Title: One Man's Ghost Problem (Is Another Man's Hunt)

Author: Reiko K.

Fandom: Supernatural

Characters: OC, Sam, Dean

Genre: Gen, Case-fic, Drama

Rating: PG-13 (for language)

Length: ~1,450 words

Warnings/Spoilers: None.

Summary: Carter Johnson didn't believe in ghosts.

Disclaimer: I own nothing 'cept the OCs.

Notes: I really like writing SPN Gen. It's the first time I've ever written anything like this, though, so con-crit would definitely be appreciated. Anyway, please enjoy.

one man's ghost problem (is another man's hunt)

'You don't believe in me,' observed the ghost.

'I don't,' said Scrooge.

'What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your own senses?'

'I don't know,' said Scrooge.

'Why do you doubt your senses?'

'Because,' said Scrooge, 'a little thing effects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!'"

— Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol"

Carter Johnson was the kind of man who refused to believe in things he couldn't grasp with his senses. As it turned out, even then some things were just too preposterous to believe. As the apparition—god almighty, a fucking apparition—slammed him into the stucco, he wondered if he was suffering from dementia. He was 68, after all. He'd never heard of any dementia that worked like this, but new diseases were popping up every day now, right?

When the thing went after his seven year old granddaughter, he made a rapid decision not to chance it. He snatched her hand before it could touch her and pulled her out of the parlor.

The ghost… poltergeist…revenant… whatever the heck it was, charged at them with a howl that curdled blood. It had almost gotten them—would have, had the canister of salt on the kitchen counter not toppled over when Carter bumped into it and it burst open on the floor.

The thing froze, and it gave them just enough time to escape. They ran out of the house, down the wooden porch, and onto the wet grass of the lawn. They turned their backs in time to see Ithalt before the entryway, not a centimeter of its vaporous, translucent body outside the parameter of the door.

The thing, ghost, something stared right at them, grey eyes hollow and lips forming words they couldn't hear. It—and it looked like a young girl, he realized, now that he wasn't fleeing for his life—glowered at them a final time before dissolving into the very air of the house.

After making sure his granddaughter was alright, Carter wasted no time in searching his pockets—the left one, no, no, the right one, yes, there!—for the business card the two young men who'd dropped by earlier had given him. Well, more like thrown at his feet when he threatened to fill their hides with buckshot if they so much as stepped a single toe on his property again. How was he to know that his house was actually haunted, and that ghosts actually existed?

Carter wasn't sure why he'd even picked the damn card up to begin with, but he was sure as hell glad he did, now.

Thinking back, maybe he'd known something was wrong all along. The way things seemed to move around without him touching them (and Cindy swore she never moved anything), and the whispers he'd sometimes hear in the middle of the night which he'd tried to convince himself was just his old, tired mind playing tricks on him… in hindsight, he'd been aware that something about the house was fishy from the start (no newly renovated shingle Victorian sold for as little as this one did, and really, the real estate agent's hesitancy to disclose information on the previous owner's reasons for selling so soon after its reconstruction should have sent his mental alarm bells wailing, not just whimpering), and he liked to think that his instincts, which apparently hadn't deserted him since his years of serving the marines, had been what kept him from chucking the cheap piece of paper like he should have. And luckily hadn't.

With a sigh, because Carter really was too old for this shit, he dug out his cell phone, the one his travel-hungry and wander-lusting daughter had threatened him with patricide if he didn't carry around, and typed in the loaded ten digits printed on the front.

Goddammit. He'd always hated groveling.

The youngest brother, Sam, had been understanding. Sympathetic. Kind. It'd been the older one, Dean, whose smug silence and condescending smirk had made Carter's fingers itch to pick up a rifle, a urge he hadn't felt in years. Carter honestly would have, too, until Cindy, his darling Cindy, had asked the men if they were really going to get rid of the big-bad-ghost so they'd be safe again. The boy's entire persona had done a complete one-eighty, then. The hard edges of his face and conceit that ghosted his lips had fallen away like a sheet, and he'd been so amazingly gentle towards her as he spoke confident reassurances and promises of villainous death. He'd even gotten down on one knee to clasp her shoulder, and the anxious look that had snuck inside and made a home of his granddaughter's eyes had disappeared like a shooting star; there one moment, gone the next.

Carter really couldn't hate a man who treated his little girl like that. Like she was a princess, and he was her valiant knight come to save the day, or some frilly shit like that.

He'd even glanced at the freakishly tall younger brother, hoping to catch some sign that this was as off-putting for him as it was for Carter, but Sam had looked nothing short of charmed. Not at all surprised, like he'd expected

When Carter asked how much their services would cost him—his mama had always told him that nothing in life was free, and it was something he'd learned, too, being out in the world on his own—they'd adopted similar expressions of affront, as if Carter had asked how good their mama was in bed, and not the cost of the fee he expected them to charge.

They never took money for their help, Sam told him, before leaving the hotel Carter and Cindy would stay in for the night to deal with his ghost problem (a ghost which turned out to be the daughter of the house's last owner, whose boyfriend had pushed her down the stairs, and apparently decided to stick around. According to Sam, she'd been harmless up until they renovated her old bedroom, and them wham! Caspar goes darkside. Certainly explained why the owners had sold so quickly (not to mention cheaply) after the renovation, the assholes. Carter didn't know who he was peeved at more, the real estate agent who'd at least suspected something was up, or the family who'd actually known).

Carter had tried to stay awake to make sure the boys made it out alright, but he was old, and his eyelids had started drooping without his permission before ten-thirty. He fell asleep next his granddaughter and dreamt of the ghosts of his fellow soldiers, waiting for him atop a sunny hill.

Carter woke up abruptly the next morning at six sharp. The first thing he did was make sure Cindy was okay, then went on to survey his unfamiliar surroundings. They were in a hotel. Because there'd been a ghost. At his house. His haunted house. And there'd been brothers…

Carter sat up and carefully, so as not to wake Cindy, and pushed his legs off the bed and reached for his phone on the bedside table. He flipped it open and felt his heart gallop when he saw the had a missed voicemail from an unfamiliar phone number.

Goddammit! What if they'd been in trouble? What if they'd needed help and he'd been too busy sleeping like a baby to call for help. What if—

"Hi, Mr. Johnson. This is Sam? We, um, we just wanted to let you know that your, ah, little problem's been taken care of. Your house is now definitely clean. Um. In case of any future emergencies, just give us a call, alright? We'll come if we can, but if not we'll send someone else your way." There was a pause, a muffled sound, a grumble, and then finally Sam was back on the phone, sighing so loudly that Carter's felt his shoulders slump in response. "Dean says he hopes—what? No, Dean, I'm not going to say that! Why not? Are you serious? No, Dean! …And you're a jerk! Sorry, Mr. Johnson. Dean says to tell Cindy "bye" and that he's sorry he couldn't drop by to escort her back home like the chivalrous knight in shining armor he—Dean! Give it back! God, you're such an assho—BEEP!"

Carter kept the phone to his ear and gaped. After a long moment he shook his head and flipped it shut (though not before saving it under the name 'Ghost Busters').

He'd spent a good chunk of yesterday evening worr—wondering how the hell they managed to survive "hunting monsters" for a living. Especially as they, apparently, didn't get paid for it (or maybe they did, maybe there was some kind of guild, or something, that paid them to hunt and kill those things. Or something. It was a possibility, right?), but now, after hearing that message, he knew the brothers were going to be just fine.

It was a gut feeling, and those? Had never steered him wrong before.

The End.