Marty wasn't sure what had made him trust the blonde man in the beat-up leather jacket. For one, he didn't exactly ooze a trustworthy persona. With his rugged appearance, and body language that screamed 'piss off, I ain't talking to you', Marty couldn't think of anyone he would less want to get in a car with. But this guy... there was something else about him. He knew something - something Marty himself could only sense.

Marty had watched as the man pulled the car they were in into an empty parking spot outside Avondale Motor Inn with increasing concern. If this guy was a cop or agent, why the hell would he be staying in a motel? True, he hadn't said he was either of those things... hadn't said who he was at all. Just that he was Dean. And he wanted to help.

Dean was the good guy.

He hoped.


Dean looked over his shoulder at Marty one more time as he turned the key in the lock.

"You alright, man?" Dean asked, trying to sound reassuring. The older man looked pale and afraid. He swallowed a lump in his throat and nodded. Dean smiled coolly. "I swear we're helping you out here."

"'We'?" Marty asked as Dean swung the door open, revealing Sam still propped up in bed. "You didn't say you had a partner."

Dean waved a hand, brushing him off as he closed the door behind them, sealing the motel off again from the pounding rain. "He's more like a sidekick." He nodded towards the younger hunter. "Sam, meet Marty. Colleen's latest expendable."

Sam and Marty exchanged a glance. Sam raised his hand awkwardly with a muttered 'Hi'. Marty returned the gesture. As always, though, the awkward tension between the two men was entirely lost on Dean, and he stood looking between them, grinning stupidly.

"So... how do you guys know about this?" Marty sat down as Dean pulled a chair out for him. "How do you know I'm in danger?"

"It's kind of our job to know these things." Dean said carefully after a moment of thought.

Marty cocked an eyebrow. "So you are cops."

Neither Dean nor Sam said anything, only met one another's eyes with a completely blank expression.

"Then tell me what you know." Marty continued. "This Colleen person... she's a threat?"

Dean nodded. "Chick takes her work a little too seriously. Major inferiority complex or something. She'll do anything to make her readings accurate."

"Including murder." Sam piped up from the bed.

"Which is where you come in." Dean finished, not sure whether a fuller explanation would make the man feel better or worse.

"Like the Hawthorne Effect?" Marty asked after a while.

"Kind of." Sam nodded. "Only, the subject doesn't change his own fate. Colleen'll do it for you."

The older man was taking a moment to let the information sink in, and the brothers allowed it to him. It gave them time to work out how to approach the next part, anyway.

"So... what?" Marty finally spoke. "She hires a bunch of thugs to knife me when I've got my back turned?"

"Not exactly." Dean began awkwardly. Being evasive wouldn't work this time, but he'd damn well try anyway. "She's more Bell Witch than Jack the Ripper."

"...meaning?"

Dean exchanged an apprehensive glance with Sam from under his brow, and continued reluctantly. This is where it could get messy. "Meaning the thugs she hires aren't exactly... alive."

Silence hung heavily in the air. Marty's gaze flicked between the two brothers, trying nervously to pick up the hint of some inside joke he hadn't been let in on. "That's a metaphor, right?" He stammered. "Tell me it's a metaphor. Or some cop-lingo? Code?"

"We're not cops." Sam said suddenly. "That's the first thing you need to know."

"But it is our job to protect you." Dean looked Marty in the eye as he said it.

Marty shifted in his seat, thinking about running, but curious to hear what would come next. "...from what?"

The brothers exchanged a glance, then Dean looked back at the older man. "Something that wants you dead for peanuts."

"You guys are nuts." Marty rocketed out of his seat, but still didn't make a move for the door. "Bull goose loony, I swear to God."

"Please. Please, Marty, just hear us out." Sam held up a hand, imploring. Poor Marty wouldn't stand a chance against those big, round puppy-eyes. "You might not want to believe it but you need to trust us. For your sake."

"No way." Marty rubbed at his receding hairline, shaking his head - a sign of the inward debate. Though he was all gung-ho on the outside, inside, he was beginning to be persuaded. Slowly. "No Goddamn way... give me one good reason why I shouldn't make a run for it right now."

It didn't take long.

"Marty, do you have a family?" Dean asked, keeping his voice steady.

Marty scowled. "Why the hell would I tell you about my family? You guys could be psychos... or worse."

Dean was so damn close to blowing a fuse over this guy. There were skeptics, and then there were don't-believe-a-thing-outside-their-white-picket-fence-skeptics. Still, to keep him safe, they had to keep him calm so he wouldn't storm out and do something they'd all end up regretting.

Like die.

""Or, we could be trying to save your sorry life." Dean struggled to keep his voice level, but it vibrated with the frustration he was covering. "Now how's your wife, your kids, gonna feel when daddy doesn't walk through that door? You stay with us, you're closest to safe you can get. But you step outside and it's a whole different story. She's got you marked. You're not safe, not anywhere, but especially not out there on your own."

"Just give us a chance to convince you we're not crazy." Sam added, using his sincerest-sincere wide-eyed expression. "We'll tell you anything you want to know."

For a while, Marty just stood there, looking between the brothers, looking at the door, out the window, at his shoes. He might have memorized the entire motel room by heart by the time he slowly sank back into the chair, rubbing at his temple again.

"Alright, first question." He glanced over at Sam. "Why the hell're you in bed?"


Dean had to hand it to him: the man knew his rights. Marty asked new questions and clarified old ones for the next hour and a half, constantly pointing out that, should he refuse their "service", they couldn't hold him against his will. Dean had agreed, but nearly rolled his eyes. Marty was the most nine-to-five guy they'd ever come across.

Finally, he seemed to be satisfied enough to believe, or at least humor them. Then, he asked the one question neither of them knew how to answer.

"So, what's your big plan to save my life?"

It's like when a five-year-old asks you what the word 'rape' means, or 'how's Baxter doing on the happy dog farm up north?' A question innocent from one end, but holding so much more on the other.

"We're kind of spur-of-the-moment guys…" Dean tried, and was met by a disapproving glare from both Sam and Marty.

"We're working on it." Sam amended. "We're still not completely sure what she's capable of, or um, what she… is."

Long pauses were becoming force of habit now. Sam waited through the awkward silence.

"What she is?" Marty cocked an eyebrow.

"The thing is, with the kind of power it seems Colleen has… there's no guarantee she's entirely human." Sam explained.

"Oh." Marty was still for a moment, then cradled his head in his hands, eyes tight shut. "Jesus Christ. This is all real, isn't it?"

Sam and Dean exchanged a glance. It was always hard taking away someone's innocence like that.

"We've got until tonight." Dean tried to offer comfort. "And then, we're gonna beat this sucker down."