A/N: This idea has probably been done before, but it wouldn't let me go so I knew I had to write it. This will be pretty short, not much more than 5 chapters, and I already have a lot of it written, but I would really really appreciate any feedback you can give me, so please review if you have time.
Dean Winchester really wasn't feeling up for a hunt.
He'd spent the first part of last night drinking, and the second half in bed with a girl—this evening of fun had resulted in, obviously, very little sleep, and a massive hangover to boot. It had been worth it, but Dean would really prefer to be in bed, sleeping, when instead he was sitting in the passenger seat of the impala, racing towards Tennessee with his brother.
His brother, who, while Dean had been off having fun, had spent his evening scouring the web for a job. He'd found one, all right—several states over, which was, unfortunately, the closest case he'd been able to locate.
Why they'd had to leave right away, Dean didn't know. He understood Sam was restless, since they hadn't had anything for nearly a week now—hence the night at the bar—but he didn't understand why it couldn't have waited a few hours so he could catch a few hours of sleep in a bed, for god's sake.
He rested his head back on the seat, grateful that Sam preferred to drive without music, because he had a pounding headache that every sound and movement seemed to escalate.
Sam glanced at his brother out of the corner of his eye, looking concerned, but didn't comment on Dean's appearance, which he knew must look terrible. Instead he said, "We're just a couple hours away. We'll check into a motel once we get there."
Dean nodded, keeping his eyes closed, silently grateful that Sam had acknowledged Dean's state without being touchy-feely about it as he knew Sam could be.
They reached Nashville within the next two hours, just as Sam had said, and crashed at the nearest motel. Dean sprawled out on one of the mattresses with a sigh of relief, throwing one arm across his eyes.
"Need some aspirin?" Sam asked, setting their things on his own bed.
"I'm fine." Dean sat up, kneading his forehead and trying to become more alert. They had work to do, and he couldn't be dragging Sam down. "Tell me about the case."
"I already did, remember?"
"Come on, dude, you know I wasn't listening."
Sam chuckled. He sat down at the table, opening his computer, and went through the files he'd gathered on the case. "So, woman kills her husband after twenty years of being married to him—she cut his head off with a machete."
Dean raised his eyebrows.
"And then, immediately after, she went back to normal, completely sane.".
"Couldn't that just be a psychotic breakdown?" said Dean.
"Could be, but I think it's more than that. This woman had no history of irrational behavior…I thought maybe it was a vengeful spirit taking control of her."
"Guesswork?" Dean said in disbelief, after a pause. "You dragged me several hundred miles out on a case that might not even be a case? Seriously, Sam?"
"Hey—you have to admit the way she killed him was weird—almost screams possession. Besides, I was dying to get out of that damn motel room, and this was the best I could find. It's not my fault you decided to go and get a hangover the night before."
Dean groaned and flopped back on the bed, shutting his eyes. "So, what, you wanna go interview the chick who murdered her husband?"
"Thought we could start there, yeah. Try and find out if we really have a case here."
"Right." Dean swung his legs over to the side of the bed. "Let's get going, then."
"Whoa, whoa." Sam rose and approached his brother. "You don't have to come with, Dean. I can take this. Just stay here, get some rest. I just dragged you all the way over here, you deserve a few hours—"
"I'm fine, Sam," Dean said, cutting him off, exasperated. He stood up and pushed his brother aside, grabbing his jacket off the other bed. He ignored the pounding in his head as he said, "Come on, hurry up, we've got murderers to question."
Sam was eager to get back on the hunt.
He felt like it had been ages—ages—since he and Dean had found work, and sitting around and waiting had never been something either of them particularly enjoyed. Moving on, moving ahead to the next job, the next distraction, the next possibility of giving life meaning—that was what they both needed, and as flimsy as the case Sam had found was, it was a chance to save someone. A chance to make a difference.
Today, however, was not the best day for that, given Dean's massive hangover. Usually, Sam would let Dean sleep it off, but he was desperate to get out, and he knew if he pressed his brother to stay put Dean would only get pissed off and be more determined to come with.
So here they were, sitting in a psychiatric ward before the woman who had supposedly killed her husband. She looked normal, Sam thought—tired, maybe, shadows underneath her eyes, and a bit pale, but her gaze was steady and her expression was calm as she described the incident.
"It started a few months ago," she said, the look in her eyes distant. "I would start to get these…spurts of anger, of rage, every so often. I would have no idea where they'd come from, and I would try to control them, but…" she shook her head. "I couldn't. They became closer together, and soon I couldn't…" The calm exterior wavered slightly as she swallowed and took a deep breath. "I love my husband. I love my children. I would never do anything to hurt them. But it was like this…anger…was infecting me." She met Sam's eyes hesitantly. "And then, the moment I…well…the second it was over it was like all the anger disappeared, as if it had never been there."
"So you…came to your senses?" Sam said.
She shrugged. "I suppose. I was so confused. I don't understand what happened."
"Well, we're doing everything we can to figure it out," Sam said. "Anything else you can remember would be helpful."
Dean glanced at Sam out of the corner of his eyes, seeing that Sam had turned on the full power of his empathetic look, which he used to get as much info out of people as possible. Somehow it always seemed to work. Dean wished he had his little brother's puppy-dog eyes…maybe then he wouldn't fall prey to them so often.
He was shaken our of his thoughts as Sam got to his feet, thanking the woman for her help, and joined his brother in standing up and making for the door. They'd already reached it and were halfway to the Impala before Dean realized that Sam was still speaking.
"…probably check out the scene of the murder next, look for sulfur or other signs of possession—Dean? Are you listening to me?"
"Huh?" Dean looked up at Sam, blinking. "Right, yeah…murder scene. Let's go. Where is it again?"
Sam eyed Dean doubtfully. "Look, man, why don't you just go back to the motel, I got this. I'll come by later and tell you what I found out."
Normally Dean would have argued, but—despite the massive amounts of painkillers he'd taken earlier—he had a raging headache that was only growing in intensity. So he agreed with only a small bit of reluctance, looking forward to a long nap and maybe something to eat…after he was sure he wasn't going to throw it up immediately after.
Sam returned to the motel room an hour later extremely confused. He'd expected to see some sort of indication of the supernatural at the woman's house—sulfur to indicate demonic possession, something to indicate witchcraft, anything…but he'd come up with zilch.
He entered the room to find his brother passed out on the bed furthest from the door and smiled to himself, in no hurry to wake Dean up and tell him of his nonexistent findings. After all, Dean could use a break, some time where he didn't have to think about the continuous cases, not to mention the ticking clock he was under…
Sam's smile faded quickly and he shook himself out of his dark thoughts, focusing instead on how peaceful his brother looked at the moment. Lines of anxiety and age and stress disappeared from Dean's face in sleep—for once he actually looked his age, and the reminder of the effect the burdens placed on Dean had had created a painful pang in Sam's chest.
Stay in the moment, he thought as he settled on his bed with his laptop. It was something that he frequently had to remind himself of. This wouldn't be their last year together—he would figure out a way to save Dean. He exhaled and set his mind to figuring out what the hell was going on with these murders.
Meanwhile, unknown to Sam and Dean, a man named Michael Jones was stepping inside his house late that same night, failing to fight the thoughts of hatred that were rapidly consuming him. Michael was pulled by a force that he couldn't seem to control to his kitchen, dropping his bag on the floor and approaching the counter, fingers trembling as he reached for the knife resting on top of it.
The man turned to face his wife, who stood in the doorway, clutching at a robe tied at her waist, hair loose and messy, a look of concern on her face.
"Vanessa," Michael said hoarsely, his fingers itching towards the knife. He forced them to still.
"Did you just get home?" Vanessa said, taking a step closer.
"Stay there," Michael panted, arms shaking with the effort to keep them still now. "I…I don't want to hurt you."
Vanessa paused, but frowned, looking further worried. "Michael, what's going on? What's wrong?"
"I…I can't fight it."
He struggled against it, but he couldn't control this unprecedented urge to pick up the knife, to raise it to his stomach—Vanessa's eyes widened and her hands flew to her mouth—
The moment the knife plunged into Michael's abdomen the man cried out, gasping out, "Vanessa…help me…" before plunging forward and collapsing, unconscious, on the kitchen floor.
"Dean. Dean, hey, wake up, man."
Dean groaned and sat up, eyes resting on Sam, who was already dressed and was shaking Dean's arm. He blinked slowly, trying to remember the past 48 hours. "Sam? Damn it…what time is it?"
"Eight a.m. Man, you slept the whole afternoon and all night."
No wonder he felt like shit. Dean recalled the hangover, the case, and then going back to the hotel and collapsing onto his bed, where he'd stayed all night. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and scrubbed the hand over his face, grateful that the headache seemed to have disappeared.
"You shoulda woken me up," he muttered, hands still hiding his face.
"Nah," Sam said. Dean looked up at his brother as he went through papers on the table by his computer. Sam glanced up and smiled briefly. "There was nothing to see at the murder site. I was starting to think there wasn't really anything going on here but I did a little research. There were murders here a few years ago, too, that happened in similar ways—people who for years were completely calm and sane either killed loved ones or killed themselves. And speaking of killing themselves…" He grinned. "There was an attempted suicide a few blocks away last night, one Michael Jones. He stabbed himself in the gut, then the second after he did it he screamed for help, his wife called 9-1-1 and he survived."
Dean frowned, trying to catch up. "So…he chickened out?"
"But if he'd chickened out, don't you think he would have done it before he stabbed himself? It was almost like someone made him do it."
"Yeah. Okay, you're right." Dean stood and ran his fingers through his hair. "I guess I'll get dressed, then we can go."
The two arrived at the hospital in the impala twenty minutes later and entered the victim's room—Michael Jones was a tall, stocky man with a thin graying beard—to see that he was still resting on his bed, asleep.
The brothers paused and exchanged glances, unsure whether to wait or what—and then a woman came into the room, hair pulled up in a messy ponytail. She stopped short at the sight of Sam and Dean, who hastily pulled out their fake FBI badges. "We're here to talk to Michael Jones," Dean said.
Vanessa swallowed and explained who she was. Sam and Dean exchanged glances again. "So you were…with him, when he…?" Sam said. Vanessa nodded. "Could we…ask you a couple of questions?"
Vanessa Jones relayed to the two of them what she recalled from her husband's attempted suicide, and her subsequent call to the ambulance. After her account of it—the way the insanity had seemed to vanish the moment he'd attempted to kill himself, the way he hadn't seemed able to control himself—convinced Sam and Dean further that they were dealing with something supernatural.
"We should check out the place where he tried to kill himself," said Sam as they exited the hospital. "Maybe I missed something last time. I mean, this has got to be ghost possession or something."
"Only it doesn't really make sense," said Dean, scratching the back of his neck as they came up to the impala. "This guy—he couldn't control himself, but he was conscious. The entire time, he knew what he was doing and he couldn't stop it. Ghost possession—and demon possession, for that matter—isn't like that."
"Maybe we should call Bobby, see what he has to say about it."
"Nah, not yet." Dean opened the driver's side door. "Let's go check out the scene first."
They managed to sneak into the house without mishap—the real trouble began halfway through their search for clues.
Sam stepped into the kitchen and saw the knife, still resting on the floor where it had landed, a small pool of blood next to it. Sam approached it slowly and crouched next to it, looking for signs of a cursed object or maybe a sigil—
He froze as he exhaled and his breath fogged the air.
He straightened up just in time to find himself facing a pair of bright green, sunken eyes set into a bony face surrounded by wild black hair. Sam took a step back, completely unprepared and unarmed, and felt himself flying backwards, back slamming into the wall behind him.
He heard his brother call his name from a distance, but before he could respond, the ghost had flickered and reappeared right in front of him, reaching out a hand and pressing it to Sam's head.
From the point on Sam's forehead where the ghost's hand touched him came a searing heat, a pain that scorched it's way through his head and then down his body, building and blocking out all other thought. He heard someone screaming and realized that it was him—the pain was growing and becoming unendurable—he was sure that he couldn't bear any more—
And then finally, Sam blacked out.