As Dean turned the key to unlock the door to their latest crap hole motel room, he dreaded that it would be as hot as Hades inside. The room had been offered to them at a third of the regular rate due to the broken air conditioner. Good for their wallets, bad for their comfort. He generally didn't mind hot summer weather, but the current heat wave was unrelenting. His light t-shirt clung to him from sweat like a second skin, and he was dying to rip it and his stifling jeans off before dropping onto his bed. It was late and he was beyond exhausted. Anyone who thought that hustling pool wasn't hard work was completely crazy. To make matters worse, he had only managed to get a hundred and fifty bucks for his trouble. Not the worst he's ever done, but far from the best.
After pushing open the door, he saw that it was dark inside. Sam was obviously already asleep, the only sound the hum of a small box fan the front desk guy threw in to seal the deal. Sam was no doubt hogging it, but Dean would rectify that shortly. He who brought home the bacon got the damn fan, Dean decided. As he stepped inside, Dean hit the light switch by the door to see his way to the bathroom. Dean was surprised when a shirtless Sam grumbled something unintelligable as he turned onto his side, further entangling his sheet around his waist and legs like a boa constrictor. Sam usually slept like the dead. Guess the fan wasn't helping much to make the heat any more tolerable, Dean thought. As he walked past Sam's bed to the bathroom, peeling off his shirt and dropping it to the floor as he went, something out of the corner of his eye stopped him. He moved to turn on the lamp on the small table between the two beds to get a closer look at his brother's now exposed back.
"Off," Sam protested in a gravely voice before he shoved his entire face into the pillow.
"Where did you get those?" Dean asked, sitting on the edge of Sam's bed now. "Were you in a rumble with the other Greasers while I was out, Ponyboy?" Dean asked in an attempt to conceal his concern with humor.
"What?" Sam asked, his now open eyes squinting from the brightness.
"After you get over the shock of learning that I actually read The Outsiders and liked it," Dean said, "tell me where in the hell you got those bruises. Because I'm pretty sure the cursed piano from our last job didn't have any fists."
"Whatbruises," Sam said, his words still slurred from sleep, as he turned his head a bit to try to look.
"Dude, you can't see your back unless you're hiding a third eye under that mop you call hair," Dean said as he rustled his little brother's hair.
"Go away!" Sam demmanded before closing his eyes again, convinced that Dean was drunk off his ass.
"You better be wearing boxers," Dean mumbled as he struggled to haul his spaghetti limbed, almost six and a half feet tall brother up and out of bed to drag him into the bathroom. "See for yourself!"
Sam opened his mouth to further object the rude awakening until he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. Black and blue bruises spread across his back making it look like the canvas of a bizarre abstract painting. Dean was right, they all appeared to be in a shape of a closed fist.
"What the hell?" Sam exclaimed, fully awake now.
"What the hell is right!" Dean agreed while he watched his brother continue to examine himself in the mirror.
"I don't know what to say," Sam said with a sigh. "I think I'd remember if someone used me as a punching bag."
"You'd think," Dean said as he shook his head. "You okay?" Dean asked more serious now.
"Well, it's kind of like a mosquito bite that doesn't itch until you know it's there. Now my back hurts like hell," Sam explained.
"Looks like we're not going to have to work very hard to find anything supernatural here, because it looks like the supernatural has already found you," Dean declared as he left the bathroom to get his equipment out of the Impala's trunk.
"Two javas coming up!" Dean said as he sat down next to Sam at a table in the motel's lobby early the next morning.
"It's a thousand degrees outside. What do I want coffee for?" Sam asked as Dean sat the styrofoam cup down next to his laptop.
"Because we both need the caffiene after last night. I wish we had at least found some trace of something. Anyway, I don't think the coffee's hot anyway," Dean explained with a smile.
"Great," Sam mumbled.
"Pretend it's one of those girly iced macchio things you like," Dean said.
"You mean macchiato?" Sam asked with a smile.
"Whatever, Samantha. Just try it. How bad can it be?"
Sam looked at his big brother for a moment, remembering when he was six and Dean told him that lima beans tasted just like jelly beans. Of coure, they didn't taste anything like jellybeans and Dean had found that very amusing. Sam took a sip anyway and grimaced.
"Ugh! Did they use dirt instead of coffee grounds to make this?" Sam asked as he pushed the cup away.
"Here's a rock to go with that dirt," Dean said with a smile as he dropped a blueberry muffin wrapped in plastic onto the table in front of Sam with a bang.
"I'll think I'll pass," Sam said as he shook his head.
"What do you expect from a free continental breakfast?" Dean asked between big bites of his powdered donut. "They still have half of a strawberry danish left. Guess someone was on a diet," Dean said with his mouth full.
"The food here makes me want to go on a diet," Sam said, leaving the muffin untouched.
"Whatever. It's your stomach," Dean said as he popped the last of the donut into his mouth and licked his lips and each individual finger.
"You done?" Sam asked.
"For now, unless someone brings out more donuts. Did you find anything?" Dean answered, ready to get down to business.
"Well, there's still alot of research to do, but I started with a search for unexplainable bruising," Sam said before he took another sip and grimaced again, having forgotten not to drink the coffee.
He leaned over and put the cup on the next table before continuing so he wouldn't make that stomach churning mistake again.
"Unexplainable bruising," he began again, "can be caused by a number of factors such as child abuse; blood or clotting disorders; serious medical problems, such as leukemia and meningoccocal infection; adverse reactions or side effects from medication; poor nutrition, including vitamin C and K deficiencies; and a family history of abnormal bleeding or bruising."
"Okay. You're not on any medications, although maybe you should be," Dean said with a teasing smile before a glare from Sam prompted him to continue."You don't have any serious medical problems that we know of and we don't have a family history of abnormal bleeding or bruising that I know of. Our bruising and bleeding has been pretty much as normal as can be expected for what we've dealt with, I guess. Now, as for your nutrition, you actually eat vegetables and other heathy crap so I'd cross that off too."
"Anything else from the websites jump out at you so far?" Dean asked.
"A few of them explain how the color of the bruising can determine when it occured. I don't know if that's important or not, but we should make note of it just in case," Sam said. "Do you want to check?"
"Sure, I'd love to," Dean said sarcastically as he put down his coffee and got up.
After Sam leaned forward, he pulled up the back of his brother's shirt, unable to prevent his sharp intake of breath.
"Dude, it looks even worse in daylight," he said as he looked at the website photos and then back at Sam's back. "I'd say a week old or so. You're not hurt anywhere else, right?" Dean asked as he sat back down.
"Dean, you asked me a hundred times already. I 'm fine. We both know that I didn't have these bruises a week ago or even when I went to bed last night, so it can't be something medical. It's gotta be something supernatural. Ghosts or spirits can leave bruises or marks, like with that woman cop."
"Yeah. I remember her. She was nice for..."
"A cop. Yeah. You said. I'll keep looking at the websites, but I think we should also check out this motel pretty thoroughly," Sam suggested.
"I was thinking the same thing. Let's start by talking to the front desk guy. Maybe we can at least steal another fan," Dean hoped as he raised the styrofoam cup to his lips and finished his coffee.
"You're a garbage disposal, you know that?" Sam said.
"Hey, well, it's free. More money for beer later while I work hard to win us some more dough," Dean reminded him as he stood.
"Yeah, yeah. Okay," Sam said with a smile as he closed his laptop to follow Dean to the front desk.
Thanks for reading and reviewing. Please check back soon for the next chapter where the real meat of the story begins!