Fork in the Road
Summary: A ghost is killing golfers, forcing Sam and Dean to pose as caddies... Post It's a Terrible Life
Disclaimer: All Kripke's, not mine.
The idea here has been percolating for a while, but I blame this story entirely on those pictures of Jensen in his golfing outfit.
"There has to be an easier way," Dean said.
"We already discussed this," Sam replied patiently.
"No, we did not discuss this," his brother shot back, his hand gesturing up and down to his clothes.
They were wearing the club-required caddy outfit which was an oversized white coverall. Sam didn't like the outfit any better than Dean, but so far his brother was managing to complain enough for both of them.
"Dean," Sam said, and nearly winced. Just that one word had come out sounding patronizing even to him. "Oaklawn is a very old school country club. All of the caddies have to wear the coverall."
"This is the 21st century!" Dean griped and Sam tried not to grin. They both knew Dean wasn't going to win on this. He just wanted to bitch about it for a while, and Sam was suffering through it. "I mean it's degrading. Who makes their employees run around in 95 degree weather in these monkey suits just to watch some old guy wander around the yard and hit a little ball from here to there!"
"Apparently Oaklawn," Sam answered dryly.
Dean just gritted his teeth. "Well, remind me to burn these before we leave. Every last one of these freakin' outfits. Might be more help to society than taking care of whatever's killing the golfers."
Sam just rolled his eyes. "Cause they won't just order more of them."
"Whatever. The caddies will still have a few days of freedom," his brother said, like that settled the matter.
"Great, Dean. The Boston Tea Party and jumpsuits. Fight the oppression."
"I mean who even has a caddy anymore! That's why they invented golf carts. So the fat businessmen don't have to carry their clubs around." Dean fidgeted, squirming inside the overlarge white garment. "I can't decide if this thing feels more like a prison outfit or I'm regressing and somebody put me in a giant onesie."
"One, I'm frightened you know that word. Two, it's only for a few days hopefully. And yes, you are regressing."
Dean rolled his eyes. "One, I've seen you in a onesie before, Sammy. You just so happened to be a rugrat at the time. Seein' you in one again at Sasquatch size is kinda freakin' me out. And two, dude, girls like babies. I like girls, so I like babies, too. You'd be amazed how sexy some of 'em think a man willing to change a diaper is."
"You're right. I would be."
"And that is why you are you, and I get women." He shot an unhappy glance at him. "Well, human women," he added under his breath.
Sam felt his patience quickly deciding to leave town, and spent several seconds taking very deliberate breaths. He hadn't seen Ruby in a while and he was starting to get a little twitchy anyway. He'd need more blood before long or Dean would see there was a problem. His brother's constant picking at him wasn't helping matters.
Oblivious to Sam's thoughts, Dean frowned, glaring at his coverall as if he could make the thing ignite by staring at it. "And that is another reason this stupid outfit sucks. How is a guy supposed to impress anybody, let alone a woman, looking like this?"
Sam huffed out a breath. "Think of this as a chance to get some sun."
"Yeah, I've been worried about not getting enough vitamin D," Dean replied petulantly.
Sam chose not to say anything, his anger fading as quickly as it had arisen. He really would be glad for Dean to get some sun. The Winchester men had always tended toward the fish-belly white end of the spectrum. They did too much of their work at night and slept through too many days. Since Dean had come back, however, it was even more pronounced. Maybe it was all in Sam's head, but Dean seemed even paler. He'd never liked standing out in the open for too long, but now it was as if it were his goal to shrink back into the shadows, like it wasn't safe away from cover, not even for a few minutes.
It wasn't that he was… hiding exactly. Sam was trying to think of it as being overly cautious. He caught himself expecting Dean to be the same reckless, barrel-his-way-in kind of guy he'd been in his younger days, but Dean wasn't a young guy anymore. Dean was a seventy year old man who'd been beaten down beyond what any human could bear.
Dean still had that swagger in his step, but it was almost like he was a method actor trying to remember his role. He knew what he was supposed to be like and he was immersing himself in the persona, trying to make it stick. But be that as it may, Dean didn't exactly run in headlong, damn the consequences anymore. Dean knew about the consequences now.
The problem was that right now was not the time for caution. The apocalypse was on their doorstep. They had to be prepared to go out in a blaze of glory, doing whatever it took to make sure the rest of the world was safe. If Dean couldn't do that anymore then Sam was going to have to. It was his turn anyway.
Sam turned toward his brother who was still muttering under his breath about the outfit. Sam didn't know what he had to complain about. At least his fit. Sam looked like he was in short pants and if he flexed his shoulders too much, he'd probably rip the thing.
"Just don't get us fired before we figure this out. That's all I'm asking," Sam pleaded.
"Me?" Dean asked incredulously. "Tell me again. Who attacked his phone and got escorted out by security at the last place we were working?"
"Shut up," Sam said through clenched teeth. "I hated that phone."
"At least it wasn't your cell phone again," Dean grumbled. "Tired of buying you new ones."
Sam shot a glance toward his brother, but didn't say anything. After the mess with the siren, Sam had been forced to admit he'd broken his phone. He'd just been so... angry. Although angry didn't quite cover it. He'd been furious. His brother had refused to trust his judgment, then shot his mouth off about Madison and Sam's luck with women. Everything had just bubbled up at once, and he'd cracked the phone against the wall before he'd been able to clamp down on his emotions.
It was his mantra. Not in front of Dean. Not in front of Dean. Sam could do the things he had to do to keep them both safe, but not in front of Dean. His brother couldn't be allowed to see what was really going on in his head. Dean was a mess, dealing with everything that had happened to him, and Sam didn't need to add to that. He'd probably only get punched again if he did tell him, maybe worse if Dean really learned what was going on.
"Hey, uh... Sam?"
Sam snapped out of his thoughts and frowned at the uncertainty in his brother's voice. "What?"
"You... uh... you know anything about golf?"
Sam blinked. "What?"
"Well, if you're gonna make me go through with this caddy thing, I probably ought to know something about the clubs and stuff. Pretty much all I know about golf, I learned from Caddyshack."
Sam smirked, part of the reason for Dean's irritation becoming clear. He hated wandering into a situation he had no frame of reference for. He'd have managed well enough, faked what he could and blustered through the rest, but he still didn't like it. "Well, rule number one. Don't use plastic explosives molded into animal shapes to destroy the course."
Dean nodded seriously, his brow furrowed as if concentrating. "No blowing up the course. Check."
"Right." Sam looked around and then headed to a cart parked outside the clubhouse with a bag and set of clubs sitting in the back. "It's not too complicated," Sam said, watching to make sure an angry patron didn't come running out of the clubhouse to snatch his bazillion dollar clubs away from the two shady caddies. "The clubs are separated into woods and irons. Woods are your big distance clubs."
"Doesn't look like wood. Looks like metal."
"They used to be made out of wood. Focus," Sam said, refusing to get sidetracked. "Bare basics, you start with the biggest head and flattest face. It gives you the greatest distance and the least loft, also the least control, in general." Sam pointed while he was talking, showing him the order. "The clubs get progressively shorter and the heads more slanted to give less distance, but more loft, three iron, four, five, etc," he pointed to each club respectively, "until you end up with a wedge," he pointed again, "which is basically just to pop the ball up out of a trap."
Sam looked at Dean and saw that he was studying the clubs with an almost rapt fascination. He could see him measuring angles, matching what he knew of how the world worked with how he thought the clubs would work. Dean was visibly itching to get his hands on them and give them a try himself. He was just too mechanically minded not to want to. He loved seeing how things ticked. Sam made a mental note to get Dean a little time on the driving range.
Suddenly, Dean looked up at him. "You've played before."
"Yeah." Sam couldn't help a smile. "When I was at Stanford. The rich kids do spend a lot of time at the country club." He shrugged. "I got invited a couple of times."
It felt like a lifetime ago. Maybe two or three lifetimes ago. He'd divided his life into two distinct periods when he'd first got back into hunting, before he lost Jess and after he lost Jess. There had been other huge mile markers since then, their dad's death, Sam's own death, the deal, but he knew now that he'd crossed the real break point of his life, the Winchester continental divide. He imagined it was the same for Dean. Pre-hell and post-hell. It was what their lives boiled down to. If Sam had thought their lives were hard before, if he'd thought they'd been dealing with more than they could handle, he knew better now. Dean had died, and everything was different.
How could he mourn the loss of his Stanford life when he'd lost so much more since then, when he'd nearly lost it all, still might if the world fell apart.
Dean grinned. "I bet you even wore the official golf uniform. Sammy, the super geek, probably couldn't wait to find the perfect golf shoes, and those dorky pants."
"How do you think I got Jess to go out with me?" Sam asked, eyebrows raised. "She thought I looked hot."
His brother snorted. "You were probably wearing a hat. She didn't find out about the hair until it was too late."
Sam smirked. Jess had loved running her fingers through his hair, but he wasn't going to share that little tidbit with his brother. He hadn't shared it with Ruby either, although he'd ordered her to knock it off when she'd tried it. "Are you done messing around yet? We've got a meeting, ya know."
"Oh, I know." Dean smiled widely. "But the apocalypse is nigh and all that. A guy's gotta take the fun where he can get it."
"Come on," Sam huffed.
He led the way around the back of the clubhouse to the employee entrance, feeling Dean laughing at him all the way there. Sam still wasn't sure exactly what had happened to Dean while he was playing the businessman extraordinaire, but he was grateful for it. His brother seemed lighter, moving more easily than he had in a long while.
Sam had been afraid to leave Dean alone after the disaster with Alistair and the broken devil's trap. He just wasn't sure what Dean might do, kill himself, kill someone else, shut down completely. Anything had been possible. He'd been keeping it together for the most part until then, bluffing his way through the bad moments, but in the hospital, after the angels screwed up, again, asking him to torture Alistair and finding out about the first seal... It was as if everything that had happened crashed down on him at once, and he'd buckled under the weight.
Dean's time in an office, of all things, coupled with whatever Castiel's boss said had helped his brother regain his equilibrium. Sam owed the angels for that. It was the only reason he hadn't hunted them down and killed them with his bare hands for hurting Dean in the first place. The demons had nearly destroyed him. He didn't need angels finishing the job.
They hurried through the clubhouse, climbing a back stair toward the offices. There was, of course, a far grander staircase up to the second floor, but caddies didn't get to walk through that section. Sam looked around him as they reached the top of the stairs and began walking down the hallway toward the office at the end.
The building wasn't overtly expensive. Rather it reeked of old money. It was simple, tastefully done in beautiful woods, heavy carpeting such that they barely made a sound as they walked. A few paintings were scattered on the walls, some of which he guessed cost more than his Stanford education.
Sam opened the door at the end of the hall to find a thirtyish woman sitting at a desk with a phone held in the crook of her shoulder. She had carefully coiffed shoulder-length blonde hair, simple but tasteful jewelry, and from what he could see classically styled business attire. She made a little mew of distaste at the sight of two caddies on her doorstep, but quickly covered it with her best urbane, executive-assistant type smile as she help up a finger, asking them to wait.
While she talked about some arrangement for an upcoming invitational, Sam simply stood in front of the desk. Dean, however, began to mill about the room, picking up odds and ends to examine them before setting them back down. The secretary frowned as she watched him, but Dean continued his circuit of the room. Sam had a gut feeling he was doing it just to piss the woman off for the condescending look she'd given them and for making them wait.
Finally, she couldn't stand it anymore and said, "Martha, I'll have to call you back." She looked up at Sam, then Dean as he came to stand beside him. "Can I help you?"
"We're here to see Mr. Warren. We have an appointment," Sam said.
"Sam and Dean."
"Last names?" She raised an eyebrow in question.
"Just tell him we're here," Dean said impatiently. "He's the one who called us."
Her eyes narrowed in annoyance, but she picked up her phone again and pressed several buttons. "Mr. Warren? Sam and…" She frowned just a bit and looked at him, as if she'd already forgotten his name.
"Dean," he mouthed wearing his most innocent smile. Sam had seen his brother use it right before he gutted someone.
"Dean." Whatever she heard made her expression turn brittle. "Yes, sir." Her eyes moved back and forth between them, weighing them again, this time with far more interest. She stood and brushed the wrinkles out of her skirt, while still studying them. Sam saw that despite his irritation, Dean couldn't help but notice she was a shapely woman. "This way, gentlemen." She opened the oversized wooden door and stepped through, holding it for them. "Can I get you something to drink?"
"No, thank you. You've been so helpful," Dean said, smiling so insincerely his cheeks probably hurt.
The secretary gave him a once-over, from top to bottom and Sam got the feeling Dean would have done a whole lot not to be wearing the much-hated caddy uniform, but instead he very frankly returned the favor until the woman was blushing a brilliant rose red, although that was the only sign of her lost composure.
"That will be all, Ms. Nichols."
"Yes, sir." The woman hurriedly closed the door behind them, leaving them alone in a large, plush office, definitely meant to impress visitors with how important the man behind the oversized desk was.
Mr. Warren was a large man, tall and more muscled than many an executive in his mid 50s probably. His hair was most likely gray, but it was hard to tell thanks to a, no doubt, expensive dye job. He was wearing standard business attire, although if Sam had to guess, his suit was personally tailored and it certainly made the two of them look even more underdressed in their jumpsuits.
Sam stepped forward and held out his hand. "I'm Sam. This is my brother, Dean."
The man grasped his hand with a firm, confident grip. "Thank you for coming," he said, and Sam realized he had a voice to match his exterior. It was a deep baritone, meant for instilling confidence in those around him. He'd have made a fine politician or military man, depending on his personality. "Have a seat."
"Thank you for making the arrangements for us," Sam said, running a hand over his coverall, ignoring the derisive snort he heard from Dean.
"My pleasure," Mr. Warren answered. "This needs to be taken care of as soon as possible."
"We've looked into it some, but why don't you tell us what you know," Sam prompted.
"You know about the deaths, of course."
"Six in the last two months, all in the same area of the course, apparent heart attacks," Dean said.
"There were others in the months before that, but it's only in the past couple of months that it's been making the papers," Mr. Warren explained. "Several others have managed to hold on long enough to die in the hospital."
Dean cocked his head to the side. "How many total dead people are we talking here?"
"Fifteen that I know of." He frowned. "I suspect several others have had close calls."
"How do you know?"
"I am the president of this club. I know all of our members," the man said, self-importance sneaking into his tone. Sam decided the guy definitely would have gone the politician route. "Some men don't want it known that they've had a near miss. Their companies might start thinking they're a little past prime and start looking for a younger man to take their place."
"So how do you know?"
"They have something on their hands, almost like a discoloration where they touched the golf club."
"Well, that's… interesting," Dean said, a thoughtful frown on his face.
"We'll need a list of everyone you suspect has been affected," Sam said.
"No. You will not disrupt any of the members," Warren replied sternly. "This is to be taken care of quickly and quietly."
"We need to know," Sam explained patiently despite the urge to tell the guy he could stick his ghost problem where the sun didn't shine. They had bigger fish to fry than this pathetic little ghost hunt. Their bigger fish were practically whales at this point, and Warren was worrying about guppies. "The victims chosen might have something in common, something that's setting off the ghost."
Mr. Warren scowled at the word ghost. "You will not speak to the members unless in the capacity of your employment here as caddies. Any other inquiries made will be discreet. Is that understood?"
Dean smiled broadly. "Discretion is our specialty."
More soon... Might not be until Monday. Sunday belongs to the E/O crowd and I don't want to horn in on the fun. Maybe it's a sign I've spent entirely too much time watching Dark Angel, but all I can think of is Eyes Only whenever I see the label...