Warning: Humorous violence turning a hair scary. Language suitable for the rating. Brief mention of noncon, not graphically described. Drunkenness ;)
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or any related characters. That all belongs to Kripke. I'm just playing in his backyard for a little while. Images in the art aren't mine either, in case you were wondering.
Author's Notes: Here it is, the story for that lovely art piece by dollysdoodles for the Summer Lovin' Reverse Mini Bang over at Big Pretzel at LJ. To see this with the art, see my LJ at patriciatepes dot livejournal dot com (remove spaces, replace with periods). Setting for this is early S6, before "The French Mistake" and after "Like a Virgin" for reasons to become obvious later. All you basically need to know right now is that Sam has his soul and the wall in his head.
Don't Drink the Water
"Florence, Alabama. Cute," Dean said as he parked his Impala in front of the cheap motel.
"It has to be mystical, Dean. I mean, the statistics alone are mind-boggling," Sam said, for probably about the millionth time since he'd brought the case up to Dean.
"We're here, aren't we?" Dean said, cutting the engine. "You don't have to keep repeating that like a parrot."
Sam scoffed, shaking his head. "Sorry. I just—I mean, have you read any of this yet?"
He shoved a stack of white printouts into Dean's face, and the elder Winchester batted them away. He nodded, eyes rolling even as he did. Turning, he grabbed his duffle out of the backseat, opening the door as he tugged the bag into his lap.
"Yeah, Sam. You insisted, remember? Back when I was still arguing that this case wasn't for us? You know, before I said 'fine, let's go'?"
Dean got out of the Impala, doing a quick turn to locate the main office. Sam followed shortly after, shoving the papers into his own duffle. He rounded the front of the car to join his brother in step as they made their way over to claim a room.
"All right. But what do you think it is? All of these reports, these deaths, all in the course of one night. And you heard the scanner on the way in. There's been another death. Stabbings, accidental injuries, car wrecks, fights, fires… none of them seem connected."
The both of them reached the glass door of the office, Dean reaching out a hand to grasp the handle. However, he hesitated, raising a brow at his younger brother.
"And you're sure there's not a ball game?"
"No ball game, Dean."
"Are you really sure? 'Cause I've heard these people take their college football seriously. Like, miss-their-only-child's-wedding seriously."
"No ball game!" Sam all but shouted.
"Fine, fine," Dean said, pulling open the door.
It took only a matter of moments to get a room—two double beds, as usual—from the manager. Once they had paid, it was only a straight walk now to the proper door—room nine. Truck and car horns on the nearby highway followed them on their short walk, and Dean's brow furrowed. He really hoped it wasn't this loud at night.
"We better get changed," Sam said as soon as they were inside the room.
The room smelled as any motel room did. Freshly cleaned. Too freshly. Like, speed-rush job clean. The beds were made—the top comforters being an array of dark colors meshed in what could only be described as an abstract design—and the green carpet was the furthest thing from soft that Dean could imagine. Sam dropped his duffle on the bed farthest from the door, pulling out the black suit that he had used on such similar occasions. Immediately following, he made his way into the small bathroom, shutting the door.
"Yeah, I didn't have to pee or anything," Dean called after him. "You big girl."
"We're only a couple of blocks from the most recent report. If we hurry, we might be able to chat with the local law enforcement, get a feel for what they think is going on, and get the details we've been missing," Sam called from within the bathroom, utterly ignoring Dean's comment.
Dean groaned, rubbing a hand to his stomach. The last bite to eat the two of them had had was breakfast, at a Waffle House at around 6 a.m. It was now just past noon, and Dean's stomach was feeling the time gap big time. But he knew that there would be no arguing with Sam. Or, more correctly, there would be arguing, where Sam would inevitably win using the "a hunt is a hunt" point. So he saved himself the time, pulling out his own black suit and tie and switching into them. By the time he had dressed and fished out the fake I.D.s, Sam was out of the bathroom and ready to go. Dean snorted back a laugh as his brother ventured over to his laptop, pulling it out and tucking it under his arm.
"Fix your hair enough, Samantha?" Dean sniped.
Sam groaned. "You're not the only one with a bladder, Dean. Can we go?"
He was out the door before Dean could respond. The older Winchester groaned. He gave a longing stare back at the bathroom before shrugging.
"I guess so," he muttered, following after.
Sam had been right about the distance. It took Dean longer to pull out into the traffic of the highway than it did for them to actually arrive at the scene. They climbed out of the car, pulling badges long before they ran into their first cop. And when they did, it was none other than the local chief. The man was old, his skin rather leathered from way too many days in the sun without the proper SPF. He used his thumb to push up the brim of this tan hat, a gaze of steely gray eyes locking on Sam and Dean, who lost no times in flashing their badges.
"I'm Agent Morgan, and this is Agent Hotchner of the FBI," Sam said as he and Dean put away their badges.
Dean shot his brother a glare, trying his best not to put too much questioning in it. Finally, he turned back to the chief, who nodded.
"Figured you feds would be on the way," he said. "I'm Chief Marshall Pruitt."
"Is that two titles and a name?" Dean asked, and Sam elbowed him as discreetly as possible.
Chief Pruitt chuckled, shaking his head. "Nice to see someone who keeps their sense of humor in a job like this. I guess you're here about the drugging or mass poisoning or whatever the hell it is. Follow me."
Pruitt walked a little ahead of them, and Dean whirled to Sam.
"Morgan and Hotchner?" he whispered.
Sam shrugged. "Criminal Minds."
"Look, if you can watch Dr. Sexy M.D., I can watch Criminal Minds. Now come on," Sam said, and the two of them entered the home.
It was a quaint little house. Tudor in design, two stories. A staircase extending to that second floor opened up just across from the main entrance. To the left was clearly a living room, while the right led into a dining area. The cops were gathered in the dining room.
They stepped under the yellow and black crime scene tape, stopping just short of the body that was still lying, sprawled, on the floor. Chief Pruitt stood up from his crouch, motioning toward the corpse.
"Poor bastard. Looks like he burned himself from the inside out," he said, stepping around the legs to stand closer to Sam and Dean.
"What do you mean?" Sam asked.
"According to his friends, he was trying to do a party trick. You know, blowing fire out of your mouth," Pruitt explained.
Sam moved away now, bending down at where the man's head was. Dean looked down, taking in the scene. The man had to be no older than twenty-five, maybe even younger. His hair was dark, cut close to the head, and his eyes were frozen open, wide greens that spoke volumes about his death, that it had come as quite a surprise. Sam motioned to a nearby cop for a glove, slipped on the blue latex thing, and moved the victim's head.
"The mouth," Pruitt said, pointing.
Sam maneuvered the mouth opened, and Pruitt crouched down beside him, shining a penlight inside. Sam's eyes widened.
"Are those burns?" he asked incredulously.
Dean moved to stand over his brother's shoulder. Pruitt nodded.
"Yup. Friends say he took a big swig of lighter fluid, lit a match, and was going to blow out the liquid and catch it on fire. Only, his hand got too close to the liquid that was on his lips. Coroner said the fire blew down his throat when he breathed in in surprise, frying his lungs. Dead."
"Uh," Dean said.
Pruitt gave a breathless chuckle. "That's what I said."
Sam stood, the chief following his motion, and shook his head. He removed the glove, tucking it into his pocket.
"So what makes you think this is related to the other cases? The mass… drugging?" Sam asked.
"Because of how this guy's friends said he was. They said they'd gone out to lunch, shopping, and the like. All in all, they figure they were gone for about three hours before returning home, and that he'd already begun to act funny. Like he was drunk. The thing is, they swear he was never out of sight. Not once. But, the longer it went, the more the drunkenness continued. Until… this."
"The other cases… they had drunkenness reported?" Dean asked.
Pruitt nodded. "The ones where there were witnesses, yeah."
"All right. Well, we'll meet you back at the station to go over what you've got," Dean said, clapping Sam on the shoulder and indicating the door.
"We'll be just a while longer. Still gotta get this guy bagged and tagged," Pruitt agreed.
Sam and Dean parted ways, making their way back outside to the Impala. Once inside, Dean shook his head.
"Food. I'm starving," he said, letting the engine roar to life.
Sam arched a brow at him.
"Dean, are you serious? We should head to the morgue, find out something more," his brother argued.
"Dude," Dean said, pointing a single finger at Sam, "I haven't had a damn thing to eat since six this morning. Six! Not even a measly bag of chips. We're eating. End of story."
Sam sighed, leaning back in his seat. "Fine. Whatever. Let's go."
They eventually found their way into Historic Downtown Florence, which was a quaint little district peppered with various businesses squished together in adjoining buildings. Particularly, they found themselves in the diner known as Trowbridges, which Sam was not particularly happy about. Seeing as the lunchtime rush was over, the two of them found a booth seat rather quickly, picking one in the far, back corner, right next to the kitchen. Of course, this was not exactly a large place. Rather linear in shape, it had a high countertop that stretched from just across from the entrance, all the way down the right hand of the shop back to a little gap so that that the staff could get in and out. It was lined with stools, and behind the counter were a long mirror and little signs of all shapes and sizes that announced the varieties of ice cream the shop sold. All along the walls were framed pieces of articles and pictures, showing the place's history. Tables filled the space in between the stools on the right and the booths along the left wall. And the entire place was decorated in a sort of teal color, with silver and beige complementing. It was all rather retro, and Sam groaned.
"We could've at least tried the frozen yogurt place if you wanted to eat at an ice cream joint," he argued, making sure his long black tie was off the table.
Dean grinned. "Ah, come on, Sammy? Didn't you see the sign? This place was on Food Network. It's gotta be good."
Sam sighed and pulled out his laptop, setting it up before him. After a moment of not so subtly ignoring Dean, a waitress arrived at their table. She was young, college-aged—which fit, since this was a college town. Her long blonde hair was braided down her back, and her bright brown eyes were gleaming as she greeted them.
"Welcome to Trowbridges. What can I get for you two?"
"Uh," Dean said, leaning around her to gaze at the menu. "I'll take a hot dog. Everything on it. And… do you really have Coca-cola in the glass bottles?"
Her smile widened. "We sure do. Would you like one?"
Dean grinned. "Yeah."
She jotted the order down in her pad, turning toward Sam.
"And what for you?"
Sam glanced up at the girl as if he had forgotten she was there. He seemed to take in her simple work cloths, a shirt provided by the job that bore the place's name, and a pair of pressed black slacks that were looking a little less than pressed at the moment. He leaned around her, his eyes roving the boards on the opposite side of the counter. Finally, he grinned up at her, the move vanishing almost as soon as it had appeared.
"A pimento cheese sandwich, please," he said.
Dean arched a brow, curling up his nose at the order. But he remained silent as the waitress wrote the order down.
"And what to drink?" she asked.
She made no verbal reply to that, nodding and bustling off to fill the order. The moment she was gone, Dean leaned in.
"Pimento cheese?" he asked.
Sam's head snapped up, shaking. "Didn't you have to pee or something?"
"Chill. No public restroom," Dean said.
Sam sighed. "Then why did you pick this place?"
"It was on Food Network, dude."
Sam groaned. Shaking his head some more, he whirled the computer around to Dean.
"That house we were at was case thirty-one that fits into the weird rise in 'accidents' in this town. All starting yesterday at around seven or eight at night. Other than what we just learned from Pruitt, there's no other common factor. They all just died doing… stupid things. And that's like the chief said. Those are just the ones that have had direct witnesses."
"And the ones that didn't?"
"Were car wrecks."
Dean didn't get to reply right away, as the waitress had returned with their orders. She sat down each item in front of the person who ordered it, calling it out to them. Dean and Sam thanked her, and she told them to let her know if there was anything else they needed. Sam went ahead and asked for the check—much to Dean's chagrin. The waitress seemed a little unhappy about that as well, but left it all the same, going back to her work.
"We need to get to the morgue, examine some of the other bodies," Sam said, lifting his glass of water.
"Yes. After food and a bathroom," Dean said, popping the cap on his coke and lifting his hot dog to his mouth.
"After food, yes. The bathroom can wait," Sam said, taking a long drink of his water.
Dean looked up, ready to argue, but Sam held up a hand.
"I don't wanna hear it, Dean. You're the one who chose the diner without a restroom. This is your fault."
Dean groaned, swallowing his overlarge bite of hot dog and bun. "Fine. But it cannot be healthy for me to be holding it like this."
After their food was done and paid for—all too quickly for Dean's liking, and he wasn't exactly thrilled about skipping dessert since Trowbridges was kind of known for just that sort of thing—the two of them headed to the local morgue. The coroner gave them no trouble once the badges were flashed, and led them straight away to the victim before the one they had visited earlier.
"This one was caused by him falling off his balcony and landing, of all the things in the world, an exposed metal rod," the coroner said, as she pulled out the slab.
The body was covered by a thin sheet of medical tissue, and Sam and Dean stepped closer as the red-headed coroner pulled it down to the corpse's waist. Sam jumped, nearly falling backward after tripping over Dean's foot. He caught himself on his brother's shoulder, and Dean arched a brow up at him.
"You okay there, Agent?" he asked.
Sam blinked, several times, nodding. The coroner eyed them for a moment before turning to the dead man in front of them.
"As you can see, he landed on it, mouth wide open, and it pierced straight through the back of his throat."
"Why was his—?" Dean asked, letting the sentence hang.
"According to his friends, he went down yelling, ahem, 'Wahoooo!'" she answered, imitating an arm's up celebration pose.
She dropped her arms after a moment, a somber look on her face as Dean stared at her. After a moment, she closed her eyes, nodding.
"I know. But toxicology showed no signs of alcohol consumption," she said.
Still gripping Dean's shoulder, inexplicably, Sam giggled. Both the coroner and Dean turned to stare at him, and Sam could only press a hand tightly to his mouth, doing little to nothing to stifle the amusement pouring out.
"I fail to find this that amusing, Agent Morgan," the coroner said in disbelief.
"Yes, Agent, what is so damned funny?" Dean snapped.
Sam shook his head. But, after a moment, he lifted up his arms the way the coroner had when she was imitating the death of the man in front of them.
"Wahooooo!" he said, followed by outright laughter. "I'm sorry. It's just funny."
And then he hiccupped, falling backward. Dean only managed to catch him and stabilize him on his feet before his ass had hit the hard floor. Turning back toward the coroner, who stared at Sam with wide eyes, Dean gave a friendly smile.
"Excuse me for just one minute," he said, and she nodded as Dean pulled Sam off to the side.
"The hell is up with you, Sammy?" Dean muttered.
Sam shook his head, chuckling. Finally, going suddenly serious in a way that only someone who very obviously had something wrong with them could, he said, "I don't know. I feel… funny."
He started giggling all over again, his eyes going up and down Dean's body. Dean shook his head.
"What are you doing?"
"Have you gotten shorter? You're so… short," he said, laughing.
"Oh, jeez," Dean groaned. "I'm gonna find out how the hell this happened, and then there will be hell to pay. Now, please, just stay right here."
He propped Sam up against the nearest wall, as Sam saluted him. Dean moved back toward the coroner, who stood with arms crossed. Dean clapped his hands once, rubbing them together. Then, he jerked a thumb back at Sam.
"I have to apologize for my partner there. He's, uh, going through some stuff, and he's been hitting the sauce pretty hard lately. It hasn't affected his work like this, before though. I'm sorry."
The coroner's features softened a bit as she leaned around Dean to see Sam slowly sliding down the wall, laughing as he went. She looked back at Dean.
"What kind of things?" she asked.
"Uh, um… well…. His boyfriend just broke up with him," Dean said, nodding solemnly.
"His boyfriend?" the coroner asked.
"Yeah. His short boyfriend. The boyfriend, he had dwarfism. It was a fetish of his. Yeah. But, I need to get him out of here. Thank you for your time," Dean said, shaking the coroner's hand.
"Of course. Sorry about… all that."
Dean thanked her again, grabbing Sam and making his way out of the building.
When they arrived back in their room, Dean all but threw Sam on his bed. Grabbing a chair from the table, Dean whirled it around to sit in it the wrong way.
"Okay, Sammy, what's up? Where the hell did you get the booze?" he asked.
Sam leaned up, not bothering to use his hands. Dean found that oddly coordinated for a drunk, but chose not to comment. Sam stifled another fit of giggles, coughing in his attempt to swallow them down.
"I didn't," he said.
"Nice one, Sam. Tell me another one," Dean said.
Sam shook his head, a little too hard, and he fell back, chuckling and muttering something close to "dizzy." Dean sighed as Sam pulled himself back upright again.
"I'm serious, man. All I've had is water," he protested.
Dean ran a hand down his face, sighing. He stood, kicking the chair gently back in the direction of the table. He held up both hands in the most nonthreatening stance he could muster—especially considering the fact that he was ready to smack his kid brother.
"Look, I get it. You've got those Hell memories to contend with, the ones you aren't supposed to search for in your mind. I've been there. Maybe not quite in the same way you were, but I get it, I do. But we were on a job, a job that, might I remind you, not only you sent us on but that we still have nothing substantial to go on."
"No, no, no!" Sam said, falling back and hitting his hands on the mattress like a child having a tantrum. "I didn't drink."
Dean shushed him, tugging the oaf farther up on the bed and laying his head on his pillows.
"I know, you did stuff that was bad, but you didn't have a soul. It's okay," Dean said.
Sam groaned, trying to sit up again, but Dean pushed him back down.
"It's okay. Just this once. Just… sleep it off, okay. We'll talk about it in the morning. Meanwhile, I'm going to the bathroom."
As Dean moved toward the bathroom, he heard Sam laughing. He turned, brow arched.
"What is it?"
"You have to pee," Sam snickered.
Dean rolled his eyes, closing the door behind him.
It had taken Dean hours to coax Sam into sleep. But finally, he had dozed off, and Dean had all but collapsed on the bed next to his. A light breeze running itself over Dean's body pulled him from that sleep, and he sat up, yawning.
"Sammy?" he said, turning toward the other bed.
But Sam was nowhere to be seen. The sheets were turned down and crumpled like maybe he had had to struggle his way out of bed. Dean stood, rubbing the sleep out of one of his eyes as he moved toward the bathroom.
"Sam, you in there?" he said, arriving at the door.
It was empty, nothing but the small sink, small toilet, and overlarge shower in sight. Dean turned back toward the rest of the room. Sam's stuff was all still in the room, his laptop even open on the table and on. Then, with his heart skipping a beat or two, he noticed that the room's door was ajar.
"Sammy?" Dean shouted, running for it.
He stopped just at the edge of the sidewalk that ran the length of the motel. He searched the parking lot frantically from where he stood, again, his brother nowhere in sight. Finally, he cast his gaze a little farther out, and his eyes focused in on a figure that was inching closer and closer to the highway. Dean blinked, willing his eyes to wake up faster and register what was happening.
It was Sam, fully dressed, holding something in his right hand—an mp3 player—and he was dancing. Of all things, dancing. But the more he danced, the closer he got to the road. And the road was busy as hell today.
"Sam!" Dean shouted.
But the younger of the Winchesters didn't even looking up. Instead, he continued to boogie his way toward certain doom. Dean's eyes flew to the highway, just in time to see a semi barreling down.
"Oh, damn," he muttered, taking off at full speed.
He crossed the parking lot in moments, all the while shouting Sam's name. But still it did no good. Sam had stumbled down into the small ditch that separated the end of the parking lot from the road. But still, he danced, and Dean kicked it into high gear, putting everything he had into the run. The closer he got, the more he could hear, and apparently Sam was singing along with whatever the song was at the time. His eyes were even closed.
"Friggin—" Dean huffed, his eyes widening as he watched Sam—eyes still closed and moving to the music—top the short hill of the ditch and put one foot on the asphalt.
Dean looked back to the road, and the semi was drawing ever nearer. The driver had noticed what was happening, and he started tugging on his horn, as much as he could. But still, Sam did nothing but dance.
Dean caught up just as Sam was fully in the road, grasping his brother's arm and using all of his weight to pull him back into the ditch. The semi was still honking as it passed by. The brothers landed in the grass-dirt-gravel-and-debris filled ditch. Dean recovered first, listening to Sam chuckle like a maniac as he all but tore the headphones out of Sam's ears.
"What the hell, Sam? You could've been killed! You almost were. You were almost a pancake on the highway!" Dean berated.
Sam looked up at him with wide eyes, a ghost of a smile playing about his lips as a single, solitary chuckle escaped. Shaking his head, Sam looked wistfully back toward the motel room.
"I guess, I, uh, didn't realize," he said, following it up with another chuckle.
Dean's eyes narrowed.
"You're still—ah, crap," he said, tugging Sam to his feet.
He pulled him all the way into the motel room, sitting him down on his bed, and taking away the mp3 player for good measure.
"Heey," Sam drawled.
Dean held up a single finger. "Stuff it, Sammy. You almost cha-cha-ed your way into heavy traffic. And I've heard of people still being a little drunk the next morning… but not like this. This is mystical. You were right—you haven't had a drop."
Sam crossed his arms and huffed. "Told you."
After that, he fell back on the bed, landing with a soft thump and more giggles. Dean rolled his eyes.
"Damn happy drunk," he grumbled as he began to search the room.
He tore apart everything he could think of to tear apart. The beds, the night stands, the shelf holding the television, the entire bathroom, the kitchenette, everything. He looked in every nook and cranny that he could find. Sam, meanwhile, seemed to be having his own struggle—to sit up. He grabbed the corners of his bed, trying to use the sheets to pull himself upright, only to have the fitted sheet fall off, and him land back against the pillows with more laughing. Finally, he managed to get a grip and sit up just as Dean had decided he had done all the searching he could inside the room—which included their bags.
"Whatcha lookin' for?" Sam asked. Then, he giggled, muttering, "Whatcha."
Dean groaned, snapping his fingers in front of Sam's face.
"Focus, dude. I'm looking for hex bags."
"Did you find any?"
Dean just blinked at him. Suddenly, Sam's hand raised up and he grabbed at Dean's nose.
"Gotcha nose," he said.
Dean stared at him like he was an alien. Then, shaking his head, he sighed.
"This is bad. You are like, beyond drunk. You're reverting-to-three-year-old drunk. Once we figure out what this is and how to control it, remind me to snag some for myself," he said.
He glanced back toward the room's door, seeing just the front of his Impala. He turned back to Sam, stooping just a little so that he was eye level with his brother.
"Okay, Sam, Sam… focus. You've gotta focus for me," he said, holding up two fingers and moving them back and forth between their eyes.
Sam nodded, again more forcibly than necessary, and he almost fell forward off the bed. Dean caught his shoulders and resumed trying to get him to focus. Finally confident that he had him, he pointed toward the door.
"I'm going to search the Impala for hex bags," Dean said. Then, motioning to the bed with a 'keep calm' movement, he added, "You stay here. Right here. On this bed. Don't grab anything. Don't touch anything. Don't even say anything. Promise me, okay?"
Sam did his forceful nod again, and Dean pushed him back up onto the bed. He moved to the door, pausing to gaze back at Sam, who was staring longingly at the mp3 Dean had left on the table. Dean stepped back into the room, snatched it up, and shoved it into his pocket.
"Heey," Sam said again.
"It's for your own good, Sammy. Now, please, just sit there for a minute," Dean said, and he was out of the door.
He was inside the Impala in the next moment, tearing it apart as much as he dared. He checked the trunk, the backseat, the front seat, and all the little spaces in between. In the end, he found no hex bags. He slammed the driver's door a little harder than necessary, swearing as he did so.
He reentered the room, stopping to watch as Sam was now bouncing on the end of the bed like he had just discovered a new toy. Dean ran a hand over his face.
"It's gotta be connected to what's been happening around here," he said, pulling up a seat at the table.
That caught Sam's attention, who shot to his feet like a rocket.
"Yes!" he said, pointing at Dean unsteadily.
"Dude," Dean sighed. "You look like Jack Sparrow right now. Sit down."
"But, but, but, but… we need more… about the deaths. The 'wahoooo' and stuff," Sam said, stumbling backward.
He reached a hand behind to catch himself on the edge of the bed. Dean nodded.
"I agree, but there's no way I can drag you around like this. After all, we're investigating, not attending frat parties. But I can't leave you alone either," he said.
"I'll be fine," Sam said, doing a big wave.
The motion of which threw him off-balance, and he landed on the bed, hard. Dean shook his head.
"No. No, you won't. You're like at red-helmet level drunk. You'd be dead in a minute."
"Nu-uh," Sam laughed from his place on the bed.
"Says the man who nearly waltzed into mid-morning traffic. No, I have to find a way to leave you and have you be safe."
Sam sat up, much more nimbly than had had in the past little while. Apparently, indignation did that to him, as he had it written all over his puppy-dog face.
"I don't need a babysitter."
"Whoa… flashback," Dean said, standing.
And then, it was like he could feel the proverbial lightbulb go off over his head. Closing his eyes, he bowed his head.
"Cas, I pray that you zoom your ass down here pronto, because you won't believe what I've got going on. And I really need your help."
Before Dean could finish "help" he heard the flutter of wings. Sam laughed and clapped, and Castiel, confusion all over his face, gazed back at him. He turned to Dean, his brow furrowed.
"What's happening? What's wrong with Sam?"
Dean sighed, sitting back down in the chair. "Long story. But here it goes."
And he laid out the whole thing, from what drew Sam and him to the case, to Sam suddenly being drunk while they were talking to the coroner, all the way to this very moment. At the end, Dean sighed.
"So, I know this isn't like the hardest thing you've ever been asked to do, but could you just keep an eye on Sammy while I try and figure out what the hell is causing this?"
However, when he looked up, Castiel's eyes were wide. Dean stood.
"I know what the cause of this trouble is, Dean," the angel said.
Dean spread his arms. "Enlighten me, please."
"The Jesus Wine."
Dean blinked. "What?"
"The Jesus Wine," Castiel repeated. "It is one of the many weapons of Heaven that was stolen. It's the water that Jesus turned into wine."
"The stuff's good," Sam murmured from the bed, earning him a passing glance from both Dean and Cas.
"Okay… I'll bite. So Sam, and these other deaths, are happening because they got spiked with the good stuff from Heaven's wine cellar. What the hell kind of weapon is this? This must be the Swiss army knife of Heaven's weapons," Dean said.
"It is a weapon, Dean, because of the effect it has on the person who drinks from it. Almost instant inebriation, to the point of losing all inhibitions. Suddenly, one is not aware of what is safe and what is not. What is funny and what is just idiotic."
Dean nodded. "That fits with what's been happening, without a doubt. But still… wine as a weapon?"
Cas shrugged. "It doesn't get used very often."
Dean sighed. Walking over to Sam, he took away any sharp object he could find, shoving it into his own duffle, and swung it over his shoulder.
"Okay. I'll go after this… wine, and you stay here and make sure Sam doesn't kill himself," Dean said.
Castiel shook his head. "No. I must come with you. I have to find the Wine before any of Raphael's angels do."
"Dude, the whole reason I called you here was to watch Sam."
"I must go, Dean."
Dean groaned. "Fine. But… what do we do with him?"
He pointed at Sam, who was now conducting an imaginary orchestra. Cas and Dean exchanged a look. In the end, they agreed there was no real damage to be done if they handcuffed him to the pipe under the bathroom sink, removing all razors and such from the room.
"Where do we start?" Castiel asked.
"The cops," Dean said, tossing a fake badge to the trenchcoat-ed angel. "Looks like you get to pretend to be a fed again."
The two slid into the front seats of the Impala, and Castiel sighed.
"I did not enjoy it the first time."
Dean, since he had brought his duffle with him, had stopped and changed at the nearest gas station before he and Castiel arrived at the police station. They headed directly for Chief Pruitt's office, flashing badges as they went. They arrived just outside the door as Pruitt was exiting, and the withered chief raised a brow at the two.
"What happened to the other guy?" he asked.
"Sick. Happens to us feds too," Dean chuckled, nudging Cas to show his badge.
He did so, this time—thankfully—being right side up. But Dean had to nudge him again to put it away. Pruitt shook his head.
"Sorry to hear that. And this is?"
"Agent Bowie," Dean said.
"Nice to meet you," Pruitt said, and Cas only nodded in response. Dean laughed.
"He's the strong, silent type. So, got any leads on our mass poisoner?" he asked.
Pruitt shook his head. "Not a damn thing. All I've got on my hands is another death."
"Where?" Castiel asked.
Pruitt seemed to be taken by surprise at Castiel speaking, but he recovered quickly.
"East Tuscaloosa Street. It's just a handful of blocks from here."
"We'll follow you," Dean said as the chief moved ahead of them.
Castiel, as soon as the chief was out of earshot, said, "What can we hope to discover at this death? Do you think that one of the dead has the wine?"
Dean shrugged. "You never know, but I doubt it. I think whoever has it is very much alive and aware of what it's doing. But we've gotta take the clues where we can get them."
Castiel nodded and two followed the chief out of the station.
This one was a little bit older than the last death, being in his mid-forties or so. He was married and living in a two story apartment down a street that was obviously populated mostly by college students. His sobbing wife was the first thing that Castiel and Dean saw as they entered the home, followed by a swarm of cops back at the foot of the staircase. Dean grabbed the first uniform he could find, flashed his badge, and asked for the details.
"He broke his neck," the young cop said. "Wife says he was mattress surfing down the stairs and…"
He made a sound that imitated a broken neck. Dean shook his head and dismissed the cop. Now, Castiel was making his way toward the wife.
"Our condolences," he said, and Dean lifted a brow.
The widow nodded, her feathered auburn hair bouncing as she did. She pressed the tissue that she had obviously had for a little while now to her nose, blowing hard.
"Can I ask you a few questions?" Dean asked.
"I've already told the cops everything I know," she gasped.
"Tell me, was he acting… intoxicated before his death?" Castiel asked.
Dean glanced over at the angel, but the widow looked up at him in surprise. She nodded.
"Yes. How did you—?"
Castiel glanced over at Dean. "The Jesus Wine."
"The what?" the woman asked, but Dean clapped his hands together, loudly.
"Jesus, that wine. Your husband… was a bit of a drinker?"
She shook her head, empathically. "No! No, Steven didn't drink. He's never touched a drop of alcohol in his entire life. That's what was so strange."
Dean huffed, a small smile on his face. "Now, I doubt that he's never drank."
The wife crossed her arms across her stomach, hugging herself hard.
"Are you from around here, Agent?"
"Well, trust me when I say, around here, that's not so strange. My husband didn't drink, period. Not one drop of the stuff. And then, suddenly, he's acting all out of his damn mind, wanting to have a little bit of fun, and then—"
Her own sob cut her off, and Dean muttered some word of comfort. Then, he turned to Cas, pulling him to the side.
"How long would it take you to search this house, without being seen?"
"Moments," Castiel said.
"Do it. Check for the wine."
Castiel nodded and was gone. A second later, he was back, his face hinting of distress and disappointment.
"It's not here," he said. "And she was right. Not one drop of alcohol of any type here."
"Huh. Well, kudos to him. Let's go," he said, ushering Castiel out of the house. "I think we've gotten all we can here."
"Why are we here?" Castiel asked in his best impression of huffy Sam.
Dean rolled his eyes as he look up across the booth at Castiel. They were back at Trowbridges, as it was right at the beginning of the lunch rush. Dean had insisted on some food, and had mentioned bringing Sam something back. Castiel seemed to have the same attitude about the place that Sam had had the day before. And Dean saved himself the trouble of using the Food Network argument, since he figured it would have even less of an effect on the angel. Instead, he went with the flat truth.
"I wanted to try this dessert thing yesterday that they have, called the Oh My Gosh, but Sam didn't let me order dessert. So, I'm ordering that, a bottled coke, and Sam a pimento cheese sandwich to go."
Castiel arched a brow at Dean. "Oh My Gosh?"
"Oh, dude, it sounds awesome. It's this warm brownie, covered in caramel, a dollop of vanilla ice cream, and completely covered—completely —in whipped cream. Even has a cherry on top. And it's only three bucks," Dean explained.
Castiel sighed, turning to stare at the flock of people that was already packing out the place.
"We should be out there, trying to find the Wine," he said, leaning forward.
Before Dean could reply, the waitress—the same pretty blonde from the day before—came over to serve them. She smiled at Dean, obviously pleased to see him.
"Glad you like us so much. Welcome back to Trowbridges," she said. "Same order as yesterday, or would you like to try something different?"
"Oh, I'm definitely going with something different. I'd like another bottled coke and an Oh My Gosh," he said.
She wrote it down. "Excellent choice. There's not a better dessert in this town. Well, at least, not for this price. And what for your—oh, new friend? What happened to the guy that was with you yesterday?"
Dean's lips pursed a bit, shaking his head. "Sick. He's sick. This guy here's helping me out."
The waitress frowned, her brow crinkling in the effort. But, a moment later, she pulled a wide smile back to her face.
"Well, I hope he gets better. Now, what can I get for you, sweetie?" she said, turning to Castiel.
"Nothing," Cas said.
She arched a brow. "Are-are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm fine. Thank you."
"Are you sure you don't want something to drink at least?" the waitress pressed.
Castiel's lips parted, moments from denying her again, but Dean leaned forward.
"Water. He'll take a water."
The waitress frowned, but she nodded all the same. "Anything else?"
"And a pimento cheese sandwich to go," Dean added.
She grinned. "For your other friend. Sure."
And she left, bustling to fill the order and deal with the growing crowd. Dean leaned across to Cas, motioning to the room around them.
"Dude, I'm about to scarf down a truly awesome dessert—next to pie—and you were just gonna sit here with nothing?"
"I'm an angel. I don't require sustenance," he replied.
"I know you don't, but it would've looked weird. Sometimes, it helps to blend in."
The waitress returned a few moments later with their order, leaving a little bag beside Dean that held the pimento cheese sandwich. Her smile looked a bit strained as she left the water in front of Cas, but she dropped the look a moment later, turning back to Dean.
"My name's Sheryl, and let me know if you need anything else," she said.
She pulled their check from the book, leaving it on the table and moving away. Dean grinned down at his mountain of whipped cream, lifting his fork like a sculptor would lift a chisel to marble.
"Oh yeah," he said, digging in.
Castiel shook his head. "Shouldn't we be getting back to Sam at the very least?"
"He's handcuffed to a sink, with absolutely nothing in the room to hurt him. Unless, of course, the Jesus Wine gives you superhuman strength and you've forgotten to mention that."
Dean took another big bite of the dessert, getting equal parts brownie, caramel, ice cream, and whipped cream on the fork. He swallowed, a pleased smile spreading on his face.
"Good. Then he's fine."
Castiel leaned back against the booth, sighing. Dean looked up, his eyes sweeping the room. Their waitress, Sheryl, seemed to be staring at them oddly, and Dean reached across the table, tapping Castiel's arm.
"Dude, take a drink," he murmured.
The angel stared at him for a moment, as if he had forgotten what Dean was talking about. But he realized soon enough, lifting the glass to his lips. This seemed to satisfy Sheryl, as Dean noticed that she went back about her work. Dean chuckled.
"One day, remind me to give you human lessons," he laughed, taking another bite of his Oh My Gosh.
Castiel cocked his head to the right, sitting the water—now half gone—back onto the table.
"I believe that would be useful."
Dean only laughed. "We'll start with sarcasm, I promise."
Castiel nodded, and Dean shook his head.
"After we get done here, we'll head back to the motel to check on Sam and see if we can't find a common factor in the deaths."
They arrived back at the motel not long after, finding—thankfully—that Sam was just fine. Actually, and to Dean's great annoyance, he was singing… at the top of his lungs, and off key, Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name." Castiel even groaned as he entered the room, taking a seat on Dean's bed.
"Brought you a sandwich," Dean said, setting the baggie down on the table beside the laptop.
Sam didn't even respond, continuing to sing the chorus of the song, over and over and over again. Dean rolled his eyes.
"Bon Jovi, really?"
He sat down in front of the laptop, pulling up police records.
"Will this take long?" Castiel asked.
Dean didn't even bother to look back at him.
"I don't know. I have no friggin' idea what connects all these people. There's men and women, young and old, working class and not… all of them on this list fits the profile of having been spiked with the Jesus Wine."
Dean typed away at the computer, utilizing everything he could think of, but after several minutes, there was seemingly still no connection. Sighing, he rested his head in his hands, trying his best to think over Sam's broken record version of "You Give Love a Bad Name." Dean groaned, trying again with any searches he could think of. He even found that the town had a local wine shop, but none of the victims frequented it at all, according to reports—the police had asked, apparently.
"Shot through the heart / and you're to blame / you give love a bad name / I play my part / and you play your game / you give love a bad name / you give looovve… a bad name."
Dean looked up, incredulous, as the voice singing now was not just Sam's. Castiel had joined in as well. His eyes locked on the angel, a goofy smile on his face, as Cas sang the chorus—just as off-key—right along with Sam.
"Cas?" Dean asked, inching closer to the angel.
Castiel stopped mid-chorus, with Sam keeping it going in the background, and grinned up at Dean.
"This is… a very good song," he said, a sigh something like blissful relief following the words.
"Oh, hell," Dean muttered. "Okay, Cas, work with me here. Stand up."
The angel stood, but stumbled, leaving Dean to catch him.
"Okay, no balance. All right, repeat after me, um…"
Castiel um-ed right along, and Dean sighed, with Castiel copying that as well. Finally, the perfect word to test what Dean was afraid of came to mind.
"Farfignewton," he said.
"Farfig—" the rest of the word was lost to snorts and chuckles.
Dean all but dropped Castiel back onto the bed.
"Son of a bitch," he said. "You're drunk. You've been spiked."
"Wahoo! Party!" Sam yelled from the bathroom.
Castiel stopped mid-laugh to look up at Dean.
"It appears so," he agreed, picking up the chorus of the Bon Jovi song, with Sam joining in.
"God help me," Dean muttered. "Okay, I've got to think."
He started to walk away from Castiel, trying to clear his head, but paused, whirling back to him. Sam he could manage drunk. Sam was safely handcuffed to a sink with no way out. But Cas… if Cas wanted to flit away, there was nothing Dean could do to stop him. And he couldn't put him in a ring of holy fire, or he'd stumble right into it.
"Cas, buddy, listen to me. You've got to promise me something," Dean said, leaning down to lock eyes with him like he had with Sam earlier that day.
Castiel smiled dopily up at Dean, who was finding it difficult not to scream in frustration at this point.
"Dude, you've gotta swear to me that, while you're like this, you'll stay with me. No flying off for any other reason. I don't care if the whole of Heaven is having a block party, and you're supposed to bring the hot dogs. No. Until you sober up, you've gotta stick with me, got it?"
Castiel nodded. "I swear."
He then went back to singing, and Dean found himself wishing he had added "no Bon Jovi" in on the deal. Dean backed away from Cas, moving to take a peek in on Sam. He was crumpled up on the floor, lying down with his right arm held up and over him by the cuff. He, too, was still singing. Dean turned back to Cas, who was now beginning to forget some of the lyrics.
"No, no, it's 'and you play your game,'" Sam called from the bathroom, sounding a little bit perturbed at the angel's incorrect wording.
"What did I say?" Cas asked.
"And you flay your name," Sam called back.
"That makes no sense," Castiel replied.
Sam laughed. "That's what I was thinking!"
"Oh, good lord," Dean groaned, moving back to sit in the chair in front of the laptop.
He had to think, which was becoming increasingly hard to do with two drunks in the room. But he had to find it, the connecting thread between Sam and Cas. What had the both of them done that could've led to them both being spiked? They had both impersonated FBI with him. And they'd both gone to eat at Trowbridges with him. And…
"Trowbridges," Dean muttered. "They both ordered a water."
He launched himself from his seat, grabbing Castiel by the shoulders and shaking him until his attention was fully upon him. Cas batted away Dean's hold.
"What is it?" he slurred.
"The Wine… can it change forms? If it's added to another liquid, like say, water?"
Castiel shot from his seat, having to catch his balance on Dean once more. He nodded.
"Yes. Yes, that's it! You humans… such tiny brains, yet you never cease to amaze me!" Castiel said.
Dean ignored that in the way that he had ignored Sam's "short" comment—but Sam found it hilarious, laughing it up in the bathroom while muttering "brains" over and over.
"It can look and taste like water, can't it?" Dean asked.
"Yes… and any other liquid you wish it to be added to, if you know the proper incantation."
Dean let go of Cas, regretting it as the angel immediately hit the floor. Dean watched as he sprung, sprier than a slinky, back to his feet. He shook his head.
"Sheryl. We had the same waitress both times. She's the key! Cas, let's go!"
"Right!" he said, saluting Dean as the older Winchester grabbed him by his lapels and drug him out the door.
"Hey!" Sam called. "What about my sandwich!"
He rustled up the pictures of the victims that Sam had printed out before they had arrived, busting into Trowbridges like the place was on fire and small children's lives were at stake. The woman at the cash register—a brunette, older than the waitress that he sought—gave a start, staring up at him.
"FBI," Dean said, without bothering with the badge. "I need some answers, now."
"O-okay," the woman stuttered.
Cas swayed in place beside him, trying his best to focus on the scene at hand. But Dean could still see the angel's lips moving, muttering the lyrics of the song again and again. What the hell was it that had Cas becoming a savant with Bon Jovi lyrics while drunk? This Wine must be some hard stuff, he concluded.
He held up the handful of photos, shoving them across the counter at the woman.
"Were these people in here any time in the last couple of days?"
The woman took the photos, sifting through them. Castiel grinned at her, then wiped the smile from his face as if he just suddenly realized that it could have been misconstrued as creepy.
"I-I don't know. I think so. We have a lot of customers here at lunch," she said, handing the photos back.
"I need you to be sure, sweetheart," Dean pressed.
"Yes," she nodded after a moment. "I don't remember all of them, but most of them are regulars of ours. Why, what's going on?"
"Classified," Castiel said, his voice deeper than usual.
When the hell had he picked up on the FBI terms? But Dean shook his head.
"Yeah, what he said. You have a waitress that works here, Sheryl. Is she here?"
The woman's brow furrowed. "I don't know… no. Her shift's over. She's gone home. Why? Is she in trouble?"
"That is not of import to you," Castiel said, sounding a bit more like himself.
The woman blinked at him, but Dean waved her attention back to him.
"I need her address. Now. It's important," Dean said.
The woman shook her head. "I'm not sure if I feel comfortable with this."
Castiel leaned onto the counter, his eyes almost hyper-focused on the woman.
"I am an angel of the l—Wait. No. We are FBI agents and we require this information," he said.
"Oh, Jesus," Dean groaned.
Castiel's head whipped around to Dean, leaning in.
"She won't understand the truth, Dean," he whispered conspiratorially to him.
The woman stared at them like they were crazy, but Dean fished out the badge and flashed it. A moment later, they had Sheryl's home address.
"Let's go," Dean said, dragging Cas along.
Sheryl literally lived down the street from her place of work, so Dean didn't even bother with the Impala—only stopping for some supplies—as he and Cas raced by the restaurant that announced itself as Rosie's Cantina, and across the small intersection. There, they found themselves standing right in front of a pretty, almost Tuscan style apartment complex—Tombigbee Court Apartments, they called themselves. Dean wedged his way in through a small, alley sized opening that had been locked with a wrought iron gate—but was quite easy to open after a moment of concentration—and wound his way through the courtyard and up some stairs until he was outside of apartment 5b. He didn't even bother to knock, breaking in the door.
Sheryl whirled from her place across the living room, screaming. She had not even been home long enough to change out of her work clothes. Dean held up two, calming hands, as Cas fiddled with the busted door behind him.
"We're not gonna hurt you. We know about the Jesus Wine, Sheryl. We need to know where you got it, and why the hell you keep drugging people with it," Dean demanded.
He had expected her to run, to feign innocence. Instead, she burst out into tears, walking to the sofa and collapsing down upon it. Dean shot Cas a look, and the angel shrugged.
"I just… I just," the girl sobbed.
"Why'd you do it?" Dean asked, pushing a bit more gently now.
He crossed the room, taking a seat across from Sheryl. The girl look up, tears streaking her face.
"I was at a party a couple of days ago, my first really rowdy party ever. Apparently, the high school ones I'd been to were tame. I got drunk… I swear, I didn't drink all that much. Like, one cup of beer," she said, as if Dean was going to argue.
Castiel stumbled to stand beside Dean, and, thankfully, he remained quiet. Dean waited for the girl to continue.
"Something… happened. This guy… he took advantage of me. When I woke up the next morning, I was devastated. I confronted him, but he and his friends… they just laughed. They told me that I had wanted it, bad. I couldn't even remember saying anything to them," she said.
Dean pursed his lips. "Okay. So you wanted vengeance against a bunch of dicks. I get that."
"How did you acquire the Wine?" Castiel asked.
Dean tried to ignore way the angel was swaying.
"I prayed. I prayed that I could have the power to take back my life," Sheryl said.
"Yes. And an angel appeared. Not like the way I've always pictured an angel. He was British, and he said that he had just what I needed. All he wanted in exchange was—"
But Dean cut her off.
"Your soul. Damn it."
He stood up, shouting toward the ceiling.
A fluttering noise, like wings, later, and the angel himself appeared, dressed in his usual jeans, gray shirt, and black jacket. After a moment of taking in the scene, he sighed.
"Oh, bollocks," he groaned.
Castiel stumbled toward him, tripping over his own two feet, leaving Balthazar to catch him.
"Give her back her soul, brother," Castiel croaked up at him.
Balthazar chuckled. "Are you… drunk?"
"Thanks to you," Castiel said as he righted himself, still standing too close to Balthazar.
"Cas is right. This girl was in trouble, and you took advantage of her. Just like those guys. Give her back her soul, and tell us how to undo the effects of the Wine," Dean said. Then, turning to Sheryl, he added, "People are dying. More than what deserved to. Give me the Wine."
She nodded, disappearing into the kitchen, returning with an unlabeled green wine bottle. She handed to Dean, sniffling.
"I'm sorry. It was just, everywhere I looked, all I could think was 'Bet you wouldn't believe me either.'"
"All right," Balthazar said. "I'll admit. I feel bad about this one. But I gave her the least deadly weapon I could think of."
"Yeah, well, check the body count sometime, will you? And, while you're giving her back her soul, let's save us all some trouble. Give back every soul you've exchanged for a weapon of Heaven."
Balthazar snapped his fingers and sighed. "With her done, I will have."
Dean arched a disbelieving brow. Balthazar shrugged.
"What can I say? I'm Heaven's laziest angel."
Dean sighed. "How do you reverse the effects?"
"It'll wear off on its own in about three days, if you can keep the affected alive that long," he shrugged.
"And give the weapons back to Heaven!" Castiel ordered.
Balthazar actually snorted. "Nope. I've done my kindness limit for the day. Tootles."
With that, he was gone. Sheryl looked up at Dean and Cas, still sniffling.
"Am I… in trouble?" she asked.
Dean closed his eyes, sighing. "No. You should be, don't get me wrong. You've caused a lot of innocent deaths. But… just talk to someone, all right? Your mom, your dad… someone. Got it? No more holy weapons."
"I won't. I swear."
With that, Dean nodded, grabbing Cas by the lapels again. Once they were outside and at the Impala once more, the eldest Winchester sighed.
"Three days left for you, and two for Sam," he said. He loaded Cas into the car, adding, "Perfect."
Dean spent the next two nights getting no sleep, as Castiel didn't require it and had also remembered his promise to stick by Dean. Dean had figured it would be easier for all of them to just stay put until Sam and Cas were sober again. On Sam's day three, it was already becoming clear that the effects were going away, leaving him with what he described as "Heaven and Hell's worst hangover combined." Poetic justice, Dean figured, after what he had had to deal with. On Cas's day three, the angel had simply spent the day groaning. Finally, the three of them loaded into the Impala, now that Dean was sure that no one would go dancing away on him anymore.
"Let's not come back here, okay?" Dean said as the engine roared to life.
Sam's day four—which was Cas's day three—still had him dealing with the hangover, so both him and the angel moaned at the sound of the engine. Dean smiled.
"I'll take that as an 'agreed,' then, shall I?"
Both nodded as Dean sped out of the motel parking lot, and back onto the highway.
"Though, I will miss that dessert," Dean said.
Sam retched, throwing up in the bag that contained his uneaten pimento cheese sandwich. Dean curled up his nose.
"On second thought…"
End Notes: Okay, several things here. First, I hope that this was funny. I certainly tried to make it that way. Also, one of the deaths I described—the first, I believe—was taken from that show 1,000 Ways to Die. It didn't happen exactly like that, but yeah… same basic concept. As for Florence, Alabama, Trowbridges, Rosie's Cantina, East Tuscaloosa Street, and Tombigbee Court Apartments… yeah, those places are all very, very real. I actually got my BS in English from the university that sits in Downtown Florence, have eaten at both Trowbridges and Rosie's, lived in an apartment complex on East Tuscaloosa, and really want to live in that very cute apartment complex at Tombigbee. Oh, and Trowbridges is famous for its pimento cheese sandwich, and the dessert that Dean ordered is real and is really that good for that price. And that place really did appear on Food Network several years ago, but I can't remember what show it was on. It's also rumored to be haunted—as is several places in Florence—but it just so wasn't relevant to the case at hand in this story. Also, about the seriousness of college football… yeah, it gets unreal around here, especially concerning the University of Alabama's team versus the University of Auburn's team. Somebody's written a book about it called, Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, and the bit about missing their child's wedding was brought up in that. Oh, also, obviously, I don't own Bon Jovi or the lyrics to that song.