Here it is folks, the final chapter. Hope y'all enjoy it and everyone has a safe and happy Halloween. I'm off to finish up my Abby costume and get ready for my party.
"Next time, I get to pick the bar."
"We have to do what?" Tony couldn't believe his ears. Just when he thought he couldn't get more surprised by his new friend, he'd learn something new.
"Burn the bones. It takes away their power and sends them……well, we're not really sure where it sends them, but we hope it's to rest in peace like they're supposed to in the first place."
Tony ran a hand through his hair, shaking his head in disbelief. He'd lost track of how many times that night he'd had to ignore his gut and go with whatever Dean told him. There was no reason he couldn't do it again. With a sigh, he asked another question. The answer to which he already dreaded.
"And how exactly do we do that?"
"How do you think, DiNozzo? We find out where he's buried, dig him up and set fire to the corpse."
"Yeah, that's what I thought you were gonna say."
"So you got any ideas on where this kid is buried?"
"No, not really. I mean Joey's lived here all his life and there's really only one cemetery nearby so that's probably where he's gotta be."
"Alright, let's head out." Dean said, crossing to the other side of the room in a few quick strides and grabbing his bags. "We'll take the Impala. All my gear's in there."
Dean gave Tony another briefing on what his job would be when they got to the graveyard. The hunter decided that the safest method would be to have them both take turns shoveling while the other covered with the shotgun. Then once the body was exposed, Dean would continue covering while Tony poured on the gas and lit the fire. Spirits got especially nasty when they realized why you were at their graves and judging by how ornery this one already was, Dean was sure it was gonna give them quite the fight in the end. Since Dean obviously had more experience, he was better prepared to fight thing off while Tony set the fire.
Tony directed Dean to the cemetery and as they pulled up, the hunter was grateful to see no other cars in the lot. Halloween night saw many people gathering in cemeteries, looking for ghosts, having parties, etc. He was glad they wouldn't have to deal with that extra headache.
After they parked, Dean opened the trunk and began handing gear to Tony. Once they had everything they needed, they both took out their flashlights and began walking.
"Hey Dean?" Tony had been quite for a while, determined to follow instructions as he'd been told. Now his curiosity got the better of him. "How exactly do you know where his grave is?" The agent wondered if there was some secret supernatural way of finding a gravesite. Maybe he'd get to see Dean do a ritual or something.
"We look, DiNozzo," Dean replied, indicating the place with his light.
Tony laughed at himself and shook his head. Perhaps hunting ghosts could be a bit on the mundane side too.
"We have to hurry though," Dean added as both of them swept their lights back and forth looking for the stone with Joey's last name on it.
"This creep is attached to Halloween night, the one night of the year where even normal people believe in the supernatural. All the legends are based in reality and the 'dead walking the earth' part? It's pretty close to the truth."
"Great, what does that mean?"
"You ever heard the term 'The Witching Hour'?"
"Yeah, I think so. Don't know what it means though."
"It's the time of night where the supernatural is its most powerful, closest to the living, and all that crap. It happens every night of the year and depending upon which lore you read, it can either mean midnight or somewhere around 2am. The Witching Hour on Halloween is particularly potent for paranormal activity."
Tony looked down at his watch and saw that it was close to 11:45pm. If Dean was right, that meant that they had about fifteen minutes until things could get very interesting.
"So this thing is gonna be even more powerful?"
"Yeah but not just that one, we may end up with a few others around too. None of them will be happy to see us."
"Sounds like fun," Tony replied. "Whattya say we find this grave, like, now?"
Dean agreed and they both began looking in earnest. Thankfully the place wasn't overly large and it only took about five minutes before Tony spotted the familiar name on a stone. He hadn't remembered Joey's son's name, but the birth and death years were right. This had to be it. Tony called to Dean and the hunter ran over immediately. Pulling out a folding shovel, Tony did as he'd been told and started digging.
While the other man began the backbreaking process of digging all the way down to the coffin, Dean armed himself with one of the shotguns loaded with rocksalt and stood guard. To keep the pace as fast as possible he made Tony stop to rest only five minutes later and jumped into the hole. As Dean took his turn, Tony covered him with the shotgun.
Holding the butt of the shotgun tight under his arm, Tony held the other end of it along with a flashlight. Constantly moving back and forth, he kept an eye out. How he was supposed to look for something that was all but invisible, Tony didn't know, but he was giving it a shot. Looking down at his watch, he realized that it was now a few minutes past midnight.
"DiNozzo," Dean was suddenly at Tony's side, wiping his forehead and handing over the shovel. Tony jumped in to the much deeper hole this time and got to work.
Dean had looked at his watch too. Midnight had come and gone, but nothing had appeared yet. Dean had a moment of hope that perhaps this job would go smoothly.
Unfortunately, ghosts weren't always exactly on time. Tony had just scraped wood with his shovel when they were attacked. Dean saw it first, not being stuck inside the hole. As he caught the movement out of the corner of his eye, his raised the gun and fired. Whatever it was dissipated, but there were many more behind it.
"DiNozzo!" Dean called. "You're gonna have to finish on your own. We've got company!"
The instruction was unnecessary. The moment Tony had heard the gunfire, he began digging with a vengeance. When he had scraped off most of the dirt from the coffin, he went after it with his hands, pushing the last of it away to expose the latches on the side. Above the agent, blasts from the shotgun and various curses from Dean could be heard. Tony had to fight with himself not to try and help, but he'd been given very strict orders. His job was to burn the bones, no matter what he heard.
Dean had already re-loaded the shotgun a couple times and still the things came after them. None appeared to be the occupant of the grave, meaning that it was probably biding its time and hoping they would be weakened by the onslaught from everything else.
Pulling out a few more slugs, Dean paused for another second to re-load once again. He was just a touch slower than last time and it was the opportunity the spirit had been waiting for. Before the hunter could raise his weapon, the thing materialized directly behind him and with an unworldly growl, threw him into the nearest tree. Slamming into the trunk headfirst, Dean was out cold before his body hit the ground.
Tony heard the growl and recognized it as their ghostly friend from the bar. Strange to think that he could recognize a ghost's "voice", but he figured the two of them had grown close in the two times the thing had tried to strangle the life out of him. He had already exposed the body and poured on the gas, he was about to light it when he heard another noise.
The sound of a body being slammed into something, hard.
"Dean!" Tony yelled, unable to help himself, he popped his head out of the grave. What he saw made his heart drop. The hunter's body was lying at the base of a nearby tree and he wasn't moving.
Forgetting about the fire, the ghost, everything but the fact that his partner was down, Tony vaulted out of the hole. He had barely gone two steps when the thing threw him to the ground. The agent guessed that the spirit must have gained some strength as he felt the new sensation of claws digging deep into his leg. He yelled in pain and shock before ghostly hands began to choke him.
Tony found himself on his back and though he was once again going without air, looked up almost curiously at the thing above him. Not only did he feel the ghost's new strength, he saw it too. He was suddenly looking straight into the eyes of evil. Evil that was masking itself inside a young boy. Tony knew that in life this kid had probably been a great guy. Joey was a great guy. There was no way his kid wouldn't be. How could a nice person become such a horrible thing?
If either of them lived through the night, Tony decided that would be something he would ask Dean.
Then again, living the next few minutes may not exactly be an option, DiNozzo. Tony though to himself. He couldn't remember the last time he'd taken a breath and could feel his body starting to lose consciousness. As his world started to go black, Tony had a strange fleeting thought.
What in the world is Gibbs gonna think when he finds my body in a grave yard?
Right before the lights turned off completely, Tony heard a new sound. It was an awful screeching and it sounded like a creature in agony. Since that pretty much described how he felt, for a moment Tony wondered if it was him making the noise. Logically he knew that he shouldn't be able to make a sound (that was one of drawbacks to getting choked to death), but his brain wasn't really working at full capacity right then.
That's when Tony felt the pressure ease up, just a little. As he looked once again into the face above him, he saw it fade. It screamed and writhed in agony and as Tony watched, flames danced around the edges of its form. With a final explosion of fire and smoke, the thing was gone.
Tony finally let in the blackness that had been creeping around the edges of his vision, his head dropping to the ground. Before the darkness took him fully though, Tony felt someone grip him tight and a voice swam its way into his senses.
"Oh no you don't, DiNozzo. There's no way I'm gonna end up explaining all this to your boss. You wake up, you here me?"
Tony felt light slapping on his face and came to with a painful gasp, his lungs feeling like they'd nearly forgotten what it was like to take in air.
Crouching above the other man, Dean watched in relief as Tony's lungs expanded and he began breathing deeply. Tapping him lightly on the shoulder, Dean allowed himself to plop onto the ground, exhausted.
"Just keep breathing, buddy."
When Dean had regained consciousness at the foot of the tree, he'd been horrified to see how close the ghost was to killing Tony. Not wasting any time, the hunter had dived into the grave and set the corpse on fire, grateful that Tony had done everything up to that point.
Dean hated to think what would have happened if he hadn't gotten there in time or if Tony hadn't gotten all the way to the casket and poured the gas. Just a few more moments and Dean was sure he would have been attending the other man's funeral. Which also meant that he would have had to meet Tony's boss and explain to him how he'd let the other man die. From what Dean had gathered about Gibbs, that was one conversation he most certainly wanted to avoid.
When both of the men had gained enough strength, they stood on shaky legs. Not wanting Joey to see his son's grave in its current state, they covered it up as best they could before heading back to the car. Luckily every creature around must have decided not to mess with the corpse burning duo and they were left alone.
Back at Tony's place, they got busy cleaning up patching up their wounds. Dean cleaned off Tony's leg, wrapping it tight to keep from bleeding.
"Ow," Tony said in surprise at the hunter's vehemence. "That hurts."
"Good," Dean replied, tying off the bandage and getting back to his feet.
"Good?" Tony could swear the hunter was mad at him, but why?
"Yeah good. Means you'll remember not do that again."
"Not to do what? Save your ass?"
"No, not to ignore my orders." Dean replied with a growl. Nearly losing Tony had felt almost as bad as nearly losing Sam and Dean hated nearly losing Sam. It made him scared and he hated feeling that way. His usual response was to get pissed.
"Look, that thing had knocked you into a tree. I didn't know if you were alive or dead. If I hadn't…." Tony began, defending himself.
"If you had just done what I told you and burned the bones as soon as you got the casket open, it would have never gotten another chance at you. Next time, don't worry so much about my ass and worry more about your own."
"Well, it is a nice ass." Tony said, rubbing his sore backside from where he'd been thrown violently to the ground.
"Thanks DiNozzo, nice of you to notice. But I hate to tell ya that I don't swing that way."
Once he was patched up, Tony forced Dean into a chair to take a look at his head. After cleaning the wound, Tony looked into Dean's eyes. "You should probably see a doctor. I think you have a concussion and I should know. I've had about twenty."
"Twenty? Is that all?" Dean said, shrugging the other man off and pointing to Tony's leg.
"That might need stitches, by the way."
"Nah, it's not deep enough," Tony replied.
Dean shrugged, willing to let it go at that. "What're you going to tell your boss when you show up limping to work tomorrow morning?"
"I'll tell him I fell down the stairs."
"Think he'll believe it?"
"Nope, but he'll just assume I did something even more idiotic and won't press it."
"Sounds like he's got your number."
"Winchester, you have no idea. You got somewhere to go and rest up?"
"Nah I'm fine. I've been hurt worse than this from my brother…….when he was four."
Tony narrowed his eyes. He wasn't a doctor, but he knew the signs of a concussion when he saw one. Being alone was a bad idea.
Seeing the look on Tony's face, Dean held up a hand.
"Don't worry, man. My next stop is a hotel for a couple days. I'll call my friend Bobby and he'll call me every couple hours. It's not the first time we've had to do remote concussion checks."
Tony helped Dean pack his stuff into his car and then the two shook hands.
"Well Winchester, I have to say, that was probably the most interesting Halloween I've ever had. The funny thing is that it may also be the most fun I've had too."
Dean laughed as he got into his car and started the engine. "Same here, DiNozzo. I'll give you a call the next time I'm near D.C."
"Looking forward to it," Tony replied with a laugh of his own.
"Oh and DiNozzo?" Dean asked before driving off.
"Next time, I get to pick the bar."