New story so time to reiterate all the standard disclaimers:

Not mine, never will be. Not making any money. Just having a bit of fun. Anything else I forgot.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Enjoy! (I hope.)


Incognita

"Okay," demanded Dean as he strode angrily in the cramped motel room, slamming the door noisily behind him. "Where is it?"

"Where's what?" asked Sam absently, not bothering to look up from his laptop.

"Don't gimme that. You know what."

"No, Dean, I don't," replied Sam. "What are you talking about?"

"Ohhh, you do so know what I'm talking about. You know because you're the one that took it. You just don't want to admit it."

"How can I admit that I took something if I don't even know what you're talking about?" queried Sam, obviously exasperated with his older brother now.

Dean sighed. "My tape. The one that's been in the player since we left Blackstone."

Sam rolled his eyes at the memory of being forced to listen to the same tape over and over for the last 300 miles. "You mean that one by Vermin? Into the Basement or whatever it's called."

"Out of the Cellar. By Ratt."

"Whatever," scoffed Sam. "I still didn't take it."

"Then where is it?"

"How the hell should I know?"

"Other than me, you're the only person who's been in my car. And you were the last person to drive it. The tape was there when you drove it to City Hall. And now it's gone. Who else coulda took it?"

"I don't know, Dean. But why would I take it? I know it would just piss you off. What possible motive could I have for doing that?"

"What is this, Shapiro?" challenged Dean. "A court of law?"

Sam didn't answer. This was getting more ridiculous by the moment and he just stared at his brother.

"Well if you didn't take it," ordered Dean, "Go out and find it."

Sam groaned loudly. "Fine."

Sam stormed outside and rummaged through the interior of the Impala. He looked everywhere. Inside the glove compartment, under the seats and all around the back seat. Sam even checked in the trunk. But the tape wasn't in the car. Finally Sam gave up looking and went back inside.

"Did you find it?" inquired Dean.

"No. It's not there, Dean. I don't know where it is."

"Funny, 'cause I do," stated Dean vehemently before he tossed something at his brother. "Look what I found it under your pillow."

Sam clumsily caught whatever it was that Dean had thrown at him and carefully scrutinized it. It was the tape in question.

"Well, I don't know how it got there, Dean" was all he could think of to say. "I didn't put it there."

"Then who did?" accused Dean.

"How should I know?"

By the time they retired for the night, they still weren't speaking to each other but an uncomfortable calm had settled between them. Dean remained angry; positive that Sam was lying to him because he hated the music from the '80's and had asked him to change the tape more than once while they had traveled to this town. For his part Sam was both annoyed and perplexed; he was irked that Dean didn't believe him as well as extremely puzzled as to how the tape had ended up underneath his pillow. Even he had to admit that it didn't make much sense.

But Sam did know that however it had gotten there he hadn't been responsible. Playing around with Dean's music collection, if you could actually call it that, was one of the quickest ways to piss him off. The only way to rile him faster was to misuse the Impala. And he saw almost anything as an abuse of his precious car. That was why Sam rarely drove it. All he had to do was step on the brake just a little too hard and Dean would jump down his throat. It simply wasn't worth it. Better to leave the driving to his brother and not risk a confrontation.

Which is why this didn't make sense. But Sam didn't know how he was going to convince Dean of that and he figured that if the tables had been turned he'd probably react exactly like Dean was. After all there really wasn't another explanation then that he had taken it.

Or was there?

The next morning Sam and Dean headed out to the cemetery on the outskirts of town, looking for the graves of a family that had been killed in a traffic accident just outside of town in 1978. They'd been hit head-on by a drunk driver and the entire family had perished. Ever since that time the entire stretch of highway had seen more than its share of traffic accidents and fatalities. Survivors of car accidents in that area often described trying to avoid the same things: small children and running across the road with their mother chasing them. The hapless motorists all ended up entwined in the trees that made up the woods just off the road.

Sam and Dean knew it had to be the ghosts of this family that was haunting the highway. It wasn't that they were malevolent spirits but for whatever reason they hadn't passed on. The brothers wanted to put them to rest. They couldn't be left in limbo. Not only was it unfair to them but they were also causing the deaths of innocent people. Sam was hoping that a pagan emancipation ritual he had discovered would be able to free their souls and finally let them rest. It would be less harsh then torching the bones. That was usually reserved for benevolent spirits; ones who were intentionally killing people.

And they wouldn't have to wait long to find out if the ancient ritual actually worked. The thirtieth anniversary of the car accident was tomorrow and if the emancipation rite didn't work, the ghosts would be most certainly return to the highway where they had died. And if that happened, Sam and Dean would have no other choice but to salt and burn the bones.

The drive out to the cemetery was long and tense. Dean was still angry and he resisted every attempt Sam made to talk to him. Sam realized it was useless and he eventually quit trying. The remainder of the trip was made in complete silence. Dean hadn't put a new tape in the cassette player and he didn't even turn on the radio. It was a very disquieting trip; probably even rivaling the drive back to Stanford almost three years ago.

They drove unhindered into the cemetery and within 45 minutes they had located the burial plots. Standing silently in front of the headstones, Sam and Dean both read the terse inscriptions on the headstones. The father, Mike Richards, had been 31 years old and the mother, Susan, 29. It was the same ages that their parents had been when their mother was killed by the demon. And to make it even more disturbing, the eldest child had been a 5 year-old boy named Joshua, only a little bit older than Dean had been on that dreadful night back in 1983. The youngest child was three-year-old Hanna. Their entire family wiped out by a senseless accident.

"When we come back to do this tonight," Dean stated flatly, "It better work."

It was the first thing he had said to Sam all day.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

After finishing scoping out the cemetery and buying the supplies they needed to perform the ritual, Dean drove Sam back to the motel. He didn't even bother to get out of the car. As soon as Sam exited the vehicle, Dean squealed the tires out of the parking lot. Sam watched him go. Although Dean hadn't said where he was going, Sam had a pretty good idea nonetheless. His brother was probably headed off to some bar in search of female company. And he'd find it too. He always did.

Sam just hoped it would be enough to make him forget about the tape and put him in a better mood.

When Sam entered the motel room he was immediately apprehensive. Something wasn't right, although he couldn't put his finger on it. He quickly scanned and searched the room and couldn't find anything out of the ordinary. Maybe it was nothing more than the maid having straightened up the room.

Sam retrieved his laptop and sat down at the table in front of the window. He wanted to see if he could uncover any more information about the ritual they were going to perform that night. But when he opened the internet, it came up to an unfamiliar page; the screen displayed whimsical flashing images of hearts and roses surrounding a famous love poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

Sam stared in utter bewilderment at the computer screen. He didn't know how had it could have gotten there. He knew he hadn't put it there. And Dean certainly hadn't either. It wasn't his brother's style and he was still why too upset to have done this as a joke.

So what, if anything, did it mean?