A/N: So, I guess when I said 'tomorrow' I really meant 'the next few days'. This bit was harder to edit, because I went through line by line, and there were just so many things. I'm clearly dysfunctional somewhere.
Sam opened the door to his room to find Dean lying down on his huge, fluffy-looking bed, four buttons undone on his shirt and his arms crossed over his chest. He was honestly surprised to find him there, as he thought that Dean and Skylar would be bonding for hours over Star Wars movies and/or toys. Or maybe going over the pleasing assets of Princess Leia while debating who was cooler, Han Solo or Yoda.
Personally, he preferred Obi-Wan, but he wasn't going to get into that argument.
"Dude, you are late."
Dean's voice was whiskey rough, even though they didn't imbibe this evening. Sam noticed that Dean's eyes were half shut, signs pointing out that Dean might have dozed off while waiting for his brother to return to his room.
"I couldn't find the EMF meters. Either of them." Dean continued, clearing his throat and sitting up.
Sam reached into his pocket and took out the EMF meter that Dean had spent two hours repairing on last week, and tossed it onto the bedspread.
"I took it from the trunk just before you parked the car in the garage. Yours was smaller, so I left mine in the backseat of the car. We can pick it up tomorrow morning."
Dean reached out to grab the device. He threw a questioning look at Sam.
"Did you get a reading anywhere?"
Sam shook his head as he walked towards his own duffel at the foot of the bed.
"I scanned the dining room, the library where George took us to after dinner to show off his enormous collection, and the hallway around those areas. Nothing even pinged, so I just switched it off."
"Well, I think there might be a place where we might get a reading," Dean announced as he turned the switch on.
Immediately a humming sound emitted from the equipment. Lights flashed from the bulbs above the EMF meter.
Sam was not surprised. His brother must have talked to Skylar and uncovered something crucial in the case.
"What did you find out from your bonding over Star Wars dolls?"
Dean stood up, making a slow turn around the room while holding the meter in his hands. The humming grew steadily louder and the lights flashed more wildly. Dean was wearing a focused look on his face, and if Sam was a stranger, he would have thought that Dean was holding the answer to all his questions in his hands right at that moment.
"Action figures, Sam, and they're not for playing. They are only for us to ooh and aah over through the glass and the boxes. But the light sabers! The light sabers are cool, man."
Sam rolled his eyes at his brother's geekiness. "Can we just focus please? What did you get from Skylar?"
Sam noticed that the vicinity of the bathroom was getting higher readings just as Dean finished his circuit of the room and switched the EMF meter off.
He turned, and Sam could see whatever concentration that was there had faded off to just plain fatigue. His brother suddenly looked far older than his than his thirty-one years.
"Guess what? This room used to be the daughter's room, where the attacks took place. Trinity, or Trin, as Sky called her, got clawed both times in this very room. After the second attack, George decided that he should move his two children's rooms closer to his. These rooms, I'm guessing, were changed into the guest rooms after he hired us. I'm not sure if he meant it as an insult or to make our work easier."
Sam had a lightbulb moment right then. So that's what that expression on his face was about, when he showed us the rooms.
"I think it was a test"
"A test for what? To show how competent we are? What a douche."
Sam shrugged. He didn't think it was malicious intent on George's part, though good luck telling that to his brother.
"Only that Skylar thinks that there were minor attacks to his sister leading to the big ones. There were pinches, light scratches, whistling, but no one took notice until the whole thing turned serious."
Sam pursed his lips in thought, adding Dean's information to what he'd found out during the conversation after dinner. George had almost slipped and let Dr Lewis know what the Winchesters were really doing. Sam didn't think she'd caught on, but as long as she wasn't in the house and she wasn't actively trying to impede their investigation, he couldn't care less what she thought of them.
"I didn't speak to Trinity, she left right about five minutes right after you guys. George said that he would bring her to talk to us later. I managed to find out a little about the property, though. He'd bought the land cheap, after realizing the potential of the land before the other developers did, and built and designed the house. Everything in the house was brand new, nothing inherited or bought second hand. He had the house blessed by a priest right before he moved in, and again when he got married to his wife, two years later. Nothing supernatural or any strange things happened before this."
"That syncs with what you found out at the town hall. Did you ask in that roundabout way of yours if he'd bought anything new in the last month or so for the house?"
"It's called being tactful, not roundabout, and yes, I did. He hadn't bought anything for the house or for himself apart from groceries for the last two months or so, and to the best of his knowledge, neither did his daughter."
"Sky said the same thing. You would think that they would buy new things every day, being rich and all that."
"Being rich doesn't mean you should spend your money unnecessarily, Dean."
"Yeah, but it could." Dean had an unfocused look on his face, possibly dreaming about what he would do if he was rich.
He'd probably spent a large portion of it on the car or girls.
Sam sighed. They were drifting off topic again. He scrubbed his face with his hands, impatient and weary. Both of them were tired from the long drive, even with the nap that they had taken unexpectedly that afternoon. He briefly wondered if they could wait until tomorrow to talk to George and Trinity, but he also knew that both of them would prefer as much information as possible before they proceeded.
Not that it ever stopped us even if we had zero info.
A knock on the door halted their conversation. Dean looked at Sam who mouthed George before opening the door to his room. In his peripheral vision, Dean stuffed the EF meter under his pillows. Sam frowned, a silent why'd you do that for, and Dean rolled his eyes in answer, not now.
George and Trinity were standing in front of the door. George was still wearing his dinner clothes, while his daughter had changed to sleep pants and a t-shirt. He smiled at both of them and beckoned at them to follow him. Trinity stood silently by his side.
"We can talk in the lounge. This way."
He led them along the corridor, turning left and the cramped alleyway opened up into a room furnished with two long couches, a large flat screen television mounted on the wall and several fur rugs gracing the floors.
Wow, and I thought that the flat screen in my room was big.
"Here. I asked Lela earlier to send in some coffee for us while we talked," he gestured to a tray filled with coffee cups and a pot, sitting tight by the tables in front of the television. They seated themselves on the couches, the brothers taking one while the father-daughter team sat on the other.
Sam took the lead while Dean practically inhaled the coffee.
"So Trinity, can you start at the beginning? We've heard bits and pieces, but I think the big picture will help us better." He employed the earnest expression that he used for getting what he wanted.
George looked at his daughter. She looked back at him. Sam sensed some silent discussion going on, George's face lined in concern and encouragement while Trinity's in worry and controlled fear, and then the nineteen year old faced both Winchesters.
"Are you really going to help us with this problem? Can you actually find a solution to it?" She sounded intense, wary, but with an undercurrent of hope. It was pretty clear that she was looking for reassurance, that somehow, these strangers would make everything alright again and then they could go back to everything was normal.
Sam got that look a lot.
"We will try our best." He didn't want to lie, but he didn't want to give them any false hope either.
Trinity looked pleased with the answer, her mouth lifting into a tiny smile. The smile vanished a second later and Sam saw her scratch her left wrist in an absent gesture, before she swallowed and started her story.
"I'm not sure if there's anything much that I can tell you. I was in the room both times I was attacked. They were almost similar. I was getting ready for bed, about to go to sleep, when I sensed something in the room with me, and a second later I felt something scratching me. I screamed, tried to get out of bed and run to the door, but there was something pulling me back. I couldn't get near the door. And then I would feel out of breath, like my air supply was being cut off.
"Dad said both times he found me on the floor near the door of the bathroom, crying, but honestly, I can't remember that at all. I only remembered being suffocated, and then the next thing I remember is being in the hospital. That's it."
Trinity concluded her story by reaching for the coffee cup on the table. Sam could see her hands trembling slightly around the china. Her father pulled her into a one-armed hug and kissed her forehead, in an effort to reassure her. He seemed to need it as much as Trinity did. She huddled against him, seeking silent comfort.
George turned to the brothers, took a deep breath, and started his own version without any prompting from them.
"I'm going to start with what I know. About a month ago, in the middle of the night, I got a call from Skylar, shouting hysterically to come to Trin's room, saying that she was screaming and he couldn't open the door. I rushed from my study, and found him in front of Trinity's room, rattling the door knob and kicking the door but it just wouldn't budge. You've seen him, he's young, not very strong, so I took over, kicking the door several times until it swung open. I told Skylar to stay outside and went in and I found Trin on the floor, sobbing. I saw nothing and no one else in the room, but I noticed the bleeding marks on her arms. I rushed to her, picked her up and got her out of the room.
"I drove all three of us to the hospital, and she got a total of twenty-four stitches on her arms. She was still hysterical, so the doctor had to sedate her, and while she was asleep, the doctor spoke to me about the possibility of self-inflicted wounds. He said that he noticed that the marks were made by fingernails, and considering that she was so worked up when we brought her in, he thought that she might be having a breakdown of some sort, maybe due to stress at school or at home."
Dean cut in at this point. "Were you facing problems at school at that time, Trinity?"
The dark-haired girl shook her head. "I wasn't even having exams, they were already over. It was the summer holidays."
George cut in. "If she had, she would have told me. All of us are close, even closer now that their mother's gone."
Sam noticed that the older man was beginning to fidget, a clear indication that he wasn't at ease with the direction of the conversation, and he sought to reassure him. "We're just exploring other possibilities. Please, carry on."
"Right. When we came home from the hospital Trin refused to sleep in her room, so I went with her to pick up whatever she needed and she slept in one of the guest bedrooms closer to my room. I guess that Skylar was also feeling a little insecure about the whole thing, because he took to sleeping in the same room for a week, and when Trin decided to move back into her own room he slept on her couch for three days. When Trin finally chased me and Skylar away from her room, she was attacked the same night. It was her stomach this time.
"When I brought her back to the hospital the second time in two weeks, the doctor thought that Trin had another 'episode' and pressured me to admit her to a session with the hospital psychiatrist. I thought that it might be good for Trin, and give me some peace of mind at the same time, so I caved in and scheduled a session with a Dr. Rogers, a private psychiatrist working in the city. She came in to visit Trin two days into her hospital stay. Trin was caught off guard, and she wasn't happy."
"That's putting it mildly. I threw a terrible tantrum." Trinity interrupted, a flush to her cheeks. Sam noticed she was scratching her left wrist again, like a nervous tic.
"As soon as the psychiatrist left, I called Dad in and told him that I'm over eighteen, that I'm not a kid anymore, and that I'm never going to talk to a shrink who didn't believe anything I said. I threatened to sign myself out AMA if Dr. Rogers returned."
At that point George jumped in. "Call it fate, karma, whatever, but when I received a call from Donna about a week ago it was like a sign. I opened up to her, talking about the attacks, and asked if she could talk to her, maybe see if Trin would open up to her."
"I didn't want to talk to her. Actually I didn't want to do anything, but I especially didn't want to talk about anything that has to do with the attacks. I thought I was losing my mind, and I didn't want anyone else to know."
"That was when she told me about what happened to her daughter. She told me that there are two people whom she knows, whom she trusts, that helped her with the problem. I begged for your number, and after two days of tossing and turning about it, I made the call. And now, here we are."
George ended his speech, visibly taking a deep breath and using the moment to pick up his own cup of coffee which was untouched, unconsciously mimicking his daughter's action a few minutes ago. Sam understood his need for a moment to pull himself together. As he waited for George to calm down, Sam thought of the list of questions that had been building in his mind ever since Trinity started her story.
"George, have you ever thought about installing cameras inside the house? It's a pretty big place." That was an understatement.
"There are security cameras all over the outside of the house, but the only ones in the house are the cameras in the main living room, the main dining room and the lounges. I'm very private, and I treat my guests the same way, so there aren't any cameras in the rooms in this wing, don't worry. The feed is linked to the security company's drive, not in this house."
Dean had a frown on his face. "No cameras in your daughter's room, even after the attacks? I mean, it's for her own safety."
"She might be my daughter, Dean, but she is an adult. I offered to put a camera in her room, even as far as promising her that only I would have access to the footage, but she refused, so we compromised with the audio monitor in her room. Now, since my children's rooms are near mine, it's so much easier to check on them, just by knocking on their doors."
"Did you take a look at the videos on the nights of the attacks?"
"I did. There was nothing, everything was fine. Nothing was out of place. I went through the whole footage myself, and I hired a security detail just to go through the property with a fine toothed comb. I did everything I could, and yet I still feel as though I must've missed something."
Sam hadn't looked at the tapes yet, but he was certain that there was nothing to be seen. Normal civilians were not trained to look for something supernatural in video tapes, or in anything else for that matter.
"Do you think we could have a copy of the tapes?"
George waved a hand. "I'll pass it to you tomorrow morning, and you can use the DVD player in your room to look at it. Now, is there anything else? We're both tired and honestly, I just want to go to bed."
"Yeah, I do. Why did you give us your children's previous rooms?" Dean was at his usual bluntness.
Surprisingly, George cracked a smile at that question. He didn't look offended at all, merely amused, and Sam thought there was a little respect in that smile. Sam was right then. It was a test, and they had passed.
"That was fast. I thought you wouldn't find out until tomorrow, but I guess Skylar told you about it?" The question was directed to Dean.
Dean just stared, his poker face revealing nothing.
"To tell you the truth, I wasn't sure about the both of you. I'm not sure if you are really 'paranormal investigators' as Donna claimed, or charlatans looking to make a quick buck that got lucky on her case. Treat it as a test. Uncovering that fact, that goes a long way in me having more faith in your abilities."
"Aren't you afraid of whatever it is getting to us?" Dean groused, his face unhappy with George's statement. Sam was heading towards unhappy himself. They hated being used by anyone, even if it was the client, even if he had a good reason for doing so.
George laughed out loud at that. "It didn't get to me or my son. Believe me, I slept in her old room by myself after the second attack, for two whole days, and nothing happened. Besides, if what I had suspected is correct, that it's targeting my family, I doubt it will disturb a total stranger. And anyway," he continued, his face sobering, "if you're really fraudsters, rest assured that I have enough clout with the local police force to put you away for a long while."
"Dad!" Trinity was horrified at that very frank statement.
George stood up, grabbed his daughter's hand, and faced the Winchesters. "Have a good night, gentlemen. Sleep well."
With that, he stood up and left, not giving them a chance to respond.
There was a loaded pause. Sam was more confused than bothered. Dean, on the other hand, looked more annoyed than confused. His voice, when he spoke, reflected his emotions.
"Wow. Way to make an exit. Is that supposed to make me feel threatened? Because right now, all I'm feeling is pissed."
Sam just shrugged. His older brother continued his rant.
"I mean, hell, after Zachariah and Lucifer, this doesn't even register on the threat scale. And what's with everyone just threatening us? Are we that threaten-able?"
Sam just stared at Dean. Dean noticed the stare.
"What? That's totally a word."
The younger Winchester just shook his head, part exasperated and part amused. "Right. Did you notice anything weird just now?"
Dean raised an eyebrow and said, "You mean the way Trinity keeps scratching her left wrist?"
"It looks like a reflex action, or some kind of a nervous tic."
"Think that maybe it's nothing supernatural and she was faking the whole thing?"
Sam shrugged. "Who knows? Let's go back to our rooms. I think both of us are way too exhausted to think clearly. Maybe a fresh eye tomorrow will help."
Dean stood up, and followed his brother towards the directions of their rooms.
"You know that we are bunking together right? There's no way that I'm letting you sleep on your own in a room where supernatural attacks had taken place. In fact, right now, at this very moment, you can pack your bags and move into my room. The bed is big enough for the both of us even with your gigantic frame."
Sam knew that this was going to happen the moment Dean told him what Skylar had said. His brother might hide his concern behind gruff and bluster, but even after all they'd been through, there was no way that he would let his brother stay in a haunted room on his own.
"Don't you want us to stay there tonight, maybe the spirit or whatever it was will show itself?"
Dean shook his head. "Both of us need to sleep, and there's been no fresh attacks since he contacted us. I think whatever it was can wait."
"Fine. Do you want to follow me into my room, or do you think you could let me pack in peace?"
"Be quick about it. Whatever that thing is might mistake you for the teenage girl because of your hair. I don't want to defend your life just because you have an irrational fear of barbers."
Sam just rolled his eyes. Yeah right, of course he wouldn't.
The screaming just won't stop and are his ears bleeding and who are these people tugging on his arms and legs, tearing them away from his body…
Dean shot up on bed, breathing hard.
This is getting predictable. And boring. Please tell me Gabriel is not repeating Mystery Spot in my dreams.
He stretched, exposing a sliver of skin when he pulled his shirt along with the movement, and looked at his brother, who was still sleeping soundly beside him, body curled inwards and arms stretching towards his side, as though searching for his older brother in his sleep.
He scratched his day-old stubble, and heaved a weary sigh. He didn't know why he was having these dreams. He hadn't had those since the Apocalypse started. It was as if his nightmares had spilled over into real-life and there was nothing else in his dreams that could haunt him while he was sleeping when reality itself was so much more frightening.
There was a possibility that something in the house was triggering the nightmares, but he didn't feel the creeps, and his instincts didn't scream at him to get out of there as soon as humanly possible.
Maybe it was just the case getting to me.
He sneaked a peek at the time on his cell phone and realized that he hadn't given his personal rebel angel a call to let him know where they were. Castiel might be on mission searching for God, but he was also sticking close to them, keeping tabs on where and when their hunts would be.
Dean had made the mistake of not informing the angel on his whereabouts, leaving only a voice message after two weeks, and the day after that he woke up to the solemn face staring at him sleeping. For a whole day the angel had followed him everywhere, taken up to standing too close in his personal space, generally being a pain in his ass.
He learned that lesson in a hurry.
Sighing, he formulated a plan. Bathroom first, and after he had showered and was feeling human enough, then he would call Castiel to let him know where they were, with a warning to not to just pop in here. This was a more or less a straight-forward case. There was no need to take up Cas' time when he had the more important job to do of finding his Father. No sarcasm intended.
With that vague plan in mind, he made his way to the bathroom, intent on repeating yesterday's moment of Heaven.
The bathroom held the usual fixtures, but aside of their enormous size that would even accommodate Sam, there wasn't anything noteworthy about it. The shower, on the other hand, was way better than excellent, or so Dean thought. The water pressure hit all the right spots on his body, and he had to stifle a loud groan at how good it felt, like little hands caressing his back and shoulders with just the right amount of pressure to make them unknot. When he'd showered the first time, he had turned the heat too high, and for the whole duration it never ran cold; today was no exception.
Oh, the shower. If I'm Shakespeare I'll be writing sonnets about the shower.
Half an hour later, he exited the bathroom in a cloud of mist, shivering a little in the comparative cold of the room. Sam was already awake, hunched down at the desk, looking at his laptop with intense concentration, squinting his eyes a little.
"Your turn in the bathroom, Sam. Stop watching porn before breakfast." Dean's chuckle was muffled by the t-shirt he was putting on.
He heard Sam huff at the lewd joke. Turning, he saw Sam already moving out of the chair to ransack his duffel, probably searching for his shaving kits, preferring to use his own rather than the ones provided. His younger brother stomped past him, the pout on his face belying his sulky expression, and slammed the door closed behind him.
Dean grinned. He had taken the best shower ever, in the history of showers, and he'd managed to push his brother's buttons before breakfast.
The day was looking up.
Dean finished dressing and went over to the desk to look at his brother's research. The page on the laptop showed a picture of a spirit, what the author thought was a poltergeist. Dean snorted, thinking of all the poltergeists that he had encountered. None of them had been visible. The artist probably drew it out of his own imagination.
He sighed and moved away from the desk to begin the inevitable task of calling Castiel. He pressed the speed-dial number '3' on his phone and waited for the line to connect. It rang five times and Dean was almost hoping for the call to switch to voice mail to hear that ridiculous greeting that never failed to amuse him, when the call connected.
"Dean." The way Castiel enunciated his name was almost like a greeting.
"Cas." He used the nickname just to annoy the angel.
"Is there an emergency?"
"No emergency. I'm just calling to let you know where we are right now, in case you needed to find us. We're in Florida, hunting down what most probably is a poltergeist in a rich man's house." He didn't elaborate, wasn't sure if the angel wanted to know the details but suspecting that he didn't care for them.
"Can you give me the address of your current location?" The Enochian symbols that Castiel placed on their ribs made it impossible for him to track them down.
"Dude, I don't want you zapping yourself to here out of the blue and scaring the family." He didn't want their current client to find out about the existence of angels and the coming Apocalypse on top of his current worry for his daughter. From his experience, he knew that it wouldn't bode well for anyone. George's head might explode from the sheer magnitude of it.
"I understand. I would try to use the phone instead of making my way there." Castiel sounded persistent.
Dean sighed. He wasn't quite sure if Castiel understood whatever that he was trying to say, but he supposed he could just give him the benefit of the doubt and hoped that the angel wouldn't drop in there unannounced.
"We are at 37, Florida Drive. Please, please, let me know at least ten minutes in advance if you are planning to zap your way here to pick us up and then zap us back to nowhereland."
"I'll try my best Dean, but the other angels or demons would not really be considerate enough to let me know beforehand about their plan of attack."
"Is that a joke? You made a joke!"
Castiel hung up without answering, cutting short Dean's chuckle. Dean sighed, shaking his head in weary amusement even though he was feeling more disgruntled after the call. He mentally shrugged, and waited for his brother to finish showering so that they could go and find some breakfast. Hopefully they wouldn't get lost in this maze of hallways before he could consume some caffeine.
I really should have asked George for a map to save ourselves some time.
Half an hour later, they entered the same dining room where they had their dinner the night before, without getting themselves lost. They found George sitting at the head of the dining table, and, to their surprise, Dr. Lewis as well. From what Sam had recounted to him about the night before, he had the impression that she didn't spend the night under the same roof as them.
"Good morning everyone." George threw a small smile at them.
Perhaps Dr. Lewis managed to cheer him up in more ways than one, Dean smirked at that thought. He stayed away from the mental images, though. There wasn't a need to scar himself mentally.
Sam acknowledged the greeting, smiling to them while Dean tried for a grin but he suspected it didn't came out anywhere near there. He marched over to the side table where their breakfast was laid out, aiming for the coffee-maker first and foremost, and pouring himself a cup. After sipping it straight, he managed to mutter a return greeting to both the owner of the house and his other guest.
"Where are Skylar and Trinity?" Sam wanted to know.
"Oh, it's still early. They usually won't be up until noon on a Saturday," George said, his mouth full of egg.
Dean had forgotten that it was the weekend. It explained why George and Dr. Lewis were still lingering over breakfast. Gleaming silver chafing dishes sat on the sideboard, their lids pulled invitingly back. Eggs, pancakes, sticky buns and bacon beckoned him closer and he noticed the fruit and bread baskets as well, full of fruit and toasted bagels. There were several bottles of syrups to go with the pancakes. Jam and preserves sat in tiny bowls next to cream cheese, a tray of what Dean thought might be fish next to that, and sliced tomatoes, onions and cucumbers.
He began loading his plate, then looked over his shoulder at Sam who murmured, "Lox and kippers." He huffed out a laugh at Dean's inquiring eyebrow. "I don't think you'll like them."
Dean looked pointedly at Sam's plate. He was holding a much more restrained plate with a toasted bagel, cream cheese, some of the pink fish. He snorted. There were pancakes, and Sammy wasn't having any. He would never understand his brother.
They ate breakfast in silence, uncomfortable to discuss anything in front of the professor. Ten minutes in, the silence was broken by Dr. Lewis who smiled tentatively at them and asked what they had planned for that day. Dean didn't answer her, hoping Sammy would do the talking while he was stuffing his face.
"We are planning to do some research on the property, its layouts and history. We did some checks on the property deeds before coming over, and Dean is planning to walk the boundaries of the property, so we can familiarize ourselves with the geography of the place. We usually split up so that we can cover more ground. We get a better view of everything that way."
George readily agreed to the arrangement and called his groundskeeper, Brian, to let him know the Winchesters had his permission for the run of the grounds. He would be at their disposal should Dean wanted to know more about the property or the land. Dean took down his number. George told him Brian was always moving around, but more often, they could find him working near the south-west part of his property. He also volunteered the use of one of the golf carts that they used to get around the extensive grounds.
"That's a good idea, actually. I thought I would have to walk around the area, and then call Sam if I get lost." Dean was quite enthusiastic about the golf cart. He'd never ridden one, and from what he could see on television, it was a fun vehicle to drive.
Sam shot a mock glare at Dean. "You would call me, but don't think that I don't know you. You would call to get me out of the house and make me walk around looking for you, while you were drinking lemonade and staying out of the sun."
Dean grinned and shrugged.
Dr. Lewis leaned back and listened to their banter with a small smile, but not joining in. It was plain to Dean that she was trying to figure out the real reason they were doing there. Dean knew the historical researcher fiction was a thin cover, and she was an intelligent woman. Even as Dean replied to Sam, he wondered what she was planning for the day.
As if reading Dean's mind, Sam turned to her, including her in the conversation. "What will you be doing today, Dr Lewis?"
She put down the cup of tea that she'd been nursing ever since they arrived and smiled at Sam.
"George and I were planning to take the children for a drive down to the beach. I just closed on a property there, and I wanted to check out how the renovations are going. George was kind enough to draw up plans for the guest house. With you here, though, I'm not sure if we are still going, or if George would prefer to stay here."
George shook his head, his expression one of dismay.
"I completely forgot about the trip! I'm so sorry Sue. A lot has been in my mind lately."
"It's okay, George." Sam said, with a smile, "we'll be busy doing uh, all the mapping and uh, measuring, and all that. There's nothing you could help us with even if you are here."
Dean nodded in agreement, working very hard to look earnest, not quite sure if he'd succeed. If the family was out of the house, the staff would be more likely to answer questions frankly than they would with George in the room. He hoped George had let the house staff know they had carte blanche to go wherever they needed. It wasn't as if they'd be after the silver, after all.
If George had any reservations about them, he didn't show it. Judging by his relieved smile, he thought that was a great idea. He turned to look at Dr. Lewis, who seemed torn about wanting to spend the day with her beau and insisting that said beau be at home to supervise what would be going on at his property. Dean held his breath, chanting in his mind, hoping his thoughts could be telepathically sent to the professor's head.
Go away, go away, go away.
Dr. Lewis nodded slowly in agreement, reluctant but giving in to her need for a trip out of the house and a whole day with the Frances family. George grabbed his phone and Dean wondered who he was calling. His question was answered when George gave an enthusiastic greeting to the person on the other end. "Hi Trin honey. Are you awake yet? We are going to the beach today remember?"
He listened for a while to what his daughter was saying, and then after calling out an "Okay", he ended the call and repeated the conversation with his son.
Eleven o'clock saw them waving the Frances' and Dr. Lewis off the property, as they piled into one of the two SUVs that George owned. Sam went back to their room and the internet to start on his half of the research while Dean checked out the property. He wasn't sure where to go first. It was shaping up to be a really hot day and although he'd never minded walking, especially on flat land, he thanked his lucky stars for the golf cart that was offered. As he walked towards the vehicle he reviewed what they had done so far.
They'd checked out Sam's former guest room for EMF right before breakfast, and they were rewarded with a loud humming from the meter, its lights flashing wildly; the same reaction as they had gotten the night before. The readings seemed to be stronger around the bathroom area, and although they searched thoroughly, they couldn't find anything out of place in the immaculate bathroom. They had checked out Dean's room before they dropped off to sleep the previous night, but the reading there wasn't strong enough to warrant suspicion.
Dean had made sure he was armed with a small silver knife, his own favorite Glock, and a pocketful of salt – in a Ziploc of course; he didn't want to ruin his jacket – from the trunk of the Impala, as he set out to explore the property. He patted the weapons, reassured by their weight as he set out for the unknown. He couldn't wait to find out what secrets were hidden in the grounds of the vast property.
Sam stole a glance at his watch and groaned. Two hours had passed since he'd started research, and he had little to show for it.
After walking around several parts of the house with the EMF meter and coming up with nothing, he'd settled in to do some research online. He hacked into the urban development office's computers, but so far there were only listings and prices of the property and the other lands surrounding it, and what George said checked out. There was a low turnover of owners in that area, so Sam jotted down the names of the owners of the neighboring land, with the intent to dig further into their families if need be.
He visited Trinity's Facebook page, and could immediately see the difference between the past Trinity and the present one, if he were to go with the pictures that she had posted online. The good thing about the albums was that they were dated, so Sam wrote down the dates of the events, planning to check them out with the girl if anything out of the ordinary happened on those occasions. The wide, happy smiles that graced her face in the pictures were miles away from the tentative grin that she presented to them yesterday at dinner and during the interview. It was no surprise that her father was worried about her.
He would bet his laptop that George's worry was similar to his own for his brother. Dean hadn't been himself lately, and looked even more weary since they stepped foot in this house. He didn't know if it was the case or the location that made him act the way he was now, or if Ellen and Jo's deaths were finally hitting him.
It was an accurate observation that Dean always got jittery among the rich. The younger Winchester had a theory that being around them took Dean back to the days when they lived for a whole summer in Orange County, California. He remembered each of them taking up various odd jobs for grocery money while Dad was on a hunt, mowing lawns or cleaning pools, or even, once, as waiters at a house party. They'd managed to earn a decent amount of money, but Dean had been forced to curb his tongue and attitude over the snide remarks about their family for three months, and even now, Sam wasn't sure if Dean had thought it was worth it.
He sighed and returned his focus to his research. For the sake of being thorough, he took a look at Skylar's Facebook page as well. Compared to his sister's, his page was almost bare, having a much shorter list of friends and only about twenty pictures as opposed to Trinity's hundreds. He seemed like the same geeky boy that he appeared to be over dinner last night. He read some of the comments on the kid's account wall, but there was nothing there to help them. Neither of them had mentioned the strange goings on in the house.
He clicked on another tab on his browser and opened a website on the supernatural that had served them well over the years. He lingered on the page that he had kept open since that morning, a page full of information about poltergeists. He reread what was written there even though he was familiar with the creatures, having banished several in the past. So far, it was the most likely suspect for the disturbances. Sam liked to cover his bases as much as he could, ruling out alternatives until they were relatively sure about what they were dealing with. He had a strange feeling that the answer to the case was not going to be that straightforward, but he decided to accept Occam's razor – the simplest solution - until proven otherwise.
He was rechecking the list of ingredients that they needed to make the protection bags when his brother came stumbling in, sweating profusely, along with a cap that he hadn't had on before. Without saying anything, Dean toppled face-down onto the bedding.
"Great, Dean, now all the pillows are going to stink of your sweat," Sam grumbled.
"Whatever, dude. It's boiling outside. You can crack open an egg, and it'll cook right there on the road," Dean replied, voice muffled by the bedding. After a beat, he turned to lie on his back, and Sam could see his face was dark, almost flushed.
"Can I cook the egg on your face instead?"
"Haha, very funny. Is my face really red?" Dean lifted his right hand to poke his cheek, and winced.
"Not really, but I think you're going to get more freckles." Sam was relieved to note that Dean's face wasn't sunburned.
"Uh-huh. I don't doubt that. Thank god Brian had some sunscreen with him, otherwise my face would be peeling already."
Sam smiled wide, amused. Dean had just admitted to doing something practical. "You wore sunscreen? The manly, invincible, Dean Winchester willingly rubbed some lotion on his face to preserve his beauty?"
Dean threw a pillow at him, which he dodged easily. "Shut up. It's for protection. As it is, I'm going to look like Lindsay Lohan in Parent Trap, face full of freckles."
"Well, at least you admitted to looking like a ten year old girl. So, anyway, what did you get from your recon?"
Dean smirked. "Recon? You James Bond now?"
Sam flipped him off, and gestured at him to continue. His brother tended to get distracted easily lately, and Sam had to work to keep him focused.
Dean obliged him. "This place is huge, Sam. There's a golf course, mini golf course, but still, a damn golf course! The stables are on the other side of the golf course, and there's a garden behind the house, where the late Mrs. Frances liked to tend by herself. A lot of flowers, and a waterfall feature I think, you'll love it, you can go take a look later. The pool is beside the garden, and it's huge, and there's a building that Brian said is the pool house. What the hell is a pool house?"
As Dean spoke, the pencil in his hands flew across a blank page of the journal, sketching a rough plan of the areas that he'd explored a few hours before. Sam ignored the jibe about him liking the flowers, and studied as Dean drew, taking note of the estimated distances of each feature against the others. He trusted his brother's judgment, and if the plan was a reasonable approximation of the layout, it meant that George's property was more extensive than they'd believed.
He answered Dean's question. "A pool house is like, a small indoor hall that people usually use during summer to get out of the sun and into the shade after they've gone swimming. I guess in George's case, it's big enough to qualify as a house."
"No shit, Sherlock. It's bigger than some of the houses that we've stayed in. Brian didn't want me to go in, so I can't check if anything's hinky there, but I don't think so." He added another feature on the sketch, this one slightly further away from the rest, and situated behind the garden.
"This one is Skylar's tree house. It has its own generator, along with its own TV and sofa, table and a freaking rug, dude. I thought tree houses are supposed to be pieces of wood with nothing inside and you're supposed to rough it out like you're camping?" Dean sounded puzzled at the apparent anomaly, and Sam couldn't help but laugh at the tone.
"Dean, rich people, remember? Their idea of 'roughing it' doesn't include pre-packaged rations or sleeping bags in the back of the Impala. Anyway, it's on his father's property. If he doesn't feel comfortable, he could just hoof it back to his room."
Dean shrugged. He indicated another building beside the house on the plan. "This one is the garage, and there's a shortcut from our room to where the cars are. Brian showed me. We don't have to walk all the way to the front porch and then turn back to the garage. Cool huh?"
Dean sounded like a child in a candy shop, and Sam had missed the enthusiasm that hadn't been present since he got his brother back from the literal Hell.
"So, apart from drooling over the tree house and the garden and the golf course, which by the way I don't get because you don't even like the sport, did you learn anything that might be useful in the case?"
His older brother smirked. "Hey, this is me. I brought along the EMF meter, but there was nothing significant, so I think it's localized in the main house. More interestingly, I got Brian talking and I learned that originally, this property stops just after the back garden, the one that George's wife liked. George wanted to buy the adjoining land for years, but the neighbor who owned the land beyond that always declined to sell, saying that he needed the land for his horses or something. Recently, probably due to the financial crisis, he sold the property and moved out. That was when George managed to buy the land to add on to his property. Guess how recent that was?"
Sam grinned and hazarded an educated guess. "Three years ago?"
Dean snapped his fingers and pointed to him, eyes lighting up. "Yahtzee. Brian mentioned that George bought the land a few months after his wife died. So now the $32,000 question is, how is this related to the case?"
Sam opened up the tab that had listings of all of the properties in the immediate area. The owners were not listed, but he thought that he might be able to find them through the phone book. "But the attacks began only recently. Maybe that's just a coincidence."
Dean shook his head. "I don't think so. There wasn't any reading on the meter, but it's just...a feeling, you know?"
"Well, okay." Sam trusted Dean's hunches with his life. "Did Brian say anything about the attacks, anything new happening right before the attacks?"
"That's another thing. He knew an awful lot about what happened to Trinity. He suggested that her problems might be hereditary. Turns out Mrs. Frances acted the same way right before she died, listless and convinced that something was hurting her."
"Erm, Dean, I don't think paranoia can be passed down through the genes."
Dean snorted. "Whatever, you know what I mean."
Sam frowned. "That might be why George is so worried about his daughter, but I wonder why George didn't mention that yesterday."
"He probably thought that it wasn't related? Or maybe it's too painful for him to remember."
"Nah, that's not it. There should be some sort of reaction at least, some kind of flashback, when he was telling us what happened. But he talked about it as though it was new to him."
Dean just shrugged. "We could ask him later, catch him off guard. Should be interesting to see his reaction. And he was supposed to give us the footage on the nights of the attacks, but he didn't."
Sam sighed. "Hmmm. We should also ask him if we could do the EMF readings in his room and the kids' rooms. I made a sweep of the first floor and most of the second floor here, but there're no traces of EMF anywhere. Right now, I'm thinking poltergeist activity even though nothing in the room was flying around when she was attacked. I think we should do up the protection bags and spread them around, just to be safe. Maybe we can draw it out that way."
"Fine by me. Did you find out anything more about Skylar and Trinity?"
"Nothing that can help us, although the sister has a lot of albums for the different events in her Facebook page, so I wrote down the dates and we can ask her later. Skylar's page has nothing of use. He's either a lot more private than we thought, or he has no friends."
"A little bit of both, I think. You know, do you think we really need to talk to them again? We could spread the protection bags and the attacks will stop, and that will be it."
"Since when we are ever that lucky? And besides, we still need to let George know that we're going to hammer out holes at every corner of his house on every floor."
Dean grimaced, already thinking of the expression on the architect's face. "Yeah, I'm gonna let you explain that one."
"You want to what!"
On retrospect, they could have brought up the topic more tactfully. But really, Dean thought, there was no good time for it, because George had came through the front door just before two in the afternoon with a thunderous expression, and the children had trailed in with forlorn expressions.
Dr. Lewis was not with them. George had immediately bellowed to Annie the housekeeper to prepare some food, and then he turned to the Winchesters - who happened to be right by the door when they entered - and demanded to know what they'd accomplished so far. He was sure that his Sasquatch of a brother did try to be gentle when he laid down what they had done, and what they were going to do, but clearly George didn't think so.
"You're not even sure that it was a poltergeist. And what happens if it doesn't work?"
Dean wanted to ask the man what he would do if it did work, but he could see Sam was trying to reason with him, so he held his tongue. It was hard, but if he could stay silent when a snotty brat had dressed him down publicly all those years ago, he could keep his mouth shut here.
"Look George, if it doesn't work, we'll try something else, but right now, that's the likely culprit, and it's the only way to get rid of a dangerous spirit. You want Trinity to be safe, don't you?"
The mention of his daughter's safety deflated George's ire for the moment, and he glanced over to his children who were following the conversation with wide eyes. Then he looked back at Dean and his anger inflated again. "You're proposing to demolish my house! Did you think I would just give you my keys and let you!"
Dean rolled his eyes, his impatience climbing. Both Skylar and Trinity must had gotten their calm demeanor from their mother, because between the veiled threat – having influence over the local police if anything happened – yesterday and this latest vehemence, George was turning out to be the dramatic one in the family. Who knew?
"No, I'm not allowing you to deface my property for something you're not even sure of."
Dean was still trying to hold on to his composure, pitching his voice low. "We're not going to tear the house down, only making small holes in the corners of some of the room that you can easily seal and paint over. For God's sake, man, this should be the least of your problems. You should be worried more about the safety of your children than your damn house." He was dimly aware he was getting louder towards the end.
"WHO SAID I'M NOT WORRIED?" George roared.
"ENOUGH," Sam said loudly, standing between them, trying to diffuse the tension in the room. "Dean, shut up."
Dean abruptly snapped his mouth shut, calming down but still annoyed.
His brother turned to their client and said, "George, please, we know what we are doing, and we won't be trying to destroy anything."
Before George could answer, Trinity stepped forward, her voice soft but firm, addressing Sam. "If we let you do this, will the attacks stop permanently?"
The brothers exchanged looks, and Dean raised his eyebrow, silently letting his brother decide if he wants to tell the truth. Sam nodded slightly, acknowledging the responsibility. He turned back to the young woman. "Honestly, we don't know. But it's the safest bet. Like I said before, this is the only way to get rid of the type of harmful spirits our research and knowledge indicate this is."
Sufficiently cooled, Dean thought he should extend an olive branch.
"George, it's a small price to pay for peace of mind. It's not like we're going to hack down an entire wall. It's just a small hole at each corner, hardly noticeable. No harm, no foul."
Trinity faced her father and spoke in the same tone. "Dad, we have to try."
"Yeah Dad, we have nothing to lose if we try it anyway," Skylar piped in.
Her father sighed, breath exhaling loudly, and rubbed his face with his hands. He looked undecided, and Dean mentally crossed his fingers. "Fine. Alright, you have my consent to break the walls. Do you need anything else?"
"You need to get yourselves and your staff out of the house for the night. Go for dinner or a movie or even camp out at your lawn or tree house if you want to, as long as no one else is in the house but us when we start tossing the bags in the walls. We don't want any collateral damage if the spirit turns violent."
Dean paused, and then added, "Oh, and we need a map of your house. Preferably the actual blueprints."
George flapped a hand, his gesture in agreement with whatever they were saying.
"Fine, fine. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go to my room. Trin, ask Lela to send up a tray when it's ready. I'm going to be busy the rest of the night, don't disturb me unless it was a matter of life or death." And with that, he strode off, presumably to his bedroom, the rest of them watching until he was out of sight.
"What's gotten his goat?" Dean murmured to Sam, perplexed. This morning all of them had been in high spirits when they left, and this was a complete turnabout.
"He had a fight with Dr. Lewis," Skylar blurted, shuffling forward and staring at both of them, blushing with wide eyes.
"Skylar, don't make it sound worse than it actually was." Trinity chided her brother. She looked apologetically at the Winchesters. "Dad and Dr. Lewis had a bit of a... disagreement while we were at the beach, and she didn't want to come back here, so we took her home. Nothing to worry about."
Her brother cleared his throat, and everyone's attention turned back to him. "I drew a plan of the house last summer, if you want I could give it to you. It's nothing official, but ..."
Dean grinned and slapped the boy on the shoulder. "That's great, Sky. It doesn't have to be exact, we just need to know where the corners of the house are. And how many floors there are. And where the exits are in case we need to make a quick getaway."
Skylar grinned widely, not hiding that he was pleased to be of help to them. "It's in my room. I'll go get it now." And he scampered off, leaving his sister with them. She smiled, but Dean could see the fear in her eyes.
"I'll...go and see what's taking Lela and Annie so long." And so the remaining member of the Frances family fled. Dean and Sam looked at the fleeing figure, then at each other, and both shrugged simultaneously.
They proceeded to trek to the garage, where all the ingredients for making the protection bags were stored in the trunk of the Impala.
"What was that back there?" Sam suddenly threw that question out. Dean, who was expecting it, tensed nonetheless.
"Dean, you were almost shouting. You nearly lost your temper. That's not nothing."
"Drop it, Sam. Concentrate on the job, not me." Honestly, he didn't know what had come over him either, but he wasn't about to tell his brother that. He simply wanted to finish up the case, and leave.
Sam muttered under his breath about idiotic brothers. Dean pretended not to hear, and then Sam spoke aloud, "With luck, everything will be settled by tonight."
"With luck," Dean echoed his brother's words, but nothing more. He resolutely ignored the twist inside his gut, telling him that luck didn't always favor their side.
The maps of the house that Skylar had provided were pretty impressive. Drawn in markers and pens, color coded, they detailed all three floors of the house, which included the basement, making it easier for the brothers to work out where the corners of each floor were and to make sure the way was clear for them for that night. Dean suggested making the holes beforehand, but after a discussion, they decided against it, for fear the poltergeist would start to retaliate sooner than expected. There were civilians in the house who would most likely be red flags for it, even though it was still daylight, and they didn't want to chance it. From what they'd heard, this particular poltergeist attacked mostly at night.
Sam spent the rest of the afternoon making the protection bags in the car – they didn't want to give the spirit a heads up if it was hanging out in the house – while Dean talked himself through checking for EMF hotspots for the family's various bedrooms and the basement with Skylar in tow. Sam was surprised his brother let the boy tag along with him, but whatever, he knew his brother had a soft spot for the fourteen year old, and wouldn't let the boy come to any harm. And he knew his brother was armed. Dean called him an hour later, saying there were elevated readings in George's room, but nothing alarming. In Skylar and Trinity's rooms, there was nothing.
A little flicker of doubt niggled at Sam's mind at that, but he brushed it off. Like Dean once told him, they were better off not borrowing trouble.
The rest of the afternoon was rather tension-laden. Dean joined him in the Impala and they finished making the protection bags, spending the hour after that double checking their weapons, and making sure everyone else was out of the house when the sun finally set. George had ordered the staff to stay at the hotel downtown, all expenses paid, and arranged for them to return tomorrow. They met with some resistance from Brian at first, but Annie the housekeeper had taken him aside. Sam didn't know what she said, but whatever it was worked, and all three of them left by six, the sun setting soon after.
They armed themselves with the plans along with a small tack hammer for each of them to make a small hole in the walls. Sam opted to take the second floor while Dean took the first floor and the basement. Sam was thankful the house wasn't any taller than three floors in total, because it was huge and twisty filled with nooks and corners, making navigation more difficult than it should have been.
Sam finished his round in about twenty minutes, the walls offering little resistance even though they were slightly thicker than any other walls he'd encountered. He hit a minor snag at the south corner, tripping over a tangled mop of wires and spending a couple of minutes thinking they were going to start flying on their own to wrap around his neck.
His ears were perked up for sounds of things flying or his brother's voice in case he needed to run to Dean's rescue. Even as he hacked the last wall in Skylar's bedroom – which was housed in the north corner of the floor – he looked over his shoulder, not wanting a repeat of the strangulation-by-lamp-cord scene. There was a heavy-looking lamp on the left side of the bed. He had his knife in his other hand, ready to cut through any wires that might want to wrap itself round his neck. His shotgun was right beside him, loaded with rock salts.
After hacking a big enough hole, he threw the last of the bags in, spun around, holding his breath and hyper alert for any sudden movements.
Silence. Not even a bump. And nothing was throwing itself towards him.
Still wary, Sam checked the plan and headed towards the stairs that would lead him straight to the basement, forehead furrowed, thinking. It was virtually impossible for a poltergeist to be so passive when they were trying to get rid of it. Usually there would be a lot of things thrown about, cupboards blocking the doors to the rooms, flying knives missing them by inches, the works. But here there was nothing of the sort. The silence was not oppressive, but just quiet quiet.
He walked down the stairs to the basement slowly, a small beam of light showing him the way. Even from the top of the stairs he could Dean tearing a hole in the wall, and as he reached the bottom the hacking sound stopped.
"Sam?" Dean's voice was soft, cautious.
"Yeah, it's me."
He walked over, following the direction of the voice, finding Dean behind the jukebox on the far end of the basement, the hammer in one hand, the flashlight and the bags on the other. His own shotgun was leaning against the wall. They opted to switch off all electrical appliances via the main switch, since by experience they knew it was all too easy to get electrocuted through a live wire. His brother was looking none the worse for wear.
"Are you almost done with the basement?"
"Two more to go after this one." Dean handed Sam one of the bags. "You take the north corner," he pointed to a spot in the map, "and I'll take the last one on the east."
Sam did as instructed, walking past a pool table and feeling his way around a bar counter and finally hacking a hole right beside the refrigerator. The last of the bags was dropped with both of them present at the corner, by the stairs, Dean concentrated on making a hole in the wall and Sam with the shotgun, guarding them from any unexpected attacks. It was bound to happen any moment now. Dean nodded to Sam, and threw the bag in. And both of them inhaled.
Any moment now. Yup.
Ten minutes later, as the Winchesters trotted up the stairs to the main floor, Sam decided to jinx it. "That was way too easy."
Because their experiences with poltergeists were shared, Dean just gave him a look that he could plainly read. Ya think?
So are you sufficiently intrigued? Did I stop at the correct place? *cackles*
Thanks for reading! I won't say that the next part will be up tomorrow, but within the next few days.