I really hate small dark spaces. Not exactly something I like to share with the masses, you know, and I sure as hell ain't telling Sam. Letting Sam see how pansy I am when it comes to flying just about killed me, and his cruddy jokes afterwards made me wanna find the largest seven-forty-seven in the States and shove it up his wise-cracking ass. He's gotten a lot better at ragging on me. Guess I should be proud since I'm the one that taught him in the first place, but it's like being beaten up by the youngest and weakest member of your posse after they spent years looking up to you, ya know? Not that I ever had a posse, but you know what I mean.

Small dark spaces are a bitch.

My flashlight doesn't cut a beam any wider than three fingers. Dust is floating everywhere from forcing the door to the crypt open. It stays stuck, even though I've been down here in this hole every freakin' night for a week. I hate sliding it shut behind me, man, you have no idea how much I hate that, but I hate the thought of her getting out even more. I always try to hold my breath when I see these motes floating in my beam. I can just imaging suffocating from them. No, it won't be a demon that gets me, it'll be the dust motes. God, my chest feels chaffed from the thought of it. Guess it's a good thing that crypts are generally dry, because otherwise the dead stench would knock out the lower east side of Chicago.

So I'm trying not to breathe for fear of mote-suffocation, trying to hold my light steady, and trying to keep my duffle balanced on my shoulder while preparing for a half-rotted bitch to fly at me with her usual scream before realizing who it is she's pinning to the wall, and man, her breath alone is enough to wish for the gates of hell. I'm trying to help her, and I think she knows that, but she doesn't like me leaving her down here, so she takes pleasure in scaring the living crap out of me. Can't say I blame her.

So how did I get in this situation? And where is Sam? I knew you'd ask. And I'd explain, except that I'm sure I hear something in the corner, and why she's in the corner is beyond me.

But she is. My light falls on a figure crouched and wedged into the far side of the crypt. She's tiny, nothing but thin grey-white skin pulled tight over bone, hell, she looks like bone but I know from repulsive experience not worth talking about that there is some remnant of flesh there. Her eyes are hollow. Not sightless, just empty. Her hair is stringy, what's left of it. Mrs. Coraline Ramsey. Formerly married to one Mr. Eisenhower J. Ramsey, I swear to god, that was his name. He died November fourteen, nineteen seventy, and she died November twentieth, nineteen-seventy-one. She's been dead for over thirty years. Okay, she's tried to be dead for over thirty years, and she sucks at it. Hell, she's been not-dead almost as long as I've been alive. It makes for awkward conversation.

Well, it would if she bothered to talk.

She's staring at me, and I can feel the cold in my gut. I shift my duffle, the weight of useless weaponry settling painfully in the curve of my back. I don't know why I bring it with me down here, it sure wouldn't have anything to do with being in a graveyard in the middle of the night. Heh. Her gaze stays with mine, eating up the beam of my flashlight. I can almost feel the battery draining.

"Hey there, Cora." I ease myself into a squat, sliding the duffle straps from my shoulder. "Just wanted to make sure you're still with us. Have to say, this is a better greeting than I usually get."

She doesn't say anything, of course, and I expect that. I sit all the way, wincing at the cold concrete. Like sitting on an ice cube. "So, what do we talk about tonight? Hm? Your great-uncle Joe of the diseased liver? Or how about your gossipy neighbor who lived in a hippy-van? Huh? Bet there are some stories there, huh?" I smile, but she doesn't. She's a pretty hard sell. "Come on, there has to be something that happened, something that's keeping you here. I'm fresh out of ideas." I talk to her like I'm talking to someone at a bar, only there is no way on God's Green Earth that I'm taking this bitch home with me. But I lay on the charm.

I've been told, when the girl was drunk enough, that I have a smile that can light cities during blackouts. Well, my flashlight is fading, and all the smiling in the world is proving useless. I curse inwardly and pound the flashlight against my palm. It flickers and brightens momentarily. I make a mental note to ask Sam to purchase more batteries when he goes out to restock in the morning and shine the light on her again, casually. "You're quite the conversationalist, you know that? Just a pure delight dragging my ass down here to talk with you."

She hasn't moved, and I almost think maybe this time she's dead for real. This wouldn't be so much of an issue except that she's pulled this stunt before, thinking I'd leave her alone. That was when she found a way out and frightened an old lady to death by yanking her cat around the kitchen floor by it's tail. All the old lady saw was the poor thing yowling and clawing the linoleum as it canon-balled backwards into the table and cabinets. The cat survived. The frightened old lady didn't.

Cora hates animals.

I take a chance and lean in, angling my light on her face. "Come on, Cora. How about I get you a nice puppy to mutilate or something, huh? Would that perk you up? A nice rat, maybe?" Because no way would I seriously subject a puppy to her twisted ways. I'm taunting her, trying to evoke some sort of reaction, but she's still. I venture closer, ready to jump out of my skin should she move. An old lady did that to me once, snapped her head around when I thought she was blind and stupid, and it scared the shit out of me. Sometimes I hate old people. Seriously. They have too much fun trying to give us heart attacks, but I guess you have to get your jollys where you can. Part of me is sympathetic though, but to tell the truth I think I'd rather die young than get to where all I can do with life is think about it.

Her empty eyes are still empty. Her arms are looped around her knees, her hands are loose. There's no sign of breathing, but of course there wouldn't be. The only way you can tell if the dead is – living – is to make a move and poke them. Or shoot them. But the usual signs? Ain't happening. And as loathe as I am to get closer to this thing, I slowly reached out a finger toward her arm. I watch it in slow motion, inching closer to withered white skin, holding my breath.

The batteries give.

I'm damned fast. I'm out of that crypt with the door shut before the light is completely black. And that's another thing I'm never going to tell Sam.

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Where Sam is during all this, is asleep. Boy can sleep like a drunk hog when he puts his mind to it, and after watching him go all emo over Jess for months on end, then have the waking nightmares, I've learned to let him sleep when he can, even if that means popping a few happy pills in his beer. Happy for me, that is, because a rested Sam is a tolerable Sam. Not that I'm not sympathetic, I know I've had my share of sleepless nights, but not like his. That and his snoring in the Impala while I'm listening to my music is downright crude.

It's two am. I toss the duffle into the corner of our red and brown checked hotel room, sit in the old cracked, fake leather chair that is supposed to give the rat hole a sense of dignity, and pull off my boots. I wiggle my socked toes and lean back, feeling the cracked plastic-leather pinch but I'm too tired to care. My eyes drift shut, but not before my second surprise of the night. Or morning. Whatever.

"She no good, or did you finish too early?"

I open my eyes and raise my head. Sam's looking at me, his eyes glinting eerily in the moonlight that's peeking through the half-open blinds. I wince at him, and reach over for the pull chord. "You should really keep these closed."

"Where were you?"

"Out." I lay my head back again, hoping he'll drop it.

"With your duffle?"

"Yes, with my duffle." Since I couldn't hide that fact from him, not if he saw me come in with it. "I didn't want to leave it in the car."

"You're a lying bastard. It wasn't in the car, it was under your bed. Where were you?"

"You think after all we've been through I'm going to go out at night unprepared?"

Sam looks at me. "Where were you?"

I sigh. "I'm working a case, Sam."

I keep my eyes closed, and can hear the sheets rustle as he sits up. I open one into a slit, because I love seeing his bedhead. Makes mine look tame. There isn't much to see, not until he turns on the light beside his bed and I'm blinded. "Jesus, Sam! Warn a guy!"

"You're on a case?" He's wide awake, his hands gripping the side of the mattress he's now perched tensely on. "What the hell?" He's got long-ass stork legs.

"Dude, you've seriously got some long-ass stork legs."

"Dean."

"Getting some muscle, though."

"Dean!"

"I've worked cases alone before, Sam."

"Sure, when you were alone! What the hell?" he asks again, and I groan.

"Give it up, go back to sleep."

"No! Not until you tell me what's going on."

"Then let me get some sleep and I'll tell you in the morning." I stand and shuffle to the bed beside his, falling face first, my face mashing into the pillow. The fact that I can't breathe that way means squat at the moment.

He's an annoying younger brother. I feel a hand grab my arm and next thing I know I'm flipped onto my back. I strike out in anger, because dammit, I'm tired and he can't take a hint, but he just grabs my wrist and other arm. He's hovering over me, denting the mattress to the left and I want nothing more than to fall into that hollow and sleep for years. "Sam. I promise you, I'll tell you in the morning. Cross my heart." I can't cross my heart, of course, and wave my hands a little, pointing out the fact that he's basically being stupid.

He's not happy. Hell, I wouldn't be. But he lets me go and stands. And then the bastard sits on his bed and stares at me.

All I can do is rub my hands over my face. "Oh, come on, man! Please, I'm dying here."

"Just give me the short version. And why you kept it from me."

"Christ, fine – short version, there is this old lady who won't cross over and who is wrecking havoc and I'm trying to find out what's keeping her here. I didn't tell you because this is frustrating and childish and you finally got to where you can get a decent night's sleep, so I wasn't about to wake you from it to do what I can do by myself, okay?"

He looks like he doesn't believe me. I let my hands fall to my side and close my eyes. "Go to sleep, Sam. We'll argue in the morning." I don't open my eyes again until he turns out his light and settles back in his bed. I can feel his gaze on me like a prickle, but it's a warm prickle, and it's nice that he gets pissed off about things like this. I let myself ease into sleep.

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Cora's grand-niece is a babe. I mean, she's seriously hot, and when I talk to her it's all I can do to remind myself that her six-foot six husband is sitting in the next room. I'd throw Sam against him except that this dude outweighs my brother by a good twenty pounds, and as annoyed as I get with him, I'm not about to put Sam through that. While he can hold his own, you'd be surprised how much difference two inches and twenty pounds can make. But I tell you, if he doesn't back off and let me talk to this lady he's going to find out.

He's smiling that smile and looking at me like I'm a wolf in sheep's clothing. Like I'm gonna jump up and bite her on the neck or something. Tempting. She has a nice, long, clean neck. I can imagine it smelling like soap, she doesn't strike me as the perfume type, maybe that fruity spritzy stuff girls seem to like now. What? I know how to get to a girl's heart.

So does he, and she's making doe eyes at his gentle tone, and all I can do is roll my eyes and adjust my jeans. I don't even know what they're talking about anymore, I lost interest the minute Sam opened his mouth. More like I've been distracted by the photo on the table in the corner, and I can't make it out but I don't want to get up and cross the room in the middle of their conversation hell with it. I stand and walk to it, pick it up, flip it over to examine the back.

It's a simple silver frame, and the photo is a candid of two people probably in their thirties, probably Cora and her beloved, probably taken shortly before he died. They're dressed in loose clothes and standing in front of, of all things, a hippy van. I smile and show it to the engrossed couple. "This Cora?"

Her grand-niece smiles and I try to ignore it. "And her husband. I didn't know him well, he kept to himself a lot. I was scared of him." She gives a bashful smile that makes me wince and shift my hips subtly to readjust. Dammit. If Sam gets some, so help me god, I'm gonna – she's married, right. Right. Keep thinking that, Dean. I stare at the photo of Cora.

She looks sad. That smile is as fake as they come. He just plain looks like an asshole, his arm slung heavily over her shoulder. She looks like she's ready to crack in half under the weight. "How long were they married?"

Grand-niece, whose name I can't keep in my head because it's long and not as pleasant as she is, visibly thinks about it. "Not long. They dated for a while, I can remember the wedding. I was the flower girl. It was strange, I remember thinking that weddings were supposed to be happy."

"And this one wasn't?" I was still purposefully studying the photo.

"She looked terrified. I was small, I didn't understand."

"Understand what?" Sam pressed in his annoyingly gentle, but effective, way.

"Why she married him. He loved her, he could care for her, and her family was poor. He paid for the wedding."

"You mean he bought her." I'm not known for my tact, and suddenly I really, really don't like this man.

"I guess you could say that. But I don't understand, what does this have to do with the estate? You've checked the papers, it was left to me when she died."

The cover. Damn. I snap to attention as Sam looks at me. "Oh. Uh, just, uh . . .nothing, really." I almost trip over my words. "Everything's in order, like you said, I just . . ."

"Sometimes," Sam cuts in, searching me for verbal cues that I can't give, "we get a little too involved with the story of the client." He fixes a smile on her and she's hooked, and I set the photo back down on the glass-topped table. "We have to do some background checks, and sometimes it feels like we're getting to know the person. I'm sorry if we intruded."

"No, not at all. I think she would've liked to have someone take an interest in her." The niece grins back. "But I'm afraid I'll have to cut this short, I'm hosting a party this evening and I really have to start getting ready for it."

Sam jumps up. "Sure, sure! Listen, thanks for your time, I'm sure everything's in order." He looks at me.

"Yes!" I hurry to his side, suddenly itching to get out of the house and away from that photo. "Yes. Everything is fine, that whole, that other Eisenhower Ramsey, that was just a fluke. Nothing to do with this man and Cora, we just had to be sure. The estate is safe, all the documents check out. There won't be any confusion."

"Strange, his having the same name and death date," the niece says.

"Yeah, isn't it though?" I scratch the back of my neck self-consciously and force a laugh. "So you understand why we had to verify our facts."

"Of course! It isn't a problem."

"And how do you spell your name again?" I take out a notepad like I'm going to write it down.

"Whilemenia." She spells it out.

No wonder I can't remember it. "Right, got it. Thanks for your time." I give her my light-up-the-blackouts smile, and take her hand. A little cold, but nice. She holds Sam's hand longer, and I look pointedly toward the den where her husband is watching television.

"What is it with you and the chicks?" I grumble as we walk down her driveway. My baby is there, waiting, dewy with rain. Looks like it's you and me, girl. I wonder fleetingly what it would be like to bend someone over the hood and decide I don't need to make my car jealous. I'm so going to a club tonight.

No. Not tonight. I've got another date. Crap.

"What are you talking about?" Sam asks innocently.

"I'm talking about the can of insta-charisma you seem to be carrying around with you lately." I stop walking and look at him. "Seriously, man. You look almost – happy. What's going on with you?" He just smiles lightly, almost shyly, and I feel my eyebrows rise. "There is no way you've met someone, but I swear to god you've got this glow. It's throwing me off my game." I shake my head and cross to the driver's side. "'Fess up, Sam. Do I need to check my trunk or something?"

"Dude, there's nothing in your trunk." He laughs and slides into the car, slamming the door shut to cover the phenomenal squeak. He's said more than once that I need to oil the doors, that normal car doors don't sound like that, to which I intelligently respond that my car isn't an ordinary car, and I'd be happy to oil his pie-hole only it would make his words come out faster.

"Well, something's up." I crank the car, and she purrs in response. I can feel the tremor in my gut. "Not that I'm complaining, but when I scope out the chicks I'm gonna start locking you in the hotel." I look over my shoulder and ease out of the driveway.

"I'm not looking for a girl," he chuckles, and I almost believe him. The engine purrs more loudly as I shift and gun it down the street. Sam raises his voice. "I just feel good."

"You seem to be sleeping better."

"When I'm not woken up by my brother trooping in at two am from missions unknown."

"Hey, you know the game."

"Yeah, and I think I know what to do about it."

This was news. "Really?"

"Yeah. But we need to visit Cora again."

I sigh. "Yeah. She's expecting us tonight."

Sam checks his watch. "So what do we do in the meantime?"

I purse my lips, and shrug. "Wanna see a movie?"

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I've no idea how the movie ended. I fell asleep. Sam isn't saying much about it, which means either he dozed through it himself or it was embarrassingly bad.

We take our time eating at a diner, roam the streets shooting the bull, go to a bar where I hustle a little pool. His glow remains, he has girls flocking to him from all corners which just makes me cue up against guys that I probably should've left alone. Further proof of this is when one catches up with me outside and tries to start something. I'm happy to let him, all up in his face and everything, but my brother shows with his usual impeccable timing and grabs the back of my jacket, pulling me backwards until I comply and walk to the car.

"What's your deal?" he asks.

"Nothing. It was a fair game," I mutter.

"Right," is all Sam'll say.

This is followed by another nap in the hotel.

At midnight we head for the crypt.

She's inside, and not happy to see Sam. She charges him the minute he steps foot in the door, I guess she has a sense of smell like a wild animal. She knocks him flat before I can get to him, her vile face in his, her hands wrapped around his throat. What it is about my brother and his getting the life choked out of him I'll never know, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna let it happen. I drag her away, cursing, trying not to damage the fragile-looking bones though I know she's a strong as a mule. Next thing I know she's got me against the wall, then realizes who I am. She backs away and looks at Sam, who is on his knees, watching. He raises one hand in surrender, the other rubbing his throat. I glare at Cora and walk to him, hitching him up to his feet by his arm, checking his throat. He looks fine, but doesn't look like he's willing to talk.

So, I do it. "Cora, this here's Sam. He's my brother, I'd really appreciate it if you don't kill him." I let go of Sam and slowly walk to her. She relents, and sits on top of the stone coffin she's supposed to be eternally resting in.

"I saw a photo of you and your husband," I continue. "Quite the couple. Only you don't look too happy. Your grand-niece says you weren't happy. You remember her? Will – willa something?"

"Whilemenia," Sam scratches out.

I snap my fingers at him. "That's it."

Cora continues to gape. Her expression never really changes, her mouth tends to hang open like someone that's brain dead. But she stands and shuffles toward me in recognition.

It's all I can do not to step back, and suddenly I don't want to insult her in that way. I force myself to stand still. "She says she doesn't understand why you married him. I think I do. You didn't have a choice. Your family was poor, you had no one else to turn to. You were young, pretty, and I bet you were impressionable. So why not marry a rich guy? Only you didn't want to, did you? Why?" I watch her closely, and suddenly feel a great sadness stream from her, a flat plane of sorrow that strikes me pointedly in the chest. Sam gasps behind me, and I think he feels it too.

"Dean, she . . ."

"I know," I say quietly, not looking at him. My eyes are locked to an expression that shouldn't exist on anyone, dead or alive. I lower my voice. "He abused you. He didn't love you. You were a plaything to him, weren't you, Cora? It wasn't a marriage. It was slavery. And you never told anyone. You suffered alone."

She stops walking. Then her face changes, and she charges me.

It isn't the first time this has happened, but it's the first time I've been scared by it. I really thought she'd break down in ghost tears or something. Shows what I really know about females. I hear Sam try to yell out my name, feel my back smash against the corner of the crypt, feel the pain spider out in red waves all over me. I'm so stunned by it that I don't notice I'm not breathing, not until my vision fades (like I could see well in that place anyway) and she's gone and Sam's over me, pulling me up, shoving me outside into the cold dark and pushing the crypt door shut. I see an arm snake out for him before he shoves it back in, just managing to keep from slamming it in the door. Her scream is terrible, and I'm wondering why people from miles around aren't flocking to find out the source.

I'm on my knees, and I don't know how I got there. Sam's suddenly at my shoulder, forcing me to look at him, and I just wave him back. Of course he doesn't let me go, and I really, really don't want him to. "Guess you found what button to push," he says.

"'Bout time," I croak. "Can't play the revenge card, huh?"

Sam sighs and sits beside me, close to me, no longer holding me up but not straying for a second. "No, not if he's dead. Unless he's like her, which I doubt."

"Yeah, because that would just go beyond weird." I wince and rub at my throat and glance at Sam's. His is showing a red mark. "People are gonna think we hate each other."

He snorts.

Behind us the shrill screeching stops, replaced by . . .sobs? I turn with a frown, and meet Sam's eyes. "Is she kidding?"

"You got to her, Dean."

"Hell, I guess." I turn away from the crying, still rubbing my throat. "You said you were going to fill me in on this theory of yours when we got here. Please tell me now is the time."

Sam looks back over his shoulder at the crypt, stands and walks to it. I jerk around, not liking it a bit, but it wasn't like she could get out. Only she has before. I suddenly picture Sam crushed behind the crypt door as it swings open by a supernatural force, and rush to his side.

The door stays shut. He's listening to her. I stand beside him, ready to yank him away. Waiting. "Well?"

"I'm thinking."

"I thought you already had a theory!" I snap.

"It changed!"

"Unbelievable."

"No, Dean, seriously. I thought maybe she wanted revenge on her husband, but if he's dead, and there's no sign of him not being totally dead, then what does she want? She's not attacking people."

"Only cats."

"So she hates cats."

"Not enough to keep her here."

"Exactly. There's something missing, something she wants so bad that it's chained her to this existence."

I think about it. "Not money. She was loaded."

"No, not money."

Sam's head was against the crypt door. His face suddenly lit up, and I swear to god, that scared me more than Cora's attack. "What? What is it?" I ask.

He turns to me, his eyes bright with whatever realization has wormed into his head. "Dean, what was the one thing that probably meant more to her than anything? The one thing she was deprived of? That's what she wants."

It takes a moment, but I get it. I get what he's saying, what he's suggesting. My eyes widen, and Sam's grinning like a fool. Bastard's loving this. "No. Uh-uh." I'm backing away from the crypt. "No way, forget it."

"Dean, it's the only way."

I jab my finger toward the crypt door. "That thing? Are you fucking serious?" I can feel disgust cover me like a second skin.

"She was caught in a loveless marriage, Dean. She just wants. . ."

"I am not having sex with a freakin stiff, Sam!"

And that does it. Laughter snorts from his lips, and he clutches his stomach and doubles over and bawls like a baby. I just turn away, unable to believe this is happening to me, of all people. Sam's the sympathetic one, why can't he do it? I ask him. "Why can't you do it?"

Sam's laughter slides enough for him to answer, "Because she likes you. Because you came here to save her."

"Son of a bitch." My shoulders sag. I scrub at my hair, regretting every time I preached about loyalty and debt and finishing the job.

Sam settles, and almost looks – sad. "You took this on, Dean. She trusts you."

"I said, I'm not . . ."

"Look, no, I don't think you have to – go there. Just, let her kiss you or something."

I just stare at him. "Kiss me! Kiss me?" He's looking deadly serious, and I don't like it. "I have to let that thing kiss me? Are you insane?"

"Would you rather the other?"

"I'd rather you!" I turn away again and contemplate the door. "Man! I don't believe this."

"Don't worry. I'll be right behind you," Sam says quietly, and I want to punch him.

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Yeah, he may be behind me, but it takes a good half hour before I can get myself back down there. Cora is back in the corner. She's sitting and looking rejected, well, as rejected as a gaping, rotting woman can convincingly be. My nose instantly wrinkles. "I'm gonna hurl."

"You'll be fine."

"Shut up." I swallow hard and walk to her. Sam, who has my back, remember, is watching it drift further from him as he stays in one spot.

She looks at me, and I try not to run. I think she knows how revolted I feel, because she shrinks back.

I'll be damned. She's afraid she'll disgust me. I suddenly feel sorry for her, I mean I really do. "Cora," I say softly. I crouch down in front of her. And then I don't know what else to say, but I guess my eyes say it for me.

She tilts her head to the side, ever so slightly. It's the most uniquely human thing I've seen her do, and I almost smile. I think back to the photo, how she looked so cute, yet so traumatized behind that forced grin, her husband's heavy arm bearing down on her small shoulders. Those shoulders are so brittle now, and yet so strong. Too little, too late. I feel tight, angry, repulsed, determined. Probably exactly how she felt in her loveless marriage.

She leans forward slowly, taking an eternity to put a dry, flaked hand on my cheek. It feels like paper scraping against me. I force myself to stay still, force my face to remain immobile. Behind me, Sam hasn't moved, I'm not even sure he's breathing.

But she is. Man. My eyelids flutter and I hold my breath. Death-stench. Halitosis has nothing on it. "Bitch, if you give me nasty tongue so help me. . ."

And she kisses me.

I'm holding my breath. Her lips feel like parchment, not that I've had parchment on my lips, but I can imagine it. And oddly enough, it still feels like a woman's kiss, not quite as repulsive as I thought it would be. She pulls back, her lips again tugged away from her teeth in a devil's grimace, and I wonder for a moment why I didn't feel that. Wonder why she's tilting her head, why she still looks sad.

She was showing me she wasn't repulsive. If you say so, Cora.

I swallow deeply, close my eyes, and lean in. I keep the image of young, tormented Cora in my mind and give her the most gentle, meaningful, lingering peck on the lips I can manage. Be at peace, Cora.

I pull back slowly, not sure if it was enough. I can't love her. She has to know that. But she looks at me, and stands slowly. I stay kneeling, looking up at this tragic figure whose face suddenly shifts into a smile, a freakin' full-on grin.

And she explodes into dust.

The dust races up my nose and into my lungs. "Shit! Holy – dammit!" I hold my breath, knowing it's too late. My hands are frantically waving it away as I tumble backward, choking, feeling Sam grab me and hoist me to my feet. Around us the crypt starts to rumble.

I shove at my brother. "Go, go!" We race up the stairs and hurl ourselves onto the grass as the door closes and wedges shut.

I stare at it. The crypt has fallen to the side, the roof shifting like the land below it has suddenly given way. It looks much older and decrepit.

I'm coughing. I can't believe she did that. I roll onto my back to find Sam peering down at me, his face back lit by the moon. I'm suddenly awed by the sight, like it's an omen or something. Then he opens his mouth.

"I may've had a girl in me for a week, Dean, but Cora, that's like the rest of your life, man."

That's it. I officially hate him.

We pack up the car and head out of town. I can feel Sam looking at me, feel his question, and I decide to give in. "Okay, what?"

"How did you find this case?"

I give a one-shouldered shrug. "I don't know, I heard her while I was walking around the grave yard."

"When?"

"When I couldn't sleep. First night we got into town."

"So you decided to wander a graveyard by yourself at night."

"The movies was closed."

Sam has that exasperated look. "Dean."

"What? I'm serious. I couldn't sleep, I had nowhere to go, the moon was out, the graveyard was relatively nearby, so I walked."

"People don't just voluntarily walk through a graveyard at night, Dean."

"Buffy did."

"Buffy was a television character."

"Yeah, and you act like one." I'm tired of the conversation already, so I shift it. "You never told me why you suddenly have sunlight shining out of your ass."

The corner of his mouth quirks. I hide my smile. "No, I didn't," he says.

"S'okay. I think I know." My eyes are fixed on the road ahead of me. "You're letting Jess go, aren't you?" I feel his glance. "That's okay, it's a good thing. Really."

"I don't know," he says. "I just feel – better."

"I'll take that." I throw him a smile, then concentrate on my driving again.

There are things I don't tell my brother. Sometimes they slip out, like that whole flying fiasco. Sometimes he pulls them out, like the job we just finished. Sometimes I can hide them from him, like my fear of what's to come. I'll never tell him the real reason I was in that graveyard. I'm not sure I know. But somehow it steadies me, it prepares me. It grounds me. There is so much going on that we can't understand, and one day we won't have to. There is an odd sense of peace in a graveyard.

Well, there was until Cora.

Makes me wonder where I can find that peace now.

-end-