“So, I don’t know what to ask first. About you and our neighbor, or about what happened with dad back there,” he said once they had passed the mailbox of John’s property.
“With dad… well you know. Same old stuff. If you go now, you should stay gone mumbo jumbo.”
“I’m sorry,” Sam meant it. “I didn’t want you two at odds too just because of this.”
“I know, Sammy. Neither did I. He did though.”
“And the other thing?”
“Me and Cas? Yeah… He didn’t really mean it, you know? When he voted against us. He thought you and I were together and I was a cheating bastard for kissing him.”
“But kissing wouldn’t even have been that bad.”
“Yeah, well. It didn’t stop at kissing today.”
“Yeah, I think I’m dating our new neighbor now.”
Sam thought about this for a while, but now that the stock route had been averted, he really didn’t have an interest in the matter anymore.
“Well, if you’re sure. Do you like him?”
“I dunno, I guess. If he wouldn’t be so damn aggravating all the time…” Dean felt Sam’s gaze on him and at last admitted: “Yeah, I do.”
“Then don’t muck it up. Promise me you’ll be good together.”
“Woah, there. I don’t even know what it is yet. I kinda still need to figure that out.” Sam looked at him confusedly so Dean explained further: “I dunno about ‘together‘, is all I‘m saying.”
“C’mon, Dean. I know you. You’re playing this down, even though you’re head over heels for the guy. You have been ever since you’ve seen him at the bar.”
Dean didn’t want to admit to himself what an open book he was for his brother. He made a non-committal noise, but even that brought an expression to Sam’s face as if he’d just scored a home run.
“Listen Sammy,” Dean spoke up again, trying to steer their conversation out of the depth of his emotional status right now. “I was wondering, because you know, we’re both wayward sons now… How’d you feel if I bought myself into your place?”
Sam didn’t say anything, he just looked surprised.
“Yeah,” Dean went on. “You would still do your organic business, and I’d try to make it my own as well. But you know I only wanna train horses, so if you’d give me like one or two paddocks where I could train ‘em and maybe work on a breeding program as well, that would be cool. You know I still have my trust fund, right?”
“Yeah, I figured. Yours must even be a little fuller than mine. Dad’s paid into it for four years longer after all,” Sam pondered, thinking about Dean’s suggestion.
“I know you wanted to do your own thing, and I’m not gonna hammer you or nothing, it would just give us more room to go into crops and cattle, y’know? We could give Bobby a raise from the leading hand wage he got at dad’s and maybe hire a couple more guys or so. How about you think about it for a few days and then you’ll decide?”
“I don’t think I’ll need that long.” Sam looked at his brother with a moved expression. “You don‘t only think with your downstairs brain, Dean,” he admitted defeat on that one. “It’s a great idea.”
“Yeah, well… You were kinda right about the downstairs brain though. But now that it’s satisfied for a time I had more time to think with my real noggin.”
“First of all, gross! Second of all, I don’t think it’s just your downstairs brain that’s in this.”
“We’ll see,” Dean shrugged but secretly, he couldn’t wait to get home and call Cas goodnight.
“Hi, Cas. How’s life?”
“You know how my life is, I’ve seen you two hours ago,” was the distracted reply.
“You ok there?”
“I’m fine, just tired,” Dean heard cackling in the line and a harsh breath from Cas.
“Hey, is someone over there with you? It sounds like there is a lot of noise in your house.”
“It’s fine. It’s been like this since I moved here,” Cas’ voice was distant. One, because the connection was so bad and two, because his voice sounded closed off.
“Should I come over?” Dean grinned into the phone, though Cas obviously couldn’t see it.
“No,” Cas said, sharper than Dean thought was necessary.
“Ok then,” he answered, taken aback. “I was just about to hit the sack anyway. But before I go though, what are you wearing?”
“I haven’t undressed yet.”
“Shame. Wanna guide me through the process of you doing that?”
“I’d rather not keep you from sleeping for longer. I’m sure you have a long day tomorrow. Good night.”
“Night,” Dean whispered into the dial tone of the phone. Cas had just hung up on him.
“I’m telling you, he didn’t wanna talk to me,” Dean said, a couple of days later, and also three unsatisfactory goodnight calls later. “Maybe he regrets doing what we did,” Dean said as he and Sam climbed up the silo to check on the seeds one last time, while Bobby already got the sowing machine in place down at the opening of the silo.
“I don’t think he did. I saw how much you two hit it off on poker night,” Sam answered while they unscrewed the cap of the silo from two different directions.
It was true. They had talked much during the poker game and for once, Dean hadn’t minded to be distracted and losing until Rufus grudgingly put a ban on the both of them playing because they didn’t take it seriously. They had gone out to the porch while the game went on inside. At first, Charlie had joined them to talk, laughing when they heard the older men curse inside as Sam kept winning. But as the evening grew late, Charlie had gone to bed and promptly after her leaving, Dean and Cas had made out for one hour straight until Sam found them on the porch, his wallet barely able to hold all his winnings. After that, Dean regretfully had gone home alone because Cas took the opportunity to breathe free air again to say that he would drive to his property now as well.
When Dean had again called him once he was in bed, painfully hard and all prepared to jerk off to Cas’ voice hoarse from all the kissing tonight, Cas had once again been distracted and there were several loud noises in the background. The call had dropped out before Dean had even opened his pants and he had hung up in the end when there was nothing to be heard, even though the call hadn’t ended.
“You said there were strange noises in the background each time? Maybe he really was just distracted. Call him again over lunch, he‘ll be in a better mood then, I promise.”
“You don’t know that, Sammy.”
“I hope so,” Sam gave him a short, pained smile, while they each checked a couple of hands full of the grain.
“Looks good on my end.”
“Yeah, same here,” Sam announced and then shouted down to Bobby. “Alright, let’s load her up!”
“You got it,” Bobby shouted back as he let the first load of seeds drizzle into the seeder.
Now that Bobby worked here and Sam and Dean had made quick work of getting Dean to be part owner of Cedar Ridge, they had been able to rent three tractors and sowing boxes.
The sowing took a long while, even though they split the work. Sam had purchased enough corn so that a thousand acres of his property needed to be tilled and sowed. The three man were halfway done by the time they returned to the homestead and found a familiar car parked in front of the main house.
“Dad?” Sam asked.
“Neh,” Dean shook his head, not being able to imagine why his father would come here.
When they got out, someone opened the drivers‘ door of the car, and Dean’s face parted into a wide grin.
“Mom!” he yelled and ran over to hug her, dusty, sweaty and weary though he may be.
“Hey you,” Mary smiled at both her boys and hugged Sam too after Dean had let go. “Hey Bobby,” she shouted and raised a hand when another tractor came round the bend and Bobby raised his hand in greeting.
“What are you doing here, mom?” Sam asked, stroking strands of hair out of his face.
“Well, I figured you were gonna be busy all morning, and you’d need a little more than a hasty sandwich. I brought you a care package.” She opened the back of the truck, and they saw not only a basket with the best cold ‘Mary Winchester lunch‘, but also a bunch of stuff they hadn’t thought of buying regularly. Toilet paper and kitchen towels among other things. “And of course, you couldn’t be kept from your baby for longer,” she said and patted the trunk of the Impala as they unloaded it.
“You’re the best, mom,” Dean grinned as he helped to carry in all that Mary had brought. “C’mon, Bobby we have lunch.”
“Alright,” Bobby said, pleasantly surprised. At John’s farm, the staff had never been allowed to have lunch with the owners. Dean had never thought much of that and always ate with the farm hands, almost never retreating to the house to eat. Now that John couldn’t say anything about it anymore, there was no way that Bobby wasn’t gonna eat with them in the house.
Soon they were all in the kitchen, Mary unpacking her salads and marinated cold meat while Dean tried to reach Cas again and his brother and Bobby got plates and cutlery.
“I’m not getting through,” he said. “Nothing, just static.”
“Who are you trying to reach?” Mary asked. “The handsome young man you disappeared in the barn with a few nights ago?”
“Mom, I-” Dean grew incredibly red in the face, more so when Bobby and Sam only smirked at him. “Yes,” he admitted now.
“Maybe he’s busy,” Mary said.
“Yeah, but I don’t even get any response from the phone. Mom?” Dean asked and raised his eyes at her, something dawning on him now that he saw her and he threw all caution to the wind. “There were strange noises in the line the last couple of nights, Cas said he’s heard those before. And now the phones are dead?” he asked, trying to see if Mary’s alarm bells were ringing too, before he cried wolf.
“What are you two talking about?” Sam asked, while Bobby only contemplatively chewed his lunch.
“We’re talking about the possibility that our new neighbor might have a ghost problem, honey,” Mary said matter-of-factly.
“You’re-” Sam stared at his mother as if he’d never seen her, and then thinking about all of this, he turned to look at his brother. “Too?”
“Yeah,” Dean confirmed. “But we can talk about the fact that mom and me are hunting together later, Sammy. I need to get make sure Cas is ok. And I’ll probably drag him back with me afterwards.”
“Woah there, honey,” Mary said. “You can’t go in there without back up.”
“C’mon, mom. We don’t even know anything yet. Maybe we just wants to give me the boot or something. And besides, it‘s the middle of the day.”
“Doesn’t matter, you’re not going alone. Sam, you’re going with him,” she decided. “If there is a ghost, you need to have his back, and if there’s not, you gotta make sure that Dean doesn’t stay there forever. Me and Bobby will finish the job up here.”
“What’s John gonna think if you’re getting home late, clearly having worked while you were gone?” Bobby asked, not in the least bit surprised about Mary and Dean being hunters. Apparently there were very few things that ever escaped his notice.
“He’ll think that he can’t control everything, and maybe that’s a lesson he has yet to learn,” Mary said decisive. “You go now, boys. Have a saltgun on you? Or a wrench?” she asked her eldest.
“Of course, mom. Both.”
“Call me when you know what’s up.”
“I can’t believe this, Dean. How long has this been going? Did you always know that mom, of all people, was a hunter?”
“I’ve known since I was 14, Sammy. Mom took me out with her the first time when y‘all were at boarding school.”
“And you thought it would be cool to hide something like this from me? Your secret mother-son club had only two places available?”
“Mom didn’t want us to grow up to be hunters. She knew the urge would awake after the very first hunt, and you were just a kid then. You couldn’t make that kinda choice.”
“But what about later?”
“You were always studying and you looked so happy when you did that. Much different from me. Mom realized I needed something to hold me above ground when I was by myself and you always had that. Then you left for college and it seemed like hunting was the last thing on your mind. So, we didn’t wanna tell you.”
“Does dad know?”
“No, neither about mom nor me.”
“He’s gonna freak, big time.”
“Yeah, maybe. If he ever finds out.”
“So, uh… I dunno what to say next here. What have you and mom hunted, I guess?”
“Mostly ghosts, but there is the odd monster that comes into our neck of the woods sometime… A vampire nest, a couple of werewolves, a rugaru…”
“Rugaru? Sounds made up.”
“I know, right? But those sons a bitches are tough. Take one bite of long pig and they’re monsters for good.”
“Sounds…” Sam didn’t know how he could voice his opinion. “Amazing, to be honest.”
“Yeah, it feels good to put those monsters down. Keepin’ people safe, y’know,” he sighed heavily now. “I swear to god, if something happened to Cas…”
“He’ll be fine, Dean.”
“I hope you’re right.”
When they got to Cas’ house, nobody was there, not the new hired hands he talked off at poker night, and no sign of the man himself.
Dean checked the front door. Locked.
“City farmer,” he grumbled, dread in his stomach. “Who locks their frickin’ doors in the country!” he shouted and kicked the door in.
“Woah Dean, steady,” Sam tried to calm, but Dean didn’t listen. He had his shotgun raised and did a sweep through all the rooms on the ground floor.
“All clear, let’s check upstairs. And don’t look at me like that, Sammy.”
Sam tried to get a normal, not completely freaked out expression on his face again as Dean checked every room upstairs and gulped heavily at rumpled bedding and the telephone receiver not being back in it’s cradle.
“Leaves attic and basement, doesn’t it?” Sam asked, not wanting to stop Dean anymore at the obvious signs that not all was well.
“Right, attic first,” Dean said and climbed up the stairs.
Sam shook his head in the attic repeatedly, and Dean agreed. There was nothing here, but the fact that Sam realized this too without any experience taught Dean all he needed to know. Sam had caught the hunting bug as well.
“Hey, Dean? This door is locked,” Sam proofed his sleuth nose again when they went into the cellar next. He stood by excitedly and more than a little terrified when he found a locked latch in the roomy cellar.
“Get out of the way,” Dean grunted and kicked the door in just like he had done with the front door.
For a second, they couldn’t see anything, but then they saw a huddled figure, chained to a wall and a spirit gliding straight toward them. The spirit was that of a young girl, not having grown past her teenage years. She was incredibly pale and had a wild expression in her eyes.
Dean didn’t even think, he just shot salt at her and then ran into the chamber, seeing Cas unconscious or worse.
“Sammy, can you help me with those cuffs? I think she’ll be back any minute.”
Sam tried to find a key or smash the cuffs with a stone. Dean emptied his shotgun as the ghost tried to get at them again until he grunted, and swung his wrench at the ghost repeatedly while Sam didn’t make any headway with freeing Cas.
“Here, take this,” he handed Sam the wrench. “I’ll pick it. When she comes at you, you swing it, no hesitation, ok?”
Sam nodded and Dean looked around for something to pick the lock with. He picked up a rusty old nail from the floor and waggled it in the lock of the cuffs, his hands shaking like they usually never did on a job when Cas didn’t even stir with all the uproar in here.
“Got it,” he said, too long after and looked up to see Sammy’s breath heave as he swung at the ghost another time.
“Let’s get outta here.”
“But, Dean. We gotta put her down first.”
“Yeah smartass, I know that. But we don’t know anything. This is a rescue mission. We can finish the job later. Help me with him.”
“Ok sure,” Sam held on to the piece of iron as they heaved Cas out of the cellar and up the stairs.
“C’mon, Sam,” Dean said as Sam saw the spirit race towards them one last time before he shut the door to the basement.
“You think that’s gonna keep it in there?” Dean laughed bitterly, grabbing Cas and carrying him out of the door. “We need to get outta here.”
Sam nodded and helped him to get Cas into the backseat of the truck in which they had come here.
“Go,” Dean urged as he saw the spirit stand in the entrance of the house and checked Cas everywhere, the wheels of the truck making a rough sound of the gravel around the homestead. Dean reaching into Cas’ trouser pockets and reached under his shirt, splaying his fingers over the other man‘s body everywhere.
“Um, Dean… You realize I’m still here, right?”
“It’s not what you think. I gotta make sure she didn’t plant anything on him. Some ghosts do, you know? So that they can leave the place they’re tied to.”
“Ok,” Sam nodded, taking in the new information like a sponge.
When Dean was sure that there was nothing fishy on Cas, he kept stroking his face softly, begging him to wake up in his thoughts while Sam kept throwing glances at them in the backseat.
Once they had passed the boundary of Cas’ property, he finally stirred, his eyes softly opening and when he found Dean’s anxious stare above him, he rasped tiredly: “Hello, Dean.”
“Son of a bitch,” Dean answered and ripped him up into his arms, just too glad that he was awake and mostly ok.
“You scared the shit outta me,” he grabbed Cas even tighter, his body the only thing that could make Dean’s aching, panicky heart stop hurting when he pressed him close to it as it galloping away in his chest.
“Do you need a doctor, Cas?” Sam took up Dean’s nickname for him without a second thought. “Anything hurting?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“Yeah, apart from the sleeping beauty impression you just gave for way too long.”
“So, you think I’m beautiful?” Cas teased and Dean nearly hit him at that, but contented himself by holding him even tighter now.
“Not helping, smartass.”
They didn’t say another word until Cas’ head peaked up from Dean’s chest a little confusedly at seeing himself on a rundown farm.
“Where are we?”
“We’re home,” Dean answered and felt like a mother hen as he held out his arms for Cas to climb out into when he helped him out of the car.