(The Mysterious Voyage of the Winchester Brothers)
Spoilers: S2, Set after Playthings
Warnings: Violence, Sexual Content, Language
Word Count: 32,500
Summary and Story Notes can be found back in part one
part two can be found here
Part Three: If You Hear the Mermaid Singing
Tower Hotel, Miami, Florida
Rustling of keys, jingling quick and a hard swift turning of the old lock, that’s all the warning Sam gets.
Dean announces, “I think I’ve found the next victim.”
He bursts into the room, not caring that Sam’s in the middle of getting dressed, his jeans barely over his ass. The ruined pair of pants tossed across his bed stands as a testament to the dangers of going to a library just past midday.
A bunch of schoolchildren had been ushered in for a special reading – and for some strange reason, the food and drink rules were lax, unheard of to Sam. Though noisy and distracting, Sam had thought that he’d have been able to manage to do his research in relative peace but the experience had proved to be a battle and the battlefield was strewn with little, little people, all apt anklebiters.
Sam had failed miserably in his careful attempts to walk around the munchkin children, perhaps too nervous of mistakenly trodding on them. He’d wound up getting stained to high heaven in bright splashes of juice (high fructose corn syrup), reds and purples that were never going to come out. He may as well turn his ruined jeans, once his favorite pair, into some kind of hippie tie-dyed outfit, for all that it’s worth now. Sam Winchester vs. Schoolchildren, 0 to 1. Only in Florida.
Zipping up his pants and then pulling his belt, mercifully free from fruit punch stains, through the denim loops, Sam asks, “But how can you be sure?”
“Dude, look, I know that this jerk’s the next one. You’re freakin’ right. It’s a damn mermaid or a Siren or whatever, and she’s been picking out her victims by singing or calling them somehow.”
“If you hear the mermaids singing,” Sam muses. “It’s an old enough story, thing is, if it’s Yemaya, that means it’s a spirit being summoned and we’d have to counteract that by banishing her. And, uh, from what I can tell, she won’t be happy if we try to banish her. There are these other stories that make her sound almost like a protector, like she keeps the monsters ‘locked away in the deep,’ not like the Kraken, that’s a different folklore after all, but things like that.”
“Monsters of the deep.” Dean grunts, picking through his duffel bag, pulling out a clean shirt, faded grey, Sam thinks it was black once. As he swaps out his sweaty shirt for the new t-shirt, Dean mutters through cotton, “Damn, this is like a B-Movie, we’re not in a Jaws knockoff at all. Maybe we’re in Shark Attack 3. That one sucked, I gotta tell you.”
Knowing Dean’s usual deflections when he’s anxious, Sam says, “You gotta give me something to work with, man. You got any information besides this guy’s name?”
“License plate,” Dean nods his head towards Sam’s laptop. “Do the hacker thing and crack into the DMV. I wasn’t able to get a bead on his house, I know he likes to go to strip clubs in the middle of the day, which, damn, Mr. P’s Tail, that’s a sad place to go looking for a little T and A. I hauled ass back here. Worse comes to worse, we need to gear up tonight and start hitting the beach.”
Dean’s eyes are bright and he’s got that scary enthused concentration tight on his face. It’s not just the thrill of a hunt – it’s the excitement of tackling a real monster, of being able to waste something that deserves killing. The lines have been getting too muddled lately. Admittedly, things have been turning too grey and confusing for even Sam’s liking.
And just like that, Sam gets distracted, thinks of what’s coming down the line for him, and that’s pointless, not now, not now he chides himself. They’ve got bigger fish to fry.
God help him, he’s thinking in lame one-liners just like Dean.
Dean’s rambling, impatient to find out the where so he can start picking out the weapons that they’ll need to take. If they can stop this guy before he takes a midnight swim in the water, so much the better. “...And I heard one of these guys saying something about this guy called Máximo Gómez—”
“Dean!” A new piece of the puzzle slotting in, too bad it’s another piece of endless blue sky. “That’s a park. Not a guy.”
“Yeah.” Quick Google search, remembering when they’d passed by the park yesterday, Sam notes, “But it closes after six.”
Dean eyes his watch. “Five minutes to six on the freakin’ dot. Crap.”
Rapid-fire, this, exchanging who, what, where, they didn’t grow up playing board games like Clue, but they know how to play this: get all the information and hope to God that they can stop it before it’s too late. Ten minutes and the park’ll be completely empty, so Sam shoves it aside, it’s another avenue to explore later. Cracking into the DMV is a total cakewalk and he’s grateful for it.
Asks, “So what’s this guy’s name?”
“That it?” Not the name, no, Sam’s not asking about that. There’s something off, like Dean’s holding back. Sam scrubs his face with the heels of his hands, opening his laptop. Battery ’s running low, but that doesn’t worry him; recharge later, after he’s done breaking the law. As he pulls up the DMV website, he says, “Dean, we’ll find him.”
Dean says to him, more like he’s answering something else, “It’s a damn mermaid. Siren or whatever and it’s picking off people like Miami’s a goddamn buffet, Sam. This is so freaking jacked up.”
“What else happened?” Sam knows that with Dean’s hackles raised like this, it means that there’s something more that stumbling across someone being lured by the creature. “Do you think it’s a trap or something?”
“I wish. A trap, that’ll be great, we’ve gotten out of worse scrapes.” Unspoken is how close all those times have been and there’s a memory of that first lurch of the semi hitting into the car, a memory that Sam’s pushed down deep, where it’s an almost-dream most days. Dean says, “We stop it tonight.”
It’s so strikingly Dad-like, that comment, Sam almost recoils. Instead he continues doing what he’s doing as he watches Dean load up his favorite pearl-handled gun, filling it with silver bullets.
“I haven’t figured out what kills a mermaid yet, Dean.”
Or how to take on something that might be wholly godlike, Yemaya, but Sam doesn’t need to say that part aloud, Dean gets it. His answer is to tuck a knife in his left boot, quick shake of his head, yeah I know, we’re flailing in the friggin’ wind right now.
“So it’ll be field research if it comes to it. Best way to learn.” The bravado flickers off, just for a second, but Dean doesn’t let it stay long enough, a pretense he’s mastered since they were kids. “Would be great if we found this guy before it comes down to the wire. It’ll suck getting ground down to sea-bitch fish food if all we can do is piss her off.”
Lummus Park Beach, Miami, Florida
Manny’s been hearing her singing for the past six nights and tonight’s his lucky night. He puts on the Panama hat, an heirloom from his granddaddy. It hides the dragon tattoo twisting around the base of his hairline: a poor decision made when he was seventeen and stupid.
He still shaves his head to a near buzz cut to let it show when he’s pissed off and wants to get a reaction from the few snotty millionaires awake in the predawn hours to watch their carefully separated trash get picked up. One of them once, one of those blonde tanned creatures that’s gone so plastic the only thing she can move realistically are her skinny over-exercised limbs, had shrieked and dropped her delicate china cup of coffee (the coffee stained her pristine white front porch) when he’d turned around and given her a glimpse of the dragon’s bloody claws.
They keep an eye on the sanitation workers, like, what, it’s every poor person’s dream to steal out of the garbage of the wealthy? Whatever shit’s being tossed by those pendejos, Manny has no need for it. His family may have always struggled but they’ve not turned into money-obsessed Americans.
He decides against the cross today, leaving it hanging on his closet door.
It’s always colder at the beach and tonight is no different. Maybe it is different, because it had been a day hot enough to cook eggs on the sidewalk, but he doesn’t think that there’s anything significant, it’s just the weather, yeah? No need to get freaked out about that stuff, all that global warming hysteria.
He shivers in his thin white button-down, teeth chattering as he looks out towards the water. It’s a long wait for the singing to start but when it does, he smiles.
It’s a crooked smile that isn’t improved thanks to the state of his nose, a mashed down triangle of flesh. He was once prominently hook-nosed but that ended about two years ago thanks to alcohol and hot tempers. When he smiles, it looks like a threat and it’s been useful more times he can count but he never manages to work his way past a grimace into happier expressions.
He knows it’s a woman, knows it more than anything he’s ever known. As she approaches, all these little fears start beading out of his skin, forming into cold sweat in his palms and at his temples. He mouths, wordlessly, the song he knows she’s singing just for him, aching to see her surface out of the water, this beautiful woman who’s promising him the world.
No more pain, ever. Memories sloughing away like rotting skin. Dropping out of school ‘cause those bitches don’t know the damn world and fuck ‘em, he knows what he needs to. His mother’s bitter words when he admitted he may have knocked up a sixteen year old girl and here he was nineteen and he should’ve known better (and it was just a scare, but scare enough for him to stay the fuck away from high school girls and always remember the fucking condom). The shame bearing down on him like a weight when he missed his grandmother’s funeral because he was too fucked up to manage anything but getting more drugs in him any way it could go. All this and more builds up like a crescendo, like a wave, like absolution, and he can see far off the gleaming shape of something—
Then these two white boys come tearing across the sand, making damn fools of themselves, shouting useless things like “Stop!” and “Get away from the water!”
What the hell do they know? He’s not even got his feet wet; he made sure to wait at the edge, just where the sand gets lapped by the ocean, damn near weak puddles of frothy water collapsing into the sand before his feet.
He goes to tell these idiots this but the wave hits him full-force, knocking him down and before he has the presence of mind to dig his hands deep into the sand, something twists around his leg, tugging him hard.
All he can do is break the surface, once, long enough to suck in air and see the two men as they try to reach him. They’re carrying guns and all Manny can think is that these are dangerous people yet they are unable to do anything but watch.
Watch him die.
Manny thinks, bizarrely, of his grandfather, hunched over his precious chess set, bony elbows poking out at the sides of the small table, saying, “Mijo, there’s no moves to make that’ll let you win.”
Then the pain lances up his legs, sharp and swift, easily cutting through his jeans. It slides into his skin, these needles, her needles, sinking into his flesh.
He’s yanked back under without preamble, without another moment to think and he comes face to face with the lady who’s been calling for him, the one he believed had all the answers he’s been too fucked up to figure out on his own.
She asks, pulling him through her not-so-tender hooks, if she’s worth the wait.
He’d be bloody all over if she let him die on land. Here, in the water, it comes out in wisps in the darkness, red-black shadows invisible in the darkness. He’s poked through, prodded with dragon-fingers. Nothing here but hatred and hunger, it’s something stranger than any nightmare that’s disturbed his sleep. He lets the last bubble of stale air out and the water fills his lungs and he dies hearing nothing that sounds like singing.
It’s the music of screams.
Tower Hotel, Little Havana, Miami, Florida
Two in the morning and all Sam can still see is that flash of silver, not the smooth idealized mermaid fishtail fin, but something worse, breaking surface. Then, simultaneously, the sight of Manny being dragged under joins with the flickering millisecond image of the fin, like double-vision. Nothing like one of his visions, because it’s just a memory, a before, something he cannot alter.
They’d been unable to do a damn thing. It had taken too long to track him down. Sure, they were able to locate where Manny lived and worked, but it hadn’t done anything to stop the creature from killing again. From killing him.
They’d wasted bullets shooting the thing in the water, a shape that almost had a metallic shine in the darkness, and gotten no verification that they even got a hit that racked up any kind of damage. Definitely solid though, substantial enough, there has to be a way to kill it. If silver bullets didn’t work, then there has to be something that’ll do real damage.
Of course, as Dean argued when they’d finally left the beach, there isn’t any real proof that the bullets won’t work. They might have damn good aim but a shot in the dark, into water, that’ll handicap even the best shot. And they were raised to be the best shots.
They’d even jumped in the water, following after the impossible trail, foolish, Sam now knows, if the creature, mermaid, had still been there, they’d be very dead right now. And it’s the ocean, no better place to disappear, especially with the advantage of it being the creature’s natural home. Short of growing gills or completely losing their minds, the only way to figure this one out is to break apart the things that don’t make sense. The inkling that Sam’s had since the first interview with the young girl, it’s only gotten worse and increases when Dean mentions how one of the people at the barbershop had gotten all skittish when Manny had brought up the dreams of the mermaid days before.
Now they’re way too cold, the air conditioning still set to frostbite any and all extremities. Adrenaline’s the only thing keeping them awake at this point. Sam’s skin still feels wet, sand still clinging to his feet but he’s not able to hop into the shower. The sea salt scent keeps his head in the game and they’ve got a lot to cover. They need to find a clear way of killing the creature. Yeah, once they know what hell they’re doing, the rest of this will be a cakewalk.
When Sam closes his eyes, he can picture the look of the guy just as he was pulled under, like the spell suddenly snapped and the guy, Manny, knew in that instant the exact shape of nightmare he’d succumbed to. Like he’d been willing just long enough for it to get him close enough but it needed his fear before finally killing him. Something else to chew on, another problem that hopefully will have the right solution: the way to kill the creature before another person dies.
“Okay,” Dean says, chomping at the bit, rustling the notes he snatched out of Sam’s hands after he’d finished his beer, “so...the barber does the shave and a haircut two bits to Manny and that Rob guy and Henry Norwood. Marcos Flores’s mom knew about Henry hiding the fact that he had...what the hell did you scribble here?”
“Alzheimer’s. Early Onset,” Sam says, once again sitting in front of the laptop. His eyes are going to bleed out of his sockets if he has to look at yet another article about Yvette García and how tragic it was that her career was cut so short, like she’d been a local hero and not a quasi-journalist actress. “Which is rare but apparently there is an Alzheimer’s charity that has the Norwood name listed as one of their top benefactors, so it could have been in the family. Henry Norwood kept his diagnosis secret and Marcos killed him for whatever crazy reason?”
Dean picks up on Sam’s doubtful tone and admits, “Yeah, that is kind of soap opera. But then you factor in that Marcos is getting Henry’s fortune and yahtzee, there’s a motive. Money makes people stupid and crazy.”
“But he isn’t inheriting anything,” Sam says, surprised, looking at an article posted on one of the gossip pages that he’s unfortunately had to scour ever since Henry Norwood became a confirmed victim. “And it’s not like Marcos is hurting, money-wise, apparently his dad was some big land developer until his untimely death. There’s a mention of the Norwood ‘estate’ and the only things Marcos’s getting are the things he already owned, which included their mansion. All of Norwood ’s money is being donated to various charities and local businesses.”
“There any way of getting a list of those charities and businesses?”
Sam cuts himself off from the smartass comment he wants to deliver. Only because he looks up, catches Dean’s face, distant, weariness muddled in, adrenaline can take you only so far after all, but there’s patience in that expression. Dean’s waiting for Sam to catch up.
Like back in River Grove, that’s what Dean’s been thinking about, what he’s been holding back.
Bad memories coming to the surface, the way it had ended with a whimper, not even a definite defeat or a draw, just something that felt rotten and really damn suspicious. A demon virus that wiped out a whole town and there’s still no answers for why it started or ended.
Instead of bringing it up, because if he puts the shape of the idea in words, then it counts, that’s Dean’s modus operandi after all, Dean offers, “Who knows. Maybe it’s like that town that had the lottery?”
“I hope you’re talking about the book,” Sam says, needing confirmation that Dean and Dad haven’t come across a place that actually performs that horrible yearly ritual.
“What book?” Dean frowns and Sam tries to think if there was any reference to a town full of once-a-year murders using the lottery system in Dad’s journal. Then Dean says, “They made a book out of that movie?”
“Uh,” Sam manages, fighting off a yawn, deciding to go for the easiest route, “yeah.”
“That’s stupid,” Dean decides with clear finality on the subject. He rubs above his right eye, his eyebrow going slightly crooked, like a half-cocked V shape. “So these people are either really involved or they let the genie out of the bottle without knowing what the hell it was and it was in a mood to start racking up sacrifices. Me, I’m good with either theory. What we should be working on is how to kill this son of a bitch.”
Sam does agree with that, but he’s just noticed a news brief just posted on the Miami Herald website. “Huh. Hey, this is interesting.”
“They finally identified the bodies of those two female victims. Luz and Ana Álvarez. Their cousin, Marisol Paláez, had given a statement to a local paper about it. She’s pretty harsh about the media coverage, how they’ve been glamorizing the other deaths.”
Dean sighs as he plops down on his bed, crossing his socked feet. “Who wouldn’t be pissed? You turn on the news and it’s that little girl, Straw Hair-”
“Elena,” Sam gently corrects, knows that Dean isn’t listening, that in his mind, that poor girl will always be remembered for her dark blondish hair, sun-bleached and flattened shoulder-length.
“Or it’s about the newlyweds or Norwood or the hot one, Yvette.” Dean’s hands briefly cup over his chest as though Sam hadn’t noticed from every damn picture of Yvette that she’d been, well, she’d been Dean’s type. But then, any kind of woman fell under Dean’s type. There’s a touch of acid to Dean’s voice as he says, “Nothing sexy about dead immigrants apparently.”
“Well,” Sam says, stretching out the vowel in a poorly disguised yawn, “it might start getting interesting now. The Paláez family?”
“Let me guess.” Dean waves a hand towards Sam, like he’s handing the air to Sam on a plate, “Pillars of the community.”
“More like, they used to own most of the stores around here until they started moving out to the exclusive gated communities. Marisol Paláez has some harsh words to say about her family, especially since some of them had known that Ana and Luz were attempting to illegally emigrate here, despite all the stories of coyotes taking advantage of the refugees.”
“Huh. You think we got an in?”
Sam smiles. “It’s late, but she’s got a MySpace account under her actual name and it’s active, she might still be online. I bet she wouldn’t mind dishing to a reporter looking to do a story focusing on the Álvarezes.”
“Dude. You stalker,” Dean says, a faint mix of pride and Sam bets that Dean still thinks that MySpace is a porn site. “See if you can get her to meet with you at the park in the morning. It’ll make it easier. I’ve gotta track that Rodrigo dude down. He was all kinds of shady and he got real antsy when Manny brought up that he’d been hearing the goddamn mermaid.”
It doesn’t need to be said, but Dean’s Dean, so he says, “Fucking mermaid, man.”
Máximo Gómez Park (Domino Park), Little Havana, Miami, Florida
Dean’s come across his fair share of old grey-haired men brimming full of vinegar and hard spirits (whiskey men most of them, the ones that Dean’s known all his life), able to mow down a mouthy young upstart with just a few choice words. These men might have rum as their drink of choice and their coffee might taste a little different, but barring the language, Dean recognizes these people. He is so in his element.
Yeah, Dean had been that young upstart once upon a time, but he’s learned how to tamp down on his natural instincts to piss off his elders. At least, he likes to pretend he does, even though he’s getting a few dirty looks tossed in his direction as he makes his way into the crush of the crowd, easily seeing over the heads of the shorter Cubans.
God, sometimes he loves it when he towers over people, the cures of being the older brother of a freakin’ Yeti means that Dean gets a skewed perspective on the average height of most folks. Here, all he has to do is stand, not even have to stretch upwards all casual-like. Dean doesn’t do the whole stretching up to see over the heads of people because as long as he’s breathing, there’s no way he’s letting Sam catch him stand on up fuckin’ tip-toes or any shit like that. The day Dean lets that happen, Sam’ll have ammunition to bring up anytime Dean tries to get Sam’s hackles raised with some good-hearted ribbing.
There’s a game on that’s got most people interested, down to two players really, though there are two other white-haired guys sitting there as well, so ancient that they look like they’re fused to the seats like barnacles. Yeah, it’s the two younger (relatively speaking) guys that are drawing all the attention.
It’s the Comedian, Rodrigo, and Dean would say long time, no see and interrupt this friendly little game of dominoes, but he needs to catch Rodrigo off-guard, best way to get some information loose. The other guy’s another oldster, hair thinning on top but not totally gone yet, a man with milky eyes (glaucoma? Whatever the dude has, it’s left his eyes really damn spooky).
Those creepy eyes move around too much while he’s taking his sweet time plotting his next move, and if a person didn’t know better (and oh, Dean so knows better), you could think that Creepy-Eyes is trying to get a signal on what to do next. Dude’s not even wasting time, he’s just messing with the Comedian.
People are making side bets on who’s gonna win, and it’s just freaking dominoes, so what’s the point? There are better gambles to make. Dean wonders, distractedly, about the tendril of black ink peeking out of the frayed collar of Old Creepy. Something too slithery about how it curves and bends along his thick neck.
Then those dead eyes narrow, focused straight on Dean’s face. Too late to look away and Dean forces himself to keep his face steady despite instincts yelling at him that he should run (and now would be a real good idea to start running). For just a split second, hell, maybe less than that, Dean swears he sees a flicker of green in Creepy’s sick eyes but it fades away quicker than it appears.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Creepy’s natural frown turning upside down, which causes a hell of a lot more wrinkles to take up occupancy on his face, means that Dean’s just fucked himself royal.
It’s noisy enough that Dean can call Sam, let him know that they gotta book it now, but no way he’s gonna give up that he’s working with someone else, so he backs off, hearing the disappointed hollers and jubilant cheers as the game finally finishes. No idea who the hell won, not like it fucking matters.
Right now, that sea-bitch is winning the fucking game.
Because all of a fucking sudden? He can hear something, distant and beckoning him and he’s got a pretty damn clear idea of where the hell he needs to go.
Into the damn water, only he’s seen the end of the song, so forgive Dean for not losing his damn mind. Yeah, as beautiful as it sounds, something that could make you friggin’ cry if you were a total girl about that kind of stuff, Dean likes his eyes where they are (not in the belly of a beast) and he’s not in the mood for drowning.
Tempting as it sounds, he’ll have to pass, only then the song, like, increases in volume in his head, and oh, this is freakin’ bad.
Doubling back, Dean sees Sam conversing with a pretty damn cute woman, a couple of years older than Dean himself, and hell, that’s hot, the older woman, but he can’t congratulate his brother now that he’s pretty sure he’s next on the mermaid’s goddamn hit list. Instead he sets himself behind a tree (or plants himself, heh), making sure Sam won’t be able to see him and he dials Sam’s cell.
“Dude,” Dean lets out a breath of fake disappointment, savoring the moment, “you don’t even let it ring more than once? Smile at the hot chick to reassure her you’re not a total eunuch. Is that Marisol?”
“A what? You heard that from Pirates of the Caribbean , didn’t you?” Sam doesn’t even bother to address the fact that Dean must be able to see him, he’s keeping the tone light but he’s knows this game. “And yes, it is.”
Dean pauses too long and finally gives up the ghost, “Okay, guilty. But Jack Sparrow is awesome, even you gotta admit that. And uh, speaking of guilty, I think I might’ve found one of the guys that’s been dropping off some of the human sacrifices up close and personal. And uh, call that one a hunch.”
Because the singing only kicked in the second Old Creepy gave him the evil eye, which once again, shit.
“Where is he?” Clipped and too hungry, Sam’s looking for another Win. Something that’ll keep the score in their favor. Shit.
“He spotted me. Uh, I think, shit, Sam, I think the dude knows. About what we’re hunting.”
“And how do you know?” There’s something else Sam says, but it’s muffled on purpose, probably him trying to placate the woman, giving her the soulful eyes, the whole treatment. God, nobody can resist that stuff and Dean’s counting himself in the masses.
“Uh, it’s not easy to explain. But I think we need to steal a boat tonight.” Dean doesn’t say that he’s thinking that because the mermaid’s giving him the coordinates in her freaky way, images layered over in words, elegant, like nothing he’s ever heard before. Nothing like backwards speech on a track or getting so high that you swear you can see colors in sound, it’s better than that.
Maybe if he hadn’t cut his teeth on rock music, he’d be impressed by the quality of her telepathic voice, her singing voice, but as it stands, he’s just trying to figure out how to screw the bitch at her own game.
“We need to get what?”
“A boat. Don’t worry, I’ll figure that part out. We need to meet up someplace out of here. Can you hoof it to that pub place we passed by this morning?” Dean doesn’t wait for an answer, knowing that it’s a solid yes.
He ignores his curiosity for the time being, there’s no way in hell that he’s checking to make sure Old Creepy’s still occupied with dominoes. If Dean’s lucky, then maybe Creepy is sitting down for another round.
Dean’s never that lucky. But he’s got his car and a short drive to work out a shred of the nice big ball of anxiety coiling in his stomach, which isn’t gonna ease. Not when he’s being offered a monstrous goddess of the water singing just for him.
El Pub, Calle Ocho, Little Havana, Miami, Florida
“So, spill the beans about Marisol or I’ll take your beans,” Dean says, raising his fork over Sam’s huge plate. Piled high with beans, rice, and chicken, it’s comfort food and exactly what Sam needs right now.
He’s suffering from information overload. Marisol, who’d accepted his lies with a dismissive wave of her curly hair, dark brown locks tossing from shoulder to shoulder as she contemplated him, had told him more than he could’ve expected. She’d claimed her reason was because he’s the only person who isn’t family who’s attempted to give a damn about her cousins.
She’d been lying there but had been honest about the rest of it that Sam didn’t press her any further than she’d been willing to bend.
But he’s going to have to let the information trickle out. Messing with people who mess with dark spirits only ends a lot of trouble even when you’re prepared. And Dean, evasive as he’s acting, what with his fork dangling over Sam’s plate (exaggerations of his natural Deanness have become hollow ever since Dad died), oh, Dean’s hiding something real damn bad.
“Hey, you were the one who said, for the first time in your life, I think, that you’re not hungry.” Sam smacks Dean’s fork away, dragging his already used fork all over his food, knowing it’s a useless deterrent. Dean and his disgusting food habits.
Sam offers up the few interesting nuggets he’d gleaned from Marisol, the most interesting one that Marisol used to work at Flores Y Maya before she quit in disgust after one too many arguments with Mrs. Flores. Arguments that she hadn’t fully explained beyond the fact that she didn’t like that the store was so willing to sell off precious charms and materials that could lead to some pretty nasty spells for anyone who asked for it, amateurs and Santerian priests alike.
“This whole thing making your head hurt?” Dean’s still giving Sam’s food the hardest stare ever, like he’s working on a Jedi Mind Trick (and Dean has tried to make that work, when they were young and yeah, Sam still needs to tease Dean about that some more). The food isn’t going to march to his side of the table as Sam’s wisely curled his arm around the plate.
“A little bit.” Dean’s still eyeing Sam’s plate, only the look’s harder, like Dean’s forcing himself to focus on it, so Sam, feeling extremely generous, asks for a second plate from the waitress and divides up the food.
Dean’s thank you is masked when he shovels into a forkful of food that’s two sizes too big for his mouth. Masticating loudly, Dean says, “So you know what ya gotta do.”
At least, that’s what Sam can translate from Dean’s foreign language of People Who Did Not Learn Not to Speak with a Full Mouth.
Sam watches each enormous bite of the black beans with trepidation, thinking of the damage that Dean can do later.
Maybe getting banished to a night of hustling a security guard will be okay ‘cause Sam can’t take a night of gassy delights care of his brother. Not to mention having to listen to all the clever jokes Dean has about his bodily functions. No, he’ll just order another café con leche and let himself operate on caffeine for the rest of the night, mercifully away from the revenge of the beans when they finally go through Dean’s body.
“If this creature’s being summoned then we can banish her pretty easy. It turns out that summoning spells specific to Santeria aren’t that complex and I can pick up the supplies while you go scope out the boat.”
“That ain’t a problem in Miami,” Dean says, probably ticking off one small point in the Miami ‘pros’ column of his running tab on the worthiness of Florida. Spearing a couple of wily beans with the bent outer twine of his fork, Dean adds, “It’s like, this is prime motorboat country. I’m gonna pick out the docks and you get ready to embroider a name on the Rent-A-Cop uniform.”
Orange Grove Docks, Miami, Florida
Jacking a car in Miami’s probably a little easier than this but Dean ain’t gonna tell Sam that. No, it’ll be a piece of freakin’ cake and thank god the stupid little marina office has a cute little pixie working the desk or he’d never learn that tonight’s his lucky night. Hell, any night’s his lucky night, ‘cause they have just the one guard who “personally” looks after the docks and makes sure there’s no mischief. Like, say a couple of guys were planning on lifting a boat for a couple hours or so while they send a mermaid back to Davy Jones’s locker or wherever the fuck the damn mermaid came from, not like Dean really cares.
Hell, maybe they become sea foam for all that freaking matters.
Dude, so long as it leads to silence in his head, beyond the random thoughts like I’m hungry, I wonder when they’ll finally release that Bruce Campbell movie, and damn, that’s sweet. You know, thoughts that belong to him not a goddamn mythical creature that should stay in the freakin’ stories because the eye-popping and killing just ain’t charming.
But for now, he’s got one thing that’s making him smile, big and wide. It’s not the pixie, Angie, who’s giving him an earnest tour that should be boring but isn’t, what with her crooked smile that sneaks out every time she finishes a sentence. Though, she is cute, she’s dangling a little too close to the jailbait line, and man, having a monster singing in your head really fucks with the libido. So, it isn’t Angie that’s making Dean feel like a million or so bucks for a split second, nah, instead it’s the gorgeous sleek black beauty bobbing gently in the marina’s waters.
The luck’s in the draw and Dean’s scored big, Fountain Mercury 35 Lightning, big ticket boat kept in primo condition, done up by someone who was having a love affair with black and hell, Dean is not gonna complain on that front. He’s kind of in love and it feels a bit like cheating, like once he steps off the dock and onto dry land, he’ll have to apologize to his Impala.
Some folks want a car or a boat that’s just a pussy wagon and yeah, it is kind of a motorboat for total pussies, all flash and shit, but he checks out the details, inspecting all the high-tech shit that’s been added on. He also gets some info from a beleaguered owner of a modest houseboat, an oldster who takes great pains to let Dean know how damn fast the owner drives this thing, looking to hit 86 knots if he can get away with it.
Angie swears to Dean that really, the owner’s only here twice a year at most and never comes down in January or February, believing that there are just too many tourists.
Well, Dean thinks, that might just work. He makes his excuses, his goodbyes, accepts Angie’s phone number, raising an eyebrow in surprise. Really, if she’s eighteen then he’d be freaking amazed.
Heading back to the car, taking it slow because oh, baby, he did stray, but the boat’s aching to be admired. Pulling out his cell phone and dialing Sam, he clears his throat, waiting for Sam to pick up. Hearing his brother’s slight breath, Dean says, not letting Sam get in a hello or anything, “We got to get a bigger boat.”
“You found one that works?”
“Dude.” Dean pets the roof of his car and ow, he forget about the damn sun, shit, she’s burning like she’s fire-engine red. “I found the Corvette of motorboats.”
Sam repeats, “So did you find one that works?”
Sad thing is, he’s not even saying that to Sam. He’s going to be fuckin’ jubilant once they kill this mermaid creature but good.
Follow me, so close to all you ever wanted, silence, safe, here, follow me.
“Oh, and change of plans by the way. I think you need to chain me up.”
There’s a cough and Sam’s sputtering over the phone.
“Freak. Not like that. But one of us has to hear her and I think it’s her voice that’s toxic, from what information we’ve got working for us about the guys. If I’m restrained but I can hear her, then I won’t do anything stupid.”
“Other than the bait thing. Which is stupid.”
“Yeah. Now you’re getting it, Sammy.” Dean knows it sounds fake, but he has to be push it, saying, “I know what I’m doing.”
“Dean.” A pause, Sam trying to collect himself, before he lets out in a reluctant breath, “Offered sacrifices seems to be her favorite thing. But, this is a bad idea.”
“You figure out something better, we’ll go for that. Otherwise, start stocking up on the chains and ropes and let your inner freak go wild.” Dean shuts off the phone before Sam gets a chance to retort.
Orange Grove Docks, Miami, Florida
Sam wonders what exactly was going through his mind when he volunteered to distract the lone security guard at the docks. The way he’s playing, he’ll be out of their emergency cash in another two rounds.
“You try to beat me with a dead man’s hand?” says the grizzled guard in his grizzled grey voice. He has Raúl listed as his first name on his badge, but he refuses to answer to that name, insisting that Sam call him Chago, based off his surname.
Sam really doesn’t want to call a grown name Chago and it doesn’t matter what he calls him because Sam is getting cleaned out.
Chago lays down his hand with a flourish, running a leathery brown hand through his patchy near-shaved hair. He’s a man made for a long full beard but that isn’t meant to be in humid Miami weather, even in the middle of winter. Not to mention a winter like this, so damn hot it’s still a touch too warm in near-midnight hours.
“You’re a hard one to beat,” Sam admits, no need to feign that he’s impressed by the guard, especially since every trick Sam knows to use in the Dean-patented book of cheats has pretty much been evaded. Sam sweeps the deck up in his hand, easily cutting the deck. He is a Winchester after all, even though he’s never been able to master these games the way Dean has.
“It’s good that they hired someone, it’s been long enough.” Chago had claimed that he’d only liked Texas Hold ‘Em on T.V., claiming to prefer Five Card Stud, but he’d acquiesced to a game of the Texas rules. Now he’s kind of schooling Sam in this game and once again, Sam? Is the brother of Dean Winchester, so to get his ass so thoroughly handed to him, well, it’s a good thing that Dean isn’t here, moaning at all the cash Sam’s throwing away. “Better, I’ll get money to pay for a down payment on my root canal thanks to you.”
Through this, they have been making silent gestures – Sam’s gotten screwed on the turn and Chago makes no sign of whether the river has done anything to his two cards, but there is straight flush potential.
Chago points at somewhere on the left side of his face, probably a bottom tooth, he mercifully doesn’t open his mouth. “No dental, no medical, you better start looking for a better job. You’re a young kid, don’t you want to do something better?”
Sam nods, trying not to move too much as he can feel his uniform bursting at the seams. Dean must’ve had the last turn at doing laundry, he always overdoes the drying.
They turn over their cards and Sam’s done for the game but Chago’s failed to realize, thanks to the radio that’s been blaring slow Cuban ballads (those are boleros, kid, the music that came with us when we moved to this country, real music, Chago told him when Sam had ‘reported for duty’ as it were), that he’s out one boat, care of Dean.
Sam may feel like crap later, but hey, if the boat survives, he did get Dean to swear that they’d return the boat. It’s really just a more complicated version of hot-wiring a car, as Dean had insisted.
Atlantic Ocean, miles away from Miami, Florida
Sam’s crash course in driving a boat, in darkness no less, is exactly what he should’ve expected. Dean makes a poor joke about how he’ll lose more than his shot at a boating license if he fails the driving test later.
The boat’s so Dean that he almost refused to get on, almost expecting it to be blaring Metallica the moment he stepped on it. There’s no music, nothing save the sounds of the ocean, the roar of the motor, Dean’s way-too enthusiastic admirations of the original owner of this boat. Boy, whoever owns this boat (and saw fit to actually freaking name it The Long Glider), is going to be pissed by what they’ve already done with it, symbols marked around the cockpit area. Sam had to make the easy lewd joke before Dean even got a second to say anything about that.
They’d only studied maps of the waterways for an hour but Dean easily navigates where he needs to go and they’re out in the Atlantic soon enough. Dean revs the engine – or whatever the appropriate term is for testing the alleged 97 mph top speed of the boat – and Sam gets real busy with not falling off and you know, dying.
It’s a tense ride, this, and Sam’s best way to deal is to work out the incantations he’ll need to say later. The summoning can turn to banishment with just a few judicious noises interspersed in the spells.
“You gotta take over now, man,” Dean tells Sam as he kills the motor. “We’re almost in the Yemaya’s territory.”
“If it is Yemaya.” Sam’s done a little more research on that particular spirit and as she’s represented in the Santeria faith, she’s almost peaceful. But she’s the only supernatural being that’s represented as a mermaid in most of her iconography that would be distinctly recognizable to Cubans.
“Yeah, it could be just your run of the mill pissed-off magical mermaid. If her name’s Ariel and she’s a redhead, I say go for it.”
“Don’t make me enjoy gagging you,” Sam mutters, opening up the duffel stuffed full of rope, handcuffs, and a makeshift gag that Dean had insisted be thoroughly cleaned beforehand. “I can’t believe you made me clean your gag.”
“You know what? When you’re bait, you get to make the rules. My safe word’s Kelly Clarkson.”
Sam has to process that for a moment longer that he should, saying, “Dude, you watched The Forty Year Old Virgin? When? And why?”
“Hey, Steve Carell is hilarious,” Dean says defensively. “And man, thank god I don’t need to wax. That was messed up.”
It’s not easy work doing this, first checking the initial ropes already tied to the boat and adding more along the railing around the edge of the boat’s bow, but the boat they’ve got is relatively stable.
Asking but why you is useless when Dean’s sure of something, sure that the only way that they’re going to find this mermaid is by playing a game of bait. Dean lumbers, slowly, into place, Sam makes quick work of lashing him to the boat, tight enough that it’s only slightly uncomfortable. Getting back into the cockpit, it’s time to start with his own necessary restraints.
So Sam’s got the earplanes stuck in his ears and the newly purchased headphones (guaranteed to block out any sound) stuck firmly on his head and he has Dean’s tapes blaring in a battered tape deck found in the cabin. Sam checks the ropes around Dean one more time, pulling at them to check that the only slack there is for breathing purposes.
He’s still kneeling over Dean when he feels an earplane dislodge. Sam pulls the headphones askew, removing the stupid thing, asking Dean, “Are you ready, Odysseus?”
Sam can’t help the snotty tone, this is easily sliding in their top ten list of idiotic plans, the best thing he can do right now is ignore the seasickness sloshing around in his stomach by reminding Dean how stupid they’re being.
“Screw that, dude. I’m Hercules. Only you know, not Greek and into rolling around naked with other guys. Now put your damn headphones back on.”
Sam tightens the rope around Dean’s chest when he realizes there’s too much give, nearly straining a muscle in the effort to keep himself from rolling his eyes upwards towards the starry black sky. “No, you’re into pissing off water spirits. Because drowning is an awesome way to go.”
There’s a flex in Dean’s jaw, something being kept back for the sake of Sam and that pisses Sam off more than it should, leading him to almost yank the rope around Dean’s neck hard enough to choke him. He stops though, warning Dean, “You’ll black out if you move your head too much. It’s the failsafe if this is an honest-to-god mermaid and it can’t be banished.”
No point in dropping the anchor out here. The motorboat’s equipped with state-of-the-art gadgets, enough that Sam can make sure he stays close enough to the coast. Not like it’ll help any. They’re playing bait in open water. Only thing they can do now is wait. Yeah, this plan is skyrocketing to the top of the “Most Idiotic Plans” list.
It takes longer than either of them expects and Sam kind of hopes the Dean has to pee real bad just so he can put things into better perspective and maybe they’ll cut this short and figure out another way to start up the banishing incantation, to work around its spatial limitations. But then, Dean starts rocking around, pointing towards something in the water and fuck.
It’s not the glimmer of the mermaid, it’s another boat. It’s hard to make out who it is, but the person’s got a bullhorn and San wishes he could hear what’s going on because whatever it is, it’s making Dean nervous as all hell.
They have to get out of here. It’s obvious.
But before Sam can turn the motors back on, all the electrical equipment dies and the other boat, going too fast just lurches awfully, there’s a shape tumbling off the boat but it’s too hard to see and there just isn’t the time to wonder because it’s time to step it up.
Sam starts working, fast, double time on the incantation, it doesn’t matter that he can’t hear it, as long as she can hear it that’s all that matters.
He hears something, but he shouldn’t, something cutting through the muffled silence, cutting quick, this ghastly bubble of watery noise, almost like a woman’s voice, but distorted, saying, I’m calling for you, Dean.
She doesn’t hit the boat, not really, but Sam’s knocked down despite this, but he’s on his knees, able to watch as the tentacles strike and wrap around Dean, horrible, the silvered-gold scales turning green in the moonlight. Flick and burst, rope torn apart like it was make of paper, split open with deft scissors, tentacles close enough that Sam notices the subtle spikes flexing open becoming deadlier.
Then the rest of her, the half that is more monster, the tail bursts out of the water with a spray, soft mist. It tapers down to a fine point, snake-tail, monster-tail, wrapping quick and true, tighter, tighter, like it’s all freaking slow-motion and this is the part where Jaws gets a good chomp of the boat.
Sam barely gets out no before Dean’s pulled into the water, all his ropes uselessly torn off his body like they were nothing, child’s play.
Rage, burning in Sam’s mind, expansive and horrible, hissing violence but it doesn’t matter, because Dean will not be dragged under. Sam kicks at the winch, knocking it back on and there, the pull of it, Dean might be getting a good idea of what a worm on a hook feels like.
Sam knocks off his stupid headphones, tears off the plugs in his ears, because he realizes now, she’s been calling for Dean in his mind, the only reason he knew this was the place to stop, not just a guess based off of their research. Godammit, Dean, but there’s nothing he can do, can barely slip-slide out of the cockpit towards his brother before he sees it, the sharp image of Dean going under, the contrast of silvered-green scales tight on Dean’s body.
There’s a scream over the water, a scream that echoes farther than possible and Sam sees a flash of red, blood and there, the other person who had fallen, he’s gotten closer and he’s screaming at Sam, but the other scream, her scream, is drowning him out.
Dean’s been pulled back towards the boat, to Sam and Sam doesn’t wait the time to think whether it’s possible, he just yanks Dean back up, relieved that Dean’s eyes open after he’s surfaced, eyes still intact and while he’s bleeding, he doesn’t look like she had a shot at crushing him to death.
A brief moment, but in situations like this, it’s those moments that can stretch out the longest if you’re lucky, she must be readying for another kind of attack because the motors kick on all of a sudden and Sam doesn’t need another second to decide, bringing the boat to its highest speed, getting the fuck out there.
With the anchor line, heavy old chain, still wrapped around Dean, leaving him stuck with the only option to lie down on the deck floor. Breathing, hard, still alive and utterly conscious.
He doesn’t say a damn thing as they hightail it back to land.
Tower Hotel, Little Havana, Miami, Florida
Dean’s still shivering even after the hot shower, occasionally running the last clean towel over his head like it’ll get the shakes out of him. “Mermaid, my ass,” he says, the first thing he’s said since they made it back to their hotel room, Dean needing to use Sam as support. Sam doesn’t want to think about how bruised Dean’ll be tomorrow morning.
“It’s not just a water spirit. Yemaya. The banishing didn’t do a damn thing.” Ticking off their list of things it can’t be, ignoring his need to start yelling at Dean for nearly letting himself get killed. “Sirens usually call people to them but these attacks have escalated to the shore. And it couldn’t destroy a motorboat, so it’s not fast enough to follow. Means that it has to lay low. There’ve been no attacks during the day. But we can’t tell if the weapons we used before worked because I couldn’t get a clear shot back when we tried to save Manny.”
Sam pauses, not wanting to say the next thing. Runs his tongue along the back of his front teeth and it’s not surprising that he still tastes seawater. “You have any more urges to follow her?”
More words hanging between them, now from an actual sea monster. Calling for Dean.
“Fuck no,” Dean mutters, building a barrier between them, precise folds of the towel until it’s folded so compact that Sam would assume that it would just open up all over again, only because it’s Dean and he knows how to fold when he puts his mind to it. Sam remembers a bitter comment, he had been all of thirteen and tired of being still thought of as “that guy Dean’s younger brother,” saying to his brother while Dean folded their laundry, don’t know why you bother doing that, you always mix up the navy and blacks, Mom.
Such a petty stupid comment and that’s what’s on Sam’s mind.
“Okay. So maybe it takes time. Manny’s coworkers said he’d started staring off at the ocean a week before the attack.” A week before they were too late and watched someone die, helpless to stop him from being dragged into the water’s depths. “Those that believe the legends keep on talking about Yemaya, but that isn’t working-”
“That guy that showed up. I think I know who he is. Was, considering how pissed she was, you heard that screaming huh?” Dean doesn’t let Sam answer, continuing, “he’s had mermaids on the brain for years. Rodrigo. He’d freaked out when Manny mentioned mermaids. Thought he was shady but you know, it would just be our freakin’ luck if he’d been on the up and up.”
Dean throws the towel in a general direction towards the bathroom door, a small flick of a smile at the muffled thump against the cheap wood door.
“How’d he know that we’d be there?”
Dean looks at Sam sideways.
“There was this other guy at the park. Looked at me funny. Only way he can look, his vision was all messed up. He’d been playing dominoes with Rodrigo.”
“You think it’s a lead?”
“Uh,” Dean rubs the back of his neck, he’s going to be sore all over later and Sam doesn’t tell him that maybe he shouldn’t bother to do that because it won’t help at all. “I think it damn well is.”
Tower Hotel, Little Havana, Miami, Florida
Dean wakes up painfully hard, his cock not aching for a vision, but for a voice. But the worst of it all the fucking bruises make it a pain to breathe, let alone get himself to the bathroom to whack off, but he’s nothing if not determined. And okay, he might have been a little more noisy that he usually is, so it’s not a surprise when he shuffles (or stumbles, something shambling and fit for a decrepit old man or bruised-within-an-inch-of-his-life guy), that’s Sam’s back at his damn laptop, pointedly not looking at Dean.
“Voices have power,” Sam says, scanning a website. “You know Cleopatra wasn’t known for being beautiful, the records say it was her voice that was her most attractive feature.”
Leaning against a wall, Dean asks, “Why do I need to know that?”
“Because I think I found what’s been killing all these people.”
“No.” Sam puts on the kind of smile he’d have when he was still in elementary school, bringing home a perfect report cared. “Aycayia.”
“Okay,” Dean hobbles over his bed, forcing himself to lie down, saying, “Please tell me there’s a way to kill her.”
“That’s kind of the problem. All the legends just talk about how she transformed into a mermaid, not anything about what could kill her. The legends about Aycayia imply she’s something of a...sexual character and judging by, uh, your reaction, that part of it might be true.”
“Man,” Dean groans, “why hell do people do such freakass things for kinky sex? Plus, I don’t even want to think about how’d you go about fucking a mermaid.”
“She’d probably transform back into human form once she got her final sacrifice.”
“There a countdown to how many she needs to kill? Because, uh, she isn’t blasting as hardcore in my head. She’s kind of whispering.”
“Yeah, and it’s a good thing you didn’t tell me about that, Dean,” Sam snaps, his hands curling into fists. It takes a lot of effort in his part to flex them open, breathing out his frustration. “I...don’t know what the hell you were thinking.”
“I wasn’t able to think much ‘cept what she was freakin’ singing in my head, Sammy,” Dean bites out. “I wasn’t thinking all that clear, I just wanted to end it.”
It’s clear that Sam’s still pissed, but he shuts down that part of him that’s probably aching for a hell of a shoutfest, instead he says, “I called Marisol again while you were sleeping and she told me a story she’d always heard about Aycayia, back when she was a kid. Aycayia was banished to the waters because even when she’d been condemned to a near deserted island, she could still lure men. The legend goes that one day, she’d be able to break free thanks to sacrifices. Seven unwilling and seven willing. Turns out you’re too much of a stubborn bastard.”
Dean breathes out his surprise, wincing ‘cause it hurts all over, Jesus, he’ll need to get some painkillers in him or he’s gonna be useless. “Well, that’s just the Winchester genes. Told you I won the genetic lottery.”
“Yeah, you look like a real winner.” Sam then says, “Rest up. We have to find this other guy you mentioned.”
continued in part four