(A/N: In my happy fanfic world Sam never died, so Dean never made his deal and yadda yadda yadda never happened. The boys are their current ages in this fic and I'm not above using cannon or events from any of the four seasons aired to date, excluding the parts that have to do with the yadda yadda yadda.)
Mucho and many thanks to Vanessa and Cookie6 for the awesome and wonderful betas. This fic is dedicated to the very nice and patient bhoney who was kind enought to donate money to the Support Stacie fund in return for a fic.
No infringement intended.
Trumpeter Mine, 1863…
Water trickled down the rough stone inner walls, glistening and dividing into tiny vertical rivulets. A hand, as rough and rugged as the ground the mine was carved from skimmed over the moisture. Silas Turner pulled his hand away, rubbed forefinger and thumb together and grunted. As pretty as it might be it was a bad sign. A very bad sign. Heavy rains were weakening the land around the mine.
He'd been born in this part of Wyoming, his daddy and his daddy before that in a time Wyoming was just a pretty piece of mostly unknown, unexplored land. Descended from French fur traders of the far north and the local natives Silas knew this land, this rock.
Not to mention he was a big believer in signs.
These people were fools, ignoring the signs. Greedy, stupid fools who thought a few chunks of rock were worth the lives of dozens of men, some nothing more than boys come to work here when they were barely sixteen.
A sound, more a vibration below his range of hearing made him jerk his hand away from the wall. His breath caught in his chest when the low rumble turned to a roar. Running as fast as he could to the main shaft entry point, he clanged a bell there furiously. The men below would feel the shifting of the earth of course. The bell was more to warn the town.
Dust and debris crashed down around him as the ground bucked and tossed him toward the ceiling. Silas closed his eyes, drew in a deep, final breath and became with the land he'd loved his entire life.
White Water City, Wyoming, present day…
It was delicate work, but Sam felt competent and was confident he could do this. He'd sure done it enough, having spent probably half—no scratch that—three-quarters, of his life in some beat up, run down, dirt dive of a bar watching Dean. He watched Dean play—hustle—pool, get involved in a game of poker—card shark—or pick up girls—yet just another form of hustle. In the course of such observations, Sam had come up with many, and often imaginative, ways to entertain himself.
This was one such way.
Some might consider it poking the bear, but Sam liked to live on the edge.
Carefully lining up his own shot, Sam hunched over the table and scooted his chair to one side for the right angle. The light was just right, not too much shadow. He should probably check the wind in case one of the charming patrons of this dirt dive bar farted, but he did like living on the edge and all. Adjusting his finger holding his weapon tipped slightly to the side, Sam drew back one finger on his other hand making an "O" with thumb and forefinger.
Deep breath to steady his nerves. One final check on his target—this was touchy work—and Sam flicked his finger loose from his thumb, hit the small projectile and let it fly.
Dean's eyes barely flitted away from the hand of cards. The only sign of irritation was his tongue running between his teeth and lips. The peanut had gone down the front of Dean's shirt. Sam bit down on his lower lip and turned away, covering his grin by slurping down some more beer. He grabbed a handful of peanuts from the bowl on his table and set up another one to flip at Dean. Heaven knew he wasn't about to eat any of the peanuts, he'd starve before putting any food from this place into his mouth. It was bad enough he had to drink the swill they referred to as beer. He figured at least that had alcohol in it to kill off any germs.
Another peanut was sent flying at Dean, this one taking up residence in his hair. Sam was working on yet another peanut torpedo when the others at the table started laying their cards down and Dean grinned broadly, hands moving over the table and scooping a rather respectable pile of cash to his chest. He nonchalantly rubbed one hand over his hair. The peanut there bounced free and hit the floor. Standing and stretching Dean fanned himself with his button down shirt, two more peanuts fell free.
Dean quirked an eyebrow in Sam's direction. Sam shrugged and held up his beer, took another sip and turned toward the TV on the wall. He could practically hear Dean's eyes roll.
Two of the men left the table and another two joined. Sam knew he'd be stuck here for another hour at least. In turns the local poker 'experts' were taking a crack at beating Dean, and they were all getting their wallets lightened. The idea to stop inviting Dean into their poker games didn't seem to take hold, they simply weren't getting it. Sam couldn't complain too much, it was Dean's hustling skills that had kept him fed and in clothes for the majority of his life. Credit cards were great, but cash was better, untraceable and far easier to come by.
They'd been here three days now, and the situation didn't look like it was going to change much. Their current potential hunt was elusive and difficult and Sam was beginning to think a dead end, no pun intended.
It was Wyoming in February, as Sam had pointed out to Dean the first day they were in town, and he'd listened to Dean bitch about the weather, do the math. It snowed, let up for a few hours and snowed some more. The roads were crap, the Impala not exactly an all terrain vehicle. It was cold, boring and the best part? Dean had gone and made some friends. Guys who wanted to play poker, discuss car parts and thought hunting involved deer, Jack Daniels and loose women.
Yee freaking ha.
Sam snagged the chair opposite him with his ankle, swung it closer and plopped his feet up. Here he was south of Cody, west of Meeteetse, in the shadow of the Grand Tetons, in short the middle of nowhere USA. It was boring, cold, and his brother had abandoned him for a bunch of sweaty poker-playing goons with questionable hygiene and not a complete set of teeth between them. All stupid enough to keep trying to beat Dean at poker.
Dean was loving the break.
Sam was not.
To top it all off, their motel room had a bathtub that had been new a century ago at least. There was a shower curtain around it and a handheld shower head that came to somewhere around the middle of Sam's chest. He still hadn't figured out how to wash his hair, hold the shower head and stand upright all at the same time.
Sam was definitely not enjoying the break, and he'd probably had too much beer and not enough food. At least the food at the motel diner was edible, some was actually enjoyable.
Scratching at the back of his head, Sam yawned and dropped a few dollars on the table, stood and stretched. Pulling on his jacket and zipping it, Sam glanced at Dean, tipping his chin slightly as he lumbered toward the door. Once he stepped outside, the cold and wind assaulted him. He had to stop and stand still for a minute to get his bearings in the flying snow. Tiny flecks of white landed on his shoulders and melted down his back after dripping off his hair. Hunching further into his jacket, Sam decided to rethink the jacket-hoodie combo, maybe he should just get some of Dean's poker winnings and buy himself a coat if they were going to hang around icebox USA. Shoving his hands as deeply into his pockets as possible…add gloves to the shopping list…Sam stepped away from the bar and started across the parking lot.
He was just outside the circle of light from the outside of the bar when he heard the crunching of footsteps behind him. Stopping, Sam half turned and waited.
"I can walk back." He cut Dean off before he could start. "It's not even a half mile. I don't mind."
Digging the car keys out of his pocket, Dean jogged at him. "Yeah, well I mind." His elbow nudged against Sam's side, forcing Sam to sidestep and change direction, aimed at the Impala now.
"I'm a big, grown up boy, Dean."
"You'll never be that grown." Dean unlocked the car and trotted to the other side. "Minnesota. People who keep body parts in jars on their kitchen counter."
Sam groaned and rolled his eyes, but got into the car. Poor Dean was likely never going to get over having to spring Sam out of that bit of trouble. Apparently it made Dean feel better to drive Sam back, and the truth be told, it was cold and walking back to their motel wasn't the most exciting prospect.
Dean guided the car out of the parking lot and onto the road. "Besides I'm just this side of pissing them off. And you have to admit, Sam, between the two of us you seem to attract more crazies that want to whisk you off to their secret lair. It's not like neither one of us hasn't gone missing before. Walking around in a snowstorm in the dark on a deserted country road is just plain asking for it."
"They wanted their money back, didn't they?"
Grinning over at Sam for a few seconds before shifting his gaze back to the snow covered road, Dean nodded. "I think they were about to get there. Best we all parted friends." Eyes flicking to the rearview mirror, Dean jerked a thumb over his shoulder before grasping the steering wheel with both hands again.
Sam twisted in his seat, scanned the road behind them. "Nothing."
"I'm going to take the scenic route anyway."
Yawning, Sam slid down a bit in the seat, eyes darting to the side view mirror every few minutes until they were both satisfied they hadn't been followed. Dean turned the car in the direction of their motel. Ten minutes later he was trailing behind his brother into their room. He'd never tell Dean of course, but Sam was glad he hadn't come back alone, motels were boring at best, and Sam was always a bit lonely when he was in one by himself.
Dean wandered to the bathroom, back out a few minutes later. "Hey, Sammy, the bathtub is big enough you can fit into it. Take a bath instead of using that shower spray thing."
Sam set his computer bag on the table and ambled over to the bathroom, rocking up on his toes ever so slightly to peer over Dean's shoulder. There was, just as Dean had said a bathtub, complete with claw feet that looked to be about seven feet long. "Huh, I haven't taken an actual bath and soaked since…uh…since…"
"About a month before your fourteenth birthday.
Pulling his eyebrows together, Sam huffed, "how do you even know this stuff?"
Dean snorted and tapped one finger against his temple, "Steel trap, Sammy, mind like a steel trap."
"I think the trap needs some WD40." Sam grumbled and walked away.
Doing a side dive and landing on his butt on his bed, Dean had the remote in one hand as he scooted back toward the headboard. "Let's see, fishing, hunting, weather, oh and rodeo." He clicked the TV off. "I think we should hit the library in the morning. Elias, the guy with the two front teeth missing," Dean tapped his own teeth for emphasis, "He mentioned a few things that sounded a bit odd. You want pizza or head out for some sit down grub?"
Sam blinked at Dean for a few seconds. He should be used to his brother's ability to carry on multiple conversations at the same time, but some days it still threw him. "Sit down grub?"
Dean shrugged and grinned. "You could've eaten at the bar."
"Did you see the food there? Did you notice there were no towels in the bathroom? Pizza. With chicken fingers."
Nodding, Dean pulled a face and reached for the stack of menus on the nightstand, took out his phone and started dialing.
"And a coat, one of those down-filled kind with thermal gloves."
Quirking an eyebrow, Dean shook his head, and ordered their food. "The peanuts were good enough to throw at me," Dean said, dropping his phone on the nightstand. "You want to hear what I found out while you were so busy goofing off?"
"What? I was keeping the surroundings covered, for your safety."
"From the parking lot?" Dean asked dryly.
Sam smiled, "Reconnoitering. Perimeter checking."
"Uh huh. So Elias—"
Sam pulled his lips up and tapped his front teeth, "Not a dentist."
Dean glared daggers, and Sam pulled his lower lip between his teeth to keep from bursting out laughing. Living on the edge and all, what fun. "It seems, smarty pants, that a few people have gone missing along a road not far from a mine that collapsed in the eighteen hundreds. Now, I didn't pay much attention until Stoney…" Waving one hand around the top of his head, "guy with shaved head…"
"Not an attractive look."
"Not at all," Dean agreed. "Stoney mentioned that the victims were all descendants of the original owners of, not just that mine, but a few others from this part of the country. All the families owned mines that had some collapse and people died."
When there was knock at the door, Dean rolled neatly off the bed, talking over his shoulder as he walked. "It seemed a bit odd to me that such a specific…" he opened the door, and handed over money, "Naw, it's a shitty night, you keep the change, dude. Thanks. Group of people would up and vanish." Setting the food on the table, Dean settled in the chair and started opening containers. "I thought you were hungry?"
Sam decided that was a true talent Dean had. Grinning, Sam settled into the chair opposite his brother and pulled a slice of pizza from the box, munching. "You thinking some kind of ghost?"
Dean beamed around his pizza and slurped down a huge gulp of pop, "Sammy, dude, haunted mine! Next to a haunted strip joint, that's aces!"
"Aces? Grub? You don't get to play with those guys anymore." Sam had to admit the prospect of investigating an actual haunted mine hit a number of happy chords in him. "On one condition."
Dean stopped chewing and gave him the Dean-Winchester-picture-of-innocence look. "Wa?"
"We don't for any reason, and I mean under any circumstances, not ever do we walk into one of those old, rickety mines."
Deflating a bit, Dean grumbled out something unintelligible. Sam kicked him under the table, "Ow, okay, Sam, sheesh ya' big pansy girl."
"Those things collapse and kill people for a reason, they're unstable."
"Untwist your shorts, the people disappeared on the roads leading up to a certain mine not far from here, the Trumpeter Mine, or it was the Trumpeter Mine. As far as I could find out there wasn't anything actually happening in the mine itself, we probably won't have to go into it. I don't know what you're so worked up for, it's not like clowns live in there."
Sam narrowed his eyes for a few seconds, finished off his dinner and stood up, heading for the bathroom. "Whatever, Dean."
Pushing the stopper into the tub drain, Sam cranked the water on full blast. In a few minutes, the tub was filling with steaming, hot water. He swished his hand around in it for a few minutes. This might not be so bad. Not that he'd tell Dean that or imply his brother was right about a bath instead of a shower. He was stripped down to his boxers when Dean's voice behind him nearly had him jumping out of his skin and through a wall.
"I have to see how you get those giraffe legs of yours in there." Dean mimicked climbing, arms and legs slowly wheeling through the air making him look like some B-movie monster.
Sam shoved against his shoulder, pushing him out of the bathroom, "Dean, out!"
Dean snickered. When Sam heard him settle back on his bed and the TV click on, he finished undressing and climbed into the tub. The water was pleasantly hot and surrounded him, loosening all his muscles at once. Leaning back and relaxing further, Sam sighed. This was nice. He still wasn't telling Dean he'd been right, though.
Sam swished one toe around in the water for a few minutes, but that got boring. Then he flicked some at the wall, but that was no fun, the wall didn't care. Not like Dean with the peanuts. Tipping his head back, he stared at the ceiling and counted the cracks.
"Hey, Dean, now what do I do in here?"
"You relax and enjoy it."
The sound of feet hitting the floor and something clunking…it sounded like Dean's head against the wall…then the rustle of hands through a duffel. A book sailed through the partially opened door, whacked Sam's hand and dropped to the floor.
"The History of Herbal Spells? You gave me the easy reading."
"If you don't want to read Sam, just use your imagination then."
Sam opened the book and blocked out the sound of his brother's laughter from the other room. Next time Sam was using peanuts still in the shell.