Season Three

Episode Twenty: No Excuses

By SnSam

Part One

Oklahoma State Penitentiary
Six Months Earlier


THOP…

THOP…

THOP…

Peter Hines smiled to himself as the sound of the tennis ball bouncing against the cinder block wall echoed throughout the eight by ten cell. It was just another noise to add to the multitude of others that seemed to plague the prison—the constant fighting, the threats and the sound of metal clanging against metal. If the convicted felon wanted to be entirely honest with himself, he knew the ruckus he was causing pissed off the other inmates and the guards and he couldn’t care less.

Oh, well…get the hell over it, Hines thought as he continued to bounce the ball. Not like these pansies have the balls to say anything to me.

That was the truth.

As soon as he’d been sentenced to this hell hole ten years ago, Hines quickly set the precedent that he wasn’t one to be screwed with. Of course, it helped that on his first day, he’d sent one guy to the ICU for two weeks to get that point across. When he was released from solitary confinement, Hines was pleased to hear that word had spread quickly to stay away from him.

But that threat was diminishing rapidly and Hines knew it. He’d heard the anxious whispers in the courtyard and the cafeteria for the last week or so. His days were numbered—two to go, to be exact; he’d be meeting the business end of the syringe soon enough, which he was sure would thrill the majority of the state of Oklahoma.

What the hell did Hines care, though? Sure, he’d killed ten people, but did he have any remorse about it?

Hell, no.

Regrets?

Hell, yes.

Regrets that he’d gotten caught. In Hines’ mind, he still had a lot more tricks up his sleeve. He still had a lot more terror to inflict, a lot more dreams to haunt.

Well, he still had a way to do that. No way was he going to give the state the satisfaction of pulling his plug. If he couldn’t be out there creating havoc for the masses, then Hines would at least dictate the way he was going to go out of this world.

Catching the tennis ball single-handed, the killer rose from his cot and walked to the far facing wall, removing a carefully carved out chunk of cinder block. Reaching in, he pulled out the homemade shiv and smiled coldly.

Even though he’d made it more than a couple of months ago, Hines had never had the occasion to use it. He’d secretly wished someone would come along to piss him off just so he could have felt the warm blood on his hands, but maybe it was a blessing no one did. After all, if that happened, the weapon would have been confiscated and he wouldn’t get to use it for its true purpose now.

Running his finger over the finagled blade, Hines smiled in satisfaction as blood seeped out from the cut. “Yep, this will do just fine.”

The felon felt no fear as he brought the blade up to his throat. If anything, this would be a release—a sweet, intoxicating release that, if he was lucky, would still be savored for some time to come.

Faint footsteps stopped Hines from completing his deed just then. “Even better,” the murderer murmured. “I always did love an audience.”

He didn’t have long to wait before the penitentiary’s newest hire—a short, lanky and constantly nervous guard—stopped in front of Hines’ cell, his hand resting on his nightstick as if it was the very salvation to save his pathetic life if things went downhill. Hines smiled in glee as he took in Twitchy’s fearful expression as the guard eyed the blade the prisoner held.

“Don’t think you’re gonna make it in time there, Twitch,” Hines said as he watched the uniformed man reach for the keys on his belt.

Before Twitchy could even grasp the keys firmly in his hand, Hines brought the blade across his throat, spraying the guard and cell in a shower of crimson.


****


“On my count of three. One…two…three.”

The medical staff worked as a solidified unit as they transferred Peter Hines from the stretcher to the gurney in the trauma room. Doctor Seth Luger wasted no time as he began to check the vitals of his patient, though every fiber in his being was screaming at him to let the scumbag go to Hell where he deserved.

Which was exactly where he was headed with this type of wound. Hines’ breathing was ragged at best as blood continued to sputter out of his neck. How the psycho was managing to hold on to life was beyond the veteran doctor. Luger had to give it to him though—Hines knew exactly what he was doing when he slashed himself.

“Pressure’s dropping,” one of the nurses replied brusquely.

Let it drop, Luger snorted as he kept the thought to himself. Instead, he put on his practiced medical persona and said, “Let’s keep working, people. We still have time to save him.”

Though Luger was sure if he took a vote no one would agree to that.

Somehow, Hines managed to turn his head enough to look the doctor in his eyes, a leering smile on his face as he choked on his own blood. There was no denying that Hines knew he was going to die and to the physician, it almost seemed as if Hines was happy with that.

Well, let me be the one to send you on your way….

“I lost his pulse,” another nurse called out as a steady beep pierced through the frenzied air.

“Get the crash cart in here!” Luger barked as he pushed his way forward to begin compressions. He barely even turned around as an intern handed him the paddles and a nurse pushed medication into Hines’ system. “Charge to three hundred! Clear!”

The killer’s body convulsed as the paddles were pressed against his chest and an electrical charge pulsed through him.

“Still nothing.”

“All right—let’s try again!”

Luger and his staff continued their valiant efforts but to no avail. Realizing there was nothing more he could do, the doctor called for everyone to cease their work.

Looking down at his watch, Luger said, “Time of death…21:06.” Stripping off his gloves, the medic reached for the chart and made the notation. He cursed under his breath when he noticed something else on the paper.

“Son of a bitch…”

“Is there a problem, Doctor Luger?” the last remaining nurse asked worriedly.

“I guess it depends how you look at it,” the doctor replied. “Notify the organ retrieval team and let them know they have a new customer. The sooner they get it done, the sooner this bastard can go to the morgue where he belongs.”

With one final stab of his pen against the clipboard, Luger shoved the trauma room’s swinging door open, intent on saving the lives of people who were actually worth it.


Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Five Months Later


There were days when Jerry Houston loved owning his own business and today was no exception. A local lawyer for the fine people of Tahlequah, the fifty-six year old silver haired man was glad he had the luxury of working from his home office, instead of sitting in a stuffy brick building all day. Not to mention the fact he got to stay near his family, especially his grandchildren who lived next door. The prosecutor was pretty much a happy camper.

Then again, Jerry had a lot to be thankful about lately—namely a new lease on life in the form of receiving a new kidney. Five months ago, just as the doctors were telling him dialysis was no longer working and he only had a month to live, the new organ had finally come along. He took to it surprisingly well and the doctors were thrilled to report he now had a long life ahead of him.

Jerry was ecstatic to hear the news because there was so much that needed to be done. He’d immediately cut down his seventy-plus hour work weeks and spent more time at home with his wife of thirty-five years, Audrey. Not only that, he began taking on pro bono cases until they eventually became the majority of his caseload.

It felt good to give back to the community that supported him in his so-called hour of need.

Letting out a sigh, the attorney tried to focus on his newest case. Jerry was trying to get together his defense for the case of the Dossett family against the Environmental Protection Agency. High levels of lead had been found in building materials used to build their new home, resulting in lead poisoning to their two young children. Jerry felt confident of their chances of winning the case, but he found he was having a hard time concentrating as little noises began eating away at his thought processes.

It was the everyday noises that a person grew accustomed to and had never seemed to bother him before—the birds chirping outside his window, the neighborhood children squealing with delight in the street and Audrey bustling to and fro in the kitchen as she prepared their dinner. The sounds kept pounding away in his head and his notes quickly became gibberish as his hands began shaking violently from the rage building inside of him.

“What in the world is happening to me?” he whispered as the feeling of pure fury washed over him, subduing his usual gentle demeanor.

“Hon, supper is five minutes away,” Audrey said as she stopped in the open doorway, drying her hands with a dish towel.

“I’ll be right there,” Jerry said, smiling tightly as his wife’s voice grated against his nerves.

Audrey didn’t seem to notice Jerry’s mounting rage. “I know how you are when you get a new case—there’s no budging you.” Audrey smiled warmly. “I promise I won’t bother you the rest of the night if you come and eat with me now.”

Jerry only nodded tersely and watched as she left him alone to return to the kitchen. There’s only one way I’ll get the peace I need, Jerry thought as he opened the top desk drawer.

Nestled inside at the very back was a small handgun that was meant for protection, but would serve a different purpose today. Picking it up, he was satisfied to see the clip was still fully loaded.

Rising up from his desk, Jerry made his way towards the kitchen, keeping the gun at his side. He spotted Audrey with her back towards him, fixing their plates.

“You must have been hungry,” she teased, but she didn’t turn around.

Jerry said nothing as he slowly raised the gun to take aim at her.

Completely oblivious to her husband’s intentions, Audrey turned around, smiling brightly as she held a heaping plate in each hand. Her expression quickly turned to one of horror and the plates fell to the floor, shattering upon impact, when her eyes lighted upon the gun.

“What are you doing, Jerry?” she demanded fearfully, bringing a hand to her mouth.

Jerry said nothing, his face expressionless.

“Jerry, please…put down the gun,” Audrey pleaded. “You don’t know what you’re doing.”

The attorney tuned out her voice as his finger squeezed the trigger, firing off two shots into Audrey’s chest. She fell to the floor and as she landed unmoving at his feet, Jerry seemed to finally snap out of his murderous trance.

“No…” he whispered in horror as blood began blossoming from under his wife’s body. “What have I done?”

Looking down at the gun still tightly grasped in his hand, Jerry brought it up and aimed it at his head. There was one more shot before Jerry’s prone form joined that of his beloved Audrey.


Present Day
Cornerstone Diner, outside of Joplin, Missouri


You can’t see the mornin’, but I can see the night
Drive, drive, drive, let it ride
While you’ve been out runnin’
I’ve been waitin’ half the night
Drive, drive, drive,, let it ride

Why does it seem like every diner we go to has to either blare classic rock or country music? Sam Winchester thought as Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Let It Ride blasted through the speakers. Looking across the table, it was obvious Dean was enjoying it as he bobbed his head in time to the music, while shoveling massive bites of eggs down his throat.

Sam supposed it could always be worse because he would gladly take classic rock over a sappy, lovelorn country song any day of the week. It was a wonder those artists and songwriters didn’t spend the majority of their time with a shrink, considering all they knew how to come up with was all of that depressing crap.

Babe, my life is not complete, I never see you smile
Drive, drive, drive, let it ride
Baby, you want the forgivin’ kind and that’s just not my style
Drive, drive, drive, let it ride

“Sorry, Sammy, but I’m just not buying what you’re trying to peddle me here,” Dean said as he chased down the eggs with a healthy chug of coffee.

Sam sighed as he looked up from his laptop, a rueful smile playing on his lips. “Well, I might be agreeing with you for once because I’m not really sure if I’m buying it myself.” He shrugged a shoulder as he swallowed down some of his orange juice. “But then again, it’s too coincidental to ignore.”

“What do you mean?”

Again, Sam sighed. “In the last five months or so, throughout Oklahoma and surrounding states, there’s been a spike in murder-suicides.”

“So?”

“The perps were all upstanding citizens of their communities, never got into a spot of trouble before this,” Sam explained. “They had no reason to commit these murders.”

It was Dean’s turn to shrug. “People change all the time, Sammy. We know that from personal experience. This sounds like something for the Five-O, dude.”

“I thought you didn’t think very much of their abilities to do their job?” Sam commented, grinning.

“I still don’t, but I don’t see how this is our kind of gig.”

“Did I mention that every single person who committed a murder was a recent organ recipient?” Sam asked.

“How recent?” Dean asked, arching a brow.

“Five months recent.”

“And you said that’s when the spike in murder-suicides began?”

Sam smirked. “Look who’s been paying attention in class.”

“Dude, would it kill you to give me a little credit every now and then?” Dean griped, stabbing at his last bite of eggs.

“Not at all, if your credit didn’t come so few and far between,” Sam answered.

Dean flashed a bright smile as he swallowed down the food. “That’s the difference between you and me, Sammy—you make life all simple and boring by paying attention and I make it more exciting and spontaneous when I don’t.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “No wonder I always end up being the bitch in almost every single hunt,” he muttered under his breath.

Dean’s smile grew. “You gotta admit, it’s more exciting when I have to swoop in and save your ass.”

“And how is it you manage to keep that ego of yours in check, Dean?” Sam didn’t look at his brother as he returned his attention to the laptop.

Before Dean could reply with what Sam was sure would be his usual biting snark, the older Winchester’s cell phone began to chirp. Shoving a strip of bacon into his mouth, Dean dug in the pocket of his favorite leather jacket and plucked it out.

Flipping it open, he held it to his ear only to be greeted by the dial tone. Pulling it away, he scrolled to the Missed Calls menu and frowned at what he saw there.

“Another hang up?” Sam asked quietly.

Dean closed the phone with a snap and nodded. “Yeah.”

“You’ve been getting a lot of those lately.”

Dean signaled to the waitress for another coffee refill and answered Sam without looking at him. “It’s probably just a crank caller, Sam.”

“Do you think it could be Dad?”

Dean shook his head as the waitress refilled his cup and waited for her departure before he continued. “Why would you think that?”

Sam shrugged. “He gets new phones all the time and he’s never been the best at sharing the numbers with us, Dean.”

“It’s not Dad, Sammy. He wouldn’t hang up without talking to us first,” Dean answered.

“What if he was in trouble and he couldn’t answer?”

“He would find some way to give us a message if he was in trouble,” Dean stated firmly.

“Yeah, but what if—”

“Drop it, Sam,” Dean said with a stern look. Picking up his coffee cup, he nodded towards Sam’s laptop. “Tell me more about this case.”

Sam wanted to push the subject further but he could tell Dean wasn’t going to budge. That was it—the matter was closed. He trusted Dean when he said it wasn’t their dad calling, but he could see by the way Dean kept darting glances at his phone that there was something his brother wasn’t telling him—whether it was proof it wasn’t their father or just a thought, Sam wasn’t sure.

The younger Winchester didn’t want to get into a fight with his sibling, especially in a public place, so instead he focused once more on the possible gig. “We’re heading for Tahlequah, Oklahoma.”

“Why there?” Dean’s eyes slid from the phone to Sam’s face.

“That’s where the last murder-suicide occurred, not to mention three other recent recipients call it home,” Sam answered.

“Dude, I still think this recipient thing and the deaths could be one big ass coincidence.”

Sam grinned. “Sure, but you don’t believe in those. You actually give the Easter Bunny more credit for being real.”

“I’m willing to make an exception,” Dean argued. “And no way in hell do I believe in a damn overgrown rabbit that shoots Peeps out of its ass.”

Sam’s face wrinkled in disgust. “Well, there’s a nice picture for you.”

Dean chuckled. “So, if these organ recipients are the common link, have you been able to find the winning donor?”

Sam frowned. “The records aren’t that easy to come by. Hell, they don’t even let the recipients know where their organs came from,” he explained. “I just need to do a little more digging and I’m sure I can come up with something more definitive.”

“I have no doubt about that, little brother,” Dean said with an easy smile. “You’re like the freakin’ Energizer Bunny when it comes to research.”

Sam flashed a half smile before sighing as he closed up his laptop. “This could be absolutely nothing, Dean, but it sure as hell beats us sitting on our asses, just waiting for Mia or Lucifer to strike.”

Dean added his own tired sigh. “That’s exactly my point, dude. We have enough on our plate to deal with without adding more to it.”

“Since when have you been worried about stacking your plate too high?” Sam asked with a pointed glance at Dean’s polished off breakfast. “Especially if it involved a buffet line. Why start now?”

Dean glared at his smirking sibling. “Bite me,” he said as he got up to pay their bill.

Sam laughed as he packed up his laptop and watched Dean pay the waitress for their tab.

“Get your ass in gear, Sammy, or you can start footing it to Oklahoma,” Dean called out as he pushed out of the door to the diner.

It’s not everyday you can get Dean Winchester to shut up, Sam thought happily as he followed after his brother.


Tahlequah, Oklahoma


“My God, this neighborhood could make a person want to kill themselves,” Dean commented as he pulled the Impala into a tree-lined subdivision. At Sam’s look of incredulity, he quickly added, “Excuse the pun.”

“I think a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily mind living in an area like this,” Sam argued. “Isn’t this what the American Dream is supposed to be about?”

Dean scoffed. “What, paying mortgages on half-a-million dollar homes? No thanks, dude. I’ll take our backwoods motel rooms any day of the week.”

Sam chuckled, but Dean ignored him. He really didn’t understand how people could put themselves in debt by building and living in these monstrosities. Looking at all of the similar Italian-style villas that lined either side of the street, Dean was sure these people never had to do a day of manual labor in order to keep their properties looking pristine. Why should you when you could pay some poor schmuck to do it?

As he glanced at the homes, Dean figured maybe these people lived in these top-of-the-line homes because it made them feel more safe and secure. All the hunter knew was that a shotgun full of rocksalt, holy water, and the right Latin exorcism did the job just fine, too.

“This is it right here,” Sam commented, breaking into Dean’s thoughts. The older Winchester slowed to a stop as he parked across the street from one of the homes—the only difference between this one and all the others was the fading For Sale sign in the front lawn.

Dean had to give the realtor’s office credit—they were certainly doing a great job with the upkeep up of the property. There was really no reason why this home should still be on the market, except for the obvious one—the last owners dying inside. It amazed Dean how the thought of death scared people, when in his line of work, it could be seen as a blessing in disguise some days.

“Doesn’t look like anyone’s home,” Dean commented as he stepped out into the cool, autumn afternoon.

Sam shook his head as he joined his brother on the walkway leading up to the home. “It doesn’t look like anyone’s set foot here since the Houstons died.”

“Well, looks can be deceiving,” Dean muttered as he stepped up to ring the doorbell. “Maybe we’ll get lucky.”

“You do realize you’re using us and lucky in the same sentence, right?” Sam asked, arching a brow.

Dean shrugged but said nothing as he rang the doorbell once again. Seeing as they weren’t going to get an answer sometime in the near future, he nodded to the next door neighbor’s home. “Should we try over there?”

“It couldn’t hurt,” Sam answered and the brothers made their away around, passing the iron fencing that cordoned off the estates.

Walking up that walkway, they stopped at the door and rang the doorbell. It wasn’t long at all before it was answered by a petite brunette, her long hair pulled back into a messy, yet fashionably knot. She wore designer jeans topped with a stylish pink babydoll blouse.

“Can I help you?” she asked smiling, yet suspicion was obvious in her voice.

Sam returned her smile, quickly melting away the woman’s apprehension. “We were wondering if you happened to know the people who used to live in the house next door?” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the doctored FBI badge. “My name is Agent Henley and this is my partner, Agent Denver.”

“Um…I’m Abigail Bain,” she answered, shaking each brother’s hand in turn. “The people that used to live there were my parents, Jerry and Audrey Houston.”

“We’re very sorry for your loss,” Sam said gently, his voice full of sympathy. Dean found himself having a hard time not laughing at the way his little brother worked his magic. As soon as Sam broke out that tone of voice, people—especially of the female persuasion—were putty in his hands.

“Thank you,” she answered, smiling sadly. “What brings the FBI out here?”

“Could we possibly go inside and discuss it?” Dean asked.

Abigail seemed ashamed of her manners as she quickly stepped back to allow the hunters passage. “By all means, please come in.”

“Thank you,” Sam said sincerely as he followed Dean into the house.

Abigail shut the door behind them and led the way into the large, open living room that was professionally decorated with bright colors and modern furniture. A series of windows lined the back wall, allowing the afternoon sunlight to bathe the room in a soft amber glow.

Just as Dean was crossing the threshold, he was nearly mowed over by three small children hurrying through the room and up the staircase behind them.

“You three need to slow down!” Abby called out, but there was no anger in her voice. She glanced at Dean apologetically as another woman, who he assumed was the nanny, gave chase after the children. “Sorry about that. It’s a little chaotic around here with my husband on a business trip. They tend to get a little restless.”

“It’s really no problem,” Dean answered good-naturedly as he sat on the sofa beside Sam. “It looks like they keep you on your toes.”

Abigail laughed softly. “If that isn’t the biggest understatement…I really don’t know what I would do without Sophia being here,” she said before her tone turned serious. “Do you mind telling me what this visit is about?”

“Not at all,” Sam answered. “We’re investigating your parents’ deaths.”

Abigail shook her head in confusion. “But that doesn’t make any sense. There is no case—it was a murder and suicide.”

“That may be so and we could completely be wasting your time, but could you tell us if your father ever showed any signs of depression before his death?” Dean asked, trying to keep his voice as soothing as Sam’s.

“No, not at all,” the woman replied. “If anything, he seemed happier to me, especially within the last five months or so.”

“Can you explain that?” Sam asked.

“He was dying from kidney disease. Dialysis wasn’t helping anymore and the doctors only gave him about a month to live. Then, the next day, he gets a call saying a new kidney had been found,” Abigail explained sadly. “He got a new lease on life and he began taking advantage of that.”

“How?” Dean asked.

Abigail smiled faintly. “My father was the biggest attorney in Tahlequah; he dealt with the high dollar cases. But he gave the majority of them up in order to take cases pro bono.”

“That was really considerate of him,” Sam commented.

Tears welled up in the petite woman’s eyes as she nodded shakily. “He really was a great man. That’s why none of this makes any sense. Why would my father just snap like that? What could possess him to murder my mother—she was his world.”

Sam and Dean exchanged uneasy glances, both frowning when she mentioned “possession.” If she only knew how true that could possibly be. Nodding to Sam, Dean tilted his head towards the door, indicating it was time for them to take their leave.

“Mrs. Bain, we would like to thank you for your time,” Sam said softly as he and Dean stood up.

“What are you going to do now?” she asked.

“We’ve got some other things we need to check out before we can come to any conclusions,” Sam said.

“You’ll let me know if you find something, right?” Abigail queried as she followed them to the door.

“Sure thing,” Dean replied, hating that he was lying to the grieving woman, but knowing that if it was something supernatural-related, no way in hell was she going to believe them. Walking back to the Impala, Dean didn’t say anything until they were both inside.

“That didn’t get us anything useful,” he muttered as he started the Chevy, her loud growl earning a few glares from some of the residents.

“At least she solidified what everyone else has been saying about their loved ones—they didn’t seem the type to do something like this,” Sam pointed out.

Dean let out a weary sigh. “Where do we go next?”

Sam reached inside his suit pocket and pulled out a folded up sheet of paper. Opening it up, he pointed to the first name on the list. “Gwen Barton—she’s the first person on here who has yet to snap.”

Dean nodded. “Okay, do you have any idea how to get there, Tom Tom?”

Sam chuckled at the navigational nickname as he pulled out his cell phone, activating the GPS technology. Punching in Gwen’s address, Sam had no trouble at all showing Dean the way.

Pulling onto Shasta Drive, Dean was relieved to see they were headed down a neighborhood that could be construed as normal by the average person. Small homes that seemed to be at least a couple of decades old dotted the street. Leaves created a blanket over the lawns of some homes, while others were raked, with a stray leaf here and there. Almost at the end of the road, the brothers finally pulled up to the Barton home, where a white minivan sat parked in the gravel driveway.

“Dude, that thing so beats a map any day of the week,” Dean remarked as he turned off the ignition. Then he smirked. “I wonder if it could point me in the direction of some hot chick’s house if I told it to?”

Sam rolled his eyes as he pocketed the phone and pushed out of the car. “You’re completely hopeless sometimes, you know that?”

Dean chuckled as he shut his own car door. “Ah, you know that’s why you love me, Sammy.”

Sam was about to respond when a terrified, blood-curdling scream ripped through the air. Trading anxious glances, the brothers reached for their weapons and raced up the wooden steps.

“What do you think?” Sam asked quietly as they took positions on either side of the door.

Dean shrugged. “Are we sure it came from this house?” he asked, uncertainly.

As if in answer to that, another cry erupted from behind the door before it was abruptly cut off. With a nod from Sam indicating that he was ready, Dean stepped back and brought his foot forward to kick open the door.

Sam quickly entered the room, Dean bringing up the rear to cover him. Both Winchesters stopped short as they burst into the living room and saw what greeted them there.

A woman stood sobbing over a prone form, closer inspection revealing it to be that of a young girl, blood soaking through her outfit and onto the area rug. The woman’s head snapped up when she spotted the hunters, her eyes clearly reflecting horror for the deed she’d done.

Before they could even react, she brought a bloodied knife up to her own throat.

 

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