Spoilers: Season 2, set after 2.15, Tall Tales and before 2.16, Roadkill. Anything prior to the first appearance of that darn Trickster is fair game.
Summary: The trickster left the brothers in need of a clean hunt. An explosion turns a routine spirit hunt into anything but clean. Dean must deal with the ramifications, while Sam tries to finish the job and help his brother pick up the pieces.
Waiting rooms are the loneliest places on earth.
It didn't matter how many people were in the room with him, Sam realized. The one person he wanted with him was the reason he was sitting there in the first place.
What the hell did you think you were doing? His own words taunted him. I mean, shit, Dean, did you even think about me? You ran back into that house… do you want to die? Is that it?
Sam slouched on the circa 1970's style brown and orange chair, trying to find a comfortable position for his aching body, flexing his wounded hand, and tuning out the drone of the local nightly news on the TV attached to the wall in the corner. He could still feel the sudden weight of his brother in his arms as Dean went slack, his lashes hitting his cheeks in a sigh as he gave way to oblivion.
Closing his eyes, Sam longed for the same, but worry fueled adrenalin, pounding his heart with a cadence unique to those doomed to wait. Doctor Wilde had said the tests wouldn't take long, and that he shouldn't be concerned, but being alone and out of control wasn't a situation Sam was accustomed to. And Dean had been right. No matter what, they couldn't stay.
Sam jerked at the low voice, pulling his head up quickly and blinking blurry eyes.
A man stood before him, looking like an aged Burt Lancaster, soot scuffing the bridge of his nose, a too-big sweatshirt fitting over hospital scrub pants and a gauze pad taped across his forehead.
"Yeah?" Sam replied, memory filling the gaps in his mind that sleep had furrowed. George… George Cooper.
"Sorry to bother you," George said. "I just… I wanted to thank you and your partner for what you did."
Sam sat up straighter, looking past George to the petite girl standing behind him, staring at a spot just over Sam's head, her blue eyes clear, if a little blood-shot, her porcelain face serene. She gripped the edge of George's sweatshirt with slim, fragile-looking fingers as if wary of him stepping too far away.
"He's my brother," Sam said, clearing his throat.
George nodded, then gestured to the seat next to Sam. "Mind?"
Sam shook his head, unable to tear his eyes from Wren as she moved smoothly behind George, flowing into a seat like water.
"Well," George sighed, his knees popping as he sank slowly into the stiff chair. "If it hadn't been for you and your brother, Wren and I would be talking to Camilla. Much as I miss her, not sure I'm ready for that."
Looking at George, Sam shifted in his seat. "George… what, uh… do you remember what happened?"
Rubbing fingers spotted with age across a mustache-covered upper lip, George shook his head slowly. "Darndest thing… she's never been messy."
Sam frowned. "Uh… who?"
"Camy," George said, nodding in an almost unconscious, habitual manner. "Always kept a clean house, very important to her."
Rubbing at the ache growing above his right eye, Sam sighed. "Maybe you should start at the beginning."
Tapping the top of his leg with the heel of his hand, George nodded again. "She died on a Sunday. Never saw it coming. That morning, she'd told me we needed to talk after the church picnic, but… we never made it home together."
"That was about… six weeks ago, right?" Sam clarified, suppressing a yawn. This was the job. This is why they had been there. This is why Dean was broken in a room down a hall, having his head scanned. This is what they did.
"Right," George said, picking up Wren's small hand and squeezing it. "Wren had been living with us for about a month at that point."
Sam flicked his eyes to the quiet girl, remembering her wail of fear. The sound echoing in his ears was a stark contrast to the peaceful expression facing him now.
"You called the police a couple of weeks after Camilla…" Sam let George fill in the space.
"I kept hearing our song, thought maybe someone was being cruel." George glanced at him. "You never can tell with people these days. Some will give their lives for strangers while others will run you off the road and never look back."
Wren whimpered slightly and George tightened his grip on her hand.
"Is… is that what happened to your… to her parents?" Sam asked, his eyes darting between Wren and George, unsure who would be able to answer him.
"I was in the back seat," she said, her voice lower than Sam had thought when not shot through with panic. "The truck hit us and they just… there was so much blood and…"
"Easy, honey," George cooed. "He understands." George looked at Sam, his meaning clear: don't ask her any more questions.
Glancing down, Sam took a breath. "George, tell me about Camilla."
"Camy was happy. We were happy. We never had children, but we had each other," George smiled softly, his brown eyes drifting with memory. "We got that old house and were fixing it up. It was part of the Underground Railroad, you know."
Sam shook his head.
"Yep," George nodded. "Has a trap door in the basement and everything. We were fixing it up, room by room. Started with Wren's room when she came to live with us. Updated the kitchen and the heating and cooling. Camilla loved that house."
"What makes you think she's haunting you?"
George frowned and looked down at the small hand clasped in his larger one. "Like I said, I hear our song. I hear Camy singing Moonlight Serenade. I hear it in my sleep and on the phone and in the kitchen when I was in the office…"
"You sure it's Camilla?"
"It's her voice," George nodded. "I should never have called the police, but… well, they're supposed to help you, right?"
Sam looked down again, silent.
"Then things started moving around. Wren's wind chimes would be down on the porch, the birds broken. Books would be moved from shelves, laid open on the table or the bed…"
Sam looked at Wren, noticing the line that divided her eyebrows. Her mouth pulled in, lips growing tight as George talked. Her quiet beauty seemed to filter through the room, softening the lights, hushing the voices. Sam began to feel comforted, settled, peaceful. Simply watching her react to George's story was like holding Jessica, laughing with his brother, feeling his Dad's arms all at once. It was every good thing in his life filling his heart and protecting it.
"…came in and saw that her office was a shambles. I didn't even notice the smell."
Sam blinked, realizing that George had been talking. He pulled his eyes from Wren's features, honing back in on the old man's smooth voice.
"I hear something behind me, but before I could turn to look there was a pain," George paused, touching his forehead. "Next thing I knew, you and your brother were there. And my house… Camy's house blew up."
"I think there was a gas leak," Sam offered.
George nodded. "That's what the police said, too."
Sam went cold. "The police?"
"They're here. They had to investigate, of course. They want to ask you and your brother a couple of questions."
Sam rubbed his mouth, his upper lip suddenly sweaty. "What did you tell them about us, George?"
George looked over at him, the folds around his ancient eyes deepening with confusion. "Just that you saved us."
"Did you tell them our names?"
George smiled. "Son… I don't know your names."
Sam closed his eyes. "Right."
"There something you need to tell me?"
Sam opened his eyes and shot to his feet at the sound of Dr. Wilde's voice. She smiled at him. "You look tired," she said gently.
"Is he awake?"
Dr. Wilde nodded. "He's in a fair amount of pain, but he's refusing IV drugs."
"What about his ears?"
George stood next to Sam, pulled Wren to her feet beside him. "What's wrong with his ears?"
Dr. Wilde focused on Sam. "There's been damage to the drum and the inner ear. I don't see any reason he won't recover his hearing, but it's going to take some time, and I feel I must warn you, the process could be painful."
The frown deepening the lines on Dr. Wilde's face had Sam stepping forward.
"What do you mean?"
She sighed. "Only that your brother appears to be very stubborn, and it's hard to predict what will happen as the eardrum repairs itself. Balance could be affected. The headaches could be severe…"
Sam rubbed a hand over his face. "But he'll get better?"
"With time," she nodded. "And patience."
The squawk of a walkie-talkie snapped Sam's head around. Approaching them from the opposite end of the hall were two uniformed officers. They didn't seem to be in a hurry; Sam surmised that the name Winchester had either not been discovered, or it hadn't yet been connected with the bank job in Milwaukee.
"Doc, can he leave?"
Dr. Wilde frowned. "He's been through a pretty traumatic experience," she protested. "I'd really like to keep him for observation."
"Yeah, but," Sam insisted, glancing once more at the officers. "I can take care of him—I've done it before."
Dr. Wilde's dark eyes took him in, pulling truth from his weary face that he didn't bother masking. "I'll give you a prescription for painkillers and antibiotic drops. Make sure he uses both."
"I mean it," she stressed. "The pain of a concussion can affect more than anyone realizes."
"I know," Sam nodded. He glanced back at George. "I need to go see my brother, now."
"We'll wait for you," George informed him.
"You don't have—"
"We'll wait," George insisted, guiding Wren back to a chair with a hand at the small of her back.
Sam swallowed, stepping around Dr. Wilde and back through the ER doors before the officers had reached the entrance to the waiting room. He heard Dean the moment he stepped into the bustling area.
"Listen, Denzel, I can't hear you, but you sure as hell can hear me. I want my brother and my clothes. In that order."
The black male physician's assistant who'd stitched up Sam's hand was standing at the side of Dean's bed, his hands on Dean's shoulders, his face stern. Sam took in the sight of his brother's pale, drawn face, the visible tremble in his fingers even as they fisted in the man's scrubs.
"Dean," Sam called without thinking. The tone of his brother's voice told him that Dean was at his limit and was taking it out on the physician's assistant with venom.
The PA looked up and Dean followed his eye line. Sam watched relief wash over his face in a wave so keen Sam felt it pang against his heart.
"Where the hell have you been?" Dean demanded, but pain clipped off the end of the sentence and dulled the fire of his words.
Sam nodded to the PA. "I got it," he said.
"Tell him my name is Mike," the man said. "Not Denzel."
Sam shrugged. "I like Denzel."
Mike shot a look at Sam, and to his relief, grinned slightly. "Yeah, well… who doesn't."
With that, he wrapped the loose IV tubing he'd removed from Dean's arm and set it on a shelf above the bed.
"I'll bring you his clothes," Mike said to Sam, then glanced once more at Dean with a scowl that Dean returned.
Sam smiled his thanks, then stepped up to his brother when Mike left the alcove. He tipped his chin up in a silent question. Dean closed his eyes briefly, exhaling and shaking his head. Sam nodded in acceptance, smiling internally at the secret language they'd developed without realizing. Months of being on the road honed skills of communication that their father had instilled in them through childhood. Ways of feeling each other when they couldn't see, seeing what they couldn't hear, hearing what they couldn't feel.
Die-hard habits that just days ago had made him want to lock Dean in a closet and toss the key may actually save them now.
Dean leaned back on the bed and Sam noticed that the shoulder of his gown had been snapped up, the electrodes removed. His face was pale, lashes brushing shadows on the hollowed-out, purple crescents under his eyes. As if sensing his gaze, Dean lifted a brow and opened one eye.
Sam smirked and grabbed the pad of paper they'd been using to communicate.
You look like Tyler Durden after round four.
Dean grinned. "Hell, Sammy," he said, his voice like gravel. "You know I'm prettier than Brad Pitt."
Mike returned with a plastic bag of smoke-scented clothes. "George wanted me to offer you a ride."
Sam frowned. "He's got a car here?"
Mike shook his head. "Nah," he said. "I'm giving him a ride to the hotel."
Sam glanced at Dean, noting how his brother's eyes were darting between them, trying to absorb anything that he could understand.
"Think you can take us back to George's house? So we can pick up our car?"
Mike shrugged. "Sure. You planning on sticking around?"
Sam pulled in his bottom lip. Dean needed rest. Needed to heal. They'd healed on the road before, but this was different. He needed time. And… there was a job to do. George still had a ghost. Sam lifted his eyes to meet his brothers. Could Dean hunt like this?
"Whatever you're thinking," Dean said softly, "it had better include finishing this bastard."
Sam's lips quirked and he glanced back at Mike. "Yeah, we're sticking around."
"You can follow me to the hotel, then." He looked at the prescriptions clutched in Sam's hand. "I'll get those for you."
Sam nodded and pulled the curtain closed behind Mike. He looked at Dean as his brother rifled through the bag of clothes, his nose wrinkled against the smell. As Dean dressed, he wrote down Mike's message. Dean glanced at it while he slowly pulled on the black suit pants.
"What about my car?"
Sam tapped the pad where he'd written get Impala.
"Oh, right" Dean said, pausing suddenly, dressed in only his pants and white T-shirt. He leaned against the bed, closing his eyes and dropping his head.
Sam touched his arm, silently asking if he was okay.
"Gimme a minute," Dean whispered. "Head hurts like a mother."
"Yeah, I can imagine," Sam replied. "Good thing you've got a hard head."
Dean lifted his head and smiled weakly. "Guess it's a good thing I've got a hard head, huh?"
Sam grinned and nodded, handing Dean his shoes. Dean sank on the bed, taking the worn boots from Sam, and slumping tiredly as he regarded his feet. Sam could see exhaustion pressing down around his shoulders like a gray blanket of defeat.
He crouched in front of Dean and looked up at the blood-shot green eyes. Dean met his eyes, then nodded, handing the boots to Sam and allowing his brother to help him. It was an odd feeling, Sam reflected, helping Dean in this way. He'd had to do the same not too long ago when a river and a gambler had tried their best to beat his brother.
Dean never backs down, Sam thought. The knowledge both frustrated and balanced him. Dean never backed down.
Once dressed, Dean stood on shaking legs, stuffing his hands into his pockets and curling his shoulders inward in a stance that was at once protective and defensive. Sharing a look, the brothers departed the ER, met up with George, Wren, and Mike, then stepped out into the bright sunlight of mid-day.
"Denzel" drove a Ford F-150.
Dark blue with silver trim. Dean ran his hand along the edge of the truck bed to steady himself as well as show his appreciation for a well-tended machine. The extended cab took nothing away from the sturdiness and usability of the bed—the whole point of having a pick-up truck in the first place, as far as Dean was concerned.
The reflection of the sun flashed in his eyes briefly as George opened the passenger front door, causing him to suck in his breath and close his eyes as the brilliance seared like a brand. The girl climbed in, guided by the sure hands of the old man. Dean surmised that she had to be Wren. The reason he ached in places where muscles weren't supposed to exist. The reason his head pulsed like a cartoon character hit by an anvil.
The reason he couldn't hear his brother call his name.
The bitter taste of anger overrode any feeling of mercy he knew he should extend this girl. He forced himself to swallow and jerked open the rear passenger door, climbing in carefully.
As Denzel—Mike, he reminded himself—started up the truck, Dean saw conversation happening around him. He saw Sam nodding, responding, George looking over his shoulder, Mike laughing. The only one still, silence as much a part of her as it was Dean, was Wren. Oddly, he felt her listening. She seemed to pull the sound close to her and roll in it.
He shook his head, banishing the dizzy idea and rested his tender forehead against the cool window. Mike shifted into drive and the big engine responded. Dean felt it humming through his feet, riding his calves and trembling his thighs. He felt the vibration across his face through the window. Closing his eyes, he spread his hands slowly across the vinyl seat, relishing the feel of the machine as it rumbled drunkenly across potholes and rough asphalt.
When you can't figure out which way to go, take away one of your senses. Use the others. Dad had been talking about sight. He said eyes can deceive. Not everything is as you see, and you can't see everything.
Never told me how to not hear danger, Dad.
He had one job, one purpose: watch out for Sammy. That directive coupled with the knowledge that he may have to choose between protecting Sam from the world, or the world from Sam, aged him and drove him.
What am I supposed to do now?
An odd thrum bounced off of his heartbeat and he opened his eyes. He felt Sam watching him and pressed his lips back, nodding his assurance. The thrum beat again and he frowned, looking up at the front seat as Mike's dark head rolled in an obvious cadence. Sam ticked his finger against the back of Dean's hand, drawing his eyes.
"Country music," Sam mouthed slowly, clearly. Dean winced and Sam nodded.
As Dean closed his eyes again, he felt a smile creep across the bruises.
He felt the music.
He's punching the air, striking at a figure only he can see. It takes me a moment to truly wake up. It's dark in Jim's house, and the sounds of the road are far away. I think that I'll never sleep in such silence, but then I hear Sam cry out and realize I've been asleep long enough that the sun is once again sneaking into the night.
My legs are tangled in the sheets. Jim uses flannel sheets—no blankets. Always has. I freeze in the night when we stay here in the winter. We're too big to sleep in the same bed anymore and I'm not enough to keep myself warm.
"Gotta get out gotta get out gotta get out," Sam is chanting, swinging away into the dark.
"Hang on, Sammy," I call to him, trying to extricate myself before he stumbles from his bed to escape the vision that captures him in his sleep. "I'm coming."
"Can't wait, Dean, can't wait for Dad, gotta get out…"
I stumble from the bed, going to one knee as I trip over my duffel, then launch forward like a runner from start position to cross the room, catching him as he leaps free. He pushes against me, fists catching my sternum, the soft spot beneath my ribs, my chin. I bite my tongue, pushing him back harder than I intend to.
"Stop it!" I order.
He freezes at my tone, nightmare sweat plastering strands of long brown hair to his forehead, his eyes still closed.
"I'm right here."
"It was here," he whispers.
"You were dreaming."
"No… no, Dean, it was here."
"Nobody here but us, man."
"I saw it," Sam says, fear liquidating his voice and turning tears to daggers in my heart.
"Sammy, it's okay, man. You saw it, I know, but it's not here. I’m here."
"It could get you."
"Naw," I grin, hiking my hip up onto his bed, and shoving at his shoulder. "It's me."
"Dean, don't let it get you." He finally opens his eyes and I almost want him to close them again.
"Dad killed it," I remind him. "It's gone, Sammy. I know it was… it was awful under that water. But you held on and Dad got us out, okay? Dad got us out."
"You held on."
"You bet your ass I did."
"You held on to me," he says, his voice small.
"Well," I shrug, trying not to show the enormity of the weight those words settled on my heart. "You're my brother. Who else am I gonna pick on if I let some bird monster demon…thing… pull you underwater?"
Sam shivers and pulls his knees up, tucking his body up against the pillow. I slide backwards on his bed until I'm resting against the wall, my legs straight out. I stare at my feet. I never really noticed my feet much. I like them better when I don't think about them.
"What if Dad isn't around to kill the next one?"
I swallow. Sam spoke my one fear: the moment it's up to me. The moment I truly do stand between Sam and real darkness. The moment Dad isn't here.
"Then we'll take care of it together," I answer, not looking at him. "I won't let anything happen to you, Sammy."
I reach for him, like I used to when we were kids, and grab his hand. I slap the back of it against my chest, holding it there. My heartbeat bounces against his hand.
"You feel that?"
"I’m not going anywhere."
He slouches deeper into the bed. "Can't sleep," he yawns.
When Sam was little, Dad would sing to him. Mostly when he was sick, but it always worked. I chew my lip, rubbing at the knot at the back of my neck. His hand is still pressed against my chest and I shift sideways in the bed.
"Frozen in the place I hide. Not afraid to paint my sky with some who say I've lost my mind. Brother try and hope to find. You were always so far away, I know that pain so don't you run away like you used to do…"
"I can feel you singing," he says.
I roll so that I'm staring up at the ceiling. Out of the corner of my eyes I see the shadow of Pastor Jim as he steps away from the open door.
When they pulled up to George Cooper's shell of a house, Sam had to look away. The image of the fireball, the slam of heat, the cold snake of fear that had only wrapped itself tighter around his heart in the moments since were too vivid.
The same jolt of pain that always sliced across his chest when he remembered Jessica's frozen terror, or his father's body on the linoleum floor, shook him thinking about the possibility of losing Dean.
Mike halted the truck. "That your car?" he asked, nodding to the Impala.
"That's her," Sam said, reaching for Dean's curled form. He'd fallen asleep almost as soon as the truck began moving, and Sam hated to wake him.
"Nice," Mike commented.
"Uh, thanks," Sam answered. "Dean. Dean, hey," he said, the habit of calling his brother's attention before touching him too strong to simply squelch in the hours that had passed. He gripped Dean's shoulder.
The reaction was expected but none-the-less startling. Dean jerked, his hand launching out to grab Sam's wrist and twist it away. He pressed his back against the door and swung out with his free hand, forcing Sam to catch it or get clocked.
Then, Dean opened his eyes.
Sam smiled weakly, waiting until Dean relaxed before he released his brother's hand. Dean rubbed at his bruised face.
"Jesus, man, why didn't you say—" Dean stopped mid-rant, dropping his hand and looking at Sam, the color leeched from his face as memory flooded back. He rubbed at his neck just below his ears. "We here?"
Sam nodded. Dean looked out at what was left of the house and Sam recognized the same look of horror in his brother's eyes that he knew had been in his at the sight.
"Well, let's get going then," Dean rasped, nodding at Mike. "Thanks, Denzel." He opened the door, and moved stiffly to the ground.
Sam touched George's shoulder. "Listen," he started. "This… thing with your wife? It's kinda what my brother and I do."
George was watching Dean limp toward the Impala. "He's hurting, Son."
"Yeah, I know."
"You got enough on your plate without—"
"Actually," Sam interrupted. "Neither of us do well with down time. We'll be in touch."
"Won't be hard to find," George twisted around to look at Sam. "We're gonna be staying at the same hotel."
"Oh, right," Sam nodded, looking over at Mike. "We can follow you?"
Mike nodded. "Trust Denzel," he said, rolling his eyes.
Sam chuckled and climbed out of the truck. Chris LeDoux echoed behind him from the radio as he joined Dean at the car. Dean waited by the driver's side mostly, Sam guessed, out of habit, leaning against the closed door and staring vacantly inside.
"You aren't driving," Sam said.
Dean didn't flinch.
Sam tapped his shoulder, and Dean looked up. "No," Sam said simply.
Dean pressed his lips out in a pout, moving around to the other side of the car like a child told to go to his room.
Once inside the Impala, they breathed a simultaneous sigh of relief.
"Good to be home," Dean muttered, running his hands across the dash. For a brief moment, he winced, his face folding in as a flash of pain washed over him. He grunted, pressing the heel of his hand to his forehead.
Sam waited, watching. After a moment, Dean straightened.
"Sonuvabitch," Dean muttered. "It's like the worst ice cream headache in the world times ten…"
Sam's eyebrows folded up and he reached out to squeeze Dean's shoulder in sympathy.
"Y'know what's weird?" Dean said rubbing at his ears again. "When it… flashes like that… I can… I almost hear something… like… hissing or something…"
"Can you hear me now?" Sam joked, knowing Dean saw his lips move.
"Very fuckin' funny," Dean muttered, looking away.
"Wait," Sam frowned. "Dean, did you… hear what I said?"
"Start her up, Sam," Dean requested, not hearing Sam's last question as he focused on something outside of the car. His hands were spread across the dark dash, his blunt fingers pressing hard enough to turn the tips white.
Sam shoved the keys in the ignition, firing up the engine. In his periphery, he saw Dean's eyes flutter closed. He looked over and realized that Dean's whole being had shifted—relief was evident. Sam chuckled.
"God, I missed her," Dean sighed, settling back and resting his hands flat against the bench seat as Sam pulled out behind Mike.
Sam shook his head. "It's barely been two days."
"Nothing," Sam leaned over and turned on the radio, cranking the volume high. Dean followed the movement of his hand with his eyes, a smile creasing his bruised face when the bass beat through the car.
Sam watched as Dean pressed his hand against the glass, one leg flat on the inside of the door, the other up against the dash. Splayed out like he was, Sam could practically see the sound waves from the music working their way into his brother's blood stream.
Dean closed his eyes and tipped his head back, waiting.
The radio DJ came on, announcing something new by Staind, promising they were going to like this one, and Sam turned onto another road, following Mike close enough that he could read the truck's Delaware license plate.
"All the smiles you've had to fake, and all the shit you've had to take, just to lead us here again. I never have the things to say to make it all just go away, to make it all just disappear. Believe in me; I know you've waited for so long. Believe in me; sometimes the weak become the strong. Believe in me; this life's not always what it seems…"
The music filled the car, and the lyrics drew Sam away from the moment. Away from the unnatural silence in the seat next to him. Away from the fact that he was behind the wheel only because Dean couldn't be.
The hotel sign met his eyes in the distance. It was nicer than places they usually stayed. He wasn't sure how they were going to—
"Here," Dean said suddenly, poking him with the edge of a credit card. "Use this one."
Sam pulled to a stop in the parking lot, then looked down. Elroy McGillacuddy. He looked at Dean.
His brother stared out of the window, bouncing the glove box he'd extricated the card from closed with his knee. "I save it for emergencies," he said simply.
Sam pulled his lips in, biting the fleshy insides, and nodded. Leaving Dean to wait for him in the car, Sam went inside to get a room, making sure it was on the same floor as George and Wren. He returned to find Dean slumped on the bumper of the car, waiting for him to open the trunk.
"Man, Dean, you look like crap," he muttered, approaching his exhausted brother. Dean didn't look up as Sam approached. He gently shoved him aside to open the trunk and pulled out their duffels, wincing when the straps flexed against the stitches in his palm.
"Gimme one," Dean said tiredly.
"I got it," Sam answered.
"Quit being a stubborn ass," Dean grumbled. "I know your hand hurts."
He grabbed one of the duffels and turned away.
"You're the stubborn ass," Sam muttered, grabbing the weapons bag, slamming the lid shut, and stepping around his brother to lead the way to the room.
They went inside, looking around. Newer décor, newer carpet, newer A/C… same set up.
"People spend money on the craziest stuff," Dean mumbled, dropping his bag on the foot of the nearest bed, then falling across the mattress.
Sam regarded him a moment, then set his bags down. He fished out the meds Mike had filled for them, dropping down on the bed near his prone brother. He shook Dean's shoulder.
Dean pushed at him weakly.
"I know you wanna sleep, man, but you need these."
Dean didn't stir. Sam sighed and pushed at Dean again, keeping it up until he knew his brother would roll over just to get away from his hand.
"Jesus Christ! You're like a freakin' giant… gnat," Dean growled, rolling over and holding his head. "Holy hell, Sammy."
"Hurts, huh?" Sam said, sympathy thick in his voice.
"Hurts like a bitch," Dean said, as if answering him. "This seriously sucks out loud. Tell me you have something on this ghost, man."
Sam sighed. He gently tapped Dean's hand away from his face, holding up the pain pills.
"No," Dean shook his head, his eyes bleary.
Sam stared at him, hard. "You're in pain, Dean."
"I'm not taking any pills until we know more about what's going on," Dean pushed at Sam's hand, clumsily shoving himself to the edge of the bed, away from Sam.
"Dammit, you can be such an asshole, Dean!" Sam snapped, standing and rounding the bed to face his brother. "You're taking this medicine."
Dean didn't look at him, apparently knowing what Sam was doing simply by his stance. When Sam stepped forward, Dean stood, weakly pushing against Sam.
"Sam, stop it, just stop," Dean pressed his palms on Sam's chest, his eyes centering on Sam's throat, his own throat working convulsively. "Something was in that house… something hurt that guy, tried to go after the girl… I… I saw something."
"You saw something?" Sam repeated, too caught up in the moment to remember that Dean wouldn't hear him.
"It's like… trying to remember a dream," Dean said softly, his eyes darting as he searched the shadows of his memory. "I think I have it and then it… slips away." He looked up at Sam. "But something was there. That much I know."
Sam nodded, taking a breath. "Okay, we'll look into it," he said, watching Dean's eyes narrow on his mouth as his brother tried to figure out what he was saying. He slowed down, enunciating each word. "We'll figure it out. But after you get some rest."
"No!" Dean pushed atSam, knocking him away and off balance. "No, Sam, I mean it. Quit trying to take me out of this fight. I'm in it, dammit!"
Sam blinked, surprised, taking a step further away from Dean. "I'm not—"
"Those pills will make me all… foggy and I can't think. I need to be there, Sam. I need to be in this. It's all I—ah!"
This time when the pain hit him, Dean doubled over, pressing the heels of his hands to his temples.
"Sonuvabitch," Dean breathed. "Don't talk… shhh… don't… don't talk."
"Are you—" Sam almost bit off his tongue to keep from speaking again when Dean went to his knees, his face balled up with pain, sweat beading on his bruised forehead.
Afraid that even his footsteps on the carpet would cause his brother more pain, Sam held still, waiting. He wanted to go to him, to offer him assurance, support, some sort of solidarity. But he didn't move. He waited and he watched as Dean's body shook with wave after wave of pain, his muscles tightening beneath his shirt in visible ridges. Soon, Dean relaxed slightly, sagging to his side on the floor, drawing in great gulps of breath, pressing the back of his hand against his pale lips.
"Holy shit," Dean breathed. "I almost like hearing nothing better than… everything at once."
Sam stepped close, gently eased Dean to a sitting position, then helped him up on the bed. Dean sat with his elbows on his knees, his head resting in the net of his fingers. Crouching down in front of his brother, Sam caught Dean's eyes, speaking slowly.
"If I promise to look into this ghost, will you please take these pills?"
Dean stared at him a moment. Sam held his breath. A drop of sweat ran down the side of Dean's face, bouncing a trail through the rough stubble of scruff along his jaw.
"Yeah, okay," Dean finally sighed.
Sam stood, grabbing the pills and a glass. He filled the glass with water, then returned to find Dean exactly as he'd left him.
"Drops," Sam said, holding up the small vile. "Ears."
"Fine," Dean said, a groan leaking out as he eased slowly down on the bed, offering first one ear then the other to Sam.
Sam watched his hand tremble as he squeezed the clear liquid into Dean's ears, noting the crusted blood on the edges of his lobes.
"Feels weird, man," Dean slurred.
"I'll bet," Sam replied softly, then handed Dean the pain pills and water.
It took two minutes for Dean to find a comfortable position on the bed, another five for the pills to take effect. Sam sat on the chair across the room, watching his brother fall, feeling his own body tick like a cooling engine. He stood when Dean's breath was slow and even, pulling the worn work boots from Dean's feet and flipping the edge of the comforter over his brother's body.
As Dean slept, Sam searched. Time well-spent surfing the Internet and hacking into sites normally denied the average user often times brought him a surplus of information. He found the 911 transcripts of George's initial calls, the coroner's report of Camilla's death. He didn't find an autopsy report, but surmised that since the local doctor had declared it a heart attack, none had been performed. He found the report about Camilla and George taking in Wren, but nothing on the girl's parents, save her report in the article.
He found the cemetery where Camilla was buried.
He looked over at his brother.
…something was there. That much I know…
George was certain Camilla was haunting him, and Dean was certain something was going on. Sam knew of one sure-fire way to rid someone of a ghost. He stood, his decision made.
He slipped Dean's Bowie from the weapons duffel, sliding it beneath Dean's pillow. Just knowing it was within Dean's dangerous reach made Sam breathe easier. Leaving Dean to sleep, a note on his whereabouts on the pillow next to his brother, Sam headed for the Impala.
Finding the cemetery wasn't hard. Finding the grave was even easier. Waiting for silence and night was a test of his patience. Digging up the grave tore the stitches in his hand and smeared blood on the shovel handle.
Dean was going to kill him for leaving in the first place; coming back with a bloody hand would be icing on a bitter cake.
But what Sam found inside the casket would trump any ill-conceived escape, any bloody return.
Camilla Cooper had died six weeks ago; Sam knew he wouldn’t find bones to salt and burn. He'd prepared himself for the battering his tired body would receive getting to the corpse. He'd prepared himself for the smell of decay and rot that slammed into him with the creak of the unused hinges. He'd prepared himself for the sight of a human face melting away with the cleansing of salt-fueled fire.
He hadn't prepared himself to see Camilla Cooper's body rolled over, laying face-down in her own coffin.
Brother by Alice in Chains
Believe by Staind (Sanderspleen, that one's for you, girl)
Part 3 (A and B) can be found here: http://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/16996.html