Part Four/Things that Go Boom

-:-:-

The way his brother said 'Ana' made Sam think of ice cream. The vowels slipped — started hard, then rose before softening into a sigh. Man, he really couldn't be doing these bathroom confessionals because Dean always turned them into something…dirty. But fate found Sam in this, his twenty-third year, listening to his brother do God-alone knew what in a haunted movie theater's bathroom stall and for a minute, Sam felt like he was fourteen again. Dean had a way of doing that to you. Somehow, Dean's march to maturity had halted in his late teens; everything else had kept moving and he just stayed the same.

What movie was that from again?

But the line was gone, and now there was a vague sloshing from the stall, and Sam clenched his teeth. Dean and his graphic bowel movements. Any moment he was going to stink up the joint and then laugh and laugh. So predictable. Women were so much easier to live with. Jessica had put potpourri in their bathroom, for pete's sake, little bowls of dried flowers and cinnamon sticks.

"Yeah, Ana, that was it," as though conversation was going to distract Dean from his assigned rounds. Still, worth a try, at least to take his own mind off the sound of Dean straining himself. "I wonder what happened to her? Maybe she still lives in the area. Maybe she has something of Lucky's that he wants back." It could be; entirely likely that Lucky had given her some keepsake. A ring or something. Lesser things had tied ghosts to this world, Sam knew. Dried rose petals and orange rinds; their bathroom had smelled like an Arabian bath.

More sloshing, and all Sam could smell was the urinal disinfectant puck, which was only marginally better than any alternative he cared to name. A sudden bang on the side of the stall, a rattle of the lock, and a squeaking noise that sounded like nothing so much as a finger rubbing a clean dish still steamy from the dishwasher.

In the annals of Dean's toilet habits, this took the cake.

"God, Dean, for fuck's sake, do you have to-" but the stall rattled again, and Sam had had enough. "I'll leave you to it, then," he said, hand reaching for the Bogart door.

Just then a moan, strangled, and a gasp, like pain, but not quite, and the distinctive slap of body weight thrown against tile. Instinctively, though he really didn't want to know, Sam dropped to one knee to see what the hell Dean was doing on the bathroom floor.

Sam's sightline was confined to under the stall's dividing wall, the strip of scenery between floor and the rim of toilet. Not that he'd thought to conjure such an image, but he'd been expecting to see his brother's bunched jeans, his boot tips, maybe a hand splayed against the tile because he'd lost his balance or some such nonsense. But it wasn't Dean, or not just Dean, and Sam blinked, struggling to make sense of it.

Coils of grayish-pink flesh moved in sinuous waves, tightening around what might have been Dean's calf, a pile of clothing heaped in the corner, a series of pink toes suddenly jerked out of sight as whatever was in there with Dean lifted him off the ground and out of Sam's line of vision.

"Dean!" Sam shouted, shoulder finding door, ramming it. The monster must be pushing against it, though, because bathroom stall doors didn't usually present much fight against good shove, but this one did. "Dean!" Sam shouted again.

"Sam," Dean's voice was strained. "Uh, Sam," but he didn't sound panicked. "Can you —" and the voice trailed away on a caught breath. "Do you think you could give me a coupla minutes?"

What? "Dean, no," he said as forcefully as he could. "Fight it off!"

"Umn," Dean replied, a low growl. "Maybe…right about…the hex…oh," and Sam actually winced.

The hex bags were sitting on the counter and they were all that was keeping the monsters out. Maybe if he just put them -

"Dean?" Sam was less sure, because Dean didn't sound like he was trying to get loose, not hard anyway.

"Just…dammit, Sam!" and Sam had heard that voice before, usually when he'd walked in on Dean and some girl which, given their cramped upbringing, had happened more often than Sam cared to recall.

It took Sam fewer than five minutes to return the hex bags to the holes he'd made for them at the compass points, but whether those minutes were heaven or hell for Dean Winchester, Sam never knew, because when he got back to the Bogart room, Dean was leaning against the wall, buttoning up his jeans, shirt in a ball on the tiles, a series of pink stripes criss-crossing his chest and back like octopus hickey marks. Sam glanced into the empty stall; there was water all over the floor, but nothing else. At least, he hoped it was water.

He stared balefully at Dean. "All clear?" he asked.

"As a whistle," Dean replied, picking up his shirt. "Think I'm gonna give Leni a raincheck tonight."

And Sam could swear Dean was walking funny, but it really didn't bear thinking about.

-:-:-

He slept well, not surprising given the exertions of the day, was up before Sam and checking the windows and doors, though he kept the chair braced against the motel's bathroom door, because one run-in with a toilet monster was enough. Fun, slightly beyond his usual, okay, but enough. Dean ran a hand across the top of his head, considered his dad's maxim about business and pleasure. Hard to avoid, sometimes. Lucky sure as hell had a weird sense of humor.

Sam was out like a light, and Dean finally braved the bathroom, did his business quickly and kept an eye on the bowl. It was already warming up outside and all Dean really wanted was to jump in the car and drive. Didn't care if he had coordinates or a job, or anything, because the road was open and the yellow highway lines pulled at him like they had a hook in his gills. Stupid fucking Lucky was keeping him put in Buttonwillow and Dean had one more reason to hate the spook.

Time to toast Lucky's ass and get out of town.

What had they been talking about last night? Right, the ex-girlfriend. Definitely worth a shot. Dean rummaged through yesterday's jeans — they smelled truly funky and Dean knew that he ought to put them in their own plastic bag, might have to dump them in the trash rather than wash them — and found Leni's number. Sam woke up as Dean got Ana's last name, and the not-so-startling information that she had only moved down the road a bit, had married an oil man in Taft. Leni didn't have any more information than that, but Dean knew Sam could wring details out of the laptop before he'd had a morning coffee.

Over breakfast, Dean realized that Sam was avoiding looking at him, would have been avoiding him altogether, except for the fact that they were more or less joined at the hip, a side-effect of how Winchesters worked. "What?" he said finally, shoving the last piece of toast in his mouth, leaving Sam with no distractions.

Sam's attention was implausibly on the sticky syrup jug, one finger tracing up the side. He sighed, smiled, shook his head, did it all at once to produce something akin to 'screw you-none of my business'.

Never one to let a full mouth come in the way of conversation, Dean said, "Listen, you don't have to like my methods to-"

"Methods?" Sam's hands stilled on the tabletop. "What 'method' were you employing last night?"

Dean thought about it. "Intimidation?" Sam didn't say anything, but his head tilted to the side in disbelief. "At least we know the hex bags work." Offered that as a consolation. Dean motioned for the check, looked back in time to see a strange expression on Sam's face. "Okay," he dropped his voice, had never known how to placate Sam, how to make all the weirdness better. You just have to go with it sometimes, Sammy. You don't fight it. There's no point. "No matinee today, right?"

Sam sighed, not winning whatever war was going on. "Nope. Alf said that Buddy was encouraged by our efforts," and his hard stare landed on Dean again. "We've drawn Lucky's attention away from Buddy, which is good enough for him."

"Aw, are you worried about me, Sam?" A little like throwing lighter fluid on a hot engine; it was the usual dance and Dean remembered all the steps.

"Yeah, I'm worried about you. Budgies, bad dubbing, river spirits, pigs — tentacles? I mean, that's sick, even for you."

Dean opened his mouth, but nothing came out.

Sam wasn't finished. "It's like you have no grip on reality."

"Sam," Dean was surprised, more than anything. "Look around. We're trying to figure out a movie theater ghost. This is our reality."

"Okay," Sam said slowly, after a long minute of staring down the napkin dispenser. "Buddy's going to go back to pirates after this weekend, Alf said. One more night of foreign programming and then Lucky's going to go apeshit again. We don't have time to enjoy ourselves."

So that was it? "You're not getting enough action. You wanted a piece of the toilet monster?"

Sam got up and left Dean with the bill.

-:-:-

Part of the trouble, Sam decided on the half-hour drive to Taft, was that Dean wasn't taking this seriously. Somehow, Dean thought he was bulletproof, and that other people, especially ones that got pecked to death by pet store birds, were just too stupid to save. And somewhere in the middle of that was messy territory that included abstract notions of family and duty and protect and serve. Dean was an emotionally-needy killing machine cut free from the iron control of their father and Sam suspected that while he was trying to figure it out, Dean was trying just as hard to ignore it.

Ignore it in whatever way presented itself — aimless sex, backseat sex, toilet sex. Sex was probably better than alcohol, their father's weapon of choice. The oil derricks sped past the window, a blur of never-ceasing toil, large ungainly birds pulling worms from the ground. But that was too close to tentacles. Sam was willing to bet that Dean didn't know squat about nineteenth century Japanese erotic shunga woodcuts, but damn it if those stupid Stanford art history classes combined with one or two forays into anime festivals hadn't made a lasting impression on Sam. He slouched further down into the seat, wondering if he was, however improbably, jealous.

That wasn't really the worst of it.

"You know what's playing tonight?" he asked into the road silence, Dean's one hand steering at 1 o'clock, other elbow resting on the open window, rhythm of the rolling wheels and touch of moving air like a third person in the car.

Dean turned, looked at him. Sam had to raise his voice over the wind.

"Tonight? Movie?"

Dean rolled up the window most of the way, turned down the scratching tuneless warbles of the erratic radio. "Some Spanish shit, I think. Don't worry. We'll get this cleared up by then."

They pulled up to what Sam would call a suburban mansion. Dean double-checked the address, then shrugged. "Ana married up, didn't she? If she'd stuck with Lucky, she'd probably be living in his mother's basement. In Bolivia."

Ana Cortés hadn't picked up the phone when Sam had called, there'd just been her voice in both English and Spanish instructing them to record their name and number, and Sam hadn't left a message in either language. Now, he wondered if he should have, constructed some story about their visit.

"No point," Dean said as they got out the car, Sam musing aloud. "She'll either tell us or she won't. She knows what a nutbar Lucky was. She'll probably want to help."

The door opened with a waft of air conditioned cool that tightened the skin on Sam's face, made him want to push past her into the room, just to enjoy the sensation. That was the first thing he noticed, then Ana Cortés, in a white tank top, dark hair looped on top of her head, brown eyes seriously considering them both, veiled behind a thicket of lashes. At least ten years their senior, trotting spectacularly toward her forties, everything intact.

"Yes?" she asked, glance darting, but not suspicious. She should be suspicious, Sam thought.

"Dean Winchester. My brother, Sam," Dean said, and Sam didn't have to look to recognize the pleased surprise Dean was experiencing, because he felt it himself.

"Yes?" she asked again, her brows creeping up a little, ruffling the skin of her forehead. She wore a lot of silver, which comforted Sam. He trusted women who wore silver, had been taught to, mostly by bitter experience. Didn't make them nice, precisely, but it did cut back on the occurrence of demon lovers.

"We need to talk to you about Lucio Jorge." Trust Dean to be blunt. At least he sounds apologetic.

"Lucky?" Ana said, and opened the door wider, like this was a good thing, strangers arriving at her door wanting to grill her about her suicidal ex-boyfriend. "Sure."

They came in, and Sam hoped that Dean was at least as wary as he was, but he doubted it. Dean bounced a little on his feet, accepted the invitation for a drink on the back deck, and they settled out under a sun umbrella next to a sparkling blue swimming pool, a couple of mojitos in their hands and it wasn't even noon.

"So, you've been married for -" Sam said, and the mint and rum and lime might as well have been water because damn, this was a fine sight better than warm Coke and popcorn, which had been the steady diet for the past few days, that and M&Ms.

"Married for seven years, divorced for one." Ana supplied. Her profile was almost Greek, Sam thought, severe when in thought, lit up when in conversation. She stopped looking at the pool, swiveled her glance to them. "My ex-husband bought into the American dream hook, line and sinker. All he cared about was money and women."

"Not movies?" Dean asked, continuing the campaign of tact.

Ana smiled slowly, stared at Dean in such a way that Sam had to take another sip of his drink. It went down fast. "Not movies. Lucky was…"

"Unstable?" Sam interjected, hoping that she'd look at him the same way.

Not a chance. "Fun. Lucky was a lot of fun." She noticed his drink. "Another?" And Dean said, 'sure,' and that was that.

While she was in the kitchen, a curtain blowing out from the open sliding doors, Sam turned to his brother, his voice a low whisper. "Dean!"

"What? You're not thirsty?"

"Business." With one hand. "Pleasure." With the other. Held apart by about a foot, two words that ought to straighten him out. But given the last couple of days, it was a faint hope.

Dean shrugged. "Business, pleasure. Same-same."

Time for the big guns. "It's not just some Spanish shit playing tonight, you idiot. It's Y Tu Mama Tambien."

Dean wouldn't have heard of this one, Sam was pretty sure, even though he might even like it, up to a certain point.

Dean's brows worked: Don't know, don't care, fine tell me.

"Mexican film. About two young guys on a road trip with an older woman."

"They have hot sex?" was the immediate question, the immediate interest, but Sam had anticipated this, so he didn't roll his eyes.

"Oh yeah," Sam said, but he hoped Dean picked up the note of warning.

Regardless, a lewd grin — the only kind Dean seemed capable of this weekend — crossed his face. "Sounds like my kind of movie." He sneaked a look at Sam. "Was it a threesome? That's what's got you worried? 'Cause, you know, if it came to that -"

Sam really wasn't ready to talk to Dean about threesomes.

"It didn't end well for the two guys," was all Sam was going to say about it. "Didn't end well for their friendship. They never spoke again, after." Dean could damn well see the movie if he wanted to know the ending. "We want to end this before it gets to that, believe me." Too much tequila and a beach hut, and the three together, and then just the two boys together, waking up and not being able to look at each other.

Then Ana was back, all gleaming smile, tray laden with a glass jug and mint leaves and it was hot, dammit. Dean looked disappointedly at Sam, details of threesomes having to wait. The heat was suffocating.

"So, Lucky. He's not really gone, you know." Dean took the glass from her hand, and she sat down close to him on the same lounger and Sam was left to pour his own mojito. "He's been haunting the Melodrama."

Ana stopped mid-movement. "Really?" she sounded surprised, not what Sam was hoping for.

"You've never…seen him?" Sam asked, and she turned to him, the white she was wearing almost blinding. It sounded like such a stupid question, when put like that.

"You mean…?" Her nails where manicured, and every finger was mounted with silver and turquoise, luck and protection and power.

"He's never appeared to you, since he died." Somehow, Dean made it sound more plausible, damn him.

Ana shook her head. "Nope. He got really, really intense at the end. I should have stuck with him, though. I wouldn't have had all this," and she gestured to the pool deck, the palm trees, neighbors nowhere to be seen through an orange grove, "but Lucky was faithful. I'll give him that."

Somehow, the suggestion of a swim was made. Maybe it was the three — no, four, hard to keep count — mojitos that influenced Sam, or maybe it was Dean's lazy smile suggesting anything was possible, didn't they make their own rules, but Sam was the first to peel his shirt off. Ana made it possible by finding some swimming trunks of her ex-husband's, though Dean said he didn't need them.

The water was warm, like liquid gold, sun slanting now, and for a minute Sam couldn't remember why it had seemed so damn important to be anywhere, doing anything. The water caressed him head to toe, washed away all the dirt and the worry and the grief. After a long time, he crawled out of the pool and lay on one of the towels that Ana had brought out for them, listened vaguely to the sounds of water splashing and the rumble of Dean's voice, and the occasional burble of Ana's laughter. He fell asleep.

He couldn't say what woke him, but it was a lack, not a presence; the sun had moved away from the patio area and was now lighting up the oranges like Christmas decorations. The sound of birds, and the buzz of a cicada, the far-off noise of children playing in some neighbor's backyard, but nothing closer than that. He came up on both elbows, shook his head slightly, blurred by the rum and the heat and the stillness of a summer afternoon spent in lazy luxury.

He was alone, though. Two towels were crumpled suggestively on the far side of the pool, clothes strewn in a pile and Sam knew that he should be able to recall what had happened here but that's not what he was thinking about at all. Where's Dean? A question repeated so often as to be meaningless. Truly empty, because Sam knew where Dean was, it was only par for the course, was what always happened when Dean was operating in this particular theater of war. To the winner goes the spoils, but Ana Cortés was too fine to be thought of as anyone's spoil and Sam stood, scooped an ice cube out from the jug and placed it in his mouth, letting the freeze coat his throat before shattering it with his teeth and swallowing the shards.

Turning, he saw Ana regarding him from another doorway — the house curled around the pool in a U-shape — and Sam pushed his hand through hair stiff with pool chemicals. He didn't say anything for a moment, watched her take two steps down from whatever room that door led to — the bedroom of course the bedroom — and cross the garden in bare feet, padding toward him sinuous as a…but he wasn't going to finish that thought, either. Ana was right in front of him, wore a robe, the kind you put on hastily when you weren't wearing anything underneath, came up to mid-chest and she slipped a hand in his, warm against the ice cube's chill.

"Hey," she whispered and although it hadn't been his intention, Sam kissed her, and suddenly that wasn't the only thing he planned on doing. If only they'd been in the car, it would be sweeter, partly because it was Dean's car, party because Sam wanted to, and partly because he was drunk on mint and sun and the weirdness of the weekend, but mostly because he could and she wanted him and he wasn't his damn brother.

He untied the sash around her waist, slipped her white cotton robe to the poolside, so close the end of the belt dropped into the water. Her tongue warmed his mouth, counterpoint to the ice that had come so recently before, and Sam just didn't care, he wanted to screw the daylights out of her in the backseat and wear a straw cowboy hat while he did it.

"Wait," he said and it came out so strangled he barely recognized his own voice. He drew her down, both on their knees, and the cement was warm. "Wait." He took her hand from the back of his neck, and she was naked except for white briefs that sat on her hips like a question mark. "Where's Dean?" He couldn't believe he was asking it, but he was.

She arched an eyebrow, dark eyes flicking to the side. "Inside." She paused, just enough. "You want me to - " And yes, and yes and —

"No," he stammered, caught. "Yes. No!" and suddenly, it was the movie scene he was thinking of — old car, straw hat, sex in the backseat — not the pool, and it wasn't a slow tequila-fueled dance in a beachside hut, not yet, but it was going there fast. It was a movie. It was only a movie. "Shit," he tried breathing because he thought it would help. Slowly, he got up from his knees, totally aroused and trying to counsel himself otherwise, but it was futile. Self-control. He was famous for it. A little self control, Sam.

Are you sure? she said, but in Spanish and although Sam knew a lot of Spanish, it wasn't that he understood her words, or the sad fleeting expression on her face, but it was because below her face in floating white letters, the words appeared and then faded. "Qué?" And What? appeared under her chin. A subtitle.

"Oh my God," Sam groaned. At least he was speaking English. He looked down at his chest, but saw nothing. At least he didn't seem to have subtitles. He shook his head again, unwilling to get snared in Lucky's trap. Again. He pulled Ana to her feet, gave her the robe, gestured for her to cover up. Goddamn ghosts and their unfinished business. "Stay here. I'm going to get Dean."

"Dean?" she asked as the word Who? appeared and disappeared. Great. She wasn't being subtitled literally. This should be fun.

Sam crossed the pool deck, picking up Dean's clothes as he went, and pushed aside the curtains to the bedroom. Dean lay face down, naked as hairless Chihuahua, asleep. The air conditioning wasn't as strong here, or the open door had nullified it, and the room was limp with heat. Dean looked quite comfortable, actually. Sam wiped his face, turned back to the open doorway, could see Ana staring at him, a wistful look on her face, curious.

"Dean," Sam said. "Dean, wake up!"

Dean stirred and the slack sheets moved as he moved, a study in flow and ebb. Stop it, Sam warned himself, mesmerized by the movement. Get hold of yourself. He said his brother's name one more time and Dean's head came up and he rolled over, grabbing sheets as he did so. "Qué?" he said, voice whispery, but his subtitles read, Where am I?

Great.

"Dean, we gotta figure out this Lucky thing, okay? Get dressed," and tossed him his clothes. He went outside, needing privacy more than Dean did, but Ana was right there, and she asked if he wanted another drink, but her subtitles read something completely different and Sam once again had to remind himself that this was just a powerful ghost.

Dean came out behind him, said something to Ana that Sam didn't quite catch, but he could read perfectly fine, and he reddened up to his ears.

"Goddamn Lucky," he said feelingly, under his breath. "Dean? Dean!" and Dean disengaged from Ana long enough to look at Sam.

C'mon, Sam, his subtitles said. Want a swim? But a swim had been in the movie too and Sam was at an advantage because he'd seen Y Tu Mama Tambien, knew how the swim turned out — with hurt feelings and recriminations.

"Dean, listen to yourself."

"Por qué?" Dean asked, streamed away in Spanish for a few sentences before catching himself, a look of perplexed horror finally crossing his face. What the fuck? In white, under his stunned expression.

"I know," Sam sighed. "It's Lucky again, and believe me, we don't want to see this through to the end. Ana," and Ana looked back and forth between them, mystified. "Ana, what was Lucky's favorite movie?" because that's what he'd been watching and something within it had given him the strength or the conviction to jump from that balcony where rope and gravity met.

-:-:-

If he concentrated really, really hard, Dean could speak English, but it was like swimming upstream, through honey, and no kidding didn't that swimming pool look pretty damn inviting — and he bit the inside of his mouth, hard. Goddamned stupid ghost and its games. He was so flushed with heat and sex and addled with drink it was hard to concentrate on anything. Ana brushed against him and Dean thought he might pass out.

Sam was yammering away about something and Dean just didn't care, not with the pool and the girl and evening starting to fall like lights going down in a movie theater. Main attraction, no coming soon. It was all right here. The lowering sun was in Sam's eyes and he wasn't wearing a shirt, just some guy's shorts and it was too warm to be thinking about anything that didn't involve some kind of sensation whispering across skin.

"What?" he responded to Sam's hanging question. He'd said it out loud and he couldn't figure out which language he'd said it in. Didn't matter. "His favorite movie? We already know that. Alf told me. It's that Iggy Pop one."

Sam turned to him, caught orange and gold, and licked his lips. Looked as though he was going to explode. "Iggy Pop?" he repeated. "You mean, Velvet Goldmine?" and then he looked like he was going to give up, that it was all too much, that they were lost. Aw, Sam, Dean thought. Don't worry about it.

But they'd gotten it wrong, both Sam and Alf. It was a song, not a movie. "What the fuck's Velvet Goldmine? What the hell are you talking about? It's a song." But he was pretty sure he'd said that in Spanish, and it was all messed up.

-:-:-

If it was Velvet Goldmine, they were so screwed. Sam had only seen it once, late night tv when he couldn't sleep and Jessica could, glam rockers fucking each other, and faking on-stage murders. Jesus. Not a movie that Sam would have picked as Lucky's favorite, not by a long shot. It hadn't even opened when Lucky killed himself, how could it be his favorite?

"An Iggy Pop movie?" he tried to clarify, but Dean wasn't looking at him, he was looking at Ana.

Who said, "Lust for Life." Clearly, in both Spanish and in her English subtitle.

What I said, appeared under Dean, the words themselves muffled in Ana's neck.

Sam grabbed Dean's shoulder, pulled him away and Dean looked up questioningly. Smiling.

"Lust for Life?" Sam repeated, looking for affirmation.

Dean nodded, once. "Lust for Life." But in English, thank God. No subtitles. They were on to something.

Sam grinned. "Vincent van Gogh?"

Blank stare. "He's an actor?"

"No, no, no. About Van Gogh. With Kirk Douglas." He turned to Ana., and it was like finding the final piece of a jigsaw puzzle under the armchair. He knew the answer to his question before he asked it. "Please, Ana. Did Lucky…did Lucky send you something before he died?"

She was pale, and one hand hovered near her neck and Sam remembered what had happened to her character in Y Tu Mama Tambien and was suddenly sad. "Si," she whispered, but there was no subtitle. "I'll get it."

She disappeared into the house and Sam watched her with all kinds of regret. Dean came up beside him, stood silently for a moment, just waiting. On the job, finally, Sam could hope. Who am I to be wanting Dean to be on the job? Who am I to be wanting to be working like this? But they were ephemeral thoughts, wisps, and they left on the late-afternoon breeze, the same one that brought the scent of orange and chlorine.

Ana came back with a small box, one that might have contained a bigger piece of jewelry, a necklace or bracelet. Inside was something brown, curled like a magnolia petal or a slice of dried apple.

"That what I think it is?" Dean asked, professionally, not repulsed, simply checking.

"Lucky's ear?" Sam glanced at Ana, holding the box in her hand like a saint's reliquary, light as a pastry shell. After a moment, she nodded.

Dean was in charge, then. He knew what to do, like a veil had been drawn back and he got to be the bride, had been waiting for it all his life. Sam moved in his shadow, too stunned to feel anything but that soft awe that had been his for all his years. Following Dean's instructions, barked at a low volume because the feature would have started at the Melodrama by now, they salted the ear in Ana's vast kitchen, dripped a quantity of fondue fluid on it and torched it in the toaster over. It disintegrated into a fine black powder, which Ana sprinkled over the orange trees.

She cried the entire time.

For a long while afterward, they sat by the pool. Ana poured a generous measure of tequila into cut crystal tumblers meant for whiskey, and they said nothing. After the moon came up and it got cold, as if by tacit signal, Sam and Dean stood together and each in turn gave Ana a kiss.

In the car, Sam called the Melodrama, spoke with Alf, gave him the all-clear. By midnight they were on the road again, Buttonwillow falling behind them, the glow fading and failing and finally gone.

"So," Dean said, after many miles.

"Yeah," Sam replied, eyes out the window, night sky bright with stars, all the light they needed.

— 30 —

a/n: Kinda like riding a bike! It's been ages since I've written anything, so I was happy enough to (finally) cough this up, even if it ended up feeling somewhat anachronistic. Season One fic. Damn. Next up? I think I have Bear Hunt 3 on the way…for the uninitiated, that's Snuggle Bear, a Supernatural location map of Vancouver (Season Three locations), and the boys in a comic book adventure, god help us all.