Unhinged

Chapter 7


It wasn't hard for the Winchesters to find the Peaceful Gardens Cemetery, considering it was the only cemetery in Travers. With a town this small, they didn't feel the need to have more than one cemetery. If they needed more plots, they expanded. This was a good thing for the brothers, because they didn't have to drive all over to find the grave they were seeking.

After waiting around for a couple of hours, Dean finally deemed it safe for them to venture out and take care of Eli Nelson once and for all. They were worried about the presence of cops, but with the murders tonight it seemed a sure bet that a couple of men out in the cemetery in the middle of the night would be the least thing on their minds. Besides, the two hunters were doing the town a favor even if they didn't realize it.

Dean was still upset with Sam, though he pretended not to be. Sam never should have gone to the Eclipse by himself, even if it was on a whim. Something so much worse could have happened to his brother tonight and Dean wasn't sure if Sam realized it. Instead of a surface cut, Sam could have ended up with the same fate as the guy or the girl that he found. Sam needed to see he couldn't go off alone like that—he and Dean were a team, and as a team they stuck together, no matter what.

"Turn left up here." Sam pointed out the window and Dean steered the Impala onto Oak Drive.

After driving for a few yards, they came to a sprawling cemetery that went as far as the eye could see. A black wrought-iron fence with red brick columns every yard or so surrounded the perimeter and a large archway bearing the Peaceful Gardens Cemetery name welcomed the late-night visitors.

"This has to be one of the better looking cemeteries we've been to," Dean commented as he shut off the car.

"It's sad that we're reduced to comparing cemeteries to each other."

Dean smiled. "It could be a whole hell of a lot worse, Sammy."

"How's that?"

Dean's smile fell. "Let me get back to you on that." He got out of the car and heard Sam do the same. Walking back to the trunk, he pulled out two small shovels, a canister of salt, lighter fluid, and a shotgun just to be safe, and shoved them into a small army green duffel. He had a pretty good idea that Eli wouldn't show up while they were doing the salt and burn but it was better to be safe. He wasn't about to risk Sam getting hurt again, if he could help it. He left the flashlights in the car since the cemetery was pretty well lit by security lights.

Closing the trunk, he handed one of the shovels over to Sam.

Sam was looking at Dean like he was crazy. "What are you giving that to me for?"

"Uh, to dig." Sam could be so clueless sometimes…

Sam looked at his bandaged arm. "Uh, I'm injured."

"Dude, don't hand me that crap." He pushed the shovel against Sam's chest and dug a sheet of paper out of his jacket pocket. "You dug just fine after you broke your wrist a few months ago."

"So, you'd risk me hurting myself even more?"

Dean considered it for about a full second. "Yes." He began walking into the entrance of the cemetery.

"Seriously?"

"Come on, Sammy. That hole's not gonna dig itself."

"Ass," Sam muttered, but followed along anyway.

"Bitch." Dean smiled back at him, then focused on the paper once again. "You know, I'm starting to think the only reason you got hurt was so you could get out of grave digging."

Sam glared at the back of his brother's head. "Yes, Dean—I sought out a psychotic ghost and let him stab me just so I wouldn't have to dig tonight."

"Hey, it's not that far of a stretch. You've done a lot more to get out of digging before."

"Like what?"

Dean cut across Sam and continued to lead the way towards Eli's grave. He was glad Sam managed to find out exactly where it was located and print off a map before they left the motel. "Let's see…there was the one time when you were fifteen. You told Dad you were too sick to dig."

"Dude, I had food poisoning! I was practically puking my guts out."

"That's 'cause you're a pansy."

"Oh, what the hell ever."

"Well, it's true. Look at all the pansy ass crap you eat now."

"You mean vegetables?"

"Exactly. If you ask me, you're hitting all the wrong food groups."

"And which ones should I be eating?"

Dean held up a hand as he ticked them off. "Chocolate, fried foods, alcohol, and pie."

"I eat that and I'll be dead in a few years."

"Not necessarily. Look at me."

"I have looked at you, Dean, and it makes me worry. I think a scientist would be very interested in studying your eating habit and trying to find out why you haven't kicked the bucket yet."

Dean came to a stop in front of an old tombstone, which read "Eli Nelson—b.1923, d. 1973". "You think they'll pay me for that?" he asked, the cocky grin firmly in place.

Sam shook his head, not bothering to give Dean an answer.

Dean threw the duffel down near the tombstone and stuck his shovel into the soft earth. Both brothers started into the task at hand, moving in synchronized rhythm and cadence without a word.

After twenty minutes or so of digging, Dean saw there was no way they were going to get finished quickly with the way Sam was digging. He was sluggish as best, and Dean knew his arm had to be killing him. They were just now breaking the half-way point and Dean wasn't sure how much longer he could listen to his brother's painful grunts as he pushed the dirt up and over. He never really meant to for Sam to be digging this much anyway, and felt a twinge of guilt for having him go at it this long.

"All right, you're finished."

"What?" Sam swiped a hand over his forehead to wipe away the sweat that was plastering his bangs to his head.

"Get out—I'll finish it." Dean dug the blade in once again.

"I can still help, Dean."

"I don't want you to help. You're hurting and don't you stand there and tell me you're not," he added when Sam opened his mouth to protest.

Sam shrugged and threw the small shovel a few feet ahead. Then, he pulled himself out of the grave and settled on the ground next to the tombstone. Happy that for once Sam was listening to him, Dean shrugged out of his jacket and continued to dig.

"Yahtzee," he said another twenty minutes later as the tip of his shovel came into contact with wood.

"You got it?" Sam asked.

"I've got it."

Sam stood up from the ground and peered down at his brother, who was prying the lid open. The perfectly preserved body of Eli Nelson lay there, as if he were in an eternal peaceful slumber.

"Help me out." Dean threw out his shovel and held up a hand to Sam.

Sam firmly grasped Dean's hand and pulled him out with very little effort. Dusting off his blue jeans, Dean walked over to the duffel and pulled out the canister of salt and small tin bottle of lighter fluid. He sprinkled a generous amount of rock salt all over the corpse and then doused it with the accelerant. Tossing the two containers aside, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box of matches.

Dean struck a small bundle of the matches and the faint light lit up his sweaty face. "Good riddance, Doc." He threw them into the grave and the body ignited in a rush. He and Sam stood there in silence, watching the flames hungrily consume Eli Nelson.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Sam groaned as he woke up the next morning. He and Dean didn't get back until well after one that morning, after making sure they'd filled the grave and cleaned away any evidence to show they'd been there. Of course, the mound of dirt on the old grave was going to be a dead giveaway, but as long as someone didn't see them, they were okay.

The young psychic had to admit his arm was hurting him a little bit, but not as bad as it could be. As soon as they got back to the motel, Dean insisted on looking at Sam's arm again. Sam tried to protest, of course, but as soon as Dean set his mind to something it was extremely hard to sway him. Sam sat still as Dean replaced the bandage and didn't argue as his brother placed two ibuprofen in his hand. He went to sleep instantly and had one of the best nights of sleep he'd had in a long time.

Looking over at Dean, Sam saw his older sibling was dead to the world, his light snoring the only noise in the room. Sam slipped off his covers, and scooting to the end of his bed, he pulled his laptop from its case. There was something he wanted to check, but he didn't want Dean breathing down his neck while he was doing it. He knew his brother meant well, but he was refusing to listen to Sam when the younger man was telling him something was "off" with Robbie. Dean wouldn't believe what Sam was saying, so Sam would just give him the proof he needed.

Sam was curious about the young motel clerk. He was too clingy and he always seemed to be around wherever they showed up. It could just be a pure coincidence, but then again, Sam didn't believe in coincidence. It was almost as if Robbie was keeping tabs on them, waiting to show up wherever they went next.

Signing onto the internet, Sam pulled up the Google search page and typed in ROBBIE MALLETTE. He didn't know what he was hoping to find, but maybe there was something out there that would explain Robbie's weird behavior. The Google search didn't turn up anything about Robbie, so Sam went to the Travers Press webpage. If there was any site that was going to tell him anything, it would be this one.

Typing in Robbie's name once again, Sam waited as the search through the database began. A few seconds later, a screen popped up with a few results. Clicking on the first one, Sam came across a story from about eight years back involving Robbie and his brother, James. Sam frowned as he read the article through and even felt a slight twinge of guilt.

November 16, 1999

--A local teen was killed yesterday in an alleged hunting accident. Police say eighteen year old James Mallette was killed while hunting with his younger brother, fifteen year old Robbie Mallette. The younger brother's gun apparently discharged accidentally after he tripped and it fell from his hands. The brothers were not found until a few hours after the accident after their parents called in a missing persons report for the two teens. When the police arrived at the scene, they found Robbie clutching onto James, the eldest having expired long before any EMS were able to arrive at the scene. Police were unable to get a story from Robbie Mallette, as the young teen was in too much shock to give the police much to go on.

Police are saying their investigation is still ongoing, but are confident no charges will be brought against Robbie Mallette.

Sam stopped reading the article as it went into James' personal life, saying what a great loss to the community his death was. Going back, he clicked on the next article which said after a thorough investigation, no charges were going to be brought up against Robbie. Though Sam didn't want to admit it, he felt sorry for Robbie. He could only imagine how hard it would be on him to know he killed his own brother and then live with that guilt for the rest of his life.

Sam didn't know how he would be able to live if he knew he'd done that to Dean. Sam couldn't imagine the pain and turmoil Robbie must be going through, even though it was eight years ago. The years would do nothing to dull the pain; it would always be something he would carry with him until the day he died.

While James' death may explain some of Robbie's odd behavior, it did nothing to alleviate Sam's worry and slight fear of the mousy clerk. Sam saved the articles onto his bookmarks –he knew it probably wouldn't do anything to convince Dean of his worries, but at least he would have them now.

Sam was still creeped out by Robbie, nothing would shake that. The good thing about the salt and burn last night was the fact they would be hundreds of miles away from Robbie by nightfall. Dean wasn't about to sit around if they didn't have to. He liked to be in constant motion and for once, Sam would agree with Dean about getting out of Travers.

"Hey, what are you doing?"

Sam looked up startled, to see Dean squinting at him. "I was checking up on a couple of things."

Dean let out a big yawn. "Like what?"

Sam ran a hand through his hair, considering how he should answer Dean. He could go ahead and tell his brother what he was really doing, see if Dean would listen to his concerns this time or lie to him. Sam couldn't truly remember the last time he lied to Dean, though, and he really didn't want to start right now. Once you told a lie, it was hard to stop doing it. Sam knew that personally from his time with Jessica—he never told her the truth about his past and his family, and because of that, no matter who told him differently, he knew it was the reason she died.

"Do you know how Robbie's brother died?"

"Aw, Sammy. Do we have to talk about this right now?"

"You wanted to know what I was looking up, so I'm telling you." Sam fixed him with an intense gaze. "Did Robbie tell you how his brother died?"

Dean shrugged as he sat up on the bed, swinging his legs over so he could face Sam. "He said it was an accident."

"I guess that's partly true."

"What do you mean?"

"Robbie caused his brother's death, even though it was an accident. He and James were hunting and Robbie's gun discharged after he dropped it."

Dean raised an eyebrow. "That explains why he's so distant—he still feels responsible for it."

"I guess you can't really blame him for that." Sam sighed. "But, Dean, I still don't think it explains the weird vibes I'm getting from him."

"Sam, you're just letting him get to you, but I'm telling you there's no way Robbie could hurt a fly. The kid just doesn't have it in him."

"So, you're telling me this is all in my imagination?"

Dean shrugged. "Well, you've been really stressed lately. I mean, you found out what the yellow-eyed bastard's plans for you are, you found out what Dad told me before he died, and you just had to kill Madison. It's been adding up on you for weeks and maybe your stress is making you see and feel things that aren't really there."

"I'm not crazy, Dean."

"I never said you were, Sammy. Don't put words into my mouth."

"Will you just do me a favor and be careful around him?" Sam asked. Dean was about to argue with him, but Sam fixed him with an earnest look. "Please."

Dean sighed. "All right. But I'm telling you, you have nothing to worry about, Sammy."

I hope you're right. Sam pushed the laptop away. "So, what did you want to do today?"

Dean got off his bed and dug into his duffel for a pair of jeans. Slipping them on over his boxers he said, "I say we hit the road. We did the salt and burn and Eli should be gone now."

"We need to be sure before we leave, Dean."

Dean slipped a tee shirt on. "We'll stop at the Eclipse before we leave town and run EMF." He finished dressing, and put on his leather jacket. "I'm gonna get us checked out and pick up some breakfast. I'll be back in a little bit."

"Okay. I'll get us packed and ready to go."

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

As Dean closed the door behind him, he couldn't help but worry about his baby brother. Sam was really letting his stress get to him and Dean was concerned that it would affect their hunts. Dean knew how it was when Sam's emotions got the better of him—he was careless and lost focus on the task at hand. Dean still couldn't understand why the kid was worried about Robbie because Dean honestly didn't think there was anything wrong with the clerk.

Stepping into the office, he saw Robbie look up from the small television.

"You're up early," Robbie replied.

"Yeah, me and Sam want to get an early start. We've gotta get back to the newspaper and get our story in before the editor wrings our necks."

"Oh…you can't call it in?"

"Nah, our boss is a complete tool. If we don't deliver it in person, he jumps our ass."

Robbie started to tear a sheet of paper into tiny strips. "You guys are gonna come back, right?"

Dean shrugged. "I'm not really sure. Our job is kind of unpredictable."

Robbie pulled out the receipt book from under the counter and pulled off a copy for Dean. "Well, if you fellas ever come back, you're welcome to stay here again."

Dean folded the receipt in half and tucked it into his pocket. "Thanks, Robbie. You take care of yourself, you hear?"

Robbie nodded slowly. "Yeah…you too, Dean…"

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Robbie watched as Dean walked out of the office and a cold fear went through his body. This couldn't be happening; Dean wasn't supposed to be leaving. Not now…not ever. Didn't he know how much Robbie needed him? Didn't he see how close they were getting? Robbie couldn't accept Dean leaving…it wasn't right.

Sam! He had to be the reason they were leaving. Robbie should have known the younger brother would do anything to keep him away from Dean. Sam had it out for him all along and it was only becoming clearer with each passing hour. This had to end now. He had to put a stop to this before they got away.

"Hey, Brenda!"

A small, plump woman with short cropped brown hair came out of a doorway. "Robbie, what is all the yellin' about, son?"

"I need to go home."

"What for? You're not gettin' sick, are you?"

"No, I just forgot I'm supposed to get a package today and I need to be there to sign for it."

"Why didn't you just have it delivered here?"

"I didn't think about it." Robbie turned pleading eyes on her. He knew it was a cheap shot, but it always worked with Brenda. "Come on, Brenda…please. I'll work all weekend for you."

Brenda sighed and shook her head. "All right. If you have to leave, you have to leave."

Robbie gave the older woman a hug. "Thank you so much, Brenda."

Brenda waved him off. "Yeah, yeah."

Kissing her quickly on the cheek, Robbie grabbed his jacket and hurried out the door. He hated lying to Brenda, but it was necessary. He very well couldn't do anything sitting in the motel office all day. It was time to put his plan into motion and he knew exactly how he was going to do that.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Sam sighed as he stuffed the last of Dean's clothes into his duffel bag. It always amazed Sam what a slob his brother could be. He didn't know why Dean just couldn't grab what he needed out of his bag, instead of dumping everything out. Sam really needed to teach him a few things about organization. The world will end before I ever get Dean to do that…

Zipping up the bag, Sam grabbed it and his own and brought them out to the Impala. Popping the trunk, he stacked them on top of the hidden compartment. As he walked back inside for the small weapons bag they always kept with them, the motel phone began to ring. Who in the world would be calling the room? Frowning, he picked up the receiver before it could begin its third ring.

"Hello?"

"Sam, is that you?"

Sam felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. "Robbie?"

"Yeah…listen, I need some help."

"Well, Dean isn't here right now. He went out for a bit."

"Can you help me?"

"I don't…"

"Look, Sam, I wouldn't be asking if I didn't really need it. My car got a flat and I just can't change the tire by myself. If I'm late for work, Brenda's going to kill me and I really need my job."

"Dean will be back soon…"

"I have to be at work in thirty minutes! Please, Sam."

Sam closed his eyes and let out a long sigh. Damn him and his conscience. There was just no way Sam was going to let Robbie sit out there and wait for who knew how long it would take Dean to get there. "Where are you at?"

"Oh, thank you so much, Sam! I'm not too far from the motel. About a couple miles to the north on Culver."

"I'll be there in a few minutes." Sam hung up the phone and grabbed the keys to the Impala. He thought about calling Dean and telling him where he was going, but decided against it. It wouldn't take too long to change a tire and Sam felt he'd be back before Dean returned from getting breakfast.

It only took the psychic about ten minutes to find Robbie. The mousy clerk was standing by his Corsica, frowning at the flat tire. The trunk was standing wide open and a spare tire was leaning against the side. He saw Robbie smile gratefully as he stopped behind the small car.

"Sam, thank God!" Robbie said as Sam stepped out of the Impala.

Sam didn't say anything as he knelt beside the car. Checking the tire over, he looked up at Robbie. "This shouldn't take too long."

"Again, I can't thank you enough for this. It's really nice of you to come out here. I mean, I know you and I haven't really gotten off on the right foot."

Sam placed the jack under the car and began to lift it up off the ground. "Don't worry about it, Robbie." As soon as Sam had the car raised to a sufficient level, he picked up the tire iron and began loosening the lug nuts. He paid no attention as Robbie moved to the trunk and rummaged around.

Robbie moved away from the trunk and walked back towards Sam. "I really did want to get the chance to know you, Sam. I mean, I think we could have been really great friends." He came to a stop behind the hunter. "If this was any other circumstance, I think I could have liked you. But you have something I want."

Sam frowned and reacted a second too late as a whoosh of air met his ears and a sharp stabbing pain exploded through his head. He slumped to the ground in a heap, the darkness consuming him like a warm blanket.

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