Battle of the Bulge
Summary: Sam and Dean are trapped on a farm with some unusual residents…
And here you have it all finished up. I hope this little bit of fluff in a very small way helped to alleviate some of the feelings that I may have (completely inadvertently and unexpectedly) slightly traumatized a few of you with the last story. Ahem.
"So that didn't go like I figured," Dean said, standing over Tommy's dead body.
Sam's expression was incredulous. "Ya think?"
"Well, how was I supposed to know she was going to do that?" Dean said defensively. "Ghosts are usually sneakier. I wasn't expecting her to just whack him."
"So what do we do now?" Sam frowned down at the corpse.
"I hear the septic tank does wonders," Dean tried.
"I'm just saying!"
"We can't stuff him in the septic tank!"
Dean just shrugged. "Well, then what do you suggest? I don't think the cops are going to go for the 'his dead wife shot him' defense. She's in Albuquerque."
"Tucson," Sam corrected automatically.
"He was cleaning his gun?" Dean suggested.
"From across the room?"
"I guess not." Dean continued to stare down at the wreck of the man on the kitchen floor. He tried briefly to work up a bit of sympathy, but it didn't get him anywhere. As far as Dean could tell, Tommy had terrorized his wives and hadn't cared too much about his animals except to make them smaller and smaller, regardless of the results. He'd seemed like a decent enough guy on the surface, but then that's what Tommy had cared about. Just the surface.
Dean felt a momentary pang of guilt. He'd really never had trouble. He'd been a decent looking kid and he'd grown into a good looking adult. Pretty people just got farther in life. It was the way things worked and he depended on it. As a teen, his dad had shamelessly begun to use him to get information or to get into places that people weren't willing to allow their semi-creepy, hasn't-shaved-or-bathed-in-days looking father. Like everything else Dean owned, it was a tool that he turned to his advantage.
Looking back at Annie, still slumped against the wall, Dean knew her looks hadn't made her life any easier. Dean's gaze traveled to his brother. Sammy might be Mr. Tall-&-I-Work-Out-Too-Much now, but back in the day, he'd been a chubby twelve-year old and Dean had spent more time than he would ever admit threatening anyone who even looked at his brother sideways. That said, Sam's more problematic growing pains might be why he was the more considerate, understanding person he was. Sam had actually worked while Dean had breezed through on his smile and an overabundance of bravado.
"How are your burns?" Sam asked.
"They're already fading," Dean answered offhandedly. He'd felt the pain begin to lessen as soon as the shot was fired. He still felt like he'd been flayed alive, not to mention he was still soggy from his impromptu shower, but give him a little time and he'd never have known they were there. One of the few perks of injuries being supernatural; sometimes they were finished along with the job. "You?" he asked.
Annie groaned and tried to sit up. Sam hurried to her side and knelt beside her while she got her bearings, then took her by the arm and helped her into a chair. She didn't speak, only stared at Tommy's bloody remains.
"Sam, maybe we should take her into the other room," Dean advised. Manners sort of demanded not making a wife sit by her dead husband.
"No," Annie said with more strength than Dean would have expected. "Here's fine."
Sam put a hand on her shoulder, trying to draw her attention away from the mess. "How are you feeling?"
"He's gone," Annie said blankly. "He's really gone."
"I'm sorry," Dean murmured. Not so much that Tommy was dead, but he was sorry that she would suffer because of it.
Sam rummaged in the cabinets for a glass, filled it at the sink and brought it to her. She took the glass with a trembling hand and Sam wrapped his own around hers until he was sure she wouldn't drop it.
"He killed her," Annie said matter-of-factly, though her voice was still shaky. "Maybe one day… he would have decided that I wasn't up to standards either."
"Maybe so," Sam said carefully.
"He… he was a difficult husband. Very difficult." She wiped a tear away and set the glass down on the table. "I… I should call the police."
Sam and Dean shared a quick glance. "Yeah, Annie, about that…"
Annie looked up and her eyes were surprisingly clear. "I'll tell them a man broke in. He… he broke in the back door. Tommy got his gun, but the burglar took it away from him and shot him. The man dropped the gun and ran." She raised her eyebrows in a question. "Do you think that would be plausible?"
Dean blinked, taken completely aback. "That would work," he replied.
"The salt." She stood and turned in a circle looking at all of it. "I'll tell them I heard it kept bugs out. We've been having problems." Annie moved toward the sink and pulled a dishcloth out of a drawer beside it. She began wiping the faucet down and then asked, "What else did you touch?"
Dean had to shake his head in near awe at her newfound poise. "Salt, kitchen table and chairs, doorknobs, bathroom."
Annie simply nodded. They watched as she haphazardly put her own hands over where she'd wiped so that her prints would be on the things. "You should go. Both of you."
"You're sure?" Dean asked. He felt uncomfortable leaving the woman alone with her dead husband on the floor. Somehow seemed… ungentlemanly.
Annie looked up at him and suddenly straightened, head held high, like a heavy weight had been lifted off her shoulders. Dean had the distinct impression that Annie was about to become a very merry widow.
"Yes," she nodded again. "I… I don't know who you two are… but I think you two saved my life tonight. And I owe you for that."
"What will you do now?" Sam asked.
Annie looked down at the body and Dean nearly stepped in front of it, afraid she might give Tommy a kick for good measure. Instead she cocked her head to one side, clearly thinking while she looked at her dead husband. Finally, she took in a deep breath, as if she hadn't been able to breathe freely in a long, long time. "I think I'll make myself a sandwich… or forty."
Dean choked out a surprised laugh. "You heard that, did you?"
"Hard to miss. It's a little house," she said, then looked around at the tiny kitchen. "But maybe I'll add on."
Annie walked to the phone on the wall, picked it up and dialed. "Yes…" she said, her voice high and strained, "my husband… he's dead… This man… he broke in… and Tommy's dead!"
Dean raised his eyebrows and shot Sam a bemused glance. "Remind me not to cross this woman," he muttered lowly. "She's way too good at this."
"No… no… he ran away… please just hurry…. What?" Annie paused then turned around and looked at Tommy on the floor. "The man… he was... I don't know… Six feet tall maybe… brown hair… Jeans," she said as if suddenly remembering. "He had on jeans… Jeans and a checkered shirt."
Dean quickly realized that Annie had just described Tommy himself as the killer and maybe that was as close to the truth as anything else. Tommy had killed his first wife and in doing so had brought about his own less than stellar end.
"No, I don't know which way he ran… Please! Just get here!" Annie added on a panicked note and hung the phone up.
"Impressive," Dean said. "Scary… but impressive."
"Go on. Both of you," she said. Annie still had her dishcloth in hand and started wiping things down again as she spoke. "I'll have this done before they get here."
Sam and Dean shared one more look and then shrugged simultaneously. They grabbed their things and made their way toward the front. Just as he closed the door, Dean turned back one last time to see Annie standing over her husband.
"Guess what, Tommy," he heard her say, tears once again running down her face. "I just lost 150 pounds. Aren't you proud?"
Dean pulled the door shut and hurried after Sam. There were still animals milling around in the yard, but now that Clara was gone, they were back to just being loose farm animals. Still, Dean gave them a wide berth. The burns might be fading, but the bite on his hand was as real as ever.
"Keys?" Dean asked.
"I left them in the lock on the trunk," Sam said.
"Dude, somebody could just drive off with the car!"
"We're in the middle of nowhere Dean and I was a little busy," Sam said in exasperation.
Dean pulled the keys out of the trunk lid and walked around the side of the car. "You know the rules, Sammy. Fight evil. Save the girl. Protect the car. Not necessarily in that order."
Dean stopped dead in his tracks. The mini-moo was standing in front of his door.
"What's wrong?" Sam had caught the sudden tension and immediately started around the car to him.
"This freakin' mini-moo is still staring at me," Dean said.
"Dean, it's just a cow," Sam said, like he was talking to not-too-bright child. He walked past Dean and smacked the animal to get it to move.
"Easy for you to say. It didn't try to bite your hand off," Dean muttered, glaring at the cow as it slowly meandered away.
"Come on," Sam urged. "The cops are on their way."
They hustled into the car and pulled away from the house, Dean purposely heading farther out into the country rather than in any natural direction a policeman would be coming from. He ignored the fact that the mini-moo was still standing in the road as they left, staring at the departing car. What did he know about farm animals? Maybe they really did stare at you.
They drove in silence for several miles and Dean could tell Sam was mulling something over. He was frowning and drumming his fingers on his leg.
"About earlier. What Clara was saying…"
Dean sighed. "Man, you gotta quit listening to the ghosts. They've got more issues than National Geographic."
"I'm not listening to the ghosts," Sam said defensively. "I just…"
Dean stopped him with a wave of his hand. "Look, ghosts… They get us… but they don't get us." He cleared his throat. "They say brainwashed, I say I'm just takin' care of what I care about most. You do the same." He gave Sam a lopsided smile. "You just go about it a little differently. That big brain of yours keeps getting in the way."
Sam gave him a sidelong glance. "Still, she said we asked you to be…" He trailed off, thinking again. "If you could change one thing about me what would it be?" he asked suddenly.
Dean snorted. "You mean aside from the obvious?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Sam said, his eyes narrowed.
Dean grinned. "Nothin'."
"I'm being serious here, man."
"And I thought this was an Abbott and Costello routine. Who's on first, the cow's on second."
Sam shook his head, clearly not about to be sidetracked. "It's just… I was thinking about what she told you. That what Dad and I made you into," he said slowly, "That that's why you made the deal."
Without even looking Dean could tell Sam was watching him closely. He unthinkingly tightened his grip on the steering wheel and hissed at the resulting pain from his injured hand. He knew it was a mess and he was an idiot for driving with it. "Look, I know you still think I'm a moron-"
"You're not a moron, Dean," Sam cut him off. "You're smart, have freakishly dead-on instincts, and you're assertive to a fault." He frowned. "I just wish you would be that way about yourself, instead of just for me."
Dean shrugged, noting the burns barely gave him a twinge. "I don't need to be that way about myself."
Sam shook his head in disbelief. "And what makes you think that?"
Dean cast him a brief glance, then went back to looking out the windshield. "I got you. You watch my back, I watch yours. It's the way it works."
Sam sighed, though Dean noted a slightly pleased grin tugging at the corners of his brother's mouth. Then the expression vanished, replaced by a scowl.
"What did you mean 'the obvious'?" Sam asked.
Dean turned the radio on, smiling as the music blasted through the speakers. "Nothin', Sammy. Not a thing."
Thanks for sticking with this one. Hope you enjoyed it. I do sincerely apologize to those of you who were hoping Dean would be a were-cow.