The cottage

When the sun hit the horizon, Dean started to worry for real. He had tried calling Sam three times already and had gotten the voice mail every time. Pacing back and forth on the rickety porch of the old, abandoned cottage, he glared out at the surrounding area. "God dammit, Sam," he growled. "Where the hell are you?" Even though he would be very hard pressed to ever admit that, running into hunters that knew Gordon Walker put him on edge. And sending Sam out on his own when those bastards were about was not his idea of a fun time.

A sudden sound caught his attention and he listened a little harder for a moment, then let out a sigh. The characteristic rumble of the Impala's engine was a welcome sound, but he sure as hell wasn't going to let Sam off easy for worrying him and not answering his phone.

Sam had barely stopped the car before Dean was off the porch. "God dammit, Sam! Where the hell were you?" he snapped the second the driver side door opened.

Sam blinked, then frowned. "I had a bit of a problem getting out of town again," he said and got out. "That guy from the motel turned up in the same damned store I went to to pick up the sleeping bags."

Dean's response to that was a quick visual inspection of his brother. There were no visible bruises or wounds, which did ease the tension a bit. It generally meant that Sam had gotten away without being made. "And it took you five hours to get back here?"

"Three. And I had to make sure they weren't following me," Sam countered, opened the backdoor and hauled the purchases out. He shoved the sleeping bags into Dean's arms.

"Well, what happened to leaving your damned phone on?" Dean snapped.

With a frown, Sam hauled his phone out of one pocket and then made a face. "Sorry," he said and gave Dean a sheepish smile. "I forgot to charge it."

"You forgot?" Dean huffed. "Dammit, Sam, we have a crazy hunter on our tail and you forget to charge your phone?" He ground his teeth against the rising surge of anger. "I'd slap you upside the head if I didn't have my arms full of this ... what the hell is all this?"

"Necessities," Sam countered and made a face, then slammed the backdoor of the Impala after retrieving a couple of bags.

"Everything alright, guys?"

Angelina's voice settled Dean's anger a little, but he still felt like punching Sam for being so careless. "Yeah, everything's fine. Just hauling him through the wringer for being late," he said, keeping his voice steely to make Sam understand he'd messed up.

Sam pursed his lips and avoided looking at Dean.

They went inside and Sean instantly took an interest in the bags, rooting through them with an ardor which Dean was hard pressed to ignore and not smile about.

"Look, guys, I don't think we should stay anywhere near San Angelo," Sam said and turned back to face them.

Dean frowned. "You shook them off, didn't you?" he asked.

"Yeah, but I got the impression that they're not going to go away easy, Dean," Sam countered. "I overheard them talking ..." He trailed off and glanced at Sean.

Angelina made no move to tell her son to go outside and just watched Sam with a slight frown furrowing her brow.

"And?" Dean asked.

Sam sighed. "They're ... after both of us."

Dean made a face. "This sucks out loud," he growled.

Sean giggled at that, but neither Sam nor Angelina seemed to think this was funny at all. "That's one way of putting it," Sam said and glanced at Sean, who was now watching them, obviously hoping for some other funny phrases he would most likely use against them at a later point.

Dean briefly met his eyes, going for a grin which froze. The reflection in his eyes made Dean pull his gun and turn in one smooth go.

To her credit, Angelina's response to this was to dive for her son and yank him to the floor with her when the windows on either side of the door were shattered and someone opened fire on them.

Sam and Dean hit the floor at the same time and opened fire on the two men outside. Dean, who had hit the floor on his back, reared up while firing and knew that was a mistake the second his gun clicked empty. The guy on the other side of the window he was aiming at grinned wickedly and fired at him.

Dean jerked sideways away from his aim and thereby avoided being shot in the head. The bullet instead slammed into his left shoulder, knocking him back down on the floor.

"DEAN!" Sam roared.

With an effort, Dean reloaded and opened fire on the guy again, who withdrew from the window.

The retreat of the shooters gave them a moment of reprieve. Sam got up on his knees, gun trained on the other window, breathing hard. "Shit," he hissed.

Dean struggled to sit up, the flaring pain from the bullet wound making it hard for him to move properly. But there was no doubt in his mind that these two bastards were still out there, getting ready for another assault. "Did you hit him?" he asked, not even glancing at Sam.

"Don't think so," Sam pressed out through clenched teeth. "You okay?"

"Not even close," Dean growled. "I'm royally pissed off right now." He grunted with the effort it was to get up and struggled to get his feet under him while trying to not jostle his shoulder.

A quick glance back told him that Angelina was still on the floor, covering Sean with her body. "Stay down. We'll take care of them," he said.

Sam had risen in the meantime and had approached the shattered window. With his back against the wall next to the window, he was listening intently to the outside.

Grinding his teeth together to keep the pain at bay, Dean made his way over to the other window when Sam suddenly pushed away from the wall, turned halfway and fired. This was followed by a yelp and a thud.

"Good shot," Dean ground out. The second he moved his attention away from the shattered window he knew it was a mistake, but the pain clouded his judgement and when the goon out there fired again, this time at close range, Dean generally felt like someone had driven a red hot poker through his shoulder.

The shot propelled him backward a few steps where after he lost his balance and hit the floor hard enough to rattle his teeth. And it did nothing for the two bullet wounds in his shoulder. It was his luck that the guy out there wasn't such a good shot. At this distance, he should have been able to put a bullet in Dean's head with no problem at all.

Sam jumped out the window on the other side and opened fire on the shooter. The return fire out there was harsh, but since Sam didn't cry out at any point, Dean could only assume that he hadn't been hit yet.

A brief silence followed, then some wood splintered, which again was followed by running footsteps and more shots.

Dean just lay there, trying to pull himself together to get up again to rejoin the fight. He assumed that Sam had hit one of them and that his little brother was hot on the trail of the second one right now, and Dean knew he should get up, should be out there with him to hunt down that scumbag, but the pain was paralyzing him and after a moment he realized that his consciousness was drifting in and out because the fading sounds from outside seemed to wave in and out all the time.

***

Sam ran as fast as he could, gun drawn, while he tried desperately to blank out the very real possibility that his brother might be bleeding to death while he chased down this guy.

The guy reached his truck, which he had parked well out of the way, but Sam skittered to a stop, aimed and blew out one tire, then the other one, then aimed the gun at the guy's head. "Don't even think about it," he warned.

But the guy thought about it. He pulled his gun and swirled around and Sam's response was the only one he could muster. He pulled the trigger, and because of what his father had taught him and what Dean had hammered into his head subsequently, Sam's aim didn't waver and he hit the man in the head.

It was a pretty clear-cut scenario. His life had been in jeopardy and from what he knew, this guy had nearly killed his brother too and had been after Sean. The choices had been limited. But it still didn't sit well with Sam to kill a human being, no matter how big a dirtbag this person was. For a long moment, he stared at the limp body on the ground while he slowly got his breathing back under control. Then he glanced around, noting that there was nobody else around, and briefly considered what to do. If this guy was a true hunter, he would have the remedies in his truck, so Sam shoved the gun back into the waistband of his jeans and got to work.

It took less time than he had thought, yet every minute passing by was an agony because he didn't know what was going on with Dean. But an ingrown need to take care of the evidence before moving on kept him in place. He found a canister of gasoline in the back of the truck and doused both the vehicle and the body with it after salting the body. Then he lit a match and dropped it on the corpse, waited a second to make sure it took, and then he turned around and ran back toward the cabin.

***

"Get off me, mom," Sean pressed. "Get off. You're squashing me."

"Stay down, Sean," Angelina hissed.

Dean tilted his head backward and focused on them, on how Sean struggled to get out from under his mother, who was frantically trying to hold him back, and he knew without the shadow of a doubt that Angelina was not going to win this fight.

After a few seconds, she obviously realized this too and let go of Sean, who stayed down on all four and crawled over to Dean. It was only at that moment that Dean realized that this agony he was feeling wasn't going to last long.

Sean didn't ask any questions, didn't hesitate. Instead, he placed both hands over the bullet wounds in Dean's shoulder. The healing process itself was a painful affair and Dean could barely retain a grunt of pain when the bullets were expelled from the wounds and the tissue started to knit back together. But then the pain ebbed away and eventually, there was only the bloodied holes in his shirt and t-shirt left.

With a sigh, Dean let his head drop down on the floor and closed his eyes.

"Are you still alive?" Sean asked tentatively after a moment.

Dean smirked and opened his eyes again. "Yeah, kiddo. Thanks to you," he said and then sat up. Despite the fact that he knew he was healed, he still moved carefully in preparation for the expected pain. His body hadn't quite caught up to the fact that there was no injury any more.

A distant shot rang out which brought Dean to his feet immediately. Before he could rush out the door, though, Angelina grabbed his arm hard. "Where are you going?"

"Sam's out there alone," Dean countered, a little stunned at her question.

"You've just been healed. You're not strong enough yet," Angelina insisted, the concern in her eyes telling him more than her words did. She was scared that he would leave and get shot again, maybe killed this time, and that she and Sean would be left at the mercy of this guy.

"I'm fine," he tried, disengaged his arm from her hand and turned for the door.

"What happens to us if you get killed?" she asked, her voice full of the fear he had seen in her eyes.

"That's my brother out there," he said, forcing himself to remain calm, to not snap at her, and took a step forward, but Angelina grabbed his arm again, stopping him.

"Sam seems capable of looking after himself," she tried.

"And what if he isn't? What if he's hit?" Dean snapped, pulled out of her grip again and reached for the doorknob.

Before he could open the door, though, it opened of its own accord and Sam stepped in, a little out of breath, his expression tense and drawn. When he caught sight of Dean, a frown knitted his brow. "Should you be up and moving?" he asked.

Dean grinned and rubbed his shoulder. "Why shouldn't I?" he asked. "Did you get him?"

Sam nodded, his expression tensing again. "Yeah, I did," he said, then focused on Dean's now uninjured shoulder. Then he glanced at Sean, then at Angelina and back at Dean. But he said nothing and it took Dean a second to figure out what was going on with him.

"Sammy, you had no choice. They would have blown us all away," he tried.

Sam made a face, obviously uncomfortable about what he had just done, and Dean knew from experience that it would take him a bit to get over it.

"Maybe we should ... uhm ... see to the bodies?" Dean asked quietly with a brief glance back at Sean, who was back with his mother.

"I took care of the other guy," Sam said just as quietly. "Let's get the first one in here and torch this place. And then I think we should get the hell out of here, Dean. We should just ... forget the gig and get out of Texas altogether."

Dean frowned. "We can't just blow off the gig, Sam. We promised Bobby we'd look into it and there's obviously something going on out there that needs dealing with."

"Dean, we have no idea how many other hunters that guy called. Two we can handle, but what if there are more coming?" Sam asked, his tone tense.

With a glance back at Angelina, who looked anything but happy right now, Dean had to admit that Sam had a point. But he didn't feel comfortable just taking off like this. He mulled it over for a moment, then arched an eyebrow. "Here's an idea," he said and noted the look Sam gave him. "Why don't we relocate to the factory?"

Sam frowned. "Are you nuts? That's ground zero, man. That would be the first place they'll look," he countered.

"Doubtful, dude," Dean said. "In my experience, that'll be the last place they look. And we can better focus on getting rid of the spook if we're in the thick of things."

His brother eyed him doubtfully and Dean had the distinct impression that Sam thought he'd lost his mind somewhere along the way. Then Sam made a sweeping gesture toward Angelina and Sean. "You want to drag them into a haunted factory with the possibility of a whole bunch of hunters bearing down on us?" he asked, his tone full of stunned surprise.

"Yeah, why not?" Dean countered and grinned smugly. "You don't mind, do you, Angie?" he asked. "We'll get the job done faster and then we can get the hell out of Dodge. What do you say?"

Angelina eyed him in much the same manner that Sam did, but her doubt was not so much based on his mental faculties as on the whole situation. "Uh ... I don't know," she finally said, glanced at Sam, then back at Dean.

"Look, if other hunters turn up, we deal with them. But we promised to take care of this haunting and I don't bail on promises," Dean said. "If you're more comfortable away from here, Sam can take you. I'm sticking around."

Sam's expression instantly tensed. "You are nuts, you know that? There is no way that I'm letting you go up against this ... ghost on your own."

"Then stop bitching and let's get the stuff in the car," Dean countered, grabbed a few things and headed for the door. He was fully aware of Sam's expression and what he might be thinking, but Dean didn't care right now. He felt exhilarated, the adrenaline rush from being shot running rampant inside him. Since he didn't need it to subdue pain and get better any more, it was turning into a ride more than anything and right now, nothing could touch him. That Sean thought he was funny also increased his urge to be rebellious. The kid giggled delightedly while Sam started muttering under his breath and followed Dean's example.

***

Something about Dean's idea freaked Sam out. He couldn't really pinpoint what it was until they rolled onto the compound of the old brick factory and the sensation he'd experienced the first time hit him again.

To assure himself that he wasn't the only one, he first glanced at Dean, noting his grim expression, and then back at Angelina and Sean, who both looked out at the surrounding buildings with no sign of enthusiasm.

"Are you sure this place is safe?" Angelina asked while never taking her eyes off the looming brickworks buildings outside.

"Nothing's completely safe," Dean said and even he sounded subdued. "But we'll be a hell of a lot safer here than where we were," he added, pulled the Impala around the side of the building and cut the engine.

Sam wasn't of the same opinion, but he kept his mouth shut about that for now. He was willing to give Dean the benefit of the doubt, even though he felt anything but safe in this place. "Shouldn't we ask Mr. Haskell if it's okay first?" he suddenly asked. He was grasping at straws and he knew Dean would see that too.

Dean glanced at him, then got out of the car without a word. Angelina followed suit with Sean, who stuck close to his mother. Sam remained seated for a moment longer, then sighed deeply and got out of the car too.

The air was downright frigid and a melancholy so severe swept over him that he had to get a grip on himself to not let it pull him down.

"I really don't think Haskell's gonna mind that we stay here," Dean said. "Even though it is a bit nippy."

"Nippy?" Angelina asked and hugged herself while glancing around. "It's positively freezing. What's doing that?"

"The ghost, I guess," Dean said. "Let's check out the main building. I'm sure there's something ..."

"Back so soon?"

The voice of Peter Haskell interrupted them and they all turned around to face the corner of the building, where the big man had turned up.

"Uh ..." Dean glanced at Sam. "Well ... we were kinda ... uhm ..." He made a face. "Actually, it would be easier for us to deal with this haunting of yours if we're in the middle of it," he finally said. "So ... I figured you wouldn't mind if we stay here."

Haskell eyed him for a moment. "Well ... if that's what it takes," he said, then glanced at Angelina and Sean. "They part of the team?" he asked.

"Yeah, they are," Dean said before anyone else could say something.

"Well, if you think you can stand it, be my guest," Haskell said, then smirked. "Or guests, as it were," he corrected himself. "Do you need anything from me?"

"No, we've got what we need," Sam interjected. He still had the papers from the historical society to go through, which he hoped would reveal something about this place that might make it easier for them to get this over and done with. The sooner they got out of here the better, at least in his opinion.

"Good, good," Haskell said. "I'll leave you to it, then," he added, turned around and disappeared around the corner of the building.

Sam frowned lightly, then followed him and stopped short just after clearing the corner. Haskell was nowhere to be seen and try as he might, he couldn't hear the sound of an engine. The only explanation he could come up with right then was that Haskell had withdrawn into the building itself, but how did that make sense?

"Something wrong?"

Sam jerked, then glanced at Dean over one shoulder. He hadn't heard his brother coming up behind him. "Uh ..." He shrugged. "Nothing. Just jumpy, I guess," he said and turned back for the car. "I guess we'd better grab what we can and find a place to crash in this ghost town."

"Main building. There are probably offices in there and some of them may have couches," Dean agreed while they walked back to the car and Dean opened the trunk.

"Why is it so cold here?" Angelina asked.

"The place is haunted. It seems to have an effect on the area and thereby the temperatures," Dean explained and grabbed what he could carry while Sam did the same.

Angelina grabbed her duffle, the sleeping bags Sam had bought for them, and sent Sam a questioning glance. He nodded at his duffle and she picked it up and threw it almost lightly over her shoulder. Sam smirked. He was impressed. It wasn't the lightest of duffles and yet she didn't seem to have an issue with the weight.

"This way," Dean said and marched around to the front of the building, shouldered the door open and stepped into the entrance hall of the old brickworks. What he saw was obviously not what he had expected, because he stopped and glanced around, blocking the entrance.

"Move," Sam advised him.

Dean glanced back at him, then took a few steps sideways to clear the doorway and stopped again. "They must have made a bundle while they were in business," he said. "And this ghost ... must like to clean."

Sam glanced around too and had to agree. The hardwood floor was highly polished, every brass sign too, and the reception desk, which was more like a huge counter blocking off the rear of the entrance hall looked like the receptionist was just out to lunch.

Angelina and Sean followed them inside and Angelina whistled softly. "Looks brand new," she said.

"Just what I was thinking," Dean agreed.

"Whatever. Let's find a place to crash," Sam said, suddenly feeling a tad irritated by the whole thing. He made a face and strode over to the banks of elevators. There were three in all and the building was about five storeys tall. In his opinion, the executive level was their best bet and that would probably be on the fifth floor.

He punched the button and it lit up, telling them that not only did the whole place look like it had been in use today, there was also electricity. Despite the cold, that was a bonus.

Then he glanced at the others over one shoulder and noted they hadn't moved. "Come on already. We won't accomplish anything by standing around here, gawking like cattle," he said, stepped into the cabin and turned back to face them.

Dean eyed him for a moment, then reached an arm out to block the door when it was about to slide shut again and let Angelina and Sean step in ahead of him before he followed and waited for the doors to close. "Where to?" he asked while eying Sam.

"My guess would be the fifth floor," Sam countered and briefly wondered why Dean's attitude was starting to bug him so much.

Without another word, Dean pushed the button for the fifth floor and the cabin started moving. And all the while, Dean kept staring at Sam in a way that made Sam very irritable.

***

Sam's notion about the fifth floor panned out. They found several offices with couches in them. After dragging one of the couches into another office so Angelina and Sean could stay together, Dean dropped his duffle on a couch in the next office over and returned downstairs to grab what remained and lock the car. He stopped at the open trunk and stared down at the weapon's bag for a moment, more than concerned. Sam wasn't the snippy type and he wasn't impatient either. His behavior seemed to change in this place, though, and it bothered Dean. "Might not be such a good idea after all," he muttered, grabbed the bag, slammed the trunk lid shut and locked it. Then he closed the doors and locked the car, then returned to the main building.

What bothered him more than his brother's changing mood was how new this all looked. They needed to plan this out in detail and find out who or what was haunting this place. Whatever it was, it was dead set on keeping the factory up to speed.

As a precaution, Dean sought for and found the staircase and took that back up to the fifth floor instead of the elevator. Small cramped spaces with the potential of plummeting to the ground were not his idea of safe transportation. Although he disliked planes a hell of a lot more than elevators, those cramped little cabins weren't his idea of fun either. He preferred to be in a position where he could decide the course of events and stairs were always better than being stuck in a damned box that was hurtling to the ground fast enough to flatten him.

When he returned to the office level, he found Sam engaged in reading through those papers he had picked up. Angelina and Sean were nowhere in sight. "Where are our charges?" he asked and dropped the weapon's bag next to Sam.

"Wherever they've set up shop," Sam countered without looking up.

His tone didn't sit well with Dean. "What's wrong with you?" he asked and eyed his brother critically.

Sam frowned, then looked up at him. "Apart from the fact that it's freezing in here?" he countered.

"No, apart from the fact that you've turned decidedly snippy since we arrived here. What the hell is going on with you? Is this place influencing you in some way?" Dean eyed him closely, searching for any sign that Sam was becoming aware of the change himself, but the look in Sam's eyes told a different story.

"What are you talking about?" Sam asked, sounding almost annoyed now.

"What am I talking about? Well, for starters, what's with the attitude?" It wasn't entirely clear to Dean what might be going on, but Sam was influenced by something, that much was clear.

"Attitude? What attitude? I'm trying to read this. It's kinda important, Dean," Sam countered, now decidedly angry.

Dean had seen Sam angry many times, but this didn't really fit. There wasn't really anything that Sam should be angry about. Worried, maybe, but not angry. To avoid the explosion Dean felt was coming, he backed down. "Okay, fine, read it," he said, turned and left the office to find Angelina and Sean.

They were in the office they had chosen for themselves, the door ajar, and Dean came to a stop when he caught sight of them. Angelina had tugged one of the sleeping bags around Sean, who was leaning heavily against her while she read him a story. In the midst of all this insanity, it seemed she was able to find something normal for her son to hold onto. It was an innocent enough scene, not outstanding by any measures, but it still opened the floodgates of Dean's memories. He folded his arms over his chest and leaned one shoulder against the doorframe while he watched and listened.

***

The papers contained a lot of information about the brickworks, about the owner, the stockholders and some of the employees. There was a lot of background information, boring numbers and other facts that were of little help. The only thing that Sam paused on was the name of Haskell's father. He frowned lightly, then skimmed through the rest of the material until he came to the bio of old man Haskell.

"What the hell?" he muttered and rose. His previous annoyance at Dean had subsided somewhat and he felt stupid right now for having gotten so worked up about nothing.

With the bio in one hand, he stepped out into the hallway and caught sight of Dean standing in the doorway of the office two doors over. Distracted, he trailed over there and came to a stop behind Dean.

"... and they all lived happily ever after," Angelina ended the fairytale she had been reading to Sean, then looked up and instantly blushed when she realized she had an extended audience.

Sean had fallen asleep and she carefully eased out from under him, easing him down on the couch and tugged the sleeping bag around him before she nodded at the door, ushering both of them out into the hallway. She closed the door behind her and smiled vaguely. "He has a hard time falling asleep when he's scared," she said quietly.

"Do you read him a lot of fairytales?" Dean asked, his attention completely hooked on her.

"Yeah, he likes them. Even the mushy stuff," Angelina said, then focused on Sam. "You look like you have some news," she added.

"Uh ..." Sam blinked, briefly disoriented, then glanced down at the paper in his hand. "Oh yeah. Uhm ... I was just going over the printouts I got at the local historical society and something struck me."

"Like what?" Dean asked.

"Haskell's father. His name was Peter too. I got all the information I could think of at the time, which includes the bio of Haskell senior," he said and held up the page. "According to this ... Haskell senior didn't have any kids."

Dean and Angelina eyed him for a moment. "So, Haskell junior wasn't legit. Big deal," Dean finally said.

Sam made a face. Sometimes Dean could be so dense. "No, I don't think he had any kids. I think the guy we met ... is Haskell senior."

Angelina frowned lightly. "So?" she asked, obviously confused.

"Peter Haskell senior ... is dead," Sam said quietly. "And he's been dead for over thirteen years."

***

Angelina had made it very clear that she wanted to know nothing more and had withdrawn to be with her son. Dean eyed Sam darkly for a long moment after the door had closed behind her. "You think ..."

"Yeah, I do," Sam agreed, not needing Dean to finish that sentence.

"That's ..."

"Absurd?" Sam asked and made a face. "Why is that absurd, Dean? Nothing we've been up against since dad died has turned out to be exactly what he said it would be. Vampires aren't all bad, ghosts come in many forms and demons rule the frigging Earth. What more do you need?"

Raising both hands in a deprecating gesture, Dean took a half step back. "Ho-wow, check the attitude, man! What is it with you?"

"Nothing, Dean. If the Haskell we met is the ghost doing all this, I think we're in over our heads. He's corporeal, dude. That's not exactly something we've dealt with before," Sam countered, for some reason incapable of keeping his temper in check right now.

Dean rubbed the back of his neck for a moment. Sam's mood aside, this whole deal was beginning to bug the hell out of him. "Uhm ... there's one thing about this that I don't get," he said.

Sam rolled his eyes. "Only one?" he countered.

"Shut up, Sam," Dean warned. "How come Bobby doesn't know Haskell's a ghost?"

Sam frowned and let his gaze wander over the walls of the corridor for a moment. Then he focused on Dean again. "Did he ever mention who we were supposed to meet out here in the first place?"

Dean arched an eyebrow. "Uh ... I don't think so," he said, pulled his cellphone out of one pocket and dialed Bobby's number. The second he heard the somewhat grumpy 'yes' at the other end, Dean really began to question the validity of this gig. There was something utterly off about this whole thing. "Hey, Bobby. Quick question here," he said.

"You've got a lot of those, don't you?" Bobby countered. "What is it now? You blowing off the gig in Texas again for another run-away mom and her miracle kid?"

Rolling his eyes, Dean slumped back against the wall of the corridor. "No, we never got your friend's name," he said. "The guy we were supposed to meet up with."

"Bill Parker," Bobby replied instantly. "He used to be the foreman in the factory. Old guy, grey hair, skinny as a ghost."

"Is that a fact?" Dean muttered. "So ... I take it there's no way that a Peter Haskell could have met us here?"

This caused a moment of silence on the line and Dean was just about to ask if the connection was still working when Bobby grumbled something under his breath. "Haskell? No, not to my knowledge. Peter Haskell was the owner. He died some fifteen years ago or something," he finally said, now sounding a little cautious. "Why?"

With a deep sigh, Dean briefly closed his eyes. "Because we met Peter Haskell when we arrived here. He seemed very eager for us to get rid of the ghost," he said. "It would seem, though, that he is the ghost. Which kinda makes this ... a very weird gig."

"He actually said he wanted you to get rid of the ghost?" Bobby asked, now sounding baffled.

"Yup, in so many words," Dean agreed. "So ... what do you think the problem is here? He doesn't know he's dead?"

"It's more than that, Dean," Bobby said. "There's more going on there. You watch your backs and don't stay in that factory for too long if you can avoid it. Parker has told me a few times that it seems to affect his mood badly when he's there. The guy considers himself psychic and he doesn't like to go near the place."

A quick glance at Sam made Dean grimace. Sam gave him a questioning look and it was obvious that his little brother was getting irritated again; not a good sign. "We'll keep that in mind," Dean said. "Thanks, Bobby. We'll stay in touch."

"Do that," Bobby countered and hung up.

Dean flipped his phone shut and eyed it for a moment, then looked up to face Sam. "The guy we were supposed to meet is the former foreman, Bill Parker. And he doesn't like to come out here. Bobby says he's psychic and this place apparently affects his mood badly."

Somehow that bit of information did something to Sam's mood, because he suddenly looked worried more than annoyed. "It's ... affecting him?" he asked.

Dean nodded. "Yup, that's what Bobby said," he agreed. "And, call me crazy, but I get the feeling that it's affecting you too."

Under any other circumstances, it would have been fascinating to see the ripple of changing emotions chasing each other across his brother's expression, but Dean didn't find a whole lot of things fascinating at the moment. "Crap," Sam muttered and scratched the back of his head pensively. "If that's ... the reason, maybe we shouldn't stay here."

"Either that or we get this done as soon as possible. I mean, if Haskell's ghost is the one haunting this place, then all we have to do is find his grave, dig it up and salt and burn him. That should put an end to the haunting," Dean countered while fully aware that nothing was ever that easy; not for them anyway.

Sam eyed him for a moment, then made a face. "And when was the last time that it was that easy?" he asked, voicing Dean's thoughts.

Dean sighed again. "Never?" he asked and Sam nodded. "Dammit, why can't it be that easy for once, huh? I mean, come on, man!"

"Dean, try to be a little realistic about this, will you? If Haskell is the only ghost on the premises – and that's assuming that he really is the ghost in the first place – he's a hell of a lot stronger than anything we've ever come across before ... providing that his little tale was true, of course." Sam scratched his cheek thoughtfully, then brushed his fingers through his hair. "If he is the ghost ... then that might have been a lie. Unless ..."

"Sam, you're weaving," Dean interrupted him. "What are you trying to do? Plot it all out before we know what's what?"

"I'm not weaving," Sam snarled, caught himself and grimaced. "I'm trying to make a point. That little story he told us about tearing the whole place down and the ghost rebuilding it ..."

"... is probably a lie, yeah," Dean agreed, again cutting him off. "Or not. But it doesn't make any difference. Unless Haskell was into the dark arts and somehow managed to both protect his body and enhance his strength after death, I say we aim at finding his grave and burning his body. Did those papers of yours say anything about his death?"

"Uh ... I don't know. I didn't get that far," Sam said, turned around and strode back to the office he had chosen for himself.

Dean followed him and plopped down on the couch next to him, grabbed a handful of the papers and started rooting through them while Sam did the same to the other half of the pile.

"Here it is," Sam finally said and pulled out the death certificate. "Says here he died of a massive heart attack," he added and frowned. "But I can't find any reference to when or where he was buried."

"That's because I've got that bit here," Dean countered and studied what looked like the copy of a bill from a mortuary. "Cedarwood casket, burial plot, the whole nine yards. He's buried in Belvedere Cemetery on Arden Road in San Angelo."

Sam snatched the bill away from him and eyed it for a moment, then put the other pages aside and rose. "What are we waiting for?" he asked.

Dean rose too. "Uh ... I'm suggesting that we just run this by Angelina first. I don't really want to leave her here alone. The place is, after all, haunted." It bothered him to no end that he had to remind Sam of this very fact. Sam was usually the one who didn't want to subject an innocent to danger.

"So, we take them with us," Sam said as if that had been just about the dumbest thing Dean had ever said.

"Uh ... no, we don't. We're not involving Angelina and Sean in what the law considers grave desecration, dude. Sam, pull yourself together. I realize this place is doing something to you, but that's no excuse to become reckless," Dean countered and eyed Sam with growing concern.

"Then I go and you stay here. I can deal with this on my own," Sam said, his tone decidedly snippy again.

With the itch to slap Sam tingling in his fingers, Dean took a step back to stop himself from doing just that. "No way, dude," he said. "We do this together or not at all."

"Why?" Sam demanded. One side of his mouth twitched and the look in his eyes was almost cold.

"Because I said so, dammit," Dean snapped. "You're not in control of yourself, Sam. You think I'm letting you go out there on your own ..." He trailed off. Getting Sam off the compound might actually be a good idea. He just wasn't happy about letting him go alone. Not after taking into consideration that there could be more hunters out there bearing down on them.

"Because you said so?" Sam sounded incensed now. "You're not dad!" he snarled.

Dean paused, reconsidered their options, then turned around and strode out without dignifying Sam with an answer. It took a lot of willpower for him to not start a shouting match about what Sam had just said because he knew Sam probably couldn't help it. It reminded him painfully of that haunted asylum over a year back where that crazy Dr. Ellicot had gotten to Sam. He couldn't hold anything Sam said against him right now.

He took a deep breath when he came to a stop in front of the door to the second office over and then gently knocked before opening the door. Angelina was sitting on the couch, wrapped in her own sleeping bag, Sean asleep next to her. She looked up when he stepped in. "Hey, can I talk to you for a moment?"

She eyed him, then glanced toward the wall before getting up and putting both the book she had been reading and the sleeping bag aside. They stepped out into the hallway and she closed the door quietly behind her. "What is it?" she asked.

"I think we've figured out what's going on here, so Sam and I need to go out and ... well, deal with it. We'll be gone a few hours tops. I just wanted to make sure you were okay here on your own," Dean countered.

The look in her eyes spoke more than words. "Here?" she asked. "You expect us to stay here alone?"

"Angie, the likelihood that this ghost will interfere with you is very slim," Dean said. "Besides, once he realizes what we have in mind, he won't stick around here. He'll try to come after us to stop us."

"No offence. You know a whole lot more about this than I do. But ..." She paused and pressed her lips together into a thin line for a moment, her gaze roaming over the walls and floor. "I don't like this. If it was me alone, I wouldn't have an issue with it. But I'm not alone. I have Sean to look after and this doesn't seem to be the best of places to ..." She blinked, then frowned, focusing on something past Dean's shoulder.

Dean glanced over his shoulder and found Sam standing just outside the door of the office he had claimed for his own, his arms folded over his chest, his expression dark and brooding.

"Are you okay?" Angelina asked.

Sam very nearly sneered. "Yeah, I'm fine," he said, his tone clipped.

Dean considered the situation for a second and decided instantly that Sam needed to leave the compound. As in right now. His mood was deteriorating rapidly and that was not a good sign. "Never mind," he said to Angelina, then pulled the keys to the Impala from one pocket and threw them to Sam. "Go out and find that grave and deal with it. I'll stay here with Angelina and Sean," he said.

Sam caught the keys, eyed him for a second, then shrugged and stepped back into the office to retrieve his backpack and his jacket before he strode over to the elevators without looking back.

Dean only hoped that Sam getting away from the brickworks would calm him down again. Once the ghost was taken care of, the influence of this place should be gone and they could be on their way again the following morning. Deep down Dean knew that this was too easy, but he kept on hoping that it would turn out to be true.

***