Disclaimer: The Winchester boys don't belong to me. I wish they did but then I guess we all do. I just like to get them out to play from time to time. I always put them back safely.


It's been a long drive. You're not sure, but you think Sam's been asleep for the last 100 miles at least. There's a motel sign up on the left that you think says 'vacancies' so you pull over and park. Sam stirs and blinks once, twice, three times before looking around blearily. You look at him fondly and wish for the hundredth time that things had worked out differently for him. You? You're in this for the long run, have been since you were four years old, but Sammy...

So here you are, in the parking lot of another crummy motel in another crummy backwater town in the middle of nowhere and Sam's looking at you expectantly.

"I'll go get us a room," you say. "You can go find me some coffee." Honestly though, you'd rather have something stronger but it's going to be an early start in the morning, even though you could both do with some time out. Just a day or two. But restless spirits don't take vacations so you'll just have to plough on. Maybe when this one is dealt with there'll be time to see a few sights, have a little r 'n' r.

You pull yourself back from your thoughts. Sam's already unfolding his absurdly long legs and climbing out of the car and you think you ought to follow suit. The freezing night air hits you like a torrent of ice water and if you were considering sleeping the wind has blown those thoughts away like tissues in a hurricane.

By the time you've checked in – well actually Christopher Hinde has checked in – Sam is standing patiently by the side of the Impala gazing at the stars. He's got the bags out of the trunk but is otherwise empty handed. You suppose that even he has his limits when it comes to searching out caffeine at two in the morning. Maybe you'll get lucky and there'll be coffee in the room but looking at the tatty exterior of the motel you doubt it. You're used to this by now – haven't ever really known anything else. Except that time when you were nearly 13 and Dad decided to stay in one place for nearly a year. You smile every time you think of that long, hot summer when you and Sammy got to be real kids for a while.

You push open the door to room 112, not looking over your shoulder but knowing Sam is right behind you anyway. You flick the switch and close your eyes briefly against the harsh light. You move into the room, checking for dangers, checking where all possible exit and entry points are, just like it's been drummed into you until it became second nature. You'd bet your life that behind you Sam is doing the same thing. Once you're satisfied you'll be safe enough here, you turn around and fling your bag on the bed, staking your claim. Sam has already positioned himself on the edge of the coffee table, elbows on knees, head in hands. You can feel the exhaustion pulsing off him in waves and you know that the only thing you'll be doing for the next 6 hours is sleep. You collapse onto your bed and are surprised by the softness of the pillow – it might even be a real feather one but it's been so long since you felt one of those you could easily be mistaken.

"Go ahead, Sam." you say, waving in the general direction of the bathroom. Sam grunts in reply and you hear him shuffle off. Throwing your arm over your eyes you feel yourself drifting toward sleep.

When you open your eyes it's light outside. The wind has died down and you realise you never made it to the bathroom last night. You look over to Sam's bed only to realise he's already at the table by the window, tapping away on his laptop.

"Hey," he says, "wondered if you were gonna wake up today. I got coffee." He waves toward the bedside table between the two beds and you wonder how you missed that blissful aroma. You push yourself upright and take a deep breath.

"What time is it?" you ask.

"Nearly 10." Sam smiles at you. "I'd have woken you earlier but you sounded as though you were enjoying yourself." Actually he's not smiling, he's smirking. You look for something to throw at him but come up with nothing. You decide to rise above it and hide yourself in your coffee. Change the subject.

"What've you got?"

Sam turns back to the computer. He knows he's won this round. "Not much yet. Two suicides in the last three weeks. Both young men in their mid twenties. No apparent links to each other although they did look alike."

"Could actually be suicides y'know, Sam. It does happen." You get up. The call of nature is getting stronger. And you've driven over three hundred miles and slept in the same clothes. It's getting tacky.

"Could be," Sam agrees, "except that they committed suicide doing something they were terrified of." He's piqued your interest now but you've really got to take care of business. You don't realise you're hopping from foot to foot till Sam looks at you and grins.

"Go," he says, "before you have an accident." And you don't need to be told twice.

Twenty minutes later and you're ready to hit the road. Sam has a list of people to talk to and places to visit. Damn, but he's good at research. You grab a bite to eat on the way out to Melinda Sewell's place. Her boyfriend, Martin Davenport, topped himself just last week. Jumped off a two hundred foot cliff into a quarry. Interesting choice for someone suffering from a fear of heights. Sam doesn't believe he'd have gotten within 10 feet of the cliff edge without freaking out, let alone near enough to throw himself over.

Melinda turns out to be a frumpy, middle aged housewife and you wonder how she ended up with a toyboy. You leave the talking to Sam because he's so much better with grieving women. It's something to do with empathy you think, but by the time she's let you in her house she's putty in his hands. As you're leaving you get the horrible feeling that she's going to try to hug Sam. Maybe that's how she got Martin you muse – just hugged him once and never let go. She doesn't though. Or maybe Sam just manages to fend her off without her noticing what he's doing. Either way you're back in the car and heading out to the next victim's address, waiting for Sam to recap Melinda's story for you. He always does that. Whether he does it for him or you doesn't really matter, he just does.

"So, Martin was just your average Joe. Went to work in the morning, came home at night, liked a few beers, took Melinda out for dinner once in a while and went bowling once a week at the alley a few towns over. Nothing to set him apart from anyone else in this town."

Doesn't sound to you like Martin was going to light any fires anytime soon. "Was he suicidal?" you ask, just to be sure.

"No, far from it. They were ecstatically happy. Melinda isn't sure but she thinks he was going to propose this weekend." You just raise your eyebrows in question. Sam always knows what you're going to ask so sometimes you just do the eyebrow thing at him. "She found a receipt from the jeweller's store down by the river. It's her birthday on Sunday." He trails off as if it's the most logical explanation in the world. You struggle to get your head around it.

"But she's like 40 at least." You don't understand how the age gap could possibly work. Sam just looks at you as if you've grown two heads.

"There's nothing wrong with older women, Dean. Maybe if you stuck around long enough to actually get to know someone…." He trails off. You scratch your head, trying to think of the last time you made a connection with a woman other than the physical one.

By the time you reach your next destination you're still struggling to find a meaningful relationship in your life with a woman other than your mother. Sam's starting to look uneasy with the silence so you switch your attention back to the matter at hand.

Christine Rosenberg couldn't be more different to Melinda if she tried. She's in her mid twenties, a drop dead gorgeous, natural redhead with legs that go on forever and you wouldn't mind handling this one on your own. You have your own special brand of sympathy you pull out for occasions like these. You almost suggest that Sam take off, but you can see out of the corner of your eye that he's way ahead of you on this one. He's already got that look on his face. The one that says 'don't even think it'. You resign yourself to the fact that you won't be flying solo with Miss Rosenberg any time soon.

As soon as you ask about her recently dearly departed, her face dissolves into the perfection of grief, her beautiful green eyes reddening, tears flowing freely down her face.

"Callum was a saint," she sobs, pouring her heart into every word. "There's no reason on earth that he would kill himself." She's so into telling you how wonderful her fiancé was that she doesn't even question your credentials. She just wants to share those last few moments. You wonder how often her friends have had to hear this.

"I'm so sorry to bring all this up again Miss Rosenberg," Sam begins, "I know how painful this must be." And he does. Every time you find yourself in these situations you marvel at how well your brother copes with his own memories. You worry that one day it will all be too much for him. But not today, obviously. One day the dam may well burst but you're ready for that – hell, you're waiting for that.

Christine must sense some sort of kinship with Sam because she's looking at him with hope in her eyes now. What she's expecting him to do for her, you have no idea, but she's reaching out to him physically now. Her hand is fluttering around in the air, as though she wants to touch Sam but can't quite bring herself to take that final step. Her tears seem to be drying up as well now you come to think about it. Sam halts her flailing hand gently with his own and you raise your eyebrows at him quizzically. You're sure he knows what he's doing but sometimes…

"Can you tell us what happened that day please? If it's not too hard for you." He's softened his voice. She looks at their joined hands and smiles faintly, obviously lost in a memory.

"They said he killed himself," she tells you, "but there's no way he would have done that." She trails off with a shudder. Suddenly she turns her eyes on you as if you have all the answers. "Why would he? He hated water, he was terrified of it. Why would he drive his car into the river?!" She turns back to Sam and whispers "Why would he do that?" And neither of you have any answers.

She pulls her hand away from Sam and you notice the engagement ring she wears. It's big and sparkly. You're no expert but it looks pretty new to you. You have to ask, "How long had you been engaged?"

She sees where your question came from and gazes at the ring herself. "It's beautiful, isn't it? We bought it together, at Jaspers, three weeks ago." She looks at Sam. "I can't bring myself to take it off. It's like, if I keep it on then it doesn't seem so real, so final. You know?" You see Sam nodding in agreement and you wonder what he still has of Jessica's that keeps her real to him.

Another ten minutes and you're done with Christine. Sam leaves his number with her, just in case she needs to contact him, and you both head back to the Impala. You haven't really learned anything from her that you didn't already know from the newspapers. Except the fact they'd just got engaged – just like Melinda and Martin. Sliding into the driver's seat you look across at Sam.

"So," you start, "another recent engagement. That strike you as a bit too much of a coincidence?"

Sam's got that thoughtful look on his face. Yeah, he's seen the connection too and you'd bet that he's sifting through all that information in his head to see if he can find anything else he might have missed. You know the instant he finds it – his face has always been an open book to you. You can almost see the bulb above his head lighting up.

"Jaspers." He states.

"Okay, random."

"It was the jewellery store where Christine and Callum got her ring. It's down by the river." He looks at you as if that ought to mean something to you. It doesn't. Sam waits patiently for you to catch up with him and when he realizes he's going to be waiting awhile he lets out a little huff of exasperation. "Melinda's receipt came from the store by the river…"

Now you see what he's getting at. Not only were both couples recently engaged, they both frequented the same jeweller. You think it's time for some more research so you suggest heading back to the motel.

Night falls quicker than you realized. Sam's been stuck at that damn computer all afternoon and you need to get out. You've never been one for sitting around twiddling your thumbs. You're starting to fidget and Sam's going to get annoyed in a minute. You noticed a bar a couple of streets away and you wonder if you can get Sam out for a while. You could do with spending money – things have been a little tight recently – and you don't really want to go alone tonight. It's a small community and if things go south you'll want the backup.

"Hey Sam?" It's worth a try. Sam looks up at you distractedly.

"What?"

"Wanna hit town for a while? We could do with some cash."

Sam cocks his head to one side and studies you. It always makes you nervous when he looks at you like that, like you're some sort of bug on a microscope. Just when you think he's about to tell you where to go, he sighs and closes the laptop.

"I assume you have some place in mind." he states. You grin broadly at him.

"Sammy. When have I ever not known the best hangout in town?" You hold your hand up to ward off any retort he may have, because you both know he has plenty to choose from. You've already got your jacket on, methodically checking your pockets, gun tucked in your waistband, knife strapped to your ankle, wallet safely in your inside pocket. Sam heaves himself out of the chair he's been sitting in all afternoon, raising his arms high above his head, releasing the kinks in his spine and casts his eyes around the room looking for his own jacket and accessories. You're way ahead of him and waiting at the door, twirling your keys around your finger.

Finally Sam's good to go. The drive is short and silent. Neither of you have anything to say, both of you lost in your own quiet contemplation of the world. Every so often you glance in Sam's direction and every time he's sitting gazing out of the window. Sometimes you'd love to know what's going on inside his head.

The atmosphere inside the bar is stifling and thrilling . There are about two hundred people crammed into a space made for half that. Sam's face falls. You know he doesn't really want to be here so you get him a beer to appease him, to let him know you're grateful he's here.

It looks like there'll be easy pickings here. The pool table is over in the corner, shrouded in darkness as they always are in these places. The crowd gathered round it doesn't worry you. You nudge Sam in the arm and nod in the direction you're taking. It's too loud in here to talk without shouting and it's a little early in the evening for that. He raises his eyebrows and rolls his eyes as he acknowledges your intentions.

It doesn't take long for you to find a mark. A small man, round, open, honest face. You almost feel bad about taking him for $300 but needs must. When the game is finished, you think he still doesn't realize he's been taken for a ride.

As you push your way through the crowd back to Sam you can see that he's in deep conversation with the bartender. You can't help but grin. Maybe Sammy's hooked up for the night. It would do him good, he's been way too uptight recently.

Sidling up to him, you prod him surreptitiously in the back to announce your presence. You half expect him to ignore you or tell you to leave him the hell alone but he's always one for surprises. He turns to you with a wry smile.

"This is my brother – the one I was telling you about." He turns back to the bar and your eyes flit from him to the girl currently wiping down glasses with a dirty towel. The girl barely glances up to look at you and you feel almost offended that she doesn't take more of an interest in you.

"I still don't see why it's so important." She's clearly addressing Sam but your interest has been piqued.

"It would really help us ..." Sam trails off, expecting her to fall for his boyish charm. It nearly always works too. It looks like tonight is going to be no exception. The girl puts down her cloth and the glass she's been worrying. She calls to the guy at the other end of the bar that she's taking her break and leads you and Sam to a booth by the door.

She slides into the corner and, as if out of nowhere, three beers appear on the table. Sam just looks smug and he settles himself opposite her, leaving you no option other than to perch at the end of the table. You don't really mind because it gives you easy access to the rest of the bar, but you make a show of being put out nevertheless. Sam wouldn't expect anything less.

"So, Marnie, please just tell us what you heard." Sam could charm the back legs off a donkey with those eyes and you know that Marnie is falling for it. Her face, originally sharp and harsh, has softened and, as she lifts her beer, she smiles at your brother invitingly. You wonder if you'll be the one heading back to the motel alone tonight.

"I used to work down at Jaspers, back in the days of old Mr Durrant. He was a real sweetie, didn't mind if I was late or if my hair was too bright. Real gem of a guy. When he died though, the shop passed on to his son. That guy couldn't organize his way out of a paper bag and the shop went downhill. Of course, he blamed it all on me. He spent most of his time trying to get into my pants and when I was having any of it he found the first excuse he could to get rid of me. He badmouthed me all over town till the only job I could get was here." She twirls her beer around in the glass and raises her eyes flirtatiously at Sammy. "Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the work but a girl has ambitions, y'know?"

It's not really a question and you're wondering where, if anywhere, this is going. You think that Marnie is lucky to have a job at all looking at the amount of make up painted on her face. You suppose underneath it all she might be considered attractive, if not beautiful, but there doesn't seem to be an awful lot going on upstairs. You know for a fact that Sam is way out of her league but, what the hell, the boy has needs so, whatever. Sam nods at her encouragingly and looks at you. She throws you a dirty look as if you're intruding.

"Anyway, seems I'm not the only he did it to."

"Did what?" You don't really care but you feel the need to assert yourself in this conversation. She looks at you as if you just crawled out from under a rock and you respond in typical Dean Winchester style – you give her the biggest, brightest smile you can muster.

"Badmouthed." You hear the underlying 'd'uh' in her voice but choose to ignore it for the minute. You can tell that you and she are never going to get along. "Davey badmouths everyone he can't get on with and, trust me, that's pretty much everyone who's ever worked for him." Her eyes are back on Sam so you sit back and let him run with this one.

"Who else did he do this to?" Sam asks. He's sitting forward slightly, looking Marnie straight in the eye.

"Charlie." You gotta love those one word answers. She's sits back as if that's solved all your problems.

"Charlie?"

"Charlie Harrison. He worked down at Jaspers for about three months before I got fired. Nice guy. Terrible what happened to him…" She trails off, lost in thought. Sam looks at you as if she's imparted some dreadfully significant information but you don't see it and just shrug at him.

"So, Marnie, what exactly did happen to Charlie?" You're getting bored of this conversation, bored of Marnie but Sam thinks this is important so you'll go with it for a bit longer. She can make doe eyes at your brother on her own time, you have more pressing things to be getting on with.

She leans across the table toward Sam, revealing her more of her cleavage than you'd ever want to see. Sam averts his eyes and you think it's cute how his cheeks seem a little more flushed than they were a second ago.

"He killed himself," she whispers, conspiratorially, "right before his wedding. Turns out his fiancée came by the store to get her wedding ring sized and Davey, being Davey, laid it on real thick with her and she fell for it. Hook, line and sinker. Charlie found them in the back office. Never got over it."

"How did he die, Marnie?" Sam asks her, carefully keeping his eyes on her face, never looking lower than her nose.

"He gassed himself in his car. Shut himself in the garage, locked the car, turned on the engine and that was that." Marnie sits back, satisfied with her storytelling abilities. "And d'you know the funniest thing about that?" If she's waiting for an answer she's going to be there a long time. She looks from Sam to you and back again.

"Charlie Harrison was claustrophobic."

Sam looks at you as if that's a significant fact. You look back at him, bemused. You're starting to see the dots but you think Sam's already joining them together. You turn your dazzling smile on Marnie again.

"Thank you, Marnie, you've been a great help." You rise from the booth and look expectantly at Sam. He smiles a winning smile as he slides along the bench to where you're standing. You feel a little sorry for the girl when she realizes that Sam's not staying. You throw her a bone.

"If you think of anything else, we'll be in town for a while." You have to hide a smirk as Sam hustles you out of the bar.

"So," Sam starts, as the Impala purrs to life, and you know he's already got a theory. "I'm thinking that Charlie was the start of all this." You're inclined to agree with him, for now anyway, but you're still hazy on some of the details.

"But is he our first victim or our ghost?" you wonder.

Sam sighs and shrugs his shoulders. It's been a long day and you're both more than ready to hit the sack.

"Could be either," he admits and you can tell it's bugging him. You know more research is on the cards but it'll have to wait till morning.

The parking lot is virtually deserted and, after a cursory check, you're happy. As you cross the short distance from the car to your room though, a shiver makes its way down your spine. You stop so abruptly that Sam careens straight into you, almost causing you to lose your balance.

"What?" he demands, as you spin round. You're on high alert but other than the shadows cast by the moonlight, there's nothing to be seen. You were raised better than that, though. You know things lurk in the shadows, things that are undetectable by the human eye. Your hand is at the small of your back, fingers curling comfortably round the butt of the gun resting there. Sam's cottoned on and followed suit. But even with two pairs of eyes there's nothing to be seen. Maybe you're just overtired. Sam is right by your side and you feel him relax.

"There's nothing out there, dude," he says and despite the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, you're forced to agree with him.

You double check the salt lines before you fall into bed anyway.

Morning brings sunshine and the smell of fresh coffee. Sam's been up, probably for hours, if he slept at all. These days you've stopped counting how many nightmares he has each night. You wish you could help him but until he's ready to let you in, there's nothing you can do. He knows you're there for him but some things even you won't push.

You grunt and roll over on your side. The foreboding you felt last night is still hanging on to the edges of your mind but the familiarity of Sam sitting at the window, laptop open, tapping away, dulls any worry to a minor irritation. You reach over to the nightstand to grab your coffee which Sam has left by the bedside, as always. He knows you don't really function till you've had at least two cups. It's lukewarm but it's better than nothing and it's a supersize container so that should tide you through till you hit a diner later on today.

Sam realizes you're back in the land of the living and launches straight into what he's been up to all night. As you watch him expounding on his theory you get a warm, fuzzy feeling, a totally un-Dean like feeling. He's excited about what he's found and he wants to share it with you like a preschooler showing Mom his first story. Sometimes, when it's like this, you can almost forget your circumstances, forget that Dad is missing, that Sammy has lost so much, that you're desperately lonely despite appearances. This is living in the moment.

"Charlie Harrison lived over on Dover Street. It's a mostly middle class area. His parents moved here from Ohio when Charlie was 12, he went through the local schools, an average student. Graduated six years ago and went straight into the family business. His father died four years later and Charlie didn't have the ability or the wish to keep the business afloat. It went under after about six months. Which is when Charlie ended up at Jaspers."

You settle yourself back, savouring the rich aroma of the caffeine and listening intently to Sam's spiel. You know that he could summarise it for you in about half the time you both know he's actually going to take but he's enjoying this. He's always been a bit of a show off. You realise your attention has drifted as Sam huffs and raises an eyebrow at you. It's a fairly safe assumption he's just asked you a question and you wonder what you should answer that won't piss him off too much. But it doesn't matter – he's caught you anyway and just carries on as if nothing had happened. It can't have been that important.

"He met his fiancée, Alice McLeod, at about the same time. Everyone thought they were the perfect couple and the engagement didn't come as a surprise to anyone. And then he took her down to Jaspers to buy and ring. According to his mother that's when the relationship took a nosedive."

"I'm guessing that's when she met our man Davey." You need to show Sam you are listening. The truth is you've been listening so hard your coffee is stone cold and undrinkable. Sam nods and slams the laptop closed. He looks you in the eye.

"I think it's time to pay a visit to Jaspers."

Breakfast is a hurried affair. The diner is small and crowded and you recognise many of the patrons from the bar last night. In the back of your mind you hope you don't run into your mark from the pool table. You still feel a little bad about that and that's uncharacteristic of you. Somehow that worries you even more. You've not quite been able to shake the feeling that someone, or something, is watching you. Even though you were extra vigilant this morning and you know you're prepared for anything, you're unsettled for no apparent reason. Sam seems to be blissfully unaware of this and you'd like to keep it that way. For all you know you just had a bad pint last night.

Sam takes even less time than you to finish off his pancakes and coffee. The waitress eyes you hopefully and at another time you might be interested. As soon as Sam slams down his empty cup, you're up out of the booth, throwing down enough bills to cover the cost of breakfast. Sam watches you curiously.

"You're in a hurry," he observes wryly. You shrug. Yeah, it might seem that way to Sam but for some reason you suddenly just have to get out of that diner. Maybe it was the way the old guy in the corner kept staring at you or maybe you're just overreacting but something was off in that diner and you're happy to be out of there.

It turns out that Jaspers is an average jewellery store. There's plenty of stock to attract the lower end of the spending scale and just enough to keep the discerning clients interested. You haven't quite got your story worked out when Sam walks into the store with a goofy smile on his face. You really hope he knows what he doing because you so don't want to walk out of there betrothed to your own brother. The way he turns and beckons you to follow him doesn't bode well for you. You glare at him and turn to browse the display cabinets.

Out of the corner of your eye you see a man approach Sam with a fake smile plastered on his face. You find it interesting how he makes a beeline for your brother and not you. He obviously thinks Sam is the big spender. You shuffle your way over towards them so you're in hearing distance. If Sam is going to spin a story involving you then you need to know what it is.

"Can I help you, sir?" he practically oozes over Sam and you only just suppress a grin as you notice Sam take an involuntary step back. He's wearing a name tag that proclaims him to be David Durrant, the one and only Davey you've heard so much about.

"Well, you see," Sam stutters convincingly, casting a glance at you over his shoulder. You freeze at the look in his eyes. He isn't? He wouldn't? Oh god, you think he probably is. "We're looking for something special. Something unique and … personal." That's it. It's official. You're going to kill him as soon as you get out of here.

Davey has turned his look on you now. You give him a sheepish grin while shooting daggers at your brother. He's giving you a fairly obvious once over and, what the hell? He's smirking at you. He's making no effort at hiding what he's thinking. He's obviously decided that Sam can do better than you and in some warped way you find this highly offensive.

"Has Sir thought about what he'd like?" He's turned his attention back to Sam. You really think you should listen to this, after all it's your supposed lovelife they're discussing, but you catch a glimpse of movement behind the counter and suddenly you've got more pressing matters to deal with. You think you can see dark eyes watching you and it's unnerved you, This is what you felt back at the parking lot last night and again briefly this morning. You move round to Sam's side, trying to see further inside the backroom and you don't even realise your hand is making its way to your gun until you feel Sam's hand wrap around your wrist. They're both looking at you, one with cleverly disguise concern, the other with open disdain.

"I'm sorry, Dean. I didn't mean to be so long." Sam's covering for you. He turns back to Davey who turns his smile back on like a light switch. "I think we'll have to come back later. Dean's not been too well recently." He moves his hand from your wrist until it rests on your shoulder, for all the world a lover's touch. You try hard not to glare at him until you're on your own. You turn on your heel and stalk out of the shop. You hear Sam apologising to Davey for your behaviour but you can't bring yourself to care.

You're back in the Impala with the music on, hard and loud, before Sam's even through the shop door. He eases himself into the passenger and you can feel the tension in him.

"What the hell was that, Sam?" you demand. "You wanna give me a heads up next time you pull a stunt like that." Now you've had time to think about it, you're pissed. Pissed at Sam for coming up with that story and, perversely, pissed at Davey for displaying such a predatory attitude. Sam just looks at you. You think he might be about to apologise but he doesn't.

"Think about it, Dean. All our victims had just got engaged and all of them got their rings from Jaspers."

"And…"

"And we don't know anyone here to get engaged to."

"Sam." Okay, so that came out as a bit of a whine. "Couldn't we have done it another way?"

"I don't think so, Dean. Whatever is attracting this ghost to it's victims, it's got something to do with that store. And so far all the victims have been recently engaged couples. Look, I know this isn't the way you want to do this and neither would I, but I don't see another option. Do you?" he pauses, whether he's looking for your approval or waiting for it to sink in, you're not sure. Either way you have to admit he does have a point, however much you hate it.

"So, what do we do next?" you enquire. "We still don't know who our ghost is. We're assuming it's Charlie, but we don't know for sure. Unless you've got something else tucked up your sleeve there, Sammyboy." You know you're being snarky but after the morning you've just had, you really can't bring yourself to care that much.

Sam decides to change the subject altogether. "What did you see in there?"

You're not sure now. When you were in there you were convinced that those eyes belonged to something supernatural, but now, out here in the daylight, you're not so sure. Maybe you're a bit hyped up and the eyes you saw were merely those of a lowly assistant or, heaven forbid, an accountant stuck in the back office. But the feeling was there and you've learnt from bitter experience not to ignore those feelings.

"Eyes." You turn your gaze to the road stretching out in front of you. You notice for the first time that the trees are just starting to turn and that fall is on its way. You also notice that Sam isn't laughing at you. He's learnt to trust your instincts too. "I saw eyes, Sam."

"Huh," he says, with an air of finality. "Eyes." And that, you guess, is the end of the conversation.

You're not really sure where to go from here. Sam has spun his freaky tale and you still don't know who your ghost is. If Sam's right, and he normally is, the spirit will find you now. You think a bar sounds good right about now but Sam, always looking out for you, decides a diner is a better bet. You acquiesce graciously, the idea of hot, strong caffeine appealing to you just as much.


tbc