outside Ellicott City, MD
Dean was humming.
had been so engrossed in the words before him that he
didn't realize what he was hearing at first. He looked
up, the glow of the highway lights periodically illuminating
the Impala's shiny hood as they grew closer to their
destination. He had been reading by flashlight, trying
to distract himself from the heavy quiet of the car,
trying to ready himself for what they would find in
Ellicott City. He narrowed his focus on the radio, James
Hetfield's gruff voice as familiar to him as his brother's.
Metallica's Nothing Else Matters.
started singing, low, soft, as if he wasn't aware that
the words were out loud.
"…trust I seek, and I find
in you… every day for us something new…
and nothing else matters… never cared for what
they say… never cared for games they played…
never cared for what they do… never cared for
what they know…"
Sam closed his eyes briefly, then looked
back down at the papers laying in his lap. Dean used
to sing a lot when they were younger. When the load
he carried was lighter. He knew Dean was unaware of
it, but his brother's suffering came through his quiet
voice and Sam felt a stab of frustrated helplessness.
There was nothing he could do… nothing. Because
he was the cause, the catalyst.
rubbed two fingers across the lid of his left eye, trying
to stifle the dull ache there. It had never really stopped
bothering him since the time they spent in Riverside,
not that he'd admit that to Dean. It was good enough
– he could see, that's all that mattered. He knew
that despite Dean's automatic drive to follow John's
orders, his brother's focus had been on one thing since
the night when Sam had let exhaustion get the better
of him and had broken his brother's heart with six words
spoken without thought: I had to make the deal.
He shifted against the seat as Dean
took the curve of the darkened road faster than the
posted speed limited suggested. He was in complete control
of the car, his fingers curled around the wheel, his
shoulders squared and tense, his eyes pinned to the
blacktop. Sam never worried about Dean losing control
of his car. He worried about him losing control of everything
Melissa's death had hit Dean harder
than Sam first realized. By the time Sam understood,
really understood, it was too late. He'd discovered
the phantom platoon and had pushed Dean onto another
hunt. Keep them moving, keep them working, keep their
minds off the inevitable…
Sam had watched as Dean had pulled
the pain exposed by alcohol back inside, made it go
away, once again effectively shoring up his internal
defensive perimeter. Sifting through the myriad of information
printed across the papers in his lap, Sam let a small
sigh leak out. Dad's news last week had simply added
another brick to Dean's wall.
Somehow, the knowledge that his abilities
were a result of destiny working to balance itself had
a calming, almost peaceful effect on Sam. Dean had taken
the information in stride, used it to fuel his already
white-hot drive to get Sam out of his deal. As usual,
Dean preferred action: focusing on a solution to their
current dilemma rather than musing about the mysteries
of the universe. But, then, Dean was action. And he
would never be at peace unless he was able to keep denying
evil what it so badly desired.
stopped singing when the song ended and the Stones'
Paint It Black began. The near-silence that
filled the car in the wake of Dean's voice almost compelled
Sam to dig through the CD collection and find something
else his brother would sing to.
Sam, going to Maryland on a new hunt was a welcome reprieve
– a way to keep the demons at bay that couldn't
be dispelled with holy water or an exorcism. The demons
of time and truth. The demons of betrayal and sacrifice.
For Dean, he knew, it was just one
more thing keeping him from his true mission: saving
Sam. But an order was an order, no matter how it was
"There's the turn-off, man,"
Sam spoke up suddenly.
"I see it," Dean's low voice
the Impala angled down the exit ramp, Sam swallowed
the sudden urge to snap at his brother. How long,
Dean? How long are you going to shut me out? How long
are you going to make me pay? He sank a bit deeper
into his seat, knowing the answer. His birthday was
less than two weeks away. Ten days to be exact.
quickly over at his brother, Sam could almost see Dean
coil tighter before his eyes as if a digital countdown
hovered above Dean's head, ticking away the time they
had left together: 239 hours, 59 minutes, 60 seconds.
He wondered idly why he didn't feel the same sense of
"Okay, Sam. Whadaya got?"
Sam took a breath and began to roll
up the sleeves of his denim shirt. Dad's note had effectively
shut them out of one hunt and pushed them toward another.
He knew which one Dean wanted to be on, but when he'd
called the number Dad had left them, he'd reached Frank
Jessup who said that he knew John from the Marines.
Dean said Frank sounded almost desperate
when he asked them to come right away. The fact that
he'd served with their dad made the note's implied order
explicit. His brother would move heaven and earth to
live up to the expectations he perceivd their father
had of him. Helping a fellow marine was not only expected,
it was demanded.
"So, let's see… Frank said
that the kid died last week—"
"Yeah, I got that part,"
Dean interrupted, glancing quickly down at the papers
lit by Sam's flashlight. "Skip to the part I don't
Sam licked his lips. He was on shaky
ground, covering old territory. He knew Dean would remember
every word Frank said; Dean remembered pretty much everything
he heard, from conversations, to music lyrics, to movie
lines. He mentally shook off the strange hesitation
he was feeling about how to talk to his brother, and
"Well, looks like Ellicott City
was pretty quiet until about three years ago. Then weird
stuff started happening."
like three-headed cow weird, or weird like 28 Days
"Weird like… well, here
it says a half a dozen animals drowned in the river,
and then three houses in one neighborhood sank one story
into the earth overnight."
Sam nodded. "Guess things have
been, um, escalating over the last month – library
books flying from the shelves, the odd fire breaking
out for no reason. That kinda stuff. Hey, Dean?"
"Did you know that Baltimore is
considered pretty much the most haunted place in the
lifted an eyebrow and glanced at him. "Who doesn't
know that, Sam?"
"Jeeze, sorry," Sam rolled
his eyes. He hid a smile. Talking was good. Talking
eased the tension.
Dean cracked his neck. "You know
the name of this place isn't really working in our favor."
"I promise not to shoot you."
Sam pulled the corner of his mouth up in a small grin.
He glanced at his brother, noting how
Dean's eyes crinkled slightly at the corners, betraying
the humor that his mouth tried to hide.
"Dude, I think it's my turn to
Sam looked up and watched through the
front window as Dean turned down the main street of
Ellicott City. "I think Howie took your turn for
Dean bobbed his head once. "Howie
freakin' Grumnik. Little bastard."
They stopped at a red light and Dean
stretched an arm over the back of the seat, looking
over at him. Sam was surprised at his own reaction to
the sight of his brother's eyes. Recently, having Dean
simply look at him was like winning the lottery. He
missed his brother's often inappropriate humor, his
natural tendency to parent him – even Dean's anger
was better than the careful tread of pained uncertainty
that had been tainting their conversation since John
had left them in Nebraska.
"So, what you're saying is…
we got some poltergeist running amuck in this here town,"
"Amuck?" Sam asked, grinning.
Dean nodded, his mouth bowed down in
a mock frown. "Amuck. Causin' a ruckus even."
"Apparently," Sam chuckled,
appreciating his attempt at levity. "You know…
I wonder why Frank offered to pay us. If he knows Dad,
he's gotta know we'd come, regardless."
Dean accelerated through the green
light, his face a display of doubt. "Yeah…
I don't know, Sam. Feels hinky, taking money from one
of Dad's friends."
"Dad ever mention him to you before
Dean shook his head. "Nah, but
it's not like he talked about every guy he served with."
"Yeah…" Sam frowned,
looking back down at the papers.
"Nothing," Sam shook his
head. "Guess I just think that… well, hinky
or not, it's nice to be able to make some honest money
for a change."
Dean shook his head. "Dude, you
have one twisted idea of honesty."
winced, looking over at him. "Dean, I—"
"Forget it." Dean's voice
went hard, apparently realizing how layered such a statement
was these days. "We're here anyway."
He pulled to a stop in front of the
police station. Sam switched off his flashlight and
stuffed it and the papers into the glove box. The familiar
creak of the Impala's doors announced their arrival.
Dean got out and Sam heard him whistle in admiration
at the dark blue – or was it black? – vehicle
he'd parked next to. Sam paused and leaned on the roof
of the Impala, waiting while Dean slowly circled the
"1970 Ford Falcon, Sam."
"This baby's a classic. Probably
got a Mustang V8 under her hood."
"You want me to give you a minute
Dean finished his prowl around the
car, his shoulders rolling under his leather jacket
as he shrugged off the inevitable tension Sam knew driving
across country always settled on him.
"Nah," Dean tossed him a
crooked grin. "Wouldn't dream of cheating on my
"Right. My bad," Sam said,
shaking his head and following him up the stone steps
to the heavy wooden doors of the police station.
As he was a bit behind, Sam was able
to swiftly step out of the way when Dean crashed backwards
and stumbled down one step, his arms splayed to keep
from falling, as a dark-haired girl with an armful of
thick text books slammed directly into him.
"Oh, my God," she exclaimed
as her books slid from her grasp. Sam grabbed the door
before it could swing back and hit them as Dean struggled
to both catch his balance and keep the girl from propelling
them backwards down the stairs.
"Easy, whoa!" Dean grabbed
the girl up against him, effectively stopping their
possible plummet backwards. "Hey, you okay?"
She nodded, stepping back and looking
up at him. From where he stood, Sam couldn't see her
face – but he could see Dean's. His brother's
large hazel eyes flashed once, pupils widening, and
then they softened. He'd seen that flash before, many
times… but rarely had he seen the almost pained
smile that followed. That brief reveal of a bared soul
had Sam remembering Cassie… and Melissa.
"I'm so sorry," the girl
exclaimed, her voice deep. "I wasn't paying attention…
I could have… I am so sorry."
Dean ducked his head so that he caught
her eyes, his hands firmly but gently holding her upper
arms. "Hey, it's okay. No one's broken. Lemme help
Sam matched Dean's surprised expression
at her swift denial.
"No," she repeated more softly,
with an embarrassed laugh. "I've got it; it's okay."
She shoved her hands into her close-cropped hair.
crouched down and picked up a thick book, turning it
over. Ascension Magick: Ritual, Myth, and Healing
for the New Aeon. He stood, the book in his hand,
and watched as the girl bent to pick up the others quickly.
Dean turned and grabbed one that had tumbled down a
couple of stairs. Sam watched as he looked at the title.
He lifted it and flashed the cover at Sam. Elemental
Witch: Fire, Air, Water, Earth; Discover your Natural
Affinity. Sam lifted an eyebrow and showed Dean
the book he held in his hand.
"Thank you, thanks," said
the girl, turning to take the book from Sam. He caught
his first look at her face. She was captivating –
older than he'd first thought, with high cheekbones,
a small mouth that quirked up naturally at the corners,
even in her harried state, and large brown eyes framed
by thick, dark lashes.
She turned back to Dean and met his
eyes. Sam watched Dean pull his lips in, his brows gathering
across the bridge of his nose. He handed her the last
"You sure you're okay?"
the girl's voice trembled slightly. "Yes. I'm fine.
Thanks. Thanks again."
Her arms once again laden with the
Wiccan books, the girl moved past Dean, tossing a quick
smile back at him as she made her way down the stairs.
Sam watched as Dean kept his eyes on her, turning his
body as he watched her walk away. Sam flicked his eyes
from the back of his brother's head to watch the girl
unlock the back door of the Falcon, toss the books on
the seat, then slide into the driver's seat. His brows
shot up in surprised admiration.
shook his head slowly as the car fired up with an eerily
familiar rumble, and the girl backed out of the parking
space, turned on the headlights, and drove away with
strains of Don Henley's Boys of Summer echoing
back to them through her opened windows.
Dean turned back to look at him, the grin on his face
had Sam shaking his head in bemusement. Some things
never change, he thought. Dean nodded at him, motioning
him to go in first. As Sam walked through the door,
his eyes hit a large wall calendar next to the Most
Wanted board. Today's date flashed up at him. April
22nd. And some things do…
"Can I help you?" The desk
sergeant was a tired-looking Asian man whose expression
told Sam that helping them was the absolute last thing
he wanted to do.
"Yeah, uh, Officer… Kim,"
Dean replied with a friendly smile, ducking his eyes
to read the sergeant's name badge. "We're looking
for Frank Jessup."
Danny, I am not going to tell you again. Do
your freakin' job, man!"
Sam blinked at the harsh bark from
an opened doorway behind Officer Kim. He saw Dean straighten
reflexively out of the corners of his eyes. Officer
Kim jerked a thumb over his shoulder.
"That's him," he muttered
and dropped his gaze back down to the magazine he'd
been reading before they walked in.
A young blond man in a light-blue officer's
shirt stumbled out of the opened doorway, hurried through
the bullpen and pushed through the swinging door next
to Officer Kim, who didn't so much as raise his head.
Sam and Dean separated quickly to allow the young man
space to storm out of the station, watched him exit,
then turned as one back to face the angry-looking Sheriff
standing with his elbow propped in the doorway, fingers
splayed through dark hair, a scowl looking at home on
"Frank Jessup?" Dean asked.
"Who wants to know?" He grumbled.
"Name's Winchester. Dean Winchester,"
Dean tilted his head to the left. "This is my brother,
Sam. You called us?"
straightened quickly at the sound of their surname.
He'd crossed the room in three quick, long-legged strides
by the time Dean stopped talking.
damn it's good to see you boys!" Frank
exclaimed. He reached out a hand and grabbed Sam's,
pumping it enthusiastically. "Damn, I should have
realized – you look just like your Daddy did at
your age, Sam."
Sam blinked, carefully extracting his
hand from Frank's exuberant greeting. He looked over
at Dean and was momentarily surprised by the shadowed
expression that brushed his brother's features. When
Frank reached for his hand, Dean took it, shook once
and stepped back from his grasp. Frank didn't seem to
"You boys made good time,"
he said, a relieved smile nearly splitting his face
in half. "You eat yet?"
Sam was still watching Dean and allowed
himself to relax when at the mention of food, Dean smiled.
"No sir," Dean replied.
"Well, c'mon," Frank clapped
a hand on Sam's shoulder, turning them toward the door.
"Kim, hold down the fort."
Officer Kim didn't even look up. "Mmhmm."
"There's a diner right across
t'way," Frank said, stepping between them to jog
ahead down the stone steps. He caught sight of the Impala
and Sam saw him do a double-take. "Hot damn! She
He turned to look at Sam. Dean nodded,
saying nothing. Frank looked back at the car.
"You wait 'til you meet my niece,
Reed," Frank said, starting to reach out and run
a finger along the hood of the Impala. Sam had to bite
back a grin when Frank instinctively looked up to see
Dean's stony expression warning him away. He pulled
his hand back and continued. "Her Daddy had a thing
for classic cars. Gave her his Ford Falcon when she
eyebrows went up. His niece, huh?
"We, uh, met," Dean said,
following Frank across the street. "Sorta."
Sam walked in under the ringing bell
behind Frank and Dean. The small diner looked like it
had once been a railroad car. The sound of the bell
caught the attention of a white-haired man, wearing
a navy-blue baseball cap that was turned backwards on
his head, wiping down the counter.
"Three coffees, Luke," Frank
signaled with his fingers.
He led the way to a booth, sliding
into the far side, facing the door. Sam slid in across
from him, making room for Dean. Luke set three thick,
white mugs down in the middle of the table and poured
the coffee over them, filling each with an impressive
circular motion. Dean hooked his elbow over the back
of the booth between himself and Sam and rested his
other arm on the Formica table top.
"Thanks, Luke," Frank nodded,
picking up his coffee and gulping half the cup in what
should have been a mouth-scalding swallow. He set it
back down and Luke, who was apparently used to this
behavior, filled it back up, then looked at the boys.
Dean shrugged and mimicked Frank, receiving
an immediate refill. Sam waved his hand over the top
of his still-steaming mug.
"I'm good, thanks," he said
hurriedly, rewarded with narrowed eyes and a frown from
the gregarious Luke.
"Uh, three specials, I think,
Luke," Frank nodded at Dean, then Sam. "That
good with you boys?"
blinked, but Dean nodded. Surrendering to the inevitable,
Sam smiled at Luke and nodded as well. After more than
a thousand diners in more than a thousand small towns
across America, Sam had learned that the special
was pretty much the same anywhere they went.
Luke stepped away, and Dean leaned
forward, resting both elbows on the table and wrapping
his hands around his mug.
"Thank God," he mumbled sarcastically.
"I thought he'd never shut up."
Frank grinned. "Luke's not much
of a talker. He was a POW in the war. Prolly said about
ten words in the last ten years."
Dean nodded and looked down.
"So, uh, Frank," Sam started.
It was late, and he could feel the tension begin to
build around Dean again.
"Yeah," Frank nodded. "You're
probably ready to get down to business, ain'tcha?"
Dean kept his eyes down, seemingly
content to let Sam handle the talking.
"We did some research on the way
Frank shook his head. "Y'ain't
gonna find out what you need to know from any book."
"Internet research," Sam
"Not there, neither," Frank
said, glancing out of the diner window into the darkness.
"Nobody knows, is why."
what?" Dean asked, keeping his head lowered, but
raising his eyes to look directly at Frank.
Frank pressed his lips down in a frown,
looking back over at Dean, then shifting his eyes to
my brother is haunting this town."
* * * *
Inn B&B, night
Dean lay on top of the red comforter
covering one of the two double beds in the room Frank
had secured for them. His leather jacket was draped
across the back of the chair sitting opposite Sam, who
was hunched over his laptop, staring intently at the
screen. Dean tucked one arm behind his head, grateful
for the grey T-shirt layered beneath the soft, thin
fabric of his second-hand red plaid flannel shirt. April
in Maryland was brisk, to say the least.
Mindlessly flipping through the five
channels on the hotel TV, Dean thought about what Frank
had told them less than an hour before. Frank had apparently
been able to shrug off the weird occurrences that had
happened in and around Ellicott City for the last three
years until the teenager was found dead in a local abandoned
house. He'd been missing for almost a week when an anonymous
tip had led them to the house and they'd found the boy
in a small broom closet. The coroner's report said he'd
died from asphyxiation.
kid suffocated. That had to be scary as hell…
stopped flipping when he reached a rerun of The
X-files and he dropped the remote onto the bed
next to him. He looked over at Sam. His brother had
handled the initial information-gathering part of the
investigation with ease. He'd smoothly maneuvered around
Frank's reluctance to relinquish many details as to
why he was so certain of the spirit's identity, and
got enough for them to do more research on their own.
He had even managed to get Frank to give them half of
the money offered now, with the promise of the second
half when they'd taken care of the problem.
problem. Vanquishing his dead brother's spirit…
Shaking his head, Dean sat up on the
bed, bending one leg in front of him and dropping the
other to the floor. He didn't even like thinking the
words 'brother' and 'spirit' in the same sentence. He
lifted his eyes to the TV screen, watching without comprehension.
He should be out there with his dad, finding that damn
Seal, fixing this, saving Sam.
"Okay, so listen to this,"
Sam spoke up suddenly, breaking into his thoughts. "Lawrence
Jessup died three years ago at the age of forty-five."
gotta be kidding me," Dean said, dropping his chin.
"The dude's name was Lawrence?"
Sam glanced at him. "Yeah."
"What is it with this case? Next
thing you're gonna tell me is that we have to walk into
an attic full of bees."
Sam curved the corner of his mouth
into a grin. "I don't think so," he said,
glancing over at the TV. "But anything is possible."
my God, Mulder. It smells like... I think it's bile."
Scully… is there any way I can get it off my fingers
quickly without betraying my cool exterior?"
"What episode is this?" Sam
"The one with that creepy little
dude with the fingers… Tooms," Dean said,
looking from Sam over to the TV.
"Oh, right," Sam nodded.
"I think Dad likes this episode."
"Dad likes any of the episodes
that don't have aliens in them," Dean said, pushing
up from the bed and striding over to the duffel bag
full of weapons.
it up, he dropped it onto his bed, then sat on Sam's
and began to pull the guns from the bag and lay them
out on the bed. His fingers itched. His hands were aching.
His arms hurt. He needed to move, to act, to do. He
needed a purpose. Picking up one of the shotguns, he
began to break it down and clean the barrels with an
automatic flow of action.
days, Dad… Ten friggin' days and you send us on
a ghost hunt. Town'll still be haunted after Sammy's
safe… this couldn't have waited? Oh, right…
dead kid… friend from the Marines… the goddamn
family business. Won't be much of a business
without the family…
When Sam didn't continue with what
he'd discovered about Lawrence Jessup, Dean glanced
over at him. He was watching TV, his face serene, happy
even. Dean pulled his eyebrows together, his hands continuing
their ceaseless motion. Sam didn't look one bit concerned
about the time they were losing dealing with Frank Jessup's
haunted town. In fact, he didn't look concerned about
much of anything.
"Sam!" He barked. Sam jumped,
"Focus. Or I'm turning off the
Sam pouted, then turned back to the
laptop. "Okay, where was I?"
"Freaking me out with the dude's
name," Dean replied, looking down the barrel of
the empty shotgun to check for any remaining residue.
"Right, okay, so… says here
that Lawrence was a pillar of the community, big philanthropist—"
"Donated a lot of money to a lot
"Named a wing of the library after
him… umm, man, looks like the mayor even gave
him the key to the city," Sam folded his lips down,
shaking his head. "Maybe Frank's wrong. Why would
a guy this well-liked turn into an angry spirit?"
Dean shrugged. "Maybe he's not
"Frank seemed so sure, though,"
"Seem weird to you that Frank
didn't tell us how he died?"
"Yeah. It did," Sam scrolled
through a few more screens. "Looks like he, uh,
drowned. A kid fell into the river, Jessup went in after
him, fished him out, but his pants got snagged on something
and he was pulled under. No one nearby was strong enough
to get to him in time."
Dean set the shotgun aside and picked
up another, breaking it down and started to oil it.
"Man, that blows."
Sam nodded. "Doesn't seem like
his spirit would kill that kid, though, Dean. Not when
he died to save another kid…"
Dean shrugged, checking the barrel
of the second gun. "Maybe the kid just wandered
in on a dare… freaked himself out, got trapped."
Sam said, peering at the laptop screen again. "Huh."
"What?" Dean glanced over
at his brother.
"Frank left out a few facts about
that kid's death, too," Sam said, a muscle jumping
in his jaw.
"Like what?" Dean asked,
setting down the second shotgun and picking up his .45,
ejecting the clip.
"Like the fact that the property
the abandoned house is sitting on belongs to Reed Jessup."
Dean froze, thinking. He knew that
name… "Holy shit, his niece? The chick with
Sam nodded. "Lawrence's daughter."
"Well, that changes things a bit,"
Dean said, taking apart his gun.
Sam sat back in his chair and rubbed
his face tiredly. "Man, this gets old, you know
Dean's attention snapped to a narrowed
focus and he looked hard at Sam's profile. "What
are you talking about?"
"This…" Sam waved his
hand around the room. "All… this. Different
town, different motel room. Family tragedy, lies, secrets.
Ghosts, pain, hauntings… all of it. I'm just gonna
be glad when it's all over."
Dean went cold. He swallowed the sudden
rush of bile to his throat at Sam's words. Working to
pull a breath into his lungs, he licked his lips and
carefully set down his .45.
"Why are you saying this stuff,
If his distress echoed through his
voice, Sam gave no notice. He simply tipped his chair
back on its rear legs and rolled his neck.
"'Cause I'm ready for something
different, man. I'm just ready… y'know, for it
all to be… over."
Dean felt his heart thud once, hard,
against his ribcage. He was standing before he was even
conscious of pushing himself to his feet.
"Shut the hell up."
Sam's head snapped up in surprise at
the cold dread in Dean's voice. Dean could feel himself
shaking, but he didn't care. He knew his wall was becoming
swiftly transparent, but he wanted, needed, Sam to see.
He couldn't fight hard enough, he wasn't strong enough,
to keep them both believing – Sam had to believe
that they would find a way out of this deal. He had
to believe or Dean would be lost.
"What? Dean, are you—"
Dean crossed the room in two strides
and stood directly in front of Sam. He curled his hands
into fists, resisting the almost overpowering urge to
grab the front of Sam's denim shirt, haul him to his
feet, and shake him, hard.
listen to me," Dean said, his voice low, hard.
"It will never be over. This is our life. Our
life. As long those evil sonsabitches are out there,
it will always be our life."
He watched as Sam paled in reaction
to his trembling anger. His fists tightened to the point
where he heard his knuckles crack. Sam's expression
shifted and his eyes suddenly swam with memories. Dean
stared at him, willing him to come back from complacency,
willing the warrior he'd raised to return… needing
to see the fight in Sam's eyes.
"You can't give up on me, Sam,"
"I'm…" Sam looked away.
"I'm not giving up."
"Don't lie to me."
Sam didn't meet his eyes. "I'm
not lying, Dean." He looked over at the TV. "I
just think that I'm… settled."
"Settled?" Dean pulled his
head back, his brow furrowed in confusion. "What
the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"It means," Sam pushed his
chair away from the table and stepped away from Dean's
formidable presence. "That maybe Dad'll find the
Seal of Solomon… and maybe we'll find a way to
defeat Haris…" Sam looked at him then. "And
maybe we won't."
and you're just okay with that?" Dean yelled.
Sam nodded. "Yeah, Dean."
He leaned on the dresser, his fingers stuffed into the
front pockets of his jeans. "I am."
Dean slowly uncurled his fists. He
felt his heartbeat in his head. He blinked as the edges
around Sam blurred and he realized that he had forgotten
to breathe. Turning away from Sam and staring down at
the weapons spaced across the bed, Dean ran a hand through
his short hair, then rubbed the back of his neck.
"Well, I'm not."
looked over at his brother. He took in the unlined face,
the calm blue-grey eyes, the slight quirk of a brow
in question. His brother, who had been his responsibility
– his one job – since he could remember.
His brother, whom he'd both taught and learned from,
been both saved by and savior of, whom he'd protected,
cursed at, laughed with, loved. His brother who had
offered his soul to hell in one desperate, stupid act.
His brother who stood there and told him that he was
okay with losing, he was okay with giving in, he was
okay with dying.
screw that, Dean thought. He was not about to lose
"I said I'm not, Sam." Dean
turned to face Sam, his arms at his sides, palms open
and out, soul exposed. "No matter what, I will
fight this. I will fight for you. I am not about to
let you go, let him friggin' win. You got me?"
put his heart into those words, his will as real as
if he'd grabbed his brother up and shoved him against
the wall. His memory echoed an image of a different
Sam, a desperate Sam. Don't you say that, not you…
not after all this…
Sam swallowed, looking down. He nodded.
"I got you."
Dean was silent for a moment, weighing
the sincerity of Sam's reply. When Sam looked up again,
he nodded into Dean's eyes. "I got you, Dean,"
Dean wasn't certain if the fight was
back in Sam, but he did know that Sam believed him and
he was finally able to take a breath.
"Good. Now, we diggin' tonight
Dean turned back to the weapons strewn
across the bed. "Only way to find out for sure
if Larry's haunting the town he apparently loved is
to salt and burn his bones," he said, shoving a
clip into the .45 and dropping it back into the duffel.
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"'Course I'm right," Dean
retorted, grabbing the remote and turning off the TV.
"Now, where's this dude buried?"
Sam moved back over to the laptop.
His fingers flew over the keys so quickly that Dean
didn't bother trying to keep up. "Crest Lawns Memorial
"Alright then, Sammy. Let's get
Sam closed the lid of the lap top and
reached for his jacket.
"Yeah?" Dean answered, shrugging
into his leather jacket. He didn't meet Sam's eyes,
afraid that his earlier display of emotion would trigger
one of Sam's unique chick-flick moments. He didn't think
he could handle that right now.
"You know, if you're right…
this could be the easiest hunt we've ever been on."
"Dude!" Dean pulled the hotel
room door open and shook his head. "Do you not
pay attention to movies?"
"What?" Sam asked innocently,
stepping through the door and heading to the car.
last words, Sam."
* * * *
Lawns Memorial Gardens, night
many graves you think we've dug in our lifetime, man?"
Sam asked as they retrieved the shovels from the trunk
of the Impala. Lights from a nearby mausoleum conveniently
shone along their path.
"I don't even want to think about
"How old were you, first time
you dug a grave?"
started to walk across the wet grass toward the plot
where Lawrence Jessup's earthly remains waited for them.
Dean shook his head… questions, questions,
always with the questions… don't ever change,
"Uh, ten," he answered.
"What?" Sam pulled up short,
his face twisted in disbelief. "No way you were
"Fine. Don't believe me. You were
there, though. Kinda."
started walking again, narrowly missing one of the in-ground
brass grave markers. Dean glanced down and over, watching
Sam's path. His eyes caught on the name etched on one
of the markers he stepped over: Benjamin Reed Jessup.
"We gotta be close," he said.
"I think that's Frank's Dad."
"How do you know?"
"Years look about right."
Sam nodded, and started scanning the
ground. "So… I was there?"
"Have I pissed you off more than
"I just want to know what happened."
Dean sighed. "Fine." He looked
down and stopped cold. "Found 'im."
"Swell," Sam shrugged out
of his jacket and moved to toss it over a tombstone,
realizing his mistaken assumption and dropped it on
the ground. "I'm not a fan of these flat tombstone
"You would be if you got thrown
into more of the other kind," Dean pointed out,
dropping his leather jacket on the ground.
"True," Sam dug the spade
of his shovel into the earth at what would be the foot
of the grave.
"Dad was teaching me a lesson,"
Dean said, digging in at the head of the grave, near
you'll need to know this for later lesson?
Or a I don't give orders to hear myself talk
"The second one."
"Figures. You always were a rebel."
"Tiger don't change its stripes,
conversation was soon punctuated by slight gasps for
breath and grunts of exertion as shovels-full of dirt
were flung over their shoulders.
"What was he hunting?"
Sam paused, leaning on the handle of
the shovel. "He took you with him?"
"Yep." Dean pulled off the
red flannel shirt, balled it up and tossed it over on
the grass near his jacket. Even in the cool of the East
Coast night, digging graves worked up a sweat. He felt
it gathering at his lower back and around his collar
"What about me?"
"Hell, no," Dean panted.
"You were six. He locked you in the car."
"Nice," Sam grinned. "Did
you get the spirit?"
"Well, not exactly."
"The spirit found me first,"
Dean said, his shovel finally hitting something solid.
"I was supposed to stay inside the salt circle,
saw Dad get… y'know… flung, went over to
He tossed the shovel up and out of
the hole, then grabbed the dirt edge of the hole, scrambled
up the side of the grave and hauled himself over the
"What… happened?" Sam
"Nothing bad," Dean said
as he sat for a moment on the edge of the grave, his
feet dangling in the hole. "It was my first spirit,
though. Gotta say… spooky the first time you see
"Hell, yeah it is," Sam exclaimed
from down inside the grave. "I was fifteen and
I was still freaked."
"Well, that's just 'cause you're
such a girl," Dean clambered to his feet and turned
to dig through their bag to retrieve the salt, lighter
fluid and a box of wooden matches. He'd lost his Zippo
trying to get away from Mordecai Murdock. Matches had
been the order of the day until he found an Army/Navy
surplus store where he could get another Zippo.
"You gonna break through that
thing tonight, Sam? Or are you planning on waiting until
there are more people around?" He called over his
"Hey, you've been doing this longer,
apparently," Sam shot back. "Why don't you
"Because this is your favorite
part," Dean retorted with a grin.
"You're a friggin' jerk."
Sam grunted as he slammed the face of the shovel through
the wooden box at the bottom of the grave.
Dean straightened, balancing his burden
and started to turn toward the grave.
"I’m comin'," he muttered.
"Keep your pantyhose on."
"Think you might wanna take a
look at this," Sam continued. A shovel, followed
by his brother's lanky form appeared over the edge of
Dean frowned at Sam, then looked down
into the opened wooden box.
Inside rested the bones of one human
leg from femur to foot. And nothing else.
Dean looked over at Sam. "I blame
you for this, Mr. Famous Last Words," he said.
"You know, I thought it was weird
that there was a wooden box for a guy that's been dead
for only three years," Sam said, wiping at a smear
of dirt across his nose. "So… a leg. A missing
body. What do we do now, tell Frank to arrest David
"Yes," Dean nodded. "But
not for this."
Sam shot him a look, and Dean answered
it with one of his own. He twisted the cap off of the
old gas can that they used to contain their rock salt
supply and dumped a good amount in the grave.
"What are you doing?"
"Salt and burn, Sammy," Dean
said. "Think it's pretty obvious now that Larry's
our spirit, don't you think?"
"Yeah, I guess you're right,"
Sam nodded, taking the lighter fluid from Dean and pouring
it over the leg bones.
lit the match, held the flame in his hand for a brief
moment, then dropped it in. The bones were consumed
with very little heat and only a small glow from the
fire reflecting on their faces. Dean looked up from
the fire into the dark that surrounded them like a familiar
"Y'know," Dean said. "Larry
didn't chop himself up before he was buried."
"Yeah, I was thinking that,"
Sam said, his gaze on the dying fire. When the flames
were out, he started to shovel the dirt back into the
grave. "We got someone else out there, Dean."
"Yep," Dean scratched the
back of his head. "Problem is… are they controlling
the spirit, or did they just… create it?"
"That's not the only problem,"
Sam said, pausing as Dean picked up his shovel to help
refill the hole. "We still gotta get rid of Lawrence
"Yeah," Dean nodded, shaking
his head as he filled another shovel with dirt and dropped
it into the hole. "So… how many pieces is
Sam looked out into the darkness. "And
where are they?"
the episode here