctor Earle Hilliard, stayed here. Maya and the other person, also a woman, Carly St. Charles, did the traveling part of their research. Right after they got back Carly announced she was pregnant, and…”

“And became victim number three?”

“Bingo.”

“Well, take a look at these.” Sam shoved some things he’d printed off the computer across the table. “I found some close matches to what we’re looking for and Maya and Carly were working on researching them and setting up an exhibit for the museum with Hilliard. This,” he twisted one paper so Dean could get a better look, “is a common representation of a Cihuateteo.”

“What’s it do?”

“According to legend this was created by the angry spirits of women who lost their lives and the lives of their unborn children during childbirth. As revenge they will kill pregnant women. And this,” Sam pulled another paper from his stack of notes. “Is a La Llorona, also an angry spirit that supposedly kills. This one is the result of a woman killing her own child, either before or after birth.”

Dean propped one foot up on a chair and leaned his elbow on his knee, rubbing at his chin thoughtfully for a minute. “So, what we have here is a woman taken over by a spirit that is one of, or more likely from the sounds of it, a combination of spirits.”

“From everything I could find on them, once they have you they take over. There’s no getting them out of the person without killing her. We’re really not going to find out much more without going to some small village in Central America.”

“Or, find the exhibit and research notes Maya, Carly and Hilliard have somewhere. We need some kind of proof. I think we need to talk to the family of victim number one. We can tie Maya to the others, but not her. Her husband, Matt, is actually a ‘key person of interest’.” Dean made quote signs in the air in front of his face. “We also need to talk to Hilliard, his name is on this notebook.”

“Why wouldn’t he keep it in his office?”

“I don’t know, but that’s something I’d like to know,” Dean said.

“Then let’s go find Matt Fry and Earle Hilliard and see what they can tell us.”

 

 

 

 

There was only cleaning staff left in the building when they headed down the flight of stairs from the office and library level to the main part of the museum.

“We have to find the address of Matt Fry,” Dean said, taking the lead through the second floor, down the stairs and to the first floor.

“He’s a freelance photo-journalist, got it.” Sam grinned and pulled a piece of paper from his breast pocket, holding it between two fingers.

“We might as well head over there now.” Dean stopped and turned, realizing he was suddenly by himself. “Sam?”

Sam had stopped in front of an exhibit. He was staring at it. Starting, gaze drawn to Dean when Dean said his name, Sam looked at him, face losing color fast. He swiveled on his heels, pointing to something farther along the corridor. Mouth opening, then closing, Sam scrunched his eyebrows together and looked up.

“Sam.” Dean took a step forward. “What?”

“This is it. Well nearly it. What I saw come after you.”

Dean walked back and stood beside his brother, leaning in and looking at what Sam was pointing to. Straightening he said, “Sam, that’s a koala bear.”

“I know what it is, Dean, and I swear that’s what jumped you.”

“An Australian koala bear. From Australia, down under, opposite side of the planet. Way far away.”

Sam huffed. “I know where Australia is, Dean.” He jabbed his finger at the glass. “This is what I saw. Only bigger, with longer claws and fangs.”

“So, you’re saying something from Australia that looks like a giant, killer koala bear attacked me?”

“Drop Bear.”

“I don’t care what it’s called, how the hell would it even get here? And they don’t exist. It’s like the Australian version of Big Foot.”

Crossing both arms over his chest, Sam arched an eyebrow. “You of all people claim something getting here from Australia is impossible?”

“No, but…it’s impossib—” Dean spread his arms wide, glancing at the display. Sam cleared his throat. Exhaling a heavy sigh he let his arms drop to his sides. “Oh, never mind. You say it’s here, then who cares how it got here.”

“We should see if anyone was attacked.”

“Yeah. Odds are if anyone was it was minor and kept quiet. Unless someone died here and even that I’m sure the museum wouldn’t want publicized, but they probably couldn’t avoid it.”

The only warning Dean had was a scratching noise from somewhere above him. Sam making some odd, choking sound drew his attention to his brother. Something whooshed through the air at him. Just as he felt the impact and dig of claws along his back and shoulders, Sam shouted and collided full force, knocking Dean sideways.

A high pitched noise like metal on metal assaulted his ears. He and Sam hit the floor, forcing the breath from Dean’s lungs and leaving him struggling to inhale for a few seconds. Whatever it was howled and kicked against Dean’s back when it was squished between two brothers and the floor.

Sam lunged at it. Dean flipped over, scrambling to get between the thing and his enraged brother. In trying to get out from under them, and no doubt mount another attack, it only succeeded in losing its grip and freeing Dean. Sam tripped, recovered and was up and stumbling after the creature.

Pushing to his feet, Dean sprinted ahead. They caught a flash of a furry ass going around a corner. As he rounded to another small corridor, Dean pulled his gun out, stopped and looked around. Sam was doing the same, gun and gaze going up, down, side to side.

“Do you see it?” Sam panted. “Did you see it? A drop bear!” He sounded excited and for a few seconds looked almost giddy before covering up and putting on more of a  hunter face.

“I saw it,” Dean muttered and stuffed his gun back into his waistband. Another bit of movement at the end of the corridor caught his attention and he bumped Sam’s arm, nodding in that direction. “Sam.”

Immediately Sam swung around, gun pointed where he was looking. In the next instant he jerked both hands behind his back, stowing his own weapon away and out of sight under his suit jacket. “Maya.”

Maya oozed over the carpeted floor at them, coming to a stop so she was positioned between Dean and Sam, back to Sam.

“How are you getting along? Finding what you need?” She leaned closer, pressing against Dean, rubbing slightly against his side. It was eerie and creepy, made him feel like she was in heat and he was her next victim.

Sam must have seen the expression Dean wore and stepped closer, fingers curling around Maya’s arm and turning her away from Dean.

“Yeah, we’re doing just fine,” Dean said.

“Has there been anything unusual going on around here. Anyone hurt?”

Maya laughed, got loose from Sam’s grip and took Dean’s hand. “How about dinner and I’ll tell you?”

Snatching his hand away and backing up a step, Dean gave her his most serious federal agent look. “How about you just tell us now.”

She pouted for a few seconds then shrugged. “It’s a museum with lots of ancient artifacts all with their own marvelous story about what they can and can’t do. Of course there is always talk of something odd. A security guard trips and cuts his hand, claims he was attacked from above. A little girl wanders away from her family and gets lost for a bit and it’s some large beast with big claws she saw climbing around the wires suspending the dinosaur bones and followed it.” She laughed a bit and Dean wanted to shiver. “A few years ago it was the ghost of an employee who had a heart attack at work, but loved her job so much she could never leave. And before that a long extinct creature was wandering the halls and people would see glimpses of its reflection in the glass. Need I go on?”

“I get the point,” Dean said.

“And dinner?”

Dean shrugged, “I could eat, what about you, Sam?”

Sam’s eyes twinkled mischievously; he looked down, covered his mouth with one hand and coughed lightly. “Uh, I should probably—”

Dean ground out a terse, “Agent Dylan and I are on a case.”

“Yeah, case, on one. We need to um…compare…and investigate…stuff.”

“When your case is completed then.” Maya ran her hand over Dean’s chest and down one arm before turning and sauntering away.

“God, she’s weird.” Sam watched her go.

Dean nodded. “Even for us.”

“When I had that vision she’d just left us and now she shows up right after we run into the same thing I saw attack and kill you.”

“Sammy, I don’t think it’s her. There’re two things here we’re dealing with. She might be way too horny even for me and creepy as hell, but I don’t think she has anything to do with a drop bear being here. She sounded like she didn’t even believe there could be something odd going on.”

“Yeah, she blew it off a bit too fast.”

The trip to the apartment building of one Matt Fry took less than twenty minutes. Dean was more relieved than he’d thought he’d be when they were buzzed into the building without hesitation. A man in his late thirties greeted them at the elevator introducing himself as Matt Fry.

“So what does the Arts and Antiquities Department want to talk to me for?” Matt asked as they walked down the hall to his apartment. He opened the door and stepped aside, motioning them inside.

“We’re sorry to intrude, but your wife was murdered and the only person not affiliated with the museum in some way. We suspect some kind of smuggling is going on and these murders are a cover up. We’re simply trying to hit all the angles,” Dean said smoothly. Sam wandered away casually, looking over the room, stopping beside a large desk covered with photos.

“Sandy was a nice girl, she didn’t deserve to die like she did.” Matt looked down for a minute, rubbing at the back of his neck. “I don’t suppose anyone does.”

Sam was looking at a stack of photos on the other side of the room. His head snapped up and his gaze met Dean’s for a split second.

Dean shifted his weight a bit, repeating, “Nice girl?”

Matt barked a short, nervous laugh. “It was no secret really. I married Sandy because she got pregnant and said it was mine. I liked her, wasn’t in love with her, but I was willing to try and do the right thing. Which I guess makes me a prime suspect. But I didn’t do it, not to any of them. I had nothing against Sandy, and I didn’t know any of those other women.”

“Did you know this woman?” Sam held one of the photos, crossing the room to where Dean and Matt stood.

“Maya, yeah. I knew her. We weren’t exclusive. She was really fun, sort of shy and nerdy. Then she came back from her last trip and was…I don’t even know the right word.”

“Predatory?” Sam mumbled.

Matt nodded. “So, you’ve met her.”

“When did your wife get pregnant? Was it before or after Maya went on her trip?” Dean asked. Some pieces were starting to fall into place.

“During. I broke it off with Maya right after she came home. Those I took when I was at the airport to pick Sandy up, she’d just come back from a business trip. Her plane was delayed and I was bored so took some shots, never know what will turn out good. I had no idea Maya was coming back that day.” He laughed again. “Hell, I didn’t even realize they were in the shots until after Sandy and the other woman died.”

Sam moved back to the desk and sifted through more of the photos, picking up several. “Would it be alright if we borrowed these? They’ll be safe, I promise.” He held out the photos he wanted to take.

Matt nodded. “Sure. You can keep them, I have them on disk.” He walked with them to the door. “Do you think you can find the killer?”

Dean laid one hand on his shoulder. “We’re going to try. Thanks for your help.”

Once back inside the Impala, Sam turned and held out the photos, shuffling through them and talking fast. “Dean, look at these, every photograph with Maya, Sandy or Carly have the same thing hovering around the women.”

Dean took one of the photos and squinted at it. “Yeah, but sure not in the same way.”

 

 

 

“So, let’s go over what we have so far.” Dean guided the car onto the highway, heading back to their motel, glancing sideways at his brother for a few seconds.

“A woman who radically changed after a trip, pretty obvious what happened while she was gone.” Sam shuffled through the photos from Matt. “This same symbol shows up on all the women murdered, but it’s near Maya’s head. Dean, at least one of these women she went after because someone rejected her for them. For all we know that’s how she picks her victims, they’re competition to her somehow.”

Dean nodded. “It’s hard to remember that their motivation doesn’t have to make sense to us. I think you’re onto something.”

“Dean,” Sam began in that tone Dean knew all too well, it was the little brother assuming the worst tone. “You rejected her.”

As if on cue Dean’s phone chimed. He pulled it out and looked at it, sighing and holding it out for Sam to see. Shaking his head when Sam frowned, Dean flipped it open and said, “Morrison.” He rolled his eyes and said, “No, thanks, Agent Dylan and I have had dinner. What I’d really like is to know is when I can talk to Dr. Hilliard?” Shaking his head, Dean turned a corner and sighed again. “Really, that’s nice, thanks but FBI agents don’t date—”

“Dean,” Sam growled a warning and jabbed two fingers into Dean’s ribs.

“—Witnesses. Nine, tomorrow morning. Thanks, we’ll be there.” Shutting the phone off and dropping it on the seat beside him, Dean offered Sam a pained look. “Dude, seriously, what did you think I was going to say? Psycho spirit?”

“Yes.”

Dean shrugged and slouched a bit behind the wheel. “Fine, you got me.” He looked over at Sam. “How do we kill a drop bear?”

Sam grinned and chuckled a bit. “It’s easy, shoot it, cut off its head, or set it on fire. They’re corporeal, so you can kill it however you’d like.”

 

 

 

The next morning Dean gave up on the suit and ignored Sam’s sly grin when he followed his brother’s clothing choice and went back to their regular of jeans, button down and T-shirt. While Dean spent a few extra minutes stowing away knives, a handgun and extra ammo, Sam crossed both arms over his chest and watched, eyebrows going higher and higher.

When Dean pulled a small welding torch from one bag and pulled his jacket away from his side looking at the inside Sam cleared his throat. Looking over putting his picture of innocence expression on, Dean asked, “What?”

“You can’t take a blow torch into a building full of ancient and priceless relics.”

“But the—”

“No.” Sam insisted.

“We might—”

Sam took the torch, “No.”

“Sam.”

“Dean. No.” Sam tossed the small torch back into the duffel and zipped it shut. “You’re simply going to have to kill the drop bear without fire.”

Thumping his chest, Dean smirked. “Man needs to use fire.”

Sam rolled his eyes, tossed Dean the car keys and grabbed up a few of their bags, heading to the door. “Man needs to pack the luggage and drive the car. Man does not need to burn down museums.”

“Pack the luggage and drive the car,” Dean muttered, quick-stepping in front of Sam and out the door first. “Man hunts.”

Most of their drive to the museum was a quiet one while Sam went over notes he’d printed out the night before on drop bears and ancient Central American spirits. Every few minutes he’d spew some mundane fact that didn’t change how to kill a drop bear or that they didn’t know how to end the ancient spirit.

Dean was relieved when they went to the museum entrance and a security guard let them in, saying Maya had instructed him to do so. Maya was nowhere in sight.

“She said Hilliard would meet us here in the lobby,” Dean said, looking around, turning in a circle and spreading his arms wide.

“He doesn’t appear to be here.” Sam stuffed his hands in his pockets and rocked back and forth on his feet.

“Yeah, you’re noticing that too, huh? We’ll just—” Dean pressed his lips together and held one hand up for Sam’s silence when movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention.

Mouthing, what? Sam shifted his weight and looked around. Dean motioned him to stay put, while he stepped silently across the lobby. Turning back to his brother, Dean jerked his thumb over his shoulder.

Sam nodded, leaned to the side and looked up, down and side to side, shrugging.

A few long strides and Dean was back beside his brother, talking in a low voice, “I think it’s heading to the second floor. I’m going to get that furry bastard. You try and find Hilliard; I have a bad feeling about him.”

“Yeah, me too.”

They split up, Dean trailing the drop bear and Sam looking for the office of one Dr. Earle Hilliard. Pulling his gun out from behind his back, Dean moved silently through the building. Other than the security guard that had let them in, the place seemed deserted. It was odd, an hour before opening and Dean expected there would have been people preparing for the day. He absently wondered if it was a holiday no one had bothered to tell him about.

Something scurried around a corner and Dean picked up his pace, legs stretching to a run. Holding his gun so it went around the corner first, Dean followed the odd sounds to the stairwell leading down. Holding his hand out behind him only long enough to be sure the door didn’t slam, Dean cautiously stalked through a large storage and garage area.

He glanced at some crates as he moved silently, shaking his head. “Gen-tech? Really? That’s got to be someone’s idea of a joke.”

The sound of claws scraping the concrete floor snapped his attention behind him. Spinning on his heels, Dean followed the sound. He knew he had it worried and on the run, since it preferred overhead and high territory and here it was forced to stay on the ground.

Something launched off a crate, hit the floor and flashed around a row of vehicles. A series of clicks and a low growl precluded the howl and whistle of tires being punctured. A door opened and clanged on its hinges.

“Shit!” Dean spat, tucked his gun back into his waistband and took off at a run following the noise.

He followed the odd clicking up to the classroom and educational area. There he was met with silence. Sighing Dean went door to door, opening each. “Oh, what’s behind door number three here?”

The room was small, barely enough room for a small desk and shelves made from wood and bricks. Cardboard boxes were stacked along one wall. Obviously someone was keeping things in here they didn’t want anyone else to see. Sidestepping to the desk, Dean shuffled some of the papers on it. One after another had the same name on it, Hilliard.

Moving back to the door and glancing out confirmed he was still alone in this area. He quietly pulled the door shut and returned to the desk. One after another he saw pictures and drawings of the same symbol and depictions of the same legends Sam had found information on. The same symbol that was on the photos of Maya, Carly and Sandra.

Dean flipped open the topmost box on the stack, sucking in a quick breath and eyebrows shooting up. “Helloooo.” In with packing material and straw was a bag of wooden talismans. He dumped them out of the bag, turning the small, carved coins over in his palm.

He turned back to the desk, pushing a file he’d looked at open again. Rifling though he found the enlarged copy of a rubbing and Xeroxes of the same Central American symbol as in the photos taken by Matt Fry. Under was a note scribbled in handwriting, legend says the talisman has to be ingested by the host. Spirit will leave, host always dies.

“Great.” Dean pocketed the talismans and sighed. He had suspected this turn; it was no different than when most people spent prolonged periods with demon possession. The host rarely survived more than a few days and as far as he and Sam could put together Maya had been hosting the spirit or spirits for at least a few months.

The real Maya was long dead. Dean couldn’t save her but he could let her body rest.

 

 

Sam went from one office to the next, each offering him less information and fewer clues than the one before. He walked out into the corridor, hands on hips, looking up and down.

When his phone chimed he pulled it out and checked the ID. “Hey, Dean, I—”

“Are you Sam?” A female voice cut him off.

“Yes, you have my—”

“There’s been a terrible accident. I’ve been trying to reach someone, this man, he’s asking for Sam.”

“Where?” Sam was already running down the corridor to the steps, taking them three at a time while he bolted through the main floor. “Where?!” He shouted into the phone.

Just as he ran by the prehistoric, enormous turtle shell something grabbed his hair from behind and yanked him off his feet.

 


Stepping out into the hall, Dean pulled the door softly shut behind him. He headed to the stairs, pulling his phone out to call Sam. Just before he reached the steps Maya slide between him and them.

“Agent Morrison.” She folded her hands neatly in front of her, cocked her head to one side and curved her red lips into a predatory smile any tigress would be envious of.

Dean straightened and met her gaze steadily.

Maya ran one hand down Dean’s arm and paced around him. He stepped away and held his hand out, keeping her at arm’s length.

“Listen, lady, I keep telling you I’m not interested.”

“But I am. And I don’t take no for an answer. You’re perfect. You’ll give me fine, strong, healthy children,” She cooed. Shoving against his hand, she pulled her other hand up and slapped his away.

“I know what you are and I’m not letting you hurt anyone else.” Dean made a grab for her.

Before he could react her fingers grabbed him just under the jaw, clamping down and lifted him, tossing backwards and into a wall. Dean oozed down the wall into a heap.

“If I could have only one strong, healthy child I could be at peace.”

Pushing up until he was sitting, Dean took a few deep breaths to clear away the pain. He ignored the ache blossoming from between his shoulder blades that traveled slowly up and down his spine. Maya didn’t seem to notice how he flexed and wiggled his fingers, doing the same with his toes.

He was bruised, but not broken.

“You don’t understand what it’s like, do you? To lose a child.”

“No.” Dean pressed his palms flat on the floor, pushing until his elbows were extended and he was straighter. He scooted his rear along the floor until his back was pressed flush against the wall. Carefully he began moving his legs, getting his feet under him.

She smiled at him, giving Dean a thorough shiver. He froze, holding his breath.

“You need to understand before you can appreciate fathering our child.”

Slowly Dean pushed to his feet, took one step away from the wall, lifted his chin and squared his shoulders. “I don’t have a child.”

Maya laughed, it was soft and in another place, from someone else Dean might have found it sexy and inviting. She tossed her hair over her shoulder. “But you do.” She shrugged. “Not in the same way as my children were mine, but a child none the less. A child you didn’t father, but you did parent and raise.”

Dean took another step, tilted his head to the side and looked Maya up and down. Shoving his hands into his pockets, he looked up and down the hall. “Why is there no one in the building but us?”

Crossing her arms over her middle, Maya looked down, took a step toward Dean and looked up coyly. “I had it closed for repairs. Just for today, so we could make other…arrangements.”

Dean nodded and sighed. He leaned on one leg, pulled his hand from his pocket and wiped it over his mouth. “You’re right.” Dean smiled and stepped close enough to her to slide one arm around her slender waist. “Sam, he’s been…well let’s just say without him I’d have a lot more freedom.”

Maya pulled in a slow breath and nodded. “Really?”

Dean pulled her against him, running his other hand up and down her arm. “The guy keeps me from going where I want, doing what I want…” he dropped his voice, “being with who I want. I guess I was just waiting for the right person to come along and take care of this problem.”

She arched into him, slipping her arms around him, hands roaming over his back. He smiled softly, dipped his head, brushing her lips lightly with his a few times before he coursed her lower lip with his tongue.

Maya rocked up on her toes, turning her head so she could nibble on his earlobe. “Hmm…that’s more what I had in mind.”

Hand going to her hair he turned her head. “I like how you think.” Dean pressed his mouth to hers, sucking her lower lip between his teeth and using his tongue to urge her mouth open. A second later he let his tongue glide over hers.

Maya sighed and relaxed against him, allowing his tongue complete access. Dean broke their kiss when she stiffened in his arms. Leaning his head back far enough to look her in the eye, he quirked an eyebrow.

Her knees buckled, but Dean held fast. “Where is he?”

“My friend has to eat,” she gasped. “What did you do?”

He let go with one arm while tightening his grip with the other, Dean dug the wooden talismans out of his pocket. “I found these where Dr. Hilliard hid them, along with his research. You killed him, didn’t you?”

Maya coughed, trying to get out of his grip. Dean leaned to one side, lifting his foot and grasping the silver edged knife strapped to his leg from its sheath. He pulled it free and pressed it against her ribs. “Where is Sam?”

Letting her go, Dean drew back and landed a solid punch to her jaw. Maya flipped backwards, and finally, finally something was colliding with a wall besides him.

She staggered forward, doubled over and dropped to her knees. Dean’s fingers tightened around the knife’s hilt until his arm cramped.

Maya giggled hollow and sick. “My little friend has to eat.” She hacked, one hand against her throat. Pitching forward she stopped herself from falling by throwing her other hand out in front of herself.

“All I had to do to prevent you from getting away was get one of those talismans into that body. You can’t escape it, or keep it alive anymore.”

Her head snapped back and she screamed. Dean side stepped, moving farther away from her. He had no idea what to expect. The knife was tucked back into its place on his leg.

Body twitching, spasms jerking through every bit of her, rolling her over the floor, flopping like a dying fish out of water, the scream turned to a low rumble that escalated to a higher pitched shriek.

Covering his ears with both hands, Dean backed away from Maya. She reared up onto her knees, fingers clawing at her face. Bit by bit chunks of flesh melted away, her clothes dirtied and tattered and her hair went from glossy, black to stringy, greasy and dull. It came out in chunks, littering the floor around her.

All at once everything stopped and Maya’s body collapsed onto the floor, sprawled face down, arms and legs at a haphazard angle.

Dean stepped around her and back into the makeshift office. He grabbed a few items for use later. Sam was still in the museum somewhere, he was sure. Maya most likely couldn’t have moved him and the drop bear to another location.

He sprinted to the main level, thoughts churning. The drop bear’s natural habitat was in trees. Up. Dean had never been to Australia, but he knew the Australian Outback was likely a dryer climate than north east Ohio in the summer.

The drop bear, however, had attacked them at several points inside the museum, so that knowledge wasn’t overly helpful.

Stopping in the lobby, near the giant swinging ball, Dean turned around slowly, looking carefully for any hint as to where Sam might be. The main floor had even more higher ceilings and open spaces, but Dean reasoned Sam wouldn’t be in too open a space. She’d want him and the drop bear contained.

Movement to one side caught his attention. Off the main lobby was an outside viewing area. Bushes rustled and Dean realized something fairly large was moving through. Pushing against the door, he swore softly when he found it locked.

Lock picks out, Dean had the door open and was running through the enclosure. It was completely fenced, but high enough for trees. Several birds flitted from one section to another. There was a walkway around for visitors to see the plants and animals on display, but not go into the actual grounds.

Dean ran along the wide, wooden walkway to the point farthest from the door. He could see the higher foliage moving faster than could be accounted for by the gentle breeze.

Grabbing the rail, Dean vaulted over, landing on the ground and was at a full run through the ‘forest’ in seconds.

 

 

Something warm and sticky trickled down Sam’s nose, barely avoided his eye and slipped down his cheek. Scrunching his nose, he tried to wiggle it away. When that didn’t work he made an attempt to wake up and move his hand so he could wipe whatever annoying thing was dripping down his face away.

His hand, his entire arm was anchored to something. Sam jerked completely awake and took a look around. Rolling his shoulder up and pressing his face to it he could at least wipe off whatever was leaving a gooey, sticky path down his cheek.

A quick glance at the material covering his shoulder and his suspicions were confirmed: blood. In the next instant a dull, throbbing set up in his head that worked its way down his neck and kept going on that path until it reached his lower spine.

“Great.” He took a look around, using his heels to push into the ground and shove him a bit farther to a more comfortable sitting position.

Flexing and relaxing the muscles of his arms a few times did nothing to improve his situation. He was, quite securely, bound to a tree. Wiggling his fingers a few times caused shooting pains to course along his arms like millions of tiny needles stabbing him simultaneously.

Clicking and growling preceded by nothing more than a split second the shaking of some of the trees around him.

“Oh, crap.” Sam started to struggle in earnest, sawing his arms back and forth in an effort to sever the rope holding him. At least the stupid bitch hadn’t used zip ties.

The growling came closer, it was behind him. Foliage jittered on the trees, birds flapped, taking off in a massive flurry in a crazed effort to clear away from the area.

It dropped from the tree next to his, cocked its head to one side and coolly eyed Sam up and down.

Struggling to control his breathing, Sam forced the burn of acid crawling up his throat away. Sweat mingled with the blood trickling from somewhere along his scalp and coursed a path between his shoulder blades.

It took a few steps closer. Beady, black eyes watched Sam’s every move. Sitting down and leaning back on its haunches it took one long, curved claw and wiped delicately at the corner of its mouth.

Sam’s heart hammered then quadrupled in speed when it moved forward and sniffed at Sam’s boot with a round, black nose that would have been cute on a stuffed animal. Taking the same claw that it had used on its mouth, it reached out and slid that claw under the hem of Sam’s jeans, swiping it down his leg.

Arching his back, Sam gritted his teeth against the searing pain, sucking air through his nose, and blowing it out in big, fast puffs. When a second claw worked down his leg he screamed.

The drop bear pulled its claws away, put first one talon to its mouth and licked the blood off, smacking its lip and gurgling. Sam renewed his efforts. He frantically tried to move his arms up and down, feeling how the rope bit into the skin of his wrists, ripping the skin leaving blood trickling into his palms.

“Sam! Sam!”

“Dean! I’m here, by the—” Sam’s voice trailed off when he realized saying by the tree was useless; the enclosure was full of trees. He looked around for some landmark. “Dean!”

The drop bear growled and wrapped one paw around Sam’s ankle. Kicking the thing in the face did nothing to loosen its grip.

A shot rang out and bits of fur ejected into the air. A wide, dark swatch formed across the drop bear’s back. It let go of Sam and scurried into the shrubs.

“Dean, get me…I’m tied.”

“I gotcha.” Dean dropped to his knees beside Sam, knife gripped in his fist. Two fast, powerful swipes and Sam was almost free.

A loud growl, the hitting of feet against the dirt and a snarl reached Sam’s ears. He didn’t have time to warn his brother, though it was likely Dean heard the same thing and simply refused to move away. Going for a third cut with the knife, Dean was grabbed by the shoulders and yanked away before he could get Sam free.

The drop bear dragged him a few feet. When it let go and moved around for what looked like a better pounce, Dean rolled up to his full height. A mass of fur and blood launched at him. Dean caught the creature around the neck, grunting as its weight drove him to the ground. They rolled one over the other, man and monster, each grappling for superiority.

Sam yanked, clenched his jaw tight and tugged as hard as he could on the semi-sawed through ropes. He twisted sideways and at the same time scrabbled with his foot to kick the knife closer.

The rope gave way and Sam was sent tumbling sideways, yelping at the pull against his shoulders. He ignored the pain lancing through him and grabbed the knife, finishing the job Dean had started of severing the ropes and freeing himself.

Dean rolled so the drop bear was on top of him. Getting his feet between them Dean kicked with enough power the bear was sent staggering in the opposite direction.

Scrambling forward on hands and knees, Sam raised the knife and plunged it into the creature’s shoulder as it was flung backwards. It screamed, flinging its body first one way then the other, grabbing at the knife embedded in its back.

Dean got to his feet, arm going behind his back and pulling free his gun. Sidestepping until he was between Sam and the drop bear, he shoved Sam backward with one hand, then gripped his handgun in both hands and fired.

Bits of bone, flesh and fur ejected away from the drop bear, splattering the nearby shrubs and flowers. The birds in the trees took flight, careening around the enclosure a few times before settling back in the treetops.

The drop bear clawed along the ground for a few feet before slumping over. In a few long strides, Dean was beside it. He kicked against it with one foot, rolling it over. Assuming a wide stance he put two more slugs into the thing before turning back to Sam and grinning.

Sam balanced on one foot and started to remove the remains of the ropes around his arms with shaking hands. Dean sort of deflated, stuffed the gun into his waistband and closed the distance between them.

“Here, let me,” Dean said very gently. He took Sam’s trembling hands in his own for a few seconds, then unwound the ropes, letting them drop to the ground. A hand was pressed to the side of Sam’s neck, patting softly. “Okay?”

Sam gulped and nodded. “Ye-yeah, I—” The world took on a violent shuddering and his knees started to melt away.

“Whoa, easy, buddy. C’mon, let’s get you patched up and out of here.”  Dean slid one arm under Sam’s shoulder, holding him firmly to his side while they headed out of the enclosure. They stopped beside the drop bear and Dean pulled his knife free.

“What about…?”

“Leave it. It’ll give them something to talk about for years.”

They stopped in the lobby long enough for Dean to find a first aid kit in the security guards’ station and ripping it into strips that were wound around Sam’s leg and arms. Sam was grateful Dean let him lean against him without comment or fuss as he hobbled on one leg to the Impala.

 

 

“You sure we should still be here, more importantly should we be here?”

Dean turned and grinned at Sam. “You worry too much, Sammy. It’ll still be a few hours before Maya’s body is found and these should point the finger at her as the killer and clear Matt Fry. The guy might have been a crappy husband, but he’s no killer and shouldn’t have to go through life being blamed.”

Using the black grease pen Sam had found in the trunk of the Impala, Dean drew circles with X’s over the faces of the dead women in the pictures. He took Hilliard’s notes and scribbled across them, all while carefully wearing gloves. He’d wiped the photos from Fry clean of prints and gone back  to Maya’s office, collecting a few items sure to have her prints all over them.

He and Sam had broken into Maya’s apartment and were in the process of placing their ‘evidence’. He spent a few minutes rifling through her medicine cabinet and pulled out a supply of over the counter pain killers, tossing one bottle to his kid brother. “Here, that should hold you over. How you feeling?”

Sam shrugged. “A lot like I was clobbered and used for bait.”

Dean jerked his head to the door. “Let’s blow this joint, eh?”

“Sure thing.” Sam stopped and pulled his eyebrows together when Dean plucked something off the coffee table on their way out. “Dean,” he warned.

Smiling Dean held up his find. “Tickets for this evening’s baseball game. She sure isn’t going to use these and I know you love the Indians.”

Sam’s eyes lit up but he shook his head. “Don’t you think we should get out of town?”

“I do. Right after the game. Besides, I want a hot dog and beer.” Taking Sam’s arm, Dean led him out of the apartment catching the soft smile on his brother’s face and how he relaxed in Dean’s grip, not fighting to free himself.

A relaxing evening with his little brother, whole and safe was the most Dean ever asked for and tonight it was his.

 

The End

 

 

 

 

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