A/N Special thanks going to my beta's katriel1987 for volunteering to complete the horrible task of turning my ramblings into something readable and to Merisha for the occasional gentle prod (using a picture of a sad cat!) and providing the spit to make it shiny. Any mistakes are of course my own.

DISCLAIMER TYPE THINGY:- Eric Kripke owns everything Supernatural. I'll put them all back when I've finished, I promise.

A/N I thank everyone of you for reading and reviewing my second attempt at writing fiction. I enjoyed every single moment writing it, and I hope that's come across in the telling. For any anonymous reviewers, I thank you too.

The Unusual Suspects

Chapter Twelve

Breathing heavily and barely able to stop himself staggering from fatigue, Sam let the now-silent chainsaw to drop to the ground. It had sputtered and died in his hands as he had cut Choronzon's head from its shoulders. Sam allowed himself a grim smile; it wasn't every day that their infamous luck held out to the end.

Dean, he thought. He was standing there grinning and congratulating himself, while his brother could be...No. He immediately dismissed the thought.

"Dean?" Sam said hesitantly. He stared at his motionless brother, who was propped at an uncomfortable angle against the pile of logs, eyes closed. He wouldn't lie like that, unless...

"Dean?" he repeated more urgently, moving toward his brother on stiff, reluctant legs, his heart pounding harder than when he'd been fighting the beast. Kneeling uncertainly next to his brother he tried to find any signs of life. Dean's chest was rising only slightly, but it was enough for Sam to see; he almost collapsed with relief, allowing himself to breathe again.

He watched as Dean's unfocused eyes fluttered open to settle on him. "Hey," Dean said, his voice croaking. He shifted slightly, his face was taut, breathing ragged and clearly causing him pain. He nodded at his exhausted younger brother and gave him a cocky smile, which failed to reach his weary eyes. "Did I get it?" He asked, lifting his head as he looked around, surveying the carnage that glinted darkly in the moonlight.

"No, but I did," Sam said, attempting to shake stubborn bits of gore from his clothing. He had to resort to flicking it off with his fingers while making a disgusted face. "Just single-handedly saved the human race...again ...is all!" He flopped to the ground beside his brother before his legs could betray him.

"Lacks my finesse, Sammy," Dean said jokingly, gesturing at the minced demon that was scattered, well, just about everywhere. "Man, I gotta get me one of those." He nodded toward the chainsaw. "Do you think Bob would miss it?" Was Sam avoiding meeting his eyes? He couldn't tell.

Sam gave him a faint smile, his face revealing nothing. "Hospital?" He asked, knowing the response he would receive before it came.

Dean shook his head vehemently and groaned again as he struggled to sit up. He pressed his hand against his battered, bruised, cracked and broken ribs. Great, he thought, way to crack another crappy joke! Another precious Hallmark moment … what better way to say 'sorry I pointed a gun at your head Sammy and tried to kill you'? He was truly pathetic.

Dean looked guiltily at his brother. He knew Sam was about to speak; he'd just cleared his throat and he looked like the last puppy left in the pet store on Christmas Eve, damn that wretched look, got him right in the solar plexus every time.

"Dean, I'm..." Sam began.

"I didn't hurt you, did I?" Dean interrupted quickly. There was absolutely no way he was going to let his brother apologize for that forceful dig in the ribs, not when he had been fighting for his life. He shuddered thinking just how close he'd come to actually killing Sam.

"Only here," Sam said, placing his hand over his heart. Dean instantly looked stricken.

"Hey, I'm just joking," Sam said quickly backtracking when he saw the expression on his brother's face. God he was an idiot sometimes. The bruises on his body would fade, as would the rawness inside, but he knew both he and Dean would take a while to recover from the emotional strain. "Besides, you suck at strangling!" He added, nudging Dean's arm gently and giving him a slight grin.

"I'm really sorry, Sam." Dean could hardly bring himself to look at his brother. Sam might have said he was just joking, but Dean figured there was more than a hint of truth hidden behind his words. "I wasn't seeing you when I pointed the gun...at you." He gave a lopsided shrug and continued. "In my mind it wasn't you Sam, but what I did, it was unforgivable."

Maybe if he kept talking he wouldn't have to think. His actions had been one thing, but what he'd said to Sam was a different matter entirely. He may have been driven to say those things by Choronzon, and it hurt him to even think of it, but those words had come out of his mouth anyway. And he'd made his feelings pretty clear when he'd told Sam he begrudged him everything. Sam wasn't stupid; he'd just shown how hurt he'd been, some things you just couldn't take back. And his brother would hate him, which was okay, because if he was honest with himself, Sam couldn't possibly hate him more than he hated himself right now. Maybe Missouri was right, he thought as he added another truckload of bad karma to his already impressive collection.

"It was in my head, Sammy, like some kind of worm, pushing around, putting thoughts in there..." Dean suddenly stopped; he didn't want his brother's sympathy, didn't deserve it, instead he let his gaze fall to Choronzon's severed arm.

"You think I don't know what it's like to point a gun at someone..." Sam paused. He knew Dean had no desire to discuss what had happened a few months ago at the asylum, but some things needed to be said. "...at your own brother?" Sam shook his head, because what he'd done was worse; he'd actually pulled the trigger. "Forget it."

"No, Sam, I can't." A muscle in Dean's jaw twitched as he searched for the right words to say. "It's not so much what I did, it's what I said..."

"Well, forget it. I have."

Dean shot his brother an incredulous look. Surely Sam wasn't supposed to forgive him that easily?

"So you think my thoughts are always pure, Dean? 'Cause I can tell you right now, they're not."

"I know, but..." He trailed off. But what? But Sam doesn't say terrible things? Actually, he had. Admittedly not recently, but he hadn't pulled his punches when he'd left for Stanford.

"If I ask you to stop, will you?" Sam said quietly.

"Huh?"

"Stop beating yourself up over something you couldn't control, okay?"

"Yeah, but..." Dean opened his mouth to continue, but Sam held up his hand and interrupted.

"And will you stop apologizing?" Sam refused to let his brother torture himself, and he was damn sure he wasn't going to allow Dean another scab he could pick raw. "It used its whammy on me too Dean. It could easily have been me instead of you," he threw his brother a sad smile.

"Yeah, but..." Dean started, but was stopped again.

"Dean, I don't have an issue with this, okay. There was nothing you could do, I couldn't fight it either."

"Yeah, but..."

"Look at the effect you had on Missouri!" Sam interrupted as he recalled her reaction to touching Dean whilst he was in the throws of an attack.

"And I state once again for the record, I'm irresistible." Dean smiled slyly, deliberately misunderstanding his brother. "Actually Sammy. What I was trying to say was, you've got some funky stuff in your hair."

Sam made a face at his brother, he knew it was Dean's way of dealing with his emotions, and he accepted it. "We can always ask Missouri's opinion ..." He brushed his hand through his hair, just in case Dean was actually telling the truth. "… and bite me," he said when his hand came away clean.

Dean grinned and clutched his side tensely, attempting to stifle a chuckle. "Don't make me laugh Sammy, it hurts. Besides, I think Missouri has already stated her preference."

"How so?"

"Well, it was me she was having her kinky dreams about."

"Yeah, but you're forgetting that it was me she tried to suffocate in a love embrace with her...things."

Sam waived his hands broadly in front of his chest.

"Aw, man! I so do not want that image in my head!"

"Yeah," Sam snorted. "I guess that was a little too much information." Unable to stop himself laughing, he let out a guffaw and fell back next to Dean, his body shacking with ill-contained mirth as he practically bit his tongue to keep from laughing out loud.

"Oww. Stop, please," Dean snorted, his chest spasming uncomfortably at his restrained laughter, which was made worse by Sam's uncontrollable fit of giggles. "Sorry I threw the gun at you, too. I didn't hit you, did I?" It didn't feel right to laugh with the same abandon as his brother, at least not yet.

"Nah, no chance. You throw like a girl!" Sam laughed harder, barely able to breathe.

The sound of tiny scuttling feet emerged from the tear in the ground, causing a sudden halt to their laughter. They shone their flashlights in the direction of the sound, and there, reflected in the beams, a small pair of eyes stared back at them. Dean's heart nearly stopped.

"Do you see that?" Dean whispered, all thoughts of laughter instantly forgotten.

"Yeah." Sam laughed in relief as he watched a large rat wriggle out of the split in the ground, then scuttle into nearby undergrowth. "It's just a rat."

"It's more than that, Sammy...it's a rat out of hell!" Dean said lamely, looking at his brother out of the corner of his eye, waiting for Sam's amused reaction and wondering if he was going to correct him instead. "You know, like the Meatloaf song..." Dean prompted. "...like a Bat out of Hell!"

Sam just shook his head, chuckling in defeat as he held out a helping hand to his 'rat-o-phobic' older brother.

'Yup, humor, the gift that keeps on giving' Dean thought, grinning back as he accepted his brother's help.

SNSNSNSNSN

"Did you have to half-blind Bob with your flashlight?" Sam said, his face thrown into dancing silhouette by the waning flames.

"C'mon, Sam, you saw him. He loved it." Dean forced a grin and threw another stick onto the pyre where, an hour earlier, they'd cremated Spencer Kane's remains.

"Yeah, I suppose he did." Sam smiled. "But did you have to tell him we're the real Men In Black?"

"No, I didn't have to, but that guy's picture is in the dictionary right under the word 'gullible'. Speaking of which, I wonder how Missouri's getting on."

Sam threw a glance at Missouri, he could just see her inside the now-lighted cabin. He had no idea what she and Bob were discussing; for all he knew, she could be using her hoodoo, voodoo, juju on him. God alone knew what story she was feeding him about the abomination they were currently barbecuing.

They stood before the dying fire where the foul remains of the creature had been duly salted and burned. Thick, acrid black smoke, smelling vaguely of burnt tires drifted up to obscure the dead moon which had risen high overhead.

Dean stared into the embers as they crackled, sending sparks of hot ash floating into the night sky. He'd accepted that sometimes it wasn't possible to save everyone; there would always be collateral damage. But he'd failed Kane spectacularly, and he hated to think about his offhand manner toward the poor bastard when he'd been alive. He knew that being civil to Kane wouldn't have saved him, but he might not be feeling so guilty right now if he had.

"We'll call the Sheriff's Office once we've put a few miles behind us, let them know where the other bodies are," Dean said finally, as the last of the flames died. "They'll probably put it down to some kind of wild animal attack."

Sam nodded; at least this way the families would have closure of sorts. "C'mon," Sam said as he turned away from the pyre. "We'd better not keep Missouri waiting on us any longer than necessary." He motioned to Missouri through the glass to let her know that they were ready to leave; she acknowledged him with a wave of her hand.

"No, I guess not." Dean tried to shrug away the heaviness resting on his chest, rubbing his tightly taped ribs absently. "You're driving." He carefully tossed the car keys at his brother, left-handed. Sam snatched them out of the air as they sailed off course, and grinned; he was sorely tempted to point out, once again, his brother's lack of prowess in the throwing department ... but then again Dean was hurt, and sore, and tired … he wasn't exactly at the top of his game, didn't mean he couldn't milk it though.

"Hey, what's the hurry?" Dean asked as Sam walked briskly ahead.

"Oh, I just want to check something on the Internet."

"Anything special?"

"Yeah, actually." Sam turned and walked backwards facing Dean, a smirk on his face. "It's a gift for you."

"Thanks, Sam, I—I'm touched. What is it?"

"I've placed a bid on some sacrificial underwear for you."

"You what?"

"Size small."

"Hey!" Dean shouted at Sam's retreating back as he ran toward the Impala. Dean laughed. He'd find a way to make it up to Sam, make it right between them again, no matter what it took, despite that underwear remark … the bitch!

He was still grinning when he heard the cabin door creak open as he limped by. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Missouri exit the building, bidding goodbye to Bob with another wave of her hand. She smiled at Dean, relieved to see him more or less intact. Dean returned her smile, and this time, the expression reached and crinkled his eyes. He promised himself that he'd make it up to her too.

"Rough night?" Missouri asked casually as she walked with him at a snail's pace toward the Impala.

"I've had worse," Dean said tiredly.

"Dean, I'd like for you and Sam to come stay at my place for a few days. Give yourselves a bit of a break, some time to heal."

"Yeah?" Dean's eyebrows shot up in surprise, that was the last thing he expected. "Well, yeah, if you're sure it wouldn't be a problem."

"No problem at all. Oh, just one thing," Missouri paused, one hand resting on the roof of the Impala, the other on the car handle, an odd smile playing across her lips. "So as there's no misunderstanding, I actually prefer Bobby." She chuckled softly as she deposited herself into the back seat.

The blushing smile still lingered as Dean slid gingerly into the passenger seat. The thought of spending a few days with his brother, just relaxing, not hunting, was a pleasant one. Glancing out the window, Dean took a final look at the scene as dawn threatened to break. The cabin looked no different, and soon daylight would come and push the shadows away as if nothing had happened.

Sam started the engine and pulled away from Bob's cabin. As the scene faded from view, Dean promised himself that the next time his brother gave him a choice of hunts, Mrs Henderson's 'toast Jesus' would be at the top of the list.

The End

In loving memory of my father

who passed away 15 September 2007

A/N Hello, you can stop now if you want to, or you can go on and read the epilogue. It's your decision.

EPILOGUE

Bob Gates sat on his top step and lit a cigarette. The smoke billowed into his face, stinging his eyes, as he surveyed the devastation in his back yard. He sighed as he flicked at a dark blob of something, using his fingernails to pry it off the step beside him. He held it up to his face and examined it carefully. Oily black on one side, soft and pink like a marshmallow on the other. On a whim, he touched the blob to his tongue. Screwing up his face at the bitter taste, he spat and wiped his hand across his mouth.

He wasn't annoyed at the mess; he'd take his time, clean everything up, return it to its desired state. He hadn't even been annoyed when those men had slaughtered Choronzon in front of him.

He was tired; he'd spent a long time hiding in the forest yesterday, keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings. He'd been annoyed that he'd had to intervene and 'rescue' the one called Dean, but he couldn't allow Kane to harm the man, not when his master wanted him.

Bob had hoped that the two men would take Kane out of the equation, because he hadn't dared kill Kane himself—not when Choronzon was using him, feeding on him.

And they'd brought that witch with them, the one they called Missouri. But he'd fooled her; he hadn't even flinched when he'd had to touch her. He'd even considered keeping her. He was pretty sure she would have been lots of fun. He would have liked to taste her.

He'd fooled those men, too, with his dumb act. They'd even had the nerve to call themselves 'hunters', but they hadn't seen what had been under their noses. He took a long pull at his cigarette, and savoring the taste, considered the decaying trees surrounding his yard. Such a giveaway, how could they not have noticed? But he really should have killed them both when his plans had started to fall apart. But by then it was too late. Choronzon had been delivered by the wrong martyr. Kane wasn't the host Choronzon needed. Kane had been sick, weak, and broken when he'd interfered, tainting Choronzon's birth and marring his passage into physical being. And who knew? Maybe Choronzon would call them back. He'd been right not to kill them.

So, Bob had watched his master's demise without emotion. Choronzon hadn't been 'finished', would never have been strong enough to work his terrible wonders, and Bob knew that. So he hadn't made a fuss. He would wait. And while he waited, he would plan the glorious rebirth. If it wasn't to be for him, maybe it could be for his child. Bob ground the cigarette but into the ground; he really should give up smoking, for the child's sake.

Gina, the girl at the convenience store who had smiled at him the last time he'd gone in. She was pretty, long hair the color of honey, pale skin and bright blue eyes. He would have her, providing she was a virgin. He'd keep her long enough to bear him a male child, and, if she amused him, he'd play with her a little longer before killing her.

He would wait, like his father and grandfather before him.

Cupping the remains of his master in his hand, Bob rose to his feet. He'd decided that he would keep it safe, along with the other special things he had locked up inside his metal cupboard.

The End