Cracked and Crazed

Summary: Coffins are popping up out of their graves. It could be a sign, or it could just be a royal pain… Season 5, Post "The End."

Disclaimer: Definitely not mine. Just borrowing. Blatantly. For my own (possibly evil) purposes.

This story is set in season five between "The End" and "Fallen Idol", so the boys are back together, but they just aren't quite back in the swing of things. In a word… awkward.

Chapter One

Dean sat across the scratched diner table from Sam. His brother was reading a newspaper since there was no Wi-Fi in the vicinity. He doubted some of these people had ever even heard of Wi-Fi. This was the back of beyond, better known as rural Arkansas. Dean nearly snorted. He didn't really need to add the rural part. It was just Arkansas, land of scrub trees, mud and way too many places that refused to take credit cards. His cash was running low already because it'd been a while since he'd managed to find ten minutes to relax enough to hustle pool or cards, and their motel wouldn't take credit. What good was a master's degree in credit card fraud when this entire freaking town-


"What?" he growled.

"They don't take cards. Deal with it."

Dean narrowed his eyes. "Why should I? I'm pretty sure not taking credit cards is one of the signs of the apocalypse."

Sam sighed and put his paper down on the table. "Not funny."

Dean grinned for the first time since entering the diner which had a large paper sign in the window saying, Cash Only. "Oh, come on, Sam. What good's an apocalypse if you can't laugh once in a while?"

"It's not good, man. That's the whole point."

Dean rolled his eyes. Sometimes, his brother had about as much sense of humor as Cas did. Of course, the mess they were in and the fact that Sam was ground zero weren't helping. Dean was pretty sure Sam had left lighthearted somewhere back… well, Dean wasn't sure when, but it was a long time ago.

Dean just looked at his brother for a few seconds. Sam looked the same, same too-long hair, same too-tall frame, same semi-worried why-are-you-staring-at-me-like-that expression, yet it was all different. They'd been back together for a few days now. Dean was still reeling from what had happened, or was going to happen in the future and Sam was still massively twitchy from finding out he was you-know-who's vessel, and they just weren't… meshing.

Maybe it was the trust thing. Dean wanted to trust Sam. He wanted to trust him so badly, but then he remembered Sam standing there with demon blood on his face, daring Dean to condemn him. He remembered Sam's furious, "Quit bossing me around." He remembered Sam's hands around his throat, his "You don't know me." Worst of all, he remembered Sam, standing in a garden in a white suit. He remembered that Sam had said, "Yes."

Dean had always been proud of Sam. From the day the kid was born, Dean wasn't just Dean anymore. He was Sam's brother. It had been an honor to hold that place. Sam had been better than Dean. Always. Sam was kinder, more thoughtful, gentle, and brilliant. Yet he was also a skilled hunter. He could shoot and fight with the best. He was also braver. Dean could face down a snarling wendigo without batting an eye, but Dad? Only Sam had dared to face him down. Dean had always known Sam was the brains of their operation while Dean was the muscle. Dean had broken in hell, and really, that had been inevitable. He just wasn't strong enough, never had been. But Sam… He'd thought Sam was better than that, stronger.

Now, Dean thought maybe he'd been wrong. Maybe he'd been mistaken all these years. Maybe there was something he'd missed, something in Sam that he hadn't seen.

Dean had always been proud. He loved his brother, always would, but… even though Sam was clean now, every once in while, just for a second, Dean found himself ashamed, and that was wrong on so many levels.

Dean gritted his teeth and ordered those thoughts away. Sam was right in front of him, practically wearing a hair shirt and beating his breast in remorse. Sam was desperate to try to atone for his sins, and Dean knew all about that. Sam was determined never to say, "Yes," and Dean knew all about that, too.

They were so screwed.

Dean cleared his throat and picked up another piece of bacon from his plate. "So you see anything in the paper?"

Sam looked at him, uncertainty crossed with worry on his face, but finally shook his head as if he'd given up trying to understand his brother. Or maybe he understood all too well.

Sam turned the paper around and tapped a finger over a story at the bottom of the page. "They had another one pop up overnight."

"Crap." Dean picked up the paper and quickly skimmed the article. It was more of the same thing that had brought them to town in the first place. Over the past month, grave after grave had popped open and the coffins had practically shot out of the ground. Each morning, the caretaker would find the coffin standing on end, the top open and the body tumbled out. The locals were attributing it to some really nasty vandals, but to the discerning eye, a dozen graves opening by themselves had been a little too apocalypse-y for comfort.

"There's still nothing about which graves are opening," Dean observed.

"Probably don't want the families to complain. Or they're so old no one cares anymore."

"The cameras they put around the cemetery haven't shown anything. Says here, it's just fuzz when they look at the video."

Sam huffed at that. "Could be demons."

"Could be ghosts," Dean countered.

"Could be pervs who like digging people up."

"Could be kids who are smart enough to cut the security before they go in."

Sam frowned. "What kid thinks that's fun?"

Dean shrugged. "That's what we did on weekends."

"Yeah, but it wasn't for fun."

Dean grinned. "It had its moments. Remember that time you hit Dad with the shovel?"

Sam grimaced. "How could I forget?"

"He was so out of it, he didn't know what happened and thought the ghost did it. He was yelling at me to get the salt and you were just standing there with this look on your face like you were sure Dad was gonna kill you." Dean laughed while mimicking Sam's openmouthed, bug-eyed expression that would be forever etched into his mind. "It was the most fun I had that entire year." And yet another reason he couldn't see his brother as evil incarnate.

Sam smiled a little, although more sedately. "You never told him, did you?"

"Dude, what fun would that be?" He might have been John Winchester's number one soldier, but sometimes he and Sam had been like any other kids who enjoyed putting one over on their oblivious parent. Of course, that was long before Sam had taken to putting one over on his oblivious brother.

"So are you ready?" Sam asked warily, something in Dean's expression having warned him of the shift in mood. "We can go check out the cemetery."

"Sure." Dean threw a couple of dollars on the table and then scooted out of the booth and headed for the register. The middle-aged waitress rang up their order and then stood there waiting.

"You know if you're going to charge this much, you should really take credit cards." The waitress just sighed and kept standing there. "Need a freakin' cosigner for some freakin' pancakes," he muttered. Dean pulled the money out of his wallet and scowled. He had maybe twenty five bucks left. If the hunt took too long, they were going to be hurting. He snatched his change from the woman and crammed it back into his wallet.

"Thank you. Breakfast was wonderful," Sam said, as if trying to be overly polite to make up for Dean's surliness.

Dean just grunted and led the way to the car. It was amazing how much more polite his brother could be when he wasn't hopped up on demon blood. Go figure.

Dean waited in silence for Sam to get in then pulled out of the parking lot. It was a little town and it took all of thirty seconds to drive from one side where the diner was to the other where the town's only graveyard was located. They pulled up outside the police tape and Dean cut the engine.

The police had put up a large blind to keep passersby from gawking and rightly so. Dean straightened his tie and walked around it, and he and Sam both stopped in their tracks. The papers hadn't done it justice.

The coffin wasn't completely out of the ground. It was sticking up halfway out, the door to the top half had swung open, and the body, this one definitely fresher than a lot they'd dealt with, was slumped forward, hands braced on the ground as if the body was trying to pull itself out of the grave.

Suddenly, Dean could taste dirt. He could feel it in his eyes. It was in his nose and mouth. His hands scrabbled for purchase, tearing his nails and skin, desperate to reach the surface. He'd been buried too far under. He wasn't going to make it. He was going to die, again, because Sam had buried him too deeply.

He felt a hand clutching his arm, the fingers bruising.

Dean couldn't breathe.

A little something to get Sam and Dean back on the road to recovery. Well, as recovered as two really screwed up (but magnificent) guys can get. More soon…