A/N: Thank you for the alerts and reviews for the prologue. Now it's time to dig into the actual story. Please review and enjoy! :)
I'd Follow You Anywhere
"So," said the tall, dark, shaggy-haired man that sat across from his brother at the dinky motel's dining table shuffling through a small mound of papers. "I think I've found us another job."
His brother, sandy-haired, green eyed, twenty-seven year old Dean Winchester, raised his eyebrows but didn't respond otherwise since he was busy trying to stuff the rest of his fully loaded breakfast burrito into his mouth in one go.
Sam raised his eyebrows in return, the expression on his face incredulous as he watched his brother tuck away his breakfast. Dean swallowed the remainder of his burrito and prompted, "Well?"
Sam rolled his eyes and turned his attention away from his hungry brother to the papers in front of him. "I saw this," he said, turning his laptop around so that Dean could see the article on the screen, "when I went online to check my mail this morning. It was the top story on MSN's home page."
Dean snorted. "MSN, for all your ghost-busting needs."
Sam shook his head. "Seriously, Dean. This is pretty big."
Dean smirked but turned his attention to the article, leaving Sam to rifle through his other papers while he read. The silence between them was a bit strained although neither would admit it. Heck, their whole relationship had been a little strained since their father's death a few months back. John Winchester had literally given his life for Dean's, making a deal with a demon – his soul for Dean's life. Sam had been trying to get his older brother to open up about their father's death, knowing how much Dean blamed himself, but had only met a wall that Dean had constructed around his heart. Dean trying to hide his feelings wasn't unusual in itself, but the anger he'd displayed at Sam for trying to get past the wall was beginning to take its toll on their relationship. He'd actually gotten angry enough a few weeks ago to hit Sam because of it, and although he'd felt terrible about it afterward, even trying to get Sam to punch him back, they hadn't been the same since John's death.
Still, they had a job to do and neither brother was down and out enough to just give up on it. They did what they always did, had always done, and would always have to do – they coped. Sure, things were a little tense between them but they were still brothers, still cared a heck of a lot about each other, and still worked together like a finely tuned machine. If Sam didn't try to press Dean to talk about Dad, things were great. Sam, for one, knew that all of this was going to blow up in their faces sometime – probably soon – because even someone as stoic as Dean had their limits and his brother was already over his head here with their dad's death. He couldn't keep everything bottled up inside, couldn't keep pretending he was okay. He wasn't. And soon, everything was going to break and Sam had a feeling that they'd be picking up the pieces for a while. Until that happened, though, they were just going to cope.
Sam's attention was turned back to the present as Dean finished reading the article and pushed the computer back across the table. "Okay," he said dubiously, "so a guy drowned in a bog in the Louisiana wetlands. Not exactly newsworthy material, Sammy."
Sam shook his head and looked pointedly at the computer, where the article was clearly displayed. "Apparently it is, Dean."
Dean chuckled. "Not our kind of newsworthy, though. This kind of stuff happens all the time down there. It's Louisiana."
"Maybe," said Sam, "but I did some digging this morning before you got up."
Dean stared at him. "Dude, how long have you been awake? It's like… nine o'clock right now."
"That's the beauty of being a 'college boy', Dean. You get used to getting up early." Dean ignored the little dig and just waited for Sam to finish. "After I got up and saw this article, I did some major research." He rustled the stack of papers in Dean's face.
Dean, for his part, looked torn between teasing Sam about being a geek and learning what he found. His curiosity won over. "What'dya find out?"
Sam's eyes scanned over the papers while he talked. "This isn't the first time this has happened." He flipped through the papers, settled on one, and went on. "There have been five other mysterious deaths in New Orleans over the past two weeks. All of them were deemed suicides. The first guy was named Riley Walker and he apparently jumped off a cliff in the middle of the night while his two-year-old daughter was asleep in her crib. The babysitter came by the next day to find the little girl screaming in her crib, alone, and called the police. They found his body at the bottom of a rocky ravine about two miles away from his house."
Dean rubbed his chin and motioned for Sam to had the paper over. Glancing at it, he muttered, "That's a little screwy, going to off yourself and leaving your kid all alone."
"Exactly," said Sam. "But there's more. Then there was, uh," he checked the papers again, "Karlie LaRae. Sixteen. She went out with some friends one night and didn't come back. They found her bags on the edge of a marsh and her body in the bog itself. They say it's suicide. Then Randy McClain, also drowns himself in the bog. Raymond Keith threw himself into a river at the bottom of a cliff. And now this guy – Carter LeGrange – apparently leaves his house in the middle of the night and jumps in a bog, killing himself. Six suicides, two weeks – and this isn't the first time it's happened, either."
He looked at Dean expectantly and Dean threw his hands in the air. "Alright, alright, Sammy. You've got me convinced. We'll check it out. When did it happen before?"
Sam checked his notes again. "Well, there was a string of suicides back, uh, in 1980 – fifteen people killed themselves over the span of three weeks. And in 1948, eight people committed suicide in one week. 1905, seventeen in a month. 1898 – twenty-five suicides in a month and a half. It probably goes on beyond that, but that was as deep as I was able to dig before you woke up demanding your breakfast."
Dean smirked. "You don't wanna be around me in the morning without my grub and Joe, Sammy. I was doing you a favor."
Sam chortled. "Gee, thanks, Dean. I'm so grateful you made me go out and buy your breakfast while you stayed here and nursed your big mug of coffee – the last cup, I might add – and–"
"Give it a rest, will ya, Sammy?" Dean smiled, wadding up the burrito wrapper and tossing it across the room into the trash can. Sam rolled his eyes at his brother's antics but didn't respond. Dean grinned. "So. New Orleans, huh?"
"Yep," Sam agreed, gathering up his research and getting up and stretching. "New Orleans."
Lilian LeGrange was sitting at her kitchen table, head in her hands, thinking about how she needed to get up and start sorting through the casseroles and desserts friends and family had brought by over the past several days. On top of the food, there was a heap of condolence cards lying on her coffee table, the laundry hadn't been done, and the living room was cluttered from having so many people in and out. She couldn't find it within herself to get up and do something, though – not yet. It had been three days since Carter had… passed away (she refused to say, even to herself, that he had committed the "s" word) and she hadn't found the motivation to do anything but sit and feel sorry for herself. And why shouldn't she? She thought furiously. She had lost so much.
She was wrapped up in her thoughts, wallowing freely in her agony, when a knock sounded at her door. She cursed, wondering why they couldn't leave her alone. First it had been the police, then reporters, and finally friends, family, and other do-gooders who just wanted to make sure she wasn't going to follow in her husband's footsteps after his death. Still, she rose to her feet, wiped the tears from her face, and answered the door.
Two young men stood there – both handsome, but she hardly noticed – in black suits and ties. She narrowed her eyes. "Who are you?" she asked suspiciously, ready to slam the door in their smug faces if this was another reporter's attempt to get her to talk about her husband.
In almost perfect synchronization, the two men reached into their coats and pulled out matching wallets with FBI badges. They flashed their badges briefly and the shorter one said, "I'm Agent Meyers, this is Agent Ramsey. FBI. We're here—"
She sighed heavily and saw the taller man cast her a sympathetic glance but they didn't back down. "I know why you're here."
"Great," Agent Meyers said cheerily, "that makes our job a whole lot easier. Can we come in?"
She nodded, pretending not to notice the withering look Agent Ramsey shot his associate and the subsequent "What?" mouthed back at him.
She may not be up to visitors, but be that as it may, it seemed like these two agents might very well be the most interesting people she'd seen all day.
Lilian LeGrange was beautiful, even without makeup and her hair pulled back into a lumpy, scraggly ponytail. She wore form-fitting jeans and a tan hoodie, her skin coffee-colored, eyes blue-grey, and hair dark brown. Her lips were full and eyes big and expressive, and Sam had a feeling that she would be even more beautiful if she hadn't been frowning and her eyes not filled with pain of her loss.
She and the two 'agents' sat around her cluttered kitchen table, the woman already having apologized for the mess. Dean was eyeing all the food lying around with a slightly longing expression and Sam had to fight not to smile. Even when trying to deal with their dad's death, Dean was still Dean – especially when it came to food and women, his two favorite things. "Mrs. LeGrange," Dean said, drawing Sam's attention back to their interview. "We're really sorry about your loss."
The woman put a hand over her mouth and struggled not to burst into tears and Sam reached across the table to put a comforting hand on her arm. "It's okay," he said softly. She nodded, tears threatening to spill over. When she had calmed considerably, Sam asked, "Can you tell us what happened?"
She took a shaky breath. "I already told this to the police," she said weakly.
"We know," Dean said, "but the FBI would like to hear it straight from the source."
She nodded again. "Like I told them, C-Carter had been acting strange all day." She fought to keep her voice steady. "He was d-distracted, you know, like he wasn't all there. Then, when it got d-dark, he started staring out of the window. I tried to see what he was looking at, but there w-was nothing there. When I asked him about it, he said something—" her voice broke, "—something about M-Melanie."
Sam and Dean exchanged glances. "Melanie?" Sam asked gently, wondering if this was another woman. If so, Mrs. LeGrange might not be as torn up about her husband's death as she seemed. At the woman's next words, however, Sam realized that they were way off base in their assumptions.
"Melanie, she was our daughter," the distraught widow hiccupped. "S-She had an accident when we were hiking through the woods."
Dean was staring intently at Lilian, the gears in his brain turning just as rapidly as Sam's. "What happened?" he asked, though both men were pretty sure of what was coming next. They were right.
"S-She wandered away from us. We tried to get to her in t-time, but she," Lilian sobbed, "she stumbled. Fell into the bog. She couldn't s-sw-swim, but even if you c-can, it's almost impossible to stay afloat in a b-bog. Too dense, you know?" Sam nodded compassionately.
"I'm sorry," he said sincerely. Almost as an afterthought, "How old was Melanie, Lilian, when she died?"
Lilian choked out her answer. "She was five years old."
There was a short, stunned silence. Dean eventually broke it by asking, "And you think your husband died because he couldn't take it anymore?"
Lilian shook her head. "You don't understand. It's been five years since Melanie drowned. We're still suffering, hell, I don't think we'll ever stop hurting, but we're… coping." Sam couldn't help but glance at his brother at Lilian's words but Dean apparently hadn't noticed any similarities between the two situations or was just too focused on what Lilian was saying. "We've been out of therapy for nearly four years now and our marriage was getting stronger, we were getting stronger. But before he died, he kept talking about Melanie, and when I asked him what he was looking at, he said, 'Doesn't she look beautiful today?'" She pressed a hand to her head. "I told him to come to bed, that he was tired and it was late. We went to bed and when I woke up the next morning… he was gone.
"I called the police and they – they found a trail leading from the backyard and through the woods - and it stopped right where the bog began. They found his b-body a few hours later at the bottom of the bog… perfectly preserved…"
Sam furrowed his brows. "But your husband had not even been dead for twenty-four hours, Mrs. LeGrange. He would have been preserved even if he hadn't been in a bog." Sam knew that the high levels of pete in bogs caused bodies to be preserved – there had been people found from hundreds of years looking like they'd just stepped in to take a swim the day before. But why Lilian found it such a miracle that Carter had been preserved was beyond him.
She shook her head. "No, I mean, his expression was perfectly preserved. He didn't look scared, or sad, or even blank. Officer Meyers, my husband had an expression of pure joy and ecstasy on his face, even in death. It was like he'd died happier than he'd ever been in life." She looked from Sam to Dean curiously. "Why are you asking all these questions? Do you think that it might not have been…?"
Sam and Dean glanced at each other before Dean responded, "We're not sure. Just looking into it. We'll let you know if we have any more questions."
Lilian nodded, eyes wet. "Alright."
Sam stopped at the door, turning back to the distraught woman. "It'll be alright, Lilian," he said softly. "Just… don't stop living. And don't keep everything inside, alright? Find a friend, talk to them. Trust me." Since his back was turned, he didn't see the way Dean, standing on the porch, stiffened at his words. He couldn't help but give the little advice he had to the suffering woman. She had obviously loved her husband very much and although she was no stranger to suffering – he couldn't imagine losing a little girl like that – he felt that it might do her good to hear these words. She sniffled, nodded, and even managed a grateful smile as Sam turned around and followed his brother out the door.
A/N: So… what's going on? Is everything as it seems or is something bigger at work here? And how's Dean going to respond to Sam's advice to Lilian? What'll happen when everything comes crashing down inevitably about John? All I can say is… read on! (Oh, and please review, because reviews urge me to write faster!) :D