By Tidia, October 2008
Beta: That Girl Six
Supernatural belongs to Enterprise Productions and Warner Bros.
Brotherhood AU is all Ridley.
this is set a month before Dean's deal is due. Edge of Winter was set
in the fall, so a lot has happened.
As the sole grandchild to Cullen Ames, Caleb Reaves had access to the
many properties the millionaire owned all over the United States. He
arranged for himself and the Winchesters to use the place in Hilton
Head, South Carolina. It was off-season, so the island was quiet with
plenty of green vegetation along the sides of the roads. The locals
believed in keeping things as natural as possible, so the black Impala
with its V-8 engine stood out in the otherwise quiet surroundings.
However, Dean wanted to meet up and had no problem taking advantage of
the fact that neither his brother nor Caleb were denying him much these
days. Hilton Head was the equidistant location.
Sam and Dean had arrived late, greeted Caleb with a mumble, and gone to
get some sleep. The next morning brought hunger and the quest for some
food. With less than two months left to be with his family, Dean wanted
"You just drove past the McDonald’s," Caleb commented from the backseat.
"What?" Dean glanced behind him, then in the rearview mirror, unable to
discern where he had missed the driveway. Sam looked just as perplexed
from the passenger seat.
"The sign has to blend in, so it can't be high or have golden arches."
Caleb pointed out the back window to a large green plant where he
showed them the corner of a brown stone-flecked sign.
Dean shook his head. "That's just wrong. The whole point of McD's is
that they look the same, taste the same . . ."
"Same Ronald MacDonald," Sam added. "I like Wendy's."
"I wish Wendy was actually hot," Caleb stated his opinion, then flicked
the back of Sam's head. "Didn't you have your father burn that Ronald
Sam rubbed the spot on his head, glared at Caleb in shock, then
diverted his attention to his brother. "You promised me you would never
Dean snorted. "You kidding me? All the times you narced me and you
expected me to resist your Ronald McDonald breakdown? Man, it was a
classic—too good to not share." Dean should have felt guilty. At the
time he had tortured his brother with the doll that contributed to the
phobia, as only an esteemed older brother could do.
"I saw it move. It was possessed." Sam crossed his arms, looking
similar to the eight-year-old being adamant the doll was haunted and
that it was either him or the doll that was leaving the apartment. Dad
had given in, as he usually had when Sam was involved. John wasn't the
best of fathers, but he had tried to provide a sense of security — a
possessed toy was within his field of expertise.
"Whatever you say, Sammy, but I think the Latin exorcism was overkill."
"Anyplace else we can go eat? It's better when his mouth is filled with
food," Sam retorted.
"There's a diner down the street. We'll order the trash omelet, and
Deuce, you'll love the attitude."
"Trash? Don't encourage him."
"Man, you're mouthy. Picking up bad habits from the backseat driver."
Dean gave his brother the finger, and then did the same to Caleb. He
didn't like them ganging up on him.
Caleb grabbed Dean's finger, pushing it back. Dean snatched it out of
his hand, then shook it out. Caleb pouted, "Deuce, you're hurting my
feelings. You were the same kid who wanted to dress like me. . ."
"I was at an impressionable age. Sammy has no excuse."
They grabbed a booth at Harold's, a one-room diner filled with patrons
and a few line cooks over a hot stove. Dean eyed the greasy bacon, the
pancakes, and omelets being fried on the stovetop with a smile. What
made it better was the Red Sox memorabilia hanging on every available
wall space. This was his kind of place.
"So what's up?" Caleb asked after they had checked off their order on a
slip of paper.
"Not until some morning caffeine," Dean replied, rubbing his stomach in
anticipation of the food.
"He won't tell me what this is about either." Sam elbowed him. "The
last time he sprung something on me, we ended up at the Morton House."
Dean frowned at the mention of the haunted house. Sam had wanted to go
to the Grand Canyon — a wish Dean was well aware that he had vocalized
and was grateful to his brother for — but the Morton House was more
important. Lives were at stake, and although the house had lost its
sinister spirit, it had taken one last life, too.
Life was important, and he had to keep going.
"Any leads on the Colt?" Dean knew Caleb was fishing for information.
He wished they had the Colt back in their custody. Bobby was trying to
track Bela, as was the Geek Squad of The Brotherhood, but she was
always one step ahead or had help. Dean was afraid of what kind of help
Bela could get.
"No," Sam answered, but didn't add that Ruby was not helping them find
the Colt. She said she had fixed it once, and that was all she could do.
Dean sat next to his brother, shoulder to shoulder, with Caleb on the
other side of the booth. He liked the close proximity where before he
had wanted space. Lately when they saw Bobby, there were more thumps on
his back, grabbing of forearms, and even a few manly hugs. Mac did the
same. Dean allowed it without comment. He craved the contact where
before he would shirk against it, even with women – cuddling, relishing
the skin to skin contact. It left an imprint on his body, making him
feel alive and whole. If either Caleb or Sam noticed it, they were not
telling him or using it as teasing ammunition.
Their orders were passed to them, and Dean inhaled the smell of eggs,
bacon, and buttered toast. He took a bite of the toast, followed by
some coffee. After licking his finger, he took out his journal he had
put inside his jacket pocket. "There's this hunt I've been waiting for
that Jim told me about a few years ago, and I want to check it out."
"You've been waiting for it?" Sam drank his small glass of orange juice
in one gulp.
Dean was excited, the page in his journal folded over. He put his fork
down and flattened out the page to show his notes. "There's this house
right here in South Carolina, and every twenty years, weird things
start happening in the oldest house in town, dating back to the 1700s."
He flipped the page to show his poor artistic renderings and a map of
the street. "I always wondered if I'd get to check it out." With the
hunting lifestyle and his catalog of injuries, he hadn’t exactly
thought he'd make it to his late twenties.
"When did he tell you that story? He never said anything to me." Caleb
licked his fingers before he pulled the journal closer to him. He had
ordered pancakes, and maple syrup had a way of insidiously sticking to
fingers and napkins.
"After that job in Texas —" Dean started to explain, but noticed Sam's
perplexed expression and Caleb's frown. He didn't continue. Texas was
while his brother was at school, after a weird situation where he had
ended up sick in New York with Jim having to save him.
"Is this Guardian-related?"
"No, I didn't say that." Dean didn't correct his brother's insinuation
either. He wanted this hunt and would play all angles to get his way.
He wasn’t above being selfish, didn't like it, but knew all about
"So what did he tell you?" Caleb gestured with his hand as he bit into
another forkful of dripping pancakes.
"Every twenty years for at least a hundred years — but it might be more
than that — hunters have gone to investigate disturbances in Ellenton.
They think they solve it, then twenty years pass and it starts again at
the same house."
"And you've been marking the anniversary?" Sam swirled his spoon in his
oatmeal after liberally sprinkling it with sugar and cinnamon.
"Yep. There are reports in the local paper and on the web about it."
Dean pulled out the loose paper at the end of his journal. "We owe it
to Pastor Jim to take a look," he concluded, adding an emotional tug to
"Probably some story he told you so you'd stop pestering him." Caleb
cut through the stack of pancakes with his fork.
"It could be like the mongoose," Sam said.
Dean stopped mid-bite. When they reminisced, they never spoke about the
weirdness with their father, Mac, Jim, and Bobby over the so-called
"Man, we were ordered not to talk about it." Caleb threw a pink sugar
packet at Sam, who ducked just enough that the packet hit his brother
and bounced into the oatmeal instead.
"Bobby corroborated this story." Dean deftly brought them back on
topic. "He and Jim were the ones who did the salt and burn twenty years
ago. I asked him to go on the hunt, but he's busy and said I was
insulting him—he’d already dealt with it."
"Wait, I was your second choice?"
The wet pink sugar packet smacked him on the cheek. Sam smirked as
Caleb wiped his face.
Dean snorted. His brother was working on tactics. "Maybe third. Mac was
edging out ahead of you for a time."
Caleb gave a twisted grin. "We do this, but then we gotta go to
"What's there?" Dean was trying to think of any recent information
about supernatural events in Pennsylvania. None came to mind.
"Can't tell you." Caleb pushed his clean plate to the center of the
Dean understood since they had the same rule these days as the
military: don't ask, don't tell. "Damn, I'll just hole up somewhere
with some chick."
"That's the spirit." Caleb grabbed the check, glanced at it, then
pulled out his wallet. All of this was routine; Dean had stopped trying
to offer to pay a very long time ago. "So guy road trip?"
"I don't want to call it that." Sam dropped the spoon into his empty
After Rose and the death of Gideon, that was understandable. However,
Dean wondered if there were undertones of something else. Caleb and Sam
had given in to him too easily. Being in the dark with all of the
mysterious whispered phone calls made him suspicious. "Things aren't
looking good for me, are they?"
"Dean—" Sam elbowed him. So much for “don’t ask, don’t tell”.
"Or things are great, and we're allowing this because we have a plan."
Caleb stole a home fry from Dean's breakfast.
"Good point." Dean rubbed his side, then in retaliation punched his
brother in the shoulder.
"Got to keep you guessing." Caleb moved down the bench seat then stood,
gesturing to the door that they should leave.
With a groan from his full stomach, Dean got out of the booth. They
would return to Cullen's, pack, and get on the road.
"Have you heard anything about Rose?" Sam asked when they returned to
"No, and that's what has me worried." Caleb rested his head against the
backseat of the Impala.
"Josh have anything?" Sawyer was providing them with information from a
different angle since he had been drafted into the coven. It wasn’t
exactly an ideal situation, not with him needing to be sharing his
loyalties, but they knew he was doing the best he could at the moment.
"He says he made the coven aware, and there's no information. He didn't
expect anything; they have bigger fish to fry."
Dean wondered what that meant, but wasn’t going to borrow trouble.
"She'll turn up." Rose wasn't dead yet, and Dean wanted her that way,
not just in retaliation for what she had done to him, but all the
misery she had brought with her in the foolishness of her plan.
"Ethan says—" Caleb started.
Dean was caught off guard by the mention of one of the Matthews
brothers. He didn't realize that Caleb kept in touch with Ethan. "Do
you talk to him every day?"
"No," Caleb answered with a flick to the back of Dean's head. "Like
once a week. Jealous, Princess?"
"The only good thing, according to Elijah—" Sam started before Dean
could offer a descriptive response.
"Oh, my God. You, too?" He blurted. When were these phone calls being
made? If it was when he was in the shower or bathroom, then he would
have to start limiting his time. "What do you talk about?"
'"You, of course," Sam said, but he was ignoring his brother, his body
twisted so he could speak to Caleb.
"Shut up. Both of you suck." Dean knocked the back of his hand against
the driver's side window.
"What did Eli say?" Caleb asked Sam.
"Griffin is looking for her, too."
Dean remained silent through the drive back to the condominium. He was
still quiet when he got out of the car, tucking the keys into his
"You still stewing that we have friends and you don't? I always told
you to work on your personality." Caleb gave him a push between his
"No." It was more than that — they could talk to their counterparts,
but Gideon was dead. Gideon was dead and Eli and Ethan had moved on,
like Sam and Caleb would when he was gone, if he was gone. It made him
feel insignificant, replaceable. He was jealous.
"Then let's go solve the unsolvable and make history, because this is
all about you," Caleb said from his right, while Sam was on his left.
He was in the middle, walking with the important people in his life.
"Isn't it always?"
Sam looked out the window to the lush greenery on the side of the road.
They had passed some small towns, and then some rambling homes that
were either farmhouses or estates until all that was left were a
trickling of cars and vegetation. They had left the highway a while
ago, and Sam was not above complaining. He trusted his brother on the
back roads of America, but usually there was more evidence of life. He
opened the window for some fresh air and could smell long grass. "Do
you know where you're going?"
Dean rubbed a hand over his short hair. "Yeah, kinda; the thing is that
I was in this area before and wanted to scope out the town, but there
was only this road, and it didn't lead anywhere."
"We're lost?" Caleb asked from the backseat where he was using the
whole bench as a makeshift bed. There wasn't much to do except catch up
on some sleep. Sam was jealous — he should have offered to sit in the
back so that he could have stretched out.
"GPS, man, G-P-S."
Sam knew perfectly well that was an insult to his brother. Modern
technology was fallible in a lot of cases. If and when Dean built his
own guidance system, then he would use it. Otherwise it remained status
quo. "No way."
"Yeah, a CD player first, maybe an iPod dock," Sam commented. He had a
wish list, and the first thing that topped it was saving Dean from
Hell; the second was tied between peace on Earth, all demons dead, and
Ruby gone, but those were probably all connected. Then he’d worry about
getting his brother to add a few amenities to their home on wheels.
"Could be one of those dying towns. . ." Sam continued, pointing and
flexing one foot, then the other.
"One company goes or the military moves out, so do the jobs and people.
Too many towns like that. Gives me the creeps," Caleb stated.
There was silence for a few more miles. He should have had a book open
on his lap.
He didn't know why he didn't feel rushed: time was wasting for Dean.
Caleb was now following a different angle in their search,
investigating some promising gypsy/Romany lore about bringing a person
back, while Sam pursued the fundamentalist Christian angle of talking
in tongues, connecting back to the Spiritualist religion and any other
fringe beliefs which were usually cemented in some sort of truth or
experience. However, time slowed down every once in a while, and a week
looking into something Dean had been harboring interest in for years
was worth the break.
Plus, they had his agreement to follow a lead in Pennsylvania, one that
was possibly the answer to their prayers. It didn't mean they were
putting their eggs into one basket, but it meant they were making
"There it is. I told you. I just didn't go far enough last time."
Ahead was the skyline of a town, the silhouette that of an old movie.
There wasn't the suburban sprawl, but a compact town which Sam figured
was about twenty square miles.
They entered the perimeter as a dark, fresh asphalt guided them in on a
main road with clapboard buildings painted in different colors. Every
once in a while a brick or stucco structure provided variety.
"This place is shiny," Caleb commented from the backseat.
In comparison to New York City, everything was cleaner and brighter. It
wasn't just the cleanliness that Sam guessed Caleb was talking about,
but the people had smiles, and a congeniality could be read from their
Dean continued the Impala's stroll down the main street. The movie
theatre's marquis jutted out into the sidewalk, visible as they drove
"Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Die Hard. Awesome." Dean glanced
over to his brother. Sam nodded, recalling the memory.
Caleb moved so his face was between the boys. "Getting a bit excited
Dean pushed him back with one hand over Caleb's face and a shove.
Sam explained their warmth for the two movies—Dean's favorite was Die
Hard, which a too-young Sam had still been allowed to see, but he had
enjoyed Roger Rabbit more. "You were away in Europe, but those movies –
you know New Haven doesn't have much entertainment. I think we saw them
every weekend for six weeks."
"Pastor Jim was okay with it?"
"He figured we couldn’t find too much trouble in a darkened movie
theatre," Sam surmised. Although Jim did have rules, he bent them for
the boys, probably more than even their father would have liked, but it
was a little hard to say no to the Guardian when he wanted to show any
of his boys some attention. It was why Sam had been allowed to see a
completely inappropriate movie.
Caleb snorted. "He didn't know you two very well."
Dean interrupted Sam’s reply to Caleb with a barely contained awe in
his voice. "Can you believe the cars in this town? There must be one
hell of a mechanic here."
They all had their interests, and Dean’s attention was easily diverted
when it came to cars. Sam recalled the jealously he harbored for his
brother, the time he spent with John connecting over an engine. It was
something he was now sharing with his brother, but under the worst of
"Man crush already?" Caleb quipped.
Sam smiled. Dean was always in the mood to speak to mechanics, and
though a few gained his respect, most were labeled hacks.
"Do I need to check out the truck? Make sure you're taking good care of
Sam diverted his attention away from the conversation to the actual
street. There was an array of cars driving by them, all in pristine
condition. Some were antiques, different than the Impala, which
although made in 1967 and technically defined as antique, was too much
a muscle car to be placed in the same place as a little convertible.
"What was that?"
"An MG. Such a chick car." Dean shook his head. "Typical for you."
"But not many foreign ones otherwise."
"And that's how my baby likes it. She's with her peers." Dean patted
the dashboard. It was something he did subconsciously when he was
paying the car a complement. Sam wondered if, over time as he worked on
the Impala's engine, he would form the same relationship with the car.
"There's a Toyota," Caleb said with a not-so-well-disguised glee.
"There's a motel up ahead," Sam stated to break the upcoming battle
about cars that would lead to a talk about weapons; the weapon topic
was one Dean and Caleb were never encouraged to discuss due to their
differences in opinion. For most people it was religion and politics;
in this family, it was weaponry and cars.
The motel couldn't be missed due to the fact there was a billboard
above it: 'The Mainfaire Inn.' It had a sixties era architecture, hard
lines trying to be modern but evolving quickly into kitschy.
"Looks like the Brady Bunch house," Caleb said with disgust as he
exited the car after they pulled into the parking lot.
"A Mike Brady special . . . Remember that part in the movie?" Dean
clasped Caleb's shoulder. "Are you jealous that you didn't design this?"
Sam was trying to recall the movie, but so many of them blended
together. He was at the trunk of the Impala to get his bag, ready to
turn to tell Caleb and his brother they needed to fend for themselves
when a kid on roller blades yelled out to them. Sam avoided the near
collision. "What the hell?" He stayed flattened against the open trunk.
"Sorry." The kid skated back a bit awkwardly and pulled the earphones
from his ears. He held a Walkman, similar to the one Dean had reworked
into an EMF detector.
Dean stopped the teen from coming any further and causing a possible
fatality. "You should get some knee pads, elbow pads, and a helmet
there, Bud." He playfully knocked on the boy's head.
The teen smiled and gave Dean the thumbs up. "Thanks!" They all then
watched as he haltingly skated away.
Sam tossed the bags to the other two hunters and closed the trunk. The
bells on the door chimed as they entered the motel lobby. A girl with
long, straight blonde hair was at the desk waiting for them. "I saw you
"Where are Jan and Cindy?" Dean commented.
"Janice is at the hair salon, and I don't know any Cindy. . . My name
is Clara." She cocked her head to one side, and her hair followed.
"Clara, I'm Sam." Sam elbowed his brother into silence. "We need a
"You three want a room together?" Clara asked, only looking at Sam.
"Do you have a suite or adjoining rooms?" Caleb interrupted in order to
get larger rooms. The Winchesters were used to taking what he was
offered and leaving it at that, regardless of Caleb’s years of
attempted tutelage in the art of saying ‘no’.
"You're brothers, right? I can see that." She wiggled her fingers near
her eyes. "Far out."
"Yes," Sam stated, figuring it was easier to include Caleb as a brother
than go into a long-winded explanation of their connection, and better
than her assuming they were gay. He would have to ask Elijah next time
they spoke if it was common for hunters to have their heterosexuality
He probably would have said more, but as a couple came in from behind
the counter, Sam was too busy trying to stop his mouth from dropping
open at the woman's garish floral dress and the man's matching wide
tie. He stole a glance at Dean and Caleb and knew he wasn’t off. The
ensembles were a lot to take in.
"Clara, we heard the bell. Do we have guests?" The woman's multitude of
plastic bangles clinked as she lifted her hand to wave at the men.
"Welcome, welcome!" The man stretched his hand out to them. "I'm
Walter, my wife Mildred."
"So do you have rooms available?" Dean pulled his hand away after
Walter had pumped it three times.
Clara smiled at Sam. "Two adjoining rooms, if that's groovy with you,
Sam looked back at Caleb and Dean for confirmation. Caleb nodded his
head, opened his wallet, and handed over a credit card. "That'll be
fine. You can use this."
"Caleb Lohessa," Clara read the name on the card out loud, then stepped
back to another desk and began to write down the numbers.
"My brothers Sam, who you already met, and Dean," the older hunter made
the introductions. Dean waved at the sound of his name.
"Lohessa?" Dean muttered as he moved closer to Caleb and Sam. "You let
Josh pick out names for you, asshole?"
Sam snorted as he figured out that Joshua had rearranged the derogatory
"If he wasn’t so good at it I would complain more, but I'll have to
threaten to tell Esme he's our Picasso," Caleb said with a nod to
Walter and Mildred, who were looking at them in keen interest.
On his own Caleb used his real name, but with them he used different
cards. Sam had to admit, Joshua's identification cards were better than
their cards. Joshua's lasted longer because the minimum balances were
being paid, while Dean and Sam ran theirs up and then discarded them.
"What kind of surname is Lohessa?" Walter asked, pronouncing the name
Caleb shrugged. "Spanish?"
"¿No es un día maravilloso fuera?" Walter jabbered away,
adding in hand gestures.
Sam had taken Latin in high school. It served a double edge, helping
with the SATs and with hunting. He could guess what the older gentleman
was asking, but Caleb handled it better.
"Ahh, no comprendé." Caleb waved his hands.
"He was asking your opinion of the weather," Dean said.
Sam turned to look at his brother, as did Caleb. Dean shrugged like
they should have known what he was going to say even before he said it.
"What? There was this girl. . ."
He had to wonder about his older brother sometimes, if there was always
a girl involved or if that was just an excuse Dean felt was believable.
"Sorry, awhile back there was a man from Mexico, and I was hoping I
could keep up my Spanish," Walter said with such evident disappointment
that his wife patted his arm in consolation.
Sam cleared his throat, all eyes fell to him, and so he thought it best
to keep up the conversation. "Do you have wireless?"
"Wireless what?" Walter frowned.
"Computer connection in the rooms," Sam explained further, grasping at
words to describe the significance of wireless.
"We have HBO!" Mildred showed them the standing cutout.
"Great. That’s just great." Sam nodded, as did Caleb and Dean.
Clara returned, passing Caleb his credit card. "We're looking into the
wireless. It's happening."
Dean opened his cell phone. "No signal."
"The rooms have phones. And we are working on cell phones, too. It'll
be all systems go." Clara flashed them the peace sign, which Dean
returned with a comment.
"You don't get many people around here do you?"
She leaned over, batted her eyelashes at Sam, and rested her hand
against her chin. "You're just getting the end of the tourist season."
"This place is a tourist spot?" Sam looked around and away from Clara,
who was making him nervous. There was no evidence of any other guests.
"Don't freak out." She rolled her eyes. "But it's because of the
"The haunted house?" Caleb's arms were crossed, trying to play at aloof.
Mildred hooked her arm into her husband's elbow. "Let's get down to the
nitty gritty. It's why you boys are here. Right?"
"No," Caleb answered.
"Yes," Sam replied at the same time.
"Gotcha!" Clara pointed at Sam. "We like to tell it like it is. The
haunted house is fab. My dad can help you out."
"I'll call up Mr. Francis so he can give you a tour personally." Walter
looked at his watch. "It's too late now. He likes to spend time with
his cher amie."
"That's not what they call her," Mildred said sotto voce and frowned
for a moment, but then the smile returned. "So many people interested
in haunted houses. Why is that?"
"They watch too many movies," Caleb said, muttering, "makes our job
"How long are the movies playing?" Dean asked, giving Caleb's shoulder
"It's a bummer." Clara brushed off the nonexistent dust from the
counter, her hand moving in a circular motion. "Just today. Tomorrow
will be something new. I'm hoping for a remake of Love Story."
Walter snapped his fingers. "You boys should go to the movies, then
over to Mrs. Lilly's Kitchen and get some pie."
Sam watched his brother's face light up at the mention of his favorite
food. Their lives were simplistic in comparison to Caleb’s, who in the
past had regaled them with stories of Europe, driving a Ferrari, and
parties with supermodels. He hadn't talked about that in a long time,
noticing that it was so insignificant in comparison to their dangerous
lifestyles. He hoped one day soon they would revert to the way they
were when it didn't feel like they bore the weight of the world.
"You said pie. We got to have some pie." Sam felt Dean grip his arm,
steering him out of the lobby with two sets of keys in his hand. Their
rooms were on the first floor, adjoining as requested.
The shininess of the room was not due to cleanliness, although it was
clean. The wallpaper was silver with a design of green bamboo imprinted
on it. The same image was embossed on the double beds. The furniture
was white laminated with a sheen, too.
Caleb came through the adjoining door. "As long as I am not alone in
Tasteless Hell. It's like the 1980s are calling."
Dean deposited his duffle on one of the beds, as did his brother. "Did
you pick up anything from them?"
Caleb answered for both he and Sam since the younger hunter’s powers
were not as strong; he could not effortlessly read someone as Caleb
could. "They're too happy, content — it's weird. There's something…I
just can't put my finger on it."
"As long as there’re no death visions, then we're good." Dean rubbed
his hands together. "Salt lines just in case. It's like the Stepfords
without the hotness factor, though that girl was totally checking you
Sam snorted and went to check out if the cleanliness level carried over
into the bathroom. There was nothing worse than a gritty bathroom. Over
his shoulder he denied, "No, she wasn't."
"Yes, she was," Caleb answered loud enough for Sam to hear in the
bathroom filled with mirrors. "She wants you. Don't know why when we're
far better choices."
Sam shook his head and came out of the bathroom with a quick retort on
his lips when there was a knock at the door.
"Go ahead and answer it, Runt. It's for you." Caleb lifted his brow in
When he opened the door, Clara stood with full arms and full smile. "I
thought you might want extra towels."
"Extra towels, Sam," Dean said with an added cough that did not hide
Caleb knew the girl was interested in Sam, but he could admire the
scenery just the same. She was wearing a brightly colored sleeveless
mini-dress with tall, white boots that accentuated her long legs.
Sam's hands were now filled with a pile of towels, but he seemed to
have lost his ability to speak. Dean was muffling his laughter — just
"How many guests are staying here?" Caleb decided to try to keep Clara
present for a few more moments.
"Just one other guest — he says he's here for forever, but he'll leave
in two days." She didn't step in, instead remaining on the threshold,
speaking only to Sam.
Dean stopped laughing and stared at Caleb with a frown etched on his
face. "How do you know that?"
Clara wrapped a hand around her blonde hair and brought it forward so
it was over one shoulder. "He's fighting with his wife — they always
make up." She gestured with her head to the large VCR under the
television. "We have movies at the desk."
"Ahh, okay," Sam replied with a stutter. Caleb was glad Sam had found
his limited voice. "Thanks for the towels."
"Sure, see you later." Clara took a step back, then turned with one
last doe-eyed glance over her shoulder at Sam.
Caleb shut the door, rested against the closed door with his arms
crossed. "She. Was. Coming. On. To. You."
Sam blushed and forcefully pushed the towels at Caleb. "Shut up. I
thought we were supposed to go to the movies."
"Damien, you know how sensitive Samantha is." Dean cupped the back of
his brother's neck and gave him a push around the room, never relaxing
his grip as the younger brother tried to snake out of it.
Caleb stepped away from the door and placed the towels on the closest
bed. "Are we walking?" It was a bright day outside, and he didn't want
to spend any more time in the dark interior of the Impala.
"Are you insulting my baby?" Dean stopped pushing his brother.
"Yes. It's not like flying first class." Caleb crossed his arms. He
loved Dean, but some of his phobias were annoying. Sometimes it was
easier to fly cross-country in six hours than to drive for two days at
"Some fresh air would be nice, too." Sam nodded, stepping closer to
Dean snorted, flipping his pointed finger accusatorily to the two of
them standing together. "It is nice to see you two all chummy and
ganging up on me."
"So we're walking." Sam smiled, walking out the door and not giving his
brother a chance to fight back.
Caleb shrugged his shoulders and followed him out with Dean in the
rear. They walked down the main street they had come in on when they
drove in. It was a bit strange since they did stand out as three tall
men walking on the sidewalk. They were given a wide berth and welcoming
smiles. "Feels like we're stuck in a Norman Rockwell painting."
"It feels like when I was with the Djinn, but different." Dean waved to
someone who said ‘hello’ as he passed. "This is better, 'cause I am not
in the mood to stab myself."
Caleb winced. He hated being reminded of the times he had failed Dean,
especially when he noticed that Sam had a drawn look on his face, too.
He poked him in the ribs. "Lincoln Logs." Caleb pointed to the window
of the toy store.
"Tinker Toys," Sam added with a smile.
"Are you two serious?" Dean said, standing behind them while Caleb and
Sam kept their faces pressed to the glass.
The toys took Caleb back to what seemed like an uncomplicated time when
Jim and John were still with them, when Jim’s sweet tea and a slice of
apple pie could fix anything, when Caleb wasn’t lying to Dean about the
amulet. It was gone now, but that didn’t change that he had used it.
Dean wouldn't be happy about it.
"All that stuff was hand-me-downs from Jim's parishioners. And as I
recall, you would hog the Lincoln Logs when they were supposed to be
for me and Sammy to play with," Dean commented, pulling Caleb away from
"What can I say? I was a budding architect," Caleb replied with a shrug
of his shoulders. He wondered if there was ever a time he thought he
would do something different. Like a lot of things these days, it
seemed like even those decisions were ingrained in him when his parents
Caleb was ready to move on, but Sam was still nostalgic. "Pretty cool
store, though: Radio Flyer Wagon, Big Wheels. Dean, Army guys."
Dean gave a quick nod, then cleared his throat. "There's a line at the
movie theatre — guess everyone wants to see Bruce Willis kick ass."
Sam looked at Caleb, and the younger Winchester was confused at what he
had said to put that look on his brother’s face. Caleb shrugged. It
could have been just about anything. Growing up had been difficult for
Dean — it was fraught with insecurities that no one could avail. "Come
on, Runt. Must be the first time we all go to the movie where we aren't
sneaking you in."
The movie was everything they expected, seeing as they must have
already seen it a dozen times, but it was so close to normal that it
left Caleb shaky with anticipation of doom.
Once Bruce had yippee-kai-yayed his way to beat the bad guys, they hit
the recommended restaurant, which seemed to contain the whole town.
They waited by the door until they were escorted to a table. It was a
period-themed place with women dressed in long skirts with white
shirts. They were led to a large oak table with high back chairs,
reminiscent of the set at the farm.
"I'll give you time to get your bearings." She handed them paper menus.
Caleb gave the paper a quick glance. "I know what I'm getting:
"Fried chicken for me." Dean patted his stomach. "Although if we stay
here long enough, we may be able to work our way through the menu."
Caleb knew he didn't hide the surprise from his voice. "That's not like
you—usually it's get in and get out."
Dean took a biscuit from the basket and handed it to his brother. "What
can I say, Die Hard made me nostalgic for the good old days. Plus, who
knows how long it is going to take Sammy to ask that girl out?"
"Shut up," Sam replied as he took the biscuit that was in his hand and
lobbed it at his brother.
Caleb stretched out with his hand, catching Sam in the ribs. He cleared
his throat as the waitress returned; she had witnessed Sam's biscuit
throwing. "Pardon us, Ma'am."
"I'm a suffragette. There are days when I want to throw things, too.
But our biscuits really are excellent."
"I'm sorry about that." Sam blushed, his neck glowing red and creeping
up to his face. It was rare that Sam was ever reprimanded, and this had
The waitress placed another biscuit on Sam's plate. "What's your order?"
They went through their list; sitting in the restaurant was making them
all hungry. The smell was warm and mouth watering. They passed the time
talking about the movie and as expected, having a discussion about the
past, of better times, not of injuries and childhood traumas. Two
waitresses came with their food, placing the large plates in front of
them that had them all longing for Jim’s cooking.
"Looks great," Caleb commented at the steaming meatloaf and the sides
of green beans and mashed potatoes with a pat of butter pooling on the
top. They ate in silence, signaling the food was too good to be
interrupted with conversation.
"How's tricks?" their waitress said when she swung by to check on them.
As usual when this happened, Caleb's mouth was full, and the
Winchesters were in the same position. He swallowed quickly, saddened
he couldn’t enjoy the bite more. "Heaven."
"Do you want a second helping?"
"God, yes," Dean replied as he licked his fingers. "This whole town. .
. It's just. . ."
"Pie-in-the-sky?" The waitress supplied the answer.
"Pie." Dean smiled. "I'll go with that."
She gave him a nod before leaving. They were scraping their plates when
she returned with the promised second helpings. "You're the boys that
came about the house."
Caleb pushed his plate away; suddenly this wasn't about a fun meal, but
about too many people knowing their business. It made him wary and
suspicious. "And how do you know that?"
"Walter was in here earlier." She shrugged as she smoothed the dark
fabric of her skirt.
"Can you tell us anything about the house?" Sam asked, toying with his
plate of chicken and dumplings.
She looked down and shook her head, the loose tendrils of her hair
swaying back and forth. "Mr. Francis has heard the call of the wild."
"Call of the wild?" Caleb didn't understand how the Jack London book
applied to this situation, unless the person who owned the house was
involved with wolves, or worse — werewolves.
"I don't want to be a muckraker. You'll see what I mean when you make
the acquaintance of Gwendolyn.
"Gwendolyn," Dean accentuated the syllables of the name through the
chewing of his food. He waved the fork. "It sounds like a soap opera."
Caleb relaxed back in his seat. "I was thinking werewolves."
"Yeah, me too," Sam added. They were both staring at Dean, who
Caleb shared a knowing look with Sam. "But the question should be, why
did you think soap opera?"
Dean stopped eating, placing his fork down. "Shut up." Dean glared at
Caleb, then directed his stare at his brother. "You too, 'cause it's
not werewolves." He picked up his fork. "Don't you two idiots think
Bobby would have mentioned that, or Jim when he told me the story?"
"Are you sure you're telling us everything? You do have a tendency to
hold back the details."
Dean puckered his face. "Pot, kettle, black."
"Yeah, we may be guilty, but you're the king of 'I'm fine,' when you’re
bleeding out." Caleb recalled when Dean had gotten his ring and hidden
a serious injury, along with another half dozen times that were
entirely too close calls.
"What about that time — " Dean started.
"This is the best meal." Sam picked up a forkful of chicken and
dumplings, interrupting the obvious game of one-up-man-ship. "Mmmm."
Caleb laughed – Sam was very effective in asserting himself between the
two of them. The time Caleb and Sam had spent together towards a common
goal had helped them bridge a large gap. "Yes, it is."
Too full, they were quiet as they left the restaurant. Dusk was
starting to settle, so they took their time as they walked back on the
other side of the street, which had a baseball diamond lit up by large
lights attracting mosquitoes and fireflies. They paused, Caleb noticing
Dean's hands wrapping around the metal fence. It was older men playing
baseball with intensity and no audience except for Caleb, Sam, and Dean.
The batter hit the ball, getting a double. Dean whistled, then clapped
his hands. "Way to go!" he yelled out. They remained watching until the
batters were going out into the field.
One of the players, heading towards the pitcher's mound called out to
them, "Hey, we need another person. Do any of you play?"
There were very few 'being at the right place at the right time'
moments, and they were going to take advantage of it. "Deuce — "
Dean snorted, backed away from the fence, and waved his hands. "Damien,
it's been a long time."
The youngest Winchester cupped his hands around his mouth. "He can!"
"Sam!" Dean grabbed Sam's shoulder.
"What? I can't remember the last time I saw you play baseball." He gave
a little nod to Caleb. "We promise not to laugh when you suck."
Caleb knew as well as Sam that Dean never said no to a dare, especially
one where he was insulted. "Me? Suck? I don't think so." Dean walked
away from them to the opening in the fence. "Do you have some equipment
for me to borrow?"
They watched as Dean was patted on the back and warmly welcomed by his
new teammates. They gave him a glove, a baseball hat, and sent him to
"I'd forgotten this," Sam commented as they walked to the benches.
Before, Caleb had wanted to keep what had happened to Dean while Sam
was away a secret — all of it, even the good times. However, since
Dean's kidnapping by Rose, it had become easier to let a lot of those
secrets go. "I think I did, too, for a while, but then when you were at
school, we went on a hunt and had a chance to stop at the batting
cages." He recalled how Dean had helped the kids with their stances.
"You should do that sometime, just the two of you."
Sam shook his head. "I suck at baseball."
"It's okay." Caleb elbowed the younger hunter. "I'm sure he'll help
you. Plus it's good for eye/hand coordination."
"Everything a training exercise, Knight Caleb? Dad would be so proud."
Sam rubbed the spot on his side where Caleb had made contact.
Maybe it was this place, or watching Dean play baseball, but Caleb's
mind produced a picture of Jim, Mac, and John at the pastor's kitchen
table having an easygoing conversation. "They were good together, you
know, as The Triad." He didn't have to explain the nonsequitor to Sam.
"Mac thinks we'll be better since we were brought up the traditional
"There's nothing traditional about us." He was tainted by demon blood;
Sam, a few years ago, had packed it in; and their Guardian had a death
wish. "What do you think?" Caleb didn't want to push Sam, but knew he
was hiding something. He hoped it wasn't something that could hurt Dean
or hurt them finding a solution, and eventually Sam would tell them
what was bothering him. He always did.
"I'm taking the wait-and-see approach. We have some big shoes to fill."
Caleb assumed Sam had it easy; Mac was still around and would be if he
had any say in the matter, but Mackland Ames was a larger than life
figure, too. Even having the man for a father didn’t take away all the
mystique. Caleb and Dean had to live up to ghostly enigmas, so it
seemed as though they were all in the same situation.
"So you finally caught up with the gypsies?" Sam changed the topic of
conversation, either because it was getting too close to his secret or
being the next Scholar was overwhelming. Caleb didn't know and knew
enough not to ask.
"Yeah, we could learn a lot about subterfuge from them." They were not
a cult, which is why his usual contacts failed him. He'd made contact
through Esme. Joshua would have asked too many questions. It was hard
to talk to Joshua these days between his work at the PR firm, The
Brotherhood, and then coven meetings, plus Caleb's overwhelming guilt
at having caused the mess. He still had to make arrangements with Drew
to take him out to lunch, as much as he wanted to shirk his promise.
"I think it looks good. Do you think it does? I mean, it is out of The
Brotherhood stuff. Bobby and Mac have been working on that angle and
haven't come up with anything."
Caleb recognized the excited hopefulness he had, too, when he had come
across a few Romany legends. "I don't want to jinx it, but hey, maybe
we're on a roll — good movie, good eats, a little baseball. And
besides, karma owes us."
"We're past due for a miracle."
When was the last time they had had a miracle? Presently, all that came
to mind was John's deal for Dean, and that wasn't a miracle. A miracle
wouldn’t need a sacrifice, just some faith. Caleb had faith. "Long past
Dean was exhilarated by the baseball game, playing the remaining seven
innings for hours, wondering if the other players were stretching the
game because of him. They let him keep the hat from the Brooklyn
Dodgers, which Caleb kept flicking off his head.
When they arrived at the motel, Clara popped her head from the hotel
lobby. "Hi, Sam. Did you have a nice night?"
Sam looked like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck.
"Great. The food was great." Then the corners of his mouth turned up as
he bobbed his head. Dean couldn’t resist, and slapped the back of his
Clara must have seen the action because she put a hand over her mouth
before letting it drop. "Great! Bye!"
"That was—" Caleb started. They were all watching Clara sashay into the
motel office, showing off her toned legs.
"Great?" Dean suggested, picking his brother's stagnant word, which
caused Caleb to laugh in earnest.
"Shut up." Sam walked ahead of them.
Caleb and Dean ran up to him. "Ask the girl out," Caleb said, giving
Sam's shoulder a push.
"No." Sam fumbled for the room key.
Dean easily found his and put the key in the lock. "Why not?" He knew a
part of Sam would always grieve for Jessica, but he hoped that his
brother would, if not emulate him, try to find some female
companionship a little more often.
"Every time I get close to someone, it doesn’t work out and then we
leave. That doesn't work with me." Sam sat down on the bed.
Dean was dumbfounded, never realizing the toll their lifestyle growing
up had taken on his brother, how it had affected him bonding to others.
"Why don't you do what I do: be honest, let her decide?"
"You're honest?" Caleb snickered, leaning against the desk in the room.
"I've heard the load of bull you feed to women, Deuce."
"Not in words—in actions. They know what they are getting into and they
like it." Girls understood one night stands and weekend hookups just as
much as any guy, especially the types he met at bars.
"Sam, take the girl on a date to wherever they go in Mayberry," Caleb
Dean couldn’t remember the last time he had been on a formal date,
probably during the time without Sam when he was with Cassie. He
assumed Caleb was referencing his own time at college, and Dean was
happy they shared that in common.
"But we're only here for a week tops, then after. . ." Sam waved his
hand in the air.
"There's an after," Caleb said emphatically, always the optimist.
It was Dean who had the shaky future, who was trying to ensure his
brother had a future. He was at least optimistic about that, too. He
wanted them both to stop spending so much time on planning for the
future and concentrate on the here and now. "Cowboy up." Dean walked
over and pulled his brother to standing. "Girl meets Boy. Girl and Boy
have sex. You know how it goes."
Caleb added a push towards the door.
Sam stayed his ground and glared at them. "You two aren't going to let
up, are you?"
Dean looked at Caleb for confirmation. "No, not really."
Sam sighed loudly; maybe it was more a frustrated groan. "Fine." He
turned and stalked out the door.
"Big brother knows best," Dean said to the closed door, happy he had
steered his brother towards Clara.
Caleb crossed his arms. "You don't find it strange that Sammy is
getting the girl?"
"We have to throw him a bone every once in awhile."
"True. Think maybe he'll come back with a movie?" Caleb pointed at the
large VCR set under the television.
Dean knew how the scenario would play out. "Probably. He'll go in,
kinda stutter, pretend the real reason he's there is to pick up a
movie. If we are lucky, then no hamster."
Caleb barked a snort of laughter. "She'll make some moves on him,"
Caleb added in, whether by knowing Sam or reading the girl, Dean didn't
know, but it was an accurate assessment.
"Then he'll ask her out." Dean could picture his brother's sheepish
"How long?" Caleb tapped his watch.
"An hour, because then he's going talk to her about some stupid shit."
It may be music, or books, or at a long shot, Die Hard.
"I'll take an hour and a half."
"Deal." Dean put his hand out to Caleb who bounced his fist against it.
They played cards half-heartedly while waiting, accusations of cheating
ranging from mind reading to counting cards made their game turn into
an arm wrestling match. After an hour Caleb was smug, believing he was
going to win the bet, but Sam sauntered in at an hour and fifteen
minutes. "No go." Dean sliced his hands through the air.
Sam put the two black cases on the television, ignoring the exchange
between the best friends. "They had two Chuck Norris movies."
Dean idolized Chuck, but wanted to know what happened. "So?"
The next morning Dean languished in bed, figuring either Caleb or Sam
would get some coffee, breakfast, or both and bring it into the room.
However, it seemed as though each depended on the others because Dean
was awakened not by the smell of fresh coffee, but by the sound of a
toilet flushing followed by the shower in Caleb's room.
Dean scratched his head, tufting up his hair as he sat up in bed. Sam
came out, toothbrush in his mouth. Dean tilted his head to read the
t-shirt he didn't recognize. "I own Blackacre."
Sam popped the toothbrush out of his mouth and tugged on the shirt. "I
bought it at that second hand store . . . I thought it was funny."
He couldn’t recall which store they had stopped at recently. They
tended not to buy much new except underwear and t-shirts. "I don't get
"Blackacre is a legal example about property. They use it in hypos."
Sam used his finger to underline the words.
Dean nodded, not really caring about what Blackacre signified; it was
obviously something geek-related. "So you still think about going back?"
Sam quickly looked away with a shrug. "It's just a t-shirt," he added
before returning to the bathroom.
"Alrighty." Dean set his feet on the floor.
Caleb came out with a towel wrapped around his waist, peeking his head
through the adjoining door as Sam exited to the bathroom once more. He
dropped his toothbrush into his bag and swung back out again. With a
jaunty wave to Caleb along the way, Sam announced that he was going to
get some coffee and left the room.
"Did I miss something?" Caleb was looking between the closed door and
"Promise me you'll make sure he goes back to school?" Dean said while
he went through his bag looking for clean clothes.
Caleb put a hand on his bicep. "You'll be able to do that yourself."
Dean didn't want to leave anything up to chance, just in case, and
shook off the arm. "I know he's jealous of Elijah. He's legit, going
for a PhD or whatever, but it's respectable like you and Mac."
"He respects you." Caleb held on to the towel around his waist.
"Don't know about that," Dean answered as he entered the bathroom,
shutting the door on any further dialogue with Caleb and his inevitable
listing of all his good qualities. He was good at hunting, and other
things, but he didn't have a college education with fancy initials
after his name. For guys like Caleb and Sam, that piece of paper was
When he came out of the shower, wet hair curling along his nape and
shirt damp from the quick dry, he found the smell of coffee and
crullers along with an excited Sam. He was animatedly talking to Caleb.
"You won't believe what I just saw!”
"What?" Dean questioned his brother while reaching for a cup of coffee.
He took the lid off, tossing it on the table.
"He saw break dancers. Like ‘Stop! Hammertime’." Caleb stood, crouched,
then shuffled across his feet back and forth.
Dean put his hands out to stop Caleb's antics, splashing the coffee
over his hand. "You're scaring me."
Caleb squared his shoulders. "Ah, yeah, sorry."
"Yeah, you should be. I think I'm scarred for life. Jeezus, 1980s
calling, MC?" Dean took a sip of coffee, embracing the brew and the
"Hey, hey, you don't see me putting the Eagles down."
"That's right—" Dean really couldn’t argue. His music was sacred to
him, and classic rock didn't need to be defended. The Eagles were all
solid musicians (even if they did only get together now when one of
them was broke enough to get over himself and tour again) when the same
couldn’t be said about bat boy MC Hammer.
Caleb took a seat on one of the beds. Sam had a habit of pulling the
coverlet back over the bed, even though they were only temporary living
quarters. "So Sam, you said you talked to Walter?"
Sam eyed his brother, and Dean gave him a nod to continue while he took
a bite of a cruller.
"Ahh, he said we can head over to the house. Mr. Francis is waiting for
Dean took another bite and wiped his hands on his jeans. "I'm ready to
They headed out the door, the Impala keys so tight in Dean's hand that
he almost dropped them when Clara popped out at them. "Sam! See ya
"You're going to be getting some tonight," Dean sing-songed, reaching
out to slap his brother's back.
"We agreed not to talk about it." Sam shrugged his shoulders so that
Dean would drop his hand.
"We did?" Caleb added with a smirk, signaling that Sam was going to be
crucified during the drive over to the house. He was lucky it was a
short drive. The youngest Winchester was the first one out of the car,
barely waiting for it to stop.
The house was ornate in its outside decor. Caleb was rattling off names
of architectural stuff. Dean and Sam looked for any markings, as in
Connecticut, but found none. The EMF from outside was pulling in a low
hum, and there were no easy answers waiting for them. "There's
The door opened, and a man in a pin striped suit stepped out. He was
thin, average height, with his dark hair slicked back and parted on the
side. He had a skinny mustache and kept fidgeting with the corners of
his mouth. "Are you the folks Walter put in a good word for?
"Are you Mr. Francis?" Dean answered the question with the question,
wondering if they would ever know the man's first name. However, he
looked like a man who was supposed to be referred to formally.
"Spot on." The man walked down the stairs, hand extended. They made
their introductions with Sam relaying they were amateur ghost hunters
and that was why they were interested in the house.
Dean licked his lips as he entered the house, directly following Mr.
Francis. "We had friends that were here a long time ago. One guy was a
little gruff, longish hair wearing a cap while the other was thinner,
taller, gray hair, and a mustache? They were ghost hobbyists, too. Do
you remember them at all?" He wanted to know about the connection. He
couldn't disguise that it was one of the reasons he wanted to come, to
hear about Jim.
"They sound familiar, but they probably spoke to my mother."
"Can I speak with her?" Dean said while he was looking around the
entryway of the home. This was still an active haunting, and he needed
to be aware as much as Caleb and Sam.
Mr. Francis’s reply was interrupted by singing coming from the
staircase: "Some enchanted evening, when I find my true love. . ."
"Isn't she the cat's meow?" Mr. Francis smiled and gave a lustful growl
as a curvaceous woman dressed in a flesh colored, wispy gown
melodramatically came down the stairs singing until her hands flayed
out at the same time the EMF detector spiked.
Caleb raced forward, stopping the woman from tumbling completely down
the stairs. Dean saw the woman's arms go around Caleb's neck, forcing
him to have to carry her down the remaining steps, her high-heeled
shoes peeking from the hem of the gown.
"Gwendolyn, are you okay?" Mr. Francis came forward, reaching out to
She didn’t address Mr. Francis; she brought her hand and laid it
against Caleb's cheek. "You're a big, strong, man."
Caleb put a starry-eyed Gwendolyn down. "Just glad I could be there to
"Sweeting, maybe you should rest . . ." Mr. Francis took Gwendolyn's
hand within his, placing his other on top to show they were connected.
Dean raised his brow at Caleb. Mr. Francis was obviously jealous.
Gwendolyn shed the hand with a flick of the wrist. "No, the party's
over, Melvin. I'm tired of being in the hot seat."
"She has you over a barrel, and as these boys will tell you . . .nice
guys finish last." Gwendolyn gave them a sexy smile, and Dean replied
in kind until Sam elbowed him in the ribs. Then they all had the good
sense to look down, but Dean knew that bad boys did better. He was
living proof that a woman wanted a man with some edge.
She squared her shoulders until her gown swept back as she waved her
fingers at Mr. Francis. "This is strictly for the birds. Bye."
Mr. Francis ran after her, only to be stopped by the door slamming shut
on him. He pounded on it, howled, and then collapsed on the ground.
"You are not allowed to pick the next gig, that's all I'm sayin',"
Caleb whispered in his ear.
Dean swatted at him before pushing his brother forward to try to
console Melvin. Sam resisted, mouthing, 'What? Stop it!' However, in
the end he placed an arm around the loudly crying man's shoulder. "I'm
sorry. We can leave. . . "
Mr. Francis took in a loud snort of air, he shuddered, then stood. Sam
backed away near Dean. "No! I mean, I want to give you the tour if she
will allow it."
"You know who's doing this?" Caleb asked, glancing from Dean to Sam to
"She’s my mother, and it really is time for her to go," he said in a
whisper. "Gwendolyn was my bunny. . ." He placed his hand on the door.
"So how do you know it is your mother?" Sam frowned.
Mr. Francis looked taken aback. He smoothed down the edges of his
mustache. "She died recently."
Dean was wondering about the hunt Pastor Jim and Bobby had been on all
those years ago. "Remember those friends I told you about? They said
they investigated a haunting; so who was it then?"
"Probably nothing, then, but now it is different. This is an old house.
We say it's haunted for the tourists, and they fall over themselves. It
brought you boys here." He led them into the first room to the right.
"But this time it is something?" Caleb asked as they found themselves
in a room where the dark wood of the floor was emphasized by the dark
woodworking. The walls had a riotous blue floral pattern. The furniture
looked fragile on mostly spindly legs.
"Yes." Mr. Francis nodded. "By my mother, and she's making me bonkers."
Dean wanted to question his sanity but didn't get the opportunity as
the EMF spiked before the rattling sound. They stood back to back in
the center of the room, looking to find where the noise came from. Dean
saw the curio cabinet, the glass shelves, and glass in the door shaking.
"You're only hurting yourself. That is your collection of thimbles,"
Mr. Francis called out.
The glass stilled; one thimble with a red bird tumbled to the side,
beckoning to be straightened.
"I hope you're not scared, because this is par the course." Mr. Francis
straightened the lapels of his suit.
"No, we're not scared. I think we want to see the rest of the house,"
"We really get into this," Dean added with exaggeratedly huge eyes and
nods, following his brother's bad acting skills.
"Yeah, exciting." Caleb deadpanned. "I think we should get our
weapons," he whispered into Dean's ear.
Dean shook his head, keeping an eye on his brother while he was
speaking to Mr. Francis. "We're supposed to pretend we're friendly
ghost enthusiasts into this shit." Dean got frustrated with this part
of the job. He liked going in with a fake ID, looking around, and
leaving to come back later to finish the job.
"I can do friendly."
It was a feral smile. "Not so much." Dean pushed Caleb forward towards
Sam and their tour guide.
"That's Mother and Father when they were young."
It was a black and white smile-less picture, and somehow the shadows
still made them look young. It was strange to see the picture, not know
the people, and realize they lived a life, got old, and died. "See,
Sammy, that's what happens to people who don't get enough sex. It wipes
the smile right off your face."
Sam didn't reply, which was unfortunate, but Dean was planting the seed
for his date that evening. His brother needed to loosen up around women
— and people in general, but mostly women.
"Or go out with loose women," Caleb said with a smile.
Dean rolled his eyes at the fact that his friend had read his thoughts.
Of course sometimes it was more that Caleb knew him so well, so mind
reading wasn't necessary.
"She was a good mother, but now. . . " Mr. Francis explained before
continuing on with the tour, missing the banter going on behind him.
Mr. Francis's comments about his mother irritated Dean. He held his
mother sacred, above others, and wished he had had more time with her.
Here was this man, who had spent the better part of forty years having
his mother in his life, and he was mad at her because she was haunting
him? For Dean, that was beyond disrespectful. Granted, his mother had
saved him and Sam back at the old house, while Mr. Francis's mother had
just chased out the guy's girlfriend. Either way, the talk was getting
a little irritating.
Melvin — poor Melvin, what a name to never be able to live up to —
showed them the first bedroom, which he labeled the spare. It was
better than the motels they stayed in — spacious in size with a king
sized bed taking up a fraction of the room. They walked down the
hallway as a red oriental rug covered the area to lead the way.
"My room," Mr. Francis announced. It was again large sized; the wall
paper was also floral, but muted cream and tan. There was a mirrored
chest, opened with gowns hanging inside. That wasn't the only evidence
that Gwendolyn was also using the room. Toiletries were floating in the
air in a slow circle going round and round. Mr. Francis reached out to
pluck one of the items from the air. "Mother, I understand X marks the
spot. . ."
"No, wait — " Caleb tried to stop him from touching the gentle parade
of brush, mirror, and makeup items. John had always said not to disturb
patterns made by ghosts—the poltergeists were amusing themselves, and
that was when a hunter could go about their business and get the job
done. But Caleb didn't stop Mr. Francis in time. The items began to
pick up speed, winding up and pulling in an ashtray, statues, and
jewelry from around the bedroom like a centrifuge.
"Loocy, you got some 'splanin to do," Dean said as suddenly.
The innocuous was becoming deadly. Dean and Sam crouched down to avoid
the long necklace which had become a whip slashing through the air. Mr.
Francis had been tackled by Caleb, who kept a hand on the man's head,
forcing him to keep it down.
"Move!" Dean ordered, pushing his brother as they frog walked to the
door. Caleb was ahead, assisting Mr. Francis. Dean kept his eyes
forward on Sam and Caleb, not looking back as the open door was in
close proximity, pinned against the wall by the wind. He had almost
reached the threshold when he felt something hit the back of his head,
pushing him forward and then into darkness.
For a home he
evaluated at being about 150 years old, it was in pristine condition.
It looked fresh, unusual in these types of Victorian homes, which
generally would have succumbed to water stains, fraying walls, and
sagging years ago. From the outside there were three colors typical in
these types of homes to accentuate the ornamentation: Wedgwood blue,
cream, and a red that was a mixture of red and rose. Inside, the heavy
floral pattered wallpaper marked the era. Minimalism was not in
fashion, yet it wasn't cluttered. There were personal effects
throughout each room.
Caleb had been intrigued and amused with all the melodrama punctuated
by saving Gwendolyn, the damsel in distress. He felt he was living up
to his position as The Knight in a totally different way. It all seemed
innocuous, an easy in and out job, then to Pennsylvania for the answer
to save Dean. This hunt would allow them to blow off some of the
nervous energy which had been building as weeks turned into months
searching for salvation. It was the reason why teasing Sam about Clara
was important. When they did save Dean from Hell, things would be reset
and Sam should be thinking about girls, lots and lots of girls. If he
didn’t, they had done their Runt wrong.
The architectural side of him continued to admire the home. The artist
side was also taking note of the choice in art — mostly botanical
prints and landscapes — nothing Caleb himself would be interested in
painting. It was the hunter's side that should have been paying
In the bedroom the EMF wasn't needed, what with the silver brush, comb,
mirror along with makeup brushes swirled in the air. John had tempered
them — the normal reaction would have been to touch the items instead
of studying them. Mr. Francis did exactly what was expected, and Caleb
had toppled him to the ground too late.
Up close and personal to the floor carpeted with a thin pile beige rug,
he followed Dean's order, heading towards the door while dragging Mr.
Francis with him.
"It's Mommy Dearest all over with the wire hangers," he muttered as he
reached the threshold. Caleb turned in time to see Sam and Dean coming
towards him, and then Dean going down, face planting into the Oriental
rug. "Sam!" he yelled out, going forward to help bring Dean to safety.
Sam and Caleb grabbed an arm, and by the time they dragged him a foot,
he was already trying to shrug out of their grasp.
"Mommy Dearest says no more wire hangers," Dean muttered with a huff as
they placed him in a sitting position against the wall in the hallway
before they wrestled the door close.
"Are you okay?" Sam asked, his hand touching the bloody stripe on the
side of Dean's temple.
Dean winced at the touch, then smacked the hand away. "Fine, probably
don't even need stitches—"
"Is there a doctor in town?” Caleb turned to a stunned Mr. Francis, who
was seated against the rattling closed door.
"Doc Sullivan. I'll ring him." Mr. Francis started to stand but kept
leaning against the door, applying pressure.
Caleb was wondering if he misunderstood. "He'll come here?"
"Sure, house calls are his specialty."
"Wait." Dean put his hand up, so Mr. Francis stayed put, looking at
Caleb and Sam for further directions. "It's nothing." The older
Winchester wiped the blood from the side of his face where the wound
was dripping a red trickle down his cheek to his chin.
"We should have a doctor look at it," Sam said, using what Caleb
recognized as his voice of reason, which was also reminiscent of how
someone would speak to a child. If it were anyone else, Dean would
probably already have the guy laid out with a single punch for it, but
he never seemed to mind it from Sam.
Dean looked away from his brother and focused on Caleb. "You're
practically a doctor yourself."
"What?" The psychic guessed the direction of the conversation, and was
relived Dean was coherent. "Because my father is a doctor?"
The injured hunter smiled. "Exactly."
"You were unconscious." Sam placed a hand on his brother's chest to
keep him from moving. Rose had captured Dean and tortured him, leaving
Sam and Caleb with doubts if he would recover. As far as they were
concerned, they had every right to be hypersensitive to a momentary
lapse in consciousness. "Just stay down."
"For a second! Dazed is more like it." Dean rolled his eyes, wincing
again at the action before pinching the bridge of his nose. "Fine. Make
sure, while he's at it," he waved his hand at Mr. Francis, "that he
brings up some salt."
Mr. Francis returned with a canister filled with salt and questioned
Sam about its purpose. Caleb was impressed at Sam's lying skills. But
they had needed all their skills to be honed in the last few months,
not just whether or not they could lie effectively to the local yokels.
There was determination in what they did.
The doctor came, and his demeanor put them at ease. A couple of
butterflies and aspirin later, he proclaimed Dean good as new, then
gave them each a lollipop. Caleb would have to suggest that to Mac.
Sam wouldn't allow Dean to drive. Caleb was waiting for an explosive
fight, but it didn't happen. Dean decided to take the backseat, shoving
Caleb into the passenger side. Caleb wanted to protest; there was
inherent wrongness in the seating arrangement. It would never be just
him and Sam. He refused to give in, but Sam had another idea.
"I'm going to cancel my date," the younger hunter announced while they
were stuck behind the Best Buy truck at the entrance of the motel.
"No, you don't," Caleb replied, wanting that bit of normalcy that was
lacking from having them drive in the wrong positions. He should have
insisted on the backseat.
Dean pulled on his brother's hair, forcing Sam to turn around. "Caleb
and I are going to have a relaxing evening of grave digging. We'll be
"You'll watch over him?" Sam asked Caleb.
Caleb placed a hand over his heart, then took two fingers and tried to
poke Dean in the eyes. "I'll keep him in my sights the whole time."
Dean snorted. "What happens when you two get divorced? You going to
fight for custody of me?"
They were guilty of treating him like a child, but Caleb wasn't about
to acknowledge it. "Truck's moved."
He hadn't thought about the reason the Best Buy truck was in the lot
until he entered the shiny wallpapered room again. Gone were the VCR
and television, replaced with a 30-inch flat screen mounted to the wall
and a DVD player.
Dean picked up the card that was on the nightstand. "Damn, Sam, what
did you promise that girl?" On the white card it said the room had
"Cool! I can look up — "
"Date, Sam. You have one. Get ready and then get going." Dean sat on
the bed, rubbing the bandage until Caleb shot him a look. Dean waved
his hand. "We'll try to have some fun without our ring leader."
"Are you going to dig up the grave?" Sam directed the question to
Caleb. Mr. Francis had informed them that everyone was interred at the
local cemetery, so it was a matter of finding the fresh grave, digging
it up, burning the body, and calling it a day. He begged for their
assistance and offered to pay them. Sam stayed with the party line that
they were hobbyists. Mr. Francis accepted the answer, but Caleb felt he
knew more, knew the truth about them. When he probed the homeowner's
mind, he discovered nothing but worry over his mother. Sam added that,
as a favor and for the money, they would help. It was a better way to
earn money than to have Dean hustling pool games. Caleb also knew it
meant Sam could spend more time with his brother.
In the car, they had decided the best way to get rid of Mr. Francis's
mother was to salt and burn the bones, the sooner the better. "As much
as it pains me to say this—I'll dig and he'll supervise."
"I finally get my own minion." Dean folded his arms behind his head.
"I thought that was Sammy?" Caleb replied, to which Sam gestured with
his middle finger before entering the bathroom.
Sam was in the bathroom for over half an hour. His hair then took
another fifteen minutes to style with Dean threatening to get the
clippers out, and Caleb encouraging him to grow it longer so he could
place it in a ponytail. There were days when Caleb missed his long
hair. They pushed their youngest out the door, spying from the window
as he made his way to the motel office.
"Marcia Brady better treat him right." Dean remained at the window a
few minutes longer before turning around and leaning against it.
Caleb was caught off guard by the emotions behind the statement. Dean
wanted his brother to seek his happiness. With the way he was trying to
set things right, it was like a terminally ill person making sure that
those who were left behind were taken care of. Whether it was
subconscious or on purpose, it made Caleb nervous that perhaps Dean
felt they wouldn’t find a solution.
"Take a picture; it'll last longer. Better yet, draw one." Dean bent
down and pulled something from under the bed.
"What's this?" Caleb looked tentatively at the package Dean thrust into
his hands without meeting his eyes. He unfolded a corner, then attacked
it with gusto, freeing the gift from its brown paper wrapping. It was a
beginner's artist set. He let his hand rest on the box before opening
it. The wood box included watercolors in primary colors, a few tubes of
acrylic paints, colored pencils, and pastels. Paper was also provided.
Caleb looked back to Dean, who had his hands in his pockets, looking
down but aware he was being studied.
"You used to draw all the time when we were kids. Haven’t seen you do
anything in a while."
Caleb wondered why he was being pushed to paint. His father had
mentioned it at Christmas, too. He hadn't picked up a paintbrush in a
while. There was no inspiration and no time. "Sammy grew out of the
‘draw me a dragon’ phase a long time ago." He remembered being begged
by the youngest Winchester to make facsimiles of pictures he found in
Dean shrugged his shoulders. "Doesn't mean you have to."
He couldn't recall ever drawing a picture for Dean. At the time, the
older brother had probably been content someone else was entertaining
Sam. "When?" Dean had been with him and Sam the whole time they had
been in town. He picked up a tube of acrylic; it was Super Pearl White.
"Remember when I went to get some M&Ms? Bethany, the cute brunette
working the concession stand, let me call the motel, and I asked them
to pick it up. I'll say this about this town: they aim to please."
He placed Super Pearl White back into its slot. Caleb didn't want to
thank Dean; it was uncomfortable to admit that painting was important
and that he had another interest besides hunting. They were to be The
Triad, and that required all his attention. Besides, the last time he
had devoted time to his artwork, Dean had been injured. "I'll put this
away for later."
Dean pushed away from his perch. "No, what you need to do is stop
hovering. I'm here right now, and if I leave —"
Caleb stood up, ignoring the art supplies. "Go to Hell, Deuce. Because
that's what I see in my nightmares, not flowers and green pastures."
"Dude, I'd be worried if I saw you painting flowers. A tree I could
accept; that's sorta manly." Dean added a grin, but Caleb was immune to
the joking at this moment.
Snippets of the nightmares wove their way into his consciousness. There
was no Super Pearl White. Instead he saw Carbon Black, Permanent
Carmine, Pyrrole Red, and Cadmium Red Light. The colors of darkness,
blood, and fire. Those were the things he could imagine, but he had a
feeling that Hell was unimaginable. He must have telegraphed his
displeasure loud and clear.
"It's not your fault. The hovering isn't helping." Dean crossed his
arms, a sign he wanted Caleb to give in.
"Johnny would be disappointed in me." Images of his mentor also
infiltrated his nights, reliving his time on the misty New Gorge Bridge
after drowning, but this time John was berating him instead of
"No, it's me he'd have the problem with." Dean rubbed a hand down his
face. "He wouldn't have let me make the deal."
"You don't know that," Caleb quickly defended his mentor. John would
have made a deal himself, as already proven when he saved Dean. He
would have saved Sam, but not wanted to sacrifice one son for the sake
of the other. However, Caleb felt as though he was more defending
Dean's psyche. In his mind, he was righting a wrong.
Dean clapped his hands together and rubbed them. "And neither do you,
'cause Dad is dead, and we can't ask him."
He had fallen into Dean's well-made trap, and they had found themselves
at a stalemate. "How about something to eat?" Caleb wavered onto safe
ground. Food always brought them together, too ingrained from meals on
the farm, he supposed.
Dean smiled. "I want to try the counter at the 5 and 10. I bet they
have the best burgers."
"Are you still on that hunt?" They were killing time, waiting for some
more darkness to do their job. Darkness would hide a lot.
Sam wore a pair of khakis instead of his usual jeans, but kept a
t-shirt and button down. He hadn’t asked Dean for the car, figuring
they were staying local. The town was compact, and he still wanted to
He was tempted to knock on the door of the motel office, but instead
opened it and let the bells overhead announce his arrival. He saw her
in the backroom, her blonde straight hair falling in front of her
profile, covering her visage.
"One minute," she called out to him as in one fluid movement she tucked
her hair behind her ear. Sam took his time, studying Clara. She was
wearing a yellow dress with daisy appliqués around the collar
and hem. The dress was short, showing off her shapely legs. The white
high-heeled sandals she wore finished the outfit. She lifted her hair
up and twisted some of it. She picked a few bobby pins, placed them in
her mouth, and tucked them each in until it was secure.
"You look really pretty," Sam said when she presented herself.
She smiled and clasped her hands in front of her. "Thank you."
Sam cleared his throat, breaking the silence. "Is there somewhere you
want to go? I figure since I'm new in town. . ."
Clara nodded then bent down, disappearing for a moment. "Yes, can you
carry this?" As if by magic she brought up a picnic basket. "I want to
take you to a special place. How does walking grab you?"
"That would be great." Sam felt so awkward, as if this was his first
date. In a way it was. Sarah had been someone he met on the job; then
there was Jess before that, and she had been the one forthcoming in her
interest while he had admired her from afar.
She grabbed his hand as she led him to a path behind the motel where
they entered a wooded area. He took notice of his surroundings to make
sure he wasn't being led into a trap or to be some sort of sacrifice.
But in the end, after walking for forty-five minutes at an amble, he
realized she was just a girl and he was just a boy. No demon involved.
"This is my happening place. I like to come out here and think." Clara
dropped his hand and gestured for him to place the picnic basket on the
tree stump. It wasn't homey, but he could tell someone spent time here.
An area twenty feet in diameter was clear, with logs moved into a
circle around a pit surrounded by stones. There were flowers planted
around the perimeter which trickled in towards the middle from white to
yellow to lavender.
"Did you do all this?"
"You bet your sweet bippy." She pulled a bright floral blanket from the
picnic basket, laid it on the ground, being careful to minimize
crushing the flowers. "I wanted to travel, but things happen and I
created something for myself." She was sort of gawky with her movements
as she adjusted the blankets. There probably wasn't much opportunity to
date in Ellenton. "Where have you been? What have you seen?"
"Seen?" It was such a loaded question. He had seen normal men do great
things. He had seen the wickedness of life. Then there was the
supernatural — death by demons and whatever else that was unimaginable.
Clara noticed his hesitation and clarified her question.
"Travel, I mean."
Sam was relieved he could answer easily enough, was in fact proud he
had seen the lower forty-eight. "Pretty much all of it — no Alaska and
Hawaii and haven’t crossed the border into Canada."
He sat down on the blanket, trying to shake the awkwardness he felt. He
needed more time, like with Jess. He'd seen her first, become friends
with her, then she’d asked him out. Jessica had been the person who
would cheer him up, in his corner, and with a look could put him in his
place when he’d crossed the line. "Tell me about your family. You're
lucky they're still in your life."
Clara kicked off her sandals, then scooted on her knees behind him and
touched his shoulders. "You're tense."
That was hardly a surprise. He was bearing a lot on his shoulders
lately. He slouched, forcing himself to relax under her touch and
allowing someone to do something for him without complaint.
She hadn't forgotten his question, and took the time as her finger
pushed into a spot on his right shoulder blade. "We're connected.
That's the way it has always been." She moved down towards his lower
back. "You still have your family. You all seem to be close."
"Hmm?" he replied with Dean and Caleb in the furthest recess of his
mind as his muscles unclenched. "You're good at this."
Clara giggled. "I know. I've been doing this for a long time."
Jess used to massage his temples and his neck when he got headaches
from studying too much, but they had been nothing like this. "Are you a
massage therapist?" It dawned on him that he didn't know much about her
other than that she was interested in him.
"No," she again laughed. "I read a book on it." Sam felt her hands
against his shirt in a more staccato motion. "I spend a lot of time at
Reading and researching were good common grounds for him. "Are you
going to school?"
"Every day," she replied with a slap on his back. "You should be mellow
now." Effortlessly she lay on the blanket with her head by his legs. "I
don’t want to leave where I am now."
Sam followed her lead and lay down, looking up to the dusty sky and
green foliage swaying in the gentle breeze. "Are you afraid? Don't you
want to follow your dreams?" He couldn’t imagine being a person who
didn't take a risk; and college for him, as much as it was a safe
environment, had been a big risk.
Clara sighed and rolled on to her side. "I live my dream each day. I
don’t think many people can say that."
He felt her eyes on him, and turned his neck to find her still staring
at him. Sam wondered if it was easy to read his facial expressions and
what he had given away. He surely wasn't living his dream, which had
become so distant he didn't know what it was anymore. The only
direction to his life he had was saving Dean from Hell. "Ahh, yeah, I
mean, I don't know what to say."
She giggled again, and Sam turned his body so he was facing her. "In
this day and age, it's hard to find people that are feeling groovy
about their lives." Clara smiled. "I'm more than just a pretty face."
Sam smiled, too, because maybe Clara was right — and she was more than
a pretty face.
Muslims believed that the mouth was the holiest part of the human body
because it was with the mouth that people voiced prayers to Allah. Dean
had to agree, but for different reasons.
When he was young he hid in his silence, although in the silence there
was fear — of what did happen and what could happen. It was paralyzing.
He noticed talking provided a distraction, whether it was to piss of a
poltergeist or entertain Sam, his father, or Caleb. It was easier to
talk to them than be silent in his thoughts.
If these were supposed to be Dean's last few months on Earth, he wanted
the good times burned into his mind, not the morose. It was hard to be
the person to convince them to look to the sun and not the Earth since
his belief system ran more towards the Winchesters being cursed and
therefore fatalistic in attitude.
Sitting on the stool at the counter of the restaurant was enjoyable. He
used to mark places of interest like these, but they were now few and
far between where one could eat among the merchandise.
"New in town?" asked Bea the waitress with the large hair-sprayed
"Yeah, helping out Mr. Francis," Dean answered. It seemed as though
everyone knew everyone else's business, so it was better to tell the
truth instead of the standard ‘just passing through’. "What's good,
Dean was verging on starving. He really hadn't been injured, was glad
he didn't need stitches on his temple as he itched the bandage, only to
have his hand slapped by Caleb. He was jittery around needles; being
pumped full of drugs, which left him with residual track marks, made
him leery. He also hadn't raided the stash of pharmaceutical grade pain
killer in a while. Tylenol and Ibuprofen were fine for him.
"Burgers, fries, and a shake," she said with her pencil and pad poised.
"If you're looking for something fancier . . ."
"Make it a chocolate shake and a cheeseburger and you have a deal."
Dean licked his lips in anticipation of possibly eating one of the best
meals in his life. If not, then there was still time to find that
"Make that two," Caleb added.
"Good choice." She smiled at them.
They were both quiet, taking in the atmosphere of the open grill, the
cheap items in the store, and the people at the counter and behind it.
The cook was playing some sort of tune with the spatula as he flipped
Bea brought the creamy shakes, and as she set them down, Caleb opened a
conversation with her. "So Mr. Francis and Gwendolyn seem to be an
item. Do you know anything about that, Bea?"
She pulled two straws from her apron, looking at Caleb as she handed it
to him. "Gwendolyn is what they used to call a ‘charity girl’. Can't
say more than that." She tapped the red counter. "Your food is coming
"A charity girl?" Caleb repeated the words again.
Dean was at a loss himself and tried to think about the connotations of
the words. He elbowed Caleb. "That sly dog. Gwendolyn is involved in
the oldest profession in the world."
Caleb shook his head with a smile. "No wonder Mom isn't a happy spirit.
Can't say you'd want your son making time with a prostitute." Caleb
rubbed his chin. "Didn't get that vibe from her – I mean she was
definitely coming on to me, but not the same way."
Dean snorted. "I thought you never paid for sex?" He stopped the
conversation when the cheeseburger-laden plate was delivered with the
glowing mixture of French fries and onion rings on the side.
"I don't. Ever," Caleb replied, waving a fry to accentuate his point.
The younger hunter bit into his burger with a satisfied smile. He could
only do so much with Caleb. He was older and couldn’t be manipulated
like Sam. Settling down to have a parcel of kids would never be in the
cards for Caleb Reaves.
His stomach was satisfied; Bea also recommended the cherry pie á
la mode. The buttery crust melted in his mouth. He was still thinking
about the gooey fruit as he watched Caleb dig the grave. Dean was just
taking a reprieve, because a little cut was not going to stop him;
however, digging on a full stomach would give him indigestion.
"I always thought things would get better. We got through your dad and
Jim …" Caleb stated as he tossed a shovel full of dirt near the grave
"It's going pretty good right now," Dean replied from his cross-legged
position. The moon was shining on them, providing them with some light.
It was a cool night, but not enough for his breath to fog.
Caleb paused in his digging, leaning against the shovel. "Deuce, we're
digging a grave and about to burn a body. A freshy, and those aren’t
easy to burn."
"You've had a front row view for some sucky situations in my life. I
survived experimental drugs, so right now watching you dig up this
grave is a top ten day for me." Dean stood, grabbed the other shovel.
Two men would be quicker than one, and the topsoil was still loose,
hadn't settled like with old graves. "Here and now, Damien — that's
what it is all about."
He didn't know if his speech would work; it was more than likely a
temporary remedy. However, together they made quick work of the grave,
thankful the satin liner instigated the flame.
Dean patted the earth with the shovel. It was still early according to
their standards, not even midnight. "What do you want to do now?"
"I don’t know. What do you want to do?" Caleb swung the shovel so it
was on his shoulder, looking like he knew what the answer was going to
"Bar," Dean concluded because they did that well—hanging out at some
dive, picking up women, and blowing off some steam in a
Caleb gestured for Dean to pass over the shovel as they started to trek
to the car. "This town has a bar?"
Dean hadn't noticed one, but the town was friendly, and in order to be
friendly there needed to be booze. Dry towns were never friendly; they
just wanted passersby to keep on going, not even using their town as a
pit stop. "Gotta. Maybe even a pool table."
In the Impala, Dean drove towards the town with eyes watchful for any
signs of liveliness.
"You hooking up with anyone lately?" Caleb asked while gesturing for
Dean to take a turn.
"I have commitment issues at the moment." He was in no way looking for
anyone with potential long term status because he never saw that for
himself when he could never imagine the kind of love his father and
mother had or the way Jim used to speak about his wife, Emma.
Two streets over from the main street on a dead end stood a wooden
structure with an overhanging lamp that shone on a faded painted sign
proclaiming 'The Blacksmith's Ale House.' The street was crowded with
cars, but they slipped into a space.
"I think it’s cool that you're close to Ethan," Dean said as they
walked into the night air, directed to the bar by the buzzing of music
and talking in the background. He wanted to encourage the relationship
for as much as it had taken him off guard earlier. “It’s not like it’s
a bad idea.”
"Ye-ah, not like Ben Affleck and Jimmy Kimmel." Caleb stuffed his hands
in his pockets. "He's a good guy."
Dean nodded. Being called a good guy meant that Caleb held him in
esteem. "Sam and Eli are tight, too."
"Geek fest," Caleb added.
"Probably." Dean grinned with his hand on the door of the bar.
Caleb stopped him, pulling on his shirt. "You're seriously jealous."
"Who? Me? No, just thinking." Sure, he was jealous, but for different
reasons. He had brought up the conversation to illustrate a point. "If
you guys can't — you know — you have to move on."
"They miss their brother every day. Every day. Don't be looking to them
as an example. Gideon's dead, and you're not. Sam and I aim to keep it
that way," Caleb rasped, his voice holding hostility.
"Whoa, man. Chill. I don't want you two doing anything stupid." Sam was
already too friendly with Ruby. Come to think of it, both him and Caleb
had been far too secretive, hiding-in-the-clubhouse kind of sneaky for
months now. Even though it could mean a way to save him, Dean didn’t
exactly like not knowing what either of them were up to. Past
experience had taught him not to trust secrets. Secrets got people
killed in their world.
"All depends on what you think is stupid," Caleb answered as he opened
Dean wanted to slam Caleb against the wall and find out what he was
talking about, but a latent memory came to him. He was talking to
Gideon during the nightmare situation with Rose. Time didn't heal all
wounds. If he died, then Caleb and Sam would always miss him. Then
there was the part where he would do the same for them – do whatever it
takes. Either way, he didn’t want to be filling their memories with
anger and confrontation. So tonight, all he wanted to do was enjoy
"I need a drink and you're paying," Caleb said as he led the way
towards the bar, finding two bar stools in the corner overlooking the
bar and the side anteroom with the pool table. This place was getting
better and better.
There was a man in a set of gray overalls hunkered over the bar,
speaking to the bartender who had yet to take their order as he cleaned
"Are you the mechanic in this town?" Dean asked, taking a chance that
the clothing fit the profession. It was why Sam liked costumes to get
them into places.
The shorter man tilted his chin up. "Want to make something of it?"
"Man, you're a genius." Dean put out his hand to the man. "Name's Dean."
"Man crush," Caleb whispered in his ear.
"Shut up and order yourself something to drink." Dean pushed Caleb off
with a grin and focused his attention on the mechanic who had
introduced himself as Neal.
Caleb soon joined the conversation, trying admirably to keep up with
Dean and Neal. After an hour, Neal decided to call it a night after
extracting a promise to bring the Impala to the garage.
"As Neal said, those two floosies still watching us?" Dean smiled into
his beer as he asked Caleb.
Caleb snorted. "Of course, and here they come."
Dean turned in his seat to see the blonde curly-haired girl with the
shredded clothes sidle up to him. "I love Madonna."
"I see that," Dean replied, noticing the girl was working the 'Like A
The other girl was a brunette with short cropped hair wearing a beaded
dress over her straight figure. She was warming up to Caleb. Sam wasn't
going to be the only one with female companionship for the night.
Thin little scratches trickled red,
then split open, gushing purple, red liquid…
The nightmare awoke him again as he heaved in gulps of air. The image
of the Hellhounds slicing into Dean's body reverberated through his
mind, leaving him shaky. He swung his legs out of the sheets, wiping
down his mouth before standing. The door between the rooms was ajar,
and blearily Caleb went into the room.
Dean slept, safe and whole in the motel bed. As Caleb watched the
younger man sleep, he felt guilty — not for doing his job and watching
over Dean, but for keeping secrets from him. Caleb had taken the amulet
from the farm, then used it. It had saved Dean; he didn't regret it. On
the other hand, Dean did not know the full extent of the amulet's
ability, how Caleb had been able to possess demons. But even under the
weight of the guilt that filled the room with his thoughts, Dean slept
on, admirably dealing with his own demons even while trying to make
sure Sam and Caleb remained intact. He had made sure Sam had gone on
the date, and then had given him the art set in encouragement of the
future, the future he hoped they would find in Pennsylvania with the
Romany providing a way out of Dean's deal.
Caleb noticed Sam's bed was not slept in. He felt the need to talk to
Dean, wanting to tell him the truth and use Sam as an excuse to assuage
"Deuce?" he whispered, hoping Dean wouldn't awaken.
"Go back to sleep, Damien." Dean didn't move, his words mumbled into
his pillow. "I know Sam's not in yet — let him have a good time."
"Yeah, I know he's fine." His warning system as The Knight, along with
his psychic abilities, would have told him if Sam was in trouble. He
swallowed, but started his confession before he could change his mind.
"I did something stupid."
"I'm listening," Dean replied to the darkness, still not moving. He
knew as well as Caleb that the late hour never brought good news. They
had come in only an hour earlier, both having spent the night in the
company of others and meeting at the door with twin grins.
Caleb was glad for the darkness that allowed him to avoid looking
directly into Dean's eyes. "I took Noah Seaver's amulet from the farm."
The Guardian was the owner of the antiquities; and worse, Dean had
entrusted Caleb specifically to take care of the amulet. Further than
that, Dean trusted him to take care of Sam and himself. The reveal
brought only limited relief, but he was scared to admit more so found
the quickest cop out he could come up with that wouldn’t sound like
fear. "Get some rest; I know you had a long night with Jenny." They had
both sowed their oats — loose women were a Godsend, although Pastor Jim
would disagree. "We'll talk more in the morning." He backed away,
losing his nerve to admit he had given in to his demon side.
"Damien, I'm awake.” Dean turned over, crossing his arms under his
head. "I know you made a deal with the devil. You took the amulet to
trade it for me."
Caleb felt another jab of guilt; he was going to have to explain the
abilities of the amulet, and how it had affected him. "No…I mean I took
it before that — after Wyoming."
"I'm not going to like this, am I?"
Caleb blamed Dean for wanting to know more, even though he knew that he
would feel the same. They had all put enough pressure on each other
over the years when it was obvious that there was more to a story. This
time, it was Dean who deserved to know the rest. "No, probably not."
Dean pushed himself up, turning on the light on the nightstand. "Did
you use it?"
"Yes," he answered, taking a seat on Sam's made bed. He rubbed the back
of his head, waiting for Dean to say something more.
"What the fuck were you thinking? If I didn't feel the need to tiptoe
around you and Sam, then I would . . ." Dean pounded his hand against
If there wasn't a deadline looming, then there would be conflict
between Dean and Caleb. It wasn’t like either of them to let something
go that quickly. The psychic realized he was in fact truly getting off
easily, though Dean had a long memory and in the future, after they got
him out of the deal, it could come back to haunt him. "I wasn’t
thinking. I just knew that I needed to save you…I think you can
relate." Sacrificing, it was what they did well.
Dean swung his legs over the side, facing his friend. "Are you crazy?
You had no clue what that thing might do."
Caleb licked his lips, the realization of his foolishness at using the
amulet hitting him again. "I had an idea, and all the research I did
said it could be used by demons to possess other demons, use their
Dean shook his head. "You say that like it’s a fucking good thing."
"At the time I thought it was." Caleb had since regretted the decision
— not the attempt to save his friend, but the chance he’d taken, the
position he placed Sam in.
"That pisses me off even more. You knew what it could do and still used
it." Dean ran a hand through his hair. "Shit. That’s why you looked
"It worked." Caleb couldn’t deny the fact. He gestured to the
still-existing marks on Dean's arms from the drugs that Rose had given
him. They looked like innocuous white scaly patches, but they were much
more. "Whatever fucked up DNA I have, it served its purpose. I
possessed an upper level demon so Sammy and I could get you out of
Rose's hell hole." He swallowed thickly, remembering how Rose had
almost turned the tables on them. "I thought I could possess the demon
who holds your contract, but Rose pointed out the holes in that theory."
Dean clenched his jaw. "Where is it now?"
"Gone. I told you after you came to that we destroyed it." It had been
hard to close that door and believe the evidence presented. The plan
would never work. He had wasted time they just didn’t have.
"Are you sure about that?"
"Deuce…" He recognized the doubt in the green gaze and hated that his
actions put it there, that he might have done more damage than good.
Caleb twisted the ring on his finger. "I swear. Sam put his typical
logical spin on it, made me destroy it after we knew you were out of
"Good. Sam did good keeping you in check."
"Yeah. He’s practically the little angel on my shoulder." Caleb wasn’t
going to point out the fact that Sam had helped him or kept his secret.
Sam would have to choose if and when to discuss his own issues with his
brother because he was keeping a secret all his own.
Dean clenched his right hand and bounced it off the mattress. "Stop
doing stupid shit to save me, Caleb. Make sure my brother doesn’t do
the same. How do you think I could pick up the pieces if I was safe but
you or Sam were darkside?"
Sam had told him before that Dean was worried about them giving in to
the evil. He hadn't realized how pressing it was for the other hunter.
"We're saving you."
"But I don't want you losing yourselves in the process. This isn't just
about me – and you're going to have to believe me. That up close
personal time with Rose gave me lots of time to think things through."
Dean rubbed his head.
Caleb had no idea what Dean meant. He hadn't spoken about his time with
Rose. "I'm sorry."
"Yeah, yeah, get a grip and tell your cohort the same thing. If you're
going to save me, then do it right or don't do it at all." Dean lay
back down on the bed. "Go to sleep. And stop checking to see if I'm
breathing, too. Next thing, you'll have a mirror under my nose. . ."
Caleb stood. "Mirror under your nose?" The older hunter didn't
"When Sam was a baby. . .never mind." Dean got a look on his face, but
quickly shook it off, raised his hand, then moved it to shut off the
light. "I've had a hard night. Jenny was something else. . .We're good,
Caleb hesitated. "Dean…"
Dean turned to sleep on his side.
Caleb smiled into the night. "Swear it?"
Dean sighed and turned over again. "You want a pinky promise, bitch?"
"Your word’s good enough for me."
Caleb nodded. "Good. Because Jenny’s friend was a wildcat. Two words:
bite marks." He pattered back off to bed, feeling he was going to have
an hour of uninterrupted sleep by ridding himself of the weighing guilt.
After the sun had risen, the door in the other room clicked closed.
Caleb remained in bed, listening to the brothers in the other room,
enjoying overhearing the conversation like he used to do when he was
younger, back when the conversation wasn't about women.
"Look at what the cat dragged in," Dean started in on Sam so that Caleb
could hear the face-splitting grin on the inquisitor’s face.
"We watched the sunrise" came Sam's reply.
"Really," Dean answered.
"Yes really, and even if anything else happened, I'm not telling you."
It sounded like Sam had reverted into a teenager.
"You suck." Dean had also regressed.
Caleb was amused, interrupting the brothers by speaking loudly as he
got out of bed. "Deuce, how good could his stories be? I'm the one with
the lost weekend with. . ." He began his story about the supermodel.
"Go back to sleep," Dean ordered when he saw Caleb at the adjoining
door. Sam was sitting on his bed, fully dressed. Dean was relaxed
against the headboard.
"Did you take care of it?" Sam asked, his eyes going between his
brother and Caleb.
"Of course we took care of it," Dean replied as he kicked off his
"So?" Caleb prompted Sam to talk about his date with Clara. It was fun
to try to embarrass the younger hunter. "How did it go?"
"Fine." Sam rolled his eyes.
"She's the type that cries at road kill, isn't she?" Dean quipped,
joining in to get a reaction from his brother.
Caleb saw Sam shaking his head. "You're not going to tell us?"
"Dude, that's, like, totally uncool." Dean stood, going to his bag to
pick up some clothes.
Sam snorted, then lay back on the bed. "Who the hell were you with?
Valley Girl much?"
Dean sniffed a shirt then shrugged, accepting it. "Like we're going to
"They were sisters," Caleb started, rubbing his chest. His t-shirt was
covering the love bites.
"Cousins," Dean corrected before he shuffled off into the bathroom with
a pile of clothes. Caleb guessed that meant they were going to start
the day early. Sam seemed to be dozing off fully clothed.
"Last night I told Dean." Caleb remained standing over Sam's bed,
waiting for a reaction.
"Told him what?"
"About the amulet. Everything."
Sam opened his eyes, then jutted his chin at Caleb. "Good for you. I
know it was bothering you."
Caleb didn't know where along the line Sam had gained a hardness about
him. Yes, hunters were not supposed to be sensitive, but Sam's emotions
had always been an asset to him. There was now a void, and Caleb was
scared to even probe it. "Be good if you could get rid of that secret."
"I'm not talking about Clara." Sam shifted with a sigh, then closed his
eyes, trying to melt into the metallic threaded bedspread.
Caleb could hazard many guesses about the secret. There were clues from
Sam's own mouth, not from where his mind secured the matter. This had
something to do with the Yellow-Eyed Demon. Then there had been the
amulet. It had changed under Sam's touch. "You know that's not what I'm
Sam rolled to his side, away from Caleb. "I'm going to get a quick nap
while you two get ready."
Caleb shook his head. What he could sense from Sam was a growing fear,
and it was more than fear of losing Dean. It was the same fear Caleb
had felt with the amulet — fear of losing himself. As much as he hated
to admit it, Caleb was relying on Sam to be steadfast and logical, and
the younger hunter couldn’t afford to become unhinged because he was
hiding some demon connection.
Caleb hoped he had time for at least a twenty minute shower with Dean
having to clean up, and then Sam would want to do the same. Twenty
minutes would give him some time to clear his head. So when he got the
chance, he concentrated on shaving, not anything outside his own little
world until there was pounding on the door.
"Get out here. We've got company," Dean announced.
Caleb's hair was still damp as he wiped away the remnants of shaving
cream from his chin. Their guest was ringing his hands, standing in the
middle of the room. "Mr. Francis?"
"We were going to stop later and check on if there were any more
ghostly activities," Dean explained, he and Sam giving the other man as
wide a berth as possible.
Mr. Francis covered his face with his hands. "It didn't work."
"Pardon me?" Caleb frowned as he looked towards the brothers in
"That digging up the grave and salting it, and then lighting it on
fire?" Mr. Francis kept one hand on his face and gestured with the
Sam elbowed his brother, but Dean ignored him. "What are you talkin'
"You're hunters — members of The Brotherhood, from the rings you are
wearing. I'm honored, by the way."
Dean pulled out a chair and pushed Mr. Francis into it.
Sam looked at Caleb, then Dean. Caleb and Dean both wore rings and
never thought that it was noticeable to others that there was a
connection. "We aren't — "
"Give it up, Sam." Dean waved his brother off. "What's going on? Our
friends were here twenty years ago. . ."
Mr. Francis bowed his head. "I remember them. I lied before. I am
Caleb was taken aback. Jim had been here. They had found a link to
their missing friend. They were few and far between, which made this
job that much more precious and confusing. "So are you going to tell us
more of the truth now?"
Mr. Francis looked up. "People come to the house to die. Normally some
hunter comes, burns the bones, and ends the haunting."
It was a weird set-up. "So you arrange to be haunted?" Caleb could not
fathom why someone would want a ghost running loose in a home.
Unsettled spirits caused problems.
"And you get tourists," Sam filled in with a shake of his head.
"Exactly," Mr. Francis affirmed.
"Capitalism at its best." Caleb felt there was more to the story, but
couldn’t get a reading that said anything different. He didn't believe
mass brainwashing was involved.
They were all pondering the situation, since to his recollection no
other hunter had been in a similar situation. Even Bobby and Jim had
dealt with their errant spirit. The door knocking broke the silence.
"Now who?" Dean asked with a growl.
Sam shrugged his shoulders and opened the door. "Clara?"
"Sam." She pinked up when he said her name and gave him a smile until
she looked further into the room. "Mr. Francis?"
"At least someone should come over with a cup of coffee," Dean
muttered, with which Caleb had to agree. Caffeine was needed to help
"It didn't work." Mr. Francis directed the comment to Clara before
covering his eyes with his hand.
"Bummer. Has that ever happened before?" Clara cocked her head so her
hair spilled over to one side, but it was strangely balanced by the
rest of her outfit: a turquoise blue one-piece pants set which zippered
up the front and had flared pant legs.
"No," Mr. Francis squeaked.
Clara nodded. "Gotcha. I'm going to call Mom and Dad. Just don't freak
out." She held her hands up to placate Mr. Francis as she moved to the
"You know about us, too?" Sam asked quietly.
She nodded as she tucked the phone between her shoulder and ear. "That
you're hunters? You bet your sweet bippy, Sam. We need your help." She
then spoke into the phone.
Caleb shared a look with Dean. Sam couldn’t do one night stands well.
She was quirky, slightly geeky, and good-looking. Sam and she went
together, and Caleb thought it was a bonus she knew about their line of
work. There would be no messy conversations like Dean’s with Cassie all
those years ago. For himself, Caleb didn’t believe in long-lasting
relationships with women. That didn’t mean he couldn’t still believe in
one for Sam or even Dean.
Dean reached out and squeezed his brother’s shoulder. Sam shrugged. "I
am so confused."
"Usually they go away, but she's mean, mean I tell you," Mr. Francis
Caleb brushed a hand through his hair. They had lost complete control
of the situation, especially when the motel owners showed up at the
door ringing their hands, and the general murmur level increased
"Everyone chill," Dean announced, taking center stage. "You've been
jerking hunters around for a hundred years, and now you want our help?
You purposefully set up to haunt a house. That's dangerous, people."
Clara looked ready to speak, but Dean silenced her with his hand.
"We're going to help you. But you need to leave. Leave and come back
with food, then leave again. I think you guys have done enough."
Walter cleared his throat, waited until Dean nodded his permission to
speak. "Do you have an idea about what might be causing Widow Francis
Sam turned his head to his brother as well as Caleb. It was a Guardian
moment in which they were looking for some direction. Pastor Jim had
had the same effect. "She left something behind," Dean answered, his
eyes drifting to Mr. Francis.
"Me — I'm her son," he squeaked as he stood up and backed into Caleb.
The psychic steadied him. "Usually we have to get rid of what a spirit
"For crying out loud! I don’t want to die." Mr. Francis wrenched
himself from Caleb's hands.
Caleb had reached his frustration point, and since Mr. Francis was the
nearest target, he shook the smaller man. "You're not going to die, not
yet. You need to give us some time to think of a plan. Can you do that?"
"Fair enough." Mr. Francis neatened his mustached. "I don't think
you're giving me a bum steer."
"I'll walk you back," Clara volunteered.
"Clara, I — " Sam started with an unreadable emotion.
She gave him a smile. "I'm not dropping out. I'll be back."
Finally they were alone, and they looked in varying degrees of
disheveled. Sam was perplexed, Dean was frowning, and Caleb was still
damp from his shower.
"That feeling that there is more going on than we know?" Caleb looked
beyond the two brothers and out the window as Walter, his wife, Clara,
and Mr. Francis crossed the parking lot.
"Yeah?" Dean asked, pulling a chair and turning it around to sit in it.
"I still have it. We're missing a part of the puzzle." The townspeople
had been honest, telling them they had lured the hunters and tourists
to the area, but still something didn't feel right. He had tried to
read their minds, but there had been no red flag.
"Well, they asked for help, so we'll help and see what else we can
figure out." Dean looked at his brother, waiting for an
acknowledgement. Sam sighed. "I think we need to take a page out of
"Duran?" Sam sat down on the bed, his focus back on to the hunt.
"That bastard never had a good idea." Caleb wondered what scheme Dean
had thought up; using something Hughes had done did not sound like a
Dean raised his eyebrows. "Séance."
Jim had frowned upon them, as did Mackland. A séance was
gathered with the express purpose to communicate with the spirit of a
departed person. A psychic or medium like Duran was used to bridge the
two worlds. Caleb immediately crossed his arms over his chest. "I've
never done one. Maybe there's another way. . ."
Dean shook his head. "Can't burn the house. She's connected to it
because of her son, and we can't kill him. He loves Gwendolyn, so he's
going to have to make that clear to Mom." Dean gave a wide grin. "And
yes, Sam, I know weddings make you cry."
"A wedding?" Caleb didn't understand where Dean was going with this
plan and, quite frankly, was starting to wonder if in fact he did have
a serious concussion.
"I know they make you tear up, too." Dean mockingly wiped away a fake
Caleb shivered; the idea of being tied down was contrary to him. It was
like the wolf gnawing its leg to get out of the trap. "For good reason:
I feel sorry for the sap."
"Anyway, we invite Mom to the wedding. What could possibly go wrong?"
Dean crossed his arms as if he had explained everything.
Sam rolled his eyes. "The fact that we don't have a bride or groom."
"Pfft." Dean waved away the legitimate issue. "You're going to do some
research on séances while we talk to Gwendolyn. I'm guessin' you
shouldn’t believe the hype and that she's a one guy woman. Just seems
like she got a reputation from the way she looks, and I need my trusty
psychic sidekick so we can say exactly the right thing."
"Hey!" Caleb called attention to himself, but was ignored by the boys.
He wasn't the 'sidekick'; he was The Knight. Twenty years in John
Winchester’s indentured servitude had earned him his way out of
sidekick status a long time ago.
"I can do some research on the internet, and Clara mentioned the
library," Sam stated as he leaned over and picked up the little sign
announcing wireless internet throughout the room.
Caleb was being pulled out of the room by Dean, who was wagging his
finger at his brother. "And don't you get any ideas of hooking up with
Clara until after you research."
"Jerk," Sam replied.
"I'm being used for my mind, not my body." Caleb shook his head. He was
well aware he was handsome, and this had an effect on females. He only
used his psychic abilities secondarily when it came to talking to a
Dean snorted. "Live with it."
Dean pulled Caleb along
with him. They had to go find out where Gwendolyn lived, which required
a simple conversation with Walter. He looked at the door before
stepping away. Caleb, done with his protesting, must have noticed
"What's the matter?"
"You don't think things are going to go south with Clara, do you?" Dean
was worried about his brother. Sam seemed to like the girl, and she had
lied to him. It was a lie of omission, something the Winchesters were
quite familiar with, but a lie nonetheless with Sam being the one lied
to. Caleb had voiced and was still having a feeling that the
townspeople were hiding something, and it spelled trouble.
"How far south?" Caleb asked as he slowed down their pace to the motel
Dean shook his head as he thought of Madison. He had tried to protect
Sam, but his brother was honorable, fulfilling Madison's request at the
cost of his soul. Dean knew Sam was in a constant state of vigilance
about going evil, especially after extracting their father’s last words
from him. Dean also kept an eye on his brother's moral compass. He had
risked a lot for Madison, and Dean couldn't allow the same for Clara.
"Like put a bullet in her heart kind of south. Because we did encourage
Caleb squeezed his arm, and Dean stopped walking. "I don't think Marcia
Brady is some kind of succubus, if that's what you're asking."
"How about a werewolf or any of the other supernatural baddies?" Dean
asked to make sure there was no risk to Sam. If so, then he would kill
Clara himself rather than have his brother harmed. His kid brother had
been hurt enough for too many lifetimes. They all had.
The older hunter shook his head. "No, none of that, just that she's not
wearing a bra, so I guess that makes her a bit of a bad girl."
"You noticed that?" He switched gears — needed to switch gears — and
lifted his eyebrows.
"Like you didn't." Caleb gave him a slight push as they entered the
Walter directed them to the town's only boarding house. Boarding houses
were notoriously seedy, a way station for those who needed a longer
term commitment than a hotel but were willing to share kitchens and
baths with strangers. John Winchester used to steer his family clear of
them, and only used them in desperation when money was running short.
However, this building was different. It was a three story brick
building where windows had boxes overflowing with flowers trailing to
the next level. The entryway was clean, and a directory of names was
posted. Only four people lived there, which could explain the neatness
since it wasn't filled to capacity.
Gwendolyn lived on the third floor, and there were no other boarders
listed for that floor. They listened at the door first before knocking.
Gwendolyn called through the door, asking who it was, and Caleb
She was dressed in a similar gown to what they had seen her in before,
long, flowing. She beckoned them inside of her room. Where the hallway
was bare, her room was a riot of florals and bows. It was very frilly,
girly, and uncomfortable. This was not a room where men were brought
for Gwendolyn to service them.
"We wanted to stop by and check if you were okay," Caleb started, which
was part of the plan since he was the one with the connection to the
Gwendolyn rubbed Caleb's forearm. "Aren't you boys just what the doctor
Dean raised his brows. "We saw Mr. Francis. He's shaken up."
Her eyes grew wide with what could be easily read as concern. She
dropped Caleb's arm.
"He's fine. His mother —" Dean explained, but was interrupted by
"Has him over a barrel." She sat on the chaise lounge, graceless, then
extended her legs out.
Caleb sidled up to the lounger. "I have to ask: you're a beautiful
woman, why him? There has to be someone else." It was said in a teasing
tone, but her answer is what they needed a read on.
Dean saw her shocked reaction. But she seemed to catch herself and
winked at them. "Flattery will get you nowhere."
They stayed for a few more minutes and then made their exit.
"Well?" Dean asked as they walked down the stairs.
Caleb shrugged his shoulders. "She talks a good game. We should get
some pointers from her."
"Speak for yourself," Dean teased.
"I taught you everything you know." Caleb pulled his shirt to stop him.
Dean smiled and rubbed his chest. "And I improved upon it."
"You can't tell." Caleb released the shirt, which Dean straightened
into place as he frowned at the insult thrown at him. However, he had
started it. "Anyway, there's no one else but him."
"I'm right again," Dean stated. He had wanted to take the direct route
on this hunt, but the bone burning hadn't worked, and they couldn’t
burn down the house. So he used a little originality, which was
actually away from violence, shocking both Sam and Caleb. Sometimes
hunts weren't about guns. This one required some finesse.
Dean was going to prove to his brother and friend he could do finesse.
He didn't always like to be associated with being the brawn of an
operation. As Guardian, he had to show he could think things out and
not rush into violence. He hoped he had the chance to become The
Guardian; he wanted to show Jim he could do the job well, take pride in
They went to the restaurant and spoke to some of the staff, then to the
counter at the five and dime store. They had formed an accurate picture
of Gwendolyn — she wasn't the cliché call girl with a heart of
gold. She wasn't a prostitute, floosy, a woman of ill repute, or any of
the other names they had heard about town. She was Marvin Francis's
woman and there was no one else. "I wonder who started her reputation?"
Dean asked Caleb as they walked back to the room from the parking lot.
"She probably laughed at a guy that had a low batting average."
Dean snorted. It was an issue they did not have.
When they caught up to Sam, he was hovering over the computer where
there was a lingering scent of soft perfume in the air. Clara had been
there, and Sam seemed content. He just hoped Clara was on the up and
up, for all their sakes.
"Find anything out?"
"Yeah, I found some stuff on séances." Sam directed himself to
Caleb. "You're going to have to read it to figure out how to use your
"Great, 'cause now I need you." Dean pulled Sam up and pushed Caleb
into the chair vacated by Sam.
"Hey, what is this? Interchangeable psychics?" Caleb protested,
attempting to get up until Dean pointed to him.
"No, I need him for his face. Yours screams ‘bad boy’." He gave his
friend's face a light pat. "His says ‘nice guy’." He squeezed Sam's
cheeks. "I need nice guy."
Sometimes he enjoyed the idea of being The Guardian and having Caleb
and Sam follow his orders. Lord knows he had a hard enough time getting
them to do it otherwise.
They had to meet Mr. Francis away from the house, away from the mean
spirit, so they chose the bar Caleb and he had been in the night
before. Sam put Mr. Francis at ease, convincing him they weren't coming
to kill him or burn the house. "So what would make your mother disown
you?" Sam asked over his glass bottle of Coke.
"If I made an honest woman of Gwendolyn and married her." Mr. Francis
laughed a bit, then looked at them when he noticed neither Dean nor his
brother were laughing. "I…I…c-c-can't."
Dean got in closer to Mr. Francis. "She has a reputation. . ."
"Look, this may be hard to believe, but sometimes people get a
reputation…one little thing gets blown up. . .like digging up a grave
and then suddenly there's a murder rap." His brother interrupted his
soliloquy with a less than subtle cough. This was hardly about some of
their small, minor infractions which had been blown up by the FBI, even
if the example made more sense to them than to Mr. Francis. "Anyway,
for all the talk, there's only you — I looked into it personally."
"He means he interviewed the locals." Sam stepped in again. He looked
down, before bringing his gaze back up and speaking with intensity. "Do
you love her? Because if you do, then you should marry her. Don't wait,
just do it."
It was Dean who was taken aback. Sam's regret was evident — he wished
he had married Jessica or given her a ring before that fateful weekend.
Sam belonged to her and her to Sam, but an engagement, a ring, made it
known to the whole world. Dean wondered what his intentions were about
Mr. Francis's eyes watered, but he gave them a small smile. "Do you
think she'll say yes?"
Dean, Caleb, and Sam were impressed and scared. The town pulled
together a wedding within two hours, complete with the gazebo decorated
with white paper wedding bells, which was being used as the ceremony
site. The reception would be later at the Francis house. They stayed in
the back to watch the 'I dos'; Dean watched Sam while Caleb studied
Dean. He could guess what was going on in Dean's mind: worry, worry
about Sam's feelings. Sam seemed to be holding up well, maybe imagining
himself with Jess or even Clara. Caleb decided to distract them; he
placed his finger on Dean's cheek.
"Is that a tear, Deana?"
Dean batted the hand away. "You kidding me? My hero is Boone. He and
Kathleen are going on what, twenty years?"
Caleb didn't see himself as marrying anyone, let alone settling with
someone for twenty years. It was the fear of denying someone children.
The Reaves line would end with him — he didn't want to risk passing
along any demonic genes.
For Dean, not getting married had to do more with not caring about
society and having some license to say he was committed to someone.
Caleb whistled softly. "That's commitment phobia talking," he teased.
Dean frowned. "Pot, kettle, black."
Caleb chuckled, and was about to start a discussion about how if Dean
had taken Jim's advice then Dean would be a polygamist, when Sam
quietly told them both off.
"Would you two shut up?" he interjected, his eyes straight forward on
the ceremony taking place.
"You shut up." Dean elbowed his brother. "I hate to spoil the ending
for you, Sammy, but they're going to kiss. We should head to the house."
Dean pulled his brother away, and Caleb followed, clasping a hand on
both of the brothers’ shoulders while he mockingly choked out the
words, "I love a happy ending." It was an intended double entendre.
However, he truly wanted to believe there could be a happy ending,
especially within The Brotherhood. Mac wanted them to have other lives,
and Caleb agreed that was the way of the future.
Dean smirked. "Don't we all?"
Caleb looked back at Mr. and Mrs. Francis. They didn't have their happy
ending just yet, but if he had anything to say about it, they would in
about an hour.
Once they were back at the house, there was a lot to prepare. They set
five chairs around the dining room table. The reception was going to be
held outside, so they would have limited privacy. Dean made a thick
line of salt. He also had primed the rock salt rifle. He would be the
only one able to react. Caleb and Sam didn't know how deep of a trance
they would need to be in to conjure the widow.
While he and Sam went over their game plan again, Dean was relegated to
manual labor outside, but it was done with pride as Dean did everything
with his hands, whether it was working on the car or creating an EMF
As Sam had said, Dean was unsure of psychic abilities, just has his
father had been. Caleb could understand that, especially with how he
had been with the amulet. Then there was Sam, whose own bouts with his
abilities had saved Dean, but also scared him. It was all demon-linked
in the end, and that was hard for even someone as magnanimous as Deuce
"What if we connect with something we can't handle?" Sam said, flipping
a page he had printed out.
"Then your brother will. He's our insurance policy. It's not like we
won't recognize it. Remember what I said about our link?" When Dean had
been missing and Caleb involved the amulet in their crazy plan, Sam was
left being the one to make sure Caleb didn't release another evil on
"Yeah. This just feels wrong — and not just because Duran Hughes used
to do them."
"But because Jim didn't approve." Hughes had been after his own fame
and fortune, going against The Brotherhood. He had gotten what he
deserved. Human kills were always regretted, but he had been a traitor.
Jim was surprised at the death; he hadn't liked Duran, but he was still
part of The Brotherhood up until he had hurt Sam, then Dean. Then the
only thing that mattered to the pastor was to see his core unit
unharmed. "Yeah, I know, kid."
"But Dean's the new Guardian, and it is the best idea we got."
"Yeah, but don't get used to them." The temptation would be too great
to do more séances — his parents, Sam's parents, Sam's
girlfriend, Pastor Jim. "I don't think we're going to be talking to the
dead on a weekly basis."
"You two ready, 'cause they're here," Dean interrupted, the door
slamming behind him while he wiped his hands on his jeans.
The front door opened, Gwendolyn and her husband came in laughing with
her hand held near his mouth. "We came straight from the aisle. Neal
drove us," Mr. Francis explained.
"Neal's gonna be here?" Dean's face lit up.
"Deuce's man crush," Caleb explained Dean's reaction toward the
mechanic to Sam.
Dean frowned. "Shut up." He then tightened the curtains in the room to
limit the light as much as possible.
"We should get started," Sam stated, unwilling to put up with any more
of the bantering. He gestured to the chairs for the bride and groom.
"Caleb and I will bring your mother within this room. All of you need
to think of her. Happy memories are best."
"What do you want me to think about?" Dean asked as he repositioned the
Caleb winked at him. "You just sit there and look pretty." He cleared
his throat. The room was protected so that once the widow was called
forth, she couldn’t leave the room. They held hands, forming an awkward
circle. Caleb connected with Dean on one side and Mr. Francis's clammy
hand on the other. Caleb ignored the nervousness and let the silence
envelop him. He then sought his connection to Sam. They had to take
precautions to exclude evil entities.
Caleb felt the moment of recognition with Sam, and they sought out Mr.
Francis, whose connection to his mother was the strongest. They were
using his feelings to call forth his mother. The darkness of the room
heightened their senses, making the room and their minds limitless. It
was from this feeling they connected with the widow. Sam flinched back,
and the curtains billowed. Caleb opened his eyes. "She's in the room,"
he announced to the others, but mentally again connected with Sam. 'Be
"Talk to her," Sam prodded, still holding hands but gesturing to Mr.
Francis with his neck.
He lifted Gwendolyn's hand. "Mother, I want you to meet my new wife."
He again brought his hand to his lips.
The screeching started immediately, emanating from above their heads.
They looked up; Caleb saw Dean's hands already wrapped around the
rifle, ready to pounce. While they were looking up, the table started
to levitate, then moved back and forth, hitting them. Dean shot the
rock salt into the air.
"Hey, be nice," Dean yelled, then patrolled the perimeter with the
"Keep talking." Caleb knocked on the settled table to focus all of
"Gwendolyn is a good woman. She makes me happy. That's what you want
for your son, I would hope."
Gwendolyn stood up and opened her arms. "I'll take good care of him."
The sconces exploded in succession, showering them with glass. Dean
dove across the table to bring Gwendolyn down. They all ducked under
the table, which really wasn't going to provide them much protection
"This is going well." Caleb unlatched the ankle holster. He didn't want
a conspicuous rifle, but at least having a knife and gun would make him
"Can you send her back?" Dean said after shooting another spray of rock
Caleb shook his head. "A séance is a one way trip. We can't just
pull out the phone cord and end the call."
The table lifted up, then crashed down repeatedly. The chairs flew in
the air in a circle, going no further than the salt line. They had
removed anything else that had potential to hurt them, so the widow was
using what was available.
Gwendolyn was wrapped around her husband. "Do something!"
He looked at her, squared his shoulders, and removed her hands as he
stood. The maelstrom ceased for a moment. "You either accept this or
we're going to move out of the house, and we'll let them burn it down."
Caleb was impressed; however, the threat may have been too much for the
"Move!" Caleb heard Dean yell as they were pummeled by the bits of the
broken dinette. "Go out the front door! Now! I'll cover!"
He saw the circle of salt was still standing, but didn't know for how
long. The spirit was causing turbulence in the two hundred square foot
room. Caleb stood his ground until Sam pushed him. "Help me with them."
He pushed Mr. Francis into his arms. They stumbled out of the dining
room into the main part of the house. Caleb sensed Dean was right
"Keep going!" Dean ordered, having left the shelter of the table and
firing in the general direction of the spirit.
They were at the door; Caleb threw it open and pushed Mr. Francis out.
He turned to go help Dean, but was caught up with Sam struggling to
make it with Gwendolyn. He eyed a picture on the wall, yanked if off,
and used it as a shield to protect Gwendolyn from the debris. With
heavy breath they made it out, only to have the door slam shut with
Dean trapped inside.
Dean was running, could see the open door and the backs of Sam and
Caleb, and thought he would be on the outside in a moment — until he
was thrown back. The door slammed shut as he was set into the
staircase. He felt the stairs strike his back, but only with enough
force to bruise rather than break. He set a blast full of rock salt
into the air recklessly to give him a momentary reprieve. He used the
time to spring forth towards the door. He heard Caleb and Sam banging
against it, calling for him.
"I'm fine!" he yelled.
"Deuce! Dean!" He heard at the same time.
"She won't let me out!" He charged towards one of the nearby windows,
figuring it was as good an escape as any. But the widow was equally as
clever and pulling the heavy drapes in succession, sealing him off.
The room was plunged into a strange darkness tinged with the color of
the drapes as the light fought to penetrate through. The glass on the
front door allowed some light through, but it was blocked by the
distorted images of Sam and Caleb. "I'm okay. You got anything out
there?" He had his duffle slung across his body. He pulled out the salt
and made a three foot protective circle. He needed some time to think.
He hoped his brother and friend could draw some attention, but the
widow was all about him. "What I get for playin' fuckin' matchmaker."
He studied the room. It was the living room they had been through just
the other day. Suddenly the flowering wallpaper was threatening instead
of just decorative. He had to find a way out.
"Dean!" he heard his brother's husky voice through the glass. "Don't
instigate her. Clara and the others are going to help." Sam must have
gotten a ladder and put it up against the house, because while he was
freakishly tall, he wasn't Mr. Fantastic.
He couldn’t imagine how the Brady Bunch was going to help. Contrary to
what his brother believed, he wasn't reckless. He wanted to live up to
his year and beyond.
"They're married, Lady, get over it. They aren't going to get a divorce
'cause you're menopausal."
If he was going to find a solution, it was going to have to be with
whatever was in the room. The way he’d come through was destroyed. The
kitchen was behind another door in the corner, but kitchens were
notoriously dangerous. Knives were involved. They hadn’t bothered to
clear out the rest of the house, hoping that they’d be able to contain
the old bat in the dining room. He turned slowly in his circle. There
had to be something.
In the meantime, the salt circle was moving; it was only going to
provide a temporary reprieve. Like with the rock salt shells, he had to
think of a better delivery system for protective circles. Maybe
incorporating a glue product, he thought, until he zeroed in on the
fireplace. "That's it – you encouraged an Oedipus complex, or is it
Electra?" He kept up his taunts as he dove to the fireplace and grabbed
the poker, slashing it in the air.
Thankfully, old houses had iron fireplace sets, not cheap substitutes
made in a foreign country.
She came at him now that he left his circle, swooping at him, causing
him to pivot and slash ineffectively in a stalemate. "What does this
prove? They are safe outside — the townspeople will protect them. And
you can't go outside because I salted the perimeter."
Dean didn't know how much a ghost could sense, hear, or understand. No
one ever took the time to ask since they were usually caught up in
their own dilemmas. "So know what they're going to do? Hey, Damien! Is
that gasoline I smell?"
He was thankful Caleb could read his mind. For one thing, it would at
least lower Caleb and Sam's panic level to know he was okay; and for
another, he could play along.
"Yeah, sorry, man, stay low and I think you'll make it out, but we've
got to burn the place down."
It must have been believable because she stopped and began to take on a
form in front of him. She shimmered just feet away, like the picture on
the staircase but transparent.
He had the rifle under one arm and the poker in the other pointed at
her stern face. She didn't speak so, feeling foolish, he opened up the
discussion. "I grew up without a mom, and I would have given anything.
. . I hope she would have trusted me to make good choices, to be the
son she could be proud of —"
The widow flickered. He took it as a sign he was getting to her.
"I don’t think I'm wrong when I say she'd want me to be happy." There
was always a piece of him that wished there was something that could
turn back time and have his mother and father in his life, to grow up
with the normal angst of being a son, not a hunter. He licked his lips,
got a harder grip on the rifle just in case things went south fast.
"Gwendolyn makes your son happy."
He heard the thud at the door, and so did she since as she flickered
again she turned. He turned, too, so he wouldn’t have to run through
her to get to the door. It was hard to ignore the rhythm at the door.
They were trying to knock down the door, and it sounded like there were
cracks forming. The curtains fluttered, no longer sealed shut. He had a
chance to shoot and run, and he was going to take it, edging closer and
closer to the front door.
"Let him go. It's time." Keeping his voice a level, soothing tone he
heard Sam use to talk to victims, he told her quietly, "She loves him
and he loves her. Maybe they'll have kids – a girl and call her . . ."
He didn't know her first name, and he thought his guess of Shrew may be
off. "Your name. You'd like that."
Before he positioned his back towards the door, he saw Caleb and Sam
leading the way with the blurred townspeople following in line, holding
some sort of ramming tool. "Time's up," he called out. She was still in
the doorway of the living room. She remained still, and in a blink of
his eye, she seemed trapped in a narrow beam of light surrounded by
dust particles showing the cylindrical shape.
He held off on firing. "Hold up! Hold up!" he yelled to the people
outside. He heard Caleb relay the order.
In awe, Dean stood until there was nothing left. He took out his EMF
detector, not rushing, knowing he was safe from the threat.
This was the third time in his life he had witnessed the white light of
the other side. Jim would say it was proof of Heaven. He was looking
for proof since there was clear evidence of Hell. There was still doubt
for him. He liked to think his mother was in Heaven, had spent the
better part of twenty years reassuring his brother that she was, but
then he found her in their old house in Lawrence. Kansas wasn't Heaven,
nor was that house filled with her death.
He turned the knob of the door, still without answers, and walked into
the light to his brother and best friend.
Sam hadn't realized his shoulders were bunched up until he saw his
brother exiting the house and before him. Clara was by his side, but
floated away to instruct the other townspeople to give them some space.
He wanted to thank them for their help, their belief. When Caleb and he
had noticed Dean was stuck in the house, it was Caleb who had announced
to them, "Spirits exist, and there is a nasty one in this house. There
you have it. Talk amongst yourselves while we figure this out."
Then Clara had offered their assistance. The town banded with them to
help another outsider.
Caleb went forward and gripped Dean's forearm while Sam stepped closer,
gawking with what he knew was a goofy look on his face. Dean reached
out to him, slapping the side of his face playfully.
"Did you save me a piece of cake?"
He smirked at his brother's joke. "Sure you want to be scoffing down
some cake? That's quite a gut you're working on." Sam patted his
brother's stomach — it was the same as always, but when you were with
the same person twenty-four-seven, you tended to pick on their base
Dean pulled away and pushed his duffle into Sam's arms. "You're just
jealous 'cause I can eat everything I want and still look this good."
Caleb shook his head. "Both of you are fugly. And we need to say
something to the crowd."
Sam turned and saw the expectant faces of the town.
"What did you say to get them to help?" Dean asked in a low voice.
"The truth." Sam shrugged. Where he had been so careful before never to
say anything about what they did, he now was more open because they did
help people. This town was proof. "He started it." Sam grinned at Caleb.
"It worked, didn't it? And they didn't seem to care. It's not like they
didn't know the house was haunted," Caleb explained, gesturing to the
Dean used his finger to call over the newlyweds. "Hey, you two, come
They were holding each other tight, trying to move as one. "Is it
over?" Mr. Francis stuttered.
Dean nodded. "She's gone, and she says ‘congratulations’."
"Yep." Sam watched his brother, looking for any tell that he was lying.
There was no change in him.
"She's gone!" Gwendolyn threw herself around her new husband's neck and
soundly kissed him.
He pinked up, but turned to the crowd with pride. "Welcome to my home
and please, let's enjoy the festivities!"
People in the crowd whooped, threw hats in the air, and some applauded.
They followed Mr. Francis's direction and moved to the back of the
house where the reception was going to take place.
"Did she really say that?" Caleb asked, mirroring what Sam had been
Dean did not look directly at them. "Does it matter?"
It did to Sam, more proof of how their mother's death impacted Dean. He
would always see the best in their mother, and other mothers. Sam
scuffed the wood planked floor of the porch they were still standing on.
"Not for me." Caleb slapped Sam's shoulder. "Let's get something to
eat. Your girlfriend said she has a table for us."
"She's not—" Sam started, but to no avail. They were already ahead of
him, and Clara was by his side. She must have been waiting for him,
looking for a moment to interrupt.
"Are you okay?" she asked. She was wearing a short and rather flimsy
pink and blue dress. He pushed a piece of hair that fell in front of
her face, tucking it behind her ear.
It was nice to have someone ask about him who wasn't truly connected to
him again. "Yeah, thanks." Everyone had disappeared, and he could hear
the voices of a party underway. "Do they really still feel like having
a wedding reception?"
Clara smirked as she pulled him along by hand. "We don't have much
excitement around here."
Sam didn't know how they had set up so quickly, but there was a big
band like the ones he had only seen in old movies with fifteen pieces
set up under a blue and white striped tent. There was a line at another
set of long tables — the food line. He spied Dean and Caleb, plates at
the ready with two attractive ladies with them.
Sam learned they were the girls they had met the other night as they
sat together at a table eating. Between forkfuls of food and simple
conversation, some of the townsfolk stopped by and thanked them.
Clara's parents were especially enthusiastic, pounding Sam on the back.
Dean held up his hand when Walter was about to attack him so as not to
interrupt his meal. Clara also intervened, walking her father and
mother away in conversation.
Even though the music was not what he listened to, he found his fingers
tapping. Clara pulled Sam onto the area cleared on the lawn as a dance
floor. They swayed to the music, Sam not being a talented dancer. He
was just happy to enjoy having a girl in his arms who smelled of
"We want you to stay," she said with her head resting against his chest.
He disregarded the 'we.' "Sure, for a few more days." He had to ask
Dean and Caleb. Time was working against them. They were supposed to go
Pennsylvania for a meeting with the Romany. The Colt still needed to be
found. But a quick glance to Dean and Caleb didn't show they were in
any rush to leave either; maybe one more day, tops two, then they could
get to Pennsylvania in less than a day's drive. Once they were there,
the Romany could help Dean to live a long, natural life. Sam was still
letting that thought and the girl in his arms warm him, so he didn't
"You don't understand." She lifted her head from his chest. "Stay here
for the next twenty years."
Again a piece of her hair had fallen forward, and he grasped it, then
stopped. "Huh?" He wasn't ready to rush into a commitment.
Clara placed her hand on his chest. "Because of what you did, what you
all did. You can all stay here."
Sam curled his feet in his shoes, feeling the grass and earth
underneath needed to ground him. "For twenty years?"
"We need to talk in private." She took his hand and led him away from
the party, returning to the front of the house, which was quiet. "For a
long time now, no one remembers how, but … we're a special place." She
sat on the stairs, tucking her dress around her. "We appear here every
twenty years for one month."
He reached out and held the banister, repeating what she said, "Every
twenty years for a month?"
"In that month, we discover the newness of the world."
The Best Buy truck, the wireless internet service, even the iPod
mirrored against the old toys in the window and places to eat: they
weren't eccentricities of a small town. It was a reflection of times
for this town. He remembered the movies they had enjoyed. "You were
last here in 1988. And then before that—"
"1968. Sock it to me. It is the time I most enjoyed so far."
All the weird idiomatic expressions made sense. They each lived in a
different time period, a time period they embraced. Clara's clothes and
weird terms were from the ‘60s. He vaguely remembered a civics class
from some junior high. "And then where do you go?" He wasn't a rocket
scientist, and even if he was, he didn't think there would be an
explanation of a town disappearing and reappearing at twenty year
"That's the adventure. It all seems like a dream, or maybe it feels
like a minute has passed by." She reached up to the blue sky with a
giggle, then brought her hand down. "You won't grow old — it'll happen
Sam narrowed his eyes to study her. She looked his age, maybe even
younger. "How old?"
Clara fluttered her long fake eyelashes. "Eighty years old."
He swallowed, slightly horrified. He had been with her, but that image
was being pushed away, replaced by the light of a bulb growing brighter
in his brain. "And we can all stay — my brother Dean and Caleb?"
"Yes, for what you did. This isn't our custom." Clara smiled, stood up
to sidle herself next to him. "Every twenty years there is a death and
a birth, but now we would grow by three."
He grabbed both her hands within his in a futile attempt to stem his
excitement. "Do you ever see any demons? Not the ghosts, I mean real
scary stuff, anything …?" He scrunched up his face in a poor imitation
of an evil being.
She stared at him for a moment, and cocked up an eyebrow. "No, Sam."
"This could work, Clara. I mean, think about it: the date would come
up, but they couldn’t find him." He knew he was rambling his thoughts.
It made sense, though; this was dealing with another dimension. He
didn’t necessarily get the mechanics of it, but the books in Jim's and
Bobby's libraries did touch upon the topic. There were dimensions where
demons didn't exist, couldn't cross over. He never thought about
searching for or even having access to the possibility. "You would give
us twenty years? When we came back, he'd be safe." He looked at Clara.
She had given him a weird truth, and he should be the one confused, not
her. "When do you need a decision?"
"I need to talk to them. I'll be right back. . . Thank you. God, just,
thank you." He grabbed her face within his hands and planted a kiss on
her lips. He released her and she stumbled back. He steadied her before
briskly walking to Caleb and Dean's table.
He had to ask the girls to leave, and that brought protests from Caleb,
Dean, and the girls. He promised to call them back after they finished
talking. It took awhile for him to explain to his brother and Caleb. He
was met by disbelief until he went through the resounding evidence.
The first comment was from his brother. "What a cougar."
Sam huffed his annoyance. Clara was completely secondary, and her age
was irrelevant. "Don’t you see? It's a way out of the deal."
Dean glanced at Sam then Caleb. "But Pennsylvania. . ."
Caleb shook his head, his body leaning towards Sam. "Isn't a sure
"And this is?" Dean opened his right hand, then made a fist as he
lowered his voice. "She doesn't know where they disappear to for twenty
"It's better than Hell." Caleb's gaze was on the white tablecloth,
drawing circles with his finger.
Dean looked away, shook his head. "I don't know about that. We won't
see anyone for twenty years."
"That doesn’t matter."
"Mac? Bobby? They don't matter? What if they die? What if we leave them
Sam winced. He hadn't thought that far, but Bobby and Mac would want
them to save Dean. Caleb rubbed a hand down his face.
Dean must have thought he was swaying them. He pressed on. "We're
supposed to be The Triad. What happens then?"
It was surprising for Caleb to answer. Caleb who, of all them, was
first committed to The Brotherhood, its rule, and beliefs. "We have
substitutes. Ethan and Elijah would step in."
"Who would be The Guardian?" Dean leaned forward, waited for an answer.
Sam glanced at Caleb; he didn't have an answer. Dean crossed his arms,
"Joshua. He's . . .capable." Sam sputtered his long shot. He had an
extensive vocabulary, and couldn't believe the most convincing word he
had was 'capable.'
Dean rolled his eyes. "He works with the coven, Sammy. I know he's on
our side, but still, hunters won't follow him. Things are too divided
as it is."
Caleb sighed. "Deuce, I'm not going to lie to you: we're running out of
time and leads to get you out of this deal." It was in the background
of their discussions, but never brought to the forefront. Caleb laid
his palm flat on the table. "This buys us twenty years. They won't find
you, and you won't die. We can just pick up where we left off when we
come back. Everyone would understand."
Dean stood up. It was an unexpected reaction from his brother, leaving
Sam squinting in the sun as he tried to catch his brother's gaze. But
Dean looked off in the directions of the girls. "I'm not making this
decision. It's up to you two. You decide." He placed a hand on his
chest, tapping it. "You both think that deal was bad — and I get why
everyone thinks that, I do — but saving me isn't about sacrificing you
two. There’s too much of that going around these days."
"But you'll go along with it?" Sam was, of course, skeptical.
"One track mind," he replied under his breath. Dean rapped his hand on
the table, making a double tapping noise. "Yep, because any decision I
make, you'll second guess. I can't have that."
Sam watched his brother walk away, then looked at Caleb. The older
hunter didn’t have to bother to read the connection they shared to know
what his charge was thinking.
"I know, Runt, but the decisions aren't going to get easier."
"Stop worrying," Max said for at least the hundredth time since they
had left Kentucky, which had JT reaching for the radio to drown him out.
The old Chevy Tahoe with Dad's converted hybrid engine took them
further away from their home and closer to their adventure. Instead JT
crossed his arms, taking in the landscape and reiterating the same
response he had given in each time: "Your dad is going to kill us."
Max moved one hand off of the steering wheel and scratched the back of
his neck. "No, he won't."
"He's a witch," James, JT's younger brother, explained from the
backseat where he was laid across and enjoying the extra legroom. "He
can do stuff to us."
"I'll protect you," Max said while looking in the rearview mirror.
James shook his head. "You're not a witch."
"Yes, I am," Max replied, running a hand through his longish blond hair.
"When it's convenient," JT muttered, glancing at his best friend and
silently agreeing with his brother.
Max didn't reply, nervously flattening his hair out. JT noticed all his
friend's ticks; the hair touching started this year since Max had
started to grow it out and could barely fit it into a ponytail.
The three of them were quiet again, with just the music from the
satellite radio filling the SUV. JT wished he had brought his camera up
front with him instead of packing it in the bag. The scenery to some
was plain, stagnant, but through a lens there were so many
He was always thinking of the possibilities. Uncle Caleb said he was
like his father — Dad was quiet sometimes when he got this sudden look
about him and had to take a walk or work on the cars in the barn. Ben
was more like him than James. Ben came to live with them after his mom
died of cancer before he went to college. He came every summer and
school break. He used the time to train as a hunter, although it was
becoming harder with med school.
JT thought his brother James was more like their father. He was always
making some joke or another. He supposed they were both right.
"We're almost there," Max announced with a grin. James peeked his head
to the front seat. "Uncle Caleb told me all about this place." Max was
a few years older, but far from mature.
"Dad told me about it, too," James said, slapping the headrest. "This
is going to be so cool!"
"Uncle Sam says it's private," JT added, trying to rein in his brother.
"Maybe something bad happened here?" JT liked to get different
perspectives, and Uncle Sam hadn't wanted to share. Dad and Uncle Caleb
told outlandish stories.
"JT, why did you come along then?" Max glared at him. "Face it — you're
JT shifted under the scrutiny. There were hunts his father didn't talk
about, but this was not one of them. Dad had made it sound fun. "Yeah,
but it still doesn’t make it a good idea. Every time you get curious, I
have to bail you out of trouble."
"Grandpa is always encouraging curiosity," James said, moving to the
driver's side of the car.
"Suck up." JT rolled his eyes at his brother. Truth be told, James
needed to be watched over, too.
"They think we're on a camping trip." Max reiterated the excuse they
had all used. Max was a recent driver, and there wouldn't be many
opportunities once Max went to college to get away. His mother never
suspected ulterior motives, and his father was away on business. "No
one will ever know." Max put his hand up, and James slapped his hand
"Famous. Last. Words." Dad always told him he knew what they were up to
before they even planned it, and it had nothing to do with Uncle Caleb
being a psychic. He wouldn’t be at ease until they were back in
"Whatever. Look." Max gestured with is chin. They were coming up on the
JT had lived in a small town his entire life, and when traveling with
his baseball team he noticed other towns similar to his. This was
different. Usually there was one old building, but this town was filled
with old brick buildings. He was itching to get a hold of his camera.
"Look! It's Transformers—the
first one, and Dark Knight
with the original guy." James bounced in the backseat with excitement.
"You've seen them both a hundred times," JT stated, waiting for the
Chevy to come to a stop so he could get his camera bag from the trunk.
"They're classics," Max agreed with James while parallel parking the
car. "Come on, for old times sake, and then we'll get something to eat."
If they were in the movies, then they wouldn’t be out finding trouble.
He nodded. "Fine."
He still got his camera, wondering what the inside of the theatre
"Hiya!" a kid about James's age said as he rode on by on a wide
skateboard with an oversized iPod.
James's mouth dropped open. "Did you see that? Dad said that this place
had old stuff, antiques."
JT looped an arm around his brother's shoulders. "Would have been cool
for them to come, see some of the old stuff."
Max snorted as he led the way into the movie theatre. "No way would
they have agreed to this. They don't let us have any fun."
They came out of the double feature laughing and throwing popcorn at
"Maxim Sawyer, Jonathan Thomas Winchester, and James Murphy Winchester!"
JT was still blinking in the bright sunlight, but came to full
attention at the booming voice. Max and James flanked him, also just as
still at their uncle's voice.
"Boys." Dad walked past them, inspecting them with a hard look and a
grim frown. The Impala was parked across the street.
"Your father isn’t going to be happy, Max," Uncle Caleb said, stopping
in front of the older boy.
"Are you three all right?" Uncle Sam asked them, also giving them a
once over with his eyes.
"Yes, Sir," James answered for all three of them.
JT found Ben was staring at him, then smirked. "Whoa, little brother,
this is even better than the time you let Max talk you into sneaking
out to meet the Mathews twins."
The middle brother groaned, not needing his father to be reminded of
the fiasco with Elijah Mathews's daughters last year. His father
cleared his throat, giving Ben a pointed look.
"Right." Ben stepped back, dropping his stupid grin. "I'm not here to
comment, only to stand by in case there's bloodshed and someone needs a
doctor." He chanced another glance at JT, winking this time. "Mainly
you, Jimmy, and Max."
"It's James," his younger brother snapped.
Dad pointed at Ben. "Go warm up the Impala."
"Yes, Sir." Ben gave him a sympathetic wave as he turned to walk back
to the Impala.
"It's not like he's never done anything wrong," James muttered under
his breath, and JT stepped on his foot to get him to shut up.
Max cleared his throat, garnering all the attention once more. "How did
you . . .Sir?" He directed it to The Guardian.
"Mary sold you up the river for ten bucks," Dad stated.
Uncle Caleb smiled. "Just like her dad back in the day."
Uncle Sam snorted and crossed his arms. "It wasn't even close to ten
"Who told her?" Max asked, but he knew as well as JT who the culprit
was. They both looked down at James.
James fidgeted. "What? She wanted to come." He kicked the pavement.
"Are you going to punish us?" he said to their father in the soft voice
that he usually used to get his way.
Uncle Caleb stood in front of their father as if to block James from
his persuasive abilities. "Ten miles with packs — to start."
His father stepped around Uncle Caleb. "You're lucky. Your grandfather
would have made it twenty."
"That's it?" Max asked. JT slapped his forehead; sometimes Max didn't
think before he spoke.
"No, I'm just getting warmed up," Dad answered, rubbing his chin. JT
wondered what plans his father was making for them. His mother was
going to have them on lockdown, and Max's parents, regardless that Max
was the oldest among them, would still dole out some punishment, too.
"At the rate you're going, you'll be lucky if you get a ring before you
get a pension," Uncle Caleb commented, clenching the hand where he wore
the Knight's band of silver.
JT was crestfallen. All his life he wanted to be a member of The
Brotherhood. Grandpa Mac said that they had to go to college, too, be
fully rounded and productive members of society. Max wanted to go to
school on the west coast and learn about surfing. JT liked photography
and math and was good at baseball. He just didn't know how all of that
would work together.
Max slouched and then stood up straighter. "Can we not tell my dad?
Dad shook his head. "Hell, no."
"But you're The Guardian."
"Right, and we already corrupt you enough, according to Josh." JT knew
his father enjoyed irritating Joshua through Max, but Uncle Caleb, Sam,
and even his father treated Max like they treated Ben, James, and
"Just as I had him convinced to send you for sword lessons with Micah,
too." Uncle Caleb shook his head.
Micah, Silas's son and Jessup's final and best student, had taken over
the sword training on the houseboat in Florida, along with the recipe
for alligator stew. Max hadn't stopped talking, messaging, and emailing
about it. Max's shoulders slumped and remained that way. "But please,
Uncle Caleb. . ."
"It was a dangerous thing you three did. None of you have any business
going on a hunt alone. It’s not a game," Uncle Sam added.
Max stepped forward from the lineup they had been frozen in. "I'm
sorry. It's my fault. My idea."
JT rushed forward as did James. They couldn’t let Max take the blame,
but their dad lifted his hand to stop them, then pointed at them. "And
these two edjits didn't use their own minds. That's worse."
"Not the brightest move," Uncle Sam said with a nod and smile. "But we
all make mistakes."
"Sorry, Sir." JT felt he would never live up to his father's
expectations and maybe didn't deserve a ring. It was hard having The
Guardian for a dad, The Scholar as an uncle, and The Knight as a
"You two get in the Impala. Max, you get into the Tahoe and wait for
Caleb," Dad ordered, and they broke formation to comply.
James and JT walked quickly to the car. Ben slipped out of the front
seat and opened the back door for them. "Not a single drop of blood. .
.yet," Ben cackled. JT hit him in his stomach as he got in.
Dad led the way back to the car, but Uncle Caleb called out to Ben.
"Hey, Ace, you're coming with me. No way I'm dealing with a moping,
moody teenager for hours."
Ben put his arms out, the ends of his untucked shirt flapped a bit with
the light passing breeze. "So what am I, the entertainment?"
"Hell, yeah." Uncle Caleb pointed to the Tahoe parked across the
street. "I'll be there in a minute. Keep an eye on him."
"I gotta deal with moody, mid-life crisis guy." Ben looked at their dad
with a smirk when he said it.
JT saw his father wink at his eldest son.
Uncle Caleb reached out and pulled on Ben's shirt. Ben was the same
height as Uncle Caleb, but ran leaner. "A few years ago I was the guy
who took you to the Red Caboose. Show some respect."
"Damien. . ." Dad started with a frown towards Uncle Caleb.
Uncle Sam put an arm in between them. "Ben, you better go and check on
Max." Ben followed Uncle Sam's directions and went off towards the
Tahoe. Uncle Sam let his arm drop. "Like you didn't expect that."
"That wasn't part of John Winchester's training book," Dad growled at
"Babysitting wasn't covered either, and I am damn good at that." Uncle
Caleb put a finger on Dad's chest. "You're just jealous because we
didn't include you. There's a price to pay for monogamy."
"I still get the better end of the deal, Damien. And he's my kid, so
I'm sure I passed along some good genes." Dad leaned against the car
and covered JT's face with his hand. Both he and James had their heads
out the window. They brought them back inside.
"And don't forget you reap the rewards of your babysitting," Uncle Sam
added, raising his eyebrows. "Mary comes home with a lot of stories."
Uncle Caleb took them to a lot of places, but he had told them they had
aged out of the cuteness factor a while ago. It was better to take the
girls — their cousin Mary and Jocelyn (or Josie), Max's younger sister
— with him if he wanted to meet women. Joshua said it was because he
didn't want the competition since the girls Caleb dated were barely
legal. "I pay them well. A trip with Mary Mayhem and the Outlaw Josey
Wales to American Girl is embarrassing."
James huffed in the seat beside him and screwed up his face. "Those
dolls are creepy."
Their father and uncles must have heard them since they started
laughing. Uncle Caleb reached out and patted Dad's stomach. "Why don’t
you all take a breather and head to the diner so I can go and find our
Dad shook his head. "You're twenty years older. She may kill you."
"I'm willing to take that risk." Uncle Caleb elbowed Uncle Sam. "How
about you, Sam? Want to go look up Clara?"
"Yeah, Sam, we can leave you — you're a free man after all — give you
some time on your own. Juliet and I can watch Mary for you. She's not a
troublemaker like my two." Dad knocked on the Impala's frame, and JT
and James involuntarily jumped.
Uncle Sam lived in Kentucky, too. He was a law professor at the local
college. He had worked as a criminal defense lawyer before deciding he
liked to teach better. It was also easier to incorporate being a
professor with his other life of being The Scholar. "No, that time is
They were silent for a while. Dad pulled out his phone from his back
"You calling the wife, Deuce?"
Dad opened the phone where JT could see the picture of his mom on the
screen. "We are not husband and wife. We don't need a piece of paper."
James leaned forward so his voice would carry out the window. "Dad says
you don’t need a license to say you love someone and want to be with
Dad gave an agreeing nod. "That's why you need offspring, Damien. They
always gotchyer back."
"You just called them edjits ten seconds ago." Uncle Caleb stuck his
tongue out at them, which was totally weird to see since he was old and
had some silver hair blending in with his dark hair. JT ignored him,
but his brother didn't and stuck out his tongue, too.
"Still, gotta tell Juliet that we found them and we're bringing them
home." Dad walked away to talk to Mom in private.
James scooted closer to hear the conversation, and his brother would
probably report back to their father later if the information could be
used to blackmail either Uncle Sam or Caleb.
Uncle Caleb pushed away from the car. "I hope she doesn't have a couple
of her friends waiting to ambush us."
"We're her pet projects." Uncle Sam chuckled. "Dean says she's not
worried about JT and James ever leaving, but if we ever grow up, get
lives, and move away she'll be crushed."
"So you don't want to settle down. . ."
"Been there, done that." Uncle Sam had been married to Aunt Lidia. She
lived in Germany, helping the European Brotherhood. They divorced when
Mary was a baby. Mary lived with Uncle Sam and went to visit her mom a
couple of times a year during school breaks. "Do you think we did the
right thing back then?" Uncle Sam was no longer leaning on the car
either; his arms were crossed.
Uncle Caleb ran a hand over his mouth. “Hell, Sammy, I don’t know. In
some ways, that seems like a life time ago." He made eye contact with
JT. "I think what matters most is that we’re all still together."
Dad came back, the phone out of sight. "Gotta get on the road. She said
she'll have chicken and dumplings waiting for us."
"Pastor Jim's recipe?" Uncle Caleb asked as he started for the Tahoe
where Ben and Max were waiting for him.
"Of course." Dad got into the driver's seat and Uncle Sam on the
passenger side. Their Dad usually had some sort of music playing in the
background, but this time there was nothing except the two brothers
"There she is, Sammy. Are you sure?" Dad said while JT followed his
line of sight. There was a girl, maybe Ben's age with blonde long hair
wearing a dress with flowers on it. She waved to them.
"I'm sure, but thanks."
JT still had his camera in hand, and with the window down he had an
unobstructed view. He pressed the button on his camera and felt the
silent buzz of multiple photographs being taken. She was important to
Uncle Sam, and maybe later he would want to have a picture of her to
mark his time there.
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