Afternoons and Coffee Spoons
©2011 gekizetsu

Well, I’d like to think I'm the mess you'd wear with pride.
--Band of Horses, I Go To The Barn Because I Like The

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Charity list request for astolat: a spin off of what could have happened right after the ‘Nightmare’ ep in season I, where Sam figures out his powers in different and peculiar ways. Or, a possible evolution of Sam’s powers. Dean helps (for a given factor of ‘helping’). Gen case story, 11,000 words, PG-13 for language. No spoilers, and no warnings other than Dean’s filthy mouth and gratuitous mild crack. The places are real, but I took artistic license (as you do).
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-|-

So, the real bullshit started when they walked into a clock store and not a single goddamn one had hands.

-|-

Dean wasn’t a fan of creepy. Creepy was for people who hadn’t seen a tenth of the things they had, who didn’t realize what was actually out there. Creepy was for teenagers around a campfire in the woods playing grabass and telling each other shit just to get some girl to huddle in closer.

They hadn’t really been heading to Vegas like Dean had hoped. He’d only been half joking when he’d suggested it. The whole thing with Max and his family had put both a strange pall and a sense of elation over them both. They realized how lucky they had it.

Dean had passed off Sam’s admission of having similar talents to Max’s externally only because it scared the hell out of him. Sam was not like the dead lunatic behind them, and he knew that to his core, but he also knew that Sam was likely capable of much, much more. The kid could put his mind to things and simply do them long before he had ‘powers’, and outside of their dad, Sam was the most stubborn person he’d ever met, much less known.

Brushing him off and telling him it wouldn’t happen again had been a knee-jerk defense mechanism. Of course it would happen again, and remind them of how tied in to some larger weirdness they both were. Question was, was it better to have it happen accidentally in times of stress, or only when Sam triggered it?

Sam was weird, but he could not be the kind of weird they hunted. Dean was not going to allow it.

Once he was over his minor internal freak out about Sam being any kind of weird, it occurred to him that the only way to keep him from getting weirder was to treat it like a useful skill, like bow hunting. Just one more useful weapon in their arsenal. Not something to be feared.

They were probably going to keep running into other special kids. And if any of them were as messed up or homicidal as Max, it was going to take more than their usual approach to handle things.

Dean wasn’t sure there was a good time or way to bring that kind of thing up, though.

So they were on another job, courtesy of something Sam had seen in the paper about how the owner of an antique clock shop in Tennessee had been found stuffed inside a very old grandfather clock and the coroner had been unable to tell when or how he’d died. It was too much to ignore, and Dean had been openly looking forward to it. It was good to have something to really solve.

Sam played navigator as usual and they made it into Franklin, Tennessee on a cool but sunny afternoon. Everything about the architecture, streets and even landscape spoke of a very old town with a hell of a lot of history, and the wish to preserve it. Brick sidewalks and carefully renovated Victorian buildings lined the main street of the historical district. Restaurants, clothing shops, antique stores and art galleries shared the same cultivated and nearly idealistic feeling of being caught in a microcosm of a gently modernized mix of Revolutionary and Civil War ambience. People milled, some looking determined about getting somewhere, some doing what Dean thought of as a tourists’ parade walk. Window shopping. Waste of time. He hated it when people meandered around in the middle of the sidewalk like they were the only people around, dragging their feet and looking purposeless. Walking was for getting somewhere, unless you were Sam, in which case it was for thinking as well as getting somewhere. Dean reserved judgment on that, since it was Sam.

The first thing they did was talk to the son, Ian Donaldson. They met him in the second floor management offices of the Cool Springs Galleria where he was hollering at some poor twenty-something about a center court display that wasn’t finished. For once they didn’t bother pretending to be from the coroner’s office or FBI or whatever; nothing but street clothes needed for that one. Sam waited until the guy was done yelling, then introduced them as antique aficionados (Dean did his best not to snort, and turned his head away before smirking for once) looking for unusual clocks, and they wanted to check his father’s shop, since it had made the news.

“Dad bought that shop as a hobby when he retired,” Donaldson said, rubbing at his forehead in visible exasperation. He was heavy and red-faced and Dean figured he yelled at people a lot and was going to burst an artery soon. “Something to do after mom died. He’s had…he did have it…for about five years. I never paid any attention except to help him move a bunch of stuff in when he opened it, and to help him find someone to help him watch the counter. He liked to drive all over hell looking at estate sales and trying to find the right stuff to add to his collection in there. He hung out down the road in Leiper’s Fork all the time with all the locals who deal antiques down there. They were always trading leads on where to get stuff, I don’t know.”

Dean watched Sam carefully while the guy was talking, throwing plenty of sidelong glances. He was waiting for something, whether he wanted to admit it or not. Maybe Sam would have some kind of fit or headache or get a bad feeling. Maybe his mojo was stronger now that it had been loosened up with prophetic nightmares and a bit of furniture-moving. In actuality, Sam looked bored and tired up until he caught Dean keeping an eye on him. Then he looked bored, tired and annoyed.

“Can you remember the names of any of his contacts?” Sam said.

Donaldson shook his head. “No idea. There’re probably notes or ledgers or something he would have kept. I haven’t had a chance to go through anything. Dorcas knows all that stuff.”

“Dorcas?”

“Dad’s one employee,” Donaldson said. “Dorcas McCleary. She’ll be in the book, if she’s not keeping the shop open while this gets figured out. I haven’t talked to her yet. You’re welcome to wander over there.”

The guy seemed done talking about the whole thing, but Sam pressed on, dropping his head a little to make his height seem less, eyes faintly plaintive and incredulous. He was almost young and harmless that way.

“Does anything like what happened to your dad happen often around here?” he said. “Doesn’t seem like the kind of place.”

“No,” Donaldson said shortly. “Nothing was even taken, and Dad wasn’t the type to piss anybody off, so it was probably some asshole passing through.”

That was their cue to leave.

There was nothing off about the son. He’d automatically inherited his father’s business, but it wasn’t like it was any kind of big money-making venture. He was going to sell it and keep his day job. The cops had the clock, the body, and the shipping manifest showing when the clock had been purchased, so there wasn’t much else at the scene to be interested in.

“What the hell kind of name is Dorcas?” Dean said as soon as they were back outside. “Do people call her Dork for short?”

“It’s a really old name,” Sam said, walking with his shoulders slightly hunched as if he was waiting for something to fend off.

They headed back toward the car, silent for a few moments.

“Any weird vibes?”

Dean couldn’t help himself.

“Is it gonna be like this all the time, now?” Sam shot back. “Really? I don’t think it works like that, and I thought you were against this whole ‘my brother’s got powers’ thing.”

“Hey, it’s something I would have asked you anyway,” Dean said. “Hello? We’re hunting. We get vibes. What crawled up your ass?”

“You, staring at me like you’re waiting for me to grow a second head or something,” Sam said, shoving his hands into his jacket pockets and hunching his shoulders further.

“The minute you do, we’ll have it removed,” Dean said. “Listening to one head bitch at me is plenty enough.”

Sam stopped and turned to him, looking like he was going to really start in on him, but all he did for a long moment was look weary.

“At least you’re not really treating me any differently,” he said finally. “Yet.”

“You’re still Sam,” Dean said.

Sam heard the my that had been left out.

He did not hear Dean’s internal addition of and you had better stay that way.

“Let’s go talk to Dorcas,” Dean said.

-|-

“Well, doesn’t take long for the vultures and the looky-loos, does it.”

Dorcas McCleary was slightly dour and had decided to eye them narrowly from behind her bifocals. She was all of about 4’10”, gray haired and dark eyed, and she was not interested in humoring looky-loos.

Dean waited for her to say that she didn’t take kindly to their type, ‘round here. He was hoping for it.

Donaldson’s Timepieces looked essentially what Sam and Dean had figured any clock shop would look like: filled with clocks that clicked out of synch and at various volumes. Most seemed to be antiques or at least in some antique style, meaning there were none made out of Led Zeppelin albums or glowing with neon. Lots of dark hardwood and scrolling headpieces, stuff that Dean figured would look good in the houses of grandparents.

“We’d appreciate anything you can tell us,” Sam said, using the full out puppy dog treatment by then, knowing the big guns were needed. “Anything at all.”

“Mr. Donaldson ran a good shop,” Dorcas said stiffly, but she was crumbling around the edges. Dean could tell. No one could stand up forever under Sammy at full power. “He was a good man, no trouble, very fair. So I don’t know a thing about why this could happen. Strangers, that’s all I’d bet. Monsters.”

“Do you know where that clock came from?” Sam said. “Seems so strange that anyone would choose to put a man in that particular clock, much less any clock. Seems like maybe that would be a clue as to who did something awful like this.”

Dean kept his eyes down at the glass display counter, hands folded in front of him where their suspicious old lady could see them, looking at the watches. He was going to start laughing otherwise, because Sam was doing that thing again, that thing where he matched his speech to whoever he was interviewing. People fell for it every time, and Dean had to wonder if Sam even realized he was doing it or if it was an ingrained survival skill. They’d never talked about it.

“Mr. Donaldson found that clock himself, and I don’t ask questions, I just mind the place. Police took all the paperwork, if you want it. I’ll go on minding the place until the family decides what to do, just like Mr. Donaldson would have wanted. Anyone comes in here and tries anything, there’ll be trouble.”

They left her to mind the place.

Dean was glad to get out of there. He didn’t find clocks soothing, and a whole place of them rattling on had seemed sinister with or without people stuffed in them.

“So what now?” Sam said “The son didn’t really gain anything from this guy dying, the one employee he had is a little old lady who worked only part time, there was no robbery and no signs of a break in. I say we need to look at that clock and find out where it came from.”

Dean shrugged. “Sounds good to me. The crime scene guys probably still have it, so it’ll be easier to get in there and see it than it would be if it was already in the evidence lockup. We’ll need to see the body, too. Wanna go the lab coat route?”

“Better than impersonating cops,” Sam said. “I’ve done that one too many times in the last few days.”

“You suck at it, by the way,” Dean said. “You don’t have a cop voice.”

“And you do?”

“Hell yeah I do!” Dean dropped his voice slightly into a rougher tone, the one he thought sounded like their dad’s. “You have to sound like you mean business. Good thing they couldn’t see you or we’d really have been screwed.”

Sam sighed again, but there was less exasperation in it. “Let’s find somewhere to stay and get something to eat before we go.”

-|-

There was a motel that fit their need to be out of the way and low key on the edge of Franklin’s touristy center, just before it broadened out into farmland.

Sam used the restroom in the diner they ended up at while Dean found a booth. When he got a headache and a nosebleed while washing his hands, he was worried and startled, but not as worried or startled as when he went back out and saw the look on Dean’s face.

Every single spoon in the place was bent.

“So, there’s gonna have to be some kind of practice or training or something,” Dean said calmly. “Soon. Because today it’s just spoons.”

Sam silently agreed while he admitted to himself that he wasn’t exactly upset about it.

And, he realized, bending a spoon had been the last thing Dean had tried to get him to do before they’d left Saginaw.

-|-

Sam called Missouri and explained things to her. Max, the connection based on how their mothers had died, everything. Of anyone, she’d know well enough where to direct Sam, even though she was psychic and not so much up on the whole moving-things-with-minds stuff. She said she’d ask around a bit without giving too many details.

When she asked him to be careful and to not actively seek out anyone else who might have a similar situation, he accepted the advice without asking questions. He didn’t need to. And he sure as hell didn’t want any other hunters finding out.

And no, she had not heard from their father.

-|-

The Franklin ME’s office shared space with city hall and the evidence lockup, which made their lives easier.

“Just so we’re clear, don’t be using any of your Jedi tricks on me,” Dean said just before they entered the morgue.

Sam sighed. It had recently become his default response.

-|-

What had not been in the papers was that the body was missing its hands.

That was a big detail, likely left out so that the cops could hold onto something only the killer would know.

Aside from missing his hands (cut at the wrist with something crude but sharp that had taken maybe two whacks to do the job) there wasn’t anything wrong with the guy. No defensive wounds, no frozen look of mortal horror, no symbols carved into his back.

They even tried running the EMF meter over the body, and got nothing.

They stared down at him.

“No criminal record,” Sam said. “Married for thirty years, widowed for seven, two kids, had clocks for a hobby. No big grudge with any neighbors, not in debt, not sacrificing goats to Satan in the yard. Why take his hands and stuff him in a clock?”

“Still could have been some random kinky asshole with a clock fetish,” Dean said. “Crap, dude, he’s more interesting as a dead guy.”

“Not sure his family agrees with you,” Sam said. “I don’t get this. The only recent change in his life was getting that clock. We have to look at the clock.”

“Yeah, I’m beginning to get a ‘needful things’ feeling out of this,” Dean said. “Maybe he was the sacrifice.”

-|-

The clock was off in a corner by itself, covered in a sheet of near-transparent plastic with a case number taped to it. They could see it had been fingerprinted. It was running; the pendulum was swinging.

“Shouldn’t it have been stopped?” Sam said, finding himself whispering without meaning to. “I mean, if it had been running before he was stuffed in, then his body would have blocked the pendulum and stopped it.”

“So someone started it again,” Dean said. “Or something. Nothing on the EMF.”

There was a date - 1790 - and a maker’s mark carved into the back. Other than that, it was free from scratches or nicks. Someone had taken very good care of it. Or, it had never been moved until recently.

“Need to find out where he got it from,” Dean said. “I’m telling you right now, though, it’s a good idea to burn this thing no matter what. At the very least it’s had a corpse stuffed into it and that alone is not a cool thing.”

“Haunted clock?” Sam said. He didn’t smile, but there was something in his voice that implied it.

“We’ll come back for it,” Dean said. “Never liked these things anyway. All that chiming on the hour bullshit. At least this one doesn’t have a stupid bird in it.”

“Do you have some kind of phobia about cuckoos?” Sam said. “Because I’m going to rag the hell out of you for it, if you do.”

Dean huffed defensively. “No. But it’s not natural. Chicks popping out of cakes? Awesome. Birds and other shit popping out of clocks to tell me what time it is? Lame.”

-|-

It took a little poking around and a couple of close calls with regular staff to find the manifest from the shop, but once they had, it was easy to find the info they were looking for. The guy had kept careful, meticulous records, all paperwork attached where it needed to be. The clock had been purchased through a middleman, a clearing house that specialized in estate sales, item #426 in a batch from the estate of Mr. H. S. Greeley in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1899. It had been sold to the Finnegan family of Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee. It had belonged to that one family from 1899 until Donaldson had found it months earlier in an estate sale for the Finnegans.

It had truly been Donaldson’s last purchase.

They took photos of the last several pages of the manifest to be safe, then ditched their lab coats and headed back to the Impala.

“So it supposedly stayed with one family, maybe in the same house, from 1899 until about two months ago,” Dean said over the roof of the car to Sam minutes later. “Probably right in the same place, too. Not many rooms you’d want one of these things in. Right on down through the family.”

“Be good to find out whether anything happened while it was in that house,” Sam said. “Estate sale obviously means the last owner is dead, and if it was anything other than old age…”

“No one in the family wanted to keep it, if there still was any family,” Dean said. “That kind of tells us something, too.”

They chewed on that for a few moments. Sam tapped his fingers along the roof of the car.

“If there was no EMF on the clock, and there’s nothing in it or hanging on to it, then maybe we should double check the shop.”

Dean shrugged. “I’m game.”

Dean had decided this was becoming an entirely challenging and awesome case.

-|-

Right up until the part where they broke into the shop, in the dark, and none of the clocks had hands.

They’d all had hands that afternoon when they’d been there to talk to Dorcas. They would have remembered. Neither of them was like that Mentalist guy or the guy from Psych, but they tended to notice shit like that. The grandfather clock wasn’t even there anymore, so…what the hell?

There was no way Dorcas had done it. It would have taken a lot longer than just that day to get all the hands, if only one person had been involved.

“I hate this,” Dean said softly, then kept repeating it without even realizing he was doing it aloud.

They both had their guns out the moment they realized what they were looking at. They kept them down, but they also kept their fingers inside the trigger guards.

“Dean.”

Dean went to the glass counter display case against the far wall when Sam waved him over. Even the goddamn watches were missing their hands. They would have needed to be opened, taken apart and meticulously put back together if a human had done it.

“I am going completely digital from here on out,” Dean whispered.

“If it’s not human, then it’s something that was living in the grandfather clock,” Sam whispered.

The last word had barely left his mouth when everything in the place that had a chime or alarm of some kind went off.

They were both crouched back to back on the floor an instant later, guns up. A clock hanging on the wall to Dean‘s right fell, wood and glass shattering across the floor. Dean prided himself later on not opening fire on it.

They stayed put, and almost a full minute later, the clocks began to fall silent one by one until even the ticking of inner workings ceased, leaving them in a ringing silence.

“Sonofabitch,” Dean said with breathless vehemence.

“That wasn’t really so much a ‘hello’ as a ‘get out’, I think,” Sam said.

“I like my hands,” Dean said. “I like all my parts, some more than others, and I want to keep them all.”

When it stayed quiet, they both slowly straightened, trying not to so much as blink so they wouldn’t miss any potential movement.

“Any chance someone just set them all to go off as a joke?” Sam said.

“I really doubt it,” Dean said. “Any chance that was you?”

“I…don’t think so?”

Sam.”

“Really, because I got a nosebleed and a headache before the spoon thing,” Sam said. “So, definitely not me.”

The EMF meter went off in Dean’s pocket - why the hell it hadn’t gone off before the alarmageddon moments earlier, he couldn’t guess - and then the glass of the counter display case they were standing at cracked loudly. A single spidery line traced lengthwise away from them.

They both stepped back from it, toward the door.

“Poltergeist,” Dean said.

“We’re not getting anything done here except pissing it off,” Sam said.

They left the shop and locked it up behind. Dean checked his watch and found it unharmed.

“We need to know about the family that had that clock,” Sam said. “Can’t figure out how to get rid of that thing until we know whether it’s just attached to the clock, or if it lives here now.”

“I say we burn the clock and do a cleansing on the shop, and just hit all the bases that way before it kills someone else,” Dean said.

“But if we don’t have all the facts, and we miss a detail, we may not get it all, or get it at all. What if it’s not a polter and we actually need to just do a salt and burn? Dad used to tell us not to find ourselves needing to do a job twice.”

Dean squirmed a little. That had hit home a little closer than Sam knew. “Yeah, yeah. Fine. But let’s hurry up and find out what the hell started all this. And I’m burning the clock no matter what, on principal.”

On the way back to the motel, they were stopped at a red light when Dean looked at it, then pointedly over at Sam, eyebrows raised.

Catching on, Sam said, “That doesn’t count as practice. Or training.”

-|-

Sam slept restlessly. It was hard to stop thinking about Max, about how easy it was to be vengeful, about what it looked like when you weren’t given a chance to turn away in time before someone shot themselves in the head.

Or shot your brother in the head.

The latter hadn’t happened, but Sam’s view of it had still been Technicolor perfect, and he couldn’t quite get it to leave him alone yet.

A little less demon hunting, a little more tequila…

Sam never wanted to know what it felt like to be so desperate that a gun in his mouth was his only way out.

-|-

Wireless was intermittent at the motel the next morning, so there was no point trying to do any research online. They made a pass at the library and visitor’s bureau, but the info for the family of the clock’s last owner wasn’t listed.

They packed up early and headed for Leiper’s Fork right after grabbing coffee.

Neither of them wanted to go back to the same diner, or anywhere else there were a lot of spoons just yet.

The village of Leiper’s Fork was several miles west on the Natchez Trace Parkway; another place on the historical registry. It was even more scenic than Franklin, at least to Sam’s eyes, and felt even older. Same type of architecture, but better spaced and more organic rather than purposeful. Where Franklin was a showcase for its history, Leiper’s Fork was content to simply be that history.

The Historical Society was a small building that sat across from Puckett’s Grocery and looked like it had once been a settler’s cabin of some sort. Based on the info on the door, they were open sporadically and at the whim of certain townspeople. The lights were on, so Dean tried the door, and when it opened, they went in.

There were shelves of books, enclosed glass cases of area antiques, and local maps all along the walls showing different eras. A very weather-beaten post office sign sat over a doorway that led into the back of the building.

They looked at each other and then looked around.

The second room in the back was larger, more open, and had more windows. Its center held an old wooden hand carved table and chairs. The wooden floors creaked softly under their feet, but no one popped up to ask them what the hell they were doing.

There was a set of wooden glass fronted cabinets along a back wall, filled with what looked like ledgers. When Sam read along some of the spines, he realized he was looking at family names. Then there were notebooks for each year dating back to the 1850’s. They were all well cared for, and when he gently opened one cabinet, it was easy enough to choose among the books. There was only one with the Finnegan name on it, most likely the same family that had owned the clock before Donaldson. The village was small enough that it was a good bet.

He took the book to the old wooden table and sat. The pages contained newspaper articles, letters, and the same information that families used to keep in the family Bible - births, deaths, and weddings. There were photocopies of old, grainy photos showing stiff-featured people, and a handwritten account of the family settling in the village after making the trip from Ireland.

Dean come close enough to lean over his shoulder and look. “Jackpot?”

“I think so,” Sam said. “They seem to have the history of every family in the village in here. Pretty handy. The last people to own that clock lived here for generations. The last of the family died a few months ago, and it looks like the kids had long scattered to other states. The house isn’t far from here.”

“If we’re lucky, it’s for sale and vacant,” Dean said, choosing a chair directly to Sam’s left. “’Cause I don’t think we’re gonna get the family ghost stories on the first try from the living on this one.”

Sam flipped pages carefully, moving back through decades of carefully kept info on lineage and notable occurrences involving the family. The closest Sam could find to the 1899 version of the family was an account from 1905 about the arrest of seventeen year old Connolly Finnegan, oldest son of Frank Finnegan’s seven children, accused in the deaths of twelve locals. A few pages later, the story of his hanging and internment outside the Holy Cross Cemetery appeared.

The family history got sparse after that.

Sam showed it to Dean. “Buried off consecrated ground. And it’s just a few years after they got the clock.”

“No deaths in the family between 1899 and 1905,” Dean said. “So if the clock was killing someone, it wasn’t killing the family. Gotta find out what the connection was, if there was one.”

Sam returned the book to its place. “The Finnegan farm is just on the Franklin border. Might as well go look at it.”

-|-

The farm house was set back quite a ways from the road, down a long overgrown gravel drive that had seen better days. The house was in better shape than they’d imagined, though. The whitewashed clapboard siding looked bright and well cared for, and the yard was landscaped. Several pieces of old farming equipment decorated the side yard as if they’d been purposely placed. The fields behind were fenced and obscured by trees.

There were no curtains or blinds on the windows, and the naked glass stared out in catatonic apathy.

Signs close to the road and at the end of the driveway near the house declared the house was for sale, with a Franklin address and phone number printed underneath.

Dean parked the Impala on the side of the road, and he and Sam stood at the edge of the driveway, looking for any signs of life. It was just secluded enough that if they parked further away, they likely wouldn’t have to wait until dark to get a look inside without being seen.

As they were standing there thinking it over, a car started to pass behind them on the road, then suddenly slowed. They both tensed as they turned, waiting for anything from a local cop to an overzealously protective local.

There was nothing more than an old El Camino and the friendly face of a man of indeterminate age. All they could tell was that he was a lot older than they were.

“You boys interested in the Finnegan house?” he called.

“Yes sir,” Dean called back.

“We’re passing through and heard about the…legend,” Sam said.

The ploy worked. The guy nodded and stared at them for a moment as if he was considering something, then he pulled over onto the opposite shoulder.

Sam and Dean looked at each other. “Good one,” Dean said. “Or did you just pull that out of his head?”

“Not psychic,” Sam said shortly through his teeth as they watched the guy get out of his car and cross the road toward them.

“Jim Morrison,” he said, holding a hand out to each of them in turn to shake.

There was no force in the universe that could have kept Dean from snorting.

“Yes, like the singer,” Jim said in a tone that indicated he had said it many times before. “What’ve you boys heard?”

Sam shrugged a little. “Well…the murders, back around 1905.”

“Can’t resist a good haunted house,” Dean said.

“Most of us around here are glad that house is finally empty,” Jim said. “No disrespect to Nan, rest her soul, but with the whole family gone, maybe that boy’ll finally go off wherever he’s meant to. My grandfather used to tell tales about what went on in that house, back then. Frank Finnegan used to shut his kids up in that big old long case clock to keep them in line. No one messed with old Frank. My grandfather and his friends knew well enough to stay clear of that place and that family long before their oldest boy lost his mind and started killing anyone walking alone at night. People claimed they started seeing him in the windows not long after he was hanged. The other kids cleared out as soon as they were old enough, except for Nan, who inherited the place after her parents died. Place was paid off, and she’s kept to herself as long as I can remember.”

“Any idea what happened to the clock?” Dean said, fishing a little further.

“Nope. Everything was sold at auction, I guess. Nan didn’t have any kids, can’t imagine there are any siblings left. Maybe there’s a niece or nephew out there. I hope whoever has it, they know the history of it. Not a good conversation piece, I think, if a word of it’s true.”

“Town history said he was buried off church grounds,” Sam said. “Any idea where?”

Jim shook his head. “No funeral, nothing, just a sinner’s grave away from the godfearing.” He winked as he said it. “Local kids have been looking for it for years and years. No idea if anyone ever found him.”

They thanked him and went back to the car.

“There was no way I could think of a good rock n’ roll fake ID for us when the guy’s name was really Jim Morrison,” Dean said, shaking his head.

Sam smirked.

“Why the fuck would the guy shut his kids into a clock?” Dean said.

“Better than a whipping?” Sam said. “I mean, we saw the thing, and it was big enough to stuff someone into.”

Dean clenched his hands around the steering wheel for a moment, then started the engine. “That can’t be the only weird shit he did to his kids. Not like that’s not enough, but man, no one really stops at just one weird-ass kind of punishment. It’s lucky only one kid went batshit.”

“Safe to assume he’s in the clock, then,” Sam said. “Destroying the clock’s not enough.”

“Yeah, but now we gotta find an unmarked grave that none of the local kids have ever found,” Dean said. “And you know how kids are about that shit.”

Sam shrugged as they pulled back onto the road. “There has to be a record somewhere. If for nothing else, so no one accidentally digs there.”

“I hope you’re right. Otherwise, we’ve got a lot of random digging to do and there are people around that clock every day.”

-|-

The church cemetery was larger than they expected, and immaculately kept like the rest of the village while still managing to look like it was frozen in time.

They chose one edge of the property and walked along it, watching for signs of exactly where the church yard ended among trees and rocks.

“The church has got to have some record,” Sam said.

“He was banned,” Dean said. “Do not pass go, do not collect salvation. Moving the clock must have set him off. They probably didn’t even dare move it to another room. Then there’s no one left to tell anyone not to touch the damn thing, and boom, more dead people.”

“The last daughter who stayed must have known,” Sam said. “Maybe not that anyone was going to die, but she must have had some idea there was something wrong with that clock. Otherwise, why keep it in the house long after the parents were gone? Especially if she was shoved in there as a kid, too.”

“Be good to get a look at her will,” Dean said. “Maybe she wanted it destroyed, or maybe she didn’t care anymore. Might have thought it was just a family curse, and her crazy older brother wouldn’t bug anyone else.”

There was no clearing set aside that they could find, not on any side of the church yard, or up the hill from it a little ways into the trees. No random depressions in the soil showed up that they could find, but, it had been one hell of a long time since Connolly had been buried, if he was there at all.

“Maybe he didn’t even have a coffin,” Sam said finally. “Maybe the family couldn’t afford it, or didn’t want to be bothered with it. It would have been a scandal to them.”

“And no coffin means no noticeable sinking after everything falls in,” Dean said. “Shit, I hate this.” He stood for a moment, hands on hips, looking at how gray the day had become. It was going to start getting dark.

Sam watched from a few feet away, waiting.

“No one’s come to see what we’re up to,” Dean said finally. “If the church is empty, and no caretaker’s around, wouldn’t hurt to look around in there. I got nothing else, unless you think the stuff back at the visitor’s center might have more.”

Sam nodded. “Now, or after dark?”

“Now works for me.”

The lights were on in the church, but it was unsecured and there was no one inside. It looked like most other churches they’d been in, same set up, but the air felt muffled, delayed, somehow, like after a heavy snowfall. Nothing triggered their built-in warning systems, so they looked around.

There was a small office to the right of the pulpit, and the door opened easily when Sam tried it.

“I’m beginning to think no one locks anything around here,” Dean said.

It didn’t take long to find a map of the cemetery; there was a small stack of them, likely for handing out to tourists, and the records had their own spot on one of the shelves. There was a group of Finnegans placed together near the northwest corner of the older part of the cemetery, likely the family plot.

“They might have buried him near the rest of the family, but over the line,” Sam said. “And if it’s unmarked, and no one tended it, it would be seriously overgrown by now.”

Dean nodded and kept flipping through the records. “Yeah, but, it would all depend on whose decision that was. Did the church decide where to put him, or did the family? Because if it was the family, then he could have been buried anywhere off church grounds. Leaving it unmarked says family didn’t want to be associated with him anymore, so, they wouldn’t have wanted him nearby.”

“Well, he can’t be the only one the church ever buried off the grounds because they weren’t…well, eligible,” Sam said. “They’d have a separate plot for situations like that, probably. Like a pauper‘s field.”

Dean looked at him appraisingly, quirking an eyebrow.

They looked back at the shelves, at the remaining record books.

No one disturbed them for the twenty minutes it took to find the small, battered, aged ledger tucked into one of the larger ones, and to get far enough through it to find a single page. The small, cramped handwritten list contained only six names, with dates. Connolly Finnegan had been interred August 20th, 1905.

“No map,” Dean said.

“But, if we look up these other names in the family histories, one of them might give it away,” Sam said. “It can’t be that far from the church. It’ll be up in the woods, there, somewhere.”

“Which’ll be a pain in the ass in the dark,” Dean said.

“Back to the visitor center, then we find somewhere to crash for the night,” Sam said. “We’ll dig around figuratively so we know where to do it literally.”

Dean smirked at him.

They left the office much as they’d found it and walked away from the church in the growing dark.

-|-

They stopped to get something to eat from a nearby grocery store, then drove around a little.

The closest place to stay was an inn that looked like it had once been a local home that was expanded for its current purpose. The young woman behind the counter smiled brightly and told them they were her only guests and she was so glad to have them.

When she walked away to get them a room key, they kept their faces carefully expressionless and stared straight ahead.

“At least there are actual people in this building,” Dean said very softly. “I was beginning to think that one neighbor guy was all that was left.”

Sam nodded, glancing around.

“By having us, I hope she doesn’t mean it the way those fuckers with the apple pie and the vanir ‘had’ us,” Dean added just as softly.

“The only internet access is dialup,” Sam interrupted, looking at a sign at the counter. “Gonna be a long night if we want to find anything online.”

“Shit, we’re in a village,” Dean said. “We’re lucky they have indoor plumbing. And electricity.”

Sam shook his head. “You make sure and tell the clerk that when she comes back,” he said. “I’m sure she’ll love to hear your opinions.”

“You have got the same smart mouth on you that you’ve always had, Sammy,” Dean said without looking at him.

“It’s Sam.”

“Sure it is.”

They got their key and another super-happy confirmation that Leiper’s Fork was just so glad to see them, and they went to their room.

The décor was like everything else in the area, either antique or made to look that way, neat and carefully arranged for maximum effect. It was clean, and private, so beyond that Dean didn’t give a rat’s ass. They left their stuff and headed back to the visitor’s center.

The lights were still on, and there was still no one there.

“Creepy,” Dean muttered.

They went back through the books based on the list they’d taken from the church, and the dates of birth and death. There was no luck on any clues to the whereabouts of the remains until the last name on the list, Justice Sweeney, killed while committing a robbery in Franklin in 1922. He was the last burial offsite.

“They screwed him the moment they named him ‘Justice’,” Dean said. “Guy had no choice.”

Internment off church property in Leiper’s Fork, ‘a hundred paces off the northeast cornerstone.’

“Cornerstone meaning the cemetery’s first burial,” Sam said.

“And there’s our spot,” Dean said. “Let’s go.”

“Six names, Dean,” Sam said. “If they’re all unmarked, then we don’t know who’s who. We’ll have to burn them all.”

Dean shrugged. “You got somewhere else to be?”

Sam sighed.

Dean nearly ran for the car like he couldn’t wait to get started.

-|-

They parked well away from the church, grabbed what they needed out of the trunk, and walked to the cemetery, pausing to watch and listen every so often. There was no evidence that anyone was nearby, and still no sign of life in the church. They went so far as to poke their heads in and listen for a minute to be sure.

They found the far northeast corner of the cemetery without flashlights, since the lack of nearby buildings or streetlights afforded enough light from the stars and half moon.

“Let me pace it out,” Dean said. “There’s no way they had any giants like you around back then, and a hundred of your paces will just -”

“Shut up, Dean.”

There was no remaining clearing, but it was evident that there was an area that had brush and trees that were much shorter and younger than the surrounding flora. No telling when it had stopped being maintained, but it hadn’t been the seventy or so years they’d feared. They shuffled around in the undergrowth, trying to feel for anything unusual. Otherwise, they were looking at spending the night digging up the entirety of a roughly 20 x 20 area.

“Assuming they’re all side by side and basically orderly,” Sam said, “and they were all buried with their heads pointing west like the custom’s always been in Western society, then we’re right on top of them.”

Dean moved a little further east and shuffled until one boot encountered something hard enough to stop it. Sam came over and held his flashlight steady while Dean crouched down and tore the brush and roots away. There was a low, rectangular upright stone maybe two feet across. Erosion and plant life and dirt had eaten into the letters, but there was enough to make out the third guy on the list. They could scratch him off.

They found only one other stone, two grave lengths away, and it had cracked in half.

“We know where the heads are,” Sam said.

There was nothing for it. They would have to dig across five graves and burn everything they found.

“Any chance you could, you know, move a bunch of dirt the way you moved that dresser or whatever it was?” Dean said.

“I wish,” Sam said. “I don’t think that kind of thing comes with the package.”

They dug.

And dug.

The remnants of two dry-rotted, plain pine coffins were open to the air before they took a break. “This is gonna be some fire,” Dean said, leaning on his shovel. “I hope the church staff isn’t full of early birds.”

Sam nodded and kept an eye on the nearby trees. “I hope our clock ghost sticks with the clock and doesn’t come up here and get pissed once he realizes what’s going on.”

They ran into a tough set of roots on the third grave, and it took longer than the others, so it was close to dawn by the time all five graves were open. Sam started salting while Dean went for the lighter fluid, perking up now that they had reached the best part.

They both tossed matches until the entire place seemed to be ablaze. The flames cast bizarre shadows on the nearby trees; smoke roiled into the cool pre-dawn air. The brothers stood well back from the heat, wiping sweat and dirt from their faces. Sam went down the hill a little to keep an eye out for any sign of concerned citizens or who knew what, and Dean went from grave to grave to add more lighter fluid and make sure everything burned.

The sun was up by the time they walked back to the car. They moved quickly, knowing they were carrying shovels and looked like they’d been rolling in dirt, two things that would look exceptionally suspicious near a cemetery.

“Five graves in one night is a record,” Dean said as they pulled away.

“The Guinness records people aren’t going to give us an entry for that,” Sam said. “You’ll have to settle for adding this one to the journal.”

Dean smirked. “Oh hell yeah. Dad’s gonna love this.”

They were silent for a moment, feeling dirt dry and crumbling on their skin and clothes, muscles aching with weariness and a job well done.

Sam fidgeted a bit, scratching at his neck and watching the countryside pass as they headed back to the motel. Finally, he said, “If…well, when we find Dad…we’re not going to tell him about…”

“No,” Dean said shortly. “We’re not.”

End of conversation.

Sam wasn’t sure if he felt relieved or not.

-|-

They played rock-paper-scissors over first shower, and Sam won because yet again, Dean stuck with scissors once too often like he had all their lives. Sam wasn’t sure if it was dogged faith or stubbornness or insanity that caused him to do it; he figured, knowing Dean, that it was a mix of all three.

Dean flipped the TV on and paced, knowing he couldn’t sit on anything without leaving more than just a little dust. Their boots were outside the door, drying in the sun. Commercial, commercial, infomercial…he flipped between the few channels offered until finding a local station running some news. Top local story: homicide at the ME’s office in Franklin.

Dean froze and listened. There was a shot of the outside of the building he and Sam and snuck into to have a look at the clock, and a young female reporter with a twist of glossy black hair talking about a lockdown and investigation regarding the grisly murder that had occurred at some point the previous night. No name, no details, just her chattering on with a semi-serious and practiced frown of urgency.

“Motherfucker,” he said, and went to get the laptop.

He’d forgotten. Dialup only.

A motel on the outskirts of some historic town; not a big shock. The larger hotels would likely have wireless for higher paying tourists. But no point there, apparently.

“This is shit,” he said aloud. “This is…goddamnit.”

They hadn’t moved fast enough, and now someone else was dead.

Sam came out, saw Dean’s expression, and squinted at him.

“Got another corpse,” Dean said, passing him to head to the shower. “Wait for the news cycle to run again.”

When Dean came out, Sam was dressed and sitting on the end of one of the beds, mouth twisted in annoyance. The TV was displaying rolling static with only an occasional glimpse of distorted faces or color. “I can’t get anything on this,” he told Dean. “What the hell’s going on?”

“Murder at the ME’s office last night,” Dean said. “Good old Connolly got one more in before we burned his ass. We gotta go over there.”

“But now that we’ve burned - ” Sam started.

“I want that clock,” Dean said. “No loose ends. We need that clock just in case.”

Sam shrugged and moved for the laptop.

“No wireless,” Dean said.

Sam already had the laptop open and shot him a weird look. “Yeah there is.”

Dean glanced between Sam, the TV and the laptop but didn’t say anything.

Sam tapped away for a few minutes, and Dean started packing up.

“Not much on the local news sites,” Sam said. “No other details, anyway, not yet. We’re gonna have to get past a lockdown to get in there.”

“We’ve done worse,” Dean said. “Let’s load up and get out of here.”

He waited until Sam took their duffles out to the car.

The TV cleared.

He checked the laptop. The wireless was gone.

-|-

They grabbed fast food for breakfast and continued to avoid spoons for a while longer.

-|-

They sat in the car one lot over and watched cops come and go.

“We should come back when this all dies down,” Sam said. “This is way too risky. We burned the bones and the immediate danger is over.”

“I say we dismantle it and take it out in two parts, covered up, so it doesn’t look like we’re carrying a big damn clock,” Dean said.

“And, you aren’t listening,” Sam said in a monotone.

“This is going to work to our advantage,” Dean said. “There’ll be some confusion.”

“If this is related to the clock, then no, everyone’s going to be hanging around the clock.”

“And we’ll just be a couple more people,” Dean said. “A distraction, and some bluffing, and we’ll have it.”

“I get that you’re hellbent on this,” Sam said, audibly trying to keep his exasperation in check, “…but as small as this place is, they’re still going to be able to notice us getting into the middle of a crime scene, no matter what we’re wearing to try and fit in. If we back off, maybe try and duplicate some ID, maybe - ”

Dean rifled around in their box of fake IDs, settled on FBI, then got out of the car and walked away.

Sam watched him go, open-mouthed with horror. He debated for a moment, knowing he couldn’t let Dean go alone but too confused to do more than sit there. Dean didn’t have his usual set, angered look that he tended to sport when he was past the point of caring what got in the way, or when he was just being obstinate. There was something in his face that had more to do with overconfidence.

Sam grabbed his own FBI ID and followed, intrigued and wary. He hated the whole ‘flying by the seat of their pants’ way of doing things, but from what he could tell, that was the plan. Dean had always been more impulsive than anyone else Sam had ever known, and now that he didn’t have their dad to rein him in…

He caught up before Dean reached the cop at the front entrance. “Fibbies wear suits,” he hissed.

“Not today,” Dean said. “We’re undercover.” He flipped the ID open and nearly charged the cop at the entrance, swaggering in a way that Sam always feared was going to set off some sort of macho contest before a word was even said. “Special Agents Levoi and Crow Horse, Nashville branch. We need full access to the site. Who’s in charge here?”

The cop, tall and gawky and not any older than either of the Winchesters, balked but was obviously trying to regain his composure in the face of Dean’s aggression. “Well, there’s - wait, what? Why is the FBI - ”

“Questions can be answered by your commanding officer, junior,” Dean said, tucking the ID away and nearly crowding the cop. “We drove all the way out here for this mess, and we’re due back for something a lot bigger than this by sundown, so we need you to step it up, or I can call the office and let them know that the local smokies are cockblocking the FB-fucking-I from something that’s clearly within our jurisdiction, wasting the taxpayer’s money, keeping this case from being solved in a timely manner, drawing this tragedy out for the family of the dece - ”

“Wait, wait,” the cop said, reaching for his radio.

“You go ahead and announce us, and we’ll step inside and wait to be greeted properly, and debriefed.”

“Thank you for your help, officer,” Sam said with a nod. “We appreciate it.”

As they stepped inside, Sam said, “I’m Crow Horse? Really?”

“Your hair is darker,” Dean said, making a flicking motion toward the floor with one hand.

“You’re missing the point,” Sam said. “That name’s kind of memorable, and -”

“He didn’t actually hear anything I said,” Dean said. “Quit worrying, Sammy.”

“We need to move really damn fast,” Sam said. “You better hope the clock is still in the same place.”

It was. It was uncovered, and crime scene techs were milling around. No one took any notice of them, and they kept to the edges of the room as they moved toward the clock.

It had splotches of dried blood down the front and on the floor in front of it.

They shared a glance.

One of the techs approached, something open and questioning on her face, and Dean whipped his ID out again before he even turned to face her.

She paused. “The FBI?”

“Crime committed on government property,” Dean said, flashing her a grin. “So, what’s the rundown? One vic, missing hands?”

She nodded. “Yeah, missing her hands and stuffed into this clock. We’re waiting for the security footage to come back, agent…?”

“We’ll need just a moment to look at the clock,” Dean said.

Before she could answer, Sam added, “For our report. More paperwork, right? You know how it is.” He flashed her both dimples and puppy-dog eyes, and she smiled back uncertainly and walked away.

They stood in front of the clock and stared.

“There’s no way we’re getting this out of here,” Sam said. “Maybe in a hail of gunfire, while we try and run with it? Awkward way to die.”

“You don’t know all my tricks, Sammy,” Dean said.

His brother didn’t sound smug, and that was more alarming to Sam than what they were already facing.

He didn’t even bother to correct Dean’s continued insistence on calling him ‘Sammy’.

There was a pop from the front of the building, and an instant if distant reaction that got the attention of everyone nearby. The shouts to clear the building came loudly and quickly. As everyone started moving toward the front, Dean started to tip the clock back so he could get a grip on one end of it.

Sam held his hands out in indecision, trying to figure out if he should just help Dean go for it, or if they should be worried about what was going on out front.

“Little help here, Sam,” Dean huffed.

“What - ”

“I tossed a smoke bomb while you were arguing about being Crow Horse,” Dean said. “You gotta work on your observational skills.”

Sam grabbed the other end of the clock and they made a run for it down a hallway that led toward the back of the building. It was as awkward as it was heavy, and all they could do was pray they were headed in the right direction to get out and wouldn’t be seen by anyone who would find the sight of two guys running with a huge old clock to be too objectionable.

A fire alarm went off somewhere in the building.

There was a four-way juncture that held them up for a moment, then Dean decided they should head left, and they didn’t run into anyone down the entire length of the corridor. They passed several doors, all marked as conference or storage. There was no sign of any kind of directional sign for an exit.

“It’s not gonna fit in the car,” Sam said.

“It will when I’m done with it,” Dean said.

The corridor ended by opening up into a break room. There was no one in it. There was a single security door on the far side of it that led into a parking lot.

“Somebody up there loves us today,” Dean panted.

No alarms sounded when they hauled the clock out the door.

The parking lot was full of cars, but quiet, and it wrapped partially around the building. There was a business next door, and Dean couldn’t tell what kind; he was mainly interested in the dumpster he could see from there. He jerked his head toward it. “There’s good for now, and we’ll swing back around with the car and grab it. No one’ll see us if we come in around the other side of that building.”

“So long as we can put this down and get the hell out of here for now, I don’t even care,” Sam said.

It was an awkward, crab-like, paranoid dash across to the other building’s dumpster. Glass broke and there was a halfhearted chiming when they tossed it in.

They walked away casually, hands in pockets, away toward where they’d left the car.

Dean started to laugh about halfway back.

Sam wasn’t sure he wanted to know, but he felt compelled to ask all the same. “What.”

“That was kind of nuts.”

Sam agreed, but it wasn’t a good idea to egg Dean on any more than it was worth the breath to holler at him for the risks they’d taken.

They sat in the car for a few minutes and cooled down. The day seemed to gear up around them without much noise; there was a sense of anticipation that wasn’t heralded by any particular human activity.

“Whole place is spooky,” Dean said finally, starting the car.

They came back to the area they’d dumped the clock in in a very roundabout way, watching for search teams or roadblocks or whatever the local police might do to try and find the people who’d had the full brass set to wander in and take evidence related to two open murders.

They approached the next building over from the far side, parking the car well out of sight of the group of cops they could see beginning to search the area.

“Gonna take them a little while to get their bearings,” Dean said. “Use your mojo and make us invisible, Sam.”

Sam didn’t react.

“If we go in at an angle, they’ll never see us,” Dean said. “You get in the dumpster and lift part out, I’ll pull, and we’re golden.”

“If it’s not garbage day, all we really need to do is wait for dark and then set the whole dumpster on fire,” Sam said.

Dean was quiet for a long moment as if mulling that over. “Too risky.”

Sam twisted around in his seat to give his brother an incredulous look. “After all this? Really?”

Dean shrugged. Then he got out of the car and kept close to the side of the building while heading toward the dumpster.

Sam cursed under his breath and followed yet again.

It was easy to see that if they approached from an angle, they were shielded from sight by a few trees and the angle of the adjoining parking lot. If their luck held out, Dean’s plan was actually going to work.

In the end, Sam made Dean jump into the dumpster, which he did with a mocking grin. The grin vanished when he landed in a pile of the half-decomposed and squishy remains of something unidentifiable. They levered the clock out together and carried it back to the car. Dean lamented the condition of his boots and scraped as much crap off them and onto the side of the building as he could. Then he got an axe out of the trunk and split the clock in several places. The old, dry wood split neatly.

They tucked it into the backseat and left town altogether, headed west. They were just outside Jackson two hours later, and Dean found a side road up into a hilly area that wasn’t well populated.

They burned the clock by the side of the road, and ground the ashes into the soil. Anticlimactic, but, neither of them was going to complain.

They stopped to get food and beer, then spent the night in Jackson, in a small one-story roadside motel that had clock-themed wallpaper.

They stood at the doorway for a moment, then shared a glance.

“We can keep going,” Sam said.

Dean sighed. “Not gonna lie, man. After digging like, five graves and running all over with that fuckin’ clock, even my back has had it. If any of those hands move or disappear, though, we are out of here.”

Sam smirked and tossed his bag on the far bed, knowing they had already settled into a pattern of Dean taking the bed closest to the door.

Dean threw himself down on his bed and stared at the ceiling for a moment. “Too bad this place doesn’t have the magic fingers thing. That would be awesome right about now.”

Sam flipped the TV on and scrolled through several channels more than once until he realized that reception wasn’t going to improve. Too much snow.

“They’re heeeeeeere,” Dean said in a mock falsetto.

“Does the entire state have bad reception?” Sam said.

Dean yawned. “Nope. Just you, Carol Ann.”

Sam didn’t try for an explanation on that. He just found a station that had the least amount of static and left it there, hoping for some news and doubly hoping they wouldn’t be a featured story.

He turned the sound down a little when he glanced over and found that Dean had dropped off to sleep. He smirked to himself and got up to tug Dean’s boots off, laughing when Dean startled awake and tried to kick him away. He pulled up one side of the coverlet and wrapped Dean in it, head and all, laughing again when Dean simply turned over with a grumble and went back to sleep without trying to rearrange the covers.

Sam turned the lights off and propped himself against his own headboard, letting the flicker of the TV lull him and trying not to think about people putting their kids into clocks.

-|-

Dean came partly awake a few hours later after a dream that had something to do with strippers and waterbeds to discover that the bed was vibrating. His half-asleep, hazy mind decided that his good fortune had allowed his bed to do what he’d wanted it to do when he first got into it, or maybe it had been fixed; whatever. He stretched a little and hoped he had enough quarters before his rational mind caught up with him. He whipped the coverlet away from his face, snapped his eyes open in the dark, then flailed himself off the bed and onto the floor, ready to do battle with whatever was messing with him.

The moment Sam woke and sat up in bed, the vibrating stopped.

A few more moments passed while Sam went for the light and a weapon, and Dean struggled to get loose of the blankets caught around his feet. When he managed to get to the light, he squinted and blinked at Dean.

“Dude, what the hell?” Sam said. “Did you have a nightmare?”

Dean pointed an accusing finger at him from the floor. “Dirty pool!”

Sam kept blinking at him.

“Magic fingers, Sam!”

“I wasn’t doing anything!”

“In your sleep, you were,” Dean said. “Creepy, dude. Seriously.”

Sam rubbed at his eyes with a sigh and sat down on the side of his bed. “Are you sure you didn’t just dream it?”

“I didn’t. You…and this…do I have to be careful what I say out loud around you, now? My wish is your command? That’s messed up, Sam.”

“I’m not doing it on purpose,” Sam said. “It’s like…well, everything I’ve been able to do that involves moving stuff has been about you, yeah, but you’re also the only person in my everyday life. Based on the amount of time we spend together, it would kind of have to be you, wouldn’t it?”

Dean nodded, pursing his lips in consideration. “Because the only other explanation is that I’m your trigger. And I don’t really need to tell you that I hate that thought.”

“It doesn’t do much for me either,” Sam said.

Dean got off the floor and eyed him for a long moment, then said, “Good, because I’m not rubbing anything to get the genie out, ever.”

Sam sighed. “You always have to go a step too far, don’t you.”

Dean nodded. “You can put that on my headstone.”

-|-

They left Tennessee heading west the next morning, and Dean began a list in his head of all the things he was going to do to make Sam get control of his weirdness.

Sam was going to be fine. He’d make sure of it.

 

-|- -|- -|-