Season Three

Episode Fourteen: Hell Is For Children

By SnSam

Part One

 

Culpeper, Virginia
Five Years Ago

Fifteen-year-old Brandon Rudd tried to swallow the lump in his throat as the pot-bellied judge turned in his chair to look at the boy through silver rimmed glasses. It was kind of hard to read the man’s expression, but it seemed to Brandon to border somewhere on annoyance, tinged with a bit of sympathy. Maybe that boded well for the teen—maybe the judge was going to let him go with only a warning, with this being his first major offense.

Brandon glanced over his shoulder to see his mother staring straight ahead, her lips set in a firm line. She thinks I’m nothing but a disgrace. She doesn’t even want to be here. She’s just here because I’m a minor and has to sign on the dotted line where they tell her to.

A tap on his shoulder had Brandon turning around and trading a glance with his overly optimistic public defender. She smiled at him and he knew it was just to reassure him that everything was going to be okay. Brandon seriously doubted that, but he didn’t tell that to Ms. Lee—she’d tried her best to represent him, even though Brandon figured it was a lost cause. The police caught him red-handed, after all.

It was pretty hard to win a case when you had more than enough witnesses placing you at the scene.

The judge cleared his throat. “Will the defendant please rise?”

Brandon glanced at Ms. Lee and she gave him an encouraging nod as she rose from her chair.

“It’s okay, Brandon,” she softly said.

The teen gave a barely perceptible nod as he slowly rose beside her, his bright green eyes on the judge.

Clearing his throat again, the judge removed his glasses, leveling his gaze on the boy. “It may have been many years ago, but I was a teenage boy once who acted out as well. And while I realize this may be your first offense, Brandon, it also cannot go unpunished. So you understand that, young man?”

“Yes sir,” Brandon answered quietly.

“It is therefore my opinion that you should serve a six month sentence at the Culpeper Juvenile Detention Center on the charge of auto theft.” He banged his gavel on the desk. “Court is adjourned.”

Brandon desperately tried to push back the tears threatening to spill over. It wasn’t fair—it’s not like he meant to steal the car. Six months was an awfully long time to spend away from his home, family and friends. Why can’t they see I’m really a good kid?

“Brandon, I’m really sorry,” Ms. Lee said, squeezing his shoulder sympathetically. “I hoped Judge Leighton was going to let you off with a warning. I never expected this, but I think he’s getting tired of all the teenage crime around here. Unfortunately, he decided to take out his frustration on you.”

Brandon nodded as he wiped away a traitorous tear trailing down his cheek. “Thank you for trying.”

Ms. Lee smiled softly as she gathered her papers and tucked them into her satchel. “I’ll see what I can do about getting your sentence reviewed.”

“Yeah, okay…” Brandon’s voice trailed off as the bailiff came over to take him into custody.

“Let’s go, son,” the bailiff said as he snapped a pair of cuffs on the teen’s wrists. Brandon allowed himself to be led away, all the while his eyes sought out his mother. She still remained seated, her expression stoic.

“Mom, I’m sorry,” he pleaded with her. “You have to believe me, Mom! I’m so sorry!”

Stacey Rudd kept her eyes ahead, never once letting them stray to her son. Brandon felt as if a weight was crashing down on his shoulders as his mother refused to give him anything. Wasn’t she supposed to be his protector? His nurturer? Now she acted as if he was no longer her responsibility.

This time, Brandon let the tears flow freely as he came to the simple realization his mother no longer wanted or loved him.


Culpeper Juvenile Detention Center
A few days later…


“Are you ready to talk today, Brandon?”

Brandon glanced up at the staff psychologist, taking in her appearance. Doctor Susan Reece wasn’t too bad to look at and he figured he could have had worse. She was petite, with short raven hair cropped closely to her head and bright icy blue eyes. She was dressed in a classic pinstriped suit with a turquoise blouse and black wedge shoes.

“We’ve been giving you your space, but I think it would be better if you talked to me.”

“Will it help me get out of here sooner?” the teen asked.

Doctor Reece shrugged as she leaned forward in her chair, clasping her hands together on her desk. “Possibly, considering this is part of your rehabilitation. If we tell the judge you’ve been cooperative with us, he may let you go early.”

Brandon considered that—it wasn’t as if he really had a home to go back to. It was clear his mom no longer wanted him in her life, but maybe he could go live with his aunt down in Memphis. Aunt Judy always loved having me around…

“What do you want to know?” he finally asked.

Doctor Reece smiled as she pulled a yellow legal pad from her desk drawer. “Let’s talk about your family.”

Brandon barked out a bitter laugh. “You really go in for the kill, don’t you?”

“Would you rather talk about something else?”

“Nah…we can talk about my family. If we don’t do it now, you’ll only grill me about it later, right?”

“I wouldn’t exactly call it grilling. I like to think of it as a nice little chat.”

Brandon shrugged. “So, what do you want to know about them?”

“Anything you care to share.”

“Okay—well, my dad walked out on us a couple of years ago, my grades have been tanking, and my mom is remarrying a complete loser.”

“I take it you don’t like him?”

“Is it that obvious?” Brandon asked dryly.

“May I ask why not?”

“He doesn’t like me,” Brandon answered truthfully. “Ever since my mom met him, he’s managed to convince her that I’m nothing but trouble. She won’t even listen to what I have to say anymore.”

“So, did you have a good relationship with you mom before?”

“The best.”

Doctor Reece leaned forward in her chair. “Is there any truth to what your mom’s fiancé has been saying?”

“About me being a troublemaker?”

“Yes.”

“Not really.” Brandon shrugged. “I mean, sure I’ve done some things like skip school, get into fights and things like that. But I’ve never done anything major…not until this, that is.”

“Why did you steal the car, Brandon?”

“It’s not like I meant to,” the teen admitted quietly. “I was dared to do it by a couple of my friends, but they bailed on me when the police showed up. I was the only one who was caught.”

“Are you sorry about what you did?”

Brandon nodded. “I never meant to hurt anyone, especially my mom. I just wish she could realize that instead of always thinking of me as a disappointment. It’s just that lately…” his voice trailed off, afraid to go on.

“What is it, Brandon?”

“Lately I’ve been…afraid of my mom. I think she might want to hurt me.”

“What makes you say that, Brandon?”

“I’m not sure…it’s just a feeling I get from her, almost like she wants me dead or something.”

“I just don’t see why you would think that, Brandon,” Doctor Reece said, frowning. “That’s an awful accusation to make.”

Brandon’s eyes flashed angrily. “You think I’m lying.”

“You’re putting words into my mouth.”

Brandon shook his head. “Forget I said anything at all. No one ever believes me, anyway.”

Doctor Reece glanced down at her watch and stood up. “I think we should call it a day. We’ll pick up again in a few days, okay?”

“Whatever.” Brandon got up from his chair and without another word, headed back for his room. At least there he didn’t have to answer any more stupid questions and constantly try to defend himself.


****


A soft creak as the door opened could barely be heard over the snoring of the slumbering boy in the room. Two figures stealthily slipped inside and tiptoed to either side of the bed, looking down upon Brandon Rudd.

The first figure looked over at his partner, who nodded as he pulled out a knife from under his shirt, the moonlight reflecting menacingly off the blade.

Without warning, the sleeping boy’s eyes popped open and locked onto the two figures. Just as he opened his mouth to scream for help, a rough hand was placed firmly over it. Brandon tried to struggle against the hold, but his captor pressed his weight against him, refusing to allow the boy escape.

Brandon’s frightened eyes followed the other figure as he raised the knife above his head, trajectory of the long blade suddenly altering and slamming into his chest, ending his life.


Present Day


I’m always workin’ slavin’ every day
Gotta get away from that same old same old
I need a chance just to get away
If you could hear me think this is what I’d say

The throaty grumble of the black 1967 Chevrolet Impala tore through the silent stretch of the Virginia highway as Poison’s Nothin’ but a Good Time blasted through the speakers. The day was sunny and warm, not a single cloud in the azure sky. The windows of the classic were rolled down, allowing the fresh, country air in to cool the car’s two occupants.

Sam had to admit the breeze felt good against his skin, even if Bret Michaels’ vocals didn’t do it for his ears. It wasn’t that he didn’t like the song—it just didn’t help when your brother was belting it out along with him, completely off-key. Not that Sam was really one to be a critic of one’s singing, considering he couldn’t hold a note if his very life depended on it.

American Idol definitely wasn’t in the brothers’ foreseeable future.

Of course, nothing was in their foreseeable future if they didn’t start catching a break soon. Their last gig took them to Philadelphia, the supposed city of brotherly love, only some people—or Egyptian curses—didn’t quite get the memo. They were lucky to get out of that one alive, depending on your definition of the word.

Don’t need nothin’ but a good time
How can I resist?
Ain’t lookin’ for nothin’ but a good time
And it don’t get better than this

Add to that, they still had Mia Cameron, half bitch, half demon extraordinaire to contend with. The brothers had no idea where she was and it was rather unsettling. They were doing everything they could in order to watch out and protect themselves against her, but it was pretty hard when none of the old stand-bys worked. No salting the doors or windows, no Devil’s Traps, no protective amulets—nothing.

Sam couldn’t even bring up the girl’s name to Dean without starting a fight with his sibling. Sam figured it had to do with Dean’s fear that Sam was right about her all along and Dean couldn’t stand the fact he’d refused to trust his brother. Either that or he didn’t want to hear Sam say, “I told you so.” Sam wasn’t about to do that because it would be childish and it wouldn’t accomplish anything prudent. Dean was having a hard enough time dealing and he’d immediately put up the walls he’d allowed Mia to knock down so easily.

Sam wished it could be different for Dean instead of him always getting the short end of the stick. Dean deserved something good, but it seemed The Powers That Be were dead against that from ever happening.

Why the hell should you reward Dean for all the good he’s done, right?

“You do have a reason why we’re driving through the sticks of Virginia, right?” Dean asked as he turned down the radio.

“Would I ever steer you wrong, Dean?” Sam asked, glancing up from the papers in his lap.

“Hell yeah,” Dean answered. “I’m sure you’re just looking for a reason to pay me back for all the times I pulled crap on you growing up.”

“Growing up?” Sam scoffed. “You still pull crap on me.”

Dean nodded. “My point exactly.”

Sam grinned. “As much fun as that may sound, we’re actually heading towards a new gig.”

“Yeah? What kind of gig?”

“Culpeper Juvenile Detention Center. For the past five years, there have been a series of deaths plaguing the place,” Sam explained. “It’s only centered there, though. The rest of the town seems to be pretty quiet.”

“How do you know that?”

“I checked into the statistics. And a couple of days ago, a guard at the center was found in one of the bathrooms with his throat slashed.”

“Sounds like murder to me,” Dean commented as his eyes slid over to Sam. “How does that make it our gig? I mean, sure, the police aren’t the best at what they do, but we can’t keep going around cleaning up their messes.”

“It makes it our gig because reports say for a day leading up to the guard’s death he claimed a boy was following him around.”

Dean frowned. “It’s a juvie hall, Sam. Of course a boy is gonna follow him around. A lot of boys, as a matter of fact.”

“This particular boy wouldn’t,” Sam argued. “Especially since the boy the guard was describing has been missing for several years now. Besides, it’s not the first case of it happening.”

“What do you mean?”

“Several people have claimed to see him. Dad even makes a little mention of it in his journal,” Sam said, holding up the leather book.

“Then why didn’t he come see about it and put an end to it?”

Sam shrugged. “Probably didn’t see much potential in it.”

“So, I take it he didn’t have any ideas about what was going on there?”

“Nope.”

Dean arched a brow at Sam. “Do you?”

Sam tucked his papers and the journal back into his messenger bag. “Could be your basic, garden-variety haunting. We won’t know until we get there,” he added with a smile.

Dean groaned. “I really hate it when you have that smile on your face. What did you do?”

“I may have called ahead and gotten us jobs at the center,” the younger hunter replied nonchalantly.

“Do I even want to know?”

“Probably not, but I’ll tell you anyway. I got on as a new counselor while you will be the center’s newest security guard.”

“Why can’t I get on as a counselor? I have good counseling skills,” Dean whined. “I don’t want to stand around, watching a bunch of snot-nosed brats.”

“Well, that would be one reason among many others,” Sam said dryly. “Besides, you shouldn’t have that hard of a time with them.”

“And why’s that?”

Sam smirked. “Well, I imagine some of them to be stubborn, foul-mouthed little jackasses. Sound familiar?”

“I’d hide that smirk before you find my boot up your ass, Sammy.”

Sam shook his head, chuckling. “Nope, you’ll have no problem fitting in at all.”


Culpeper Juvenile Detention Center


A couple of hours later, the brothers were pulling into the gates of the center, after having secured a motel room not too far away. As Dean pulled into the entrance, he was directed to the East side of the four-story brick building to park in the employee lot.

Driving around, he was semi-impressed with the layout. A chain-length fence surrounded the perimeter and video cameras were placed every several yards or so. It didn’t look imposing like a prison, since it lacked the razor wire along the top. A couple of guards were patrolling along the edge of the fence, but other than that, it seemed the kids were allowed to roam freely, made obvious by the cluster sitting on a couple of picnic tables.

“Security doesn’t look too tight,” Dean commented as he pulled into a spot.

“They’re not out to scare the kids, Dean,” Sam explained. “They want to rehabilitate them so they can go out into the world again and be productive. They try to make these kids feel at home.”

“Let me guess—you did some research, didn’t you?” Dean asked, amused.

“I figured one of us should have some knowledge so we don’t come off as a couple of posers,” Sam said as he got out of the car.

Dean frowned as he followed Sam. “But we are a couple of posers.”

“No reason for the entire world to know that.”

Dean didn’t say anything as he followed Sam to the front entrance of the building. Upon entering, they were blasted by a waft of cool air, welcoming them in its refreshing embrace. They’d barely taken a few steps when a tall, slender man with longish, brown hair, stepped out to greet them. He was casually dressed in khakis and an olive green polo shirt.

“Are you two our latest hires?” he asked, eyeing the two.

“That would be us,” Dean answered.

The man’s face broke into a smile. “I’m Thomas Jacobs, captain of this little ship.”

“I’m Sam Carver,” Sam said, holding out his hand. He nodded towards Dean. “This is my brother, Dean.”

“It’s very nice to meet the both of you,” Jacobs said, warmly shaking their hands. “I’ve got to say, it’s strange to find siblings who want to work at the same place.”

“Why do you say that?” Dean asked.

Jacobs waved a dismissive hand. “No reason—just an observation. We’re relieved we could find some help, considering new hires are hard to find around here these days. You really couldn’t have come at a better time.”

“Yeah, we’ve heard about the run of bad luck you’ve been having,” Sam admitted.

Jacobs was about to comment when the group of detainees they’d seen outside earlier came in. “How about we go into my office and talk?”

Sam and Dean said nothing as they followed the director down the long, narrow hallway to the right of the entrance. Walking past a few closed doors, they came to an open doorway towards the end.

It was rather modest, with gray filing cabinets taking up one wall. A standard office desk sat in the middle, where an older computer monitor and keyboard took most of the surface. What little space was left was littered with papers, a Rolodex, and other office necessities.

“You’ll have to excuse the mess,” Jacobs apologized with a laugh. “I was never one to embrace organization.”

“Yeah, we never really saw much eye to eye, either,” Dean said as he and Sam took a seat in front of the desk.

Jacobs smiled, but then became somber as he took his own chair. “I hope our bad luck around here won’t run you off. We really could use some help.”

“You just had a guard that was murdered, didn’t you?” Sam asked.

“Yes, such a terribly tragedy.”

“Have you found the killer yet?”

Jacobs shook his head. “Unfortunately, no. The boys here are really worried, and I can’t say that I blame them. We’ve been doing everything we can to keep it under wraps and not cause any more unnecessary stress for them.”

“The guard—he wasn’t your first death around here, was he?” Dean asked as Sam shot him a look. Sam may have wanted to take things slow, especially when they were stepping into a potential situation that could get them both killed if they weren’t careful, but Dean didn’t seem to have gotten the memo.

“I mean…well, sure, we may have had a few incidents—” Jacobs said, becoming slightly flustered.

Dean arched a brow. “A few?”

“Every facility is going to have its run of bad luck…”

“Dean, I think maybe you should ease up a little,” Sam warned softly.

Jacobs eyed the two of them curiously. “How did you know about the other deaths? We haven’t exactly been publicizing them.”

Dean gave a casual shrug. “We like to do our homework. We’re not about to step into something without making sure our asses are covered.”

Jacobs smiled tightly. “I can certainly admire that, but I can assure you, we are doing everything in our power to find out what’s going on here. This institution’s safety is our number one priority.” He flipped through a sheaf of papers. “Now, I see here, Dean, that you worked at another facility back in Tulsa?”

Dean nodded. “I needed a change of scenery.”

“I’m not sure how much of a change you’re going to get here, but we’re glad to have you either way. It will make it that much easier to transition you into your job with the experience you’ve had.”

A knock at the door had all three men looking up to see a stocky man with thick, black hair, wearing a guard’s uniform standing there.

“Stu—perfect timing,” Jacobs said, smiling.

“Are these our newest additions?” Stu asked in a deep voice that would make James Earl Jones proud.

Dean exchanged a quick glance with Sam, hoping his brother was getting the message loud and clear: You are so dead, Sammy.

Jacobs stood up. “This is Dean and Sam Carver. Boys, this is our head of security, Stu Tyler. You’ll be tagging along with Stu, Dean. He’ll show you the ropes.”

Dean grinned tightly, almost grimacing as he looked back at the bulging mass of a man. “I can hardly wait.”

He’d much rather stay behind with Sam so they could continue to grill Jacobs, but Dean also knew he would blow their cover if he did that. Besides, Sam would fill him in later if he learned anything.

“Right this way,” Tyler said, gruffly. He didn’t wait for Dean as he walked out of the office.

“Guess I should get going then.” Dean traded one last look with his brother, telling him to be careful. Sam gave an almost imperceptible nod in understanding and the older Winchester reluctantly left.


****


As Dean followed Stu Tyler, he became convinced the bulky man was the Incredible Hulk, sans being green. He’d barely uttered two words since they left Jacobs’ office, those being grunts that vaguely sounded like, “Follow me.”

After walking around for what seemed like forever to Dean, they finally came to a set of unmarked double doors. Pushing one open, Tyler stepped back to allow Dean passage. “This is the guards’ locker room. Your locker is number seven.”

“What do you know? My lucky number,” Dean quipped.

Tyler grunted as he opened it up. “There’s your uniform—put it on.”

“Do I at least get a little privacy?”

Tyler ignored him. “When you get finished, you’ll find a nightstick and pepper spray on the top shelf. Guards ain’t allowed to carry guns at any time. Got it?”

Dean stopped himself from giving Mr. Personality a salute. “Loud and clear.”

“I’ll be right outside the door.” Tyler left without another word.

“That dude is totally out of the running for Ms. Congeniality at the company Christmas party this year,” Dean muttered as he grabbed his uniform—God, kill me now—out of his locker. Sam would get me the gig that requires playing dress up.

The hunter made quick work of getting dressed, but it took longer for him to part ways with his trusty Desert Eagle. I’m so sorry, baby. You know I wouldn’t leave you if I had a choice…

“I ain’t got time for you to get dolled up in there, princess!” Tyler’s voice boomed through the locker room, followed by the door slamming shut.

“I’m about to make time to shove this nightstick up your ass,” Dean mumbled under his breath.

Giving his gun one last look, he reluctantly placed it at the bottom of his locker, underneath his pile of clothes. He felt completely naked going without it, but he knew he couldn’t afford to get tossed out. Not before he and Sam figured out what the hell was going on around there.

“Took you long enough,” Tyler grumbled as soon as Dean walked out.

Dean flashed a cheeky smile. “I had to make sure I looked my best for you.”

“Great. Another smartass to deal with.” Tyler rolled his eyes and began walking.

Dean jogged to catch up with him. “So, how long have you been sharing your cheery disposition around here?”

“Seven years.”

“You must like it then.”

“It’s a job. I don’t give a crap about what happens here as long as I have a paycheck at the end of the week.”

Oh, yeah—a total ass and apparently one who doesn’t like to talk. Sorry there, Stu, but I was never one to take a hint.

“Did you know the guard that was murdered?”

Tyler glared back at him as they began to climb the staircase. “What are you? Nancy Drew?”

“I personally preferred the Hardy Boys growing up,” Dean answered smartly. “So, did you know him?”

“What if I did?”

Dean shrugged. “Has to be hard to lose a friend like that.”

“Who said he was my friend?”

“Well, I just assumed since you worked together…”

“You know what they say about assuming, Dean?”

“Something about an ass, I think.”

“Look, he was a decent guy, I guess,” Tyler replied as they came out of the third floor landing. “But apparently he didn’t know how to watch his back.”

“You’re saying someone on the inside killed him?”

“I’m not saying nothin’.”

They finally came to a stop towards the middle of the long hallway. “This wing is your post. Keep your eyes open and stay alert. You’ll be relieved in a few hours.”

Giving Dean one final glare, Tyler left the way he came.


****


Watching as Dean left with the head of security, Sam could feel Jacobs’ eyes on his back. Turning back to face the director, Sam offered an apologetic smile.

“Sorry about my brother. Dean’s usually not like that.” When he’s asleep, at least, Sam mentally added.

“No harm done,” Jacobs said with an easy smile.

“It’s just that he never wanted me to take this job in the first place, with everything that’s been happening here,” Sam explained with as much sincerity as he could muster. “The only way he would let me take it was if he could get hired on as well. I’m just lucky you had another position open.”

“It’s quite all right, Sam. There’s no need to explain.” Jacobs nodded his head towards the open doorway. “You’re very lucky to have someone watch out for you like Dean does. It’s the one thing these kids here seriously lack.”

Sam nodded. “Yeah, I am lucky,” he admitted. Dean had gotten him out of more tight spots than Sam cared to admit and he was thankful for that, each and every day.

Jacobs stood up and walked to the door. “How about I show you to your office and get you settled in?”

Sam smiled. “Sounds great.”

Following Jacobs the way he and Dean originally came, they went past a couple of doors, coming to a stop in front of one right off the entranceway. Unlocking the door, Jacobs opened it up and stepped back to allow Sam to enter first.

“As you can see, there’s really not much to it,” Jacobs said, following Sam in. “This position has been vacant for a while now.”

That’s an understatement, Sam thought as he took in his sparse surroundings. The only furniture that seemed to dominate the small room was a desk and a couple of chairs, sitting in the middle. A set of dingy blinds covered the lone window and the cinder block walls were a faded white, while dust littered everything in sight.

“You can do anything to make it feel a little more inviting if you please to do so,” Jacobs said.

“No, it’s fine.” Not like I’m going to be here long enough to make myself at home.

“We, uh…we always have a counselor on duty—you’ll strictly be on day shift for the time being.”

“Sounds good,” Sam said as he went around to sit behind the desk.

“We have an open door policy around here. The boys are free to come talk to you whenever they feel the need.”

“Okay.”

“Also, you’ll have a computer within the next hour or so. It will allow you access to all the files on the boys so you know who you’re dealing with.”

“Great.” He glanced up at Jacobs. “How long have you worked here, Mr. Jacobs? I mean, if you don’t mind me asking.”

Jacobs took a seat across from Sam. “It’s Thomas and I don’t mind at all. I’ve been here for about ten years now,” he answered, smiling proudly.

“You must really enjoy your work.”

“I really do.”

“I imagine it has to be hard sometimes though.”

The director’s smile turned into a frown as he nodded somberly. “It is, but I do what I can to help these boys. Someone has to offer them a second chance at a life and I’m happy to oblige.”

Sam smiled warmly as he found himself slowly liking the man before him.

“Is there anything else before you get to work?”

Sam hesitated, really wanting to ask about the guard’s death, but also not wanting to step on any toes. Oh, what the hell…go for it. You’re not going to get any answers keeping your mouth shut.

“The guard that was murdered—”

Jacobs held up a hand, stopping Sam. “I think I already know where this is headed, Sam.”

Sam frowned. “You do?”

“Yes, and I can assure you that you and your brother will be perfectly safe. It’s not your job to worry about that. We’re letting the police handle everything.”

“But—”

Jacobs stood up. “I should let you get started. If you have any other questions about your job, you know where to find me.” He placed a key on Sam’s desk, stirring up a cloud of dust. “Make sure you lock up at the end of your shift, okay?”

Sam nodded as he watched the director leave. “Sure.”

He sure was in a hurry to get out of here as soon as I began asking questions…

One thing Sam knew for sure: He and Dean were definitely going to have to keep a watchful eye on everyone here.


****


This is almost as boring as doing research with Sammy, Dean thought as he made another trek down the seemingly unending hallway. Nothing had happened within the last few hours or so. No arguments, no fighting, not even any good gossip. He was seriously considering finding some wet paint just to watch it dry.

And the uniform…let’s not even get started on that.

There was a reason Dean Winchester refused to wear polyester. The obvious was that it was hot, but the most uncomfortable reason was that it itched in places Dean wasn’t comfortable scratching unless he had complete privacy. And let’s face it—even if the halls happened to be vacant right now, as soon as he scratched, every door would pop open. He wasn’t about to fall for that one.

Not again, anyway…

Coming to the very end of the wing, Dean spotted a door cordoned off with yellow police tape. “Now, how the hell did I miss this earlier?”

Making sure no one was watching, Dean tried the knob and was surprised when it turned easily in his hand. They really are lax with their security around here…

Quickly slipping inside, Dean was again surprised to see he was in the bathroom where the guard was murdered. The outline of the body was still marked on the floor with tape and the smell of blood remained in the stale air.

Pulling out his EMF meter, the hunter slowly walked around, searching for any trace of a supernatural entity. The meter remained obstinately quiet, the lights at the top not even giving the tiniest of flickers.

“That’s strange. I thought Sammy said there was something…”

Turning it off, he shoved it in his pocket just as the door opened, revealing a boy with curly red hair of about thirteen or fourteen.

“Who are you?” the boy asked.

“Dean—the new guard.” The hunter tilted his head to the side. “Who are you?”

“Wyatt. You’re not supposed to be in here, you know. No one is.”

“You are,” Dean returned.

Wyatt shrugged. “I’m no one.”

“That’s a little harsh, isn’t it?”

Wyatt shrugged again. “So, what are you doing in here?”

“Taking a break,” Dean casually replied. “What are you doing in here?”

“Getting away from everyone. I come in here to think.”

“Isn’t this place a little creepy now that someone died in here?”

Wyatt walked past Dean to peer down at the body outline. “Why would it be? I was the one who found him, so it doesn’t bother me.”

Dean perked up at that. Finally, something interesting!

“Really?” Dean asked.

“Uh-huh.”

“Did you see what happened?”

The young teen eyed him suspiciously. “Why are you so interested?”

“Just curious.”

“Oh.” Wyatt relaxed a little. “I didn’t see what happened. I just came in here to use the bathroom that night and I found him on the floor, gurgling up blood. I called for help, but by the time they got here, he was dead.”

“That must have been awful,” Dean offered sympathetically. It was hard enough for him to face death on a daily basis sometimes, but for a kid to witness it was ten times worse in Dean’s book. It had a way of changing them for the rest of their lives.

Wyatt nodded. “I’ve been having trouble sleeping the past few nights.”

“Have you tried talking to any of the counselors?”

“Nah. Mr. Jacobs has been trying to get me to see them, but they wouldn’t be able to help me.” He hesitated before glancing at Dean nervously. “They wouldn’t believe me, anyway.”

“Believe you about what?”

Wyatt shook his head as he walked towards the door. “Forget I said anything.”

“What is it, Wyatt?” Dean asked, getting the boy to stop. “You can tell me. I promise I won’t judge you.”

“No, but you’ll laugh at me.”

“Try me.”

Wyatt sighed. “I think I’ve been seeing things, but I don’t know if it’s really real or if it’s all in my head.”

“What are you seeing?”

“I’ve been seeing a boy follow me around.”

Dean leaned down so he was eye-level with the teen. “What did he look like, Wyatt?”

“Um…he was kinda tall. A little older than me, I guess. He had longish, blond hair and green eyes.”

Dean frowned, wondering if it was the same boy the guard had seen before he died. “Did this boy ever say anything to you?”

Wyatt nodded. “He kept saying my name over and over again. He said something else, but I couldn’t understand him.”

Dean was about to inquire further when the door behind Wyatt opened and Stu Tyler walked in.

“What are you doing in here?” he asked the both of them gruffly, but his gaze was on Wyatt.

Dean stepped in front of the kid and offered the guard an apologetic smile. “Wyatt saw me come in here so he came in to tell me I needed to get out.”

Tyler glared at Dean, and then turned his attention back to Wyatt. “Is that true, Wyatt?”

Dean glanced down at Wyatt, giving him a slight wink.

“Yes, sir. I didn’t want Dean to get in trouble,” the boy answered quietly.

Tyler seemed as if he didn’t believe Wyatt for a second, but finally he opened the door and nodded. “Get back to your room, kid.”

“Yes, sir.” Wyatt traded one last look with Dean before scurrying out of the bathroom.

Tyler approached Dean, seriously violating the hunter’s personal space. “Do you not know how to read, Dean?”

Dean smiled easily. “You mean, the police tape on the door?”

“Yeah.”

“Sure, I know how to read. I was just curious—you can’t blame a man for that.”

“You know what they say about curiosity?”

Dean smirked. “You really like those sayings, don’t you?”

Tyler’s lips twitched as he took another step towards Dean. “I would suggest you keep your curiosity to yourself. You never know when it could land you in some serious trouble.”

Dean arched a brow. “Is that a threat, Stuey?”

Tyler shrugged. “Consider it a friendly little warning.” He stepped back and pointed at the door. “Shift’s over. Get out of here.”

Dean held the guard’s gaze for a few moments before smiling. “Whatever you say, boss.”

Tyler didn’t say anything, but as Dean walked past the bulky man, he had the distinct feeling if looks could kill, he would have been nothing but a pile of smoldering ash.

Oh, yeah…I am definitely pissing off the locals.


Colonial Motel


“Dude, you seriously had to go and piss him off?” Sam asked, looking at Dean like he had grown two heads. There were just some times when Dean amazed him with his arrogance and stupidity.

The brothers had returned to their motel only a few minutes ago and Dean didn’t waste any time telling Sam about Stu Tyler.

“It’s not my fault the guy walks around with a stick shoved up his ass the entire time. I think if he were to crack a smile, he’d fall over dead,” Dean said around a mouthful of his double cheeseburger.

Sam shoved a couple of fries into his mouth. “Yeah, but you could have found someone else to get on their bad side. Why did you have to choose Thing from Fantastic Four?

Dean glared at his sibling. “I didn’t choose my gig, remember? That was you who paired me with him.”

Sam shook his head as he took a sip of his soda. “You’re seriously blaming me for that?”

“I’m sure as hell not blaming myself.” Dean shoved the rest of his burger into his mouth. “I can’t help it that he didn’t fall for my charm.”

“Can you really blame the guy?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing.” Sam pushed away his remaining meal and leaned back in his chair. “Did Tyler at least tell you anything when he wasn’t contemplating smashing your face into a wall?”

Dean snagged the rest of Sam’s burger and bit into it. “He knew the guard that was killed.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, but he didn’t tell me anything except the dude should have been watching his back.”

“So, he thinks it was an inside job?”

Dean shrugged. “He wouldn’t say. I swept the bathroom with the EMF, but came up with nada.” Dean polished off the burger and threw the wrapper at the trashcan across the room, where it bounced off the rim and landed on the floor.

Sam shook his head as he grinned. “Did you find anything?”

“Nope. There were no traces of a spirit anywhere to be found.”

“So, we’re back at square one?”

“Not necessarily. I did talk to the boy who found the guard’s body,” Dean said proudly.

“Really?” Sam asked, impressed.

“Yep. He didn’t actually see it happen, but he did tell me something interesting.”

“What’s that?”

“He’s claiming to see the same boy that was following the guard around. It could just be a coincidence or like you were saying—a simple haunting. It could be nothing.”

“But we don’t believe that, do we?” Sam asked.

“Not a chance.” Dean got up from the table and collapsed on his bed with a groan. “I told you all about my day. What about you?”

Sam grimaced as he scratched the back of his head. “Not as eventful as yours, I’m afraid. I got the silent treatment from a couple of teens with major chips on their shoulders.” He let out a weary sigh. “It made talking to you about feelings seem like a walk in the park.”

Dean frowned. “I’m not that bad.”

Sam rolled his eyes and didn’t warrant that with a response. “I tried talking to Jacobs, but he didn’t seem to want to talk about the murder.”

“You think he’s hiding anything?”

“Nah. He just seems really concerned about the kids and keeping them safe.”

Dean sat up on the bed. “So, basically, all we have so far is a dead guard, among other deaths within the past five years, and some spook boy.”

“Yeah.” Sam reached for his laptop and booted it up. “I figure we should start with the center and see if there were any mysterious deaths that match our boy’s description.”

“Yell at me when you find something,” Dean muttered as he once again lay back down and closed his eyes.

Sam shook his head in amusement as he focused on his task at hand. Heading to the local paper’s website, he typed in his search query. He clicked on article after article, but turned up empty.

Deciding to try another approach, he typed in “Disappearances from the Culpeper Juvenile Detention Center” and smiled when an article from about five years ago came up. He quickly perused it and when he clicked on the picture, Sam knew he had found what they were looking for.

“I think I found something.”

Dean didn’t respond.

Sam turned in his chair to see his brother was still snoozing. “Dean!”

Dean jerked awake, bolting upright. “Dude, what the hell is your deal?”

“I said I may have found something.”

“Oh, well, why didn’t you say so?”

Sam sighed and bit back a retort as Dean walked behind him to peer at the computer screen.

“What did you find?”

“The disappearance of Brandon Rudd. He was a fifteen-year-old kid who was sent to Culpeper when he stole a car. After serving about a week of his six month sentence, he vanished without a trace. Everyone chalked him up as a runaway.”

“So, why do you think this is our Casper?” Dean asked, confused.

“Because of this,” Sam said as he clicked on a link, pulling up Brandon’s picture.

“Son of a bitch…”

The picture that stared back at the brothers was of a young teen with shaggy, blond hair and bright green eyes that seemed to pierce through the screen.

“This is who everyone’s been seeing,” Sam said.

“That’s who Wyatt was describing.”

“Dean, I’ve been thinking about this.” Sam tapped on the screen. “Everyone who’s seen this kid has turned up dead.”

Dean’s eyes widened as he realized what Sam was getting at. “Sammy, if that’s true, then Wyatt’s going to be next.”


Culpeper Juvenile Detention Center


Wyatt Sinclair enjoyed the quiet of the night as he strolled around the grounds of the center. It allowed him to gather his thoughts and get away from everyone. He had to admit, after talking to Dean, he felt a little bit better because he finally felt someone here understood him and didn’t think he was crazy. He was grateful he finally found someone he could trust in this place, especially after Dean didn’t rat him out to Stu.

Turning on his MP3 player, the young teen smiled as Fall Out Boy’s Beat It blasted through his headphones.

Wyatt was so engrossed in his music, he didn’t hear the sound of footsteps approaching behind him. He nearly jumped out of his skin when he noticed the long shadow in the security light.

Whirling around, his music player fell out of his hands and he let out a relieved sigh when he saw who was there. “I didn’t know you were behind me!”

The person said nothing as he barely lifted his hand.

Wyatt squinted and gasped when he noticed the knife. Swallowing nervously, the boy took a few steps backwards. “What are you doing with that?”

Silence was the only thing to answer Wyatt.

I have to get out of here! I have to get some help!

Turning on his heel, Wyatt began to run away, glancing behind him frantically to see if he was being followed. Not paying attention to what was ahead of him, he fell to the ground after crashing into a hard surface. Looking up, he saw that his silent pleas were answered.

“Please! You have to help me! He’s trying to kill me!”

The other man leaned down as if to help him. Instead, he jerked the boy to his feet in an iron grip.

“Wait, what are you doing?” Wyatt cried, struggling in his captor’s grip. He kicked back, his foot connecting with something, but the grip didn’t ease up.

“Please, let me go!” Wyatt pleaded.

Instead of letting go, his captor put a hand over his mouth, silencing any more pleas. Wyatt watched with tear-filled eyes as the other person approached, the knife raised above his head.

I can’t believe I trusted him, the teen thought before the knife was plunged into his chest.


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