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Devastation and Reform 2/15

February 26th, 2008 (02:42 pm)

 

A/N: Thanks to all who replied to chapter one. I know it's a lot of set up, and there's more to come. But if anyone knows my writing, then they can know what to expect later and I promise it will get there. Eventually :) The boys are just doing a lot of legwork in this fic and for some reason I couldn't cut it. All other notes and disclaimers in chapter one.

-o-

Chapter Two

There were five victims, which meant there were five grieving families to interview and work for information. That meant five weeping mothers, five splotchy significant others, five stoically broken fathers, five confused sets of friends.

After four, Dean was exhausted and ready for a break. He'd been cried on, used as a handkerchief, and told about all the wonderful things so-and-so had done, and the food hadn't even been that good. Nor had the families been all that informative-well, usefullyinformative.

Dean loosened his tie, lounging back in the Impala. "Well, that sucked."

"Yeah," Sam said. "They're going to have a tough time. I almost wish we were from the insurance company so we could help them out more. Four kids." Sam shook his head in sadness.

"I mean, for us," Dean said. "We got nothing. All the victims have been normal. Completely. Haven't done anything weird. Haven't acted weird. Haven't talked about anything weird. Normal."

Sam's face fell from sympathy into a brood. "We must have missed something."

"Unless they're all leading secret lives their families don’t know about...," Dean said with a shrug.

Sam sighed, pulling out his notes again. "We still have one more victim to check out."

"Great," Dean said. "Tell me we don't have a mother of four this time."

Sam ignored him. "Looks like a college student. I couldn't find any family in the area."

"Then who are we supposed to talk to?"

"He worked at a office supply warehouse, which, coincidentally was where he was killed. We can start there, talk to some coworkers."

"What's our story?"

"Well it looks like he's not from here. Friends from home maybe? Cousins?"

"Well at least we've seen plenty of grieving family so we'll know how to act," Dean said with a reasonable shrug of his shoulder.

Sam stared at him. "Nice."

Dean made a face. "What?"

Sam just shook his head. He opened his mouth and shut it. "Let's just go."

-o-

As it turned out, the warehouse was one in a long line of warehouses, all equally drab and nondescript looking. Smoke stacks could be seen on the horizon; this was definitely an industrial part of town.

"Not exactly prime location for the feline variety," Dean commented as he shut his door.

Sam squinted into the sunlight up at the buildings. Suspicion was solidifying on his face. "Not exactly prime location for the living variety."

“Yeah, well, let’s just get this over with,” Dean said. He was tired and aching for a lead to make all this legwork seem worthwhile.

Sam said nothing, but followed his brother.

The building looked no less inviting the closer they got. The outside was plain and sun scorched, the metallic trim casting bright glares into their eyes. The heat was still strong, not quite oppressive, but they were both grateful for the rush of air conditioning that met them as they opened the door.

Sometimes Dean liked to push into these things, to make him be the one to pump people for information. It was an important skill, he liked to remind Sam when the kid glared at him. More than that, it was delightful to see Sam squirm while lying with nothing more than a fake ID and bravado to back him up. It had always been his lifelong prerogative as the older brother, and it delighted him to no end that Sam always seemed surprised.

But things were different now; things were wearing thin. The jokes were hard to come by, and Sam's grimaces were more real than little brother affect. Sam was hurting and vulnerable, though he would admit it. His brother carried everything on his sleeve, and he was too involved, too connected. From his confession that saving people made him feel like he could save himself, to losing Madison--it just didn't seem right to put Sam in a position to initiate the subterfuge.

Dean couldn't really blame him. His father's penchant for secrets made him tired of his own, and the heartbroken looks on the faces of their sources began to hit a little too close to home for him. No, the way things were going, Dean just wanted the interview process to be over and done with. And the best way to get something done, he'd found, was to do it himself.

Sam didn't seem to mind, and followed Dean, just a step behind him, as Dean strode toward the desk in the small lobby of the building. The receptionist was a bored looking girl with bland hair and glasses who pointed toward a small room to the left.

When they knocked, the door opened and Dean poked his head in. "Hello?"

"Yeah?" a voice said to them. "You need something?"

Taking that as a cue to enter, Sam and Dean went inside, finding the room to be a small monitor filled room. At the seat in front of the screens was a young woman, clad in a security uniform, reclining and drinking a bottle of soda. She glanced over her shoulder. "Can I help you guys with something?"

Dean exchanged a curious glance with his brother. They needed answers and her laid-back disposition wasn't looking to work in their favor. "We were hoping to talk to you about Ryan River."

That caught her attention. She turned in her chair to look at them, her brow somewhat furrowed. "What for?"

It was Sam who answered, his voice a perfect pitch of sorrow and politeness. "We're friends of the family," he said.

Dean gave a melodramatic nod and looked down in forced sadness. "We're trying to do his family a favor and collect some of his things," Dean explained. "This has been kind of difficult for them.

Her eyes widened somewhat. "Oh," she said. A momentary doubt crossed her face before she smiled politely. "Well, he doesn't have much, but I can show you his locker."

Dean grinned appreciatively, looking down her curved body. The nametag clipped to her lapel said Elizabeth. "Thanks."

The girl smiled broadly for a second, then thought better of it, and blushed and started back. Sam cast his brother a glare, who just shrugged and followed her.

"I imagine this is pretty hard," Elizabeth was saying, glancing back at them. "I mean, with the way Ryan died..." Her voice trailed off with an involuntary shudder. "There wasn't much left of him."

"They say it was a mauling."

Elizabeth paused in the doorway. "I've never seen anything like that before," she said, looking at them with haunted eyes.

"You saw him?" Sam asked, and Dean straightened beside him. This was a break they weren't expecting, but certainly weren't going to let pass untapped.

She blanched slightly. "I was the one who found him."

Both brothers were silent for a moment, processing that revelation. Dean resisted the urge to look excited--this might be the break he’d been waiting for. This was more than a grieving relative; she could offer him more than tearful memories of what once had been. She was about perfect, in fact; a coworker, which meant she was close, but not too close to be emotionally damaged of it, and she was as close to an actual witness as they had come across.

Which mean that maybe, finally, they’d get some concrete information, a better lead to go on. Dean couldn't deny the surge of excitement that spread through him--cases were always more interesting when they had something to go on, not when they were digging around in a whole lot of nothing. However, breaking into a wide grin probably wouldn't be the appropriate response. The events had obviously been somewhat traumatic for her, and Dean couldn't afford to turn her off to talking to them now. He was a bit relieved when Sam continued the questions. "You found him?" Sam clarified.

Clenching her teeth, she nodded. "I had the shift after his," she said. "I got there a little early, and the place was a mess. We still haven't cleaned it all up yet-the back room's still a crime scene."

"Wow," Dean mused, striving for sincerity. "That must have been hard."

If his intentions fell short, she didn't notice, but then again, Elizabeth didn't really seem to be paying attention to them at all anymore. She tried to shrug, and started moving again, stopping in front of a locker. She jimmied it open, before turning back toward them. "It was worse for Ryan, I'm sure," she said.

Not even Sam could manage a response to that. Not that Sam wasn't going to try, though, Dean noted with a minute shakeo of his head. His kid brother looked quiet and sad, and far too sympathetic. Knowing Dean's luck these days, Sam was going to push this girl to tears and then cry right along with her. Hoping to keep the conversation on track, Dean turned his attention to the locker. "Is this it?" Dean asked.

Elizabeth sniffled a little, nodding. "He didn't have a lot of personal stuff," she said, almost apologetically. "Like I said, he kept to himself."

Not a lot of personal stuff was an understatement. The locker was barren except for an extra change of clothes, a bag of chips, and an unopened can of Coke. The only personal item was a picture stuck to the door; Sam reached out and plucked it off, studying it.

The picture was of two boys, both dark haired and deep skinned.

"Do you know when this was taken?" Sam asked, and Dean could tell that, this time, Sam's quiet empathy at least hid a purposeful questions.

Dean eyed Elizabeth carefully, noticing how she fidgeted nervously. "I didn't really know Ryan very well, or his friend for that matter."

"His friend?" Sam prompted.

She nodded to the picture. "Michael something-or-other. They always volunteered for the night shift together. They were practically inseparable."

The pieces were falling into place. Sam was on a roll and his dewy eyes were surely winning her trust, so Dean let him continue. "Were they working together the night of the attack?"

"Yeah," she said. "But it was weird. When I got here, Michael was nowhere to be found. I figured maybe he took off early and Ryan was covering the end of the shift. But then he just stopped showing up."

Dean's interest got the better of him. "What else did you see that night?" Dean asked.

The question made her stop, and she swallowed hard. "I didn't see anything," she replied harshly, her voice shaking. It was clear she was trying to convince herself as well as them, but she was failing on all counts.

"Are you sure?" Dean kept his voice slow and deliberate, dangling a chance for her to admit whatever she saw, and waiting for her to bite.

"I'm sure," she said, a bit more resolutely. "That's what I told the cops."

It was the opening they needed. "But what didn't you tell the cops?" Dean asked.

Startled, her eyes flashed up to the brothers, wide and terrified. "Nothing," she said quickly, the lie sounding weak on her lips.

"Nothing?" Dean asked, and in that single word he conveyed enough doubt and skepticism to make her blush. Carefully, he reigned in his questioning, momentarily forgetting he was concerned family, not a cop in this act. "Ryan was close to us--we just want to know, for sure you know, what really happened to him. The cops aren't telling us much."

She opened her mouth, then closed it, and finally sighed. “I just…heard these sounds,” she said. “Weird sounds. Like something growling right when I got on. I went to check it out and saw the blood. I found Ryan and started screaming.”

The boys waited, biding their time.

She bit her lip. “And as I was going to call 911, I saw something moving. Something fast. It looked almost like a cat.”

“The cops did say it was a mauling,” Sam suggested cautiously. “Maybe you saw it.”

She shook her head adamantly. “No, it wasn’t a cat. Not like a realcat. It walked on two legs. It looked like a…like a half man, half cat. But that’s crazy, right?”

It did sound a little crazy, but crazy was right up there alley.

Dean offered a half smile. “Mind will play tricks on you under extreme circumstances,” he finally agreed.

She looked both relieved and disappointed, and Dean felt a twinge of guilt. She’d seen something, she knew it, but until she was integral to the case, it was best to leave her out of it.

He glanced at Sam, who had a sorrowful, pitying look on his face. His brother had such a bleeding heart for victims. Now more than ever.

But, he had to admit that Sam was right on that count. Some people deserved to stay innocent. If he couldn't preserve Sam's innocence, which he clearly couldn't, he'd settle for this girl today.

Reinforcing his smile, he said, "We really appreciate your time."

The thanks seemed to shake her from her thoughts. "Yeah," she said, attempting to sound airy. "No problem. Anything to help."

She walked them to the door, and her doubts from earlier seemed to be abating as Dean asked her what a nice girl like her was doing working at a place like this.

Blushing a little, Elizabeth looked down. "What can I say? I like to play with guns."

Sam rolled his eyes behind her and Dean just grinned. "What do you know? So do I?"

The look she flashed up at him was interested and bright.

Dean cocked his head, raised his eyebrows and opened his mouth to reply, when Sam abruptly cut him off.

"Thanks again for your help," he said, moving purposefully beside Dean.

She looked surprised, maybe disappointed, but managed a polite smile. "Yeah, really, no problem. Call if you have any more questions or anything."

"Oh, we will," Dean said, but Sam's hand was on his elbow and he was being pulled toward the door.

She followed them, taking hold of the open door as they went through. "That your car?" she asked, nodding toward the Impala parked in the first row.

That was enough to stop both brothers, much to Sam's chagrin. "Yeah," Dean said.

"Nice," she said with an approving air. "That an Impala?"

Dean's interest piqued and his smile widened with sincerity. "Yeah."

"What year?"

“’67,” Dean said, more than a small hint of pride coloring his voice.

She nodded, clearly impressed. “It looks like it’s in great condition,” she said. “You don’t see a lot like that these days.”

Dean shrugged, trying to appear nonchalant but only appearing cheesy. "It's been in the family for years."

Elizabeth looked ready to say more, when Sam cleared his throat, looking pointedly at Dean.

Dean's smile faded to a discontented smile. "We'll be in touch," he said, lingering, but Sam was already walking to the car.

-o-

Elizabeth's comments on the car had Dean glowing like a proud mother, and the glow didn't fade as he drove them back toward the motel, his posture even a little straighter in his fit of pride.

Sam on the other hand, seemed to be living up to little brother form, and was almost sulking in the passenger's seat. Sam's previously good mood had evaporated-the kid hated the acts they used to pump information and the mystery was showing no progress of being solved. Besides, Dean knew part of Sam's problem solving technique involved some good, old-fashioned brooding.

So Dean tried to pay him no heed. After all, if he ignored Sam, then Sam couldn't bring his spirits down. And this was the best he'd felt since they'd started this hunt.

With that in mind, he pulled off at the first diner he saw, no matter how dingy or greasy it looked. Sam raised his eyebrows at him but Dean merely killed the engine and said, "I'm starved and I'm betting that motel doesn't have room service."

That elicited a snort from Sam, who followed him wordlessly into the diner. They settled in a seat by the window, perusing the splotchy menus with detached interest.

Dean was weighing the benefits of a bacon cheeseburger against the merits of a Philly cheese steak when he found Sam looking at him.

Not just a casual, what-are-you-going-to-order look, but something else.

Great. Sam had that look on his face, that too-sympathetic, I-know-better-than-you look. Dean grimaced expectantly, hoping to push his brother into stuffing his mouth with food before he could really strike up a conversation.

The waitress had dropped off a few glasses of water, when Dean looked at his brother again. He knew immediately it was a mistake.

"I think we should talk about the car," Sam said before he could look away.

Usually Sam's talks were just annoyingly girly, but this one immediately made him mad. It didn't take a genius to guess what Sam wanted ot say about it, and it was a conversation Dean refused to humor. His forehead creased and his eyes darkened. "What's to talk about?"

Sam looked at him like Dean should know exactly what he was talking about. "It's kind of conspicuous, don't you think?"

"It's a classic," Dean said, opening the menu with purpose. "People are going to notice it."

"And that's my point," Sam said, leaning forward. "People donotice it."

"And that's a problem because?"

It didn't seem possible, but Sam looked more incredulous. He leaned farther forward and his voice dropped. "Well you are kind of on the FBI most wanted list," Sam hissed. "I'm sure they know about the car too."

"So?" Dean asked, flipping through the menu without seeing it at all.

"Well, don't you think maybe we should consider-"

Dean looked up sharply, his eyes deadly. "Don't say it, Sam."

A muscle twitched in Sam's jaw and his eyes were wide and placating. "I just think there's a bigger picture."

"I think you better rethink that altogether," Dean suggested threateningly. "Now look at your menu and get ready to order."

Sam sighed, collapsing back against the seat. "I just don't think it's worth the risk."

"Dude, if we can survive hunting demons and ghosts and freakin' poltergeists, I think we can survive driving the Impala," Dean snapped. "Now look at your menu and shut up before I leave you behind. Seven foot sasquatches aren't exactly inconspicuous either, and the car actually takes me places while you just annoy me."

Sam's compassion had been reduced to a glare. "Fine," he said. "When you get caught, I'm sure it'll all be worthwhile."

"Damn straight," Dean said, looking back at the menu. Then, before Sam could muster a comment in retaliation, Dean motioned the waitress over to take their order. Which was such a typical Dean thing to do. Avoid the conflict by bringing in a third party. He knew Sam would avoid raising a stink in front of other people.

Any frustrations Sam may have had were released with an exasperated sigh, which Dean ignored purposefully as he delineated an order for a grilled chicken sandwich with tomato, mayo, and lettuce, extra onions (because Sam deserved it), and a side of fries and a beer to top it off.

By the time Sam placed his order for a salad, Salisbury steak and fries, he was ready to drop the conversation, much to Dean's relief and Sam's benefit. The younger brother murmured answers to the waitress' questions: "Yes, I'll take the gravy...no, I don't want a cup of soup."

Dean watched the waitress leave, waiting until she was a safe distance away before taking a sip of his drink. It was another minute before Sam dared to talk to his brother again.

“So what do you think about Ryan’s death?” Sam finally ventured, resigned to surrender his previous point.

Dean shrugged, taking a gulp of his water. “Half man, half cat? Sounds a little hokey to me.”

Sam seemed to consider that. "Maybe. But we've seen a lot of weird stuff."

"There's weird, and then there's weird," Dean said.

"She seemed pretty certain," Sam pointed out. "Not exactly the wishy-washy type. I mean, she saw something-she was freaked out enough to hide it."

"Sure, something," Dean agreed. "But that doesn't mean it was a half man, half cat. I mean, what would that even be?"

"Some kind of spirit?"

"Of...? A cat? The Catwoman wannabe?"

Okay, even Sam had to admit that sounded like more than slightly ridiculous. But Dean did have a tendency to oversimplify things when it wasn't his case they were chasing. Sam persisted. He was nothing if not persistent. "Maybe some kind of spirit joining...a merging of some sorts. Or a projection."

"Who would project a homicidal man-cat into the warehouse district of Flat Rock, Arizona?" Dean poked at the ice in his cup with his straw. "It's a stretch, even for us."

Sam's shoulders drooped and he frowned. "I know," he admitted. "I'm just trying to figure this out. There is something going on here, and we just need to figure out what it is."

Sam figured he must have looked a bit like a kicked puppy because Dean's demeanor lightened, hedging a bit toward optimism. "So what else can we try?"

"Well, the kid did have an apartment," Sam said. "We can check there. See what else turns up."

"Fantastic," Dean said, but he was smiling at the waitress who was placing plates in front of them. "Thanks. I'm totally famished."

"No problem, sweetie," she crooned. "Can I get you boys anything else?"

Dean grinned broadly up at her and Sam managed a slight shake of his head. "I think we're good, thanks."

"We're fabulous," Dean echoed him.

The waitress chuckled, blushing a little, before turning back toward the kitchen.

Sam stared at his brother, almost bewildered. Dean just shrugged and shoveled a fry into his mouth. "What?"

-o-

Stomachs full, dissentions quelled, the boys found themselves a few miles from the warehouse district, roaming the neighborhoods of small houses and apartment complexes for Ryan's home.

This was pretty typical for them, and Sam was always a bit impressed with Dean's innate ability to navigate. They had both been raised in a transient home, and unfamiliar territory was actually what made them comfortable. Somewhere along the line, Dean had developed a particularly keen sense of awareness, of city layout, and usually they didn't need much more than a cursory glance at a map before Dean was able to ease the Impala to the right destination.

Today was no different.

Crestview Apartments were little more than three-story concrete boxes that loomed pathetically at the top of a hill on the south side of town. It was nothing special, but seemed to attempt to look nicer than average.

There was a large lot, spotted with various dilapidated cars and rusted pickups. It did not escape Sam's notice that Dean put the car in the first spot, right next to the street, and any questions Sam may have had as to Dean's intentions were made clear by the half smirk that adorned his brother's face.

Sam just rolled eyes his and quelled the urge to comment.

Dean killed the engine and then looked expectantly at him.

"Good spot, huh?" he asked, his looked deviously humorous.

Sam gave a fake smile and nodded facetiously. "The best."

Dean raised his eyebrows, grinning proudly. "You have to know how to have fun in life, Sammy."

"I would rather stay alive and out of prison if I could help it."

"Aw, come on, Sammy," Dean chided. "You need to lighten up a bit. There has to be a reason we bother staying alive at all."

Sam's patience was already thin, and his brother's cavalier attitude was grating dangerously. He wanted his brother to be happy, he really did, but Dean was far too flippant about their safety sometimes. They'd lost enough; the last thing they needed was to risk throwing away what little was left of their lives by getting in trouble with the law. They'd been on the other side of the bars and that wasn't an experience Sam was ready to relive. He sighed. "Dean, can we just focus. Please."

Dean rolled his eyes. "You're boring."

"You're a jerk."

Dean showed a sudden surprising maturity and changed the subject, which Sam was marginally grateful for. "Tell you what. You sweep the grounds with the EMF. I'll talk to the landlord and see if I can learn anything about Ryan."

From experience, he knew that separating on a hunt usually wasn’t a good experience. However, at this point, he was a bit relieved he didn't have to be with Dean for a bit. He wanted to avoid fratricide if he could. "Fine," he gritted out. "I'll see you in a few." He swung his door open and unfolded himself from the seat.

Dean followed suit. "You know, if you keep your face like that much longer, it's going to stay like that forever."

"Bite me," Sam tossed over his shoulder, stalking off toward the buildings as he heard Dean chuckling in the background.

Once he was out of range from his brother, Sam could feel himself relaxing. Maybe he was being a bit anal, but it didn't give Dean a good reason for acting like they owned the world. Last he checked, they were wanted men by the law and demons alike, neither of which boded well for them.

Which was why they needed to focus on this hunt. They couldn't do much about Hendrickson or the demon. They could figure out what was killing these people, and that was what Sam wanted to concentrate on for now.

The grounds consisted of another parking lot, a pathetic assortment of desert greenery, and a small jungle gym near the laundry room entrance. The day was hot, and children ran around dressed in as little as possible. An old woman was sprawled in a chair, fanning herself in the laundry room, seeming to glare at him as he wandered past.

He worked the EMF discreetly in front of him, moving carefully so as to hide the small piece of equipment.

A pair of small children ran across the sidewalk in front of him, squealing and laughing.

Sam wiped his forehead-the heat was in full force today.

Something spiked on the EMF but diminished quickly. Sam ducked around, trying to chase it, lingering near the edges of the buildings, but nothing reappeared. There were no hot spots, just some residual flare. He looked up, taking in the wires that roped from building to building.

It was possible there was just interference, or it was possible that there was something around-just nothing very strong and the EMF certainly wasn't going to give him a clear sense of direction. Maybe if he could get into the apartments and sweep each one.

He sighed. The complex was too large. Without more concrete evidence of activity, he had nothing to go on.

He was circling the last building when he nearly ran into his brother, who was walking quickly toward him.

"Hey, you find out anything?" Dean asked.

Sam shrugged. "Some background noise, but nothing specific. Could just be the telephone wires."

Dean crinkled his nose.

"What about the landlord?"

"Landlady," Dean clarified, a sly grin on his face.

Sam just stared, half in disbelief that his brother was going there at all, half in just pure annoyance.

Dean's smile fell in exasperation. "Said he was quiet," Dean said. "Nothing too special. Paid his rent on time, was never any trouble. Nice kid."

Sam looked pensive. "Did she say anything else?"

"Well, she thought he was cute, and not in that little kid way, which I thought was creepy as she was, like fifty."

Ignoring his brother, Sam said, "Maybe we should check out his place?"

Dean grinned and held up a key. "I'm already ahead of you on that one."

"You stole it?"

Dean feigned hurt. "She gave it to me. I said I was his cousin."

Sam just stared. "His cousin?"

"Why not?"

"He was Native American. You look nothing like him." Sometimes his brother's blatant audacity floored him. Their claim to being family at the warehouse had been lack of knowledge; now it was just plain ludicrous.

"Not my fault I was born with good genes," Dean said, shrugging, and moving to the building.

Snorting, Sam shook his head, and followed.

-o-

The first thing Dean noticed was the smell. It wasn't bad, necessarily, and Dean had certainly smelled worse, but it was distinctive and stuffy, and definitely needed to be exposed to some fresh air.

Once inside, the two boys took in their surroundings.

The apartment was small, hardly three rooms total. The kitchen was crammed into the living room and while there was a small section of space for a dining room, there was no table there. The counters were clean and barren. There was a small futon facing a small TV with rabbit ears poking wildly off the top. There was a set of cheap bookshelves, heaped with books and smaller items.

But beyond that, there was nothing. The coffee table was vacant and the lone end table hosted a phone and a lamp.

"Not very into material possessions, huh?" Dean commented, moving inward.

Sam merely raised his eyebrows in agreement.

"I mean, what does he do in his free time? He didn't even have cable."

At that, Sam just glared his annoyance.

"I'm just saying."

Sam didn't dignify him with a response and instead headed toward the bedroom.

Dean watched him go, a satisfied grin on his face. Sure, he loved and protected the kid and worried about him like no other, but there were few things more enjoyable for a big brother than annoying the younger. Relishing his success, Dean continued his investigation of the living room.

With a sweep of his eyes, he covered the couch and coffee table and even the TV stand. Finding the whole research element woefully anticlimactic, he pushed play on the answering machine before heading over the bookshelves to take a look.

"Hey, Ryan, it's Michael. I was just calling to let you know I visited Elliott. He had a lot to say, man. I'll tell you more when I see you."

Dean browsed the contents of the cheap bookshelf along the wall, finding a handful of books on Native American culture, along with some on herbal remedies.

The machine beeped and the next message began. "Ryan, it's Michael. Are we still on for tonight?"

He picked up a candle and sniffed it, grimacing at its pungent odor.

"Hey, Ryan, it's me--Michael. I just...I wanted to talk.. You home? Okay. Call me."

When it beeped again, Dean rolled his eyes. "Let me guess, Ryan, it's Michael," he muttered, finger a rock on the shelves.

"Ryan, it's Michael..."

Dean scoffed. Sometimes it was too easy.

"I have the stuff. Where are you? We're supposed to leave ten minutes ago. I want to get this done tonight. Just...call me, okay?"

The machine beeped for the final time, heralding the end of the messages.

Dean quirked an eyebrow. "Apparently the kid didn't get around much."

"Sounds like those two were pretty tight," Sam called. "Maybe we should try talking to him."

"Yeah, but we don't know his name or his number...just a voice on an answering machine," Dean pointed out, flipping through a magazine on the coffee table.

From the other room, he could hear Sam's voice. "Maybe it's Michael Whitefoot, who lives at 210 Walnut Drive."

"And how do you figure that?" Dean asked.

"I'm psychic, remember?" Sam said, strolling into the room.

Dean cocked his head in question.

"That and I found his address book," Sam added, tossing it at Dean.

Dean caught it with a glare. "Yeah, and don't forget to mention that you're a smartass, Smartass."

Sam chuckled dryly. "Whatever, dude. Let's just go talk to Michael and see what he can tell us."

Dean forced a smile as he stood, following Sam to the door. "I can hardly contain myself."

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