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Suffer the Children (and the Geeks) 2/10

June 16th, 2007 (08:46 am)

Title:  Suffer the Children (and the Geeks) 2/10

A/N: This chapter is heavy on plot stuff--kind of a necessary bridge to the more interesting stuff later to come. So I hope this isn't too boring of a chapter. And, yes, there's an OFC but don't fret too much about her. She's mostly a plot contrivance. Thanks to all who reviewed chapter one :) All other notes and disclaimers in the first chapter.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

That was all Dean needed to hear. Like that he was strategizing, moving forward, hoping to find a way to get the kid clear of the room.

The kid didn't blink, didn't even acknowledge the commotion now going on around him, his eyes open and fixated, his face slack and motionless.

"It's got a hold on him," Dean said, his frustration evident.

Sam looked around, barely containing his panic. There had to be some way to stop it, some way to break the kid from the grip of whatever it was that had them. Because if they didn't act fast, they were going to see the kid waste away in front of them. And they couldn't just let that happen.

But they had no weapons and no idea what jewel was causing the harm.

They didn't talk--they didn't need to. Dean went for the boy--moving in closer then before, daring to touch the kid's motionless body.

Sam, for his part, went to the jewel case, pounding on it, uselessly. The case didn't even shake, the jewels barely feeling the impact of Sam's blows. Sam swore. They weren't ready for this--not yet.

Giving up on the case, Sam knew their best bet was to get the kid out by force and run. Dean was tugging but the kid seemed to be glued there, stuck, his body now trembling.

Stepping in behind his brother, Sam joined him, wrapping his long arms around Dean. Trusting his brother to maintain his grip on the boy, he yanked with all his might.

With a grunt, Sam used his legs for leverage, and finally the kid broke free, sending all three of them crashing to the floor in a tangle of limbs.

The air rushed from Sam's lungs as he tried to move, but found himself buried beneath Dean and the boy. Dean was fumbling, trying to maneuver himself to a better position without hurting the kid more than he probably already was.

It took a second of breathless anticipation but the kid was then lying gray and still on the museum floor. His eyes were closed and his mouth open slightly, his blonde hair falling back from his face. "Is he...?" Sam asked.

Dean's hand was almost shaky as it reached down to the boy's neck. "He's got a pulse," Dean said, but it did little to reassure either of them. They knew too well that none of the other victims had survived.

"We need to get him out of here," Sam observed, looking around nervously. "This seemed too easy. What kind of entity gives up its victim without a fight?"

Without speaking, Dean gathered the boy into his arms. "I don't know," he muttered. "Let's just get him clear and then figure out what the hell happened."

Sam was nodding in agreement, when something sounded behind them.

Both brothers jumped, looking over their shoulders. The nearby exhibit featured a model of the cave where some of the jewels were found, including some actual ancient tools used to mine for them. All seemed still.

With controlled but quick movements, Dean stood and started toward the hallway from the exhibit's room, Sam close on his heals. The museum was calm, quiet, but Sam could feel the hairs rising on the back of his neck. Something was off—they weren’t out of the woods yet.

Something crashed this time, and Sam turned in time to see a pick axe flying at them. His brother's name caught in his throat--the warning wouldn't be enough. There was a pickaxe flying through the air, right at Dean, right at the kid, and Sam did the only thing he could do.

He tackled them both, lunging on them with his substantial weight, effectively driving both to the floor.

It was only after they were all sprawled (again) that Sam worried maybe he'd been too hard in his approach. Dean was grunting, cursing under his breath, and the kid was still pale and unmoving.

But as he looked up and saw the pickaxe clattering to the floor, he couldn't really regret it. A concussion and some bruised ribs beat being impaled on an ancient pick axe any day.

"What the hell?" Dean finally managed to ask, trying to pull himself to his knees.

Sam's eyes widened as a spike and hammer began shaking on the nearby wall. "It's using the displays," Sam panted, a shadow of surprise weighing in his voice. "It can bring them to life."

"And why hasn't it done this before?" Dean asked, clearly annoyed as he re-gathered the kid into his arms.

"I don't know!" Sam said, scrambling to his feet. He pulled hard on his brother's jacket. "Let's just get out of here before it decides to throw anything else."

Sam pushed Dean in front of him and they tumbled into the hallway, the sound of a hammer clanging noisily into a wall behind them.

In the open, the boys only hesitated for a moment before sprinting down the hall, their shoes struggling to make purchase on the floor. As they ran, the teacher turned the corner, very professionally, the small gaggle of children following lines behind her. The woman gaped as she saw them, halting in her journey, eyes wide at the sight.

"Excuse me, but what are you--"

"Run!" Sam yelled.

If Sam had thought about it, he would have understood that yes, they did deserve the look the woman gave them. After all, they were running, yelling down an empty corridor of a museum. It must have looked ridiculous and she didn't even know they were running from an exhibit that came to life.

But it must have seemed less ridiculous when she saw the boy. "Oh my--" she gasped. "Ethan?"

There wasn't time for this, and Dean wasn't slowing despite her efforts to see the bundle in his arms. Sam took her distraction to herd her after Dean, the group of children scampering in their wake.

The children were tittering now, some nervous, some scared, maybe a few excited. Sam glanced uncomfortably over his shoulder and saw another digging instrument skidding down the hallway, resounding loudly against the floor.

Over that though, Sam could hear the voice--the buzzing, the whispers--getting louder. Whatever it was, it wasn't happy that they were trying to leave.

He looked back again, making sure he was in the rear, and nearly stumbled at the sight behind him. Things were streaming out of the room, the entire exhibit was flying--tools, nameplates, jewels--anything not encased and Sam wondered just how far it could reach.

He didn't really want to find out.

"Dean!" Sam's voice cut over the children.

Dean didn't stop, but looked over his shoulder, taking in the scene behind him. His face screwed up in surprise. There was no doubt--this was out there, even for them.

"What's going on?" the teacher asked, but Sam didn't answer her, just pushed her forward, making sure the kids were still moving, that none of them could see. The kids were already a little on edge, spooked—he didn’t need them hysterical.

The corridors were long and winding, but the exit signs were clear enough, and Sam was more than a little relieved when the front desk appeared in the distance.

Dean got there first, out of breath, the boy still limp in his arms. "Hey!" he called, skidding to a halt in front. "A hand here!"

The guards looked surprised and the people at the welcome desk looked shocked, all staring at the crowd of people rushing at them.

"We need an ambulance," Sam called, coming to a stop next to his brother.

They stared at him, then at the boy, at Dean, at the frantic-eyed teacher, then finally the boy again.

Sam stared back in impatient disbelief. "Now!"

Just like that, people began moving. A receptionist reached for the phone, numbly dialing, while two security guards came toward them, reaching for Dean to help put the boy down on the ground.

"What happened?" one asked, his brow deeply furrowed in concern.

"We just found him collapsed," Dean explained. "Started shaking. And we ran."

As the boy was positioned, the teacher was on her knees next to him, the rest of the class circling around them. She reached a hand out, gently touching the boy’s face. "Ethan?" she called. "Ethan, honey, can you hear me?"

The boy made no response, and Sam sadly met his brother’s eyes. Of course the kid needed help, but they had other concerns—and Sam couldn’t help but feel nervous. Whatever had attacked Ethan was still around, still powerful, and they had no idea what it was or its real method of attack. They had no way of knowing when it’d strike again, just how made they’d made it, and they needed to make sure no one else got near the exhibit, that no one else ran the risk of being hurt.

Suddenly a man in a suit burst through the circle. "What happened?"

It was the security guard that spoke, now on his knees next to the child. "Kid collapsed."

"Where was he?"

"We found him by the Jewels of the East collection," Dean answered, standing and shrinking back.

"What was he doing alone?" the man asked, wringing his hands.

"He was with me," the teacher said. "He must have gotten separated from the group."

"Ma’am, we insist that children be supervised at all times," the man said. "It’s a museum policy."

It was a legitimate comment, and Sam could see the man meant no disrespect, but it was hardly the right thing to say to the teacher at that moment.

Her eyes were wild, maybe a tad rabid, with a dangerous protectiveness in them. "And tell me, just what would he have been able to get into that would have caused this? Seems like this is something that would have happened regardless of how well he was watched. Children shouldn’t be able to pass out for no reason. Healthy little boys!"

At this, the man looked blank, then a little horrified. His disposition changed. "I’m sorry, ma’am," he said. "We’ll take care of it. The ambulance is on its way."

Seemingly satisfied, she turned her attention back to the boy, and Sam could see that he was not getting better.

"Ethan," she called again.

Someone handed her a blanket, offered it to her to drape across the boy.

"Little kids just don't collapse," she said, a hint of hysteria in her voice. "Is there anything in here that could cause this?"

The man in the suit was on his knees now, leaning next to one of the security guards. He was in charge—probably the curator, Sam reasoned. "Is he allergic to anything?"

"No," she said, watching as the security pressed his fingers to his pulse point. "Nothing."

"You're sure."

Her figure was hardly intimidating and her soft features normally would suggest nothing but sweetness, but her blue eyes were filled with anger as she glared. "I know everything about these kids. That's my job. Ethan is a perfectly healthy little boy--or was until he came into this museum."

The curator looked stricken. "Ma'am, I assure you--"

Dean looked at his brother, and Sam shrugged. Dean stepped forward. "Look, maybe you should just close the museum down--for the day. Get the people out, do a check, make sure everything's in order. The ambulance will be here soon and tell us what's wrong with Ethan here and we'll all feel much better."

They all looked at him, stared at him, even the receptionist who was on the floor next to the boy, and Dean shifted, marginally uncomfortable.

Sam edged forward. "Let's just focus on what's important--getting Ethan help and making sure everyone is safe."

The curator, sighed, weary. "Myra, how many people do we have in today?"

One of the women frozen at the front desk began to move, typing into her computer. "We've had five transactions--29 people. Seven employees--two at the desk, one management, four security."

"Call Rick and Amanda--have them get the others out. Should be three groups." He looked at one of the security guards. "Use the security cameras to find them."

"What should we tell them?" she asked, her voice soft, maybe nervous. This was not something she was used to or comfortable with.

The curator looked grim. "It's probably nothing," he said. "Some kind of problem with the ventilation system."

His voice was even, maybe a little strained, and it was clear to everyone in the room that hew as lying. But the news was enough to make the receptionist pale before she went to do her duty.

"Everyone else, let’s head outside," he said.

"Should we move him?" the guard asked.

"We don't have much choice," the curator said, resigned. "If there's something in the air..."

The man looked old now, too old, and Sam could only imagine all the worst-case scenarios that were running through his head. He wished suddenly that he could assure him that it wasn’t a pathogen, that it would be okay--as long as they got out.

That was all the incentive the teacher needed and she reached her hands gently under Ethan’s shoulders. Without speaking, one of the guards went to grab his legs.

"Okay, kids," Sam addressed the kids, more than slightly eager to get them clear of the threat. "We’re going to go outside for a bit."

Their chatter picked up suddenly.

"I want my mommy."

"Is Ethan okay?"

"I have to go to the bathroom."

"Are we going to get to see the mummies?"

There were too many voices to focus on, and Sam focused instead on prodding them outside. The only safe solution was to have them out, and while the teacher’s accusation was based on faulty assumptions, they weren’t going to contradict a circumstance that worked in their favor.

Next to him, Dean was doing the same. "Everyone out," he said.

The other museum patrons were already returning, and the other security guards appeared. The children were outside, Dean leading them, and he could hear his brother’s fluid and awkward voice trying to make them laugh.

"I think that’s everyone, Dr. Huber," the receptionist said.

Sam watched as a guard closed the main set of entrance doors off the inner vestibule.

"Okay, Anna, you too," the curator said. He stood by the door, ushering them out. "Sir?" he said, glancing at Sam. "Come on, now. We can give you a refund or a ticket for another day."

Sam managed a small smile, nodding thanks he didn’t feel, before he let himself be escorted out into the bright sun.

-o-

Security was buzzing now, and an ambulance had already pulled up outside. Sam shifted uneasily. Having law enforcement around was always a risk, one he was less and less willing to take. They'd already been in jail, and it didn't matter that they'd had a plan all along, it wasn't an experience he wanted to repeat. Ever.

With the ambulance, came the inevitable crowd of curious bystanders, milling around trying to catch a glimpse of the action. They made Sam nervous too—people in the vicinity of supernatural activity was not a wise decision. Though he did appreciate the added anonymity of such a crowd.

Shrinking back, Sam hid himself among the crowd, and glanced at Dean. It was probably good that they were separated for now--they were less conspicuous that way.

He tried to get himself under control. He needed to stop worrying--the cops had no reason to suspect them of anything, and their concerns were not on the visitors of the museum, but the little boy, and the reason the museum was closed.

Besides, things were okay now. The museum patrons and staff were safe. The little boy was being tended to by paramedics, and Sam could only hope they'd reached him in time. He watched from the side. The teacher was leaning nearby him, patting him gently as the medics prepared to transfer him.

Sam sighed a little before turning back to look for his brother.

At first glance, it didn't appear that out of the ordinary. The day was beautiful, with a clear view of the river snaking through the city. Nearby, he could hear the sounds of the city bustling. The museum's few occupants were gathered on the pavilion in front, some of the couples and young families drifting off toward the lakeside or moving to catch a ride back home.

Then he saw his brother, nodding professionally to the curator. Just because people were safe now didn’t mean they’d stay that way. They needed to know the museum’s plan of attack, how they were approaching the alleged pathogen. Only then could Sam and Dean start to formulate their attack—and find some way to keep whatever they were hunting from striking again.

Turning away, he let himself look out over the rest of the pavilion and let his eyes rest on the little boy. Ethan’s color had not improved, and Sam feared they’d been too late.

That, or they’d deprived whatever was in the museum of its meal. And Sam didn’t know why, but he had a feeling it wasn’t going to take kindly to that. Anyone else who went back inside would be at risk, and that wasn’t a situation Sam wanted to deal with.

He hated the duplicity of this job. He wished it could be so much simpler, that he could just tell people that their lives were in danger and not have to worry about being told he was crazy, or worse, arrested.

The medics were loading the boy now, and the crowd was moving away, giving them space as Ethan was lifted into the ambulance.

The teacher had stepped back, having finished relating the information to the medic. She looked wistful and young as she watched them leave.

"You okay?" Sam asked, leaning closer.

She didn't even look at him. "They were my responsibility," she said. "I was the one in charge of them."

"In loco parentis," Sam said gently.

At that, her eyes flicked up at him, a little surprised. "You a teacher?"

Sam shook his head. "I was pre-law for awhile."

She nodded. "I always wanted to be a teacher," she said. "I love kids."

"You're very good with them," Sam observed, hoping it didn't sound as awkward out loud as it did in his head. He felt for her, truly and deeply, but he couldn't deny that making small talk with someone of the opposite sex made him nervous these days.

She smiled sadly, watching as the ambulance pulled away. The siren was loud, but faded quickly, as the ambulance disappeared into the traffic. "What if Ethan's not okay? I mean, what if I missed something."

"Hey," Sam said, his compassion overriding his awkwardness. He didn't want to really know her, but he certainly didn't want her to blame herself for something that she had no control over. If anyone was to blame, he'd take it himself for not being fast enough. "Don't talk like that."

Her gaze remained down.

"Seriously," Sam said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "What's your name?"

"Grace," she said. "Grace Young."

"Well, listen, Grace," he said. "This isn't your fault."

She turned wet eyes up to him. "How can you be sure?"

"Accidents happen," Sam said. "And what happened to Ethan--there's no way to know what it is, or how it happened. What you need to do now is focus on the other kids." He nodded toward the group of children, still gathered and subdued by the site of the ambulance. "They need you."

She looked ready to protest.

"Grace," Sam said, his voice low and compassionate. "Trust me. They need you."

Without speaking, she looked at the kids, and Sam could see her resolve changing. She cast him a grateful look. "Thanks," she said.

He merely nodded as she walked away. He glanced back, to check on Dean, and saw his brother sauntering up from behind.

"Man," Dean said. "If I'd had teachers like that I might have liked school a little more."

Sam glared for a moment then shook his head. "So? What's the scoop?"

"They don't really know anything," Dean said.

"What are they calling it?"

"They’re thinking about calling in Hazmat—something to check for airborne pathogens."

"They thinking terrorism?" Sam asked, his brow scrunched in concern. Homeland Security would make their job nearly impossible—their faces had to be all over the security cameras, which would only make the case against them more high profile.

Dean shrugged, remaining impassive. "Hard to say. They want to run some tests first. It’ll take awhile for the team to get here—we’re lucky we’re looking at a small scale operation—it’ll take them longer to round up the team to do the tests."

This news unsettled Sam, and he couldn’t stop it from showing on his face. "Dean, we can’t just let them go in there. That thing could still be dangerous."

Dean pushed him farther from the museum. "We don’t even know what that thing is."

"That's my point--" he began, but he didn't get out two words when Grace approached them.

Sam prepared a smile and noticed Dean offering a much more flirtatious version of one, both of which were for naught when they saw her expression.

She was terrified. Sam could see it in her eyes and recognized it as a feeling he knew too well.

"Grace? Are you okay?" Sam asked.

"Have you seen anymore kids?" she asked, her voice laden with panic. "Five of them. Two girls, three boys?"

"You're missing some kids?" Sam asked, his stomach tightening. This was not a turn of events they needed, not one they were even remotely prepared for.

Her face contorted a little. "We were leaving so fast I didn't have a chance to count. And now I'm coming up five short."

"Did you check around the sides of the building? Down by the walkway? Near the river?" Sam questioned.

"Everywhere," she said and tears glistened in her eyes. "They must still be inside."

Dean put a gentle hand on her arm, looking far calmer than Sam felt. "Don’t worry, okay? We’ll take care of it."

"But shouldn’t we talk to museum security? Can’t they go back in and check on them? Something?"

Dean shushed her, putting a gentle hand on her arm. His smile was reassuring. "Just relax, okay? You need to focus on those kids and we’ll deal with getting the kids out."

"But—"

"You want the kids out, right?" Dean asked.

She nodded, tentatively and suspiciously. Sam couldn't blame her. He wasn't sure what his brother had planned, but he couldn't see a way for this to go well--for any of them.

"Then we may have to do this a bit covertly."

At this, she looked incredulous. "What are you talking about? Let’s just tell security and—"

Sam didn't need to hear Dean's plan to know what it was. "They're not going to let anyone in yet," Sam said in resignation. "They're waiting for a team to run some tests. They need to wait for the area to be deemed safe."

Grace gaped. Then she shook her head. "But the kids--"

"We can get them out," Dean replied easily.

"You can get them out? I thought no one could get in."

"That's the point," Dean said with a gentle tilt of his head. "If you want to wait for the authorities to do it, who knows what will happen. But Sam and I--we're pretty good at this kind of thing."

"You're going to break in there?" The incredulity in her voice was evident. Sam couldn't blame her. It was a disbelief he wanted to feel, an argument he wanted to make, if it wasn't so clearly their only option to keep everyone--kids and safety crews--safe.

"Just trust us, okay?" Dean said.

Grace's expression remained skeptical.

"Please, Grace," Sam said, looking her straight in the eyes. "We'll help the kids, okay?"

She held his gaze for a moment, then another. Then her shoulders slumped and she seemed to deflate. "Okay," she said finally, her voice quiet and meek. "Just get the kids out. Please."

"You have our word," Dean said, solemnly. "You just need to go take care of the kids, keep them occupied. Don't let anyone worry, okay?"

She just nodded, lingering a moment longer, and Sam worried for a moment that she'd have second thoughts. But she gave them one last look, to which Sam smiled as reassuringly as he could, before she retreated to the other children.

When she was safely out of range, Sam turned to his brother. "Are you crazy?" he asked.

"Look, someone has to keep her calm and keep everyone out here from doing something stupid. We've got to keep them convinced to shut the place down for the day. We'll sneak back in as a security crew and finish the gig."

Sam pursed his lips uncertainly. "We don't even know how to stop it."

Dean shrugged. "So we research."

"Dean, you do realize that we don’t have any idea what we’re dealing with here, right? We don’t even know which jewel we’re talking about, much less why it’s acting the way it is." Sam’s eyes were serious and steady. "We don’t have nearly enough information to consider tackling this thing tonight, much less right now."

"I don't want to go after it now," Dean said. "Let's just pull the kids and we'll deal with the rest later."

"That assumes that thing doesn't go after one of them."

"Well, what do you want to do? Sit here and let more people die? Leave those kids in there?"

"No, I just think we need a plan that makes sense, one that we’ve thought about for more than 2 seconds," Sam hissed.

Dean pulled his arm, drawing him farther from the crowd. "We don’t really have a lot of options here. Maybe we can pull off being part of the research team, at least keep them away from the major hot zones. That way we can come back tonight and finish the job. But right now," Dean said, looking purposefully back the building, "we’ve got five kids in there and a teacher on the verge of sending everyone into complete freak out mode. We’ve got priorities."

Sam stared at him, a tired expression on his face. "You think I don’t know that? I just…I’m tired of taking these risks, man. We can’t keep cutting it so close."

Dean grinned half-heartedly. "It’s more fun this way," he said. "Keeps you on your toes."

Sam’s expression was weary. "It’s not going to be easy to get back in without them noticing right now. And we don’t have an ID on hand that will get us past. Not that they haven’t seen us fifty times already."

"Sammy," Dean said with a slight admonishing tone. "Since when do we need things to be easy?"

Sam just stared at him, annoyed.

"I'll create the distraction, you go back in."

"Front door’s blocked," Sam pointed out, nodding toward the crowd of employees.

Dean’s eyes flicked around. He spotted a service entrance fifty feet on the edge of the building. "That will do."

"Right, since breaking in in front of everyone will be so subtle."

Dean gave an expression of mock hurt. "Dude, that’s what it’s called a distraction. No one will notice you, I promise."

"Why don't I create the distraction and you go in?" Sam said, a hint of accusation in his voice.

Dean glanced meaningfully at the young and distraught teacher, letting his gaze linger. "Dude," he said, waiting for Sam to get it. "Look at her."

Sam followed his line of sight, where he too saw Grace, seated on a bench, biting her lower lip. "You've got to be kidding me."

"What?" Dean asked.

"Fine," Sam agreed shortly. "You stay here and flirt and I'll go save some lives."

Dean merely grinned. "I knew you'd see it my way."

 Chapter Three

Comments

Posted by: supernaturalmommy (supernatrlmommy)
Posted at: June 16th, 2007 03:37 pm (UTC)

This was a great update! Way to build up to the urgency of kids being missing. I love how you've combined the realistic worry they have to have of getting caught, of the authorities getting involved. And you did wonderful on their voices, again....can't wait for more!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 18th, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC)
earnest

I'm glad this one wasn't too boring--it was a necessary step in the plot but didn't contain the most interesting stuff, IMO.

And it's always reassuring when they sound in character--that's the key to any good fic and it's not easy to do :)

Posted by: Devan (ibelieveinsam)
Posted at: June 17th, 2007 06:34 am (UTC)

I am really liking this story. It's very suspenseful and I just know there is some big trouble ahead. I was on the edge of my seat when the things were flying off the wall. I liked how Sam saved the day with his tackle. I like how in character the boys are too. I feel like I'm watching an episode of the show. I could see Sam being the one to comfort the teacher while Dean thinks of flirting with her. I also thought the teacher was well written. I felt bad for her. I can't wait until the next part especially now that Sam is entering the museum alone ;)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 18th, 2007 03:17 pm (UTC)
angst

I really hate writing things with hunting plots because they're so HARD. I mean, I know nothing about this stuff beyond what the show tells us so I feel like I'm pulling it out of my butt half the time. So it means A LOT to know that it seems believable (in the way that we buy into the show, at least).

And Sam entering the museum alone? In one of my fics? I do believe I may be a bit predictable at times :)

Thanks!

Posted by: belleimani (belleimani)
Posted at: June 27th, 2007 03:37 pm (UTC)

Very edge of your seat!

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