As Dean entered the room, Sam stepped out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his middle and another one draped around his shoulders. He smiled at Dean.
"The shower is great, man. I might have left some warm water," Sam said, his grin quickly turning into a frown of worry as Dean grumbled, "Exactly what I need right now. More water."
"Are you okay?" Sam asked.
As if he only now realized that Sam was in the room, Dean replied, "What? Um yeah, man. I'm good."
Sam frowned in concern. "Well, if you're sure," he said.
Concerned, Sam watched his brother vanish in the bathroom.
He'd woken up to the sight of Dean's empty bed which wasn't such a rare occurrence. Sam assumed that Dean had gotten up early and went out to get them breakfast from yesterday's diner, in which-to their relief-it had not smelled like the French Fries were deep-fried with last century's grease. So Sam went around his usual morning routine until Dean returned to the room.
Something was up, Sam was convinced of it. First, Dean wasn't one to wake up on his own very early in the morning and second, Dean returned to the room without any breakfast. There also was Dean's "I don't want to talk about it" look which Sam knew only too well.
Despite Dean's clear reluctance with the case, Sam knew that once Dean committed himself he would see it through. So that left two possibilities: either their dad or Bob had paid Dean a recent visit. Since Sam was with Dean every waking minute of the day, the meeting had to have taken place early this morning while Sam was asleep.
Thinking back to when he had woken up, Sam didn't recall any yelling or shouting going on outside which would have been evident if it was their father outside with Dean. Things had changed from when they were growing up, heck, even from two years ago when it was the last time that they were altogether and intact as the Winchester family. Back then, Sam was the one who'd pick a fight with John and now, it was Dean who was more likely to pick a fight with the man. Especially due to the fact the man had changed sides and now was on the wrong side from his sons.
Having eliminated John Winchester, that only left Bob.
Why Bob would come to see Dean was beyond Sam. Bob knew quite well what Dean's feelings were toward him.
I'll just have to ask Dean, Sam decided.
Sam finished getting ready and was sitting on his made-up bed, searching the internet on the laptop when Dean finally emerged from the bathroom.
"Hey," Dean said as he passed Sam.
"Hey man," Sam replied lifting his gaze from the screen to glance at Dean. "You look a bit better."
"Yeah, I feel better. What do you say about me heading out to get us some breakfast?" Dean replied heading towards the door. "The diner last night wasn't the worst. The way they did their burgers they should be capable of making sandwiches."
Sam could tell that Dean was trying to avoid discussing what had happened outside earlier. Seeing that Dean still wasn't quite himself yet, Sam decided to let it go for now-at least until after they ate breakfast.
While Dean went to get them some breakfast—which Sam could only hope that there would be a healthy option for him to eat and not just the usual bags of peanut M&Ms-Sam sat down on his bed to continue the search for the murderer of the young boy. He had managed to get a few leads about a group of three surly men who were hanging around town during the time of the murder. The information fit the description of the three hunters and while Sam wanted to dismiss the information-seeing as it was highly unlikely the boy's father's friends had hurt him- he wasn't so sure. Especially if one of the hunters was possessed.
Looking back at his and Dean's childhood, John had kept them very isolated from the rest of the hunting community apart from a selective small group of people that John trusted with the boys.
Sam couldn't be sure that the boy's father did the same with his son and buddies, so the buddies went into the suspect pile. Next Sam looked up the weather reports for the time of the murder and was rewarded with a few hints at striking phenomena in the general area but not enough to raise his suspicions. It could be something, it could be nothing. Electrical storms didn't essentially mean demons. It could be that they were wasting their time and here was nothing supernatural going on at all. On the other hand, when had electrical storms ever been coincidental? Maybe I should be suspicious after all, Sam thought and looked up when the door opened and Dean entered.
"Hey, Sam. I got you a chicken salad, it was the only healthy option they had," his brother said as he laid out everything on the table. "Though I'm pretty sure it's leftovers from last night."
"Thanks, man," Sam answered as he got up from the bed and strode over.
As he bit into his egg and bacon sandwich, Dean spoke with his mouth full, "So have you found out more about the case?"
"Yeah, I did. There were a few demonic omens around the time. It'd support what the water sprite told me about the man having black eyes," Sam answered reluctantly, then stopped as he too dug into his own breakfast, causing Dean to narrow his eyes.
"I can hear a but there."
"Well, let's just say sometimes a storm is just a storm."
"Since when have you become such an optimist?" Dean replied and Sam shrugged his head.
"I don't know," Sam answered and let himself sink back on the bed, picking at his green salad. "Considering our history with seemingly harmless cases it looks like we're dealing with demons after all."
"Weird how a demon could get so near the kid of a hunter though. And why of all people," Dean pondered, a slice of bacon half hanging out of his mouth. He threw his head backwards until the piece of meat landed on his chin and fished for it with his tongue while Sam stared at him. "What?" Dean grinned when he finally got the offending slice between his teeth.
"How am I supposed to take you seriously like that?"
"You always take me seriously."
"I..." Sam quickly shook his head, banning the distracting thoughts. At least Dean was back to his old self again. Maybe he'd been worried without a reason about Dean's earlier behavior. "Nevermind. As I said... demonic signs. I was looking at the hunter's buddies. Maybe one of them had the bad luck of being the meat suit for the demon," Sam replied.
"Maybe. We should head back to the area and check for traces of sulfur or EMF."
"Good idea," Sam replied said and concentrated back on his food. He took a few bites and cleared his throat, saying nonchalantly "So, you were awake pretty early today?"
Maybe it was his imagination but he could have sworn he saw Dean flinch.
"Couldn't sleep," Dean said absently.
"Where did you go?"
One word answers. Evidence that something was up.
"Who did you talk to?" Sam asked, knowing he'd hit a sore point when Dean froze for the blink of an eye before replying with forced unconcern.
"Bob was here. He just wanted to know what we were doing here."
Sam frowned. "So? What did you tell him?".
"Well, what was I supposed to tell him?" his brother asked, suddenly offensive and angrier than the question justified. "I told him about the case and ... well..." Dean stopped mid-sentence, hesitating.
Sam stared at him, patiently. He averted his gaze to pack some stuff into his backpack in an attempt to make it easier for Dean to answer. As planned, he could hear Dean take a deep breath.
"He wants us to get back on track. Save the world and such. The usual."
"And? What did you say?"
"Who are you? Horatio Caine? I'm not a suspect here."
"I know that," Sam quickly defended. "I just wanna know what's going on."
"Sorry," Dean sighed. "He's not very happy about us hanging around and saving water mermaids."
"I know. I know, okay? That's what I told him."
"Okay, good." Sam nodded and smiled.
"Sam, there's something else he told me." Dean took another deep breath and slowly let it out. He flexed his head to the side as if pushing away an annoying fly near his ear. "He said we might have to kill Dad in order to prevent the Apocalypse."
For a few seconds Sam thought he'd heard him wrong but the look in Dean's eyes-troubled and shimmering with fearful anticipation-told him everything.
"You're saying we have to kill Dad?"
"We might have to, yes. But I won't let it come to that. I know, we have the Apocalypse to avert but it won't be at the price of our father's life. We just-"
"Okay," Sam interrupted, strangely calm. He knew he should feel disgusted, horrified even. But there was nothing. "Okay," he repeated, voice even, almost emotionless. It was the incomprehension in his brother's face that hurt more than the prospect of having to kill his father. For Sam, his father was long gone. One way or another.
"Sam? Did you hear that? We might have to freaking kill him."
"I got it the first time," Sam said. "Let's go, before those hunters do something stupid." He put his backpack on, adjusting the strap against his shoulder and headed out the door, leaving Dean behind in a stunned silence.
The drive towards the lake was spent in uncomfortable silence. Dean didn't even opt for some music to break it.
Glancing at Sam sitting in the passenger seat, Dean was amazed at how determined and confident Sam was. It seemed like saving the water sprites had become Sam's entire world and the news that he might need to kill their dad didn't faze him in the slightest. On the contrary. It was a long time since Dean had seen his brother that composed. Almost... serene.
"Sam," Dean swallowed. "Do you think that..."
"That Dad's involved in this?" Sam finished the sentence, looking at Dean, who nodded.
"Yeah. I mean, it just seems so random that it could be a trick," Dean said.
"No, I don't. If it were him, we'd know by now."
"Are you sure? It's not like Dad likes to come forth with such important details," Dean retorted heatedly.
"Look, Dean..." Sam leaned sideways in his seat, waiting for Dean to look at him. "I think Bob just got to you."
"Hell, of course he got to me. He told me we'd have to kill Dad. Sorry if that little fact makes me a little bit nervous."
Now it was Sam's turn to sigh and he let himself fall against the back rest. "We should worry about it after this case."
Dean shrugged, tired of the conversation all of a sudden. They were reaching the parking area at the moment anyway and Sam was out of the car almost before the wheels had stopped sending up tufts of grass and dirt into the air.
"Sam, wait!" Dean yelled but his brother was already running towards the point where they'd met the dead boy's father only yesterday. A group of men were standing on the very same spot, preparing a small boat for sailing. Even from the distance Dean could see ropes and explosives which they were putting into bags. Sam was screaming at them to stop and Dean felt tempted to follow. But following his instincts as well as his common sense he jogged towards the trunk first, grabbing a bag of weapons and other tools which he had prepared before they had left the motel.
In a quick jog Dean followed his brother who had almost reached the group of hunters, and as Dean came closer he recognized Weston, who was already knee deep in the water, pushing the boat away from the shore. The other two hunters looked familiar and Dean realized they belonged to the group of men who had shot at them on their very first day.
"We talked about this. I told you this is wrong. The water sprites didn't kill Craig." But Weston wasn't listening anymore while the two other were grinning maliciously, obviously very happy at the chance to have something blown up.
"Hey. It's a fine day for some sailing," one of them said, grinning from ear to ear while the second guy climbed into the boat. "And we're just having a little fun fishing."
"Sure you are," Dean replied, then added, "Christo!"
The remaining hunter in front of him flinched as if charged by electricity, then growled as the whites of his eyes suddenly filled with black. To Dean's surprise, he didn't do anything else. Just put up another shit-eating grin and with a few long strides walked into the water, heaving himself up into the boat, leaving Sam and Dean behind as they watched the boat float off.
"Great," Sam moaned.
Dean cursed under his breath. "Did you see...?"
"Yeah, I saw it," Sam replied. "Demon. At least one of them." And those bastards were using the poor man's grief for their entertainment.
"You can't stop us. They have to die for what they did to my boy..." The voice of the father was reaching them.
"Now what?" Dean hissed. "Exorcism is out of question, I suppose." Somehow he doubted walking on water to reach them was an option.
Sam was quiet as he stared at the twinkling surface of lake, contemplating.
"We have water."
"You're a genius, Sam. Want to sprinkle them to death?"
"Why not?" It was Sam's turn to smile as he reached for the bag of weapons.
"What are you...?" Dean stopped as Sam found what he was looking for and held a rosary in the air.
"Let's make a little Holy Water." He grinned, obviously convinced this was the best idea of his life.
"Great. Then what?"
"Just do it?"
"Me? What about you?"
But the answer was already answered when Sam started to take off his shoes and jacket and wade into the shallow water.
"Sam! What're you..."
"Hurry, Dean, before they realize what we're doing." Without further ado Sam turned and sped up, water spraying around him and when he was deep enough he dove into the water.
"This plan sucks," Dean murmured, not even sure what the plan was besides turning the lake into a pool of Holy Water. And seriously, he wasn't even sure it was possible. Thousands and thousands of gallons of water and here he was with a rosary the size of a bootlace. Awesome! Nevertheless, he took one last look at the three men on the water, then out towards Sam, who was about to take a large gulp before diving underwater. The surface of the lake smoothed over when Sam didn't come back up and a knot formed in Dean's stomach, painful and familiar.
He needed to concentrate. Whatever Sam's plan was, he had his part to play if it was to work.
Leaning down, Dean let the one end of the rosary slip into the water, his fist curling around the other end and started to recite the words burned into his memory like his own name, "Exorcizo te, creatura aquæ, in nomine Dei Patris omnipotentis, et in nomine Jesu Christi, Filii ejus Domini nostri..."
He really was getting used to this, Sam thought as he sank deeper and deeper. The pressure made his eardrums hurt and he resisted the urge to swim back up. Putting every ounce of will in it, he thought Are you here? and was not disappointed when a few seconds later... the missing air making his mind woozy and strangely blank... something floated towards him. Something blurry and white.
'Please. Listen to me!' Sam hoped this would work and his thoughts weren't too messed up for the creature to understand. He could feel a soft touch against his temple and the uncomfortable chilliness around him turned into a warm blanket while water rushed into his starving lungs, pulling much needed air out of it. 'You're in great danger. Demons...'
He was interrupted when he could hear the excited murmur of different voices in his head.
We can feel them... feel them... feel them. Darkness
'They've got explosives', Sam thought, trying to figure how to explain his plan. 'Fire. I need your help...'
The water. What are you doing with the water? Something else wound its way into their collective murmur. Amazement, surprise and confusion. Warmth, live, saint, saint, saint...
'It's holy water. Listen... we don't have much time...'
He hadn't even finished the first paragraph when the bullets came whizzing by and Dean had no other choice than to jump out of the way. The two demons were standing upright, the small boat beneath them rocking unsteadily from one side to the other while Weston sat between them looking confused. Any kind of demon mumbo-jumbo was improbable due to their distance but that didn't mean bullet wounds wouldn't really hurt.
Dean had to interrupt the incantation and run in a crouched position a few meters back to find cover behind a tree. Shooting at the boat was out of question. Not with the human hunter on board.
A bullet hit the tree trunk and the bark splintered, the impact leaving behind a large crate like a wound. Peeping around, Dean tried to get a look at the lake which was now covered by waves, spreading in concentric circles from the boat. The water was too far away, but to finish the incantation he'd have to get closer to the water which meant leaving the relative safety.
Sammy, he thought fearfully. His gigantic little brother was somewhere down there and here he was hiding behind a freaking birch. Without further thought he stepped from behind his protection and let himself fall down on the sandy ground, offering as little surface as possible for bullets to hit. He had barely touched the ground when the shooting started.
"Deus, qui ad salutem humani generis maxima..." he continued, trying to ignore the fact that the bullets were flying by him like angry mosquitoes. The words left his mouth fast enough to leave him breathless but that didn't matter. "Non illic resideat spiritus pestilens, non aura corrumpens: discedant omnes insidiæ..."
Waves were starting to reach him. First small ones but only seconds later the turmoil was strong enough to stir up the sand. The water turned beige from the mud and Dean looked up, half expecting to see a bullet hitting him right between the eyes. He stopped in surprise when he realized the boat was empty except for Weston who was hanging on to the sides as it rocked up and down on huge waves that looked bizarre on the small mountain lake. Two heads were bobbing next to it in the water. The demons.
And with great satisfaction, Dean picked up the words and finished the incantation with a grim smile. "...ab omnibus sit impugnationibus defensa. Per Dominum, amen."
He let go of the rosary and it sunk down. Just a few inches but deep enough that Dean could see it dig into the soft sand, the brown pearly beads gleaming like pebbles and not looking particularly out of place.
Inhuman screams were ripping through the forest, stirring up flocks of birds in the trees and Dean jumped back on his feet. The seemingly bodiless heads were spitting out demon smoke, which scattered around them like ash. Seconds later, the heads sank down and Weston was finally startled out of his stony silence. He stood up, leaned over the edge and jumped into the water, trying to reach the first of the hosts.
"So, now you believe us, huh?" Dean grumbled and studied the lake, pinching his eyes against the reflected sunlight. If Sam was right then the water-sprites would take care of them. Make sure no one drowned again. At least not today. Especially not one pain-in-the-ass little brother who was still shining with absence.
"Saaam," Dean yelled, half in anger, half in fear. "Come on buddy. Enough baths for today. No more swimming for you without a water wings."
All he could hear was Weston's splashing as he struggled to heave his companions back to the shore. Nervously, Dean took a few steps, the cold water now almost reaching his hip. "Come on, that's not..."
He stopped and with a surprised yelp stumbled backwards when something held his legs in a strong but not painful grip. Looking down, he saw something swirl around him. Something white that probably was not an eel or a red-head with a sea-shell bra. He stood completely still, not daring to move as gentle fingers touched him, tickled him in the hollow of his knee and then detached itself again to float a few feet away from him. Dean could feel himself smile, gratitude that wasn't his own in his heart and, at the same time, saw Sam come closer, looking exhausted but otherwise fine, pulling one of the formerly possessed hunters with him. Next to him, Weston was gasping for breath, eyeing both Sam and Dean with something between confusion and thankful acknowledgment.
"Did I mention how much I hate water?" Dean hissed when Sam and Weston were close enough that he could help them carry the unconscious men to dry land.
"I hear you," Sam replied, shaking his head like a hairy dog and sending drops everywhere.
When evening dawned they'd already packed their bags, the car was fueled and the luggage was stuffed into the trunk. Both hunters had turned out alive, for better or worse, and neither Dean nor Sam had any intention of finding out how they would react when they woke up to find out one of them had-albeit in a possessed state-killed their friend's son. So, in order to avoid any more drama, Sam and Dean had taken off.
With a disgusted grimace Dean swiped an old rag over the leather seat, still wet from the constant abuse with dripping clothes.
"Sorry, baby," Dean cooed, hoping that there wouldn't be any water stains or-God forbid-rust. "Next stop, Texas. I promise," he mumbled.
"You missed a spot, there!"
Dean's head shot upwards and collided painfully with the roof of the Impala and he cursed. Loudly.
"Dammit, Bob! Don't do that."
"But..." the angel stood at the passenger door, his upper body leaning into the car and his finger pointing at a tiny spot where a small rivulet was hiding. "... I want your baby to be perfect," he stated mockingly, though not without humor in his voice.
"Oh shut up," Dean's eyes narrowed and he turned around, looking back to their motel room when he heard Sam come closer.
"So," the younger brother said, greeting the angel with an angry stare and a wrinkle of his nose. "Come to tell us something new? Like... we have to kill each other now?" His tone was icy.
Instead of answering, Bob glared at Dean. "You told him?"
"Of course I did," Dean shot back, hoping it hadn't come out as over the top as it had sounded to him. He met Sam's eyes and added, " he's my brother."
As if it explained everything.
And maybe it did. Because after a mysterious smile, Bob shrugged his shoulders. "I like rebellions. Makes everything much more... unpredictable."
He waved, actually waved his hands like he was the freaking queen, and vanished.
"I don't like him," Sam muttered, walked around the car and let himself fall into his seat. With one last look to make sure no more baggage was lying around to be packed, Dean slid into the driver's seat himself, suppressing another curse when the small rivulet of water turned out to hide a rather large puddle, soaking the back of his pants. He bit his lips, put the car into gear and rolled out of the parking lot, looking forward to just driving.
They had to catch up with destiny. One way or another.