There were two words that struck terror in the heart of Sam Winchester, particularly when they came from his brother Dean.
Using the term "job" for what they did for a living (or didn't do for a living considering it didn't pay them anything) was a misuse of the term. When they weren't on a gig, researching the paranormal then hunting down and destroying it therefore saving fellow human beings from fates possibly worse than death – they actually did very little.
It was hard to have a hobby when you were on the road, and television could only occupy so much time before it got old. The drinking game Dean came up with for Grey's Anatomy was interesting until it became clear that taking a shot every time one of the interns got laid was a) expensive and b) no fun the next day when you were hanging over the toilet puking your guts up because you drank too much. Watching porn with your brother was most decidedly un-fun even if you turned the volume off and provided new narrative in high pitched squeaky voices.
Sometimes they stopped and did touristy things, usually because Dean found something interesting. Sam rarely found touristy things interesting but Dean, perpetually a child at heart, ate them up like they were manna from heaven. When he'd been on the road with John they never stopped and did anything fun. Sam was much more indulgent than their father and Dean took advantage of it. Nearly every time they were in Ohio they had to go to Cleveland and hit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They both got a kick out of the weird stuff, like the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. There were some things they avoided, such as riding a mule down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and anything having to do with Walt Disney. Sam suspected Dean secretly wanted to go on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, (Sam caught him singing "yo, ho, ho a pirates life for me..." in the shower once) but he would never confess to it.
When everything else grew dull, Dean fell back on women and Sam buried his nose in research. While the elder Winchester was hustling pool and trying to schmooze a waitress out of her phone number and himself into her bed, Sam was at the public library. Nine times out of ten it was Sam who found their next case while reading through hundreds of newspapers from all over the country or during many hours spent surfing the web.
If Sam came up with nothing, and Dean struck out with the girls (both of which did happen on occasion) it would lead to Dean uttering those two evil little words.
It was actually better for Dean to announce this than for Sam to find it out the hard way – usually via a prank. He had recently woken up from a nap to find his hair twisted up into dozens of little braids sticking up all over his head, each one meticulously tied off with a piece of pink yarn. Sam had been startled that Dean had been able to do this without waking him up. He'd also been completely mystified as to where his brother had come up with the pink yarn considering they were staying in an old run-down motel located in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. (The "town" consisted of the motel, a gas station and a half dozen houses, only two of which were actually habitable.)
"Dude, you look like Pinhead."
"You are a pinhead," Sam had retorted.
It had taken him hours to get the braids out and, much to Dean's amusement, when he was finished his hair was left puffed up and frizzy like an Afro gone horribly wrong. At least Dean's freakish fascination for pulling stunts with Sam's hair hadn't led him to try the Nair trick again. For that Sam would have had to shoot him.
Sam's counter attack happened a few weeks later at the laundry mat where he threw a packet of dye in with Dean's unmentionables turning everything a very lovely shade of purple. Without time to buy anything new, and Sam being reluctant to loan him anything, Dean had gone on a date with purple underwear. He returned from said date only a short time later red-faced and furious. Apparently his apparel had caused Dean's conquest, Tina, to laugh so hard he'd actually been embarrassed. Embarrassment of the purple underwear sort had led to further embarrassment when Lil' Dean became overcome with stage fright. Between the performance anxiety and the purple underwear the lovely Tina ultimately assumed Dean was having some sort of sexual identity crisis and showed him the door.
The bonus to this prank, which had Sam in stitches and Dean scarred for life, was that the dye bled onto one's skin if said skin got a little warm and sweaty. Not only had the girl laughed at the purple underwear, but the parts of Dean's anatomy that had also been turned purple. Luckily nothing had happened between them or she might have gone away with certain parts of her anatomy stained purple as well.
Sam was rendered incoherent when this fact was revealed, laughing so hard tears were streaming from his eyes and he found breathing difficult.
"Don't worry Dean, all men have that problem at some point in their lives."
"Dude! I'm twenty-eight years old! I can get a hard-on thinking about cantaloupe!"
"But not eggplant?" Sam howled, and promptly fell off his bed with a thump. He continued to giggle from the floor.
Dean growled at him, and vowed revenge would be forthcoming.
Luckily for Sam a series of jobs one right after the other popped up and revenge was postponed for more than a month. It wasn't until they got another stretch of down time that Dean was able to plot his retaliation. He almost didn't, as Sam had gone through some rough times during their busy schedule and was at a very low point. After a long period of intense boredom, however, he relented and pulled his stunt, rationalizing things by telling himself Sam could use a good laugh. Of course, he had to admit, Sam probably wouldn't be the one laughing.
They were in South Dakota. It was a bit chilly. Sam was in the shower.
Standing outside the window of their hotel room, Dean yelled for Sam to come help him. He followed this up with a series of blood curdling screams that were sure to convince anyone he was being murdered in a very gruesome torn-limb-from-bloody-limb manner. If Sam didn't come to his rescue, he would have been very surprised indeed.
Of course Sam did come to Dean's rescue, shooting out of the room clutching a towel around his midsection with one hand and holding a gun in the other. He was dripping wet, with shampoo in his hair and a horrified look on his face. The towel was the only thing he wore.
Dean slipped behind Sam's back and ducked into the room, taking one corner of the towel with him. Just before he slammed the door shut, as Sam was turning around to stop him, Dean gave the towel a hard jerk and relieved it from his brother's grip. The towel vanished, the door slammed, and Sam heard the locks click into place. He also heard giggling and felt a bit of a draft.
Dean's screaming alone had alerted the guests and the hotel manager that something was amiss in or around room 120. The sight of a naked man yelling and waving a gun around was more than enough to persuade them to make a call to 911. At least, Dean thought as he watched the local news and weather, Sam wouldn't be stuck outside in the cold if the cops took him to jail.
Which they did.
"That," Sam growled, when Dean broke into the jail during the wee hours and sprung him, "was incredibly stupid, not to mention underhanded and outright mean."
Dean just chuckled.
"They ran my prints, Dean. Henricksen is on his way."
"And we're on our way out of town." Dean glanced over and busted up laughing (again) at the makeshift shorts Sam was wearing. They'd been made from the bottom half of a prison jumpsuit because the jumpsuit itself had been much too small to fit him. "Love the outfit. Very trendy."
Leaning over, Dean sniffed. "Gee, your hair smells terrific." He busted up laughing. (third time)
"Very funny," Sam plucked at his hair. It was sticky with dried shampoo. They had only allowed him to rinse his hair in a little tiny sink, and only given him less than a minute to do it. "That was too much, Dean."
"Oh, no it wasn't."
"I got arrested for indecent exposure and carrying a concealed weapon."
"Phhffffbt….." (fourth time) "Wasn't much concealed…."
"You're a jerk."
"Yeah, you can dish it out but not take it…."
"I. Got. Arrested."
"I. Turned. Purple." Dean was insulted by the fact Sam had the audacity to think he had been done wrong. If anyone had been done wrong, it had been Dean. "Hey! I had a technical malfunction at a very crucial moment in my relationship with …..whatever her name was! Arrest is too good for you!"
Sam chuckled. "Oh yeah. Forgot about that."
"Do you know how hard I struggled to get over it?" With mock tears in his eyes, Dean snuffled. "Dude, I suffered severe mental anguish every time I had to pee."
"What are you talking about? It washed off in the shower and you picked up a girl the very next night!"
"But it was difficult. I had flashbacks. It was sheer torture. The fear of failure was overwhelming."
"We only did it twice."
"Oh my God," Sam twisted his face up in a mortified look, turning pleading eyes toward his brother and wringing his hands together. "I am so, so sorry. How can you ever forgive me?"
They both laughed. Dean turned on the radio.
After a few minutes Dean turned off the radio.
"We have another gig?"
"Nope, not unless you want to investigate a nine-year-old who claims his gerbil talks to him in French." Sam snorted.
Dean glanced over at him. "You want to play a game?"
Sam narrowed his eyes. "I'm not sure I like your tone young man."
"Never mind. I'll bite. What kind of a game?"
A sly grin crept over Dean's face. "I call it 'prank the Fed.' "
It was a small town, not on any maps. It was a blink-and-you-miss-it sort of town with a single traffic light, a gas station that doubled as a grocery store, and a few farm houses scattered around upon several thousand acres of farmland.
It also had one cop and a jail cell – left over from the days when there had actually been people living in town and not just a few old timers leasing their land out to corporate farming organizations. The cop was a lanky fellow with thick black hair and a bushy handle-bar mustache. He was sitting on a bench in front of the jail idly chewing on a toothpick and squinting out into the sun from behind dark sunglasses. A black car pulled up to the curb. The sheriff didn't bother to sit up when two men got out of the car and approached him.
"What have you got for me?" The shorter of the two, a youngish African American, strode up to the sheriff and stopped with his arms cross over his chest. "I got a call sayin' you've got one of my fugitives in custody." He looked the sheriff up and down with somewhat of a sneer. "I find that hard to believe."
"First off," the sheriff drawled. "I'm Sheriff Fry, Glen Fry. You got any manners, son you'll let me know who ya'll are."
"I'm Special Agent Henricksen, this is my partner of the week Special Agent..." Henricksen snapped his fingers at the young man standing behind him.
"Adams," Adams said hastily.
"Right. Whatever. Where's my prisoner?"
Henricksen made as if to go to the door, but the sheriff reached out an arm and stopped him. At Henricksen's expression of outrage, Fry rose from the bench and stood up to him.
"'Fraid you can't go in there."
The agent pushed the sheriff's arm down. "'Fraid I can."
"Suit yourself," Sheriff Fry replied, and added, after Henricksen pushed open the door a little way. "But if ya'll catch what he's got I won't be responsible."
Adams blanched. "What? What he's got?"
Henricksen turned around and gave Fry another look. He let the door go and got in the sheriff's face. "Look here. You best not bullshit me or I'll have you demoted down to septic tank flusher faster than you can get another ya'll out of your country fried gob."
Fry raised an eyebrow. "You sound stressed. I'd say you're in need of a vacation, son."
"Special Agent Henricksen to you," Henricksen hissed, grinding his teeth together. "Eff. Bee. Eye. Best remember that, son." He jerked his head toward the door. "What are you talking about?"
Fry shrugged. "Doc Robert came out, took a look at 'im, said he might have something catchin'."
"Like what, a cold?"
Fry took his John Deer trucker's hat off and scratched his head. "Dunno. Plague. Smallpox. That whatchu call it – pigeon cough?"
"Bird flu?" Adams supplied, pulling his suit jacket over his nose and mouth.
"Yeah, that's it." With another shrug the sheriff replaced his hat and opened the door. "But if ya'll want to go on in, that's up to you."
Henricksen looked at his partner, who shook his head violently back and forth. The senior agent rolled his eyes, muttered something about "idiot yee-haws" and shoved his way into the jail. Sheriff Fry followed him. Agent Adams remained outside.
The jail looked uncannily like the set of Andy Griffith, or any old time western movie known to man, with a desk and chair and two matching cells. One cell was empty. The other was occupied with a figure Henricksen found familiar, but not the one he really wanted to nab the most. He gloated anyway.
"Well, well, well. Sam Winchester."
Sam was sitting on the edge of his cot, folded up over a bucket that sat between his feet. As he looked up it was obvious he was very ill. His face was flushed, and sweat slicked his face and dampened his hair. The skin all around his eyes was red and puffy. His eyes themselves were blood red and weeping. His nose was red and running too and blood stained his mouth. Instead of responding to Henricksen he leaned over and made wretching sounds, spitting blood into the bucket.
Henricksen was unimpressed and unsympathetic.
"Where's your brother?"
When there was no response other than a violent coughing fit and more spitting of blood, he repeated the question.
Sam looked up at him, wheezing for breath. "Dead," he muttered.
"I'll believe that when I see it."
"It's the truth," Sam whispered. "Where do you think I caught this crap? He got sick. Didn't get better." He started coughing again, and moaned a little. "God, now I'm dying too."
Henricksen looked back at Sheriff Fry. "He's lying."
"'Fraid not," Fry said. "Boy, told us where the body was. Dug it up and Doc Robert sealed it up tight 'til the CDC gets here. Got a pos-e-tiv I.D from ya'lls pho-to." He shook his head. "Pity. Good lookin' kid."
Sam had another coughing fit, and if Henricksen had been paying attention he would have heard the word "narcissist" hidden in the middle of it. Instead the special agent was too busy trying to process what the sheriff was telling him, torn between believing it and thinking it a massive load of horse hooey. If it was true he was going to be really disappointed because he would have liked to have pushed the plunger on the syringe that would deliver a lethal dose of drugs to Dean Winchester once he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for murder and a host of other charges.
"I want to talk to this doctor." Henricksen demanded.
Behind him Sam started to cry. "I don't want to die..." he wailed, and started choking.
Fry shot him a nasty look on his way to the phone. "Melodramatic ham," he growled.
Sam's cough sounded suspiciously like a laugh for just the briefest moment before he collapsed sideways onto the bunk, wheezing like an out of tune accordion.
Henricksen opened his mouth to say something when there was a banging on the door. The sheriff put down the phone and opened it. A man wearing a full haz-mat suit burst through and shut the door behind him again very quickly as if he were being pursued by something frightening. Through the suit's visor Henricksen could see the face of an older man with gray hair and a neatly trimmed mustache. Spidery wire rimmed spectacles hung down upon his nose. His eyes were wide as he saw the special agent.
"What the hell!" he exclaimed. "I tol' you Glen, not to let anyone in here! Now you've gone and exposed this here fellow!"
"Doc Robert, this is Special Agent Henricksen. Eff. Bee. Eye. Told him not to come in but he wasn't inclined to listen."
"Doctor," Henricksen snapped. "Just what are you talking about?"
Doc Robert looked from the sheriff to Henricksen and back again. "Well. I ain't supposed to be tellin' people this per the CDC. They don't want to incite panic, but considering ya'll are government officials I suppose ya'll know all about con-fee-den-chee-ality."
"Yes. Yes I do, and you better be telling me what's wrong with my prisoner." Henricksen paused. "But first, is it true? You examined the body of his brother, Dean?"
The doctor nodded. "Deader than a doornail."
Henricksen cursed. "Damn."
Sheriff Fry removed his hat. "I'm sorry for your loss."
With a snort Henricksen made a face. "Whatever. Piece of crazy-ass crap – just sorry I didn't get to off the smart ass myself."
"That's harsh," the sheriff muttered. "What'd he ever do to you?"
"Baghdad flu," the doctor said hastily, interrupting the exchange. "New strain. Seein' it come back with vets from over there in eye-rack. Highly contagious, almost always fatal. Trying to keep it under wraps for now." He leaned over and whispered, as best he could through the haz-mat suit, "Don't want soldiers to be goin' A.W.O.L over being scared they'll get it."
Sheriff Fry removed his hat again. "Poor boy. Servin' our country like he did, only to be cut down in the prime of life by a damn flu bug."
"What?" Henricksen practically shrieked. "Listen here. Dean Winchester wasn't a veteran of any sort. The man was a low-down murdering psycho freak." He turned on the doctor. "I want to see the body."
"'fraid I can't do that."
"You people are 'fraid of too much around here," the special agent spat. "Why the hell not?"
"It's sealed up tight, waitin' on the CDC to get here." Doctor Robert's eyes grew round and frightened again. "Wait. You say he wasn't over in eye-rack?"
"Oh my lord!" The doctor said. "That means it's mutated!"
Sheriff Fry looked alarmed. "Mutated?"
There was a clatter from within the cell. All three men turned to see Sam lying on the bunk with one arm flung out over the edge. He'd knocked over the bucket, spilling a stream of thick, dark, bloody fluid across the floor. His eyes were open, staring up at the ceiling and they had been completely obliterated by a blood red stain spread out across both the whites and the irises. He wasn't breathing.
"Get that cell door open!"
Henricksen was right behind the doctor and the sheriff as they rushed inside the cell. There was a brief moment of awkwardness as both of them tried to get in the door at the same time, which was made nearly impossible by the bulky haz-mat suit the doctor wore. The doctor bent over Sam and looked at him closely.
"He's dead, Glen," he intoned gravely.
"Get out of my way," Henricksen growled. He shoved the doctor away with the intent of seeing if Sam were dead or alive himself.
As Henricksen approached the prisoner the sheriff came up beside him as if to hold him back. At that moment Sam gave a great big gasp of air and rose up off the cot. With a violent outburst the air came right back out of him again, this time carrying with it blood and what looked to be some sort of bloody tissue. It came out in clumps and clung to the mens' clothing. The sheriff let out a shriek. Henricksen jumped back, outraged.
"What the hell!"
Sam fell back to the cot and Doc Robert sprang into action. "Oh God! Quickly, quickly! Get those clothes off! Hurry!" He moved in to help the sheriff, who pried off his boots and swiftly chucked his shirt and jeans into a pile in the corner. "Henricksen! Get that suit off dammit!"
"What? No! Hey!"
He was rushed by the doctor and the sheriff, and between the two of them they managed to get the special agent stripped down to his skivvies in a flurry of shouting, turning, twisting and pawing. Before he realized what was going on Hendricksen had been shoved down onto the cot while the sheriff and the doctor retreated to the cell door and shut it behind them.
Henricksen blinked, momentarily disoriented. If he was sitting on the cot then where...
Sam waved to him from the other side of the bars. "Hi."
"Son of a..." Hendricksen made a lunge for the door, only to find himself handcuffed to the bunk. "What the hell? WHAT THE HELL!"
Sheriff Fry had pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and was taking pictures of the semi-nude Henricksen with one hand while pulling off his mustache and hairpiece with the other. "Mmm, mmm, mmm. These are some hot snapshots special agent. I was right pegging you as a tighty whitey man. Have you ever considered giving up the Eff Bee Eye for a career in modeling?" Dean peeled off the latex nose and the bags under his eyes. "Ow."
"You screwed up, psychotic little bastard." Henricksen raised his voice. "Adams! Adams get your ass in here! Ad-ams!"
"Ah, I'm afraid he's a little indisposed," Sam said lightly. He paused to pop out the contact lenses he was wearing over his eyes. "See, he had a run-in with the good doctor outside. He'll wake up in oh...twelve hours or so."
Henricksen caught sight of the doctor leaving through the door. "Let me guess, that's daddy."
"No, sorry, just a friend. Ah," Dean cocked his head and smiled. He moved over to the desk where he retrieved another set of clothes. He pulled them on as he carried on the conversation. "We have friends. What do you know about that! Sam, I didn't know psychotic bastard serial killers had friends, did you?"
"Well, there was the Manson family. They all started out as friends I suppose."
Henricksen stabbed a finger at them. "Your asses are mine. Mine."
"Gah, pervert." Dean chuckled, zipping his fly. "Sam, you have that address?"
Sam dug around in his pocket and handed a small slip of paper over to his brother. "Yep."
"What, what are you doing?" Henricksen raged. "What...you...you better not be doing what I think you're doing!"
"What? Sending pictures of you naked and handcuffed to a bed to all your buddies at headquarters?" Dean grinned. "Oh, yes I am."
"You've got a pretty interesting track record, special agent," Sam said, ticking off the points on his fingers. "Loses dangerous criminals not once but three times, gets completely humiliated by said dangerous criminals before losing them again..."
Dean hit the send button on his phone. "Congratulations Henricksen, you're now the laughing stock of the Federal Bureau of Investigation." He beckoned Sam over to the cell. They grinned as he snapped one last shot of themselves with Henricksen in the background. That photo was sent as well.
"Just wait, Winchester. I'll get you. I swear to god I'll get you."
"And my little Sammy too?" Dean cackled. "Good luck with that." He blew Henricksen a kiss as he headed for the door. "Adieu my love, until we meet again."
From outside Sam laughed.
When they were good and gone, Henricksen poked around under the mattress of the cot where he found a bottle of Karo syrup dyed to look like blood, half an onion, a plastic cup of raspberry Jello and a small spray bottle of warm water. It was, he realized, the Baghdad flu.
"Son of a bitch..."
Dean rolled over, yawning, stretching the stiffness out of his joints. It had been a long night and he was still tired despite twelve hours of sleep. A glance at the clock told him it was early afternoon. A glance toward the other bed revealed the snoring lump of his brother. Sam was still completely unconscious, stretched out across the bed in a long-limbed sprawl. It was a little warm in the room. Dean was sweating. Sam had turned off the A/C.
"Hmm...dumbass." Dean yawned again and stumbled sleepily out of bed. He shuffled toward the bathroom and pushed open the half closed door...
Dislodging the five pound bag of flour that had been balanced precariously atop said door.
It hit the top of his head and exploded, enveloping him in a cloud of white. The flour settled on and around him, clinging to his sweat dampened hair and skin, coating him in a sticky white film. He looked rather like the spirit they had dispatched the night before when all was said and done.
Dean blinked flour out of his eyes. A second later they narrowed dangerously.