Characters: Dean, Sam, Bobby
Spoilers/Warnings: Not canon; warnings for scenes of torture
Word Count: 27,500 over 15 chapters
Disclaimer: I don't own them
Someone - or something - is scaring people to death in New York; Bobby's on the case, but opinion is divided on whether or not he needs the Winchesters' help.
But those boys; they just won't take no for an answer …
"Bobby," Sam smiled broadly at the familiar voice on the end of the phone, "where are you?"
"Hey Sam, I'm still workin' on that job; I'm – um - in London."
Sam gaped; "London? London, England?"
"No; London, Khazakstan;" came the exasperated response; "Where else, ya idjit?"
Sam recovered his senses, aware that Dean was suddenly sufficiently absorbed by this side of the conversation to have put down the menu; "what's going on Bobby?" he asked, concerned; "what the hell are you doing in London?"
"Look, can't talk long Sam, runnin' out of change, but I need …"
His words were cut off by Sam's sudden interruption, "You're talking on a payphone? Why?"
"Well, if you'd shut ya trap, an' stop interruptin' me, I'll tell ya."
Sam nodded with a wry smile, and looked across at Dean whose demeanour had instantly changed from curious to concerned at the word 'payphone'.
"Why's he on a friggin' payphone?" mouthed Dean, craning his neck across the table to try to fully hear Bobby's side of the conversation.
"I've sorta got myself involved in something." Bobby started, cagily.
Speaking tentatively, Sam asked the question; "what Bobby?"
Dean snatched the phone out of Sam's hand; "Bobby, you in trouble?" He snapped.
"Can' go into that now," Bobby spoke rapidly, hurriedly, "no time; but while I'm lookin' at ways to finish this thing, it's just best I lie low; y'know, kinda keep out of sight. I'm switchin' my cell off so I can't be traced through it." He paused for a moment, then continued; his voice a tone lower and sterner. "You don't know where I am, and you won't get involved with anything to do with this case. You understand?"
"No Bobby, we wanna help …" Dean almost whined, looking up to Sam's worry-knitted brows as he spoke.
"Promise me!" Bobby barked.
"No buts, boy;" Bobby spoke sharply, "if you wanna help me, keep your noses out of this case so I'm not havin' to worry about you two as well as myself."
"Look," Bobby's tone grew softer, "I'll explain everything when I get back, but I need you to trust me on this, and keep out of the way. The less you know the better."
Looking up, Sam could see Dean becoming agitated, and wasn't surprised when he yelled into the phone; "no Bobby, you can't expect us to sit here with our heads up our asses doing nothing while you're in trouble." Sam cringed as people from the surrounding three tables swung round to look at the source of the altercation.
"That's exactly what I expect you to do;" Bobby replied sharply. "Look, I'll ring in every day so long as I can find a payphone so you know I'm okay, an' I'll let you know as soon as I get back."
"But Bobby …" the brothers pleaded in unison.
"I'm almost outta change, gotta go now boys. I'll ring in tomorrow."
"Bobby, BOBBY …"
But the call had ended.
Snapping the phone shut, Dean slammed it down onto the table and looked across at Sam, wide eyed with angry concern. "What's the friggin' dumb old goat gone and got himself involved in now?" he snorted.
"And why the hell's he in London?" Sam added with a shrug.
They stared at the tabletop in silence for a few moments, until Sam spoke up. "Are you having that dessert, or are we moving on?"
Dean sighed, pushing the dessert menu away, "Nah, c'mon, lets go - kinda lost my appetite."
Smiling weakly, Sam dropped twenty bucks on the table and the brothers walked out towards the waiting Impala.
The Impala sailed smoothly along the highway; an animated debate regarding their next move raging within her sleek black frame.
"… I tol' ya, there's only one reason why a hunter would use a payphone, Sam; because he doesn't want to be found. I'm telling you; Bobby's in big trouble."
Sam nodded. "I hear you, bro'. But what can we do? He's all the way over there in London and we've no way of contacting him. You said it yourself; he doesn't want to be found; and when a hunter as good as Bobby doesn't wanna be found, there's no power on Earth that can track him down."
"I tell you what we're gonna do." Dean tightened his grip on the steering wheel, his inner steel glimmering through unblinking eyes. Sam knew that set of his brother's features; he knew that whatever was about to come out of his brother's mouth was non-negotiable.
"We're gonna do nothing, that will distract us from Bobby. We ain't gonna take another job, we're gonna settle ourselves somewhere around where all the deaths happened and research the hell out of this thing to find out everything we can about it that might give us some clue of the trouble Bobby's in, an' we're gonna keep ourselves on standby for the minute he needs our help."
Sam smiled; "with you there, dude'!"
Dean floored the accelerator, and the Impala responded smoothly and without question.
The drive to the New York state border should have taken twelve hours; the Winchesters made it in ten, including a stop for fuel and another for coffee and donuts.
Once they were across the state line, they soon found a likely looking flea pit in some small anonymous burg tucked away a convenient few miles off the highway, and hastily checked in.
Although it was well past midnight, sleep was a long way off for both Winchesters; neither brother was going to get a lot of rest tonight. Dean disappeared into the bathroom, wordlessly claiming first shower privilege, and wasn't in the slightest bit surprised when he emerged, damp haired and fiddling with the elastic on a new pair of boxers, half an hour later to find Sam hunched over the laptop staring intently at the screen.
"Find anything?" he asked absently, tugging a fresh T shirt over his head.
"Dunno, maybe …" Sam responded, not taking his eyes from the screen.
Dean climbed into a pair of worn sweatpants and, pulling up a chair, sat down next to his brother. He leaned over to try to catch a look at the screen.
Sam scraped a hand through his hair and took a deep breath, "our eight customers - the scared to death dudes;" he began, "twelve people died in London in exactly the same manner over the last three years."
"What the hell …?" Dean's face fell into a puzzled frown. He looked up at Sam, "EXACTLY the same?"
"So far as I can see," he pointed to a couple of headlines he had bookmarked; "all found alone in their house, all dead, look of terror on their face, hair turned white. Oh, and they had all been robbed."
Dean sighed, knuckling tired eyes; "any connection at all?" He stifled a blossoming yawn.
Sam shook his head, "nothing obvious; only that all the vics were wealthy."
"The last recorded London victim died four months before the first New York victim." Sam turned to Dean; "and get this; this is where it gets weird …"
Dean's eyebrows jumped up into his hairline; "what? An' it's not already?"
"A number of people died in a house in London," he pointed to a webpage he had found, "Number Fifty, Berkeley Square." Sam tapped the screen for emphasis; "one dude didn't believe the haunting stories and slept overnight in the house for a challenge; died of fright."
Dean rolled his eyes, "friggin' moron."
Sam smiled, continuing with his story; "after the house was abandoned for fear of the spirit, two sailors squatting in the house were so terrified, one died on the spot, the other jumped out of a top floor window and impaled himself on the railings below; both dead."
He watched as Dean squinted scanning the screen intently; "there's only one known surviving witness of this thing," Sam continued, "A young maidservant; found cowering in a corner, scared witless – literally; she never regained her senses enough to be able to describe what she saw and spent the rest of her life in an asylum."
Sam leaned back and looked up at Dean.
"Sam," Dean spoke without looking away from the screen, "it says here the last recorded sighting of the ghost in Number Fifty was in 1907."
"Yup," Sam nodded, "so assuming this is the same thing, we've got ourselves a thoroughly nasty sonofabitch spirit that disappeared for over one hundred years and then reappeared out of the blue with a new career in burglary and a passport."
Dean groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose; "I need a beer". Sam smiled and nodded in agreement.
Standing up, Dean arched into a long stretch and opened the door to the room, leaving it on the catch behind him as he jogged barefoot over to the Impala, and opened her trunk.
He reached for the cool box which occupied a specially cleared space amongst all their weapons, and pulled it toward him with a grunt. They had only restocked on the cold stuff yesterday so it was very full, which was great; and very heavy, which wasn't.
He'd only just pulled the lid off when he heard the crunch of a footstep behind him. He spun round, but the swing of a blunt instrument to the side of his head sent him crumpling into oblivion before he ever had a chance to see the face of his assailant.