Title: Don't Lose Your Head
Author: Dhvana
Series: 1) The Monster Under the Bed, 2) A Little Help From Bob, 3) The Temptation of Dean, 4) Questions Without Answers
Rating: R
Pairing: Sam/Dean, but the Wincest is implied and unrequited (so far)
Summary: The boys begin a new case.


It took the brothers two and a half days to reach Tarrytown--two and a half days of relative silence without only bursts of irritability to liven things up. Sam thought it felt just like old times, back when there used to be three Winchesters hunting together instead of two and none of them were terribly happy to be around each other. He'd certainly never been so consistently miserable since those days.

Dean, on the other hand, thought it was a step up. He preferred the silence to the constant arguing. It was easier to let his mind wander while he drove without the angry voices cutting into his thoughts. That was one thing that had changed about Sam. When he got pissed, he no longer let anyone and everyone around him know it as loud and as long as he possibly could until he either got his way or he ran out of breath. Instead, he fumed. He sulked. He grew frost around the edges. And the second the car stopped, Sam spent as little time around him as possible.

He had never met a man so obsessed with laundry, especially considering how little care Sam had given to the state of their clothes before, and yet his brother managed to spend hours every evening in whatever laundromat happened to be closest to that night's motel. And, of course, by the time he returned, Dean was asleep.

They were sleeping in separate beds again. That first night, Dean had tried to wait up, but eventually the weariness of the road had gotten to him and he'd given in. With one last look at Sam's empty bed, he'd set the wards around his own and fallen sleep. He'd had to settle for waking up every couple of hours to reassure himself that Sammy had made it to bed and was actually getting some sleep.

Not that he was completely oblivious. He knew the real reason behind this developing distance. It had nothing to do with the monster under the bed, its proposition, its death. It was all about the kiss. The kiss had been tormenting them with the persistence of a poltergeist--if only the memory of it could as easily be gotten rid of. Not that Dean really wanted to forget the kiss--he woke up every morning having dreamt of it, still able to feel it on his lips. He just wanted to forget how he'd reacted, and with Sam not speaking to him, he couldn't even attempt to make amends if he ever got up the courage to try.

So they drove on, separated by a wall of anger, disappointment, and silence.

The weather grew colder the further north they traveled. The leaves on the trees changed colors, filling the scenery with brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds. The fickle heat in the Impala meant they had to wear layers while they were in the car to be added or removed depending on whether or not the heater tried to sweat them out or it plain died altogether. Dean stopped for coffee at least once every other hour, just to have something to keep his hands warm. It also helped to keep him awake, since Sam wasn't exactly being Mr. Entertainment and he was starting to feel the strain of their fight.

Was it even a fight? There hadn't been any yelling. No flying fists and resulting bruises. He didn't even know what it was Sam was mad at him about--well, other than the kiss and letting the monster suck from his leg. But were those really worth fighting over? He wished Sam would let him know, because this whole passive-aggressive thing was just not for him.

At least they were finally getting close to Tarrytown, and once they were on the case, maybe then they'd be able to get past all this.

"All right," he said when they drove into the city limits, "where to?"

"Just keep going north down 9."

"Okay. Anything else?"

"I'll let you know when it's time to turn," Sam said, and when he didn't return his eyes to the road, Dean glanced over at him.


"Can I ask you something?"

Yes, anything, please, just stop staring. "Shoot."

"How much cash have you managed to stash away?"

Dean gave his brother a suspicious look. "Why do you want to know?"

"Well, to be honest, there aren't a lot of places to stay around here, and the whole area is pretty much just a suburb of New York, so lodging is not exactly cheap."

He glanced over at Sam, and his brother seemed to be hoping for an optimistic answer. He'd hate to disappoint him, especially if it meant a return to the silent treatment again. "How long do you think we're going to be here?"

He shrugged. "It seems to be your standard vengeful spirit, so probably not more than a couple of days."

Dean thought about it for a minute. "Well, since we're so close to New York, I could always pop into the city and make a few extra bucks. I know some good places to make some quick cash if we need it." He paused. "Do we need it?"

"Maybe. Yes. Unless we want to commute."

Dean shuddered. "Don't say words like that. It's the reason I went into this business to begin with."

"Oh, really?" Sam asked with the closest thing he'd come to a smile in days.

"Really. No commuting--well, except between cases, but that doesn't count. No suits, unless we're sneaking into someplace we don't belong. No bosses. No colleagues waiting to stab me in the back. No deadlines, except for the occasional full moon or sunset. No daily stress, no working myself to the bone so someone can steal all the credit, no feeling unappreciated, none of that crap. This job has everything a man could want--freedom, control of his own fate, no one to answer to--"

"Mutilation, scars, the certainty of a short life."

"I know," Dean said with a blissful sigh. "Who could ask for anything more?"

Sam started to laugh. "You're nuts, you know that, right?"

"Hey, call it what you will. To me, this is heaven."

"It'll certainly get you there faster," his little brother said, shaking his head as he continued to chuckle.

Dean glanced over at him and smiled. It looked as if Sam had started to thaw, and he'd do anything to keep it going until Frosty was gone for good. "Listen, you pick a place, any place, and let me worry about the price, okay?"

Sam's eyes lit up. "You think we can afford it?"

"After spending the past two months in glorified rat-traps, yeah, I think we can manage. Besides," he added with a cheeky grin, "that's why credit cards were invented."

And if that comment didn't just bring the cold front back like a slap upside the head. Dean sighed. One of these days, he'd learn to think before he spoke. "Sammy. . ." he began, but his brother surprisingly cut him off.

"No, Dean. It's all right. I know you've held off using the credit cards because of me, and I appreciate it."

Yes! Cold front headed off by an unexpected warm surge from the Gulf! This might not turn out to be a totally crappy day after all.

"If it means we get to sleep in a bed with mattresses that were bought after the Reagan era covered with bug-free sheets and endless hot water in the pipes, then if you want to use a credit card, I won't complain."

Dean reached over and ruffled his brother's hair before he could duck out of the way. "Thanks, Sammy."

"Sam," he corrected automatically and Dean grinned. Whatever the hell had happened to change his brother's mind, he wasn't going to complain. It was just nice to have things back to normal.

"Turn right here," Sam said, and he did. "Turn left here. Left again. And this is it. This is going to be our home for the next couple days."

Dean pulled into the white gravel drive that led up to a lavender Victorian with white trim. He parked in one of the designated guest spots in back and sat frozen in the front seat as he gazed in horror at sight before him. The trees were decorated with little white fairy lights. There was a white and lavender gazebo in the backyard with hearts carved into the latticework. A white swing was perched at the top of the hill overlooking the Hudson. A hammock clearly meant for two people swayed between two weeping willows. A white plaster fountain portrayed two cupids pouring water into the basin.

Just looking at it, he was afraid to get out of the car.

"Sam," he said, glancing over at his brother, who appeared to be sucking in his cheeks to keep from laughing, "is there something you want to tell me?"

"Nope," his brother answered.

"Did you notice this place is purple?"

"Is it?" he asked, all wide-eyed innocence.

"Why are we staying in a purple house?"

"Because it was the only bed and breakfast with a room available. I called around yesterday, and this is it."

"It's a bed and breakfast?"

"Does it look like a Super 8 to you? What else would it be?"

Dean stared at the house, wondering if he should cross himself. "And this is where you want to stay."

"Come on, Dean. This is the closest we're going to get to a real bed, it's near where we're going to be working, and you've got to admit, it is kind of pretty."

"In the same way that fog can be kind of pretty, right before it eats the flesh off your bones."

Sam rolled his eyes and opened the door. "Whatever. Come on, big brother, let's go check in."

Muttering under his breath, Dean followed his brother up the cobbled walk, cringing at the melodic tinkling of the numerous wind chimes that hung from the trees. They climbed the steps up to the wraparound porch and Sam paused with his hand on the door handle.

"Dean," he said cautiously as he looked at his brother, clearly ready to bolt at any second, "there is one more thing you need to know."

"And what's that?" he snapped.

"When I made the reservations, I told the owner we were a couple."


Sam turned to him with a look that was pure delicious wickedness as he smiled at his brother. "That'll teach you to slap me on the butt and call me 'honey'."

With that, Sam walked inside, making his escape before he could be dragged off and talked some sense into. Dean was left standing outside, gaping like a goldfish who'd reached one end of the bowl and couldn't figure out how he'd gotten there.

His brother remembered that from all the way back in Oklahoma? Hell, he'd forgotten about it, it was so long ago. And boy, did Sam know how to hold a grudge when he wanted to. He'd only been joking! Sam knew that, right? That it had just been a joke?

A couple. Him and Sam. But. . . they couldn't be a couple. Could they? No--no, of course not. Because, that would be wrong. It was. . . impossible.

But that didn't mean he couldn't pretend.

Dean closed his mouth and followed Sam inside. His brother wanted them to be a couple, then they would be a couple. In fact, Dean would be the best damn boyfriend his brother could imagine. It would serve him right.

He walked over to where Sam was standing by the front desk, chatting amiably with plump, smiling, gray-haired woman who was standing behind it, and slid an arm around his waist. Sam tensed at his touch, and Dean tried not to laugh as he nuzzled the spot behind his brother's left ear.

"Honey, you were right. This place is perfect."

The woman behind the desk smiled indulgently at them. "I'm so glad you think so. We like to think that we're the most romantic B and B on the Hudson."

"You've got no objections from me so far," he said, flashing her his heart-stopping smile. Even if she did think he was gay, she was no more immune to its effects than any other woman. She flushed and smiled back at him, her eyes glowing with pleasure.

"Judy, this is my partner, Dean," Sam said, managing to sound just the slightest bit possessive--or was it just peevish? "Dean, Judy, the owner of this beautiful inn."

"Pleasure to meet you, Judy."

"The pleasure's mine. You two really do make the most handsome couple," she said with a little sigh. "I'm so glad I've put you in the master suite--it'll be perfect for you, and if you'll come with me, I'm sure you'll agree."

"Oh, any room will be perfect," Dean said, following her lead up the stairs to the second floor of the house, "so long as we finally get to spend some time together."

"Yes, Sam was telling me how your work keeps you busy, and I can't imagine anyone more deserving of some time off than a police officer."

'I'm a cop?' he mouthed to Sam, who shrugged as they continued down the main hall to a room in the back.

"It's rough," Sam said as they waited for her to unlock the door. "Between my studying and his schedule, we're lucky to get a couple hours together a week. This is first vacation we've had all year."

"And this is just the place for you to make up for all that lost time," she smiled and opened the door, stepping aside so they could enter.

Dean had to admit, it wasn't as bad as he was expecting--no lace or frilly stuff or teddy bears crammed into every corner. The walls weren't plastered in flowers, but instead were painted a hunter green. The bed, wardrobe, and chairs were all mahogany and polished to a loving gleam. There were white and rose Oriental rugs on the floors, dark rose colored blinds on the windows, and the bathroom. . . he would gladly have traded both his kidneys to move into that bathroom. Royal blue tiles covered the floor and surrounded a Jacuzzi tub large enough for two people. A stained glass window of a peacock stretched out across the entire length of the tub along the wall. There was a large shower in the corner with glass doors and he peered inside to see jets placed at every angle so the entire body was massaged even as it was cleaned.

Just staring at those jets, he could feel Nirvana approaching.

Sam's chuckle appeared next to his ear and he turned his head to smile at his brother, Sam quickly kissing his cheek. "Why do I get the feeling I'm going to have to fight the bathroom for your affections over the next couple of days?"

"The shower might provide competition, but there is room enough in the tub for two."

"Then I guess I know where we're going to be spending most of our time," he grinned, swatting Dean on the butt before turning back to Judy. "This is perfect. I cannot thank you enough."

"Nonsense," she smiled, roses again blooming on her cheeks. "It's just so nice to see a couple so much in love. Now, this key will let you in both the front and back entrances as well as into your room. The door to the left in the hall leads to the back staircase so you won't have to drag your things through the whole house. Breakfast is served between eight and eleven, though we do have tea in the afternoon and there's almost always something to nibble on in the dining room. I live in the guest house in back, so if you ever need anything, you just feel free to call."

"I can't imagine anything we'll need," Dean said, leading her to the door. "You've provided everything we could think of. You're a miracle worker, Judy."

"And you're adorable," she said, patting his cheek as she handed him the key. "But you might want to save some of that sweet talk for your boyfriend over there. You two have a lovely stay and welcome to the Sleepy Hollow Inn."

Judy closed the door before she could see the shocked expression appear on Dean's face at hearing the inn's name. Turning around, he gave his brother a pointed look, and Sam at least had the decency to appear a little ashamed.

"Sleepy Hollow?" Dean said. "As in THE Sleepy Hollow?"

"It's right up the road a bit," he nodded.

"So you're telling me you've sent us after the Headless Horseman?!"

"Not the actual Headless Horseman," Sam said, flopping onto the bed, the mattress bouncing a little beneath his body weight. "Dean, you should try this bed. It's incredible. I could fall asleep here for a month and you'd still have trouble waking me up."

"Sam. . ." he said, a threat of bodily harm in his voice, and his brother sighed.

"Yes, we are going after a Headless Horseman, though of course not the real one, since that one was a creation of Washington Irving and nothing more. I think this one's just a vengeful spirit taking advantage of a local legend in order to scare people."

"Does it also take heads?"

Sam avoided his eyes, lifting his shoulders in the slightest of shrugs.

"Oh my god," Dean said, sinking into the paisley upholstery of one of the room's chairs. "Sam, a little preparation would have been nice."

"We've got three days until it shows up again. It only appears during the full moon and it's got a very distinctive pattern. It starts at the statue in Patriot's Park, and then it rides up the road to the cemetery where it disappears only to reappear again at Patriot's Park to start its ride all over again. It repeats this process from sunset to sunrise and while it doesn't seem to bother people in cars, anyone caught out walking is fair game. The authorities have been doing their best to keep the area clear so it can't take a head."

"How many has it collected so far?"

"Just one. It's tried for more, but hasn't succeeded, which is why it took me so long to find out about it. The town is trying to keep it out of the media or risk driving away the tourists, which they really don't want to do with all the people wandering through to look at the trees or pick apples or do whatever it is people do out here."

"The Headless Horseman," Dean said softly, his hand unconsciously reaching up to cover his neck. "It's definitely something we've never dealt with before."

Sam rose up on his forearms to look at him. "What do you think it'll take to get rid of it?"

"Well, we'll have to be sure it is actually a ghost and not anything else. If it is a ghost, we'll just figure out who it is and then go from there. If it happens to be one of our newfound demon friends, then it's going to take a little more work."

"But we can handle it, right?" Sam asked, a note of uncertainty in his voice. "We'll be able to get rid of it?"

"Of course," Dean answered with a smirk as he stood up. "This is us we're talking about."

Sam rolled his eyes, though he did appear reassured. "How could I forget?"

"It's beyond me."

"Most things are," Sam shot back and was rewarded with a decorative pillow in the face.

"You know what I've always wondered?" Dean began, catching the pillow as it was thrown back. "How does a headless horseman know where to go? I mean, it doesn't have a head. It doesn't have eyes. What's to keep it from running into a building?"

"The horse, for one thing. It's not going to blindly plow into a brick wall just because its rider is an idiot. And we're talking about a man who's riding around without a head--if it can manage that, I'm sure it can manage being blind as well."

"If you say so," Dean shrugged and slapped one of Sam's shoes as he headed to the door. "Let's go get our gear. I can't wait to see if those Jacuzzi jets in the tub are all they're cut out to be."

"I knew it--you just couldn't wait to get naked," Sam quipped as he slid off the bed, then laughed as Dean flipped him the bird.

Chuckling to himself, the older Winchester practically hopped down the back staircase. He had to admit, this couple thing was a lot easier than he'd thought it would be, and it certainly seemed to be brightening up his brother's mood. He didn't know why, exactly, Sam had chosen to go this route, but he wasn't going to fight it. It was more fun just to play along.

And play along they did.

Though they spent much of the next three days searching through the local newspapers for any kind of gruesome murder or accidental death that might have ended with decapitation, or at the very least, would have been enough to piss someone off right before they died, they also took some time off to relax. Because there wasn't much else to do in the small town, they visited all the historic sites--scouting out the Horseman's route at the same time, and they did exactly what Dean said he would never do--they looked through all the antique shops.

Which, if Dean were asked via torture, he would admit he didn't mind. For one thing, antique shops were a good place to find various odds and ends that could be useful in their trade--charms, warded weapons, objects of protection. For another, Sam, he learned, had a passion for old books. His brother would spend hours pouring through the dusty tomes, and while he always picked out a couple that were remnants of his English classes, he also seemed to know right where to go to find the ones that would be helpful to them. He discovered books on herbs that were also ingredients for spells, diaries containing prophecies, fictional tales of hauntings that weren't quite as fictional as they seemed. Dean figured most of it would turn out to be a bunch of crap, but he would tolerate carrying around a library of leather bound volumes in the backseat of his car if it would make Sam happy, and help to give them an edge.

And if making his brother happy wasn't enough, every time they appeared in public, they made a point of acting like a couple. Dean enjoyed the openly affectionate nature he got to assume with Sam, something he'd never be able to do in his everyday life because someone might get the wrong idea. It was a lot simpler when he was hoping that people would get the wrong idea. He would often find that while they were walking down the street, Sam's hand would slip into his, or he'd be laughing at something Sam said and slide his arm around his brother's waist. He liked being able to touch him, to reassure himself that Sam was actually there without getting strange looks from those around them or feeling weird doing it.

Then one afternoon, it hit him, and he knew. He knew why Sam had brought them here, why he'd decided to play this particular game.

They were sitting in the window of some pretentious little café, drinking coffee that came some remote region of Peru and waiting for their gourmet sandwiches to be delivered. Sam was looking through a book and came across a passage that had made his eyes glow. He quickly leaned over to show it to Dean, who really couldn't have cared less, but he moved closer to read anyway. He followed his brother's finger as it traveled below the words, felt the warmth of Sam's breath on his cheek, and that's when he knew.

Sam looked up at him with those glowing hazel eyes, waiting for his reaction, and Dean had wanted nothing more than to close the distance between them, to again feel Sam's lips on his.

Instead, he swallowed hard and quickly pulled away. "Sounds good, Sammy," he said, and promptly scalded his tongue by trying to drink the too-hot coffee.

His brother stared at him, confused, then shrugged and continued searching through the book.

Dean, on the other hand, sat there feeling like the biggest idiot in the world. Why hadn't it occurred to him that he wanted Sam--actually wanted him? It wasn't just a knee-jerk reaction to being celibate for too long. There was actually something more to it. For some reason, it just hadn't sunk in that his brother was looking at him a little differently than he was used to, and that he was looking back not because of a basic need for physical release, but because he liked looking.

Sam knew--Sam had known probably from the beginning, and this whole couple act was just part of his plan to make sure Dean knew it, too. Though of course, now that he did know, he was more of a mess than ever. Suddenly all the little things that had just been part of the act were no longer just an act. The subtle embraces, the kisses on cheeks or ears or necks--body parts that weren't important and yet had become vital--all of it now had a whole separate layer of meaning.

But despite this discovery, Dean couldn't bring himself to kiss Sam and show him that he understood now what Sam had been trying to tell him back in Texas. He couldn't find a way to let him know that if things had to change, so be it, but only if the change was what Sam wanted even if he was starting to realize that he wanted it too.

So he continued to wallow in indecision and their three days of peace came to an end. With the full moon about to rise, they had to face the fact that they still had nothing on the Horseman, and were basically going into battle unarmed.

"Okay, let's look at this from a different angle," Sam said, leaning against the doorframe to the bathroom where Dean was luxuriating in a tub full of bubbles that smelled like pumpkin pie spices. Though his brother teased him relentlessly because of all the time he'd spent either in the shower or the bathtub, Dean didn't care. It just felt good. Besides, he could barely drag Sam out of that bed every morning, so his brother was hardly in a position to comment.

"What sort of angle?" he asked, resting his head against the bath pillow--quite possibly the greatest invention in the world, right after his Impala and the electric guitar.

"What if it isn't a ghost or a ghoul? What if it's a person who's a little too obsessed with the Hessian from the Legend and just wants to emulate his hero?"

"That would be one messed up person," Dean nodded.

"Yeah, but it would explain why we haven't found any deaths that would cause this sort of thing to come into existence."

"And that would work, except for the fact that none of the authorities have been able to trap it. Solid forms are much easier to catch, and they leave traces of their passing. From what that guy told me down at the station, this Horseman rode right through one of their patrol cars. I don't think this thing's real."

"Could someone be summoning it?"

Dean arched an eyebrow. "Summoning the Headless Horseman."

"Well, clearly the person doing the summoning would be defining the Horseman's form."

"I suppose that's a possibility," he nodded. "But why? What's the motive?"

Sam shook his head. "Haven't a clue. Again, that would probably go into the messed up person category, but we shouldn't discount it. And, of course, there's always the demon angle."

"Yeah, there is that," Dean said darkly and took a deep breath, ducking beneath the water. He knew he'd grown increasingly touchy about the topic of demons lately, but it wasn't something he wanted to talk about. It bugged him that there were things after his brother, and since he couldn't do anything to stop them, he did the next best thing--pretended the problem didn't exist. It wasn't the ideal solution, but it let him get at least a couple hours sleep every night.

Dean broke through the surface, smoothing his hair back with his hands and brushing the water from his face. He could feel Sam's eyes watching him, and he gave bubble bath the title of fourth greatest invention in the world so his brother couldn't see what knowing he was watching did to him. He rubbed his eyes free of water and looked over at Sam, catching the hazel eyes just before they ducked and turned towards the floor.

"And if it is a demon?" Dean asked, his voice sounding tight as it emerged from his throat, probably due to the extra stress below his waist.

The eyes flickered up again. "Then we kill it."

"Well, for our budget's sake, we'd better catch this thing tonight. We can't afford to stay here an entire month."

"No, but if all else fails, we kill off a few of the less time-conscientious boogey men around the area and then swing back around in time for the next full moon."

Dean's eyes grew wide. "There's a Boogeyman in the area?"

"Well. . . I. . ." Sam stumbled to a halt and gaped at him. "I don't know. I was just using it as a general term. You mean there really is a Boogeyman?"

"Sammy," he said, shaking his head, "you've been out of the game too long. I guess we never encountered one while you were around, but yeah, the Boogeyman is real. He's one nasty son of a bitch, preys on children, likes to beat them to death. If there is one, we'll have to kill it."

"My god," Sam said, turning pale. "I didn't know. That's terrible!"

"Which is why we kill them," Dean said matter-of-factly and leaned forward to release the drain from the tub.

"I'll have to check around and make sure there isn't one," he said, color rapidly returning to his cheeks as the water level continued to sink. "In fact, I'll go look now."

Dean chuckled as his brother scurried away from the bathroom and he climbed out of the tub. Leaving a trail of bubbles between the bathtub and the shower, he quickly rinsed himself off and got dressed.

"You ready to go?" he asked as he walked into the bedroom. Sam was in his favorite spot, sitting in the middle of the monstrous bed with the laptop resting on a stack of pillows in front of him.

"Hmm? Yeah, just give me a sec."

"I'm gonna go downstairs, see if there are any lemon bars left. Want me to grab you anything?"

"Oatmeal cookies, if she's got 'em."

"All right, I'll meet you outside in five minutes," he said, grinning as Sam absently grunted in agreement as he left the room. He walked down to the main stairs and into the lobby where Judy was sitting at the front desk talking on the phone with a potential lodger. He winked and pursed his lips in a kiss as he passed by to the dining room. The side table was cluttered with extra helpings of lemon bars and oatmeal cookies, as he'd known there would be. Ever since he'd discovered his love of Judy's baking, she'd made a point of making their favorites every day. He worshipped her for it, but she was just too sweet for his own damn good. He already knew there was no way the credit card scam was going to work here--he didn't have the heart to cheat her like that. Their last day in town, he was going to run into the city and swindle enough to cover their bill. It was the least he could do since she kept going out of her way to make them happy.

"Should have known I'd find you in here," Judy said as she wandered into the dining room. He would have answered, but he had a mouth full of lemon bar, so he settled for a crumb-dusted grin. "I've got some fresh coffee brewing in the kitchen. Let me go get you a cup."

He swallowed. "That would be great. Thanks, Judy."

"Anything for you, sweetheart," she said, handing him a napkin. "To go?"

"If you would, please. Sam and I are going walking around Rockefeller Park."

She glanced at the window to judge the arrival of dusk. "It's a little late to be wandering around the woods, don't you think?"

"Well," he said, doing his best to look abashed, "we got something of a late start today."

Judy chuckled and walked through the swinging door into the kitchen, returning a minute later with two travel mugs of coffee and a couple of plastic bags, which she immediately began filling with goodies. "I brought a mug for Sam, too. I imagine he's going to need the caffeine."

"I do tend to wear him out," he said with his smuttiest grin, and she laughed.

"You boys. I swear, I don't know where you find the energy."

"It's all the great cooking," Dean said, giving her a quick peck on the cheek as she handed him the mugs and bags bursting with baked goods. "So it's really your fault. Because of you, we have to spend extra time in bed burning off all the calories."

Smiling, Judy shook her head and gave him a push out the door. "You'd better go join your boyfriend before you get yourself in trouble. You boys be careful out there. It isn't safe out there after the sun goes down."

"We'll bring along flashlights, just in case," he said, leaning against the front door to open it. "Thanks for the treats, Judy."

"You're welcome," she said, waving him out the door, but he noticed her eyes were dark with worry. Looked like Sam was right about the locals staying off the streets on nights of the full moon. They'd have to hurry in case any cops were sent out to enforce a curfew.

"What's all that?" Sam asked as he climbed into the car and Dean tossed him the bag of cookies.

"With love from our adoring innkeeper."

"I swear, you could charm her into letting you move in there if you tried hard enough," Sam said, digging through the bag for an oatmeal one.

"Probably," Dean smirked, earning him an eye roll from his brother. "So, any ideas on where to start?"

Sam nodded, his mouth full of cookie so he pointed right as the car pulled out of the driveway. "The Horseman's ride covers approximately a mile, so we've got a lot of ground to cover. The best thing we could do to find the Horseman is to split--"

"No. No splitting up. We're staying together."


"Sam, the cops will be keeping an eye on the roads and they'll keep the civilians safe. It's our job to find this thing and stop it. Together."

"All right. I suppose if we focus on the cemetery, we should be able to catch it," he nodded, then gave his brother a sly glance. "'Civilians'?"

"Shut up."

"Yes, sir."

"Bitch," Dean muttered, and turned towards the new cemetery. "How much longer till sunset?"

Sam checked his watch. "It's five after four now. We've got about twenty-one minutes. Not that it matters. It isn't like we've seen the sun at all today."

"I know," Dean said, glaring at the overcast sky. "If it rains, I'm going to Florida and nothing you say can stop me."

"If it rains, I'll drive."


They parked the car off of Gory Brook Road--Dean wondering who the hell brought on the bad omen by naming it 'Gory'--and cut through the woods to the cemetery. By the time they were walking amongst the graves, night had fallen and they needed their flashlights to see where they were going. They'd been through enough cemeteries at night that a stroll through this one shouldn't have bothered them, but the way Sam kept looking over his shoulder was making Dean uneasy.

"Something up?"

Sam shook his head, though his eyes remained wary. "No. Just a feeling."

"Uh-huh. And haven't we pretty much decided that your feelings are more than 'just' a feeling?"

Sam glared at him, reaching down to scratch at his thigh through his jeans. "Funny. I thought we'd decided not to talk about it, so how could we have made a decision about my 'feelings'?"

"We didn't decide not to talk about it. We just. . . haven't."

"And whose fault is that?"

"Sam," he said, doing his best to keep his irritation out of his voice, "if you want to talk about it, we can talk about it. We should talk about it. I just don't know what the hell you want me to say."

"And I don't know what it is I want you to say," he snapped. "I just want you to say something!"

"Like what?"

"I don't know! God damnit!" he shouted, scratching even harder at his thigh.

As his brother's last shout echoed across the cemetery, the sound was followed by another one far more unnerving than the eerie echo through the graves. Sam's hand froze and their eyes met.

"Hooves," Dean whispered, and Sam nodded.

"What do we do?"

"You said it repeats its ride?"


"Then let's just hide for the moment and get a good look at it, see if we can figure out what it is. We can always try killing it when it returns."

Sam nodded and they ducked behind a monument, kneeling low to the ground and holding their shotguns in their hands. Turning off their flashlights, they waited as the furious galloping drew closer, peering around the white marble into the darkness.

"I can't see a damn thing!" Dean hissed, and Sam nudged him with his shoulder in a plea to keep quiet.

As the hooves drew nearer, they saw a light weaving through the graves, a light that flickered like fire, but in shades of green instead of orange and yellow. The green fire cast unnatural shadows over the tombstones, causing the stones dance in the darkness and making the brothers feel like they were surrounded by a garden of ghouls. The light did provide one useful purpose beyond scaring them--it allowed them to see the thing that was carrying it. The light came from a burning pumpkin held under the arm of a horseman as it rode its slathering black steed across the cemetery. The other arm was raised, brandishing a sword above its head.

Or what should have been its head, except the head was missing.

Dean felt Sam shiver next to him and he wrapped an arm around his brother's shoulders, pulling him in close as they watched the thing draw near.

The headless figure was dressed all in black, though its clothing gleamed with some sort of liquid--blood would be Dean's guess. The horse's trappings were all black and, in fact, the only color to be found was in the orange pumpkin and the green fire--and the head bouncing across the Horseman's saddle.

Sam turned away, a hand over his mouth, and even Dean felt a little queasy looking at the Horseman's poor victim. He couldn't tell if this was a new head or if it was the first one and the Horseman carried its trophies with it at all times. It looked to have been a woman.

The Horseman passed them without pausing, much to Dean's relief, but then Sam broke free from his hold and began running after the murderous rider.

"Sam!" he whispered loudly, but his brother didn't stop.

"I have to find out where the ride ends!" he said and continued following the creature, ducking in and out of the shadows of the graves, trying to remain hidden even though he was obviously trailing the Horseman.

Swearing under his breath, Dean took off after his brother, the two Winchesters chasing the Headless Horseman through the Sleepy Hollow cemetery. He heard the rippling of a stream close ahead and he knew from earlier explorations there was a bridge across it. He just hoped his brother remembered as well--he wasn't looking forward to diving into the cold water to save Sam from his own stupidity.

Moonlight finally managed to break free of the clouds and the pale blue light illuminated the figures of both the Horseman and his brother, though it apparently did nothing to reveal to him the ground beneath his feet.

"Son of a--!" Dean started to shout as he tripped over a fallen gravestone and took a dive into the grass, his gun landing on the in front of him. He immediately scrambled back to his feet, his left ankle throbbing painfully as he hobbled towards the bridge. He could see the green fire of the Horseman's pumpkin crossing the old wooden structure, but once it reached the other side, it disappeared.

Sam crossed the bridge just a moment later and came to a stop, looking around for the Horseman.

"Sam!" he shouted. "It's gone! Come on back--we'll wait for it to return."

"No!" his brother yelled. "It has to be here somewhere! There has to be someplace it goes! If we can find its lair, we can stop it!"

"Sam," he began, leaning against a cross to take the weight off his foot, "it'll be back in about thirty minutes and we ca--"

Dean froze, watching as the green light reappeared behind his brother.

No--NO! This couldn't be happening, not now, not when he was like this. Fighting the panic rising in his chest, Dean tried to call out his brother's name, but no sound emerged from his throat.

"Sam," he tried again, his voice this time little more than a whisper as he attempted to jog over to the bridge, forcing the pain out of his mind.

"Sam. Sam! SAM! Sam, look out!"

But by then his brother had noticed the light. By then, Sam had heard the hooves coming towards him and knew that danger was approaching. Raising his shotgun, he turned around as the sword came swinging at his head.

A shot rang out.

A blade cut through the night.

His brother's body fell.



Next story in series - Retribution and Remorse.