Author: Pdantzler

Prompt: #26 Inattention

Rating: PG

Type of Story: General

Author's Website: Pdantzler's page on FanFiction.Net


"How far to Kansas City?" Dean asked, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel.

No answer came from Sam.

"How far?" Dean asked again, glancing towards his brother.

Sam was reading a book, and the map lay tucked by his side, still folded.

"Dude?" Dean questioned.

Sam didn't look up from his book, his eyes focused on the page in front of him.

"Earth to Sam?" Dean said softly. "Sam, come in."

Still no answer.

Dean took a breath and in his best John Winchester voice, he bellowed, "Samuel Winchester!"

Sam jumped, nearly dropping his book.

"What? What are you yelling at me for?"

"Just wanted to make sure you're awake," Dean grinned. "What you reading?"

"Nothing," Sam reached for the map.

"It's something," Dean countered. "You were looking all intense at it, and the cover's plain so I know it's not porn. What else could keep you so interested?"

"Nothing else could keep you interested," Sam shot back. "You've got the attention span of a four-year-old."

"And the filthy mind of a porn star," Dean laughed. "What are reading? A book on ghost stories? Local hauntings?"

"Municipal law," Saw muttered.

"What?" Dean turned to look at him so quick the car swerved.

"Eyes on the road," Sam told him.

"What are you doing reading law?" Dean demanded. "I thought we were through with all that."

"We were never through with anything," Sam told him. "I decided to put law school on hold for a while. Doesn't mean I can't read about it every so often."

Dean said nothing as he drove, keeping his eyes on the road.

"Sorry," Sam shrugged. "As much as I'm glad to do what we do and help people, I don't think we can do it forever. In our twenties, fine. In our thirties, maybe. But our forties?"

"Dad did," Dean said shortly.

"Yeah, sure, and he was great," Sam agreed. "But I was thinking I could do my part like – like Pastor Jim did. Only with being a lawyer."

"What, are you going to sue demons?" Dean demanded. "Prosecute ghosts? 'Get your see-through ass out of this house or I'm taking you to court'?"

"There are things I could do," Sam insisted. "And as a lawyer, I would access to information that we don't have now at public libraries. Besides, someone has to know how to bail you out of jail."

"What am I supposed to do while you sit in an office everyday?" Dean asked angrily.

"You could get a job, too."

Dean looked about to make a mean comment, but he shut his mouth and keep driving in silence.

Sam let the silence continue, knowing anything he said would just make Dean more upset. It was kind of a taboo subject in their lives – what they would do after they decided to stop hunting. Sam was sure that it they could just sit down and talk about it for a long while and get everything out in the open, they would reach some good conclusion. Even if they both decided to give hunting another five years, Sam thought that would have been fine. He could start law school at twenty-nine, be done by thirty-two, and join a firm and make partner by forty. Not a bad life. Settled down, start a family, wait for Dean to come by on the weekends and rile everyone up.

"Look," Dean interrupted Sam's thoughts, "I don't care if you want to think about law school or even read those lame books, but you've got to promise me they won't affect what we're doing."

"They won't," Sam protested.

'I know you, dude," Dean shook his head. "That's one of reasons I don't allow you to bring books on the road."

"You don't allow me?" Sam repeated.

"You want to read in the library, fine," Dean kept watching the road. "You want to read in the hotel, great, but on the road you have to concentrate. I can't have you thinking about approaching the bench and 'I object' when we're hunting demons."

"For one thing, that's not municipal law," Sam said snippedly. "For another thing, I keep my attention fine. You're the one who's thinking about sex and drooling over hot girls."

"That's different," Dean told him.

"Is not."

"Is so."

"Is not. And I'll prove it," Sam looked down the road. "There's a sign for Hooters up ahead on my side. I say you can't drive by it without looking at it."

"Can so," Dean set his eyes on the road. From the corner of his eyes, he could see the sign approaching, but he couldn't make out the woman on the huge sign. He kept driving, and she was coming closer and closer, but he couldn't see.

His eyes darted to the side for a second, just long enough to take in her luscious hair, and pouting lips, and huge –

"Ha!" Sam cheered, slapping his hands together in glee. "Gotcha!"

Dean growled. "Doesn't count. We're driving right now. We're not on the real hunt until we're hiking through the woods with guns and twenty pounds of ammo."

"Whatever," Sam laughed.

"I'm serious," Dean insisted. "When we're on a hunt, I want your head clear and your focus on the job."

"I will. Don't worry about me."

"Fine, how far to Kansas City?"

"We're going to Kansas City?" Sam blinked.

"Duuude," Dean warned.

"Yeah, yeah, I'll find it," Sam grabbed at the map. He opened it and glanced over it, squinting in confusion. "I can't seem to find."

Dean glanced at the back of the map facing him. "Dude, that's Kansas."

"What? Oh, yeah, it is," Sam began searching around the car. "Where is the map for Missouri?"

"You were supposed to buy one in the gas station!" Dean snapped. "I was putting gas in the car and checking the oil and buying lunch. All you had to do was go in and buy a map of Missouri!"

"I thought I did," Sam said as he kept searching. "I remember looking at the rack of maps, but I must have been thinking Kansas and not Kansas City . . ."

Dean growled, this time a deadly gleam in his eyes.

"So I made one mistake," Sam protested. "Just one. There will be signs all the way there, and it's not like we can't stop at another gas station.

"Fine," Dean said, slapping the steering wheel. "But don't let it happen again."


They found Kansas City just fine as there were huge signs announcing it all along the way there. And Sam got a map of Missouri and marked the spot of the haunted campgrounds at the far north of the state. Sam had just finished marking the map and had reached for his law book when Dean dumped a bag of weapons on his bed.

"You load the shotgun up with salt," Dean told him. "And make sure the bullets in the guns are all silver coated. I think the bullets in them are regular, and some might be empty. And see how we are on holy water. I'm going to check on the car. The brakes were sounding squeaky."

Sam let out a heavy breath, but Dean was already headed for the door. Man, when did Dean decide that he was the one in charge?

Sam reached for the bag, but he glanced towards the clock. It was only six o'clock, and would be dark in an hour. Dean would be out for a while, and Sam knew he could clean the weapons late into the night while Dean watched TV or something.

Sam leaned back on his bed and started reading. He was in the middle of the convertibility of the legislative and the sovereign authority chapter, when he heard Dean's boots on the walkway outside. Sam hastily closed his book and grabbed for the top gun in the bag.

"Whew," Dean came in, wiping his hands with a wet paper towel, "got her fixed up right. You finished yet?"

"Yeah, sure," Sam said hastily. "Just give me a few more minutes."

"Sure," Dean headed for the bathroom. "I'm going to get this crap off my hands and we can go eat."

As soon as Dean stepped in the bathroom, Sam grabbed for the silver bullets pouch. The shotgun was already loaded, and he could grab the silver tips arrows when they got there, but the guns had to be loaded. He got one of the four guns loaded with silver bullets when Dean stepped out of the bathroom.

"You ready?"

"Sure," Sam tucked the guns in the bag.

"What's taking you so long?" Dean asked as he grabbed his coat and held the door open.

"Nothing," Sam stepped out on the second floor walkway. "I was just shining the guns up while I was at it."

"Ha," Dean gave a laugh, "you remember that time Dad made up shine all his guns?"

"Which time?" Sam grumbled.

"Yeah, it seemed like every Saturday, he sit us down to breakfast and say, 'Right, boys, time to clean the guns.' I used to wish he'd gone on a hunt just so we wouldn't have to clean the dang things."

"Yeah," Sam said shortly.


It was past midnight when they got back, and Dean stripped down to boxers and a tee shirt and fell into bed.

Sam waited a few seconds and then softly reached for the weapons bag.

"Leave that alone," Dean said without opening his eyes. "They're clean enough. Go to sleep."

As Sam climbed into bed, he hoped Dean might go out for coffee the next morning, long enough for Sam to pull everything together.


But the next morning, Dean sent Sam down to get coffee and doughnuts from the lounge, and Sam came back with only one cup of coffee.

"Sorry," Sam apologized. "Got distracted. You have this coffee, and I'll get you another."

"Did you already drink out of it?" Dean asked.

"Yeah," Sam said on his way to the door, "but it tastes fine."

Sam came back with more coffee, but no doughnuts, and he had to make another trip down there. Dean swore if Sam came back with jelly-filled doughnuts, Sam was going to be wearing a coffee, jelly-covered shirt for the rest of the day. They managed to get in the car, but they were five miles out when Sam slammed his hands on the dashboard.

"Wait, dude, I left the new map in the hotel."

Dean growled angrily. "Dude, I told you to keep up with the map."

"We can get another one," Sam said, almost sullenly. Dean had to risk the urge to smack him upside the head.

"That's two dollars just wasted. We don't have that much money as it is. Our credit cards are over the limit, and I only have a few hundred left for gas."

"Oh, sure," Sam sneered. "You can spend money on drinks for any hot girl, but I get blamed for losing a stupid map. We don't need it anyway – I know where we're going."

"Fine, we better not get lost," Dean warned.

It was a tense morning in the car. Sam stared resolutely out the window while Dean drove in silence. It was typical, Sam decided, that he got yelled at for his mistake. Dean could have said something, even like a "Dude, got the map?" before they left. But no, Dean was too busy making him go out a hundred times for coffee. Sam wanted to say something about the weapons, but now that Dean was all pissy, he thought he better wait.

"Is that our turn?" Dean suddenly snapped out.

Sam jerked his head towards the road. "Yeah, I think," he said quickly.

They turned onto the road.

Fifteen miles later, Sam realized it was the wrong turn.

"Dean?" he said cautiously.

Dean narrowed his eyes and whipped the car into a U-turn. Luckily it was only a two-lane road with no one else in sight, but Sam still had to brace himself against the dashboard to keep from banging against the door.

"Son of a –" Dean muttered.

"I thought it was the right road," Sam told him.

"Shut up!" Dean ordered. "I'll figure it out."

The sun was setting when they finally reached the campgrounds. The early November air felt cold against Sam's face as he helped Dean unload their gear. In lot 13, police tape was hanging between wooden stakes, clearly showing that something of an ill nature had gone down there. A guy had been hacked at by a spirit welding an axe, if Sam remembered right. The guy had survived, was still in the hospital with stitches, but the police had marked off the lot anyway. Other campers had decided to take no chances, and there was not one RV or trailer nearby.

"Let's get to work," Dean swung the bag of weapons out. "The spirit attacked at eleven-thirty at night so I'm guessing that's when it will come again. I'm going to set out the ritual stuff, you go get us some food."

He flung the car keys at Sam.

"I can do the stuff here," Sam objected.

"No, this might be an Indian spirit."

"It's Native American," Sam corrected.

"Fine, but Dad taught me the spell while you were yucking it up at college. And by that I mean buried in a corner of the library. So food – now."

By the time Sam came back with two bags of food and drinks, the campground was completely dark. Dean seemed to be having trouble with the spell.

"We need more holy water," Dean snarled as Sam got out of the car. "I asked you about it last night. Were you paying attention last night?"

"I thought we had enough," Sam looked away

"Like a spoonful maybe," Dean said tightly. "If I had known we were so low, I'd have stopped by a church to get more. Man, were you even listening to me?"

"Yeah, guess I was busy cleaning all the guns," Sam snapped back. He dropped the bag of food on Dean's lap and stomped over to a nearby picnic bench to eat.

Dean didn't eat up, just started eating sitting right there on the ground.   

As Sam crunched on his cold chicken sandwich, he felt his heartbeat start to rise. He should have told Dean earlier about the weapons. Back at the hotel in the morning, Dean would have been pissed, but he would have made Sam straightened the weapons out on the trip to the campgrounds, and Dean would have been fine by now. Instead, they were at the sight of the haunting, and the weapons still weren't ready.

Sam looked at his watch. It was almost 10:30. He had to tell Dean. Yeah, Dean would be furious at Sam for goofing off and cutting it this close, but they still had an hour.

"Dean?" Sam began.

The wind suddenly whipped up. It tore through the camp sight, blowing the paper napkins of the table. Dean jumped up, sending the rest of his hamburger tumbled to the ground. The wind kept howling, blowing leaves across Lot 13.

"It's too early," Dean yelled. "We still have an hour."

"Wait," Sam ran into the lot, still clutching his sandwich. "The guy was here three weeks ago? Dude, that was before Daylight Saving."

"Daylight Savings?" Dean roared as if he had never heard of the concept. "But that would mean the ghost would come at twelve-thirty!"

"No," Sam shook his head. "In the fall you fall back – eleven-thirty is the new ten-thirty."

"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," Dean yelled over the thrashing wind.

"Well, maybe we should stop and explain it to the spirit?" Sam said sarcastically. "Ask him to come back in an hour?"

Dean growled and lunged for the bag of weapons.

The wind suddenly died, and the lot fell silent. Dean had one gun in his hand, and he looked at Sam and looked around uneasily. Sam hated when things went quiet, and he took a step towards his brother.

And then they saw her – a pale silvery woman standing at the edge of the lot. She was dressed in a tee shirt and shorts that glowed along with the rest of her body. She was pretty except that for the huge gash in her throat that gushed dark silver blood down her shirt.

"Hey," Dean straightened slowly. "What – what's up?"

She stared at the both of them, her eyes round and huge. "Who are you?" she whispered.

Sam felt his skin crawl at the coldness in her voice, the chill in her eyes.

"We're campers?" Dean suggested.

"Where's my husband?" the ghost asked, her face pitiful. "Where is he? I came out here to camp with him. I didn't think he would come – I thought he was going to leave me. He was having an affair, but he wanted to come out here. We were going to stay for the weekend. He had cooked supper, and I wanted to lie out and watch the stars. He said that was fine. And then he took up the hatchet."

The woman put her hand out, and a hatchet appeared in her hand.

Sam stepped closer to Dean.

"Where is my husband?" the woman growled. She wrapped both hands around the hatchet. "You're hiding him. I want him to see what he did to my clothes, what he did to my neck."

"Sam, take the guns," Dean tossed him two pistols.

"Where is he?" she started for them.

Dean aimed the shotgun and fired. The gun roared out an explosion, but the buck shot passed through the ghost and she kept coming.

"What?" Dean blinked. "Is – is there salt in here? Sam?

"I can explain," Sam began.

Dean looked at him – that unbelieving "Oh, you have screwed up so bad now" stare. "Fine! Just shoot her with the silver and I'll start the ritual."

Sam swallowed and pulled the trigger of one of the guns. The trigger clinked on an empty chamber.

"The guns are loaded?" Dean bellowed.

"One is!" Sam yelled. "I loaded one."

All shooting and yelling had only served to infuriate the ghost further.

"You did this!" she screamed at them. "Let's see if you like getting your clothes dirty and your neck messed up."

She ran for them.

Dean scrambled for the holy water, but then he abandoned it and grabbed Sam's arm. "Come on!"

They began running. Sam tried to move as fast as he could, but couldn't help looking back to see how close she was. The sight was terrifying. What had once been a pretty young woman had turned into a murderous ghost with a hatchet and an expression of absolute rage.

"You did this!" she screamed. "You killed me."

She swung the axe. Sam felt the blade rip through the sleeve of his jacket. He kept running, his shoes pounding on the dirt of the campsite.

"Keep moving," Dean hollered from a few feet in front of him. "Move!"

Sam reached the edge of the lot. Dean jumped over the police tape, and Sam tried to jump as well. But his feet got tangled in the plastic tape and he fell to the ground.

"Sam!" Dean yelled, whirling around.

Sam rolled onto his back and looked up in horror as the ghost close in on him. Her wound was gushing blood, and she was terrifying as she ran close, raising the hatchet about her head. She screamed, ready to hack Sam to pieces.

And then she hit the edge of Lot 13 and disappeared.

For a few seconds, Sam lay on the ground, and the only sound was his harsh breathing and his thudding heartbeat in his ears. The wind had died to a light breeze that tossed around a few dead leaves.

Sam pushed himself up to his feet and made a movement to get back in the lot to retrieve the weapons.

"Leave them!" Dean ordered angrily. "Get your ass in the car."

"But Dean –"

"Get in the car," Dean ordered, his voice flat and cold.

Sam immediately turned and headed for the Impala. He got in and closed the door, swallowing nervously.

A moment later, Dean wrenched open the door and got in. He slammed the door, jammed the key into the ignition, and started the car, staring ahead in angry frustration.
The ride out of the camp was filled with grim silence, and Sam kept gazing down at his hands, wishing he had the nerve to say something. Usually, he had no problem telling Dean how he felt, but now Sam felt like they were children again and somehow Dean had become a mix of Dean and Dad.

Dean gripped the wheel so tight Sam could see his knuckles protruding out of his skin, white and hard. Dean pulled into the parking lot of a cheap motel and jerked the car to halt, killing the engine.

"Stay here," he ordered Sam.

Sam watched as Dean marched up to the hotel office. The Impala felt cold and silent as Sam waited alone. He wasn't quite sure what had happened. He hadn't meant to fool around like he did, and he wished he could blame his inattention on something. Too many cases in a row, too much pressure, too many days traveling, but the truth was they hadn't had that hard a work load. The whole mess with Bella had been annoying, and the Rabbit's Foot had been scary there for a few hours, but not enough to make a good excuse for fooling around. At least not a good enough excuse for Dean. Dean might play around to all hours of the night, but when it came to work, he was all business. Probably something he had gotten from Dad, Sam figured.

The hotel door swung open, and Dean marched out, a room key clutched in his hand. Sam sunk a little farther down in his seat and hoped he might disappear into the old leather.

Without a word, Dean started the car, drove to an obscure corner of the dingy parking lot, and killed the engine again.

"Get out," he ordered in a clipped voice. "Just bring your duffel bag."

Sam did so and followed Dean up a set of rickety iron stairs. The hotel room itself looked tired and worn-out, but clean enough.

Dean shut and locked the door before dropping his own bag.

"Okay," he said, turning towards Sam with crossed arms, "let's talk about this, shall we? We both had jobs to do last night – mine was fixing the car while yours was getting the weapons ready. Right?"

"Yeah, but . . ." Sam trailed off.

"But what?" Dean raised his eyebrows. "You didn't like your job? You could have switched with me, but I thought the weapons would be easier than dealing with the car. You could have said something."

"I know," Sam admitted.

"And then I wanted to go out – why didn't you say something then?"

"I don't know," Sam confessed, not able to look Dean in the eye.

"I don't believe you," Dean declared. "You were going to let us go fight this thing without any weapons?"

"I was about to say something," Sam admitted. "But then she came an hour early."

"Dude, what is this about?" Dean asked bluntly. "Are you mad at me about something?"

"What! No!" Sam protested.

"Well, then what?" Dean held his arms out. "Why would you do something like this? Yeah, we've been caught unprepared before, but not like this. Before, it's been things we can't control or the spirit changes and we have to deal with it."

"I just got distracted last night," Sam admitted. "I was reading and you came in, and I knew would be all mad so –"

"You were reading?" Dean grew very quiet and foreboding. "What were you reading?"

"Just stuff," Sam said evasively.

"Sam, you show me this minute," Dean ordered.

Sammy gulped, but he reached for his bag and slowly pulled out the law book.
Dean glared at the book as if were responsible for every problem they had ever had. He took it and weighed it in his hand, still glowering.

"This is will do," Dean decided. "Over the bed, Sammy, front down."

"What" Sam was incredulous.

"Dude, I am so angry at you," Dean told him. "I'm going to pound some sense into you, and I swear if you don't get down on the bed this second, I bloody your nose first and then you'll get blood all over the spread and that will make me even madder."

"You're psychotic," Sam declared as he flopped down on the bed with a huff. "You are not going to – ow! Dean!"

Dean raised the book to wallop him again, and he slammed the door with such force that Sam actually grabbed the spread.

"Dean, you can't do this," Sam pleaded. "It not – ow, dude! – it's wrong."

"Doesn't matter," Dean whacked him again. "I'm going to hell anyway."

"Dean!" Sam howled, more out of emotional anguish than physical.

"Yeah, you think about that and you try to keep my ass safe while I still have time," Dean retorted. "And I never, ever want you to do something so stupid again. When we're on a case, you pay attention. You want to read, you do it in your off time."

"Okay, okay," Sam agreed.

Dean slammed the book down on his rear twenty more times. Sam grunted with each wallop, trying not to cry out. It was the most humiliating thing he had ever endured, and it hurt, too. The moments of silence between wallops were the worst, and Sam would picture Dean raising the book before he brought it down again with much more strength than Sam would have ever liked.

It wasn't the first time Dean had spanked him, but the last time they had been eighteen and fourteen, and Sam admitted what he did then had been stupid and he deserved the whipping Dean gave him. But now twenty-eight and twenty-four, definitely mortifying beyond words. And the fact that Sam knew he deserved it made the punishment even worse.

Finally, Dean threw the book down on the bed.

Sam took a shaky breath before pushing himself up off the bed. Ten years ago, he had bawled like a baby, but now he felt tears stinging his eyes without falling. He ran a shaky hand over his face and gulped down some air, not able to look at Dean.

"Okay," Dean announced, "that's over. Now you get your ass down to the car and bring up the weapons. You're going to load and shine the guns, and then we're going to have a discussion about why we pay attention during hunts. And then you're going to bed while I go find more holy water. And tomorrow night we go back and do – it – right." On the last three words, Dean pointed his finger at Sam, and Sam nodded emphatically.

"Good," Dean decided. "Then get going."


Sam watched as the wind died, and the last bit of ghostly glow disappeared. Right as they laid the ghost to rest, Sam could see an expression of peace on her face, as if she were glad to finally get some rest.

"Easy as pie," Dean noted as he began to gather up his weapons. "Speaking of which, let's go get some."

"Fine," Same mumbled, scuffing his toe in the dirt.

"Dude, don't even think about pouting."

"You hit me, and I'm pouting?" Sam protested. "You're such a jerk."

"And you're bitch, but I'm still going to keep you," Dean smiled as he headed to the car. "Tomorrow we're riding to the eastern sea coast. Got wind of a ghost ship. Sound fun?"

"Sure," Sam mumbled as they got into the car.

"And you can read all you like on the way there," Dean announced, sounding as if he were giving Sam a very special treat.

"Oh, thanks," Sam said. "I'll never be able to look at the book again after what you did, but thanks anyway."

"Yeah, you will," Dean grinned as he pulled the car out of the dark campsite. "Nothing can stop you from reading. But I swear, you read during a hunt and get distracted – the book is going right out the window. And you, too, maybe."

Sam wanted to pout, but instead he smiled and leaned back to wait the dark sky as the Impala sped along the dark highway. His rear still throbbed the littlest bit, but he felt at peace, glad to bask in the quiet as Dean kept driving and Sam could sleep.

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