Episode Five: Numbers

By Carocali

Part One



The red numbers from the little alarm clock in the trashy hotel blared in Sam’s face with a mocking gaze. He never seemed to make it to 5 a.m., no matter how hard he tried. He closed his eyes once more, willing himself to sleep, but knew in seconds he would be hard pressed to get one more wink. Sam let out a deep sigh and stretched his long legs further into the bed, succumbing to the time of day he knew best.

As he began to make his way into the waking world, the young hunter found himself with the sheets in disarray, indicating another evening of tossing and turning. Nothing too unsettling; just uncomfortable. Brief images flicked back through his mind like pages in Fangora magazine. They were the usual suspects – the demon attacking his family, the car crashing into the tree and finding the priest before him, Bobby’s place. All quick snapshots from the Winchester Journal of Weird over the last several weeks. All fading from the moment, yet etched into his mind forever.

The thing Sam kept coming back to was the necklace and its strange bond to Dean. Reflections of the last few days came into his mind as he recalled seeing his brother weak and pale; a scenario all too familiar as of late. It pained him to see Dean in that state and not being able to do anything about it - knowing that he was responsible, in some way or another. Guilt was Sam’s middle name.

They had quite a scare back in Honey Island, Louisiana. The truth about the amulet was a shock to say the least. As if Dean didn’t have enough to worry about, now he was branded ‘Guardian’ of the talisman without his consent. Sam was sure Dean was keeping that right boot just for their father the next time they saw him.

Sam knew that as the last smart ass comment came out of his brother’s mouth walking away from the pig farmers, he wanted a shower and to get the hell out of Dodge. Wanted to get Dean as far away from this place as possible. They quickly found a dirt-cheap motel that had an old-fashioned hand credit card machine. Dean figured this would be the last hoorah for Hector Afranian’s Versabank account. They were in and out within the hour, tossing the card out the window on their way.

Since Dean and the amulet were reunited, there was a marked improvement in the older sibling’s health, validating any question of its power. Although his brother seemed to be at full strength, Sam could not shake the feeling that there was so much more to what happened in Honey Island. It wasn’t just the discovery of the amulet being bonded to Dean; it was the importance of it all. Why had Burns set them up? Why was it so imperative to this ‘cult’ to destroy the necklace? Who were these people and what was their ultimate goal? And the tattoos….

On their way out of Louisiana, Sam insisted they take a few days off to recover from their ordeal in the swampland. He wanted to get at least one state between them before stopping. The last several weeks had taken their toll on the young Winchesters; each nursing aches and pains of some sort. Not to mention the emotional overload that neither was willing to fully let out. Dean resisted the idea, but his younger brother gave him the puppy dog look and he agreed to a few days rest. He made it sound like Sam was forcing the idea upon him, but in truth, he was just as happy to get a little R&R as his brother.

They drove for several hours before finally deciding on Evergreen, Alabama. There was a Days Inn just off highway 65 that suited them just fine. Sam drove the Impala into the lot and pulled his knapsack from the back seat, noticing the stifling l’odeur du pig. The younger sibling knew what Dean would be doing for the first part of their afternoon as he quickly gathered his things and made his way post haste to the front desk before Dean could make any quips about ruining the upholstery.

They had two uneventful days of burgers, beer and belching. They watched bad reruns of The Three Stooges and ‘B’ horror movies, and Dean even hustled some pool at the local tavern without incident. Exactly what they needed to wipe the slate clean.

Sam carefully drew himself up into a sitting position on the bed, taking another quick glance at the mocking clock. He took a few of those yoga breaths that he taught his brother and silently meditated for a moment. The deep breath pulled in his abdomen and he shot it back out in a forced blow. Although he really didn’t remember the appropriate chanting, it made him feel better to have that brief moment of solitude. A little piece of Jess remembered.

Dean was on his stomach, hand under his pillow in the proverbial pose, ready to strike. His breathing was deep and Sam knew that he had yet to wake his brother. Maybe the last few beers added the extra nudge he needed to continue the slumber. Sam smiled at his sleeping form, silently thanking God, Buddha, or whoever was watching out for them that they had made it this far. He glanced over to make sure that the amulet was indeed still around Dean’s neck with the makeshift string they found and rose from the bed. Sam grabbed the key to the room and silently left.

Down the road a ways was a quick mart where Sam knew he could grab some donuts and coffee. He figured it would take about 15 minutes to walk there, so he lumbered slowly down the way, passing several knick-knack shops, a beauty parlor and a bead store along the way. I bet they’ll have a sturdy cord for the amulet. He needs to make sure it isn’t going anywhere.

Sam took it all in, studying details along the way. Keeping his senses sharp in case he needed to know about the town later. It was instinct; inbred in him like a tattoo on his brain. Keep your wits about you. Know your surroundings. You don’t want to get caught unprepared. He smiled inwardly at the thought and shook his head warily. As angry as he could get at his father, Sam knew John Winchester only did what he thought was right for his boys, and those lessons had come in handy more than once.

The blonde quick mart employee filed her fingernails as she watched the tall young man approaching in the distance. She noted his appearance as disheveled and worn, like someone who had been through the ringer. He needs a haircut – big time, I can see that from here. He entered the store, pausing briefly to acknowledge her with his patented quick smile. He has a nice face, and….she tried to gain an idea of his backside, but he scooted around the corner. She sighed defeated, hoping for a little something else to spark her interest. Ultimately, she went back to her nails.

After a short period of time, Sam found the bottles of water, chips, M&M’s and Nutrigrain bars he was looking for. They also had a small selection of fruit, so he grabbed a couple of apples and oranges for good measure. He topped that off with two coffees - one black, one with cream and sugar - and the highest content sugar donuts he could find. He had a feeling he was going to need it.

“Hi,” he said with a lopsided smile, dropping the arsenal of beverages and snacks. Debbie eyed the contents that lay before her.

Single. That’s a good sign. And much cuter up close.

“Hi. Are you new around here?” she asked casually with a slight Southern drawl, ringing up his items slowly and waiting for a reaction from the stranger before her.

Sam’s attention was suddenly drawn down. His eyes fell to the newspaper headline staring back at him.

Trio of Grisly Murders leave Ochlocknee Police Stumped – 3 Victims ripped to shreds within same hour.”

He reached for the paper, placing it on the counter not looking up from the article. Sam continued to read with horror, feeling that familiar tingle go up his spine when things were amiss in the world of the supernatural.

The bodies of three victims were found brutally torn apart by their unknown assailant late yesterday evening. Police received 3 calls just after 7 p.m. to separate locations. Upon investigation, it was learned that all the victims were killed around the same time; between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“We just don’t understand how something so brutal could happen so quickly,” said Officer Mike McGregor of the Ochlocknee Police Department. “All 3 bodies had the exact same marks, indicating the same style of torture. How 3 murderers could plan such a well coordinated attack in that short time frame is a mystery.” James Henry, another officer on the scene said, “No one saw or heard anything. There is no evidence pointing to a suspect. The only thing we have to go on is the fact that all 3 individuals had the same date of birth – June 10th.

The case is disturbingly similar to the chain of events that happened 3 days earlier in Camilla, Georgia, where the same circumstances are still being investigated…”

Sam’s concentration broke from the paper as he felt the young girl staring at him, obviously annoyed that he was lost in thought and not paying attention to her. “I’m sorry, what did you say?” He gave her a warm smile, waiting for the question to be answered.

“Nothing. Total’s $19.83,” she said with an aloof tone. Sam pulled out his wallet and handed her $20. Debbie quickly made the change, bagged his groceries and watched him leave the store, tilting her head slightly. She sighed as she checked out what she had missed earlier.


Sam picked up his gait as he made his way back to the hotel. This was something they needed to investigate right away. Being ripped to shreds sounded an awful lot like the Daevas in Chicago and that couldn’t be a good sign.

* * * *

There was silence in the air; that was the first thing that Dean noticed. The usual sound of Sam’s staccato rhythm was missing. He cracked an eye open to see the sheets strewn on the floor and no little brother. Great! The next place to look, although he knew it would be a dead end, was the bathroom. He cocked his head toward that direction to see the door open and dark. This prompted door number 3 – checking the clock.

5:50 a.m.

“Damn it, Sammy, can’t you make it to 6 o’clock anymore?”

As if in answer, the door to the hotel room slowly opened; light from the rising sun spilling in a quick line to the side of the television. Sam silently pushed it with unwarranted stealth only to find his brother staring him in the face with an annoyed look.

“Mornin’ sunshine,” Sam tried, knowing that Dean would be pissed. He added the Winchester bright smile, dimples widening, but he was right as his cheeriness fell flat on his brother’s weary face. Sam ended the façade.

Dean propped himself higher in the bed. “And what the hell do you think you’re doing sneaking off like that?” he scolded, voice cracking with its first use of the day. “I thought we had an understanding about little brothers going missing.”

Sam closed the door behind him and opened the curtain slightly to let the early morning sun in. Natural light was always better than the Edison variety. He plopped the bag of goodies on the table, threw the paper on the bed and handed the black coffee to the ornery young man. Dean tried to keep looking angry, but ultimately he took it with a nod. He still glowered at the young sibling, waiting for an answer.

“I was up, I was hungry, so I went for a walk. Better than me clicking on the keyboard, right?” Sam said trying to justify his Houdini act. He knew that Dean still got a little skittish after the incident with the Benders. Sam mentally berated himself for not just leaving a note telling Dean where he ran off to. “Besides, not only did I stock up on your favorite junk food, I brought you what every growing boy needs.” Sam walked over and handed Dean a chocolate covered donut, and a 10-ounce bag of Peanut M&Ms.

Dean eyed the donut carefully and snatched the M&Ms. They didn’t usually eat this kind of breakfast fare, so every once in a while it was a nice treat. Bribery. Dean was grateful to have it as his stomach suddenly seemed alive. He gnashed the sweet roll in 4 quick bites and washed it down with the coffee. Sam watched in awe as his brother took out the donut with ease. He couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of his sudden change when it came to eating all things bad for you.

The younger sibling took his own donut and sat on the bed, facing his brother. He looked him over as if he had some magic divining rod of aches and pains. He started from the scratches on his face, pausing on the ribcage. In, out. In, out. Not much difficulty – good. He did truly seem to be at full strength, and if Dean was ready to begin hunting again, so was he.

“Listen,” he said quickly reaching for the paper he tossed on the bed, “when I was at the mart, I picked up the paper. Take a look at that headline.”

Dean took the paper and perused the front page with interest. “Trio of Grisly Murders leave Ochlocknee Police Stumped – 3 Victims ripped to shreds within same hour.”

“Ripped to shreds in an hour? That doesn’t sound good,” he said as he continued to read the article, sipping the coffee.

Dean glanced up at Sam who was watching him like a hawk. Sam wanted to know how ready his brother really was to hit the road after Honey Island. Years of experience let the older sibling know he was being tested with this article; seeing what he really wanted to do. If anything. Dean was surprised at how much he enjoyed the time doing nothing, but he knew Ochlocknee was where they needed to go.

“So, when do you want to leave?”

Sam released a silent breath of relief. He really is okay. This piece practically did jumping jacks at him at the market and he knew they needed to check it out. Now he knew that his brother was on board and they could take out the nasty in Georgia.

“Well, I want to see what else I can find online. The article says that the same thing happened in Camilla, Georgia, 3 days prior. I want to see if we can find any other information,” Sam replied, heading to the laptop and clicking it open. He made himself comfortable in the chair; donut in one hand and coffee resting near the other.

Dean rose from the bed and gave a long stretch. He winced slightly from the still present abdominal strain, but the pain was lessening every day. The hunter would never admit it, but the yoga poses really did wonders for his muscles. “I’m gonna grab a quick shower and wake up, since you’ve got an hour on me.” He gave Sam a lopsided grin and headed toward the bathroom. Sam snorted in reply as he quickly dove into the world of research.

Sam was so engrossed in the articles he didn’t even notice his brother walking up behind him from the bathroom 20 minutes later. “Did you find anything?” Dean asked, startling Sam into reality. He shot his head back to see his brother smirking at him, clearly not expecting to get the jump on his little brother. Dean could not pass up the opportunity to ridicule him. “Geez, Francis, getting a little jumpy there?”

“Sorry, I’m just reading about the victims. I lost track of the time,” he said grabbing the coffee and taking a final sip before disposing of the cup in the waste can. “The only thing they have in common is the birthday, but I can’t figure out why they were chosen. It seems so random.” He turned the computer so Dean could see what he was looking at. There were 3 pictures of the victims - varying ages and nationalities.

“Look. First person, Joanne Hasting, 41, Caucasian. Second victim, Jonathon Wilson, 34, African American. Third, Kristen Wong, 28, Asian American.” The screen held limited information about the victims. Sam hit the down arrow and scrolled to the next page with a hint of frustration in his voice. “Why June 10th? Why all within an hour?”

Dean pulled the other chair next to Sam as they looked at the screen. He glanced at the newspaper article, seeing the name of the other town. “What about Camilla? Did you find anything there?” he asked, giving a side-glance to his brother.

Sam broke from the momentary brooding and continued on. “Yeah, it was the same thing, only this time, it was April 16th. ” He clicked through the pages to the other story link. Sam pulled the story to full screen and scrolled down. “Michael James, 54, Caucasian; Jennifer Murray, 33, Caucasian; Jose Rivera, 24, Latino American.” Sam dug into his eyes with the palms of his hands, willing the information to come to him in any form whatsoever. He leaned back in the chair, frustrated by the lack of information. Dean countered the move by putting his elbows on his knees, coming closer to his brother.

It had been a personal hunt in Louisiana; one of life and death. His life. Dean never liked it when it was personal. That meant that something was trying to hurt his family, and that made Dean a handful to deal with. Nothing messed with his family.

These were the kinds of jobs that Dean liked best – a puzzle to be solved, good research by geek boy and an evil son of a bitch to send back to hell. Yup, it sounded right up their alley.

“Well, I guess we start with Ochlocknee. Ask around, see if anything is out of the ordinary, then head up to Camilla and do the same.”

Sam looked to his brother, wanting to take that next step and cross into ‘the girly zone,’ but he knew better. Dean was saying all the things that Sam wanted to hear, but was he really ready to hunt again? It almost seemed like Dean was enjoying himself over the last couple of days. No mention of hunting at all. Sam would have been happy to stay for a few more days and rest up further, but something about this case shot off the EMF in his head. In the end, Sam nodded and closed the computer as Dean got up from the chair.

They had work to do.

* * * *

They had already been in the car 4 ½ hours puttering away on US Route 84 and Sam was getting antsy. He didn’t know why this hunt had called out to him, but there was definitely something wrong, and they needed to figure it out - fast. If he wouldn’t have gone out for his early morning stroll, i.e. never making it to 5 a.m. anymore in the sleep department, he might never have seen this gig. He found that things like that happened to him more frequently. Sorry you didn’t win the jackpot in the telekinesis game. You do, however, leave with the parting gifts of painful visions and creepy vibes. Remember to have your pets spayed or neutered. Thanks for playing!

Sam shook his head at his internal monologue and looked over to Dean who was blaring the Point of Know Return album by Kansas. The current track was Paradox. While normally Kansas didn’t bother Sam, for some reason it hit every last nerve Sam had left. The fast music was assaulting the right side of Sam’s head and he was starting to get a headache. He just wanted to think in peace, and that was never easy when Dean had control of the radio – which was always.

Sam was worried that the Daevas were back, sans Meg, to finish up where they left off. The Demon knew how to draw the Winchesters out into the open, and something like this case was a worm on a hook. While Caleb, God rest his soul, was able to get the information to Dean the first time around, Sam still had doubts about how to fully vanquish these shadows. The flare was a good trick, but it didn’t kill them. The Daevas left the scene of the last crime post haste after their exposure to the light and their freedom from Meg. They were free to do whatever they pleased in the world. That was never a good thing.

None of it made any real sense. Why did they pick victims that all had the same birthdays? What was the significance? There had to be more to it. Once they made it to Ochlocknee, he would start up the research again. Together he and Dean would figure it out.

Dean spotted the sign that said “Ochlocknee City Limit. Home of Old South Day, 2nd Sat – Nov.” There was not much present in the small town - being only a square mile with a population of 605. Making a quick executive decision, Dean headed a few miles southeast on Hwy 19 and ended up in Thomasville. He picked the Thomasville Inn, which boasted free local calls and free wireless hi-speed internet access. Not to mention HBO on a 27-inch color TV! Not too big; not a chain hotel. And it had a valet service! Dean laughed at that. This looked like their place!

The clerk watched as Dean walked through the door. Just from those few steps, he knew that this young man had a confidence about him. He swaggered as he walked. Cocky but able to back it up. Not someone you’d mess with in a bar fight. All those psychology classes must have paid off to read someone that well! Maybe I just watch 'Monk’ too much!

“Afternoon. I’d like a room for tonight and maybe tomorrow,” Dean looked at the man’s nametag, “Josh,” he added with the Winchester charm about him, handing him the latest scammed credit card. “It’s me and my brother.” He indicated as the clerk saw the tall man perched by the black car gathering items.

He looked at the credit card and then back to the young man standing in front of him. Josh was fascinated with him for no apparent reason other than the way he carried and presented himself. The usual folk that entered the Inn were either locals who got kicked out by their spouses after knocking back a few too many, or tourists coming to see the local plantations or the Big Oak, the mighty and majestic 323-year-old tree! This man was certainly no nature lover and he didn’t think that plantations were quite his style.

“Sure, no problem - Jason,” he said as he read the fake name on the credit card. “I’ll put you down for two nights and if you need to cancel, we’ll work that out.” Josh pulled out the registry and the sheets for the credit card. He slowly fit the card into the runner on the machine, stalling for time. “So, what are you boys doin’ in town? Here for the festivals? Not much around here end of February.” He looked up with his eyes only as he continued to scribble in the notebook.

All of a sudden, Dean realized he was being scoped out, and he didn’t know why. “Just passing through really. It’s better to be south of the Mason Dixon line when it’s cold anyway. We’ll probably head down through Florida eventually and catch some rays.” Dean added with a smile as he signed his name – Jason Teague – and looked up at the man. “Do you know a good place to eat around here?” He handed him back the slip of paper and the pen.

Josh looked over the sheet and tucked it into the drawer. “There’s a bunch of restaurants up the way; 1 is the Covey in the Comfort Suites. There’s also a good seafood place called Crawdaddy’s. Couple other things up that way too. You’ll find something.” He leaned back to the shelves behind the counter and found a few brochures, handing them to Dean. “You might find some of these things of interest.”

Dean took the pamphlets and wondered what this guy thought he would be interested in.

Thomasville Onstage and Company (TOSAC)
Local, live theatre at its best! This wonderful group entertains locals and surrounding communities with classics, comedies, musicals and dramas. Their home is a storefront theater on Broad Street in Downtown Thomasville.”

“This is probably more up my brother’s alley, than mine. He was a theatre geek in High School,” he smiled politely wondering what the hell was going on. “Well, thanks for these. We’ll take a look,” the young hunter said, grabbing the 2 room keys and heading for the door. “I’ll let you know about tomorrow night.” He waved as he walked out.

The room was clean and pleasant. Sam was excited about the wireless internet. Most hotels had the accommodations, but every once in a while they would get stuck and Sam would have to hit the local coffee shop to get the connection. It didn’t take him long to open the computer and get started on the additional research.

There was not a lot of information available about the murders since they happened the night before, but Sam took a stab at it anyway. He clicked through some local newspapers, and even checked out the message boards for the area. Aggravation took over after a very short time as Sam got up from the computer and made his way to the bathroom. He turned the faucet and let the water run for a few minutes. Sam splashed the cool stream on his face and looked at his dreary complexion, wondering what was going on here.

It was too early for the reporters to add to their stories. That meant only one thing.

“I think we should go to 1 of the crime scenes,” Dean interjected right into Sam’s thoughts. Dean was busy holding the side of the bathroom door up, looking a little tired as he watched his little brother take out his frustrations on the streaming liquid. “Geek boy is tapped out on his sources, so we talk to the OPD and see what they have to say.” Dean approached the sink and threw a towel at his brother. Sam caught it and dried his face.

They were off, heading back up Hwy 19 to Ochlocknee. Dean had the radio off for a change and his brother was grateful for the head time. Theories flashed in and out of his mind but nothing made sense. He hoped that going to one of the homes would give the hunters a clue as to what was going on.

Sam found the addresses of the 3 murders and they randomly chose Jonathon Wilson to investigate. Their normal garb seemed unnecessary in this small town, so the Men in Black suits stayed in the trunk, next to their alarm company uniforms. We have our own little costume shoppe! The Impala ground to a halt in front of the home on Wurst Street and the 2 ‘FBI agents’ ambled up to the pathway, badges at the ready.

“Who the hell would want to live on a street called Wurst? Aren’t you just asking for trouble,” quipped Dean as they edged closer to the house. Sam snorted in reply but said nothing. Leave it to Dean to inject humor into the direst of circumstances.

Even though the murder had occurred several hours before, there were still many crime scene investigators on the prowl. Noticeably absent was the coroner, which meant no look at the body; although they didn’t think that would be such a bad thing.

They approached the door only to have it opened before they were able to knock. A local officer, immediately on the defensive, shot a look at both the casually dressed men before her.

“This is a closed crime scene. I’m sorry you will have to leave,” she stated as she closed the door and began to make her way past the interlopers. Quick as she was, Dean was faster and whipped out the badge, blocking her way. He watched her features as she scanned the identification and sighed ever so slightly. Gotcha!

“I’m Agent Osbourne, this is Agent Wakeman. We are here investigating the rash of murders in the area over the past few days,” Dean spouted as he reused the name that Sam had given as their surname in the hospital. He was excited about Ozzy and his keyboardist being secret agents, so the names fell easily from his lips. He placed the badge in his pocket. “We were called in to see what the hell is going on around here. What can you tell us so far?”

The woman put her guard down as she succumbed to the inevitable questioning.

“Honestly, we have no idea what did this,” the officer began, clearly unsettled with the nature of the murder. “The flesh was actually ripped from the bone and scattered all over the kitchen. I’ve never seen anything like it. And the smell. Like instant decay. Thank God the kid wasn’t home. He is up visiting an aunt out of state.”

“Can we take a look inside? We might be able to learn a bit more from the scene and talking with other technicians,” Sam suggested in a soothing tone. The officer nodded and opened the door.

“You’ll have to excuse me. I’ve had enough of this place.” She turned from the house, leaving the 2 agents to their own accord.

Scattered everywhere were technicians taking samples and bagging items. The house, in general, was in disarray before the murder occurred. It seemed that Jonathon was the single parent of a small child, and it showed. A small stuffed animal cowered in the corner of the living room, now covered in blood. Anger brewed in Dean as he regarded the toy. Another evil son of a bitch was reeking havoc for no good reason.

The brothers entered the kitchen to investigate further. The body had already been removed and its odd shaped outline was traced on the floor. Blood and carnage were strewn everywhere, invoking a slight gag reflex in Sam. And the officer was definitely right about the decaying smell. He composed himself quickly knowing he would get crap from Dean as soon as they left the crime scene.

“Excuse me,” Dean started advancing to the nearest technician, “can you give me some background on what happened here?”

The young professional pulled his goggles from his eyes and placed them on top of his stringy hair. He did not have time to be bothered with newcomers, but he did take notice of the scratches on the first man’s face, wondering what would have caused them. Near the investigator's feet was a bag with what looked like pieces of skin. He reached down and grasped it, noticing the grimace in the taller man’s face. The technician internally smiled and glanced between the 2 ‘agents’ before him, took a breath and began his diatribe.

“Whatever killed this man was fast as lightning. He was skinned alive and ripped to shreds. It was totally disgusting, but in the same sense it’s the most fascinating thing I’ve ever seen,” the young man licked his lips as he continued to describe the grisly murders. “I heard about the other ones, you know, up in Camilla, but they weren’t in my county. My buddy worked that case. Same kind of massacre as this one.” He took a moment to look around the crime scene. “I jumped all over this case as soon as I heard about it. I’ll get to work the other ones in Ochlocknee too since our department is so small. I just haven’t had time to get to them.”

Hustle and bustle continued around them as people wove in and out of the scene. No one gave the trio a second glance. The photographer made his way from room to room, gathering whatever additional evidence the camera would reveal for a later time.

“Are there any theories about how someone could have done this?” inquired Sam, watching the commotion around him, carefully keeping away from the bag of skin the man held.

Dean looked at Sam and suppressed a grin. Not many people could push Sam’s buttons this early on. This kid was clearly toying with Sam’s uneasy stomach. He had to admire that, even though he had a bit of an attitude.

“Not really. In Camilla they’re stumped as well. The precision of the cuts and accuracy. This is someone who really knows their anatomy, well, several someones with the exact same skills. It takes a lot of planning to commit 3 murders within an hour. This was a carefully choreographed plan,” he added, furrowing his brow at the thought of that possibility. “They must have knocked the victim out quickly and just carved him up like a turkey. I really don’t understand it.”

Dean shifted his legs and took a step toward the man as someone scurried by him unexpectedly. “Do you have a cause of death? Or at least a theory?” Dean inquired looking at the devastation in the kitchen area. He glanced at the refrigerator where he noticed a child’s school photograph. Jonathan’s child.

This had to end. Devastation like this to a family was unacceptable. To anyone. Dean was working off Sam’s theory back at the hotel and decided to try a different approach. “What about things, organs, missing. Like for instance, his heart? Were all the organs intact?”

Sam shot Dean a look. The Daeva’s had taken Meredith’s heart in Chicago, even after ripping her apart. Dean was able to unearth that tidbit of information from a young police officer who took a fancy to him. Sam smiled at the quick thinking of his brother to try to pin down this monster.Yeah, he was definitely back in the hunt.

The investigator gave Dean an odd look and answered with a touch of hostility. “His skin was missing. That’s an organ. But yeah his heart was there, the skeleton was all there, even though some of it was crushed and broken. All the muscles were exposed, but the internal organs were in place,” replied the young man, clearly bored with the Q&A session. He had his own questions to ask and he wasn’t a fan of authoritative figures. It was time to volley back to these know-it-alls. “Why? Do you have your own theory about what did this? Isn’t that why the FBI is here? To help us solve the case?”

Dean flared at the continued indignant tone of this kid and opened his mouth to shoot off a smart ass answer but Sam quickly stepped in. “We’re sorry – Tony,” he said noticing the man’s work badge for the first time, “we are not at liberty to state the facts of the case at this time. Once something has been confirmed, we are free to discuss with all parties involved.”

Tony seemed to take that answer as gospel, not truly expecting anything less and backed away from Dean. “Well, I’d sure like to know what the hell went on here. You might get a little farther with my buddy up in Camilla. His name’s Michael Carmelo. He’s already been through autopsies and everything. Might shed some more light on the case so you can shine it on us as well.”

Dean nodded at the kid. He had spunk, even if he did grate on his last nerve. “Thanks, that’d be great. If you can give me contact information, we’ll go see him later.”

With a quick flick of the wrist, he pulled out Michael’s business card, almost expecting to be asked for it. Dean took it with a smile and added a “Thanks” as the brothers turned and walked out the door.

Once safely outside, then turned to each other and stated in unison “It’s not a Daeva.”

* * * *

They sat in silence as the Impala rumbled back towards their home base in Thomasville. Dean wasn’t sure if he was relieved or incensed that this monster wasn’t a Daeva. Their last encounter with said creature was not a pleasant one, and they hadn’t actually figured out how to kill them. However, now they would have to shift into overdrive to discover what the hell this thing was and how to stop it. Dean had a feeling there was something else coming. Sam wouldn’t have gotten the heebie jeebies over this article for nothing.

Sam was lost in thought. He was so sure it was a Daeva and now he would have to do more research to figure it out. What rips the flesh off a person like that? It definitely is a type of demon. No question there. Sam continued swimming around in his head, not noticing they had arrived at the hotel. The car stopped and Dean had to punch Sam to let him know they were ‘home.’ He grabbed the laptop and followed in his brother’s wake.

Dean threw the keys on the table as he heard Sam close the door gently behind him.

“Well, this sucks out loud! We’re back to square 1,” he finally said releasing some of the anger from the crime scene. The image of the teddy bear kept crawling back into his head. “What the hell is this thing? Do you have any ideas?”

Sam shook his head. “Not a clue. I think we may have some more luck with the victims in Camilla. It was 3 days ago so there should be more about them available. Where they worked, maybe even a funeral.” He pulled up the original article from the other town revealing the 3 names of the victims there. “Michael James, Jennifer Murray and Jose Rivera.”

The older hunter pulled off his jacket and lay on the bed, crossing his feet as he made himself comfortable. Dean knew that getting more frustrated would do no good. He sighed slightly as his hands went behind his head. He smiled suddenly as he watched his brother in action. Research was Geek Boy’s job and he was happy to pass it along. That nasty had no idea what was coming to him.

Sam paged through the internet articles, occasionally mumbling to himself about useless reporters and complete lack of brain activity. He was oblivious to Dean’s stare through the back of his skull. Once he got in the research groove there was no stopping him. Sam heard the TV turn on but didn’t turn to see what his brother had decided on. He rifled through page after page trying to discover who these people were and if they had any other link than their birthday.

There were several clicks on the keyboard and a few mouse strokes until Sam found what he was looking for. Jose was an executive for a finance company and Michael worked as a CPA for a large accounting firm. Jennifer Murray was employed by a convenience store in Camilla – the 24 Hour Mart. Catchy name. It would be difficult to get into the men’s companies to snoop around on a whim. The convenience store, however, was a different story.

The young hunter turned to let his brother know what he had found out when he finally noticed that Dean was watching a rerun of MacGyver. Sam observed for a few moments and noted that Teri Hatcher was in the episode. He cocked his head and snorted a “hmm” at the revelation.

“I didn’t know she was on MacGyver? I thought she only did Lois and Clark in the 80’s,” remarked Sam as he sat on the bed next to his brother, suddenly interested in the program. The research was draining, and sitting watching some mindless TV seemed a good idea.

“Ah, Lois and Clark was in the 90’s, if you must know,” retorted Dean snidely. Sam gave him a quick scowl and returned his gaze to the television, along with his brother, leaving the comment alone.

“Yeah, I guess this character was on a few times before. This is a crack up,” Dean added, clearly enjoying the episode and bringing his brother up to speed, pointing at the TV as he recanted the story. “They are going to investigate a haunted mansion that she – her name’s Penny Parker - just inherited from her crazy Aunt Betty. But Mac says it can’t be anything supernatural. There’s no such thing as ghosts.”

“Mac? You’re on a first name basis with him then,” quipped Sam as he shoved at his brother’s feet on the bed, trying to get himself a better seat on the bed.

“Only the cool people know to call him Mac,” he glared back, going out of his way to make himself more comfortable on the bed by adjusting the pillows, and not offering one to his brother. “So, he’s trying to prove to her that there’s nothing in the house. But there is something in the house, he just won’t admit it.”

They sat for a few minutes watching the episode, shaking their heads at every turn. Penny was a believer, but no dice on Mr. Fix-it. It was obvious that Mac had lost a few cool points by not believing in ghosts, but it was as good as anything else on TV at the moment.

“Did you know they were going to do a sequel to this a few years back?” said Dean breaking the silence during the commercial, turning towards his brother. “A Young MacGyver? His nephew. What a stupid idea that would be.”

“I don’t know. MacGyver had some cool gadgets and stuff,” Sam defended, probably a little quicker than he had intended. “It might be interesting to do a show with all the updates in technology. There could be some pretty awesome inventions,” Sam added looking quizzically at the TV then at his brother; a realization dawning on him. “How the hell do you even know about that?”

Dean squirmed for a minute but took it head on. “Dude, I play on imdb every once in a while. Sometimes, I want to – look stuff up.”

“Like what? When Lois and Clark was on?” Sam stopped himself quickly and held out a hand. “Wait. You know what; I don’t even want to know. What happens on the internet stays on the internet.”

There’s no such thing as ghosts. There’s no such thing as ghosts.

Both boys stopped their bickering to give their undivided attention to the screen. They observed that MacGyver made Penny Parker chant the phrase several times to keep herself from losing control. The Winchesters looked at one another. Sam shook his head but Dean took action.

“Sorry, Mac, but you’ve just been cancelled.” He shut off the TV and gave his undivided attention to his brother, throwing the remote to the base of the bed. He straightened himself up and addressed his brother. “So, Geek Boy, what did you find?”

“Well, I think the best place to start is this 24 Hour Mart where Jennifer worked,” Sam began, going back to the computer and scrolling through his notes. Dean took up residence next to him as he looked at the discoveries his brother had made. “The other two victims work in high powered companies. While I’m sure we could get in there somehow…”

“…it’s going to be easier to get info from the convenience store,” Dean interrupted knowing where Sam was going with his train of thought. Spending the time together they did produced parallel thinking. “Yeah, I think you’re right. We should head up there this evening and check it out.”

Sam slumped and looked at Dean with a different notion. “Actually, I’d like to go to the library. Thomasville is a decent sized town, so they should have some decent information. They should be open a bit later too.”

Dean noticed the change in his brother’s posture. He knew Sammy too well, and after spending all that time online researching, something was up. “Okay. Why? What is it?”

“Nothing. It’s just,” Sam sighed, closing his computer, shaking off that impending doom that was nesting in his gut. “I really thought this was a Daeva, that we at least could stave it off until we figured out how to kill it. And now… we don’t know what we’re up against. I want to try and figure this out before it happens again.”

Dean stiffened at Sam’s remarks and clicked into Big Brother mode, jumping to the most logical conclusion. “Did you have a vision?”

Sam smiled softly. Dean was always there to protect him. If he sneezed 2 times in a row, he would think he was getting sick and race to the pharmacy. “No. It’s just – a feeling. I can’t really explain it,” he brushed his fingers through his long brown hair. “It’s gonna happen again, and it’s gonna be soon. And we’re in the middle of it.”

“Like always,” Dean added, finishing his unspoken words. “Okay, so I’ll head up to Camilla, snoop around the 24 mart and see what I can find. You will spend a fun-filled evening at the library.” He picked up his keys and headed towards the door, grabbing his coat. Sam made to punch him, but missed wide purposely. Dean laughed.

“You’re such a girl.” The door closed behind them.



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