"Knew I would catch you teleporting one day." Dean leaned over to scratch Mac behind the ear.
"You scared me for a moment there." He quietly admitted. Mac bumped his head apologizing into his palm but before the moment could get too awkward, his phone started ringing.
"Is he okay?" Sam asked but now he only sounded tired, the panic from earlier completely gone.
"He's fine. He just likes me better than you." Dean grinned and transferred the phone to his other hand so he was able to continue petting Mac.
"Yeah, yeah." Sam muttered and stifled a yawn. "How did he do that anyway?"
"Teleporting." Dean shrugged. "Don't act surprised, you were suspecting it as much as I did. And you were the one who compared him to Cas in the first place."
"Hmm." Sam made and there was some rustling as if he was getting more comfortable on his bed. "You know that we can't keep him from going wherever he wants to go now, right?"
"Because that worked so well in the first place." Dean had suspected it since Mac had started exploring the bunker but when he'd escaped the locked Impala the other day it had become pretty clear that they couldn't keep him anywhere he didn't want to be.
"I could …" Sam cleared his throat. "You know, look into a few things. Sigils, runes. There has to be a way to keep him in one place. For his own safety."
Under his hand Mac had gone very still. So much for the question of how much the pig understood. Dean gave him a smile while he thought about Sam's suggestion.
"Mac doesn't like the idea." He informed him. "And I don't either."
Mac relaxed and leaned more heavily against his hand. He was still injured and Dean had no idea what it had cost the pig to teleport this far.
"Maybe." Dean added after a moment. "Maybe to keep him out of some things." He was thinking of the rooms in the bunker with the cursed objects. "But never to lock him away. I won't trap him in a cage. Ever." It was a low blow, he knew that, but he wanted to drive this point home.
As expected Sam went silent at the mention of a cage.
"You're not going to do research now anyway." Dean filled the silence. "Take a nap, get some rest. We'll be back in the evening." And with that he ended the call.
For a second he just sat there. Then he put the phone away and turned to fully face Mac.
"You heard me. Nobody is going to lock you up. I promise."
Mac pressed his snout against his arm right were the Mark was hidden under the sleeve. For some reason it felt like Mac was giving him a promise of his own. You look out for me and I look out for you. It was silly, Mac was just a little pig but it made him feel better.
"Yeah right, you're just a little pig." Dean gave him a glance while he eased the Impala back on the road. "Just a supernatural, teleporting, reality alternating, little pig that's too smart for his own good."
Next too him Mac gave him his best impression of being cute and adorable. Dean laughed.
They were close to their destination now and slowly a plan formed in his mind. With Mac at his side it should be easier to get to Brian, Dean figured.
Brian had found them the other day because he'd spotted the Impala on his bus ride from school. So Dean made sure to park in a prominent spot along the street not far from Brian's house and got out of the car. There was a small park near by and Mac was happy to play around for a while before he returned exhausted and clearly limping to Dean.
When the bus drove by Dean was sitting on the hood of the Impala with Mac in his lap and with any luck, he gave Mac a pointed look, the boy would spot him and come over on his own.
Sure enough a few minutes later Brian did come down the street but stopped at what he might consider a safe distance. Fiddling with the strap of his backpack he just stood there for a moment and Dean forced himself to focus on Mac because he had the feeling that looking at Brian would cause him to run. For all the boy knew Dean was a killer. Which wasn't that far off but not the point at the moment.
"I thought you left." Brian said, coming closer but staying out of reach.
"We did." Dean admitted and took his hands off Mac to show the boy the bandages. "Mac got hurt and Sam got hit over the head. Concussion."
"Is he okay?" Now Brian was at his side, fingers itching to pet Mac. Dean gave him an encouraging nod and with that the ice was broken. Brian buried his fingers in the short fur on Mac's cheeks and neck. The pig basically melted into the touch.
"He's fine." Dean answered, knowing fully well that the boy mainly cared for the pig and not his brother. "It looked bad for a moment but he's going to be okay."
Attention on Mac Brian didn't look at Dean when he said: "I saw it in the papers. You didn't stop it." His voice broke over the last words and hot tears fell from his face right on Mac who just snuggled closer to the boy.
From his own research earlier Dean knew that the first article barely said more than that there had been two men found dead in a trailer. The details came later.
"You know." Dean shifted a little to get a better grip on Mac who was in clear danger of falling off his lap. "This dreams and visions are tricky. You see this one moment but you don't know the context. You don't know what let to this moment and what's going on aside from what you see."
More willing to listen now Brain hopped on the hood next to him and Mac scrambled over to his lap with a happy squeal.
"Be careful with his side." Dean said and made sure that the boy had a good hold on the pig.
"The man you saw, he was the bad guy." Dean explained. "He and his partner murdered your aunt."
He waited to let the words sink in.
"So you killed them?" Brian threw the words at him. "You did it?"
"You're way more mature than most adults." Dean admitted with surprise. Most people would give him a grim "good" when he told them that the one who killed their family was dead. But on the other hand, he knew the guilt the boy must carry right now. He had known that a man would die, in a gruesome way, but he hadn't been able to stop it. And then the people he'd trusted to fix it had not only failed at saving the man but had disappeared without a word. Dean doubted that Brian had slept much lately.
"You're right, usually the cops handle things like this and the murderer goes to jail." Dean continued when Brian stayed silent.
"Why did you kill them, then?" Now Brian looked him dead in the eye.
"Because." Dean let out a sigh. He hated himself for dragging this kid down this path, for destroying his innocence. But who was he fooling? With those dreams Brian's innocence had long been destroyed. "These men weren't human. They were pagan gods and they have been killing people for centuries. Monsters like this you can't put in jail, you can't make them stop. The only thing you can do is to stop them."
Most adults would argue with him. Even with prophetic dreams and a magical pig in their lap they would call him nuts for the idea of pagan gods. Brian just nodded.
"So they can't be changed." Brian said quietly. "I see these things and I can do nothing about them."
"That's not true." Dean reminded him. "It's not easy but you can change the outcome. We have stopped a few of Sam's visions." He knew what kind of burden he was putting on the child's shoulders. Knowing that he could change things, Brian now had to decide every time if he should try to do something about it or not.
But that was better than to just helplessly watch things unfold in front of him, right?
"Here." Dean fished a piece of paper out of his pocket. "I made you an email account. I already sent you a message with my and Sam's email address and phone number. You can contact us whenever you want."
Brian took the piece of paper as if he was reaching for a lifeline.
"Over the next few days you're going to get mails from a few people I trust." He promised. The list of people he trusted was rather short but over the years he'd come across some people he knew would take good care of Brian. "They'll help you."
"Thank you." Brian stared at the address and password as if he wanted to memorize them before he put the slip of paper in his pocket. Which was probably a good idea. His mother surely just wanted the best for him and exchanging emails with grown men was probably high on her alert list so it was possible that she would try to cut the contact.
Email had the benefit that Brian could access it from any computer and wasn't cut off if he lost phone privilege. Or simply lost his phone.
"I should go, Mom's waiting for me." Brian said after a moment but wasn't quite ready to hand Mac back over.
"There's one more thing." Dean spoke up. He'd been debating with himself the whole morning how to tell Brian this but he remembered Sam breaking over this too clearly to not mention it.
"You can't save everybody." He said. "You do your best, you try everything but sometimes you just can't save them." He spoke out of experience and he hoped that Brian would get that. "You will feel guilty and you will think if I just had … and that's okay, that's good. That's human." He didn't emphasize how important it was to stay human but he hoped that Brian would get that when he got older.
Without realizing he'd grabbed his arm and was now running his thumb over the Mark.
"But don't beat yourself up too much over it. You can't save everybody. It's not your fault, that's just life."
Brian stayed silent for a long moment, mechanically working that spot behind Mac's ear.
It was a hard lesson he put on the kid, he knew that, but if he was right, the last few days had been hell for Brian and if this helped him in the long run to live with the guilt, it was worth it.
When Brian left, he had his hands in his pockets, head bowed and was lost in thoughts. Dean watched him until he was out of sight.
"Did we do good?" He asked Mac who was back in his lap and had watched the boy walking away with intense eyes as well. Sometimes Dean really wished he knew what was going on in the pig's head.
There was nothing else to do so they got in the car and Dean started the engine.