: Bad War, Good SoldierAuthor
: R, for language, adult situations.Author's Notes
: Thanks to r. for the beta. Story inspired by azewewish's prompts about the boys going through John's lock-up, Sam at Stanford, and John in Vietnam. Also inspired by CCR's Fortunate Son, Daji, and a healthy dose of Excedrin.Summary
: Sam celebrates Halloween in 2001 with an all-night party, John celebrates Halloween in 1967 with a trip to the hospital, and Dean gets a new jacket.Sam -- Halloween 2001
Last time he dressed up for Halloween he'd been a Power Ranger. It'd also been the first time.
Sam tugged at his hoodie, ran a hand through his hair. Luis watched him from the doorway. "C'mon," he said. "At least do a Mohawk, add some eyeliner."
Dean hadn't dressed up ever. Walked Sam up to the porch, prodded him forward, stepped back and avoided eye contact with whoever answered the door. Say Happy Halloween, Sammy. Say thank you.
Sam grinned at Luis, grabbed his room key from the top of the dresser. "Don't think so. You're lucky I'm even going."
Dad waiting for them down by the street, arms crossed over his chest, uncomfortable and nervous as small ghosts and werewolves swarmed past. Hurry up, boys.
"What's with you and Halloween, anyway?" Luis shot him a look of pure terror. "You're not a Jehovah's Witness, are you?" Said half-joking, the two of them still feeling each other out, roommates for only a couple of months.
A Power Ranger, for fuck's sake. He remembered wanting to be a ghost, had thrown a sheet over his head and snuck up on Dad. He vividly remembered Dad's yell, Dad's thunderous frown and pale face.
Sam pushed Luis into the hall, avoided Luis's Batman cape. "No, Halloween's just," he shrugged, turned away. Luis followed him. "Just not my thing."
"Whatever. I'm just glad you're coming." Luis, already fortified with a couple of beers, let out a Batman yell and crashed past Sam, knocking his shoulder. "Sexy nurses! Sexy witches! I LOVE HALLOWEEN!" He ran down the hallway, disappeared into the stairwell.
Sam grinned reluctantly, followed more sedately.
Of course it would be Dead Man's Party. Sam grimaced, tried to disappear into the wall behind him. Generation X's version of the Monster Mash. A disco ball drew sparks of light across his face; the music was too loud and thumped against his bones. It'd been a mistake to come.
There were two vampires, a caveman, a werewolf, and a couple of demons. Sam could feel the bones of his throat click when he swallowed. A zombie pushed past him, pallid face glowing in the dark, fake blood dark and sticky. Stay down, Sam.
Dean was yelling, but everything seemed faraway and distant to Sam. Sitting with his back to the Impala. Dean over him, one hand on his shoulder, both of them watching as Dad came up behind the revenant in front of them, pushed an iron stake through its chest. Say thank you, Sammy. Say Happy Halloween.
He pushed away from the wall, searching for Batman in the near darkness. He bumped into a sexy witch, muttered an apology as he brushed past. Ducked underneath the wings of a sexy angel, caught a glimpse of Batman stepping into a darkened room.
"Luis!" He followed.
"Shut the door."
Sam blinked, his eyes adjusting to the murky light from a bare red light bulb in a lamp on the floor. He fumbled for the knob, closed the door. Oingo Boingo was smothered. In front of him a dozen kids sat on the floor, on a worn couch. He saw Luis, picked his way across the floor to drop down beside him.
"What's going on?" He whispered.
Luis jabbed him with an elbow. "Jess's telling ghost stories."
Jess was a sexy devil with red fishnet stockings sitting on the floor with her back to the couch, her legs crossed in front of her. "My mom's cousin roomed on the same floor. Heard all kinds of stuff. Moaning and crying and someone talking when no one else was there."Dig deeper. Check the microfiche.
The librarians never wore fishnets. Dean would've done a lot more research otherwise. Sam had skimmed so many deaths, so many black and white markers of lives torn apart. Dad standing at his shoulder, jabbing a finger at the screen, clapping Sam on the shoulder when he picks out the pattern. Say thank you. Say Happy Halloween, Sammy.
Jess told them about LaSal Hall, about some girl in the class before hers waking up to find Sally Masters' ghost bent over her with outstretched fingers. Sally Masters who had killed herself when her boyfriend's body had come home from Viet Nam.
"What," Sam began, and his voice was rusty, "What building is this?"
"LaSal Hall." Jess's glance flicked to him, appreciated the line of his shoulders.
"Tell him about Sandra Day," said Dracula.
Jess did so, and she was good, kept her listeners hooked with the rising inflections of her voice. Sam swallowed again, wondered if some fish bone was caught in his throat.
"And when her roommate comes home in the morning Sandra's dead." Jess's voice dropped, and her listeners leaned in. Sam thought Dracula was just trying to look down her shirt. "Like, lying on the floor, dead. She's holding the phone, and when the roommate picks it up, it's the boyfriend on the phone, crying and calling her name." Jess turned her head, caught Sam's gaze. "And her hair was pure white."
Sam stood up quickly, accidently jarring Luis, his sudden movement drawing all eyes. So much attention rattled him, and he ducked his head, started to pick his way toward the door.
"It's just a story, Sam." Jess said, and the sexy Hermione next to her snorted dismissively.
Sam didn't answer, and as the door closed behind him he heard Dracula say, "Pussy."
The air was honey warm against his face, still thick with Palo Alto heat as Sam moved through the darkened campus. Every now and then he caught shards of sound and laughter, bright flashes of orange and red. A ghost followed him for some yards, and abruptly ducked away, trailing a scent of incense and tequila.
LaSal Hall was suddenly on his left side, looming above him in the dark, all pointed windows and shadowed cornices. Sam stared at it. Picked out the upper rooms, the darkened windows. He circled the building, slowly, eyes going from window to window, room to room.
Stopped. Stared at the corner room on the south side. A faint glow like a nightlight seeped from underneath the closed blinds.
The room stared back. Feel that, Sam?
Dean at the wheel of the Impala. Not yet eighteen. That kinda chill? That's how you know.
Dad went back later to the house they had parked in front of and mixed salt with the cremains kept on the fireplace mantel. The neighborhood pets had quit dying.
The room was on the first floor, and Sam scrambled, grabbed the window sill next to it and hauled himself up. Crouched on the small ledge and reached out, placed one palm on the window's glass.
The heat from his fingers left a foggy imprint, and the glass under his hand abruptly went icy. There was a sharp crack, a sting in the palm of his hand. Sam drew his hand back, balanced precariously. A thin line of blood bisected his life line, and a small star shape pockmarked the window.
The drop down was a bit farther than he expected, and he landed hard, twisted an ankle. "Goddammit," he muttered, limped out of the bushes and to the sidewalk. Paused again, stared back at the window.
The blinds rippled slightly, black on black.Say thank you –
"Happy Halloween, Sammy," he muttered and turned his back, limped for home.
The room watched him go.John – Halloween 1967
John watched Deacon's boot heel step down on the claymore.
He didn't have time to say anything, his mouth stretching into an aborted De—
before his body took over and hurled him away from the coming explosion.
There was a percussive slam, silent and huge, catching him in the side and tossing him like so much debris. Hicks, in front of him, was abruptly nothing more than meat. Everything went white and quiet and John felt pain in his side, warmth washing down into his fatigues.
John closed his eyes, and a brief, intense memory of Mary at Coney Island assaulted him. Mary tasting of salt and cotton candy, the coconutty smell of suntan lotion. Win me the purple bear, John, please? Win--
"-- you motherfucker, Shotgun."
John opened his eyes when Deacon grabbed him. The sudden movement tore flame into his side. "Choppers coming." Deacon's voice seemed far away and distant. John strained to hear. "Clean called in an airstrike. Move your ass, Shotgun."-- me the purple teddy bear. Kiss you if you do.
Abruptly the fog in John's head lifted, burned away. Everything was suddenly close and too bright. He heard the scream of air cavalry to his left, a high note over the low drone of a chopper.
"Move!" Deacon's voice no longer conversational, but panicked and high and immediate. "GO!"
John tried, but for some reason his legs didn't work. His left side felt engulfed in napalm. Deacon dragged him up, put a shoulder into his gut and lifted him. John heard his grunt of effort.
The screaming was closer, heralding death like a banshee. Deacon moved, the high grass parting around them like water. John remembered the sound of the sea at Coney Island. Kiss you if you do.
The chopper was hovering, a five foot gap between it and the ground. Deacon heaved John across the gap. Diamond plating ground into John's cheek. Deacon's boot hit the chopper floor next to him. The same boot John had seen step on the claymore. Not a mark on it.
The chopper ascended brutally, dropped John's stomach to the ground. That banshee scream was all round him. The smell of smoke and sulfur as the tall grass burned. It dwindled away beneath him, the chopper rising on a swell of fire and wind. Everything below them disappeared into flame.Sam – Halloween 2001
In the morning Sam headed for the library. It was early, the honey warmth of Halloween Eve bleeding over into morning, sticky sun on the eastern edge of campus. Saturday, the university grounds deserted. Sam on a well-worn route across campus. Antsy all morning from waiting for the library to open.You're such a geek, Samantha.
Dean sixteen, escorting Sam to the library in whatever shit town they were in. Sam wanting the familiarity of books and magazines and the Dewey Decimal system. Establishing a touch point. Dean eyeing the bars and pool halls and shitkicking cowboys lounging next to their trucks. God, how did I get such a geek brother?
It wasn't hard to find. Anything to do with research Sam breezed through. Reluctantly gave credit where credit was due, Dad and his hours spent over microfiche. Plus, Sandra Day was one of the few murders on campus, back in 1987.
He snorted dismissively as he read the report. Jess had exaggerated somewhat, despite her fishnet stockings. No white hair, no broken boyfriend on the other end of an open phone line. Just one dead girl on the floor of her dorm room, no apparent cause of death. She had simply quit living. It was enough.
Sam had to switch to microfilm to find anything about Sally Masters. Nothing much in the obit. The polite language covering up a broken life. Sam didn't have access to the police report, didn't know if Sally had hung herself or not. Couldn't find anything about a dead boyfriend from Vietnam.
He sat back, gnawed at a thumbnail. The next step would be interviews, conning, lying to slip into homes, mortuaries, police departments. That wasn't him. Research was one thing, taking the step into an outright hunt was another. He was dismayed he'd come this far.
Just one dead girl. God, how did I get such a geek brother?
He turned off the machine with a sharp movement, slung his backpack over his shoulder and walked away quickly. Didn't look back.
Palo Alto's police department was sleepy and barely stirring this early Saturday morning. Sam stood outside, indecisive. The metal pull handle glimmered innocently. Inside he'd have to lie. Make something up, trick whatever cop was on duty into giving him the Sally Masters report. He didn't want to do this.Watch this.
Dean barely twenty-one, flipping open a badge identifying him as Officer Bill Ward, Dallas Police Department. Walking into the home of a woman shock-faced and numb over the death of her daughter. Not twenty minutes later coming out with the mother's half-remembered vision of a dark figure looming over her daughter's body. You're such a geek, Samantha.
Sam pulled nervously at the strap on his bookbag, shuffled his feet, and stepped inside. A woman at the receptionist's desk, reading Danielle Steele, looked up at him curiously. "Can I help you?"
"Can I, uh, look at a police report?" Tried to put on his most sincere face even though he knew already he was doomed.
She blinked at him. "Those aren't public record. What do you need it for?"
Sam toed at a crack in the tile at his feet. "Research."
"Huh." She put the book down. "Well, how old is this police report?"
"Um. November, 1967? A woman committed suicide in a dorm here?"
"What's her name?"
"And you said you're doing…. research?"
Sam nodded, didn't elaborate.
She stood, a petite older woman with a perm. She looked at Sam, lips thin with disapproval. He looked at her, once, then down at the floor. She sighed, pushed through a door marked Employees Only.
Sam fidgeted, bit his thumbnail. Wondered to holy hell if the straight approach would actually work. Wondered about Jess's fishnet stockings.
The woman was gone long enough to make Sam sweat, and he was about to run for the door when she came back. Holding a tattered and faded folder. She eyed Sam sternly. "Now, because of the age of this matter, I can give you a copy. But this kind of research, well, it's not very healthy, you know."
Sam nodded, struggled to keep his face straight. "Yes, ma'am. I appreciate it." And five minutes later was standing outside, the paper in his hands still warm from the copy machine. He felt curiously triumphant. "Bite my geek ass, Deena," he whispered, and headed for his dorm.John – Halloween 1967
John walked out of the hospital on his own power. His side ached, even smothered with morphine. Shrapnel had taken a hunk of meat out of his side, a long shallow slice across his ribs. The doc's mouth was thin with displeasure, but he didn't say anything. Closed the door and went back to more grateful patients.
John picked his way carefully through the battalion, nodding to those who greeted him. Finally found his barracks and entered, paused to let his eyes adjust to the dimness after the tropical sun.
"The fuck you doing, Shotgun? I was just coming to visit you." Deacon stood next to his bed, locker open at his feet. His dogtags hung from one hand.
John put first things first, found his bed and sank down gratefully. He caught his breath after a moment, and spoke carefully. "Hospital's a fucking joke. Sick people in there."
Deacon stood over him, prodded his side with blunt fingers. Gave a satisfied smirk at John's wince. "That ain't just a scratch."
John shrugged. "Lost count at thirty."
"You'll have a hell of a scar."
"Chicks dig scars."
Deacon laughed, a hard, bitten-off sound. "Hicks didn't make it."
John nodded. He'd seen it. That moment when Hicks wasn't Hicks anymore. He laid his arm over his eyes, stared into darkness. "Doesn't he have a girlfriend?"What am I, John?
Mary staring at him that last night. He'd taken her out, nice place, fucking violins playing in the corner. She'd fought with him. Demanded he do something. John's still wasn't sure what she wanted. Just a cheap date?
John's reasonable comment pointing out how much her fish cost had not been appreciated. Fuck you, John Winchester.
He heard a squeak of metal as Deacon sat on the bed next to his. "Yep. In fucking Texas or somewhere." He paused. John heard the sound of dogtags clicking together. "Shotgun. Did you see the claymore?"
Deacon's boot heel stepping cleanly down on top of it. John opened his eyes, looked over at Deacon. "The fuck was that?"
Deacon nodded, looked down at this dogtags. "That's what I thought. Look." Held out the dogtags. Threaded on the chain was a small pewter dragon, one leg raised for attack. Rampant, John remembered. The position was called rampant. "Remember this?"This will give you protect.
The whore had been smiling, obsequious and terrified. John didn't think she was more than fourteen. Deacon drunk and stoned, willing to push it, too numb to see anyone else's pain. You no fuck, you take dragon.
Deacon had chosen no fuck. It was one of the reasons John still bunked with him. John sat up, wincing, took the dragon from Deacon's hands. "So it did. Protect."
Deacon's smile was like light off the edge of a knife. "Looks like." He stood and went back to his open locker. Started rummaging through the contents.
John ran the tip of his finger over the dragon. "Is it magic?"
Deacon's answer was a rude scoff.Fuck you, John Winchester.
John had nothing to give her. No ring, no necklace, just a piece of overpriced fish on a china plate. And the promise he'd come back to her.
"Are you keeping it?"
Deacon shot him a disbelieving look. "Why wouldn't I?"
John shrugged. "Look what happened to Hicks."
Deacon went still at that. "Wasn't my fault."
"The claymore had to go somewhere."
Deacon's gaze went from the dragon to John's face. Uncertain. "What do I do with it? Do you want it?"
John's smile was bitter. "Winchesters have their own luck. Which is why I'm only missing the meat over my ribs." He set the dragon carefully on the closed locker next to him. The pewter gleamed dully in the dim light. "Out here," he said, his voice dreamy with left over morphine, "thing's like a frag bomb. You standing whole while your company is just body parts."What am I? Just a cheap—
"Send it to Hicks's girl. The only thing she'll have from him."
Deacon's gaze on John's face was wary. Concerned. "You okay?"
John fell back, closed his eyes again, Mary's face on the back of his eyelids. "Shoulda given her a ring, Deacon. Wanted to show her I was classy. Shoulda just bought a damn ring."
"Send it to Hicks's girl. Can't hurt people at home. No one gets hurt at home." Morphine was dragging him under again, and Mary's anger and scent were pervasive in his mind. Fuck you, John Winchester.
He felt Deacon's hand on his shoulder, an awkward pat. "Okay, Shotgun. Okay."
Seven months later he was home, Kansas in the spring. Mary bolted across the tarmac as soon as his foot hit the ground, all arms and legs as she crashed into him. She was nothing and everything like he had remembered. He held on to her, held on and whispered endearments and reassurances until she went limp in his arms. He pulled back in increments, finally able to look into her face.
"Mary. You're not a cheap date." He'd lost his ability to think somewhere. Fumbled in his jacket pocket. The ring of gold shone in the spring sunlight. "Look."What am I?
She looked. Took it, slipped it on her finger. Gazed into his face like she still wasn't sure he was real. "Yes. Thank you, John Winchester."
"Everything," he said, and she had to hold on to him, the fabric of her shirt bunched in his fists, listening while he told her "Everything," over and over again.Sam – Halloween 2001
Sunday night on campus was dead. Sam winced at the word. After midnight, but still a long way to morning. Stars bright in the clear sky, fighting the glow of lights from the city.
Sam stood where the sidewalk leading past LaSal Hall began. The strap from the duffle bag bit into his shoulder, weighed down by the objects inside. Despite the darkness, he easily picked out the window of Sally Masters' room. The blinds moved, like a hand was running up and down the slats.
Saturday he'd done a little more recon, stepped into LaSal Hall and discovered they'd turned the dorm room in question into a utility room. Made the pleasant discovery that Jess lived there too, and was cute even without the fishnets.
He walked steadily toward the building. It loomed above him, slowly blocked out the stars. He stopped at the corner window. The blinds jumped.You want to leave?
Dean pacing the small room they shared. On the bed, the letter from Stanford, promising Sam everything he had ever wanted. The two of them waiting for Dad to come home. It can't be that bad. Sam?
Sam settled the duffle bag firmly over his back, made the small leap to the window ledge. The light was back, seeping between the slats like liquid. Sam found his pocketknife, flicked open the small blade and worried at the window latch. Despite layers of paint, the latch finally gave and the window lifted. As if it had wanted to.
He paused, dropped carefully down to the ground again. Surveyed the room, the half-open window. The blinds alarmingly quiet.
Sally Masters had been cremated. Sam's philosophical opinion on that had earned him a wide-eyed look from Luis. With the remains unavailable, Sam's options narrowed suddenly. Either unfinished business or something was tying the spirit to the location of her death.You really want to leave?
Dean's hands fisted and shoved into his pockets. The whisper of his bare feet over the rug as he went from one wall to the next. Sam helpless and desperate and wanting something so bad his body hurt. C'mon, Sam.
Sam stared at the window. Nothing. Just one dead girl. Shit, maybe she had some weird medical thing and the ghost just pushed her over the edge. Ghost didn't kill her – just scared her to death. Just one dead girl. Sam could leave; the room wouldn't be used for anything other than storing mops.
He didn't do this anymore.Sam?
Sam reluctantly settled the duffle again, scrambled up to the window. Found his balance, lifted his head, and met Sally Masters' uncanny gaze. She had wide, milky eyes, edged with the original brown. Her mouth was open. Gasping for air or trying to talk. A low noise, like the hum of some arcane machine.
Sam startled, caught himself with one hand under the barely-open window. Air so cold it stung his knuckles. Sally Masters took a step back, away from him, disappeared into the dark. Sam paused, counted to ten, then again. Hit ten the second time and his fingers had quit trembling. Situated himself, bent his knees awkwardly, and pulled at the window. It came up so fast he nearly fell.I can't do this anymore, Dean. Don't want this.
He stepped into the room soundlessly, one leg first until he was straddling the window. With a better balance, carefully reached into his duffle and withdrew an iron letter opener he had borrowed from Luis. Small, economical movements, drilled into him since he was ten. Cased the room.
It was dark and cold, smelled of cleaner. Mops and brooms shadowy and strange. Shelves deep in darkness, stray gleams of light from bottles and scrubbers. No sign of Sally Masters.
He drew his other leg into the room, pulled out a flashlight. Sent the beam around the room, a small spot of light. The temperature began to climb, level out. Sam figured Sally Masters was probably gone, all her energy used up. Qualified that due to the sharp smell of electricity still in the air. Remember the poltergeist? You broke your fucking pelvis, Dean.
Sam started searching shelf by shelf, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Mr. Clean, Comet, TCP, sponges, toilet bowl brushes. Sam sighed, took a step back, frustrated. Nothing.
The temperature dropped so fast Sam felt suddenly dunked in ice water. He fumbled for the iron letter opener, stuck handle first in his back pocket.
Sally Masters was next to him. "Danny?" Voice biting, cold.
The handle against his palm. Dropped the flashlight, the light rolling crazily across the ceiling. Sally Masters' milky eyes, blue skin, and Sam stabbed blindly. She disappeared with a sound like paper tearing. Sam's hand numb from the cold.Dad hasn't been the same since Hanksville.
He was shaking again. Swore as he knelt to gather the flashlight. His knee landed on something and he flinched, swung the light around. Something small and grey, gleaming dully in the yellow light.
It was a pair of dogtags on a silver chain, along with a small dragon, one paw raised to attack. Dragon rampant.I'm tired of waiting for one of you to die. So, yeah, Dean, it is that bad.
The letter from Stanford was a crisp white among the dingy grey of the bed sheets. Dean the same color, like he was about to vomit. Sam with a fire in his blood, giving voice to everything he'd always wanted to say. Through the open window came the deep voice of Dad's truck, pulling into the driveway. Come with me? Dean?
He walked home into the sunrise, thin and tender feelers of sunlight stealing into the silent campus. Monday morning. In about three hours he had a class. Criminology 101. Dean would have loved the forensic overview, and the girl who sat in front of him who insisted on camisoles and short skirts.
Luis still asleep when Sam came in the door, closed it quietly behind him. Held the dogtags up into the weightless morning sunlight. The tiny dragon twirled from the chain, ready to attack. Sam figured he'd resort to Dad's trick, break into the mausoleum where Sally Masters' cremains were with a hefty bag of rock salt. That, and taking this little trinket, should put her to rest.
It'd be the last thing he'd do as a hunter. Yeah, Dean, it is that bad.
Sleep was pulling at him. He sat at his desk, found a notebook, tore out a piece of paper. Luis snorted, turned to his side. The sound soothed Sam, reminded him of Dean in the next bed for the years of his life. Blank lines stared at him. He stared back. Finally scrawled a quick note, and then set the dragon down in the middle of it, a small puddle of silver and pewter. Shrugged his shirt off and dropped into bed.
Black words underneath the silver. Dad – I wanted Dean to come with me. Take care of this. Sam.Sam and Dean – 4th of July 2007
They had hauled the curse boxes to Bobby's, found a place to store them out of the way and invisible. Neither one had saidLet's go back
but they did, and the lock-up's door as it opened released the smell of cordite and old paper. Smells Sam associated with his father to the point that he looked around, half-expected Dad to step out of the shadows. Hey, boys.
They wandered, not bothering with the overhead lights, everything dim and sepia-toned like old photographs. Sam found a stack of vinyl records, grey stains licking around the dustcovers. Janis Joplin. The Rolling Stones. Creedence Clearwater Revival.
His mother's name in the right hand corner. Rubbed his thumb over the loopy writing before setting The Who
back in its place.Not that you care.
Sam talking to Dad's back. Dad's shoulders stiff with anger. Somewhere, lost in the red haze of Sam's rage, Dean hovered. The letter from Stanford crumpled in Sam's fist. What are we, Dad? Your soldiers or your sons?
He heard Dean muttering to himself in a corner, bent over a flag-shrouded casket. Looked up, across the muted space between them. The familiar curve of Dean's skull, the familiar tilt as he puzzled over something in his hands. You're my big brother.
He tasted the weight of it, the weight of Dean's life, coppery and solid in his mouth. Pushed away from the records and went in search of something more.
Against the back wall of the lock-up he found a green military locker, battered and stained. Across the front of it in his mother's writing the word Shotgun.
An open lock threaded casually through the hasp on the front. He knelt down next to it, took the lock out. Behind him he heard his brother's step.
Inside the locker a bundle of fatigues, folded neatly together. A small stack of vinyl records. A landmine. A shoebox stuffed with pictures and letters. All of it smelling slightly of ash and smoke. Dean's hand reached for the landmine as he knelt next to Sam. Sam reached for the shoebox.
Photos of Marines, the predominant color always green. A row of men Sam's age, looking into the camera. Sam picked out his father, picked out Deacon. Both of them impossibly young. Letters. Sam glanced at one, looked away quickly. Hey, baby. I miss you.
Dean held up a jacket. "Think it will fit me?"
Sam glanced up. "The thing reeks, Dean."
Dean grinned. "Recognize the reek?"
"Oh, shit. You kidding me?" Sam torn between amusement and scandal, finally gave a reluctant chuckle. "Fucking hippie."
Dean laughed. The sound bright in the dank room. "Hey, it was the sixties, man." Shook his head regretfully. "Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era." He reached into the locker again, started flipping through the records.What are we, Dad?
Sam turned back to the handful of letters and photos in his hand. Started sorting them out, putting them into a kind of timeline. Stopped dead when, incredibly, his own handwriting appeared. He stared it for a moment, glanced at the date.Your soldiers or your sons?
He seemed to have picked up a slight tremor in his fingers, the paper rustling as he opened the envelope, pulled out the paper inside. The dragon came with it, dropped to the bottom of the locker. Paw still raised in attack. Rampant.Dad – I wanted Dean to come with me. Take care of this. Sam.
Underneath it, in Dad's blocky scrawl, was one word. It didn't make sense to Sam.Everything.