Going in Circles
And now… the end is near… Thank you to everyone who's stuck with it.
Dean stood leaning against the hood of the car, well out of the way of the fire engines and tanker trucks. Sam sat on the hood beside him, his feet resting on the bumper. It looked to be several volunteer fire departments all trying to put out the field fire. Apparently burning one little set of bones was enough to set several acres of dry corn ablaze. Joe's bones were now just another bit of ash in the huge fire.
With a bit of subtle and not so subtle prodding, the deputy had decided that he'd fallen during the oddly localized earthquake and hit his head. Any other explanation would only require another round of questions and answers, most of which would get them committed.
Simon and his wife were back at their house, no doubt hugging the kids and convincing themselves that none of it had ever happened. There was no such thing as ghosts. They'd been caught in a field fire and the smoke had gotten to them. Dean had no doubt though that there would be questions and fighting later when the memories didn't fade quite fast enough.
He sighed. At least they were upwind. It always took forever to get the smell of smoke out of his clothes. Hazard of the job. As often as they ended up burning corpses, they probably smelled like two pack a day smokers and just couldn't tell it anymore.
That smell… the smoldering field, it smelled like autumn. It made him think of raking leaves into huge piles to be burned, little kids running around in costumes, watching the World Series; things nice normal people did in the fall. Things he'd never actually done himself, apart from watch the World Series, but they were images permanently imprinted in his brain of normal life. He didn't necessarily want those things. It was more like a beautiful painting of a far off life that he could appreciate if never have.
"You ok, man?" Sam asked. "You look a hundred miles away."
"Yeah," Dean nodded, clearing his throat. "Just thinking."
"Thinking about what?"
"Baseball," Dean grinned. "What do you think of the Cubs' chances next year? Gotta root for the underdog."
Sam snorted. "Fine. Don't tell me."
"What? You don't like muscle cars. You don't like decent music. Now you don't like baseball?" Dean shook his head. "You sure you're American?"
Sam glared at him. "I'm still holding out hope I was adopted."
Dean grinned. "Sorry, Sammy. Can't get rid of me that easy."
"You ready to get out of here?"
"Hey, guys! Wait!" They both turned to see Tom jogging toward them.
Sam stood up from where he was still sitting on the hood of the car and shoved his hands in his pockets. It always amazed Dean, seeing his brother's shy childhood habits still in action. "How are you feeling?" Sam asked politely.
"Fine, fine," Tom said, waving the concern away. He seemed to be so excited he was practically jumping out of his skin. "I need to know if you two would be willing to write out statements."
"I beg your pardon?" Dean asked, hardly believing his ears.
Tom eyes widened. "You were eyewitnesses to an attempted abduction! It has to be documented!"
Sam and Dean briefly shared a glance. Dean couldn't hide his smile, while Sam actually looked embarrassed for the guy.
"Tom… we…" Sam seemed to be at a loss for words. "I'm not sure what you think happened tonight."
"But…" the man looked crestfallen. "In the crop circle… The readings were off the scale! And you felt it! I know you did!"
"Tom, there was a field fire," Sam said, his tone placating as he put a hand on his shoulder. "I think we all just got a little too much smoke."
"No!" Tom jerked away from him. "I know you felt it, whatever that force was!"
"Dude, you're from Star Trek. You're not supposed to know about the Force," Dean muttered.
"Don't make fun of this!" Tom ordered angrily. "You," he stabbed a finger at Dean. "I passed out in the circle and you pulled me out. I saw you when I woke up… and then everything got hazy. But I remember you pointing a gun at me."
Dean shifted uncomfortably. He'd really been hoping the man wouldn't remember anything from his time while the ghost was in residence.
"What do you think this is? The Wild West?" Dean asked, doing his best version of 'innocent bystander.' "Why would I be pointing a gun at you? You're just lucky they didn't arrest you for being in that field again," he added. "Are you sure you're ok? Maybe you got a little more smoke than the rest of us."
"There was a woman," Tom frowned in concentration. "I think… I think I kissed her."
Dean's mouth quirked up on one side. "Well, that must have been a new experience."
Tom paid no attention, looking out toward the field in confusion. "The ground… it… it was like a wave… I… we were sinking… And I think I made it happen."
"The earthquake," Sam offered.
Tom shook his head vehemently. "No! I know what I saw! I… I think I was a vessel!"
Dean barely managed to contain a laugh. "You were a what?"
"A vessel!" the man said, latching onto the idea with relish. "They were trying to communicate!"
"Who?" Dean asked reluctantly.
Dean was already shaking his head. "Nobody was trying to talk to you. I'm not sure I want to talk to you." And that was certainly true. Sadly, other than the alien bit, the poor guy wasn't too far off the mark. Just like it always seemed to happen in the little circus they called their lives, they'd all been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"But what did I say?" Tom practically begged. "I was awake. I was talking! I've already been to see Mr. Winters and he wouldn't tell me anything!"
"Tom," Sam said, "I think you need to calm down. You passed out. And yeah, when you came to, you were talking. But you weren't making a whole lot of sense."
"What I said… Maybe it wasn't English… or maybe it was in code!" the man answered gleefully. "Just tell me what you can remember. I'll take it to a guy I know."
"Dude, how many times did you get pantsed in high school?" Dean asked in disbelief.
Sam glared at him before turning back to the man facing them. "Tom," Sam said gently, "there's really nothing more we can tell you. The whole field is gone now and so are your crop circles. I think you're going to need to move on."
"Move on?" Tom blinked as if just waking up. "Move on? You've been trying to stop me all along, haven't you? You were following me yesterday. You followed me into the crop circle. You followed me after I got out of jail." He raised a hand as if warding them off and backed up a few steps. "It was you," he said in horrified awe. "You two… you burned the field."
"Now hold on there," Dean said, but Tom cut him off.
"You did this? Just to stop me from finding out?"
Dean looked at Sam and just shrugged.
"Who are you?" Tom demanded. "Government? CIA? FBI?" His eyes suddenly widened and he took several more steps back. "You're Men in Black!"
"I'm much better looking than Will Smith," Dean said indignantly. "And Sammy here… well… all right, he could be Tommy Lee Jones. Bossy, minimal sense of humor… He's already getting wrinkled in his old age."
"Hilarious, Dean," Sam sighed. "But you're not helping the situation."
"What would help this?" Dean shot back. "Although, I wish I had one of those memory zapper thingies…" He waved a hand in Tom's direction. "It would take care of this."
"You stay away from me!" Tom bellowed. "Everyone is going to know what happened here tonight! The world will know! You can't stop the truth!" The man turned on his heel and sprinted away.
Dean snorted. "That's what he thinks. Most people wouldn't know the truth if they sat on it."
"He's not a bad guy. Just a little… misguided," Sam said, watching the man's retreating figure. "Do you have to taunt everyone we come across?"
"Of course, I do," Dean grinned. "Mocking the clueless… It's one of the few perks of this job."
"Fine," Sam sighed. "Let's go. Before he finds his other UFO friends and they show up to interview us."
Dean raised an eyebrow. "You sure you don't want to stick around and make sure they're using the scientific method? Check their research?"
"Get in the car," Sam ordered testily.
"First we're avenging angels and now we're the Man keeping the little guy down," Dean sighed. "We just can't win tonight."
"Saved three people," Sam said, casting him a sidelong glance.
"Whatever." Dean shrugged and threw the keys to him. "You drive. I could use a nap."
Sam threw the keys right back at him and got in on the passenger side. "What are you 80?"
"Hey… I dragged your sorry butt out of that crop circle. I can put it right back there," Dean pointed to the smoldering field.
"I sleep… what? Two nights a week all the way through and now you want special treatment?"
"Snot-nosed, ungrateful brat," Dean said, pulling open the car door and sliding into the driver's seat, though he nearly smiled. "Thought I raised you better than that." Only after it was out did Dean realize what he'd said and fought not to blush in embarrassment. He'd thought he was incapable of blushing anymore.
Beside him, Sam sat very still for only a second. "You did." Then he coughed, equally embarrassed and grinned. "The problem is that I also grew up with you. And you were a bad influence, man."
Dean was thankful for Sam's willingness to let the remark go without delving into it. "Just don't blame your hair on me," he said. "I tried to take you to the barber."
Sam snorted. "You threatened to shoot me if I didn't go. That one time you even went armed. You were like the opposite of a bodyguard."
Dean laughed at the memory as he started the car. Sam might smile now, but at the time he'd been furious. His brother had snitched thirty seconds after they got home and Dean had been in for it. Dad had given him just one of many in a long line of 'you have to be the responsible one' lectures.
Sadly Dean thought he had been. He'd heard a teacher remark how scruffy Sam looked. Dean's twelve year old brain had translated the solution into getting Sam a new shirt and cutting his hair or have social services called yet again to make sure they were being taken care of. It had worked and for once in his life the kid hadn't looked like something the cat dragged in. And it had only cost Dean an afternoon of the silent treatment from his brother and a lecture. Not a bad day's work.
"So where to now?" Dean asked.
"We were going to Illinois, weren't we?" Sam said.
Dean sighed. Oh yeah. The maybe it's a ghost, but probably it's nothing case. "Right. Illinois."
"I'm sorry. Am I boring you with this hunting evil stuff?" Sam laughed.
"Maybe we should've kept Tom with us," Dean raised an eyebrow. "He could've taught me the Vulcan Death Grip."
"I'm not letting you stay up late anymore," Sam said. "The Sci-Fi Channel is not good for you."
Dean just grinned. "Beam me up, Scottie."
And there you have it. Hope it kept you amused.