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The Lamb: Sit Back and Watch the Bed Burn

The Lamb


Chapter 5. Sit Back and Watch the Bed Burn

“I’m going to be washing blood out of my pants for weeks,” Buffy groaned irritably, looking down at her blood splattered clothes. She’d only brought the one pair thanks to Castiel’s rather insistent packing schedule. Plenty of shirts to swap before weekly Laundromat day, but only one pair of pants. She shook her head and swigged another sip of beer from the bottle in front of her.
“Yeah, I hear that,” Dean replied briefly. He lifted a finger to the passing waitress and pointed at their drinks, indicating another round. “You’d think it was the end of the world or something.”
“Hey guys,” Sam interrupted, pointing at his open computer screen. “I think I found another case. Maybe it’s another seal!”
“Oh come on, Sam! We just finished this case an hour ago. I need a nap…” Dean moaned.
“Oh, a nap, eh? One of those ones where you scream in your sleep and then wake up to a shot of Jack Daniels?”
“Yeah,” Dean muttered. “One of those.”
“What’s the case, Sam?”
“Peabody, Massachusetts. Three teenage girls have died there in the last two weeks. No evidence, no sign of breaking and entering, but all the cases are the same. Exsanguination.”
“Why bother rinsing the blood out of my hair?” Buffy grimaced.
“Sounds like a ritual,” Dean nodded. He took the next beer from the waitress’s hand and slugged it down in one gulp. He threw a few bills on the table and squirmed out of the booth. “Might as well get going.”

The town of Peabody was moderately sized, located just north of Boston, and home to hundreds of bright green treetops in the midst of a quaintly warm east coast summer. Dean rolled down the windows of the Impala and blasted the motel parking lot with the dulcet tones of Styx. Buffy leaned a lazy elbow on the edge of the open window and stared out at the town, as familiar as any of the other midsize cities she’d passed through with the Winchester Brothers in tow. Since Castiel had rained on her visions of a normal life, Buffy Summers had brutalized her way through six evil-infested townships, cities, meteroplexes, and tiny villages along the eastern seaboard. So far, they’d scored up: four seals shut, two open. Lilith was even-steven on the collaborative score. If Peabody had a seal, they’d have to keep it locked up tight to remain ahead.

Dean pulled into the first motel parking lot he saw, sitting empty right off Highway 1. Its black and white façade looked like something out of a bad disco film, and half of the lights on the sign had gone missing. Spray paint tagged the side of the administration office. Buffy rolled out of the car and stretched her legs.
“Why does she even bother getting a room?” Sam hissed conspiratorially to Dean from the back seat. “She doesn’t even sleep.”
“I like the shower,” Buffy shrugged. Super Slayer hearing powers, she smirked. They never get old.
“See, Sammy? She likes the shower.” Dean grinned.
“I’m so glad Cas teamed me up with you two. What are you, twelve years old?”
“Thirteen actually, but who’s counting? Are you getting the rooms, or what?”

Buffy sighed and opened the plastic and aluminum front door to the motel concierge. She rented two rooms, pocketed a few mints from the desk, and ignored the completely unsubtle winking of the afternoon hotel staff member. Grabbing a brochure about the town’s history from the stack of featured activities beside the door, Buffy walked back outside to her awaiting entourage. She handed one of the mints to Dean, and a key and brochure to Sam.
“Is this a hint?” Dean asked, unwrapping the mint.
“No. It’s a suggestion.”
“Subtle.” He shrugged, throwing the mint onto his tongue without a second thought.
“It’s around back,” Buffy pointed to Dean as she got back in the car. “I’m taking room 105. You guys get…hm, 107.”
“Actually, Buffy, I’m letting you and Dean take 105.” Sam interjected.
“Uh, what?” Dean blinked.
“See, Dean has been doing this weird screaming-moaning thing in his sleep, and it’s keeping me awake. He won’t talk to me about it, and frankly, I’m sick of being woken up at three in the morning to the sound of the sink, the toilet, and liquor sloshing into a glass after he groans about a lack of ice in the ice bucket. You don’t sleep so… you won’t be woken up. So cheers to the both of you.”
“Geez, Sammy. Who pissed in your cornflakes?”
“I haven’t had a decent eight hours since we left Sioux Falls, Dean. And unlike the two of you, I need my beauty sleep.”
“Just remember, during all that alone time,” Dean grinned, yanking his duffel out of the trunk. “Busty Asian Beauties is on channel 99 and you’re on research duty.”

--

“So, uh,” Dean stuttered. If Buffy Summers were any other woman, he’d have no problem starting a conversation with her. He’d turn on the classic Dean Winchester charm and she’d be putty in his hands. But there was something about Buffy. Maybe it was the fact that she was a hard-nosed hunter, a woman always alert. She never slept. She had a dark cloud hanging over her head, and it seemed to reflect darkness into her pretty green eyes. Whatever the factor, it made bland small-talk difficult.
“Retirement. How’s that working out for you?” Dean tried hard to laugh, but the joke, he realized, wasn’t all that funny. Recently, he’d been feeling the weight of the job. All that killing. All that blood. He’d been feeling a pit of darkness in his stomach that hadn’t been there before. It was all getting to be too much. He’d noticed that the same held true for their female companion. Had she always been this quiet during a job? Did she always look so sad?
“It was going fine until Cas showed up,” Buffy shrugged. She pulled off her jacket and swung it around the back of a chair. Dean glanced at a large purple bruise on her shoulder. In Virginia, she’d taken a rough blow with the blunt end of an axe. If it hurt her now, she didn’t show it.
“What were you doing?”
“Waitressing,” she replied with a shrug. “Nothing exciting. That was nice. It paid the bills.”
“I think I’m over the excitement,” Dean sighed in agreement. He sat down on the edge of a bed and pulled off his boots. “At this point, I’m just going through the motions, trying not to fuck it up.”
“Yeah,” Buffy nodded. The sentiment was all too familiar. “I know how you feel.”

Sam’s knock was urgent on the motel room door, and Dean lugged his body off the bed to answer it. Sam sat down at the small table by the window and pulled up information on his laptop.
“So this town has a really interesting history,” Sam began, clicking away on the keys of his computer. “Giles Corey was buried here!”
“Who?” Dean asked, cocking one eyebrow. Buffy shrugged at Sam, also confused as to the reference.
“Didn’t you guys ever read The Crucible in high school?”
“I spent high school killing vampires and demons,” Buffy frowned.
“Yeah,” Dean nodded thoughtfully. “Me too.”
“Giles Corey was the only man ever found guilty of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. He was pressed to death by stones and buried here in Peabody.”
“Oh,” Buffy nodded. “Spooky.”
“Okay, so one dead angry witch guy.”
“He probably wasn’t a witch, Dean. The Salem Witch Trials have been studied by historians and scientists. Some people believe that the magic people saw was actually hallucinations from a type of mold. Other people think it was a conspiracy.”
“What does this have to do with the case, Sammy?”
“Sorry. Anyway, Peabody’s weird history doesn’t stop with Corey. In 1915, twenty-one girls were trapped inside their school and burned to death. None of the girls’ remains were actually identified and all of the teachers in the school escaped, so clearly, no one went after them. The whole thing was pretty hush-hush.”
“So you think the girls that had their blood drained has something to do with a witch and some burn victims?” Dean blinked, still incredibly lost.
“Well, no. I don’t know anything about the case. I just tried to find info about our little township here. It isn’t really a township anymore. It’s a full-blown city. Anyway, I thought we’d hop in the car and do a little digging. All the girls went to the same middle school. They’re all in the eighth grade.”
“I better get my suit out.”
“I’m not going in on this as FBI again, guys,” Buffy started. The guys turned to look at her, perplexed. “These are young girls, in a school of young people. I used to keep an eye on my sister’s high school, looking out for the bad eggs. I’m going in as a trauma counselor. With three deaths, they’re going to need one.”

Saint Ruth’s Academy was one of the wealthiest schools in Peabody, run by a strict staff of nuns and snotty male professors in tweed blazers. Buffy adjusted her glasses on her nose, pressed the wrinkles out of her plain black skirt, and buttoned all the buttons on her silky white top. They’d had to make a stop in South Carolina for Buffy’s FBI-esque wardrobe, but the purchase had been completely worth it. Dean nodded his approval and grinned. Heels clicking up the driveway, Buffy showed her badge to the security guard at the front gate, and then continued into the confines of the school. Dean and Sam drove away, headed out toward the Peabody Police Department.

The school was housed in some old Peabody building, possibly an estate. The doors and windows were massive, but let in little light, and the walls were covered with ornate upholstery rather than ugly sticky paper. Buffy clicked discreetly down the hallway until she arrived at the administration office. She pushed open the door and set a serious look on her pretty face. It was time to look natural, confident. It was time to look human.
“Good morning,” Buffy nodded to the school secretary. “I am looking for Mother Superior.”
“Your name, miss?”
“Elizabeth Summers. I’m from the agency.”
“Oh right,” the secretary nodded, flustered out of her desk. She went to knock on the nun’s door and then stuck her head around the edge of the frame. Words were exchanged, and then she pulled the door wide to allow Buffy entrance. “Right this way.”

Across town, Dean and Sam flipped open their badges in front of Sheriff Dawson, a small and mild man not originally from Boston, as the rest of the police department seemed to be. His lazy drawl was characteristically Southern and the twang on the end of each word seemed Texan. Probably somewhere Southeast, Dean thought.
“Agent Gowan and Agent Shaw,” Dean grunted before tucking the badge into his front jacket pocket. “We understand you’ve had a rash of unusual murders here in Peabody.”
“I didn’t think you guys were interested in anything less than six bodies,” the Sheriff muttered, sitting down at this desk. He ruffled papers back and forth across it and invited Dean and Sam to sit.
“The Bureau would like to keep these ritualistic killings to a minimum, Sheriff,” Sam replied stiffly.
“Ritualistic? Naw, I don’t think they’re ritualistic. They’re just…punk kids. Peabody has been going downhill ever since the fire.”
“The 1915 fire?” Dean blinked.
“Yeah, that’s the one. Broke folks’ spirits. Crime got worse. Drug use became common. Have you seen that liquor store out on the highway? Terrible.”
“No, Sheriff, I’m afraid we missed that one.”
“Bunghole Liquors. I mean, really. Who names their business something like that?”

Dean and Sam exchanged glances. This was going to be one of those cases, where local law enforcement had both thumbs up its collective ass. They didn’t know what to do about the murders, so they didn’t do anything. Sam flipped through the case files while Dean drove down to the first crime scene.
“I can’t believe the city of Peabody is even employing these losers. The notes on this crime scene investigation? Nothing unusual. No sign of breaking and entering. No prints. That’s it, Dean. That’s all it says!”
“Well, I guess we won’t have to worry about them checking our references, right?”
“Or anything else.”
“I wonder how Buffy’s doing up at the school.”

“Tammy?” Buffy asked quietly, leaning over her desk to hand the weeping young girl a tissue. Strands of curly red hair had fallen across her face and smeared the heavily-applied makeup she’d worn to school that day.
“All I wanted to do was have a slumber party for my birthday. That’s allowed, isn’t it? Why’d she have to do this? I mean, why did this have to happen?”
“Do…what? What do you think Amelia did?”
“She k…killed herself at my birthday party!”
“Killed herself? Your friends made it sound like she went to the bathroom and never came back out.”
“Duh!” Tammy looked up, her face streaked with blue eye shadow. “She killed herself in my bathroom!”
“You don’t think it was, maybe, someone else?”
“No!” Tammy wailed. “It was just her in there! We were all just waiting and waiting. And then Jamie had to go so we knocked on the door! And there she was, just…just…”
“Okay, Tammy,” Buffy swallowed. “Why don’t you go…clean yourself up? We’ll talk later.”
“I don’t want to talk anymore! I’ll never turn thirteen again! Why couldn’t she have waited until she got HOME?”

Alexandra Houston’s house looked like every other house on her block. The vinyl siding was periwinkle blue, and the white trim made it look distinctly fairy-like. The grass lawn was perfectly manicured and the boxwood fence around the perimeter was neatly pruned on an almost daily basis. A Station Wagon sat on the glowing white driveway. Dean knocked on the front door.
“Mrs. Houston? I’m Agent Gowan and this is Agent Shaw. We’re with the FBI. We’re doing an investigation into the Peabody Murders.” Sam tried to be soft while Dean looked past her into the neat and tidy house.
“Is that what they’re calling it now? It hasn’t been in the papers.”
“Can we come in, Mrs. Houston?” Dean asked.
“To do what?” The woman asked sincerely.
“Well, to do an investigation, ma’am. We’d like to look at the crime scene, do a little checking on the police report.”
“Well, I already cleaned it. There was blood all over the floor. I couldn’t let it just sit there.”
“You…cleaned up the crime scene?” Dean coughed. “The murder is still unsolved, Mrs. Houston. You’re tampering with evidence.”
“Sheriff Anderson said it would be okay. The police didn’t find anything. That’s my daughter’s bathroom. She wanted to use it.”
“Please, Mrs. Houston, if we could just come in and do a little checking.”
“I guess, but…there’s nothing to see.” She moved aside at last and let the brothers in.

--

“I haven’t seen a ghost, ghoul, or demon yet and this is still the creepiest town in America,” Dean hissed under his breath before taking a bite of his hamburger.
“All of the girls I interviewed said the murders were suicides, and why didn’t their suicidal friends have the decency to kill themselves in their own bathrooms?” Buffy shuddered. She pushed her food around the plate but couldn’t find her appetite.
“The police in this town don’t even seem to care, and the crime scenes have all been washed down with bleach. It’s like this whole thing is being pushed under the damn rug.” Sam shook his head.
“Just like the fire!” Dean coughed. He pulled over Sam’s computer, but as soon as he opened the lid, he stared blankly at the screen.
“Give me that,” Sam scowled, taking it back.
“Sammy, you said that the fire that killed all those girls in 1915…nobody ever talked about it. They never solved the case and no one seemed to care. This is just like that. The case isn’t solved, but they’re all just…moving on.”
“Gigantic conspiracy?” Buffy paused.
“Maybe. Maybe these people all know more than they’re letting on,”
“Or maybe they don’t know anything at all, Dean. Maybe they just don’t care. It’s like localized apathy.”
“That’s not going to help us solve this case, though,” Buffy said, keeping them on task. “What do we know?”
“All three girls were murdered in a bathroom, and none of them in their own home.” Dean said, looking at his notes.
“None of the girls were friends. They all go to the same school and they all know each other, but they don’t travel in the same circles. They were all at sleepovers. Amelia Carson was at Tammy Houston’s birthday party. Stephanie Brooks was at a Math Team meeting at Jennifer Keysen’s house. Andrea Cooper went to a girls’ night makeover party at Samantha Jones’ house.”
“In all the houses, we have no evidence of anything. The blood on the floor has been cleaned up with a pretty intense dose of bleach and industrial cleaner. There was no sign of breaking and entering. And all the girls simply got up to use the bathroom.”
“Dean, I think it’s time for a trip to the morgue.”
“I’m going back to the school. Maybe we can get a curfew on sleepovers until we figure out what’s going on.”

--

Dean sat heavily on the bed, making the springs yowl angrily in mock-pain. He felt dirty and sick; the sort of feeling that came along with any trip to the city morgue. The bodies of the three girls had already been buried. It wasn’t so much of a shock, considering how neatly package the murders had been. The coroner hadn’t left any notes, and no one was even sure if there’d been an autopsy. Death by bloodletting was the officially noted cause on the certificate, and that was all that remained of the three deceased girls of Peabody. Exhausted by the day’s events, all Dean wanted to do was sleep. It just wasn’t in the cards.
“Dean,” Castiel said. He was suddenly standing in the middle of the hotel room, accompanied by another man. The second guy was tall, taller than Castiel by a head at least. He had a shiny black head and heavy black eyebrows over dark brown eyes. “Buffy.”
“Present,” Buffy muttered, popping her head out of the bathroom. She dabbed her face with a dry towel and slumped into the room.

The hotel room door opened and in walked Sam. He almost dropped his laptop on the floor. His eyes went wide, like saucers, and his mouth dropped open.
“You…you’re Castiel!” Sam squealed with joy. He rushed over and held out his hand. The angels looked at it sourly and turned their heads away. Sam’s shoulders faltered and slumped toward the floor.
“What are you doing to protect the seal?” Castiel asked, his voice strong but void of any real emotion. His eyes darted quickly to Buffy’s face and a softness flickered across them. It was almost unnoticeable.
“We didn’t even know there was a seal here,” Buffy scowled, crossing her arms over her chest. “We were just trying to figure out what happened to these girls.”
“You were brought here to protect the seal. The murders are connected to it and to each other. A demon will open the seal and get Lilith one step closer to the Apocalypse.”
“Have you seen the evidence in this case, Cas?” Dean sighed, digging the file folder out from under Buffy’s jacket. “Because there isn’t any. We don’t know who or what or why this is happening. The whole town is one big cover-up.”
“If you cannot find the demon and protect the seal, we will simply level the town and be done with it. Lilith cannot access the seal if she cannot find it under the rubble.” The second angel grinned in a peculiar way, seemingly happy to throw the lobster into the pot.
“This is Uriel,” Castiel nodded. “He is a…”
“Specialist,” Uriel smiled.
“A specialist in what? Atom bombs? Why would you kill everyone to protect a seal? That’s ridiculous! There are 400,000 people in Peabody!”
“And there are six billion people in the world, Slayer. If the seals are opened and the Apocalypse begins, they all die.”
“Buffy,” Castiel sighed sadly. “It may be better to burn this town and save the rest of the world. This is only one city.”
“I used to think that way, Cas. Look where it got me.” Buffy leaned back against the wall, dropping her eyes with sullen reflection. Dean glanced up at her from the edge of the bed. The dark cloud seemed to hover ever lower. Soon it would suck her in completely. Across the room, Castiel also dropped his eyes. His shoulders sank, creating creases in his unwrinkled khaki trench coat. The room was completely silent for a moment, as if everything had frozen. No one breathed.
“We’re not going to damn a few for the sake of the rest. We’re going to save everybody, even the crazies of this stupid little city. They want to cover up the deaths of their kids? Fine. But they’re not going to get sacrificed because we haven’t figured out their big secret yet. We still have time. We’ll make time.”
“You have forty-eight hours,” Castiel said, looking back up again. His face resumed its expressionless stare. “We will return after that to see if you have been successful. If not…”
“We’ll be fine, Cas. You can go now.”

--
Dean passed out on the bed, the case notes tucked under his pillow. Sam drifted out of the room shortly afterward, checking the messages on his phone as he departed. Buffy stared out the window, her throat dry and sticky. Since Dean had closed his eyes, her mind had drifted away from the three dead girls and onto the memories of fifty dead girls, sacrificed for the Greater Good. Her stomach churned and gurgled uncomfortably. Desperate to clear her mind, she grabbed the room key off the front table and stepped out of the room, locking Dean inside alone.

Buffy traipsed across the parking lot, stopping only briefly to catch a glimpse of Sam Winchester standing empty-handed in front of the ice machine. He pocketed his cellular phone and glanced somewhere across the parking lot. She didn’t follow his line of sight. It didn’t matter much. The Slayer made a beeline toward the soda machine beside the check-in office. She pushed a couple dollars into the money feed and selected a diet cola. It dropped down into the slot, cold and frosty and bubbly and delicious. Buffy unscrewed the cap and leaned back against the machine to take a long gulp.
“When was the last time you slept?” Cas asked, appearing beside her without a sound.
“I don’t remember,” she sighed, turning to look at him. His eyebrows turned down and his shoulders sank in the arms of his jacket.
“You need to sleep, Buffy. I…” He paused, reflecting on the statement he intended to make. Hold on. Reverse that. “You are mortal. Your body is suffering.”
“Leave me alone, Cas. Haven’t you done enough?”
“Your abilities will suffer, have suffered. You aren’t as fast. You aren’t as strong. You’re scarred. Bruised…”
“What do you care? You’re just following orders, right? Just doing your job, right? Well, so am I. Those scars and bruises make great reminders…as if I could ever forget.”
“You know I care. I still love you, Buffy.” He admitted it with what looked like pain in his eyes and face. The conflict against his angelic duty was as plain as the stars in the night sky. Ever since he’d met her in Heaven, he’d loved her. Since she’d returned to Earth, she seemed incapable of imagining love, let alone entertaining it.
“Don’t, Cas. Don’t even start.”
“I could force you. Is that what you want?”
“I’d like to see you try,” she sneered.
“It is for your own good.”

He stretched out his hand, two fingers poised to make contact with her pale pink skin. Buffy raised both fists to fight. She missed every punch. It didn’t matter if she slept for twelve solid hours before she attacked him. Castiel was an angel, and she was just no match for him. His fingertips pressed gently against her forehead and the need to sleep was so strong that she gave in. Black clouds invaded her vision as her eyes fell shut. She went limp in Castiel’s arms, her head lolling to one side.

--

Sam leaned up on one elbow and smiled down at her, a few beads of sweat collecting over his eyebrows. Her fingers tickled their way up his arm, leaving a dripping trail of blood in their wake. The great blackness of her eyes reflected the tiny rays of artificial light racing throughout the room.
“You’re going to be so strong, Sam,” Ruby murmured happily, leaning up to kiss his clavicle with dark red lips. “I’m so proud of you, and what you’ve become.”
“I’ll be strong enough to kill her,” Sam growled aggressively. “I’ll send Lilith screaming back to Hell.”
“Yes,” she smiled beautifully, drawing his arms around her waist. “Yes, you will.”

--

Dean sat up suddenly, his heart racing. He could hear a woman’s screams, so loud that he couldn’t decide whether or not they were the suffering cries of a tortured woman’s soul. They followed him into the dark room where he sat awake, his head pounding with each thump of his heart.
“Don’t! No!” The voice screamed in agony. Dean pushed away the bed clothes and flicked on the overhead light. The ceiling fan whisked a warm breeze through the stale motel room. Buffy lay under the covers, freed of her jacket and her tight blue jeans. Her exposed skin glistened with sweat. Her legs had tangled and knotted the sheets and she’d drawn more of them around her upper body. Turned to one side, Dean could see a hint of scar tissue peeking out from under her shirt.
“No! Stop them!” Buffy screamed again, clearly in agony.

Dean took no more time in watching her. He ran to the bedside where she thrashed and cried. Resting a hand on each of her shoulders, he shook her awake. She needed only a few nudges to knock the power of Castiel’s sleep away. She sat up suddenly, knocking her forehead against Dean’s shoulder. Her open eyes were stained red and her face, he could see, was streaked with tears. She pushed his hands away roughly and stumbled out of the bed. With his mouth hanging open, Dean watched her storm to the bathroom and turn on the shower. She didn’t bother closing the door. Instead, she clamored into the tub and under the spitting faucet, her clothes falling onto the floor, damp. The wall shook where she slammed a fist into the porcelain tile.
“Buffy?” Dean asked cautiously, getting to his feet.
“I’m fine,” he heard her reply stiffly. Splashing water onto the floor, she climbed out of the shower and shut the bathroom door.

In the bathroom, porcelain tile shards and moldy grout showered the basin of the damp tub. A few drops of blood colored them candy apple red. Buffy pursed her lips and swore under her breath, not loud enough for Dean to hear her in the next room. Aggression surged in her muscles, forcing the other hand into the tile. On the other side of the wall, Dean listened to the water run. He paced from one end of the room to the next and finally reached for the bottle of whiskey at the foot of his bed. Where she buried her dreams in anger, he swallowed his with liquor. They tasted sweet and hot all the way down.

--

Sam tossed the morning paper onto the breakfast table. His cheeks were rosy and his eyes were bright. Unlike his companions, he was clearly suffering from a good night’s sleep and a host of glorious dreams. Dean ordered a third cup of coffee and turned the newspaper around to look at the day’s headlines. Buffy grimaced at Sam.
“Your point?”
“Look at the obits, page two.” Sam urged her. When the waitress dropped off Dean’s coffee and a breakfast of sausage and pancakes, Sam ordered an egg-white omelet with spinach and mushrooms.
“Emily Parks, age 13, committed suicide on June 21st. She is survived by her parents, Ellen and George, and her brother, Zack, age 16.”
“Thirteen?” Dean spat.
“That was yesterday. You think it’s another murder?”
“Well, there’s a disturbing lack of actual news in this morning’s edition, so I’m going to go with yes.” Sam nodded, shrugging his shoulders. “I say we check it out. Buffy, maybe you can see what’s going on down at the school. Dean and I will take the morgue.”
“Lucky me,” Dean muttered.

After dropping off Buffy at St. Ruth’s Academy, Dean and Sam drove downtown to the morgue to investigate. Sam turned down the radio slightly, taking an ugly glance from Dean as he did it.
“What’s up with you, Dean? You look like death.”
“I didn’t get much sleep.”
“Maybe if you talk to me about what you remember, you’ll…feel a little better.”
“I don’t remember anything about it, Sam. Stop hassling me about it. I was sleeping last night and I could hear someone screaming. I woke up and it was Buffy. She was lying in bed, tossing and turning, and screaming. After I woke her up, I couldn’t get back to sleep. That’s all.”
“Did you ask her about it?”
“No, Sammy, I didn’t. We barely know the girl. I’m not going to pry into her nightmares. Maybe it was just a bad dream.”

Dean sighed and turned the music back up. Honestly, he was curious. More than that, he was worried. What had compelled Buffy to fall asleep in the first place? It certainly looked deliberate-the way she was underneath the covers and had removed most of her clothes. She hadn’t said two words to him since she’d shut herself up in the bathroom, but when he’d showered this morning, he’d found holes in the bathroom wall. This morning, she looked dazed and stressed, and underneath that, he saw sadness in her eyes. He had no doubt that she’d remain focused on the case. That wasn’t the issue. He was concerned about that inner turmoil, whatever it might be doing to her psyche.

After flashing their badges at the disinterested morning guard, Sam and Dean walked down the stale basement halls of the Peabody hospital, into the depths of the city morgue. Dean found Emily Parks on one of the tables, her toe-tag identifying her deflated-looking corpse. Like the others, her blood had been drained from her body through a slit in her throat.
“So we know what killed her, but we don’t know why. Great.” Dean’s shoulders slumped as they walked back out to the car.
“Maybe Buffy can find out what the girl was up to when she died.”
“Another sleepover? So what, Sam? You think the Bogeyman slit her throat?”
“It’s possible…”
“But why these girls, Sam? Why this town? We haven’t got much time here.”
“I’m trying just as hard as you are Dean! But you have to admit…Castiel has a point.”
“A point? About what?”
“The people in Peabody… they’re just one town, Dean. If we can save the seal…”
“Don’t EVEN go there, Sammy. We’re not sacrificing anyone’s life here. I don’t care how far the stick is pushed up their ass. They’ve got every right to life that we do.”
“Fine,” Sam sighed. “Here’s Buffy.”

Buffy got into the car in silence and they drove back out to the diner to put their heads together. She ordered a sandwich and sat down at one of the tables. Dean and Sam slid into their seats beside her.
“Emily Parks died at a slumber party. She and her friends were going to dye their hair pink for the school dance. Brandi Morris was hosting the party. Her mother bought a Slumber Party Fun! Package from this little store in downtown Peabody. Brandi is keeping the rest of it in her locker, in memory of her friend.”
“So another slumber party,” Dean groaned.
“Any idea what’s in the package?”
“No clue, but Brandi brought me what she had: a candle.” Buffy pulled the candle out of her pocket. It was partially burned. The wax was bright pink, and small bits of herbs had been pushed into the mold.
“We need one of these,” Sam nodded. He pushed himself free of the table and grabbed the car keys. “I’ll be right back.”

“So,” Dean started, lifting his head to look at Buffy across the table. She lifted her eyes to look back at him. “Are you feeling…better?”
“I don’t really want to talk about last night,” Buffy replied. Her voice was quiet, but not completely off-putting. She wasn’t angry, at least not with him. If anything, she seemed almost humiliated by her actions.
“I have them too, you know,” Dean whispered secretively. It was the first time he’d ever admitted it to another person. Whenever Sam brought it up, he’d close him out. But Buffy was different. She seemed to know something about suffering.
“I know,” Buffy nodded, taking a sip of her water. “I’ve heard you.”

They sat in silence until Sam returned, carrying two paper bags of stuff. He dumped the items on the table. Each bag contained a colored “Slumber Party Fun! Package” wrapped in crinkling clear cellophane. Buffy unwrapped one and examined the contents. There were more candles; these ones lime green, filled with bits of herbs. A few sticks of incense in several different scents were enclosed in a small cardboard packet. Finally, inside a small white gift box, there sat a large muslin bag full of what the package claimed were “dreaming herbs” and six smaller bags to fill with the mixture. Dean sniffed the contents and scrunched up his nose, disgusted.
“You know, I have more of a desire to vomit than sleep after smelling that.”
“What’s in it?” Buffy asked, spilling the contents on the table.
“Smells like mugwort, primarily,” Sam frowned, picking at the mixture.
“Candles, incense, and herbs in a baggie. Sounds like an amateur guide to witchcraft.”
“I have a book on demon conjures back at the motel,” Sam suggested.
“Why?” Dean blinked, raising an eyebrow inquisitively.
“I got it from Bobby…”
“Alright,” Dean nodded. “Research time. Buffy and I will go around to the slumber party houses and see if they used this package o’fun. Sam, you find out what it does, if anything.”
--

Sam sorted the herbs on the table, depositing each dried leaf into a pile coordinated by smell. His nose dribbled with fluid and his eyes turned puffy and itchy. Definitely an allergy development, he thought with a sniffle. Good thing I’m not around these all the time. After an hour of scrawling through the internet, he identified the herbs, and with his book, the conjure that went along with them. He flipped open his phone and dialed Dean’s number.
“Yeah,” Dean answered after the second ring.
“What did you find out?”
“They all used the packages. What about you?”
“The herb pillows are used to conjure the demon Belphegor. It possesses one of the slumber party girls and marks another for ritual slaughter. Belphegor collects the blood and will use it in a ritual to wake Lucifer. He needs five young girls.”
“He’s got four,”
“Yeah. So, go to the store and find the sales receipts. If it happens tonight, Dean…”
“Those dicks with wings will A-bomb the town.”
“Yeah,” Sam nodded. “Pretty much.”

Dean shoved his foot inside the door at a children’s clothing boutique in downtown Peabody. The sign, “Bella’s,” was written across the door in bright pink lettering surrounded by trailing green and yellow vines. The shopkeeper, a tiny woman with beady eyes hiding behind massive cats-eye reading glasses, was closing up for the evening.
“Not so fast,” Dean smirked, pushing the door open again. “Agent Gowan, FBI.”
“Can I help you with something, Officer?” The woman asked innocently.
“I need to see your sales receipts for the last week.”
“W…why?”
“This is ridiculous,” Buffy hissed under her breath. “We don’t have time for this.”
“That’s top secret, ma’am,” Dean frowned seriously. He pushed his way past her and stepped into the store. “Where are they?”

The last splashes of sunlight faded over the evening sky as Dean and Buffy got back into the Impala and gunned the engine. After almost an hour of pain-staking searching, they’d found four possible candidates for the last demonic slumber party. Buffy pushed the phone to her ear while Sam tried to dig up addresses connected to credit card receipts. Dean drove back toward the residential district, already shining his lights into the spreading evening.
“Take a left. The first one is on Miller Avenue.” Buffy pointed down the street. She could feel a tingling on the back of her neck, like something was about to go wrong. Turning around in her seat, she found herself staring right into the deep blue eyes of an angel. The phone nearly fell from her hand.
“Cas,” Buffy scowled. “We still have time.”
“Where the hell did you come from?” Dean choked, skidding the tires around the turn.
“Uriel is a specialist. He will not give you any more time than he deems necessary as per our verbal agreement. He does not believe that you will save the seal.”
“And what about you, Cas?” Buffy narrowed her eyes. “What do you think?”
“I am only following orders.” Castiel admitted somewhat reluctantly. He was gone in a moment, but his eyes seemed to linger in their minds. Buffy pointed out the directions to Dean, but the angel’s unspoken thoughts hovered in her head long after he disappeared. He was only following orders, but maybe he wanted to do more.

“Stay here,” Dean grunted roughly. “I’ll check it out.”
Dean ran up to the house and banged heavily on the door. After several minutes, a man came to the front. They spoke in the darkness, illuminated only by a blue-tinted porch lamp. Dean nodded, stuffed his gun back into the fold in his pants, and returned to the car.
“What’s the next one?”
“Hold on, Dean,” Sam said over the phone, which Buffy held aloft in one hand. “I think I see… oh shit.”
“What? Sammy, what?”
“She’s running. The demon… I’m going after it. The seal is in the town cemetery, same spot where all those bodies were buried after the fire. And Giles Corey. He’s there too. If the demon opens the seal…” Sam trailed off. The phone went dead.

Dean threw the car into gear and spun the tires as he raced down the street toward the cemetery. The demon was getting desperate. Maybe it even knew they were in pursuit. It wasn’t even eight-thirty and the sacrifice was already dead. Using the body of a possessed thirteen-year old in head gear, it raced through the town on foot. Splashing through sprinkler puddles, tall grass, and across warm pavements, Belphegor bolted toward the seal. Sam followed, almost licking its heels. Ruby’s hot blood pulsed through his body, urging him faster, harder. He could almost taste the demon’s sticky black essence, and oh God, how he wanted to really savor it. It would make him stronger, strong enough to fight Lilith, strong enough to kill her. And for a poison, it tasted like Heaven.

The girl came to a stop among the eldest of headstones. Sam continued through the overgrown tombs, stumbling through the broken stones and poison ivy. Even at a distance, he could see the demon involved in some sort of ritualistic move. It held out one arm and released five drops of liquid upon the ground. It’s mouth moved slowly, having trouble pronouncing the words while wearing headgear. Sam held out one arm, his hand grasping at the air, the knuckles so strained that they turned white.
“Stop right there,” Sam growled viciously, ducking his chin and lifting his eyes. The demon turned, smirking.
“Sam Winchester,” it chuckled, lisping slightly. “What a pleasant surprise. You’ve come unarmed.”
“Not exactly,” Sam grinned wickedly.

At the edge of the cemetery, Dean and Buffy ripped out of the car and slammed the doors. They ran down the paths between the jagged headstones, following the lilting sounds of Sam’s voice. Dean drew his gun from the makeshift holster at his back. Alongside him, Buffy yanked a trusty stake from the pocket of her jeans. A cloud of black smoke poured from the girl’s mouth as the Slayer approached. She’d seen it before, this peculiar dispossession, but this was different. Sam seemed to be doing it without the aid of a spell, a book, or a trap. The demon seemed to just stand there and take it.
“What the…?” Buffy hissed to Dean as the cloud dissipated into the evening. Dean simply stared into the night, his brow hovering heavily over his green eyes. He clutched the pistol’s butt tighter, until he could no longer feel his fingers.

“You saved the seal,” Uriel grunted, his eyes beady and his mouth screwed up as though he’d sucked on a lemon. He seemed disappointed. No need to nuke the town after all.
“But at a price,” Castiel finished. “Sam, your ability is not to be trusted and should not be used.”
“I’m saving people. If I dispossess them, they don’t have to die. We don’t have to stab them with the knife or hurt them or shoot them. That girl could have died, but I saved her!”
“Sam,” Dean said, giving his brother a violent stare.
“What are you all so angry about? We saved the seal. We saved the town. Nobody else died. Nobody else had to die.”



Chapter Six: No More Dreaming of the Dead