No Refunds

Chapter 20

As soon as Bill's car was a safe distance away, Dean and Cas left their own rustbucket and walked over to the house. Cas watched carefully, taking his cues from Dean, and noticed that though the hunter walked with purpose and confidence, he was stealing glances, checking to make sure they weren't being watched.

Dean looked round briefly, but trusted Dean's judgement that they were unwatched as they approached the door. Dean tried the handle, testing its weight, and slipped from his pocket a small piece of folded leather and flipped it open. Cas looked in fascination at the small tools inside it, the thin metal contraptions.

Dean considered them, and picked out a thin one. Cas tilted his head as he watched Dean put it into the lock in the door.

"Fascinating." Cas muttered. Dean looked up in annoyance.

"What?"

"Humans build doors to keep people out, yet readily sell contraptions enabling others to can break in." Cas frowned. "It seems... counterproductive."

Dean scowled. "Whatever, Spock; you're in my light."

Cas looked confused, but stepped to the right when Dean flapped his arm, motioning for him to move. His workspace now illuminated, Dean quickly got the door open and ushered the both of them inside, trying to be both casual and quick, lest any curious neighbours notice.

The house was darker now. As the day worked itself into the middle of the afternoon and the sun began to set, it no longer naturally lit the house, and the rooms seemed duller, less homely, and far more like the type of place a ghost might haunt.

Though, Dean knew, it didn't necessarily have to feel like a haunted house for it to be one.

"Right." Dean called to the angel behind him. "Look for the lock of hair. It'll probably be in something, a photo frame, a locket..."

"Alright." Cas agreed, and stayed still on the spot, turning his head. Dean looked at him incredulously.

"He's probably not got it in the hallway." Dean reminded, and Cas took a few steps further in, still looking around. "Try not to break anything."

Dean walked back into the living room. First going to the fireplace, he picked up two large pokers and swung them in his hands expertly, before handing one to Cas. The angel took it, but looked unsure of its purpose.

"Iron." Dean clarified. "In case old Hilda attacks."

Dean then turned to look at the bookshelf. Of all the places to put it, it was a logical start. Cas looked on top of the mantelpiece.

"Isn't there anything you can do to speed this up?" Dean asked.

"What would you suggest?" Cas replied, looking up.

"I dunno," Dean shrugged, running his hand along the shelves. "Isn't there some funky angel power that means you can just... find something?" He squatted, looking at the lower shelves. "It'd make the job a hell of a lot quicker."

Cas paused, thinking. He knew that he could do what Dean was asking. He knew that he could find it much faster if he were to use his God-given talents... but, he wouldn't. He couldn't just do whatever he pleased, not with his abilities, he had to save them.

There was no rush to find it. They were in no immediate danger. He would not use it.

"No." Cas told him. "I have nothing like that."

"Awesome." Dean huffed. He stood up again, satisfied it wasn't on the book shelf. Peering at all of the surfaces in the room, unable to see it, and walked into the kitchen.

Cas followed, not knowing what else to do. He couldn't see it in there either, but Dean seemed to think it might be in the fridge. At least, that was what it looked like, before Dean pulled a beer from it, opened it, and drunk it, leaning against the kitchen counter.

"You think that the hair might be at the bottom of that bottle?" Cas asked, sarcasm twitching.

Dean winced. "God, I hope not." He took another slurp. "Lighten up. We're doing him a favour here, least he can do is shout me a drink."

"We have not done him a favour yet." Cas reminded. He stared at Dean, watching as the hunter paused, clearly disconcerted by the gaze from those big blue eyes. After a few seconds he sighed and put down the beer.

"Fine." He agreed. He looked briefly round the kitchen, but decided that this room probably wasn't the place to keep a lock of hair.

And so they searched the rooms. They went from the kitchen to the dining room, to the study, to the second living room. All of these were free of treasured locks of hair.

"Gotta be the bedrooms, then." Dean said. "Don't get any weird ideas."

Cas frowned. "I'm not sure what would constitute as a weird idea." He said. "Though some might deem breaking into a house to burn some hair as 'weird'."

Dean shook his head. "Just... Never mind."

They walked in, and Dean went straight to the chest of drawers pushed against the wall. While he carefully checked all of the items there, Cas went to the bedside cabinets, looking at them. A photo stood in a frame on one, and Cas picked it up, looking at it. It was Bill West and the younger wife, standing in front of the house and smiling. But Cas saw more. At the very edges of the photo, past the paper, was a slight crease, a bump, a hint of something beneath. He flipped it over and, after fiddling with an annoying rotating clasp, flicked the back of the frame off.

Behind it lay another picture, the same one, but with one change. Bill West stood with someone else, an older lady, Hilda. And with the picture was the lock of hair, wrapped in a piece of black string, the grey strands striking against it.

"Dean." Cas called, and the hunter looked up.

"You got it?" Dean walked over and nodded. "Perfect. Let's get that roasted, then." He said.

Walking out of the room and back into the living room, he found a waste paper bin. Cas followed, still holding the picture frame with the lock of hair. He looked at Dean, who looked somewhat disinterested, having practised this a thousand times before, before extracting the hair from the frame and dropping it into the bin.

Dean pulled out of his pocket a few sachets of salt, reserved for smaller jobs such as these, and tore them open, spilling the contents onto the remains. Then he pulled out his lighter, looked at it for a second before readying to light it.

He was interrupted.

Cas saw before Dean did. Standing behind the hunter was a little old lady, small, hunched and pale, with dark rings under her eyes and a hand clutching her chest.

"Dean!" Cas yelled, gesturing at the ghost. Dean turned round, and the woman flicked instantly to him.

"How could you do this to me?" She croaked, gasping, clawing at her chest. "How could you?"

She reached out to Dean and grabbed his neck, pushing him against the bookcase. Cas looked around frantically, seeing Dean had dropped his poker. He tried to frantically remember where he had put his own, realising he must have dropped it somewhere in the house. Stepping forward he grabbed at the ghost, but his grip had no effect; there was a reason you don't pick a fist fight with a spirit.

"Cas!" Dean rasped. "The hair!"

The woman's eyes turned suddenly to Cas, and he felt a surge of disgust at this mutilated spirit, at the trauma that must have occurred to force her to remain this way. He pitied her.

Not enough to let her continue. Not when she had Dean pinned up against the wall, attempting to pry the life from him.

She let go of Dean and took a furious step towards the angel, but in doing so managed to kick the bin out of the way, into the corner of the room, with herself blocking the way for the both of them.

"Hey!" Dean yelled at the ghost, and she looked round. "Over here, bitch!" He yelled.

"You!" She wheezed. "How could you do this?"

"Yeah, yeah." He taunted. "That's right, focus on me."

Cas froze, watching Dean, waiting to see what his plan was.

"Here?" She wailed. "You did this in our own home?"

"Yadda yadda." Dean was looking around for the poker again, clearly stuck for a plan past that extended past get her away from Cas.

Out of time. She shoved him back up against the bookshelf, clawing at his chest.

Cas didn't hesitate this time. Not knowing what else to do, he scooped the lighter from the floor, and in less than a fraction of a second he was across the room, dropping the lighter into the basket as he sunk to the floor, the sheer act of this minor use of grace painful. Apparently, even teleporting was a huge drain. He forced himself to look back to the bookshelf, where he could see the spirit go up in flames, and Dean fall back against shelves, breathing heavily.

"About time too." Dean panted, but his eyebrows raised when he saw the angel on the floor, visibly feeble. "What's wrong?"

Cas's whole body ached. A dull, bruising ache coursed across his bones, and he felt as if the air had been squeezed from his lungs. But he forced himself to stand up, and within a few seconds the pain had all but left, leaving only a slight flinching pain in his chest.

"Nothing is wrong." Castiel hissed, still getting his breath back. "I simply fell."

"You fell?" Dean repeated, unable to believe it? "Since when do angels-" He stopped himself, realising his exact phrasing. That was an entirely different question. "Since when do you have an inner ear problem?"

Cas frowned, not in the mood to try and decipher Dean's wording. The hunter, sensing Cas's mood, shrugged, rolling his eyes.

"Whatever." He said. "Job done. Let's go."

Dean turned to leave, but Cas looked at the picture frame that he had dropped. It had not shattered, luckily, and he bent to pick it up.

"One moment." He said. He neatened the pictures, putting them back in the positions that he had found them in, and clasped it all back together. He then walked back to the bedroom and returned it to its place, next to the bed. If Bill were to look for the hair any time soon, he would be disappointed, but until then, he could keep things just the way they were.

He went back to the hallway where Dean was waiting for him.

"We may leave now." Castiel told him, sweeping out of the door. Dean closed it behind them, and walked after the angel towards the car.


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