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"One toe over the line" chapter three
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As Duncan was walking out of the fast food restaurant his cell phone rang. Taking it out of his pocket Duncan glanced at the caller ID before answering.

"Morning, Joe."Duncan greeted as he shifted the phone to his right ear as he dug out his car keys.

"Same to you."Dawson replied. "How's our new friend doing?"

"About as well as can be expected."Macleod stated as he found the keys and walked toward the car. "He's having a little problem with the rules."

Joe laughed. "Doesn't everybody?"

Duncan smiled. "Probably to some extent. Did you find out anything more about him?"

Joe moved his lap top closer to him as he sat in his closed nightclub. "Yeah. Kid's had a real interesting and hard life. Sam's practically been raised by his older brother, Dean. Father's been absentee at best. Their Mom died in a house fire when Dean was four and Sam was barely one. Their father's an interesting character too. Lists employment on his IRS record as an investigator."

"You mean he's a P.I.?"Duncan asked as he got into the car placed the food on the passenger seat and started the car.

"Not the normal kind."Joe replied as he clicked to another web page. "Family business seems to be investigating hauntings and other paranormal sightings."

Duncan's hand stilled on the steering wheel. "They're ghostbusters?"

"That's one way to put it. Don't know how many of the hauntings they investigated over the years turned out to be hoaxes."

"Well."Duncan replied as he put the car into reverse and backed out. "That'll make telling him easier."

"There was also a fire in Sam's apartment at Stanford about five months back."Joe stated. "Girl was killed."

Duncan winced. "Girlfriend?"

"Looks that way. Trying to pull up more information."Joe replied and then asked. "How much are you going to tell him, Mac?"

Duncan sighed as he pulled out into traffic and headed back to the motel. "I'll play it by ear. He's completely focused on the brother right now. I gave him three days to get closure on that aspect."

"Go easy."Joe advised quietly. "Family ties are sometimes the hardest to break."

"Yeah. Things still squared away with the cops?"

"Yep. There was a homeless youth that died around the same time as Sam and was close enough to Sam's description that we could put the body in Sam's place. Have a friend in the department that's going to alter the autopsy results to closer fit Sam's wounds and cause of death."

"Good."

"Mac, you know the cops are looking at the brother as a person of interest in Sam's death, right?"

"No, but I'm not surprised. Keep me posted. I'll call you once we're headed back to Chicago if nothing changes."

"Alright."Dawson replied ending the conversation.

*************

After Renee left Dean got up and went to the window. He leaned against the wall next to it and folded his arms across his chest.

Dean knew he should start packing up Sam's things, but he just couldn't.

It had been hard enough dealing with the funeral home. Dean had spent twenty minutes answering questions and trying to guess Sam's wishes. It had been something they had never discussed.

Considering their family's track record they probably should have.

But Dean had just been enjoying having his brother back in his life. He had figured there would be plenty of time to talk about sad and depressing things later.

Dean sighed, he should've known better.

The funeral home had assured him that they would send a representative to Iowa to transport the body. The nice lady had told Dean that the man would arrive by the time the police released Sam's remains.

Dean returned to the bed and sat down. He kept going over the ghost's attack minute by minute. He was searching for the reason why she went after Sam so suddenly and viciously. But try as he might Dean couldn't come up with a reason except for Sam being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Dean could still feel the match in his hand. If he'd just dropped it...he was usually faster than that. Sam's cries for help entered Dean's thoughts and he quelshed the memory as best he could.

He had failed his brother, that was all there was to it.

Dean picked his cell phone up off the night stand and scrolled to the address book. He highlighted his father's number. Dean stared at the entry for a long moment before he hit the call button.

One more try couldn't hurt anything.

Four rings later and Dean received nothing but the all too familiar answering machine message.

Dean cleared his throat before saying, "Dad, just wanted to let you know I'll be heading home in a day or so. Depends on the cops. I'll let you know the time of Sam's..."Dean's voice broke and he tried again. "Funeral. I really need you to meet me in Kansas, Dad. I can't say goodbye to Sam by myself, Dad. I just can't."

Dean closed the phone and tossed it on the bed next to him.

********

Duncan returned to the hotel room, let himself in and tossed a folded local newspaper on the foot of one of the beds. Sam looked up from the other bed and muted the tv he was watching.

Duncan divided up the food and went to sit at the small green plastic table by the far wall.

Sam gratefully took a swallow of the large cappuccino savoring the sugar and caffeine. He felt like his mind was full of cobwebs. Any coherent thought he had didn't seem to want to link to another.

As he put the cappuccino down on the nightstand Sam spotted the paper at the foot of the other bed. He stood and picked up the paper.

Unfolding the paper Sam was shocked at what he saw.

"Sam, what is it?"Duncan asked after swallowing a bite of food.

"Did you know about this?"Sam asked his voice hoarse and strained his gaze never leaving the top headline.

Duncan mentally kicked himself. Should've looked at the paper when he bought it. He was getting slow in his old age. "If you give me a subject, Sam, I might know what you're talking about."

Sam tossed the paper on the bed closest to Duncan so it was facing the Scott. "That the cops were considering my brother a suspect in my death!"

Sam nearly choked on his words. The whole thing was surreal and ludicrous. It was one thing to try to wrap your mind around the fact that the rest of the world thought you were dead. It was another to see your death plastered across the front page.

Duncan placed his sandwich down. "I found out a short time ago. They haven't arrested him."

Sam rubbed a hand over the back of his neck as he paced the short space between the two beds. His breakfast long forgotten. "That makes a difference? They're questioning him!"

"And they should."Duncan replied calmly. "He's the only witness in a suspicious death."

Sam walked over to the small closet and grabbed his jacket.

"Sam."Duncan warned.

"I can't let him go to jail."Sam replied as he shrugged into the jacket. "Dad's not going to help him."

"What are you going to do?"Duncan asked quietly. "Walk into the police station and say the body the medical examiner took away from that inn wasn't you? That the photographs, trace evidence and fingerprints the crime scene unit took were fabricated?"

Sam paused. "I'll think of something."

"Sit down and finish eating, Sam."Duncan ordered.

"I have to help him."Sam protested. He hated the idea of Dean thinking he was alone.

"Your brother will be fine, Sam, I promise."Duncan stated as he returned to his meal. "You need to keep your strength up we have a long day ahead."

Sam sighed and took the jacket off. He tossed it on the spare bed and reluctantly picked up one of the burritos as he retook his seat. The only thing keeping him sane was the fact that soon he'd be able to see his brother.

Somehow Sam had to find a way to contact Dean.
There had to be a way around MacLeod's rules.

********

Detective Peter Hurst sat at his desk flipping through the black and white crime scene photos of the Winchester case.

The blond man shook his head as he tossed down the pile of photos and leaned back in his chair. This wasn’t the first suspicious death he’d worked on but it was the first since he’d been transferred to this area.

The autopsy results weren’t back yet so Hurst had nothing further to question the brother on. But at least he was keeping him from leaving town. Something about this thing just didn’t feel right. No animal could take down an almost twenty-three year old in perfect health without leaving some kind of large exit hole. There was no damage at all to that building.

Even if it was pitch black the elder Winchester would’ve had some opportunity to fight the thing. But the man had no scratches, no defensive wounds on him at all.

All Dean had on him was his brother’s blood.

Hurst picked up a computer printout from the right side of his desk and read it again. Dean Winchester’s life the past ten years had run him numerous encounters with the law. The only charges that had stuck were ones pertaining to a couple bar fights that resulted in a night in jail and payment of property damages.

But reading between the lines Hurst’s instincts were telling him that there were many more incidents that the officers just didn’t have enough proof or that Winchester talked his way out of.

Hurst sighed as he reached for his luke-warm mug of coffee. Sam Winchester should not be dead. Nothing short of a grizzly bear could’ve caused those gashes on Sam’s chest. And since there were no reports of a bear in the area the only other logical explanation pointed back to the brother.

A brother with a shady past who seemed to have a talent for bending the truth.

******

Sam’s mind was going a million miles a minute. It was trying to come up with a logical scenario for recent events and it was failing miserably.

Sam remembered the ghost’s fingers slicing through his chest.
He remembered the sharp, intense pain.
The panic in his brother’s voice.
The dark, cold oblivion and then nothing.

“Sam,”Duncan began drawing the youth’s attention. “I know your background. I know that you and your family investigate strange occurrences. So some of this you might believe, some you might not. But I assure you all of it is true.”

Sam studied the man across from him. He was still trying to judge if MacLeod was sane or not. Even if this was all part of MacLeod’s delusion there was one thing Sam could not explain away.

The simple fact that his wounds were completely healed without any residual pain.

All wounds left pain. He should be feeling something, but he wasn’t.

“So, what happened to you at the inn?”Duncan asked curious of how much Sam remembered.

Sam sighed as he pulled his knees up to his chest and rested his chin on them. “We hadn’t had a case for a few weeks. I had run across this haunting during a web search. Seemed pretty cut and dry so I suggested to Dean we take a look. The ghost was Mary Ann Williams, she’d disappeared the night of her honeymoon a century before when the inn first opened. She was scaring all the guests off.

We finally found the body in a box in a far corner of the basement. The ghost appeared in front of me as Dean ripped open the box.”

Sam paused and swallowed hard as he recalled the ghost’s face. “Dean had poured gasoline on the bones and was just about to burn them when she swiped my chest. It felt like fire at first, then I felt the blood from the wound and then the cold cement of the floor as I fell.

I couldn’t breathe very well. Couldn’t see much in the dark. I heard my brother call for help. I felt him cover me with a blanket. I felt him apply pressure to the wound.”Sam paused and closed his brown eyes as the memories became too painful.

He’d never forget the fear in Dean’s voice.
He’d never forget the tears he saw as his vision began to fade.

Sam opened his eyes. “That’s it. Next thing I remember is the morgue. Why am I not feeling any pain from the wounds?”

“Part of the perks of being Immortal. You heal very fast.”Duncan replied. “You never age, and can’t be affected by disease.”

Sam ran a hand over his face before he looked back at MacLeod. If he was delusional he was believing his own delusions. Maybe it was time for Sam to figure some stuff out on his own.

“This is insane.”Sam replied as he stood. “I think you may be in need of help, so I’m going to go now.”

Duncan stood and watched as Sam grabbed his coat. “Sam……”

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to contact anybody.”

“Going out on your own right now is not an option.”Duncan stated as he walked toward the youth. He was running out of ideas of how to make Sam realize how serious things were.

Sam folded his arms across his chest. “You can’t keep me here.”

“You don’t understand the dangers, Sam.”Duncan said as he came to stand face to face. “Being Immortal comes with a price. There are people out there who will take your life without a second thought.”

Sam blinked. “I thought you said nothing could kill me.”

“If they take your head you’ll die.”Duncan replied automatically the words out of his mouth before he could take them back.

Sam laughed. “Chop my head off….right. With what an ax?”

“Sword actually.”Duncan replied as Sam opened the door.

Duncan reached over and slammed it shut. “You’re not listening.”

“I’m hearing every crazy word.”Sam replied anger entering his voice. “You expect me to believe that if I step out that door a head hunter is going to get me.”

“Yes.”

“Dean and I have never come across anything like a head hunter.”Sam argued as he gripped the door handle again and tried to force it out of MacLeod’s grasp.

Duncan forced the door back closed and grabbed Sam by the front shirt collar and slammed him back against the wall.

“Just because you haven’t seen something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”Duncan stated as he pressed his forearm up against Sam’s neck. “I’m trying to protect you. I know you don’t believe that right now but I am. If you want any chance of seeing your brother again you’ll calm down. Do we understand each other?”

Sam glared at the older man but nodded. He didn’t have much choice but to cooperate right now. “Yeah.”

“Good.”Duncan replied as he let Sam go.

******

Dean hadn’t even realized he had fallen asleep until the insistent ringing of his cell phone woke him. Groggy and a bit disoriented Dean glanced at the digital clock on the nightstand, noon.

Not moving into a sitting position Dean snagged the phone and flipped it open.

“ ’llo?”

“Mr. Winchester?”A middle aged male voice replied. “This is Dr. Daniel Taylor from the Coroner’s office. I just wanted to let you know that we’ve finished with your brother’s autopsy and the body is being released to your custody.”

“Okay.”Dean replied quietly as he closed his eyes fighting to keep the familiar lump of tears from forming in his throat.

“I need you to come down and fill out the paperwork for the funeral home.”

“Alright.”Dean acknowledged as he sat up. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”

“Okay. And I’m sorry for your loss.”Taylor replied as he ended the conversation.

Dean sighed as he plugged the phone back in for a few last minutes of charging. Then he stood and headed toward the shower.

******

After the confrontation with MacLeod, Sam walked back to the bed and was just about to sit down when a sensation washed over him that he couldn’t quite explain.

It wasn’t quite painful but it was enough to make Sam grab the nearest object for support. Just as Sam oriented himself enough to look at Duncan the sensation morphed into almost a buzzing sound at the back of his brain.

“What the hell?”Sam asked because he could tell from the look on MacLeod’s face that he felt it too.

Damn, Duncan swore silently as he moved toward the door grabbing his coat on the way. He had been hoping they’d get back to Chicago before they encountered another immortal. But apparently fresh blood in the water already had the sharks circling.

“Stay here!”Duncan ordered his voice tight.

“Not until you tell me what that was.”Sam demanded the buzzing sensation already beginning to fade.

“It’s our warning system.”Duncan explained as he shrugged into his coat comforted by the presence of his sword in it’s usual concealed sheath on the left side of the coat. “Allows us to sense another Immortal’s presence.”

Duncan pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and tossed it to Sam. “Stay here and lock the door behind me. Do not open it to anyone no matter what they say. If I’m not back in half an hour call the last incoming call on my phone. His name is Joe Dawson and he’ll help you any way he can.”

“Duncan…..”Sam began wanting to know more of who was outside, needing to know.

“Please, Sam, just stay here.”MacLeod ordered as he opened the door and quickly stepped out into the hallway.

Reluctantly Sam closed the door behind Duncan and locked it as ordered. But not before he had looked both ways down the corridor. There wasn’t a soul in sight.

*******

Dean pulled the Impala into the parking lot of the hospital and got out slamming the door shut. The day had turned unseasonably warm for late fall and the sky was cloudless.

As Dean walked toward the morgue entrance he looked up briefly at the bright sun knowing how much Sam enjoyed days like these.

Used to enjoy, Dean corrected himself darkly with a shake of his head.

Dean flipped the collar of his leather jacket up around his neck as a sudden chill crept over him despite the warmth of the day.

“Mr. Winchester?”A blond haired forty-ish man inquired as Dean stepped through the Morgue’s main entrance.

Small towns, Dean thought wryly as he nodded. Any other hospital in any other place and Dean would’ve had to go through many people and questions before someone figured out who he was.

The doctor walked toward him manilla colored file folder in his left hand as he extended his right toward Dean. “I’m Dr. Taylor, if you follow me into my office we can get rid of this paperwork.”

“Alright.”Dean replied as he followed the other man into a closet sized office off the main room of the morgue.

“Excuse the mess.”Taylor stated as they entered. He walked around the metal desk and sat down. “I just got back from a family reunion.”

Dean didn’t reply but glanced around at the stacks of folders of varying heights; some ten folders high others closer to thirty, computer printouts and clipboards.

“Please, have a seat.”Taylor said as he opened the file he’d been carrying.

Dean sat in the solitary chair opposite Taylor. It was then he spotted a wood eight by ten picture frame on the right side of the desk. It showed a skinny boy with red hair about twelve and a blonde girl around eight sitting in the bleachers of a baseball stadium.

“Your kids?”Dean asked gesturing toward the picture.

“Yeah.”Taylor replied with a smile as he looked at the picture. “I’m divorced, five years now, but luckily my ex-wife allows me to spend whatever time I want with them.”

Dean couldn’t help but stare at the blonde girl wondering if that’s what Sam’s daughter would’ve looked like. If things had been different. If Jess hadn’t been killed. If Dean hadn’t pulled Sam away from his life at Stanford.

“Mr. Winchester?”Taylor prompted dragging Dean’s attention back to the stack of paperwork.

“Right, sorry.”Dean apologized as he scooted the chair forward.

“Just need your signature in triplicate and the name of the funeral home.”Taylor explained as he set four forms in front of Dean. “First is for the state, second is for the county and third is for the police department.”

Dean signed the forms quickly trying not to read them. Trying not to remember why he was there, but it was impossible.
Why couldn’t he have a family like everybody else? Why did everybody leave?

Finished, Dean tossed the pen down on the desk with a little more force than was necessary.

“The funeral home said they’d have somebody here tomorrow.”Dean said quietly

Taylor made a note in the file then reached over and collected the forms. “Alright. I’ll let my assistant know.”

“Anything else?”Dean asked as he stood. He needed to get out fast. He felt the overwhelming urge to hit something and he didn’t want it to be Taylor.

Taylor shook his head. “No, unless you want to spend a few minutes with your brother?”

Dean hesitated in the office doorway. A part of him wanted to see Sam one last time. But another part, a larger part, couldn’t bare to see his brother like that.

/I’m sorry, Sammy. I can’t go in there./

“No thanks.”Dean replied as he stepped out into the hallway. “I-I just can’t.”

Before Taylor could reply Dean turned and quickly left. The keys to the Impala in his hand before he even reached the parking lot.

*******

Duncan cautiously walked into the gravel alley on the left side of the hotel. As the Immortal came into view Duncan didn’t recognize him.

“Well, I should get so lucky.”The Immortal chuckled, hefting his sword. “If it isn’t the great Duncan MacLeod.”

“I don’t want your head.”Duncan replied as he studied the twenty-ish black haired man who was dressed in jeans and a Harley jacket. He wasn’t that much older than Sam. Well in appearance anyway.

The Immortal grinned as he tossed his sword by the handle from one hand to the other. “Ah, but I want yours.”

Duncan still did not draw his sword. Having to explain a Quickening to Sam was the last thing he needed right now.

“When was your mortal death?”Duncan asked. “Three years?”

The younger man smirked. “Five, but that doesn’t matter. I will take a head today. Either you or your friend.”

Duncan titled his head. “I’m the only one here.”

The youth laughed. “Hope you don’t play poker, MacLeod. You’re an awful liar. I heard there was a new one. A head’s a head. I’ll take yours or theirs doesn’t matter to me.”

“You heard wrong.”Duncan replied walking toward the other man but remaining calm, his sword still sheathed. “You have a chance to leave. I’d advise strongly that you take it.”

chapter four