"You know, this is way off the reservation for you, Dean," Sam said incredulously.

Dean looked up across their dingy apartment's table. "What?"

"Dude, if I tried to pull something like that for your birthday you'd never let it go. I'd be Martha Stewart for the rest of my life. I mean, they're pink."

Dean shrugged and tried not to look at the only pastries the gas station had had in stock: mini-cupcakes. And they were pink, embarrassingly pink in the midst of the tattered and stained wall-papered room, the dust-bunny covered linoleum flooring, and the harsh, buzzing fluorescent lights.

"Yeah, well, I know you like the touchy-feely, bromance crap so I decided to put my masculinity somewhere it wouldn't get hurt and indulge you. I mean, you are thirty." Dean reached across the table and plucked a cupcake from the plastic carton, popping it whole into his mouth. "I drew the line at candles. No birthday wish is worth spitting all over the dessert."

Sam glanced down and grinned. "You're pathetic."

"I know. But don't push it." Dean cleared his throat and sat up. "So. Tell me about this case."

Sam swallowed his chuckles and pushed the cupcakes to the side to make room for the newspaper and the laptop. "Okay. So . . . five women disappeared in one night, all from the same four-square-mile radius . . ." He paused. "Hey, Dean?"


Sam looked up innocently. "No balloons?"