Until They Have Fallen

Disclaimer: I own nothing from the world of Supernatural but maybe this year, since I've been so good, Santa will . . .

A/N: This is a SFTCOL(AR)S Secret Santa fic for Faye Dartmouth. Merry Christmas Faye! Although divided into chapters, it's all being posted at the same time so no one had to wait. Many thanks to Gemini Gr11 who beta'd this and gave great encouragement and advice!

The tall technician pulled out the drawer in the morgue cooler. His partner coughed at the stink of scorched flesh. "That's nasty. Why don't you pull back the sheet?"

Sam glared at Dean. Why did his brother always insist he touch the dead bodies? Twitching back the sheet, he grimaced at the corpse's face. White teeth glistened from between charred lips. An intense heat had cooked the body.

"Whoa. The mummy returns, just not so . . . juicy." Dean grinned at his own wit which was ignored as usual.

Sam shook his head, though he had to admit it, Dean was right; it looked like a mummified corpse. He carefully plucked the sheet away from more of the body, swallowing convulsively.

His collar rubbed at the scab on the back of his head. Their last hunt had ended with Sam knocked out after his head had lost an argument with a wall. Dean had been able to stop the ghost from choking his brother further, but not before he'd lost consciousness. He still bore cuts and bruises on his face. More were hidden under his clothes. Taking a shallow breath, he surreptitiously checked for the location of the nearest trashcan and jumped as Dean nudged him.

"Lift the body."

"You lift it."

"You want to look at it up close and personal?" Dean really didn't want to admit that his shoulder still hurt. His left arm still wouldn't fully rotate without pain. Sam had been able to pop it back into socket and neither had wanted to see a doctor. They had planned to take a rest to heal but a newspaper article drew their attention to a strange death and here they were.

"Fine." Sam levered the body off the table, praying it would not snap in half.

Dean leaned forward and peered at James Tisdale's back looking for any markings caused by wounds or tattoos or even magic markers. There was nothing. "Huh. There's nothing showing he was participating in any ritual sacrifice or ceremony. Maybe it was just an accident like the news said."

"Lightning doesn't appear out of nowhere in broad daylight without a cloud in sight. Come on, Dean, you know better. This has to be caused by something else. Our kind of something else."

"Any ideas, Geek Boy?"

Sam snorted at the hated nickname. It annoyed him almost as much as "Sammy" and he knew Dean used them both to irritate him.

"A demon?"

"Maybe. A fire imp?"

"I don't know. Newspaper says his mother lives nearby. Maybe she can give us a clue."


The elderly woman who opened the door welcomed the two Massachusetts state troopers into her house. They expressed their condolences on the loss of her son as they informed her they were there to investigate his death. After seeing her guests seated, Mrs. Tisdale offered them cups of tea. Hands shaking, she served them both before clutching her own cup against her breast.

Sam turned on the charm as Dean settled back to observe. It never failed to amuse him. His younger brother would leave here laden with cookies if he chose; he charmed the elderly so well. Now, a younger woman would sooner fall prey to his own brand of charm, but Mrs. Tisdale did not fall into that category at all.

Even though she was welcoming, Mrs. Tisdale was confused. "I don't understand why you are here. My James wasn't killed by anything other than a bolt of lightning."

"We understand that, Ma'am, but the circumstances are confusing." Sam oozed compassion. His earnest eyes met hers as he continued, "Why was he out there on that property in the first place?"

"He was at the Cleeves' apple orchard up on Route 128 near Beverly looking to buy it. I told him not to but, of course, he wouldn't listen."

Dean spoke up for the first time. "Why did you tell him not to?" He leaned forward like a dog on a scent.

"Well, there've been stories about that orchard."

Both Winchesters sat up straighter at that.

"What kind of stories, Ma'am?" Sam twisted his neck inside his too-tight collar. His head had started to throb. A bit of foreboding rose in him. What now? he thought.

"It has a bad reputation. No one has been able to farm it. The family has tried to sell it, many times, but no one ever is able to close on it. Someone in each generation wants to get rid of it but then someone dies."

"So your son's death was not the first?" Dean ignored Sam's glare, secure in the knowledge he sat too far away from his brother's freakishly long legs to worry about being kicked. "Were any of the others burned to a crisp like he was?"

Sam briefly closed his eyes and prayed for self-restraint. His brother could be so oblivious at times. "Who is the broker?" Sam tried to steer the conversation away from the more painful topic.

"I don't remember his name but I think I have his card here somewhere. Let me get it."

As she left to find the promised card, Sam turned to Dean, annoyance coloring his features. "Dean," Sam hissed. "Stop it. You're going to give her a coronary."

"Nah, she's tough. These old la. . ." His voice trailed off as the octogenarian tottered back into the room.

"Here you go," she quavered.

"Ma'am," Sam touched the brim of his hat as he rose. "Thank you for everything. If we have any more questions, could we give you a call? I promise we'll let you know if we find anything new about your son's case."

With Mrs. Tisdale's farewell echoing in their ears, Sam and Dean walked down the driveway towards the Impala. Once out of earshot, Dean nudged Sam, "We need to check on those other incidents."


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