Season Two

Episode Nineteen: Last Call

By Kittsbud & Thru Terry's Eyes

Part One

 

Hotdog StandFour Corners Monument, noonish

Dean rubbed his hands in anticipation of the deep and meaningful relationship he was about to form with the smoked sausage being prepared for him by the lunch cart vendor in the park.

Watching as the steaming link was caressed by a fluffy bun and then dressed with everything Dean could think of including the prerequisite extra onions was almost, but not quite, as absorbing as a good pole dance. The resultant pleasure, while different, was, however, just as satisfying.

And he was starving.

Taking the luscious creation in his hands he passed over his money and winked a thank you at the vendor, cramming the hot dog in his mouth for a huge bite.

Talking through the bite he addressed Sam. "Dude, you sure you don't want one of these? This is awesome!" he gestured with the remaining hot dog.

Sam, standing a short distance away with the phone to his ear, gave Dean a look of abject disgust and shook his head.

Dean shrugged, "Your loss, man." He reveled momentarily in the glory of his hot dog, happy to be enjoying a simple pleasure.

He drifted closer to hear Sam's side of the conversation with Bobby. Bobby had called, apparently with news about a new hunt and judging from the look on Sam's face it must be a good one. Sam wore a strange smile and kept nodding his head, looking over at Dean from time to time. At one point he laughed.

Dean frowned and was about to ask what the hell when he was distracted by the arrival of a candy apple red Miata and it's driver, a tall young woman with a mane of blonde hair and a chest of epic proportions.

He stared, Sam and hot dog forgotten, as he watched her teeter across the pavement on black stiletto sandals, her body encased in a white tank shirt and turquoise Capri's so tight they had to have been airbrushed on. Bending forward slightly, revealing décolletage that almost brought tears to Dean's eyes, she gave the hot dog vendor an order. She glanced up and caught Dean's unabashed stare, a tiny smile crooking her red lips.

Just as he began to move toward her Sam's hand descended on his arm.

Dean twisted back to look at his brother in irritation. "What?" he actually whined, watching the girl accept her order and move back toward her car, sending Dean a lingering look.

Sam spared the girl a brief glance and rolled his eyes. “Focus, Dean," he said holding his phone out and waving it in front of Dean to gain his attention.

Dean reluctantly tore his eyes away as the girl jumped in her car and gunned away from the curb.

"Bobby found us a job, Dean. Remember? Our job? What we do? Hunting evil? Any of this ringing a bell for you?"

"I know, Sam!" Dean snapped. "I just wanted to smell the roses along the way, is that so bad?"

Sam laughed. "Smell 'em? Two more minutes and you would have thrown yourself right into the garden."

Dean couldn't help the smirk. "She had a nice car," he justified with a grin. "So what's this job? Ghouls in an old septic tank factory? Black dogs in a dump?"

Sam shook his head, just stood there grinning.

Dean squinted at him. "What's so damned funny?"

"It's at a haunted bar," Sam replied.

Dean shrugged, "Cool, but I repeat, what's so funny?"

"In Vegas," Sam replied, eyes twinkling suspiciously but Dean didn't notice.

"Vegas?" Dean repeated stupidly. Then his eyes popped open. "Las Vegas? Seriously? A haunted bar in Las Vegas?" Finally!!! He thought, beer, scantily clad women, gambling AND kicking spook ass?!! It just didn't get better than that!

He grinned and clapped Sam on the shoulder, "Well, hot damn then, let's get going!" He glanced at his half-eaten hot dog and then tossed it in the trash. What the hell was a hot dog compared to the strip in Vegas?

He jerked the keys out of his pocket and jumped back into the Impala.

Sam shook his head, not even trying to hide his own smirk regarding this new job. He couldn't wait to see the look on Dean's face.

Dean was so hyped about Vegas in general he never caught the amusement in Sam's eyes.

He honked the horn and yelled at Sam to get his ass in gear, thumping the steering wheel happily.

Look out Las Vegas! Here come the Winchesters!

Carluccio’s Tivoli Gardens
1775 E. Tropicana
Las Vegas
Night time


Dean pulled the Impala into the spacious parking lot and looked around, acutely aware that he was not anywhere near the parts of Vegas he’d hoped for. In fact, the parking area seemed stuck between what looked like an oversized, Mexican-styled coffee shop and a giant piano-shaped structure that was apparently some kind of museum.

There were fancy neon signs everywhere, but from the angle he’d parked the Chevy, even if he squinted, Dean couldn’t make out the lettering. “Dude, this so ain’t the part of Vegas I was hoping for. C’mon, man, let’s hit the strip. I always wanted to do Cesear’s.”

“Gambling requires money, Dean. You know, that thing we rarely get even though we work our asses off spook busting?” Sam cocked his brow and tapped the laptop on his knee. The reaction earned him a scowl of disapproval.

“Sheesh, one day you’re gonna learn to lighten up a little and roll with the punches. The first chance we get to have a little fun before a gig and you go all serious on me as usual.” Dean shook his head. “It’s a haunted bar, can’t it wait one night?”

Sammy had lured him here with the bright lights and promise of a plethora of casinos and scantily clad women. He really should have known this hunt was too good to be true.

“I don’t think we should wait, Dean. And besides, this is a paying gig. You get to gamble after, not before.” Sam smiled a little, hoping the promise of blackjack, poker and a whole sea of slot machines would tempt his brother into having something resembling patience.

Of course, once Dean found out the actual details, things would get more than tricky.

“Apparently,” Sam continued, not giving his sibling time to argue. “Carluccio’s has allegedly been haunted for some time, but it’s always been more of a crowd draw than anything - so the management haven’t done anything about it. Until now, that is.”

“So, Raymond, if this is a paying gig, why the hell aren’t we talking to the guy with the dollars right about now? I mean, shouldn’t we be asking our employer questions, not skulking in some lot looking at the laptop?” Dean’s frustration at being held back from the lure of a lifetime was showing clearly from the sarcasm in his voice.

Sam reddened, his face blushing without any apparent reason. “I err…guess you’re right,” he stammered, keeping the laptop under his arm as he tugged his lanky form from the car. Pausing to make sure his brother was following, he raised a brow questioningly. “And - ugh - Raymond?”

Dean winked, an ear to ear grin spreading across his features. As he joined his brother, he slapped Sam squarely between the shoulders. “Hell yeah, you’re the Winchester savant, gonna take you down the strip and let you win me some money when this gig is done. You did just kinda promise…” With that, he winked and strode towards the nearest flashing blue neon, leaving Sam with his mouth open wondering just what that particular "Deanism" was all about.

Once Dean was halfway across the lot and several cars' width in front of Sam, he stopped dead, his own mouth mimicking his brother’s – except this time the elder hunter managed something akin to a horrified shriek. “You gotta be friggin’ kidding me, Sammy! Bobby been chugging back that homemade brew again, or what? Man, I’m telling you, I’ll take a shotgun to him for this, never mind Dad!”

Sam’s mouth wanted to twist into out-and-out laughter so hard it ticked at the corners, but to his credit he held the straight face – at least for about two seconds. “Dean, this is a serious gig. I’m not kidding…” He placed a hand over his mouth, almost dropping the precious laptop as Dean’s face contorted into unimaginable mental agony the likes of which Sam had never seen.

“Serious?” Dean yelled. “We’re at the freakin’ Liberace Museum and you tell me it’s serious? Damn straight it’s serious. You need mental friggin’ help!” He spun around, heading right back to the raven black car they’d just departed. “Dude, the guy was a piano playing wuss who wore sequined suits! I am so outta here!”

Further mumblings intermingled with several profanities Sam was glad he didn’t quite catch followed in quick succession, and he had trouble keeping up with his brother as Dean almost began a panic run back to the Chevy.

“Dean, we can’t just leave,” he begged, balancing the laptop under one arm and stopping Dean entering the Impala with the other. “There have been two supernatural-style disappearances at Carluccio’s Tivoli Gardens. It’s part of the complex.” He ticked his head back towards the museum. “We can’t just walk, these people need our kind of help. And besides,” he added with a grin, “I would have thought you’d want to play George Clooney around here first.”

“Yeah, well, I’d rather haul ass than have some funkily-dressed spook try grabbing at it with kinky intentions.” Dean took down a breath, composure finally settling on his features, even though the thought of Vegas was no longer quite so appealing. “And dude, I’m way better looking than Clooney…”

Sam smiled. “In your dreams, man.” He slipped the laptop on the Chevy’s rear seat. “So, now that you’ve calmed down, are we gonna go inside and find out what’s going on?”

Dean glanced across the lot, obviously squirming inside. He’d heard all about the fact that Liberace was supposed to haunt some restaurant or bar out here, but that didn’t mean he wanted to tangle with that particular spirit. Gimme a freakin’ Wendigo. Hell, no, gimme a whole barn full of ‘em. Hungry ones.

And if this freak sings, I’m so gonna kill Sammy…

“I guess we can check it out,” the hunter finally relented. “I mean, this kinda entertainer is way more your style than mine. More than likely it’ll be your ass he’s grabbing. You do got a thing for chick music, Raymond.”

“The Fray is not chick music!” Sam retorted. “And will you stop with the Raymond crap already?”

Dean smirked. It wasn’t very often Sammy had no clue what he was talking about, but this time the penny clearly hadn’t dropped, even though it really should have. For now, he was content to keep it that way. “Next thing you know, you’ll be listening to Barry Manilow. I’m telling you, Sasquatch, Dad really shoulda named you Samantha…”

Sam huffed, but knew he should have expected the joke to be turned on him. Still, it had been fun while it lasted. “Whatever.” He rolled his eyes and pointed to the more sensibly-shaped building of the two that bordered the lot. “C’mon, just remember, no gambling, no hot women until we’ve solved this and have a little cash in our pockets for our next motel. ’Cause really, Dean, I’d like not to have to spend another night in the Impala-”

“Yeah, those long girly legs don’t fit too well against the dash-” Dean dived just in time to avoid a mock punch from his slightly irked sibling. “Okay, okay.” He held up his hands in surrender. “Let’s go find your sequined spook and kick his ass.”

Sam cringed.

“You’re right,” Dean admitted with a grimace. “Old piano fingers might actually like that. But, hey, maybe they’ll at least provide free food and beer if we’re lucky…”

Inside Carluccio’s

Sam looked around the establishment and almost – almost wanted to agree with his brother. Even though Liberace was very dead, Carluccio’s décor still oozed the entertainer’s rather bizarre style.

One area consisted of white wicker chairs and an elaborate, and very ornate wooden service bar that definitely wasn’t on any modern art list. Beyond that lay an even stranger room rather aptly named the English Lounge Bar.

“Dude…” Dean whistled, looking at the huge crowds that seemed to have congregated in the very unusual restaurant. “Are these people nuts? I mean, this place is very…Liberace…”

Sam nodded, taking in the flock wallpaper and huge crystal chandeliers that adorned the ceilings. “Dean, he was a legend, what do you expect?”

Dean shrugged, his eyes locking on a brunette behind the bar who apparently had noticed him too. “Yeah, well, don’t all the women in here know the dude didn’t swing their way?”

Sam sighed, following his brother’s long gait up to the old world style bar. “It’s not about that.” He hopped on a stool. “And shouldn’t we be talking about the case, not Liberace’s fan base?”

Dean smiled roguishly at the brunette but satisfied himself – for now, at least – by ordering a double shot of tequila. As the girl sauntered off to pour his drink, the hunter’s eyes never strayed from her tight fitting tee. “Huh?” He finally turned to his sibling. “Oh yeah, the gig. So, aren’t we supposed to be meeting the owner or something?”

“No,” Sam looked at his watch. “We’re meeting Mike Bentkover, one of the managers. He agreed to meet us here at ten. In the meantime I can fill you in on what I’ve dug up.”

Dean scooped up his tequila, chugged it back and then winked at the bar girl. Maybe if Liberace’s spook kept his hands to himself this wouldn’t be such a bad gig after all. “Fire away, Raymond.”

Sam considered ordering a double for himself, but then thought better of it. Dean was more likely to get carried away here than anywhere. As a rule, his brother never drank much while they were on a gig, but Las Vegas was definitely going to be an exception. Not to mention, with the amount of beautiful women sashaying around, Dean’s eyes would probably pop out of his head before midnight.

No, Dean would definitely not be thinking with his upstairs brain – and that meant Sam was going to have to do the thinking for both of them.

Ignoring the new name he seemed to have acquired, he began to recite what he’d discovered on the laptop or via Bobby. “Apparently, Carluccio’s got a reputation for being haunted in the early nineties when several patrons reported seeing Liberace’s ghost in the piano lounge. A waiter who had worked here fourteen years saw and heard glasses and silverware moving too. In fact, one night the same man even saw one of Liberace’s capes in one of the piano lounge mirrors. When he looked again there was nothing there.”

Dean huffed, knocking back another shot glass full of tequila. “Maybe the guy just had too much to drink? I’m telling you, man, it’s just a publicity thing. Hell, half the people in here probably came to see the damn ghost. It’s all hype.”

“I don’t know, Dean,” Sam responded, uncertainty filling his voice. “One time, a few years after Liberace’s death, glasses toppled from the bar and the power went out. Someone casually remarked that it was, or would have been, Liberace’s birthday. Everyone at the bar wished him a Happy Birthday and the power came back on-”

“Forgetting his birthday? Yeah, I can see the dude getting pissed, but why the hell would he suddenly start making people vanish?” Dean finally paid the case more attention than his now empty glass, or the brunette and her scant attire. “Maybe his music was so damn bad he had to kidnap people to the other side to get a friggin’ audience. Now that, I can believe!”

“Yeah, well paranormal investigators already visited the bar once, but they only found high EMF readings in the back hallway and the women’s bathroom area. Not exactly the place you’d expect to find our guy.” Sam raised a brow.

“Paranormal investigators,” Dean mimicked his brother in a somewhat mocking voice. “Dude, who’d they call before us, the freakin’ Hellhounds?”

Sam focused on the gaudy flock wallpaper. Anything rather than look Dean in the eye. As much as he hated to admit it, the whole case did sound like something off of a kid’s cartoon – all except for the part where people had gone missing – permanently.

“The readings they took match reports of toilets flushing on their own and faucets turning on and off in the bathrooms.”

“Great,” Dean toyed with his glass with his thumb and forefinger. “”Liberace and the Haunted John.” What is this, freakin’ Scooby Doo Does Vegas?”

Sam opened his mouth to retort, but snapped it shut again. Dean had just vocalized his own earlier thought. This was one weird gig. So where the heck were Shaggy and Scrappy?

“I wish it were that simple gentlemen, but I can assure you there are no fake ghosts here, only mischievous ones.”

Dean pushed away from the bar, spinning his stool around to face a rather short looking man with beady eyes. He was more than well dressed, and he obviously considered his position to be one well above most of the staff or patrons of the bar and restaurant.

“I’m Michael Bentkover, and from your attire and rather…” he glanced at Dean,“…distasteful vocal manner, I assume you’re the Winchesters?”

Sam swiftly stepped between his brother and the little man, smiling affably, even though deep down he was just as offended as Dean. They may not have money, or have the smartest garb in town, but they were here to do a job, and Bentkover should have appreciated that fact.

“I’m Sam, this is my brother Dean.” Sam bobbed his head towards his sibling, and heard a low growl in response.

Dean was pissed at Bentkover already.

“So,” Sam slid back on his stool and sighed with relief when Dean didn’t immediately jump from his perch and slug their employer. “What makes you think the disappearances are related to a haunting?”

Bentkover straightened his tie in what looked like a nervous habit, Dean’s seething gaze unsettling him. “Two high class patrons simply vanished from the premises. One was at the English Bar with friends when he disappeared. All the security cameras show he never left any of the establishment’s exits. The other businessman – a friend of the first – vanished after telling colleagues he was going to the toilet. Again, footage showed the man entering the rest rooms but not leaving.”

“Sounds like someone has a serious toilet fetish to me,” Dean snarked. “You sure this is ghost-related? I mean c’mon, this place’s previous owner kinda had a rep …”

Bentkover ignored the remark, focusing on Sam, who he considered at least half-human. “On both nights bartenders and waiters reported strange activity at the bars and in the bathrooms.” He coughed, taking a moment to compose himself. “The police can find no trace of either of the missing men and are convinced there must be an error in our surveillance camera system. I’m not so convinced. I can’t afford any more disappearances – the establishment can’t or we’ll lose customers.”

“So, a suit like you really thinks ol’ Liberace’s spirit has gone ape and has started causing more than a few chinking glasses?” Dean raised a brow impishly. “Maybe he’s pissed at the kinda service you guys have given since he went to the big music hall in the sky, huh? Sheesh, have you checked if the grand piano is stuffed with any bodies recently?”

Sam groaned in embarrassment, elbowing his brother until Dean winced at the bony appendage being jabbed into his ribs. “We’ll need to check out each room with our equipment,” he addressed Bentkover. “The best time will probably be after closing tonight when everywhere is empty and quiet.”

“You want the run of the building? Alone?” The suit’s nose twitched and he considered the plan. It was obvious he didn’t like the brothers, let alone the idea that they be given free rein in all the rooms. Still, he’d already been told they were the best in the business for his particular kind of problem. “Very well,” he eventually caved. “But any damages or shall we say, ‘missing’ items will be noted and duly paid for out of your earnings.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Jeez, I guess that means no free beer either, huh, Mr. Tightwad?” He looked to Sam, slapping him on the back so hard he almost slipped off his stool. “And no stealing the sequins, Raymond.”

 

Later that evening…

Sam fingered the small brass key looking up at the closed but still garishly-lit building.

Dean gazed longingly in the opposite direction where a multi-colored glow filled the night sky, broken by spotlights that swept the clouds, and he just knew if he listened closely enough he would be able to hear the clink of coins spilling out of slot machines, rapturous cries of joy and the swish of stockings as long legged showgirls pranced around a stage, beads rattling, spangles sparkling and each one wearing a smile that was just for him.

Sam poked him, jerking him roughly from his thoughts.

"What?!!" he yelped.

Sam gestured at the open door. "You planning on joining me or just standing out here slack jawed for the rest of the night?" he demanded impatiently.

Dean glared at him. "Admit it, Sam," he accused. "In your previous existence you were a wet blanket weren't you?"

Sam shoved him through the door. "For God's sake…."

Sam locked the door behind them and stuffed the key in his pocket, looking around. Even with just a few lights on, the multiple reflective surfaces provided by the endless mirrors, crystal, glassware and glossy finishes bounced the small amount of light around until it was almost hard to see.

"Man," Dean said, squinting, "I haven't seen this much sparkle so close up since that stripper in-"

"So where do you want to start?" Sam almost yelled to drown out Dean's trip down memory lane. "I think we need to split up and each take half of the restaurant. Which half do you want?"

Dean had definitely turned glaring into an art form. "Gee, I don't know, Sam," he growled. "You pick for me, I just can't decide."

"Look, Dean, I know you're not thrilled about this job but it's a job, a paying job, I might add. And I swear when we're done you can do whatever the hell you want to after we get paid, just, please, give this your attention for now." Sam turned on the puppy eyes and Dean cursed and rolled his eyes.

"Alright, fine." Dean grumbled, giving in as gracefully as he was capable. "Where in Barbie Princess Land do you want to start?" He made a face and sighed impatiently, crossing his arms and staring at Sam.

Sam realized this was the best he was going to get and glanced at his notes. "Why don't you take the half in the English Bar, that's where the first victim supposedly vanished." He glanced around, getting his bearings. "I can take the area where the bathrooms are, where victim number two disappeared. Does that meet with your approval?"

Dean nodded. "Yeah, you go do the bathrooms 'cause as far as I can see this whole job needs to go in the toilet."

"Dean."

Dean held up his hands. "Sorry, Raymond. Didn't mean to upset you. Don't start counting or anything."

Sam stared at him uncomprehendingly, "What?"

Dean rolled his eyes again. "Never mind. Let's check in in fifteen minutes. I figure I got at least that long before all this…bling…makes me go blind." He turned and headed back toward the piano lounge, leaving Sam in the lobby, shaking his head.

Looking up at the massive chandeliers overhead, the red ceilings, red velvet seats and the deep red and gold swirly carpet Dean curled his lips in utter distaste. God, he'd seen better décor in whorehouses, laughing to himself as he realized he actually had.

Filmy curtains hung everywhere and there wasn't a foot of wall that wasn't covered with huge gilt framed mirrors, like some carnival attraction, each with the legend, "I'll Be Seeing You," written on them in scarlet edged in gold. He knew it was Liberace's theme song from some brochures they had taken from their earlier visit.

Not that he had actually allowed his eyes to be contaminated by reading any of them…

Above him the crystals tinkled as they bumped gently together in whatever air currents were present, sounding a little like water trickling over rocks. Or teasing laughter.

Dean shuddered suddenly. The atmosphere in the place was so bright it was downright creepy. Passing another huge, spotless mirror as he walked up to the large white grand piano, he reached out and deliberately dragged his fingers over the surface, painting it with finger and palm prints.

"There," he said in an unconsciously hushed voice. "Sparkle your ass off now." It was childish but it made him feel better.

He turned suddenly as he caught a glimpse of movement in the mirror next to him, a flashing swirl, like flowing fabric.

Like a cape.

He backed into the piano as he looked around at the other mirrors, his hand hitting the exposed keyboard with a discordant clash. Jerking back with a curse, one of the ornate candelabras was knocked to the ground by his movement.

"Shit!" he snarled, grabbing the silver and gold candleholder and slamming it back into position on the piano, his heart racing. "Damn you, Sam!" he snapped. "And damn you, your freaky restaurant, your freaky music and your freaky…" he paused, at a loss for words as he gestured at the large smiling portrait of Liberace (Jesus, the guy must have had sixty teeth) in full performance regalia that hung behind the piano. "…freakiness!!!" he finished lamely, stomping out of the room angrily and toward the English Bar Lounge.

He was pissed at the job, pissed at Sam and pissed at himself that he was so jangled by being in this place. What the hell was it about a guy who played pansy music and liked to run around looking like he'd gone way the hell over the rainbow…?

"Gotta be the music…" he muttered, not even slightly amused.

He stood inside the bar for a moment, eyeing the glittering array of glasses and bottles.

Glancing around furtively, he walked around the baroque bar and snagged a bottle of Pasion Azteca Tequila from behind the bar. The name meant nothing to him but tequila was tequila and he damn sure needed a drink.

Glancing around once more to make sure he wasn't being watched by non-existent patrons or worse, by Sam, he quickly opened the bottle and poured a shot in a scarlet glass embellished with a large scrolled "L".

He knocked back the drink and hissed at the burn of it as it ran down his throat and settled in his stomach with a warm glow. That was more like it.

Lifting the bottle to pour another he stopped in surprise to see the glass was already full.

Frowning he lifted the glass and studied it. Had he refilled it and forgotten that quickly?

Shrugging, he tossed that drink down as well, setting the glass back down with his fingers still curled around it.

It was full again.

"What the…"

A smile suddenly crooked the corner of his mouth. Damn. Maybe he'd been wrong about this place. He lifted the glass again.

This is my kind of haunted bar after all!

* * * *

Sam ambled slowly down the corridor, a static EMF meter in his hand and a slight grin still playing across his features. Pissed Dean was one thing, but pissed childish Dean was just totally hilarious.

It was just so easy to see his big brother’s eyes wandering to the outside world and to the glare from the downtown neon. Once this gig was over, Sam was pretty sure he’d need to pry Dean from the strip with a crowbar and promises of untold wealth and girly flesh. How the hell he could provide more of either than Vegas could would be the test, but hell, his gifts ought to help him out at least once, oughtn’t they?

Sam shook his head and chuckled. If nothing else, this gig had allowed the Winchesters to breathe again, to feel human, to laugh even.

A shrill whine began to emanate from the device in his hand and the hunter stopped. He was directly outside the men’s bathroom – the very block of toilets where victim number two had vanished.

Dude probably got flushed away with the rest of the crap that hangs around here, Sam could hear his brother’s voice in his head, mocking what he didn’t really understand. Typical Dean.

Edging sideways, Sam pushed lightly at the door and it swung inwards to reveal a totally normal men’s room.

The place was lavish, yes, but not unduly over the top considering its surroundings.

Sam moved inside, noting the wail from the EMF increased along with a rapid decrease in room temperature. It wasn’t just cold in here, it was icy.

“Hello?” Sam didn’t know why, but he was compelled to yell out. It wasn’t usual gig procedure, but heck, could he be in a toilet with a legend? So better not tell Dean that thought if I don’t want lewd comments for a month…

There was no answer to his call, but the cold tendrils seemed to wrap around his body even more, enveloping him in its strange blanket. There was a presence here, and he didn’t know how, but Sam was sure it was malevolent.

It wanted pain.

It wanted his pain.

Sam let his huge frame spin on his heels, and forgetting the screaming meter in his palm, he took two long strides towards the doorway. Sensing his need to escape, the invisible entity that was with him lashed out, using its ethereal strength to slam the door closed just as he reached it.

The entrapped hunter grabbed at the brass fitted handle, desperately trying to turn it, but it felt like the metal had somehow fused solid into the jamb. Finally sliding the useless meter into his pocket, he realized there was a new sound in the room.

A hissing sound…

Sam turned back to face the sinks, knowing before his eyes locked on them what he would see. All the hot water faucets had miraculously turned to the “on” position of their own volition. Steam oozed from the sinks, rising to mask over the mirrors above them like some mystery smog appearing from the ether.

As the hunter watched, the water-veiled mirrors began to change. Someone, something was scrawling in the condensation with their finger. The text was spidery, like a child was writing it or perhaps someone not in full control of their muscles – not that spirits had muscles.

“Bara?” Sam squinted, reading the strange word out loud even though it meant nothing to him. “Are you trying to communicate?”

Sam’s lips moved to say the word again, but before his vocal cords could form any sound, his legs were abruptly torn from under him and he hit the tiled floor with a grunt.

I’ll take that as a no thanks, I’d rather kick your ass than chat, he thought randomly as his lanky frame was heaved boots first across the floor. Gee, I hope this doesn’t mean I’m our guy’s type…

In the cubicles in front of him, Sam heard the distinct sound of toilets being haphazardly flushed and his heart began to pick up pace. Maybe this wasn’t so funny after all.

Arms flailing on the slippery floor, the hunter tried in vain to grab onto something – anything – to stop his forward motion. Long fingers latched for a moment on a cubicle door and Sam took down a breath. Then, the force pulling him seemed to gain momentum, yanking at his legs until his tentative hold was quickly broken.

Shit! It’s dragging me in the crapper! Dean was right, this thing does have a toilet fetish!

Before he could lament on his brother’s jokes, or their unfortunate accuracy, something slammed into Sam’s back like a pro-boxer punching him in the kidneys. In a knee-jerk reaction he tumbled forward, trying desperately to suck down a lungful of air after being so viciously winded.

He blinked repeatedly, eyes smarting as he fell, and only when he refocused did he realize exactly where his face was heading. To add to its impetus, the same force from before returned, grabbing the hunter by the back of his skull and propelling him into a quicker downward spiral – straight into the toilet bowl and its un-alluring waters.

Shit! After all I’ve fought I’m gonna get drowned in a toilet by the ghost of a pissed off pianist with a hairdo that looks like he’s wearing a poodle.

Sam couldn’t escape the irony anymore than he could escape the bubbling water as his head was held beneath its surface. He grabbed at the floor, the tank, anything to use as leverage, his long arms searching for a way out as he brain couldn’t help but mock his predicament.

I hope the last guy pulled the damn chain…

Dean is so never gonna let me live this down…

But then, Dean probably had problems of his own.

* * * *

"One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor…" Dean recited to himself as he downed his fourth from the never-ending-glass-of-joy, as he had named his new-found scarlet friend. He twirled the shot glass in his fingers, still fast but not quite as nimble as they had been a short while before.

He wasn't drunk, his vast experience in that area told him that, but he wanted to avoid a major league ass-chewing from Sam. While docile enough under normal circumstances, Sam was capable of tearing mighty chunks indeed from Dean's butt if he so desired. Dean decided, reluctantly replacing the cap on the bottle, that he'd best quit while he was ahead.

Abruptly remembering Bentkover's threat about recompense for missing items, Dean unscrewed the cap and refilled the bottle back to it's original level with water from the small sink behind the bar, taking great care to place the bottle back exactly where he'd found it.

He patted the bottle in a comradely fashion, "Thanks, at least you know how to show a guy a good time—"

His head jerked up, eyes cutting to the left as the tinkling sound of a piano came clearly to his ears. He listened intently, slowly turning to look toward the direction of the piano lounge. The music sounded empty and tinny, like the bass was turned all the way off.

He moved from behind the bar, reaching into his jacket for the sawed-off. He stiffened as over the broad flourishes of the keyboard, a voice began to sing, the words far away with a hollow echo.

I'll be seeing you, in all the old familiar places…

He'd seen and heard a lot of creepy things in his life but damn if this one wasn't about to take the cake.

That this heart of mine embraces…

He stumbled into one of the velvet-covered chairs as his balance suddenly wavered, almost falling into the table, causing him to regret at least two of the tequilas he had imbibed, but it was too late now.

All day through…

The voice became stronger as Dean approached the entrance to the piano lounge. Quavering, but definitely louder, he had no idea what Liberace sounded sound like, but this song Dean knew.

In that small café, the park across the way…

It was suddenly very cold in the glitzy room and Dean felt his skin prickling as he pushed aside one of the filmy curtains with the barrel of the shotgun. His breath formed clouds of vapor in front of his face. It suddenly seemed very hard to keep his grip on the gun.

The children's carousel…the chestnut tree…

The chandeliers overhead began to dance gently in a non-existent breeze, sending flashes of light leaping about the room, making him dizzy and disorienting him.

The wishing well…

The singing voice filled his head, he could feel the keys being struck on his skin.

What the hell was going on here? He thought, shaking his head. He moved unsteadily to the large white piano and raised his gun, grimacing as the voice began the next stanza.

I'll be seeing you…

"Not if I have anything to say about it," Dean growled out loud, pulling back on the trigger.

"'Cause this freaking music is killin' me!"

 

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The Winchester Chronicles

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