Smells Like Trouble
Summary: Something just doesn't smell right… A motel stay gives our boys an ugly surprise.
Disclaimer: Is it just me or do these things make anyone else shake their heads? As if anyone from Supernatural gives a flying rat's patootie what we're up to over here… That said… I own exactly one thing and she's sitting out in the driveway. Try not to touch her. I'm funny that way.
"Dude, what is that smell?"
Sam flipped on the light switch by the door and walked farther into the motel room to stop beside Dean. Two beds. Two ugly bedspreads. One nightstand in between. A dresser against one wall with a TV bolted to it. A table and chairs, a couple of lamps. It looked like a hundred other motels and smelled about the same. Maybe a bit more stale than some. "I don't smell anything."
"What? You been hit in the face too may times? Your nose die?"
Sam merely rolled his eyes and threw his bag onto one of the beds. "Fine, Dean. It's dead. I don't care if it fell off somewhere back in Ohio. I just want to get some sleep."
Dean warily moved farther into the room, pulled the bag from his shoulder and tossed it onto the low dresser sitting along the wall opposite the beds. "You really don't smell that?" he asked incredulously.
"Smell what, man?" Sam asked tiredly.
Instead of answering, Dean continued to glance around the room. Sam's eyes widened seeing him pull the pistol from where he'd tucked it into his jeans at the small of his back. His brother's face was creased in concentration and he motioned for Sam to stay behind him.
Dean walked to the back of the small space toward the bathroom. Staying clear of the open doorway, he flipped the lights on and then off again, then moved on to the tiny closet opposite the bathroom. He put one hand on the closet doorknob, keeping a firm grip on the gun with the other.
"Dean, what are you doing?" Sam hissed.
His brother took his hand off the doorknob long enough to hold out a finger asking for silence and then jerked the closet door open. Apparently finding nothing out of the ordinary, he turned to face the room again, searching every inch of it with his eyes. The heater beside the door clicked on. Dean had the gun half-raised before lowering it again as the thing began to spit and cough to life, making an unbelievable racket.
"You may be reaching new heights of paranoia, Dean." Sam gave a short laugh, although he could not help an uncomfortable feeling of unease creeping up his spine. Having a job that usually ended with you dying young meant you took warnings where you could get them, even from a sometimes off-kilter partner. Sam cleared his suddenly hoarse throat. "It's just a motel room," he said in a calm, purposely soothing tone. "There's nothing wrong. There's no smell. Now get some sleep before you give me a complex."
Dean remained where he was, his gun in hand, resting against his leg. He scanned the room one last time and then a wide smile suddenly spread across his face. "What's the matter, Sammy? Am I scaring you? You need me to hold your hand?"
Sam let out the breath he hadn't even realized he'd been holding and sat down on the bed. "You're a jerk, you know that? Like I need any help being paranoid?"
Dean raised one eyebrow. "Just trying to add a little excitement to your life. I hear it's been pretty boring lately."
"Yeah, Dean. That's why I can barely move my left arm right now, because life's been so boring."
"You should've ducked," Dean said matter-of-factly. "But, no, it's your love life I was thinking of. Though there's really nothing I can do about that. You're so hideous even I want to run."
Sam grabbed one of the pillows off the bed and threw it at his brother. Much to his chagrin, Dean caught it one handed and tucked it under an arm, simultaneously tucking his gun back into his waistband. Reflexes like Dean's made it very difficult to annoy him properly.
"Why thank you, Sam. You know how much I love an extra pillow."
Sam snorted. "I'm only thinking of you, man. I know what a delicate flower you are."
Dean's mouth quirked up at one corner in a half-smile, but he only threw the pillow onto his own bed. "I need a shower."
"Go ahead," Sam sighed. "I doubt I could move right now anyway." He threw himself back on the bed and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as his tired muscles relaxed. After a few seconds he realized Dean had stopped moving and looked up to see his brother watching him expectantly. "What?"
The cheerful mask had dropped and, for once, Dean's face was completely serious. "You really don't smell anything?"
Sam frowned, that sense of unease returning, settling in his stomach. "No."
"Whatever, dude." Dean shook himself, as if waking up, gathered a few clothes from his bag and went in the bathroom shutting the door behind him.
Thankfully, the heater of doom gave one last cough and the unbelievable noise it had been making stopped as it shut off. Sam dozed lightly listening to the soothing sounds of the shower running and his brother's quiet humming. It sounded like Itsy Bitsy Spider. Sam smiled sadly as he always did when he heard Dean singing songs from their childhood when he thought Sam wasn't listening, songs from a lost childhood.
It wasn't every night, just sometimes. Sam didn't really know what set it off. He suspected it was when something was troubling his brother, an unconscious habit when he was trying to puzzle something through. Which brought back that twinge of unease and Sam took another whiff, once again trying to smell whatever it was that had set Dean off. He still didn't smell anything.
Dean moved on to 'Animal Crackers.' Sam knew from experience his brother had a surprisingly large repertoire of songs thanks to being left with various families, buddies, preacher types, priests, etc when they were too little to go on certain hunts. He supposed it was a natural progression when Dean changed to a Noah's Ark song and Sam was reminded that Sunday School had been particularly helpful for the little ditties. Since most of the people they visited were church going people, every Sunday had been spent there.
More than that though, Sam remembered a very kind lady who would sing them to sleep at night. Dean had been older by then and had pretended to be annoyed by the childish songs, but Sam could remember how quiet he had become as soon as the woman, whose name he couldn't even remember, would start to sing in her gentle voice. Maybe it reminded Dean of their mother. He had been just old enough to remember her singing to him, though he had mentioned it only once, and had been embarrassed even at that.
Sam heard the tune change again and thought it sounded like 'Sunshine Mountain.' It was probably the 'turn your back to evil' line that appealed to him. Sam only listened, knowing that even if he brought it up, a screaming banshee wouldn't be able to get Dean to admit to singing anything other than Zeppelin, Ozzy or even Rush.
The shower shut off after several minutes and Sam considered going to steal his pillow back before Dean came out, then thought better of it since it would require moving from his comfortable position. For the first time in hours his arm wasn't throbbing. Maybe he would just sleep in his clothes, he thought. It wouldn't be the first time. His eyes grew heavier and heavier listening to the distant noise of Dean moving around in the bathroom.
Sam bolted off the bed, sprinted the few feet to the bathroom door and threw it open to find Dean half sitting, half sprawled on the floor, blood already sliding down one side of his face, staining his fresh t-shirt. Sam spared a quick glace around the tiny bathroom and saw nothing amiss, no tell-tale smudges where Dean might have struck his head on anything. Nevertheless his brother had a gash hidden somewhere in his hair on the right side of his head that was starting to pour blood. Head wounds were always messy.
"What happened?" Sam's heart was racing a mile a minute as he reached for a towel. Dean took it and pressed the cloth against the wound with one hand and with the other allowed Sam to help him off the floor to sit on the edge of the tub.
"She hit me!"
"She? Who are you talking about, Dean?"
"That no good... She friggin' HIT me!"
"Dean, FOCUS!" Sam shouted.
Dean raised his eyes as if really seeing Sam for the first time. "I was looking in the mirror..."
Dean spared a glare. "And all of a sudden there was a woman standing behind me. I started to turn and she hit me!"
"Yeah, I got that part," Sam rolled his eyes. He grabbed Dean's gun from the sink and eased back into the main room, thumbing off the safety. It wasn't rock salt, but iron would do. "What did she look like?"
"I don't know," Dean snapped. "She was too busy trying to carve out my brain."
It was a tiny, sparsely furnished space and it only took a second for Sam to gage that they were once again alone. Stepping back toward Dean, he leaned his shoulders against the doorjamb, placing himself so that he could see both rooms. Looking down at his brother, he crossed his arms keeping the gun in hand. "Let's try this again. What did she look like? It's physically impossible for you to not notice a woman, Dean. Even if she's trying to kill you."
Dean raised one eyebrow, but grimaced at the pain it caused. "I can't help it if I have keen powers of observation," he mumbled.
"So observe." Sam rubbed a hand across his face, exhaustion quickly returning now that the immediate adrenaline surge was passing. His arm was also back to throbbing. Great. "It figures we can't even find a motel room any more without it turning into some sort of freak show."
He watched as Dean momentarily pulled the towel away from the wound on his head, frowned at the amount of blood soaked into it and then set it back in place. "You're going to need stitches in that. Let me see."
Dean waved him back angrily. "Thank you, Nurse Winchester. I think I can handle it."
Sam shook his head in annoyance and stood away from the doorjamb to go back into the room, but stopped when he heard his brother shift and clear his throat uncertainly.
"She was dark-headed, shoulder length hair, I think. But all messed up." He smirked. "Kinda like what you look like in the morning."
Sam ignored the jibe, knowing Dean was trying to make up for his harsh words as only his slightly psychotic brother could. "Old? Young?" he prompted.
"You're killing me here."
"Hey, you're expecting great revelations from the one she snuck up behind and clobbered over the head?"
"Maybe I should give her some pointers for next time," Sam frowned.
"Whatever, dude," his brother grimaced as he shifted the towel slightly, then grinned. "Chicks dig wounded heroes." The grin faded just as quickly, however. "I only got a glance, but she looked... tired... that old before your time look... worn. Fairly modern clothes, I think."
"Did she say anything?"
"Nope. I just looked up and there she was, glaring at me in the mirror."
Dean gestured with his free hand to his head. "I get the feeling I'm not her favorite person."
"She have a weapon?"
"I just didn't get a good look. Must have. Doubt she did this with her hand."
Sam grunted. "Unless she had claws."
Dean almost groaned. "Cheerful thought."
"Well at least she's gone for now." Sam pointed at the gash, "You going to let me look at that, or am I going to have to knock you out myself?"
"Fine," Dean growled, shifting forward where he was still sitting on the edge of the tub. "Just get it done. I need some sleep."
Sam's jaw dropped, completely aghast. "Whoa. You can't seriously think we're gonna stay here." They were both tired. There was no way they could make it safely through a night in a room with some sort of creepy crawly. They'd both pass out and it would be open season on the Winchester boys.
"Look, this dump is the only thing for miles. It's this or nothing." Dean shrugged as if there were no question.
"You're crazy," Sam said, his voice rising in exasperation. He knew Dean wouldn't sleep if they stayed in the room. Or he would try not to. He was hurt now and pushing past what any man should have to. They both needed rest and they wouldn't get it here. "We'll sleep in the car," Sam added firmly.
Dean stood, pulling his 'I'm older and wiser' persona around himself, ruining the effect by swaying slightly and having to brace a hand against the wall. "No. I'm tired, ticked and heavily armed. And besides that I already paid for this room."
Sam threw up his hands, then angrily jabbed a finger in his brother's direction. "Well if whatever it is kills us, I'm holding you personally responsible."
"What are you gonna do? Kill me again?" Dean shot at Sam's retreating back as he left to rummage through their bags for the industrial sized first aid kit they kept on hand.
"Don't tempt me!" Sam shot back over his shoulder. Despite his growing annoyance, however, he hurried back. "Sit," he ordered, then made quick work of the injury, washing the cut, disinfecting it and then using the equivalent of surgical superglue, a handy item they'd added to the supply after helping a veterinarian with a little ghost problem. The vet had patched them up afterward and had been glad to share.
It was rare, but occasionally the good old-fashioned barter system came into play. Kill one ghost, get some nice new supplies. Sam mentally chuckled as he worked, effectively gluing the sides of the gash together. If the stuff was good enough for Fido then it was more than good enough for Dean. Fido was probably less trouble, certainly better behaved.
"Done." Sam stepped back, but put out a hand to help Dean stand. When he was sure Dean was steady on his feet, he handed the gun to him.
Dean mumbled a curt, "Thanks," as he brushed past him and then pulled a fresh shirt out of his bag, exchanging it for the bloodstained one he had been wearing. He threw that one in the sink and ran cold water over it to let it soak in an attempt to try and save it.
"Better do the towel, too, or housekeeping will think we've butchered somebody in here," Sam said. Just another day in the Winchester Circus, he thought wearily.
While he put the First Aid kit away, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Dean set his gun on the nightstand. His brother then opened the room's front door and walked outside. Sam heard the trunk of the car open and close and Dean walked back in carrying a duffel bag full of supplies and a sawed-off shotgun they kept loaded with rock salt.
Dean caught him watching and shrugged. "Remember the Boy Scout motto, Sammy."
Sam sat down heavily on his bed, leaning back against the headboard. "Dean, you locked the only boy scout we ever met in a closet with a grendilowe."
His brother smiled at the memory. "Yeah, well he wasn't prepared, now was he? Besides he was being an ass."
Sam only grunted. Truth was, the kid had been an ass. "You gonna sleep with that under your pillow?" he nodded toward the shotgun.
"Don't be ridiculous," Dean said straight-faced. "I'm going to sleep with it under your pillow. Mine will be busy cushioning my manfully-wounded, but somehow still strikingly handsome head."
Sam began to reach for the other pillow on his bed and then stopped seeing Dean's full Cheshire Cat grin make an appearance. The jerk would keep that one too if he threw it at him.
"See? That college education did wonders for you, Sam."
The night passed quickly and quietly. They dressed in silence, though Sam noted Dean spent no longer than necessary in the bathroom. Sam pulled his shoes on as Dean shrugged into his leather jacket and adjusted the collar to sit just where he liked it. "You ready?" he asked.
Sam nodded. "You want to talk to the desk clerk first? See if he knows of anything weird going on here? Or do you want to hit the library and check the papers."
"Desk clerk," Dean said simply. He pulled the door open and both men stopped abruptly in the doorway. The parking lot was full of police cars, lights flashing.
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