Okay, there's only so many times that you can rewrite a one-shot that's now a two-shot before you have to just take the plunge. I started writing this for Jared after the CW interview with him saying that he wanted to see what Sam could really do in a fight, so this is my attempt at Sam being the provider after Dean gets his ass kicked. Takes place after 'Usual Suspects.' There are some nasty swear words... I always forget to mention that...

Many thanks to Faye Dartmouth who helped me rethink some of the ways I should do this, and to Gem who added her $.02 (okay more like the $20) and came up with the title as well. Parts are unbeta'd, so all those mistakes are mine. I mean, how many times can you send a story off to someone before they get totally sick of it, right? Plus thanks to Lemmypie who mentioned the goo that comes out of your nose from a concussion. Wow, has anyone ever been thanked for goo before?

I also spent the evening redoing my 'home page' since I didn't get to see the episode tonight (we were pre-empted for basketball! Arugh!) so please check it out.

Also, a quick thanks to all the wonderful people who helped me through my 'time of darkness' - especially Gem and Lemmy. Sometimes we forget that this is the internet and deceit reins supreme. It's comforting to know that there really are a LOT of good people out there who do have true spirits. Thanks for leading me back to the light.


"Just a quick stop, Sammy. Routine salt and burn," Dean concluded, having already made the turn, driving the Impala into the LaFayette graveyard. The guttural tones of the vehicle filled the air with its song; a song that didn't belong in a cemetery at 11 p.m.

"Routine. Hmmm," Sam added with a quirk, shifting his eyes to regard his brother. "When is anything in our lives routine?" He grabbed the bits of information he found on the internet about the Perrin Bed and Breakfast, mulling them over as a last reassurance in the process.

It seemed that the original owner of the B&B had a son. John Perrin III had a nasty fall down the home's stairs as a young man, rumored to be pushed by his wife's lover, leaving his angry spirit behind. No one was ever able to put the story to fact, but it didn't stop the oral history from growing into a monster of its own. And it didn't stop the strange tumbles that guests continued to have as they made their way down the same staircase.

Nor did it stop the ghostly sightings of said man.

"You know, Dean, I think I'd like to do a little more research. Just to make sure," Sam added, trying to slip past his uneasy fears of this case, hoping that Dean wouldn't get up in his face. Sam knew his brother was itching for a hunt, and this seemed simple enough…

"Sammy, do you need to sit this one out? Should I get you a pacifier and a blankie? Maybe some warm milk?" chided Dean in a mocking tone, then throwing a fake punch at Sam. When he saw him actually flinch, Dean looked at Sam and stopped the teasing, suddenly realizing there was more to this than met the eye. His brow furrowed as he scanned his brother's visage. "Are you serious? Do you really want to wait?"

Sam sighed and shook himself from the sudden feeling of dread, looking at Dean with a strong conviction. "No, it's fine. Let's just do this." He grabbed for the handle of the passenger door before he changed his mind. The creak from the black beast echoed as the final notes of their moonlight mechanical serenade enveloped the graveyard.

The two walked in silence as they found the grave marker of John Perrin III; nasty spirit extraordinaire. In perfect synchronicity, they began to unearth the plot, happy that the soil was not as solid as hunts past. Dean struck the coffin about forty-five minutes in and started cracking open the brittle wood, revealing the skeleton below. Sam climbed out of the grave and went to the duffle for the salt and lighter fluid.

Everything seemed to be going according to plan, but then a chill went up Sam's spine. The feelings of doubt flooded his mind, and before he even had a chance to react, he felt the icy tendrils of the ghost upon him.


Sam's cry elicited a gopher move from Dean, who watched in horror as his baby brother got tossed into a tall oak tree. He heard the thud, and the expelling of air from Sam's lungs as a groan left his lips. Sam's face contorted into a painful grimace, then he fell limp to the ground.

"No! Sammy!"

Dean pulled himself halfway from the pit only to be met by ghostly hands that made their way around his neck. His back was arched over the hole, leaving his legs dangling on the edge of the grave. He tried to kick at the specter, fighting the hold on the ethereal body to no avail. Irony suddenly filled Dean's mind as he realized that his brother got tossed into a tree while he sat there getting strangled.

It's a role reversal for us…

Dean's attention was brought back to the moment as he thought of his brother's body against the tree; unmoving. He fought harder, needing to see if Sam was alright. Dean grasped once again at the wispy digits around his neck, but the edge of darkness began to close in around him.

"Hey," a voice shouted suddenly, and the ghost's grip loosened ever so slightly. There behind him stood Sam, aiming his unsteady gun at the spook's head. He was shaken and stirred, but determined to save his sibling's life.

"Leave my brother alone."

John Perrin was no longer a man, but an angry phantom. One that now enjoyed torturing people; hurting them. Since his tumble down the stairs, he had gone from confused to irate as the decades passed. Gone was the man who remembered a loving family and a prosperous future. Gone was the man who was revered by the townsfolk as a philanthropist.

This was now one pissed off ghoul, and right now the only thing that mattered was that Dean Winchester had cracked open his coffin and meant to do him irreparable harm.

And with that knowledge spurring him on, the ghost lifted the eldest Winchester from the ground and slammed him into the headstone leaving Dean cataleptic and unable to fight the deadly grasp on his throat.

The spirit looked at Sam, daring him to come closer, relishing in the pain he was causing at every turn. An evil grin spread across Perrin's face as he watched the emotional torture he was educing in the man with the gun. Slowly, the ghost turned back to his unconscious victim, going in for the kill, waiting for the pained cries from the survivor standing to the left of him.

As Sam inched closer to the scene, anger erupted from Sam at seeing the state of his brother; his skin gray and his lips turning a pale shade of blue. Sam had failed to protect Dean; had not put his foot down when he knew that something was wrong about this hunt. And he felt overwhelming guilt at his misjudgment of the situation.

That last look from the specter was all the motivation Sam needed to introduce the ghost to a nice belly full of rock salt, jettisoned by pure hatred for the thing that had hurt his brother.

A cry ricocheted through the cool night air as the once-man disappeared again.

Sam ran to Dean's side, giving him a quick once-over to make sure everything was still in place and in working order. He was relieved to find a strong pulse. The examination revealed swelling in Dean's neck with thin fingerprints decorating it that impeded his breathing, and a nice knot on the back of his head that had leaked some crimson. He was probably filled with bruises from head to toe as well, but they were not as troublesome as Dean's visible coloring.

"Dean?" Sam tried softly, knowing he would be met with silence. He patted his brother's face a few times with no response.

Knowing that Perrin would soon return with a vengeance, Sam found a renewed surge of adrenaline. Fearing for his brother's life, and not wanting to meet the base of the tree again, Sam grabbed Dean and dragged him away from the grave. He headed straight for the car, placing Dean as carefully as he could near the metallic body.

"I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere."

Sam quickly raced back to the grave, poured the salt and lighter fluid generously along the coffin and pulled out their flare-like matches. He watched the pyro display as the flames licked the top of the headstone, illuminating the stain of blood that Dean's head had left behind. A pang of guilt devoured him.

A blood-curdling scream hit the night. Then nothing.

"Routine my ass!"

The old hotel in LaFayette, Indiana was now un-haunted.

Coming down from his adrenaline high suddenly, Sam felt his energy drain into the ground. He trudged back to the car, now aching and exhausted, have the overwhelming need to check on his brother.

Despite the bruising on his back from such a hard meeting with the foliage, Sam had walked away relatively unscathed from the hunt. Pieces of bark that jutted out from years of wear and tear would now create a map of blues and purples along his spine. The wind had been knocked from him at the force of the throw, causing momentary paralysis, but he was able to shake it off once he saw his brother in danger. Sam knew he would certainly be stiff for a few days, but it was nothing a mound of ibuprofen couldn't handle.

Sam sighed as he approached Dean lying on the grass.

He looked at his peaceful brother, knowing that the façade of quiet was masking a world of hurt. Sam stretched his own back, feeling the sting of the damaged muscles, knowing that he still needed to finish the job at the grave. He leaned over Dean noticing for the first time that clear fluid leaked from his nose. Sam had certainly seen that sign enough over the years, but he wasn't sure how severe the concussion was.

Now he was conflicted.

Every instinct Sam had told him to rush Dean to the hospital. To mother hen him to death and take care of him. The problem was they had $20 and change between them. No insurance. And no valid credit cards. They'd almost been busted by the 'Jimmy Hendricks' card Dean had insisted on, and they hoped their fresh assortment would be waiting for them at their drop box in Kansas City. This 'routine' job was on their way there.

Until then, they had nothing.

"Dean'll be fine," Sam said aloud before he even realized he was reassuring himself. He knew Dean would just need some time to heal, with several ice packs enveloping different parts of his body. He'd need a few stitches too…Or at least, that's what Sam hoped.

But most of all, Dean needed to rest in a bed to make it all possible.

"Hey, I don't know if you can hear me, Dean, but I need to go finish up with Sparky there. I'll be back in a few minutes." Sam waited for some kind of response, but received none. He huffed again and dragged himself back over to the still-smoldering gravesite. With energy he didn't know he had, Sam quickly filled in the grave and took away any evidence that the Winchesters were there, including the bloodstain on the grave marker.

As Sam returned to his brother's side, he looked at Dean's pallor. He grunted as he pulled his sibling into the passenger seat, taking the prized driver's seat as his own. Dean was unresponsive; his continued lack of protesting was disturbing to say the least. Sam once again considered a trip to the hospital. It would certainly give them a place to stay for the night…

We can't afford to get caught. Not after all that's gone on over the past few months.

Dean was officially a wanted man, and Sam? Well, he probably had some unpaid parking tickets that would warrant a nasty fine. Regardless, he didn't want to take the chance that his brother would be identified, causing even more trouble than they were already in.

Sam had run out of known options and was now desperate for an answer; any answer. He put the car in drive and headed towards town, hoping that something would scream out at him.

It was 12:35 a.m. on a Tuesday. The bar crowds were heavy along the strip as he headed along Sagamore Pkwy, looking for some kind of sign to help them out.

And there it was: Hunter's Pub. Not too big, not too small. It had billiards and darts.


While hustling was certainly more Dean's thing, Sam could indeed hold his own. The remorse of jilting people out of their money was something that he had an issue with, but Sam knew this was their only chance for some much needed cash. Stealing a glance at his struggling brother, and seeing his failure visible in the colors forming around Dean's neck, he pulled into the parking lot, making up his mind.

As the car halted, Dean groaned slightly, eliciting a flurry of concern from Sam.

"Hey. How're ya feeling? You took quite a knock on the head there, Princess," Sam began, knowing that teasing would be the best way to get Dean into the 'here and now.' That, and knowing that he wasn't in the driver's seat of the beloved Impala. "You let a poltergeist get the drop on you?"

"Bite me," Dean snarked back, moving slightly in the seat.

Sam smiled with relief knowing that Dean was at least with him, even if not at full strength. "Let me see your eyes, Dean." Sam grabbed the flashlight from the back seat and pried his brother's eyes open, hoping for normal dilation.

"Dude, get off me."

But Sam persisted, watching his pupils, convinced that Dean certainly had a concussion but it was not as severe as he had feared. In normal circumstances, Sam would have hawked over Dean, making sure his every breath was accounted for; but times were desperate.

He knew that Dean couldn't spend the night in the car, and they would need some sort of clean washroom to attend to the wounds. While it was risky, Sam felt it would be alright to leave Dean for a short while, resting in the car. Just enough time to try and earn some money to provide a pillow and comfort for his big brother.

"Dean, I'm going to go hustle some pool," Sam began, throwing the flashlight in the back of car and looking for that extra change he knew was around there. The young hunter scurried around as he continued to spout his plan of action. "You need a bed, and I need a shower. Can you stay here for an hour or so?"

That got Dean's attention, suddenly realizing that his guardian duties were being threatened, and his role as chief breadwinner was being challenged. "You're going to hustle? Are you high?" Dean asked, shifting his weight and aiming for the door. "I'll do it." But he couldn't find the door handle. Either of them.

"Yeah, okay. That would be the quickest $20 lost in history," retorted Sam, guiltily laughing at his brother's plight. "I can do this. It's just a few rounds, then we can get a good night's sleep at 'El Cheapo Inn.'"

Dean tried to catch his focus, but only found that his head hurt like a son of a bitch. He would certainly not let that little bit of information escape his lips, however. "I don't like it, Sam. You don't have the poker face." Dean grimaced as a stabbing pain shot behind his eyes. He continued on anyway. "They'll eat you alive."

Sam's faced reddened at the remark. He knew that Dean was out of it, and that he was obviously in pain, but he was tired of feeling inadequate when it came to getting 'cash advances' to survive in their daily life. Dean didn't trust Sam to hustle pool, even in the battered state he was in. After all this time! Sam hated being relegated 'Geek Boy' every waking moment and knew he could earn some cash every once in a while, too.

He was now angry and hurt all at once; not sure which emotion to unleash at his ailing brother.

"Really? I've done this before, Dean. I'm not the ten year-old that you used to beat every time we played a match. I've watched. I've learned. And I've practiced. Now shut up and get some rest."

Angry had apparently won out.

And without another word, adrenaline rushed through Sam once again as he opened the door and left Dean behind, not giving him a moment to respond.

A slight smile crossed Dean's lips at his brother's moxy. "Go get 'em, tiger," he whispered as he fell back against the window and drifted to sleep.


Sam strolled into the bar and perused the scene. It was definitely a college bar and definitely rocking. The pit of his stomach roared to life as he tried to slip into the crowd of drunk scholars and blend in. A buxom blonde caught his eye as she looked at him, hungrily, scanning his physique. He gave her a quick nod and his patented two-second smile and moved along. She huffed and watched him go.

He'd never really spent time in a bar alone – he was either with Dean (where he could hide in the corner and do his research, usually undisturbed) or Jess. He sighed deeply at the thought of his beautiful Jessica and how he had failed her. How he could have saved her, but ignored what was right in front of him. His thoughts were brought back to reality and the care for his brother.

He wouldn't – couldn't - fail his brother.

Sam needed money, and this was where he would get it.

Shaking himself from introspection, Sam took a much needed deep breath and walked further into the bar. It was crammed, but Sam found a spot to get the bartender's attention. He noted on the board that tonight's special was $1.50 for MGD, and he had two dollars in various forms of change, in addition to the $20 he had for an opening bet. Enough to get him a seat at the pool table with beverage in hand. Sam dumped the cash on the bar, and meandered over to the three pool tables in heavy use.

He watched for a while, taking in the players; who would be an easy mark, who would fall hard. Sam sipped his beer slowly, making every drop last as he eyed his prey.

Then he spied him. A blonde frat boy who was good, but not too good. Even better, he was cocky. Sam knew the type and could play him like a fiddle. Could use his machismo as a weakness and get his brother a soft bed for the night.

"How's that for ya, Craig? Didn't think I'd sink that one, did ya?" The obnoxious man touted, taking a swig of his beer. "Pay up, man."

Craig pulled a few bills from his pocket and slammed them on the pool table.

"You were just lucky, Jimmy. No one can make a shot like that," the man huffed as he walked away, pushing the few onlookers out of the way.

Jimmy grabbed his winnings and glanced around the vicinity, shaking the small fortune in the air. "Anyone else? Wanna take me on?"

"Sure, I'll give it a shot," announced a voice behind him. Jimmy turned to see the lanky man with a mop of brown hair. He looked disheveled and tired. Easy prey.

"You got the cash?"

Sam smiled and pulled out the last $20 and laid it on the table. "Will that do?"

"For starters, yeah." Jimmy looked to his wad of cash from his last victim, yanking a twenty of his own and slapping it to the table. He pocketed the rest. "You wanna break?"

Sam nodded as he watched him rack the balls. He swallowed down his heart and took aim, breaking the pyramid with a crack and sinking a solid.

"Nice break, kid," yelled Jimmy, wondering how good he was, eying Sam up and down.

Sam sunk two more balls before 'missing' the orange 5 by inches.

A few curious onlookers had now joined in the spectating; wondering how good this new guy was.

"Oh, too bad. You had it going for a minute, slick." Jimmy grabbed his stick and began to bang in the balls, one after another. First the orange and white 13 ball, then the red and white 11. One after another, until he had only the 10 and the 12 left.

Then, he missed.

Jimmy was piss-mad as he slammed the stick to the side of the table. Sam's mouth curved up in a smile. This guy hated to lose, and he was falling right into line with Sam's plan.

Green, purple, red. All the balls sank. Then he eyed the orange 5, knowing this was his key. Sam took a moment to chalk the tip of the stick, eyeing it intently. He made like he was really nervous (method acting and all, even though he really was nervous), and missed the hole.

The crowd around the table erupted, hoping that Jimmy had finally met his match.

"Eight ball, corner pocket." Crack. End of game.

The blonde swooped in and took the rest of the balls easily, grabbing the $40 from the side of the table.

"Thanks, kid!"

Sam looked crushed; shoulders slumped, and even had a bit of a pout to his lips. He peered up at the jock and tried his best defeated look. "Double or nothing, man? Come on. I deserve another shot, right?"

The crowd was certainly behind Sam, seeing as most of them had lost several Jackson's to Jimmy already. Cries of support for Sam milled about and Jimmy heard the rumblings of the masses as he realized he might have met the best player of the night.

If he only knew.

"Sure. Why not? You think you can beat me? I'll let you give it another shot."

Hook. Line. Sinker.

The balls were racked again, this time with Jimmy taking first shot. He sunk a solid and began his trip around the table, missing his third ball, giving the turn back to Sam.

Sam knew he had to play it cool. If he ran the table, they'd be on to him, but he could get himself close. Four balls went in before the miss and the cue went back to Jimmy.

Jimmy made the next four and Sam got a little nervous. Even so, he eyed the 8 ball with confidence. Jimmy relished in his impending victory, enough so to stop and chalk the cue, adding to the tension in the room.

"Just hit the damn ball you jackass," cried Craig from the back, hoping that he would miss the shot and eat some crow.

Jimmy flipped him off and aimed for the cue ball. He made a huge production and when it was said and done, he missed.

The crowd erupted in clapping, sighs and laughter.

Sam eased a breath of relief and grabbed the stick again. He picked off the remaining three balls, leaving the elusive 8 ball for both men.

The shot was hard, Sam knew it. But he was gaining the confidence of the crowd. He could feel their energy, willing him to win and give Jimmy's ego a mental slap.

"I bet $20 the kid sinks the shot."

"I'll take that bet."

Sam looked up and smiled his patented two-second grin again and returned his gaze to the table. He studied the angle, determining that the left pocket was a better shot for him, even though it was a little more difficult. "Eight ball, left center pocket."

Jimmy chuckled and watched as his new foe aimed. He was surprised at the selection of the pocket, but soon ate his words as the snap of the ball hitting its brothers in the pocket was heard.

Cheers erupted and Sam felt slaps on the back. Someone handed Sam a new beer and a red-head slunk to his side to whisper her congratulations in his ear, purposefully brushing her large, nearly-exposed breasts into his arm.

The irate frat boy pulled the $40 from his wallet and smacked it, hard, on the table, causing the crowd to turn in his direction.

"Double or nothin'. I gave you the chance, now you have to do the same."

Sam looked around the room. The crowd was on his side. It felt good to be the hero for once and not the research sidekick to Dean's gunslinging. He took a deep breath, pretending to think it over, and finally nodded.

Instantly, the balls were racked and Jimmy made a gesture to Sam to break, which he did, sinking the solids again.

The play continued for another four balls, with the strategic miss on Sam's part to volley back to his opponent. Jimmy sank 5 before he missed. Cursing and swearing, he relinquished the table back to Sam, waiting for the tall man to make his move.

Sam looked at the table and lined up his remaining shots. A knot started to form in his stomach as his mind drifted back to Dean sleeping, injured, in the car and he knew he was running out of time. His eyes hit the $160 lying on the side of the table. It was a good fare for the time he was there. They could stay in the hotel two nights. He could check over Dean and get him the rest he needed. They could grab some food and find their next gig.

He could finally provide for Dean and earn his keep.

The remaining three balls met their mark as Sam called the 8 ball.

"Eight ball, corner right pocket."


The crowd erupted in 'Ata boys' for Sam and another beer found its way to his hand, colder than the last. He accepted it and smiled, taking a victory sip, raising his eyes to Jimmy for the $80 he was owed.

Frustrated, he pulled the cash and grabbed the pile, shoving it at Sam. Anger exuded from his pores as he was bested at his own bar by the stranger. His friends were happy to see him lose. He heard calls of 'cocky asshole' and 'dickhead' from the crowd, which only served to infuriate him more. Jimmy stomped back to his table and downed his warming beer, deciding that he wasn't through with this guy.

"Three ball. Two out of three. Double or nothing," Jimmy shouted to Sam's back.

Sam turned to see the man, sweat dripping from his brow, with a look mixed between anger and desperation. Inwardly, he smiled.

This was more a game of skill, giving each player three balls to get into the pockets. Whoever had the least amount of shots at the end of the three games would win. And it was actually Sam's best game. Jimmy didn't know what he was in for.

"I don't know, man, $160 is a lot of money to me. I'm already working two jobs. I just got lucky," Sam began, egging the man along, now thinking that he'd rather have a little more funding to work with over the next few days. Thinking that maybe this guy just really needed a lesson in manners and humility. Thinking of what he could do for Dean with that kind of cash.

"I got $40 for ya if you beat his ass, $20 if you lose," Craig suddenly erupted from the background. "That way, you at least have the money you walked in with."

The crowd around him clearly wanted to see Jimmy go down, and since none of them could do it, they wanted to see Sam take the reins. Even if it was for just one night.

"Eat shit, Craig. You that much of a loser you have to pay someone to play me?" Jimmy shouted back.

"Come on," "Yeah, man," and "You can do it" mantras filled the air as the tension rose.

Sam glanced towards Jimmy who raised his eyebrows at him. "So? What's it gonna be?"

Sam pulled the money from his jeans pocket and felt it in his hands. Suddenly, he got cold feet. He hadn't earned that much money in a long time; Dean was always the 'breadwinner.' On the one hand, it felt good to provide, for once, even if it was a questionable way to do it. At the same time, he had his doubts he could pull it off. But what choice did they have, really? "Hunting ain't a pro-ball sport," Dean had once said.

The young hunter's introspection was brushed aside as Jimmy pulled the wad of greenbacks from Sam's hand and slapped it on the table, matching it with his own.

$320 perched on the side of the pool table, ready for Sam to take.

Sam watched Jimmy do a shot with a beer chaser, trying to calm his nerves. He reached back to his table and took a quick swig of his own beer.

He sighed heavily and nodded, adding to the drama of the situation.

Oh yeah, this guy is going down!

"You break," Sam said as he grabbed his cue stick up, poised for his turn.


The two games went without a hitch, Sam leading by one shot.

Jimmy was clearly agitated by the possibility of losing. Beads of sweat were forming on his brow. He was jittery and making some bad decisions. It was evident he was a rich kid who was probably living on a trust fund, so the money wasn't important. But pride was, and he didn't want to lose to this man.

In front of all his 'friends' who were pulling for this stranger to beat him.

The crack of the balls resonated in the air as everyone watched with anticipation. Sam knew how it would end, and he would be grateful to sleep in a bed tonight, instead of the Impala. Sam could take care of his brother for once; return one favor for the many times he'd been taken care of by Dean. Let Dean actually rest for a day and not have to worry about it.

He returned his gaze to the pool table and smiled at the win-win scenario.

Deep down (and never in a million years would he admit it to Dean) Sam was loving this. He was not the flashy, attention-grabbing kind of guy his brother was. He was happy with his computer or a stack of books to keep him busy for hours, but somehow – this time – it felt different. This time it meant something.

Sam would never, ever, willingly want something to happen to his brother, but he had to admit that the role reversal on this hunt was refreshing. The idea of being able to provide for Dean – watch his back, get him a place to stay, play the 'big' brother - warmed his heart. To take charge. To finish the hunt.

To feel needed.

Jimmy took five tries to get the three balls in. He was one shot behind Sam after the first two games, and the man began to sweat even further with anticipation as he relinquished the table to his opponent. He wasn't used to losing. And he especially wasn't used to crowd turning on him. Anger flared at the thoughts and waited for the break of the balls.

Sam took his turn at the three balls, feeling every eye in the place upon him. He looked up at Jimmy who had daggers in his eyes. Sam suspected the shot and a beer had a little to do with Jimmy's misses, but he wasn't complaining. He knew he had to make it look good. Miss a shot, gain a shot, win by one. All was going according to plan.

Until he missed.

Sam's heart sank. His confidence was shaken. While he knew he was still up by one, if they tied, they'd continue to play another game.

And Dean needed him.

Panic started to make a nest in his belly. Fear that he would lose and they would be sleeping in the Impala. The guilt of failing – like he'd failed Jessica – and Dean not getting what he needed to be well.

Sam needed to make sure that his brother was alright; to take care of him. Like he always took care of Sam.

Turning the tables.

He shook his head and spied the last ball on the table. If he sunk the shot, the $320 was his, and he was definitely out of there.

Suddenly, Sam's nerves completely took over. His stomach did a flip-flop and a bead of sweat dripped down his brow. He quickly wiped it away, eager to keep his air about him and not show weakness. But the young hunter felt his heart rate increase with the pressure of the situation; the pressure of failing his brother. Again.

Flashes of Dean's pale, gray face imprinted themselves in his mind. Seeing him limp against the ghost's deadly fingers. Pulling him to the car without a struggle. So not Dean.

He snapped back from his careening thoughts as the red-head from before came up behind him and caressed his back. She liked what she found and continued along the path, causing Sam to jerk when she brushed against the fresh bruises that lined his spine. As much as Sam tried to brush it off, it was distracting. And he didn't need distracting.

Pulling himself together, and trying to focus without being rude, he called, "Hang on" back to her, keeping her at bay until the game was over.

Dean would definitely love this!

Sam lined up his shot after chalking the stick. It was a little more difficult then he would have liked for the finale, but he knew he could do it. He took up his aim and shot the ball, just as the girl came up to him, again, throwing the trajectory of the ball off ever-so-slightly.

Internally, Sam raged. He wanted it to be over; needed it to be over. A part of him felt desperation and worry, wondering how Dean was. Did he need anything? Was it safe to leave him alone? Why had he left him alone?

He had to get back to his brother. To go 'home' and get rest.

Sam's attention returned to the here and now, trying to push the foreboding away. The pit of his stomach roiled as the ball seemed to go in slow motion; taunting and teasing.

And then it stopped, just on the lip of the hole.

The crowd held their breath as they watched the ball perched at the pocket. A few sighed at the realization that their new hero had just failed.

Sam's brow was moist once again as his thoughts kept returning to Dean. He felt a tremor as the pressure of the situation was suddenly overwhelming.

He needed out of there. Desperately.

Damn it. Get in that hole!

And the ball obliged; much to the shock of the group of people around him.

And to Sam.

Of all the God damn times for telekinesis…

The ball dropped, with a resounding clink, after a millisecond of hovering that lasted a lifetime. Those that were at the back of the crowd cheered, not having witnessed the oddity of what had just occurred. They just knew that Jimmy had his ass handed to him by the tall, dark stranger.

There was now stunned silence from those surrounding the table. Then the murmurs slipped in here and there, slowly making their way around the room until the cacophony took over. Quickly recovering from his feat, Sam looked around uncomfortably, wiping his forehead, trying to play it off. Hoping the rest would follow.

"Damn! I can't believe I made that! Sorry, man, it was a great game though," Sam tried, inching his way to the money. He pocketed the bundle as the rumblings around him increased. The room seemed to get smaller and smaller.

"What the fuck was that, man? How did you do that?" Jimmy was in his face faster than Sam expected. "Was that a trick ball? Some kind of hustler move?"


"Dude, I don't know what happened," laughed Sam the best he could, pulling his method acting notes from his ass. "Red behind me distracted me, so it must have hit the ball weird. I couldn't do that again if my life depended on it."

So true, and such the wrong thing to say.

"Well, how about we have one more game, just so we all know you weren't cheating. Winner takes all," Jimmy said as he grabbed the two cue sticks, holding one out to Sam in his threatening manner.

The once 'Sam-friendly' crowd now felt betrayed by this newcomer; wondering what trick he was playing. If they had been duped. Each made their step closer to him. More and more closed in, making the space around Sam stifling.

In retrospect, Sam should have just agreed to the game, cracked the balls in one after and another, and called it a night. But his desperation to get to his brother clouded his judgment.

"I'd love to, man, but my brother's waiting for me. I gotta get going."

Suddenly, Craig was behind him; hand on his shoulder, pressing a little harder than necessary to get his point across. The bruises on Sam's back responded in kind, but he did his best to keep his game face on.

"Come on, man. One game isn't going to hurt?" Craig added, pushing Sam slightly forward. "Or are you afraid that you won't be able to cheat this time?"

Sam knew he was in trouble, by no real fault of his own. They were slowly becoming an angry mob, and without Dean here to back him…

"Look, guys, I didn't cheat. Check the ball. We were both using it. If I wouldn't have been knocked…"

And Jimmy was in his face, the smell of alcohol permeating the air from his rank breath in a perfect marriage with stale cigarette on his clothes. The man was certainly not as tall as Sam, but he had an intimidating presence regardless; especially when surrounded by several other people. Several angry people.

"One game, man. Then we're sure."

Sam sighed and knew he'd had enough.

This wasn't his thing, he knew that now. He had fooled himself into believing, if only for a short time, that this part of their lifestyle was alright. That he could play the rabble-rouser like Dean. Almost as well as Dean.

But Sam knew he was mistaken. He was the Geek Boy; the constant. The level-headed one. He didn't randomly go into bars and pick fights, score chicks or hustle pool. The macho thing was really more up Dean's alley. And that was okay.

Right now, he just wanted out of the bar and to get back to what was familiar to him. The Impala and Dean.


He took a quiet step back and away from Jimmy, only to find Craig and a few of his friends closing in.

"Look, I'm just…"

And before he knew it, Jimmy hit Sam with a right hook, blindsiding him. Sam stumbled into Craig and company, pushing him back towards Jimmy with a hard shove. The hunter touched his face to feel the skin swell along his jaw. Sam didn't want to fight - didn't want to hurt this guy – so he stepped back again.

"Oh, now you're a chicken on top of it?" cried Jimmy as he watched Sam retreat. He took the opportunity to use the cue stick clutched in his hands to swing at the hunter's head.

Now feeling anger at being jumped – actually letting himself be jumped – Sam came to full attention. This kind of fighting was cake for him, easily ducking out of the way as the stick cracked Craig on the side of the head, spilling him to the floor. That move, in turn, infuriated Craig.

"You jackass," Craig spewed out in Jimmy's direction, grabbing his head and finding blood from his temple. It didn't stop his anger towards Sam. "He hit me because of you!"

The woozy man lunged at Sam who stepped quickly out of the way, letting Craig barrel into some of the crowd, and taking a few down with him.

"Look, I don't want to hurt anyone, alright? It was just a misunderstanding. If you really want another game…"

But it was too little, too late. The mob had spoken, and they wanted Sam's head on a platter.

Someone grabbed him, pinning his arms behind him, pulling the muscles taut and reminding Sam of the darks hues on his back. Jimmy came up and cruelly punched Sam in the gut, causing him to keel over and lose his wind. Sam gasped and stayed in the position for a moment to get his breath and his bearings. He could see everything around him, and pretended he was down for the count. The opossum move. Hopefully he wouldn't need it, but he was ready just in case. He was hurting, but he knew he could still take out a good chunk of them in a heartbeat. Especially a college crowd like this.

One thing John Winchester taught his boys was to fight, and fight well. Dean was the only person who ever truly kicked his ass. Well, the only living thing. Ample spirits and baddies had kicked his ass plenty of times. But they didn't count. People were different; and there was little competition beyond his brother.

Shaking the reverie, Sam came back to the moment. The man holding him pulled Sam up higher, keeping him vertical and steady. Sam coughed and slowly lifted his head.

And Jimmy was waiting.

He wound up his cue stick again and aimed for Sam's head, but Sam used his strength to lift himself and kick out into Jimmy's chest, sending the man backwards to the floor, knocking him out. Stunning the man holding him with his bold move, Sam quickly flipped him over the shoulder and threw him to the ground.

Another took up the game and spun Sam around, popping his jaw, throwing him to face the redhead who had accosted him earlier. Even she was angry as she slapped his face, the sting radiating through his already bruised visage.

Peripheral vision spied an additional man with a cue stick coming to bear down on Sam. He saw his original cue on the floor and dove for it in time to parry the man's advance and counter attack. Sam feinted to the left, luring the man in that direction, while swinging back around to the right and taking his knees out below him. The attacker crashed to the floor, taking an onlooker with him. Sam's body stanced into 'en garde' waiting for any advancing 'scholars' who decided to join in.

"This is fucking great!" sighed Sam as another joined in the melee.

Sam thrust the butt of the stick into the stomach of the latest attacker, taking him down with a thud, and bringing another in his place. He felt a kick to his shin and another punch to his side. Dropping his cue stick, the young hunter bent over to address the pains, seeing feet racing up to take advantage of Sam's floor-bound position.

Sam found the strength to straighten up, and he swung full-on to the charging man. He then pulled the cue stick from the floor and whacked the guy coming up behind him, hitting him square in the mouth. The crowd collectively 'eww'ed' as teeth rained to the floor; a few bending to take them home as souvenirs.

Another punch to the head sent Sam to a knee. He knew he had to get out of there – fast – as the crowd was both shocked and awed at the display of strength from the challenger.

What he needed was a distraction so he could get outside, jump in the car and get the hell out of Dodge. And get him and his brother to safety to lick their wounds. At a hotel, in a real bathroom with towels.

Still on bended knee, Sam mentally remembered the floor plan in his head, recalling a large buck's head near the bathrooms on the wall. He thought about it for a minute and willed it to fall to the floor. He figured if he could do it once this evening, a second time should be a charm. His eyes squinched, focusing on the head.

Still focusing…

"I can't control it. It just came out of me…like a punch."

A punch indeed.

To the side of the head. Again.

Sam's vision blurred, his body finally registering the damage done to it and realizing he was on the last reserves of energy. Wincing, he figured his best bet at this point, since his 'gift' had failed him, was to simply make a run for it. He took a huge breath, stilling his bobbling vision, and jumped up to the surprise of the crowd about him. He snaked the pool cue again and swung it around like a Citronella candle to a bug.

Jimmy, bloodied and unsteady on his feet, came from behind and tried to tackle Sam, but he felt him advance and flipped him quickly to the ground. The man gasped for air, along with the crowd, and turned to the side. One more of Jimmy's 'on again' friends came at Sam, throwing another punch. Sam blocked it with the cue, wrapping his arm in the stick and twisting it about to shoo him away.

The path was getting easier as Sam continued to swing the cue, shaft side exposed. One more came at him, charging towards him, but he easily deflected him with a kick to the stomach, watching the man stumble.

Just a little further.

And then a bottle came down on his head. Stars filled Sam's vision, but he held onto consciousness. Couldn't lose it. Not while his brother was in the car and needed him. Sam shook his head slightly, trying to loosen the shards from his hair and jacket and made his final stumble to the entrance. He struggled to stay awake, on his feet and mobile. A last person attempted to stop him, but they eventually let him leave, deciding that it was best for everyone if they just got him the hell out of their bar.

Sam dropped the cue stick outside, sensing that no one would pursue, and zig-zagged back to the car, using the dark beacon to guide his way.

The door to the bar opened and Jimmy came out yelling after Sam.

"Fucking cheater. White trash piece of shit," he shouted after him, grabbing the door frame to steady himself.

As long as he and his chorus stayed at Hunter's Pub, he could shout whatever obscenities he wanted.

Sam fell to the ground half way to the car, praying that it wasn't an invitation for the mob to descend. All the injuries made themselves known and his ribs screamed bloody murder as he pulled himself up as quickly from his stumble. Sam continued his haphazard run, finally getting to the driver's seat and whipping the door open.

The sudden blast of cool air rouse Dean to a semi-conscious state.

"Are we there yet," questioned Dean, still mostly asleep.

"Almost," cooed Sam, trying to keep the pain from his voice as the engine roared to life. He hit the gas and tore from the mob.

Getting as far away from Hunter's Pub as possible.


TBC in next chapter