Disclaimer: Don't own 'em – that would be the Krip and the fellas down at the CW. Just having fun with the boys.
Set Up: Takes up after Jus in Bello, Dean has under three months until the deal is done. It follows my other story Lost and Found, but not necessary to read it, just references a couple of things here and there.
Chapter One – The Jolly Rogers
Had they known now what they didn't know then, neither one of the brothers would have stayed to investigate. Neither one would have looked into things any further. Neither would have put the other in harms way. Neither would have ever guessed what the job really was about in the end. Because for now, it was only the beginning…
Funny how things have a way of working out. The Winchester boys had spent a few days in Rapid City, SD having a body shop work extensively with the Impala. She needed a new hood, a new frame, a new axle, a lot of news. New things from a crash that had happened a few days before, crushing more than just the car. Things they couldn't afford, but Sam always kept a couple of emergency credit cards if needed for major expenses and this fit right under the category of major. To top things off the shop gave Dean's baby a new coat of Midnight spray and made sure the chrome reflected his pearly whites as he grinned at her. They had spent the five days it took to fix the car as a makeshift vacation, wandering the town, seeing a few sights. Sam could hardly contain himself seeing Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse, which Dean commented were both "pretty cool", his real joy coming from seeing Sam's excitement at the wonders. They toured a few caves and listened to the tale of how some guy who owned the land long ago brought his dead little girl there instead of burying her so he could visit whenever he wanted. The temperature was cool enough, she didn't spoil. That had been her home for years until the state forced him to bury her after local teenagers would come in and… do things to her body. And then the tour guide lowered her voice an octave into a spooky tone, saved for stories told around a campfire and she described how legend said the cave was still haunted by the girl's spirit. So Dean and Sam broke in later that night, of course, and spent the night in the cavern, where the girl had laid so long ago. But nothing happened, nothing appeared, nothing came to visit. Except for bats. And Dean hated bats.
Once the car was finished, they were back on the road headed for an area outside of North Sioux City, SD. Waiting for the Impala to heal her own wounds, Sam pleasantly discovered that they were not far from yet another Indian tribe, the Lakota, where there was a famous Healer, someone said to have phenomenal powers. Someone they both held hope could get Dean out of his deal. Break it without welching, if that was even possible. Dean had pressed the Chevy hard, it was still Winter, the snow still piled along the highway, but there had been plenty of sunny days that had melted everything off the pavement and in the cold the Impala's engine didn't just purr, she roared.
They had arrived at night and wasted no time in locating Mr. Tell. Sam was quick to spill their story, beginning with their father and his deal, the yellow-eyed demon, how they killed it… and the just before… it always came back to that now. How Dean had made the selfish deal so his brother would be alive. Sold his soul to the devil or whatever it was. They had to tell, had to explain the entire story to a man like this. There was no omitting, no bending the truth, it was all in front of him. The hearts, the spades, the clubs and the diamonds. This man was not like the one-fourth Indians, three-fourths Americans they had left back in the badlands. This was the real McCoy. A full-blooded red man, weathered hard from age and life, living in a large, warm teepee, with feathers and incense, and paint for tattoos and rods for piercings. His eyes were black, darker than the night and they watered back to them as the boys told their story, first the younger, followed by interruptions from the elder. The old Indian's tears flowed feeling their desperation, knowing their pain and cursing their need. Sam swallowed hard, Dean's eyes were hopeful as he took their hands and they sat in a tranquil circle together. The Lakota took it all in, closing his orbs, processing it with a power so quiet all each brother heard was the other one breathing. The Healer dipped his chin forward, chanting softly, his voice growing with strength and then muting whispers. Sam felt a force run through him, running the length of his arms, flowing into his brothers, wondering if Dean was feeling it as well. Dean's hand gripped back and his head fell forward, his chin hanging heavily. The old Indian felt the force come back full circle, he let out a startled gasp and dropped the brothers' hands, Sam's first and then Dean's. His eyes popped open and he spoke robotically, simple words coming from his mouth.
"Cannot help you."
Sam blinked, he felt Dean's muscles tighten. "What? Why?'
The red man shook his head. "I am a Healer. Not a magician. What you have brought to me, I empathize with, but I cannot help you. It is not natural."
Sam put his head in his hands. The Lakota had no offerings to them on where they could look, where they should look. He suggested they stay away from answers dealing with more Evil. Their souls were already tainted. Their lives were no longer pure. Look for the Good, he suggested. The Natural, if possible. The Earth would be best. He made absolutely no sense to the hunters, talking in riddles, giving them puzzles. When the fact remained the same - they were still up a creek without any answers, with no paddle, without being any closer to liberation. Freedom. But he had tried, he had listened, he had spent time with them. That was more than most had done on their path towards emancipation.
Dean extended his hand, the Great Leader shaking it, pointing up the road towards North Sioux City where they could find a bed to lay on, get some sleep before morning came. "The Jolly Rogers, ask for Jolly. Or if he's not there, ask for Clancy, his daughter, she'll be working in the café. Tell them I sent you. They will treat you well and please, let Jolly know I said hello." He held the please, held Dean's eyes until the hunter agreed with a nod back to him.
Sam stood and dipped his head to the Native, reaching his hand out to him, only to have the man step back, keeping solid with the nod that Sam had started. Sam looked down at his own empty palm and cautiously withdrew it back, noting Dean's observation of the peculiarity.
"Down the road, you sleep," the Lakota began and then turned, "But in the morning, you go."
Maybe the old Indian knew where he was sending the brothers. He understood on some level the kind of men they were. Hunters. Maybe he sensed something during their short visit, saw more than he led on when he closed his eyes. Held their hands. But reflecting back to that short time with what they knew now, it seemed strange that he would pick that motel to direct them to. The name, the owner, the daughter. And then end it on a warning, a last ditch chance for the brothers to heed… but in the morning, you go. Staring into his reflection in the rearview mirror, Dean didn't think that the old Lakota ever believed the boys would have listened to him anyway. Because what Dean thought was… that old man knew not just what they were. He knew who they were. They were Winchesters.
The Jolly Rogers was similar to any other motel they had stayed in. It was rows of rooms all on one floor, dingy to the touch, thin walls, wet smelling carpet, but with cable access, wireless Internet, two queen sized beds and a lit vacancy sign in a frenzied flash, encouraging cars in from the road.
Home away from home, or Impala.
They had went in together, Sam wanting to scour the vending machine for jerky, chips, candy bars. It was already 2:30 a.m. and there wasn't anything awake for business in this petite but charming town. Dean had shuffled up to the counter and hit the bell at the front desk, turning to watch Sam deposit in his quarters. A tall thin brunette walked out to greet them, she was in her later thirties, her eyes deep blue, her hair was messy as though she had just sat up from laying down. She looked at the older of the two and sighed. No smile, almost a grimace. "Room?"
"Yeah," Dean answered tiredly, throwing the fake plastic on the counter in front of her. And then because he'd been asked to, "Jolly around?"
The woman's eyes flicked up to his, narrowing a moment and then releasing her hold. "Nope."
Dean nodded, glanced over his shoulder at Sam still making his selections and then back towards the woman. "You Clancy?"
She stopped filling the registration form out and looked back up to Dean. "I am, Mr…" she took the credit card and looked at the name, "Reginald Chavez."
Dean flashed her a smile. "Yeah, my Dad… I was named after my Dad and two Reggies in the house didn't go well… I go by Dean. My, uh, middle name." He felt Sam look over from his button pushing and shake his head at his older brother.
Clancy tossed the card back at Reggie and he quickly swiped it up, placing it back in it's dog-eared slot in his black leather wallet.
"Why do you ask?" her voice scraped out. Dean wasn't the only one that was tired.
Dean motioned with his shoulder towards the road. "We just rolled in and a few miles back ran into a Mr. Tell. He told us to come by." He heard Sam ripping into a bag of chips and started crunching them hungrily.
"Mr. Tell." She nodded, not questioning the boys. Her eyes seemed to linger a moment somewhere in time. "I'll take ten dollars off and you can each have a cinnamon roll on the house tomorrow."
Continental breakfast? Now that was something they weren't use to in a dive motel.
Sam had turned the key and brought in his clothing duffel along with the weapons. He laid them down by the farthest bed with a thud and fell back happily onto his mattress. The room was small, the walls white, the bedspreads red and blue. It was as if Betsy Ross had thrown up and it stuck to the décor. The mattress was lumpy, old and kept shaking a good twenty seconds after he flopped his long-limbed form on it.
Dean threw his duffel in the corner near the TV, sitting on the end of his bed, prodding his boots off, letting them fall where they landed. He pulled his socks off and yanked his jeans down, rolling them up into a ball and throwing them towards the duffel. He stripped to his boxers and t-shirt and left it at that. No shower, not tonight. He was exhausted after yet another goose chase of catch-the-magic-potion-to-save-my-soul had evaporated into thin air before his very eyes. He pulled back the stiff covers and tucked himself in.
"Sam." He looked over at his little brother when he got no response and watched as Sam lay, sprawled out all over the queen, clothes on, boots on, coat zipped up, his breaths coming deep and long. Sleep. It sounded good and Dean had no energy to get up and turn off the light so he surrendered and let his body relax, no knife under his pillow, the weapon bag over by his snoring brother, vulnerable to what lay in the dark of night, and fell asleep.
His eyes lifted heavily and sluggishly, brushing up at the clock. 5 a.m. blared back to him in liquid red rubies. Dean turned his head and looked around the room, the day still dark, the sun hidden behind the black outside. The light was still on and something else. He squinched his eyes and realized it was the TV. He looked over to his brother and saw Sam in bed, curled up in a wiry ball, still clothed, still booted. It didn't look like he had woken and had been watching TV, but maybe Dean had slept through it. He wanted to get up and shut it off, but it was still too early and his body hurt. Evangelist. What else would be on at this hour? Preaching about Heaven versus Hell. Save your soul, pray to God, reject Evil, accept Good. Dean sighed deeply. Couldn't be Happy Days, could it? The Fonz, now he was cool.
And Dean fell back to sleep.
The café, Get Your Jolly's, was attached to the motel, a small, sweet-smelling nook that only had room for six seating areas. It was bright in the day, with blue pendulant lights hanging down, the interior had wallpaper in the pattern of old paneling. There were only booths, no freestanding tables, no bar to saddle up to. Very quaint, very small town. The morning desk clerk had pointed to the menus sitting on a table as they walked into the eatery, passing the hand written sign: "Seat Yourself" displayed on an easel. They walked in and strolled to their table, Sam ducking under the pendulants after he clocked himself on the forehead as he unfortunately greeted the first one. He looked around the cafe, noting there was no one else there but them. They had the pick of the place. The younger brother had chosen the booth near the window, catching in some rays from the Winter sun, watching folks stroll on the sidewalks, chattering amongst themselves. Small town locals. Just the way they liked them. The boys opened the menus and pressed their noses in when the wonderful sound of coffee being poured into ceramic white mugs served on tiny white saucers perked their attention. Clancy stood, setting two cups down for them and then turned to her side, grabbing two additional plates with cinnamon rolls.
"V.I.P.'s," she stated, keeping her deal to the hunters. Not even attempting to welch on it.
Sam smiled at her. "Back again?"
She shook her head, her eyebrows raising, her face sober. "Never left."
Dean giggled. "What is this? The Hotel California?"
She gave him a look and turned away, her hips swaying beneath the bow of her white apron, showing her age, the two children she'd probably had over the years. The feeling that her body was much older than her real age. It all rested in those hips.
"Where to now, Sammy-boy?" Dean twirled his attention back to his brother, knowing that beneath it all, the tired eyes, the hair that was growing too long, the heart that was weighing too heavy, his little brother had only one thing on his mind.
Sam looked back at him, shrugging one shoulder in temporary defeat. "Dunno." He looked out the window. "Waiting to hear back from Bobby on a couple of leads." Bobby lived around the area, about a half hours drive from where they were staying, but he was out on his own hunt right now, squeezing in time for his surrogates, trying to break deals without making one of his own in the process.
"Good. Something'll come along." Dean tried to sound optimistic… for Sam, of course.
It was a growing need for both of them. Growing in urgency. Just under three months. Tick-tock. Each day was a blessing and a curse, something each of them hugged close and despised. Every day Dean felt a shudder through his body, his spine feeling as though it was curving ahead at his neck, wrinkles deepening, his hair graying. Getting old before his time, his body slowly altering into the old man death was suppose to claim. Sam saw it all, unfolding before him. He felt the pull, the desire Dean needed to break the deal. And Sam wanted to break it for him. For himself. He wanted it more than he had ever wanted anything in his entire life. His appetite had dwindled, sleep was coming in spurts and the hole in his stomach was engulfing him. Mom, Dad, Jessica… he couldn't add another name to the list. One more name and that would leave only one person standing in line. Abandoned. Deserted. He was already an orphan, but this, this would be forever alone. He never thought in a million years one word would scare him to death. But it did.
Clancy swished back. "Get you anything?" Her hand perched with pen, ready to write at whim.
Dean glanced up. "Eggs, scrambled." He looked at Sam.
Sam shook his head back.
"Pancakes?" Dean asked, lifting his eyebrows, playfully.
He smiled at Clancy. "Blueberry. Lots of syrup." He motioned his finger between himself and his brother, two orders. She nodded and started away. "Oh, Clance –" Dean called out and the brunette stopped, rotating back, "is Jolly around?"
She shook her head. "Nope."
Dean hesitated. "Expecting him soon?"
She took in a breath and blew her hair out of her eyes. "No."
"Huh." Dean stared over to her. "So, is he as Jolly as his name claims?"
Clancy walked the two steps back to the table. She bent down, resting her elbows on the counter between the boys, her blue eyes snapping towards Dean. "Not anymore."
Dean gawked his head back for a second, catching Sam's frowned expression out of the corner of his eye. "Okay, awkward." He paused a second and then diffused his tone. "Come again?" He pulled away from her, uncomfortable with the personal space invasion she was creating.
Clancy looked over at Sam. "How do you know Mr. Tell?" she asked, trying the younger brother out.
Sam smirked. "Helped us last night with a problem, never met him before but he wanted us to stop by and see Jolly."
Clancy rolled herself back up, bringing her elbows with her, tight to her sides. "Well, Jolly just lost his wife."
Oh. Sam and Dean caught a quick look between each other and then both back up to Clancy. Her mother. "I'm sorry." They both meaningfully responded together.
The woman nodded. "Yeah, it was a surprise. To all of us. We didn't see it coming."
It was always a tough subject to approach, hard to keep it soft without prying, gentle without pushing, close but not too close, coax, but not get caught…
"It was sudden then. How did it happen?" Sam spoke up, giving her his sweet dewy eyes. The eyes that spoke to her soul - I understand, you can tell me, you can trust me, I'm going to turn into a monster one day…
"Suicide. So they say." Her voice hard, her body rocking from side to side, nervous.
"They say?" Dean spoke.
"The cops. They said it was probably suicide. I guess it had to be, though. If it wasn't it would have to be…" her voice trailed off.
The boys waited.
"Murder, maybe," she said, gloomy.
Sam's head tilted towards her, his eyes remaining soft. "She shot herself?"
Clancy let out a noise, not a laugh, not a huff. Just an odd, pained sound. "No. She never held a gun. She wouldn't know how to use one, or how to hang herself and she hated pills. They didn't have a garage." She looked out the window, deep thoughts, thinking about her Mother doing those things. Killing herself the conventional ways. "No, she drowned herself. In the silo."
Dean looked down now trying to picture that one himself.
"They live on this old farm, my Mom and Dad. And there is this ancient silo, full of water. When they had the well they'd use it for their back up water supply and to feed the animals, but the farm hasn't been operating for years now. Dad sold all the cattle, the pigs. But the barn is still there, the pens and… the silo." She paused a moment and then stated cynically, "I guess my sixty-five-year-old mother climbed up the ladder of the tower, opened the hatch and jumped into the filthy water below. The woman never took a bath in her adult life! It was always showers, she even refused to put a tub in when they added a master bathroom!" She looked from one brother to the other.
"So you don't think your Mom killed herself?" Sam asked again, carefully guiding his question.
She shook her head. "No." Blinking a moment, questions filling her head. "But if it wasn't that, what was it? She was forced to climb? She was pushed?" She swallowed hard. "My Dad, everyone likes him, you know? And he was good to us, but there were times…" she paused a beat and then, "We had all these wild farm cats and they'd have kittens and there was just so many of them. My Dad would put them in a sack and my Mom and my brothers and me, we'd all beg him not to kill them. But he'd drown them. He'd hold them under the water up in the silo while we'd scream at him from below. My Mom hated that. Why would she go…" she took in a last deep breath turning her chin over her shoulder. "I'm sorry, I should get your order in. It's just… it's been a hard couple of weeks. My Mom, she passed a week ago and a couple of weeks before her, my Grandfather…"
"He died, too?" Sam finished.
"Your father's father?"
"Roger Rogers. Such a dumb name."
She shrugged at the younger hunter. "Animal attack?" It was an uncertainty. "It's still under investigation. I know it sounds crazy, but he appeared to… rip the skin off of his body. With his fingernails."
Dean lifted his eyebrows into inverted "V's" at his younger brother. Yep, sounded like their kind of crazy.
First stop had been to see Jolly Rogers. His farm was big, decaying from lack of upkeep, under-use, and age. A few years ago it was certainly in it's glory with livestock and smells of money masked by stench, but now it was barren. Looking sad. Dean pulled the Impala up the gravel road to park it outside of the broken down paint-chipped yellow farmhouse. They looked out into the yard, the pens were empty, but still fenced in, still locked. The barn was standing, it's doors shut and, over the hill was the silo. It stood alone like it belonged on a backdrop of a picture hanging above someone's mantel. White flecks of paint falling from its metal shell, the peak jutting tin pulling from the sides, curling on its ends.
Sam rapped on the screen door and waited patiently with his brother, the cold from the morning still hanging on, waiting for the sun to warm up enough to melt more snow. They could hear the shuffle of small steps coming towards them and they both straightened taller as a man began to form in the doorway. He was large, an obese stomach hung down in a hard mass towards his abdomen and into his lap. His face was round, his cheeks were overly plump and his eyes were glossy. He could have looked like Santa Claus if he had looked even remotely close to somebody named Jolly. Upon first impression this old man looked empty, but he didn't look surprised. Just like he'd been sitting, waiting for someone to come knocking on his door and take him from this…
"Jolly? Jolly Rogers?" Sam spoke first as the big man appeared.
He nodded. "Yep."
No fake ID's, no stories this time. "We've been staying up at your motel up the road and," the younger man started, "I'm Sam and this is my brother Dean," he gestured towards the older hunter. "And we, we met Clancy and heard about your unfortunate losses as of lately…"
"Mr. Tell told me to come by and say hi," Dean interjected.
Jolly's eyes blinked hard at the older brother. "What'd you say your last name was?" he barked, suddenly taking interest in one of them.
"Winchester." Dean answered proudly.
Jolly's eyes narrowed on the boys for a moment and then almost in a growl, he rasped out, "Mr. Tell didn't send you. John did."
Dean glanced up at Sam, who was staring the big man down. Confusion masking his features, his throat working hard to swallow at the sound of his father's name.
The door swung open and Jolly invited them in.
The place was cluttered. There was no place you could look that didn't have books piled on top of each other, clocks displayed together on table tops, magazines with torn edges toppling one another, dishes stacked in the sink, with a newly bought bottle of dish soap next to it and another bottle beside that one and another beside that. The smell hit the boys like they had walked into a garbage dump, which may have been what the house was. There was a spot on the couch cleared off for one person to sit and one space at the dining area where one person could eat. Jolly turned and gathered clothes off the table, pushing tins and mail off one of the chairs. He offered them to the brothers, trying to find a vacant space to put the wadded clothing from his arms. He finally stuffed them in a corner near an empty trash bin and turned back towards the boys.
"Need a drink?"
They shook their heads quickly in unison. "No."
The larger man smiled and stood between them. "You're his boys, ain't ya?" He grinned, a bit of a twinkle reflecting back to them in his eyes. "Dean and…" his fingers snapped a couple of times…
"Sam." he owned it, a bit disheartened.
The man nodded. "Yeah, the college boy."
Sam looked over at his brother. Dean was staring intently at the man. "How do you know our Dad again?"
Jolly's smile faded, his twinkle dimmed. "He didn't tell you? He didn't fill you in…"
"Our Dad's dead." Sam's voice was firm.
Jolly hung his head. "Oh, jeez, boys." That was all he could offer at that moment, his own fresh losses shining through him. Everyone. Everyone lost. No one was immune. It was inevitable.
"Jolly," Dean started, "is there something going on here? Something that we can help you with?"
Jolly turned from them and grabbed another chair, shaking from it the old telephone and shaving kit it was sheltering. He flipped the chair around and sat down, resting his grand forearms on the wooden back, his chin jutting forward. "Something's trying to kill me." He paused and then added, "But first, it's going through my family."
Dean nodded. "Do you know what it is?'
Jolly Rogers had an air about him, something that made you feel comfortable in his presence. He was easily liked, had been a happy man, he had lived in this town his entire life and everyone knew him. They all enjoyed the large teddy bear. He had been a farmer and a barber and the owner of the motel, the café. He even had other businesses over the years, all of them he'd sold when the time was right to move on. He'd funded the town every year to purchase their 4th of July fireworks. He loved his community and they loved him back. Until recently. "No, I haven't seen what it is, but I've heard it."
"What did it sound like?" The boys asked together.
He thought a moment. "I heard scratching, ruffling when it came for my father. He lived with my wife and I, we have an apartment downstairs that we kept for him. He died in the bathroom. He never even screamed." His eyes hazed over. "It had to have been quick, right?"
Dean's Adam apple bobbed. "Sure." It was what the man needed to hear just then.
"I didn't notice anything with my wife. I just woke up and she was missing."
Missing. That hit Dean. He'd known that feeling. Felt that before. Waking up, looking over to the bed next to you and finding… nothing. Waiting and… nothing. Calling and…
"I waited for her and she never showed back up. I tried her cell phone and she never picked up…"
Dean's mind rolled back, pushing it away, shoving it back. He looked at Sam, finding his brother looking back at him. I had to do it, Sammy, cuz I couldn't live with you dead. And now Sam was going to wake up and find Dean gone. Dean had returned the favor. It hit his gut like a wrench.
"The cops found her up in the silo. It took us until the next day to, discover her." He glanced out the window. "She hated heights."
Maybe he had killed the kittens, maybe his wife and children had screamed and begged him not to do it, but looking at the man now, the brothers felt the love, the bond, the regret.
"Jolly," Sam cleared his throat, "what about you? Why would something want you dead, and your family?"
The man's eyes flared up to the boys. "That's how I met your Dad. Almost four years ago he came here to help me out. I thought maybe I needed someone with his kind of expertise. I was afraid."
"Afraid of?" Dean gestured with his hand, it was a like coaching a child.
"I was on trial. About a year before, I would volunteer for the school, helping out with transporting the kids on field trips and such. I drove the school bus for them, took the kids back and forth to events. Not often, maybe a couple of times a school year. And then one morning we were on our way to the convention center, they were hosting a kids talent show. I was driving the bus around a curve and…" he stopped, thinking about that curve, the feel of the bus under his seat, the bounce, the pull of the wheel, "and I lost control of it. Careened off the shoulder, over the curve and went into the lake."
Dean and Sam remained quiet, imagining the yellow school bus full of children, suddenly submerged into harsh water.
"I got the emergency door open, there was another teacher there and we started throwing the kids out the back. It was early Spring and the water still had patches of ice. The water was freezing. We pulled every kid we could out of that damn bus until we just floated to the top ourselves."
"How many kids… did you get out?" Sam asked, focusing on the positive.
"Twenty-one." He nodded back, a wan smile. And then darkness. "But there were six that didn't make it out." He tilted his head back, remembering the cold. "Well, really there were five, but there was this sixth kid… he drowned in the water, but he wasn't in the bus… anymore."
"And you thought that was a problem our Dad could help with?" Dean squinted, it was a tragic accident, not unexplainable.
Jolly rubbed his hands on this thighs, the denim bunching up under his palms and then smoothing back out again from his own friction. "The lake, it seemed to come alive and swallow the bus or… something. Thought maybe it was haunted. I had to go on trial for homicide, reckless endangerment. I was scared and I knew a guy who knew a guy who knew your Dad. But I ended up getting acquitted. Your Dad never found anything, I was okay and didn't need him in the end."
Dean and Sam sat in silence with the older man, listening to the outside, the wind blowing the snow against the house. The branches clicking together in an odd rhythm. Sam swore he could hear his brother say something to him, something inside of him hurt right then.
"Mind if we take a look around?" Dean asked, slowly rising from the dinette.
Jolly Rogers obliged. He took them on a personal tour of the chaotic house. The basement was the worst, jumbled furniture pushed in corners, boxes upon boxes of stored memories throughout the years. Gifts given to the couple when they were first married, baby outfits their children had once worn, receipts for things bought in the 1970's. They had kept it all. There was a small apartment, though, that they had finished off for Jolly's father. It had only three rooms, a tiny living area, a bedroom and a bathroom, which was so small only one person could go in at a time. There was no bathtub, just the shower stall. That was where Jolly had found his Dad, dead slumped against the corner of the cement block, his skin torn from his body by his own hands. No weapons were found, no fingerprints of another, no forced entry, no bloody shoe prints leading from the scene of the crime. Couldn't have been suicide, though.
"Definitely unnatural." Dean observed, once Jolly had left the two to look around the small compartment. The EMF wasn't giving anything back, there was no sulfur, no ash, no prints of any kind.
"Maybe it was an animal," Sam came back, not able to think of anything else.
"An animal that can unlock doors and climb up ladders and push old ladies into a tower of water?"
Sam sneered at him. "I dunno, man." He was at a loss of words as well.
Dean glided his flashlight one more time through the shower stall before exiting the small bathroom. He suddenly stopped and stooped down, the beam of his light coming into contact with a shiny object stuck in the drain, almost washed down from cleaning the blood from the walls, the floor.
"What is it?" Sam asked, trying to peer over his shoulder.
Dean grasped a hold and pulled out a small metal object, pointed at the sides. He rolled it in his fingers a moment and then held it up to Sam. "A jack," he said and handed it to his brother.
Sam took it and looked at it in his palm. "Jacks? Like when we were kids?"
"Looks like it."
Sam frowned at it and stepped back so Dean could remove himself from the bathroom. Jolly's belly appeared half way down the stairs. "Want to go outside and look at the silo?"
The boys followed through the snow up the hill from the house to where the metal tower stood, nestled in the crook of a hill. It hadn't been used in years, Jolly explained on their way up. He had meant to have it drained, but had never gotten around to it. His wife hated the thing, thought they should just have it removed all together. Now he had wished he would have listened. Maybe he could have saved her precious life.
Dean walked up and grabbed hold of the ladder, shaking it under his fist. It wobbled slightly, but stayed attached to the exterior as it crept up to the top. It wasn't white like the rest of the silo, but now covered in rust, which chafed into crumbs in his gloves. The rungs that he could see didn't appear to be covered in any snow or ice, they seemed to be fairly dry.
"Well," Dean looked at Sam, motioning the ladder with his hands, "ladies first."
Sam gave him a look and threw down the small bag he'd been carrying, nicely concealing a flask of holy water and small weapons they might need in a tight bind. He reached up as far as he could and hoisted himself up the ladder, taking two rungs at a time. Dean clamored after him, his boots clumsily coming into contact with the iron underneath, feeling his body sway to and fro hanging on the ladder. With each step his younger brother made, the ladder seemed to squeak and rattle, dust and grit jostled down to sprinkle on top of Dean's hair. A mumbled curse came up from under Sam and he glanced down at his brother.
"What?" he shouted down.
Dean looked up. "Maybe only one of us should be on this ladder," he hollered back.
Sam shrugged. "Jump down. I can check it out."
Dean watched as his brother continued to ascend the silo, not seeming the least bit slowed by his recent lay-up in the badlands, fighting other creatures, having chest tubes in and removed. He moved quickly and gracefully, climbing like the web slinger. Dean took a step back down and jumped the rest of the way, landing near Jolly.
"Your wife climbed that, huh?"
Jolly watched Sam as he approached the top. "Yep. She weighed close to three hundred pounds."
Dean looked back up. No way that woman climbed that old ladder.
Sam reached the top and wavered a moment, his long legs perched on the highest rung, his lanky torso wobbling with nothing to balance him. He leaned towards the metal point and pulled on the hatch. Nothing. He reached back down, grabbing the handle firmly with his glove and yanked hard. Slowly the lid began to lift and with a scouring shriek it collapsed falling backwards. He brought his flashlight around front and peered down into the tower well, the water not far from the top, a couple of feet, close enough that when he reached over and stretched, his fingers could skim the murky water. The light shone on the water, eerily sparkling back at him. There were no markings on the inside that he could see, no marks on the outside, nothing on the front or bottom sides of the hatch. It looked clean, well, besides the wear and tear of being old and unused. He grunted and flopped back up, looking way, way, down to his brother and Jolly. He gave Dean a shrug and sighed loud enough they could hear him.
He climbed noisily back down the ladder, taking it as easy as he could, his boots slipping a few times, but easy enough to catch himself. He hopped off about four steps from the bottom and walked over to the other two, all of them perplexed as to what had happened on this farm in the past couple of weeks. Jolly Rogers invited them back in the house, but the brothers declined, sighting they had some work to do, research.
The doors shut with a hinged creek to the Impala and Dean started the engine up. He glanced over to Sam, beads of sweat appearing on his younger brother's brow. "Mrs. Rogers weighed like three hundred pounds, man."
The sounds of Queen flowed in through the speakers.
She was such a naughty nanny, hey big woman you made a bad boy out of me…
Sam looked over at him. "Dude." He took a glimpse back up at the silo as they poured down the driveway. "No way she climbed that ladder."
"Not naturally, at least."
Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin' world go round.
Rays of sun peeked out as they drove back into town, Sam wanting to get to a library or records office where they could find out more about the bus accident, more about the Rogers family. More of what Jolly wasn't saying. The North Sioux City Library was clean and small, well lit and the blonde, leggy Librarian allowed the boys to bring in coffee as they searched the internet and back newspapers. It didn't take either of them long to find what they were looking for.
"Yeah, okay, five years ago this March, Jolly was driving a school bus full of elementary kids to some show and he lost control, veered off and the bus rolled down an embankment, landing in a lake down off the highway." Sam pointed to his computer screen as Dean pulled out newspapers from that date, looking for obituaries.
"So, who died?"
Sam read on. "Aw, man." He shook his head. "Nine-year-old Katrina Hale, twelve-year-old Violet McBride, twelve-year-old Mary Kay Woods, ten-year-old Jack Danitz, twelve-year-old Matt Parkman and eight-year-old Bobby Parkman." Sam looked over to Dean, who had stopped fanning the newspapers and lifted his brows, inverted V's. Sam looked back to the screen, his voice softer. "Brothers?"
Dean started to shrug when the Librarian came up behind them, caught by the haunting remembrance on the computer glaring back at her. "The bus accident?" She looked at the hunters. "That's what you're researching?"
Dean cocked his head. "Yeah, for…class."
She bent in and looked at the picture of the bus after being pulled from the lake mapped on the screen. "It was so sad when that happened. I use to work in the school library during that time. I knew every single one of those kids. The Hale's were neighbors of mine and when Kat passed, it just wrecked their family apart. Her parents got divorced and her Dad moved away. Got remarried, I think."
"Do any of the other families still live around here?" Sam asked.
She nodded. "Yeah, I think all of them do, except for Kat's Dad. And the Parkman brothers. They just… that still breaks me."
"What?" Dean narrowed his eyes at her.
The Librarian's whole body sighed, her eyes grew softer, wetter, before she ever got the words to her lips. "They only had their Dad. I don't think I ever met him, he moved away after the accident. Their Mom was long gone before they ever moved here, I don't know if she died or just left, but those boys really were all the other had. That older boy, he was so good to his younger brother, always watching out for him. When they weren't in class, they were inseparable. I think their Dad left them alone a lot and they just adjusted to taking care of themselves sometimes…" she took a deep breath in. "But that day, the bus crashed and Jolly and Mrs. Post were tossing those kids out the back, they grabbed Matt and got him out but they couldn't get to Bobby. When Matt realized that Bobby wasn't out of the bus, he went back into the lake, back to the bus… and it was like the lake just took him, too. I wasn't there, but Mrs. Post said it was like it was waiting for him."
Dean closed his eyes and rubbed his temple with two fingers. Sounded familiar. Two brothers, four years apart, Mom gone, raised by Dad when he was around. One brother not able to live if the other brother died. If we're going down, we're going down together. He stole a glance at Sam, who was staring at the computer, clicking on the school photos of the kids on another article.
"There aren't any pictures of the Parkman brothers." he directed back to the Librarian.
She shook her head. "Probably not. They were only there for a little while. Their Dad moved around a lot."
Sam turned to look at Dean. They both saw childhood memories flash between each other. Sam felt a heat radiate off his brother for a few seconds, felt something ache inside. Dean always showed Sam more than he told. Always. More than familiar, maybe? "Can we get copies of these?"
The doors to the Impala shut in one synchronized motion from the brothers as they approached the room of their motel. Sam sat down on the edge of his bed, frown lines casing his face as his brother walked by, throwing his coat down on an empty chair.
"What do you think this is, man?" Sam asked.
Dean turned to him. "Some ugly mother, I guess. No signs of spirits, probably not an animal. Doubt it's a vampire…"
Sam shuddered. Probably too early to mention fighting the bloodsuckers just yet. Sam shrugged it off quickly. "Something has attached itself to Jolly, though. His family."
Dean nodded, he rested his back up against the wall. "Demon?"
Sam stared at the older brother. "Yeah. Maybe." God, no. No more demons. He was getting tired of their species. He watched Dean, his hands pushed against one another, his eyes darting from side to side in the room. "What?"
Dean shoulders heaved forward. He glanced for only a second at Sam. "I don't know, it's just… the brothers…"
"Kind of reminds you of somebody."
Dean locked his uneasy eyes with his brother's steady ones. "Yeah." He didn't need to say anything else, enough was said in that one word and Sam nodded back. Acceptance, understanding, truth. He knew.
"So, somebody probably summoned a demon?" Sam rested back on the palms of his hands, thinking. "If that's what it is…"
"Or controlling it. Jolly was acquitted of the accident. Somebody wanted revenge? Something man's laws couldn't give."
"Yeah, but it was just an accident, Dean."
His brother tilted his head. "A kid dies, somebody has to pay. A demon just sees death and pain, not right and wrong."
Sam nodded. "So, somebody unable to forgive."
"Somebody who wants the person to suffer first."
"Somebody who lost someone they really loved."
Dean reached up on top of the TV and pulled the copies of the accident they had gotten from the library, shuffling through them. "Talk to the parents?"
Sam gave him a small smile. "Who else?"
Play List: Fat Bottomed Girls from Queen
A/N: Hey, thanks for reading. Glad you made it to the end of chapter one. The rest will be not as long, but only by a couple of pages. I have all but the last chapter written and I believe this will be completed in six chapters, like my story Lost and Found. Thanks for sticking it out and I guess we'll have to see what is in store for the Brothers Winchester! Reviews appreciated! Thanks!