13 June 2010 @ 11:23 pm


Life showed its ugly head and put me posting this on the back burner. Also, my beta is missing so please excuse any typos and grammer issues you find.

Enjoy!

 
Chapter 9
 

In a town the size of Oak Ridge, word traveled fast. Be it gossip or news of a more shocking nature, it always spread like wildfire in small towns. Maybe it was the whole sensational nature of the pieces that made them move so quickly, each story dispelling a little more of the mundane routine that built up overtime. Whatever the reason was behind it, Oak Ridge was no different than other small towns.

When Sam and Dean arrived on Main Street heading toward the Beech Nut Cafe, news of the explosion was already starting to make the rounds around town. They couldn't walk past anyone on the street without hearing some little tidbit of information about it. By the time they reached the cafe's front door, they could piece together some of what had happened.

By what they could pick out, some long time loner resident beat her traveling companion to death then set herself on fire. It wasn't exactly a pretty picture that popped into their heads hearing that but that was the buzz around town. They weren't exactly sure how accurate the Oak Ridge gossip machine was but with the type of news spreading around, it wouldn't be too hard to check out.

The pair looked around the coffee shop as they entered, the heady smell of ground coffee beans and baked goods hitting them full in the face.

The coffee shop was good sized for a small town. The walls were a rich shade of red that made the atmosphere feel warm and relaxing. The walls were decorated with tastefully framed photographs and prints, the occasional plant here and there adding to the decor. The tables and chairs were a black wrought iron design, each table top inlayed with a tiled sun design. There was a sitting area with comfortable leather couches and armchairs set in a far corner of the shop, small dark wood side tables and reading lamps beside each seat. The dark oak counter stretched across the far wall, the trays of fresh baked muffins and cookies sitting neatly inside the glass display cases next to the register. The shelves behind it were filled with bottles of flavored syrups, boxes of specialty blend teas, and ceramic mugs for sale.

It wasn't very busy yet, a single man working behind the counter when the pair entered. He was handsome and looked to be in his early 30s with short messy brown hair, a muscular build hidden beneath a pair of well worn jeans and a faded blue tee. There was the hint of a tattoo peeking from beneath his right sleeve, the rounded leaves of a four-leaf clover coming into view as he moved. His brown eyes shifted toward the door quickly as the pair entered only to move back to his work.

Dean inhaled sharply and let it out in a heavy sigh as he adjusted his jacket. “Think we have time to get some coffee and maybe a sandwich? You can get your half-caff double vanilla latte.”

Sam gave him a small glare before he moved to the counter. “Knock it off, Dean.”

The young man behind the counter looked up from the tea display he was arranging as they approached, giving them a warm smile. “Hi. How can I help you?”

“I'm Agent May and this is my partner, Agent Mercury,” Sam introduced, showing the man his badge. “We're looking for Dave Quarles.”

The young man looked over Sam's badge, his expression growing serious. “I'm Dave Quarles. What's this about?”

“We're investigating the disappearance of Marcus Ballard and just wanted to ask you a couple of questions,” Dean replied.

Dave's brown eyes moved toward Dean and he smiled, giving him a once over. “Of course.”

Dean blinked and gave Sam an odd look as Dave moved around the counter to join them.

Have a seat. More comfortable then standing.” Dave motioned toward one of the cafe's tables, waiting for them to sit before joining them. “So they finally got around to Marc's case, huh? About damn time.”

Sam pulled his notebook from his jacket pocket as Dean looked across the table at Dave. “We've heard that a lot.”

Dave gave Dean a coy smile as he leaned forward. “I'm sure you hear a lot of things.”

Sam cleared his throat as Dean coughed nervously. “Mr. Quarles, do you remember the night your friend vanished?”

The young man turned to Sam, nodding slightly. “Yeah. It was a normal night out with the guys. At least it was until about 10.”

Dean exchanged a confused look with Sam, his eyes moving back to the man across from him. “What do you mean?”

We were there for a few hours; grabbed some dinner and a couple drinks, even shot some pool. It was the whole friends out for a good time celebration thing. About 10 or so, this woman we all know from high school comes in the bar,” Dave explained. He gave a small shrug, glancing briefly at Sam. “Normally it wouldn't be a big thing. A town this size, you're bound to see someone you went to school with.”

What made this time different?” Sam questioned calmly.

The way she was looking at our table. Hell, it was more like staring. Made Marc really uncomfortable,” Dave replied.

Dean cleared his throat, his brow furrowing slightly. “She was staring?”

Creepy staring. It was weird. She sat in this booth across the room from us with this little journal thing and stared. I mean she'd look away now and again at that book but then she'd go right back to staring again.” Dave shook his head, sighing. “She's always been weird though.”

Maybe she was checking you out,” Dean offered with a friendly smile.

Dave licked his lips as he looked at Dean, the corners of his mouth pulling into a seductive grin. “Not really my type. Now if she looked like you, it would be a different story.”

Sam choked back a laugh as Dean straightened in his chair. He could see Dean pale and swallow nervously as the man across from him casually let his fingers skim across the tabletop, Dean fidgeting in his seat. It took Sam a moment to compose himself enough to continue the questioning, the stifled laugh becoming the faintest hint of a smile at his brother's discomfort.

So, Mr. Quarles, you said you knew her from school.” The amusement was still in his voice as Sam spoke, a quick clearing of his throat pushing it back. “Had you seen her acting strangely before?”

Dave thought for a moment, pushing a hand back through his short brown hair. “Not that way.”

A quick glance toward Dean made it clear he wasn't about about to speak without his voice betraying him, his composure having a little trouble returning with each seductive little smile Dave gave him. Sam laughed to himself but continued on, making a mental note about the whole situation. This was too good to let slide from his point of view.

With the smile still tugging at his lips, Sam asked what he knew was on his shell-shocked brother's mind. “What do you mean 'not that way'?”

Well, like I said, she was always a strange one. In school she was, like, scary strange. Always reading these weird books with strange symbols, staying to herself; she scared everyone off who ever tried approaching her.” Dave paused as if choosing his words. “I guess she'd be called wanna-be goth by today's standards. She never dressed like one but she acted almost border-line.”

Dean coughed as he pulled himself together, ignoring the looks Dave was still giving him. “You remember her name?”

Kimberly Martin-Lund.” Dave rolled his eyes at the name, rolling his hand around on his wrist. “The hyphenated name didn't make her any classier in school and it sure as hell don't make her any classier now.”

Sam jotted the name down while Dean put on his best Fed face. “Now other than her, have you seen anyone strange in town recently?”

Well there were those triplets last week but I think they were just passing through,” Dave commented, focusing on Dean. “I haven't seen them since Don Richards was hit by that car and killed.”

It was automatic the way Sam pulled the photos of the triplets out of his pocket and fanned them out on the table. He gave the young man a moment to look them over before he gestured toward the make-shift lineup. “What about these people? Have you seen any of them around?”

Dave examined each photo carefully, picking up a picture of the young women. “They were here when Don was killed. I remember cause the white-haired one ordered the house blend tea. I couldn't help but think how interesting her hair color was.”

Dean's eyebrow raised as Dave replaced the photo, cocking his head slightly. “She ordered tea?”

Large house blend, straight. She sat outside with the other two at one of the tables. When the accident happened, they took off.” Dave folded his hands on the table, glancing at both men. “After seeing an accident like that though, I wouldn't blame them for taking off.”

Dean's eyes shifted to the other photos, sitting forward slightly. “Have you seen any of the others? Maybe around town or something?”

The young man thought for a moment, an odd look clouding his face. “Well...”

What?” Sam's question was quick as Dave examined the photos more closely.

It's strange,” Dave muttered.

Dean looked toward Sam as Dave stared at the photos. “Strange how?”

I could swear I've seen these girls around.” The young man stared at the subjects in the photographs, motioning toward the whole lineup. “But its not, like, 'see them' see them. More like there one minute and gone the next.”

The pair sat quietly as Dave went from photo to photo carefully.

If I didn't know any better, I'd say they were ghosts or something,” Dave joked.

Sam and Dean gave a small laugh as Dave gathered up the photos and handed them back. They both wished it was a ghost but there was no such luck. They had crossed that option off their list even before they conducted the first interview.

The small notebook disappeared into Sam's jacket pocket followed by the pictures as Dave once more focused on Dean. “Do you think those women have something to do with Marc's disappearance?”

Dean gave a small shake of his head as he got to his feet. “We're just looking at every angle.”

Sam rose and gave Dave a small nod. “Thank you for your time, Mr. Quarles. If we have any more questions, we'll be in touch.”

No problem.” Dave's eyes traveled to Dean as he grinned. “Come back any time you want. Maybe next time, I can give you something more.”

Dean paled and headed for the door with Sam not far behind, his pace a little fast.

Sam's smile returned as he stepped outside, his eyes falling on his brother. It took two quick steps to catch up with the shorter man as they headed toward the small lot down the street. He was silent for a moment as they walked before he lost the battle with his willpower, finally clearing his throat.

I think he liked you.”

Shut up, Sam.” The words were little more than a growl as Dean made his way along the sidewalk. “Just shut up.”

The smile turned into a smirk as Sam fished the notebook out of his pocket. “He seems like a nice guy.”

I swear to God, Sam, I will shoot you.” Dean glared at Sam, motioning to their surroundings. “In front of all these people, I will shoot you if you keep it up.”

Sam held up a hand and waited for Dean to continue walking before he spoke. “So it looks like we have someone else to talk to. You think she'll be as helpful as the others?”

The way Dave described her, I doubt it,” Dean muttered. His eyes moved down the street as he unbuttoned his jacket . “I want to find out about that explosion we heard. I really don't trust the whole gossip mill here so that's something else to look into.”

When we get back to the motel, I'll see what I can find on that Kimberly woman Dave mentioned,” Sam commented, his eyes skimming the list in his notebook.

Can't really cross anything off the list yet, Sam.” Dean caught Sam flip through his notes as they walked past the florist. “As annoying as that is.”

Not crossing anything off, just looking at what we have so far,” Sam muttered.

Dean looked forward, raising an eyebrow as a woman with her face cast downward skittered past him. “Well, we know they can change how old they look. And then there's the name Nona.”

People have seen them face to face. Quarles back there, Ballard's wife, course there is Ballard's daughter,” Sam added looking through the pages.

Which I still don't get. I mean why is the one hanging around the kid?” Dean questioned.

Sam gave a small shrug, glancing up at the people on the street as the notebook flipped closed. “Maybe there's a connection to the girl somehow.”

Well that seems disturbing.”

Sam nodded his agreement as they walked, slipping the book into his pocket. “And they don't always travel in threes. I saw the blonde at the library alone so that means they're independent of each other outside of the deaths.”

And, surprisingly, knowing all this still gets us nowhere.” Dean looked toward Sam briefly as they walked. “Somehow, I'm not shocked with that fact.”

Sam was silent as they continued down the street, Dean smiling as a shapely young brunette walked past them.

Wish we knew what about Mayberry brought those three here in the first place,” Dean murmured.

Sam paused, raising an eyebrow. “Or maybe we're looking at this wrong.”

Dean turned as Sam dug the notebook back from his pocket. “What do you mean?”

Maybe we're looking at these three wrong.” Sam flipped through the pages, stopping on the list. “We've been looking at them like they chose to be here. Maybe its not that at all.”

You mean like maybe they were drawn here?” Dean questioned.

Sam glanced toward his brother for a moment. “Or summoned here.”

Dean cocked his eyebrow at the suggestion, laughing softly. “Oh yeah. I'm loving this job.”

Sam's eyes skimmed the list as he mentally checked off a few options. “I mean think about it. There is nothing in this town's history to suggest they've been here before now. That doesn't really point to them calling this place a vacation spot.”

So maybe someone in this place summoned them?” Dean looked around, lowering his voice as an elderly woman walked past. “Do you really think someone here went dark-side and summoned up the twisted trio?”

It would explain why they showed up here like they did,” Sam replied.

Dean's jaw set as he ran his hand over his face. “Okay, so the list of maybes does go down if that's the case.”

Yeah.” Sam looked at the pages, frowning. “But if they're summoned then that makes it a little harder.”

Dean nodded, rolling his head on his shoulders. “Find the one calling the shots and stopping them on top of stopping those things. Fun times.”

Sam wasn't anymore pleased with that option than Dean was.

A summoned creature made for a more dangerous job in their line of work. Whatever the three women were, summoning would have put a leash on them. Whoever summoned them would have control of them and could use them how they saw fit. Generally speaking that usually meant they'd be used as a supernatural attack dog. Of course that also meant it put a big bulls-eye on the brother's heads if their FBI cover was blown.

So if they're summoned, we're only looking at a handful of creatures,” Dean considered.

Sam nodded. “Demon, spirit, reaper, deva...a couple other things we've been up against before.”

Dean silently went over their previous encounters in his head, making a running tally in his mind of the supplies in the trunk.

Then there's pagan god,” Sam added.

Run that by me again,” Dean stated flatly.

Sam watched his brother's face as he repeated himself. “Pagan god.”

Dean was quiet at the words, pursing his lips briefly as he blinked. After a moment he nodded and cleared his throat. “That's what I thought you said.”

Sam sighed as Dean began to walk down the sidewalk once more, watching him turn and head back to him. “It's a valid possibility, Dean.”

The older man leveled his gaze at his brother, lowering his voice as he stopped in front of him. “Do you really think there is someone stupid enough to try trapping a pagan god in this town? Seriously, Sam. This place seems a little too vanilla for a pagan god round-up.”

But it's not unheard of,” Sam replied.

Dean let out a heavy sigh, shaking his head as a look of utter disbelief crossed his face. “You can't seriously be suggesting what I think you are.”

Sam frowned and closed his notes once more. He didn't like what he was suggesting either but, unfortunately, that was a distinct possibility. Someone in this sleepy little town was pushing their luck in the worst way imaginable.

If that's true, then we're gonna have to sift through this whole town looking for one person with a death wish.” Dean considered his words for a moment, swallowing at the realization of it. “A very obvious death wish if they captured three of them. All the pagan gods we've dealt with so far haven't really been human friendly.”

And we'd have to free them.” The words sounded like an after-thought from Sam's lips, adding a hint of unease to his brother's eyes. “No telling what would happen once they're free.”

Dean took an even breath as he gathered his thoughts. He knew exactly what could happen when a summoned creature was freed and he was sure Sam knew it too. Most times jobs like this ended painfully, especially for them.

Well, this just keeps getting better,” Dean muttered as they continued down the sidewalk.

Tell me about it.” Sam sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets. He walked beside Dean quietly before he stopped in his tracks, an annoyed look crossing his face. “Ya know, I don't believe this.”

Dean turned at the displeased tone that accompanied the words as a questioning expression clouded his face. “What?”

This.” Annoyance turned to a frustrated huff. “We have never had this much trouble on a job before, Dean. At least not this way.”

Dean really couldn't argue with that. Every job they did before hadn't played out like this one was. True each one had its fair share of frustration but this one seemed to beat out the rest. On other jobs they could find what they needed with a little work and get on with the rest of the job. But this one was beyond frustrating; no matter how much they worked and dug they couldn't seem to pinpoint what they were up against. It made Dean yearn for a good old salt and burn.

Have you heard anything back from Bobby?” he questioned.

Sam shook his head, taking an even breath. “Nothing yet.”

Dean's brow knit at the comment. “Nothing?”

Nothing useful. I gave him a call before we went to talk to Mrs. Ballard and he just said that he was still looking,” Sam replied with a shake of his head.

Dean's left hand moved to the back of his neck, rubbing at the tension that suddenly appeared.

I'll keep looking when we get back to the hotel since we have a name.” Sam gave a small shrug as Dean glanced down the sidewalk. “Give Bobby another call and let him know about what we found.”

Dean's head cocked slightly, an odd look crossing his face. He stared down the sidewalk quietly for a moment before his eyebrows raised. The odd look faded into his usual determined expression as he turned to his brother. “I have a better research idea.”

It was Sam's turn to sport the odd look as Dean headed down the walk. “Where are you going?”

Dean headed along the shops until he reached the bookstore, stopping to look through the window as Sam caught up.

The bookstore, Dean?” Sam glanced toward the window display for some author he never really heard of. “This is your better idea?”

You think I'm talking about picking the brain of the town's one, and probably only, Emo kid, Sammy?” Dean glanced over his shoulder at his brother, giving him a mockingly hurt look. “Have a little faith in me, dude.”

Sam huffed, looking at the older man. “Then why are we at the bookstore?”

Hand me those photos you made up for the interviews,” Dean requested, holding out a hand.

You're gonna question the bookstore staff?” Sam pulled the photos from his pocket and put them in the outstretched hand. “Bit of a long shot, don't ya think?”

Dean pulled out the photo of the young women, taking a long look at it before he looked once more through the window. “This isn't a long shot, Sam.”

Sam's eyes moved from the book display to the gap Dean was looking through. He straightened and his jaw set, shaking his head. He couldn't believe what he was seeing.

Just beyond the glass, staring at the shelves of books, stood the blonde he had seen in the library. She didn't look out of place as she walked along the shelves toward the back of the store, passing the couple townspeople inside. She would pause to look at the titles, tucking her hands behind her back, before she'd move on.

Thought she looked familiar,” Dean muttered as he handed the photo back.

Sam continued to watch her through the store window, seeing her smile as a mother and child walked past. “What is she doing in there?”

Who knows what she's up to. Maybe she's looking for a good book to read the next time they head to the coffee shop.” Dean glanced down the street before he reached for the gun he kept beneath his jacket. “But what I can tell you is that we have a chance to grab one of these things.”

Sam's brown eyes moved to the gun, doing his own look around as his voice dropped. “Public area, Dean. I don't think pulling out your gun is a good idea here.”

We're FBI, Sammy. Flash the badge, yell a little “federal agents” and suddenly pulling a gun isn't so bad,” Dean explained with a grin.

Sam rolled his eyes as Dean checked his clip, shaking his head. “So your idea is to go in there and grab her, possibly even shoot her in front of who knows how many people?”

Dean secured the clip back into this gun, tucking it back into his jacket. “No.”

Then how, Dean? She pulled a vanishing act back at the library. Who says she won't do it again?” Sam questioned. He pointed toward the gun inside his brother's jacket, his head cocking slightly. “We don't even know if bullets will do anything.”

You said she ran before she vanished in the library, right?” Dean watched Sam nod, motioning toward the store with a quick turn of his head. “Maybe she won't run so quick if she's surrounded.”

And the gun?”

Dean smoothed his jacket down and made sure the .45 inside was well hidden. “Precaution.” He looked up at Sam's questioning expression, adjusting his own tie as Sam watched. “A lot of those maybes on that list have one thing in common weakness wise: iron. So a clip of consecrated iron rounds is going to either slow her down or piss her off. I'm hoping it slows her down myself.”

Sam watched with a look of unamused annoyance as Dean headed into the store, huffing slightly as he followed.

It took a moment for his eyes to adjust as they entered the store, the small bell on the door heralding their arrival.

The store was well lit, its tall shelves stretching back toward the rear of the building. It felt invitingly warm, the smell of ink and paper creating an odd perfume in the air. The faint strains of piano music played as people looked over titles and flipped through pages of books they were interested in, none of them paying the pair any mind as they passed by.

Sam and Dean scanned the aisles as they casually walked toward the back of the store. The quick glances along the rows yielded little more than a few normal patrons here and there. The further they moved toward the back of the store, the fewer the patrons became until the aisles were empty.

They continued on toward the back, quietly checking each row they passed. A hint of doubt began to surface as they got closer to the back of the building, Dean's eyes shifting briefly toward Sam as they went. After the vanishing act Sam had mentioned Dean was beginning to wonder if she hadn't pulled another on them.

Dean's eyes traveled along the aisle to his right, the doubt that had surfaced quickly fading as he caught a glimpse of blonde hair. He walked past the shelves as the young woman knelt down to look at the books and into the next aisle over, Sam following quietly. He motioned silently to the previous row as he double checked his gun, giving Sam the signal to surround the young woman before heading to the far end of the aisle.

Sam doubled back, his eyes on the reading woman kneeling on the carpeted floor.

Just like in the library, she was going over each book she could find on the shelf. But unlike the library, she wasn't making a pile on the floor of what she had finished. She scanned the pages of each book carefully before she replaced it on the shelf, her pace not as frantic as Sam had seen at the library. She seemed almost relaxed in her search here.

Sam's eyes moved from the woman to the figure of his brother as he stepped into the aisle, catching Dean's small nod as they slowly walked toward each other.

His attention moved back to the woman on the floor as he walked closer.

Something about her was different than the last time. It was a subtle feeling Sam got watching her, something that seemed to become more tangible the closer he got. This wasn't the same woman from the library. There wasn't the same fire in her eyes.

The pair stopped on either side of her, Dean watching her skim through the book in her hands. “Hello, Nona.”

The young woman's head rose slowly at the name, her blue eyes resting on Dean. She closed the book in her hands and placed it back on the shelf as he kept her eyes on Dean. She didn't say a word as she rose to her feet in a single fluid motion, her eyes locked on the man to her left.

Federal agents.” Dean's voice was even as he kept an eye on her, looking for any tell-tale sign she'd bolt. “We'd like to ask you a couple questions.”

Nona's eyebrow rose as she shot Sam a glance over her shoulder.

For the briefest moment, when her gaze moved his way, Sam saw exhaustion framed in the blue eyes. It was fleeting but he could see it mirrored in the woman's movements as she slowly stepped away from the shelves.

Federal agents.” She pursed her lips and gave Dean an almost appreciative once over, nodding slowly. “Funny. That's not what I would have pegged you as.”

The words, said so calmly with such a sweet sounding voice, made both men uneasy.

Dean kept his composure as he watched the young woman push her hair back from her face. “Oh really?”

A smile pulled at her lips as she sized Sam up, her attention moving back to Dean. “Yeah. You're definitely not federal agents. But you pull it off enough to pass.”

Sam swallowed at the comment as Dean's jaw set, both watching her as calmly as they could.

If you don't think we're Feds, then what do you think we are?” Dean questioned, keeping his eyes on her.

Nona turned a bit, her right hand rolling at her side. Her head cocked slightly as she looked at Sam then back to Dean. Her shoulders straightened and her hand clenched into a fist, her voice almost a tired sigh. “You're hunters.”

The words hit the boys like a punch to the gut, the woman taking a quick step backward as her right arm quickly pulled up to her chest. “I'm sorry, boys.”

Dean's eyes caught a shimmer in the air before he saw Sam fly forward, the young woman sinking to her knees as the lanky body sailed close. A second shimmer appeared as her left hand shot out to make a fist, Dean's face clouding. Green met piercing blue as he felt a pull in his chest and his feet left the ground, his body crashing into Sam's in mid-air.

She took off running before they hit the floor, making for the back door and a quick exit.

Dean groaned as he pushed himself up, feeling the beginnings of bruises that a couple days would bring. “Son of a bitch.”

She's heading for the back,” Sam nodded down the aisle as he stood.

Dean took off after her, spotting the blonde hair as she darted toward the backroom. He pushed himself and reached for his gun, following as she burst past the 'employees only' sign with Sam close behind him. There was no way in hell he was going to let her get away.

She lead them outside, following the only path she could find away from the store. Her slight frame dodged the store debris and disguarded boxes as the blue eyes looked for a way out. Her head would turn slightly as she ran to gauge the closeness of her pursuers but she showed no signs of giving up.

The chase ground to a halt as she came face to face with the locked gate the various Main St. shops used to keep their dumpsters private.

She stared at the fence as she fought to catch her breath, shaking her head with a frustrated sigh. “Damn it.”

The sound of footsteps behind her made Nona concede defeat as she slowly turned, leveling her gaze on the two hunters. Her eyes scanned each of them, straightening as they drew closer. This was the end, there was no way out and fighting wouldn't help at all; she knew it.

Her hand raised to push her hair behind her ear, the sudden flash of Dean's .45 catching her eyes.


Chapter 10


 
 
Current Mood: sore
 
 
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