Season Three

Episode Eleven: The Darkest Half

By irismay42 & Tree

Part One

 

Super 8 Motel,
Roswell, NM

It was the absence of sound that woke Sam from his fitful slumber.

There were the usual motel room noises – early morning traffic on the highway; a dog barking in the distance; the relentless tick, tick, tick of his wristwatch.

And for a while he just lay there, pretending this was any other motel room on any other day and all was right with his whacked out world.

And for a while he almost believed it.

Almost.

But the absence of one particular sound sought to shatter the illusion, and, willing himself to believe the lie for just a little longer, Sam resisted opening his eyes for a few slow seconds, his heart pretending he could hear what his head knew he couldn’t.

He couldn’t hear Dean breathing.

Slowly, his lids parted to hazy sunlight slanting across yellowed ceiling tiles, seeping in through a crack between the stripy orange curtains.

He didn’t turn his head right away, instead continuing to gaze upwards to the deafening accompaniment of his own breathing.

With a sigh that sounded too loud in his own ears, he slowly tilted his head to one side, eyes resting on the ancient clock radio on the nightstand: 6.28am. As he watched, the last digit flicked over to a “9” with a click that seemed to echo around the room and his eyes eventually slid to the unmade bed to his right.

He sighed again, part of him wanting to wonder where Dean had gone so early, while the rest of him suspected he already knew.

Dean had never exactly been an open book to Sam, but he’d always had some idea what was going through his brother’s head most of the time.

But lately – since Cibola – since Sam had stormed off into the desert just to prove how angry he was at Dean’s blind faith in Mia only to get himself bitten by a poisonous scorpion and subjected to hallucinations that had almost killed him in his sleep…. Well. Things between the brothers had been somewhat less than stellar.

Huh. Understatement of the century.

They weren’t exactly fighting – Dean had been too freaked out by almost losing his little brother to the desert to fight with him once he got him back. But they weren’t exactly doing much of anything else, either.

They certainly weren’t talking. Not about anything that mattered, anyway.

Sam had tried.

Two weeks of the silent treatment, of perfunctory answers and strained single-sentence conversations; of Dean talking but not talking.

Sam had tried, but every time he managed to get Dean alone, every time he tried to get him to talk to him, to really talk to him, there was Mia. Watching, listening. It seemed like every time he turned around, there she was, arm hooked possessively through Dean’s or slung lazily around his waist, head on his shoulder.

And if Sam was honest with himself, wasn’t that partly his fault? Hadn’t he tried to play matchmaker?

He tried to convince himself it merely made him want to vomit, Dean getting all lovey-dovey with Mia, holding hands shyly, touching accidentally, blushing when their eyes met. But that wasn’t it; it wasn’t a kid brother’s childish reaction to his big brother suddenly getting all chick-flicky with some girl. It was more than that.

It was suspicion. It was concern.

It was fear.

There was something about Mia. Something he couldn’t put his finger on. Something that Sam just couldn’t bring himself to trust.

Sure, most of the time she seemed nice enough: spunky, funny, smart. Just Dean’s type.

Exactly Dean’s type in fact.

Right down to the love of muscle cars and classic rock.

And that was the problem.

It was too much. She was too much. Too convenient. Too – too right. Which was more than enough to convince Sam she had to be wrong somehow. Winchesters didn’t exactly have a great track record when it came to the fairer sex, and all of this – all of this happening for Dean? Now? No. It just didn’t sit right.

It wasn’t that he begrudged Dean his happiness. He loved his brother more than anyone breathing on this earth, and he desperately wanted him to be happy, to find someone who could make up for some of the terrible things that had happened to him in the last twenty-something years of his life.

But Mia? She wasn’t it. She wasn’t what Dean needed. Sam could feel it. He could feel it, deep down in his bones.

He had no proof. Nothing he could point to with a triumphant, “Hah! I told you so!”

But even Dean had to admit their rocky road of a life had become a hell of a lot rockier since Mia showed up. The NuJack in Bennington; Malphas; Joe Bearwalker; the Impala mysteriously breaking down outside of Cibola; the Pazuzu… None of it appeared to be Mia’s fault on the surface. But all of it – all taken together? It set Sam’s teeth on edge.

And now it had happened again, here in Roswell.

They’d headed for New Mexico at Mia’s urging, after she’d read a number of news reports about strange, black-eyed creatures lurking around the outskirts of town, terrorizing tourists and locals alike.

Mia had been insistent. The reports smacked of a cult of Devil worshippers summoning demons from the depths of Hell.

Sam had been more than a little skeptical of Mia’s theory. Devil worshippers? How the hell had Mia come up with that from a handful of sketchy reports of shadowy figures hovering around the fringes of the New Mexico desert? It didn’t track. It didn’t scan. It didn’t make sense.

Just like Mia.

So when the “evil cult of Devil worshippers” turned out to be nothing more sinister than a group of high school geeks out to prank some gullible tourists into believing they were encountering little green men, the Winchesters having scared the crap out of a couple of spotty teenagers in Halloween costumes and black contact lenses by threatening to exorcise their scrawny asses to Hell, Sam had been somewhat less than surprised.

Of course, just like back in Bennington, Mia had apologized profusely for her error, and, just like back in Bennington, Dean had waved it off as yet another simple rookie mistake. Research, after all, was one of the hardest parts of the job, Dean had assured her. That was why he always left it to his trusty Geek Boy sidekick.

Ordinarily, Sam would have flashed his usual long-suffering smile at one of Dean’s favorite terms of endearment, and that would have been the end of it. But when Dean had gone on to praise Mia for going with her gut, for following her instincts like all the best hunters did, Sam had just wanted to pick his big brother up and shake some sense into him.

Snap out of it, Dean! Listen to yourself! Listen to your gut! Listen to my gut! Aren’t you even a little suspicious?

What made it worse was that Dean had never exactly been a “trust first, ask questions later” kind of guy, and when Mia had promised to be more thorough with her research in future, just as she’d promised back in Bennington, when she nearly got them killed by telling them to use silver on the NuJack when fire was the only way to toast that evil sonofabitch’s ass, Dean had merely nodded, declared that that was “Good enough,” and planted a kiss on the top of her head.

Thinking about it made Sam seethe, his thoughts drifting back to his brother’s current whereabouts.

He’s next door. With her, he found himself thinking. I’m here by myself and he’s with her…

He scrubbed his hands over his face angrily. “Goddammit, Sam!” he admonished himself. “You’re just jealous!

He took a breath, the words out of his mouth before the implications of what he’d just said began to sink in.

Was that it? Was he jealous?

No. That’s not it, he told himself firmly. It’s not…

It’s not.

He thought back to Cibola, back to Hank Pruitt and his advice to keep an eye on Mia, to “listen to the voices.” Well what did Sam’s voices tell him about Mia?

They told him she was wrong somehow.

He didn’t know how, but he just knew.

Mia was wrong.

And the more he thought about it, the crazier it made him. Why couldn’t Dean see it? Why couldn’t Dean see what was right in front of him?

Because all he could see was Mia. All he wanted to see was Mia.

“Dammit, Dean…”

Throwing back the musty green blanket and the suspicious-smelling comforter, Sam swung his legs out of bed and headed for the door, unsure of where he was going or what he’d do when he got there. Knock on Mia’s door and ask if his big brother was there because he was scared of the monsters under his bed? Was he really that pathetic?

As quietly as he was able, he unlatched the motel room door, swinging it open slightly before pausing at the sound of Dean’s voice somewhere nearby.

Carefully squinting out through the crack he’d opened in the doorway, Sam didn’t need to look far before his eyes lit on his older brother, fully dressed and leaning against the Impala, his cellphone pressed firmly to his ear.

“So Dad,” he was saying awkwardly, “if you get this message, it’d be great to – y’know – hear from you. Just so that we know where you are, what you’re up to. That you’re not dead or anything…” Dean laughed hollowly, but Sam could tell he didn’t find this remotely funny. “So – so give us a call,” Dean continued, shuffling his feet uncomfortably as he gazed down at his boots. “When you can. Just to – to – y’know…Yeah.” He rolled his eyes momentarily to the heavens before closing the phone and staring off into the distance.

Dean was worried. And upset. Terrified that something had happened to Dad, terrified that that was why the old man hadn’t touched base with them in so long. Radio silence had always made Dean crazy, and Sam instantly began to regret the petty jealous anger that had been welling in him since – since…

Since he’d thought of Dean next door with Mia.

He hesitated, unsure whether to go to his big brother, reassure him that Dad was fine, that Dean shouldn’t worry, that the old man was probably off on a bender somewhere with Jim, Jack and Jose… Or should he just turn away, go back to bed, pretend he’d not seen or heard anything? Let Dean off with his dignity intact.

But Sam hesitated too long, Dean suddenly looking up, looking directly at him, eyes boring into him as if Sam had been the only thing on his mind, the only thing he ever thought about.

Dean’s cheeks colored, the embarrassment clearly reflected in the way he broke eye contact almost immediately, pausing for the briefest of instants before abruptly turning and yanking open the driver’s side door, jumping into the Impala and gunning the engine.

He skidded out of the parking lot in a spray of gravel as Sam stepped out of the room, the word “Dean!” dying on his lips.


Sometime later…

“Hey, sunshine! Order up!”

Sam looked up from the laptop as Dean jostled his way into the motel room, a brown paper bag oozing with grease clutched in one hand and a tray laden with cardboard coffee cups balanced in the other. He shoved the door closed with one hip before unceremoniously dumping the food on the table in front of his brother.

Three cups, Sam noted.

“You were up early,” was all the younger brother said, pushing suspiciously at the brown paper bag before helping himself to one of the cups of coffee.

“Vanilla caramelatte with a light dusting of cinnamon,” Dean advised him with a grin. “Just the way you like it.”

Sam scowled at him, gingerly lifting the lid off the cup to reveal a steaming measure of plain black coffee. “You forgot the whipped cream and chocolate shavings,” he commented, grabbing up three packets of creamer from the tray and dumping them in the cup before seeking out the pile of sugar sachets hidden under the napkins.

Wait. Dean brought napkins?

Dean was still grinning down at him as he snatched up his own cup of coffee and balanced himself precariously on the edge of the table.

But he hadn’t answered the question.

“So…?” Sam tried again, sipping at the coffee as Dean pulled an assortment of takeout boxes out of the paper bag.

“So what?” Dean asked, lighting on a carton of hash browns which he began to devour unmercifully.

“This morning,” Sam prodded carefully. “You were calling someone. Out in the parking lot.”

Dean’s eyes clouded for just a second, his smile becoming a little lopsided before righting itself quickly. “Sammy, are you stalking me?” he asked. “I gotta say man, that’s a little messed up, even for us.”

Sam allowed a smile to flicker across his face, willing to play along for now if that was what Dean wanted. “So,” he repeated. “Who were you calling?”

Dean shifted a little uncomfortably, turning his attention back to the brown paper bag.

“Some girl, right?” Sam said at last, finally deciding to take pity on his brother when it became obvious he wasn’t going to tell him the truth. “Didn’t want Mia to hear?”

Dean’s megawatt smile returned and he shrugged nonchalantly. “It wasn’t like I was being unfaithful or anything…”

“So who was she?” Sam asked, wondering just how far Dean would go to cover for what he no doubt saw as a moment of pansy-ass weakness. “Some waitress you picked up last time we were out this way?”

Dean’s brow crinkled as he considered the question. “When the hell were we ever in Roswell?” he asked, taking a bite out of something that vaguely resembled a sausage McMuffin and spraying ketchup all over the threadbare carpet at his feet.

Sam shrugged. “I dunno,” he admitted. “That weekend when Dad was off in Cali someplace and you figured we’d drive down here looking for little green men and maybe hook up with Katherine Heigl and Shiri Appleby?”

Dean snorted. “Oh yeah!” he burst out. “What a weekend that turned out to be!”

“You boldly went where no man has gone before, I seem to recall,” Sam agreed.

Dean gazed off into the distance wistfully. “Though sadly not with Katherine Heigl…”

Sam laughed softly, snagging one of the hash browns as he regarded his brother thoughtfully. Dean certainly seemed relieved Sam apparently hadn’t heard him calling Dad like some punk-ass little bitch. And if that’s what Dean needed to get him through the day, then Sam was happy to oblige. At least Dean seemed in a better mood this morning than he had in – well, in what seemed like forever. Maybe now would be as good a time as any…

“So where’s Mia?” Sam asked innocently, and Dean glanced at him, as if trying to judge whether that was a trick question.

“I dunno,” he answered. “Probably still catching up on her beauty sleep. Or doing her hair, or her makeup, or whatever the hell chicks do for hours and hours every morning.”

Sam nodded. Hours sounded pretty good to him. “So she’s okay?” he asked carefully. “About steering us wrong on this hunt? Again?”

Dean just looked at him for a second, McMuffin temporarily forgotten. “Sam, don’t –” he began, but had to swallow the rest of the sentence when a timid knock on the door drew his attention away from his brother.

Sam sighed. Every time I get Dean on his own for five minutes…

Dean jumped lightly to his feet, obviously glad of the distraction as he threw open the door without even looking out through the little spy hole first.

Sloppy, Dean… Sam thought to himself. Your head’s not in the game when she’s around.

“Where’s my breakfast, woman?” Mia demanded, grinning brightly up at Dean as she fairly bounced on her toes in the doorway.

“I think ‘hunter-gatherer’ is part of the job description,” Dean quipped, catching the girl around the waist and drawing her into the room before brushing her lips with his own.

“Mmm, hash browns,” Mia exclaimed, kissing him quickly again before adding, “And sausage!”

Dean stepped to one side, allowing Mia access to the veritable feast of fast food already congealing beside Sam’s laptop.

“Ooh, coffee! There is a God!” she burst out, snatching up one of the cups and taking a sip of it, black and unsweetened.

“Yeah, but you can call me Dean,” Dean returned, grinning broadly.

“Yeah, yeah, Mr. Humility,” Mia drawled, plopping herself down on the edge of Sam’s bed, a napkin loaded with hash browns and a sausage McMuffin balanced skillfully in one hand.

Dean followed, lowering himself down next to her, their thighs, hips and shoulders touching as he stole one of the hash browns out of her hand. She swatted at him playfully and Sam had to fight the urge to vomit.

“So I found us a new gig,” Mia announced suddenly around a mouthful of muffin.

Both brothers looked up at her sharply, and for a second Sam was pretty sure he caught a glint of skepticism in Dean’s eyes.

“Already?” There was no trace of skepticism in Dean’s voice, however. “Boy, you work fast – we just got here.”

“Yeah, I’m a real slave driver.” Mia grinned brightly. “Wouldn’t want you boys getting all flabby in your downtime.”

Dean raised a brow. “Sweetheart, you ever see flab on this –” he indicated himself smugly, “– you have my permission to put a bullet in my brain.”

Mia sniggered. “Okay, Arnold. You wanna hear about this job or what?”

“Are you sure it’s a job?” Sam put in hesitantly, before shrugging one shoulder apologetically. “I mean, no offence, but – but after what happened this time?”

If Mia was offended she didn’t show it. “Believe me, I did the research properly this time,” she assured him. “And besides, I think you guys will be real interested in this one: you’ve got some history with this particular spook.”

Dean raised a brow. “Oh yeah?” he said, clearly intrigued, glancing at Sam who shrugged slightly.

“Plano, East Texas,” Mia continued, nodding. “Big old abandoned mansion house just on the edge of town. Locals have reported hearing moaning and wailing at all hours of the day and night – flickering lights, odd noises. Your standard haunted house stuff.”

Dean huffed. “So far so Scooby-Doo,” he commented, not sounding particularly convinced.

“Not exactly,” Mia continued. “Two teenage girls have been found dead in the basement in the last month.” She paused for effect. “Hanged.”

“Hanged?” Sam echoed, something tickling at the edges of his memory.

Mia nodded. “Plano’s only five miles outside of Richardson,” she added. “Where you boys torched that old farmhouse belonging to Mordecai Murdoch, right?”

“The Tulpa?” Dean’s eyebrows shot straight up his forehead. “Are you serious?”

“Deadly,” Mia confirmed flatly.

“Wait,” Sam put in suddenly, brow scrunching in confusion. “How do you know about Mordecai Murdoch?”

Mia grinned. “Your brother insists on regaling me with tales of your past exploits whenever he gets the chance,” she explained. “Sometimes I even manage to stay awake right to the end.”

“Hey!” Dean protested. “You said you like the Hook Man story!”

Mia smiled sweetly at him. “The possessed monster truck was even better.”

“Okay, wait.” Sam held up his hands as he tried to steer the conversation back on topic. “So what makes you think this might be Mordecai Murdoch?” he asked. “Does he have any connection to this house?”

“The Hamilton house?” Mia clarified. “No. But the way those girls died – hanged in the basement – it fits Murdoch’s M.O., right? I mean, that website – hellhoundslair.com. It’s still getting hits on those videos those bozos posted from Richardson. And just because the original sigils burnt down along with Murdoch’s house doesn’t mean someone couldn’t have painted others in Plano –”

“But they’re not streaming video from Plano –” Sam interrupted.

“No,” Mia interrupted right on back, “but the sigils still appear on the website even if they don’t exist in that location anymore.”

“That doesn’t mean Murdoch could have magically survived and somehow transplanted himself five miles down the road either –”

“And it doesn’t mean he didn’t,” Dean put in, stepping in to defend Mia’s theory. “Sam, we said at the time that just burning down Mordecai’s house might not be enough – that we might have to go back –”

“But he has no connection to Plano, right?” Sam argued.

“We don’t know that for sure.”

“Dean!” Sam burst out, frustration evident in his voice. “How can he just have picked up sticks and switched location like that?”

“Someone could have summoned him there,” Dean countered, the volume level of his voice rising a notch. “Like Mia said – painted new sigils in the spooky old mansion to keep him there.”

“But who would do that? Who would know which sigils to paint? And why?”

“Craig Thursten,” Dean replied instantly. “The kid who summoned the Tulpa last time.”

“You really think he’d try it again?” Sam argued. “After that poor girl died, Dean? I mean, Thursten seemed pretty broken up about that to me!”

Dean jumped to his feet, anger flaring in the depths of his eyes. “Sam, you’re just looking for reasons for Mia to be wrong!” he burst out, taking a step toward his brother.

Sam followed suit, rising up to his full height and stepping forward until he was deliberately towering over his brother. “And you’re just looking for reasons for her to be right!”

“Sam, I swear to God, I’m getting pretty sick of this goddamned attitude of yours!”

“My attitude?” Sam raised his hands to his chest. “Dean, we could have died back in Bennington!”

“Oh my God, you’re never gonna let that go, are you? What, you keeping a little scorecard hidden in your underwear drawer? ‘One point to Sammy, big fat zip to Mia…’?”

“Dean –”

“Sam?” Dean made to take another step toward his brother, close enough to get right up in Sam’s face, but Mia suddenly interposed herself between them, one hand on each of the boys’ chests.

“Okay, enough with the testosterone, fellas!” she burst out, pushing Dean back toward the bed while Sam stepped away, jaw tight and hands balled into fists. “This doesn’t get us anywhere,” the girl continued. “Sam,” she turned to face the younger brother, an earnest expression on her pretty face. “I understand your concerns. I do. I screwed up in Bennington, and I screwed up again here. I get that. But I’m not wrong about this. What harm can there be in us checking it out, huh? We could be in Plano by tonight if we hustle! If I’m wrong, we’ve wasted a day. So what? We head on out to the next gig tomorrow. But if I’m right…” She let the sentence hang, and Sam took a slow breath, eyes downcast. “People’s lives are at stake here, Sam.”

“Sam?” Dean’s voice was lower, calmer, a little more conciliatory.

Sam looked up at him grudgingly. “Alright,” he said, sighing resignedly. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.”

Dean beamed at him as if nothing had happened, as if they hadn’t both raised their voices and been seconds away from slugging it out with one another. “That’s my boy, Sammy!”


Hamilton house,
Plano, TX

“Well, Daphne,” Dean said, gazing up at the decrepit ruin that had once been one of the area’s most prestigious mansion houses, silhouetted off-white against the starry East Texas night sky, window shutters hanging by single hinges and doors buckling from their frames. “You ready to go unmask the scary caretaker who would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for us pesky kids?”

Mia sniggered, leaning back against the Impala which Dean had parked discreetly some distance down the dusty winding road. “How come the Scooby Gang never had to sneak past armed police officers in the middle of the night?” she asked, glancing down the road at the patrol car situated very obviously across the old Hamilton house’s short, potholed driveway, two patrol cops installed inside, one devouring a burrito while the other completed a Sudoku puzzle from that morning’s paper.

“’Cause cartoon cops are stupid,” Dean replied flatly. “While those two would probably quite happily handcuff us to their car to keep us from busting into a sealed crime scene.” He rubbed unconsciously at his wrist. “And me without any paperclips.”

Mia frowned slightly. “You sound like you speak from experience,” she said, leaning in to him and catching hold of his wrist, before running her fingers lightly up his arm.

Dean grinned lopsidedly. “Maybe,” he confirmed, pulling the girl closer and snaking an arm around her waist. “She was a hell of a lot smarter than most cops I’ve met.”

“She?”

Dean snorted. “She wasn’t my type,” he insisted.

“Everyone’s your type,” Mia countered, poking him in the stomach with one finger. “You liked her, huh?”

Dean shrugged, averting his eyes from the girl. “She was pretty cool,” he conceded. “For a cop.”

Mia nodded, and seemed about to say something else when Sam approached from a service road which circled around back of the Hamilton house, EMF meter held loosely in his hand.

Dean straightened, dropping his arm from Mia’s waist, suddenly all business again. “You find anything?” he asked, worried by the frown etched deep into his little brother’s forehead.

Sam glanced each way before crossing the deserted blacktop, and Dean had to smile to himself – all those road safety lessons he’d drilled into his brother as a kid had obviously made a big impression.

“Nothing,” Sam pronounced, waving the EMF meter hopelessly. “Not a blip. This place makes Amityville look haunted.”

Mia shifted awkwardly. “You sure?” she asked, taking a step toward Sam as if she wanted to check his readings for herself.

Sam nodded emphatically. “I’m sure,” he said. “If there’s something hiding in that house, then it’s way inside that house –”

“Like in the basement?” Dean offered.

Sam sighed. “Yeah, I guess,” he agreed reluctantly. “Maybe.”

“Alrighty then!” Dean seemed to perk up at that, grabbing the handles of the duffle slung on the ground at his feet and hauling it up onto his shoulder. “Let’s go kick some spook ass!”

“Dean, do spooks even have asses?” Sam interjected. “I mean, by definition they’re non-corporeal, so they don’t really –”

Dean rolled his eyes. “I’m sorry, Professor,” he said, shoving Sam out of his way as he strode purposefully the way his brother had just come. “I’d love to stand around and chat but I have ghosts to banish and lives to save.”

Sam followed him reluctantly. “You forgot your cape.”

Mia chuckled. “Well at least this means I can come with, right?” she said, suddenly dodging around in front of Dean and bouncing on her toes. “That’s what you said. Right?”

Dean stopped in his tracks. “Whoa, wait a second there, Buffy,” he said. “Those cops are there for a reason –”

“Uh-huh,” Mia agreed. “To stop idiot teenagers from trying to break into a house where two of them have died already.” She paused for a beat. “In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m not an idiot teenager.”

Dean didn’t answer that, just stared her down stonily.

“And you promised, Dean,” she continued, barely keeping a whine out of her voice. “You said if Sam checked out the perimeter and didn’t find anything, then I could come in with you guys. That’s what you said. Right? You’re not gonna go back on your word are you? Dean? Or did you just say I could come to shut me up?” She blinked up at him with big doe eyes that would have put Sam to shame, and Dean was a nanosecond from stamping his foot. “Huh? Dean?”

“Dammit, Mia,” he burst out, stomping off toward the service road.

“All right!” Mia burst out, running after him and dodging in front of him again. “Now that’s what I’m talking about!”

“You know what I said about handcuffing people to cars…?” Dean began.

Mia stopped his forward momentum with one hand on his chest before producing something shiny and silver from her jeans pocket. “I have a paperclip,” she told him, grinning broadly so her cheeks dimpled and her eyes sparkled.

Dean’s rigid mask of disapproval faltered a little as he fought back a smirk. “What are you, a Girl Scout?”

“Be prepared,” Mia told him, scooting off up the service road toward the rear of the mansion. “I take my work seriously.”

“So how do you want to play this?” Sam asked, tagging along to the rear, the EMF meter still gripped in one hand. “There could still be something in there –”

“What, the non-existent non-corporeal spirit who exists only in Mia’s research?” Dean tossed back over his shoulder.

“Dean –”

“Yeah, okay,” Dean said, pausing to take in the sheer size of the ruined house in front of him. “This place is pretty big,” he commented, catching up with Mia, who was standing looking up at the smashed windows and big gaping holes in the tiled roof. “Gonna take some time to check it out thoroughly.”

“Kinda looks like that place in It’s A Wonderful Life,” Mia murmured. “All the windows broken. Kinda sad.”

“Yeah, my heart’s bleedin’,” Dean commented.

“Don’t be like that,” Mia said, snaking her arm around his waist. “I bet you watch that movie every Christmas. I know you’re a romantic at heart.” She glanced down at him suddenly, a mischievous glint in her eye. “Speaking of which, is that a cellphone in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

Dean grabbed her hand and shoved it into the front pocket of his jeans. “It’s on vibrate,” he said. “Wanna feel?”

Mia elbowed him in the ribs before shoving him away from her. “Pervert.”

“Groper.”

“If you guys wanna get a room,” Sam said, clearing his throat. “That’s fine. Don’t mind me or the pissed off Tulpa.”

“Sammy, you really need to learn how to relax! Maybe you should take up yoga or something.”

“Maybe you should kiss my –”

“Boys,” Mia interrupted. “Sam’s right. We need to focus. Okay, this is a big house. What do you want to do, we all take a floor each or –”

“What, are you crazy?” Dean burst out. “You’re not wandering around Bates Motel without an escort.”

Mia scowled at him. “I’m not a kid, Dean –”

“No, but you’re exactly Mordecai’s type, sweetheart. Or hadn’t you noticed that?”

“Oh, and you’re going to keep the big nasty Tulpa away from my defenseless little ass?”

“Yes,” Dean agreed emphatically. “Because it’s such a sweet ass I’d hate anything to happen to it.”

Mia scrunched up her face at the half-compliment. “Alright, tough guy,” she agreed. “You and I take this half, Sam takes the other?”

Sam nodded a little too eagerly. “Sounds great,” he agreed, heading off toward a door to their right while Mia made toward another on their left.

“Hey, wait! Sammy, keep an eye out for cops, okay?” Dean advised his brother. “And – y’know – seven foot Tulpas.”

Sam turned slightly, nodding. “I think I know the drill.”

“Call me if you find anything.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Meet back here in – what – thirty?”

“Yeah, yeah…”

Dean got the distinct impression Sam wasn’t actually listening to him anymore as he disappeared into the building’s innards, a flashlight in one hand and the EMF meter in the other.

“C’mon, Fred,” Mia broke in on his thoughts, tugging on his jacket insistently. “We got a Tulpa to toast.”

Dean nodded, eyes lingering in the direction Sam had disappeared before he reaffirmed his grip on his weapons duffle and followed Mia to an open doorway which looked like it hadn’t sported an actual door since Methuselah was in diapers.

Handing Mia the flashlight, he produced his own homemade EMF meter from the duffle bag, stuffing it into his jacket pocket before drawing out his trusty sawed off shotgun, breaking the barrel and double checking the load before closing it again with a satisfying click.

“Rock salt?” Mia asked, following close on Dean’s heels as he stepped cautiously into what looked like it had once been some kind of laundry room in a very distant past life.

“Nuh-uh,” Dean replied, shaking his head as his eyes darted about the room. “Wrought iron.”

Mia’s forehead crinkled. “I thought that didn’t work last time?”

“Only because the Hellhounds’ server crashed,” Dean replied, stepping carefully across the room toward an ill-fitting door on the opposite side. “The information got uploaded eventually, just too late to be much help in Richardson. I figure the Internet Geek Patrol have had two years to concentrate on it hard enough to make it work for us by now.”

Mia didn’t seem convinced. “Kind of a long shot, don’t you think?”

Dean shrugged. “Yeah, well, I also got a can of bug spray and a lighter, so either way, this freak’s toast.”

The door squeaked loud enough on its rusty hinges to wake several generations of the dead as Dean drew it open and peered out into the hallway beyond.

Paint peeled from the walls in long curly strips, unaccountably reminding Dean of his mom peeling apples in the kitchen back in Lawrence, and large patches of greenish-brown mold lurked in dark corners as water-damaged walls glowered down at them unwelcomingly.

“Hmm, charming,” Mia muttered, trying her damnedest not to touch anything.

“I dunno, looks like the freakin’ Hilton compared to some of the places me n’ Sam have stayed in,” Dean commented, almost jumping a foot into the air when the EMF meter in his pocket suddenly started screaming like a banshee at a Mariah Carey concert. “Jesus…” he muttered, indicating for Mia to stop as he pulled the gadget out and examined the readout.

“Whoa,” Mia said, spying the red lights flashing all over the meter’s casing. “That looks kinda…”

“Serious,” Dean said, gently sweeping the device in a wide arc and pausing at a low wooden door at the end of the hallway. “That way,” he said, noting how the meter screamed louder when he pointed it at the door than when he pointed it anywhere else.

“Basement?” Mia offered.

“No crime scene tape,” Dean observed. “But who’s to say this place doesn’t have more than one basement?

“Storm cellar maybe,” Mia continued. “Just ’cause there’s no crime scene tape doesn’t mean this isn’t where those girls got – whatever they got.”

Dean nodded. “Yeah, maybe,” he agreed, reaching into his jeans pocket and pulling out his cell.

“What are you doing?” Mia asked uncertainly. “Shouldn’t we be getting down there?”

Dean looked at her as if she was completely nuts. “What are you, crazy?” he said. “I need to call Sam. We’re not going down there alone. And you’re not going down there period.”

“What?” Mia protested. “Why the hell not? I’ve come this far –”

“And if this is where Murdoch likes to string up his little girlies,” Dean said, “you ain’t going no further.” He held up his cell to the weak moonlight slanting in through a broken skylight above their heads, examining the little screen and scowling in frustration. “Goddamnit!” he burst out.

“What?” Mia said. “What’s wrong?”

“Battery’s dead,” Dean informed her, scrubbing at his forehead with the tiny phone. “And I checked it before we came in here, I know I did! It was fully charged – I charged it right before we left the motel!”

Mia frowned. “Are you sure?”

Dean looked like his eyes might pop right out of his head. “Yes I’m sure!” he ground out. “Dammit!”

“What’s the big deal?” Mia asked uncertainly.

“What if Sam’s in trouble?” Dean burst out, as if it should be obvious. “What if he’s been trying to call me?”

Mia shrugged. “Dean, he’s been out of your sight for, what? Two minutes? How much trouble can he have gotten himself into in that time?”

Dean seemed to consider that. “I dunno,” he muttered. “When he sets his mind to it, Sam can get himself into trouble pretty damned fast.”

“Then we’ll call him on my phone,” Mia said, reaching into her jeans pocket but frowning slightly as she came up empty. She patted down another couple of pockets, eyes meeting Dean’s sheepishly. “I think I left it in the car,” she confessed, before adding, “But I’m sure Sam’s fine.”

Dean took a breath. “Okay, alright,” he said. “You go back to the car – see if you can raise Sam. If you can’t, come get me. If you can, get him to meet me here in ten minutes.”

“Ten minutes?”

“Yeah,” Dean explained, focus wandering to the other doorways branching off from the hallway. “I want to check out the rest of this floor first, make sure there are no other hotspots before we jump right in to where those girls might have died.”

“Mordecai’s lair,” Mia nodded. “I get it.”

“Listen,” Dean turned to face her, one hand resting lightly on her shoulder. “When you get to the car, I want you to stay there.” When she looked like she might protest, Dean squeezed her shoulder tighter. “I was serious when I said I didn’t want anything to happen to you.”

A wolfish grin tugged at the corners of Mia’s mouth. “Not just concerned about my ass after all?”

Dean pushed a lock of wavy chestnut hair off her face. “I pretty much like the whole package the way it is,” he told her, struggling to maintain eye contact.

Mia swallowed, before nudging him in the ribs. “You’re such a girl sometimes,” she told him, standing on tiptoe and kissing him quickly on the cheek before turning on her heel. “Make sure you watch your own ass, Winchester,” she tossed back over her shoulder. “’Cause I like that the way it is, too!”

****

Mia made her way back out of the decrepit mansion as quickly as she could, occasionally glancing behind her just to check on Dean’s whereabouts. She heard a door slam in the distance and figured he’d gone further into the building to check out the rest of that floor, exactly as he’d said he was going to do.

Good.

Because that was exactly where she wanted him.

Reaching into her jeans pocket as she stepped out into the Texas night, she casually pulled out her cellphone, a small smile slipping crookedly onto her face.

She checked the signal strength, currently at maximum, before twirling a lock of chestnut hair around her finger as she slid open the phone and hit speed dial.

“Mia?”

Sam’s voice came through the little speaker as clear as a bell, and her grin widened.

“Sam?” she breathed into the phone, her voice taking on a sudden edge of panic. “Sam, I think Dean’s in trouble…”


Hamilton house, east wing
Plano, TX

Well if this house was haunted – by an angry spirit or a Tulpa or otherwise – Sam sure as hell couldn’t find any sign of it.

He’d swept the whole first floor with the EMF meter in five minutes, finding absolutely nothing but a nest of rats that would have had Dean jumping up onto the nearest table, and enough mold to keep a whole string of skuzzy motels in suitable décor for a year.

There was nothing here.

Mia was wrong. Again. He was convinced of it.

As he headed toward a flight of rickety-looking stairs intent on sweeping the second floor and no doubt finding zipola there too, his cell chirped in his pocket, and he figured it was Dean with the same story to tell. He and Mia had probably spent the time Sam had been working groping each other some more in a dark corner somewhere.

Drawing out the phone, he was surprised to see the caller I.D. displaying Mia’s name, hitting the button to pick up and bringing the cell swiftly to his ear. “Mia?”

Static crackled loudly, and Sam pulled the phone away from his ear to check the signal strength, frowning when he noted it was displaying at maximum.

“Sam?”

He instantly caught the edge of panic in the girl’s voice and his whole body tensed.

“Sam, I –” The signal crapped out again for a second. “…Dean’s in trouble!”

Sam began to head back the way he’d come immediately, even before he caught Mia’s next words. “Mia, where are you?”

“I’m…car,” the girl’s obviously frightened voice came back. “…Told me to…call you and…storm cellar…right now!”

“Mia?” Sam was running now. “Mia, say that again, I didn’t quite –”

“…Needs…meet him at the storm cellar. Right now! I think…trouble, Sam! …EMF all over…where Murdoch killed those girls and Dean said…going down there by himself!”

“Mia? Mia!”

“Sam, hurry! I don’t think…”

“Mia!” The signal descended into total static, and Sam shook his phone as if that would help, even as five full bars of signal mocked him from the screen. Mia!”

Sam raced through the building, back through the maze of connecting rooms and long, many-doored hallways, heart hammering as he repeated Mia’s name down the phone even though he knew she could no longer hear him.

Finally, he ended the crackly call, stuffing his cell into his pocket and bolting headlong in the direction he’d last seen Mia and his brother.

“Dean!” he yelled, tearing into the old laundry room where Dean and Mia had entered the building, ripping open doors and pounding down hallways until he stopped, suddenly. Listening.

“Dean?”

Straining his ears, he could make out yelling in the distance, someone screaming, and he picked up the pace again, launching himself in the direction of the noises until he skidded to a halt in front of a small door that was slightly ajar, set into the end of a long hallway.

He hesitated for a second. Would Dean really have gone down there without backup? He only had Mia’s word for it…

Another scream from the direction of the storm cellar erased all doubt from his mind, and before he knew what he was doing he was fairly leaping down ancient wooden stairs barely able to hold his weight, swaying and shuddering with each heavy footfall.

Dean!

Before he had the chance to shine his flashlight into the dank blackness in front of him, he felt something slam his wrist into the damp wall behind him, the flashlight knocked from his grip and sent skittering over the uneven stone floor with a clatter, the beam of light backlighting a dark shape suddenly looming in front of him.

Sam had no time to react before he was slammed bodily against the wall, a strong arm pinning his throat as jet black eyes blinked at him, only inches from his own.

Swallowing hard, he squinted into the darkness, the pale face of a teenage girl swimming into focus even as she tried to choke the air out of his lungs with demon-enhanced strength.

“W- Wait!” he tried to croak out, but the girl shoved harder, and the last thing Sam saw before his vision whited out completely was the noose around the girl’s neck…


Hamilton house, west wing
Plano, TX

Dean checked his watch nervously, even as he swung the EMF and the flashlight in a tandem arc around the second floor bedroom, weak moonlight streaming in through broken windows and tattered lace curtains.

It had only been a few minutes since he’d sent Mia off to call Sam, certainly not the ten minutes he’d allowed before the rendezvous with his brother back down at the storm cellar.

Still.

He’d found nothing here; less than nothing. No sign of a haunting, no sign of a Tulpa; no sign of anything. Just an old house that no one had set foot in for years until those girls had turned up dead in the basement.

The basement.

His teeth itched, Sammy Senses tingling.

Something was wrong. He was missing something.

He knew it hadn’t been ten minutes but…

He backed out of the bedroom and headed for the staircase, his pace at first measured and even, but gradually beginning to pick up speed the closer he got to the first floor.

“Sammy?”

He pulled out his cell again, juggling it with the flashlight. The battery was still flatter than Mary-Alice McCormack’s chest back in seventh grade under the bleachers.

Dammit. He knew he’d charged the friggin’ thing…

“Sam?”

He rounded a corner and shoved open a badly-bowed door, stepping back out into the hallway leading down to the storm cellar.

“Sammy, you here?”

Which was when he heard shouting in the distance.

Straining, he fought to hear what was going on.

Voices. Raised voices. Shouting and…and screaming.

Sammy screaming…

Bolting down the hallway, he wrenched open the storm cellar door and virtually threw himself onto the wooden stairs, intent on killing the crap out of whatever the hell was hurting his brother.

Sam!” he yelled, taking the stairs three at a time. “Sammy!”

But Sam never answered.

 

Continue...

frontpage hit counter

Comment/Review the episode here

E-Mail the Author!

The Winchester Chronicles

Supernatural is ©2005 The WB Television Network. Other content is copyright the original owners. Original content is ©2005 Supernatural.tv/Virtual Season. This site is best viewed in IE (Internet Explorer) version 4.0 and up and Netscape 6.0 and up. Best resolutions 800x600 or 1024x 768.