They're still not mine, and after what I'm doing to them it's probably a good thing because I know I'd never survive the revenge.
Reviews are love. ;)
You Would Cry Too, If It Happened To You
Once Dean and Sam both managed to get themselves coherent at the same time, it seemed obvious to them that they'd been whammied. They didn't really need research to know someone had hit them with some kind of spell – whether hoodoo or voodoo or just plain old-fashioned witchcraft, it didn't matter. The question was who. If they could figure out who, then they might know the how and the why. Apart from any of that, the timing was plain shitty. Their lives were angsty enough all on their own without the added bonus of crying about stupid things. Both of them half expected to come across spilt milk somewhere just for them to cry over it.
Their messed-up states probably had much to do with it, but for the life of them they could not figure out with whom or what they could possibly have crossed paths in the last month or two that might have such a vendetta against them. Really, vendetta type anger was something they thought would have stuck in their heads. Barring demons they'd vanquished, their latest supernatural encounter list was pretty short. Goat-loving Thor was really the only one on it and he totally didn't count. That dude hadn't been stable enough to do anything but a goat and besides that he wasn't supernatural (though it would have been SO much better if he wasn't just a sicko).
It didn't take long for them to realize an online search for leads was going to be insufficient, and Sam was maudlin and mopey about the spotty Internet connection he got there in the middle of nowhere anyway. They were likely dealing with very old – dusty-pages-of-Bobby's-dusty-books-kind-of-old – magic. Rather than risk the chance of Sam meandering onto other research topics (like, say, breaking a certain deal Dean had made with his life) which would normally be upsetting but manageable would now only cause undue stress and crying, they resolved to rest up for another leg of the journey to Bobby's. That was easier said than done.
They tried various techniques to lessen the tear shedding and maximize their recuperation time. Funny movies didn't work. Porn didn't work (they tried this one separately, thanks much). The sudoku book Dean got at the hotel gift shop, on deep discount because sudoku was apparently passé even in hicksville, made them cry harder, both for different reasons. Beer or hard liquor only made them more melancholic; they were normally relatively happy drunks, except for Sam that one time, so the loss of that outlet was particularly frustrating for them. Dean attempted a covert bubble bath while Sam went out for a walk and that did work for him until Sam came back, figured out what he was up to in the bathroom (by barging in rudely) and destroyed all of Dean's enjoyment with a lone chortle and much finger pointing. So in a way that method worked for both of them, temporarily.
"Dude, you still smell like peaches," Sam said hours later, a smile returning to his face at the remembered image of Dean up to his neck in a plethora of fluffy bubbles. "And cream."
"Let it go already, Sam," Dean growled back, but was actually relieved that Sam was getting some benefit out of his misery and since the photo had been deleted from the cell phone it was all good. He didn't retort like he usually would, because unlike him Sam could dish it out but couldn't take it in return. "It was the only scent they had."
Sam practically howled with laughter at that, but the joy turned quickly to uncontrollable tears and thus ended Sam's too brief dry spell. There was no doubt in either of their minds that they needed uninterrupted sleep. They didn't want to raid their stash of illicitly obtained prescription painkillers to use as sleep aids, though, so Dean made another trip to the hotel gift shop and bought a box of Tylenol PM, Vaseline for Sam's nose and yet more tissues. The clerk, who was unduly distressing to Dean with his greasy comb-over and thick glasses, twitched and twittered at the combined purchases and Dean barely made it out of the shop without tears of righteous indignation. The longer the affliction went on, the more difficult it became for Dean to limit his tears to two (or less than twenty), and it was just a guess but he figured he no longer cried so prettily. Not that he would ever admit to crying prettily in the first place.
Sam slicked his nose up with Vaseline, Dean cried at how gross his brother looked. Then they took slightly more than the recommended dosage of the Tylenol PM and zonked out for the whole afternoon and night, dream and therefore tear free. Drugging themselves into unconsciousness, it appeared, was the only thing that prevented them from crying for any helpful amount of time.
Dean was afraid of seeing Unpretty Woman again, so upon waking they left their keycards and what was left of Dean's never to be mentioned again peaches-and-cream bubble bath in the room and vacated Limon without making human contact. They both agreed they should aim for making it to Bobby's without any more stops. Their current credit cards were probably already flagged for fraud and the spare stash of emergency cash had dwindled to dangerous levels. They couldn't exactly go out and hustle for more in their conditions. Food and drink would also have to be at a bare minimum, but that rule was primarily to avoid interaction with anyone who wasn't cursed like them more than it was a money issue. It wasn't going to be fun, but they were both determined to make it work.
The drive went surprisingly well at first, and they reasoned having sleep must have rejuvenated them enough to put a slight damper on the crying. Sam even managed to drive for about fifty miles before he started noticing how beautiful the wildflowers (weeds) along the side of the road were as well as the stark beauty of the rolling waves of grain and he became too verklempt to carry on. Dean corresponded with watery eyes, and started to think perhaps Sam being contagious wasn't just a turn of phrase but an actuality. He filed that idea in the back of his head to discuss with Bobby when they got there, choosing to keep the idea to himself rather than risk upsetting Sam even more.
Less than a quarter of the way into their trip, Sam mentioned something about electrolytes and sodium loss from all the crying and that made sense to Dean, so they made a quick stop in Last Chance, Colorado to fill up the gas tank and get some Powerade. Neither of them mentioned the slight irony of the unincorporated town's name, though both of them caught it. They had to get Gatorade because that was all the brokedown little gas station had, and at that the bottles were covered in dust. Sam was distraught about it, but Dean was confident artificial coloring and preservatives were strong enough to make the drinks okay. The food choices, not so much, so they went without and got back on the road.
"I gotta pee," Sam announced about three quarters of the way to Bobby's. They were well through Nebraska. Dean pulled the car over at the side of the quiet road and waited for Sam to get out. And waited. "Why'd you stop here?"
"Uh, so you can take a piss."
"Dean, I can't go out in the open."
"Are you serious with this? There's no one around. Go into the cornfield, dude."
"The corn's not even knee high."
About that time appeared the previously infamous, now downright dangerous lip tremble. Dean sighed, spotted a single tree in the distance. He drove toward it and stopped the car again as they pulled along side the old oak. This seemed to satisfy Sam much more than the cornfield. He opened the car door but still didn't exit. He turned back slightly.
"We're getting close. We should probably check if Bobby's home now. You call while I pee," Sam said.
Even in an altered state, it seemed Sam was capable of plotting. Dean cursed to himself. Sam had totally snookered him into what they'd both avoided for hours, and embarrassed tears welled in Dean's eyes. Dean doubted Sam even had to pee, and mentally thought Sam was a lousy little bastard. Dean then felt bad for thinking such a thing about his brother, whom he loved tremendously, and his eyes heated up even more.
Dean took a couple of deep breaths, watched Sam clamber over the giant roots of the oak and skirt around the tree, remembered that a pain in the ass alive brother was better than a dead brother. That only made him struggle against tears more, but after a minute Dean managed to quell his somewhat over the top crying. He pulled out the phone. By the time Sam got back it was all over and Dean had survived by the good fortune of getting Bobby's answering machine, and only appeared mildly bleary-eyed anymore. The drug-induced rest's beneficial effects clearly lasted longer with Dean than with Sam, who looked as craptastic as ever. Sam applied more Vaseline to his nose.
They made it the rest of the way without major incident, mostly because Sam kept his eyes closed as a defense against the prettiness of the actually very boring prairie and Dean hummed Metallica, the universal healing and calming tool. When they pulled up at Bobby's it was dusk. Dean forced Sam to go to the house and knock on the door alone while he collected their bags from the trunk. It was justifiable payback, he said, and Sam should have considered that when tricking him into making potentially painful phone calls. Dean did not allow Sam's woobie face to deter him, though he did cry in sympathy at the mere idea of chancing on a Bobby/Ellen tryst in progress, the thought of it plagued him practically the whole time he ransacked the trunk for their stuff.
Bobby would tell them later, when they were finally back to rights, that upon seeing Sam alone at his doorstep looking so terrible he had leapt to the reasonable conclusion Dean had cashed his one way ticket to hell sometime between leaving a nearly unintelligible message on his machine and reaching his place, and that he near had a heart attack on the spot. Two dead Winchester boys in the span of two months was too much for his old (tender) heart to handle, he said. Change the two to a twelve and it wasn't any better (Dean in particular understood this), but Bobby assured them he was still diligently looking for a loophole. Even at that point, uncursed, Sam and Dean couldn't help but cry just a little.
Anyway, Sam and Bobby stood mutely, one with an aghast, horrified countenance and one with rivers of tears on his face, for the full minute it took Dean to join them. Then Bobby was so relieved that all three of them were emotional wrecks, not uncharted territory for them. But Bobby was a sharp tack. He knew something wasn't right and offered them holy watered-down beer, which they took out of habit, forgetting beer was especially bad for them at the moment. About the same time Bobby's immediate concern was satisfied, Sam and Dean realized Ellen truly wasn't there. Dean could not withhold an exhalation of sheer relief. Bobby commented that it wasn't like he and Ellen were friends with benefits or anything, and that Ellen could do so much better than him. Sam lost it totally then, wrapped his monkey arms around Bobby in a big hug, sobbed all the while. He wailed something about Bobby being too precious for this world.
"Sam, I don't want you to think I don't appreciate the hug, but you're going to bust a rib if you keep it up," Bobby said after a minute, grunting as Sam squeezed him even tighter for a brief second before he let go and stepped back. Bobby's eyebrows shot up at Sam's pathetic sniffles and boogery nose. Dean stood there swallowing convulsively, shifting on his feet and looking anywhere but at Sam. Bobby glanced between them multiple times, taking a few confused seconds before he got his voice back. "Okay, what happened? What the hell is going on with you boys?"
The explanation, such that it was, was a long and drawn out affair, with many extended pauses for Sam and Dean to get themselves under control. Sam was overwhelmed with appreciation for the number of old tomes Bobby had (which, incidentally, had always caused him to go all soft and warm and happy inside even before the whole crying game started), and Dean thought Bobby's batch of sun tea/lemonade was the best damned thing he'd ever consumed, at least since the Eggs Diablo in Colorado Springs (Dean's food fixation was proving quite a barrier for him to break through). Several times during the exposition, both Sam and Dean let slip some of the things on their agreed upon unmentionable list, which resulted in awkward moments of tearful chaos from them and pure disbelief on Bobby's part. It was mostly the bubble bath that stunned him, though it did explain the faint aroma of peaches that seemed to waft off of Dean. Sam alone blew right through half a box of Puffs Plus. Both Sam and Dean were blotchy and pretty much useless once they were done.
"Huh," Bobby said, and scratched at the stubble on his jaw. "And you have no idea what did this to you?"
All Bobby got in reply were twin headshakes, Sam and Dean both too exhausted (again, crying took a lot out of a person) for speech. Besides, Dean was actually still crying a little over being outted as a bubble-bath taker. Bobby couldn't find any more words to say right then, and was frankly worried for their mental health. He didn't doubt there was something supernatural going on, but he couldn't concentrate on that and worry about them too. Bobby suggested they drug themselves into another stupor while he conducted a bit of research. Dean and Sam did not protest. While Sam shuffled off to get their treasured Tylenol PM Dean stayed back and let Bobby know his suspicions that Sam was really the focal point of the whole thing.
Bobby didn't have the heart to tell Dean the theory of Sam as some kind of cry contagion didn't seem solid given that he himself hadn't started crying at any point during the ordeal and that Dean looked just as bad as Sam. He simply patted Dean on the shoulder, waited for both boys to slip into sleep, Dean sprawled on the sofa and Sam on the floor because he wouldn't fit anywhere else. Once he heard faint snores Bobby muttered, "Jesus and Barbie on a wedding cake," and drained his flask of whisky dry. Then refilled it and drained it again.
Dean and Sam slept for six straight hours, pretty much through the night, and probably would have kept on if Bobby's damned dog hadn't started baying for no immediately apparent reason. Sam rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, turned all dog whisperer and concluded the mutt was inconsolably lonely. He started crying for the sad dog only minutes after waking, which broke pattern from before; so much for the Tylenol PM stopgap, though it did help with the headaches.
Bobby went out into the early morning light and discovered the dog had treed a spunky, early rising squirrel that kept chucking pieces of bark down. The critter was like a friggin' grenade launcher, every piece of bark hitting the idiot dog on the nose. When Bobby came back in and explained what was going on, Dean, too, started crying (but not quite as much as Sam). He mumbled something about a zombie Jesus squirrel and guts on the Impala. Bobby slipped up and made commentary that was deemed hurtful and caused the tears to continue for a solid fifteen minutes.
After that, Bobby chose his words with more deliberation.
Bobby cooked breakfast while Dean and Sam got cleaned up. They shared a quick bite to eat, nothing fancy as Bobby had cottoned on to Dean's excessive, bizarre appreciation for food. Dean and Sam were famished, having relied on Gatorade and not much else, so it didn't matter what was in front of them. They ate in silence, mostly because Bobby was so very far out of his element and Dean and Sam, well, they weren't sure they wanted to know what Bobby had found out while they were sleeping. That question was inevitable, and after they quickly rinsed off the dishes Bobby grabbed a couple of books and laid them out on the kitchen table, specific passages marked with Post-It notes. Sam ran the tips of his fingers across the pages reverently and tried not to cry.
The problem, Bobby said, was their information and strange symptoms didn't give him anything concrete to go on. He couldn't do more than confirm what they had already figured out – someone had cast some kind of spell on them. Bobby had no real idea if it was old school magic or some teenage witch wannabe playing with things best left alone. Sam hoped something might ping his memory, so he started going over the material Bobby had flagged. He did all right until he got to some Latin, which set him off just like it had in Colorado Springs and he couldn't explain the connection to Bobby in a way that didn't sound buckets o' crazy. All Dean could do was shrug and purse his lips in what Bobby assumed was Dean fighting to withstand Sam's 'fucking contagiousness.' Bobby didn't really want to know what it was all about.
Bobby put on a fresh pot of coffee (unlike Sam and Dean, he hadn't slept and it had been a long time since he'd been able to gracefully pull an all-nighter) and he and Dean went over in greater detail what the Winchesters had done for the past two months. It was a challenge; Dean was distracted and upset with guilt about Bobby's extra tired and disheveled appearance and the further back he thought, the closer he got to Sam dead in his arms. Bobby reconsidered the contagion thing, because the longer he had to endure two weeping grown men the more he wanted to cry himself.
Dean paced the length of the kitchen, said moving around helped him think better, but he quickly got warm from the movement and too much hot coffee and took off his outer layer of rugged flannel. Sam glanced up and made a gurgling noise. Bobby braced himself for another nonsensical round of sobbing, not even taking the effort to determine what sparked it anymore. There was no crying, thankfully. At least not yet.
"Wuh…what's that, Dean?" Sam said, pointing to Dean's left arm. Dean lifted his T-shirt sleeve, a flash of vibrant color was revealed. Dean then yelped and put the sleeve back down. "When did you get a tattoo?"
"I didn't get a tattoo."
"That looked like a tattoo to me," Bobby said unhelpfully.
Sam stood and moved to Dean's side. Dean clapped a hand over his apparently tattooed bicep and appeared seconds away from throwing a fit. Bobby slid him a fresh box of Puffs Plus and surreptitiously moved his books out of snot and tear range, afraid at that point the bodily fluids would splatter everywhere. Sam pried Dean's hand away and lifted the sleeve back up to reveal a very bright, almost pastoral tattoo – yellow and pink and orange butterflies flitting over a realistic looking meadow. There were fluffy clouds too. Dean really did start crying then, and neither Sam nor Bobby could blame him. Bobby wanted so badly to laugh, though, while Sam had a whole my-brother's-got-a-girly-tattoo shocky tear vibe thing going on.
"I did not get this tattoo," Dean said with a hiccup. "Seriously. Butterflies. I would not get butterflies."
The point was valid, though slightly less than it would be under usual circumstances. Bobby regained his composure and examined the artwork, which was actually quite masterfully done for what it was. He didn't know what was more disconcerting, the highly detailed butterflies or Dean's continued sobs. The tattoo looked fresh, but wasn't scabbed over anymore so it had to be at least a week old. Sam said they'd been apart long enough lately, for research and food runs, that Dean would have had plenty of time to get it. Dean cried in utter frustration that they wouldn't believe him when he said he didn't purposely go out and get a tattoo. Sam was penitent and told Dean he did believe him, just that something could have snatched him and slapped the tat on unbeknownst to him. Hearing Sam's support was really all Dean needed and the tears reduced to sniffles. Bobby mused that it could be likely they'd find Sam with a tattoo as well, if this new development had anything to do with the crying curse.
Sam bit his lower lip, upset about the very idea, but he took off his fetching stripy shirt. His arms were clear. Dean, tears allayed by this distraction, suggested something could be on his back. Sam looked equal parts petrified and horror-struck. He took off his T-shirt, and even Bobby got misty eyed at the scar that permanently marked the center of Sam's spinal column. The second it was apparent his back was tat free, Sam put his shirt back on, but not before Dean spotted something near the waistband of Sam's jeans, on the right side. There it was. Sam tugged his waistband down just enough to reveal a tattoo. On his ass. He whimpered.
"I did not get this tattoo," Sam said, voice shaking. "I swear it wasn't there yesterday."
Dean expressed his unwavering belief about Sam's statement right away, ever the big brother, and thus prevented Sam from all out caterwauling. From Sam's twist and peer point of view, his new body art looked like a howling wolf. Though its location was questionable, Sam took comfort that at least his mystery tattoo wasn't of pastel butterflies. Bobby leaned in unnervingly close and stared at Sam's ass for a minute or two. Just when Sam was about to voice his misery and embarrassment, Bobby straightened up and proclaimed the tattoo also very high quality but it wasn't a wolf. It was a coyote, and it wasn't howling, it was laughing. The difference didn't seem significant to Dean or Sam. The barest of ideas started forming in the back of Bobby's tired mind, though.
Bobby held up a finger as a silent signal he was on to something and hit the books again briefly. Meanwhile, Sam and Dean kept trying to sneak peeks at each other's tattoos, more fascinated than upset for the moment. It didn't take long for Bobby to mentally connect the dots between the sudden coincidental appearance of the coyote tattoo and the weirdness Dean and Sam were experiencing. Bobby told the boys he was ninety-nine percent positive they were dealing with another trickster, specifically Coyote if the oh-so-subtle message imparted on Sam's butt was anything to go by. Though obviously muddled by their crying jags, both Sam and Dean had to admit that made some kind of twisted sense (it was just their luck to run into two of the buggers) and both were so impressed by Bobby's mad skillz that they, wait for it, wept.
What none of them could explain were the butterflies on Dean. It didn't seem likely they were random, though the tattoo was in line with a trickster's lesser pranks so they couldn't say it was just an added bit of humiliation for Dean. They needed to focus on what to do now that they knew what they were dealing with. Unfortunately, Dean kept lifting his sleeve up and bawling about the cute, atrocious butterflies on his arm, while Sam finally started truly feeling the indignity of his ass being marked by a supernatural being (a literal your ass is mine this time instead of just an idle threat; at least the demon formerly known as Meg had had the decency to brand him on the forearm).
Bobby was on his own for the most part once again, and he already suspected there wasn't much to be done. After all, tricksters were demi-gods and that meant the rules were slightly different than they would be for normal voodoo, hoodoo or witchcraft. Tricksters were old beings, had been around before man and would probably be around long after. Bobby thought, though, if they managed to find and kill the bastard, then Sam and Dean might start behaving like themselves again. Dean and Sam latched onto the idea like it was a life preserver and Bobby just hoped it was true – he really did not know how long he could tolerate the sniveling.
Plus Sam's nose was just plain revolting to look at, and Dean was no Michelangelo's David either.
It got to the point Bobby had to wrap an ace bandage around Dean's arm to keep him from focusing on the tattoo so much, and he made Sam drag out the laptop and start referencing every place they'd gone, even if they only stopped to refuel. Bobby was convinced something trickster-like would make the news. With Bobby prodding him along (trying desperately to keep him on target), Sam narrowed it down to two potential places in about an hour and a quarter. It should have taken him ten minutes, but to be fair he wasn't exactly in top form. They all stared at the town names, Sam and Dean thinking as hard as their messed up heads would allow, determining which was the more likely candidate.
"The butterfly tattoo," Sam said at last, sounding dazed and confused and hopeful. Dean immediately started getting teary-eyed, and Bobby kind of looked like he wanted to throttle Sam for bringing up such a painful subject. "It's not arbitrary. In French, butterfly is papillon."
The last time they (Dean) hustled pool for cash, it had been in a frighteningly tacky bar called the Laughing Coyote Lounge (neither of them thought anything of the name at the time or until they mentioned it out loud). In Papillion, Nebraska. It had not been their normal kind of place (crimson velvet walls and furniture, which hadn't made them cry then but the memory of it did now). Sam remembered thinking the bartender looked like Corey Feldman, and after a few beers (imports) wondering if maybe it actually was Corey Feldman. Dean remembered the waitresses had nice boobs and that the jukebox had been set to repeat some awful song that totally threw Dean off his game. Dean had been vocal (obnoxious) about it. Sam meekly pointed out the song had been Ninety-Six Tears.
They knew without a doubt, then, that Papillion was where they'd encountered their new trickster. It made no sense to Dean and Sam that it was telling them where to find it, but Bobby once again proved his astonishing acuity by telling them a trickster was a cocky creature, all about one-upmanship. Knowing it caused chaos wasn't enough – it probably wanted to see its handiwork. Bobby also theorized Dean had inadvertently brought the specifics of their situation on both of them, but he wisely said nothing. They'd take the trickster's boastful nature and exploit it, put an end to the creature and with a bit of luck their misery at the same time.
Bobby rearranged his schedule (cars didn't stop getting junked just because there was a demon war going on), supplied an ample number of wooden stakes and they proceeded getting ready for another road trip. There was a minor quibble between Dean and Bobby about who got to drive Baby; prudence won. Bobby was tired but clearly in better shape than Dean, and so with a heavy heart and tear tracked face Dean forfeited the keys. Sam stretched out in the back seat, which was okay by him, since the thought of cramming his legs under the dash for another long trip made him whimper and whine. Dean pouted because Bobby enforced the driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole rule and put the station on talk radio. Bobby stopped just short of telling both Winchesters that if they were good little boys he'd buy them an ice cream when the fiasco was all over, but he sure as hell thought it.
With Bobby at the wheel they made good time, pulling over only to fill the gas tank, empty bladders and get food and reading material to distract Sam and Dean. There were occasions Bobby needed to get out and stroll around a bit in the wide open cry-free spaces, because after about a hundred miles cooped up with sobbing Sam and distraught Dean he was ready to go batshit crazy and his aggravation only increased by the mile. It was almost as exhausting for Bobby to attempt to curtail the crying as it was for Dean and Sam to suffer the tears, but they didn't want to risk being drug-addled when they finally faced the trickster, so they didn't dose up with Tylenol PM to make the trip easier on all of them. They didn't even know if the stuff would have any effectiveness anymore.
So instead of sitting in a languid trance, Sam cried at every roadkill or brown blood spot they passed, the blue, blue sky, picturesque small towns and Rush Limbaugh's voice on the radio (Bobby finally acquiesced and changed the station to classic rock when that bastard came on). Dean cried mostly because Sam did, but also about the rusted-out '66 Dodge Charger they passed at mile one hundred fifty, the post DUI paparazzi photos of Lindsay Lohan in Us Weekly (Dean ridiculed Sam for picking that magazine out, Sam pointed out who was actually reading it) and of course his butterfly tattoo which he couldn't see but knew was there mocking him. Bobby mentally logged the incidents, because though he was sympathetic to their plight he was also aware of all the blackmail material he now possessed. But no one was more relieved than Bobby Singer when they finally entered Papillion's city limits.
Bobby thought they should find a motel and a couple of rooms, rest up and devise a plan. Really, they (Bobby) should have done the latter before they left South Dakota, but Bobby had anticipated they'd have the whole car trip to be productive on that front. Bobby was brilliant but not infallible. Dean and Sam were of no use for strategic development and hadn't been for a while, but they were adamant about checking the place out before it opened for business. Bobby agreed reluctantly, with a caveat that he would be the only one armed until they were more clearheaded. He was, frankly, afraid one of them would poke an eye out. They blubbered at the lack of trust (well, Sam blubbered but Dean wasn't much better), then conceded because their tears were proof he was right and they knew it even when overcome.
After circling the streets around the Laughing Coyote for a good ten minutes, Dean finally pointed out a parking spot he found acceptably safe for the Impala. He made Bobby park the car crooked and take up two angled spaces as an extra precaution against dings, cried when Bobby unintentionally thought out loud and called him neurotic. Sam agreed Dean was neurotic about the car, but cried on his insulted brother's behalf. Bobby really hoped he was going to get to stake the trickster, figuring it would be remuneration for the misery he as accidental victim had undergone.
Breaking in to the building was easy. What they did not anticipate but should have was a welcoming party.
They hadn't skulked in more than ten step when they saw Corey Feldman the bartender watching them from behind the bar where he stood with a towel slung over his shoulder, a placid expression on his face and two scantily clad women (one blonde, the other brunette) clinging on either arm. Dean gave a bleary-eyed double take and Sam just nodded at him miserably and tried to hum People Are Strange. The jukebox started up as Bobby, Sam and Dean took another step in, and no one was that surprised to hear Ninety-Six Tears playing. Dean gave a small bleat of distress (which he would deny later). Both he and Sam wanted to cry upon hearing the song and so they did. Bobby stepped forward slightly, reaching in his vest for a stake. Corey Feldman smiled smugly and held up his hands in warning. Bobby didn't move any closer, realizing their situation was tenuous. The trickster had wanted them to find him, but he didn't look threatening. Yet.
The mishmash of so much Corey Feldman, red velvet, bad music and T & A (mostly Dean's foible) was too much stimuli and reduced Dean and Sam to gibbering wrecks again. Truthfully, the combination made Bobby a little unsteady himself, but for different reasons. Something about the setup of the bar tweaked Bobby's memory. In any case, the trickster just kept on smirking as he told the women to go over to wait for him on one of the tasteless red velvet chaise lounges. Dean collected himself somewhat as he watched the women slink away, and he too began to have a strange inkling. So did Sam, not that anyone could tell because he was still crying.
"It took you guys long enough," Corey said. "It was probably the tattoos, right? They were my failsafe. I hope you like them."
"This isn't f-funny," Dean said tightly, barely getting the words out.
"You don't think so?" Corey measured a tiny space with his thumb and forefinger. His eyes twinkled and his mouth twitched. "Not even a little?"
"Can't you just shut up and make it stop?" Sam said.
Corey shrugged and looked unapologetically sheepish, told them that while he admittedly knew all there was to know about the crying game, he hadn't been the one to actually cast the spell and therefore couldn't do anything for them now. He said he had friends in very high places that had taken care of it for him, and that as far as he knew the spell was one hundred percent irreversible. Dean didn't react well, fumbled at Bobby, got his hands on a stake and lunged at the bar. Bobby didn't try very hard, or at all, to stop him, because the trickster's lack of contrition pissed him off even if he hadn't really anticipated any kind of sympathy. Corey just smiled and smiled at his handiwork and at their anger.
At the threat to Corey Feldman, the women were back at his side in a flash, like bodyguards. Like they'd just materialized there. That was when Dean recognized them and his inkling turned to disbelief. Corey wrapped his arms around the women, who simpered in an exaggerated manner before flashing disturbingly cheerful yet strangely lethal looks at Dean. Bobby and Sam moved quickly to back Dean up, and though Bobby still had serious qualms about either of them handling deadly weapons he couldn't just let Sam go empty-handed so he gave him a stake.
"Ah, now I think you get it," Corey said and laughed with merriment.
Up closer, it didn't take long for Bobby and Sam to figure out what Dean already had. None of them moved beyond their slightly aggressive, stakes-ready stances, mildly shocked to see the women that should have been as dead as the trickster they'd already killed. Corey looked at all three of them for a few moments, sighed and then shimmered into a different shape and body. They all knew what they were going to see, but gasped anyway when the janitor they thought they'd eliminated stood before them. There might have been a few tears of confusion and consternation as well. It didn't comfort them at all to know they weren't dealing with an entirely new being.
"You," Dean said. "But you're dead."
"Not so much, as it turns out." The trickster unwrapped his arms from the women and poked at his chest as if looking for holes. He looked up with a sly grin. "And imagine my surprise when you wandered onto my new stomping grounds. At first I thought I'd been careless and you were here for me, but when I realized you weren't I was going to let you go without drawing attention to myself, just let you think I was actually dead. Then you, Dean, just had to go and diss one of my all time favorite songs. I couldn't resist temptation to mess with you a little."
The trickster remained amused and flippant. Still, no one moved, Sam and Dean totally off their games and Bobby busily tried to process the information. The trickster finally allowed the jukebox to stop playing, so the only sounds were ragged breaths as Dean and Sam continued to suffer tormented tears. The cheap décor vanished and the room was left barren except for a few dusty shelves and signs that read Hufnagle Hardware . The fem-bots also stayed but didn't make any advances.
Bobby suspected that, apparently like the first time they'd killed the trickster, this wasn't really the trickster and said so. The trickster wouldn't have lured them there and then sat around while they easily killed him. The trickster gave an unimpressed head tilt. Dean shook his head at the news. He didn't really care and got up in the not-really-there-trickster's face anyway. Sam was right behind him, stake at the ready, tears and other gross stuff running down his face.
"So you really want to not kill me again just because I made you cry? That seems somewhat unreasonable."
"Hey, man, I liked your style. If you hadn't killed people before and maybe made us talk only in song lyrics instead of t-this, we probably wouldn't be here right now," Dean said, voice thick and phlegmy from tears. The trickster looked like he was pondering the song lyric idea and cataloguing it away for future reference, all amused and contemplative. Dean looked at Sam, winced. "But, damnit, he was dead not that long ago. Dead for days, and now I've got a little under ten months before I'm bound for hell. We got enough to cry about. This isn't fu-unny and if I can't kill you I can at least kill virtual you."
At Dean's outburst, Sam murmured something inchoate (neither Dean nor Bobby really needed to hear the words) and just folded down, leaned his forehead on Dean's shoulder with a tiny sob. Dean just about lost it. Bobby was surprised Dean didn't, because he was more than a little stricken as well and Sam sounded so dreadfully sad. A muscle twitched in Dean's cheek as he attempted to keep himself restrained. Bobby stayed mum and motionless, fighting the instinct to take over and protect and swallowing a couple of times at Sam's softly hiccupped tears, Dean's trembling. This wasn't his fight unless the trickster became more aggressive. An eye twitch was all Bobby'd need. The trickster stepped back (but not far, because Dean still had a hand fisted tightly in his shirt), his mouth first forming a small "o" and then turning down in a slight frown, the first time he really looked anything other than self-satisfied. The women vanished with a ripple.
"Oh. I had no idea. Really. I can see why you don't see the humor in all of this." The trickster held up his hands in supplication, hedging away from the stake Dean had at his chest. If Dean didn't know better, he'd say the trickster was truly sorry. Bobby was even less inclined to believe, but did not relax his position. "If it makes you feel better, this crying thing might be irreversible but it's temporary."
"You just have to cry ninety-six times. You know, like the song," the trickster said, with toned-down smarminess. "This should all be over soon, by the looks of you."
Dean relaxed his grip enough for the trickster to slide away slightly, and enough to give Dean room to draw back his arm in preparation to strike. Then Sam's head lolled a little on Dean's shoulder, staining his jacket with tears. Dean's impetus left him, he lowered the stake and focused on Sam instead of the trickster. The need to watch the bastard bleed seemed suddenly less important. Dean patted Sam on the shoulder awkwardly and glanced at Bobby with tear-filled eyes of his own. These tears did not annoy Bobby, and he even found his earlier frustrations abate. Bobby stepped forward when Dean and Sam stepped back, raised his own stake and pressed it against the trickster's chest. Now Bobby just wanted some kind of payback for the boys, his own interest in the matter no longer important.
"Go ahead. It won't be a miracle cure," the trickster said, a charming but somehow understanding smile on his face, "But it still hurts like hell even though it's not me."
Bobby vowed that next time it would be for real, and then took up the offer without further hesitation. It felt like a meaningless gesture and Bobby got no real satisfaction out of it. The illusory trickster didn't make a show about it, just gasped a little, wilted and disappeared completely. It was a relief to just be rid of the trickster's presence. But the whole thing was made even more anticlimactic by the fact Dean and Sam were still sniffling, Dean now grasping Sam's shoulder in a tentative half hug. Bobby left them to it for a few minutes, figuring they had good reason and the more they cried at this point the faster they'd get through the spell. Truthfully Bobby needed those minutes himself; it really was heartbreaking to watch their true feelings regarding the crossroads deal laid out in the open.
When Dean and Sam were too exhausted to cry anymore, Bobby ushered them out of the abandoned building and back to the car. At the trunk, surreptitiously unloading the weapons, Dean gave himself a sliver and retreated to the passenger seat to snuffle and cry. Bobby actually welcomed the absurdity of it, a feeling that lasted only until a family walking their floppy, loose-limbed new Golden Retriever puppy happened to stroll by. Sam cried at how cute the puppy was and ended up terrifying the little girl with his dreadful scabby nose, red face and incoherent ramblings. Bobby groaned to himself, shoved Sam into the backseat and took off before the parents called the cops on them or something.
Bobby headed out of Papillion to nearby Omaha, booked them rooms and deemed it necessary to skip the Tylenol PM and go for a bottle of Vicodin they had in their first aid kit instead. They could face the remainder of the trickster's prank tomorrow, on a full night's sleep. He gave them two pills each, and Bobby then took one for himself. Bobby waited until they were asleep before going to his own room.
In the morning, Sam discovered in the shower that the coyote tattoo on his ass had apparently disappeared along with the trickster; he cried with relief, but there weren't nearly as many tears tracking down his face. Seeing Sam stumble out of the bathroom and excitedly proclaim his tattoo-free status, Dean checked his arm and found the butterflies, too, were gone and he wept. Sam, however, did not develop tears of understanding; it seemed he was all cried out, just as uneventfully as that. They noticed the change immediately. Dean cried jealously. Bobby came to collect them for breakfast and found Sam smiling and Dean bawling.
They were back at Bobby's for two days before Dean finally stopped crying, despite Sam trying and succeeding to provoke him along (Sam easily found things he knew would make Dean upset, but all that was really needed was Sam's renewed dedication to scouring Bobby's books for a way out of a deal with a crossroads demon). Sam claimed that the extra crying time meant Dean was too repressed and should let his emotions out more often. Dean snapped back that it just meant he was more of a man than Sam and that Sam should start taking testosterone, specifically in suppository form.
Bobby wasn't entirely sure the Winchesters in their normal states were really all that much easier to tolerate than cursed Winchesters.
I hope y'all had as much fun reading as I did writing. :)