They had tried everything. Everything. And nothing had worked. Dean wouldn't be able to get out of the deal and there was nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide, and no way to win.
Sam Winchester threw a hacky sack into the air repeatedly, catching it as it fell back down. He stared blankly at the monitor of his computer, waiting for Dean to come back with his coffee. What was wrong with him? He was the protégé of the family. Accepted to Stanford, an aspiring lawyer. But nothing he did was working. All the studying and all of the cramming he had done in school was useless. Demons didn't abide by law; they were completely unpredictable.
And, as much as she was helping, Sam knew Ruby wasn't going to cut it. She was just one demon and there were so many others out there that had it in for both him and his brother. She wouldn't be able to keep them from being killed if there were any more face to face battles like the one last week. The odds just weren't in their favor. So he had committed himself to finding a way, anything that would help Dean out of his predicament. But he knew there was nothing—
The flimsy motel room door was practically kicked open, effectively interrupting Sam from his morbid thoughts. Sam winced for the people in the surrounding rooms as he checked the time on his laptop.
"Jeez, Dean, it's six in the morning, people could be aslee—"
"Come and get it, Sammy!" Dean interrupted, not particularly caring about how he affected other people's sleep…or lack, thereof. He had four coffees in his hands, two for each of them, and the smell of cheap diner breakfast wafted from a brown take-out bag in his other hand, hidden beneath a local newspaper. "Did you find anything?"
Sam forced a smile. "Nah, did you?"
"Actually, yeah," Dean said, setting down the coffees and dumping the brown bag on the table. He threw the folded newspaper at Sam, who caught it with ease. "More'n just a couple of deaths up north."
Sam scanned the front page. "'Tragedy Strikes Beloved Family,'" he read aloud. "'Sixteen year-old Michael Johnson found dead in his home?' Dude, Dean, that's just one person…. You know we don't have time for cases like this."
"Yeah, but Sam, I gotta feeling about this one," Dean said confidently. "Plus, I did a little research. Turns out his mother and father were offed only a few months ago. And there's something else. You gotta see this, Sam, keep reading."
Sam gave his brother an odd look before returning his gaze to the paper in front of him. He skimmed through it and Dean took pleasure in watching his brother's facial expression turn from slight annoyance to disbelief.
"This isn't some pseudo-science magazine, is it? You know…with the aliens and space ships?" he asked and his brother shook his head. "You're telling me that these people—the whole town—believes in ghosts?"
"Yeah, hilarious and ironic, isn't it? Creepy, too. Never seen a town where it's a totally accepted thing."
Sam looked at the paper once more. The front page article described the assumed circumstances of the deaths of Michael 'Mikey' Johnson and his parents. And the assumed circumstances were far from typical. This town—Amity Park—believed in ghosts. And not only did they believe in them, they believed that one of them was guilty of committing homicide. This wasn't right—towns weren't supposed to believe in ghosts. Sure, one person, several people… but whole towns?
"Dean, you know what this means, don't you?"
Dean suddenly became serious. "They're making themselves apparent."
"Not only that; there's so many of them, whole towns are noticing. Dean, this is worse than I expected!"
"What were you expecting?" Dean snorted. "For people to remain ignorant while a freaking war is going on?"
That made Sam think. "Well…."
Dean grabbed his coffees and food and began to gather his few belongings.
"Come on, Sam," he said, throwing Sam's backpack at him. "The only way to win a war is to win all the battles. So let's win ourselves another battle."
"Oh, man," Danny had just read the horrific news. Next to him, in the corner of the small booth in the Nasty Burger, Sam's frown deepened.
"You read the news, too?" she asked. Danny and Tucker nodded sullenly. "The police are assuming suicide because of the death of his parents. Poor Mikey… I would've never guessed…."
They heard a sob and looked over at a free-standing table to see Valerie being comforted by several girls, most notably Star and, surprisingly enough, Paulina.
"I-I nev-ver even gave him a-a cha-ance!" she cried into Star's shoulder. Sam's heart went out to her as Star wrapped an arm around Valerie's shoulders.
"Valerie seems to be taking it pretty hard."
"Yeah, man," Tucker added, looking at Danny. "We should probably go say something. Mikey was totally obsessed with her."
Danny shifted uncomfortably in the red vinyl seat. He wasn't good at these types of things. It was situations like this that made him realize… how good he actually had it—his family and friends, all alive and well. And he wasn't particularly fond of the feeling and the things it made him remember.
"It's not like she was obsessed with him, though. Okay, okay, I will," he added, catching sight of Sam's expression. "Later. I'd rather talk to her alone, you know?"
Tucker nodded at the sight of the many girls flocking to Valerie's side, assuring her that she was still a good person. None of them really cared for Mikey—not even Valerie. They were only scared for their own mortality and the fact that their community had been struck with the frightful reality of life.
Danny left enough cash on the table to cover himself and his friends and slid out of the booth.
"I kind of feel like going home…."
Sam nodded. "I gotta get home, too. School night. The 'rents'll kill me if I'm not back before curfew. Mom believes that ghosts killed Mikey."
"I kind of doubt it," Danny said. "But see you tomorrow?"
"See you in class," Sam smiled before turning to leave.
Tucker clapped his friend on the back consolingly. "I'm sure it wasn't a ghost, man. And you're not the police. You wouldn't have been able to stop it."
Danny looked at his feet and didn't reply. Instead, he said, "See you at school, Tuck."
Tucker frowned at his friend as Danny slowly trudged out of the Nasty Burger.
The next day found Danny sitting with his head on his desk and Sam and Tucker sitting next to him. At the front of the classroom was Lancer, talking to two young men, who the trio guessed were public or some sort of motivational speakers that the school brought in to talk to them about the situation. Sam and Tucker watched with worry as Danny stared at the chalkboard, letting the classroom in front of him fade into a blur as his eyes slid out of focus.
"Well, class, I'm sure you've all heard the recent news about one of your fellow classmates, Mikey Johnson," Mr. Lancer began. "His and his family's funeral is scheduled Monday, next week and, since there are no living family members, it's up to the town to plan funeral. The mayor has given a good amount of money to fund the event, so I advise everyone to go pay their condolences…." Most of the class was looking at their desk, saddened and uncomfortable. Mr. Lancer cleared his throat to recapture their attention. "In other, happier news, after all this time the school has been searching for more teachers, we've finally got two new applicants. They will be working for us as student teachers until we can set up their course schedules." The class suddenly perked up, and all the students began looking the two new student teachers over. Whispers filled the room and the taller of the two men shifted his weight, uncomfortable with being scrutinized. The shorter blond however, confidently took a step forward and smiled at the class.
"Hey kids, I'm Dean Dickenson and this," he said turning back to the other man, "is my brother, Sammy."
The kids snickered and Tucker turned to give his friend Sam a look.
"Sammy," he whispered to her, laughing. In turn she rolled her eyes and flipped the red beret off of his head.
"Yeah, we'll, uh, be teaching you guys from now on," the taller one, Sammy, said, giving his brother an angry glare. Mr. Lancer nodded in acceptance and began walking towards the exit.
"Yes," he said. "And I would stay here and monitor you kids, but I have important business to attend to."
With that, Mr. Lancer left the room, leaving Dean and Sammy Dickenson alone to teach.
The class leaned forward, the girls especially, and looked expectantly at the two young men at the front of the room. Dean suddenly became just as uncomfortable as his brother and he tugged at his collar and cleared his throat.
"Yeah, well, since it's our first day, well start with the, you know… the basic stuff. Like, let's get to know each other. Hey, I know! Let's play the Name Game!"
Samleaned back in her seat at this and whispered to Tucker and Danny, "Jeez, they may be hot, but what a joke…."
Paulina raised her hand. "Ooh, ooh, Mr. Dickenson… uh, Dean, I'm Paulina," she said, fluttering her eyelashes flirtatiously.
Dean smirked at Sammy. "Hi, Paulina," he smiled at her and both Sams rolled their eyes at the same time. "Anyone else?"
Slowly, the rest of the class jumped in with their name. Except for the trio. Danny sat, glumly looking at the two teachers, Sam was eyeing them with distaste, and Tucker wasn't even paying attention, too caught up in his PDA.
"I'm Dash Baxter, star quarterback," Dash pointed to himself proudly.
"Hey, Dash," Dean smiled. He decided to try a new tactic in order to learn about the town. "You know, I was wondering about something I read in the paper. Something about this town being haunted, or something," he hinted not-so-subtly.
The whole class fell silent and all the students dropped their hands.
"Well," Sammy continued. "Is it?"
"Well, yeah… why do you think we have a ghost alarm?" Dash was looking at Dean like he was stupid. "Ask Fentoni, he would know more about it. His parents are ghost hunters."
Sammy coughed and Dean's eyes widened. "Ghost hunters!" they asked in unison, sharing a glance at each other, surprised that they might be able to find a kindred spirit or two in this town.
"Who's Fentoni?" Sammy finally asked.
"It's Fenton," a girl in the back of the classroom answered. She was completely dressed in black, obviously Goth, and had her arms crossed over her chest.
Sam opened her mouth to reply, but the one of the boys sitting next to her beat her to the answer. "She wishes."
The whole class snickered and Sam punched him in the shoulder so hard he fell out of his chair.
"No," the boy on her left said, giving a small half-hearted smile. "I'm Fenton."
"Hey, Fenton—" Dean began.
"Danny," the Goth girl interrupted.
"—Danny Fenton," Dean corrected himself. Danny's smile became plastered and fake as he struggled to hold it. "My brother and I—"
The bell rang, effectively cutting him off as the students jumped out of their seats and raced one another to the door.
"Hey Danny!" Sammy called and Danny, still gathering his things, turned to face him. "Danny, can we- uh, can you stay after class to talk to us?"
Danny looked hesitantly at his friends, who shrugged. "Uh, sure," he started reluctantly, but then he smiled. "As long as it gets me out of gym."
"A'course," Dean laughed, putting an arm around the boy, and pulling him away from his friends. Sam and Tucker looked at each other, each sharing a wary glance at the teachers, but eventually left the classroom.
"So, uh, what did you want to talk about?" Danny started awkwardly once he was alone with the two teachers.
"Well, Danny, we wanted to know if we could talk to your parents," Sammy answered.
"My parents?" Danny asked, suddenly alarmed. "Why would you want to talk to them?"
"Hey, kid, relax," Dean interrupted. "You're not in trouble. Look, we were just interested in their profession, that's all."
Danny laughed at this. "Their profession? You mean, hunting ghosts? Sure, go ahead, but I'm warning you, they're total fanatics. They'll drive you crazy."
"Well, do you know anything about ghosts?" Dean asked. Danny exhaled a long breath before answering.
"Sure, I'd say everyone in this town knows about ghosts, seeing as we have ghost attacks, like, almost every day. But I might know a bit more than most people, being a ghost hunter's son and all…."
"Wait," Sammy said. "You're attacked by ghosts every day?"
"Uh, yeah?" Danny gave them the same look that Dash had given them. "Obviously, you're not from here…."
"Obviously not," Dean snorted.
"Yeah, well, tell me, Danny," Sammy cut in, bringing the two boys back on track, cutting straight to the point. "I was wondering if it was just ghosts here, or if you know of any other spectral beings."
"Other spectral beings?" Danny was confused.
"You know, monsters, demons, those sorts of things," Dean told him casually.
"Demons? What are you guys? Crazy?" Danny asked, taking a few steps away from them, completely nonplussed and slightly disconcerted by where the conversation seemed to be going.
"No, no, no! Of course not! We were just kiddin'!" Dean said hurriedly, desperately trying to cover Sam's mistake. Danny wasn't comforted.
"Look, uh, I gotta get to class," he said, giving the two teachers an odd look. Before they could say anything, Danny rushed out of the classroom to find his two friends, leaving his textbook, notebook, and pencils lying on his desk, completely forgotten.
"Poor kid," Dean said to the empty doorway. "Sammy, you scared him away. Now we won't be able to see him 'til tomorrow."
Sam glared at Dean. "Sammy?" he asked angrily. Dean smirked. "And Dickenson? Who's ass did you pull that from?"
"Come on," Dean laughed. "You know you like it."
Sam hit Dean on the back of his head.
"Look, the kid left all his stuff," Sam walked over to Danny's desk. He flipped open the textbook. "'If lost, please return to: Danny Fenton, 13 West Casper Street, FentonWorks.' Hey, we might be able to find the kid before tomorrow after all."
"Yeah, and we'll be able to find his parents, too. See Sam? This isn't such a hard job after all. It'll be easy. Get our minds off of the war for a while."
Sam gave Dean a serious look. "That's what I'm afraid of, Dean."