Six: Company Policy
BurstynOut & Tracer
The night shift poker game was on a "need to know"
basis, but even the “suits", as the gathering
of security guards liked to call them, got in on the
action, placing bids and gambling on the outcome during
their lunch breaks.
It was always a thrilling spectacle,
complete with beer and cigar smoke, although both were
strictly prohibited in the Taliean Inc.’s employee
manual. The thick, paperback guide to proper work ethic
served only as coasters down in this hole of an office
and held no jurisdiction of any kind in their realm.
All in all, the job was an excuse to
get out of the house and hang with the guys. The dimly
lit complex held no over-achievers that burned the midnight
oil, or starving kids, fresh out of college, desperate
try to climb the ladder. They could play in uninterrupted
peace. Something none of them could do at home.
‘em and weep, boys!” The sandy-haired new
hire laughed, his shiny company badge bearing the name
Jack Stanton. A smug smirk was plastered on his face
as he laid the cards down with a flick and displayed
a full house before stretching his arms out greedily
to collect his prize.
“E’ther you jus’
lucky, or you been cheatin!” The gray haired,
lined man to the “freshie’s” right,
“Ah, shut up, Earl. You just
mad ‘cause he’s taking all your money!”
Another wizened employee shot back, his name badge declaring
him as Mike. Chuckling wickedly, the salty-haired man
locked eyes with Stanton, jutting his thumb out in the
direction of Earl.
“Don’t you mind ol’
Earl there. He’s been here since the dawn of time
and is just mad ‘cause God ain’t killed
“Like to see him try!”
Earl stated cockily, shifting his shoulders and polishing
his fingernails on his shirt.
A round of laughter filled the smoke-filled
room, and a man in the back yelled out the announcement
that new bets were being taken seeing as the “freshie”
had just won his sixth game in a row. Several employees
jumped at the chance to toss in their wagers, and the
volume increased ten-fold as they shouted out their
“Well, I’m sorry to disappoint,”
Stanton shouted over the crowd, “but I’m
“What?” Mike questioned,
“Whattya mean ‘out’?”
“I mean, I was hired to be a
security guard, not a card shark,” Stanton clarified,
ignoring the deep voice bellowing. If none of the guys
knew that the kid was a new hire, they sure as hell
“Damn, I think the boy’s
serious!” The fourth player chimed in, cocking
an eyebrow and studying Stanton’s face for a long
“Well, someone around here should
be, Ricky,” Earl shot back, rising slowly from
his chair, the light creak of bone on bone accompanying
his movement. “A’right, boy, if you're serious,
“You gonna show him around?”
Mike inquired, almost worriedly.
“Yeah, got a problem with that?”
Earl snapped, and a series of heads shaking ‘no’
met his glaring eyes. “Good. Now, c’mon,
I wanna get back before the final game.”
* * * *
Two sets of footsteps resounded off the linoleum flooring
which bore the Taliean insignia, echoing in the wide,
open gallery. Dim fluorescents outlined the edges of
the hallways, and circles of yellow light bounced off
the office doors, glaring brightly off of the thick
how long have you worked here?” The younger guard
spoke up, breaking the eerie silence that had hung in
the air since they’d exited the break room over
thirty minutes ago.
“Boy, don’t small talk
me. If you ain’t got something important to say,
you might as well just shut up,” Earl fussed,
fiddling with the retractable key chain that hung from
his belt. “Now, I’m gonna take that wing
over there, and you sweep the side offices.”
“Uh, if you don’t mind
me asking, why do you need to check out the supply rooms?”
“You a smart ass, son? ‘Cause
let me tell ya, I ain’t got no liking for any
smart ass. Damn punk kids come in here thinkin’
they know what’s up. Well, I’ve been here
as long as Taliean's owned the joint,” Earl mumbled
angrily, giving Stanton a firm look before heading off
to the supply rooms. “Now do as I say, boy, else
you gonna be moving back in with your momma.”
two security officers headed out to their posts in silence,
but less than twenty minutes later the sounds of panicked
screams were heard as the young officer searched frantically
for his missing mentor. After years of loyal service,
Earl had seemingly vanished into thin air.
* * * *
Sam rested his throbbing head against
the cool passenger window, swearing to himself that
if one more Black Sabbath monstrosity blared through
the speakers, he was salting and burning Dean’s
collection whether his brother threatened him or not.
Not that Dean could really hurt him
all that bad. At least not at the current moment. He’d
gotten a lot better, and most of the cuts and abrasions
had healed nicely, leaving only small, white scars along
“Dean, pull over,” Sam
commanded, shifting in his seat to face his brother
and taking in his state.
“Uh…no,” Dean replied,
a smirk on his face as he shot his little brother a
side glance before refocusing on the road.
“C’mon man, you need a
break. And—and it’s my turn.” Sam
shot back, feeling all of about ten years old. The comeback
was juvenile to say the least.
Sit back and relax, stilts.”
“Can I ask why?” Sam muttered,
clearly annoyed. He was so not in the mood for this
and was getting damn frustrated by Dean’s continued
insistence that their partnership was still a sixty-forty
split when it came to the sharing of responsibility.
“Yes, you can,” Dean answered
laughingly. “One, the second I pull over, you’re
gonna demand the keys, and two, you’re only telling
me to do this ‘cause you’re hoping I fall
asleep, and then you can change the music to that sissy
indie crap you love so much.”
“T-that’s not true,”
Sam protested, mouth gaping slightly at just how well
his brother knew him.
“Whatever, Sammy,” Dean
shot Sam a knowing look, and shrugged his stiff shoulders.
“Look, Dean, we’re in--”
Sam craned his neck to read the bright green road sign
and nearly choked on a laugh, “Humansville—ha,
what the hell is wrong with people?”
“Maybe they're aliens. It’s
a good cover,” Dean quipped, receiving a reprimanding
scowl from Sam.
“That’s still another fourteen
hours from where we need to be, Dean. And contrary to
your popular belief, you can’t hold out in that
driver’s seat that long. Sooner or later, you’re
gonna have to give me those keys,” Sam stated
smugly, crossing his arms and leaning against the door.
“You drove enough over the past
couple of months, and besides, my baby likes me behind
the wheel. Says I drive far better than you ever will,”
Dean argued, although his tone was smooth.
“This hunk of junk talks now?
Are you sure they didn’t say something was wrong
with your head?” Sam questioned, his face red
as he tried in vain to stifle a laugh.
funny, college boy. You’re lu--” A high
pitched series of rings pierced through the guitar riff,
and Dean hastily turned down the volume and snapped
his phone open.
Sam pretended not to be trying to eavesdrop
on Dean’s conversation, but his brother’s
tone had turned near menacing after he’d asked
who was calling. Dean’s brow was furrowed, his
face tense. A series of ‘no’s’ and
one ‘I’ll see what I can do’ later,
Sam had a friggen’ Spanish Inquisition prepared
for his brother.
“Who was that?” Sam questioned,
trying to sound nonchalant.
“Frank Taliean,” Dean muttered,
shaking his head as if in disgust.
“Wait, as in, the billionaire
Frank Taliean?” Sam pressed, excitement and confusion
wrapped throughout his words.
“Yeah. How’d you know?”
Dean inquired disbelievingly. Leave it to his geek brother
to pull that random fact out of his ass.
“I read your mind,” Sam
stated, feigning seriousness but unable to keep the
grin off his face when Dean shot him an irritated look.
“Ah, c’mon, Dean, the dude’s face
is plastered on almost every business magazine, and
his company is about to undergo the second largest merge
in history. Any idiot who watches the news or browses
the Internet would know who he is.”
“Any idiot, huh?” Dean
pursed his lips and twisted the volume knob back to
its original position before leaning back in the driver’s
“So?” Sam drawled, eyes
wide in impatience.
going to tell me what he wanted? And how the hell did
he get your number?”
“He offered us a job,”
Dean answered slowly.
“And you told him no?”
Sam screamed. He really couldn’t help it. Dean
wasn’t exactly Einstein, but he wasn’t stupid
either, well at least little brother hadn't thought
so all of about ten seconds ago.
“Yeah, Sammy, I did. Okay? Trust
me on this one. You don’t want to get involved
with this guy,” Dean snapped, tossing his phone
to the floor and wiping a hand across his face in attempts
to calm himself and prevent a battle between him and
“Uh…yeah I do. Dean, the
guy would probably pay us more than a couple thousand.
I mean, he’s a billionaire for Christ’s
sake,” Sam reasoned, banging the back of his head
against the leather seat at his brother’s stubbornness.
“It’s nothing but blood
money, Sammy,” Dean murmured, and Sam nearly missed
it over the powerful melody humming from the speakers.
“What do you mean?”
“Taliean was a former hunter,
a good one, almost as good as Dad,” Dean stated
off-handedly, his voice reminiscent.
Sam pushed pointedly.
“He abandoned us,” Dean
“He quit? You’re not gonna
help him because he stopped hunting?” Sam’s
tone was damn near condescending of Dean’s reasoning,
and the elder didn’t like it one bit.
“No, Sam, I’m not gonna
help him. His priorities are totally messed up. He didn't
have the class to make up his mind about where he was
in the game, and his Charlie Brown, wishy-washy B.S.
got a lot of people hurt. I can't respect a guy that
takes everyone down with him because he wants to play
both sides of he fence. You're either in it or you're
not Sam. You play the fence, people get hurt, and that's
not how this works.” Dean’s eyes were ablaze
with fury, and his face twisted in anger at the bitter
“Dean,” Sam began cautiously.
Now would definitely not be the time to piss his brother
off. “There was no way he could’ve known
what was gonna happen. You said it yourself, he left
before the whole thing went down. And look, man, if
nothing else, our cash is nonexistent, and unless you
reapply for a card in the next 24 hours, we are in trouble,
because I know that between Sam Michaels and Dean Bonham,
we have about a hundred dollars left.”
“I know,” Dean breathed,
his forehead creasing pensively.
“Then turn this car around. A
simple haunting can wait if the dude’s gonna pay
us.” Sam smiled widely, and waved his hands, simulating
“I just have a bad feeling about
“No, you have an 'I hate this
guy' feeling,” Sam retorted. “Now turn this
bad boy around before I get out and hop a bus to go
help this dude.”
“Fine,” Dean snapped, “but
just so you know, I’m not responsible for any
action I may take in that traitor’s presence.”
“Whatever, Dean,” Sam exasperated,
rolling his eyes.
serious,” Dean replied, a smile tugging at his
lips as he whipped the Impala around. “And Sammy,
if you ever call my car ‘bad boy’ again,
I’m kicking your ass.”
* * * *
Taliean, Inc. Office Complex
“Wow,” Sam murmured. Dean eased the Impala
to a stop alongside a Porsche and what looked to be
the newest model Corvette on the market.
“Yeah,” Dean breathed,
stepping out of his car to get a better look at the
pristine, jet black sports car, doing his best not to
drool on it.
“Not the car, dumb ass,”
Sam laughed, shaking his head and grabbing two IDs from
Because why think about taking a joy ride when you could
be staring at that,” Dean replied in
relative disgust, waving his hand in the direction Sam
was staring in.
would hardly consider the business complex of Taliean
to be the 8th wonder of the world—the Porsche
maybe, but the massively tall, steel gray skyscrapers
jutting from the middle of a small patch of green ground
surrounded by concrete, definitely not. But that image
was all to be seen for what appeared to be miles. He
could imagine why Sam would find it impressive, though.
His brother probably had wanted to work in a huge firm
like that—saving the world from a steel cage,
locked behind a mahogany desk. It was living, breathing,
normal, white-collar America.
“Let’s just get this over
with,” Dean huffed, trudging over to passenger
side and snatching his ID from Sam.
“Would it kill you to try and
look a little more like you want to be here?”
Sam asked heatedly. They needed the money, and so far
Taliean was the poster child for everything he had wanted,
which gave Sam no reason to hate the man, much less
piss him off. Who knows? He might need one hell of a
reference some day.
“I look fine, thank you very
much,” Dean snapped, tugging on his jacket.
“You look like someone’s
making you walk ‘the green mile',” Sam stated
pointedly, eyebrows raised in disapproval. “Now,
c’mon, we told him we’d be there before
“The things I do for you, I swear,”
Dean muttered, pushing past Sam. His quick strides created
a steadily growing gap between the brothers, and Sam’s
long legs burned as he hustled to close it.
It wasn’t hard to locate the
HQ building. The large, black marble sign emblazoned
with the silver emblem of the company gave that one
away. Sam gave Dean a glance that screamed ‘behave
and don’t say anything stupid’ before pushing
his way through the revolving door.
Stepping out into the wide open lobby,
Sam worked to silence the gasp forming on his lips and
quell the nagging feeling of being completely out of
place that knotted in his stomach as the mass of young
and middle-aged men passed him in droves. The incoherent
chatter of voices reverberated off the marble walls
to almost deafening proportions, and the blur of suits
prevented the youngest Winchester’s eyes from
taking in a good layout of the foyer.
The thriving corporate world was almost
scary in and of itself, and Sam struggled to take himself
out of his current state of gnawing panic and confusion
so that he could act like it was all good for his already
lagging brother—who apparently was nowhere to
Sam whipped his head to either side
frantically, temporarily losing his calm and indifferent
façade as every horrible reason why Dean wasn’t
standing at his side as he should be flooded his mind.
The younger brother had never wished
more that he had that whole psychic/telekinesis thing
completely in his control. He really wanted to pick
up the nearest brick and smack some sense into that
idiot who claimed to be related to him when he turned
around, scanning the incoming crowd, only to see Dean
still standing outside, clearly visible through the
glass revolving doors.
“What the hell, Dean?”
Sam snapped, barreling through the doors and back out
into the square, not even hearing the startled employee’s
responses through the pulsating beat of blood in his
“Doors aren’t supposed
to spin like that, Sam,” Dean stated, head hanging
low. Although, by the way it was bobbing, Sam could
tell his brother was trying not to laugh and had to
lock his hands to prevent an impulsive punch to the
smug face when it met his gaze and a shaky voice inquired
of him, “What if they’re possessed?”
“You’re a jerk,”
Sam declared angrily, although it was drowned out by
Dean’s roaring laughter.
“Your…your face, S-Sammy,”
Dean gasped, trying to do his best impression of the
expression that had contorted Sam’s features,
his face red and his body hunching over as he gave into
the fit of laughter at his younger brother’s expense.
isn’t some hick town, Dean,” Sam chided,
fists clenched at his side, “You can’t pull
this crap here. These people expect you to act somewhat
civilized, and I’m not letting you stall your
way out of meeting this guy. Will you stop?”
“Civilized. Got it,” Dean
nodded, biting his lip to stop the grin threatening
to break through when he saw just how much Sam really
looked like he wanted to kill him.
“Good. Now, c’mon, he’s
expecting us.” Sam waited for Dean to make the
first move, and then filed in behind his brother.
“I really don’t want to
be here,” Dean muttered under his breath, although
loud enough for his brother to hear.
“So you’ve said.”
Sam shot back, ignoring the pleading in the elder’s
eyes and stepped up to the reception desk.
“Hello. My name is Sam--”
“Samuel Conners. And I assume
this is your business partner Dean Watson,” the
perky, brunette receptionist rattled off lightly, her
huge smile fading when she noticed their eyes widening
in shock and confusion. “Oh, I’m sorry.
Mr. Taliean told me you were coming. Hang on one sec,
and I’ll page him for you.”
shot a wary glance at Dean who merely shrugged.
* * * *
Chrome, black, and modern silver faded into walls washed
in pale yellow and adorned by chestnut beams as the
brothers followed the petite receptionist, her red locks
pulled into a smart ponytail. The highlighted number
declared the level as 75th, better known as the company
business suites and home to the president of the corporation
and Taliean’s governing board.
Dean’s mouth formed a tight frown
as he entered the luxury comforts of the upper white-collar
lifestyle. Sam’s face was the exact reciprocal.
The younger was damn near gaping, his eyes lit with
anticipation and what Dean guessed people referred to
as wonder. Usually, he liked seeing Sam stunned, dumbfounded,
and just at a plain loss for words, mostly because those
scenarios were usually due to his own perverted comments.
No one or nothing else was allowed to elicit that particular
expression from Sam without express permission from
Dean. It was in the big brother handbook.
Certainly nothing like this place was
allowed to tweak Sam's awe bone. This…all of it,
was bought in blood, hunter’s blood, and Dean
couldn’t understand how anyone could just step
over the fallen bodies, simply forgetting in order to
embrace all the trappings of wealth. Sam’s fascination
came from his ignorance to those past events, and Dean
had to constantly remind himself of that fact in order
to prevent himself from giving Sam the treatment Taliean
deserved, and if he had his way, would receive.
Rich, colorful paintings graced the
light sandy hallways, contrasting Dean’s crappy
mood, each hanging a foot from the next. Their deep
hues of blue, red, and darkest green accentuated the
collection of antique vases and statues resting along
the reddened brown tables aligning the walls. Dean huffed
at the extravagance and eyed a green-blue collage the
receptionist and Sam both chimed in to be an early impressionist
piece. The sad thing was that the monstrosity hanging
from the wall was probably worth more than a lifetime
of hustling would ever garner Dean.
Dean was about to offer a comment on
how women looked better in certain types of paint and,
well, certain foodstuffs for that matter, but he chose
not to when he saw Sam fully engaged in a conversation
with the art literate, short-skirt wearing, red-head.
He so needed to take an Art History class.
here,” the woman instructed. Her name, Sam informed,
was Laura. Dean and Sam followed her command and momentarily
stared at the deep, scarlet, leather couches that formed
an L-shape in the waiting area before settling down
on the nearest one.
Sam grinned when Vilvadi’s “Spring
Movement” began playing softly throughout the
room, replacing the Mozart piece before it. He rubbed
his nervous hands along his slightly dust brushed jeans.
It was one of Jess’s favorite classical pieces,
and the bars that signaled memory were bittersweet to
The steady hum of “Sad but True”
that interrupted the classic moments later was just
“Stop,” Sam ordered irritably,
his gaze hard and firm.
“Make me,” Dean countered,
switching melodies and opting for something from his
Black Sabbath repertoire.
It was to big brother’s benefit
that Laura chose to return at that exact moment, because
Sam had about had enough of Dean’s attitude. He
was sure that Dean’s recounting of the story,
or what Dean had actually told him, which amounted to
all of about three sentences, was true, but getting
out is a hard choice to make. He knew that personally,
and well, what happens afterwards is not your fault.
Dean had been preaching that to him for the past year
and a half now. So why was he suddenly being selective
in the “it’s not your fault” category
was beyond him.
“Follow me,” Laura chirped,
flashing a Crest-ad worthy smile at Sam who returned
the expression as he jumped up from the couch. Dean
rolled his eyes and stood alongside his brother, silently
shuffling behind the two flirts and scratching the always
present itch that seemed to reside in the short spikes
at the top of his head. He really didn’t want
to be here. Had he said that already?
Several steps and a hard push against
the heavy wood doors later and the brothers were once
again waiting impatiently in the middle another huge
room. Two oversized wine-colored chairs faced the long
glass desktop which was held up by thin wrought iron
pieces that were interwoven in the center and stretched
outward to the sides. It was probably the ugliest looking
desk Sam had ever seen and just, well, strange.
Ever the one to find such things interesting,
Dean titled his head, squinting against the midday light
that flooded in from the tall bay windows. He walked
stealthily towards the desk. Crouching down along side,
he ran his had gingerly against the iron grain, turning
and gesturing for Sam to come down beside him.
“Zia Sun,” Dean clarified
with a satisfied smile and ran his fingers along the
intersection of the many supporting strands, quite pleased
to have grasped the designer's intent.
“So?” Sam pressed, eyeing
Dean questionably. Damn, his brother was weird.
“Strong body. Clear mind. Pure
spirit. Devotion to the welfare of his people.”
Sam stared blankly at Dean as the elder rattled off
the meanings of each of the extending lines. “Ah,
c’mon, college boy, you don’t recognize
Sam looked over his shoulder nervously
to ensure that no one was watching their exchange. “Uh…no.”
“Seriously?” Dean questioned,
creasing his forehead in disbelief.
“Yes, seriously, Dean,”
Sam said, exasperated. “Look, if you’re
gonna tell me, now would be a good time.”
Dean’s eyes visibly dulled, and
for a second, he looked as though he was deep in memory.
“Caleb used to use it. It’s a symbol of
“Oh,” Sam murmured, eyeing
the design more intently with newfound understanding.
To his surprise, his brother rose quickly, and little
brother shot up rapidly to join him.
“That bastard,” Sam watched
his brother carefully for a moment as the hushed phrase
escaped Dean and the elder merely shook his head in
that mean? That he has it?” Sam stuttered and
searched for the right words to quell the tense moment.
Dean smirked and with a serious voice
replied, “Justification, or so he thinks.”
The cracking of the door startled the
brothers out of thoughtful silence and they turned sharply
to see the intruder. Sam’s eyes widened, and he
couldn't help but feel nervous when a familiar countenance,
brushed with pepper-gray hair and bearing eyes of sea
blue, lined with age and experience, entered the room.
The man’s frame was thin, although not lacking
in shape. Once a hunter, always a hunter, whether by
title or not, and Sam figured that Taliean, much like
himself, couldn’t escape the workout regimen.
“If it isn’t the great
Taliean himself,” Dean announced with sheer mockery,
resolved to be unimpressed with anything the man had
Frank greeted tersely, extending his hand for Dean to
accept. The elder made no motion to do so. “Personable
as always I see.”
“Hi, Mr. Taliean.” Sam
cut in and shook the extended hand, his voice falling
into the usual soothing “trust me, I’m normal”
tone it always held when meeting people. “I’ve
heard a lot about you.”
“I trust, not all good,”
Frank returned, gesturing for the boys to sit and then
circling and coming to sit in his own chair, “considering
your brother's apparent distaste for me.”
“Can you blame me?” Dean
quipped lightly, smug smile in place.
“Dean,” Sam rebuked harshly
and turned apologetically to the business executive,
“I’m sorry for my brother’s apparent
disregard for manners in general.”
Frank shifted forward in the chair
and rested his forearms on the desk, folding his hands.
“No need to apologize. The anger rises from the
details. It always does.”
“I wasn’t there,”
Sam shrugged resigning to let the issue rest.
“Stanford, right?” Frank
inquired knowingly. “Your Dad told me that. He
was quite proud.”
Sam shifted awkwardly in his chair
under the reiteration of praise. “Thanks.”
“Just stating the facts,”
Frank replied offhandedly, shifting through a stack
of papers, pulling out a file, and plopping it down
on the desk with a thud. “Now, to the business
Dean straightened in his seat. Regardless
of the man, at least they wouldn’t be in Hell
Hole, USA searching for a job. “So what’s
Frank sighed heavily, and deftly flipped
through the mound of papers, selecting a few. “I
got a spook,” he said flatly. "Why else would
I call John Winchester's boys?"
"What makes you think it's our
kind of problem?" Dean asked, not amused.
"There have been a few sightings
by our night security guards, and one of our most senior
watchmen up and disappeared a few days ago. They're
taking bets in that department that he saw the spook
and high-tailed it outta here. Earl wasn't exactly the
kind of guy to admit he was freaked out by something.
The men think he's probably vacationing in Bermuda about
“Maybe it’s your dynamic
personality. It has that affect on people,” Dean
quipped. Sam shot him a warning look, but really what
could he do? It wasn’t his fault he had an open
door policy, and if someone was stupid enough to open
it, he was inclined to step in.
A smirk flittered across the former
hunter's face, and he shoved the folder in Dean’s
direction. “I doubt it.”
Sam had to give the man credit. He
was visibly bristled, but not deterred. No wonder the
guy had been able to hunt with his father and their
friends. “So you think this is a ghost…
“I’m not sure.” Frank
rubbed a hand over his face pensively. “I haven’t
been out of the game that long. I managed an EMF sweep
of the security sweep on lower level, and I did get
some strange readings.”
Dean pursed his lips and scrunched
his forehead. “So why do you need us? If you can
doesn’t look good for the company head to be sneaking
around laying salt lines down in the security department,”
Frank answered condescendingly. "And I'm pretty
sure it's an inherited problem of sorts. I got the building
pretty cheap after an IRS seizure. It's rumored that
the place was the cover operation for an organized crime
syndicate with ties to the mob, the mafia, even the
yakuza. Tons of suspicious activities associated with
the place, and more missing persons tied to it than
I care to think about. I don't have time do the kind
of research it would take to determine the actual source
of this problem. And when I don’t have time, I
hire outside help."
“That’s where we come in,”
Sam chimed in, giving Dean a nervous, ‘please
remain calm’ smile.
“Right,” Frank agreed,
pulling another blue manila folder from the side drawer
and meeting the brothers’ gazes firmly. “I
need this done quietly and efficiently. I expect it
to be completed in such a way that no one other than
I knows who you really are. Is that clear?”
The automatic response hit the air
before either brother registered saying it. “Yes,
“Good,” Frank nodded shortly,
handing the second folder over to Sam. “I know
how much secrecy and a good cover works to the advantage
in such matters, so I took the liberty of arranging
those for you. Since the security department is in need
of a new hire, I filed the paperwork for a Dean Watson
to fill that position.”
“So, wait. Dean’s gonna
serve and protect?” Sam scoffed, laughing openly.
Dean shot a heated glance over to his
brother and retaliated. “Can it, geek boy. Chances
are, you’re mopping floors.”
That shut Sam up instantly, and he
shot a desperate look at Frank for any chance of escaping
a janitor’s attire and a stinky mop. The executive
came through—in a big way. “Actually, Sam
here is going to take part in the Taliean Advance Program.”
Confusion crossed Dean’s face
as he got the impression that he was supposed to have
heard of the program, but Sam, well, the kid’s
eyes were as big as saucers, and a huge, stupid grin
was plastered on his face.
“A corporate internship? Me?”
Sam gasped disbelievingly, eyes blinking slowly.
“With the best business lawyers
stateside,” Frank bragged proudly, clearly reveling
in Sam’s response.
“Thank you. God, thanks.”
Sam breathed, chewing on his bottom lip as he mulled
over the chance that any of his college buddies would’ve
killed for. He didn’t even have his undergrad
diploma, and this guy was giving him a dream opportunity.
muttered. If he didn’t hate the guy enough already,
roping Sam into the Frank Taliean Fan Club was pushing
“You’ll start tomorrow,”
Frank continued, raising a hand to silence Dean’s
upcoming comment, when the intercom buzzed and an electronically
altered version of Laura’s voice declared some
pharmaceutical company was on the line. “I need
to take this. Laura has your required uniform, Dean,
and Sam, shirt and tie. Okay?”
Dean stared blankly at Frank for a
“Got it,” Sam nodded, grabbing
Dean’s arm to yank him out the office as, apparently,
the idea of required clothing made the elder immobile.
“Don’t worry we’ll figure this out.”
“Oh, and I booked you a room
at the Marquis,” Frank called out to their retreating
forms. “It’s on 5th and Townsend.”
Dean responded shortly, raised his eyebrows and allowed
Sam to semi-drag him from the room, all the while thanking
the man like he’d just created water, and waited
until the door closed before commenting further. “I
don’t care if we’re staying in the friggen’
Waldorf. I ain’t wearing any uniform.”
heated statement did nothing but send Sam into a new
fit of laughter.
* * * *
Marquis Hotel, later that evening
Sam emerged from the extravagant bathroom,
the size of which surpassed the proportions of most
of their usual motel rooms, sleeping quarters included.
He caught himself almost expecting to find a bow-tie
wearing gentleman waiting outside the shower (complete
with two massaging shower heads and an auto-clean sanitizing
system) with a fresh towel and a spritz of some manly
cologne. A dude like that would fit nicely between the
computerized toilet and the intimidating bidet like
just another luxuriant fixture in the house of polished
The younger brother stifled a Cheshire
grin as he ran a towel through his still-too-long hair
and caught a glimpse of Dean.
you lookin' at?" Dean asked, looking up
from the room service card, a huge white towel wrapped,
turban-style, around his head and the rest of his body
swallowed inside a thick, terry robe.
Sam was suddenly thankful they hadn't
taken Taliean up on his offer to get them separate rooms.
They'd used the excuse that it would be harder to do
research that way, but honestly, they just felt safer
in the same room. And now, Sam would have this image
of his brother burned into his brain and ready to lord
over him at will. Life was good.
Sam quirked an eyebrow, pausing his
scalp massaging to gesture a hand toward Dean's uncharacteristic
attire. "You really need to ask?"
"What?" Dean retorted. "Friggin'
Taliean set us up in a hotel where the towels are way
too big to smuggle out in a duffel bag, so I'm wringing
every penny's worth out of these babies before we check
"And the robe?"
Dean snickered, glancing back down
at the menu, leaving only his lifted brows to focus
on his brother. "Well, the chick from housekeeping
came by with the extra towels while I was getting dressed,
and she looked kinda freaked out by my scars, so. .
"Rrright," Sam said with
an exaggerated nod, clearly not believing the excuse.
"Whatever," Dean shrugged,
unimpressed with Sam's dismissal. "Besides, I was
fixing to order something messy from room service, and
I wouldn't want my nice clean body to get all sticky.
Well, I would, but I don't really have a food fetish."
tried the right food, then," Sam teased, ignoring
his brother's approving eyebrow twitch.
Sam went back to rubbing his wet hair
and turned toward the closet, pausing to admire the
several new suits he'd purchased, on Taliean's tab of
course, from the men's clothing store that was located
off the lobby of the hotel. "Can you believe five
hundred dollars was the least expensive suit they had
in my size?" He asked incredulously.
"Is that all?" Dean asked
darkly. "I'm surprised you didn't buy more than
three then. Since you're so gung ho about this corporate
internship thing, might as well suit up for the long
haul while Taliean's footing the bill."
Sam ignored his brother's downward
mood spiral. "No point. They'd never survive being
crammed in the trunk of the car for however long it
takes us to find and kill the Demon."
Dean flipped through the channels on
the big screen projection TV that came out of the wall
at the press of a button like something out of the Jetsons.
He was pretty sure Sam hadn't seen him pushing the button
over and over again when they'd first checked in, grinning
with amusement until he'd ventured too close and nearly
had his foot closed up in the wall. The newness had
already worn off as the somber, melancholy of bad memories
filtered into the room.
"Never know," Dean suggested
quietly, "you might like it so much you'll forget
about hunting the demon."
"No way," Sam retorted, both
appalled that his brother would suggest such a thing
and surprised that Dean had picked up on his enthusiasm
for the chance to role play what he'd imagined so many
times would become his actual life. "I'm not going
to just forget about the demon and what it's done to
us, Dean. Nothing can keep me from finishing this."
Dean sighed, unimpressed with Sam's
conviction. "Yeah, Frank said the same thing, right
up until the day he didn't show up to take care of his
commitments to us and to the hunt."
"Bad things happen in our line
of work all the time, Dean. It isn't anyone's fault."
"It is when that anyone promised
he'd be there, Sam. It is when he promised that his
business wasn't going to interfere with the job, and
it did." Dean tossed the remote control to the
far end of the queen sized bed and snatched the room
service menu back up from the end table.
older brother felt the weight of Sam's stare piercing
the top of his head, and he lifted his gaze with an
intense glare fixed in his eyes. "You might not
care that Frank left and got people killed that you
never met, never knew. But I was there, too, Sam."
His eyes darted away once more, his throat twitching
convulsively around an invisible knot. "It's not
just about the ones who died there that day. It's about
the ones who almost died."
looked up at Sam, eyes narrowing with intensity. "This
is about Dad."
The Episode Here