Title: From Yesterday
Characters: Dean, Sam, and OCs
Disclaimer/Summary: See Prologue
Author's Note: Thanks for indulging me in a "bye week" last week. It was the first holiday since I lost my father and it hit me a bit harder than I'd anticipated. But I'm back in KS and ready to share more of this story with you! We have two chapters left in Part 1 (and I've already gotten elbows-deep into Part 2) and as per usual with our boys, it's gonna get worse before it gets better. Also, just a heads up: there's a bit of a mature scene in this chapter. Fair warning.
"You sure you don't want to come with me?"
Sam watched Dean roll his eyes dramatically, knowing it was all for show. He could see the truth inside the careful facade Dean secured in place whenever Sam brought up the friends he had made in the two months since he'd started working at the bar within Freestate Brewery.
Dean had never once asked him to stay home when Sam had told him he was going out. He'd never asked to come along, either. And Sam, being mindful of Dean's injuries and limitations, had only invited him on a few occasions.
But this was New Year's Eve.
"Dude. Go already. It's just another night," Dean shrugged, resting a beer bottle top on the edge of the counter and popping the lid off with a careful, practiced whack from his forearm. There'd been a time when Dean had used his ring to pop off the top of a beer bottle, but Sam was pretty sure he would never wear rings on his right hand again.
"I don't have to go," Sam hedged.
"Uh, yeah," Dean grinned, huffing slightly. "I think you do."
Sam pulled his eyebrows together, confused.
"What's her name again? Sherry? Sadie?"
"Stella," Sam answered; Dean knew the name of the girl he'd been seeing perfectly well.
"Ah, right." Dean pointed his beer at Sam. "You're going the Brando direction with this one."
Sam waved at the air, dismissing his brother's good-natured jabs as he finished getting ready.
"Seriously, dude," Dean continued, following Sam back toward his bedroom and leaning against the door frame. "Brando got all the ladies."
"It's not like that," Sam protested, pulling a new white button-down shirt on over his T-shirt. He looked down, starting to work on the buttons. "I like this girl."
"So…what? You saying you don't want to screw her?" Dean sounded puzzled.
"I didn't say that," Sam protested, trying desperately not to blush.
After all the details Dean knew about his past…relationships…Sam knew he shouldn't feel awkward talking about a girl he liked to his brother. More often than not, he'd ended up needing Dean's help to stop the girl from killing anyone. But Stella wasn't Madison. And she wasn't Ruby. She was pretty much as far from a monster or demon as he could get.
He'd made sure of that.
"So you do want to screw her."
Sam turned to face his brother, tucking the tail of his shirt into his jeans as he did so. "Would you stop? If you're that curious about her, just come along with us."
Dean laughed, though it sounded just shy of genuine. "I'm just messing with you, man. I'm glad you found someone you liked."
"Someone who isn't hell spawn, you mean."
Dean shrugged, pressing his lips out in an agreeable pout. "That's an added bonus."
Sam had met Stella on his second day at work. She was closer to Dean's age than Sam's, had been working at Freestate for going on a decade, and had a detailed depiction of the Misty Mountains from Middle Earth tattooed across the whole of her back. Sam didn't know – and didn't care – if that was because she was a Tolkien fan or a Zeppelin fan. It intrigued him, as did her dark hair and brown eyes. She was just enough opposite of Jessica in appearance for him not to feel a sense of betrayal and looked just enough like Ruby for him to feel a sense of attraction.
When he discovered that they were able to work together without her asking pointed questions about his past, Sam found he was drawn to her more each time he met his co-workers for a drink after the bar closed. Stella seemed to accept him at face-value: not interested in searching for the why, simply taking his because as good enough. She made him laugh, enjoyed the same kind of music he did, and shared his interest and thirst for knowledge and research. Of course, hers focused more on history and literature than lore and weapons...but it was still research.
Sam was comfortable around her. Stella made him feel as if it were who he was, not what he was that mattered. He hadn't felt like that in a long time.
He'd found a rhythm with several of his male co-workers, a sense of familiarity among those who worked their way through college. They made Sam miss his Stanford days and the easy normality that came with the only expectations of time being earning money and spending money.
The group – there were five of them now that regularly hung out: three guys aside from Sam, and Stella – had decided to bar-hop downtown along Massachusetts Street until midnight when they'd head south of town to Wells Overlook and countdown to the New Year. It was a tradition Sam wanted to be a part of – and if he were honest with himself, he was glad Dean was refusing to go. Sam felt relaxed around these people and the story of his past that they believed.
Adding Dean to social gatherings always made both of them tense – Sam for what Dean might do, and Dean for what was expected of him.
"You going to be okay?" Sam asked, grabbing his coat off the back of the chair in his sparsely-decorated room.
"Sure," Dean rolled his shoulder along the doorway, swinging wide and making room for Sam to exit. "Somebody gave me a shit-load of books for Christmas. Might look through them a bit."
Sam cast a side-long glance at his brother. The books Rufus had shipped from Bobby's house had arrived two days before Christmas. Sam had decided to give them to Dean as a gift; he hadn't seen a look of such raw gratitude on his brother's face since the year he'd given Dean the amulet.
It had crossed his mind that the books could end up coming in as handy as the amulet had, but he dismissed the notion as false worry. They were just books; both of them had looked through each one countless times before. Having them in the house didn't automatically mean they would be used for supernatural purposes.
"Don't get any crazy ideas," Sam grinned innocently.
It faded slightly, though, as Dean moved through the shadow of the hallway to the living room and Sam saw the same odd phenomenon he'd noticed months ago at Bobby's funeral: the light in Dean's eyes. It never really seemed to fade.
Part of him wanted to reach out once more to Rufus to see if he'd come up with anything relating to the amulet, or perhaps search through those books himself to see if there was anything written about the footprint a beacon of God would leave on the righteous man if it was used to banish the Devil.
"Don't worry about me," Dean told him, bumping his shoulder against Sam's. He held his beer in his left hand; his right hung uselessly down at his side. "I could use a quiet night."
Sam barked out a quick laugh, unthinking. "Yeah, 'cause you're such a party animal."
Dean lifted a shoulder. "Would be nice if this year started differently from last year, is all."
Sam looked up, meeting his brother's eyes, and nodded. "It's been a helluva year," he said softly, his voice rough.
For a moment they simply looked at each other, each caught in the net of memory. So much had transpired, their journeys so different and yet they'd walked the exact same path. Unexpectedly, Sam felt emotion coil at the base of his throat, pressing upward. He wouldn't have survived if it hadn't been for Dean. Not just Stull…but all of it.
"Happy New Year, Dean," he said huskily.
Dean smiled softly, and Sam saw it warm his eyes. "Happy New Year, Sam."
Impulsively, Sam grabbed his brother, pulling him close. He was careful not to touch Dean's skin as he crushed his brother's shirt in his fist, pinning Dean against him in a tight hug. He held on until he felt Dean's hands on his back, gripping him tight for just a moment, before stepping away. When they parted, Sam grinned, laughing wetly as his pent-up emotions got the best of him.
"Get outta here," Dean gently kicked at him. "Before your girl thinks I hold you hostage."
Sam zipped his coat closed, and grabbed his hat, scarf, and gloves. He was walking to the T-bus route to take that up to Massachusetts Street and from there he'd grab a ride with his friends. He felt better about that than taking the Impala from Dean – or trying to park the big car downtown. Pulling his knit cap over his hair, the longer strands pressed against his cheek, he turned and tossed Dean one last grin, then stepped out into the night.
The moon was high and bright – waxing almost full. New Year's night would be the full moon, he knew instinctively. Not that such a fact meant anything to him anymore. Even if there were still werewolves in the world, it didn't mean they were his problem. Or Dean's.
The light gave the night around him a sharp, bluish hue, and the razor-edge of cold he breathed in was tempered only by the knowledge that soon he'd be with friends – a luxury he hadn't allowed himself for so many years. Because they never stayed in one place long enough. Or because their lives would get anyone associated with them killed.
Sam had had enough of death. He'd had enough of killing and of living with the perpetual fear of everything being taken from him. He'd lost too much for too long. He was taking it back. And this time, he was keeping it. All of it.
The home, the brother, the safety, the friends, the possibilities.
He jumped off the bus at his stop, burying his gloved hands in his pockets as he hunched his shoulders against the cold and headed to the bar where they'd planned to meet. The moment he stepped inside the building the heat enveloped him and had him pulling off the knit cap and gloves and running his bare fingers through his tangled hair. The music shook through him, providing a back-beat to his pulse and turning him deaf to the actual conversations he could see happening around him as he moved through the crowd. He saw Stella before any of the others, her smile bright, her fingers beckoning him forward.
He grabbed her outstretched hand and let her pull him in for a kiss, the feel of her soft lips against his sending a shiver through him that stirred places inside that had been too-long dormant. Someone put a pint of beer in his hand and he let himself be led deeper into the labyrinth of the club. Their group had claimed a booth in the back and Sam stripped off his coat and scarf, his white shirt glowing in the black-lights tucked up in the recesses of the ceiling.
After trying for awhile to keep up with the chatter of the group, Sam looked over at Stella and smiled. She tilted her head, questioningly. She'd pulled her long hair up in a messy knot at the back of her head, exposing her long neck. Part of him wanted to tell her how turned on seeing that part of her bared made him. Her black, knee-length dress hung loosely on her slim frame, exposing most of her tattoo between the spaghetti straps.
Sam swallowed. He wanted to kiss her. Now. No, scratch that. He wanted much more.
Damn you, Dean.
"You wanna dance?" Stella asked.
"Dance?" Sam repeated, the word feeling foreign in his mouth. She may as well have asked him if he wanted to quilt.
Stella grinned, exposing a slightly crooked upper canine. "Yeah. Y'know…dance." She tilted her head toward the center of the room where the floor was crowded with people undulating to a darkly seductive, techno beat. "You looked like you wanted to ask me something is all."
He wanted to ask her something all right. Dancing hadn't been it, but it would do for now. At least he could get her away from their group for a bit.
"Yeah…uh, yeah," he nodded, smiling nervously. He used to actually be good at this. Talking to Jess had been so easy. Talking to Ruby had been unnecessary. Between them had been Sarah and Madison, both such different – and brief – interludes in his sad love life and he'd been too worried about saving them – or killing them – to really worry about talking. "I'd love to dance," he told her.
Without a word to the others, Stella led them out onto the floor and Sam pulled her close. Her heels lifted her a bit more to his level, but she still barely reached his shoulders. She put her hands around his neck and drew his face close to hers. He pressed his at the small of her back, lifting her slightly, and without hesitation touched his lips to hers, leaning into the kiss, letting her feel how hungry he was for the contact, the connection…the touch.
Stella responded without reservation. The darkness and noise cloaked them; the people pressed around them offered cover. Sam spread his hand across her back, unable to bite back the gasp as he touched her exposed skin. He let himself carefully caress, moving his hands to her shoulders, then cupping her face. She put her hands on his wrists, holding him in place as she returned his kiss, sliding her tongue between his lips and turning his knees liquid.
"Sam?" she breathed, pulling back. He couldn't have heard her over the noise, and yet he did.
"You wanna stay with the group?"
"Not really," he pulled back, searching her face, looking at her dark eyes, heavy with something he'd not seen in a long, long time: desire.
"I have some place we can go," she told him. He stilled for a moment, instincts kicking in. "You trust me?"
He nodded, intrigued both that she'd asked him and that he did, in fact, trust her. Stella took his hand and pulled him from the dance floor, moving past the couch where the rest of their group lounged and laughed, joined now by a couple of women Sam didn't recognize. Two of the guys looked up from their drinks, grinning at Sam and Stella as they walked by without pausing.
Stella led him to a narrow back stairs that wound up past a landing with doors to the club's restrooms and then up another flight to a locked door. She bent and pulled a key from the lining of her shoe. Sam grinned, tilting his head.
"Someone came prepared."
"I was a Girl Scout in another life," she said, wrinkling her nose at him as she grinned back. She unlocked the door and let go of Sam's hand as she stepped inside.
Though currently empty, it had clearly been a loft apartment at one time: it was separated out with kitchen appliances and ample space for living room and bedroom furniture. The large, floor-to-ceiling windows were bare, the white lights from the trees lining Massachusetts Street shining up and illuminating the emptiness. The muted music from the club below thrummed, giving the whole scene a subtle soundtrack.
"What is this place?"
"Used to be my brother's," Stella told him. "He died about six years ago—"
"Oh, man, I'm sorry," Sam breathed, the heat in his blood suddenly chilled at the thought of that kind of loss.
Stella turned to face him. "Hey, it's okay. It was tough, but…I don't want to think about that now. I kept the place…never knew quite what to do with it…until I met you."
Sam smiled as he watched her walk backwards to the beat of the music below. "And I made you think secret love nest?"
"Well," she shrugged, then pounded her fist on a panel along the wall. Sam watched as a Murphy bed – complete with fresh sheets – slowly lowered from the recess. "Maybe not so much secret."
"How many people know we're up here?" Sam asked moving forward slowly, his eyes on her kiss-swollen mouth.
"Of our group?"
"All of 'em."
"So all that talk," he said, running a hand along her bare shoulder, "about bar-hopping until midnight," he tucked his thumb under the strap of her dress, "and going to Wells Overlook…was just a cover?"
"We might still make the Overlook." Stella shrugged, her eyes moving from his chin to his eyes, then back to his mouth as she pulled the pins from her hair, letting it fall down around her shoulders. "Depending on how fast you are."
Sam grabbed the back of her head and pulled her up against him, kissing her hard. He planned on taking his damn time that was for sure. And he was done talking. If there was anything he learned from his brother when it came to women, they wanted to be shown what he could do, what he wanted to do, what he knew they wanted him to do.
Stella backed up until the bed hit the back of her legs and then she moved her mouth from his to trace her lips along his neck, sucking briefly at his pulse. She began to undo the buttons of his shirt, her the tremor in her fingers betraying her measured movements. He shrugged out of the sleeves, grabbing his T-shirt between his shoulder blades and pulling it over his head.
The light from the street hit his bare chest and Sam knew Stella saw his scars. A slight frown creased her brow and she bent, first kissing the one on his right shoulder, then lifted his left hand and kissed his palm.
"Not very pretty are they?" Sam asked softly.
"They're beautiful," she replied. She looked up at him. "Without them…you wouldn't be here."
Sam felt his breath catch and he cupped her face again, kissing her and pulling her breath into him as he bent her until she fell back against the bed. He didn't clearly remember removing her dress, but he did remember tracing her tattoo, feeling her heat press against him as they moved beneath the sheets. He remembered the sound of her breath at his ear and the small cries she uttered as he moved against her, inside of her. He remembered how she seemed to explode around him and took him with her as she fell in pieces to the earth.
When next Sam was fully conscious of his surroundings, he was lying on his stomach, one arm tucked under the pillow, the other tangled with Stella's as she sprawled across his back, finger tracing his bullet-score scar. It had been a long time since he'd felt this sated, this safe.
He didn't want to leave.
He didn't want to go back to his reality of a half-life between hunting and not-hunting. He didn't want to have to face Dean's sad, strangely illuminated eyes and worry about out how his brother was going to find a way to fit into the life Sam had made for them.
"Anyone tell you that you think really loud?"
"My brother," Sam muttered, his voice muffled as his mouth pressed against the pillow.
"That who you're thinking about?"
Sam pushed over onto his back, pulling Stella onto his chest and twirled his fingers in her hair. "How romantic would that be, huh?"
Stella shrugged against him. "Sex tends to clear my mind. Sometimes things I won't let myself think about because they're too complicated become really, really clear."
Sam rolled his head until his cheek pressed against her head. "He told me I was going to sleep with you tonight."
"Ah, so he's psychic."
"Naw," Sam smiled against her hair. "Just knows what I want, I guess."
"You ever gonna let me meet him?"
"Someday," Sam said.
"He's good looking, isn't he?"
Sam pulled away, looking at her. Stella rotated her head until she could meet his eyes.
"Why do you say that?" he asked.
"Because you're hiding him," she replied. "So…he's either hideous and you're worried he'll run me off, or he's hot and you're worried he'll steal me away."
Sam felt his eyebrows fold in the center. "You've got a quirky mind."
"So I've been told."
"Well," Sam sighed. "He's not hideous." He thought of the scars around Dean's eye and along his jaw. If anything, they'd give Dean more appeal, should he ever get out in the world.
"If he looks anything like his brother," Stella shifted until she lay fully on top of him, her chin propped up on his sternum, "then I'm pretty sure he's broken a few hearts wide-open."
"I'm not hiding him," he told her. "He's…kinda hiding himself."
"Because of what happened to you two?" Stella asked, her dark eyes steady on his.
Sam let his fingers trail lightly down her spine, relishing the feeling of her skin – her skin on his – and the warm weight of her body. "What do you know about that?"
Stella shrugged. "Only what I read in the papers. But I've watched you."
Sam frowned. "Watched me do what?"
"I've watched you stop moving like you're caught in a memory or something," she told him, her eyes soft, her voice steady. "You just stand there, almost like you forget anyone else is around. And then you snap out of it and it's like afterwards you can't stop moving. You're almost…manic."
"Dean says that, too," Sam muttered. "Says I never stop moving."
"Sometimes," Stella whispered, "I feel like if I stop moving, I won't be able to breathe."
Sam nodded, swallowing hard. That was it. That was exactly it.
"Want to know what I do when that happens?"
He looked at her, waiting.
"I take a breath."
"You take a breath?"
She nodded, her hair tickling his bare shoulder. "I remind myself that I'm in control of me. It might be the only thing in this world that I can control."
Sam frowned, remembering a time not so long ago when he wasn't sure he could even control that. The need for the demon blood, the craving to feel that power, to be able to do what it made him do…it had controlled him. And the trade-off of having that much power literally at his fingertips was that he'd lost himself in the process.
"Thank you," he told her.
"Hey, I'll be here all week," she grinned.
Sam tugged on her hair until she kissed him again.
"Think you could go another round?" she asked against his mouth.
"I might have a move or two left in me," Sam grinned.
As it turned out, he had strength for two more rounds before he fell asleep with Stella tucked up against him. The sound of his phone vibrating against the wood floor didn't register with him at first, until Stella sat up groggily wondering what the hell that noise was. The club below them was silent, the lights from the trees below no longer shown up through the bare windows.
It was the suspended hour before dawn where the sky was so dark there didn't seem to be hope of light.
Sam crawled to the foot of the bed and dug his cell from the pocket of his jeans. Three missed calls from someone named Scott Mason.
"Who the hell is Scott Mason?" he said out loud.
"Owns a garage in North Lawrence," Stella told him on a yawn. She got up and started to pat the floor, searching for her clothes. "I need some water. Wonder if I can find some behind the bar, or if they shut it all down."
Sam was watching her in the glowing light from his phone, trying to figure out why Dean's boss would be calling him at – he looked at the clock on his phone – 3:30am on New Year's Day. Before he could put too many possibilities in place, the phone rang in his hand again.
"Is this Sam Winchester?" The voice was hurried, gruff, and clearly worried.
"This is Scott Mason. Your brother works for me. Kid, I know you don't know me, but I need you to get over to my garage as soon as you can."
"Why? What's going on?" Sam was up and grabbing for his clothes before the question was fully out of his mouth.
"Your brother is in trouble."
Roughly five minutes after Sam had shut the door behind him, Dean was in motion.
He put the beer down on the counter – less than four sips gone from the contents – and headed to his room. Several weeks ago, he'd cleaned out the weapon's cache from the trunk of the Impala under cover of night. Cataloging and cleaning the weapons one-handed had kept him busy for hours while Sam had been at work.
Between the research Dean had been doing and the information he'd found in Bobby's books, he'd pretty much figured whatever was trapped in Tommy's grandmother's house was a disturbed spirit from the small family graveyard that no one had bothered to relocate as the acres around the home had been steadily sold off.
Truth was, anyone who remembered about the graveyard had been there was probably dead now, and the only reason Dean had found out about it was that he'd searched up burial sites from the Civil War chasing a hunch about Quantrill's Raid that turned out to be nothing.
However, roughly fifty yards from the edge of the property Greta McMahon still owned, there had been a family plot with three bodies: two brothers and a mother. All of whom died during or soon after the end of the Civil War. The markers had long ago sunk into the earth and as the land was razed and readied for the next improvement – this time an apartment building – the spirits apparently became restless. Dean had been intrigued by the fact that the activity seemed to be centered on the house and not on the area where their bodies were actually buried.
But, then he'd remembered how Tommy had told him how old the house was, and he'd dug further, discovering that the original owners of the old stone home had been the Flynn's: mother Maggie, father Sean, sons William and Ashton. There was no mention as to what had happened to Sean, but William had been killed at Antietam, his body returned to his mother, and Ashton had died in a farming accident. Maggie, apparently, had outlived them all, dying in her bed at the ripe old age of 92.
It was anyone's guess as to who had terrorized Greta McMahon, but Dean's money was on Maggie. By all accounts, the woman was a firecracker in life. One had to assume she wouldn't simply roll over – pun intended – for someone planting an apartment building over her final resting place. Not only that, she'd died in the house.
His mind quickly running through the possible outcomes of what he was about to do – and the difficulties he was going to encounter attempting to do this on his own – Dean began to set weapons from the trunk to the floor of his room.
His Desert Eagle and spare clip – which had seen a fair amount of practice at Mason's shooting range over the last weeks – and the sawed-off shotgun he knew he could fire with his left hand; though his aim had improved, he was a long way off from his usual marksmanship. He would need to content himself with the back-up of a wide blast of rock salt from the shotgun.
Several shotgun shells filled with rock salt and a clip for his Desert Eagle filled with consecrated iron – both of which had been a challenge to replenish without Sam noticing – joined the pile as did a small shovel and a fuel can filled with rock salt. He had a can of kerosene that was about the size of a hip flask and an actual hip flask filled with holy water.
Looking at the supplies spread out on the floor, he sat back on his heels, taking a slow, steadying breath.
He'd seen Tommy's face: that kid wasn't waiting for Jackson to escort him through the house safely in the daylight. He was going to sneak in tonight before anyone could take anything else from him. And Dean couldn't really blame him. He'd had enough taken from him in the past to empathize with the kid's plight.
Padding his damaged hand with one of his boxing wraps, Dean pulled a lace from his extra boots and tied one end around the stock of the shotgun, creating a sling of sorts. He put his arm through the sling, slipping the loop over his head and right shoulder, letting the gun fall to his hip and then practiced pulling it up quickly. The problem, he quickly realized, wasn't going to be firing the damn thing – it was going to be reloading it.
He forced himself to brace the shotgun with his left arm and shove a shell in with his right. Moving his hand like a blunt instrument attached to the end of his arm only resulted in several shells scattering to the floor. Dean growled in frustration, sweat beading on his forehead.
He tried again, this time using the tips of his fingers to try maneuvering the shells into the chamber. He tipped the weapon, barely balancing the shell on the edge of the gun barrel before it tumbled to the ground.
"Son of a bitch!"
Taking a breath, Dean wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his bandaged hand.
"Do this!" He ordered himself.
Picking up the shell once more, Dean forced his fingers to fold just enough that he held the shell between his index finger and his thumb. It felt like lightning in his palm, shooting up his arm to his shoulder and radiating around his jaw. He tried to keep the groan of pain captured inside but it was too much. With a rage-filled cry, he placed the shell from his shaking hand into the chamber, the shell finally sliding into place.
Exhausted, sweating, his hand shaking uncontrollably, Dean sank to his knees beside his bed.
"Fuck," he breathed. "Goddamn that hurts."
Setting the shotgun aside, he rotated on his hip until he was sitting, legs splayed out before him, back against the bed. He held his shaking right hand in his steady left. Staring at his fingers, the pain still burning through his arm, he forced himself to bend them.
He pressed his head back against the mattress, pushing hard, eyes closed tight as he forced himself beyond the feeling of crushed glass, the heat the stabbed into his jaw from the referred pain, his whole body trembling.
Panting, he looked down at his hand. He'd done it. It looked like he was holding a tennis ball in his hand, but he'd done it: he'd bent his fingers forward. Sniffing and wiping sweat from his face with his left hand, he grabbed up the shotgun once more, and managed to insert two more shells into the chamber.
"Well, it's something," he muttered. He was going to have to be careful; this was not something he could do on the fly or under pressure of imminent death.
But he could do it.
He grabbed his hoodie-layered leather jacket, positioning the shot-gun sling on his shoulder before slipping his arms through the sleeves. With the kerosene flask in one pocket and the holy water flask in the other, he slid his gun into his back waist band – the grip turned to the left rather than the right – and the extra clips and shells in the pockets of his jacket.
Heading outside, he put the shovel and extra rock salt in the trunk of the Impala, then set the sawed-off shotgun and a flashlight on the seat next to him. He sat in the cold silence of the night for a moment, glancing over to the empty passenger seat.
He'd promised to try.
To try to find a normal life.
But there was no such thing.
Not after all he'd seen, all he'd done. Not after Hell. Not after angels and demons. He glanced up at his own reflection in the rear-view mirror, seeing the desperation still there, hopelessness like bruises shadowing his expression.
He saw the scars and knew that was why Sam had made him promise.
Turning over the engine, he pushed in the cassette tape that was resting in the player. Zeppelin always grounded him, helped him accept his reality, appreciate the world he lived in now. He closed his eyes, gripping the wheel and exhaling.
He had to do this; he had to prove to himself he still could do this.
He'd never been to the McMahon house but he'd spent enough hours researching it to know exactly where it was. He crossed the river, sparing a glance down Massachusetts Street, wondering if Sam had taken his not-so-subliminal messaging and exorcised some demons of his own.
He hoped so. Sam had worn the guilt of Ruby like a mantel for almost a year now. His brother needed to prove to himself that he could be with a woman and not want to juice up on her blood directly afterwards.
The bright moon paved Dean's way through neighborhoods to the gravel road that separated progressive Lawrence from still-working-on-it Lawrence. He pulled over in front of the stone house and slid the gear in park, sitting in the Impala for a moment as he looked at the dark front of the old house, police tape still across the door.
There was time to leave. Sam could be right; evil may be gone from the world. It was possible the old lady really was crazy.
"Yeah," Dean muttered to himself. "And Santa Claus is real."
He grabbed the shotgun with his left hand, slipping the sling around the stock so that it could hang from his left shoulder, and exited the car. There had been a time when he hadn't believed in angels. There'd been a time when he didn't believe the Devil was real.
But Dean couldn't remember a time when he hadn't believed in ghosts.
He moved to the trunk, pulling out the shovel and rock salt, and set them on the curb. This was a lot easier with Sam. And two working hands. He was going to have to find the grave and dig quickly. If he was right, Ma Flynn wasn't going to be too happy with him.
The moon worked against him as he made his way toward where the old surveyor's report had marked the location of the graveyard. Tall oak and walnut trees, hundreds of years old, tossed shadows like spilled ink across the frozen ground. Grass crunched noisily beneath his boots. He found himself both squinting against the moonlight and peering closely into the darkness, his veiled vision a distraction.
If he estimated correctly the graves should be roughly 100 yards north of the edge of the current property. Finding that edge, though, in the dark, was going to be a challenge. It was a quiet night; as he moved steadily north from the back of the house, he could hear the semi-trucks on I-70 in the distance.
A train whistle as it approached one of the crossings in town. A car back-firing off of 6th street. A crash from inside the house.
Dean froze, head swiveling in the direction of the house.
What the hell?
Someone was inside the house. Dean could see the pale beam of a flashlight bouncing through the curtained windows on the second floor. It had to be Tommy; it was the primary reason Dean was here, to vanquish the spirit before Tommy got hurt. But Dean hadn't seen a car nearby; he hadn't anticipated Tommy beating him here.
Chewing on his bottom lip, Dean looked north toward where building supplies had been stacked, a silent backhoe sitting like a gargoyle protecting the site of the new apartment buildings. He had a choice: find the graves and start digging, or go in and get Tommy the hell out of there.
Either way he risked not being fast enough; the spirit could very easily be triggered no matter what he did.
"Find the graves, Dean," he muttered to himself. Getting Tommy out of the house wouldn't do him any good if he couldn't burn the bones directly afterwards.
He made it to the edge of the construction site, the small flashlight combing the ground for something that might indicate the graveyard: flattened markers, sunken earth, remains of a fence…a neon arrow flashing dig here.
And then there it was: a concave portion of the earth right at the border of the new construction site, with the edge of a moss-covered stone – the writing long-since worn off by weather and years – protruding a few inches from the dirt. If he hadn't been specifically looking for it, he never would have seen it.
"Yahtzee," he muttered, driving the blade of his shovel into the frozen ground. "Son of a bitch…this is going to suck."
As he was about to put his foot on the shovel's edge to dig it deeper, he heard another crash followed by a truncated scream. Swinging the flashlight up, he realized the graveyard was set in a direct line off the back porch of the stone house. The window above the porch was opened, white curtains blowing out. Dean tilted his head at that. There was no wind outside, though it was plenty cold, and yet the curtains were blowing outward – as if there was a storm churning inside the house.
"Dammit, Tommy," he muttered, dropping the rock salt. He started toward the house, but paused, pulling the flask of kerosene from his jacket and dropped it there, too.
Just in case.
Jogging toward the house, limping slightly as the cold worked over his hip, Dean weighed his options. He could go in, get Tommy out, have the kid help him with the grave. He could call Sam for backup, but his heart clenched at the thought of asking his brother for help. He could call Mason….
He reached the porch and took a breath, feeling a strange sort of déjà vu – as with Stull, this felt a bit like it might be the last one he might take. The metal door knob felt icy in his grip as he pulled the door open and stepped through. The outside of the two-story house was all stone – the same kind of impervious, yellowed, limestone-like rock that was prevalent throughout Lawrence, used in just about every yard for landscape and to shore up soil on the steep, rolling hills across town.
Inside, however, the walls were lined with wood – some white-washed, others stained dark. The back porch was set off from the kitchen. Dean found that he was glad even in a house that was over a hundred years old, kitchens were all basically arranged the same. Shadows and his partial vision had him shooting quick looks to the far corners of the room, nerves on edge, ready for anything.
The room was cluttered with dozens of porcelain and wooden tchotchkes that Dean usually associated with women of Greta McMahon's generation. There was a musty, closed-in smell to the home, and something else…something darker under it all. As if he had pressed his face to the ground and inhaled.
As Dean moved through the dark kitchen, he saw by the moonlight filtering through the large windows that some reconstruction had been started, but hadn't gotten very far. Several of the inner walls were stripped down to support beams with one or two boards across the opening. He could see through them into the front parlor.
As he exited the kitchen, he heard a creak in the floor above him. Pulling the shotgun up on its sling, he rested the stock easily in his left hand, sacrificing the flashlight for the weapon.
"Tommy?" he called.
"Help! Up here! Help me!"
Tommy's voice sounded muffled and far away, as if he were calling to Dean from inside a hole. Rotating so that he could see around his own blind spot, Dean spied a flight of stairs to his left. About five steps up, the darkness took over and he couldn't see the top. He hesitated; it was almost as if he was being held back.
Shaking off the sensation, Dean took the first step, listening as the wood creaked beneath his weight. He looked up into the dark, marveling for a moment that it seemed to be moving – growing toward him. As he took the next step, he felt the cold, almost as if the outside chill had penetrated even the fierce protective stone and had permeated the air around him.
His breath clouded before him and he tightened his grip on the shotgun. Moving up one step further, he felt the dark reach out, groaning like a living thing. It made Dean think of that night in the alley back in Detroit, when Castiel had told him about the amulet, and his power to use it.
"I know you don't want us around here," Dean said in a low voice. "But this isn't your world anymore. It's time for you to go."
This time when the darkness shifted, Dean thought for a moment he could see a shape. Peering closer, trying to determine what exactly he was seeing, Dean almost yelped when he realized it was a woman. A woman made from the shadows.Chapter 8 continued here in post 9-B.