was the absence of sound that woke Sam from his fitful
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.
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.
for a while he almost believed it.
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.
couldn’t hear Dean breathing.
his lids parted to hazy sunlight slanting across yellowed
ceiling tiles, seeping in through a crack between the
stripy orange curtains.
didn’t turn his head right away, instead continuing
to gaze upwards to the deafening accompaniment of his
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.
sighed again, part of him wanting to wonder where Dean
had gone so early, while the rest of him suspected he
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.
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
Understatement of the century.
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
certainly weren’t talking. Not about anything
that mattered, anyway.
weeks of the silent treatment, of perfunctory answers
and strained single-sentence conversations; of Dean
talking but not talking.
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.
if Sam was honest with himself, wasn’t that partly
his fault? Hadn’t he tried to play matchmaker?
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.
was suspicion. It was concern.
was something about Mia. Something he couldn’t
put his finger on. Something that Sam just couldn’t
bring himself to trust.
most of the time she seemed nice enough: spunky, funny,
smart. Just Dean’s type.
Dean’s type in fact.
down to the love of muscle cars and classic rock.
that was the problem.
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.
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.
Mia? She wasn’t it. She wasn’t what Dean
needed. Sam could feel it. He could feel it,
deep down in his bones.
had no proof. Nothing he could point to with a triumphant,
“Hah! I told you so!”
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.
now it had happened again, here in Roswell.
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.
had been insistent. The reports smacked of a cult of
Devil worshippers summoning demons from the depths of
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.
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.
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.
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.
out of it, Dean! Listen to yourself! Listen to your
gut! Listen to my gut! Aren’t you even a little
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.
about it made Sam seethe, his thoughts drifting back
to his brother’s current whereabouts.
next door. With her, he found himself
thinking. I’m here by myself and he’s
scrubbed his hands over his face angrily. “Goddammit,
Sam!” he admonished himself. “You’re
took a breath, the words out of his mouth before the
implications of what he’d just said began to sink
that it? Was he jealous?
That’s not it, he told himself firmly. It’s
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?
told him she was wrong somehow.
didn’t know how, but he just knew.
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?
all he could see was Mia. All he wanted to see was Mia.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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…
he’d thought of Dean next door with Mia.
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
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
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.
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.
sunshine! Order up!”
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.
cups, Sam noted.
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.
caramelatte with a light dusting of cinnamon,”
Dean advised him with a grin. “Just the way you
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.
Dean brought napkins?
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.
he hadn’t answered the question.
Sam tried again, sipping at the coffee as Dean pulled
an assortment of takeout boxes out of the paper bag.
what?” Dean asked, lighting on a carton of hash
browns which he began to devour unmercifully.
morning,” Sam prodded carefully. “You were
calling someone. Out in the parking lot.”
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.”
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?”
shifted a little uncomfortably, turning his attention
back to the brown paper bag.
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?”
megawatt smile returned and he shrugged nonchalantly.
“It wasn’t like I was being unfaithful
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?”
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.
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
snorted. “Oh yeah!” he burst out.
“What a weekend that turned out to be!”
boldly went where no man has gone before, I seem to
recall,” Sam agreed.
gazed off into the distance wistfully. “Though
sadly not with Katherine Heigl…”
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
where’s Mia?” Sam asked innocently, and
Dean glanced at him, as if trying to judge whether that
was a trick question.
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
nodded. Hours sounded pretty good to him. “So
she’s okay?” he asked carefully. “About
steering us wrong on this hunt? Again?”
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
sighed. Every time I get Dean on his own for five
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.
Dean… Sam thought to himself. Your head’s
not in the game when she’s around.
my breakfast, woman?” Mia demanded, grinning brightly
up at Dean as she fairly bounced on her toes in the
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.
hash browns,” Mia exclaimed, kissing him quickly
again before adding, “And sausage!”
stepped to one side, allowing Mia access to the veritable
feast of fast food already congealing beside Sam’s
coffee! There is a God!” she burst out, snatching
up one of the cups and taking a sip of it, black and
but you can call me Dean,” Dean returned, grinning
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.
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.
I found us a new gig,” Mia announced suddenly
around a mouthful of muffin.
brothers looked up at her sharply, and for a second
Sam was pretty sure he caught a glint of skepticism
in Dean’s eyes.
There was no trace of skepticism in Dean’s voice,
however. “Boy, you work fast – we just got
I’m a real slave driver.” Mia grinned brightly.
“Wouldn’t want you boys getting all flabby
in your downtime.”
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.”
sniggered. “Okay, Arnold. You wanna hear about
this job or what?”
you sure it’s a job?” Sam put in hesitantly,
before shrugging one shoulder apologetically. “I
mean, no offence, but – but after what happened
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.”
raised a brow. “Oh yeah?” he said, clearly
intrigued, glancing at Sam who shrugged slightly.
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.”
huffed. “So far so Scooby-Doo,”
he commented, not sounding particularly convinced.
exactly,” Mia continued. “Two teenage girls
have been found dead in the basement in the last month.”
She paused for effect. “Hanged.”
Sam echoed, something tickling at the edges of his memory.
nodded. “Plano’s only five miles outside
of Richardson,” she added. “Where you boys
torched that old farmhouse belonging to Mordecai Murdoch,
Tulpa?” Dean’s eyebrows shot straight up
his forehead. “Are you serious?”
Mia confirmed flatly.
Sam put in suddenly, brow scrunching in confusion. “How
do you know about Mordecai Murdoch?”
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.”
Dean protested. “You said you like the Hook Man
smiled sweetly at him. “The possessed monster
truck was even better.”
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?”
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
they’re not streaming video from Plano –”
Mia interrupted right on back, “but the sigils
still appear on the website even if they don’t
exist in that location anymore.”
doesn’t mean Murdoch could have magically survived
and somehow transplanted himself five miles down the
road either –”
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 –”
he has no connection to Plano, right?” Sam argued.
don’t know that for sure.”
Sam burst out, frustration evident in his voice. “How
can he just have picked up sticks and switched location
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.”
who would do that? Who would know which sigils to paint?
Thursten,” Dean replied instantly. “The
kid who summoned the Tulpa last time.”
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!”
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.
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!”
I swear to God, I’m getting pretty sick of this
goddamned attitude of yours!”
attitude?” Sam raised his hands to his chest.
“Dean, we could have died back in Bennington!”
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 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.
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.”
Dean’s voice was lower, calmer, a little more
looked up at him grudgingly. “Alright,”
he said, sighing resignedly. “I guess it wouldn’t
hurt to check it out.”
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!”
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?”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
snorted. “She wasn’t my type,” he
your type,” Mia countered, poking him in the stomach
with one finger. “You liked her, huh?”
shrugged, averting his eyes from the girl. “She
was pretty cool,” he conceded. “For a cop.”
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
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.
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.
Sam pronounced, waving the EMF meter hopelessly. “Not
a blip. This place makes Amityville look haunted.”
shifted awkwardly. “You sure?” she asked,
taking a step toward Sam as if she wanted to check his
readings for herself.
nodded emphatically. “I’m sure,” he
said. “If there’s something hiding in that
house, then it’s way inside that house –”
in the basement?” Dean offered.
sighed. “Yeah, I guess,” he agreed reluctantly.
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!”
do spooks even have asses?” Sam interjected. “I
mean, by definition they’re non-corporeal, so
they don’t really –”
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.”
followed him reluctantly. “You forgot your cape.”
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?”
stopped in his tracks. “Whoa, wait a second there,
Buffy,” he said. “Those cops are there for
a reason –”
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.”
didn’t answer that, just stared her down stonily.
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?
Mia,” he burst out, stomping off toward the service
right!” Mia burst out, running after him and dodging
in front of him again. “Now that’s
what I’m talking about!”
know what I said about handcuffing people to cars…?”
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.
rigid mask of disapproval faltered a little as he fought
back a smirk. “What are you, a Girl Scout?”
prepared,” Mia told him, scooting off up the service
road toward the rear of the mansion. “I take my
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
the non-existent non-corporeal spirit who exists only
in Mia’s research?” Dean tossed back over
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.”
looks like that place in It’s A Wonderful
Life,” Mia murmured. “All the windows
broken. Kinda sad.”
my heart’s bleedin’,” Dean commented.
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?”
grabbed her hand and shoved it into the front pocket
of his jeans. “It’s on vibrate,” he
said. “Wanna feel?”
elbowed him in the ribs before shoving him away from
you guys wanna get a room,” Sam said, clearing
his throat. “That’s fine. Don’t mind
me or the pissed off Tulpa.”
you really need to learn how to relax! Maybe you should
take up yoga or something.”
you should kiss my –”
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 –”
are you crazy?” Dean burst out. “You’re
not wandering around Bates Motel without an escort.”
scowled at him. “I’m not a kid, Dean –”
but you’re exactly Mordecai’s type, sweetheart.
Or hadn’t you noticed that?”
and you’re going to keep the big nasty Tulpa away
from my defenseless little ass?”
Dean agreed emphatically. “Because it’s
such a sweet ass I’d hate anything to happen to
scrunched up her face at the half-compliment. “Alright,
tough guy,” she agreed. “You and I take
this half, Sam takes the other?”
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.
wait! Sammy, keep an eye out for cops, okay?”
Dean advised his brother. “And – y’know
– seven foot Tulpas.”
turned slightly, nodding. “I think I know the
me if you find anything.”
back here in – what – thirty?”
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.
Fred,” Mia broke in on his thoughts, tugging on
his jacket insistently. “We got a Tulpa to toast.”
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.
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.
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.
Dean replied, shaking his head as his eyes darted about
the room. “Wrought iron.”
forehead crinkled. “I thought that didn’t
work last time?”
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.”
didn’t seem convinced. “Kind of a long shot,
don’t you think?”
shrugged. “Yeah, well, I also got a can of bug
spray and a lighter, so either way, this freak’s
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.
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.
charming,” Mia muttered, trying her damnedest
not to touch anything.
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.
Mia said, spying the red lights flashing all over the
meter’s casing. “That looks kinda…”
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.
crime scene tape,” Dean observed. “But who’s
to say this place doesn’t have more than one basement?
cellar maybe,” Mia continued. “Just ’cause
there’s no crime scene tape doesn’t mean
this isn’t where those girls got – whatever
nodded. “Yeah, maybe,” he agreed, reaching
into his jeans pocket and pulling out his cell.
are you doing?” Mia asked uncertainly. “Shouldn’t
we be getting down there?”
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.”
Mia protested. “Why the hell not? I’ve come
this far –”
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.
Mia said. “What’s wrong?”
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!”
frowned. “Are you sure?”
looked like his eyes might pop right out of his head.
“Yes I’m sure!” he ground
the big deal?” Mia asked uncertainly.
if Sam’s in trouble?” Dean burst out, as
if it should be obvious. “What if he’s been
trying to call me?”
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?”
seemed to consider that. “I dunno,” he muttered.
“When he sets his mind to it, Sam can get himself
into trouble pretty damned fast.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
lair,” Mia nodded. “I get it.”
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.”
wolfish grin tugged at the corners of Mia’s mouth.
“Not just concerned about my ass after all?”
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.
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!”
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.
that was exactly where she wanted him.
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.
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.
voice came through the little speaker as clear as a
bell, and her grin widened.
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
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.
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.
was nothing here.
was wrong. Again. He was convinced of it.
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
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?”
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.
instantly caught the edge of panic in the girl’s
voice and his whole body tensed.
I –” The signal crapped out again for a
second. “…Dean’s in trouble!”
began to head back the way he’d come immediately,
even before he caught Mia’s next words. “Mia,
where are you?”
the girl’s obviously frightened voice came back.
“…Told me to…call you and…storm
Sam was running now. “Mia, say that again, I didn’t
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
hurry! I don’t think…”
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
hesitated for a second. Would Dean really have gone
down there without backup? He only had Mia’s word
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Hamilton house, west wing
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.
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.
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.
teeth itched, Sammy Senses tingling.
was wrong. He was missing something.
knew it hadn’t been ten minutes but…
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.
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.
He knew he’d charged the friggin’
rounded a corner and shoved open a badly-bowed door,
stepping back out into the hallway leading down to the