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"Wait, that's it?" Dean interrupted. "That's all?"
The witch paused mid-monolog and rolled his eyes. As arch-villains went, he was lacking a little something in the menace department, though he ranked fairly high on the nuisance scale.
The case involved love spells. Love spells plural. Some spells turned people into hippy-dippy love-the-world flower children. Some seemed a bit more like lust spells and there had been a few particularly notable cases involving public indecency. Some people fell in love with the very next person they set eyes on. Some people dumped their long-term spouses and set off on quests to reconnect with high school sweethearts or, in one case, a first kindergarten crush. Some people snapped back to normal after a few moments and some were still wandering around in a state of perpetual twitterpation weeks later. Basically the witchy-dude was flinging every love spell he knew out there just hoping one of them would work for what he needed, but apparently none of them did.
Also, for the record, Dean knew the word "warlock" but every time he called the guy a "witchy-dude" he pulled a bitch face almost as satisfying as Sam's, which made it worth playing dumb.
"True love is surprisingly difficult to replicate," the witch huffed, as if Dean clearly just did not understand how hard his life was.
"That would probably be because of the 'true' part," Dean suggested. "The name sort of implies you can't just fake it. Have you tried online dating?"
"Do you honestly think that—"
"So what does the Heart Stone actually do once you've got it charged up?" Sam asked, causing the witchy-dude to do another put-upon eye roll at the additional interruption.
The man sighed and repeated without enthusiasm, "It will vanquish my enemies. I told you that already. Look, I didn't hurt anybody. A few people got a little loopy and a few a little frisky, but no one did anything actively against their will so I don't think this is really a situation where hunters need to get involved. Okay?"
"But vanquish how? 'Vanquish them' like 'kill them'?" Sam asked.
"So, if we were able to charge it, we could vanquish you?" Dean asked.
"No, not kill," the witch said. "Just defeat. It's suppose to drain your enemy's drive, anger, rage. It's the power of love..."
At this point, he held the so-called 'Heart Stone' aloft with a flourish and it still just looked like a boring gray rock to Dean. It was about the size of a ping-pong ball only squished a bit flat like a good skipping stone.
"...vanquishing the power of hate!"
When neither Sam nor Dean seemed impressed, he added in frustration, "I'm practically a good guy here!"
"Except for the part where you've bewitched half a town in a failed attempt to get a girlfriend," Sam said.
"Hey, I got plenty of girlfriends. Okay? Plenty. I must have kissed twenty women over this thing. It just didn't work. The lore is... I thought it was just being a bit hyperbolic, but I guess it really does need all that storybook romance crap."
"Have you tried any men?" Sam quipped. "Maybe you're really repressed and just don't realize it." Sam gave Dean a weird side eye for absolutely no damned reason as he said that.
The comment earned them another satisfying scowl from the witchy-dude, but Dean felt they were ignoring the important part and he repeated his question. "If we can charge it, can we vanquish our enemies?"
The witchy-dude nodded. "It supposed to be infinitely rechargeable too."
"Cool." Dean raised his gun. He didn't aim it. He just wanted to remind the guy that it was there and didn't require a magic kissing ritual to make it work. "Gimme."
Sam shot him an odd look. "You got somebody I don't know about?"
"We don't need anybody else. He said all you need is two people who really love each other. We got that."
"I...I don't think that's how it works," Sam said. "Like he said, you can dismiss a lot of it as hyperbole, but the lore put a lot of emphasis on, y'know, passion and soul mates and unbreakable bonds and ... okay, yeah, but passion..."
"The Heart Stone can only be charged by True Love's Kiss," the witchy-dude said in his I'm-about-to-start-monologuing-again voice. "A pure, unshakeable love, a love between two people who would scale mountains for each other, go to hell and back for each other, who would—"
"Huh." Sam shrugged. "Okay, can't hurt to try, right?"
The witchy-dude scoffed and tossed Sam the rock. "Fine. Knock yourselves out. If you can get it to work, it's yours. But when you're done swapping cooties with your brother and it still doesn't work, it's mine and you two can just scram, right?"
Sam held the rock out towards Dean. Dean holstered his gun and placed two fingers on the stone. The instructions hadn't mentioned whether they both had to be touching it or not—all the lore said was that the couple kissed "over" or "near" or "with" it (translations varied)—but it was best to play it safe.
They leaned in and—although Dean had thought it would be awkward and half-expected to get a lip full of Sasquatch nose—they each tilted their heads just the right way at just the right moment to barely avoid a nasal collision and then they had their lips gently pressed together in a chaste kiss.
Something snapped and Sam and Dean both flinched back and stared at the stone which was still gray and mostly boring except now there was a very small crack that Dean was almost sure hadn't been there before and the crack was glowing with a faint purplish light that Dean was definitely sure had not been there before.
Witchy-dude looked pretty horrified.
"So, are you feeling vanquished?" Dean asked.
"Mildly disgusted, yes. Vanquished, no."
"We probably have to kiss longer?" Sam suggested, though he didn't sound entirely certain about it.
"Right, like it's probably at one percent charge," Dean said, nodding.
Sam and Dean leaned in for another kiss despite the witch's protests. "No, you had your kiss and it wasn't enough. Magic rituals are not like plugging your phone into a charger. Kudos on the brotherly love being enough to get a spark out of the thing, but that's it. You're done."
The stone didn't do the snap thing this time, but Dean could sort of imagine that it crackled a little bit. He kept his lips pressed to Sam's and snuck a peek at the stone. Was it a little brighter than before? Sam swallowed and, this close to him, Dean could actually hear the wet sound behind dry lips. It was weird. Weirder, it made Dean feel compelled to swallow as well. Did his mouth always water like this? How many buckets of spit did he swallow a day without even thinking about it? The stone flickered as another crack appeared and, yeah, it was definitely brighter now.
Dean couldn't stop himself from breaking the kiss to gloat at the witch. "It's working."
"Congratulations. A little bit longer and you'll have enough power to vanquish a cockroach."
Dean turned back to find Sam frowning at the stone. "Maybe..." Sam said and then trailed off.
"It's working. Sort of. But. Maybe."
Dean just raised his eyebrows and waited. He'd normally be mocking Sam at this point, but he didn't want to give witchy-dude the satisfaction.
"Maybe it is about just kissing longer, but maybe it's about kissing differently." Sam licked his lips. Possibly coincidence. Possibly nervousness. Possibly he was trying to tell Dean something.
Dean stared at Sam's lips and tried not to think about what Sam was suggesting. "We both have guns. Can I just shoot him? It would be a lot faster if I just shot him. Or you could shoot him. It's your turn. Please, shoot him."
Sam frowned down at the stone in his hand a moment longer. "We fight a lot of things that guns can't kill. And … imagine having a non-lethal weapon. We could save so many more people if we didn't have to worry about collateral damage."
"Or at least not kill quite so many," Dean admitted.
"Right," Sam said. "We could still be effective without any unnecessary deaths. We're not shooting him."
In the end, they shot him.
They didn't really mean to and it wasn't even terribly high on the list of Winchester fuck-ups, but while they were distracted witchy-dude tried to grab the stone out of Sam's hand and when Dean punched him in the face—which was totally called for at that point—the dude tried to hex them and they'd seen more than enough of what this guy's hexes could do.
His death ended all the spells that hadn't already worn off on their own. The aftermath was going to keep a few divorce lawyers busy for quite a while, but that was not their problem.
♥ ♥ ♥
Sam had stuck the stone in his pocket and Dean had decided they were just going to forget about it, but a few days later, he glanced over and Sam was fidgeting with it in the car. They were back in their suits for another case—which was likely werewolves if what they just saw in the morgue was any indication—the same suits they'd been wearing when they faced off with the witch and Sam must have found the stone in his pocket.
"It's still glowing," Dean noted. "You think it holds a charge indefinitely?"
"Probably," Sam said. "We've seen spells triggered that have been in place for hundreds of years. Magic isn't really like an old battery."
"You think it's enough to, uh, vanquish anything?"
"I wouldn't want to bet my life on it."
"We should probably test it on something before we track down that wolf," Dean said.
"You want to use it against werewolves?" Sam asked.
"If it works. I mean, what with Garth and all, werewolves are sort of like … I don't know. I just feel bad killing one if we don't have to and packs always get messy. If our killer is a lone wolf I have no problem taking him out. Frankly, I have no problem taking him out period. He's a killer. He's going down. But if he wasn't a loner, we could have an angry pack to deal with and it would be cool if we had something effective against them besides silver, y'know."
"Yeah, yeah. I agree. Totally."
But the werewolf turned out to be a loner after all. They talked to Garth afterward and he confirmed that no one would be seeking to avenge him. Garth didn't personally know the guy, but the general feeling in wolf circles was "good riddance" so it was all good.
At some point, Sam stuffed the stone in the glove box of the Impala and they both forgot about it or at least didn't talk about it which was what Winchesters generally meant when they said "forget".
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They got pulled over by a cop at a speed trap in a little nothing town. Dean hadn't even been speeding by any rational person's definition, just cruising along at a casual 47mph in a 45 zone when he crested a small hill and found a police car just waiting at the bottom next to an abrupt 25mph sign. No one can lose twenty in speed on a downhill without standing on the brakes and he wasn't about to do that to Baby. It was the sort of thing you could fight in court, if the Winchesters could afford to show up in court, which they really couldn't, and besides it wasn't paying the fine (which Dean had no intention of paying anyway), it was the principle of the thing that got to him.
"Really?" Dean snarled. "Really?"
Sam was reaching for their license and registration (and making sure the names on them matched) before the cop even got out of his cruiser.
"Do you know how fast you were going, son?"
Dean bristled at the 'son'. The guy couldn't have been a day older than he was. Hell, he might not have been any older than Sammy.
"Well, sir, seeing as how I was coasting downhill in a forty-five moments before your little speed trap, I'd say a bit north of 45 would be a safe bet."
The cop scowled. Sammy said something in Latin that he didn't quite catch. Dean noticed a purple flash out of the corner of his eye. And then the cop laughed.
"Yup, forty-seven. I tell you what, I appreciate a driver who knows his situation. You'd be amazed how many people don't have a clue how fast they were going or what the speed limit is." The cop took the paperwork that Sammy was shoving across Dean who watched the transaction with a skeptical squint.
"Everything in order, officer?" Sam asked politely when the officer hesitated.
"Not really," the man said. "It's the damnedest thing. The dates say this was just issued this year, but the state hasn't printed these on blue paper for over three years now."
"Is that so," Dean asked, already mentally calculating the best moment to make a break for it.
"Yup. Best get that taken care of. The current ones are kind of yellow like, only a bit orangey, y'know. What's that color called? Named after a weed."
"Dandelion?" Dean asked, feeling a bit off-kilter.
"Goldenrod?" Sam suggested.
"Goldenrod, that's it. Whoever printed this up for you, didn't use the right color form. You'll want to get this re-done so it doesn't cause you any trouble in the future. It looks a little suspicious." He handed the registration back to them with a wink.
"Uh, goldenrod, got it," Dean said.
"You seem like some nice folks so I'm going to let you off with a warning. Mind your speed through town. Other side of town, keep an eye out for a big billboard pointing the way to the flea market. There's a cruiser hiding behind that. But once you cross the county line though, you're good to go, pedal to the floor. Sheriff over that way has a rather lackadaisical view of speed limits."
"You boys have a nice day."
"You have a nice day, too, officer!" Sam called cheerfully after him as he walked away.
The cruiser pulled out and headed back where they'd come from, presumably to return to his spot next to the 25mph sign to wait for the next out-of-towner.
Dean glanced over at Sam. "It worked."
"Yeah," Sam agreed, holding up the plain gray stone, "but it looks like that was all the juice it had. I guess we'll have to, um, recharge it again."
"Yeah," Dean agreed. "Sure. Later. When we stop for the night, we can..." Dean waved vaguely and then repeated, "Later."
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