Once more, the night before John pulled the boys across the States, Sam had a dream. It was disjointed and emotionally heavy with flashes of numbers and images. When he startled awake, panting and disoriented, he felt exhausted. It all started to slip away from him then. Frustrated, he gnashed his teeth together and hit the frame of his bed.

Dean startled awake on the other side of the room, having always been a light sleeper. "Sammy?" he slurred his brother's name sleepily.

Sam could feel him waking up more by the second and that anxiety had started to creep into Dean's chest. Sam sighed. "Nothing's wrong Dean, just lost a dream."

His brother immediately understood, used to the dreams and the frustration Sam felt when they melted away, and started to settle down again. "You'll get it," Dean mumbled before his breath evened out again.

Sam could only hope so, but the rest of the night was filled with broken sleep.

It was a thirteen hour drive to Shreveport.

Besides trying to catch up on his sleep Sam spent the time flipping through a history book Bobby lent to him. Dean had a busted walkman on his lap with a box of wires and tools next to him. The rumble of the Impala and John's cassette tapes on a cycle brought them all the way down Interstate 49 to the latest hunt.

Sam had a bad feeling the moment they pulled up to the motel. It was by no means the only option but it's obviously the cheapest; it could have done with a few repairs and the purple doors could have used a new layer of paint. But it wasn't the look of The Butterfly Inn that put Sam's guard up, it was the feeling that twisted in his stomach and pushed against his spine. He couldn't stop himself from frowning as he and Dean waited for John to get a room.

It only got worse once John came back with a key - it felt like his bones started to tingle - and when they stepped inside their room - Sam's vision swam for a second and when things came back into focus it was like his head was put back on at an angle. A feeling of desperation clawed at his throat. He was just relieved that he was able to do his usual routine to settle into the room without Dean or John any wiser to the fact that something was wrong .

"How long'll this take Dad?" Dean asked as he slouched onto one of the beds, pretending to not watch John put his journal and a few other items into the safe in the closet. Sam's teeth felt like they were about to vibrate out of his head. The sensation only calmed down once John stepped away and the safe door clanged shut.

"No more than a week, just a quick contract job."

Sam face-planted next to Dean on the bed and a huge raspberry of a sigh left his lips, exhausted. If he had the brain space for it he would've been able to imagine both of them rolling their eyes at him. As it was, he was trying to parse out what all the warning bells in his head were trying to tell him. He couldn't wait for John to leave so he could talk to Dean about it.

"You two stay put, I'm going out to meet with the job manager." It wasn't rare for John to immediately jump on the job, no matter if he'd been driving for thirteen hours straight and hadn't slept in almost two days. As usual, Sam was amazed at his obliviousness in his younger years at John's weak 'work' excuses. At least Sam's inner warning bells didn't blare any louder; it was starting to give him a headache. He almost wanted to try and sleep again to shut it all off, despite it being early in the morning.

"I know; lock the door, don't open it for anyone, and watch out for Sammy," Dean parroted, his voice amused yet put off that their dad didn't think he knew the rules by now. "I've been doing this for a while, Dad, I know the drill."

Sam heard a faint grunt before the door loudly clicked shut; the sound reverberated in his ears. He groaned slightly. Dean lightly kicked his thigh and he groaned again.

"What's up with you? You're usually ready to go by this time of day." Dean groused as he reached to poke repeatedly at Sam's shoulder.

"My head's a mess," he admitted, annoyed, into the bed's comforter. That stopped Dean's annoying poking at least.

"Your head's always a mess." Sam could practically hear Dean rolling his eyes but he could also feel his brother's worry spike.

Sam shook his head, nose squashed against the bed as his head lolled. "No this is different. Something's wrong."

"What do you mean, 'wrong'?" Dean's worry bled into his voice.

Sam finally turned his head to the side so he could breathe properly. "I don't know," he whined softly, hating that he didn't know what was going on. "But it's like I've got a funhouse mirror in my head, things are all off and it's hard to tell things apart."

Dean was frowning heavily at Sam, worry and anxiety high-pitched in Sam's inner ear.

"I think it's the hotel. Something isn't right here."

Ever the mother hen, Dean immediately tried to come up with ways to deal with Sam's problem while avoiding the real issue. "Let's go out for the day, explore the town. I think I saw an arcade on our way in."

Sam didn't have it in him to argue. Plus, an arcade sounded fun. Sam was ruthless at pinball while Dean thrived on shooting and racing games. He figured it'd be nice to be like normal kids and rack up the tickets for some fun trinkets.

Sam thrashed awake the first night at the Butterfly Inn. By the time he blinked fear and sleep from his eyes John was crouched by his side of the bed, bathed in weak moonlight through the worn-thin curtains. He instinctively leaned into the broad palm that ran through his hair.

"Sam?"

Something caught the attention of his inner ear and he swiveled his attention towards the closet rather than his dad. Without even thinking, almost without his permission, his mouth opened. "Something's in the closet."

Immediately Sam went still. How the hell would he explain himself to his father?

The presence he was peripherally aware of seemed to notice him . It was an unsettling feeling - like he was doused with ice water as desperation climbed in his throat.

Distantly, he registered that John had chuckled softly enough so Dean wouldn't wake; it was a miracle that he hadn't already from Sam's thrashing.

"Let me check it out." John's hand passed gently through Sam's hair again as he stepped away from the bed. Agitatedcuriosity skittered across Sam's fingers as John stepped closer and closer. He twisted the rough blanket in his young hands - Sam wanted to yell out. Stop him.

But John opened the closet and nothing happened. There was just tense, expectant air. John riffled through their things and the air was suddenly so much more breathable - the other presence had vanished.

John's shadowed figure came back, something glinting in his hand. "Nothing's in the closet, Sam."

"You sure?" That meek voice couldn't have belonged to Sam, could it? Since when was he so scared? He was nine!

John nodded in the half-light. "I made sure of it but here, as an extra precaution, just in case." He reached out and handed Sam the object that glinted in the moonlight.

"A gun?" Sam's voice was loud with incredulousness.

Dean shifted in his sleep next to him and Sam snapped his mouth shut.

"A monster-killing .45," John jokingly soothed. "and I know you know how to use it Sam, don't get nervous on me now."

Sam took the gun and carefully laid it on the mattress next to his pillow. It was crazy - who would give a nine-year-old a gun for the thing in the closet? Sam was sure none of his classmates back in Sioux Falls had ever held a gun. But it did also calm him down somewhat, he felt more settled knowing he could protect himself if need be; not Dean and not John.

"Try to get back to sleep Sammy, you need it," John whispered again, hand running through Sam's hair one last time.

"Okay," Sam murmured back, relishing the simple, soft touch. It was the only softness Sam really knew from John. As much as he hated having nightmares, he liked John comforting him; it was the one normal thing about their family.

John went back to his own bed and Sam shifted, turned over to see the closet beyond the lump of Dean's body.

Dean's eyes were squinting open at him. 'Okay?' he mouthed silently.

Sam showed him the gun and nodded. 'For now,' he mouthed back. Dean's worry eased, something Sam hadn't even noticed he'd been feeling, and Sam smiled softly before closing his eyes.

In the morning, after John had slipped out in the early hours, Sam and Dean talked about what Sam had been feeling and experiencing in relation to whatever was in the closet. Dean was adamant that Sam should keep it a secret while Sam thought he should clue John into what was going on.

He knew from the slipperiness of the emotions and sensations he got from the specter that it wasn't entirely friendly - there was a harsh edge to everything that unnerved him. It was an argument that lasted until John got back to the motel and asked Dean to go to the library and help him out a bit. Sam scowled, petulant at being left out again .

Dean shot him a loaded warning look as he slumped out of the motel room after John. Sam was left to his own devices.

He put the TV on old westerns at a low level, just for some noise to distract from the buzz going on inside his head, and opened a science book from the school near Bobby's. He was desperate to understand the material so that the next time they settled down for a few months and they were enrolled in school once more he wasn't the class idiot. Again. Other nine-year olds were ruthless.

Sam's head jerked up in surprise when he heard the Impala engine not even thirty minutes later. There was no way that Dean and John had done research that quickly. John entered the room with a frown and immediately headed for the closet, barely acknowledging Sam on the bed.

Words about the truth of the current situation crawled up Sam's throat and lodged there. He tried to swallow around them, not really sure if the time to talk was during a hunt. But as John searched through their bags in the closet something else's agitation rang along Sam's bones and started to mount into annoyance. He couldn't hold it in any longer. "Be careful, there's something in the closet."

He wanted to knock his head against the wall but that might be more worrisome to John than the rather obscure statement.

"Nothing's in the closet Sam," John said fondly, still going through the bags. But that fondness only made Sam suddenly, unreasonably angry.

"How would you know? You've hardly been here!"

John harshly straightened up from his search and looked over at Sam with hardened eyes. Sam could feel the blurry edge of his anger. "I'm working. To keep you safe and a roof over your head."

Sam couldn't help but scoff. "A roof over our heads?" He felt John's incredulous anger grow and knew he should stop. He couldn't though, he felt out of control. "I don't think that saying applies to hundreds of crappy motel rooms."

"Watch it," John warned him as he stepped away from the closet and towards Sam. It didn't make the irritation that filled the room disappear though.

"And how are you keeping us safe when there's something hiding in the closet?!"

"Enough Sam! You need to grow up and stop being afraid of the dark - there's nothing there!"

Sam felt a tendril of gleeful pride before a small chill settled over him. "How can you say that when you literally hunt monsters? I'm not dumb!"

The room around them held its breath - shock and anticipation colored the silence.

"What did you just say?" John's voice was emotionless and still as his body but his feelings - fear, heartbreak, dismay, smug pride, anger - were a riot around him.

Sam tried to stay steady and strong in front of his declaration. "I know what you actually do; you hunt monsters."

There was a beat as John absorbed the blunt statement. "How do you figure?"

"I found your journal."

John's face twitched and his left hand clenched. "When? How long have you known?"

"Around Christmas," Sam softly admitted. "And then I made Dean explain it to me."

John lost his stoic expression as he rolled his eyes. "Of course he did." He passed a hand over his face. "Just because you know the truth doesn't mean that there's something in the closet; I checked and there's salt at all the windows and doors, Sam."

"Then it's powerful! Why won't you believe me?" Sam couldn't help but whine.

John sighed, exasperated. "I think I'm better at this stuff than you, Sam. I've been doing it since you were born. You're only eleven and have known about this stuff for less than half a year."

Sam set his jaw mulishly, annoyed by John's tired, flippant feelings. A sudden chill settled around him and he couldn't help but shiver, breath coming out as fog as he opened his mouth to retort.

John wasn't paying attention to Sam though, he'd felt the chill as well and whipped around to survey the room. "Sam, go to the bathroom."
"What? No!"

"Just do it!" John snapped as he withdrew a pistol from an inner pocket of his coat. It made Sam realize the severity of the situation. He made a beeline for the salted doorway. Just as he passed the closet Sam was body slammed; a wall of pressure wrapped around him and threw him back towards John. He groaned as he landed heavily on his left side. But he barely felt it through the sensation of his bones vibrating and his head turning into a klaxon alarm. He curled up and covered his ears. It didn't help.

A strong wave of anger suddenly flooded his mind. He gritted his teeth so he wouldn't cry out. It swirled around him and there was a sense of giddiness before it descended. A shout of pain tore from his mouth the same moment that John fired his gun. And then he was being hauled to his feet.

"Come on, get up , Sam."

He was dragged outside and he finally could breathe again, like everything had been plugged up and now all his senses were freed. He gasped for air. "What was that ?"

"A ghost. Possibly even a poltergeist," John replied tersely as he threw open the Impala's trunk and started searching for something.

Sam looked at John's profile, the furiously furrowed brow as he searched the contents of the trunk. Sam's stomach twisted uneasily at the determination. "What are you looking for?"

"Salt rounds. We were lucky I still had iron bullets from the last hunt in my gun but salt rounds are better for ghosts. Are you okay?" John turned sharply to look at Sam, eyes sharp and critical as they ran over his body.

Sam felt his pulse in his throat. He tried to play his sudden panic off. "Yeah, why wouldn't I be?"

"You landed pretty heavy on your arm and you stayed down." John went back to rifling through the contents of the trunk. He made a pleased noise and quickly changed out the bullets in his gun.

"Guess I was just shocked by everything. I'm fine, Dad."

"Good." He thrust a silver handgun with a white grip towards Sam. Sam blanched and glanced around. "We went over this last night, take it." Sam cautiously did so. "You're staying here; wait for Dean and don't go back into the room. I'm going to find out who's haunting the hotel and take care of them."

"What?" Sam yelped.

John slammed the trunk closed and almost smirked at him. "It's my job Sam. I thought you knew that." And he was quickly in the driver's seat of the Impala and then out of the parking lot, leaving Sam there with a glinting gun in his hand. He hastily and cautiously hid it underneath his shirt, tucking it into the waistband of his pants like he'd seen John and Uncle Bobby do. He sighed heavily and then sat down in front of their room; he had nothing else to do.

"What are you waiting out here for? Where's Dad?"

Sam had been pacing what felt like forever when Dean finally showed up. He tried to jump in front of Dean, block him from entering the room but when his brother wanted to relax not much could get in his way.

"Dean -" Sam tried to warn him - "stop!"

But his brother opened the door and entered the room, easy as anything. Sam loitered in the doorway as Dean dropped his backpack onto the table before throwing himself onto the bed.

"Are you coming in or what? And where's Dad? I got all this research for him, I'm not letting it go to waste."

Hesitantly Sam stepped into the room. Nothing happened, not even an extra emotion. He let out a small sigh of relief. "I told Dad about the feeling I had about the closet -" Dean whipped into a seated position, eyes wide. "- and we were attacked. He thinks it's a poltergeist. He said he was going to take care of it." He pulled the handgun carefully out of the waistband of his pants and placed it on the table next to Dean's backpack.

"You told him?" Dean's emotions were a riot - wariness, anxiety, fear, pride, relief. It was overwhelming for Sam whose head and side were still smarting from the attack earlier.

"I had to Dean! The … the feeling I was getting was so intense. And the constant headache and fun-house brain was getting to be too much."

Dean's face softened but he still pressed on, fear coloring his voice angry. "And he accepted it? That you just 'had a feeling'?"

"We didn't really get to talk about it too much; we were attacked." Sam shivered and rubbed his bruised arm. "It was … cold. And so angry. So overwhelming ." He looked wearily around the room.

Dean relented in his interrogation. "Do you feel it now?"

Sam shook his head. "No, just you. And echoes of the other people here."

"Do you want to get out of here?"

"Dad told me to stay put." Sam looked uncertain.

"Let's at least go outside. We could…" Dean trailed off as he thought. His eyes brightened with an idea. "I could read to you." He dove for his bag and riffled through it. He pulled out two books that had definitely seen better days. " The Hobbit or Breakfast of Champions ?"

Sam grinned. If he wanted to be selfish he would choose The Hobbit , it was his favorite. But he knew what Dean needed. " Breakfast of Champions ," Sam decided as he headed for the door.

Dean grinned beatifically and slung his arm around his brother's shoulders as they left the room. Something in Sam relaxed.

The Butterfly Inn, being right off of the highway and sandwiched between other businesses, had no green area for picnic tables or anything else of the sort. The boys had to try and get comfortable on the sidewalk against the brick exterior. It was very hard to be comfortable; their asses were numb by section three. Sam hid his face against Dean's shoulder to try and escape the waves of pity, suspicion, and worry that came from everyone who passed by them. Dean didn't complain.

In the middle of section five, satisfaction skittered across Sam's mind. "Dad's found something," Sam murmured. Dean stumbled over the words for a moment and his shoulders tensed but he didn't stop reading.

Somewhere in section seven there was a grumble of annoyance in Sam's inner ear. He furrowed his brow, unfamiliar with that sensation and tone.

Twenty minutes later the boys heard the rumble of the Impala. Their eyes snapped up and watched as John parked the car in an open spot close to them. Dean quickly got up and met John on the sidewalk, ready to ask questions.

John shook his head and the annoyance that Sam had initially felt doubled. "Inside," John ordered his sons, annoyance growing even more as Sam balked. "We don't talk about cases outside where a civilian might overhear us, Sam. Inside," he snapped.

Sam slowly entered the room after Dean, wary, but nothing else brushed against his mind. His shoulders relaxed slightly even as John's annoyance flared again. It tasted of anger.

The door snapped shut. "I told you to keep the gun on you."

He'd forgotten he'd left it on the table. It glistened in the sunlight streaming in through the streaky window. "'M sorry," Sam meekly apologized as he sat next to Dean on their bed. But unlike him, Dean was eager for answers. Dean's nervousexcited impatience bloomed inside Sam's mind.

"So, what did you find out? Sam said there's a poltergeist?"

John squeezed the bridge of his nose. "Not much to find. There's been no murders here since the Butterfly Inn opened in the 60s but bones were found while breaking ground to build it. Identification wasn't possible due to the state of the teeth. There's a couple of potter's fields around here but I can't exactly burn an entire cemetery." John sat heavily on his bed, frustrated with his dead-end search. And then he looked up and that frustration settled on his sons, suspicion sliding in. "Speaking of unanswered questions, there's something I'd like to know from you ." He looked between the two of them, eyes curious and hard. "When exactly were you going to tell me?"

Sam and Dean froze and shared a quick, uncertain look.

"Tell you what, sir?" Dean broke out his best manners and soothing charm to ease that look in John's eyes. It worked about six times out of ten.

"Cut the bullshit, Dean. When were you going to let me in on the fact that you told Sam the truth?"

It wasn't one of those six times.

Dean swallowed thickly, nerves stealing across his face. "I was going to tell you soon, I swear. Next time we were at Bobby's. I just didn't want to add to the stress of training on top of a job. Not that he's completely green! I've been teaching him defense and protections against creatures!"

John sighed heavily again, still unimpressed but slightly mollified. "According to Sam, there's been plenty of time to tell me; he's known since Christmas."

Dean's head twitched, like he wanted to glare at his brother for giving information away, but kept watching John. Sam could feel the tension of Dean being tested and measured right then. He knew his brother was thinking quickly.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier."

John considered them quietly for a minute, calculating. "Defense and protections?" he finally asked. Both boys nodded. "Good start. I'll take you two to the library tomorrow. I want you to show Sam what to be on the look-out for when looking for cases and how to discreetly research."

Dean nodded. "Yes, sir."

Sam could feel questions niggling at the back of Dean's mind, the incredulousness of being let off without more of a chewing out, and the restraint his brother was holding onto at that moment. John was restraining himself too.

The rest of the evening was tense as John ran Sam through the proper handling and cleaning of a gun before and after dinner.

What John hadn't said, they quickly found out the next morning, was that he'd go off and work the case that initially brought them to Shreveport while they were at the library. Which meant that after the hour and a half it took Dean to show Sam the ropes in how to carefully talk to civilians about a case and filter through the bullshit books at the library, they were stuck there. The North Shreveport Library was too far from their motel to walk back and Sam talked Dean out of hitchhiking back, which he'd done the day before. Sam got some paper from the librarians to draw while Dean browsed the fiction and historical fiction shelves for anything interesting.

The curls and twists Sam eventually ended up making looked vaguely familiar. He turned the paper every which way, trying to see what the pattern was - the wallpaper in their motel room? He ended up zoning out as he tried to think of familiar patterns. When he looked at it again he was surprised to see he'd mindlessly traced the design more. Or rather, sections of it. That which was darker now clearly read as numbers - 2 431 8 20 4.

He furrowed his brow. It clearly wasn't a telephone number. His eyes traced the numbers and he suddenly remembered; the hotel's address was 2431 and their room number was 204. A shiver went down his spine.

Sam went to one of the librarians and started to ask about the microform system and how to look at local newspapers from the 60s, for a school project he explained. She helpfully explained it to him and their organization system for the microfilm. After he displayed that he could work the monitor she let him be. He slowly started scanning the films for any information on the hotel.

He found out just as much as John had; what there was in the papers was very limited. He started to look for obituaries from as far back as he could, John and Jane Does preferably. After an hour, frustration was quickly building in Sam's chest and making his fingers jump and twitch on the dials. It was enough that he didn't notice Dean coming up to him.

"What are you doing?"

"Fuck! Dean, don't do that!"

Dean peered at the screen. "Death records? What the hell Sammy?" Worry, curiosity, and apprehension colored Dean's mind.

Heart calming down, Sam showed Dean the doodled numbers and explained his thinking and curiosity.

"And what's this?" Dean asked, pointing to a corner of the page. "It kinda looks like a butterfly?- wait." He dragged Sam away to an aisle in the history and biographies section. Showed him a slightly aged but hardly worn book.

"The Butterfly Man?" Sam asked with a faint laugh.

"He was a killer around here in the 30s, I thought it sounded interesting." He explained quickly as he skimmed the table of contents. He flipped to an early chapter and slowly skimmed. "Listen, he had three identified victims, maybe he had another unidentified one? Let's go search for established potter's fields during that time."

It took them another 45 minutes to track down relevant cemetery names. Dean got a local map to plot them and better reference them to the Butterfly Man's dumping grounds and movements, as listed in the book. They looked at each other and slowly grinned in tandem. Within distance of the motel, which used to be forested and close to a homeless encampment where the Butterfly Man possibly resided, was Oakland Cemetery. It had a small potter's field.

"Do you really think we found the poltergeists' grave?" Sam asked bright-eyed with incredulousness.

"I think so!" Dean quietly crowed and slapped Sam's back with pride. "The thing I'm most curious about now though is what made you draw the butterfly and the numbers."

Sam shrugged. "I was just zoning out and doodling."

After a moment of thinking Dean led them through the aisles of books again to the encyclopedias. He pulled the volume for topics labeled 'P-Q'. It took a moment of silent searching in the index but he finally flipped to a page, sitting down on the floor and putting the book before him. He gestured to the entry that it was opened to.

"'Psychic abilities'? Really Dean?" Sam's belly squirmed and he glanced around. He joined his brother on the floor.

Dean rolled his eyes and grumbled something under his breath but started reading through the entry. They ended up references sections and other books on psychology, theology, and the supernatural. They came to the conclusion that Sam was a psychic who could do automatic writing and drawing.

Knowing there were terms for Sam's abilities, and that other people must've experienced the types of things he was going through, simultaneously calmed and rattled both boys.

Dean pushed past it though, not wanting to linger on his fear for both his and Sam's sake and after they reshelved the reference books, showed Sam the book he'd found. It had been shoved behind some others and was a bit tattered, not likely to be missed; Catcher in the Rye . Sam gave him a slightly wobbly grin and asked Dean to read it out loud.

They had barely delved into it when John returned for them, bruised but victorious from his ghoul hunt.

"Say that again?"

"Well, that is, we just thought…" Sam stumbled over their lie as John stared him down.

"The Butterfly Man killed around here in the 30s and was hanged here as well," Dean jumped in to save Sam. "We just thought, perhaps, he had an unidentified kill." Dean shrugged nonchalantly even as excitement sparked in his eyes. "We searched for unmarked graves around the motel and found one in Oakland Cemetery."

A specter of awareness entered Sam's psyche and he shivered like there was ice slowly sliding down his back. He quickly schooled himself as John looked from Dean to him incredulously.

Suspicious wariness settled at the base of John's neck, making his shoulders tight. "You are aware that there's more than just one unmarked grave in Shreveport, right? What's to say that this one is ours? Proximity doesn't guarantee anything."

"Call it a wishful hunch."

"It won't do any harm in checking it out, will it?" Sam couldn't help but speak up again, eyes wide and curious and pleading, encouraged by a phantom feeling of curiosity and hope.

John shook his head and ran a hand through his hair with a sigh. Annoyance, much like from the day before, itched in his fingertips. "There's no harm, I suppose. But you two are staying here and keeping an eye on things. Understood?" He narrowed his eyes as he considered his sons.

"Yes, sir," the boys chorused together. Sam grinned.

"Good," John acquiesced with a nod. He softened slightly though his suspicion stayed strong. "Now come on Sam, tell me what I need to take care of a ghost."

With an excited nod, pleased with himself and to be included, Sam went outside to pick out John's supplies for the night.

Before John left the room he gave Dean a curious look. "What are you not saying?"

Dean paled. "Nothing. We just had hours at the library earlier and started brainstorming to test Sam's research skills."

John scrutinized Dean a moment longer. "You know I'm humoring you two just this once, right?"

"I'm aware."

"Good. I don't want half thought-out ideas and to waste time on false leads because of a 'hunch' or 'gut feelings'."

Anxiousness started to twist in Dean's stomach as he nodded again. As soon as John left the motel room he slumped onto the closest bed and rubbed his eyes. He didn't handle that as smoothly as he had hoped to; John was definitely aware that something was going on and that he was being lied to. And that was never something to be done with him. Was he already catching onto Sam's abilities? His anxiousness stepped up a level, it almost tasted like fear. Dean shook his head. As much as John saw darkness in everything, Dean had to believe that John wouldn't turn on Sam because of something he couldn't control. He shook his head again to dislodge the thoughts, to try and shove his emotions down; there was no need to worry Sam.

It was all for nothing though. When Sam came back into the motel room to the sound of the Impala's engine turning over and taking off, he was frowning at Dean. "Why're you scared?"

Dean scoffed and waved it off. "Scared? Me? Come on Sammy, when do I ever get scared?" Of course, as soon as the words were out of his mouth he realized his mistake; he was talking to his very literal-speaking brother who was also an empath. "Nevermind, forget I said anything." He quickly corrected himself as Sam started to open his mouth.

Sam frowned. "So, are you admitting you're scared then?"

"No," Dean snapped. And then sighed because he knew Sam was only worried about him and very unlikely to let it go. "I'm worried, not scared Sammy."

"About what?" Sam sat on the bed across from Dean.

Dean watched his shoes as they scuffed against the old carpet, weighing his options. After a minute of silence he finally spoke. "About Dad. He's suspicious; of the information we gave him and of us, he thinks - he knows - there's something we're not telling him." He raised his gaze to look at his brother.

Sam worried his bottom lip with his teeth. "D'you think he knows?" He asked softly, fingers twining together.

Dean shook his head somberly. "At least, not yet. But, we're gonna have to tell him something . Especially if we're right about the poltergiest's grave."

Anxiousness knocked at Sam's sternum and uneasy silence fell upon them, uncertainty making them awkward. After five minutes Dean asked, "Can you sense anything?"

Sam shook his head.

Four minutes later, "How about now? Dad should be at the grave by now."

"I don't know, Dean."

Seven minutes; "A pauper's grave isn't that deep, is it?"

Sam snapped. "Dean! I know as much, if not less, than you."

His brother shut his mouth.

Finally, Sam felt the stirring of triumph in his throat. He let out a relieved breath. It was short lived though, the poltergeist seemed to know its grave had been disturbed; cold permeated the room.

Dean jumped up, eyes bouncing around the room and shoulders high and tight. "Get in the bathroom."

"Like hell." Sam set his mouth in a stubborn line. Phantom despair filled his veins, alarms ringing in his head again. It was difficult to distinguish it from his own feelings.

"Get in the damn bathroom Sam," Dean gritted as he fingered the salt-rock filled handgun.

"Too late." Sam choked, head feeling full.

A form flickered into view in front of the closet; their face was bashed in horrifically and oozed a ghastly black, while patches of skin had bubbled and started to peel off.

Sam wanted to retch, overwhelmed.

Dean pulled the trigger and the figure vanished with a pop of resentment in Sam's ears. He protested his brother's name, not sure if the annoyance he felt was his own or the poltergeist's.

"What? It was going to attack us!"

"How do you know?" A shadow of the victim fitzed around Sam's vision, stalking towards Dean. "Look out!"

But he was already being flung across the room, the gun skittering from his hands.

That bloody face turned to look at Sam. The figure solidified in the room and Sam blanched; only one eye stared at him. He was filled with horrorsadness and the urge to beg. The figure stalked towards him and screamed in Sam's face.

His brain, already overloaded, whited out and for the first time since they approached the Butterfly Inn his head felt clear. Everything was silent.

"It's okay," he told the screaming figure - a woman? Beneath the mutilations and gore he could see a soft jaw and the small swell of breasts. "You'll have peace," he promised.

The spector reached for him with angry hands. Sam met them with his own, open and pacifying. They touched.

And the figure started to burn.

"No!" Sam protested as the poltergeist screamed in agony. It was over in seconds.

Sam was left standing there, hands outstretched, alone. Sounds and feelings returned to his mind as a tidal wave. He winced and rubbed at his forehead.

"Sam?" His brother hesitantly called out. "What was that?"

"I … I was going to help. And Dad burned them. Just like how they'd been hurt before."

"So, what, " Dean picked himself off the floor and crept nervously over to Sam. "You can just talk ghosts into moving on or something?"

Sam shrugged, still gazing into the empty space where the figure had been. "I don't know? This was the first time I've interacted with a ghost. It felt right though."

"And it's really gone?"

Sam slowly nodded. The cold vibrations were gone from his bones, the mirror-funhouse effect no longer existed in his mind, and the warning bells had all stopped. "We've got to tell Dad, don't we?"

"Yeah," Dean spoke softly, an arm wrapping around Sam's shoulders. "I think we do."

Sam's legs wobbled slightly as a headache pushed itself behind Sam's ears. "What do we tell him?" He felt like a little kid again, vaguely uneasy and looking to Dean for guidance and reassurance.

Dean kicked a chair over on their way to one of the beds. "We'll make it look like we were thrown around a bit. And the gun is missing a bullet. We'll tell him the poltergeist showed and roughed us up a bit before it burned away. Close enough to the truth."

"And how we found the correct grave?" Sam had a feeling that John wouldn't buy 'sheer dumb beginner's luck' as an excuse, it had barely worked in the first place. He closed his eyes and leaned against Dean's shoulder once they were sitting down.

Dean carded a hand through Sam's hair, worried about his reaction to a run-in with a ghost. "There were a few reference books on The Butterfly Man. We didn't read through them all, maybe one of them referenced another victim? Or maybe there was an article we missed on the motel and why it was named the Butterfly Inn? Seems like a strange coincidence."

Sam agreed.

They were resting against each other when they heard the Impala pull up outside. Dean went to greet their dad at the door.

John's expression hardened when he saw the state of the room.

"It was the right grave," Dean softly informed him. "Threw us around a bit but I got a shot off before you burned it."

"You boys okay?" A tinge of worry leaked into John's voice.

Sam inclined his head. "Just a little winded."

John nodded and started to straighten up the room. "How'd you boys find the right grave?"

Sam and Dean shared a quick look.

"One of the books at the library suggested a fourth kill," Dean explained, talking out of his ass. "And there was the article that mentioned the bones found here while breaking ground. We searched for Jane and John Doe records around the time of the motel being built; there were very few options."

John leveled them with a curious, narrow-eyed look.

Sam held his breath as the seconds ticked by.

"What even made you look up the killer?"

"Just curious about local history, s'all." Sam reluctantly piped in. "Testing out basic research skills. Dean had been wandering the stacks and mentioned he'd seen a few books on the topic too."

A few more silent seconds and then John clapped Dean on the shoulder. Pride filtered through to Sam's exhausted senses. "Good job boys, you did well."

Dean's chest puffed out slightly at the praise. He grinned beatifically, "Thanks Dad."

John ruffled Dean's short hair, making it stand on end. "Let's get this room straightened up and then head on out."

"Yes sir," the boys chorused. They shared a look and a sigh of relief.