Expiration Date

(c)2006 gekizetsu

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Crackfic, cursing, lame humor, and naked!Dean. All for innie_darling's birthday, poor thing.

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"Where did you get this, again?" Sam said, eyeing the vial in his hand with open suspicion.

"One of those cop-supply catalogues," Dean said, one hand at twelve o'clock on the steering wheel, eyes glancing between Sam and the road. "They train dogs with it, so they can find people who're trapped, or for when some serial killer admits where he dumped his victims."

"You sure about this?" Sam said.

"You wanna wait until someone else kicks over and has to get buried?" Dean said. "That could be tomorrow or six weeks from now, and I'm not hanging around that long. This'll get it done."

Sam had set his online alerts for keywords including but not limited to 'cemetery', 'vandalism', 'corpse', 'burial' and 'dismember'. When all of them popped up in one Associated Press story, Dean hadn't even let him finish explaining before they were off. It had to be a ghoul. Two different cemeteries, three local burials, each a month apart.

So Sam was holding a small glass vial of eau de corpse and wrinkling his nose at it even though it was still fully sealed. "Flip a coin?" he said.

"What's the matter, Sam?" Dean said. "Squeamish?"

"Hey," Sam said, "You don't like the smell of any of the things we kill and better than I do. Whoever does it is gonna have to burn some clothes. Why aren't we just pouring this stuff on an object and burying it?"

"Because that's really boring, Sam," Dean said. "These things like rot, but they know what people smell like. We smell human. We just need to smell human and dead."

"I'm not gonna volunteer," Sam said.

"Chicken," Dean said. "If you're that scared, poor baby, I'll just -"

"That's not gonna work," Sam said. "Flip a coin."

"Fine, whatever," Dean said, digging in one pocket as he pulled over under a row of trees near the wrought iron fence surrounding the Sunset Hills cemetery. He withdrew a quarter and held it between one thumb and forefinger. "Call it," he said.

"Heads," Sam said.

Dean looked at him over the coin with a smirk. "That's my Sam," he said. "Always thinking about head."

With a sigh, Sam said, "Whatever. Tails, then," and he was sorry even as he said it.

"That's my Sam, always thinking about - "

"Why don't you just flip the goddamn coin?" Sam said.

Dean flicked it, and Sam caught it between his hands before slapping it down on the back of one. "Tails," he said, showing Dean.

"Aw, man."

"Your own fault," Sam said. He handed the vial over. Dean held it up to the light for a moment before tucking it in a jacket pocket.

They unloaded the car, shovels and a duffel full of weapons, swinging them over the fence before jumping it themselves. It was long since dark, so they didn't encounter anyone as they cut across the newer section of cemetery.

The most recent interment was obvious - freshly turned earth had been patted back into place, fresh flowers set after a second funeral. It was the last grave dug into and defiled. Whatever it was that had disturbed the grave a week earlier, it had dug six feet down and at the head of the plot, smashed in the wooden coffin right above the deceased's head and shoulders, and dragged the whole body out through the opening. The body had been dismembered and strewn between stones for several rows, and several choice parts had been eaten.

It was the human-shaped bite marks that ruled out animals, and the level of dismemberment that ruled out typical necropheliacs, necromancers, or med school bodysnatchers. Everything that hadn't been eaten on site had been left where it had fallen.

"With fava beans," Dean said. "And a nice Chianti."

"Where do you wanna - " Sam began.

"Doesn't matter," Dean said. "Once it smells me, it won't care where I am or that things don't look quite right. These things are like bloodhounds. But even uglier."

Sam shrugged. "Let's go a couple rows up, into the open part," he said. "That way we're less likely to accidentally blast any of these stones."

Dean tilted his head and cast a mock doe-eyed look at Sam, the light of the flashlight momentarily bringing out a smattering of greens and golds in his eyes and hair, respectively. "You're such an upstanding citizen, Sam."

Sam shouldered his shovel and walked away. "C'mon already."

"Sammy, you are my he-wo," Dean said behind him, clapping both hands over his heart dramatically.

"You're not gonna think this is so damn funny in a minute when you're covered in that stuff," Sam said over his shoulder.

"Would you lighten up?" Dean said, falling into step.

"Why don't you lie facedown so it can gnaw on your ass?" Sam said.

"Sounds like it already got you ," Dean said. "These things don't like emo-jerky that much, so it must have spit your right back out."

"They like aged, marinated selections, so you don't even need to really need to douse yourself in that shit," Sam said.

Dean snorted. "Is that all you got?"

They were silent for several minutes while they scored out a 6' x 3' area of ground with the blades of the shovels, slightly away from the rest of the stones. They dug down roughly a foot and a half, piling the dirt evenly to one side. When they were done, Dean checked again to make sure he had a round chambered and a full clip. He didn't want to risk dirt jamming any of the mechanisms, so he thought bout tucking it down the front of his jeans, then paused. Nah, no need to potentially risk jamming the much more important equipment. He'd just fold it under his shirt and hold onto it.

He took the vial out of his jacket pocket, the took his jacket off and threw it at Sam. "Okay, here we go." He unscrewed the cap, then held his nose with one hand and dumped the vial down the front of himself.

"Oh, fuck !" Sam shouted. "Dean, not the whole thing !"

Dean clapped a hand over his mouth and nose. It wasn't like the damn thing had come with instructions, and he figured the more, the better.

But, oh, man .

He gagged, then fought it back down and made sure he breathed through his mouth only. Oh no, no way could he taste it, that was messed up. It was only his imagination. Fear Factor, Winchester edition. He was not going to puke in a cemetery. Ever. Or in front of Sam.

He got in the shallow grave and laid down on his back, one hand still over his face, sliding his gun under his shirt and letting the chilled metal against his solar plexus distract him. "Would you bury me, already?"

"I kind of have to, now." Sam finally came close enough to do just that, carefully smoothing the soil over Dean from his feet up. When he got closer to Dean's head, though, he gagged and put the back of one hand against his mouth.

"Sam," Dean said, "If you puke on me, I'll kill you and the ghoul will have two entree choices instead of one."

"You didn't need to use the whole thing," Sam choked.

"What'd you want me to do, dab a little behind each ear?" Dean said, voice muffled and nasal since he was plugging his nose again.

Sam folded dirt in up to Dean's neck, then knelt down to gather it around his face. With a layer of dirt in place, it wasn't nearly as bad. When he was sure Dean was no longer visible but could still breathe, he backed away.

"You okay?" he said.

"It's very restful, Sam," Dean said. "Poe never had it so good."

"Lie still," Sam said, leaning over to pick up the shovels.

"That what you tell all your dates?" Dean said.

Sam brought the flat of one shovel blade down with a not-so-gentle slap right where he figured Dean's knees were.

"Ow, you bitch ."

"Shut up, Dean," Sam said, gather shovels and duffel and heading for the deeper shadows of a large monument nearby.

It was three hours later, in the early morning predawn gloom when Dean was about ready to give up, that Sam heard something. One of the rifles was cocked and leaning against the monument, and he picked it up and moved into a crouch. He knew he'd be the one who made the kill, since Dean was going to be too stiff (no pun intended) to move quickly after hours of lying so still in the cold, damp ground. Dean's gun would be a last resort if anything went wrong.

Something crept along between the rows of stones, hunched, knees bent, strips of ragged clothing dragging, hands touching everything it passed. It tested the ground, fingers scrabbling, and Sam could hear long nails dragging along the surfaces of the marble and granite headstones. It was a shifting amalgam of grays in the dark, dragging one foot, making a clicking noise that must have come from its tongue. Sam hadn't seen enough ghouls in his time to know whether they could see at all or if they used echolocation in addition to scent to find their way. Some were probably put together better than others. This one had to be pretty damn old.

It froze, face tilted into the air, and Sam held his breath. It would smell him to if he wasn't careful, although how anything would ever smell him over Dean was beyond him. It had to smell Dean pretty clearly. Sam was surprised there wasn't a dozen of the things crowding in from miles around. Dean smelled like a morgue during a heat wave with no air conditioning.

It jerked forward again, headed straight for Dean, movements eager. Sam actually heard it panting . He kept the rifle trained on it, waiting for it to clear the final stones and stop moving, silently encouraging Dean to stay still. It paused at the foot of Dean's shallow grave and pressed its face to the ground, then moved right for his head. When it began scrabbling near Dean's head, dirt flying, Sam put steady pressure on the trigger and let out a breath.

The shot was a loud, clean crack in the damp silence, and the ghoul stepped back with a jerk and shrieked. Before Sam could squeeze off another shot, a hand erupted from the dirt and shot the ghoul five times in quick succession before disappearing again.

Sam trotted over, rifle still held at the ready. The ghoul was curled into a fetal position feet away, a bundle of bones and rags and protruding teeth. Staring, cloudy white eyes glared unseeing into the flashlight. Hands the relative scale size and shape of a mole's forepaws rested limply against the grass. Sam turned away with a shudder. "You okay?" he said to the mound of dirt.

A hand shot up from the dirt and flipped him off.

Sam reached down and grabbed the upraised wrist, yanking Dean upright.

Dean coughed but didn't brush himself off. He'd just be smearing more of that lovely smell around. He clapped his hands together and said, "Let's roast it."

They set fire to it right where it was, and after a pause, Dean stripped and threw everything but his boots in.

"I love all this male bonding we're doing," he said. "Should we chant? You wanna burn your clothes, too?"

"You happy now?" Sam said.

"I'm buck naked in a cemetery," Dean said. "'course I'm happy. Brings back good memories."

Sam added more lighter fluid to the conflagration and kept quiet. He didn't want to know.

"They don't call it the 'little death' for nothing, Sam," Dean said.

"I didn't ask," Sam said.

"Yeah you did," Dean said, scrubbing his skin with dirt and grass. "I saw your face."

"Whoever she was, she was alive at the time, right?" Sam said.

"At first," Dean said. "She needed a little reviving, after. They all do."

Sam sighed, picked everything up, and headed back for the fence.

Dean had a fascinating time getting back over it.

Dean didn't ask for his jacket - he didn't want to risk getting any of the stench on it. It wasn't nearly as bad by then, but still. Sam got a blanket out of the trunk and made Dean wrap himself tight enough to keep his reek to himself.

Tomato juice and baking soda and rubbing alcohol made just enough of a difference that Sam didn't have to insist on separate rooms...even if Dean wouldn't shut up about how cemeteries turned some chicks on and that it redefined the term 'throwing a bone'.

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