She wasn't happy. There was no other explanation for the way she watched them wearily while holding her son tightly in her arms. The kid, not quite five yet, clung to his mother in turn, making it obvious to Sam that she had drummed fear of strangers into him.

Angelina Banks sat on the backseat, a worn backpack beside her, her son on her lap, and her body language was consistent with mistrust and fear. Her shoulders were hunched, her head bowed a little, and she never took her eyes off either of them.

Sam tried a tentative smile, which she didn't return, and then returned his attention to the road ahead of them. A quick glance at Dean told him that his brother was affected by the mood in the car, and he couldn't blame him. They could do little more to reassure Mrs. Banks of their good intentions at this point, and she obviously didn't trust them that much yet.

It had to have been a leap of faith for her to get in the car with them and Sam had realized that her claim that she was armed wasn't a lie. She had a gun tugged into the waistline of her jeans behind her back and a slight bulge around her left ankle indicated a knife or maybe a mini revolver of some sort. Her duffle, which now resided in the trunk with theirs, had been pretty damned heavy and the feel of a rifle had given Sam a pretty good idea of how serious she was. She might not look like the type of woman who would draw a gun on you, but he had no doubts that she wouldn't hesitate if it meant protecting her son from harm.

Sam sent another brief look to the backseat and briefly met her eyes. "So ... how long have you been on the move?" he asked. Conversation was needed right now, even if it was superficial and told them nothing about her. With the weariness she displayed, it was almost a given that she wouldn't open up to them just yet.

Angelina eyed him, then glanced at Dean and made a face. "A while," she said.

"Since I was three," Sean quipped in and shifted a little on his mother's lap to face Sam.

"And you're how old now?" Sam asked. Angelina had told them that Sean wasn't quite five yet, but it seemed more likely that communication would commence through the kid right now.

"Almost five," Sean replied and frowned as if he wasn't quite sure that was true. Then he glanced at his mother, who nodded vaguely.

The fact that she didn't discourage Sean from talking to Sam was a step forward and it spoke volumes of the support she offered her son. There was no old-school discipline here, just a mother who cared about her son.

Topics to discuss with the kid were quickly exhausted. It wasn't like Sean had any friends to talk about or kindergarten class or any such thing. He wondered briefly what Angelina was going to do once Sean got old enough to attend school.

He focused on Angelina. "So, you've been on the move for almost two years?"

She nodded once. "This Christmas, it will be two years," she confirmed. A shudder rippled through her and she tightened her grip a little on Sean.

"Ow, mom. Too tight," Sean complained and wiggled out of her grasp. She let him go, let him climb over the backpack and onto the free part of the backseat, where he settled himself down before opening the backpack and rummaging through it. After a second he retrieved a pad and a bunch of pens tied together with a rubber band. He studied the pens closely for a moment, pulled one out, pulled the cap off it and tried it out on the first page. He eyed the results for a second, then glanced at his mother. "Need a new one," he said and held the pen out to her.

Angelina smiled vaguely. "We'll get one for you the next time we stop," she said, took the pen and put the cap back on it.

"'kay," Sean said, pulled another pen out of the bunch and started drawing.

Sam had shifted around a little and watched him quietly while thoughts of his own childhood tumbled through his head. The dynamic between Angelina and Sean was a world apart from what he had lived with back then. With a good memory for detail, he recalled a lot of things that others might have forgotten long ago, and one thing that constantly stood out throughout the years they had spent on the road, moving from one shabby motel to the next, never staying long enough for it to matter, was the fact that his father had always been distant.

For many years Sam had seen it for what it was, that losing his wife that way had entitled dad to be preoccupied, obsessed about finding the thing that had killed her and had sent them out on the road. But now he was beginning to feel that nagging doubt again that his father with his obsessive behavior and at times near ignorance for his sons well-being couldn't really be justified. Angelina had lost her husband in a manner that made the hairs on the back of Sam's neck stand on edge. He could only assume that she had seen the body afterwards, that she had fled maybe because what had done the deed had still been there. Yet from the little Sam had seen of Sean so far, the kid seemed well-adjusted and he quite obviously had his mother's attention and affection. It didn't look like he had lost that innocence that Sam sometimes missed so badly.

And it made Sam wonder if things would have been different for Dean and himself if their mother had been the survivor twenty-three years ago. Would she have left in search of her husband's killer, dragging them along much like dad had? Or would she have stayed, rebuilt, pretended nothing had happened?

"Where are we heading?"

Angelina's question broke his reverie and he briefly met her eyes again, then glanced at Dean. "Any idea?" he asked.

"Just away," Dean countered. "We might swing by that place in Texas and take a look at that haunting," he added and glanced at Sam. Having found Angelina and her son had obviously shifted Dean's priorities back toward the neglected hunt.

"Haunting?" Angelina asked and glanced from Sam to Dean and back again. "What exactly do you guys do for a living? I can't imagine you drive around the country, saving damsels in distress every day."

Dean smirked and Sam made a face. "No, not really. We hunt supernatural things, put as many of them out of their misery as we can," Dean said and sent a quick glance toward the backseat.

"Supernatural things?" Angelina sounded doubtful. "Like what? Ghosts?"

"Among other things, yeah," Dean agreed. "There's an old brick factory close to San Angelo that's haunted. Thought we'd go down and take a look at it. Hauntings are usually pretty easy to deal with."

Angelina obviously had nothing to say to that. She frowned lightly, then reached over and brushed her fingers through Sean's mop of dark hair. "Is it dangerous?" she suddenly asked and looked up to meet Sam's eyes.

"Can be," Sam said truthfully. "But you don't need to get involved. We'll find a motel and you two can stay there while we take care of the haunting."

She eyed him for a moment. "I wouldn't want to get involved," she said and glanced at Sean again.

"You shouldn't. Hauntings can get pretty nasty," Dean agreed. "Are you okay with this or would you rather keep moving?"

It took her a moment to come up with a reply to that one. She stared ahead of herself for a few seconds, then glanced at Dean. "I'd rather stop moving altogether," she said, then smirked halfheartedly. "Your choice," she added. "We'll just ... tag along."

"Texas it is then," Dean said. "You guys hungry?"

Sam considered that for a moment. "I could eat," he said and glanced back at Angelina. "How about you two?"

Angelina gave a half-nod. Sean frowned and looked up at Sam, then he grinned and nodded. "Burgers?" he asked hopefully.

"What kind of burgers would you like?" Dean asked and glanced in the rearview mirror, a grin curling his lips.

Sean considered that for a moment, then glanced down at his drawing. "A big one," he then said and glanced hopefully at his mother. "And fries."

This drew the first real smile from Angelina, who again reached out to ruffle Sean's hair. "And fries," she agreed.

"Can I have a coke too?" Sean asked, obviously intent on pushing his luck.

"You get hyper from coke. No coke," Angelina said, her tone mellow yet firm.

"Aw mom," Sean whined.

"No whining," Angelina said quietly.

Sean eyed her for a moment, then made a face and returned his attention to his drawing. "I never get to do anything," he muttered under his breath. "Man," he added and glanced at his mother.

Angelina just watched him silently.

Sam couldn't help a smirk. That sounded so familiar. What was missing though, was the gruff demand for silence. Angelina's way of handling her son's obstinance was quite different from the barked commands Sam had been used to as a kid. A glance at Dean told him his brother was paying attention to the road and Sam couldn't help wondering if Dean was drawing parallels as well. If anything, Sean was more like Dean had been as a kid from what Sam remembered.

Ten minutes later they pulled in at a diner along the way and Sean seemed to have forgotten all his previous misgivings about being around strangers. Kids that age usually took to others very quickly or not at all. And Sean's acceptance of the two of them seemed to put Angelina's concerns to rest a bit.


Dean opened the door for the lot of them and held it open until everybody was inside. True to his upbringing, he quickly scanned the diner, taking in everybody in it and marking any possible escape routes in his head.

Sam headed toward an empty booth and Angelina and Sean fallowed him. Dean took up the rear, keeping an eye out for unwanted attention from any of the patrons before sliding onto the bench next to his brother.

Sean had already grabbed a menu and was making faces at it, displaying the relatively carefree attitude a kid his age should have. Sam had been wound tighter than this at that age, but not too much. A quick glance at Sam made Dean smirk. He was watching Sean with a slight frown furrowing his brow, probably trying to make sense of what was going through the kid's head right now.

"What'll it be?"

Dean glanced up at the waitress and gave her a broad grin. She was old enough to be his grandmother, but she had a twinkle in her eye and her attention was solely on Sam right now. With a cocked eyebrow, Dean glanced back at his brother, who was still watching Sean, and couldn't for the life of him understand why old women were so attracted to Sam. "Uh ... give us a moment," he said and glanced quickly at her name tag, "Gretchen," he added and subdued a smirk.

"Sure thing, sugar," she said, dropped the pad she was holding back into the pocket of her apron and moved on to the next table.

Dean elbowed Sam in the side. "You got yourself another admirer," he said with a grin on his lips.

Sam gave him a frown for his trouble, then glanced in the direction of the waitress before his expression scrunched up and he ducked his head.

Angelina watched the exchange but said nothing and Dean started wondering about her. So far, his attention had been mainly on the kid and the odd influence the four year old had on him. Now that he had them both under his protective wing though, he focused more on the mother. Angelina struck him as being about his age, maybe a bit older, but her eyes were ancient. She had seen too much, suffered too much already, and he wondered if others saw the same in his eyes.

To distract his own attention away from this somewhat macabre line of thought, Dean focused on the kid again, who was continuously making faces at the menu. For a moment Dean wondered what he got out of doing that, but he figured the kid was just letting off steam in the only way he knew how; by being silly. At that moment Dean made the decision that he was going to take this kid out for some fun as soon as Angelina trusted him enough to leave him alone with Sean. Something told Dean that Sean B at least in temperament B was much like himself. And that would mean this kid needed to do more than toss the occasional football around with other kids he didn't even know.

Suddenly he became aware of the way Angelina was staring at him, at the suspicion, the concern and the silent threat that lay in her gaze. 'Put one toe out of line with my kid and you're dead', her eyes seemed to say and he had no doubt whatsoever that she meant it too. Although she wasn't exactly petite, she didn't look strong and that B like Sam's puppy dog eyes B had to be a definite advantage in a fight.

He gave her what he hoped was a disarming smile, then grabbed a menu himself and glanced over the selection of mouth-watering dishes this place had to offer. "How about a sloppy-burger, dude?" he asked and jabbed an elbow into Sam's ribs.

Sam jerked away from him and gave him a sour glance. "I'll stick with a salad," he countered and made a face. "And some fries."

Dean grinned. "That's my boy," he said.

Sean eyed him critically across the table. "What's a sloppy-burger?" he asked.

"Something that swims in its own fat," Sam said before Dean could reply. "Really disgusting. You don't wanna eat that."

"Hey!" Dean exclaimed indignantly. "It is not that bad. It's really tasty."

"Bu..." Sam stopped and made a face. "Not true," he corrected himself. "It's gross."

Angelina eyed him for a moment. "Sean knows every swear word in the book," she said. "And he's made up a few himself too. You don't have to watch your mouth around him. He'll think you're hysterical if you curse."

The way Sean glanced between his mother and Sam was hilarious in its own right. Dean could just tell that this kid was gearing up for trouble, that if he didn't get to blow off some steam soon he'd implode with all that pent-up energy.

"I gotta pee," Sean suddenly said.

"You're gonna have to use the girl's bathroom then," Angelina said with a sigh and shifted to get up.

Dean was quick to interrupt. "Hey, no need to put him through that. I'll take him," he said and got up.

Angelina eyed him suspiciously for a moment. "No, that's alright," she said.

"Oh, come on. You can keep my brother as collateral," Dean said. "Besides, do you have any idea how embarrassing it is for a kid his age to have to go to the little girl's room?"

Under other circumstances, Angelina's expression would probably have been funny, but since Dean knew what lay behind her apprehension, he instantly opted not to make fun of her. He needed to gain her trust first before he could start pushing that limit.

"It's okay, Angelina. He practically raised me," Sam interjected.

She glanced at Sam, then back at Dean.

"Mom! I gotta go!" Sean insisted while shifting almost anxiously around on the seat.

"Okay, fine," she said and got up to let Sean out. She wasn't happy about it, but Dean aimed at making her realize that she was worried about nothing.

"Come on, sport," he said and held a hand out to Sean, who took it instantly and hopped along beside him while they made their way to the bathrooms.


Sam watched Angelina when she settled back down on the very edge of the bench, her eyes never leaving the corner of the diner where the bathrooms were.

"You can trust Dean with kids. He's good around kids," he tried, somehow hoping to break the lacking trust barrier between them a little.

Angelina flinched lightly and glanced at him. "No offense, Sam, but I don't know you guys. I still don't know if I can trust you and I've still got doubts about whether I should have come with you in the first place."

"I don't blame you. With what you've been through, it must be tough to trust anyone," Sam agreed.

"What do you know about what I've been through?" she asked, her eyes narrowed a little while she inspected him.

She was actually pretty despite the almost frazzled look she had about her. Her eyes were as dark as Sean's, her hair a few tones lighter. She didn't do much about her appearance, but obviously that would be the last thing on her mind if she felt she was being followed.

"Well ... we did check up on you and found out about your husband," Sam said and glanced back toward the corner where the bathrooms were. "Does he know? Sean, I mean?"

"Does he know that his father is dead?" Angelina asked. "Of course he does. But he doesn't know how and there's no need to tell him about that just yet. He'll find out when he's older. Until then, he just knows that his daddy went to Heaven and that we're on a road trip to get away from the memories."

Sam nodded lightly. "What exactly happened to your husband? Do you know?"

Angelina made a face and looked out the window at the busy street. She considered his question for a moment, the look in her eyes dark and pained. "Up until the day Jordan died ... I didn't believe in much of anything. Didn't think there were monsters out there. Didn't believe in God or the devil." She shook her head lightly, then returned her attention to Sam, meeting his gaze dead on. "I know monsters are real," she said quietly. "Because I've seen them. Both in human guise and whatever other shapes they've presented. But I still don't believe in God. You wanna know why?"

Sam nodded once but said nothing. He believed he knew what came next.

"I've never seen God. I've never seen anything that would convince me there was a God. I've been called a hypocrite because I married a Minister, you know. My mother was all over me for that one, said I was insane to marry faith when I didn't have any. But that's not why ..." She trailed off and shook her head again, dropping her gaze to the tabletop.

"That's not why you married your husband?" Sam asked, urging her to talk. She obviously needed it.

She shook her head lightly. "No, I married Jordan because he was a kind man, because I loved him and I still do. And he accepted that I didn't share his faith, just like I accepted that he pursued it so strongly. Our marriage had nothing to do with his occupation," she said and sighed, then glanced over toward the bathrooms again.

A second later Sean came barreling back to the table, ducked under it and climbed up on the bench next to his mother. "Motor mouth," he said and giggled delightedly.

A moment later, Dean followed and flopped back down on the seat next to Sam. "That kid can talk an ear off," he said.

"Sounds a bit like you," Sam countered offhandedly.

Dean muttered something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like 'shut up' before he eyed the empty table. "You didn't order yet?"

"No, we were waiting for you two to come back," Sam said and settled into the corner between bench and wall.

"Motor mouth," Sean repeated, obviously having taken a liking to the expression.

Angelina eyed him for a moment. "Why do you keep saying that?" she asked.

"That's what he calls me," Sean said and nodded in Dean's direction.

"He has a name," Angelina said.

Sean puckered up his lips and wrinkled his nose. "That's what Dean calls me," he repeated, correcting himself.

"That's better. And you are," Angelina countered. "Now, what do you want? A junior burger with all the trimmings?"

"Yeah!" Sean exclaimed happily and stabbed a finger onto the menu to indicate what he thought a junior burger was. He was pointing to the biggest burger the place served.

"That one's a bit out of your league, kiddo," Angelina said and glanced around for the waitress, who came shuffling over the second she noted their attention.

"You make up your mind?" she asked.

Sam refrained from showing his dislike for the way she ogled him and pretended to closely study the menu. "I'll have a caesar salad with a side of fries," he then said without looking up. "And a bottle of water."

Dean rolled his eyes. "I'll have the deluxe burger with everything and a beer," he said.

The waitress, Gretchen, turned her attention to Angelina and Sean. "And what about you, young man? The biggest junior burger in the house?" she asked with a smirk.

"Can I, mom? Please?" Sean begged.

"Sounds good," Angelina said. "I'll take an ordinary cheese burger with a side of fries and two bottles of water," she added.

"Gotcha," Gretchen said. "Be about fifteen minutes. We're a bit backed up in here today," she added and shuffled away again.

Sean bounced around on his seat a bit, an indication of both eagerness to get something to eat and a big reserve of pent-up energy.

Angelina slipped a hand behind his neck and he instantly calmed down. She kept looking around the diner, obviously searching for anyone who might mean her son harm, but Sam noticed that her attention as such had shifted away from Dean and himself, which in and off itself had to be good news. She had gone as far as trusting Dean to take care of Sean, even if it had only been for a few minutes, and she had talked to Sam despite her obvious reluctance to open up. It was obvious that she needed to talk, that she probably hadn't been able to share her thoughts about her husband's death with anyone else so far, but Sam also hoped that she had opened up a little because she was beginning to trust them.


Outside San Angelo

After dropping Angelina and Sean off at a motel in the area, Dean and Sam drove out to the old brickworks, which at first glance felt mostly like a ghost town. And the word town was no overstatement either. There were quite a few buildings and they were close together. Dean stopped the Impala in front of what looked like the main building and got out, only to stop moving with one foot still inside the car. Old, yet amazingly well-preserved buildings rose on both sides of them, seemingly leaning in over them in a threatening manner. The overhanging roofs five storeys up nearly blocked out the sunlight.

Sam followed Dean's example and glanced around for a second, then shuddered visibly. "Am I just imagining things or is it downright chilly here?" he asked and glanced at his brother over the roof of the Impala.

"In that case we're both imagining things. This can't be the doing of one ghost," Dean countered and reluctantly pulled his right foot out of the car and placed it somewhat uncertainly on the ground while still holding on to the door. "This is one creepy place," he added.

"You said it," Sam agreed.

"Feels like the entire area is haunted," Dean said and slammed the door.

"Yeah," Sam agreed and zipped up his jacket, then closed his door too and stepped around the back of the car. "What do you think we need on this?"

"Let's find out what this is about first and foremost. Somebody's pretty damned pissed off about something to haunt a place like this." Dean stepped toward the main building and frowned up at it. "Any idea how long this place has been out of business?"

"Sixteen years," came the reply from the direction of the building.

Dean focused on the doorway and found a man in his mid-forties standing there. The guy was tall, burly and looked like he could knock the Hulk on his ass if he chose to. But his eyes spoke a different story. They were mellow, kind.

"You must be the Winchesters," he added, stepped forward and held out a hand the size of a dinner plate.

Dean grabbed it and managed not to flinch when the big guy nearly squashed his. "Yeah, that would be us," he agreed and hid his hand behind his back so he could flex the ache out of it. "I take it Bobby called and said we were coming?"

"That he did," the guy said and nodded to Sam when he stepped closer. "He also called me again and said you weren't coming after all," he added.

"Delayed. We were delayed," Dean said. "I guess he got it wrong."

"Seems like it," the guy said and eyed them both curiously. "You two seem a might young to be in this sort of business," he added.

"Uhm ... well, we were kinda raised in this business," Sam said. "Looks like you've got yourself a bit of a problem here, huh?"

"That's an understatement," the guy said, then smirked. "I'm Haskell, by the way. Peter Haskell. I own this place. Inherited it from my dad, rest his soul."

"Well, Mr. Haskell," Dean said and glanced around, "I don't know what property prices are like down here, but temperature wise we could be in the Northwestern Territories rather than in the middle of Texas. Must be kinda tough to sell this place."

"Yeah, and that's exactly my problem. Two years ago, I decided to level this place and put up some condos. This is a nice area ... well, it would be, if ... you know. We set it all in motion too. The cranes came in, the bulldozers, the whole shebang. And they leveled about half the place in one day. I was rubbing my hands already, looking forward to a nice, easy profit," Haskell said and sighed unhappily. "The next morning the foreman calls me in a panic, says the whole place was back the way it had been the day before. Two of the bulldozers were now inside the buildings they had leveled the previous day."

"Wow," Sam said, sounding surprised. "That ghost means business."

"Yeah, well, whatever the hell it is, it's been a pain in my butt for two years now and I've lost a hell of a lot of money on trying to get this place ready for a sale. We've tried tearing it down three times. The last time the crew managed to level the entire place in one day. The next morning, everything was back in place and this time, all the machinery had been dumped in Fisher Lake. Needless to say, the construction crew wasn't happy. It cost me a bundle to get all those machines hauled out of the lake and after that ... well ... I've kinda decided not to bother. But ... then I remembered Bobby and what he got himself into and I figured I'd give it a shot. So, I sure as hell hope you two can fix this little problem I've got here," Haskell said.

Dean glanced around. "Well, we'll try," he said. "But we need some information. Like who has died on the grounds and who might be likely to haunt it. You said your father is dead?"

"Yeah, and no, he's not haunting this place. He hated it here. He worked his ass off in this factory until he took it over at the tender age of forty. He died five years later, left the whole thing to me when I was ... twenty-two. Two years later, it went out of business. The clay wasn't good enough or some crap like that. I didn't bother too much about it, kinda forgot it was here, but then I got this brilliant idea two years ago and had no frigging clue this place was haunted. Turns out it's been haunted almost since it was built in the late twenties." Haskell shrugged. "Go figure, eh? Nobody seems to have noticed anything before. Maybe the workers here were just used to the spooks or something."

Dean frowned, then nodded. "Could be," he agreed, although he didn't think so. A quick glance at Sam told him his brother shared his opinion.

"Have there been any significant deaths around here?" Sam asked. "Any disgruntled workers who might have come back to haunt this place or something?"

Haskell rubbed his chin for a moment, then made a face. "I don't know. I don't think so. I can't remember hearing about anything like it. Can't you guys just ... perform an exorcism or something?"

Dean glanced at Sam, who glanced back at him with a slight frown furrowing his brow. "Uh ... exorcisms are for possessions, Mr. Haskell. Getting rid of ghosts is usually a bit trickier. We need to find out who it is and put that person to rest once and for all," Sam said.

"Well, in that case you should probably check the local historical society. They might have some info on that. I'm sorry, guys. I'm not being much help here, am I?" Haskell countered and smiled apologetically.

"That's okay. We'll figure it out," Dean countered. "We usually do," he added and glanced at Sam, who met his eyes for a second, then sighed and look away. With the workload distributed, Dean figured he would have a little time to get to know Angelina and Sean while Sam dug through the undoubtably dusty records about this place. The thought made him smirk, which in turn earned him a sour look from Sam.

"Well, I'll leave you to it then. I left my stuff inside, so ... I'll be seeing you around, I guess," Haskell said, tipped two fingers to his brow and disappeared back inside the building.

"What are you going to do while I do the research?" Sam asked tersely.

"What do you think?" Dean countered with a grin, then sent another look back at the main building. "That Haskell guy. Does he seem strange to you?"

"Strange? No, but then again, I'm used to strange, aren't I?" Sam said, his tone full of annoyance.

"Oh, come on, Sammy. You do the geek-thing so much better than me. I don't have the patience for research," Dean said, trying to appease his presently pissed-off brother a bit.

"Oh, you do it just fine when you want to," Sam countered, rolled his eyes and walked back around the car and got in, slamming the door unnecessarily hard.

Dean stared at the car for a moment, then rubbed the back of his neck. Sam had been in a fair mood when they had left the motel and it bothered Dean somewhat that he had changed so radically in such a short time. "Boy, he's pissed," he muttered and got back in the car himself. "What's eating you, Gilbert Grape?" he asked when he slipped the key into the ignition and revved the engine.

"Nothing," Sam growled.

"Right. It's that time of the month again, huh?" he asked and chuckled, attempting to make a joke that fell flat. Sam shot him a nasty look, folded his arms over his chest and settled for sulking. They left the compound again and headed back toward San Angelo and the motel.