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My Life is a Movie

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Title: My Life is a Movie
Author: Tenoko1
Rating: PG-13
Summary: It started out a simple case. Then it got complicated. And thank you very much, but Dean Winchester does NOT appreciate his life having a soundtrack like a freaking chick flick, even it's starting to resemble one.
AN: For the most part, I’m going to ignore the events after season five. And Sam isn't in Hell.

 

Standing in the middle of the street, both Sam and Dean regarded the scene in front of them, the mannequins arranged on the crosswalk in a mock of the famous Beatles photograph. They were Federal Agents this week, Sam with his hands on his hips and head angled to the side, whilst Dean stood with his arms folded over his chest and lips pursed.

“I don’t get it, Sam,” stated Dean finally.

His brother shrugged, reaching to tug at his tie, then stopping himself and running a hand through his hair instead. He glance around the street that had been closed off. This was a crime scene, after all.

“Art mimics life,” he offered lightly, though clearly not getting the point anymore than Dean did.

It wasn’t just the four mannequins on the cross walk. There were mannequins arranged on the sidewalk, fully dressed, bags in hand, like people out shopping, a woman pushing a stroller, a woman being led by the hand by a toddler, two people sitting on the bench chatting, one stood at the bus stop. Except they were all mannequins.

“And we checked with the local cops that no one has been reported missing right? None of these things were actually people once, were they?”

With a sigh, Sam nodded. “Everyone is accounted for. It’s just…” His gaze drifted to the bridal shop and clothing boutique that all the mannequins had been commandeered from. “It’s just some elaborate prank.” He sighed again, scratching the back of his head at a loss. “It may not even be related to the other events that have been taking place around town. It could be just someone taking advantage of the other things in order to play an elaborate hoax.”

The proprietors of the two shops were watching them anxiously from the sidewalk in front their stores, both women whispering to each other, their heads angled together. With a wordless nod, the brothers split apart, Sam going to inform the women that they would be allowed to retrieve their inventory and open, while Dean moved to inform the on-scene police officers that they could reopen the street for traffic and civilians.

Being that it was close enough to lunch, the boys loosened their ties a touch and went to the diner near their motel, files detailing the recent events in the town open in front of both of them as they ordered and then ate their lunch and discussed the case.

So far the only definite pattern they had was the fact that, well, weird stuff was happening all over town. All the whites to go into the washers at the local Laundromat came out pink. Every time. The traffic lights flicked to different colors at random and with no real timing sequence. Salt kept getting used instead of sugar at the bakery. And the coffee shop. Relatively harmless, albeit annoying, pranks were happening all over town, but it wasn’t until a pickup truck found its way into the branches of a tree like someone had picked it up and put it there that the Winchesters went to investigate.

Bobby had called them with the job, and well, they were closer than he was, so it made sense for them to at least swing by to even see if it was there kind of thing or not.

Dean let his eyes sweep over the diner, it’s staff, and patrons. There was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about this town. It was small, picturesque almost to the point of being cliché. Everyone knew each other. You could pretty much walk the entire town, there really was no need for a car. Many people were seen walking or riding a bike to get where they needed to be.

Waving to their waitress, Dean gave the middle-aged woman a charming smile and ordered a slice of warm pie with ice cream, giving her his most charming smile when she returned with it, causing her tired expression to shift into a slight smile.

“I dunno, Sammy,” Dean said finally. “I really don’t know if this is our schtick, I mean, aside from a truck in a tree, nothing here screams malevolent supernatural forces, and even that wasn’t malevolent, since no one was hurt, just inconvenienced.”

Those big brown eyes flicked to him, then down, almost in defeat. “I was thinking the same thing. It’s just weird and there’s no real reason for any of it. No ‘why’ or ‘how’, and that still bothers me. If it isn’t something supernatural, well, someone should have figured it out already, seen something. If it’s supernatural, well, it makes no sense as to ‘what’ or ‘why’, but then there’s no way to explain how else that truck could have gotten in the tree or why the clothes keep coming out pink when the washers have been checked and serviced and nothing is wrong with any of them.”

Dean took a bite of his apple pie and vanilla ice cream, faltering to release an indecent sound of enjoyment while his brother made a face, before the elder Winchester composed himself to speak. “The truck is the only reason we’re still here, the only reason we’re here to begin with. The one thing we’ve learned is that no trick is pulled more than once. The washers were only screwed up the one day. Once the traffic lights were fixed, there were no more malfunctions. It may be that the perp simply isn’t interested in pulling the same stunt more than once, or the risk of exposure is greater after having done it the first time, and there’s no opportunity for a repeat performance.”

Sam’s gaze snapped up to him, as though realizing something. “Trick,” he repeated. “A prank.” Green eyes regarded him, waiting for further explanation. “You don’t think this could be… I mean, it’s not exactly his M.O. but pranks are pranks and well…”

Dean blinked, regarding his brother seriously. “You want to know if it could be the Trickster.”

Sam shrugged and dropped his gaze, pushing around one of his fries in the ketchup like it required all of his attention. “I-I mean, I know he’s dead, or did a very convincing job of making it look like he did, wouldn’t be the first time-“

“It’s not Tuesday,” interjected Dean, causing Sam to look up in confusion. His brother clarified, “It’s not Tuesday. I’m still alive. No one has died in any of these pranks. No one has even been involved in any of these pranks, just affected by them. I don’t think Gabriel is behind this. In fact, seeing as how the apocalypse is over and it would be perfectly safe for him to return to his family if he had faked his death, and yet he hasn’t- or else Cas would have told us- it makes me believe that Goldilocks, in fact, bit the big one and his old man saw no reason to revive him.”

Sam nodded in agreement, gaze dropping again in a way that made Dean frown at him, gaze flicking over his younger sibling’s face. “You’re disappointed,” he pointed out finally, a little surprised and more than a little incredulous.

His little brother shrugged, mulling over the statement as he contemplated the remaining fries on his plate with disinterest. “It would be easy if that was all it was, I guess. As long as he’s not killing anyone.” He seemed to struggle, before looking at his brother for understanding. “And I just… I feel kinda bad, you know? He wanted to stay out of the fighting with his family, we dragged him into it, and no sooner does he agree to pick a side then his big brother murders him.” He dropped his gaze and shook his head. “I just feel like it could have been handled better if we’d had a minute to think and plan.”

“Yeah, except we didn’t, dude,” pointed out Dean. “Lucifer was on his way. We had to get the heck out of Dodge, and were only able to because Blondie Bear decided to grow a pair and stand up to his family. He didn’t pick a side, though, dude. I think he would have yelled at both Michael and Lucifer for being dumbasses. He didn’t pick Michael over Lucifer. I don’t think he even chose to fight for free will. He just wanted to talk sense into his brother and for the fighting to stop. It’s the reason he ran away to begin with.”

“Could be another trickster, then,” offered Sam. “A real one this time.”

“Except no has died and there’s no unexplainable phenomenon,” countered Dean. “Hard to explain? Sure. Truck in a tree? Malfunctioning washers that all seem like they are in top working order and haven’t been messed with? Doesn’t mean they are supernatural just because we can’t figure them out. I say we head back to Bobby’s and start looking for our next case.”

His brother considered this a moment, clearly debating. Between the two of them, Sam had always been more willing to stick to a case that had little to no evidence of supernatural relation. Dean probably wouldn’t have bothered to come out here to even look at the case a year ago.
Bad example. A year ago they were saving the world from an apocalypse because Lucifer had recently risen and they were eye ball deep in trouble and sinking.

A few years ago, Dean wouldn’t have bothered with such a ‘possibly, maybe, might be supernatural, but not really sure’ case. And not every supernatural case called for their expertise, after all. Not everything supernatural was malevolent, there were plenty of things out there that were harmless and the Winchesters just left them alone.

“Let’s call Bobby and see what he says,” offered Sam in compromise. “If he says he thinks there’s nothing here, we’ll load up the car and be done with it.”

 

Bobby thought it wasn’t their kind of gig.

With that confirmation, they had loaded up, and gone to get the heck out of Dodge. Upon leaving town was when they realized, okay, something very well supernatural was at work here.

“My car!” cried out Dean, both accusingly and in disbelief, his hands in his hair and eyes wide.

“I know, Dean,” Sam said again, placating. They stood in the road where Dean had been forced to pull off, both of them regarding the Impala, her hood up and smoke pouring off the engine as though they’d lit a bon fire on her.

“But my car!” explained Dean again, this time more angrily as he jabbed a finger at his baby. “I don’t care what you do with mannequins, or socks, or trucks in trees, but I’ll be damned if any sonuvabitch messes with my car and gets away with it! My baby doesn’t break down, Sammy! Ever! I take too good of care with her!”
His younger brother nodded. Dean’s car was in better working order than most cars fresh off the lot.

“She’s always in immaculate order,” agreed Sam. He glanced at the sign stating they were leaving city limits, the sign they hadn’t quite managed to get as far as. “So something is keeping us here?”

“And now it has to die,” growled Dean, as he moved over to pet his car apologetically. “Oh baby, I’m sorry they did this to you. I’ll have you better in no time, I promise.”

Sam rolled his eyes. Dean’s obsession with that car was ridiculous. He had an almost reverence for it.

“I bet you secretly have a thing for pet names,” Sam stated, regarding the way Dean was still talking softly to the car as he fanned away the last of the smoke so he could peer at the engine. “If you ever find someone to stick with you for the long haul.” Dean gave him a confused and irritated glance over his shoulder, silently demanding ‘Do you hear the stupid coming out of your mouth or did your tourettes kick in again?’ “I bet you use names like ‘sweetheart’ and ‘doll face’ and-“ He was cut abruptly short when Dean removed his suit jacket and threw it at Sam’s face.

“Would you shut up and get my tool kit out of the trunk,” he demanded, carefully rolling up his sleeves.

Sam folded the jacket and tossed it in the back seat. “Hey, you’re the one who called Gabriel ‘Blondie Bear’ and ‘Goldilocks’ earlier today.”

“In mocking, Sam,” quipped Dean, yanking off his tie and throwing it in the backseat with his jacket. “Not in seriousness.”

Regardless, Sam got his brother’s tool kit and stood back, hands on his hips as he watched his brother pour over the engine with hawk like eyes, the eyes of a proficient surgeon.

“Shouldn’t we call a tow truck? Get her back to the motel before you start working on her?”

Dean’s head snapped around to stare at him. “And risk some idiot messing up her front end alignment? Are you crazy?”

“Yeah, but if what’s keeping us here thinks you’re just fixing her to get out of town, it might break something more seriously while you’re elbow deep in her, and this time, you might get hurt in the process.”

Green eyes seemed to consider this, flicking to the woods on either side of the back roads highway. He straightened, hands in the air in a gesture of surrender.
“We’re staying,” he called out to the woods. “You hear? Let me fix her and get her back to town though. To our motel. Don’t try to break my baby again or you will have officially gotten on my shit list, you understand? My car is off limits for pranks if you don’t want me to gank you when I find you.” He turned slowly, eyes scanning the tree line. Sam stiffened, letting his own eyes search the greenery and foliage, feeling the eyes on them.

Dean was calling out again. “That’s what you want, isn’t it? For us to find you? That’s part of your game, isn’t it? The humans in this town won’t think to come looking, but you know we aren’t regular humans. Don’t pull another stunt on my car and we’ll play your game. We’ll even let you live so long as your pranks don’t escalate to harming people. Capeesh?”

After a moment, Dean turned back to his car’s engine, one hand reaching for the bag Sam still held.

“You think that worked?” his brother questioned.

Dean mulled over the engine, hands spread wide and gaze assessing. “I think it can’t keep everyone trapped here without garnering serious attention. It’s watching everyone, though, and therefore knows we aren’t like everyone. All of the pranks draw attention. It wants attention, recognition for its efforts. The big Ta-Da. It’s not going to get that from a bunch of humans, but hunters? Yeah. He wants us to stick around and see if we can’t figure him out. It’s challenging us.”

Nodding, Sam’s brown eyes drifted over the woods around them, then back to his brother who was already getting to work fixing his car. “Maybe we ought to call Cas.”

Dean looked at him like he’d just blasphemed. “Dude. This is an easy case. We’re basically playing hide-and-go-seek. We do not need to bother Cas for this. We don’t need his help.”

Sam shook his head and waved a hand dismissively. “No, not for help.” Dean’s expression softened from insulted to confused. “How often do we work a case where it’s just some harmless, mischievous element of the supernatural world doing nothing but having some fun? He might get a kick out of our having a case that doesn’t involve bloodshed. At seeing a creature from back when the world was a simpler place.”

Dean looked dubious, shaking his head and returning his attention to his car. “I dunno. I hate to bother him with trivial stuff. I’m sure he’s busy doing something important somewhere now that the apocalypse is over. I don’t want to overstep with him, angels and humans have completely different mentality. To him, it might have just been strange bedfellows, our partnership before. The enemy of my enemy is my friend and all.”

Sam scoffed. “You totally don’t believe that and you know it.” He folded his arms and gave his brother’s back a face, knowing full well Dean could probably feel the effects of it without actually having to see Sam’s expression. “You’re just insecure that now that the world’s saved, he no longer has a reason to be friends with us, you’re on your whole ‘I don’t deserve something this good in my life’ schtick again.”

Dean straightened, moving to put his hands on his hips, then faltered, remembering they were covered in grease. He wouldn’t meet Sam’s gaze. “It’s just… he’s an angel, Sam. A real angel, like what an angel should be, not like the kind of angel his siblings all were. He’s…” He faltered and shook his head. “I dunno. ‘Hope’ and ‘Cas’ are kind of the same thing in my head, this amazing thing that can make the world a better place, can change an impossible situation into something better. He’s better than hanging out with a couple of lowly human hunters, he’s probably off saving the world and changing lives and kicking people’s asses in Heaven so that they think for themselves and strive to be half as awesome as he is.”

Sam quirked a brow. “Castiel: A change we can believe in, huh?” His brother shrugged and turned back to his car. “You’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop, aren’t you?”

“What?”

“Yeah, rather than waiting for him to say ‘hey, I’m done with ya’ll, it’s been real, but I’m leaving you mud monkeys to it and headed back home’, rather than risking the pain of hearing that, you’re cutting him off instead. You’re doing the leaving so that he can’t. Because if he did say goodbye permanently, you wouldn’t know how to deal.”

“Shut up, Sam, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” groused Dean, elbow deep in his car.

“No, Dean, I think I kind of do,” argued Sam gently. “Cas is the first friend you’ve ever had. The first real friend you ever had. You can’t lie and charm him or pass off a façade with him. The guy met you when he pulled you out of Hell where you were the rising star of the King of Torture himself. Way I’ve heard tell, you’d have surpassed Alistair- if you hadn’t already. Cas knows everything you’ve ever done on Earth and in Hell and he cares about you anyway, has stuck by your side anyway, believed in you and damn well died, more than once I might add, in order to help you.” Dean had stopped working on the car and stood poised with stiff shoulders. Sam could see the muscles in his jaw twitching and flexing as Dean clenched and unclenched his teeth, the bob of his Adam’s apple as he swallowed thickly. “Where as even family has always let you down and disappointed you: Cas never has. Cas has never walked out on you, not willingly anyway. Not like I have. Not like Dad did. So you’re avoiding even giving him the opportunity, because if he ever did walk out of our lives and go back to Heaven or whatever, you don’t know how you’ll manage to deal. And that scares you, doesn’t it?”

Clearly taking a deep breath, struggling to get his anger under control, Dean slammed the hood to his car shut in a way that made Sam wince. Any other car, sure, but Dean never slammed his baby like that.

The elder sibling moved around to get in the driver’s side, shooting a sideways glare at Sam. “You can either shut up or walk back to town.”

“I’ll walk.”

Dean gave him a cold look. “Suit yourself.”

Stuffing his hands into his pockets, Sam watched as Dean cranked his car, put it in drive, and made a U-turn, all while pointedly refusing to look at Sam. The taller Winchester watched as the car retreated in the distance, and the taillights disappeared around the bend, leaving him alone on the side of the highway.

Or, perhaps, not alone.

“You can go ahead and show yourself now,” he said gently. He paused. “How much did you hear?”

“Not much,” admitted Cas, stepping up beside him. “From ‘where as family’. I knew you two seemed to be discussing me, and Dean was growing increasingly… upset, I thought perhaps it best I show up in case you were in trouble.”

Sam nodded and began walking, Castiel easily matching pace with him despite the taller man’s much longer stride.

“I apologize if I intruded when I should not have,” offered the angel.

Sam shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, but don’t let Dean know you overheard anything. As far as he’s to know, I called you to see if you were interested in joining us on this case we’re working on.”

“What case is that?”

“Some sort of prankster that wants us to catch him. We’re not sure what. He made Dean’s car break down though when we decided to leave town as this wasn’t our kind of case. Dean made it a deal: we’ll stick around to track it down so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone and it doesn’t mess with the Impala again.”

“How did Dean make a deal with it if you still have to track it down?”

Sam shrugged. “Figured it’s watching us.”

Castiel nodded and they walked the next mile or two in silence, Sam’s thoughts introverted until he finally glanced at the angel walking beside him.

“What are you going to do?” Cas said nothing at first, but Sam knew he understood. The angel remained silent. Sam let it go and asked a different question, “How are things in Heaven?”

“Different,” answered the shorter man. “Things are changing. The idea of free will is not as scandalous as it once was. Obedience without making a choice to be, isn’t as meaningful as choosing to be a diligent servant. We’re organizing to… do tours, I suppose is the phrase. To alternate groups of angels that walk the earth and among humans in disguise so that we are better able to protect them, to empathize with their plights and show compassion. We have been disconnected with our Father’s fellow creatures for far too long and it has cost us something very dear we were too late in realizing. Our pride wrought strife and division, prejudice. There are angels now, far too many, who have no knowledge of a time when things were done differently. I was one of them until I met you and your brother.”

“So where do you stand in all of this? Is it okay for you to be on earth? How long can you stay?”

Cas said nothing.

 

When they finally made their way back to the motel- Cas never once offered to angel express them there, and Sam wouldn’t have accepted it if he had, which he thinks Cas knew- Dean had changed into ripped jeans and an old shirt and was under the Impala, perhaps doing further repairs or just giving her a thorough look over to make sure whatever had jinxed her earlier didn’t do any further or permanent damage. Sam didn’t think it did, after all, Dean was quite serious in his promise that if whatever was causing all the pranks around town so much as hurt his car in any way again, Dean would kill it without remorse or a second thought.
You did not come between a man and his car. Especially not this man and this car.

Sam kicked lightly at Dean’s exposed boots. “Dean. Look who’s here.”

“Hi Cas,” greeted Dean without coming out from under the car.

The response was automatic, like he’d been expecting his brother to show up with the angel. The younger Winchester figured Dean knew him well enough to know that Sam would have gone through with his idea to include the angel on this particular hunt that was the exception and not the case.

“Hello Dean.” He paused, head angled to one side as he regarded Dean’s boots most seriously. “I understand your mischievous friend crossed into near blasphemous territory by assaulting your car.”

Sam snorted a laugh, turning to cover his mouth with his hand. Using one foot, Dean rolled out from under the car, laying on his back and staring at the angel standing over him, a clearly amused expression on the hunter’s face.

“Yes, yes it did. Glad you’re here in case we have to get our smite on with the little bitch.”

“Smitey McSmiterson, at your service. I aim to please.”

Dean snorted with laughter, an easy grin slipping on to his face. Sam knew their earlier argument was forgiven and things between them were okay again seeing that.

His brother looked at him. “Sammy, why don’t you go in and order a pizza or something while I finish up here. I’m starved.”

The taller male rolled his eyes. “You’re gonna have to get a shower before I agree to sit down anywhere near you, dude. You smell like oil and antifreeze.”

“That’s because the bastard disconnected the line to my anti freeze and it was leaking all over the place, smart ass.” Dean kicked out blindly at him as he rolled himself under his car, connecting solidly with Sam’s shin.

The younger of the two rolled his eyes and jerked his head toward their room. “C’mon Cas. What kind of pizza do you feel like?”

The angel shrugged. “I can pick off whatever toppings I would not care for.”

“That means get a Supreme,” called out Dean from under the car, giving his brother pause, looking back. “I give Cas my veggies, he gives me the meat off of his.”

Sam looked inquiringly at the angel walking beside him. Cas nodded. “That is typically what takes place,” he agreed.

Nodding they continued into the motel, Sam trying to think back to the times Cas had shared meals with them and wondering why he’d never noticed this pattern before, that Dean and Cas had somehow synced into a rhythm with each other.

--
The next day, Sam and Dean woke up to a room covered in glitter. Like Vegas Show girls had done their entire routine in the one small room and no surface had been spared. Sam had done the groveling to the motel staff, but luckily, it was well known at this point that someone was going around pulling ridiculous pranks, and the manager had been apologetic and had the locks to all the rooms changed and upgraded to newer ones. Dean had laughed his ass off as even after having gotten a shower, Sam still had glitter in his hair.

In return, Sam had to bite back a laugh as Cas reached out to Dean, cupping the hunter’s jaw in his hand, and used his thumb to brush away glitter from under Dean’s eye and along his cheekbone, the barest hint of an amused smile on the angel’s face. Dean had blinked with a start at the contact, but allowed it, a clearly confused expression on his face and a tinge of pink to go with the spatter of freckles and glitter.

The next day, chalk outlines of people in various poses covered the sidewalks through out town, some even drawn in the road. Once again, police had had to make certain everyone in town was accounted for and unharmed.

Then the bakery had an incident with the dough and yeast mixture that no one could explain, but suffice to say they ended up with far, far, far too much bread. So much so, they were practically giving baskets of rolls away. You bought the basket, the rolls were free, all proceeds went to charity. Cas seemed content with this idea as the three of them strolled down the sidewalk, Sam holding the basket, and all three of them practically inhaling the fresh baked bread like they’d never had it before, in which case, they hadn’t. Also in which case, there is nothing that can compare to fresh baked bread.

All the apples at the market were suddenly candy and carmel apples, wrapped in brightly colored cellophane and tied with ribbons.

The line of trees down Main St. were tee-pee’d, long strands of white toilet paper hanging like tinsel from a Christmas tree.

Stop signs in town had an added note tacked up, making them read ‘Stop. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.’

Sam thought the whole thing was kind of amusing and really wasn’t much help as far as wanting to hunt it down went. Cas seemed to share the sentiment, Dean catching him biting back a smirk and a laugh, and trying most unsuccessfully to pass it off as a cough. He was really terrible at lying to Dean.

“Okay, well, if there were every doubt in your mind,” stated Dean tersely, “Gabriel is definitely not behind these pranks. They’re too juvenile even for him.”

Sam nodded, conceding. “The candy and caramel apples had me wondering for a minute, but yeah, definitely not Gabriel.”

“I almost kind of wish it was. I owe the guy a right hook to the face still, preferably with a crowbar.”

They continued making their way through town, headed for the diner, only briefly glancing at the group of people in the middle of the road, and on top of parked cars, or swinging around lamp posts, the entire lot of them in complete and full-on synchronized song and dance.

Dean’s gaze flicked back to his brother. “I dunno, man. I’ve never heard of anything like this.”

His brother had glanced back over his shoulder at the people returning to their day and lives as the song and music died off. “Probably because we’ve never faced anything like this. Everything we’ve ever fought has had a body count attached to it. This thing, well, it’s annoying, but nothing last more than a day. Even if we don’t find it, since it isn’t exactly leaving us clues, eventually it’ll have to get bored and move on right? It’s playing a game with us, but maybe if we can’t figure it out, since we have absolutely nothing to go on, it’ll give up and go on and we’ll be free to leave town.”

At the diner, Cas took the seat by the window in the booth, Dean sliding in next to him and Sam sitting opposite the pair.

“Have you ever heard of anything like this?” wondered Sam, his eyes fixed on the angel.

Castiel’s eyes swiveled to him. “There are many myths from centuries past that deal in prank playing spirits. Actually even malevolent spirits and beings will sometimes have a strictly playful side. Loki, Eris, Iktomi, Ananasi, Dionysus, for a few, not to mention animal spirits like coyotes, ravens, foxes, and raccoons throughout mythology across the world since the beginning of time.”

“We already ruled out Gabriel,” stated Dean, grinning at the waitress as she caught his eye and signaled she’d be right with them.

The angel shook his head. “No, the real Loki. Son of Odin, brother of Thor, from Norse mythology. Personally, I do not think the tricks played so far suggest that it is any of the more human deities, though. More than likely, we are dealing with something that would have a child’s idea for pranks and fun, so it is a guess we are dealing with an animal spirit, if not a child altogether.”

The waitress came and took their orders, Dean and Sam ordering burger with fries, and Dean asking about what pies they had available. Silence fell over them comfortably as the waitress left to put in their orders.

Sam was making a face, like something was weighing on his mind he couldn’t quite let go of or wrap his head around. He hooked his thumb over his shoulder. “That was weird, right? The people singing and dancing? That’s not normal… right?” Cas and Dean both blinked at him. “Because at the time, it didn’t seem weird. It was like it was something you might see anywhere, no big deal, but that was weird, right?”

The angel at Dean’s side made a face, considering. “You are right. Now that you mention it, it is most unusual.”

The hunter rolled his green eyes. “Can’t you just say something’s fucked up and be done with it?”

Castiel shot him a cross look, one he frequently used- most often with Dean. It said something along the lines of ‘Keep pushing your luck and my patience and I will smite you.’ He never went through with the silent threat, but Dean knew there were days he was very much tempted to. He grinned back at the angel.
Sam flicked a French fry at his brother, smacking him right in the forehead as Dean looked away from Cas. The elder Winchester pulled a face of start and then annoyance.

“Focus, Dean,” ordered Sam, like he were talking to an ADD child. Dean flicked a fry at his brother in retaliation, but said nothing, regarding his little brother as Sam continued to speak, having dodged the projectile food. “Okay, so spontaneous- I’m guessing at least- song and dance. So whatever we’re after has upgraded from pulling pranks on inanimate objects all around town and is now going on to include the townspeople.”

“Still no one has been harmed,” interjected Cas, pointing out that essential factor in their case. “He is still playing by the guidelines Dean set down.”

The hunter in question snorted. “Yeah, as if waking up covered in glitter wasn’t bad enough, everyone is getting their Broadway on now?” Shaking his head with a heavy sigh, he took a long sip of his coke. They were still posing as FBI and he couldn’t exactly be drinking when he was on the job. “I miss when our lives made sense. Do you miss that? When the universe had rules and I didn’t have an angel on speed dial?” He glanced at Cas, quickly adding, “Not that I’m not glad to have you on speed dial.”

A shadow of a smirk crossed Cas’ expression, which was probably the closest they ever got to making the angel actually smile.

“I understood what you meant, Dean.”

“Would a animal spirit have the power to control people?” pressed Sam, looking disbelieving. “I mean, that’s some serious mojo. Like whoa. I can’t even begin to fathom how anyone or anything could manage something that major.”

“Or why,” added Dean, Sam nodding his head in consent.

Looking thoughtful, Cas placed his hands on the table, fingers steepled together. “Mischievous. Playful. Prankster. Harmless. Child-like.” His head angled to the side and his gaze was distant as he mulled it over in his head. “We must be dealing with a sprite, perhaps a fae child. With the upgrade to include controlling the movement of the townsfolk which requires a much stronger magic, I’m far more inclined to believe we are dealing with a fae child. In which case, it’s simply a matter of hunting them down. They would not be in town, they would want to be closer to nature instead. They will have created a place of their own even in the world they currently dwell, bending reality to whatever form and shape they desire, only to have it return to it’s original form the moment of the Fae’s departure, like a rubber band pulled taunt and then released.”

Eyebrows raised in surprised, Dean glanced at his brother, only looking up long enough to thank the waitress as she brought them their food, then back at Castiel.

“Wow. I think that was your entire word quota for the month in one long spiel. Are we going to be able to get a word out of you the rest of the time that we’re stuck here?”

An uncharacteristic, playful smirk crossed the angel’s face, one brow arching slightly as he slid a sidelong glance to the man beside him.

“Only if your words warrant being dignified with a response. Your chances are slim, Sam’s significantly better.”

Sam choked on his burger laughing and having to grapple for his drink so he could breath again.

Dean took the jab good-naturedly, actually ruffling the angel’s hair. “You wound me, Cas. Here I thought you knew I wasn’t one for profound conversation. I see how it is.” He pointedly turned his plate around and moved it over just a little.

Sam wondered at this until the angel reached over and grabbed a French fry easily, biting into it and letting his gaze drift out the window. It was like it was something they did habitually, without any real thought behind it. How had Sam not noticed this sooner? This change in Dean’s behavior to share his food with the angel?

After saving the world from the apocalypse, he guessed they’d finally been able to relax more into their relationship, to be more friends rather than strictly brothers in arms fighting every day just to survive.

“So we have to go trekking through the woods? Is that what you’re saying?”

Sam considered the question and the recent events that had been taking place all over town. “Hold up.” Cas and Dean both regarded him. There was something here, something key. He didn’t understand it, but he was sure it was there. “That’s two in one day.” His brother arched a brow, clearly not making the connection.

“With the addition of the musical we just saw, that makes two tricks in one day. All the fire hydrants already turned into fountains earlier, remember? Every kid in town was out playing in the water. Until now, it’s been one trick a day, usually something everyone wakes up to, like it was done in the night.”

“So we going hunting at night,” Dean said with a shrug. “Like pretty much everything else we ever hunt. At least there’s some small measure of normalcy to that.”

Sam rolled his eyes impatiently. “You’re still missing the point, Dean. Two tricks instead of one. If this thing bumps up its game because we haven’t been able to find it, waking up covered in glitter or mannequins on the crosswalk are going to be the least of our concerns.”

Having finished his burger, Dean tapped his thumb absently against the table. “You’ve got a point. The entire town would be a fun house, everything a prank.” He shuddered at the thought. “And I’m guessing this guy has no shortage of ideas to use against us.”

“Or if he starts recycling pranks and compounding them with new ones,” offered Sam sensibly.

Dean scowled at the thought. “We gotta find this thing or we are seriously humped.”

The younger Winchester nodded, picking up a curly fry and popping it in his mouth, noticing the way Dean watched the action with a mixture of confusion and disdain. “Dude.” He arched a brow. “Curly fries? Really, Samantha?”

“Don’t knock my fries,” warned Sam.

“I won’t. I can’t. Those aren’t fries.” His elder brother pointed at his plate. “These are fries. Those look like you deep fried Shirley Temple’s hair. Edible ringlets.”
Giving his brother a signature bitch face, Sam signaled to the waitress, making gestures with his hands like a clam opening and closing and then pointing to his plate, signaling for a to-go box. Dean rolled his eyes, pushing his plate closer to Cas, offering the angel the last of his fries.

Real men finished their food.

Nothing else was said until they were outside, walking down the sidewalk to head back to their motel. Dean had taken the white container from his brother, peering into as they walked, even stealing one to pop in his mouth. Yeah, okay, they were good, undignified, but good. They had a seasoning on them that wasn’t on the regular fries.

Dean looked at his brother. “Seriously, dude. You’ve been doing this for a while now that I think about it. When did you start getting curly fries on a regular basis? Why?”

Casually, Sam shrugged, hands in his pockets as he let his gaze drift to whatever caught his eye. “Ruby, actually,” he admitted, allowing himself a smirk that eventually became a fond smile. “She loved French fries. Especially curly fries. She got me in the habit of getting them.”

His brother stared at him incredulously, almost indignant at the look on his younger sibling’s face as he mentioned the demoness.

“Dude, how can you have that goofy, love sick look on your face about that evil bitch?” It sounded accusing. In part, it was. Dean still had a hell of a sore spot when it came to Ruby. He’d forgiven Sam, of course, but not Ruby. Never Ruby. “She was traitorous, lying, two-faced-“

Rolling his eyes, Sam nodded impatiently. “I know, Dean, but it’s not like she showed up wearing a sign saying she was evil. She wanted my trust, she wanted to help, she was there for me when I had no one else.” He heard music, low and almost distant, like someone with their car stereo too loud coming up behind them, rock and pop in one, a steady beat. Cas and Dean both watched him, Castiel tilting his head with a genuinely curious expression while Dean still looked angry, perhaps feeling betrayed Sam was able to remember the demon with any level of affection.

“When you died and I had no one and I was grieving, Ruby was there for me, just as she had been before you died, even though she’d been flung into hell and had to crawl her way back out. When I was angry and distrustful and had given up, she kept me alive, kept me functioning. She wedged her way into my life, forcing her company on me when I didn’t want anyone around. She dragged me out of bed in the mornings, shoved me in the bathroom, bought me food and wouldn’t leave me alone until I ate, never made me talk if I didn’t feel like it, hell, she even did my laundry, Dean. She was what I needed: a friend. She cared if I was okay even when I didn’t.”

The music was louder and he could actually hear the lyrics now, making him glance over his shoulder for the car, but he didn’t see one. He turned back. “I knew she was probably no good, but at the same time she was keeping me alive and sane and I couldn’t help falling for her. She wasn’t insidious. She was playful and happy and quietly supportive and not pushy.” A grin passed over his lips. “And hell in high heels; trouble walking, but not unlike any other girl that might not be great for you, and exactly what I needed.”

She’s a pistol, pointed at me
Smoking from her head to her feet, packing the heat
She’s lethal, with a license to kill
Stilettos ripping open the street
She’s a heartbreaker, like a masterpiece
But she be looking even better than me
She’s the baddest girl I’ve ever seen
How can something that’s so wrong
Be exactly what I need?

Dean and Cas watched, stunned, as a visage of Ruby seemed to appear, materializing out of thin air like a mirage, and strutting her stuff toward Sam, the taller Winchester suddenly dopey in love, grinning and moving toward her like he couldn’t help it, the words of the song now coming from his own lips.

Here comes trouble again
I better act carefully
She knows what she’s doing to me
And she makes it look so easy
Here comes trouble again
My heart tells me to leave
But a girl like that’s on a different level
Here comes trouble

The visage of Ruby sidled up close to Sam, then edged past him, biting her full bottom lip, and lowered her eyes, whist her body language screamed ‘come and get me’. He continued to sing as they interacted, Ruby going black-eyed as she flirted and flounced around him, seducing without touching, so achingly close, dancing just out of Sam’s grasp as he reach for her.

She’s like a razor cutting me deep
Lemme lemme repeat
She’s like a pistol, pointed at me
Smoking from her head to her feet
She’s a life taker, double agent in heels
But I love the way she’s making me feel
She’s like the baddest girl I’ve ever seen
It’s so hard to walk away
With her hands all over me

He moved to leave, and Ruby reacted, reaching out desperately to grab him, to pull him back in, stretching her tiny frame as much as possible to reach up and kiss him, dissipating just before their lips touched and reappeared standing just so in the center of the sidewalk, hip cocked to one side and smirk on her lips, and Sam rushed forward, both clearly knowing exactly what game they were playing.

Here comes trouble again
I better act carefully
She knows what she’s doing to me
And she makes it look so easy
Here comes trouble again
My heart tells me to leave
But a girl like that’s on a different level
Here comes trouble

She danced around him, trailing her fingers lightly down whatever she could touch, while Sam had his hands in his hair and clearly struggled with what he knew and what he wanted.

She’s the baddest girl I’ve ever seen
How could something that’s so wrong
Be exactly what I need, oh, oh

Then they were dancing in sync together, having tired of their cat and mouse, both grinning and happy and simply having fun, like they were good together, like they were perfect for each other, and it made Dean ache a little on the inside for what his brother deserved and so desperately wanted, and yeah, had Ruby not been a demon… well…

Here comes trouble again
I better act carefully
She knows what she’s doing to me
And she makes it look so easy
Here comes trouble again
My heart tells me to leave
But a girl like that’s on a different level
Here comes trouble

The music died off as Ruby turned and pulled away, sauntering off with her hands in her back pockets, flicking her dark hair and watching Sam coyly over her shoulder as she walked away, vanishing along with the music until it was just the three of them again.

Cas and Dean both turned their attention back to Sam who shrugged and stuffed his hands in his pockets.

“Like I said, I knew it was probably gonna end badly, but she was there and exactly what I needed. It’s why I came to care for her.” He shook his head. “Things didn’t go bad until a few months in, subtly, under the guise of further helping me. I trusted her at that point, and probably couldn’t have walked away even if I’d wanted. She loved me in her own way, same way I loved her in mine.”

Cas watched Dean as the elder Winchester seemed to consider this, his jaw jutted to one side and lips pressed together, gaze not really focused on Sam, they seemed to be looking off past Sam’s elbow, but at something distant no one else could see.

Blinking, he shifted, alert and inquiring, pointing off in the direction Ruby had vanished. “Do you realize you just sang your memory rather than saying it?”

Sam blinked with a start, looking to where his brother was pointing and remembering just a moment ago. Yes. Yes, he had.

He frowned. “Huh. That’s weird.”