Season Two

Episode Five: Remote Control

by Irismay42

Part One

 

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Sandie Bishop had a million thoughts rattling around in her head as she absently turned her beat up silver minivan into the parking lot of Penny’s All You Can Eat Diner.

As was usual for a Saturday, the lunch crowd had arrived early and simply not left, hungry families intent on taking the diner’s name quite literally piling inside with what seemed like at least a hundred kids apiece, all of whom appeared dead set on consuming their own weight in burgers, fries and ice cream sundaes.

Sandie barely noticed as she carefully circled the parking lot, the ancient security cameras dotted around the perimeter fence squeaking slightly as they followed her progress.

Now what time did Janey need picking up from soccer practice? Two-thirty? Or was it three? Sandie shook her head slightly. No, three o’clock was when she was supposed to be collecting Robbie from Luis’ house and dropping the boys at Mitchell’s birthday bowl-a-rama. So Janey must be two-thirty.

Crap! she berated herself as she scanned the parked vehicles for one in particular. Ruby’s costume! Her youngest daughter would throw a fit if she had to be the only pirate without an eye patch in the school play. Must run down to the store. Can’t have Cap’n Ruby without an eye patch…

She smiled as she finally spotted the big black car parked slightly away from the others to the rear of the lot, checking the license plate number and nodding in relief.

Good. They’re here.

So: Soccer at two-thirty, bowling at three, eye patch for Ruby and she had remembered to put a full clip in the 9mm, right?

Easing the minivan into a spot just left of the big shiny black car, she yanked on the parking brake before pulling her purse roughly across the passenger seat and tugging out the black handgun secreted inside. Releasing the clip, she checked its stock of ammo before sliding it back into the grip and sighing contentedly.

Soccer. Bowling. Eye patch. Bullets.

All was right with Sandie’s world.

Pleased with herself, she stepped calmly out of the car, not really registering that this was the first calm she’d felt all day. This was okay, this was right, she told herself. Just get this done, then off to pick up Janey after soccer.

Sandie’s smile faltered slightly as she wondered how her oldest daughter was doing at practice. She hadn’t scored a goal in four games and was starting to get a little bummed about the whole thing. Maybe she’d take her out for pizza. And Ruby. Have ice cream. Maybe come to Penny’s…

Just needed to do this one little thing first.

She patted the trunk of the big black Chevy as she passed, walking slowly and deliberately toward the diner’s entrance – no hurry, no panic – fingers curling confidently around the Beretta just peeking over the lip of her purse.

She glanced up at the security camera above the door as the little bell chimed to announce her entrance, smiling faintly and hoping her lipstick looked okay.

Must get a new tube of the fuchsia next time I’m at the drugstore, she reminded herself, suddenly remembering she was out of her favorite shade.

“We’re a little crowded today,” the brassy blonde waitress informed her, smiling falsely as she lifted up the coffee pot to avoid smacking some guy in a Phillies cap over the head with it. “If you’ll just give me a minute…”

“Oh, that’s okay,” Sandie replied cheerily, glancing around the crowded restaurant and smiling brightly as her eyes lit on a booth way in back toward the fire exit. “I’m looking for someone…”

Silently reminding herself to pick up the dry cleaning on the way to Janey’s soccer practice, Sandie methodically drew the 9mm from her purse, raised it to shoulder height, and began to walk purposefully toward the rear of the diner, completely oblivious to the sudden screams of startled patrons all around her, some of whom began to fling themselves off their chairs to cower beneath their tables as the gun in Sandie’s hand swept in a wide arc above their heads.

Approaching the booth she’d spotted from the doorway, Sandie’s smile widened as her finger hovered over the trigger of the Beretta.

“Ah, there you are,” she said pleasantly, before proceeding to empty the clip into the horrified crowd.

****

Dean Winchester wasn’t having the best day.

Bad enough that the Impala had gotten a flat on the way into town; that his best jeans had gotten a little more ripped when he went to fix it; that Sam had insisted on ordering him green stuff with lunch when they’d finally found a half decent motel room and made it to an overcrowded diner swarming with goddamn kids; screaming kids, wailing kids, yelling kids, running kids. Dean didn’t usually have a problem with munchkins, but today his head was still trying to decide whether he should have stopped when they brought out that third pitcher of sangria last night, or whether two should really have been his limit. Five, his throbbing headache was telling him, was probably pushing it.

Wow, those checkout girls had really been in the mood to party…

And then, of course, he still had to put up with Sam’s continual mother-henning, which had increased to epic proportions since that whole getting-possessed-by-a-demon thing, culminating in his currently being force-fed broccoli – even though Dean had been at great pains to point out that even broccoli couldn’t fend off demonic possession.

And all of that was before some suburban housewife had decided to burst into the diner and go all Terminator on the customers.

Yeah, that was all Dean needed today.

Hangover.

Broccoli.

Gun-wielding soccer mom.

Just perfect.

“What the hell?!” Sam hissed, pulling Dean back behind their overturned table as a bullet pinged off the Formica just as his brother reached for the downed waitress currently spilling blood all over the black and white tiled floor.

“Oh my god, that’s Sandie Bishop!” the waitress cried, trembling hand pressed to the bullet hole in her shoulder as her ashen face looked up at the woman striding nonchalantly toward her. “Her son’s in my daughter’s math class!”

Dean made another attempt at grabbing the waitress’ shirt, fingers finally snagging on the fabric, enabling him to drag her back behind the table just as the clickety-clack of the approaching woman’s sensible heels came to an abrupt halt six feet away from them.

“You can’t hide,” the woman said calmly. “I see you back there.”

Dean glanced at Sam wide-eyed as he cautiously slid his handgun from the inner pocket of his navy blue jacket. “So I’m not usually the paranoid type,” he muttered, leaning his head back against the table as Sam drew his own weapon and returned his brother’s incredulous gaze. “But you get the feeling this chick’s here for us?”

Sam swallowed. “Now who’ve we pissed off?” he muttered, daring to peek out from behind the table just as another bullet took a chunk of foam out of the seat against which he was crouching, barely an inch from his ear.

“You wanna list?” Dean offered, trying to ignore the oddly panicked look the waitress was throwing their way.

Sam smiled awkwardly at the waitress, pressing his hand against the one she was clutching to her shoulder. “Just keep pressure on it,” he instructed her reassuringly. “You’re gonna be fine. Probably won’t even scar.”

The waitress didn’t look like she believed him, trying to push herself further back into the booth, into the space between the seats where the table had previously been standing.

“Come out come out wherever you are!” the soccer mom sang cheerfully, taking another step towards them.

“Well she certainly don’t look like no hunter,” Dean scowled, for the first time in his life relieved to hear the sound of police sirens wailing in the distance, just as another shot rang out above his head and his scowl deepened. “So who the hell is she?”

A loud click caused him to look straight up, right into the barrel of Sandie Bishop’s deadly-steady 9mm, which had appeared over the top of the upturned table and was currently pointed right between his eyes. He gulped audibly, hands moving out to his sides in a gesture of surrender as Sam did likewise.

“Hey lady,” Dean managed, not moving one iota, eyes slightly crossed as he continued to stare into the barrel of Sandie’s Beretta. “You really wanna splatter a face this pretty all over some random diner?”

Sandie glared at him. “You’re going to get what’s coming to you,” she assured him. “You’re going to pay. After what you did…”

Dean frowned, trying to uncross his eyes but finding himself unable to focus on anything but the gun barrel hovering inches from his face. “Sweetheart, you’re gonna have to be a little more specific.” He smiled nervously. “We’ve done a lot of things –”

“You’re not getting away this time,” Sandie interrupted as if he’d not even spoken, suddenly shoving the barrel of the Beretta right up against Dean’s forehead, forcing what Dean would later refer to as a grunt, but Sam would later refer to as a squeak to escape the older brother’s lips.

“Wait!” Sam lurched forward, drawing out his pistol with lightning speed and aiming it above Dean’s head. “You don’t –”

“You’re going to pay –”

Dean snapped his eyes shut as Sandie’s finger squeezed the trigger, Sam’s anguished scream of “No!” intermingling with a loud bang that resounded eerily around the suddenly silent diner.

All Dean heard then was the sound of Sam’s harsh breathing, and he opened one eye cautiously, taking an experimental breath of his own.

Sam’s eyes were as wide as that Christmas morning when he was six and Dad had actually remembered to get them a Christmas tree. He was staring at a point beyond Dean’s shoulder, the older brother slowly opening his other eye and muttering “Please don’t let there be soccer mom brains all over me,” before twisting around to follow the direction of Sam’s stunned gaze.

Sandie Bishop was lying sprawled out across the tiled floor, gun still held loosely in her hand as a tiny trickle of blood began to ooze down her temple and into her hair.

Dean’s gaze immediately traveled up, to where a big black guy in a greasy white apron stood clutching a frying pan with both hands, teeth clenched together in a grimace of either grim determination or abject terror, the sudden tremble in his arms suggesting the latter.

Dean just stared up at him for a second, vaguely aware of Sam scrambling toward the downed soccer mom and knocking the Beretta out of her lax grip. He blinked twice, before managing, “Dude, you totally hit her with a frying pan.”

The cook seemed to come back to himself slightly, a sheepish smile playing at the corners of his mouth as his shrugged big shoulders. “Always works in the movies,” he said, attention drawn suddenly toward the window and the parking lot outside, where two local cop cars had just screeched to a halt, blue and red lights flashing angrily as boys and girls in blue flung themselves out onto the gravel, cowering behind open car doors, service revolvers drawn nervously.

“You in the diner!” a crackly voice sounded loud over a bullhorn, feedback screech almost drowning out the cop’s last couple of words. “Throw down your weapons and come out with your hands in the air!”

The cook shrugged again, ambling over to one of the windows, rapping on the glass before shoving it open a crack. “It’s okay, she’s disarmed!” he yelled.

The cop with the bullhorn straightened, motioning his fellows to move in, at which point Sam quickly stashed his own weapon out of sight and grabbed a fistful of Dean’s jacket urgently. “Come on,” he said, tugging his brother toward him. “We gotta get you outta here.”

Dean squinted at him, for a second not catching on, before suddenly grinning lopsidedly. “I keep forgetting I’m a dead serial killer,” he said, not resisting Sam’s urging as his brother tugged him down behind a couple more overturned tables before beginning to crawl toward the emergency exit at the rear of the diner.

“Everyone stay put!” the cop with the bullhorn ordered, as the little bell over the front door tinkled to announce the arrival of two scared-looking young officers whose hands trembled on their handguns as they surveyed the scene in front of them.

One of them approached Sandie’s prone form, handcuffs at the ready, while his colleague scratched her head in surprise as she took in the identity of the ‘mad gunman’ some guy trapped in the diner’s toilets had dialed 911 to report as soon as the shooting started.

“Everyone stay where you are,” the female cop repeated her superior’s orders. “Once we’ve taken care of the wounded, we’re going to want statements from all of you…”

Sam glanced back to ensure Dean was still behind him as he quietly reached out to shove open the emergency door. “Sorry officer,” he muttered, ducking out into the parking lot. “Not today.”

Dean followed close on his brother’s heels, briefly checking out the cop before shaking his head a little disappointedly. “Even though you do kinda look like Heather Locklear in that uniform…”

****

“What the hell was that?” Dean burst out, only able to speak once the blue and red lights of the additional cop cars now swarming toward the diner were only distantly visible in the Impala’s rearview mirror.

Sam sat rigidly in the passenger seat, staring forward so hard Dean was worried the kid might strain something. “I think you were right,” he said at length, jaw tense and eyes wide. “I think she was after us.”

Dean glanced sideways at him, noting his pasty pallor. “She wasn’t a hunter, Sam,” he assured him confidently. “They’ve not found us. If they’re even still after us.”

Sam swiveled in his seat suddenly. “Then what the hell was she, Dean?” he demanded, fists clenched against his thighs. “Because if she wasn’t a hunter, then the only other logical explanation would be possession.” He took a deep breath. “Maybe she was one of Haris’ kids. Maybe they’re not done with us…”

Dean flinched involuntarily, suddenly feeling the weight of the amulet heavy around his neck and unconsciously reaching to turn down the volume on the stereo as Cozy Powell’s Dance With the Devil thudded from the speakers. He swallowed hard, clenching his teeth as he tried to regain his equilibrium, knuckles white as he clung to the steering wheel just a little too tightly.

Sam winced, for a second tempted to bite out his own tongue. “Dean, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean –”

Dean shook his head. “This ain’t exactly a demon’s style, Sam,” he said, cutting Sam off as if nothing had happened, clearing his throat as his voice cracked a little. “Sneak attacks; spooky basements; ambushes in abandoned warehouses. That’s a demon’s M.O. But taking out a crowded diner using a possessed desperate housewife? No way. Plus, you know, her eyes weren’t –” his gaze inadvertently skittered to his own reflection in the rearview mirror. “They weren’t – you know.”

Sam lowered his voice, looking away awkwardly. “Neither were yours,” he pointed out softly. “Not all of the time.”

Dean fixed his gaze hard on the blacktop, voice faltering just slightly. “When – when it was –” he cleared his throat again, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “When it was – in control. That’s when…” he trailed off, and Sam just nodded slowly.

“In your case, yeah,” he agreed, suddenly aware of the loudness of the rain pattering against the windshield and the rhythmic clunk of the wipers. “When it was in control, your eyes went – dark.” He sighed. Sam tried not to look away as his brother gritted his teeth and continued to stare straight ahead, as if too ashamed to look Sam in the eye. “But yours wasn’t an ordinary possession, Dean.” Or an ordinary exorcism. He glanced pointedly at the amulet. “You had some help.”

Dean still wouldn’t look at him. “Yeah,” he jerked out. “So? What’s your point?”

Sam sighed again. “Meg,” he said shortly.

That got Dean’s attention.

“Meg?” he echoed, finally risking a quick sidelong glance in Sam’s direction. “Meg’s your point?”

“Her eyes looked perfectly normal most of the time too,” Sam insisted. “And the demon she was carrying was in complete control of her. I just don’t think that’s an indicator we can rely on, is all.”

Dean didn’t comment, just swung the Impala into the parking lot of the Travelers’ Paradise Motel, bringing the big car to a halt in front of room four.

Switching off the engine, he scratched his head thoughtfully. “I don’t know, Sammy,” he said, voice a little resigned as he shoved open the car door with a creak. “This just don’t seem like a demon kinda deal.”

Sam exited the Chevy lost in thought, following his brother into the dingy motel room and trying not to wrinkle his nose at the ever-present mold motif caking the walls. “Then what else could it be?” he asked, slumping down on one of the beds as Dean absently flicked on the TV. “That woman knew us. That was no arbitrary diner hold-up Dean: She was there for us.”

Dean nodded slowly as he began to flick through fuzzy TV channels looking for a local news station. “Maybe,” he said, before glancing up at Sam. “Or maybe she’s something to do with the whole reason we’re here in the first place.”

Sam frowned, prodding at a stack of dog-eared pages spread out across his bed. “I dunno, man,” he said skeptically. “The whole weird randomness of what’s going on around here was what originally got me to thinking maybe it was our kinda deal. Today was personal.”

Dean shrugged. “I should think the security guard who got shot during that bank robbery thought it was pretty freakin’ personal too.”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “Yeah,” he agreed. “Maybe. But some couple going on the rampage at an elderly relative’s rest home and trashing a security system?” He fixed Dean with a disbelieving squint. “Electrical and computer store thefts? Someone stealing a worthless hunk of crystal from a pawnshop? Not exactly victimless crimes I know, but still…” He scratched his head as he pawed through the papers on the bed. “I dunno, I guess it all just seems somehow connected in its randomness.” He shook his head. “And then, of course, there are the perpetrators. Ordinary people who’ve never had so much as a parking ticket before.”

“Convenient they don’t remember a thing about it when they’re arrested too…” Dean mumbled.

Sam nodded. “Which is even more suggestive of some kind of possession,” he argued. “They’ve all experienced lost time, Dean. Don’t remember any of it.”

“Which blows the whole demonic possession theory right out of the water, Sam,” Dean countered, eyes flashing before he averted them uncomfortably from Sam’s. “Because they – I –” His gaze gravitated downwards to the amulet hanging innocently around his neck. “Because I remember it, Sam,” he managed at last. “At least some of it. And so did Meg, she told us that much.”

Sam nodded slowly, taking a breath. “I guess,” he agreed gently, focus shifting to the TV screen behind Dean, which had cut to a local reporter almost lost amidst a sea of flashing blue and red lights standing right in front of Penny’s All You Can Eat Diner. “Hey, turn that up,” he instructed, gesturing frantically at the TV set.

Dean turned, flicking up the volume.

“…has been identified as local thirty-eight-year-old mother of three, Sandie Bishop,” the reporter was saying, face professionally serious. “Mrs. Bishop is reported to have gone on the rampage armed with a semi-automatic pistol, firing at least nine rounds randomly into this crowded lunchtime diner. A thirty-five-year-old waitress received a gunshot wound to the shoulder, but her condition is not thought to be life-threatening. No one else was injured in the incident, which was brought to a dramatic conclusion when the assailant was incapacitated by diner chef, Marlon Andrews, who is being hailed as a local hero by the customers and staff here at Penny’s. Sandie Bishop has been taken to the secure unit at St. Agatha’s Psychiatric Hospital pending evaluation, unofficial sources stating she claims to remember nothing of the incident…”

“There, you see?” Dean said, snapping his fingers at the screen as the cook who had downed the soccer mom with the frying pan grinned sheepishly into the camera. “Just like all the other perps in this weirdo crime spree.”

Sam nodded sagely. “We need to see Sandie Bishop,” he announced, decision already made.

“Yeah,” Dean agreed, jerking his thumb behind him at the grinning cook on the TV screen. “And we owe that guy a beer.”

****

“White pants,” Dean muttered grumpily, staring down at himself in dismay before glancing cautiously around the loading bay of St. Agatha’s Hospital and motioning Sam to follow him through the big swinging plastic doors leading into the building. “Why do hospitals insist on white pants?”

Sam surveyed his brother’s current attire, recently snagged from a convenient laundry delivery piled up in hampers on the loading dock, and tried not to grin too big. “You look cute,” he commented with a wicked smile. “Dangerous, but cute. Kinda like the Marshmallow Man.”

Dean scowled at him as he began to stomp up the nearest stairwell. “At least I got matching socks,” he groused, looking pointedly at the inch of ankle clearly visible between the bottom of Sam’s pants and his sneakers.

Sam followed the direction of his gaze, grimacing at his one light blue, one dark blue sock before casting a withering gaze in his brother’s direction. “Dude, that’s the last time I’m letting you do the laundry,” he muttered, peering up the stairwell before following his brother cautiously.

Dean grinned back at him as he rounded the corner onto the second floor landing. “You’re just worried one of these days people are gonna realize you’re really just a midget on stilts, bro.”

Sam took the next three stairs in one leap, catching up with his brother and shoving him in the lower back with a well-placed elbow. “While you’re just a midget,” he commented.

Dean scowled over his shoulder at him. “For the last time,” he grit out, stomping loudly up the next flight of stairs. “I am not short! It’s just standing next to you all the time makes me look that way!”

“Yeah, my getting all the sunlight really stunted your growth, huh?”

Dean turned away from his annoyingly tall brother with a huffed, “Freaky tall freak of freakin’ nature,” as he gingerly shouldered open the door to the fifth floor and peered out into the corridor beyond. “Ah, man,” he whistled, glancing behind him at Sam. “You are so going to fit in here, dude…”

Sam shoved him out of the way with a grimace, pulling up short at the sight of the barred hallway and the assorted patients milling about in the large common room beyond, several of whom appeared to be carrying out animated conversations with the wallpaper. “We better make this fast,” he muttered.

****

“I don’t want any more medication!” the woman strapped to the bed spat as the two orderlies entered her tiny room. “I just wanna go home to my kids!”

The taller of the two young men raised his hands, palms open toward her. “That’s okay, Mrs. Bishop,” he said, voice low and soothing as his colleague took one last furtive look out onto the hallway before closing the door quietly. “We’re here to help you.”

Sandie blinked at them – once, twice – relaxing slightly against the padded restraints around her wrists and ankles. “You –” she began, squinting at the shorter orderly as an odd image of him looking backwards and up at her suddenly sprung into her addled brain. “You look familiar,” she said slowly, unable to trust the veracity of her own memories in the face of what the police and doctors were assuring her she’d done. “Do I know you?”

Sam smiled awkwardly. “I’m Sam,” he introduced himself. “This is my brother, Dean.”

Dean raised an eyebrow. “Maybe I give you a gun to wave at me it might all come flooding back to you.”

Sandie froze, the memory of cool metal against the palm of her hand, the solidity of an almost-pulled trigger, and someone shouting “No!” suddenly assaulting her senses. “You’re not orderlies, are you?” she surmised, unsure whether to be afraid or relieved.

Sam shook his head. “But don’t be scared,” he reassured her. “We’re not here to hurt you –”

Sandie laughed ironically at that. “No, I’ve got nothing to be scared about,” she told him, blinking back tears. “I’m locked up in a hospital full of crazy people strapped to a bed in a barred room while the cops tell me I shot up a diner this afternoon… But I’ve got nothing to be scared about…”

Sam bit his lip, a look of total understanding spreading across his face. Somehow, Sandie was pretty sure the look was genuine. “You really don’t remember any of it?” he asked.

Sandie shook her head minutely. “They say I had my husband’s gun,” she said, tears beginning to slide down her cheek as her defenses weakened in the face of Sam’s sympathetic expression. “I don’t even know how to use the thing!” she protested. “Ryan wanted me to take lessons, but I didn’t want anything to do with it.” She sighed, shaking her head again. “And they say – they say I shot Maggie Wade. Her daughter was at my son’s last birthday party…” She trailed off, eyes turned up toward the ceiling. “I don’t remember. I don’t remember anything after –” She stopped suddenly, mouth still slightly open, as if she’d forgotten she was speaking.

“After what?” Dean urged. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

Sandie thought about that, eyes still fixed on the grimy ceiling tiles. “I was – I was on the internet,” she said slowly. “Looking for movie times. Thought maybe I’d take the girls to see that new Lindsay Lohan movie later…”

“Jeez, you really must be crazy,” Dean muttered under his breath.

Sam frowned disapprovingly at him, before producing a notepad and pen seemingly from thin air. “What website?” he asked, interest piqued. “You remember?”

Sandie’s eyes refocused on the young man standing at the foot of her bed. “You were there,” she said slowly, gaze flitting suddenly to Dean and back again. “You two were at the diner. I was supposed to – I had a gun pointed at you.”

Sam shifted from one foot to the other. “Ma’am –”

“It’s Sandie,” Sandie urged absently. “Call me Sandie.”

“Sandie,” Sam smiled at her again, trying to be as reassuring as possible. “You remember which website you were looking at before you –”

“Spaced out?” Sandie supplied. “Turned into a psycho gunperson?” She flopped her head back against the flat pillow beneath her. “It was just a local information website – pretty new I think. Uh – PAEye.com or something I think it was called.”

Sam nodded, not looking up as he scribbled on his notepad.

“Why?” Sandie enquired.

Sam shrugged. “Probably nothing,” he said. Then, looking back up at her, he added, “And you don’t remember anything after that?”

“Bits and pieces,” Sandie said slowly. “But nothing really until I came to in the ambulance. Handcuffed to a gurney with a couple of cops glaring at me like I was some common criminal.”

Dean took a step toward her. “You knew us,” he said shortly. “You said we wouldn’t get away again.”

Sandie blinked at him, scrutinizing him hopelessly before finally turning her head away. “I don’t remember,” she said. “I don’t know what I said or what I did or why I did it.” She fixed Sam with a pathetically helpless stare. “I just want to go home. Can you help me?”

****

“Why’d you tell her that?” Dean demanded testily, fingers curled tightly around the Impala’s steering wheel as he hurriedly pulled the big Chevy away from St. Agatha’s Hospital.

“What?” Sam demanded just as testily, readjusting his notes on his knee while avoiding looking up at his brother.

“You know what,” Dean growled. “Why’d you tell her we’d help her?” His gaze unconsciously strayed to the rearview mirror as the hairs on the back of his neck began to prickle, and he fought the urge to glance down at the amulet, certain that this uncomfortable sensation of being watched he’d been experiencing since the incident at the diner had nothing to do with any residual paranoia he was still feeling about his all-too-recent possession.

No, this was just the regular kind of old-fashioned paranoia he always felt – because someone generally was out to get him most of the time.

“I just told her we’d try,” Sam insisted, not failing to notice his brother’s edgy demeanor. “The poor woman’s desperate. We can at least give her some hope.”

“False hope,” Dean put in shortly. “When have we ever been able to convince the cops that something supernatural was responsible for a crime? Huh? You forget St. Louis? Jeez, you’d have thought a little CSI’ing on that shapeshifting freak would have clued the cops in to something hinky in his DNA. But no, they just go right ahead and bury him, still thinking he’s regular old Dean Winchester –”

“Oh, will you get off that whole St. Louis thing?” Sam groaned.

Dean came the closest to a sulk Sam had seen him since he was nine. “It just bugs me, that’s all I’m saying,” he groused.

“Dean –”

“I mean, where’s Gil Grissom when you need him?”

“Dean –!

“What?”

“Can we concentrate here?”

Dean shot a sidelong glance at his brother. “I can talk, drive and concentrate at the same time, believe it or not, Sam,” he insisted. “It’s called multi-tasking.”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “Closest you’ve ever gotten to multi-tasking were those three air hostesses in Buffalo.”

Dean snorted. “Hey, I offered to share, man –”

Sam wrinkled his nose. “Not if my life depended on it.”

Dean grinned broadly, shoulders relaxing slightly, for once oblivious to the expert diversionary tactics of his little brother. “All right,” he said at length, expression sobering. “Sandie Bishop.”

“I don’t think she was possessed,” Sam said, leafing idly through his notes. “At least, not in the traditional sense.”

Dean squinted at him. “There’s such a thing as untraditional possession?”

Sam neatly avoided the obvious comment, which would have had Dean back in a tailspin faster than he could have gotten the words “What about you?” out of his mouth. “I don’t think its demonic possession,” he mused instead, brows knitting in thought.

“Then what?” Dean asked. “Mind control?” he arched an eyebrow uncertainly.

Sam shrugged one shoulder. “Maybe. Would explain why she can’t remember anything – just like the other upstanding members of the community responsible for this apparently random crime spree.”

“So we need to salt n’ burn David Blaine or something?” Dean offered. “’Cause man, I am so up for that –”

“He’s an illusionist, Dean,” Sam pointed out.

“He’s a –”

“Dean!”

“Jeez Sam, you’re starting to sound like that battleaxe teacher I had in fifth grade –”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Look, this could be the real deal,” he said flatly. “Not sleight of hand, or some Hollywood hypnotist out to grab himself some ratings.”

Dean considered that. “So whatever –”

“Whoever.”

“Whatever.” Dean shook his head. “If someone’s doing this to people – mind controlling them – then how’s he getting to them?”

“Maybe it’s someone they all know, someone they have in common.”

“Or someone who knows them.” Dean offered. Then, “I guess it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone they come into personal contact with…”

Sam bit his lip. “You mean like people being hypnotized through their TVs?”

“Baywatch had that effect on me all the time.”

“Dean –”

“Alright, what about that website Sandie was talking about?”

Sam inclined his head as Dean turned the Impala into the motel parking lot. “Worth checking out,” he agreed. “But we need to know what we’re dealing with before we go exposing ourselves to anything –” A snigger escaped Dean’s lips, and Sam just rolled his eyes. “Will you just get your mind out of the gutter for one minute?”

Dean affected Serious Face. “I’ll try, dude, but I’m not promising anything.”

“Listen,” Sam shook his head with a sigh. “I think we’re going to be here a little longer than we originally thought.”

Dean nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I’ll go book us a couple extra nights.” He swung himself out of the car, tossing the room key to his brother as his made his way toward the office. “No surfing HotSenoritas.com while I’m gone.”

Sam grimaced. “That’s called ‘projection’ you know,” he tossed over his shoulder as he headed for their room. “Expecting other people to emulate your own basest behavior…”

Dean made a base gesture with one finger. “Emulate this, Sigmund,” he muttered, shoving open the office door and striding up to the geeky-looking clerk who was busily poring over the ancient computer taking up half the check-in desk.

“I help you?” the clerk asked without looking up, light from the computer screen reflecting eerily off his thick plastic-rimmed glasses.

“Uh, yeah,” Dean frowned at him uncertainly. “I’d like to book room four for a couple more nights.”

“Oh, that won’t be necessary,” the clerk told him brightly, casually reaching for something beneath the desk. “You’re not going to need an extra night anywhere.” He suddenly withdrew a shotgun from beneath the counter, bringing it up and into Dean’s face so fast the hunter barely had time to react at all, much less reach for the Glock secreted in his waistband.

Without thinking, Dean automatically glanced over his shoulder in the direction he’d last seen his brother as he slowly raised his hands above his head.

Registering the concern in Dean’s action, the clerk grinned toothily at him. “Don’t worry about Sam, Dean,” he assured him, dragging Dean’s attention back to his own immediate situation. “The maid’s got something real special lined up for him.”

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The Winchester Chronicles

 

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