Dean had listened calmly as Sam, Ryon and Amanda filled him in on everything that had happened while he had been out. He was as surprised as they were when it seemed that the person responsible for the disappearances and murders of those men seemed to be Amanda's cousin, Brenda.
"But Brenda isn't a witch, is she?" He asked as he struggled to get more comfortable in his semi-reclining position on the bed. "I mean from what I know about witches, real power-driven witches usually get their powers hereditarily; same sex lineage thing, women from their female ancestors and men from their male ancestors. And if Brenda is your cousin on your father's side, then how could she be a witch? Unless her mother was one?"
"Exactly." Amanda replied impressed with his knowledge. "Her mother was my father's sister and therefore not a witch, so there's no way Brenda got her powers from my line. The only way she could have any power would be from another witch and that witch would have to be a grand high witch or…"
"A grand high witch?" Sam asked confused.
"Grand high witches are the most powerful. On the good side a white witch becomes a grand high witch through their ancestors; the more powerful a line is the more powerful the witch therefore you get a grand high witch." Dean answered without really thinking.
"Wow. I am impressed." Ryon said staring at Dean. She looked at Sam who was also staring at Dean.
Amanda was becoming more impressed by the minute with the guy. He wasn't just another pretty face; he was smart. Maybe even smarter than Sam, although she knew he would never admit that or in any way take that distinction away from Sam. No, Dean hid his brain from Sam and others. It was all about Sam for Dean.
"And that's why I think Brenda isn't doing this alone. She could be getting her power from a grand high witch, but that's doubtful since they're doing evil. She's probably getting her power from a rogue witch." Amanda supplied.
"I agree. It's probably a rogue witch we're dealing with here." Dean replied scratching at the scruff on his chin as he thought about it.
"Rogue witch?" Sam asked, his confusion getting the better of him. "Wait a sec…Dean how do you know so much about witches? I thought you hated them." Dean never seemed to know much about what they were hunting before the hunt unless…unless he'd faced the same thing before. "Dean, have you and Dad faced this kind of witch before?" He asked, looking hard at Dean now.
Dean turned to look up at Sam and Sam swore he saw something there in Dean's eyes for the briefest of instants before he spoke; something dark and brooding.
"Right after you went off to college, Dad went to help Caleb on a hunt in Oregon. Didn't even ask me to tag along, just took off. That left me all alone to either twiddle my thumbs or find my own hunt, and I do not twiddle my thumbs." Dean paused as if remembering and not really wanting to. "I came across a rogue witch just outside a small town in New Mexico, so I read up on them; before I took her out."
Dean didn't offer any more details and Sam didn't ask; he knew Dean wouldn't give him anymore right now. Dean had answered his question, but he'd also let Sam know that was all Sam was going to get for now.
Amanda took in what was going on between the brothers and knew there was also something there in Dean's answer that explained everything about his hatred of witches. She watched Dean's face and as she was still holding his hand, she could feel the strong negative energy he was giving off. She decided she'd confront Dean in private about what he was hiding; for his own good.
"Anyway, it's important that we all know what we are dealing with is some extreme dark magic here and it's not possible for Brenda to manifest that much energy by herself." She replied keeping an eye on Ryon as she listened to their conversation.
"Okay so there is a real wicked rogue witch involved and he or she is more or less pulling Brenda's strings so to speak; she's using Brenda and demons to lure these men to him or her. The question now is why and what do all of these men have in common with the one who wants them?" Ryon asked meeting her mother's eye.
She too could sense the negative energy in the room, but she was mainly feeling it coming from her mother. That could mean her mother was feeling it from Dean or it could actually be coming from Amanda.
"All of the missing men had the same physical descriptions in common; they were all tall with green eyes and dark blonde hair. Dean matches that description." Amanda answered quietly. She'd decided to keep quiet about the men all being Hunters until Sam and Dean were willing to admit to her that they were Hunters. Sam had yet to reveal that, and she guessed he was waiting for Dean to decide if they should be told.
Dean jerked his head around to look at Amanda. "You think she's after me?" He paused watching her. "Just because I look like the others does not mean she's after me. I'm not next; I'm just not." He added even though he knew. He'd sensed it back in the bar, when he'd heard Amanda discussing a 'he' with the demons. He'd know then he was the 'he' in question. There were after him.
"Yes you are Dean and you know it. You knew it back in the bar. You were right there in the middle of it all and you took out the biggest threat first, the leader. You did it because…" Sam began. He'd been about to say because of Dad's betrayal, but he stopped short of that. He knew Dean would try to fight back first; not be taken willingly; and his hurt from what had happened with their father only fueled Dean's attack. He knew Dean was still hurting from that, but he also knew it was no one else's business.
Dean turned to look at Sam again and was about to deny it when he realized it didn't really matter. "Okay, so what if I knew? I'm not gonna back off from something evil just because they want my ass. I'm not gonna hide; I'm gonna fight back. I'm gonna do what I was trained to do." Come hell or high water Dean Winchester would never back away from something that needed killing.
"Really Dean? And what about me?"
"What about you Sam?"
"Were you going to let me fight? Were you gonna let me in on your plan?"
"My plan?" Dean asked watching Sam with that hard glint in his green eyes.
"Yeah Dean, your plan. Your plan that never allows me to fight for you; are you forgetting I was trained to do this job too?" Sam asked as he stared back at Dean, not backing down. "Ever since Dad's betrayal you haven't said anything about what happened either then or back in Chicago. You just threw yourself into this hunt to lose yourself." Sam knew he was pushing it here, but he needed Dean to face this; face what Dad had done, what had happened and what they were going to do about it. Sam felt the distance between them growing by the minute as Dean refused to talk about anything.
Dean closed his eyes. He had the overwhelming need to reach out a hand to Sam to feel he was still there, the contact telling him Sam wouldn't leave him again, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. He could feel the darkness inside him and if he couldn't hold onto Sam, then he was afraid he was going to be lost to that darkness.
Amanda could feel the darkness coming from Dean even without touching him. He felt so…lost. He had a lot of repressed feelings that he just kept pushing down, pushing back away from the surface to face later. The problem was later never came and he just kept pushing and…and hiding how he truly felt. The man was a mecca of repressed feelings; he kept everything inside; protected, safe.
Amanda knew how well that worked out and it wasn't good. She herself had done the same thing all her life…when she'd found out who she was, what she was, what she was destined to become, she'd had to push things aside. Then there had been Ryon's father and the problems he had caused and then what had happened to Ryon a few years ago, she'd pushed some more. Kept it all inside; never let it out. Amanda had had one job, to keep her daughter safe and she'd messed it up and it had just about broken her. But now she had her daughter back and she'd sworn that she'd work harder at letting a lot of stuff just go.
She knew what Dean was feeling, she knew it all to well and she knew what these boys had been through was nothing compared to what was to come; what their future held. What was to come for the both of them would push them beyond their breaking points and if they didn't deal with this now, they wouldn't be able to survive their future.
"Look guys, it doesn't matter right now who knew what or who did what; what does matter is finding Brenda and Ray. And this rogue witch." Amanda said, trying to avoid the fight that was brewing between these two.
Ryon could feel the battle brewing between Sam and Dean as well as her mom and she didn't need to be an Empath to feel it. The two oozed angst at every turn. But she was worried more about her mother; if she became too overloaded with all their negative energy, she'd have to get away from them.
"Well exactly how are we going to do that? We haven't got a clue where to start?" Ryon replied keeping a close eye on her mother.
"Yeah, you're right Ryon." Sam said sitting back down in the chair next to Dean. "But we do know Dean is the next target, so we can't let him out of our sight."
"Sam…you're doing it again; talking over me. I am not hiding and I sure as hell ain't gonna let anyone keep me on lockdown. No way!" Dean said a warning tone in his voice.
Amanda dropped Dean's hand at the rush of emotion coming at her. "That's it! No more! You two are going to kill me!"
She stood up too quickly and felt the room tilt drastically. She felt the whole world tilt suddenly and if Dean hadn't seen her reaction, she knew she would have slid right off the planet she thought as she felt his arms reach out and gather her to him. That was her last thought just before everything went black.
Dean jerked upward to grab Amanda's waist as her body went slack and he was able to catch her in his arms. She landed on the bed sprawled across his lap. Dean's head was spinning at the sudden movement and he felt the nausea associated with a concussion coming back in full force; he frantically kept swallowing back the bile that rose in the back of his throat.
"Mom!" Ryon rushed forward as she saw her mother falling.
"Sam!" Dean managed to get out as he felt is own world starting to tilt. The last thing he felt before passing out was Sam's strong arms gathering Amanda up and away from his hold.
"Get away from my daughter!" Amanda yelled at the thing that had previously been known as Danny to her daughter.
The man had been dating Ryon for the last few months and had steadily been pulling her away from her family trying to take them out. He'd almost gotten Ryon completely when Amanda had finally found them and had come to take her daughter back.
Danny laughed maniacally as he held Ryon against him as a shield to keep Amanda away. The knife he held against Ryon's throat had Amanda frozen in fear for her daughter.
"This is all your fault Amanda. If you'd just left my family alone all those years ago, I wouldn't even be here. But you didn't and now you're going to know what it feels like to lose someone you love!" He jeered at her as he quickly brought the knife swiftly across Ryon's throat slicing it open.
He released her as the blood flowed down Ryon's neck and onto her chest. Her eyes went wide in terror as she grabbed at her throat to try and stop the bleeding. Time seemed to stand still as the life slowly drained from Ryon's body with every beat of her heart.
As Ryon began falling to the ground, Amanda screamed, "No! Ryon!"
"No! Ryon!" Amanda screamed as she bolted upright on the bed where she lay. She looked around in terror. She frantically searched her surroundings until her eyes locked with her daughter's.
"Mom! I'm here." Ryon was saying, soothingly as she reached out to take her mother in her arms. "I'm safe, mom. You saved me; it's over. Promise." She continued to sooth her.
Sam sat next to the bed on Dean's side where Dean lay unconscious next to Amanda. Sam watched as Ryon consoled Amanda out of the nightmare. He'd seem Amanda having the nightmare and he'd seen how it had affected Ryon just as badly as it did Amanda. It felt surreal watching them; it could have been him and Dean. They each had their share of nightmares, but Dean's were becoming more and more intense since the Rawhead; since Nebraska and Roy LaGrange.
Sam shook his head at the memories; not the time to think about that. He couldn't help though seeing the similarities between Amanda's nightmares and Dean's. They both dreamed about failing their family. He sighed as he thought they both had their secret demons to contend with.