Disclaimer: Neither Supernatural nor its characters belong to me. Supernatural is  Eric Kripke and Warner Bros., etc. No infringement intended, no profit made—this story is just for fun.

Spoilers: Season one, Season two up to "Hunted" and probably some themes from "Playthings".

Summary: The brothers take what seems like an easy case for all the wrong reasons. When things go horribly awry, Sam and Dean realize that their mistakes could cost more than they are willing to pay.

Author's Note: I dreamed up this story long before I ever caught wind of the episode "playthings". The only thing this story has in common with that ep is that the brothers investigate a hotel and it takes place after "Hunted."

o0o00O00o0o

The Addison Hotel

By Libellule (aka Griselda Jane)

o0o00O00o0o

What the future brings…

It was not unlike a vision, for the same momentary feeling of disorientation, of where am I— what's real, hummed through him like a so-hot-it's-cold electric jolt. Only he was not bequeathed a death-vision—no promissory of someone's untimely demise. He was left with nothing at all. Sam Winchester's mind was a total blank.

Well, perhaps not a total blank, only devoid of the present and the moments leading up to now. There was a sense of urgency nagging at him that made him want to run, but from what or to where he did not know.

Sam forced himself to remain calm, and figure out where he was. He stood stock still at the top of a staircase in a very large corridor.

The lights were off. Nothing but white moonlight provided any kind of visibility; it spilled boldly from the tall windows, cutting strong shapes across the hall.

As if on the edge of a precipice, Sam peered down the stairwell shrouded in inky black shadow. He could barely make out the top tread let alone what might await him at the bottom.

Sam took a tentative step, and his world went vertigo. Raising a hand for balance, he clamped his eyes shut, willing his head to stop spinning.

Sam was certain he had felt this way before, but his brain was fuzzy and he couldn't place the deja vu anymore than he could make sense of what had just happened.

An unsettling feeling roiled in his stomach. Sam blinked, trying to clear his vision and gain his bearings. Something was terribly wrong.

The air was stale and cold—too cold to be natural— prickling goose flesh along his skin. Nausea rising, Sam groped for the support of the solid oak banister at the top of the staircase.

Pieces of memory flashed back to him, rushing him like the racehorse tides charging the shores of Mont St. Michel.

The Addison Hotel. Dead guests. A restless spirit. Rebecca. Cold. Anger. Hands. Dean.

It wasn't a vision. It's real. It was happening here and now. No, it had already happened. I've done something, Sam thought, turning numb with breathless panic.

The antique light fixtures mounted to the walls abruptly flickered on, dispelling the dark shadows with soft, illuminating light.

It was then that Sam saw what needed his attention. Lying sprawled at the bottom of the stairs was Dean. He lay on his stomach, his face turned away from the stairs. Blood slowly pooled around his head. He did not move.

"No—no, Dean!" Sam shouted, clearly too late to do anything but stare aghast at the lifeless body of his brother.

With a kind of horrible truth, the last memory fell into place. My hands— Dean— Sam realized that he had pushed Dean down these stairs, the same stairs that had killed Rebecca Addison and three other guests of the Addison Hotel.

o0o00O00o0o

Chapter One

Palm Springs, California— 3 days earlier

"Would you look at that," Dean said, whistling as he stepped out of the Impala and stared up at The Addison Hotel.

Though it had been built more than eighty years ago, The Addison was no less impressive than it had been during its grand opening in 1923.

"We're moving up in the world, Sammy," he said shooting a grin over the hood of the car at his brother.

Sam shaded his eyes, also gazing up at the looming structure. "You don't even want to stay here," Sam reminded him.

It was true. Dean had complained all the way to the five-star resort. First, he objected to paying more than triple what they normally spend on one night's lodging just to stay at the newly refurbished Addison Hotel. (You know how many hands of poker I have to win to get that kind of cash?) Next he went on about the stuck up pretentious snobs who stayed in places like these (Those kind of girls won't even look at you if you don't fan a wad of cash under their fake eyelashes) and lastly how there wouldn't even be any decent bars nearby to hustle a little extra cash. (Probably have Barry Manilow on the jukebox. How's a guy supposed to clean house with freakin' Mandy in his ears?)

But the building stood like a sophisticated woman and had charmed Dean with her splendor the moment the Impala rolled into the driveway.

"Could be fun," Dean said as he watched a blonde in a slinky white dress emerge from the back of a black town car. He ogled her curvaceous frame as she walked up the marble steps and into the grand entrance. "Show the world that the Winchesters have some panache."

Sam shook his head, dropping his gaze to hide his amused smile. "A class act, huh, Dean?"

"All the way, Sammy," Dean said. "All the way."

This job had come to them easier than most. The Addison was a somewhat famous hotel, having been a favorite playground of Hollywood's elite in the 1930s and 1940s. Many stars had retreated there, attended the gala events in the grand ballroom and the posh parties in the bar on the top floor. And being such a famous building the problems with it were widely publicized.

While searching the internet over breakfast for leads on a new case, Sam stumbled upon an article on the accidental death of a guest at the newly restored Addison Hotel.

Normally this would not have been enough to pique the Winchester brothers' interest, save for one small detail. The guest had died in the exact same manner as the namesake of the hotel, Rebecca Addison, by taking a fatal spill down the stairs.

"Hotel's been redone, could be a spirit reawakened from the renovations," Dean had said. By the time they'd finished their coffee it seemed like a straightforward, one-two punch— do a little research and then find the bones for a salt and burn. Easy. Done.

The promise of an easy case was more alluring than either brother wanted to admit. They were both worn threadbare, diminished little by little through this stopgap hunter lifestyle, leaving behind bits of torn self and unraveled Winchester fibers in their wake.

The Addison provided further escape from their most important yet still unaddressed problems. One more detour from swift-footed reality. Dean was stalling for time to wrap his head around what was happening to his little brother and how to fix it, while Sam was hell-bent on saving as many people as possible in a frantic kind of pre-redemption.

Dean felt like things between them were barely holding together, as if the last few seams in the Winchester Family fabric were about to pop. He stole a sideways glance at his brother, which was all he would allow himself these days. Every time he looked at Sam he felt weight on his chest, an ocean of force pressing down on him— I'm drowning, brother—

How had things ever spiraled so spectacularly out of his control? For a second there, his life was almost as normal as it ever had been for Dean. Dad and Sammy and something to hunt.

And then in the next instant everything had blown apart. His father was gone, leaving a gap so wide that Dean didn't know what to fill it with to make him whole again. The usual suspects made the rounds: booze, women and the hunt, but none of these were lasting, none of these fixed the damage festering inside of him. And he had to patch up quick because he had a job to do.

The enormity of the task his father had laid at his feet frightened him. The price of failure was more than he could pay.

Sammy… His Sam. Dean could still remember when Sam was smaller than he was, when he could pick him up and Sammy would wrap his little arms around his neck and press his cheek into Dean's shoulder. He had all the answers then, and a hug from his big brother was all that was needed to soothe Sam's nightmares and woes.

God, had things ever been that simple?

Failure, simply, was not an option.

Dean buried this deep down, ignoring it. Time would smooth the jagged edges and he would take these pearls of pain, roll them between his fingers and hurl them into the cruel sea he was drowning in.

o0o00O00o0o

The brothers entered the hotel lobby like they had a hundred times before at a hundred other places, only this time they gave pause to their surroundings.

Italian marble stretched out beneath them, leading down a short staircase to the curved arc of the front desk. Mahogany wood paneling rose up to the ceiling where crystal chandeliers and dome light fixtures softly illuminated the lobby. Perfect symmetry flowed from the door to the desk.

Walking through the threshold had transported them back to the 1920s. Only guests checking in with designer jeans and bejeweled flip-flops betrayed the current era.

Sam was instantly conscious of the tear in his jeans, of the dirt crusted on the soles of his boots and of the dried bloodstain that no amount of scrubbing could have lifted from his shirt. If Dean felt as out of place as he did, then he was putting on an excellent show of confidence.

"You think Ingrid Bergman really stayed here?" he asked Sam with a grin.

Ambling up to the front desk with his trademark bravado, Dean fixed the clerk behind the counter with his most winning smile. The woman gave Dean the once over, her keen eyes sweeping from his hands resting on the desk to his face. She was not impressed.

Despite her disdain, she asked politely, "May I help you?"

"Yes, checking in," Dean said, laying the charm on thick, sugary-fat frosting on wedding cake thick. Perhaps this is how Dean thought affluent, jet-setting capitalists, who he envisioned stayed at The Addison, would talk. He came across more parvenu than aristocratie.

The woman stared at him impassively, and Sam wondered how many other men tried this exact ridiculous routine to make her immune to Dean's overwhelming charisma. Sam ducked his head, trying his damnedest to hold in a chuckle.

Dean's smile wavered, plummeting groundward, a wide hole torn in his parasail.

"Name on your reservation?"

"Ahh," Dean faltered, shooting a help a guy out, would you look at his brother.

The clerk glanced at him questioningly over the top of her glasses. "You do have a reservation?" she asked. Of course Dean hadn't made a reservation, never needed one before this.

"Harrison," Sam supplied, prodding his brother with an elbow, making room for himself at the counter. He placed a credit card flat on the desk. "Richard Harrison," he said, smiling at the clerk.

Sam kept his focus down at the card on the desk despite feeling his brother's gaze on him. More than once Sam had chastised Dean for his credit card scams and usually refused to use one himself unless it was an emergency. The Addison Hotel would not take a reservation without one, which Sam had made without telling his brother.

Dean grinned at the women, his shoulders rising in a little shrug. His magnetism had no effect on the clerk whatsoever. He gave an irritated sigh and Sam suppressed another smile. No matter how old they were, Dean had always been a big flirt. Though he turned all kinds of heads, he always sulked when he failed in a conquest.

"Thank you," she said, handing Sam his credit card.

"Yeah, thanks Dick," Dean chimed in. Sam held his tongue, though he shot his brother an annoyed look.

The woman's fingers flew across her keyboard as she looked up their reservation. "Okay, Mr. Harrison," she said with the first genuine smile he'd seen out of her. "You are all set." She handed him two card keys. "Room 705. Have a nice stay."

She rang an old-fashioned bell, signaling a bellhop to come to the desk and get their bags.

"Let's just get our stuff to the room," Dean said. "The sooner we get this done, the sooner we can get out of here."

The bellhop was a short kid with a round face and bright eager eyes. His black hat was a size too big, which only exaggerated his youthful appearance, and his crooked nametag read "Lenny" a nickname surely carried over from childhood.

He reached for Dean's duffel, but Dean said, "It's all right, I got it." Of course the bag had weapons, holy water, rock salt and other paraphernalia the brothers might need for this hunt.

"It's my job, sir," Lenny the bellhop said smiling as if it were the best position in the whole-wide world. Sam took pity on him and handed him his backpack. He took it gratefully and led them to the elevator.

"So how long are you here for?" the kid asked while they waited for the lift.

"Just a few days," Dean said as the doors opened. He wasn't really into small talk. His failed flirting with the desk clerk hadn't exactly put him in the best of moods.

They stepped inside, all polished reflective metal and plastic push buttons, and the bellhop pressed number seven for their floor. "You're here because of the accident, aren't you?"

"What makes you say that?" Sam asked, wondering how this kid might have pegged them.

"Can't say anybody's checked-in in the past week who hasn't come for a closer look," he replied. "Everybody's here to catch a glimpse of it—for the sensation of it."

"We're here for the architecture," Sam said. "Not many chances to see architecture from the twenties restored to its original state."

Dean rolled his eyes, but didn't disagree. While pouring through information on The Addison, Sam had developed a soft spot for the old building before he'd ever seen a picture. The hotel was rich with history—just the kind of thing Sam liked to sink his teeth into. He was quite prepared for an architecture alibi, even if Dean's face had lame written all over it.

"That's a new one," the kid replied. "Most people want to know about the deaths."

"Say, you wouldn't know anything about that?" Dean asked. Sam shot Dean an irritated look. It wouldn't help their case to patronize a willing informant.

But the kid went on, oblivious.

"I know all about it," the kid grinned. He was busting with excitement, couldn't wait to tell someone new about the most exciting thing that had had ever happened to him.

"Three days after the grand reopening some guy falls down the ninth floor staircase in the middle of the night—he dies at the bottom. And that's not the creepy part."

The elevator doors opened and the bellhop led them out. "The strange thing is," he continued, "that a week later another guy died— Same place, same way," the kid said. "You mighta noticed the media circus downstairs? Management's doing all it can to keep the public and the police appeased with two deaths in less than a month. They can withstand anything 'cept for the hotel closing down."

With a ping the elevator doors opened. The kid led the way down a warmly lit hallway, passing many identical doors.

"But the strangest thing of all—this is the actually the third death on the ninth floor. Way back in the twenties Mrs. Addison herself took a fatal tumble down those stairs."

"Really?" Dean questioned, prodding for more.

"Yeah, but you didn't hear this from me."

They stopped in front of 705. Sam slid the card key into the slot and pushed open the door. The kid handed Sam his backpack.

"You fellas need anything, just let me know," he said, closing the door behind him.

o0o00O00o0o

The room was— amazing.

"Holy shit," Dean said as he dropped his duffle by the door. This was by far the nicest place he had ever stayed in. Hell, it probably was the nicest place he would ever stay in.

Sam stole a glance at his brother, a trace of sadness pinching his smile into a tight line. He thought of his long gone apartment in Palo Alto, comparing it to the suite. While far from spectacular, his apartment, his place with Jess, had been his— a place where he belonged and far better than any spot he'd lived in growing up or any of the motels he and Dean had stayed in after Stanford.

Simply put, it had been home.

All his life Sam had longed for home, a stationary place where he could put down roots and grow, like everybody else. As soon as he had the chance, Sam had constructed a home as if from a box of Legos, dusted off the stowed away package he'd never been allowed from his childhood and assembled one exactly as pictured on the box.

And it had been wonderful. Sam had found such solace in that, even though he had to admit that there were a few integral pieces to his happy-home Lego set that were missing.

It wasn't until after the fire, after months on the road, that Sam realized how blind he had been. Naïve with something to prove, Sam thought, too smart for my own good and a prize fool in the end. Too preoccupied with leading an exemplary normal life, too eager to get away, yearning for what he didn't have, Sam had failed to see that the man who had always stood at his shoulder was all the home he would ever need.

For him, home wasn't a place—it didn't have to be. The standard definition was no longer necessary. Going home would forever mean Dean, even if Sam lived to be ninety and Dean ninety-four.

And it shamed him that he hadn't always known this to be so, even though it always had been. A universal law, like the Earth revolving around the sun, Dean would always be there for Sam.

Dean flopped onto the first bed with a grin that Sam hadn't seen on his face since they were kids.

"Bet there is enough hot water for both of us," Sam said, his voice echoing in the large bathroom. He ran the tap and beautiful, clean water whooshed out.

Sam poked his head out of the bathroom just as Dean jumped on the second bed near the window. "Oh, this one is so mine," he said.

Sam smiled, a gentle laugh escaping his lips.

It was thrilling to finally stay in a place where they could tread barefoot on the carpet, sleep soundly without fear of mites in the mattress and where the bathroom had not only been cleaned everyday, it had been scrubbed for their arrival.

The room wasn't very large, but what it lacked in size was made up for with everything else. The walls were painted with matching hues—no 70s rejected wallpaper with tacky art hanging on the walls. This suite had Monet— a lithograph grandly framed and matted with French captions La Manneporte, 1883.

There was even a balcony hiding behind sheer white curtains and a sliding glass door. A writing desk for Sam's laptop sat in the corner and there was even a table if Dean wanted a flat surface to clean his guns.

And the best part of all— "Sam, this place has room service!"

Staying at the Addison may turn out to be a vacation yet. Dean didn't usually bother with the hotel information, but this time he had the welcome booklet out and was reading the pages with interest.

"Swimming pools, movies stars and restless spirits," he said, "what more could a guy ask for?"

"How about some relaxation?" Sam replied. "Man, I'm beat." He knew Dean was tired too, and Sam wanted him to take a breath but he wouldn't do it unless he thought Sam needed him to. Lately, Sam had noticed Dean's frayed edges.

"Sorry, Sammy, no can do," Dean said. "We've got a job to do here." He stood, grabbing the hotel map. "You research the hotel," Dean said. "I'll try to find out what happened to those guests."

And before Sam could protest, Dean was out the door. A worried frown settling on his face, Sam wondered what was going on in his brother's head.

To be continued…

o0o00O00o0o

Author's note:

So, here's my first stab at Supernatural fic—I'm projecting that it will run between 6 and 10 chapters depending on how long winded I am. :) I figured I'd better start posting this fic before the Season finale—I've only been writing it since November. And the Season Two finale will be here before we know it!

Reviews will be cherished! I am also posting this on my LJ (griseldajane . livejournal . com) if you prefer to read it that way. My LJ is a mix of fic, art, my personal life— I post pretty much everything over there. If you want, feel free to friend me. No need to ask.

Email is linked in the bio page. Don't be a stranger!

Thanks for reading. See you next chapter.

- Li