banner by Sojourner84
Some Serious Coyote Kink Goin’ On!
Twisting his upper half to the right, his legs out to the left, Dean Winchester barely missed having his head taken off by flying containers of Caramel Delight yogurt firing in rapid succession at his ear. Who the hell ate caramel flavored yogurt, or any yogurt for that matter? Even Sam didn’t eat that crap. He certainly didn’t peg construction workers as yogurt gobblers. Hitting the drywall behind him, the containers split open. Their thick, tan innards oozed down, leaving poo-colored streaks and stains in their wake. Dean cringed, huffed “Euuwww.”
Throwing himself forward, Dean full body slammed the floor next to the corpse of one Abigail McCarol, dead embezzler, jilted mistress, and probably the yogurt freak, not to mention one pain-in-Dean’s-ass pissed off spirit. After sleeping with the boss…he’d discarded her for some other sweet young thing…and when she’d gotten revenge by cleaning out his bank account…maybe don’t sleep with your book keeper…he killed her. Charming couple. She’d then taken to tossing construction workers, prospective buyers, and anyone else on the site, right off the highest point she could find. The streets were getting littered up and splattered with messy body parts and blood. So as a favor to a friend of their father’s, since they were in the neighborhood (give or take a state or two) he and Sam offered (were conned) to help.
Someday Dean was going to learn what voice mail was for.
“You were probably ugly too!” He shouted to the room.
The small refrigerator once containing the delightful caramel plastic-canned slime shimmied forward, rattling and shaking until its cord pulled free of the socket, careening toward Dean. He barely had time to cover his head before the contents of the appliance vomited all over him. The refrigerator door missed thwanking his head by a whole half inch.
“Missed me, with room to spare, bee-yotch.” The sound of scrambling feet just beyond the wall drew Dean’s attention. “You okay out there Sammy?” A muffled affirmative was cut short when Dean caught a glimpse of sets of gloves and magazines, flying in a nice attack formation, at what he presumed to be his younger brother.
The mushy sound of something Sam sized hitting the other side of the drywall immediately followed the sound of magazines being swatted to the floor, “Could you hurry up?!”
Rifling through the small bag around his shoulder, Dean’s fingers grabbed the can of salt, cap off he let loose a spray of the white stuff over the dead woman’s body. Digging in again, hand searching frantically, finally he yanked the bag around to his chest, so he could look inside. “What the—? Sam! Kerosene!”
“Wuuaa—” Sam appeared in the doorway, looking disheveled to say the least, hanging on to the flimsy door jam as something tried shoving him away.
Two sets of eyes fell on the canister of accelerant inches from Sam. In the fray it must have dropped out of Dean’s bag. Sam sagged, rolled his eyes, and mumbled, “crap,” under his breath. Hooking his foot around the door jam, he flung both outstretched arms at the canister. Grabbing it up and cranking back, Sam sent it flying. At the same instant Sam was sent flying in the opposite direction. Another grunted oommpppfff hit Dean’s ears. “ ‘m okay.” Sam answered before Dean could ask. The boy knew him so well.
The canister sailed in a high arc, aim true. Before he could dodge clear, it cracked against Dean’s shoulder and dropped to his feet. Drawing in a deep breath and closing his eyes for just a second, chin pushed against his chest, Dean reached for the canister. If the spirit didn’t do him in, his little brother surely would.
Shoving to his feet, Dean flipped the top off the canister and liberally dowsed the body. In the next instant he’d dug matches from his pocket, struck one, lit the remainder of the book on fire for good measure, and tossed it at the appropriately salted body. Arm over his eyes, Dean backed away as the flames lapped higher. Normally they wouldn’t do this in such a public area, but this way the cheating scoundrel of a boss would be—hopefully—charged with murdering dear Abigail.
Dean sniggered at his own internal joke, backed away farther. The sounds of material scraping up a wall reached him, “Sammy?”
“Good.” The rather hoarse reply, accompanied by a hearty groan, came from beyond the drywall.
A clicking, no, more like a rattling drew Dean’s attention to the ceiling’s lofty heights, or rather where the ceiling would be eventually. Some familiar sound sluiced through the thin pipes. He gazed up in wonder, mesmerized by how they jiggled, how the sprayer at the end sort of bounced. It was kind of cool. Barely having time to wonder what the whoosh was, his brain clicked in a split second too late.
Dean watched as water droplets spewed out of the sprinklers, hit him and bounced to the ground, merrily washing the few feet of flooring around him. Pinching the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger, chin dropped and tucked against his chest, Dean heaved a sigh, shook his head slightly and did the only thing that came to mind.
The sound of Sam scrambling to his feet then pounding toward the room, to Dean, came to an abrupt halt. Turning far enough to see his brother, Dean watched as Sam bolted through the door. He grabbed the jamb for balance, skidded to a halt, eyes trailing up, jaw falling down. His mouth twitched, turning to a face splitting grin. When laughter bubbled from the kid’s chest he at least had the decency to quickly bring one hand up and cover said offensive mouth. Which didn’t really impede the sound any. Finally giving up, Sam twisted around, pressed his spine against the door jamb, slid to the floor, cackling like a hyena on hallucinogens.
Dean shrugged and wiped water out of his eyes, which was futile, since more water poured from above to get in his eyes again. He was standing squarely under probably the only working fire sprinkler in the entire construction site. He heaved another long-suffering sigh and ground out between clenched teeth, “Sam.”
At least the body wasn’t being hosed down too.
Staggering to his feet, Sam gasped between fits of laughter, “I’ll get you a towel.” He then, wisely, disappeared from sight.
Dean was just nearing the stairs when he heard the water slow, trickle to a stop. Sam must have found the shut-off valve during his mission to retrieve a towel. He stepped clear of the building in time for the aforementioned towel to land over his head. The sound of his brother’s voice, snickering, freaking giggling, was somewhere just to his right. “Thank you Sam.”
“Uh huh.” More swallowed chuckles. “Dean you gotta admit…”
Quirking an eyebrow, pulling the towel down, Dean turned to face Sam, looking him squarely in the eye, silently daring him to finish that statement.
“Umm….’kay…maybe not.” Sam scratched at the back of his head, pulled his lips between his teeth, was unable to stop the rattle of his shoulders and fell into step beside Dean.
“Why do I do it Sam? Explain to me why I fall for it every freaking time? Why? Why? Why?” Dean toweled his hair off, wiped his face and hands, glancing sideways at Sam. “Why didn’t you tell me you’re hurt?” He didn’t mean for the demand to sound quite as angry as it did.
Sam blinked at him with the wide-eyed innocent expression guaranteed to bring out Dean’s big brother nurturing side, fingers reaching for a spot just above his eyebrow. “I—um—I uh, didn’t—”
When Dean’s hand clamped around Sam’s chin, his brother immediately froze in place, offered him a lopsided grin and a small shrug. Taking the now wet towel, Dean gently dabbed at the cut on Sam’s forehead.
“People Magazine.” Sam grumbled, but was apparently too busy trying not to laugh to sulk. Small favors Dean reasoned.
“Keep that there, we’ll put a bandage on it back at the motel.” Dean started to his car again, Sam right beside him. “Why? I want to know why, an explanation?”
“I…um..I…I…I…” Sam shut his mouth fast when Dean’s eyes skimmed over him again, offering another small smile and a one shoulder shrug. He obviously found the whole situation less offensive than did Dean. Just to prove it Sam finally found his voice, “It’s just water, Dean.”
The smoldering glare Dean leveled at him had Sam sidestepping away a few paces. Hungry grizzlies might have been stupid enough to mess with Dean when he was in this sort of mood, but his little brother was one smart kid. Sam sure wouldn’t mess with him; Sam knew better. He’d patiently let Dean go on, get it out of his system. All the while he’d be storing up ammunition for whenever he decided chiding Dean was safe again.
At least Sam didn’t eat Caramel Delight yogurt.
Pulling another towel from the trunk, and laying it carefully over the seat before slipping behind the Impala’s wheel, Dean kept up his monologue. “I mean I fall for it every damn time. Some guy we never heard of that was Dad’s best friend ever,” Dean’s voice rose mocking and squeaky, his head bounced side to side a few times, lips pulled up to a sneer for effect, making Sam choke down more fits of laughter. “Says he’s got a problem, and we drive three…”
“One.” Sam corrected.
Dean again challenged Sam with his expression, “STATES, three friggin’ states all so I can—”
Sam’s cell chirped happily. Dean growled. Shaking his head slightly, Sam pulled the phone from his pocket, flipped it open. “Hello? Hi!”
“Is that—what was his name anyway? If that’s the guy, tell him I drowned during his friggin’ routine salt and burn.” Dean groused, started the car, pulled away from the building.
Waving one hand in Dean’s direction, probably to shush him, Sam half turned so he faced the passenger side window more than he faced Dean. “How are you? Yeah, we’re good…sure we can…”
“Oh, no we can’t!” Dean shook an angry finger at Sam.
“Dean, it was just a little water.”
“A little—I’m soaked!”
Pulling the phone away from his face, covering it with one hand Sam snapped out, “His name is Mike. It’s not him. Now SHUT UP!”
Dean growled, louder this time.
Sam scrunched closer to his door when Dean’s eyes slid in his direction, glaring for a few seconds. “Yeah, we’ll be here till tomorrow. Sure, okay. Naw, he’s fine, just having one of those days.” Sam ended the call, stashed his phone in his pocket and ducked the soft punch Dean aimed at his head all in one move.
One of those days? Hell ya he was having one of those days. Problem was he had the feeling it was going to last a few more days, and that Sam was going to need to learn the fine art of using voice mail as well.
“Sam, quit screwing around.” Dean’s eyes left the road only long enough to give Sam a stern look.
“I’m not.” Sam made sure his voice stayed at a lower pitch. Dean wasn’t taking him seriously. Not that Sam could honestly blame him.
“Oh come on! First you make me sit a whole extra day in that rat hole of a motel waiting on those files to be delivered ‘cause Bobby doesn’t do email or fax. Then you try to convince me this shit is real?”
“Uh huh. Do you want to see the police reports?” Sam rifled through the files, dropping some of them to the car floor between his feet. “Listen to this one. An attorney decided to save money and do some repairs to his roof himself, seems he worked as a roofer while in school. To be safe he tied a rope around his waist, put it over the pitch of the roof, then tied it to the back of his SUV while he worked on the far side of the house. So he wouldn’t slip off. Apparently his wife needed the vehicle, got in, never noticed the rope or him since he was on the opposite side of the house and drove away.” He bit his lip to keep from chuckling.
“He go to Stanford?”
Sam ignored his brother and continued, “A week later a guy decided he wanted to try bungee jumping, but couldn’t find anywhere to go, so rigged up his own jump site. Measured the distance from a train trestle to the ground…ah…” quickly turning a page, “…seventy feet below. Guess he couldn’t find a proper length of rubber, so he tied a bunch of them together.”
Dean started to snicker, wiped one hand over his face looking downright gleeful.
“Seems,” Sam stifled a laugh, “that—uh—when he…jumped the cords stretched and he sort of went…”
“Dean that’s—” Leaning his elbow against the car door, Sam pressed his thumb against his mouth, caught his breath and steadied his shoulders. “A few days later his neighbor was cleaning his gun, it…um…” Sam seriously had to concentrate to keep the giggle from his voice. “He for some reason used his lighter to look down the barrel.”
“Oh now you’re making that up. No one does that.” Dean’s eyes slipped to Sam long enough for him to nod vigorously.
He couldn’t hold it in any longer, Sam burst out laughing. “Not twice they don’t.”
“Ohh..yeaah.” Wiping his eyes with the heel of his free hand, Sam gasped for air. “Those were just for last month.”
“This isn’t a hunt. Bobby sent us to a town full of morons.” Hitting the steering wheel with one hand, “Every time, fall for it every damn time. Mark my words, Sammy, this is the last time.”
Ignoring the finger shaking in his face, “Uh-huh. Anyway, I think Bobby is onto something. Every one of the victims…”
“Vic—tims had a family, kids, and had recently adopted a pet from the local shelter. It’s kids Dean.”
“No. And so help me Sam, if you got Bobby to help you set up some stupid practical joke…”
“And puppies. Kids and puppies. Maybe a kitten or two, and a bunny. What if whatever this is starts going after the kids when it’s done with the parents?”
“Bet the kids are too smart to fall for that crap.”
“Dean, puppies and little kids. Dean?”
When his brother huffed some totally fake disgusted noise, Sam nestled further back into his seat, wriggling around to get comfortable. It was a dirty trick to pull on Dean, all the pleading he knew Dean would never, ever say no to. Being completely honest, Sam was curious, and he knew his brother was too, he’d given into the pleading too quickly not to be just a bit interested.
“Where we headed again?”
“Freaking peachy, Chuck.”
Sam decided he didn’t want to know why he was being called Chuck.
Dean’s suspicions he’d been had were confirmed a few short minutes after passing the Welcome To Coyote Bluffs sign, shaped like a coyote of course. Sam had never quite been able to pull one over on him, even though Dean was man enough to let the kid think he did from time to time. Dean was no idiot, what Sam told him about the shelter, and the fact they’d been ‘hired on’ for a bit hadn’t been included in anything Bobby sent along. You didn’t just come up with that information online either.
Damn cell phones.
The simple fact remained. Bobby asked, and Sam seemed interested. It wasn’t like they had much else to do just then anyway. The shelter was comprised of a few buildings joined together. The office was a modern day log cabin structure, a larger concrete building Dean took to be the kennel sprawled to the right. Sam cheerfully informed him there was a room in the back for them. Without giving much thought to what ‘cover’ Sam dreamt up for them, Dean slouched a bit as he trailed a few steps behind Sam.
Woods surrounded the structure; the parking lot to the side was dirt. The entire thing oozed peace and tranquility. Dean sighed when Sam turned and swept a critical gaze over him, straightened, gave Sam another more dramatic sigh. “What?”
“Do you have to look so…so…?”
“Thuggish?” Dean repeated. “Since when do I look thuggish?” He slapped at Sam’s hands when they reached for Dean’s jacket collar.
“Well, it’s just you don’t look very…” Sam’s second attempt at flattening his brother’s collar was a bit more successful.
“What?” Flipping his collar back up, Dean glared a warning at Sam, stalked passed him and up the stairs to the shelter office, this time Sam trailing him. Stopping just inside the door he watched Sam prowl the small office. “No one is home.”
“Hello?” Turning in a circle, Sam held his arms out to his sides, shrugged slightly. “She said she’d be here.”
Whatever reply Sam opened his mouth for was cut off when a door marked KENNEL opened, a short middle-age woman with short graying mouse brown hair burst into the room. “I’m so sorry, have you boys been waiting long, you’re early, or maybe I’m late.” She laughed, looking from one to the other. “I’m Marion Siegfried, and you must be—”
Padding behind Marion was a large, white dog, with endearingly floppy ears and mournful eyes that gave Sam’s serious competition. The dog looked from one to the other, as if trying to decide. Moving closer to Dean, the creature dropped most of his hundred or so pounds onto Dean’s feet, leaned against his legs and scratched hind foot against neck with enough power to nearly knock Dean off balance.
“Dude, seriously.” Dean muttered. The dog turned mournful, now wide eyes on him, skittered sideways, coming to a stop against the desk. That earned him a reproachful look from Sam.
Sam stepped forward fast, “Yes, we are. Harriot. I’m Sam Harriot. This is my older brother, Dean Harriot.”
Dean narrowed his eyes, leveling a stare at Sam, who shrugged a bit, then turned, following Marion to her desk. The dog—Phoenix, she informed them was his name—peeked around the desk at Sam, thumped his tail once or twice before resting head on paws. Marion spent a minute shuffling papers, then sighed, chuckled, giving them a sheepish look. “I’m sorry I’ve misplaced my notes. Tell me again why you’re qualified for this. Do you know anything about kennel management?” She shoved a small plaque reading “Above all do no harm” to one side, in her search, narrowly avoiding knocking it off the desk.
“Oh, ma’am my brother knows everything…uh about kennels.”
Dean smiled weakly; he knew more about bitches than he did kennels, semantics. He opened his mouth, but curiously Sam’s voice came out.
“It’s been his dream. See our parents were killed, they were keepers at a zoo, the tigers got out, it was tragic, and messy.” Taking a few seconds, appearing to compose himself, Sam plunged on, words falling from his mouth in a rush. “Dean, my big brother here, he was in vet school at the time, and had to quit to take care of me.” Sam’s arm draped across Dean’s shoulders.
“Nightmare.” Dean muttered just loud enough for Sam to hear, blinked slowly, turning his head to look at Sam. The kid had a stupid grin plastered to his face. Obviously he’d lost his mind, with no hope of retrieval. Maybe Phoenix knows how to fetch.
“Really?” Marion brightened, attention completely on Dean now. He couldn’t believe she was buying this load of bull.
“Yep…he’s that kind of guy.” To Sam’s credit, when Dean’s elbow connected with his ribs, he barely moved or grunted. “And I’ve been searching for a way to pay him back all these years.”
“Ohio State,” Sam piped up immediately.
“Does he talk?”
“Strong, silent type.” This time Sam twisted deftly away from Dean’s elbow, patting his chest with one hand.
Punching the air anemically, Dean turned on a halfhearted charming smile and grumbled out, “Go Bucks.”
“There’s an efficiency apartment in the back, behind this office, but with its own entrance. You can stay there. The food locker, the human one…” She laughed again, and really lady, that’s not funny.“…is stocked with groceries, help yourself to anything. I’m afraid I can’t pay much in the way of cash.”
“That’s okay, really, just being here, the experience, fulfilling my brother’s life long dream…” Sam looked so sincere he almost had Dean convinced. Almost. Deciding it was a talent of some kind, Dean seriously considered knocking his brother out just to shut him up. He made a mental note; Sam never, ever got to come up with the cover story again. EVER.
Sam reached out, snatched their key from Marion before Dean could as much as inhale quickly. “Thank you so much, again.” He backed toward the door. “We should get our stuff now.” Pointing over his shoulder to the car waiting outside, beyond the door, Sam turned and sprinted down the steps.
“He’s hyperactive.” Dean shrugged, smiled, nodded and beat his retreat to their car. Pulling car keys from his pocket, opening the trunk, he gave Sam a sidelong glance. “Harriot?”
“Yeah,” Sam grinned mischievously, “He was a writer, wrote—”
“James Harriot, I know what he wrote, there was a whole series of books, All Creatures Great and Small among others.” Grinning himself over Sam’s surprised expression, “What? I may be thuggish, but I’ve read a book or two.” Pulling their weapons bag out, handing it over to Sam, “At least you picked a school with a decent football team.”
“I did?” Sam brightened. “I did! Of course I did. I knew it’d be important to you.” Nodding, “I did.” Sam barely stopped long enough to inhale, turning suddenly serious and demanding. “When, Dean, when did you do all this reading? The whole time we were growing up I never remembered seeing you with a book that didn’t have pictures of cars or naked chicks, so when?”
Resisting the urge to wipe that smug look right off Sam’s face with the back of his hand, Dean quirked an eyebrow at his brother. “When you were at Stanford. I had to do something to alleviate the boredom when I wasn’t hunting, or picking up women, ya know, between the orgies, since I didn’t have my little brother around for entertainment. Tell me, Woody, what is Bucks short for?”
Sam seemed to have taken a sudden interest in the study of trees and their leaves.
“Okay, we do this, find whatever is killing people in the most moronic ways possible, end it, and move along. Agreed?”
Sam nodded enthusiastically, taking another duffel Dean hauled from the trunk.
“Vet school,” Dean shook his head, leading the way around the building to the back entrance. “Thuggish. Come on Earle, at least you got us free room and board.”
“Why can’t you just call me Sam? Who are Chuck, and Woody and Earle?”
Grinning, but ignoring the question, Dean slid the key into the lock, twisted and pushed open the door. Taking a step in, his palm flattened to the wall, searching out the light switch. Having to turn back toward Sam to find it, flipping it up, the room was illuminated in a soft, cheerful glow. So was Sam’s suddenly horrified expression. When the kid gasped, dropped his duffel, Dean spun on his toes, ready to face down whatever evil must have been coming at them. Hand firmly planted against Sam’s chest now, Dean shoved him back a half step, completely startled when Sam moved without resistance.
Dean’s own gasp left his mouth; his duffel dropped to the floor beside Sam’s. Drawing in a deep breath, “Sammy, this is—”
“Hideous. And we’ve stayed in some real dives, but this…this!” Sam waved expansively at the room, stepping up to Dean’s side.
“You’d think people who loved animals wouldn’t stuff, preserve them, and hang them on the walls.”
Directly opposite the door, mounted on the wall near the ceiling was a moose head. On either side of that were ducks. Two beds were shoved against the adjacent wall to the right. Over each was an elk head. The wall facing the beds sported a collection of smaller animal heads, bobcat, a wolf, raccoon, several large fish, with the head of a bear centered over the group, but high enough even Sam could sit at the table there without hitting his head on it.
Free standing in the middle of the room was a stuffed coyote, Dean wasn’t surprised. Its lips pulled up in some sort of eternal, and frankly creepy, snarl. The tip of its tongue peaked out from a set of impressive teeth. The hair stood on end along its back, its legs positioned in what Dean supposed was meant to look as if it were walking.
“Curious choice of eyes for it.” Sam’s voice was barely above a whisper.
“That’s just wrong, on so many levels.” Bright, beady, eyes complete with small pupils and glowing bright yellow irises assessed the brothers. “Definitely, solve this case and get the hell gone. Maybe we can wrap it up and be gone tomorrow.”
Sam nodded and swallowed, “Yeah.” He shrugged a bit, “At least it’s free, and not a Wendigo lair.”
“Oh, yeah, that would be much worse.” Dean rolled his eyes, tossed his duffel onto the nearest bed; they could always put salt rings around their beds.
“Who puts yellow beady eyes on a coyote anyway?” Dean wasn’t whining, not at all, at least that’s what he’d say if Sam called him on it. So Sam didn’t call him on it, life was easier that way.
Shrugging, “I dunno. A taxidermist?” Sam pointed to a side street off the main drag, “That’s the street.”
“Twenty-two-seventeen, on your side.” Sam twisted in his seat so he could see out the back window as Dean cruised slowly beyond the house, found a parking spot near the end of the street and cut the engine. Vaguely registering the sound of Dean’s door opening, his brother shifting around to get out of the car, Sam jumped when Dean’s fingers tapped his shoulder.
“Sam, what are you gawking…” Dean’s voice trailed off as he turned to look in the direction Sam’s eyes fixated on. “Sweet Jesus! That’s—”
“Awful.” Sam finished.
Nestled between two houses, only visible once they’d driven beyond the house was a large stone fountain in the shape of two coyotes. One had water squirting from its nose to land in a bowl formed by the head of the facing canine. They were reared up on hind legs to box one another with front paws.
“Freaks.” Dean grumbled. Sam was inclined to agree.
As they walked up the street, toward the house, Sam took in the neighborhood, could see by the expression on Dean’s face he was doing the same, and with pretty much the same mental results. The bizarre coyote statue wasn’t the only thing on the street paying homage to the small canine critter. Several houses had flags with a likeness of a coyote dangling from their front porches. Two, including the house they headed for had coyote shaped address numbers. The six was sort of obscene, Sam decided. One house had a stained glass front window—snout raised skyward, coyote, howling of course.
“It seems the good town of Coyote Bluffs takes their coyotes seriously.” Dean gave him a sidelong glance and chuckled. His fingers reached for the bell next to the front door, hand yanked away as soon as the chime sounded. “What the—?”
Sam was speechless, literally. Instead of a soft, cheery bell, their arrival was announced by the howling of a coyote. Shrugging at Dean, he’d barely recovered when the door opened. Offering up what he hoped was a sufficiently sympathetic smile, “Mrs. Hayes?”
The woman nodded, her strawberry blonde hair moving across her shoulders. Her face had the bloated from exhaustion look to it, skin pale. Eyes as green as his brother’s met his, but they had none of Dean’s spark, life to them. She radiated sadness, Sam immediately felt sorry for her. Genuinely, completely sorry for her. “I…um…my name’s Sam Harriot, this is my brother, Dean.” He felt Dean shift next to him, knowing his brother nodded to the woman. “We just started over at the shelter, and Marion asked us to come by, make sure you’re okay.”
That was pretty much all it took. Grabbing onto Sam’s jacket the woman yanked him inside, he hardly had the opportunity to fling a desperate look at Dean, who sort of smirked at him, and wandered casually along after them, grumbling something sounding suspiciously like ‘thuggish.’ A small sausage shaped dog wiggled first around his feet, then headed for Dean’s, getting a few pats from each man. Through a window on the far side of the house, Sam saw two children playing in the yard. Twenty minutes later, and barely a word in edgewise, Sam had gotten the whole story of how her husband, experienced in the handling of firearms managed to blow his face off while cleaning one of his prized weapons. She supposed the six pack of beer he’d drunk earlier might have contributed to his carelessness.
The entire time Dean seemed to pay little attention, looking at pictures, moving casually about the room. He lingered for a bit at the mural covering one wall, a pleasant desert scene complete with coyotes. Sam knew better, Dean was getting every word she said, probably picking up on more than Sam was, storing it away for further sorting and use later. It sort of creeped him out, how Dean did that, seemed oblivious and ended up knowing twice the details as anyone else in the room.
Just as they were leaving, Dean picked up a small, stuffy toy in the shape of a coyote, with a collar around its neck. He tossed the toy for the dog, who scurried after it, prancing back a moment later, proud of her ‘catch.’
Once the door was shut, as they made their way down the steps, to the sidewalk Dean leaned over, whispered to Sam, “The stuffed toy was from the shelter.”
“How do you know that?”
“The collar around its neck had the shelter name printed on it.”
The second house wasn’t nearly as informative. The woman there mostly just sobbed on Sam’s shoulder, leaving a large wet patch on his jacket. Dean wandered the house, then the yard, coming up with the same information as they had at the first one. Less than a week after their pet, in this case a large orange cat that sat and stared a little too calmly at Sam the entire time, was brought home, the family’s father met with his untimely and rather ridiculous end. Leaving after about a half an hour, Sam sidestepped the large cat with the calm eyes and twitching tail, feeling stupid at the wave of relief slipping through him when he was standing safely beside Dean again. The third house they visited produced pretty much the same bits of information. The front door of that house had outlines of coyotes burnt into the wood. As they left Dean snagged a toy off the floor, standing behind the woman Sam spoke to, waggling the toy so Sam had a good view of it. Coyote.
“These people have a serious coyote kink going on. But don’t you think it’s odd the house of every victim has one of those stuffed toys?”
“Yeah, serious kink.” Dean agreed, “It’s like the whole town is a cult. There’re coyotes everywhere. I don’t know if the toys mean anything.”
“What do you know about cults? Oh, wait read a book while I was at Stanford?”
“Naaa…they showed a movie on it at Ohio State.” Unlocking the car door for Sam before heading to the driver’s side, “Maybe there’s something to it?”
Sam rolled his eyes, folding into the car. “I think you’re right about these people being abnormally careless. But a cult? ” He shrugged.
“It’s a bit freaky, you got to admit that. Maybe it’s not a cult, and maybe not attack of the vengeful stuffy toys, but maybe something.” Dean sat, fingers of his right hand hooked around the keys in the ignition, not moving, staring out the window.
“The car runs better if you turn that thingy you put the keys in.” Sam motioned to the ignition, then poked Dean’s side.
“I was thinking.”
“Ooohhh…don’t hurt anything.” Sam slid down in his seat, head leaning back, he stared up at the roof of the car. Fingers laced together, hands resting in his lap, twirling his thumbs over one another. He started to whistle.
“That’s so annoying.”
“Hmm?” Sam turned, arched an eyebrow for a second at his brother, resumed staring at the ceiling of the car, whistling.
“Could you at least do that in tune, actually whistle a song?”
Shaking his head side to side, indicating No, Sam smirked, making it difficult to whistle. He ignored Dean moving around, reaching under the front seat for something, probably food related. A second later his mouth was stuffed full of something fuzzy, foul smelling and tasted like—yuck! It was slightly damp, and nasty, and—Sam pulled it away, stared at it.
“You stuffed a sock in my mouth?!” Why did his voice crack when he least wanted it to?
“No, Sammy, I stuffed one of my worn, dirty socks in your mouth.” Dean ducked as the sock hit the window beside him, slid down between the seat and the door.
“I don’t know what’s worse, you have that under the seat or you stuck it over my face.”
“If you’d stopped whistling…”
“You mean like this?” Sam whistled, then threw one arm out to stop his tumble to the floor between the seat and dash. “Dean!”
Snickering…freaking snickering! Dean started the car, put it in gear and did a U-turn at a higher rate of speed than Sam thought really necessary. “Thirsty? Hungry? We passed a little eatery on the way here. My treat.”
“We have free food back at the shelter.”
“Eh, Sammy but we don’t have all the potential information. Where as stopping by to have a bite, a drink, we can get information too.” Dean grinned at him until Sam glared and pointed out the front window. “What? There are no other cars around.”
Sam started to whistle, immediately the car swerved wildly, tossing him into the passenger door. Dean tapped his thumbs merrily against the steering wheel, stealing a sidelong glance in Sam’s direction. Not giving Dean the satisfaction of thinking he’d won, Sam huffed, folded his arms over his chest and glared out his window. It was sorta difficult to beat the guy driving the car.
“Sam, we’ve been in some interesting places but this, this is just…”
“Tacky.” Sam finished his sentence, which was starting to make Dean feel slightly uneasy. Sam did that way too well. It was unnatural. “What?”
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Like what?” Dean found an empty booth, slid in, Sam across the table from him.
“Like there’s something wrong with me.”
“Because there is something wrong with you. Stop finishing everything I start to say.”
Sam grinned, then chuckled. “I’ve been doing that since I was six and you’ve just now noticed?”
“Whatever.” Dean puffed out a breath. “Just stop it.” He pulled two menus from the holder tucked against the wall, shoved one across to Sam.
“I could whistle.” Sam offered.
“No wonder everything wants to strangle you.”
Glancing up because Sam had gone uncharacteristically quiet and still, Dean wondered for a second if something had swiped him right out of the booth. Nope, Sam, right there where Dean left him. Except he was staring wide-eyed at the menu. Wondering what hidden sigils Sam might have found on the menu, Dean took a closer look at his. At first glance it just seemed an ordinary menu, the same one they saw in diners all over the country.
“Dean, this is, I don’t, I mean—”
“What?” Dean squinted at the menu. “Sam it’s just…ohh…eeuuwww. Coyote shaped—? Call me dull and old fashioned but I like my French toast square.”
Sam reached across, finger tapping the other side of the opened menu. “Check out the burger section.”
Straightening, pulling away from the table, Dean slammed the menu down on the table. “That’s just—”
“Wrong. You don’t think they really…?”
Dean opened his mouth to respond, but a distinctly feminine voice was what he heard.
A glass of water appeared in front of each of them. “What can I get you boys?”
Without thinking about it, and apparently Sam didn’t either, they both chimed in together. “Chicken salad sandwich.”
“You sure neither of you wants to try our—”
“No.” Again Sam’s voice joined Dean’s. Turning a warm smile in her direction, he added, “No thanks. Had the worst craving for chicken salad all day, both of us. Um…Bru…” Dean wasn’t sure he was reading her name tag correctly.
“Yes, Bruce. My name is Bruce. Daddy wanted boys.”
“He certainly didn’t get one,” Sam mumbled, then shot Dean a glare, retaliating Dean’s kick to his shins with one of his own.
Bruce may have had a boy’s name, but she was anything but. Long, wavy brown hair was pulled back. She had dark, deep brown eyes and possibly the longest legs Dean had ever seen on a girl. Long, muscular, shapely legs.
“Awww, well aren’t you just the sweetest thing.” Bruce reached out and tapped Sam’s shoulder with her pencil. Watching the blush spread from somewhere around his ears to completely under his shirt collar was entertaining, as always. “You boys here long?”
“We’re working at the shelter for a bit,” Sam offered.
“See, I was right, you are just the sweetest thing.” Bruce seemed far more interested in offering up comments on Sam’s sweetness than any information Dean tried prying out of her.
Once their food arrived, Dean waited until his brother had a big mouthful of chicken salad and was unable to argue. Reaching across the table, Dean thumped the top of Sam’s head, producing the expected indignant muffled squawk. “Whu dat fr?” Sam nearly choked trying to sound pissed off and chew at the same time.
“You big, dumb doofus. She did everything but take off her clothes and climb on your lap. Do you bother to use that to garner maybe a bit or two of information that might help us? Noooooo.”
Sam blinked and gulped down his food. “She said she didn’t know anything.”
“How old are you? How long have you been doing this? They never know anything until we point out they do. Oh, and not to mention you might have gotten laid for once. You get girls in bed, they talk Sam. They never shut up.” Holding up two fingers, “Two birds, one stone.”
“Apparently once you’re fed, neither do you.” Sam wadded a piece of the paper placemat into a small ball, swirled it around on his tongue for a few seconds and stuck it in his straw. He blew out, grinning when the bit of spit covered paper bounced off the end of Dean’s nose. “That was for the sock.”
Dean shoved the key in the lock, twisted away from Sam’s finger poking his side, which annoyed Sam even more. Having to back down the stairs quick to avoid Dean’s elbow under his ribs, Sam got one final shove with his shoulder against his brother’s back just as the door decided to open. Dean grumbled then growled, tripped over his own feet, and staggered into the room, dropping gracelessly onto the bed.
“Very funny Sam.”
Sam’s smile turned to full blown laughter when Dean leveled a seriously treacherous stare at the stuffed coyote. The coyote, completely unbothered by his brother the big, bad hunter, simply stared back in silence. When Dean’s eyes drifted to Sam, he licked one finger, making a hash mark in the air. “Dude, you got beat in a staring contest by a stuffed, dead thing.”
“I don’t have staring contests with anything, dead or alive.” Pushing off the bed, Dean seemed unable to resist hooking his foot around Sam’s ankle, tugging with enough force Sam stumbled into the wall. “I need a shower.”
Sam didn’t miss, as he settled at the table, arranging notes and laptop to do some work, the warm glint in Dean’s eyes, his fond smile. Sam knew his brother mourned the loss of a childhood for each of them. It hurt Dean more Sam didn’t get the chance to be a kid much. Being able to goof off, just be brothers and mess with one another, made Dean happy. Sam felt good when he made Dean happy, even if it was something as simple as shooting spit wads and exchanging pokes and prods.
Engrossed in a far more abundant amount of information in Bobby’s files and his internet sources than what they’d gotten from the town itself, Sam barely paid attention to Dean when he wandered from the bathroom. Peripherally he registered the sounds of Dean in the room, his humming, hopping on one foot to pull socks on, toweling his hair then throwing the towel at the bathroom. Whether or not the towel hit the bathroom Sam had no idea, would find out later when he headed in that direction.
It took Sam’s brain, content and relaxed, deep inside his world of research, a few seconds to realize the Dean part of the room was suddenly still and quiet. Looking up, Sam wasn’t sure what he was looking for, why relaxed became at once anxious. He glanced around the small apartment, eyes finally landing on his brother. Sam sighed, relieved, the sudden onslaught of tenseness oozed out as quickly as it slithered in. It was almost immediately replaced with curiosity, then mirth.
Dean stood in the middle of the room, coffee cup in hand, held at waist height, clad in nothing but a pair of sweat pants. Damp rolled down the side of Dean’s neck, over his arms and chest, but he seemed totally oblivious. “You are ugleeee.” Dean was talking to the stuffed coyote.
“I think I found something.”
“It’s watching me.” Dean glared at the stuffed coyote, it stared back.
“You’re standing in front of it, and it’s not WATCHING you, it’s just aimed in your direction.”
Sidestepping, Dean never took his eyes off the thing. “It’s watching me, it moved. Wile E’s eyes are following me.”
“He’s—it’s not.” Sam’s head dropped until his chin bounced off his chest.
Circling the thing, Dean pointed, finger shaking at the coyote. “Did you see that? It moved. The head moved, the lips twitched.”
“Dean,” deep sigh, be patient, “it…did…not…move. Now do you want to hear what I found or not?”
Pointing a finger at the coyote, “Don’t mess with me.”
“Dean! It’s dead.”
“When has being dead ever stopped anything before?”
“Will you LISTEN?!” Sam turned the laptop to get Dean’s attention focused off the stupid coyote. “You were right, I think.”
“You think? Of course I was right. I’m always right.” Dean’s eyes went from the coyote to Sam and back again. “Um…‘bout what?”
“The coyote stuffy toys. There are legends, mythology, from nearly every American Indian culture, and some Meso and South American ones too about a lesser demon, a trickster that disguises itself as a—” Sam cleared his throat, tried not looking at their stuffed friend. “As a, um, coyote.” This time Sam’s gaze slipped along with Dean’s to ‘their’ coyote. Wile E stood in stoic silence.
“Okay, so we hit the library tomorrow, check out the land’s history.” Shifting from one foot to the other, Dean edged closer to Sam, glanced over his shoulder at the laptop screen. “Maybe we are dealing with the attack of the vengeful stuffy toys? Freaky town and their freaky weird coyote fetish. It’s like some freaky club. Ya know, when I get my hands on the genius who put yellow eyes on that ugly, ratty piece of road kill, I’m going to beat him. Who puts yellow eyes on a stuffed animal? That’s just…”
“Asking for it.” Sam couldn’t help the grin. “The coyote toys are the only common denominator so far.” Standing, clasping his hands high over his head, Sam stretched. “You hunt around for more info for a bit. I’m taking a shower.”
Twenty minutes later Sam exited the bathroom to a mostly dark main room. Dean had apparently given up with the computer, shut it down and gone to bed, leaving the small light in the kitchenette on. Clicking it off on his way by, Sam bounced onto his own bed. It had been a long day. Kicking the blankets and sheet back, wriggling his legs under them, he pulled them up, plumped the pillow a few times and settled in for the night.
Opening one eye, what was that noise? Sam ventured a glance at Wile E. “Imagination.” He muttered to the dark room, the thing’s eyes were NOT glow-in-the-dark. They weren’t. Nope not even close. A sliver of light moved just inside the reach of his vision, too fast to focus on. Did something move? Dean. It was Dean, just rolling over. Sam lurched to his side, back to the stuffed coyote. Something moved. He could feel its eyes boring into him. It’s not watching me. He just knew if he turned to look he’d see it had turned. Nothing moved. Just Dean and me in here. Was no longer aimed away from the beds, but staring right at him. No, it’s not! Huffing a breath, he was being silly; it was a stuffed animal, a glorified toy, not a flipping vampire. Pushing up on his arms Sam slugged his pillow, admittedly harder than necessary.
Not the pillow’s fault. He gave the pillow another shove, darn thing just wasn’t comfortable. Rolling to his other side, facing Dean’s bed. See Wile E is right where he was all along. The pillow got another hit. Something moved, I know it. Sam’s eyes skimmed the room. For a split second yellow glinted from the coyote. Yanking the useless pillow out from under his head, he pushed his nose against the mattress. Yeah, this is comfortable, will get a dandy night’s sleep this way. He burrowed under the stupid, too hard pillow, hands covering his head.
Sam nearly jumped out of his skin when a deep voice rumbled through the room at him.
“It’s just a dead, stuffed thing, Sammy.” Dean didn’t even try to keep the smirk off his face, or the snicker out of his voice. He bit back an honest laugh when Sam jumped nearly high enough to clear the bed at the sound of his voice.
“Not funny!” Sam snapped. He flipped over again, beat the poor, innocent pillow against the bed, and pulled the sheet and blanket over his head. If he kept that up, he’d kill the pillow and the bed before the night was through.
“Will you stop thrashing around like a gargantuan guppy that jumped out of its water bowl?”
“I am NOT a guppy.” Sam squirmed around under the blankets imitating some kind of over grown worble looking to lay eggs and chew its way to freedom.
“Fine, gold fish, tadpole, black eyed molly, neon tetra, pick whatever you want, just lay still and GO TO SLEEP!” Dean actually felt his blood pressure rise.
Sam grumbled, mostly into the mattress. “It’s your fault.” Then he growled some completely unintelligible sound, tossed his entire body around to land on his stomach (which was a pretty impressive move), hit the pillow again. Dean was quite certain the words damn, bastard, insensitive and something obscene were mixed up in that sound, probably accompanied by a rather rude gesture hidden by the fact Sam’s hands were under the obviously highly offensive, and much abused pillow.
Heaving a sigh, Dean knew defeat when it whapped him over the head. Tossing back his own bed covers, shivering slightly at the chill assaulting him, he gave his warm, comfortable bed a wistful glance before marching across the room. “This is why I never let you watch scary movies when you were a kid.”
Yanking Sam’s button down shirt from the back of the chair where it’d been neatly hung, Dean flung it over Wile E’s head. The shirt was large enough to cover most the coyote. The quick intake of breath heralded another protest from Sam, he was sure. So he cut it off before it could start. “Shut it.”
Slamming himself around again, making the bed creak from side to side, Sam snorted, then huffed, snorted louder, but didn’t further comment. Dean resettled in his bed. He’d been out of it long enough the nice warm spot he’d created was gone. Now he had to start over. “G’night Sammy.” It was a huge accomplishment, keeping the sarcasm from his words.
“Rank—oo.” The pillow was talking to him.
Dean grinned, rolled on his side, propped up on one elbow. “What was that Sammy? Speak up, didn’t hear you.”
Flopping onto his back with such force Dean wondered how it was possible Sam didn’t pull a muscle, he jerked the pillow out from behind his head, dropped it to his middle, heaved a considerable sigh. “I said,” he cleared his throat, coughed. “Um, I was saying…”
“You’re welcome.” Lying back down, “Now go to sleep.” Dean pulled the blankets closer, letting his body heat re-create a warm cocoon to sleep in. The night was pleasant; they’d left the windows cracked. Crickets chirped, lulling him. Drifting in that twilight place between sleep and awake, Dean’s body relaxed, muscles loose, warm, he was comfortable. Moonlight filtered through the window, the gentle breeze rustled through the trees outside.
Everything was quiet, peaceful, perfect for a good night’s sleep.
Dean’s brain oozed farther to slumber, then slammed awake with such force he had to think to figure out where he was. The abrupt movement from the general direction of his brother’s bed brought the dark world into focus immediately. Tensing, assessing the situation, moving nothing but his eyes, Dean readied for attack. Squinting, he drew a deep, calming breath, pushed up onto his elbows, taking a few seconds for the picture before him to make sense.
Sam sat bolt upright, fingers of both hands drumming the bed on either side of his legs impatiently. Bathed in moonlight, he was scowling at his shirt, and presumably the stuffed coyote underneath.
Tossing his arms in the air, letting them drop on either side of him, Dean ground out, “Oh for the love of—Sam it’s STUFFED!”
Turning nothing but his head Sam scowled at Dean for a few beats, then his face softened to more of a pout. Picking at the blanket edge with one hand, Sam looked at him, pulled one corner of his mouth up, let it drop just as fast, looked down at his knees, wiggled his toes under the blanket, looked back at Dean, then up at the bear head on the wall. When his eyes slipped in Dean’s direction again, Sam sighed softly, almost inaudibly.
Dean could just wait until his brother unraveled the blanket, but then he’d have to give Sam his, and he’d be cold again. Grumbling, he dramatically threw off his blanket, grabbed his boots, yanked them on and stalked across the room. Wrapping both arms around the coyote’s middle, Dean snarled, “Outside you go with the rest of the vermin.”
“Dean, my shir—”
The glare Dean leveled at Sam stopped his voice, made him slouch down a bit, blinking like a chastised five-year-old. He blew out a breath, making his bangs flop around.
Wile E didn’t budge. Dean yanked, grunted, “Damn, stupid, freaking thing, come loose!” Groaned…nothing, not so much as a nano-inch of movement. Sam turned into a flurry of activity, out of bed, shoes on, out the door, leaving Dean to tangle with the stupid, creepy, stuffed, bolted-to-the-floor coyote. How nice. When a crow bar appeared under his nose Dean looked up.
Sam smiled, “Maybe this will work?”
“Maybe.” Nodding. “Yeah, I think so. You push from that side, I’ll pull on it.”
Sliding the crowbar end between the coyote’s base and the floor, Sam grouched and puffed, leaning his weight down against the tool. Creaking and groaning, with Sam pushing down on the crowbar, and Dean pulling up on the stuffed statue, it took no more than a few minutes for it to come free. Dean staggered back a few steps, regaining his balance, grinning broadly with the stuffed coyote clutched to his chest.
A few long strides, one good shot put toss and the coyote sailed out the door, across the steps, landing between them and the woods. Sam’s shirt fluttered to rest at the bottom of the steps. Retrieving it, Dean balled it up, threw it at Sam’s head. Catching it out of the air, Sam put it back over the chair, gave Dean a sheepish grin, eyes traveling around the room.
Sam stood at the end of his bed watching as Dean crossed the room. “Uh, Dean…um…” He looked down at his knees, bumping them against the mattress.
“Yeah, yeah, just can I go to sleep now?” Boots off Dean was back in bed, finding the warm little bubble under the blankets. Releasing a deep sigh, Dean began to drift, soothed into slumber by the soft sounds of his brother’s breathing and laying still. He was almost there, and…
“Get your own goddamn drink of water.”
“Did you hear that? Outside?”
“There’s nothing outside.” Dean swallowed the rather insistent impulse to beat his brother into unconsciousness.
“Dude, there’s always something outside.” Sam’s whisper was urgent, and not very quiet.
Dean’s tongue ran around the outside of his teeth, then he gritted his teeth. Maybe being an only child wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all? He’d never have to share his milk shakes, always have hot water in the shower, the laptop would be his, and he might just get some sleep at night. There were a lot of woods around here he could hide the body. Hell, no one would notice Sam was gone for months, maybe years if he played it right. Okay, Bobby might get suspicious, but if Dean was cool, did just right…
“Dean I swear to you, I heard something outside. In the bushes.”
“Sammy, there is nothing out there that—where are you going?”
“To look outside.” Sam had his shoes back on, was moving purposefully through the room, to the door.
“Goddamn, of all the stupid…after what he sees every damn day…freaking stuffed coyote…freaking freaky town with their cults, clubs, whatever…” Dean muttered, yanked his boots back on, stormed out the door.
Sam stood on the steps, glancing between Wile E on the ground and Dean. Stomping by Sam, down the steps, Dean stopped a few feet from Wile E, pointing. “It’s right where it landed.” The coyote was on its side, mounting board aimed skyward now.
“You threw it over there.” Sam pointed to a spot ten or so feet away.
“No, I threw it right where it is.” Rubbing the back of his neck, Dean’s eyes went from one spot to the other. “I think.”
“Whatever Sam.” Crossing the damp ground, Dean grabbed up the coyote, swung it around and flung it as far into the woods as he could. “There, happy now?”
“No.” Sam jogged down the steps, headed straight for the Impala. Trunk open, he dove inside, popped back up, smiling victoriously, holding a shovel like some prize for Dean to see. “Be right back.”
“Where are you going? Sammy!”
A few mere steps behind Sam, by the time Dean caught up his brother had a respectable hole dug in the soft, moist soil. Dean dropped the coyote into the shallow grave, took Sam’s shovel and filled the dirt over it. He beat the freshly moved earth a few times for good measure.
Ten minutes later Dean was once again in that warm, cozy spot not really awake, not really asleep. Blissfully there was nothing but quiet, soft breathing coming from the direction of Sam’s bed. Just as he was about to succumb to the soft pillow, warm bed, tired body, he was wrenched back.
“Dean? You want something to drink?”
Dean’s boot sailed in a perfect arc, flying true, hitting its target with a satisfactory whuummp. Which was followed by Sam’s annoyed, “Owwww!”
If you don’t have a plan, at least have back-up…
Sam moved away, but there was only so far he could go before falling off the bed. For the second time in a few seconds his ear was assaulted by a puff of air. Squirming to his other side, Sam turned his head away, tried to burrow under the pillow. Something barely there tickled the nape of his neck, across his shoulders and ghosted over his collar bone. He swatted at it, missing, which annoyed him even more.
“Stop that,” he grumbled, mostly into the mattress.
Another puff in his ear.
That was it.
That was just quite enough as a matter of fact.
Wait for it…wait…another…The barely there thing skipped over his neck, this time heading for his one exposed cheek.
Sam flipped around fast as lightening, hands shooting out.
Except his fingers swiped through air.
He aimed his best glare at Dean, who stood a few feet away, one hand in his pocket, the other rubbing absently at his chest. “What?”
“You did that!” Sam scratched at his neck, then used the back of his hand to brush the lingering sensation of tickle away from his cheek.
Dean blinked and lifted one eyebrow, looking so innocent he had to be guilty. “Got fleas?”
“You…I…there was…it was you.”
Eyes making a slow circuit of the walls, Dean shrugged. “It was me, what?”
“My ear.” Sam pointed to his ear, then his neck, “And something on my neck, and…” pointing at Dean, “it was you.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Sidestepping away from Sam, Dean turned to the small table nestled under the moose head. “But what I do know is day’s a-wasting, Sammy boy. Time for us to get to work.” He settled in a chair, kicking the other one away from the table. “You gonna sit down and eat, or just bitch all day about your fleas?”
The aroma found its way to Sam’s nose, wound its way through to inhabit his brain. His stomach cheered. “I don’t have—”
Dean leaned his elbow against the table, rested chin in hand, and watched Sam placidly. Every few seconds he let his eyes wander from the table, to Sam, to the chair.
Sliding onto the chair, Sam surveyed the table, and then looked up at Dean with what he hoped was a sufficiently contrite expression. “You cooked?”
“No, Sam.” Dean sipped some coffee, pulled one of the files closer to him and opened it. His other hand pushed the plate loaded with sausage and cheese sandwiches on croissants in Sam’s direction. “The coyote left it. Right after he planted the fleas on your neck.”
Eyeing his brother suspiciously, Sam stopped his reply by biting into one of the sandwiches. He made it a general rule to shut up and eat things Dean made. His brother might have sometimes come up with very creative meals, but he could actually do a decent job. Or maybe seemed that way, because Sam had grown up eating things Dean made him. Either way, food created Dean Winchester style smelled and tasted spectacular to Sam.
“We gotta find this thing, Sam.”
“Yeah,” Sam agreed around another mouthful of breakfast. “We should check out the library. I was thinking too, there are some pretty old churches here. We should see what they have records wise, check out the land itself too.”
“I think I remember seeing a little museum on the way in. Hit there, too.”
Sam nodded, swallowing down coffee. “Uh, Dean? How do you suppose we get rid of it?”
“We have to find it first.” Dean shrugged. “We’ll find something. Cold iron and wood usually works on these sorts of beasties, we’ll just stake its ass when we get it.” Tapping two fingers against a smaller slip of paper, “But first we have to earn our keep. Which, might I remind you, was your idea.”
Pulling the small paper forward, it was a note from Marion, a list of chores. Great. He spent a few seconds scanning it, decided this wouldn’t be so difficult. There were only three things on the list, shouldn’t take them more than ten or fifteen minutes, Sam reasoned. “We have free food and a free place to stay. Now who is bitching?”
“At least I don’t have fleas.”
“I don’t have...” Sam threw both hands in the air, “Urgh…never mind.”
Dean grinned, a dead give away to Sam it had indeed been his brother tormenting him in his sleep. He was only feeling forgiving and generous because Dean also made these sloppy sausage-egg things.
The kennels were gleaming tile floors, cages stacked four high and a hose with a pressure washer at the end. Sam stood in the middle of the room and considered the pressure wash for a minute, wondering why one would use it on dogs and cats. Over each door was the saying …Above all, do no harm… Phoenix slept on a large pillow in one corner, ears perking and tail thumping, welcoming them inside.
Dean nudged his side, pointing up. “There was a plaque on Marion’s desk with that saying.”
Nodding, “Yeah, good advice I guess.” Sam sighed and scanned the room, not really sure what to do first. A bag, feeling like a sack of sand thumped against his chest. The shock spurred his arms up and around it out of reflex. “What’s this?”
“This was your idea. You get to change the litter boxes.” Dean’s grin was downright maniacal.
Scrunching his nose, mischievous grin widening, Dean clapped Sam’s shoulder a few times. “You. Cats make me sneeze. I’m gonna go over there, feed the nice dogs.”
“Since when?” The rest of his witty retort stuck in his throat and died before he could get it out. Dean was fast. He was through the door to the dog kennels as soon as he’d slapped Sam’s chest with a bag of kitty litter and stopped talking.
Whatever, he’d save it for later.
Dumping the bag into a larger, plastic bin, Sam straightened, surveyed the room. A half dozen or so of the cages held cats of various ages, sizes, colors. They all lounged, some gazing back at him complacently. Every few seconds one flicked a tail, yawned, or twitched an ear. Most of them ignored him completely.
Sam cut his previous mental estimate of fifteen minutes to do this down to five. This was going to be easy.
The first cage held two adorable kittens, small, round bundles of multi-colored fluff with perky ears and wide, cherubic eyes. Opening the door, Sam’s heart sank when they cringed away from him, scuttling to the back of the cage.
“Aww…c’mere. I won’t hurt you.” He reached inside.
Fluff ball number one suddenly, and without explanation or warning doubled in size. Surprised, and a bit wary, Sam straightened and sucked in a breath when it spit, hissed, and slapped at his hand with tiny, needle-sharp claws. Jerking his hand back, his elbow connected with the water dish, tipping it then sending it clattering to the floor.
Fluffy thing number two affected a more direct approach. The puffball, now looking twice its size, backed up and scrunched in the corner of the cage for all of a few seconds…
…then launched at Sam.
Swallowing down a garbled yelp of surprise—Dean would never let him live down having a two pound kitten best him—Sam back pedaled, tripped over the water dish and slid in the spilt water.
Fluff number one took advantage of the surprise attack its partner executed by skittering toward the opened cage door. Going halfway down on his knees, Sam made a grab for the one kitten still in the cage.
It had apparently planned its escape well, slipped through his fingers and dove into the litter box along one side of the cage. Scrambling through with enough force to send the plastic box careening to the back of the cage, where it bounced off and dumped over. Litter and things Sam didn’t want to identify, rolled free, spilling to the floor, making his footing even more precarious.
Phoenix watched from his pillow, but made no move to intervene, or help. Man’s best friend…HA!
“Oh come on!” How was he to explain to the nice lady giving them a room and food that he’d lost two kittens? “Help me out here.” The first fluff ball stopped at the sound of his voice, stared at him, then threw itself into the air.
How Sam managed to catch the thing mid flight was beyond him. Grinning broadly, he held the tiny, wiggling creature in his hand up to his eye level, “See, I’m not going to hurt you. Now just stop.”
He looked around at the mess at his feet, searching out the other fluffy thing. “Pretty good, huh?” Sam half turned to look at the big, white dog.
Never take your eyes off your enemy, Sammy. Dean’s voice slithered through Sam’s brain, a subconscious warning.
The kitten latched onto his wrist with all four feet, sharp, needle claws hanging on like possessed Velcro. Pin point teeth dug into the meaty part of his palm. Lips clamped shut against the indignant howl bubbling from his chest. Sam resisted the urge to shake the vicious beast from his hand, not wanting to slam it into a wall and likely damage it considerably. Prying the kitten from his arm with his free hand brought only a second of respite.
The kitten twisted in his grip, repeating its action, though he managed to grab it off before the teeth came into play.
Shoving the thing into the cage, Sam jerked forward, slamming the door shut. He sagged against it, panting in deep breaths. Phoenix leapt to his feet, scrambling on the tile but not really going anywhere, his startled woof accompanying the movement pulled Sam’s eyes in that direction. Just as his befuddled brain processed the action, the dog found his footing and scurried across the room. The loose kitten had found its way to the dog, sent him running for cover.
At least Sam wasn’t their only victim.
“No…stop!” Arms out, Sam lunged forward a second too late.
Phoenix careened headlong into the container of kitty litter. The open container of kitty litter. He head butted it square on the broadside, galloping straight through. The container took a short flight before crashing to the kennel floor. A spray of litter fanned out in all directions. At least the errant kitten stopped flying around the room long enough to play with the small clay pellets.
Snatching the thing by the scruff of the neck, in one fast, fluid movement Sam had the cage door open and the kitten deposited inside and the door shut again. He was sure the two of them, now huddled in a corner of the cage were plotting their next assault on him. No way was he coming back in here alone. Next time, Dean was coming, even if he did sneeze the whole time. Sam needed back up.
Straightening, Sam surveyed the mess. Phoenix gazed up at him, tail swaying side to side.
“Maybe you could go help Dean?” Sam grumbled, pointing to the door. When the dog didn’t move, Sam shrugged, took a broom and began sweeping up the litter. Threatening the prospect of work apparently had some effect. The big dog backed away from the broom, eyeing it cautiously before scampering out of the room.
Forty-five minutes later, Sam had the litter mostly cleared off the floor, the cats fed (with much more caution) and the majority of the nasty stuff in the litter boxes disposed of. Glancing at his watch, he wondered why Dean wasn’t here making fun of him.
“I hope they don’t have birds here.” He mumbled, stepping through from the cat section to the dog section.
Dean’s stifled gait, pulling one leg, knee locked, to the side and behind him immediately set Sam on alert. “What happened, did you get—”
Turning, straightening, squaring up his shoulders Dean glared, held out one finger and ground out in his best ‘go ahead make my day’ tone, “Sam you’d better think long and hard about what you’re going to say next.”
Sam blinked, then squinted, taking in the sight before him. There was Dean, moving about the room (cool as a cucumber Sam had to admit), three dogs on leashes tangled around his legs. That wasn’t the best part, the part making Sam work hard to keep from bursting into laughter, because his life honestly might depend upon it. His brother, his big brother, his shoot first, shoot second, shoot some more, then ask the corpse a question and shoot it twice for not answering, tough, uber-cool, in charge, big brother had a rather cute…amorous…beagle wound around one leg.
Humping that leg.
Humping hard and humping fast. Sam swore the little guy was wearing a smile while he went about his…entertainment.
Drawing in a deep breath and closing his eyes for a few beats, Dean opened them, stared right at Sam. He pointed to a bag on a shelf along the one wall not lined with cages. “Give me those treats.”
Snagging the requested bag, Sam kept his distance, leaning in just far enough so Dean’s fingers could grab the bag.
“Long…and…hard…Sammy.” Dean was actually speaking from between gritted teeth.
It was too much, Sam couldn’t hold it in any longer, or resist. “Interesting choice of words.”
Dean turned red; dark, dangerous red. Sam supposed the vein throbbing along his neck meant the red wasn’t blush from embarrassment. More from some deep-seated, slow-burn type anger.
Swiping at the air with one finger, Sam grinned. “Point for,” he turned the finger towards himself, “Me.” Backing away another step, Dean was slowed down by the leashes wrapped around his knees and the dog wrapped around his ankle. “Looks like Mr. Humpy has found true wuuuv.” Sam puckered up and blew a kiss in Dean’s direction.
Fortunately, Dean didn’t have any firearms within reach.
Nor did the laser beam death rays shooting from Dean’s eyes materialize to instantly vaporize Sam. Instead, Dean pressed both lips together until they turned white, opened the bag of treats and waved one under the nose of ‘Mr. Humpy’.
“Here, ya stupid horn-dog.”
The dog’s nose moved back and forth, mostly in time with his activities on Dean’s leg. His ears flopping to and fro across his face, then fluttered up like furry wings. Dean let the treat fly, straight into the cage. The beagle lost interest in his new ‘friend’ and scurried after the small morsel. Darting forward, hauling the others with him, Dean shoved the cage door shut. More treats in hand, “C’mon, you too.”
It amazed Sam how his brother finally extracted himself from the bizarre trap of leashes and dogs, using the treats to lure them into their cages. Not that Sam would say so. Instead, he ducked as he commented, “I think dogs really luuuuvvvvv you.”
Dean turned, facing him fully, straightened his shirt, then his shoulders, obviously going to unleash some scathing reply. Sam braced for the onslaught and tried to stop snickering. He really did, but it was just funny. Dean would see that, in a decade or three. Quirking one eyebrow, drawing a deep breath, Dean opened his mouth.
“Excuse me.” A distinctly female voice hit Sam’s ears.
Dean shut his mouth, frowned for a second at Sam. They both turned to the voice.
“Can you help us?” A very pretty lady with an adorable little girl with big brown eyes and long auburn curls stood in the door way. The woman gripped a shoebox between her hands. The little girl stood on tip toe every few seconds trying to see into the box.
“Um…yeah…maybe…are you hurt? Lost? Car broke down? Whatever it is you need, I’m sure I can provide it.”
The woman’s eyebrows rose. She edged between Dean and the little girl. Clearing her throat she pushed the box away from her middle. “We found this, the poor little thing. You can take care of it, right?”
Elbowing past his brother, Sam smiled at the woman. “Of course we can. It’s what we do.” Jabbing Dean’s ribs with enough force he stifled a grunt, “Right, Dean?”
“Absolutely,” Dean muttered, more catching the box thrust into his hands than actually taking it willingly.
“Thank you.” She backed away, moving the little girl as she went. “We’d better go now. Thank you, again.”
Before either brother could say another word the woman and girl were out the door.
Dean shook his head. “People here are odd.” He gazed down at the thing in the box. “Huh.”
Leaning in closer, peering over Dean’s shoulder, Sam got a better look at the small thing in the box. “It’s a squirrel.” Sam took the box from Dean, held it in one hand, using one finger of the other hand to lightly brush over the fur covering the squirrel’s back. “He’s hurt.”
Curled in a tight ball, face mostly covered by its tail, the little animal barely moved at Sam’s touch, other than to huddle into a tighter ball. Sam’s hand retreated when Dean’s fingers slapped his knuckles.
“Don’t touch it.”
“Dean, it’s half dead, it’s not going to hurt anything.” He followed his brother from the kennel to the outer office. “What do we do with it?”
Shrugging. “I don’t know. We have to do something.” Dean sighed, rubbed the back of his neck. “I guess we can’t let it suffer, should just, um, I guess we should, do something about that.”
“Do I have to spell it out to you Sam?”
Sam straightened, crossed both arms over his chest, glanced back down at the small, furry thing huddled in the box, “How?”
“I…uh…I’ll just…” Dean’s thumb speared over his shoulder, backing away from Sam and the box, “Go get a gun.”
“A gun?” Sam’s voice rose higher than he’d intended. Images of him spending the remainder of the day scraping squirrel bits off the walls, floor, ceiling, Phoenix, romped through his head. “But, you, we…That’s not right.”
Sam ran his finger over the squirrel’s tail. Without lifting his head, he looked up at Dean, whose shoulders sagged by the slightest degree. Almost, a bit more. Pulling one corner of his lower lip barely between his teeth, Sam blinked at his brother.
Dean sighed. Yes!
Eyes moving to the squirrel for just a second, then back up to Dean’s…time to move in for the kill. One final thing…Sam stuck his lower lip out just the smallest amount…and…
There it was, the huff, followed by the eye roll. Oh yeah, Sammy’s workin’ it now!
“Fine, Sam.” Dean took the box, strode back to the kennel, put the squirrel into one of the cages. “I suppose we can see, it’ll either get better or not, I guess. At least it’ll be warm and dry and not bothered by scavengers.”
Sam wasn’t sure what amazed him more. That he could still pull this stuff off, or Dean still fell for it.
Dean grumbled, mostly to himself, the entire way to town. All the while ignoring the sidelong looks Sam not so stealthily aimed in his direction every few minutes. The kid thought he was so smart, conning Dean into keeping the squirrel. Dean hadn’t wanted to shoot it anyway. The way Sam was acting one would think squirrels were an endangered species.
They sure weren’t going to dispatch anything if they didn’t get in gear and find it.
Barely containing rapid fire eye rolls when they walked through the library, Dean supposed he shouldn’t be surprised. He was somewhat amazed the entire building wasn’t coyote shaped. Off to the right of the main entrance was a carpeted area, obviously for small children. The tables and chairs were formed to look like coyotes, which was just…wrong. The carpeting, littered with toddlers and their parents, was a nice mountain scene, coyotes sitting in groups of two, three and four, noses pointed up.
Stupid freaky town with their stupid freaky coyote fetish…clubs…cults…whatever.
Sam’s fingers poked his side. Dean’s grumble seemed to be some sort of incentive to repeat the action. He was going to have to work on those grumbles. Eyeing the small children on the coyote chairs, Sam’s head dipped in the opposite direction. Dean followed Sam through the library, straight to a room with walls lined by computers. It was a genuine talent. Sam could sniff out a computer from a hundred yards out. Too bad Dean couldn’t train him to sniff out other things with the same efficiency. Maybe Dean needed to use different Sammy treats.
It took them very little time to accumulate a list of books. Sam went off in search of them. Checking to be sure the chairs weren’t coyote shaped, Dean settled in to hunt through the online version of the newspapers in the county. A few hours later, neither were much wiser.
Dean looked up when a shadow, familiar as his own, oozed between him and the computer screen.
“This town is screwed,” Sam huffed, slumped into the chair beside Dean’s, propped both elbows on the desk and dropped his chin to his palms.
“That’s the spirit, Sammy, optimism and determination.”
Sam lolled his head to the side far enough to look at Dean, and stick his tongue out. “I have never found so much information that gave so little information in one place ever.” Rubbing two fingers over his forehead, “I’m getting a headache.”
“See? What did I say? Am I right or am I right?”
Sam narrowed his gaze and just stared at Dean as though he’d grown a few extra heads.
“Every time. We fall for it every damn time. Bobby dumped this on us ‘cause he couldn’t figure it out. Bobby is a freaking genius. Get the two young guys to run their asses off and spin their wheels.” Hitting print, Dean swung his leg over the chair, standing and ignored the just-swallowed-a-frog expression Sam wore as he followed Dean with his eyes.
“Cell phones. They’re unnatural Sammy.”
“Uh-huh. Machines, they’ll take over.” Sam rolled his eyes, twice, collected the papers Dean printed out and shoved them into his laptop bag.
Dean snickered…just another name for purse, Sammy.
“What’s so funny?”
Shrugging, Dean lightly patted Sam’s back. “C’mon, let’s hit that old church a few blocks over, then break for lunch. Some food and your headache will go away.”
“I don’t think it’ll go away until we leave here.” Sam muttered as they wound their way through book shelves, coyote chairs, and small children to the relative safety of outside.
The midday sky was bright, blue and clear. The air sweet, they decided to walk the short distance to the church they’d marked as their next stop on the research trail.
Sam’s fingers fisting his jacket and yanking, brought Dean up short, nearly had him stumbling backwards. “Hey! Sam, what the—”
“There.” Sam progressed to jerking Dean, making his jacket slip slide over his shoulders. Free hand pointing to the yards between two houses, “It’s…he’s…LOOK!”
Smacking off his brother’s hands, shaking his clothing back into place, Dean looked. “What? It’s a yard. It’s not even a pretty yard.”
“He’s right there.”
“He…the…it…” Huffing out a long breath, “Come on!”
“Sam, let go of me.” Dean had no choice but to follow along, being that Sam had a white knuckled fistful of his jacket again.
“The coyote! It was…smirking!”
“The—” Slamming to a stop fast, this time Sam was the one pulled off balance. “Sam, the thing is dead, stuffed and mounted to a board.”
“When has dead ever stopped anything before?”
Dean really hated that mocking tone. “So what? It’s possessed now? Seriously, what self-respecting anything would want to inhabit that ugly ass thing? Where are you going?”
“It’s…he’s…the thing is going to get away.”
Sprinting after Sam, ducking between two houses they stopped a short distance from the woods surrounding the properties on that street. A quick flash of grayish brown with pointy ears and a bushy tail galloped along the edge of the woods, then darted into the trees.
“See? SEE?! That’s him.”
“That was a live coyote.” Dean had to bend a bit sideways to get between laundry someone had hung out and under the clothes line.
“Dean, it had yellow eyes, looked just like the one in our room, the one we threw away last night. First it was slaloming around on the board, then it’s running, like a real coyote.”
“That’s because it is a real coyote. Now where are you go—” Dean’s words, as well as his air was cut off when he was knocked off his feet. His back hit the ground, forcing a breath out with a loud wooosh.
The game’s a foot!
Pin wheeling his arms and legs, Dean fought for freedom. He beat away the silky slip which had found its way to his face, covering his eyes, nose, mouth. Grabbing one end of the slip, he yanked.
The damn thing yanked back, trying to smother him.
The clothesline wound around his ankles, jerking him along the ground. “Sa-aum.”
“See, I told you.” Sam stood, arms crossed over his chest, grinning triumphantly.
Fumbling for his knife, Dean wrenched it free with one hand, making an attempt at getting the silky pink slip from his face. Blowing out roughly, the slip billowed away for a second then plastered to him like Saran Wrap. Slashing blindly in the direction of his feet, Dean tried to roll away from the rope. “Maybe you could—” The slip wadded up in his mouth, cutting off his air and speech. Pulling on it, shaking his head side to side, he snapped out at Sam. “Help me and worry about your stupid, stuffed bag of ugly later!”
“It’s not my…” Sam’s speech skipped to a halt when footy pajamas slithered over Dean’s chest and cinched around his neck.
This had just ceased to be funny. Dean gave up on the slip and tried getting his fingers between the pajamas and his neck to pry them loose.
Honestly, the Joker? Some kid had issues if this was what they wanted on their P.J’s.
He caught a glimpse of Sam dropping to his knees, felt his brother’s fingers clamp down on his wrist. “Crap, shit. Gimme the knife.”
Dean’s arm was jerked one way then the other as Sam tried wrestling the knife from his hand. “Dean…” Sam got the knife just as Dean’s legs were yanked up, his entire body pulled first one way, then the other in a zig-zag pattern across the grass. Still clinging to Dean’s arm, Sam was pulled along too, body slamming the ground with a pained aarrummppfff. “Dean!” That time the panic came through loud and clear.
Working his fingers so he could grasp the footy pajamas around his neck, Dean barely got himself some breathing room when he was again sent whipping one way then the other by the clothesline.
Sam pushed to his feet and to a run in the same motion. Holding the knife in his mouth, he jumped at the clothesline. Grabbing it in both hands, he let his momentum carry him over the rope and back down to the ground. That pulled Dean’s legs in yet another direction.
“Sam...get the…never mind that…I can’t breathe.”
He got the slip far enough away to watch Sam saw at the rope. He had nothing more than a moment’s reprieve before the slip blew out and fluttered back down to cover his entire head this time. “Aam-mee…” The slip was in cahoots with the footy pajamas, trying to strangle him.
The arms of the footy pajamas twisted around his middle…and that’s just wrong…tightening as he bucked up to loosen its grip.
“Will you sit STILL?!” Sam snarled out.
In the next instant he’d cut through the clothes line, it fell to the ground, looking like some giant, dead worm. Dean kicked his legs free and managed to pry the legs of the footy pajamas from around his neck…okay, really, very wrong! Sam pounced on him, grabbing at the pajamas which twisted around and shoved against his chest sending Sam sprawling backwards, landing on his butt with a harsh grunt. The pajamas lunged across Dean to Sam, who swatted at them, trying to push them away from his face.
The pajamas swatted back.
It looked like some bizarre form of patty-cake. First the pajamas…Joker pajamas…would flap at Sam’s face then Sam would return with his own hand flapping, all the while making sort of insane growling noises. Dean would have laughed if he hadn’t been in the process of being strangled by the other end of the pajamas and the slip.
Sam got hold of one of the pajama arms. Backpedaling he hauled the garment with him. “You stupid bastard, you are not going to…” Sam’s voice trailed off, his eyes went from the pajamas to rivet on Dean, shouting, “I’m arguing with clothes.” The footy pajama arm made another grab at Sam’s face, he snatched it, twisted and slapped at it again.
Spearing the pajamas through with Dean’s knife, Sam pinned the part with the arms to the ground. Feet against the middle of the pajamas, Sam pushed and kicked.
Which pulled and yanked on Dean’s neck.
“Saa…stop…oww…shiii…” Dean more or less burbled the words at his brother. He managed to pull one end of the slip up far enough so he could see again.
Sam’s eyes met his. The kid’s entire face dropped, looking more like he was the one getting beat up than Dean. “Dean. I…uh…sorry…”
The material gave way, halving with a loud rip sound. The pajamas lost their grip, Sam tumbled backwards away from Dean, landing flat on his back, panting.
Sam shoved his elbows under his shoulders, prying himself off the ground. “You…okay?” He panted out.
“Yeah.” Dean leaned to one side, catching his breath, waiting for his racing heart to slow down. “Just give me a min—”
“Ha!” Sam curled long legs beneath him, stretching them to their fullest and was up and moving, bouncing over Dean’s legs and sprinting at the woods.
Stopping long enough to point to the woods, head turning back to Dean so fast his hair fanned out in his wake, then fluttered back to his head Sam’s words tumbled out of his mouth. “Look! There. Dude, it’s laughing at us!”
Before Dean could think much about what was happening, Sam was off and running again, full tilt at the woods. Catching sight of what Sam pointed to, a coyote. Not just any coyote, the same coyote, looking suspiciously like their coyote. Which was impossible, or should be, maybe should be. Whatever.
Dean staggered to his feet, throwing the slip down, hopping and kicking to free his feet from the clothesline. “Get off me.” He grumbled out then stopped to take a glance around, making sure no one was watching him struggle with, and talking to laundry. “Sam!” He tried shouting again. Again it was no use. Sam bolted across the clearing to the woods, crashed through and out of sight.
Scooping up the knife Sam dropped, replacing it in the sheath in his boot, Dean chased after his errant sibling.
Hitting the woods’ edge a few mere minutes behind Sam, Dean could hear his brother pounding through the trees, jumping whatever objects were in his path. Dean also heard cackling. Cackling! What the hell? Nothing should cackle.
Legs pumping faster, pouring on the speed, trying to keep upright and not trip on the underbrush, Dean burst through a clump of bushes, got close enough to Sam to grab his arm. “Sam. Stop. SAM!”
Sliding on the damp ground, Sam spun to face him. He turned to look behind him, then back to Dean so quickly Dean wondered how Sam didn’t collapse from dizziness. Sam pointed, shaking his arm at the path through the woods spreading out in front of them. “That’s him. It…he’s there, we gotta get him. It’s him!”
Before Dean could comment, slap his kid brother upside the head and knock some sense into him, Sam ripped free of his grip and was off again, bounding through the woods. Dean sagged for a few seconds against a tree. Really when did Sam develop so much more energy than Dean? Maybe it was about the time he’d lost his mind and decided they were hunting stuffed animals.
Listening to Sam hurtle through the woods, and chasing after him was not in Dean’s plan for the day.
“Damn.” He grumbled. And chased. After Sam. Again.
Two minutes later, Dean caught sight of Sam, slowing down so he didn’t slide down an embankment on his ass. Just ahead of Sam, across a dried creek bed, was indeed a coyote. A coyote that turned, looked back at Sam, and…crap, crap, crap…had yellow eyes.
“Sam, no!” Dean shouted, trying to stop Sam’s pursuit.
Jumping a downed tree, avoiding collision with low branches by a fraction of an inch, Dean’s heart leapt to his mouth when he saw what snoozed in the dried creek bed, tucked into a small hollow of ground. “Sam, stop! Sam! Sammy!”
Sam didn’t see what he’d just woken up, or wasn’t paying attention, or didn’t care. Dean had no idea. More likely Sam was on one of his single-minded, blinders on to everything else, obsessed with one result, hunts. Sam was determined to get the coyote.
Problem was, what Sam didn’t see, or was ignoring was something about to get Sam.
Hitting the embankment, Sam finally lost his footing on the damp leaves and moist earth, slipping down the rest of the way. Foot snagging on some tree root, or some other such woodland thing, Sam was sent sprawling, face first to the ground, nothing but a jumble of arms and legs.
Palms against the ground, Sam was about to push up when Dean saw complete horror spread over his face. Sam gulped, trying to move away so fast his hair had a hard time catching up, and scrambled backwards, arms and legs going in all directions.
“Sam. Sit still. Don’t move, Sammy, I’m coming, I’ll get it. Don’t move. Don’t you move.”
Sam was making some sort of fish out of water imitation, trying to go four directions at once, sheer panic in his face. But could he just sit still? Not really. It was partially Dean’s fault. Sam turned immediately to Dean’s voice, still trying to move away from what he’d landed nose to nose with.
Then there was the cell phone. The one in Sam’s pocket that picked that instant to go off. Sam’s hand slapped his side, fishing for the damn phone, ‘cause Sam just couldn’t let it ring, let voice mail pick it up. Noooooooo…couldn’t do that!
All of which was moving.
In the next instant, Sam’s indignant howl split the forest calm. Arm thrown over his face—more moving—was a useless defense. Face scrunched, Sam scooted backwards, toward Dean. Or tried to. “DEAN!”
If only Sam hadn’t moved.
It's Got Solid Black Eyes!
Dean dropped his arms to his sides. Shoulders sagging, he let out a breath and deflated. “Aww…damn.”
“Deeeean!” Sam’s arms flailed. He swiped at his face, eyes scrunched shut. “Get it. Dijya get it?”
“Not shooting a skunk, Sam,” he grumbled. Leaning down and scooping up a stick, he tossed it at the furry animal. “Get outa here.”
The skunk gave him a decidedly dirty look, but that was all it could do having used up its other means of communication on Sam. It made a noise Dean swore was a giggle-snort, then flicked its tail (probably skunk equivalent of the middle finger) and waddled off, most likely to find a less busy snoozing spot.
Two long strides had him beside his brother. Sam clawed at his face with his hands, shook his head and tried standing up from the slippery ground all at the same time—all badly.
Grabbing Sam’s wrists, Dean jerked, hard. “Sam stop.” Another yank on Sam’s arms. “Stop that right now!”
“I can’t see. It stinks, it hurts!”
“You stink.” Dean grumbled. Letting go of one of Sam’s wrists, Dean bent far enough to grab Sam under the shoulder, guiding his brother to his feet. Instinctively he started to pull Sam to him to brace him better. Not being able to see could be disorienting, Sam wasn’t balancing well. Dean stopped short of tucking his brother against his side when he got another, bigger, whiff. “Ewww…ahhh…Sam that’s just…Son. Of a. Bitch!” Holding Sam by the back of his jacket collar, Dean pulled until Sam was stumbling along after him.
“It’s not my—”
“Dean! I can’t—”
“But I can’t…it stings.”
Sam actually flinched a bit sideways, almost pulling free of Dean’s grip. It was nothing short of fast reflexes and Dean’s expecting that reaction that kept Sam’s face from meeting the forest floor—again—when his foot caught on something, tripping him. Sam did, however, keep his mouth clamped shut. Dean smirked. He’d called Sam many things throughout their lives, a very few out of anger, some to be annoying, most ran thick with underlying endearment, but Samuel had come out of his mouth maybe four times in Sam’s life. The previous three associated with death, as in Sam’s impending, if he didn’t stop whatever it was Dean wanted stopped.
When he finally dragged Sam clear of the woods, Dean took a quick look around, eyes landing on what he needed. “C’mon.”
Hauling Sam behind him, they came to a stop near a shed behind one of the houses. Before his brother could voice any more opinions, Dean braced both hands against Sam’s shoulders and pushed until Sam was kneeling on the ground. Reaching across his brother, Dean snagged the hose from where it hung on the shed, and gave the valve a spin.
“Dean what are you—”
And yeah, okay, maybe aiming the hose in the vicinity of Sam’s mouth, on the way to his eyes was sort of mean, but Dean was Sam’s a big brother, and these things were expected of him. Of all the stupid things, go and fall in front of a skunk!
“Bastard, will you gimme—”
That time the hose went over the top of Sam’s head then angled so the water slipped under his shirt and down his spine. Sam let loose string of obscenities
Dean didn’t even know he knew.
“Sam. Sit still and stop your bitching. Need to get your eyes washed out.”
Sam slapped at the water assaulting his face, which was annoying in the least, and preventing his eyes from being cleared of skunk spray in the most. Dean made a grab for his hands, holding them both away from Sam’s face. He sneezed, blowing water out of his nose, then coughed a bit, finally barked an indignant, “Stop!” before getting one hand loose, and shoving Dean’s arm and the hose, away.
Tossing the hose, then turning the valve off, Dean bent down so he could peer at Sam’s eyes. Gripping Sam under the chin, he turned his head up to get a better look. “Can you see?”
Sam’s hands dropped to his lap, he blinked up at Dean with a wide-eyed, owlish expression and exaggerated lid movements. He turned the corners of his mouth up in a sad sort of half smile and nodded, strands of wet hair flopped around his face sending water droplets in all directions.
Dean’s heart about melted straight through his socks when Sam just huffed a soft sigh and sort of deflated. Shrugging out of his jacket, then flannel, Dean crouched in front of his brother, used his shirt to wipe off his face. He reached around the back of Sam’s head, rubbed a few times and helped him to his feet. Poor kid had only wanted to help people, and it seemed all he ever got for his efforts was hurt…or stinky.
Sam was mostly silent as he trudged behind Dean. When they reached the car, Sam stood staring in, then over the hood at Dean, then back in the window.
Dean found a blanket in the back seat, threw it at Sam. “Get in.”
“But I…it’ll smell…I’m…”
“Sam.” Dean’s tone softened. He scratched at the back of his neck and met his brother’s eyes over the top of the car. “Just put the blanket over the seat and get in.” He rolled down the window as he pulled the car onto the road.
Sam managed to scrunch himself into half the seat space he normally took up, sat with knees together, hands on lap, rigidly still. He didn’t move until Dean pulled into a parking space in front of the first store they saw, simply raised his eyebrows in a silent question.
“Sit tight, I’ll be right back.”
Sam shrugged and went back to looking totally miserable. Dean purchased a few items and was back at the car, amused by the way Sam ducked down to watch him from inside the car. Sliding in, pulling the door shut behind him, Dean grinned proudly and deposited a bag on Sam’s lap.
“Make you smell all purty in no time Sammy.”
“Virgin Mary mix?” Sam held the bottle in one hand, extracted another bottle from the bag with his other hand. “And pina colada scented shampoo?” He shoved them both back in the bag. “What the hell?”
“Dude, we can’t hunt a coyote when you smell like its dinner. Tomato juice takes out skunk, everyone knows that, and the shampoo is for your hair, it’ll make you fresh and sweet smelling, in case there’s some residue.”
“I’m not washing my hair in booze!”
“Aw, Sammy, there’s no alcohol in it, that’d be a waste.” Dean couldn’t help the snicker, “Besides you get a virgin to shower with you.”
Slamming himself back in the seat, dropping the bag between his feet, Sam snorted some squeaky, whiny noise from his nose and glared out the passenger side window.
Dean hummed to himself the entire drive back to the shelter. Really, Sam was all freaked out and taking this way too seriously. Twenty minutes with the Virgin Mary mix and scented shampoo, and Sam would be his normal foul girly-smelling self. All of which Dean cheerfully pointed out, between humming, laughing under his breath, and smirking.
Sam perfected his scowling.
He added grumbling to the scowling when they reached their room and Dean shoved him and the bag into the bathroom. “And don’t come out till you’re normal.”
“That might take a while,” was Sam’s parting shot just before slamming the door.
First order of business was lunch. Returning to their room, after a brief raid of the shelter food stocks, the human ones, Dean deposited sandwiches onto the table. The sound of the water from the shower made a pleasant background noise. Digging through Sam’s laptop bag produced a pad of paper and pen. Dean settled at the table, paper in front of him, cell phone in hand. He needed to find some answers.
“Bobby, yeah, it’s Dean. We’re kinda stuck on this one. The most we can dig up is it’s some sort of trickster. The whole damn town is smothered in coyotes…what? No. Not the real kind. Every other kind. They seem to be associated with the trickster, somehow, if that’s what it really is. We found tons of legends, no real leads other than…um…some stuffed toys.”
“Coyotes. They were stuffed coyotes.” It sounded lame even to Dean. “And, um…Samthinksitsfollowingus.” He had to get that part out fast; it wouldn’t hurt so much that way.
“Following you?” Dean could hear Bobby’s fingers scratching his head through the phone. “Huh. All right.” There was a muffled noise, as Bobby shifted the phone around.
“It’s not funny.”
Bobby snickered, coughed, and snickered again. “No, no of course not.” Another chuckle.
“Look, can you just help us figure out if we’re on the right track…” Dean shifted in his chair when the wall between the bathroom and main room was hit with a hearty thud. “Hang on Bobby.” Pulling the phone away from his face, “Sam, you okay?”
Sam’s annoyed grumbling drifted out, though Dean didn’t catch any of the specific words, he got the general idea from Sam’s tone. “Don’t be throwing shit around in the shower and I won’t need to ask.” Dean groused.
“Something wrong with Sam?”
“Huh? Sorry Bobby, no, he’s just not having a great day. Boy found a skunk.”
Bobby’s voice erupted in full laughter. “A skunk! Did it?”
“Yep!” Dean couldn’t possibly keep the smirk off his face. He might have tried to sound a little less amused, but he didn’t.
“Peroxide mixed with tomato juice and dish detergent.”
“Yeah, thanks, Bobby.” ‘Cause, sure Dean was going to get Sam to wash his hair in peroxide. “Look about the case…” It was a lost cause, Bobby was choking on his laughter, muttering things like stuffed coyotes and skunk and words Dean didn’t want to try and decipher. “If you have any ideas…” Dean’s answer was Bobby’s laughter just before the call ended from Bobby’s end, and more thumping and banging from the bathroom. “Sheesh, Sammy, bathroom ain’t that small, you can’t shower without hitting everything in it?”
Moving to the wall between the two rooms, fist raised, Dean was about to pound back, just because he could, and it would scare the crap out of his brother. Served him right for making Dean think he’d fallen and hurt himself or something when banging came from the door to their room.
He found Marion and Phoenix standing on the steps. “Hi. Mr.—”
“Dean. Hi. I have a huge favor to ask you and your brother.”
The wall between the shower and main room rattled, this time Sam added an Ohwohwowhwwooo. Phoenix’s ears moved forward, Marion peered around Dean.
Scratching at the back of his neck and, running his tongue over his teeth, Dean cleared his throat, almost covering another Aaahhhheyhehey from the shower, and started tallying up blackmail points. “Sammy enjoys a good shower.”
“I guess so.”
Thunk. Arrororrororroo. Bang, clunk.
Dean moved over toward the bathroom door, intent on pounding on it, just to see what other noises Sam might make.
Phoenix barked in the general direction of the bathroom.
Giving up, Dean shrugged, offering Marion a sympathetic, wise smile, rubbing at his eyebrows. “He’s…”
The bathroom door flew open. Sam was also apparently developing exhibitionist tendencies.
“Holy mother, there is a God!” Marion sounded out of breath.
“Dean. It’s in there!”
Grabbing the first thing his hand found Dean started shoving it at Sam. “Sam ya might want to…” Throwing his leather jacket aside—oh hell no—Dean snatched a shirt off the nearest bed. “Really, Sam, maybe you—”
Sam slapped the shirt away. It fluttered uselessly to the floor at Sam’s feet. His naked-like-the-rest-of-him feet. “Will you listen to me? In there, in the shower. It’s this big, huge, and furry!” Sam’s hands were about a foot apart, shaking in Dean’s face. “And it’s got SOLID BLACK EYES!”
“What?” Dean managed to croak out.
Two strides had Sam near their weapons duffel, rooting through it like a dog digging for a bone. Water dripped from his arms, hair, things Dean didn’t want to look at or think about. Eventually the kid would figure it out. Dean sat at the table, cheek plunked in his palm. “You might want to get dressed Sammy.” He even managed to suppress the twinge of guilt. Poor Sam was going to be mortified when he realized there were more than him, Dean, and the squirrel in the room. The kid could be quite shy, and Dean suspected this might become one of those times.
“What?! It’s…” Sam straightened, turned, meeting Marion’s eyes.
“Hello.” Marion smiled. “Nice shower?”
Looking stunned, eyes wildly skipping between Dean and Marion, Sam’s voice stuttered out. “We’re not…there’s someone…we’ve got…” He pointed to Marion.
“There is.” Dean almost kept the chuckle in and his voice neutral. “We do.” The idiot smile he had no hope of stopping, spread over his face.
Sam started backing toward the shower. “It…I…” Looking to Dean, then the bathroom door, then the front door, then the bathroom door again, Sam blurted out. “It was the squirrel. In there!” He jerked forward a bit when his back hit the door knob. Reaching behind, he fumbled with it for a few seconds, before flinging it open. Sam opened his mouth, shut it, opened it again, gaze darting over the room. He took a deep breath and stepped forward, squawking and doing a funny, one foot dance when a brown, fuzzy streak flashed between his feet.
Dean just kept racking up those blackmail points.
The squirrel was out, flying through the room. The bathroom door slammed shut. Phoenix barked, jumping at the small animal now careening around the room, loose. Marion’s surprised yelp drew Dean’s attention to her. She jumped forward just in time to save a lamp from sudden floor death. Dean got to the laptop inches ahead of the small creature—and it did have large, solid black eyes—throwing himself on the computer, and curling his body around it just as the squirrel skimmed over his back. Sam would kill him if Dean let the laptop get injured.
Phoenix bound across one bed, sending sheets, blankets and clothes flying, launched straight to the other bed, barking, barely getting within a foot of the squirrel. The small animal made a beeline for the table, scurried underneath and slipped through a hole in the floorboards there. Dean saved the table from being upturned by a small margin when Phoenix tried to follow by shoving his big body under the small table and crashed head long into the wall, barking, his tail pumping the air furiously.
“Okay. Ok-kay! Stop. It’s gone.” Dean grabbed the dog’s collar, pulled him back, shaking a finger in his face. “Stop already. You’re worse than him.” Waving at the bathroom door, he patted the dog’s head, straightened and smiled at Marion.
Marion literally glowed.
“So, um, was there another favor you needed?”
How Hard Can It Be? Right?
Marion smiled, cleared her throat, seeming to need a minute to compose herself. “Dean.”
“Marion.” He smiled kindly.
“I’ve had a bit of a family emergency and I was hoping I could impose upon you and your brother to…” She shot a glance at the bathroom door.
“My brother has done quite enough,” Dean muttered.
Waving one hand in front of his face, “Nothing. Go on. Please.”
“Well, I have to leave town for a few days, family emergency. Could the two of you possibly stay long enough to take care of things for me?”
Didn’t this just make Dean’s life easier? Heck ya, for once a stroke of luck! Now they could hunt out and eradicate the evil in peace and quiet, no nosey shelter employee hanging around to wonder about things like salt lines and enough weapons to mount an assault on Tokyo.
“We’d be delighted.” Winding one arm around her shoulders, he started steering her to the door. “Don’t you worry about a thing.”
Stepping away from him, “There is one other thing. In my office, in the top drawer of the desk is a list of recipes for removing skunk.”
“You noticed, huh?”
Marion crossed the small room, tapped lightly on the bathroom door. “Sam, honey, thank you.” She smiled at Dean and headed to the door. “Both of you.”
Dean had the feeling he wasn’t really included in the thanks.
Closing the door softly after Marion’s departure, Dean glanced down when something warm and wet nudged at his palm. Phoenix looked up at him.
“You know we’ve taken on bigger, badder, scarier things than that squirrel, so don’t be too proud you chased it into the wall.”
Phoenix sat and tipped his head to one side.
“We have. We’re actually damn good at it.”
Stretching his front legs, the dog eased along the floor until he was lying down.
Dean stepped over him, pushed the bathroom door open far enough to talk through the crack. “You can come out now, it’s safe.”
The door creaked open farther, Sam’s head poked out. After a quick scan of the room, the rest of him followed, fully clothed.
“What, you don’t believe me?”
Sam snorted and rolled his eyes, stepping into the room. “Where is it? Did you get it?”
“Not shooting a squirrel, Sam. Besides it ducked through that hole before I could do much more than make sure your laptop survived the attack.” Dean grinned, patted Sam’s shoulders. “And I’m sure neither me nor anyone else will ever hear of Mr. Humpy again.”
Sam grunted, apparently finding the stuffed animals on the wall terribly fascinating.
“She’s taking a trip. So we have this place to ourselves for a few days.” Rubbing both hands together, Dean settled at the table. Finally, lunch. “So, let’s get cracking. Get this thing solved and cleared up, ready to hit the road when Marion comes back.”
“What? She’s leaving? For how long?”
Dean stopped chewing and looked up, surprised when Sam’s voice jumped up a few octaves. “A couple of days. What’s the big deal? We won’t have to spend all our time in the kennel. This just makes things easier.” Waving at Sam’s food, “Eat your lunch. We have to go shopping for de-skunking supplies first.”
“We have to take care of them?!” Sam’s voice cracked. He pointed in the direction of the kennel. “How are we going to do that? They almost did us in the first time.”
“Sam, they’re dogs and cats.”
“How old are you, Sammy?”
Eyebrows scrunching together, Sam stared at him. “Twenty-four, but what does that—”
“How did you get to be twenty-four?”
Sam shrugged. “I guess the same way as everyone else.”
“Exactly. You grew up, and up, and up. Who was hanging around while you did that? Me, that’s who. I raised an entire person. Not once did you go hungry, or drown in the bathtub. Your homework was always done. You had clean clothes, and, Sam, if you’d stayed OUT of that damn tree like I told you to, you wouldn’t have fallen out of it and broken your arm when you were thirteen.”
“So how hard are a few dogs and cats going to be? They can’t possibly be worse than they were the first time.”
Sam sank into his chair, simply stared at Dean.
“Eat your lunch. Then we shop. Marion told me she’s got lists of skunk removal recipes in her office. At least we can get that taken care of.” He’d faced down demons, spirits, werewolves and skin walkers. How hard could it possibly be to get a little bit of stink off the little brother?
“Dean, I don’t think—”
The witty retort Sam was about to fling his way was cut off when Dean’s cell phone rang. “Hold that thought.” Flipping it open, Dean read the text message, frowned, grumbled, growled, flipped the phone closed, and stuffed it in his pocket. “It’s Bobby.”
“What now?” Sam peered over at Dean’s phone. “Bobby won’t use a fax machine, but he can text message?”
“Many people over the age of thirty can do that Sam. He agrees what we’ve got here is a lesser demon common among American Indians. A type of trickster that inhabits local animals, most often a coyote. Getting rid of it is easy…just burn the receptacle it sleeps in.”
“So we find the receptacle, torch it, and we’re done?”
“Yeah, appears so. He says under no circumstances throw away or release the receptacle or lose it…or the trickster is set free.” Dean reached across the table, smacking Sam’s forehead. “Don’t know why we didn’t think of that.”
Sam slapped Dean’s hand away. “We did.”
“I know! He couldn’t tell us how to find the receptacle or what it might look like or…” Dean’s voice trailed off. His eyes slid to the spot on the floor Wile E had been bolted to.
Sam’s eyes followed right along. “Oh, crap.”
“Well…damn.” Dean dropped his head to the table. “Did we do what I think we did?”
“We did.” Sam leaned back in his chair, bounced his fist off the table. “Great Dean, this is just great. We turned the thing loose. Now it doesn’t need the stuffy toys.”
“First things first. If it’s a coyote, it can smell you coming, and so can everyone else, no one will let you in a restaurant to eat. You need to not smell like a walking alarm. It’s a stuffed, mounted, dead animal. How hard is finding it going to be?”
“No.” Sam ground between his teeth, fingers gripping the doorjamb to the cat kennel until they lost circulation, cramped and turned white.
“Yes.” Dean shoved a shoulder against Sam’s spine and pushed forward.
Sam pushed back. “Not…going…to happen.” He threw his weight back, stalling his brother’s forward motion. “I’m not going back in there alone. No way!”
“It’ll go...” Dean turned so his back was flat against Sam’s. “…faster if we…” Sam heard Dean’s feet pushing along the floor. He gripped the doorjamb with more force. “Each take a room.”
Dipping his knees so he was level with Dean, making it harder to move him, Sam snarled, “No.”
“I’ll get you cookies.”
“No.” Sam shoved backwards until his arms were fully extended. He stumbled and lost his grip when Dean’s bulk suddenly moved away. Legs scrambling frantically to regain his balance, his feet slipped across the floor.
Catching Sam under the arms, to stop his butt from hitting the floor Dean whooped a triumphant, “Ha!” Then, he tossed Sam through the door and into the cat kennel.
“NO! Dean! Don’t leave me in here!” Sam wasn’t quite fast enough. The kennel door slammed shut just before he could get his foot through. Spinning around and backing up until he pressed against the door, Sam was about to turn the handle and escape when--meow—it was soft, accompanied by pleading eyes and a paw against the bars.
A second meow, no growls, no hissing, but this one emitted from one long haired cat rubbing his side along the length of the cage door. A dozen or so sets of green and yellow eyes gazed at him, waiting, expectant. “You guys are probably all hungry, huh?” Sam nervously rubbed the back of his neck. “Okay, but everyone stays back from the doors.” He shook a finger, warning the group.
The cat in the closest cage pressed his face against the bars, sniffed, then flicked his tail once, and proceeded to saunter away from Sam, sprawling at the back of the cage.
Rolling his eyes, “You should have to live with this stink,” Sam grumbled. The second cage produced pretty much the same response, though the attacking fluff balls did grace him with hissing.
Not only did every cat in the kennel appear to hate him, but they were adept and downright talented at making that fact clear. It turned out to be not such a bad thing. They mostly stayed away from him while he filled food dishes, changed water and dealt with the—euuww—litter boxes. A quick survey of the kennel after fifteen minutes, and he was quite proud of himself, nothing had gone amiss.
“This is more like it.”
Scratching against one of the food bags, and something sounding suspiciously like crunching drew Sam’s attention away from the cages and to the bags of food stacked on shelves.
“Great, rats, I should make Dean come in here.” He grumbled, moving in that direction, as he tried to shake an image of Dean, shotgun in hand, blowing rats apart, out of his head. “Hmm, maybe not.”
Stopping just within reach of the bags, Sam leaned down, and gingerly took one bag between thumb and forefinger, started sliding it off the stack. A flash of brown darted out, stopped long enough for Sam to see it swish a bushy tail side to side, then was in motion once again. Garbling down a yelp, Sam scrambled backwards, nearly losing his footing.
The squirrel darted from behind the bags, sprinted across Sam’s arm, and dashed down his torso to his leg. It hit the floor running. Before Sam could much more than turn to watch, it vanished through a small space between the cages and the wall.
“Your fuzzy ass and beady black eyes are mine!” Grabbing up a broom, Sam shoved it into the small space, moving it up and down. Nothing. The cages were bolted to the floor and back wall, so tug as he did, they were unmovable. “You just…you can’t…aaarrrggghhh…”
He tossed the broom into a corner and stormed out the door, promptly avoiding a collision with Dean by fractions of an inch. “What?!”
“What?” Dean echoed, straightening his shirt, tugging his jacket back into place with a huff. “Next time Sammy, we go in together.”
Throwing his arms up, Sam let them drop against his sides with a soft thud and rolled his eyes. He plucked some stray tufts of dog hair and a piece of paper from Dean’s hair. “Now he agrees with me. Whatever.”
Dean waved a fistful of paper under Sam’s nose as he drove. “We hit a store, grab what’s on these lists, head back and get your…um…issue resolved—”
“I stink, Dean. I don’t have issues.”
“Yeah, well, however you want to phrase it, we still have to take care of it.” He yanked the steering, hard, to the left. “Holy crap!”
“What the hell was that?” Sam whipped his head around, following the track of the two cars they’d narrowly avoided hitting.
Dean hit the brakes, Sam nearly slid off the seat to the floor. “Oh, sorry.” He grabbed Sam’s collar, hoisting him swearing and sputtering back onto the seat. He got his hand smacked away and a growl rumbling out of Sam for his efforts.
They sat, watching, a bit awed at the sight the town had become. Dean quickly found a parking lot to put the car in, careful of the fact none of the traffic lights seemed to be working properly. They all glowed happily green, sending cars crashing into one another at every intersection. Some had hit fire hydrants, lining the streets with fountains.
The doors of the shopping center they’d headed to slammed shut just as people were trying to get through, causing more than one person to bounce off and stumble into the fire hydrant fountains.
A balloon figure of a tire hopped up and down near the street next to an auto shop, dodging and weaving amongst pedestrians, chasing a few down the sidewalk.
“I think we did this.” Sam looked a bit piqued. He twisted in his seat, as did Dean, to watch a truckload of sawdust hit the fountains and sent spraying for a dozen yards or more in all directions.
“Oh, that’s gonna be a bitch to clean up.”
“You think this is our coyote trickster?”
Dean nodded sullenly. “Oh crap. That had to hurt.” He muttered, attention now on shopping carts chasing down some of the grocery store customers.
“We have to fix this, Dean.”
“First, we have to fix you, ‘cause I’m not living with this stink.”
Sam shoved out of the car, “You don’t have to. I do!”
Waving Sam off, Dean just grumbled and locked up the car. He stalked off, heading for the store, ducking around the onslaught of shopping carts. Sam sidestepped a bundle of paper bags flung at him, not quite fast enough to stop it from glancing off his shoulder. Dean wrestled one of the errant carts into submission, took his fistful of lists, and headed down the closest aisle. Sam was a few steps behind, easily traceable by the muttering.
Throwing things in the cart from the first list, Dean handed it off to Sam when he’d completed that one, and started on the next. He was stopped suddenly and rather unpleasantly when the cart was shoved backwards into his gut, forcing a hearty grunt out of his throat. “Sam. What the hell?”
“I am…” Sam shoved the end of the cart again, this time forcing his brother back a few steps to keep from being run over, “…not washing my hair in peroxide and floral-scented dish detergent. My hair will turn white and I’ll look stupid.”
“You already look stupid, and you stink.” Dean shot back, he was losing patience. “There’s the bottle of stuff in Marion’s office.”
“That’s dog shampoo. I’m not washing my hair in dog shampoo either.”
“You gotta do something, Sam.”
“Well.” Sam snatched the lists, rifling through them. “I’ll try these.”
“Fine.” Dean grabbed them back.
Supplies collected and paid for, Dean threw the bag at Sam before heading to the car. Halfway across the parking lot, Dean latched onto Sam’s arm, yanking him back a few steps. “Watch out.”
“What was that?”
Dean ignored the way Sam’s voice raised and cracked. He was too busy gaping at what had nearly run them down. “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“Where you going? Dean!”
Ignoring Sam’s protests and shouts, Dean sprinted after his assailant. Wile E had gotten himself a set of wheels. The stuffed coyote perched on top a skate board, winding and weaving between people. Dean swore the thing smiled at him on the way by. Chasing it down proved easier than he’d thought it might be. “Ha! Got you! Now you’re trapped.”
Sam’s footsteps pounded up behind him, harsh breath in Dean’s ear, his fingers closed in on Dean’s shoulder, bringing him to a fast stop.
“He’s inside, Sammy. Now we’ve got the bastard.”
“No, wait! You can’t go in there. We don’t have any weapons.”
“We’ll improvise.” Dean grinned over his shoulder, winked at Sam, and charged into the building.
A minute later Sam stopped shouting at him, and did exactly what Dean knew he would, followed Dean into the fray.
Sometimes You Just Have To Improvise…
Sam threw the bag of supplies at the car, satisfied when it hit the side and slithered to the ground, before darting after his brother. He sprinted through the Laundromat door, jumping when the door slammed into his butt with enough force to propel him forward a few steps.
Most people—the sane ones—had cleared out of the building, leaving Dean and him—the insane ones—inside.
Inside…with a stuffed coyote…on a skate board. Yee haa.
Dean, a garishly colored green and orange blanket held up in both hands, was doing his best matador impression. Shouting, he faced off with the coyote/demon. Demon and brother charged one another. Dean had trained his entire life for such battles.
Too bad he didn’t use any of that training.
Launching at Wile E., with a pretty impressive move, Dean snared the beast in his makeshift net. Blanket over the coyote, Dean doubled over, arms wrapping around in a fierce hug, tackling it. The maneuver, to Sam’s utter astonishment, worked.
For about five seconds.
That’s when it got interesting. Sam made a mental note: Laundromats were not appropriate, or smart, places to confront supernatural entities.
Wile E. was off and skating, taking Dean right along for the ride. Careening into a row of dryers, Sam heard his brother grunt and growl each time he was bashed into the doors, every blow earning a wince from Sam. Sprinting after them he shouted, “You got him! Hang onto him!”
“Find something to—” Dean’s feet pushed off the soap box dispenser but not before tiny boxes of laundry detergent spewed out, sailing through the air to hit them both. “Trap it with.” Boxes of soap split open, covering Dean with the white powder.
The coyote changed direction, hurtling itself into some washing machines, momentarily trapping Dean, groaning and complaining, between demon and machines.
Water bubbled from the washing machines, drenching Sam, Dean, the coyote, and the boxes of laundry detergent. A fine film of suds and wet powder covered the floor. Dean’s rather creative use of curse words was cut short when the, now wetted down, detergent filtered into his mouth, making him blow suds while he sneezed, snorted, and coughed soap away from his tongue. Sam thought it was sort of fascinating, the way small bubbles oozed from Dean’s nose with each breath and morphed into rivulets running down his chin.
Too bad, Sam thought for a minute, their Dad wasn’t here to witness Dean finally getting his mouth washed out.
Sam slipped and slid, running more on all fours than upright to the row of laundry baskets. Twisting around, he pushed the cart ahead of him and ran at Dean and the coyote.
Wile E. spun around to face Sam, Dean still clinging to its back. Skimming across the floor on the skateboard, Wile E picked up speed.
“Wanna play chicken? Fine by me,” Sam snapped out, getting as much speed going as he could on the bubbly floor.
“What are you…? Sammy…” Dean’s face ducked away, pressed into his bicep at the last second.
Sam rammed the coyote head on with the laundry cart. “Gotcha!”
All three collided and landed on the floor, sliding a few feet into the wall, a tangle of arms, legs, blanket, cart, and coyote. Up and moving at once, both Dean and Sam landed on top of the cart, pinning the coyote inside.
“All right!” Dean grinned, holding out one hand to Sam for a high five.
Smacking his brother’s palm, Sam had to ask the obvious. “Uh, Dean? What now?”
“I…ahhhhhhhhaaaaa…” Dean’s voice was carried away when the coyote took off again, dragging laundry cart and Dean with it again.
Bottles of fabric softener joined the small boxes of laundry detergent. They flew from the dispenser, hit the walls, washers, dryers, Sam, and exploded. Fountains of rainwater fresh and mountain flower scented liquid covered everything, mixing with the detergent and creating even more suds. Sam barely had time to duck and cover before he was coated with bubbles and multi-scented, slightly pearlescent goo.
The coyote changed direction, this time heading for the counter, whipping around just as it got there, it stopped fast, making Dean lose his grip. Flying off, he sprawled for a few seconds backwards over the counter before sliding to the floor. “Sonofabitch! That hurts!”
Sam figured if Dean could complain about it, he wasn’t hurt all that badly. Knocking into Sam on its way by, the coyote was heading for the door. Thrown off balance, Sam stumbled then scrambled across the floor, trying to catch the thing with Dean shouting behind him to get it!
Taking a ‘Dean Winchester’ approach, Sam went for a flying tackle, trying to bring the coyote down at the last second.
It was a good plan. For about five seconds. Again.
The coyote squirted to the side.
Sam belly-flopped to the floor, sliding and spinning before crashing into the door. The world tilted and exploded into a colorful swirl of churning suds.
Maybe the flying tackle wasn’t such a grand idea after all.
Pulling ragged breaths into his suddenly deflated lungs, Sam pushed up on his arms. He shook his head and looked around for his brother. He barely had the chance to gasp at how ridiculously close that brother was. Sam’s arms flew out to the sides. His chest smashed to the floor, pushing a yelp out of his mouth when most of Dean’s hundred-ninety or so pounds landed square on his back.
Dean’s fingers laced together behind Sam’s head and pushed down, despite Sam’s protests at having to kiss the floor, literally. He felt his hair flop around and Dean’s face press against his shoulder when the skateboarding coyote flung itself over them and crashed through the front door. Glass shards flew in all directions, fortunately going mostly out and away from them.
Lifting off Sam, Dean scraped his arm through the glass. He used his jacket sleeve to move it away so they didn’t cut their hands. Sam climbed to his feet and staggered out to the sidewalk, dropping down beside Dean.
“That didn’t really work out as well as I’d hoped.” Dean shook soap off his hands and wiped more from the top of Sam’s head.
Pulling off a shoe, he dumped fabric softener and chunks of somewhat moist detergent out before putting it back on. Sam mopped more fabric softener goo down Dean’s back and shook it off. “That’s because we went in without weapons.” He sighed, pulled his feet in closer, and leaned his arms on his knees.
“Gotta improvise sometimes, Sammy.” Dean sniffed at him. “You still stink.”
Sam stuck his nose closer to his arm, yep, stink. Only now it was skunk after a day of rolling in mountain flower fabric softener, which wasn’t really an improvement on his situation.
Climbing to his feet, Dean tugged on Sam’s arm, “C’mon Sammy. We need to concentrate on fixing one disaster at a time.”
Peeling off as much of their clothing as possible and still remain socially acceptable, they dumped the entire mess into the trunk and headed back to the shelter. Sam was sent, time after time, into the shower with some concoction Dean swirled together. Twice Sam caught him trying to add peroxide into the potions, which once earned Dean a sharp uppercut to his jaw and convinced him to stop trying to add that ingredient.
Two hours later Sam was thoroughly wrinkled and pruned, now smelling like a skunk caught in some sort of vat of floral scented, springtime fresh grease removing, lightening, brightening, color enhancing, hypo-allergenic wash.
It was not an improvement on his situation.
Dean sat, smug look all over his face that Sam was going to wipe right off just as soon as he smelled like a man again and not some pansy-assed skunk. He held the bottle of peroxide in one hand and the dog shampoo in the other.
“We’ve tried everything else.” Dean tossed the peroxide at him. “Every one of these says use peroxide, too.”
“I’m not washing my skin or my hair in peroxide!”
“Then try this.” Dean threw the dog shampoo.
Sam caught it and threw it back immediately. “It’s for dogs!”
“It’s guaranteed to work.”
“No.” Sam turned away, crossing both arms over his chest.
“Ya know, Sam, sulking is doing no good. I have to live with you, which means I have to live with your stink, too. Lighten up.”
Sam flipped him off. “I’m hungry. I’m going to get dinner.”
Dean looked up from the laptop when Sam came back, arms filled with plates, and cups and things. He kicked the door shut behind him and unceremoniously deposited it all on the table. Sam wasn’t so much into presentation as he was into the just dig in part.
“Fnd wat?” The kid was obviously too busy shoveling stuff into his mouth to chew first and talk later.
“How to trap it.”
Sam was spooning something out of a plastic container and into his mouth. He raised his eyebrows, making a satisfied face. “How?”
The spoon stopped halfway to Sam’s open mouth. “Whose?”
“That’s the great thing, Sammy.” Dean grinned, pulling a plate closer and loading up. “Just plain old whatever kind of liver they sell at grocery stores. Seems a coyote trickster’s favorite meal is liver. They can’t resist it.” He eyed the container in Sam’s hand suspiciously. Did that say…? ”What are you eating?”
Sam turned the container so he could see. Yogurt. Freaking Caramel Delight Yogurt. “This is pretty good. You should try some.”
“I can’t believe we’re even related.”
Sam just grinned and swiped the spoon around the inside of the container, cleaning it completely before tossing the container into the waste basket. “We have to go back in, don’t we?”
Dean just nodded.
Phoenix padded along behind them, his happily wagging tail a drastic contrast to their trudging feet and slouched shoulders. The Winchesters once again braved the kennel. Dean figured they were doing better. This time it only took an hour. There were a few tense minutes when Sam had to pluck the prickly fuzz balls more commonly referred to as kittens off Dean’s neck…yeah that had hurt. Throwing himself between Sam and the small dog that chose to water Sam’s leg (really did the kid need to get any taller?) nearly cost him an arm, not to mention the large portion of his dignity.
“Now I smell like dog pee too, Dean!” Sam had his jeans off so fast it was a bit scary. He threw them viciously across the room. “And I’m running out of clothes.”
“Shut up, Sam. You already stink like a skunk, so what’s the difference? At least the dog pee will wash out of your clothes.” Dean wiped at the back of his neck, the small trickle of blood from the kitten attack was working its way toward his spine, and it was annoying.
Grabbed from behind and shoved into a chair, Sam peeled Dean’s shirt collar back. “Stop squirming and lemme see.”
“Dude, stop shoving me around like your drunken prom date.” He heard Sam open a bottle of something, felt cool liquid against his skin, “Ouch! Sam! What the—” Jerking to his feet and twisting around at the same time, Dean snatched one of the bottles of peroxide out of Sam’s hand. “That friggin’ hurts!”
“Sit still for two seconds already.” Sam tried snapping at him, but Dean heard the chuckle, saw the grin on Sam’s face as he turned his head away. “I can dig a bullet out and you don’t even flinch, but a widdle kitty scratches you, and you’re all whiney about how it hurts.”
“I had half a bottle of Jack Daniels in me. Of course I didn’t flinch. I was incapable of doing much of anything at that point.” Dean found a towel, wiped blood and peroxide off his neck and back. “And you weren’t being an asshole and pouring peroxide all over it either.” He tried moving his arm behind him to get the towel under his shirt for a better approach, which simply made his target move out of reach. “Could you give me a hand here?”
Snickering again, Sam disappeared into the bathroom, reappearing a few seconds later with a wet washcloth. “It’s different when it’s me being dowsed with that crap.” He dabbed at the cuts along the back of Dean’s neck, then used Dean’s towel to wipe everything off.
Dean shifted side to side in the chair, scratching his itchy, tingly back. “Just go take a shower, I’m not driving around in a car with you smelling like a skunk peed on by a dog.”
Sam huffed words Dean thought it might be better if he didn’t decipher and stalked off to the bathroom.
Phoenix nudged his hand for attention.
“Oh, and you,” Dean pointed to the dog. “Lot of help you were, cowering in the corner. What sort of dog are you anyway? You must weigh a hundred pounds and you’re afraid of a two pound kitten?”
The dog jumped up on Sam’s bed, huffed in much the same way Sam had, and promptly fell asleep.
After Sam’s tenth shower that day they headed into town. They promptly discovered, since it was Sunday, everything in the quaint, picturesque little town of Coyote Bluffs closed up early. They couldn’t even get a beer. They needed beer. They needed a lot of beer.
Dean hated small, quaint towns.
They spent a bit of time staking out where to lay their trap once a store opened and they could get some liver, since neither one really wanted to kill any squirrels or skunks and extract their livers. Having done as much as they could for now, they headed back to the shelter.
Consoling himself with the fact that they had cable, a stocked refrigerator (with no liver of course), clean beds and a laundry room, Dean settled in for the night. He snuck a glance at Sam on the other bed and smiled. His little brother seemed content, prowling the internet on his laptop, looking up at the TV every minute or so, happily munching on the chips and cheese curls Dean found in the kitchen, sharing a few with Phoenix.
It was a nice night, but a bit chilly with the window open. Dean kicked the bed clothes back until he could wiggle his feet underneath, stretched his long legs out, and leaned back. He breathed out a soft, satisfied sigh as he folded his arms behind his head.
Then his toe touched something.
Dean gingerly stretched a bit further until his entire foot was touching…something.
With speed borne of years of being chased by scary things, Dean was up and out of the bed, clearing it completely and landing in the middle of the room. He spun on his heels, taking in the entire room, and he absolutely did not scream. Dean Winchester never, ever screamed. Ever.
Potato chips and cheese curls flew in all directions, as Sam practically catapulted off his bed. Standing opposite Dean, fists bunched, hair flapping around as he whipped his head side to side. He looked wild and hunted all at once, as he shouted, his voice cracking higher than normal. “What?!”
Phoenix, apparently now able to take flight, launched from Sam’s bed over to Dean’s, landing neatly in the middle, barking and digging furiously at the blankets and sheet.
The squirrel careened out from under the covers, sprinted between Phoenix’s legs, making the big dog jump sideways away from it and tumble to the floor.
“Oh some dog he is.” Dean waved at the dog flopping around, getting his legs back under him.
“Ha! You shrieked like a thirteen year old girl!”
Dean dropped his voice as low as possible, so low it hurt. “I have never shrieked in my life.”
“You did—” Sam’s words were cut off by the squirrel winding between his legs and the dog bounding between him and Dean, knocking into Sam with enough force to stagger him backwards, landing far from gracefully on his bed.
Squirrel and dog raced across the bed, Sam tossed himself around, arms out, and grabbed his laptop, pulling it to him just before the two animals had a chance to scamper over it.
“Oh for the love of—” Crossing the room in a few long strides, Dean yanked the door open. “OUT!”
The squirrel bolted at the door, Phoenix in hot pursuit. Once outside, the squirrel headed up the nearest tree, Phoenix jumping around, barking at the air above him until Dean yelled at him to get back in here.
Sam sat on the edge of his bed, clutching his laptop to his chest, laughing so hard he was doubled over. “A squirrel. Dude, you—”
“Don’t you dare say it,” Dean ground out, low and threatening. It was more than enough to shut Sam’s mouth, well enough to stop his words, anyway. It didn’t stop the sputtering, giggling noises coming out of his nose and making his cheeks puff out.
Phoenix hopped back onto Sam’s bed, spent a few minutes hoovering up the chips and cheese curls before curling in a ball, head on paws, watching them.
“Demons. We hunt dee—mons.” Dean pointed at the dog. Sam put one hand over his mouth to cover more laughter when Dean held up both hands, waggling his fingers and making a scary face. “You chase a squirrel—can’t even catch it—and eat chips like you deserve some sort of reward. Wooo. Hooo.”
With a huff Phoenix flopped around, back to Dean this time.
Sam erupted in full-blown howls, looking like he was going to hyperventilate he was having such a hard time catching his breath between snickering and cackling.
Growling, Dean waved one hand at them both, and returned to his bed. Back to Sam and the dog, he pretended to sleep and did his best to ignore Sam’s chortling.
A few minutes later he gave up his pretense long enough to flip Sam off when he heard the words whispered about girls, and screaming, and squirrels. Dean whispering back about brothers who run naked from squirrels brought complete silence.
We Hunt Demons All The Time…No, Really, We Do!
Sam opened one eye, and looked around. He could have sworn he heard--
Definitely, that was gunfire.
Gunfire first thing in the morning, as an alarm clock, was never a good thing.
Pushing up off the bed, he sought out his brother. His brother who was nowhere to be seen. Throwing back the blankets, Sam found some reasonably clean clothes and followed the gunshots. Stride lengthening when he realized the shooting was coming from the kennels. No way would Dean shoot a bunch of animals in cages.
Then Sam’s stomach lurched with his next, even more sickening, thought. Maybe someone or something was shooting at Dean.
Rounding the corner, he caught a brief glance once again at the sign over top the kennel door, Above All Do No Harm… Sam felt a twinge of guilt. They’d done harm alright—they’d set the coyote trickster loose and now had to fix their mistakes. Grabbing the doorjamb for balance as he turned wide and sprinted through. Sam stopped fast, sliding a few feet across the floor before backpedaling a few steps.
Dean stood in the middle of the main room, doors to both kennels open so he could be seen from everywhere. The squirrel was planted in front of him, glaring. Dean glared back. Phoenix sat behind Dean, peering around his legs at the squirrel.
The dog kennel was unusually quiet, other than the echoes of gunshots. The cat kennel was exceptionally still, all the cats, including the possessed, evil, attacking fluff-balls, sat in their cages, eyes wide, watching the show.
“This is how it’s gonna be.” Dean began to pace. “You,” he waved the gun around the dog kennel, “will do your business outside where you are supposed to. You’ll eat the damn food, not play in it, and you will NOT tangle leashes with any other dog. Absolutely no fraternizing! Especially with my leg!”
“Dean, dontcha think—”
Swinging around so his gun-less hand was pointed at Sam’s nose, “Shut it. I’m getting to you.”
Sam drew back. Straightening, he arched one eyebrow and gave Dean the dirtiest look he could muster.
“And you pack of fur-covered spikes, will NOT latch onto my brother anymore. Or me! Keep that litter crap in the boxes.” The gun aimed down at the squirrel. “As for you, YOU are a squirrel. You belong outside. You do not sleep in my bed, Sam’s bed, or any bed. I pick on Sam, not you. Go find your own brother and pick on him. And under no circumstances do you shower with either of us. Find a freaking tree!”
Sam threw an arm up and ducked away when Dean fired at a spot on the floor beside the squirrel. In a flurry of chattering the squirrel darted across the floor and scooted out a window.
Dean turned to face Phoenix. The dog slid to the floor, head between his paws. “You, do you realize you outweigh everything in this stupid kennel put together? I know you lost your first pair, dude, I’m not blaming you. You had no choice, but grow another set and act your size!”
Phoenix rolled on his back, tail wagging, probably expecting a tummy scratch.
Throwing both hands in the air, Dean groaned. He turned to Sam. “Let’s go.”
“But we have to—”
“Did it.” Dean grabbed his arm, ushering him out.
“What about the—?”
Sam stumbled a bit as Dean pulled him along.
Marching up the steps to their room, Dean didn’t let go until he and Sam stood beside the small table. Sam eyed the occupants suspiciously and stepped back.
“Oh no.” Dean tugged on Sam’s arm, forcing him to step back up to the table. “I’ve had it. I’m done.”
“You’ve had it? You’re not the one who has to live with this.” Sam waved one hand up and down his torso.
“See, Sammy, that’s where you’re wrong. I have to live with you. Henceforth, I live with your stink.”
“Henceforth? Big word.” Sam growled.
“Henceforth, the stink goes away.”
Dean shoved the bottle of dog shampoo into Sam’s chest. Snatching it away, Sam slammed it back down onto the table. “No.” He spun, stalked to the other side of the room.
Turning, as Dean barked his name, Sam barely caught the bottle of dog shampoo before it smacked him in the face.
“YES!” Dean challenged.
Eyes narrowing, Sam puffed a loud sigh and threw the bottle back at Dean. “NO!”
“Fine. You have another option.” This time Dean launched the hair clippers at Sam. “You can shave it or I can.”
“NO!” Sam added a harsh grunt to offset the way his voice shot up and cracked. Winding back, he pitched the clippers back to Dean. He stood, fists bunched, blowing fast, hard breaths from his nose projecting pissed off with everything he had in him. Feeling his cheeks burn red, Sam glared his own death ray beams. “Suck it up and deal. It’ll go away.”
“Okay.” Dean relaxed a bit.
That totally threw Sam for a loop. For about five seconds.
Gun coming up, Dean stepped back far enough to get a good aim at Sam. “Shave it or wash it in that shampoo. I don’t give a damn which. But, you’re doing one or the other. NOW!”
“You want…that’s a…shave off my hair!?” Sam sputtered, voice completely not cooperating and bouncing up and down rebelliously.
Dean quirked an eyebrow, smirked and wagged the gun back and forth a bit.
“That’s—” Sam’s arm extended, pointing at the gun Dean held. “Gun.”
“Yes. It is. See, you did pay attention to Dad all those years. I knew it. I’m proud of ya, Sammy.” Dean smiled wider and shrugged.
The smug bastard. “I hate you.” Sam spat.
“I’m not so fond of you right now either. So, I guess we’re even.”
Huffing and sputtering, but not actually saying anything, Sam snatched up the shampoo in one hand, the clippers in the other. Spinning on his heels, he threw the clippers at Dean as he stormed toward the bathroom door. He couldn’t help feeling a bit of satisfaction that Dean had to twist his shoulders to deflect the blow from the clippers.
Slamming the bathroom door hard enough it rattled on its hinges, Sam turned to start the shower. In the next instant, he was scrambling backwards into the sink. “DEAN!” Yanking the door open, he shouted again, this time nearly biting off his brother’s nose in the process.
Dean poked his head through the door, looking over Sam’s shoulder. Growling, he shoved Sam far enough to the side to get the pistol in the room and bellowed, “OUT!”
The squirrel was a flash of brown as it scurried across the small bathroom and up the wall to the open window.
“Thanks.” Sam shoved against Dean’s shoulder, pushed him out, and slammed the door in his face, all in the same move.
Peeling off his clothes and throwing them to the floor, Sam started the shower. Once under the spray of water, grumbling and grouching to the tiles, obscenities muttered under his breath about overbearing big brothers who thought they knew everything about everything, Sam squirted a glop of shampoo into his hand. He scrubbed his scalp, rinsed and scrubbed again, just to say he’d done so. Dean, no doubt, would find some way to criticize Sam’s hair washing technique. Sam was so not letting that happen. He had far more hair than Dean. Sam was the expert here.
He sniffed the humid air around him. There was something different from the last time he’d showered. Slowly Sam turned off the water. He sniffed again. Rubbing on hand over his wet hair, he pulled his palm to his nose and inhaled deeply.
“Huh.” Sam grabbed a towel and patted stray water droplets from his hair.
He sniffed the towel. Moving a hand over his damp hair, yet another sniff. Deep inhale, sniff, sniff. Snort. “Damn.” He wadded the towel into a ball and threw it viciously at the floor. “Damn.”
Sam glared at the door. He couldn’t live the rest of his life in this bathroom. The simple fact was he was going to have to leave sooner or later. Being hungry was going to make it sooner.
Pulling on boxers and jeans, Sam left the bathroom, dragging his shirt with one hand, the dog shampoo in the other. He jerked to a halt, opened his mouth, shut it, opened it again, then snapped his lips to a tight line.
“What?” Dean looked up from the bed, at the same time he shoved a magazine into his pistol and stashed it away in his duffel.
“It wasn’t loaded?”
Dean waved him off, making a face. “Course not, Sammy. What are you, insane? You’d think I’d point a loaded gun at you? Over shampoo?”
“Bastard.” Sam pulled his shirt on.
Standing, moving closer, Dean paced a circle around him, leaning in to sniff every few steps. “Huh.” He jabbed at Sam’s shoulder. “Whatyaknow.” Another poke. “Say it.”
“Stop being so childish.”
Chuckling, Dean pinged the top of Sam’s head. “Saaaaay it.” He chanted.
“Dean! Can we stop the fooling around and get our supplies and end this?”
“Sammy’s gotta saaaaay it.” Now he was using the sing-song voice he knew Sam hated.
“Fine. You know what, just to prove I’m the mature one, I’ll say it. You were right. The dog shampoo worked. Happy now?”
Nodding, Dean grinned. “Yeah. I am.” He pinched Sam’s sleeves between his thumbs and forefingers, straightening Sam’s shirt. “Let’s go get some liver and bag us a trickster.”
Sam stuck his tongue out at the back of Dean’s head before following him out the door.
Dean was a man with a plan. A man needed a plan, and Dean had one. It was a simple, elegant plan. Buy a package of raw liver. Cut it into bite-sized morsels—his machete would work just fine and dandy for that task. Then, he and Sam were going to plant those tasty treats in an abandoned service garage he’d spotted. Once the trickster showed up--bam! More like whoosh. Season the liver with a bit of salt, add some kerosene, and it was going to be coyote trickster barbeque.
Bonus points if one of them remembered the hot dogs and marshmallows. Maybe he was more in the mood for burgers and S’mores. Definitely some corn on the cob. Shiskabobs sounded better. Definitely shiskabobs.
Whistling cheerfully, he pulled the Impala into the grocery store parking lot and ignored the fourteenth snotty glare Sam aimed in his direction. Was it his fault he’d been right…again? Sam was such a sore looser. Dean didn’t mind pointing that out to him at every stop light they came to. Grabbing a shopping cart, Sam slouching along behind him, grumbling about how Dean was pushy, they headed into the store.
“You’re just pissed because I was right. Stop being such a sore loser.”
“You’ve said that about a million times. It’s not like this is some contest. If it was, I’d win.”
“Ha! You didn’t. I did.”
“I won. I was right, and you hate to admit it.”
“Can we just get this stuff and get outa here?”
“After all Sam, it’s what awesome big brothers like me are for. I put up with your stink. I got rid of your stink.” Dean deflected the package of meat flung at his right temple into the cart. “Want to get some beer to go with this?” The foot he strategically placed at about the same level as Sam’s ankle was tucked under the cart quick after Sam recovered his balance and aimed his vile glare at Dean.
Sam threw his hands in the air, rumbled out an aaarrrrrgggggghhhh and stalked away.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Dean grinned and headed for the check out.
Shouting from somewhere near the bulk section drew his attention. Rounding the corner, Dean brought the cart to a stop beside Sam. His brother stood, hands on hips, mouth open, watching the spectacle.
A nice selection of nuts, dried fruit, sunflower seeds and granola poured from the bulk bins, mixing on the floor. A few hapless, yet brave, shoppers were trying to cross the expanse of wayward food. They slipped, slid and generally ended up on their rears. Dean studied the sight for a minute.
“Wrong on so many levels.” Sam finished. Eyes sliding in Dean’s direction he grinned like a man possessed. “You just hate when I do that, don’t you?” His fingers flicked the side of Dean’s head.
Dean ground his teeth. “You’re a spoiled brat, you know that?”
“Whose fault is that? You raised me. Oh, must be yours.”
“Nope. Not me.” Dean grabbed the beer and package of liver from the cart just before another cart careened into it and sent it flying. “I place that blame squarely on Dad’s shoulders. He was far too lenient with you.”
“HA!” Sam dodged to one side, narrowly avoiding collision with a floor buffer. An out of control, unmanned, floor buffer.
Twisting on his heels, trying to get a good look around, Dean turned back to Sam. “It’s got to be around here somewhere.”
“I don’t see it.”
In the next instant Dean was shoved into the breakfast cereals, reflex had him holding the beer safely overhead. The liver he tossed to his brother. Sam tucked it deftly under one arm, pointed with the other before tugging on Dean’s jacket.
“I see it. I see it.” Dean jerked away. “Get off me.”
Giving Sam a shove, to move him ahead, they chased the stuffed coyote, zipping around on his skateboard.
“We’ve got him now, Sammy!”
“I don’t call cornered in the dairy section got him.” Sam ducked a carton of eggs.
Dean groaned, shoulders sagging when small tubs of Carmel Delight Yogurt smacked him square in the chest. Yogurt freaks.
“Here. Pay for these.” Dean shoved the beer into Sam’s arms. He sprinted after the trickster, slipping and sliding through spilt milk, broken eggs and yogurt.
“Dean, where are you—” Sam’s words were cut off when boxes of straws launched at him. He swatted them away, making Dean proud. The kid never dropped the liver, or more importantly, the beer.
Racing down the adjoining aisle, Dean grabbed a book stand on his way by, spinning around it to keep his balance. It wasn’t as solid as one would think a stand full of romance novels might be. He landed in a heap on the floor, coated with fresh grapes and books with buxom babes on the covers—fully clothed, too bad. Pulling one book to his face, Dean grimaced. “Real men don’t look like that.” He threw it at the coyote as it sailed by.
The book bounced off the coyote’s head, knocking it off the skateboard, which completely surprised Dean. Sam, never one to listen or take any of Dean’s suggestions, was scrambling after the coyote. He did a quick stop and tried backpedaling, but it was no use. The thing slammed into his chest, sending him sprawling. The package of liver spiraled across the floor, coming to a rest against Dean’s leg.
Up and moving, Dean was at his brother’s side at once. Plucking the beer from Sam’s chest he grinned and hugged the case. “Sam, I told you to go pay for this!”
“Shut up, Dean!” Rolling to one side, Sam’s fingers wound into the leg of Dean’s jeans, using them to climb to his knees.
Dean shoved him back down when another volley of yogurt tubs took flight in a nice formation. Holding the beer with one arm, curling his body around it, he covered Sam’s head with his free hand. “Shit. That was close.”
“Dean.” Sam tugged on his arm.
“Dude! What is with you and my clothes? OFF!”
Sam’s hand waved as he pointed frantically toward the front of the store. The automatic doors were opening and closing so fast they were slamming into people, trapping them.
“Here.” Dean shoved the case of beer into Sam’s arms. “Pay for it this time.”
“How come I have to pay for your drinking habit?”
Ignoring Sam’s grousing—he drank just as much beer as Dean—he took off at a run, or the best run he could get on the slick floor, and headed for the main entrance.
After a few false starts, jumping forward, then back, to avoid the maniacal doors, Dean charged through. The parking lot was in worse shape than the inside of the store. Shopping carts gone wild chased people and slammed each other. Piles of bagged food littered the lot. Car alarms blared. The grocery store doors flapped relentlessly behind him.
Scanning the area proved useless. The coyote trickster was nowhere to be seen.
A hand thudding hard on his shoulder made him jump.
“You lost him, didn’t you?” Sam stood behind him, holding the beer in his free hand, the package of liver resting on top.
“I didn’t…yes.” He sat on the curb, kicked at a stray bottle of sparkling water rolling his way.
Sam shrugged and sat beside him, deftly picking a few grapes from Dean’s collar and tossing them to the side. “Here’s your beer. We know how to trap it. Let’s just go set up. Chasing it isn’t working.”
“Ya think?” Glancing over at Sam, “You didn’t pay for this, did you?”
“I was too busy chasing you. Besides there was no one at the register.”
“Sam, you can’t go stealing beer and liver. Man, stealing liver, now that’s just embarrassing and reflects badly on me.”
Rolling his eyes, Sam shook his head and stood up. “Yeah, whatever. I’m going to toast me an ugly-ass stuffed coyote. You in?”
“Oh I definitely want a piece of that action.” Pulling up on Sam’s offered hand, Dean brushed his jeans off, squared his shoulders and headed to his car, his little brother right beside him.
Dean stopped the car in front of their chosen abandoned building, cut the engine and ventured a glance at Sam.
Heaving a deep, long-suffering sigh, Sam glanced back. “That’s just…”
“Scary wrong.” Pushing the car door open, and himself out of the car, Dean gazed up at the sign over the door to the old service station. He rubbed the back of his neck. They hadn’t seen this from the road.
Sam climbed from the car, turning a circle, and scanning the area. “This is still the best spot.”
“Yeah.” Dean agreed.
“I have a bad feeling.”
“Yeah.” Dean agreed with that too. Grabbing their duffel from the trunk before he headed to the building, Dean shot a look over his shoulder at Sam. “Let’s just get it done and get gone.”
Sam fell into step beside him, mumbling, “Acme Auto Repair. No freaking way it’s Acme Auto Repair. Who names a company Acme anything?”
Dean barely broke his stride when they came to the door beside the garage bay and kicked it. The old wood splintered. Dean’s foot went straight through the door. His face fell into the doorjamb with a hearty thud.
“Want some help there, Dean?” Sam snickered, coughed then erupted in full blown laughter.
Slamming the duffel against Sam, and shoving him back a few steps, Dean ground out some favorite obscenities and yanked his foot free. Grinning like a fool, Sam reached around him and tried the door knob. It creaked but turned. The door popped open. Dean was never going to live this down.
They stopped a few feet inside, giving their eyes time to adjust to the lack of light. Dean inhaled deeply, loving the smell of oil, grease, and steel, even if it was ancient.
“You wanna be alone here for a few minutes?” Sam poked his shoulder, chuckling under his breath.
“Ha ha. Let’s set up down there, smart guy.” Dean crossed the bay to the center repair pit, jumping down. “This is perfect.”
Sam stopped at the edge and peered down. Lumbering down, he sat with his legs dangling over the edge and watched Dean.
“Keep a look out while I set up.”
“ M’kay.” Sam leaned back on his elbows and yawned. The heels of his boots hit the side of the pit rhythmically. Thump…bump…
Thump…bump…It annoyed the crap out of Dean. Thump…bump…
“Couldn’t you find anything bigger than a machete to cut up a cow liver with?” Thump…bump…
“Huh?” Thump…bump… “What are you yelling at me for?” Thump…bump… Thump…bump…
In one swift, fluid movement, Dean was up. He spun around and swiped at Sam’s feet with his machete.
Yanking his knees nearly to his chest, Sam tipped over backwards. “Hey!”
“Do that one more time and I’ll cut them off.”
Sam huffed out a breath and jumped down beside Dean. “You sure are grumpy lately.”
“According to the legends, coyote tricksters can’t resist a meal of tasty cut up bits of liver. Gimme your hand.”
“Why?” Holding his hand out even while he was asking the reason, Sam barely flinched when Dean’s fingers gripped his wrist.
A few pieces of liver slapped into Sam’s palm. “Here, go lay a trail.”
Wrinkling his nose, Sam stared down at the raw meat covering his palm. One side of his upper lip curled up. Another sigh. He climbed out of the pit and ambled out the door. Grumbling. Dean was beginning to think his kid brother did nothing but grumble, mutter, and generally be grouchy, when he wasn’t being a pain in Dean’s ass.
Dean pulled two small canisters of salt from the duffel at his feet, along with matches and a container of kerosene. Machete held loosely in one hand, he slung the duffel over his shoulder and moved the canisters to the edge of the pit. He leaned against the wall and waited.
Sam reappeared from outside, propped the door open, and returned to the pit. Hopping down, he landed lightly beside Dean. “This stuff stinks. Who’d want to eat this crap?”
Dean shrugged. “Fortunately for us, coyote tricksters do.”
“I don’t see it.” Sam took the salt canister Dean offered.
“He’s probably still busy exploding fire hydrants.”
That got him a genuine smile from Sam.
Leaning his head back, Dean made another visual scan of the old building. He was beginning to think they’d picked a spot too far from the town, or that the coyote trickster just wasn’t interested. Sam nudged his side and pointed to the door. Nodding wordlessly, Dean pointed to his right, handed Sam the kerosene. Taking the matches, Dean moved silently to the left. He lifted himself out of the pit and ducked back into the shadows.
A scraggly brown and gray coyote stopped in the doorway. Yellow, beady eyes flashed. It sat back on its haunches and grinned as one of the small pieces of liver went into its mouth.
Sam had moved to the far side of the pit, and eased up and over the edge. He rolled away, slipping behind some crates, ready with the salt and kerosene at the ready. Dean had the machete and matches.
Sam was the one with the patience and Dean knew he’d wait there, quietly, until just the right moment or until Dean signaled him into motion. Dean was the one without the patience, so he was the one who’d mount the frontal assault, should it be needed. Besides, he liked hacking bad things to bits. Sam wanted them to see the light and go in peace. That plan practically never worked well.
Hacking was simple, straightforward, and effective.
The coyote paced into the large bay area, stopping every few feet to sniff the air. It moved to the next piece Sam had laid down, then the one after that, following the fairly straight line of food. Halfway between the door and the service pit, the coyote stopped and sat. Ears flicking back and forth, it calmly shifted its gaze from him to Sam and back again.
Damn thing saw them, knew they were there. It was mocking them, trying to goad them into a foolish move no doubt. He darted a glance at Sam, who shook his head tightly once and waved Dean back.
Dean gave him the thumbs up, bounced the machete in his hand a few times, and stepped to the middle of the room.
Sam’s groan came through loud and clear. He shook his head again, making a pissy face. Dean reacted in his customary way to Sam’s facial acrobatics. He ignored it.
Moving a few steps toward the coyote, Dean bent and poked at a chunk of liver with the end of his machete. “C’mon. You know you want it.”
Silently, Sam scrambled from his hiding place by the crates to the door, shutting it quietly. Crouching down, he moved behind the coyote.
The coyote cocked its head, eyes never shifting away from Dean. Waving the machete to and fro, turning it so the blade tip angled up and down, Dean watched the coyote’s eyes track the movement of the food.
“Ummm….yuummmyyy…” Dean rubbed his belly and made slurping noises.
Sam rolled his eyes, dropped his chin to his chest, and groaned again.
Dean backed toward the repair pit. The coyote took a few more steps in his direction…and sat down.
Sam was busy laying down a line of salt behind the coyote. Hopefully that would contain it in the abandoned garage. Just as he started circling around getting a closer position to Dean, off to his right, the coyote popped to its feet.
Dean straightened. Sam froze.
The coyote’s mouth morphed to some hideously large grin with obscenely big teeth. The eyes literally glowed. Dean barely had time to blink his eyes when the thing was airborne, heading straight for the bull’s eye target Dean was sure was painted on his chest.
Sam’s “Oh shit!” seemed to come at him from somewhere far away.
All four coyote feet hit Dean at once, sending him flying backwards. His machete rattled to the ground and spun at Sam. Running toward him, Sam bent and scooped up the machete, probably because he knew Dean would be pissed if he lost that machete. It was his favorite.
Hands around the coyote’s neck, Dean shoved the head full of snapping teeth first one way, then the other, narrowly avoiding having his face ripped off. A spray of salt hit the coyote’s back, the crystals bouncing off. Turning his head, Dean sputtered, trying to spit the salt from his mouth. He’d seen it coming and closed his eyes in time to avoid getting the salt under his lids.
The coyote growled, the sound evolving to a screech as the salt worked through the fur and hit the skin. Pulling up and back, most of its weight was shifted enough Dean could get one foot up and against the chest. He kicked it away with a shout. Back on his feet, Dean and the coyote once again faced off.
Sam’s wordless, indignant howl and the pounding of feet hit Dean’s ears about the same time Sam hit the coyote. Fortunately he’d dropped the machete. The impact of Sam’s weight against the coyote knocked it to its side. The two of them skidded across the floor, stopping so close to the repair pit that Sam’s legs swung out over thin air.
Darting forward, Dean shouted, “Hang on to him, Sammy!”
Arms and one leg twining around the coyote, Sam grunted and growled, rolling to keep the scrambling critter in his grasp and pinned to the floor. Dean snatched up the dropped kerosene and yelled a warning to Sam to shut his eyes and mouth. He repeated Sam’s previous actions, dumped the salt over the coyote, covering it and Sam.
Grabbing the lift chain over the repair pit, Dean gave a yank, pulling it closer to the ground. It took him a few tries but he finally was able to get his hands on the coyote’s hind legs and wind the chain around.
Sam let go of the coyote and rolled away from it and to Dean in the same motion. Using Dean’s jeans, Sam’s fingers gripped the material and climbed his way to his feet. He stood beside Dean, panting and grinning. Taking the container of kerosene, Sam flipped the top off and nodded. Dean let the lift chain go. The coyote plummeted to the pit floor. A stream of kerosene followed immediately.
Holding one hand out, fingers waggling, “Matches.” Dean didn’t even try to keep the smugness out of his voice. Another job done!
“You have them.”
“No, I—” Dean looked down at his legs, patted down his pockets. “I had the machete.”
“And the matches.” Sam leaned his weight on one leg, crossed his arms over his chest and snorted. “Dean Winchester, great demon hunter, and you lose the matches? The matches are the important part!”
“You can’t carry a spare book?”
The coyote howled and crowed, swinging back and forth and in circles inches above the flooring of the repair pit.
“Do you see them?” Sam looked around.
Dean scanned the floor near is feet in the other direction. His eyes darted across the expanse of the service station…hoooo yaaaaa!!! “YES!” Dean punched the air and snickered when Sam jerked around to face him, startled.
Crossing the room in a few fast, long strides, Dean snatched up his prize. “We got him now, Sammy!”
Sam gulped. His mouth fell open. “Dean that’s a bit much, don’t you think?”
“Oh hell no!”
Snatching the welding torch from its holding place and the striker from a hook on the wall next to it, Dean spun to face the dangling coyote trickster. He lit the torch as he ran back to the pit. Once at the edge, he adjusted the flame to its fullest, looked over at Sam, and grinned. He touched the torch to the nearest bit of kerosene.
A loud whoosh filled the air around them, followed by the cracking and popping of kerosene, salt, and coyote lighting on fire.
Dean smiled smugly, held one hand out palm up and barked a laugh. “Gotcha!”
Sam halfheartedly swiped his fingers over Dean’s palm. “Uh, Dean.”
“Bit of a wimpy high five there, Sammy.”
“Dean.” This time Sam tugged on his sleeve.
“I just love when a plan comes together.” Dean plucked a stray piece of liver off the floor and threw it at the flames.
“Christ, Sam, what the hell is your pro—” Dean’s words caught in his throat when what Sam was pointing at registered. “Who the hell keeps explosives in a garage!?” His voice absolutely did not raise and crack.
“Someone who has it illegally?” Sam’s voice was weak and thin.
The crates at the edge of the repair pit Sam had hidden behind had writing on the side they now faced. The word gunpowder had been handwritten on one of the crates, the one under it was labeled in pink ink, dynamite.
Grabbing Sam’s shoulders, Dean spun him around, “Run! Sam! Run!”
As they sprinted toward the door Dean stopped long enough to retrieve his machete—it was his favorite and he wasn’t leaving it behind. The sound of the flames hitting the wooden explosives crates followed them to the door. Nearly yanking the door from its hinges, Dean jerked it open, pushed Sam through a step ahead of him.
Sam stopped a few feet outside the garage, leaning down on his knees. “Damn, that was close.”
“It still is.” Fisting Sam’s jacket collar in his free hand, Dean ran, literally dragging Sam by the scruff of the neck with him.
They rounded the corner of the building, heading to where they’d parked the Impala. They’d never make it there in time, Dean realized. When a heavy rumble filled the air, followed by a louder explosion, Dean shoved against Sam’s shoulder blades, sending him tumbling to the ground. Dean dropped beside his brother, crunched in a ball, arms over his head.
He felt Sam roll his shoulders to one side, lift his head and turn. “Shit!”
Dean glanced up in time to see the roof blow straight off the top of the building, launch high enough for them to see daylight, then crash straight down. Flames shot out of the windows and doors, bits of wood and whatnot blew out in all directions. Dirt and debris kicked up into the air, flying away from the blasted building.
Fragments of gray fur and liver rained down. One yellow bead eye bounced off Sam’s head, making him smack himself in the ear. Dean’s chuckle was cut short when the sign reading Acme Auto Repairs cracked into his side. Groaning, he held the sign up, looked at it, and threw it away. Then, he shoved against Sam’s arm, sending him tumbling to the ground and cutting off the laughter bubbling from his chest.
Standing and brushing his jeans off, Dean held out one hand for Sam to pull up against. “Now that’s what I call a salt and burn.”
Sam groaned, threw both hands in the air, and headed for the car. He stopped, leaned against the trunk, and watched the building burn.
“I wonder if Chuck Jones knew about that trickster,” Dean mused, leaning beside his brother and shifting a bit so his butt inched up on the trunk.
“Who is Chuck Jones?”
“Creator of the Road Runner and Wile E Coyote cartoons.”
Eyes narrowing, and shifting to Dean, Sam punched his shoulder. “If he was the Wile E Coyote, then we’re—” Snickering cut off Sam’s words.
“Don’t say it, Sam.” Dean stood, faced his brother, trying hard to contain the way his shoulders wanted to bob up and down. “Don’t you dare say it.”
Sam’s eyes twinkled, he scrunched his nose, opened his mouth.
Not to be out done by his kid brother, Dean tried beating him to the punch.
“Beep! Beep!” They both yelled at each other at the same time.
Hitting Sam’s arm, “I told you not to say it!”
The sound of Sam’s stifled laughter followed him into the car.
Sam was still trying to swallow his chuckles when they pulled back into the shelter parking lot. He was far happier than he’d thought he’d be to see Marion had returned.
She ran down the steps, Phoenix on her heels. Pulling up short, she gasped and stared at them when they climbed from the car. “My goodness, what happened to you boys?”
Dean stopped long enough at the back of the car to pull a towel from the trunk. He wiped his face, hands and arms then threw the towel to Sam. “Vermin.” He said. “Reports of them just outside town. Big ones. We took care of it.”
Sam shoved his groan back down his throat. Instead he smiled innocently, “They were scaring the little kids.”
Sirens, probably from fire trucks, split the air.
“Looks like a big fire somewhere.” Marion’s attention was pulled to the sky over the trees.
“Yeah, we saw the smoke.” Sam hedged away from the car and toward the door to their room.
“Everything here looks great. You boys did a wonderful job! Stay as along as you’d like.”
“Sorry, ma’am, we’d better go. There’s other vermin to take care of.” Dean’s expression was so sober, his voice so solemn, Sam nearly believed him.
Nodding in agreement, Sam turned and sprinted after Dean up the steps to their room. Once packed, their bags loaded in the car, they bid farewell to Marion. Both brothers stopped to give Phoenix a tummy rub on the way out.
“That wasn’t so bad, Sammy.” Dean glanced over at him after the two of them were settled safely in the Impala. He started the car and they pulled away from the shelter. “Another job well done.”
“Dean, we set a demon loose on a town, wrecked a Laundromat and a grocery store. Not to mention we blew up an abandoned building.”
Holding up one finger, “But, we got rid of the trickster. The rest is semantics, Sammy.”
“Uh huh.” When the car suddenly slammed to a stop, Sam’s hand was smashed into the dash. “Hey! What are you doing?”
Dean was staring in the rearview mirror. Sam whipped his head around as Dean twisted and launched himself over the bench seat. Fingers scrabbling at the door handle of the back driver’s side door.
“Out! Out! OUT! You belong OUT!” Throwing the door open, Dean grabbed up the towel and smacked, repeatedly at the brown bit of fur on the backseat chattering angrily at them.
Sam winced, almost feeling sorry for the squirrel, having been a victim of Dean’s towel snapping expertise his entire life. The squirrel did a few laps around the back seat, Dean’s towel in hot pursuit before it dashed out the door. Yanking the door shut, Dean twisted around, squared his shoulders, and tugged his jacket into place. Hands on the steering wheel, Dean bent his head side to side. Sam’s eyebrows pulled together, and he couldn’t help a small laugh when he heard Dean’s neck pop and crack.
His cell phone chiming made him jump and start digging through his pockets. Pulling it out, Sam had barely a few breaths before it was snatched from his hand and snapped shut again.
Dean tossed it to the back seat.
“Hey!” Sam watched his poor, defenseless phone jostle around, lost in the big car.
Dean’s hand under his arm, fingers digging into his flesh, firmly turned Sam around to face forward again. “No.”
“No? What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Ya know, Sammy, I’ve been explaining no to you since you were about two. Grasp the concept, okay?” Dean gave him that annoying know-it-all grin. “Voice mail. Everyone we call, we just get to leave a freaking message. Well, it’s our turn.” His speech was cut off when his phone, on cue, rang. Dean fished it out, and tossed it over his shoulder to join Sam’s in the back. “From now on, Bobby and all Dad’s old crony hunter friends can just leave us a message! We’ll get back to them when we want. No more getting the young dudes to run their asses all over doing the dirty work.”
Sam crossed his arms over his chest. “You plan on telling Bobby that to his face?”
“Oh, hell no. Sam, I’m not stupid.” Dean shook a finger in his face. “And don’t even think about one of those thingys you hook in your ear!”
“Dean, those are schweet!” Sam felt a twinge of excitement. Surely Dean was trying to throw him off the trail, faking disapproval. He wasn’t too proud to admit he loved technology. “You’re getting me one?”
“What you’ll get is your ear cut off with my Bowie knife if you even look at one.”
Sam slouched back in his seat. He stared out the window, sullen and cranky. Dean just laughed. As they drove past the Leaving Coyote Bluffs sign, Sam’s head, then Dean’s whipped around.
“Dean, did you see—”
“But there was—”
“No, there wasn’t.”
“Maybe just keep driving.”
Dean’s eyes slid to meet Sam’s. “Yep. That’s a good plan Sammy.”
They would never speak of the coyote sitting under the sign. Or how it waved to them as they drove away.
That’s All Folks!