Lily waited in their booth for her friends to arrive at the bar. Now, with Marshall's arm around her and a few hours between her and the ghost attack, her shock was fading and her excitement was growing. She sipped her wine and ordered burgers for the whole group so they wouldn't waste two hours deciding on dinner. Beside her, Marshall was going through the contents of the ghost-facing kit yet again. They'd left Flopsy the third up in the apartment in her freshly newspapered cage, recovering from her ordeal by nibbling ferociously at a carrot.
Robin was the first to arrive, bursting with curiosity about the mission Lily had called her in for. "It's about Sam and Dean, right? I knew there was something weird about them. You know, I think Dean was kind of into me… Do you think –"
"He's gay, Robin," Marshall reminded her. A vague memory of Sam's voice reaching Lily through the fog of shock, telling Dean he sucked at pretending to be his husband hit Lily. She hadn't really thought about it at the time, but now that she thought about it, it did seem like Robin had a chance.
"You think I couldn't turn a gay guy straight?" Robin asked indignantly, sliding into the booth.
"You could turn me straight," Barney said smoothly as he walked up. Everyone turned to look curiously at him. "Automatic reaction," he explained, sliding in next to Robin and concentrating hard on his scotch.
Ted turned up not much later, taking the chair at the end of the booth and leaning forward to look at Lily in concern. "What happened, Lily?" He asked. "You sounded awful on the phone."
"The ghost in my classroom is real," Lily announced, fortifying herself with a gulp of wine.
Robin, Ted and Barney all spoke at once, a jumble of exclamations of disbelief concerned enquiries about whether she'd been eating Mexican again.
Marshall spoke over them: "Let the woman talk!"
A tingle of warmness passed through Lily at her husband's determination to let her be heard. Her friends fell quiet as she told them all about the strange inhumanity of the new little boy in her class and the ghost of Flopsy Two hurling things across the room, and the mysterious Sam and Dean, who weren't really married and had known what to do about the ghost rabbit.
"I knew they weren't together!" Robin exclaimed, fist-pumping under the table.
At the same time, Barney laughed. "There's no ghost, Lily. It's simply an elaborate ploy to get into your pants. 'The Ghostbusters': It's the oldest trick in the book."
Everyone looked at him expectantly. There was no stopping Barney when he got on a roll like this. It was better just to wait it out.
Barney paused dramatically before continuing. "Or to be more exact, trick number forty-one in the playbook. Step one: A handsome man overhears a hot chick talking about a ghost. Enlisting the help of up to twelve bros, he 'haunts' her place of work, while simultaneously becoming an unthreatening figure in the hot chick's life by pretending to be married and attempting to become 'friends' with her. In this case, Lily is the hot chick, and this 'Dean' guy has performed the triple whammy of pretending to be married, gay, and a father in order to lull Lily into a false sense of security. With the help of the gifted child actor he hired to pretend to be his son, he sets up the false haunting of the classroom while his wingman distracts the hot chick. Then, the final step: he saves her from the violent and terrifying ghost by pretending to be a badass professional ghostbuster and protecting her with his body. He then 'deals with' the ghost, and the hot chick is so grateful and impressed with his badassery that she throws herself into his arms and bangs him like a wildcat."
"Wait, how do you know it wasn't Sam who set it up? He is the one that talked to Lily the most, after all." Robin sounded a little put out.
"You've done that? And it actually worked?" Ted asked, expressions of disgust and awe battling to take over his face.
"Oh, it worked all right. Repeatedly," Barney held his hand up for a high five. No one high fived him. He put it down reluctantly, and looked at Lily again. "I hate to break this to you Lily, but there is no ghost. It was just an elaborate ploy to get you to let Dean 'stroke your rabbit'."
There was a pause. "Is that even a real thing?" Ted asked.
"It is now," Barney said, "Innuendo high five!" He held his hand up again. This time Robin slapped it. Lily couldn't blame her, really.
"No," Marshall said loudly, stopping their friends before they got too distracted with the playbook and dirty puns, "If Lily saw a ghost, there was a ghost."
Wendy the waitress chose that moment to deliver their burgers. She doled them out, casting Marshall a strange look before departing with less-than-usual friendliness.
"And everyone has to join in the mission," he continued. He cut through their protests of having to go to work and having to pick up chicks by announcing: "I'm invoking the bro code! Now Lily, tell them the plan."
Lily told them the plan.
"So we're going to stand around in a pet cemetery, waiting for some guys to dig up a dead rabbit?" Ted asked.
"Yes," Lily said with finality. "Now, everyone eat your burgers. They didn't say what time they were going, and I don't want to miss anything."
"They're not coming, Lily," Robin complained, pulling her coat tighter around her, "You said there'd be pretty men digging things up."
"I can dig things up," said Barney with surprising eagerness, "I'll need someone to hold my coat though. It's Versace." He began to unbutton his thick black coat.
"Wait," Lily slapped Barney's hands down and peered out from around the tree they were hiding behind, "Someone's coming."
Three silhouetted figures were winding between the miniature gravestones and tidily trimmed rose bushes. The two larger figures were running the beams of their flashlights across the headstones. Lily could just make out something that might have been a shovel over the shorter one's shoulder (that one must be Dean, she deduced), and what looked unnervingly like a gun in the biggest one's hand. The third figure came up to Dean's hips and appeared to be completely unarmed. Lily wasn't sure if she would have been more freaked out if he'd had a weapon or not, but the fact that he didn't cemented her belief that he wasn't human.
Marshall nudged her. "I finished the salt line. I had to go all the way around the tree." Marshall was adorably excited about being able to use his ghost-facing kit. They'd had to stop on the way to pick up a bulk supply of salt on their way to the cemetery. Lily privately thought they would probably be far enough away from the action that it wouldn't matter if they were in a salt line or not, but it made Marshall happy and she was sure she could find a use for the leftovers.
"Dammit, that's the fifth Flopsy so far," Lily recognised Dean's growling voice, "Why can't people be more original with their naming? Oh look, another cat called Fluffy."
"Well, what would you call your cat, Dean?" Sam sounded amused.
"I don't have a name picked out for my imaginary pet cat, Sam. Some of us here aren't twelve."
"It's Han Solo," the childish voice of Cas piped up from behind a rose bush.
Lily missed Sam's reply because Marshall, Ted and Barney were exploding with excitement at the awesome taste in movies of someone who was either a badass ghostbuster (Marshall's view) or a legendary pick-up artist (Barney).
"This one says 'Flopsy was a nice rabbit, from room twelve,'" Dean said.
"The ghost was in room two, Dean. Anyway, the kids didn't know Flopsy Two was dead, so they can't have written a message."
"Why didn't you get a better description of where he was buried?"
"Why didn't you?"
Lily lost patience and stood up, ignoring Marshall's efforts to keep her inside the salt circle. She stepped out from behind the tree and began winding her way over to the men, to inform them they were way over on the wrong side of the cemetery. Marshall followed her, looming beside her with a flashlight in one hand and the weird electronic thing the ghost-facing kit had called an EMF meter in the other. Ted followed because he was the third part of the tricycle, Robin followed in order to get a closer look at the men, and Barney followed – well, Lily didn't really know why. She suspected it was to impress Robin.
Sam and Dean froze at the sight of five people striding across the graveyard towards them. "Ah – this isn't what it looks like?" Sam said quickly, attempting to hide the sawn-off shotgun in his hand behind his back.
"Then you haven't come to dig up and burn the bones of a rabbit to get rid of the ghost in Lily's classroom?" Marshall asked.
"Can I see your gun?" Robin asked flirtatiously.
"I have a gun!" Barney practically shouted.
Robin cast her gaze towards him speculatively. "Really?"
"Well, I'm thinking of getting one," Barney tore his gaze away from Robin for the first time to look over the Ghostbusters. He spluttered angrily. "You – You're James Bond! You – I – Vengeance will be mine!"
"Uh, right," said Dean, "You're kind of nuts, you know that?"
"I do not have time for this," Cas informed them in a no-nonsense tone that suddenly made Lily feel very small. "Direct us to the grave of the rabbit immediately."
Even Barney shut up for a second, although Lily could practically feel the glare he was directing towards Dean.
"That's actually what I came over here for," Lily told them, "Follow me." She led the way across the graveyard to a headstone not far from the tree they had been hiding behind.
Once they were at the correct grave, Dean ordered them out of the way in the same decisive way that Sam had shoved Lily under the desk in the classroom. When nobody moved, he explained: "We don't want anyone to get hurt. It might just be a dead rabbit, but it's a really pissed off dead rabbit."
"But I brought my ghost-facing kit!" Marshall protested.
"I'm not leaving until I know my class is safe," Lily added.
"I don't believe there is a ghost," Barney continued to glare at Dean.
"This is the first interesting thing to happen to me all year," was Ted's contribution.
"I can shoot it," said Robin, "I don't really believe in ghosts, but I really want to use your sawed-off."
Sam and Dean both looked over at Robin, momentarily distracted.
"Dean. Concentrate." Cas was beginning to sound annoyed. Dean shook himself.
In the finish, Sam shooed them back to the salt circle, telling them they could watch from there if they had to, but they were not to leave it under any circumstances. Lily accepted the terms, but added an escape clause in her head that replaced under any circumstances with unless something really cool is happening, and added the stipulation that they had to let Marshall film it.
Lily watched as Dean handed his flashlight to Cas, and stabbed the tip of his shovel into the hard ground, beginning to dig. Lily momentarily lost herself in a dream about his muscles rippling under his coat. She came to just as Dean was saying: "That was so much easier than a human grave. We should specialise in animals." Then he was flying backwards, releasing an involuntary gasp of pain as he landed across three foot-high headstones.
"Oh my God," Robin, Barney and Ted shouted in unison behind Lily.
"Son of a bitch!" Dean growled, rolling to his feet, "Let's kill this little bastard! Where is it?"
"It's behind you!" Marshall shouted, pointing behind Dean. Lily followed his finger, but saw nothing. "It's on the camera," He insisted, directing Lily's attention to the viewing window of the ghost-facing camera. Sure enough, lurking in midair behind Dean's head was a slightly green, semi-transparent rabbit.
Dean whipped around just as the ghost flickered back into sight. "Shoot it!" He shouted, diving for the ground as a handful of stones ripped themselves out of the ground and pelted towards him. Suddenly, Cas was there, so fast Lily didn't see him move, blocking Dean's head with his tiny body and showing no pain as the stones hit him. Sam's shotgun blasted, whatever was in it ripping through the apparition's non-corporeal body until it disappeared. Dean scrambled up and dashed across to the tiny grave. Reaching it, he grabbed some kind of can that Sam had left beside the grave and tipped its liquid contents over the body in the grave. He reached into his pocket and came up empty handed. He swore loudly. "My lighter's gone!" And then: "Sam!"
The ghost had reappeared and had somehow pinned Sam to the ground, digging into his neck with powerful back legs. Cas was there too, holding the dead rabbit back with some kind of force, a strange white light emitting from where his hands touched the ghost.
"Move, Cas!" Dean cried, kneeling to get a good angle with the shotgun he'd lost when the spirit had thrown him the first time.
"Someone needs to light those bones," Lily announced. "Who has their lighter?"
In the end, after a small struggle, it was Robin who sprinted across and dropped her flaming lighter into the open grave, sending the bones up in a rush of flame just as Dean fired across Sam's chest at the angry bunny. As the spirit moved on in a burst of flame, it released Sam and he reflexively sat up slightly, just in time to be winged by a spray of rock salt from Dean's gun.
Lily, Marshall, Ted and Barney went over to join Robin at the burning grave. Marshall still had the video camera in his hand and was excitedly talking about sending it in to the ghostfacers website when Sam, Dean and Cas came over.
"So your room should be okay now," Sam told Lily, wheezing slightly and clutching his ribs.
"Let me look at that, man. Sorry, I know how much that crap hurts," Dean was too concerned about Sam to give anyone else any attention.
"It's okay dude, it's not your fault." Sam winced, "Did I ever apologise for that time I shot you in the chest with this stuff?"
"We're good, Sam," Dean said dismissively, "We should go."
"Just a second," Lily demanded, "What is Cas? I know he's not human. What are the other things out there we should be worried about? And why were you here? "
" What I am is no concern of yours," Cas said sternly, "And we were here largely because Dean found it amusing. Also, because he thinks you look like the witch who has the 'hot lesbian action' in Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The air around him fizzed with electricity. The screen of the video camera in Marshall's hand turned to silver snow and then to black.
"So you guys aren't really married, then?" Robin looked at Dean hopefully.
"We're brothers," Sam explained.
"We should go fix you up, Sammy," Dean said, steering his brother away. "You guys should probably go too. Someone might have seen the fire." And with that, the three of them left without looking back. Lily had a funny feeling the newest member of her class wouldn't be coming back.
"What just happened?" Ted asked dazedly.
"You just got a new story to tell your kids someday," Lily told him.
"I'm not married," Barney volunteered, still stuck on the things that really mattered.