Sam and Dean go to check out the lead Aggie gave them, only to run into some trouble of the supernatural variety...
"I swear, if you even think the word 'Midol' I will end you."
AN: This chapter borrows heavily from 6x09 (Clap Your Hands If You Believe), and so if you haven't seen it before I'm posting a general spoiler warning for it, although I do end up doing my own thing more often than not. Better safe than sorry, I guess.
Also, in canon 6x09 happened in November. However, as I have an alternate timeline going on, let's just say the butterfly effect caused by Sam's return and stuff made it so that the events of the episode happen closer to May. That is all ;)
Maggie's Diner & Ice Cream
Tuesday 25 May 2010
"…and that is why I believe Elwood has become a center of extraterrestrial activity," the heavy-browed older man sitting across from Sam and Dean declared excitedly. He prodded at a screenplay sized pad of papers for the umpteenth time. "As you'll no doubt be able tell from my work, I have personally recorded dozens of eyewitness accounts, strange lights in the sky, mysterious presences attempting contact –"
"Er, Mr. Whitaker," Sam ventured, sensing that if he didn't interrupt, the man would keep talking.
Whitaker was a newcomer to the town, apparently drawn there by the reports of alien activity; for all intents and purposes he seemed like a complete whack-job. They had been sitting at the cramped diner cubicle for fifteen minutes, and Sam had yet to see the guy take a breath. Beside him, Dean was distractedly tapping out the melody to 'Thunderstruck' on the table, probably to keep himself from reaching over and shaking the guy.
"Junior. Mr. Whitaker Junior," the man said blithely. "Mr. Whitaker was my father."
"Right, Mr…Junior," Sam amended as Dean shifted impatiently and gestured at the waitress to bring more coffee. "We spoke to the sheriff earlier this morning, and he insists these disappearances have nothing to do with, uh, aliens. He says it's just a string of missing persons' cases that got blown out of proportion –"
"Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mr. Whitaker Junior said defensively. "It's all part of the cover up. Mark my words, ladies, there's something bigger going on here."
Dean bristled at the word 'ladies', and Sam knew he'd better wrap up their latest interview before his brother knocked over a table or something. "That's exactly what we think, too, but the Mirror was hoping for more than just idle speculation. The sheriff couldn't find anything linking the disappearance and the…strange phenomena. If we were to focus on your theory in our article, could you maybe elaborate a bit? Do you think there could be a pattern that the police have missed?"
"Oh, no doubt," Whitaker Junior nodded fervently as the waitress refilled their cups, putting a hand out to keep her from topping his up. "But it's probably one too complicated for humankind to follow. This is an advanced species we're dealing with, you know."
'Aaaaand, that's a wrap,' Sam told himself as Dean snorted into his coffee. He stood and adopting a grateful smile. "Well, thank you for your help anyway, sir. If we need anything else for our article, we'll be sure to call you."
"I'm always around," Whitaker beamed, getting up to go. Sam started to hand the thick stack of papers to him, but the older man stopped him. "Oh, no, you keep that. I have so many copies lying about. Besides, it will help you write a more balanced, factual article."
"Right. Thank you, sir."
Dean offered a tight smile and a wave, eyes narrowing as he watched the man exit the diner and start across the street to where a UFO-themed bazaar seemed to be in full swing.
"Someone took the brown acid," he commented darkly.
"You never know, Dean, he could be right," Sam reasoned, although there was little conviction in that argument. After spending an afternoon wading through the crazy of conspiracy theories and alien abduction stories, he was becoming more and more convinced that this place had nothing to offer them.
Before heading back to Indiana, they had stopped in upstate New York to resupply, emptying their father's lock-up of whatever weapons and tools might come in handy in the coming weeks. They had arrived in Elwood the day before and spent the evening scoping out the town. It had turned out to be easier than usual to just observe from the sidelines, considering every UFO enthusiast and their entourage was visiting the town.
Almost every motel was packed, which had nearly resulted in the brothers camping out in their newest car, a black 2006 Dodge Charger that Sam had bought in New York – or rather, which Jane and Erica Campbell had bought with a little help from their Uncle Bobby. Before getting on the road, they had had to whip up a few new fake IDs, drivers licenses and credit cards. They had opted to use their mother's maiden name on their primary identifications, partially because no one in the hunter community would connect it to the Winchester name, and also because it helped them keep at least part of their identity. Considering their first names were too recognizable, they had had to change those as well.
The smaller the paper trail they left, even in their new bodies, the better for both of them. So far the hex bags and sigils on their ribs continued to hide them from the forces of Heaven and Hell, allowing them to concentrate on following the lead that the pagan goddess had left to them.
Which was turning out to be a massive waste of time, in Sam's opinion.
"This is ridiculous," Dean burst out, voicing Sam's thoughts. "Between this guy and the hippie chick that thinks aliens are coming to help humanity to the next stage, this whole thing smells like a set-up. I bet Aggie just sent us in this direction so she could skip town while we chased down a whole lotta nothing."
"Bobby said she's legit, so I'm willing to give it at least another day or so," Sam told him, ticking off the name Whitaker on his list of potential witnesses. "We've still got a few people we can check out. This next one – uh, Marion Allen – has been telling people it's fairies."
"You mean like Tinkerbell?" Dean scoffed. "What, flying saucers aren't insane enough for her? Let me guess – she's one of those shut-in broads with a couple dozen cats."
Sam ignored that. "It could still be credible."
"Two things I don't believe in, Sammy, that's coincidence and fairies."
"What about angels?" Sam asked, his feigned innocence pointed.
The waitress appeared with the food they had ordered before Mr. Whitaker had showed up. Dean smiled winningly at the older woman, and although his charm didn't have the same effect it usually did, the waitress returned the gesture before leaving.
"You're gonna kill yourself eating like that," Sam said, staring with undisguised horror at the heaps of bacon, sausages, home fries and eggs on his brother's plate.
"Considering the creative ways we usually die?" Dean said, shovelling fries in his mouth. "Not a bad way to go."
"You think a heart attack isn't a bad way to die?"
"At least I'll die knowing I ate myself some happy," Dean answered cheerily. "A lot more fun than being crushed by a piano."
"You don't even remember that."
"I can imagine it."
"You do know that in your new meatsuit that stuff's probably going to go straight to your thighs, right? Different metabolism and all."
"Aw, I'm touched by your concern, Samantha! You're the best little sister ever!" Dean said in a mocking, high-pitched imitation of his new voice, fluttering his eyelashes winningly. His expression returned to normal. "Way I see it, I'm not gonna be in this body long enough for that to matter."
He shoveled an entire Sunnyside up egg into his mouth to emphasize the point.
"Anyway," Sam rolled his eyes and started in on his fruit and yoghurt parfait. "As I was saying, there's still more people we can check out. Families of the vics. The father of the first kid who disappeared – Patrick Brennan – he owns a watch repair shop on the main street.
"Sumphslakkapahn," Dean agreed with his mouth full. He swallowed and stood up. "Hey, I gotta hit the head – if she comes back, tell her I need ketchup for my fries. And it better be friggen Heinz – none of that No Name crap."
Sam sighed as his brother disappeared. He wished Aggie had thrown in a 'basic common courtesy' option in Dean's remodel.
'Then again, he wouldn't be Dean if that happened,' Sam told himself with a grim smile. He remembered how even when the angels had taken them and plugged them into new lives, Dean's basic underlying attitude had remained exactly the same.
He went back to reading over the articles he had printed off his laptop that morning. He frowned thoughtfully, reading through the information another time in the hopes that this time he would notice something out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, all the articles read like run-of-the-mill disappearance stories. It could have been anything from vampires to witches.
'Do any of them have anything in common?' he wondered, pausing with his spoon in his mouth. 'Not really – whatever's doing this isn't selecting them based on age, gender or race – it's not going through families, because none of the families of the vics who have siblings have reported any more trouble – "
Sam tensed, suddenly aware that he was being watched. Glancing up, he noticed a younger, dark haired guy sitting in the nearest barstool, considering him. When he met Sam's eyes, he smiled and lifted his coffee in his direction. As was his usual reaction to a friendly patron, Sam smiled awkwardly back and quickly looked back down to his work.
'Hunh. That's interesting. According to this, all the vics were oldest or only children,' Sam realized.
A shadow appeared next to him, and he automatically said, "Hey, I think I've found something. It turns out all the – " He glanced up and saw that he was staring at the dark haired young man and not Dean. "Uh…can I help you?"
"I don't think I've seen you around here before," the guy said conversationally. He was still holding onto his coffee and standing awkwardly next to the table.
"Probably not," Sam agreed lightly, moving to surreptitiously cover up the articles on the table. "Just passing through for work."
"Oh yeah? What do you do?"
"I'm a reporter with the Mirr – " The guy slid into the empty seat that opposite Sam. " – or. You know, that seat's actually –"
It was at this point that Sam finally clued into the fact that he was being hit on by the guy. It was still such a foreign concept that he hadn't recognized the obvious tactic for what it was.
Truth be told, he had figured Dean would be the first one to attract anyone's attention. His brother's new features had the kind of girl-next-door quality that Sam himself would have been attracted to if he wasn't very clear on the fact that it was his brother sporting them. In fact, Dean's new looks greatly resembled their mother, who Sam knew in that same objective way had been a beautiful woman.
Sam had thought the fact that he'd retained a decent amount of his height, along with his too-pale complexion and lack of cleavage, might discourage anyone who was interested.
Apparently he had been wrong, he realized. His awkward smile became more forced. "Good for you."
"What's your name?"
Sam pursed his lips and adopted an unimpressed expression, realizing that words were obviously not getting through to the guy.
"Come on, tell me," Rick wheedled. "Or do want me to guess?"
Murphy's Law being what it was, Dean chose that exact moment to return.
"Am I interrupting something?" Even as a woman, Dean's tone had a hard edge to it that any intelligent man would think twice about challenging.
Evidentially, Rick wasn't an intelligent man, because he didn't even spare Dean a glance as he answered, "Kinda."
Dean's eyes flashed, and he grabbed hold of the guy's shoulder, in what someone else might consider a friendly clap on the shoulder, but which Sam recognized as a strategic way of digging his thumb into the pressure point by the guy's collar bone. "I think you misunderstood – you're in my seat."
"Jesus, ow!" Rick hissed, allowing Dean to guide him forcefully from the chair and away from their table. "What the hell is your problem?!"
Dean shoved him a bit. "The skeezy douche sitting in my seat."
"Relax, lady, we were just talking."
"Come on, pal, you were trying to get in her pants – own up to your shit," Dean scoffed. "Now move along. Neither of us is interested."
"Sorry," Rick grumbled, rubbing his shoulder and backing off with dirty look. "I didn't know you were together, sheesh."
"We are not together!" Dean snapped, more to the suddenly interested diner patrons than to Rick. He glared around, causing them to go back to their food, and then sat down with a scowl. "Why does everyone always think that?"
"I did tell you that you sometimes come off as too butch," Sam told him mildly. "Guess that quality carried over."
"You – you don't get to talk," Dean told him.
"I'm so intimidated by you," Sam rolled his eyes. "Incidentally, I could have handled that myself."
"Sure you could. Tell you what: next time, I'll leave you to the mercy of the sleezebucket who looks like he was rejected from the cast of Dawson's Creek," Dean shrugged and started back on his breakfast. Sam grinned at him, and Dean raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"You totally would have been that brother, wouldn't you?"
"If I'd have actually been born a girl and we'd had a normal life? You definitely would have been that protective older brother that beat up on any guy that tried to take me to prom, wouldn't you?"
"Are you kidding? I would have been the brother that had to pay someone to take you to the prom."
"Apparently not, if our friend Rick is anything to judge by."
"You high standards astound me," Dean jeered, going for another spoonful of food. "Although, all things considered, he's probably a better choice than Ruby."
Sam glared. "Low blow, dude."
The rest of the day passed in a blur of weird interviews with even weirder people. Sam and Dean spent more than an hour at a small home outside of the town center listening to Marion Allen explain about how fairies were clearly to blame for the disappearances, all the while insisting that the brothers interact with her rather (disturbingly) impressive collection of garden gnomes.
After making their escape, they stopped for lunch and then interviewed three of the victims' families. In each instance there was little new evidence they could glean from the victim's loved ones besides the pervading sense of disbelief. As each door closed behind them, Dean felt familiar anger rising up in his stomach at how even the things people didn't know could kill them.
The last stop of the day was the father of the first victim. They had decided to leave him until last because his shop was closest to the edge of the city, and if his account yielded nothing they would have less of a ways to drive to investigate the site of the disappearances.
Brennan's Watchworks was a small, hole in the wall mom-and-pop business nestled in between a futon shop and a used bookstore on Elwood's main strip. Inside, the polished furniture and strong wooden beams of the décor spoke of a time when watchmaking had still been a big business. Instruments and tools lay scattered across several desks that took up space in the shop, and antique lamps tried to light the area, which despite the daylight outside, was shadowy and dark.
An unshaven man who appeared to be in his early fifties was hunched over one of the desks, staring blankly at a broken watch face in his hand. He had colorless, receding hair
"Mr. Brennan?" Dean guessed as they stepped forward, unintentionally startling the guy.
"Yes?" the man asked, training hooded eyes on them. Dean winced inwardly at the haunted look in them, seeing the familiar glint of pain that only someone who had lost a loved one possessed.
"I'm Joan Larkin, this is Sandy Pesavento – we're reporters with the Mirror," he explained, immediately seeing the man tense at the introduction. "We'd like to ask you about –"
"What? Is this about Patrick?" Brennan interrupted suspiciously. "Patrick's gone."
"Missing. Right," Dean said, raising an eyebrow at Sam. It wasn't often that a parent was so quick to agree that their child was gone. "Yeah, that was what we wanted to talk to you about. We heard your son was the first to disappear."
"First to be taken," Brennan corrected, looking back down at the watch in his hand.
"Taken," Sam repeated, considering the watchmaker with a confused frown on his face. "What do you mean by that?"
"Exactly what I said, lady – he's been taken, and he's not coming back."
"You sound awfully sure about that," Dean pointed out. "It kind of sounds like you know something you're not talking about."
As though realizing how he sounded, Brennan suddenly looked up, his features carefully blank. "You know what they say. Seventy-two hours. After that, the odds of finding a missing person drop to nothing, right?"
"Well, every case is different," Sam offered.
Brennan shrugged. "It's been weeks."
'Something is not right here,' Dean determined. He decided to throw politeness to the wind in order to provoke a reaction. "If you believe someone took your son, why didn't you report it to the authorities?"
"It wouldn't have helped."
"Why? Who do you believe took your son, Mr. Brennan?"
"It doesn't matter. He's not coming back."
"You don't – er, believe in all the alien hype going on around here, do you?" he tried again.
That finally struck a nerve for some reason.
Brennan jumped to his feet, cheeks flushed scarlet in anger. "Get out! Out! This isn't your business! No one can help me, my boy is never coming back! Now get out, before I call the police!"
Sam and Dean headed for the exit, although as they ducked outside, Dean turned back around and dropped one of their newly printed business cards on the counter beside the cash register. "Alright, we're going – but listen, call us if anything comes to mind."
The bell over the door clanged with finality as they exited. Once outside, it took a moment for Dean's eyes to adjust to the brightness. Still, he saw the annoyed look Sam shot him without a problem.
"It never fails to astound me how much you suck with people," his brother pointed out.
"Hey, you're the one whose bread and butter is that wussified, dew-eyed crap. One of us had to get the looks."
"How did you manage to do this job before you came to get me?"
"Easy. I only took the jobs with hot chicks," Dean replied with a grin. "They were helpless to my charms."
"Yeah, I'd like to see that now." Sam snorted. His expression turned serious again. "So, what do you think?"
"I think Papa's hiding something," Dean acknowledged. "We might want to keep an eye on him."
"We still have to check out the place where his son supposedly disappeared from. According to the news articles I read, the 'crop circle' is still intact. The town's been making money off this UFO-craze, and they figured demolishing the circle would drive down business."
"Warms the heart to know some folks still cash in on other people's suffering," Dean sighed. "Why'd we stop the Apocalypse again?" Sam sent him an unimpressed glare. "Too soon?"
"The fact that you even have to ask that makes me think you're going to be useless if Brennan ever decides to fess up," Sam told him archly. "So, I'll stick around here in case that happens – you can go traipsing through the cornfields."
"No way, man, I finally found a pair of boots that's comfortable for this body," Dean protested. "You go wade through cow shit."
They exchanged unimpressed glances, and then Sam raised a closed fist in the universal invitation to play for it.
An hour later, Dean found himself on the outskirts of town after the sun went down, searching around with a flashlight and muttering curses about Sam cheating at rock-paper-scissors.
The field was quiet but for the insistent chirping of crickets in the distance. He couldn't sense anyone nearby, but that didn't stop him from leaving the motor and the lights on the Charger running just in case. He wandered through the tall stalks, ignoring how the entire situation reminded him of that time he'd been running for his life in an apple orchard.
'Huh. Also in Indiana,' he thought. 'I think there's a message in this…'
He finally made it to the section of cornfield that had been flattened into the crop circle and shone his flashlight around. At this point in time, he knew it wasn't very likely he'd find anything the cops had missed, but there was a small possibility.
He started at one edge of the circle and began to work his way inward, wandering in a circular pattern until he had gone through almost the entire section.
There was shuffling sound to his left, and Dean made a move for his gun. Out of nowhere, someone grabbed onto him, crushing his hand until he loosened his grasp on the weapon. He swore as his assailant threw him backwards, relieving him of the gun and his flashlight.
"I don't think you're gonna need that," a familiar voice said, and Dean heard the sound of his gun being tossed away into the distance. Recovering himself from the surprise assault, Dean squinted into the darkness that was lit only by the faint flow of the car's headlights, his mind and his vision giving him a better idea of his attacker.
"Are you kidding?" he groaned. "You're the moron from this morning. Dick, right?"
"Rick," the guy corrected, and Dean could hear the grin as he advanced, "And you, lady, just aren't too bright. Coming out here all alone?"
Dean laughed, injecting a taunt into his tone so as to hide his unease at the situation. He and Sam had sparred with each other in an attempt to get a feel for their new bodies, but he had yet to test out his reflexes on someone of Rick's girth. "Buddy, I've sneezed out bigger things than you. Do the smart thing and head back to town. I don't have time for this."
"I'll bet," Rick said. "Been watching you and your girlfriend all day." Dean bit back his need to correct the man who was trying to intimidate him. "I was gonna try again with her, but when I saw you heading out here all on your own? Too good of an opportunity to pass up." He stepped closer. "That was an interesting move you pulled this morning. You've got some fight in you. I like that in a woman. I'm going to enjoy this."
"Yeah? I bet I'm going to enjoy it more," Dean answered with a mocking smile.
Rick came at him with his hands out, ready to grab hold of him. Dean ducked his grasp, moving around behind him as he tried to come up with a plan of action. In terms of strength, Rick probably outclassed him at the moment, but he still had his speed and his reflexes. He just needed the right opportunity –
Despite Dean's dodging routine, Rick's big fist snapped open in the direction of Dean's face. The blow would have broken his jaw and several of the guy's fingers, except Dean jerked his head aside just enough to let it brush by his left ear.
In the same instant, he stepped in and swung his shin upward with precisely controlled force, aiming for Rick's crotch.
"Let's play Nutcracker," Dean grunted, before bouncing back lightly onto the balls of his feet. Rick bent and clutched himself for a moment. "Dude, didn't anyone ever tell you not to hit someone in the head with your fist? You'll break your hand before you break his head."
Rick snarled, and when he looked up Dean could see fury in his eyes. He seemed to have forgotten all pretence of actually getting a hold of Dean for any other reason than to beat on him. He lunged, whirling into a sweeping kick, which was well executed but went a little long.
Dean ducked, the foot sweeping over his head, and slapped his hand up, palm on the other guy's thigh. He pushed sharply, using more of his strength than he normally would have, and sent Rick flying backward on his ass.
Once he was on the ground, Dean's heel slammed down – not in Rick's face like he really wanted to do, but a deft blow to the gut with enough force to seriously wind him.
"Here's what's going to happen," Dean said, looking down his nose to the gasping heap of jerk. "You're going to go back to town and we're going to forget this ever happened. You're also going to stay away from me and my…sister. Because I don't think you want anyone to know you just got beaten up by a girl."
And he turned and walked away, heading back toward the car.
'Not like there's anything out here to help the case anyway,' Dean thought with annoyance. 'This whole trip has been a huge, stinking pile of noth – '
Fingers like steel rods gripped his throat from behind, digging in on either side of his windpipe. Dean choked, his hands reaching up instinctually to claw at the hand which held him, while another encircled his waist, pinning his arms to him.
"Here's what's going to happen," Rick's angry, wheezing voice hissed into his ear. "You're going to lie there and take this, and maybe you won't become another missing person."
Dean fought to drag air in through his mouth, his feet slipping and sliding in the mud and flattened corn stocks beneath him as he tried to gain purchase.
'Don't fucking pass out,' he told himself coldly, trying to force himself to calm down. He knew there were a number of ways out of a hold like this, but they all relied on strength he didn't actually have at the moment.
Thoughts racing, he allowed himself to go numb in his assailant's arm, like he was giving up.
"That's more like it," Rick said, chuckling like he was pleased with himself.
Instantly, Dean jerked his head backwards, aiming with as much strength as he could toward where his assailant's voice had come from. Rick's scream of pain was loud in his ear as the back of Dean's skull connected with his nose. He loosened his grip, allowing Dean to slip out of his arms.
Not bothering to pull his punches this time, Dean lashed out, aiming again for the guy's now shattered nose and then for his gut. After a flurry of kicks and punches – which were fueled by his own anger and frustration at the entire situation – Rick was back on the ground, definitively unconscious this time.
Wiping blood from his knuckles, Dean glared down at the guy. "Stay down, bitch."
He waited several seconds to make sure that Rick wasn't going to come after him again – because at this point, civilian or not, Dean was angry enough to actually kill the bastard – and then flipped out his cellphone.
Sam answered on the second ring. "Find anything out?"
"Just that this town is full of douchebags," Dean grumbled, massaging his throat. "Might want to call the sheriff's office and tell them there's a would-be rapist knocked out in a cornfield."
"What?! Are you okay?" Sam's tone hovered in the dangerous area of 'please share your feelings with me', and so Dean was quick to head him off.
"Oh, yeah, I'm good. Pissed off, but otherwise great. Have I mentioned how much I want my body back?"
"Only ten times a day," Sam answered, his voice still holding that worrying tremor to it. Dean cursed inwardly, knowing his brother would want to talk about this later on.
Already trying to think of a way to avoid that conversation, he asked, "How's it going on your end?"
Sam sighed. "The only thing this guy is up to is alcoholism. He hasn't done anything out of the ordinary. You know, maybe I should go try to talk to him again. If he is hiding something, I'm more likely to get anything out of him than you –"
The car's lights, which had until that point been illuminating the area, suddenly went out.
"Shh! Shh!" Dean hissed, looking around him warily. He didn't think Rick would be waking up any time soon, but just in case –
There was a whirring noise.
"What?" Sam was asking, tone worried across the phone line. "You see something?" Dean reached into his boot for the extra gun, which he hadn't had time to go for in the fight. "Dean, what's up? Is that guy back?"
"Hang on a second," Dean answered as the whirring noise returned, louder this time.
Suddenly, something bright and luminescent loomed overhead, illuminating the corn stalks and the circle Dean was standing in. Squinting against the glare, Dean could make out a vaguely saucer-like shape.
"Holy…" He took a step back, and the thing followed him. 'Oh, shit…' He took off into the cornfield. "UFO! UFO!"
As he ran, he could hear Sam still talking. "Whoa! Dude, stop yelling! You're breaking up – I didn't catch that last part."
"Close encounter!" Dean yelled as he ran through the stalks. "Close encounter! They're after me!" A moment later, he realized that he had just run further into the field, in the exact opposite of the direction of the car.
Knowing his only choice was to turn back and try to fight his way out of the field, he reached into his other boot for his switchblade, holding that and the gun out in front of them.
'No friggen way ET's taking me without a fight,' he thought, squaring his shoulders. "Come on!"
The bright light loomed closer, and then grew, until it blocked out the night sky and everything else.
"Dean?" Sam asked warily. "Are you there? What happened? Dean?"
The silence on the other end of the phone was not comforting, and Sam knew from experience what that usually meant.
By the time he managed to hail the only cab in town and make it to the cornfield, Dean was long since gone. The only clue that he had ever been there was the still running car, an abandoned flashlight and his cellphone, which Sam found only by calling it repeatedly.
Several yards away, he found a still unconscious and beaten body. As he shone his flashlight down onto it, he recognized it as the guy who had been hitting on him that morning. Remembering what Dean had said about him, Sam had simply done the responsible thing and called in a tip to the sheriff's office. He had more pressing concerns right now, the foremost being that his brother had apparently been kidnapped by aliens.
Leaving the cornfield behind, he headed for the only person he figured would have any idea how to deal with an alien abduction.
He sped back toward Elwood, tearing through the city center so quickly he nearly hit Mr. Brennan as he was leaving the corner store, causing the man to drop his purchases on the street. In his rear-view mirror, Sam saw something like milk or cream spill out on the pavement.
The RV camp just outside of town had obviously been there before the alien craze broke out, although it looked as though it had recently started to hit capacity. Sam headed for the address that he had jotted down for Wayne Whitaker Junior and uncaring of the fact that it was about the time that people started to turn in for the day.
He rapped on the door of Whitaker's trailer, grateful when the heavy browed man appeared within the screen. "Oh. Miss Pesavento. Is there something I can help you with?"
"UFOs. They're real," Sam said, for the first time actually unsure of how he was supposed to break the news.
Whitaker didn't look surprised. "Like I said before, missy, the truth is out there."
"Yeah – that's why I came to you. You're the expert. How do I get them?"
"Come again?" Whitaker raised an eyebrow.
"You hunt ET's, right? Extra terrestrials? I need to know how to get them."
"If I knew that, I'd be a very rich man," Whitaker smiled gently. "If you want to look through thirty years of eyewitness accounts, they might –"
"Look, I already know they're real, my br – partner's been abducted, so I'm pretty much a believer," Sam ploughed on impatiently. "Now can you help me, or are you going to tell me to look at your badly punctuated and spuriously evidenced research again?"
"Young lady, I don't think I like your tone," Whitaker told him, his expression turning cold. "You seem upset. Perhaps tomorrow would be a better time – ?"
Sam cursed himself for letting his worry overcome his usual people skills. Hadn't he just ribbed Dean about that this morning?
"No – No, tomorrow would not be a better time, I need to find hi – her now," Sam insisted.
Whitaker shook his head. "I can see that you're a little unbalanced. My expertise is clearly not the kind of help you need right now. I can recommend an excellent psychiatrist in town. He's given all of us free consults – "
Sam didn't try to hide his groan of frustration as he whirled around and stalked away. This was getting him nowhere!
"Have you considered the possibility of faeries?" a dreamy voice asked, and Sam glanced to the person seated by the nearest trailer. He recognized Marion Allen and her creepy lawn ornaments even without much light. She was sitting in an outdoor lounge chair, sipping tea from a dainty porcelain cup.
"What?" he asked, more out of the need to ask the question than any actual curiousity.
"Faeries," the dotty-looking woman repeated. "Sprites and spriggens. Bogarts and brownies. The little people have many names and come in many shapes and sizes. They're magical, mischievous beings from the realm next door."
Sam had been about to ask after the woman's sanity, but the word 'realm' made his ears perk up. "Realm?"
"The faerie realm," Marion nodded happily.
"So, it's like another dimension?" Sam asked, his heart beating faster at the possibility. "Like a…back door universe?"
"Exactly," she agreed, obviously overjoyed at the fact that he seemed to believe her.
"Why would they be abducting people, though?"
"Well, there are a few ideas, but obviously no one knows for sure. It's said that they only take firstborn sons, although if your sister was taken that proves that's just a myth," she chuckled, obviously failing to realize that this was something bad. "Personally, I think they're taken to Avalon to service Oberon, the King of the Faeries."
Sam didn't bother to point out that Oberon was a Shakespearean creation and hadn't actually been a part of any mythos until the romantic literature of the Middle Ages. Instead, he asked, "Say…say faeries are real…what can I do about them?"
"How can I interact with them? To communicate?"
Marion pursed her lips thoughtfully. "Well, if you want to win a faerie's favor, leave a bowl of fresh cream. They love cream."
Sam held back a growl of impatience. "Okay, great, I'll keep that in mind – and…and if I wanted to interact more forcefully?"
"Well, all the fair folk recoil at the touch of iron, and the dark faeries burn when touched with silver," she mused out loud. "Oh! You can spill sugar and salt in front of them – no matter how powerful, the faerie must stoop to count each grain."
'And that's maddeningly unhelpful. Makes me want to believe in UFO's again,' Sam thought, but fixed a polite smile on his face. "Well…that's great. Thanks for the tips, Marion. I'm…going to go see if I can research any of that."
"Oh, any time," Marion beamed. "My trailer is always open to company!"
Sam suppressed a shudder as he glanced at the garden gnomes.
Feeling as though he was trapped between rock and a hard place – because between UFOs and faeries, this case had just gone from slightly weird to so far out of the norm for him and Dean that Sam couldn't think of any other metaphor, Sam got back in the car and headed back to the town center. He couldn't quite face the emptiness of the motel room right now, not until he knew he could get Dean back.
Instead, he drove aimlessly through the streets, trying to clear his thoughts.
He passed the place where he had almost run down the father of the first victim, and for a moment was consumed by guilt. He was allowing his protective feelings for his brother to get in the way of things again. What if he had actually killed the guy, instead of just knocking off his groceries?
Sam blinked, flashing back to that moment. Marion's words about cream returned to him, and he frowned at himself in the mirror. It wasn't the biggest leap he'd ever made, but right now he didn't have many options to consider. Sometimes it really was just a matter of a lucky guess.
The fact was, Sam needed to find Dean. And right now, Brennan was the best lead he had.
Deciding there was no other choice than to pursue it, Sam parked the car and started looking for Brennan. The watchmaker's shop was closed and dark when he got there, and so Sam went to the only other place he could think of.
He found Brennan in there, wallowing in a pitcher of whatever was on tap in the corner of the bar. Not bothering with the minutiae, Sam took the empty seat opposite him.
"Hello again, Mr. Brennan."
The man didn't even look up. "Leave me alone."
"I don't think I got to tell you earlier today how beautiful your work is."
"The watches? They're pretty stunning – the amount of detail I saw in them? Just astounding – I've got to ask, though – you own that business yourself, right? So how do you manage to put out that much product?"
"Well, I – I just – "
"Made a deal with a bunch of faeries to keep your business going? Yeah, I kind of figured."
Brennan paled. "You're insane."
"Maybe, but I notice you're not denying it," Sam said angrily. "You know, I thought my dad was an asshole? At least I never had to worry about him trading me off so that his job would be easier."
"You don't understand! It wasn't like that!"
"Normally, I'd sit and listen to your reasons, but right now, my partner is stuck in Never-Neverland – or wherever," Sam said firmly. "So if you have any shred of human decency left – you know, that part of you that swims with guilt every day that you wake up and remember what you did to your own kid? – you're going to help me."
Brennan stared at him blankly for a second, but must have seen the resolve in Sam's eyes, because he nodded slowly.
"My grandmother…she told me all these stories when I was a kid. She told me how to summon them, to get favors from them – she left me this book, and I did the ceremony in my back office a few weeks ago. This…man…appeared and said he was a leprechaun."
Brennan cast a sideways glance, and Sam made a motion for him to continue.
"I asked him to just cure me – I've got the first stages of Parkinsons – but he said he would do even better. He'd make me more successful than I ever had been – that he'd help me save my business."
"In exchange for…?"
"A place to rest," Brennan said dully. "To take the fruit and fat of the land. I said yes – I figured he just meant…I didn't realize that he meant my firstborn. And not just mine – those other families' too." He put a hand over his eyes, a gesture of deep regret. "They're not stopping. They're not going to stop."
"Can't you reverse the spell?"
"Maybe – in the book. But it's in a safe in my shop and…they won't let me near it."
Sam frowned thoughtfully, and then met Brennan's guilty face. "Can you see them?"
"Okay, then. I'll cover you while you reverse the ritual."
"But I can't – !"
"Think about your son, Mr. Brennan," Sam said, using the same kind of 'everyone is counting on you' intensity that John Winchester had instilled in him from the age of three. "Think about all the people who've already lost loved ones – and who still will if you don't help me stop this."
"I-I don't even know if it'll help you," Brennan stuttered, looking about wildly as though expecting one of the other drunken patrons to rescue him.
"It'll be a start. I can handle it from there," Sam said. Something in his words must have sounded confident, because after a searching look and another deep gulp of beer, Brennan nodded and stood.
"Alright. Let's go."
They stopped at the car first, where Sam loaded himself up with a crossbow and as many silver and iron weapons as he could conceal on his smaller body. Brennan stared as he checked the safety on the crossbow.
"What the hell kind of reporter are you, lady?"
"The full-service kind," Sam replied, and gestured for the older man to lead the way.
They slipped into the shop through the back door. Sam looked around, frowning as he tried to see the faeries, although he knew he wouldn't be able to. It was rather like trying to see past a persistent blind spot. "Are they here?"
Brennan nodded to him, motioning with a finger to remain quiet, as the snuck through the back area toward the safe. Sam tried his best to keep watch, despite knowing he wouldn't be able to actually see anyone coming. He wondered if he'd at least be able to hear or sense it.
He heard the click of the lock as the safe opened, and glanced over to where Brennan was pulling out a thick, leather-bound book. Sending Sam a hopeful look, he flipped it opened a few pages. Sam wandered over as the older man began to read, his natural curiosity for old tomes getting the better of him.
"Leig seachad an ceangal sin, agus smàl an solus sin, agus fuadaich an sídhe air ais gu'n àite-breith – "
Brennan's words suddenly cut off in a wet gurgle as a sharp, wooden edge ripped through his chest. The older man crumbled forward, and revealing his killer.
Sam gaped. "You!"