Chapter 1: Kermit

Disclaimer: Supernatural and its characters belong to Eric Kripke, Warner Bros., The CW, etc. The story is just for fun, not for profit. No infringement intended.

This story is set after Season 1 Episode 10 "Asylum."

Summary: Following their run-in with Dr. Ellicott, the brothers' recovery is interrupted by a new job. An encounter with the legendary cryptid of Loveland, Ohio may just be more than they bargained for.

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Loveland

By majorcharacterdeath

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Sam's hand shot out and impatiently popped the Led Zeppelin cassette out of the player, bringing the second chorus of Black Dog to a lurching stop. The sudden transition from clashing guitar solos to complete silence left Dean blinking, but only for a moment. Sam could see the way his jaw set and the patient way he attempted to restrain his frustration. He knew he was playing with fire, but he didn't care. He was fed up.

"We need to talk about this eventually, Dean."

"You're right, we do need to talk. Do you want me to kick your ass? Because I'm pretty sure you just touched my music."

"Don't do this. You know what I mean. You haven't said a word in over a hundred miles."

Dean released a breath through his nose, the frustration replaced by resignation. He really didn't have the energy to talk about this; all the things Sam had said in that dirty asylum, the literal salt in his wounds from the shotgun, or the pistol pointed in his face as he urged Sam to send a bullet through him. It didn't matter that Sam himself hadn't meant any of those things, that Ellicott had pulled them out of him. A part of Dean knew that a part of Sam felt that way, and he just couldn't get the image of his little brother with hate in his eyes out of his head. Dean realized his grip on the steering wheel had tightened, and his knuckles were turning white.

He shifted uncomfortably in the driver's seat, feeling the sting of the remaining salt in his chest digging under his skin. He'd managed to pick most of the coarse grains out at a gas station after he had put twenty miles between him and that godforsaken nuthouse, but clearly, he hadn't done a good enough job. Dean ignored the fact that it would've been helpful for Sam to look at the wound himself; there was no point in making the kid feel worse about what he'd done, and asking him to grab a pair of tweezers and dissect the injury he had inflicted certainly wouldn't help matters. He could feel the waves of guilt radiating off of Sam for the past four hours, but he couldn't bring himself to say anything to make him feel better about the whole thing.

Hell, he wasn't sure how to make himself feel better about it.

Eventually, Dean noticed that Sam had been staring at him for the past few minutes while he hadn't said a word. He opened his mouth to attempt at lightening the mood, changing the subject, when Sam's phone rang. Small miracles. Agitated, Sam flipped it open and pressed it to his ear.

"Hello? Yes, this is."

Sam grew silent for a moment, intently listening to the voice on the other end of the line.

"You said it's a- can you repeat that?"

Dean threw a concerned glance at his brother and noted the incredulous look on his face. Anger and curiosity were battling for dominance in his expression; his brows furrowed, and his mouth hung open slightly. Not too many things were capable of leaving his brainiac brother speechless.

"And this isn't some kind of practical joke? This is actually something that you think needs to be checked out?" Listening once more, Sam sighed. "Alright, well we're actually just north of that. We can be there in about two hours. Yep, talk to you then," Sam said, hanging up.

"Well? What the hell was that about?"
Sam ran a hand through his hair and laughed humorlessly. "You're never going to believe this. Start heading south, towards Dayton."

"Come on, Sammy, what for?"

"It's Sam. I'll tell you, but I haven't forgotten that we need to talk."

"Yeah, yeah. On with it, Dr. Phil."

Sam glared at him but shook his head and began.

"Alright, I know this sounds crazy, and I'm not sure if I even believe it, but hear me out. That was Caleb. He got word of something going on in Ohio, specifically Loveland. Something that sounds like our kind of thing. I think."

"Okay, so let's hear it!"

"There's been an unusual number of drownings in this town over the past ten years, but it seems to have ramped up over the last few months. Six people have drowned in the Little Miami River since January."

Dean scoffed. "Little Miami River? Why do I get the feeling it probably doesn't live up to its namesake?"

"Are we ever that lucky? Anyways, the area has lore." Sam paused, unsure how to continue. Dean glanced between his brother and the road, growing impatient.

"You're killin' me, Sammy. What's the lore?"

"Again, it's Sam. I don't really know all the details. Caleb didn't give me much to work with, but he said, and I'm quoting here, that this might be a 'Kermit situation.'"

Dean blinked.

"A Kermit situation? Come on, don't mess with me, man. Since when have The Muppets been our kind of thing? What does 'a Kermit situation' even mean? I'm about to call Caleb myself and chew his ass for this crappy prank. Things have been enough of a joke recently without his help."

Dean could feel Sam's sharp intake of breath, and mentally kicked himself for bringing the past few days back up to the surface. Sam busied himself, opening up the map and searching for Loveland. He waited a moment before replying.

"He promised me it wasn't a joke. He sounded pretty serious, said he and Dad had talked this over a few years ago, but something else came up and they never ended up looking into it. Just head towards Dayton, it's south on 75 from there."

With a brisk nod, Dean popped the Zeppelin cassette back into the player and skipped the tracks until the opening growl of Four Sticks drowned out the uncomfortable tension in the Impala.

Oh baby, it's crying time

Oh, baby, I got to fly

Got to try to find a way

Got to try to get away

'Cause you know I gotta get away from you, babe

Oh, baby, the river's red

Ah, baby, in my head

There's a funny feeling going on

I don't think I can hold out long

Dean tried not to flinch. Part of him felt an animalistic desperation to drop Sam off at a motel somewhere and just drive, putting as much distance between himself and Sam's accusations scraping through his brain. He had never felt this way about his brother, and he couldn't even put a name to the feeling. Dean couldn't keep ignoring the shakiness in his hands or the way his vision seemed to flash between the pavement and the steely disgust in Sam's eyes as he held the gun.

You hate me that much? You think you could kill your own brother? Then go ahead.

As he pulled the trigger, and the disgust turned to disappointment as the light click told him the chamber was empty.

Man, I'm not going to give you a loaded pistol!

The pain in his chest flared, and for a moment, he wished he had.

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Sam's hand smacked the Impala's door as he startled awake. He wasn't sure when he had fallen asleep. His hand smarted, and he rubbed it absentmindedly with the other.

The stillness of the car must have been what woke him up, although the way Jessica's scream was echoing in his head suggested his nightmare had had something to do with it too. Sam heard a slight cough and realized with a start that Dean was still sat next to him in the driver's seat and was trying to let Sam know he wasn't alone in the car. Embarrassed and unsure whether or not his brother knew he had been dreaming, Sam wiped at the drool in the corner of his mouth and asked, "How long have we been stopped?"

"Not long," Dean replied, "This was the first motel I could find in town, and if I wasn't desperate to get this hunt over with, I would've kept looking."

"Why?" Sam asked, though the question became irrelevant moments later.

The Loveland Motel looked like their usual haunts, with one exception. Next to the sign announcing the motel's name, there was a massive faded statue of a frog standing on its hind legs. Sam raised his eyebrows.

"A Kermit situation, huh?"

With a short laugh, Dean pushed the Impala's door open. "You can say that again."

The boys emptied the trunk of their duffle bags and made their way into the motel lobby to check in and were met by a friendly-looking middle-aged woman.

"Hi. Room for two, two queen beds if possible?"

The woman smiled and began typing on the ancient desktop in front of her.

"Sure thing. That'll be about $45 for the night."
Sam reached into his wallet and pulled out the card from their most recent credit scheme, handing it to the motel clerk.

"Ah, Duchovny! Like X-Files!"

Sam could feel Dean's smirk behind him and fought the urge to step on his foot.
"Wouldn't know ma'am, can't say I've ever seen it." He replied instead, attempting to be as politely as possible.

Dean chuckled as the woman walked them to their room.

Once inside, Dean chucked his duffle onto the bed nearest the door. Sam stood by the inside bed, hands on his hips. "We should probably head to the library, see what we can figure out about this thing."

Dean didn't look up from his bag as he slowly unpacked his things, and said instead, "Why don't you go ahead, Sam? I could really use a shower. Maybe I could meet you there."

Sam started to object but stopped short at the sight of the dark rings under his brother's eyes. He looked exhausted, and Sam couldn't blame him. The past few days had taken a toll on them both, and it wasn't often Dean asked for a break in this way.

"Sure, Dean. That sounds fine."

Moments later, Sam was gone, opting to walk to the library that couldn't be too far away. Dean released the breath he'd been holding since Illinois and made his way to the bathroom with the first aid kit.

Tenderly, he removed his jacket and got to work wrangling the black t-shirt over his head. Once it was off, he found himself face to face with someone that looked an awful lot like Dean Winchester, but completely and utterly broken down. The knuckles on his right hand had started to bloom with deep plum bruising, and he wondered if Sam had noticed the way they matched the shape of the ones on his jawline.

Dean turned, noting the spectacular bruises forming on his upper back, courtesy of being shot through a wall and landing hard on the floor. He groaned, wondering how he hadn't detected the pain in his back until this very moment.

Finally, he turned to look at his chest. It was an ugly mix of red and purple, the salt leaving pink foam around the edges. The wound wasn't too deep, thankfully, but it did hurt like a bitch.

Despite the pain, Dean couldn't disguise the fact that he was grateful for the distance from Sam. He never thought he would feel glad to be separated from his brother, but the suffocation he felt in the Impala had only grown the longer he drove. The motel could've been painted hot pink with cheetah print comforters and Dean still would've stopped. No hideous frog statue was going to stop him from escaping from that car, and honestly, with the fatigue in his bones and the pain in his chest, he would've collapsed soon anyways.

He grabbed one of the motel towels and, wetting it, began blotting away the blood rivulets that had run and dried down his stomach. Dean worked his way up, eventually soaking the towel with hot water in hopes of melting the remaining salt. He groaned and gripped the sink with his other hand, dizziness enveloping him as the pain set his chest on fire. Damn it! Hiding this one wouldn't be easy, but he would have to do his best. With a steely look at himself, Dean tried to rein in control of his body, and slowly got in the shower.

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"Dean? What are you doing in there, man?"

Shit. What was Sam doing back so soon? Dean lifted his head off of his arm, which was resting against the shower wall. The water had run cold, but the bathroom was filled with steam and the heat was oppressive. "One second, Sammy. Just finishing up."

No response. Sam didn't even correct his use of the childhood nickname. Dean turned the water off, ignoring the way the room spun. Once out of the shower, Dean dressed in the sweatpants he had brought in with him, and quickly opened the first aid kid and wrapped his chest in gauze. It wasn't easy, and it hurt every muscle in his torso, but the wound had already started to bleed lazily again, and the last thing he needed were bloodstains appearing on his shirt while talking to Sam. Dean grabbed his cell and flipped it open, checking the time. How had two hours passed? How long had he been standing in the shower like that? He vaguely remembered washing his hair, but the rest was a blur. It didn't matter. It couldn't matter. He secured the gauze, pulled on the dark gray tee, and stepped out of the bathroom.

Sam looked at him, but quickly looked away, his mouth a hard line. Confused at the reaction, Dean looked down and realized he had wrapped his chest a bit too thick. There was a lump under his chest that Sam would recognize as being where the rock salt had embedded itself in his brother. Shit, shit, shit.

Dean cleared his throat, desperate to break the thick tension that had settled in the small room. "So? What did you find? Any other Muppets we should be worried about?"

Sam pinched the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes shut. "Uh, yeah. You're probably gonna want to sit down or something. This one's a real doozy."
"A doozy? Since when have we ever called anything a doozy?"

"Since now. Sit down."

The command had a bit too much force, and Sam realized that his concern was bleeding through when he had been trying to be subtle. Regardless, Dean sat on the edge of the bed, eyebrows raised so far on his head that Sam almost laughed. Almost. He sat down in the small desk chair opposite Dean's bed, his lanky figure dwarfing the chair instantly.

"Alright, so get this. Back in 1955, a few businessmen claim to have seen a large frog-like creature under the bridge over the Little Miami River. It was spotted again by a cop who claimed he saw the same thing years later in 1972. Some folks decided it was just some big iguana or something, but no one really knew for sure. Since then, there's been a couple drownings in the river by that bridge every year. Just like Caleb said, there's been six drownings since January, which is a huge increase from before."
"Why do you think?" Dean asked, though he was still trying to wrap his head around the 'frog-like' part.

"Well, I looked into it. That bridge, the Loveland Bridge, is set to be demoed next month. There's been crews there for a while trying to plan the demolition and prep the area. The recent drownings have been workers, and a couple of locals."
"Think whatever it is is pissed off? That would explain the uptick in deaths. Maybe it just wants to be left alone, but these crews are messing with its territory."
"My thoughts exactly," Sam said, "The part that still confuses me is the description. For years, local legends have referred to this thing as 'The Loveland Frog.'"

Dean scoffed. "Boy, this town sure knows how to name things. Loveland this, Loveland that. I swear, I'm tired of hearing the word already. I guess we finally have a name for our friend in the parking lot"

Sam laughed. "Yeah, guess so. But I don't know of anything supernatural that fits the accounts. Nothing in Dad's journal, nothing online."

"Well then," Dean said, getting to his feet. "Time for us to check out this bridge. Hold onto your baguette Sammy. Looks like frog legs are officially on the menu."

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AN: Sorry this was posted with wonky formatting at first, it's been about 4 years and I've completely forgotten how the site works. Thank you to those who pointed it out so I could fix it!

The pandemic and subsequent 5-month quarantine has led to me rewatching seasons 1-5 of Supernatural twice, and since I've had so much free time, I figured I would give writing another shot. Let me know if y'all are interested in more! Reviews always welcome, and I hope you're all doing well. :)