Where Research and Plans Can Cause Discord
The first thing that reached him was the scent of the candles. Sam hadn't been kidding when he'd commented on how bad they smelled. What made it worse was that they hadn't been lit yet.
"What the f...!" Dean caught himself. "What did you guys kill and lay out to rot?"
"It's the candles for one of the spells," Castiel responded. "You become used to it."
"In this century?" Dean carried the food in the dining area. "Will I be able to taste anything with that smell running rampant?"
Sam had a fan running and some incense to cover the smell, so it was a bit more tolerable in there.
"Well, I was going to play some music but I'm not sure I want to go back in there." He was laughing a little.
Bobby shook his head. Sam looked a bit on the green side. "I can't wait to throw those things out."
Dean's eyes were watering as he got plates, forks and paper towels. He poured four glasses of iced tea. He brought sugar, honey, and lemon.
Castiel wandered in. "Those were more potent than I remembered them being."
"That is an understatement, Cas."
Sam lifted his head from the table. He didn't even bother commenting, just gave the angel a glare before setting his head back down. Dean remembered something he had and went to his duffel. He could be heard coughing and gagging as he entered the living room. He came back a few minutes later with small plastic baggies with green nose plugs in them.
"It will hinder the taste of the food but it's got to be better then that stench."
Bobby was surprised by just how fast Sam pounced his brother to try to grab a baggie. Dean backed a little in surprise and handed the baggie over quickly.
"Gimme gimme gimme!"
Dean had dealt with a lot of horrid smells in his life. Somehow he usually got the dirty jobs. He never figured that one out. It just happened that way. He smiled as Sam dug through the baggie. He made sure that Bobby and Cas had one. He removed another and then put the baggie in his shirt pocket.
There was a sigh of relief from the younger brother. "Oh thank God, no more stench."
Dean lowered his head, biting his bottom lip, his shoulders shaking. Bobby was hiding his laughter behind his tea glass while Castiel simply shook his head as he sat at the table.
"This box is extra crispy. The other is original recipe. There's mashed potatoes, and gravy, corn on the cob, and fried okra. I put some chocolate parfaits in the fridge. Here's butter, salt and pepper. There's biscuits, butter, and honey.”
"This looks delicious," Sam reached for the extra crispy.
Dean peppered an ear of corn, put some okra on his plate. "Always wanted to try fried okra. Never got around to it. Not all the restaurants carry it."
"I think it's a southern thing, not sure." Bobby filled his plate as well.
Dean got a piece of original recipe. It always had a little more kick then the extra crispy. "You eating, Cas?"
I was waiting for the others to choose what they wanted." He reached for a box.
"Cas, I bought plenty. You're family. We don't stand on an rigid rules here. It's help yourself. Okay?"
The angel nodded, filling his plate as the others had. "Thank you, Dean."
"You're welcome, Cas." Dean smiled and took a bite of the okra. "This is good."
Castiel tried a bite as well and nodded his approval before continuing to enjoy his meal.
Dean talked about the music he'd heard at the book store. "Bobby knows some good stuff. I bought five Christmas cds. You got to hear these guys. We had a nice time. They let you hook your computer up, listen to stuff on You Tube and then go find the stuff. I just sat on the floor and did my thing. It was fun."
"Sounds like you had a great time, Dean," Sam answered between bites of corn.
"Yeah, I did. I'd like for you and me to do it sometime. Find stuff you like that you want me to hear."
He grinned at that. "I'd like that a lot."
"Well, I'm trying to learn who I am apart from Dad. I still like the metal head and mullet rock, but there's other stuff out there. I want to really listen and find what I like because I like it...not Dad."
The grin softened to a smile. "I'm glad."
Dean smiled. "Me, too."
Lunch passed with happy chatter and it was after dessert was finished and clean up done when Ben showed up, bearing a box.
As Ben entered the suite, Dean handed him a nose plug. "Trust me, you'll need it."
"What on earth?"
"Spells to hold a ghost."
"Ahh..." He set the box down, taking the plug. "I brought some old journals. I don't know what's in them really, the handwriting is difficult."
"If it's difficult, we'll need the time then to read them. Let's take them into the living area then."
Ben picked up the box and followed Dean into the area.
"He's got old journals. Handwriting is difficult."
Bobby frowned. "All right, let's get cracking."
"We got some lunch in there if you haven't eaten.”
Dean grabbed a journal
"I had something earlier, but thank you." Ben sat down, picking up an old journal as well, noting that Sam and Bobby had too.
They all started reading. "This is Dickens’s carol here."
Bobby made a noncommittal sound as he continued to read.
Dean read quietly after his comment.
The others looked up. "What?"
"I found out why. The original Scrooge was a dirty old man. He became a very giving person, but he bought a lot of hookers man. Lots of them."
Bobby arched an eyebrow. "And this would cause a curse on the family?"
"Yeah, it could. They were after changing his heart and helping people. He helped some but not like the book said. He fooled around a lot. Blew a lot of money on drinking, partying, and seduction, man. You don't think that would have pissed off those ghosts?"
"Maybe...we need to keep looking..see who put the curse on him and what the curse is."
Dean nodded , figuring he was in the general area for a curse. The group continued reading. About an hour later, Dean snorted in disgust.
Castiel looked up this time. "What is it?"
"He got a 16 year old hooker pregnant. She wanted him to marry her and make the child legitimate. Fred was his heir. He refused. Sent the girl somewhere up north, near Scotland somewhere. The curse occurred not long after this. There's the reason. I'm at the end of this one. Anyone got anything about this girl or her kid?"
"The book I have predates that one, I think," Bobby commented. The others shook their heads too.
"I've heard tales of Scotland back then. Those tales go way back. Witchcraft. The girl got a curse put on him. My question is what and how? Or is there a real curse? What's to say the kid used some spell to control the ghosts. They don't stay the same. Could be there's a descendent of this girl and they are carrying out the spell or curse, whatever you want to call it."
"In that time period?" Ben looked doubtful. "Witchcraft wasn't exactly widely practiced."
"No, it wasn't. I agree. But witchcraft has never not been practiced, Ben. Curses are done by a lot of different people. Being the UK, it makes sense it would be either a witch or someone involved in ancient druidism or something. Certain areas of the world practice their own forms of the occult."
"Then we're talking about curses almost 200 years old. God only knows how warped it's gotten if it's passed from generation to generation," Bobby commented.
"Yeah, it could be, Bobby. I hope not. I hate witchcraft. So hard to deal with."
The question remains..is it a curse that's renewed or is the blood of the family cursed and the original caster long dead." Castiel frowned, setting the journal down and looking for ones dated after the one Dean was looking at.
"There's still a few more journals here." Dean handed everyone a new one. He opened his and began to read. "Hold a second. The handwriting is not the same in this one. It's faded and parts of it is not in English. Bobby, you're the one who knows other languages."
Bobby took the book and frowned as he tried to make it out.
Dean rubbed his temples. He could feel a headache coming on. Stress headaches were difficult. He rubbed across his eyes. He waited to see if what he had found was important.
Sam got up and passed him some Tylenol. Bobby handed the journal to Castiel, who began reading it. "I have no idea, I don't recognize it. Maybe Cas can."
Dean looked up at his brother. "Thanks, Sammy." He took some with his tea.
"Cas, I was wondering. I read once about a curse that was written in a journal. There was some words you had to say and you burned it."
"Different kind of curse. This one will be more complex I believe."
"If it's a blood curse of some sort, then removing it will be problematic."
“In what way?”
Castiel frowned, knowing Dean wouldn’t like the answer.
"Well, depending on the level of the curse, the caster or the descendent of the caster has to remove it."
"Are you serious? What if they don't want to remove it, Cas?"
"Then we're going to have to research spells and such in hopes of finding a way to remove it. That's provided they haven't added more to the original curse."
The spell is using different spirits for the three ghosts. Powerful ones. Cas, do we even have what we need to find some means of doing this?"
The angel tilted his head, looking up. "That part I am not sure of."
Bobby spoke up. "Worse comes to worse, we need to find a medium and see if we can't make contact with the jilted lover..IF she's the one who did it."
"Sammy, can you see if there are any legitimate ones in the area?"
Ben piped up then. "There's a few retired hunters here. I can call them and see what they say."
"Man, that would be awesome!"
He nodded. "Okay. I'll do that now while you're researching, if you like. If tonight isn't fruitful, than we can bring the medium in tomorrow."
"Well, Cas, is there no way to get this done before another haunting? I had hoped to be able to finish it tonight. Bobby? Sammy?"
"I can bind the spirit of Dickens to us. Perhaps he's heard of things in the spirit world in between hauntings. Either way, we will have a guide."
Bobby frowned. "No, I mean we're following every angle we can with this. It's hard to work with a haunting that revolves around a curse this old. And again, we'll have to figure out if this is the original curse or if someone else got creative."
"If someone got creative, then it's got to be a piggyback effect right?"
Sam tilted his head. "Think of it as mixing new oil with old and never changing the oil. In the end, you have a huge mess that can't be separated out."
"So we start with the original caster and go from there." Bobby sighed. "I hate to say this but we may have to call in a witch for the actual removal."
"Awe, man! I hate witches, Bobby. Demons, ghosts, you name them, I can understand them. Witches, man...they're human. Humans, I don't understand."
"I know, Dean, but how many of us can remove curses? I don't have my library here."
"I know that, Bobby. Damn. Okay, where the hell do we find a witch? We need one now before we go any further. You don't find witches in the yellow pages."
Sam sighed. "We'll ask the hunters when we see about the medium."
"If they're retired, maybe they're home. Can we make some calls now?"
"Question. We don't even know what we're dealing with fully though, Dean, but yeah." Sam got up, walking out with Ben to make the calls.
"Bobby, if I'm wrong say so, but I don't see any other way at this point. Those ghosts are gonna be at this til Christmas Eve, then the year's gone. We need every second we got. A witch and a medium might give us some answers. At least what direction to go."
"I see it from both sides, Dean. Just means more people involved tonight unless we have them show up tomorrow."
"If you think it's a bad idea, Bobby, you should have said so. I'm not perfect. I'm just trying here. Guys, help me here. I don't know for sure what to do."
"Okay. We'll talk to someone, see if we can get someone to be with us tonight. Worse comes to worse, at least we can get Dickens to confirm if he knows who cast the curse."
"Okay, Bobby. " Dean sat down on the couch, not evening aiming for his chair. He put his head in his hands. A large sigh was heard.
Castiel looked at him. "This troubles you."
"Nothing seems right. That's why I can't make a decent decision. It doesn't feel right to me."
The older man nodded. "It's an unusual case. How often do we mess with curses?"
"Ones like this? I hope never again. What I was wondering was what if this isn't an ancient curse? What if we're being fooled here?"
The angel frowned. "Fooled? How?"
"What if this isn't a curse. What if someone is controlling this whole thing? What if it's not what we think? What if these ghosts were called and confused by someone or something? What if it's not what we think at all?
"This would not be Zachariah's taste if that is what you are concerned about. Most of my brothers refuse to do such a thing. They consider it beneath them."
"No. What if we got a necromancer or a something else that can conjure the dead, control them, and make them think things aren't want they really are? "
"That would mean a line of necromancers highly pissed at the Scrooge family. What're the odds on that?" Bobby was watching his adopted son.
"I know this sounds crazy, Bobby, but what if he ain't Scrooge? What if Scrooge is here somewhere. What if the control is coming from Ben? What if this is some trap he uses for hunters? Bobby, you know most of the hunters. You remember a Scrooge killed in a den of vampires? What if the real Scrooge is here somewhere. I don't know, but it doesn't feel right and I'm worried about Sam. What if this ghost trip tonight is for us again, and it's not as nice as last night?"
"First off, we can't keep chasing around with the what if game. We deal with the facts we have right now. If something goes wrong, we know we're being lied to."
"Bobby, we've talked whatifs a lot through the years when we weren't sure. We toss out anything and everything and consider it.. When did that change?" Dean grabbed his jacket and headed for the door.
"Hang on a minute, sit down. What do you think we should do? Talk it out."
"Bobby, I'm pissed. I'm confused. I gotta clear my head." Dean walked out of the room.
Castiel sighed and shook his head before going back to reading.
Dean stepped outside and started walking the property. The feeling just kept getting stronger. Were they risking a lot more by facing these ghosts on another trip. Was Ben a possible imposter? Were they in danger? He wasn't sure but it nagged at him.
Sam came out a half an hour later, shrugging on a jacket as he went to get some fresh air. Dean looked up and saw him, but said nothing. He was relieved that Sam was okay.
"Well, we've got a medium coming out tomorrow." He leaned against the Impala. "Damn, Dean, you should see the stuff he's got in his living quarters."
Dean's head came up. "What kind of stuff?"
"Family pictures..some of the portraits look older than the time period Dickens was alive. Antiques man...incredible. Truthfully, the house should be a museum."
Dean nodded. "I'm really messed up right now, Sammy. You get any bad vibes from him in any way?"
"Nah, not really. There's pics of him and his brother together..the hunter guy. The calls were on speaker phone so I could talk to the retirees too. He seems legit."
"Okay, but I tell you something is not right here, Sammy. If it's not him, then someone else here is involved some way. I think the ghosts are being controlled in some way."
"Curses can do that though, Dean. I don't know. Give me a vampire, I know what to do. This type of thing is way out of my league."
"I know, Sammy. Curses are not in my normal line of hunting. I don't get gut feelings like this very often and it's worrying me. Then Bobby snapped when I tried to bring it up and talk about it. Not like him either. I can't clear my head."
"You think maybe the line who cursed the family might still be alive? Vengeance moving from one generation to the next?"
"Yeah, that could be it. I thought maybe a necromancer or even Ben, but he’s seems legit. Something is controlling these ghosts. To be honest, Sammy, I'm worried about tonight. Seriously worried, and we got to keep Bobby out of it."
Sam shook his head. "You can try but he's stubborn like that."
"I know, Sammy, but can he fight, if he needs to?"
"He can shoot a gun."
"And if he needs to move fast to save his life?"
"We're gonna have to talk to him then. He won't want to be left behind." That was going to be hard to do.
"I don't want to, Sammy. We've got enough problems going on. Problem is I don't want to push Bobby over the edge, so what do we do?"
"Give him a task here...nothing bullshit. Something serious."
"Get him to find the lover on the computer. We need to trace the family. Might be interesting to see if a certain family name is around wherever a haunted Scrooge has been."
He nodded. "That we can do. Is her name mentioned in that journal you were reading?
"There were a couple of names. She has to be one of them, doncha think?"
"Yeah. Should be. Let's just hope the records are digital."
"Yeah, really. I got a feeling a family this diligent and bent on permanent revenge would have something somewhere on there."
"If they have something to hide, they may have not been open with records." He rubbed the back of his neck.
"Might, though, Sammy. It sounds like the kind of person who would have a huge ego. Whole family, you know? Maybe not be right out in the open, but not obscure either."
"Yeah, I may end up helping with research after this too."
"Yeah, with two computers, that would be a good idea. Wouldn't hurt to pick Ben's brain. He may know this person. This type of magic usually requires closeness."
Sam nodded, and said, “Someone he's not noticed either."
"Yeah, exactly. I need to go apologize to Bobby. Thanks for letting me talk it out, Sammy. At least I have some idea how we should go. You agree with this then?"
"Yeah, I think you're right. We have to cover all the angles."
"Thanks. Well, let's get to work then. We can draw Ben into the conversation and pick his brain. Research at the same time. See what we come up with."
Sam nodded. "All right."
Dean clapped his brother on the back and drew him back into the building.
He followed him back in, brain churning on who could be controlling the ghosts.
Dean entered the sitting room and saw Bobby and Cas relaxing and talking. He stood still, not wanting to interrupt them.
"What is it, Dean?" Bobby's voice was soft.
Dean came on into the room. He heard the door close behind him and knew Sam had entered. He walked over to Bobby and sat on the arm of the couch near his chair.
"Bobby, I'm sorry for getting angry and storming out on you earlier."
"It's okay, you're forgiven. I understand why you're frustrated. It's hard working on cases like this."
"Bobby, I don't think it's a curse. I think the family itself has been controlling these ghosts for over a century. I think a family member is here and controlling them. We got drawn in because we were recognized as hunters. Might have even known who we were. I'm not sure on that part."
He frowned at that. "Great, that means a needle in a sea of haystacks."
"No, I don't think so, Bobby. This person knows we're here. Has followed Ben from place to place. Used Dickens on the Strand to attack more then once. I think this person knows us, or at least about us. Wanted to do something to make us unfit to fight. It didn't work, but it could have."
What's the plan then?"
“I think we go with the plan we had. We take Dickens hostage. That ghost has to know some things. I think this person, whoever he or she is will somehow integrate themselves into the trip. We need to watch. Find a familiar face in the years. We need to be careful. They may be after us, using our pasts against us. Ben needs to be warned. Cas, what kinds of beings besides witches can control ghosts."
"Necromancers," he answered. "Which will be even worse than a witch."
Sam piped up. "We need to have Ben focusing on the background if he can, see if he can spot this person."
"Necromancers. What's the best way to kill one? Got no books with us. We need to find out."
"They are human, like witches, but their powers focus towards the dead."
"So we can shoot it, if its focused on the ghosts? That's if it lets us have weapons. The worlds we were in were real but we weren't a part of them."
"You're talking about shooting a human being, Dean," Sam answered.
"Okay, Sam. How do you want to do this? "
"Spot him or her, then hunt the Necromancer throughout the ghosts' visitations. See if we can convince this person to stop this."
"All right. We'll do it your way, Sammy, but if the necromancer lifts one hand or sends one ghost to do harm, I'm killing it."
Sam smacked the back of Dean's head. "Human...Dean...stop calling this person an it."
Dean turned towards Sam. "It practices demonic arts, Sammy. It conjures ghosts that can do harm to people. It has been haunting and terrorizing Ben's family for generations...or its family has. There will be more of them, Sammy. It knows about us now. You want it to use those ghosts to turn us in to Lucifer?"
The younger Winchester frowned at his brother. "I believe in our skills for one. And for second, the reason we're not with the angels or demons in this is because we view human life as important. Humans aren't cattle to be slaughtered. Yes, this person is doing something wrong but that gives you no reason to remove his or her humanity by using the wrong pronoun."
Dean met Sam's gaze and did not waiver. "I find it hard to believe that anyone who practices necromancy still has any humanity, Sam. But I will give this person the benefit of the doubt."
"That's all I'm asking."
“All right, but I mean it...one move towards us with magic in mind and this....person is dead."
"I'll be the first to pull the trigger if it looks like this person is being unreasonable."
"All right. Where did Ben go?"
Sam sighed. "He had some business to tend to for the bed and breakfast. He said he'd be back in a short while."
"Okay, he doesn't need to be alone, Sam. We need to keep him with us."
"It's not night time yet..that's when it happens."
"For the ghosts, yeah, but this dude or woman, might want to separate us."
Sam sighed, getting up to find the guy.
"Sam, we can keep eye out for him from here. He isn't here, is he?"
"He's in his office here in the house."
Dean headed for the door. "I'll get him. You get some rest. We're gonna need it later."
Castiel rose. "You three rest. I will keep an eye on him until time."
"You sure, Cas?"
He nodded. "I do not require as much rest as you do. We will return shortly."
Dean nodded, went and curled in his chair, and was soon fast asleep.
The angel went out to find the innkeeper.
Sam and Bobby looked at Dean, already fast asleep, exhaustion showing on his face as he relaxed.
Sam went to take a nap while Bobby started researching on the family.