Season Two

Episode Twenty: Unfinished

by Irismay42 & Thru Terry's Eyes

Part One

 

Mansfield, OH
Present Day

“…And now ladies and gentlemen, the man of the hour, Mansfield’s famous son, our most welcome and generous supporter, some applause please for this graduate and former school track star, the man without whom the completion of the last stages of this renovation of our beloved school would not have occurred for another two years, Mr. Dale Corrigan!”

Steven Entwhistle, former Vice-Principal and now the new Principal of the Mansfield Public School upon its grand reopening, stepped sideways from the microphone applauding as a tall man in a perfectly cut suit that cost more than Entwhistle made in three months, rose from the chairs lined up at the back of the stage and came forward.

Applause welcomed Corrigan. His body was gymnasium-honed and his skin wore a purchased tan. He moved with the easy grace of a man who has made it, knows it, and flaunts it to great effect.

He flashed white teeth in a politician’s canned smile and waved to the people gathered in the new auditorium.

“Thank you for that warm welcome…” he said nodding and gathering them all in the embrace of his sparkling blue eyes, a lock of longish blond hair falling across his forehead.

God, I’d sell my soul for a drink… he thought, regarding the assembled group with a contempt he would never have allowed his eyes to project. Mansfield, Ohio, I can’t believe I let my lawyer talk me into doing this as a tax write off. Good publicity, my ass! Holy shit, is that Ruth Harpool…?

He reluctantly dragged his eyes from the barely held-in-check bosoms of the bouncy blonde in the front row.

“I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to be back in my home town among the people I grew up with. It gives me even greater pleasure to, in some modest way, be able to help you reach the goal you’ve all worked so hard for, the completion of the last wing of the school which will, after fifteen years with no library facilities on the school grounds, contain the new state of the art media center and computer access stations for the students of Mansfield school to enjoy and be enriched by.”

Applause broke out again as he spoke and he raised his hands. “Please, after all I got from my years at Mansfield, I’m just grateful I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to give a little something back.” He looked up as Entwhistle and another man carried an easel onstage with a large sign and artist’s renditions of the new school wing, with the new computers and shiny rows of research materials. The lettering over the photos read: “The Corrigan Learning Center.”

A large red bow was tied loosely across the photo and to applause and amusement from the audience, Corrigan accepted a large pair of scissors and cut the ribbon in half with a flourish, stepping back as it fluttered to the ground in a large pool of red.

Thank God, he said to himself, professional smile firmly in place as he accepted handshakes and kudos from the people surrounding him. Where the hell’s the booze?

A short time later, sipping distastefully on a paper cup of (unspiked) peach sherbet punch, Corrigan listened with one ear, in abject boredom as Lorena Gale, the head of the school board, clutched his arm and babbled enthusiastically about his generous gift to the school.

He fought a grimace as her claw-like nails dug into the muscles of his upper arm, her fleshy body, smelling heavily of magnolia that would take three cleanings to get off his suit, pressing insistently against him.

“—after all, this is your home town and keeping a second home is so stylish nowadays. A place where your children would have roots—”

Reaching over with his free hand, he carefully extricated himself from her grasp with a strained smile. “Well, I already have a second home in Aspen and I don’t have any kids, but I will give your suggestion some thought.”

Actually LIVE in Mansfield? I’d burn first, he thought, horrified at the very concept.

She made a disappointed face as he moved away. “Can I show you around the school? The changes are quite amazing—”

“You know, Louise—”

“Lorena.”

“Sorry, Lorena, I’m actually feeling a little nostalgic but I’d really like to do a little wandering on my own. I appreciate the offer though!” her voice rose as he backed into the crowd, trailing after him like gum stuck on the bottom of his shoe.

“If I can do anything for you just let me know!”

As soon as Hell freezes over you’ll be the first one I call…

He managed to make it through the people clamoring for his attention and escaped into the hallway where he leaned against the bank of lockers with grateful relief. He glanced at his Rolex, the diamonds around the dial bouncing the overhead lights around the hall.

Cripes, it was only nine p.m. The festivities ended at ten, thank God. He could escape back to his “suite” at Holiday Hell, alone, from the looks of things, then get on the first plane out of this berg and get back to REAL LIFE, not Mayberry R Friggin’ D.

He reached into his jacket and withdrew a silver flask. Popping the top he started to pour it into his punch but instead set the cup on the floor and took a large drink straight from the flask. That was more like it!

He began to move idly down the hall, laughing inwardly at the signs pointing in the direction of the Corrigan Learning Center, memories of his years at this school hitting him despite himself. He’d really been the BMOC the years he had spent here. The biggest fish in the friggin’ pond. Rich old man, fancy car, any hot cheerleader he set eyes on, hangers on waiting to do his bidding just to bask in his reflected importance.

With the exception of the end of one semester when a brooding kid with haunted green eyes, a screw you attitude and a geeky kid brother had hit town. Dean something. It had been hate at first sight even though the guy had been two years younger than Corrigan. The older guy had every girl in school watching his every move, he, in turn watched everyone who so much as looked at his kid brother cockeyed and came down on them like an attack dog. A truly weird pair, there had been rumors about their father—

He looked up as a figure crossed the hall in front of him. A shapely figure with long hair.

Taking another quick slug from the flask he recapped it and started down the hall after the attractive figure.

* * * *

“Well, hi there!”

Helen Jensen gasped loudly and swung around at the unexpected voice behind her. “My God!” she exclaimed, recognizing him. “You scared me!” She pressed a hand to her chest, noting how his eyes followed and stayed there.

“I’m sorry,” Corrigan replied. “I’m not in the habit of scaring lovely women. Have we met?” he held out his hand. “I’m Dale Corrigan.”

Helen smiled and took his hand. “I know, we met earlier. I’m Helen Jensen, the new Media Center Manager.”

“You mean the librarian? What a waste to shut someone like you up with a bunch of dusty old books. And may I say librarians have certainly changed since I went to school here.” Corrigan eased up next to her.

Helen mentally rolled her eyes. Why couldn’t anyone take her seriously? Maybe if she had glasses and wore her hair in a bun. And a wart, a big one. With a long hair growing out of--- Play nice Helen, she scolded herself. You have a job because of this man.

“Maybe you need to spend more time in libraries, Mr. Corrigan.” She pushed the door open and stepped inside, followed closely by Corrigan whose prospects for the evening had certainly taken a turn for the better.

“You may have a point there,” he said, looking around as she moved toward a round desk in the center of the plush room. “My main experience with librarians was old man Withers and you and he are definitely not in the same class.”

She turned, “You knew Mr.Withers?”

Corrigan laughed. “Hell, yes.” He dragged a finger down a desktop and glanced at it for non-existent dust. “Back in the day dust covered everything in here and it was thickest on Carlyle Withers. This is very impressive,” he commented, waving a hand at the room in general.

“Your money paid for it, Mr. Corrigan. Hadn’t you seen what you were buying?” She walked into the center of the desk, not accidentally putting its polished surface between herself and Corrigan.

“That’s what I have accountants for, Ms. Jensen. Call me Dale.” He reached out and cupped a hand over hers.

She withdrew her hand on the pretense of straightening some random papers. “You didn’t care for Mr. Withers?”

“Choosing between him and a poke in the eye with a sharp stick? Gimme the sharp stick. That old bastard made our lives miserable. Not to mention trying to do research for some stupid paper with books so old the encyclopedia didn’t even have Israel in it. Couldn’t talk in here, scratch your ass or breathe without the old fool coming down on you.” Corrigan snorted. “Hell, he’d have had us sitting in the corner wearing dunce caps if he thought he could have gotten away with it. Weird old guy. He’d have students working in the library and spend all his time holed up in his office, going through this stack of smelly old books. When he did come out there was hell to pay if everything wasn’t just the way it was supposed to be. Even the teachers were terrified of him.”

Corrigan laughed again, leaning back on his elbows on the desk. “Hell, my old man offered to buy a couple of computers for the library and budget some new books when I almost flunk—” he stopped and rubbed a hand over his mouth. “The school board was tickled but Withers was adamant you learned from books not machines and told him where he could put his computers. My old man was furious. The school board was furious.”

Helen frowned. “Why didn’t they just fire him?”

Corrigan turned to face Helen again. “What’s the big interest in that old coot? There’s better stuff to talk about.” His hand crept toward Helen’s again.

“I’m just curious about my predecessor. After all, he was librarian here from the day the school opened and then when he died the school closed the library for fifteen years. Wouldn’t you be curious?” She leaned forward slightly, offering the open neck of her shirt as an enticement that his dancing eyes didn’t miss.

“His family’s money paid for the original school. Part of the deal was that it guaranteed Withers a job as librarian for life. Story had it that he couldn’t hack it in ‘real life’ and just wanted to be surrounded by books so his family set him up here. I think he was librarian for fifty years or something. Then one Tuesday the janitor found him dead in his office. They think he died the Friday before and laid there over the holiday weekend.”

Helen made a face. “Oh, my God…” She straightened back up, a hand over her mouth.

Corrigan straightened also, disappointed at his loss of view but happy he had finally caught her attention. “Yeah. I remember when it happened. Cops said he died of natural causes but everyone else said he was murdered. They found all these really strange old books about all kinds of magic and crap in his office. Rumors started that the library was haunted, Withers come back to exact revenge on anyone who didn’t treat the library with proper respect.”

“Now you’re making this up,” Helen accused. “That’s just stupid.” She picked up a box of computer manuals and started toward the back of the room.

He hot footed after her, taking the box from her, “I’ll get that. I’m telling the truth, swear to God. They shut the library down at the end of the semester and the students were given access to the town library during the day. And then people started getting computers and it wasn’t such a big deal.” He paused while she opened the door with a key.

“Where am I going with this?”

“Back here, they sent the wrong manuals.” She flipped on a switch but the light flickered before coming on at about half strength. “Darn it. We’ve been having trouble with the lights. I think the electricians screwed something up. I hope they get it fixed before school opens.”

“Wow,” Corrigan said, putting the box down near a similar pile of boxes. The room was filled with crates of books, some open with the tomes stacked next to them, many boxes were marked with the words sell or destroy. “What the hell is all this?”

Helen sighed, looking around. “All the old books from the library. I’ve been going through the crates, sorting them. Some of them are actually valuable collector pieces. Once I’ve catalogued them the valuable ones will be sold and the rest given away or destroyed. A lot of them are in really bad condition. They’ve been in storage but they weren’t stored properly. It’s like they were just dumped in the boxes and closed up as fast as possible. It’s a shame really and a dirty mess to go through.”

She suddenly glanced up at him, a slightly mischievous look in her eyes. “You mentioned the books, Mr. Withers had in his office…”

Corrigan cocked an eyebrow at her change in attitude and smiled. “Yeah?”

She glanced around as though someone might see or hear. “There’s a crate back here with his name on it. I can’t get it open and I’ve been dying to get inside. Would you mind giving me a hand?”

His smile broadened. “Honey, I’d love to get inside your crate.”

She rolled her eyes again. “Is that your idea of a great pick up line?”

“Work with what you got, I always say.”

She grabbed a crowbar off the crate next to her and handed it to him. “C’mon.”

She led him to a dirty wooden crate big enough for him to have gotten comfortably inside of. Carlyle Withers was stenciled crudely all over the box along with the words Keep Out.

Corrigan licked his lips nervously, slowly twirling the crowbar. “You sure you should open this?”

“I have to. It’s part of the collection. If you can’t, I’ll get a janitor to do it for me tomorrow, they’re just so busy.” She crossed her arms and watched him, a slight challenge.

“Okay.” He took off his expensive jacket and laid it over a slightly cleaner pile of boxes. Grasping the crowbar he shoved the straight slotted end under the lid of the crate and began to pry.

After a few abortive attempts and some sweat starting to pop out on his forehead, the lid finally began to creak open.

It gave suddenly with a loud crack and flew off, dust flying out in a huge cloud. Corrigan stumbled forward, his hand slipping along the rough top edge of the box, a long jagged splinter sliding sickeningly into the palm of his hand.

He yelled and jerked back, the splinter breaking free of the box with a crack, leaving the jagged end sticking out of his hand. “Holy shit!!!” he cried, grasping his injured hand with its mate and staring in horror at the sliver embedded in his hand.

“Oh, my God!” Helen gasped, catching his hands as he writhed in pain. “Oh, Mr. Corrigan I’m so sorry! My God…hold still please, let me pull it out!”

She grasped the end of the wood and started to withdraw it. He jerked back reflexively as it hurt and the splinter came free but blood instantly replaced it and started to drip from his hand.

“Crap! Son of a bitch!” he swore as red soaked his shirt sleeve.

Helen grabbed a roll of paper towels lying on a box with some cleaner and ripped off a handful of sheets. “Here, put that over it and I’ll go find the first aid kit. I think it’s in the front desk!” She scampered off as he grimaced and pressed the wad of towels against his hand.

God that hurt, he thought, his skin prickling. This was not how he imagined this moment going but maybe he could still turn it to his advantage, using both guilt and her appreciation of his efforts.

Hand throbbing, he glanced into the box to distract himself. Books were just crammed in every which way, dust covered and torn.

Curiosity won out over pain as he reached in with his undamaged hand and picked up the book on top. It was very heavy and he balanced it on the edge of the crate. The cover was some kind of black tooled leather, the pages, as he thumbed it open, were stiff and crumbly and covered with scrawled writing and odd hand-drawn pictures.

“What kind of a sick old bastard were you?” he wondered as he looked over the ancient text.

The lights went off.

And he began to cough.

* * * *

Helen rummaged frantically for the first aid kit, finally locating it under yet another pile of manuals. She grabbed the handle and hurried back to the storeroom.

Wonderful, great job, Helen, the guy who gives us the money for the library is standing in my storeroom bleeding ’cause I asked him to open a stupid crate! God knows what’s on that wood, what if he gets tetanus, what if it gets infected? Can he sue the school? Can he sue me—?

She opened the door and was immediately pissed when the lights were off again. She fumbled for the switch, finding it as her foot caught on something and she pitched headlong to the floor, the lights coming on with midday brilliance.

She screamed as she found herself face to face with Corrigan on the floor. She screamed again and threw herself backwards away from him, coming up against another crate.

His hands clutched at his throat, blood ran down his face, soaked his upper body and pooled on the floor in a growing circle. The corners of his mouth were ripped open almost back to his ears, teeth and gums blood-covered and exposed, his jaw totally unhinged to accommodate the huge rolled wad of crumpled paper, no doubt torn from the computer manuals now strewn about the floor, that was protruding from his mouth and from the looks of it crammed halfway down his bulging throat.

His eyes rolled toward her as the light in them faded and he stretched out a clawed hand, scratching across the floor, making an inarticulate whine of sound.

He was dead by the time they were found a short time later.

And she was still screaming.

Mansfield, OH
Present day

“So remind me why we’re here again?”

Dean glanced around himself as the Impala rumbled through the outskirts of downtown Mansfield Ohio, a strange feeling of déjà vu assaulting him as they passed a local movie theater that looked oddly familiar.

Sam shuffled the paperwork nestling on his lap, his own attention also caught by the unassuming little cinema, an enigmatic smile crinkling the corners of his mouth. “Mansfield Public School,” he informed his brother, waving a page printed off the internet in Dean’s general direction. “Mysterious death, remember?”

Dean cast him an awkward sideways glance. “Let’s just say I do, but I wanna check the facts again.”

Sam smothered a grin. “You know, anyone who didn’t know you would think you had the memory of a goldfish and the attention span of a gnat.” Dean opened his mouth to protest, but Sam continued swiftly. “But I know different. Like, I know you can recite the entire script to the original Star Wars trilogy verbatim.” Again Dean began to protest, but again Sam shot him down. “And you know every single lyric to every single song Led Zeppelin ever recorded. And don’t tell me you don’t remember the phone number of every girl you ever slept with, because I know you do.” Sam shook his head, cheeks dimpling. “And you call me ‘Raymond’!”

Dean affected his most affronted tone. “Yeah well at least I make ‘unrecognized genius’ look cool, Oh Great King of Geekdom,” he sniffed. “And you still haven’t told me what we’re doing here.”

“Dale Corrigan,” Sam explained.

“Who?”

“Local bigshot. Small town boy made good. Of course, it helps that he also came from the wealthiest family in town to begin with.”

“‘Came’ as in ‘no longer comes’?” Dean queried.

“He is most definitely an ex-bigshot,” Sam confirmed. “They found him dead at the opening ceremony of Mansfield Public School’s new library, which he bankrolled, incidentally.”

“Dead how?”

“Asphyxiation. His mouth and throat were crammed full of paper.”

Dean shot a glance at his brother. “Paper?”

“Paper,” Sam confirmed. “Ripped out of the nice new books his company had just purchased for the library.”

Dean whistled. “Ouch. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.” He shuddered slightly, an old half-forgotten wisp of memory tickling at the edges of his mind. “So why’s this our kinda problem?” he asked, shaking the non-remembrance off as maybe yet another after-effect of his little run-in with Alyssa Medina, the memory-stealing freakazoid who’d tried to lobotomize him a few weeks earlier. He shrugged. “Death by library book ain’t usually our kinda thing, Sammy. Even if Mr. Bigshot was offed by a psycho homicidal librarian I don’t see how –” Dean stopped short, vaguely unnerved by the oddly uncomfortable expression on Sam’s face. He shifted in his seat, fingers suddenly tightening on the steering wheel. “Why does that sound familiar?” he asked slowly, flicking another glance in Sam’s direction.

“Ghost of psycho homicidal librarian,” Sam explained. “Mansfield Public School. Remember?”

Dean shifted again. “Not really.”

“We attended that school for a few months when we were kids,” Sam reminded him. “You were maybe fourteen? It was just after my tenth birthday? Dude, we went to school with Dale Corrigan!”

Dean thought back hard, expression suddenly clearing. “Track star moron with a silver spoon shoved so far up his ass he walked with a permanent swagger, right? This is the school where they thought you were some kind of boy genius! Or the closest they’d ever gotten to one. Bumped you up a grade.”

Sam suddenly seemed to find his fingernails of great interest. “Yeah, well –”

“Bouncing Baby Winchester,” Dean recalled with a snigger. “Right?”

Sam made a face at him, and Dean half expected him to stick out his tongue. “Hilarious. Thanks so much for bringing that up –”

“Don’t give me that!” Dean continued gleefully. “You were like a dog with two tails! Smartest and youngest in the class –”

“For which I was bullied unmercifully, remember?”

Dean nodded. “What was that one kid’s name? Kept picking on you. Calling you W–”

“I don’t remember,” Sam snapped quickly, just as quickly adding, “Jared Macklin.”

“Macklin!” Dean agreed. “What an asshole he was. Probably washing lettuce in a McDonalds by now.”

“We can hope,” Sam concurred.

“Wait.” Dean’s eyes widened suddenly. “Homicidal librarian! Dude, this was the school where we…” He trailed off, complexion paling considerably.

Sam nodded grimly. “Yeah,” he agreed. “This was that school…”

 


Mansfield Public School Library
May 1993

Sam breathed in.

Sam breathed out.

There was something comforting about it, that smell; comforting and familiar. Paper and ink, decrepit old wooden desks recently scrubbed with generic, non-branded disinfectant, sweaty kids in old sneakers.

Sam had had few constants in his ten years on this earth, but the library was one of them. Sure, there had been a lot of different libraries over the years; different schools, different towns. But they all had one thing in common: sanctuary.

Hallowed place of knowledge and research, work and study. Life and death. Dad had taught him that. Be Prepared. Know what you’re dealing with. It could save your life someday.

Dean always said Dad was really just a boy scout with a big gun. Which would have been funny, except Dean never dared say it to Dad’s face. There was only so far Sam’s older brother was willing to take teenage rebellion, and mostly it was limited to bitching, when Dad was out of earshot of course, about never being allowed on hunts, never being treated like a grown-up, never being trusted as anything other than Sam’s babysitter while all the time Dean treated Sam like he was four.

Dean didn’t do irony.

Sam sighed.

Sam knew Dean wasn’t stupid. And it wasn’t that he was ashamed of him. It was just… sometimes Dean embarrassed him. On purpose. Like when he called him “shrimp” or “shortstuff” in front of his friends. Sure, Sam was a little small for his age, but, as Dad kept telling him, he hadn’t really hit a growth spurt yet. He’d show them all when he was seven feet ten.

“Yeah, like that’s gonna happen, runt,” Dean would scoff.

Despite all of this, however, Dean, much like the library, was one of the few other constants in Sam’s life. And also much like the library – any library – and Sam had been in a lot of libraries over the years – Dean also had his own particularly comforting scent. “Danger,” Dean called it, although it smelled more like grease, motor oil and occasionally gunpowder to Sam. And somehow it always reminded him of “home.”

“That’s what gets the chicks, Sammy,” Dean would say. “The Bad Boy thing. They can’t get enough of it.” Like he was Casa-friggin’-nova or something.

Not that, even at fourteen, Dean didn’t turn female heads pretty much wherever he went. He did, and Sam was pretty sure it actually did have something to do with that “Bad Boy” reputation his brother tried so hard to maintain – keep everyone at arm’s length, never let anyone see the real Dean Winchester. “Love ’em and leave ’em, Sammy,” Dean would advise him with a rakish smile. “Love ’em and leave ’em.”

Sam knew Dean was just lonely.

Never making friends, never forming attachments. Like Dad and Sam were all he needed in this world.

Or maybe he was just too scared of losing anyone else to try and find them in the first place.

At least Sam tried to be sociable. Tried to make friends. Tried to fit in. Tried to be normal. But normal wasn’t easy with a family like his.

“You still here, Winchester? Oh right. You live in a motel don’t you? Not a helluva lot to go home to, huh?”

He got that a lot. Never was sure how every school he and Dean attended the kids seemed to know their life story before they even really knew their names. Or at least, they knew what they thought was their life story. He doubted anyone had ever discovered what really went on in the Winchester household.

Bullies Sam had mostly been able to deal with since he was eight, since he started to get tired of Dean threatening to beat the crap out of anyone who even looked at his kid brother funny.

See, the “Bad Boy” rep was one thing; “Psycho Bad Boy” was something else entirely.

But Sam could take care of himself. He’d been trained by a marine for God’s sake...

But then, of course, Jared Macklin was almost fifteen and was twice Dean’s size, let alone Sam’s, so when he suddenly loomed over Sam’s desk, all pre-pubescent baby fat mutating into solid muscle, this was one of those rare occasions when Sam suddenly felt deeply guilty for ignoring Dean in the hallway or telling his new friends he was adopted.

He would have given anything to see his big brother come sauntering through the library door right then.

“Poor Bouncing Baby Weirdchester,” Macklin drawled, picking up one of Sam’s history books and tossing it carelessly onto the floor. “Daddy forget to pick you up from school again?”

Sam glanced over at the clock on the way-off-white wall, fingers tightening around his pencil. He knew just where to jab it to cause the most pain with the least damage. Dean had shown him. Repeatedly. He called it “Study Hall Defense Class 101.” He gritted his teeth and looked up slowly from his homework.

“You’re still here too, assface,” he ground out, before he realized Macklin’s two henchman, Marty Roscoe and Tony Gianelli, were hovering at either of the bully’s considerably broad shoulders.

“What did you call me, geekazoid?” Macklin demanded with a growl, fist pounding the table an inch from where Sam’s fingers were calmly collecting up his belongings, causing various items of stationery to bounce precariously on the heavily graffiti-covered tabletop. Time to go...

“You heard me.” Sam stood, squaring up to Macklin with his chin raised defiantly, as if that would compensate for his being about a foot shorter than the older boy.

Macklin snorted. “Lotta spunk for someone barely outta kindergarten.”

Sam scowled at him. He’d been so naive to think getting bumped up a grade would actually be fun.

“So, what?” Macklin continued, advancing a step so that he was looming even more in Sam’s face. “Your dad out of town again? Choosing his next victim? I hear he’s a serial killer or something –”

Sam didn’t even flinch. Heard it all before…

“String of victims up and down the country –”

Yeah, yeah, whatever freak…

“And that crazy-ass brother of yours is learning the ropes, right? Apprentice serial killer in training?”

“You wouldn’t dare say that to his face,” Sam spat.

“I ain’t scared o’ no Weirdo Winchester, runt,” Macklin hissed. “Even if it’s true your brother’s just out of Juvie –”

Dean and his damn Bad Boy reputation again…

“In fact, I heard –” Macklin leaned down so his pudgy face was level with Sam’s, “the reason you ain’t got no mommy is because she was your dad’s first victim –”

Sam had never punched another kid in the face before. He’d seen Dean do it lots of times, and knew the mechanics of it, the physics of it. He hadn’t expected his knuckles to hurt so much though. Or that spurt of blood that suddenly gushed from Macklin’s nose.

“Don’t. Talk. About. My. Mom.”

It didn’t even sound like Sam’s voice. All strangled, forced out between tight shallow breaths and clenched teeth.

Macklin just blinked at him in surprise, for a second completely thrown as to what had just happened. Roscoe and Gianelli glanced at each other uncertainly, as if awaiting orders, and Macklin just cradled his bloody nose in one shaking hand as he tried to downplay his astonishment that anyone – especially Little Sammy Weirdchester – would dare stand up to him.

Sam managed to keep breathing, eyes darting to the exit as he tried to gauge how fast he’d have to run to get there before Macklin recovered from his stupor.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite quick enough, the fist not holding Macklin’s nose as if he thought it might fall off his face suddenly bunching in the front of Sam’s t-shirt, almost yanking him off his feet as the bigger boy dragged him forward.

“You little piece of trailer trash crap!” Macklin growled. “You’re gonna pay for that, Weirdchester! You think those Salvation Army threads of yours looked bad before, just wait till I’m finished with you, geek!”

“Shhhhhh…”

Sam blinked and Macklin glanced over his shoulder to where his henchman lurked stupidly. “What did you say?” he demanded, ignoring Sam’s struggles as he glared at his two cronies who exchanged a nervous glance.

“Didn’t say nuthin’, Mack,” Roscoe assured him, just as his untidy hair was suddenly ruffled by a gust of warm air that seemed to come out of nowhere.

Macklin snapped his attention back to Sam, actually tugging him off his feet so that their noses were almost touching and the smaller boy got an up-close-and-personal with the mess he’d made of the jock’s face.

“What are you doing?” Macklin demanded, the unbloodied portion of his visage beginning to turn an angry shade of purple just as the bookshelf behind him started to tremble of its own accord, the books juddering forward towards the edge as the rattling intensified.

“I’m not doing anything!” Sam protested, calmly eyeing the books with an air of detached professional disinterest as the breeze whipping at the boys’ hair and clothes started to gain strength and increase in temperature until something akin to a hot mini tornado appeared to be attempting to form in the middle of the fiction section.

Several girls sitting at a nearby table started to squeal as the wind caught at their hair and blew their homework all over the place, hurriedly attempting to grab their stuff before running for the exit, one of them tossing a backward glance in Sam’s direction and yelling, “Weirdo Winchester!” over the steadily rising tumult.

A rather hefty tome on the Vikings chose that moment to launch itself off the shuddering bookshelf, slamming squarely between Macklin’s shoulder blades causing him to yelp more in surprise than pain, fist tightening in the front of Sam’s shirt.

“Quit it, Winchester!” he growled. “Whatever you and that psycho brother of yours are doing, it’s not funny –”

Sam shrugged innocently as several more books flew from their shelves, their trajectory clearly indicating they were aiming for his assailants.

Gianelli squealed worse than the girls had as a set of junior encyclopedias headed in his direction, and he immediately turned tail and dashed for the exit, closely followed by Roscoe who was flailing his hands ineffectually at a battered copy of Gray’s Anatomy that had zoomed all the way from the Health and Medicine section and was busy snapping its pages at him as it chased him from the library.

Macklin’s purple cheeks were now a waxy shade of white. “Tell you brother I still don’t believe in that ghost crap he was trying to scare the kiddies with at recess,” he growled, teeth clenched more now in fear than anger. “He’s full of bull –”

“Tell him yourself,” Sam returned calmly, the screams and general reports of a tornado in the school library having attracted the attention of the only student left in the building who hadn’t chosen to run in the opposite direction.

Macklin glanced behind him to where the other Weirdo Winchester had finally decided to put in an appearance, immediately dropping Sam the second Dean’s oddly calm gaze lit on his little brother.

Macklin grimaced, turned back to Sam and swatted him none-too-gently on the cheek before hissing, “This ain’t over you little freak! Next time I’ll find you when your brother ain’t around to entertain us with his freakshow parlor tricks –”

At that moment a copy of Webster’s Dictionary decided to slam into the small of Mackin’s back, causing the rest of his threat to be choked off in a sudden exhalation of surprised air, the bully merely scowling ferociously at Sam before turning tail and running for the exit, purposely shoving Dean with his shoulder as barreled past.

Dean matched Macklin’s scowl with added interest, pivoting to yell, “Yeah, you better run, asswipe!” after him, before turning back to assess the melee currently occurring in the library. “Seriously, what the hell, Sammy?” he demanded, gaze turning upwards as he considered the odd funnel of torn book leaves currently swirling up towards the big skylight in the ceiling.

“I didn’t do anything!” Sam insisted plaintively. “I swear, this all just started on its own…!”

Then, as suddenly as it had started, the would-be tornado stopped abruptly, almost as if someone had just switched off an out-of-control ceiling fan, and all of the books still flying around between the stacks fell back to the earth with a concerted whump, leaving Sam and Dean just looking at each other in mild surprise.

The silence that followed was a little too eerie, even for a library, and then Sam swore he heard that same disembodied voice hiss, “Shhhhhhh…!”

For a stunned moment, Dean looked at Sam and Sam looked at Dean, but neither of them moved.

“Well,” Dean managed eventually, stepping carefully over pages torn haphazardly from Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Kerouac’s On the Road and a bright yellow copy of The Dummies Guide to PCs. “That’s something you don’t see every day.” Navigating around a collapsed display of brand new hardback fiction as he carefully made his way toward Sam’s position in the World History section, he added, “So when I heard there was something freaky going on in the library I guess I really shouldn’t have been surprised to find my freaky geeky kid brother right there in the middle of it.”

“Did you see it?” Sam exclaimed, bouncing excitedly on the balls of his feet as Dean approached him warily. “Angry spirit! I’m sure of it!”

Dean raised an eyebrow as his picked his way through a landslide of Sweet Valley High softbacks that appeared to have spun right off one of the carousels. “Spirit of Mark Twain come to save us all from bad kids’ literature?” he asked as he finally made it to Sam’s side.

“Dean!” the younger brother protested, doing his best impersonation of a demented Pez dispenser. “Don’t be stupid! It’s the librarian! It’s the ghost of the old librarian, I just know it!”

“Whoa, hey, hold your horses there, Doctor Venkman,” Dean said, one hand on Sam’s shoulder attempting to hold him still for five whole seconds while the other drew a thumb across the red mark Macklin’s slap had left on Sam’s cheekbone. Dean’s expression changed instantly from patient concern to potentially homicidal fury, an indignant scowl on his face that would have sent lesser men running for the hills. “That Neanderthal jock hit you?” he demanded, posture stiffening to his default factory setting of Sammy Protection Mode.

Sam had seen it a hundred times, but really hadn’t the time to watch Dean try to rip Macklin’s head off right now. However entertaining that might have been.

“Dean, listen to me,” he said excitedly, grabbing Dean’s wrists and hanging on in an effort to prevent his big brother charging off after Macklin like a dipshit-seeking missile. “It’s the librarian – the one who died a couple of months back! I know it!”

“Sam, we’ve only been here five weeks –”

“I know that,” Sam huffed. “But I heard the other kids talking –”

“About Paula Abdul or Debbie Gibson?”

“Dean, I’m serious!

“You’re always serious, Sammy –”

“And you never take me seriously, Dean!”

“That’s because you’re a geek,” Dean told him lightly, although Sam was at least relieved to have gotten his brother’s attention if nothing else. Having completed his cursory physical examination and satisfied himself his kid brother had been left largely undamaged by the indoor tornado and the asshole jock, Dean continued, “So you gonna tell me about Conan the Librarian or do I gotta read your mind, shortstuff?”

“His name was Mr. Withers,” Sam said with a huff, choosing to ignore another in Dean’s long list of irritating little brother nicknames. “And he died right here in the library.”

Dean looked down at the carpet. “Right here?”

Sam rolled his eyes. “No, dumbass! In his office! Right there!” He gestured to a door marked “Carlyle Withers. Absolutely no admittance” in faded red lettering, the glass panel having been covered by brown packing paper inexpertly taped over the inside.

Dean glanced over at the little office before turning back to Sam and asking, “Did you just call me ‘dumbass’ you little nerf herder?”

Sam sighed his much-practiced sigh of long-suffering resignation. “Dean, when are you going to believe me that Star Wars just isn’t cool anymore? And quoting it even less so.” He shook his head in exasperation. “And you call me a geek.”

“That was from The Empire Strikes Back,” Dean corrected him, completely unruffled. “And Star Wars will always be cool. You’re just pissed ’cause you’re never gonna be any taller than Yoda.”

“Am too!” Sam protested, instantly cursing himself for allowing Dean to bait him like a dumb pre-schooler. Again.

Dean grinned knowingly. “Yeah, you just keep telling yourself that, shorty,” he crowed. “You never know, one day Dad might run into a genie who’ll grant your dearest wish to be as tall and handsome as your awesome big brother.”

“You’re an ass,” Sam told him shortly.

“It’s a nice ass though,” Dean returned with another infuriating grin.

“Who told you that?” Sam demanded, arms folded across his chest. “Mrs. Spinnaker?”

Mrs. Spinnaker was the rather creepy alleged lady janitor who kept looking at Dean in a way that was probably illegal in most states.

Dean shuddered. “Midget.”

“Jailbait.”

“Like you even know what that means.”

“You want the Webster’s definition or the Oxford English Dictionary?”

“Nerd.”

“Dumbass.”

“You used that already.”

“Jerk.”

“Bitch.”

“Dad said you’re not allowed to call me that anymore!”

“Yeah, well Dad ain’t here, is he? And while he’s away, I’m in charge.”

“Nazi.”

Dean snorted, grinning broadly. “That’s a new one! Okay Sammy, you win this round. Where were we? Oh yeah, pissed off spirit of creepy-ass librarian in creepy-ass library, right?” Dean glanced around him, finally taking in his surroundings for the first time since he’d got here. “And as libraries go, this place is way creepy.”

“You say that about every library.”

“And it’s always true!”

“Wait.” Sam stopped suddenly, the full horror of his sudden realization hitting him like a wrecking ball the size of Jupiter. “We’ve been at this school five weeks and this is the first time you’ve been in the library?” The notion was truly inconceivable.

Dean shrugged. “What do I need to come in here for?” he asked. “No textbooks on hunting evil in the Careers section as far as I’m aware. If you hadn’t needed rescuing from an indoor tornado and a pansy-ass bully after I’d been waiting for you in the parking lot for twenty minutes I’d have gone the rest of the semester without setting foot in the place.”

“I didn’t need rescuing,” Sam protested, drawing himself up to his full height before immediately deflating again. “And I think I broke Jared Macklin’s nose.” He shrugged a little apologetically.

Dean positively beamed at him. “That’s my boy, Sammy! I knew there was some Winchester blood in there somewhere!”

“Weirdchester,” Sam muttered, eyes averted to the carpet.

“Huh?”

“They keep calling us ‘Weirdchester’.”

“Yeah, well,” Dean’s jaw tensed almost imperceptibly, before suddenly splitting into a grin. “It’s nice to be famous. What the hell do we care what they think of us –”

“They think Dad’s a serial killer.”

Dean actually laughed at that. “Niiiiice! Anyone tries to mess with us we’ll threaten to chop ’em up and hide ’em under our floorboards –”

“And they keep calling you a psycho and telling everyone you’ve been in Juvie.”

Dean considered that. “Actually, I think I might have started that rumor.”

Sam all but stamped his foot. “Dean, why would you do that? I have to come to this stupid school too y’know!”

“And if everyone thinks your big brother’s a homicidal delinquent then they’re gonna think twice before messing with you. Right?”

Sam blinked at him, voice suddenly regaining a little of the hero worship he seemed to have outgrown over the last couple of years. “You spread that rumor for me?”

Dean shrugged dismissively. “Didn’t work on Jared Macklin though, did it? Big dumb jerk. Don’t worry, squirt. I’ll squash him for ya as soon as we’ve worked out what the hell tried to drop a library on his head. And thank it.”

“I wouldn’t be so eager,” Sam warned him. “I heard old man Withers had some – uh – off-curriculum books in his office. Some of the other kids say he was a devil worshipper; that his books were all Black Magic and Satanism and stuff.”

Dean inclined his head. “Interesting.”

“Some people even think he was murdered –”

“Really interesting. That’d certainly piss him off enough to make him come back and haunt his own library.”

“– By Satan.”

Dean shook his head. “Gotta love kids with active imaginations.” He took a breath before suddenly heading off toward the office, leaving Sam standing for a second before trailing after him uncertainly.

“Dean, what are you doing?”

Dean pulled out his lock pick and set to work on the door.

“I think it’s called Breaking and Entering.”

“Dean!” Sam’s eyes widened in alarm. “Miss McKenzie’s gonna be back to lock up as soon as she’s done with Detention! What if she comes back to see what all the noise was about? Bad enough she should come in and see us here in the middle of this mess! Guess who’s gonna get the blame?”

“Relax, Sammy,” Dean said, glancing at his watch. “We got tons of time. If she was gonna come back to investigate the tornado she’d be here already. No way she’s gonna leave twenty juvenile delinquents all by themselves in Detention. Plus, y’know – serves the school right for not hiring another librarian and making the teachers take double duty.”

“But – but maybe we should just tell Dad –”

Dean nodded. “Yeah, maybe. But Dad’s gonna be out of town for at least another week. Least we can do is look –” The lock clicked and the door swung open, Dean’s grin broadening. “C’mon Sammy. We’re just gonna look.”

With that, Dean disappeared into the office without another word, the light snapping on inside just as Sam suddenly heard the words, “Oh my God!” issue from his brother’s mouth.

Concerned Dean might be in trouble and trying to ignore the “absolutely no admittance” sign, Sam ducked into the room after his brother, finding the older boy staring at a tiny room packed virtually floor to ceiling with musty old books of every size, shape and color, a thick layer of dust covering nearly every surface and a variety of cobwebs giving the whole tableau a distinctly Gothic vibe.

“Jeez,” Dean muttered, coughing. “Looks like the maid’s century off.”

“I heard Mr. Withers never let anyone in here to clean,” Sam offered, nervously glancing over his shoulder just in case Miss McKenzie had inexplicably materialized behind him in the library. “He had the only key. The cleaning staff still refuse to come in here on account of – y’know…” He inclined his head toward the creaky wooden desk in the center of the room.

Dean followed his gaze. “This is where he bit the big one?”

“Um-hmm,” Sam confirmed, gingerly moving toward the nearest pile of books and examining the top few. “You know, I’ve seen books like this before. At Bobby’s.”

Dean nodded, his own cursory examination of the scene raising enough question marks to have his spidey-senses tingling. There was definitely something not right going on here. But if the old librarian was a pissed off spook out to avenge his own murder… Well, ghosts were one thing. Homicide was something else entirely.

“You were right, Sam,” he pronounced finally, Sam looking up at him with a quizzical expression on his face. “We need to tell Dad about this.”

“What happened to ‘least we can do is look’?” Sam asked.

Dean shrugged. “We looked.”

“And we’re not gonna do anything about it?”

“What d’you think we should do, Sammy? Go tell Principal Reeve his library’s haunted by the spirit of his possibly-murdered former librarian? Or maybe we should go to the cops with that theory? And you think they’re calling us weird now! Just wait till they get a load of that!”

“But –”

“Sam, you’re the one who wanted to wait and tell Dad in the first place!”

“I know, but what if someone gets hurt in the meantime?”

“By a collapsing Judy Blume exhibition?”

“Dean, I’m serious–

“Again with the serious –”

Dean–

“Look,” Dean sighed heavily. “Dad’ll be back in a week. We’ll tell him what’s going on and he’ll deal with it.”

“But Dean –”

“Sam, Dad left me in charge while he was gone, okay? My ass would be grass if we got in any trouble while he was away! Remember when you broke your arm in gym class that time, and the Principal went all Child Protective Services on us when she figured out Dad had left us on our own?”

“You were eleven, Dean.”

“I know that,” Dean conceded. “But just ’cause we’re older now doesn’t mean we have to keep any less of a low profile when Dad’s away.”

“I broke Jared Macklin’s nose.”

“And who’s he gonna admit that to?” Dean put a hand on Sam’s shoulder. “Look, we dodged a bullet there, but I’m not taking any more chances. I gotta prove to Dad he can trust me to be responsible. Especially after…” He trailed off for a second, before mentally shaking himself and continuing. “If I can prove that to him, then maybe he’ll finally let me go on some of the bigger hunts with him, not the penny ante stuff he’s let us help out with up to now.”

Sam straightened, a thought suddenly occurring to him. “Look, I know you’re pissed off that you got stuck with babysitting detail again –”

“Sam –”

“But people could get hurt, Dean! What better way to prove to Dad that you’re ready to hunt with him than by showing him some initiative? Huh? It’s a simple salt n’ burn. We’ve done them lots of times.”

“Never on our own.”

“No. But how hard could it be? We find Mr. Withers’ grave, we dig him up, we burn his bones. Simple. End of story. We could do it blindfolded.”

“Whatever floats your boat, Sammy.”

Sam just looked at him. “Dean.”

“I know, you’re serious.” Dean regarded his little brother for a second. “What happened to ‘maybe we should tell Dad’ anyway?”

“Maybe I want to prove something to Dad too,” Sam said slowly. “Dean, please? What could possibly go wrong…?”

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The Winchester Chronicles

 

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