Special big huge thanks to Mari for the wonderful picture for this story! She's my hero!!
It started with a dream. JD's eyes darted behind closed lids as his muscles contracted and released beneath the cotton-blend sheets. His breathing quickened as his heart pounded like thunder inside his ribcage. Fear washed over him and he moaned softly.
A hand closed around his ankle and JD bolted upright in the bed, a startled yell caught in his throat as the dream vanished. He felt vaguely disoriented and looked up at his roommate.
"Musta been some dream, Kid. Come on, you better get moving," Buck called over his shoulder from the doorway. "Chris'll put his foot in your ass if you're late this morning."
JD drew a deep breath and slowly exhaled, feeling the atmosphere around him settle into something familiar. He slid his legs out from under the sheet and stopped ... frowning at the dirt clinging to his feet and ankles. Flinging back the sheet, he brushed his hand across the mess in the bed. He didn't remember going outside the night before.
"See you at work! Don't forget the donuts!" Buck shouted from the living room.
"Oh crap! The donuts!" JD exclaimed. He had completely forgotten that it was his day to pick them up. Bolting for the dresser, he grabbed clean underclothes and raced into the bathroom. Ten minutes later, he was tearing out of the apartment.
He made it with five minutes to spare. Chris had looked pointedly at the clock on the wall as JD slid into his seat after depositing the box of donuts and pastries on the conference room table. The warning was there, in the team leader's eyes, and the youngest team member took it seriously.
"Okay, boys, let's try to earn our pay for the week," Chris said, silencing the friendly banter. He activated the plasma screen on the wall and pulled up the PowerPoint program he had been sent. "This is, or was, the headquarters for the Donnelly Brothers Import Company." He paused to let them take in the ruins of the bombed-out building. "And this," he changed to the next image, "Is the home of Seamus Donnelly, which was destroyed only a few days later. This is a photo from an insurance file of Donnelly's yacht, the Faire Isle, which exploded on Lake Havasu a month ago."
"Sounds like someone has it in for this guy, Donnelly," Buck said. A glare from Chris wiped the grin from his face.
"And this is the former home of Ryan Donnelly, which was destroyed last night," Larabee finished.
"I recognize that house. Isn't that next door to the place we staked out last week?" Vin asked.
"It is. I recognize the greenhouse next to the garage," Ezra answered. "Was anyone injured?"
"No, the family was out at a party being thrown by the mayor at a hotel downtown. We've been assigned the investigation, as well as a protection detail for the family-"
"Aw hell, Chris, you know how we hate babysitting!" Buck protested.
"Travis is a good friend of the mayor and he, personally, asked us to handle the case," Chris said, ending any further argument on the subject. "The Donnelly family has been moved into a safe house. Buck, you take Josiah and JD and check out the house. See what you can come up with on the cause of the explosion. Ezra, you and Nathan head over to this address and interview the family. Vin and I will get our things together and meet you there in a couple of hours. That's all, let's go."
Chairs slid soundlessly on the carpet as the men rose, each one grabbing another donut or pastry from the box and their coffee cup before heading for the door. Vin hung back, reaching for the remote and going back to the first picture Chris had shown them.
"Do they think it has something to do with the family business?" he asked.
"Travis didn't know. He said that the locals investigated each incident and couldn't find one thing that tied them together other than the family."
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Half way across the country, a young man scrolled through news reports on his laptop. "Here's one that sounds interesting, 'Another tragedy strikes Donnelly family. Ghost sends nanny and toddler from house seconds before explosion.' This time it's in Denver," Sam said.
"We looked into that already, there was nothing there," Dean said dismissively. "Hey, Sammy, what do you think of this?" he asked, turning the magazine around to show his brother the image of a scantily dressed model leaning against a Impala. The hood was up, showing the detail of the engine.
"Cute girl," Sam said, turning back to the computer.
"Not the girl, the car!" Dean said.
"Nice carburetor," Sam replied without looking away from the screen.
"What is it about the Donnelly family that has you so fascinated?" Dean asked.
"The lack of clues for the police to find whoever is doing it, for one thing. And the fact that the family has been accused of importing pieces that are rumored to be haunted."
"Haunted?" Dean repeated, laying the magazine aside. "Tell me more."
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Flashing their ID at the cop on guard, Buck, Josiah and JD ducked under the crime scene tape and moved closer to the house.
"Whew, someone sure did a number on this place!" JD said. He set his 'kit' on the driveway and removed the lens cap from his digital camera. "I'll get the perimeter," he called to Buck.
"What do you think?" Josiah asked.
"Well, the gas company ruled out a leak. That leaves us with all of the other explosive materials available to your average mad bomber," Buck said. "Let's get started."
Making his way around the house, JD took pictures of the exterior walls and windows. He scoured the ground for any sign of whoever meant the Donnelly family harm. A smile pulled at his cheeks when he saw the leprechaun statues in the garden and the fairy wind chimes made pleasant tinkling sounds as the breeze set them in motion. When he finished with the house, he turned his camera, and his attention, on the greenhouse. He snapped off a couple of wide-angle shots, then several close-ups of the pebble-strewn path to the door. Glancing down, he noticed a set of muddy footprints near the compost pile. He knelt down, gently placing the measuring marker next to the impression before snapping several more pictures. Turning to look around, he felt a tingle race along his nerves as he realized that the view was somehow ... familiar.
Parking the Jaguar in the driveway, Ezra shut off the engine. Nathan glanced out at the non-descript brick two-story and sighed.
"My sentiments exactly," Ezra drawled.
They were met at the door by a very handsome young man with startlingly green eyes. "Mr. Donnelly, I'm Ezra Standish and this is Nathan Jackson, we are from the ATF. I believe you were advised of our arrival?"
"Yes, do come in. Forgive me, but I've had little sleep in the last 24 hours. I am Ryan Donnelly. That's my wife Erin and our son Ian. Have you any information on whoever is responsible for the damage to our home?"
"No sir, but some of our teammates are over there right now," Nathan answered.
"Can I get you something to drink?" Mrs. Donnelly asked.
"No, thank you, not at the moment," Ezra answered. "We're here to provide protection for all of you until the persons responsible for the attack on your home have been apprehended."
"Ian, darling, why don't you go in the other room and play?" Erin said. The boy looked up at the two strangers and back to his mother, apprehension plain on his face. "It's alright, we grown-ups want to have a little talk. Now, off you go." Ian picked up the Matchbox cars and the vinyl mat and slowly meandered into the next room.
"He's been very anxious since the explosion," Erin explained.
"He was there?" Nathan asked. "We were told that you were at a party downtown."
"We were. Ian was at home with Shannon Shaw, our housekeeper," Ryan replied.
"And they weren't injured in the explosion?" Ezra asked.
"Shannon said that ... well, that she saw something," Erin began.
"Superstitious nonsense!" Ryan spat.
"She did get him out of the house, Ryan," Erin said. "She said that she saw a ghost over by the greenhouse. It was beckoning to her."
"A ghost?" Ezra repeated.
"That's what she said."
"And where is Miss Shaw now?" Nathan asked. "We need to speak to her, too."
"She went to stay with friends," Ryan answered, his voice tight with barely controlled anger. "She said that the ghost told her to get away from us if she wanted to live."
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Chris tossed his overnight bag in the back floorboard. On the back seat, Vin's portable gun-safe had already been loaded and secured. Larabee knew that the reinforced plastic case held at least two sniper rifles, extra sites and ammunition for the rifles and the handguns the sharpshooter would be carrying. There was also a smaller case with headsets and night vision goggles.
"Got everything?" Chris asked.
"Just about. I want to take the harness and rappelling equipment," Vin replied as he tossed his own overnight bag in the cab.
Fifteen minutes later, they were headed for the safe house. Vin was reviewing the aerial photos of the house and neighborhood, planning where he would need to put up his 'deer stands' and other equipment. Orin had caught them before they left the office, passing along more files from the other incidents involving the Donnelly family.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
"What'cha got so far?" Buck asked as he strode across the driveway to where JD was squatted down, working on something.
"Footprints in the mud. I'm making a cast of them so we can rule out the members of the household. There are tracks from a motorcycle going across the lawn," JD answered as he gently lifted the quick-drying plaster mold from the dirt and set it in a foam-lined box.
"Big bike?" Buck asked.
"No, a dirt bike from the look of it. Knobby tires, not a street bike," JD elaborated. "What'd you and Josiah find?"
"Found the point of origin. Now if we could just figure out what caused it," Buck answered.
"No residue or anything like that?"
"Nope. Got bags of debris to go through, maybe we'll find something there."
By the time Chris and Vin reached the safe house, Buck had already gotten there with his group and was going over the pictures on JD's laptop. Mrs. Donnelly was upstairs putting young Ian down for a nap. Sitting in the dining room, all eight men poured over the photos, each looking from their own unique perspective. Mr. Donnelly said that he couldn't remember what had been sitting in the area where Buck indicated the explosion had occurred and he didn't see that anything was missing. He denied having more than just the small safe with a few pieces of his wife's jewelry in it, ruling out robbery as a motive. When the subject of the housekeeper and her bizarre statement came up, Josiah offered to go and question the young woman.
The rest of the team left the house to get some rest. Vin and Chris had taken a 'power nap' in one of the upstairs bedrooms before taking over the security detail. Mr. and Mrs. Donnelly were advised to remain in their room unless absolutely necessary. The windows in the safe house were made from reinforced glass, the type used in the President's car windows. The walls were lined with additional material to make it next to impossible to shoot anything smaller than a shoulder-mounted missile through them. Vin took up position on the roof, decked out in clothing befitting Chris' style of dress. Black stocking cap, black long-sleeved turtleneck shirt, black jeans and black sneakers with black and dark green camouflage paint on all exposed skin insured that he would not be seen accidentally. Over his 'Men in Black' look, Vin wore his rappelling harness in case he needed to get to the ground quickly. Both the front and back sides of the house had lines already in place. Chris had the inside position. Night vision binoculars hung around his neck. His clothes were similar to Vin's, minus the paint.
Josiah sat at his kitchen table reviewing the notes he had made after interviewing Miss Shaw. She was young, only just turned nineteen, and away from home for the first time in her life. Her parents had come over from Dublin with the Donnelly family before she was born. A devout Irish Catholic, she had clung tightly to her rosary the entire time she spoke of the strange happenings in the Donnelly mansion. She, unlike her employers, described a statue that had been in the corner of the room where the explosion originated. She described it as having been delivered only days before the odd events started.
When the shipment first arrived, Shannon remembered feeling vaguely uneasy about the contents. Mr. Donnelly explained that the articles had come from his brother's house, salvaged from the explosion that destroyed his home. She said the statue, depicting a winged angel standing over two small children, had been strangely undamaged in the explosion but that the other pieces had been covered in soot. The young woman also related that her young charge, Ian, often played near the statue, which had been placed in the corner of the large entry foyer. She told Josiah that the majority of the strange occurrences happened in Mr. Donnelly's study. A strange odor, like that of a crypt, occasionally filled the room. At other times, the room smelled of freshly turned earth or compost. The light bulbs dimmed or went out at least once a day, facilitating a call for an electrician to come out and inspect the wiring.
On the night of the explosion, Ian had awakened from a sound sleep, screaming as though in pain. She carried him to the living room, intent on calling his parents to ask them what she should do. The phone line was overcome with static, so she was unable to complete the call. Shannon told of going to the window to see if it was storming and that was when she saw the ghost. She described it as a woman, older than herself, beckoning frantically for them to come outside. Being somewhat superstitious, she had bundled the boy in a light blanket and run from the house. She had little memory of the explosion, stating that one of the neighbors had found her sitting on the wall that surrounded the garden in back of the house, rocking Ian.
Josiah searched online until he found a picture of the statue and the import logs that showed when it had been brought to the U.S. The scanned copies of the document were smudged, making it impossible to read exactly where the article had been taken from. Storing all of the information, he decided that he would pay another visit to Miss Shaw in a couple of days.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
The Denver skyline loomed up on the horizon and Sam began to look for a place to spend the night. In the passenger seat, Dean sat with his arms crossed over his chest and his head resting against the window, sound asleep. The Steve Miller Band poured from the speakers and Sam was feeling more than slightly hypnotized by the lines on the highway. He spotted a seedy-looking motel with a 'vacancy' light and pulled off of the road. Dean jerked awake as soon as the noise from the engine ceased.
"We're here. I'll get us a room," Sam said as he dangled the car keys in his brother's face.
In the morning, the Winchester's went out to survey the damage to the Donnelly home. The crime scene tape was still up but there was no one there to bar them from ducking under it and walking up the driveway. Dean whistled at the hole in the brickwork in front of the house.
"Same as the other house," Dean said. "I wonder where they're staying."
"There was nothing in the article I found," Sam said as he approached the semi-circular field of broken and charred bricks. "The nanny was taking classes at the college, maybe someone there knows where they're staying."
"Hey, Sammy, look at this!" Dean knelt and stirred the rubble with the tip of a car key. Several small shards of glazed pottery were mixed with the mortar. They had found similar pieces in the ruins of Seamus Donnelly's house at the site of the explosion.
The brothers were on the back side of the house when they made their next discovery. In the middle of the rose garden, a familiar statue stood. Dean took his EM scanner and ran it over the marble sculpture, his eyebrows rising slightly at the reading he was getting. Dean tried bracing the statue while Sam dug the dirt away from around the base.
"I would suggest that you stop what you're doing and step away with your hands in the air," a southern accented voice said.
Dean looked up, startled, and found himself facing three men with guns. "Uhh, Sam, you better stop," he said. Both Winchester's turned to face the strangers, their hands held shoulder high. "We were just looking to see if the artist who sculpted this piece marked it in any way," Dean said.
"Yeah, we were looking for one like this, part of a collection," Sam added.
"And you didn't see the crime scene tape at the foot of the drive?" the younger man with long hair asked. "I assume that's your Impala down there."
"We didn't mess with the house. We just wanted to look at the statue," Dean said, smiling.
"It's still trespassing on a crime scene," the mustached man said. "Step over here and let's see some ID." He motioned for them to move to the patio while the other two men spread out to flank them.
"How do we know you have the right to ask for our ID?" Sam challenged.
Sighing the sigh of the heavily put-upon, Buck reached into his pocket and removed his badge case and ID. He flipped the case open and glared sharply at JD, who started to giggle.
"It's upside-down," Dunne whispered. Buck turned the interior so he could see and exhaled angrily.
"I'm Sam Winchester and this is my brother, Dean," Sam said, earning him a hard glare. "We've been looking into the occurrences involving the Donnelly family. We think it's connected to their import business."
"You're some kind of private investigator?" Buck asked.
"Not exactly," Sam replied, stopping when his brother hissed at him.
"Alright, for now you're going down to the federal building to answer some questions," Buck said. He motioned for Ezra to frisk them, to ensure that there were no nasty surprises. He then directed them back around the house and down the driveway. "Don't try anything stupid. Ezra here likes to shoot people in the knees," Buck warned when the brothers began to put distance between themselves and the ATF agents.
"Have you lost your mind?" Dean whispered angrily.
"You want to try to bluff your way past Federal agents?" Sam asked.
"We could have tried!"
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
It had been a quiet night with the exception of Ian waking up at 2:30 in the morning screaming like a banshee. Chris had been making regular circuits of the first floor, checking the doors and windows and looking out with the binoculars. He did a radio check with Vin every quarter hour. When the loud, pain-filled cries started in the secure bedroom, Chris ran up the stairs and pounded on the door.
"Mr. and Mrs. Donnelly, are you alright?" Chris shouted. Seconds passed and he raised his hand to knock again when the door opened and a disheveled Ryan Donnelly looked out at him.
"It's just my son. He isn't used to sleeping in a strange room."
On the roof, Vin shifted his position and squinted through the night vision goggles. He thought he detected movement in the bushes near the perimeter of the yard. An instant later, he heard little Ian begin to wail. That moment of distraction caused him to lose sight of the figure. He picked up his rifle, the one with the thermal imaging scope. All of a sudden, the dogs in the neighboring yards began to bark and snarl as they ran the fence rows. A couple of minutes later, everything went quiet again.
"Vin, all clear in the house," Chris said over the headset.
Giving the grounds one more scan, Vin replied, "All clear outside." While not exactly the truth, he couldn't find any heat signatures that would indicate that anyone was approaching the house. Settling down against the cornice, he slowly, carefully scanned the yard.
At daylight, Vin entered the house. Mrs. Donnelly was still in bed, having spent over an hour trying to coax Ian back to sleep. Mr. Donnelly made a pot of coffee and prepared to go to work. When Nathan and Josiah arrived, Josiah chose to accompany Ryan to work leaving Nathan to watch over Erin and the child. Chris was just sliding behind the wheel of his truck when his cell phone rang.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
When they reached the end of the drive, Buck stopped the Winchester's. "Which of you is driving that?" he asked. When Dean drew the keys from his pocket and gave them a jingle, Buck's hand snatched them from him. "JD, you drive their car. Gentlemen, turn around and put your hands on the hood."
"Cool!" JD said, eyeing the Impala.
"For what?" Dean protested.
Buck didn't waste any time; he grabbed the taller of the two men and spun him around, coming up with a wrist lock as he dug his handcuffs from his belt. "For this," he answered, ratcheting the cuffs and snapping them tightly on Dean's wrist.
Ezra handcuffed Sam before putting him in the back seat of the Jaguar. "If you do anything to damage the upholstery, I will see to it that you spend time in a cell with a very large, hirsute man named Bubba," he threatened. Buck put Dean in on the other side and shut the door before he looked across the roof of the car in surprise at the choice of threat.
"Bubba?" he asked.
"Would you wish to spend time with a cellmate having that particular moniker?" Ezra countered.
"I'll call Chris," Buck said when he finished chuckling.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Alright, we'll meet you at the office," Chris said tiredly.
"That Buck?" Vin asked. Seeing the sandy-haired man nod, he asked, "They got something?"
"Not something, someone. They caught two guys nosing around the Donnelly mansion this morning."
"Aw hell, I was looking forward to some shuteye," Vin moaned.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
"What do you know about the articles your brother shipped to you after his house was destroyed?" Josiah asked as they sat in rush-hour traffic.
"Just that they came from some little place near Dublin. Why do you ask?" Ryan replied.
"Because Miss Shaw insists that there were strange things happening after those things arrived."
"Shannon Shaw is young and foolish. Her mother is dreadfully superstitious and raised her daughter to believe in all of the leprechauns-grant-wishes mumbo jumbo. We offered the girl a job to get her away from her mother's influence. The woman is mad as a hatter!"
"And yet, you brought Shannon into your home and trusted her with your son?" Josiah asked.
"Shannon loves Ian. It's just this silliness over ghosts and such," Ryan said. The conversation ended when the traffic suddenly opened up and began to move.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Chris flung the handful of ID cards down on the table in disgust. JD had brought him pictures of an assortment of weapons in the trunk, the likes of which the ATF agent had never seen before. A sawed off rifle that fired shells filled with rock salt, an assortment of knives, bags of salt and other things that they couldn't begin to figure out the use for were contained in the Impala's trunk. A police report said that Dean Winchester was wanted for murder in one city and that he had been killed in another.
"You had better start talking and you had better do it fast," Chris growled.
"Look Mister, we were checking out the house! We didn't touch anything except the statue! We've been following this thing back and forth across the country! We're trying to help!" Sam protested angrily.
"Following this? You mean, like on the news?" Vin asked.
"No! We know that there's a connection between what happened at the Import Company and the house and the yacht!" Sam shouted.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Your friend better not put his hand on my brother!" Dean warned as Buck slid into the chair across the table from him.
"While Mr. Larabee does have a considerable temper, I don't think he would go so far as to strike a suspect, no matter how badly he might want to," Ezra said, sitting down next to Buck and laying a file on the table. "Now, shall we discuss the reason you trespassed on the Donnelly crime scene?"
Dean leaned back in the metal chair and glared at the southerner. He had seen the other two men arrive and recognized the potential for violence in the man with the sandy-blond hair. The other man seemed more likely to hang back and watch and Dean knew his younger brother would be unnerved by that more than the openly malevolent air that surrounded the first man.
"Like we told you, we're collectors; we were just looking for an artist's mark on the base of the statue."
"And we just fell off of the turnip truck this morning," Buck replied acerbically.
JD knocked before entering the interrogation room. In his hand he held several sheets that he had pulled from the computer. It seemed that the Winchester brothers had been in more than their fair share of legal trouble over the past few years. All of the names on the credit cards were false and the issuing companies were looking for the men using them. He slid the reports onto the corner nearest Chris and quickly left the room.
Ten minutes later, Chris left the interrogation room shaking his head incredulously at the wild yarn the young man had spun about haunted artifacts and evil spirits. He was too tired to play head games. Vin strode out a moment later, steering Sam into a holding cell. Chris told Buck to let them cool their heels for a while, that he was going to get some rest. Buck had Ezra put Dean in another cell, to prevent them from comparing notes on what they had said. JD, Ezra and Buck returned to the office to research the brothers for a few hours before Ezra and JD took their turn providing security for the Donnelly family.
Josiah looked on with interest as Ryan transferred several items from a safe at his office to his briefcase before they left for the safe house. It had been an uneventful day at the import company. Mr. Donnelly took several phone calls and reviewed several files. He showed Josiah some beautiful pieces that were coming in from the Orient. The walls of the man's office were dotted with portraits of his family. By the end of the day, Josiah wondered if the attacks might be coincidence.
After spending a pleasant day with Mrs. Donnelly and Ian, Nathan was certain that the woman knew nothing about her husband's business except what he told her and that he told her very little. Erin was a charming hostess, offering him tea and making sure that he was comfortable. Little Ian was a friendly child and Nathan spent an hour sitting on the floor playing with the little carved animals that the boy carried around with him. At almost four, Ian was talkative; his speech was dotted with Irish words that he had picked up from his nanny.
That night, Ezra and JD agreed to trade posts hourly. The Donnelly family had gone to bed, leaving them to their patrols. It was quiet and JD struggled to stay awake. There was a storm coming and Ezra tensed as the wind gusted hard enough to set the heavier branches of the trees in motion. He kept his focus on the perimeter of the yard, where Vin had indicated that he saw something the night before. The wind switched directions, bringing a decidedly cooler breath of air and making Ezra shiver slightly. Suddenly, one of the dogs in a nearby yard began to bark and growl. Through the night vision goggles, he saw the little mutt, in the corner where the fence from the safe house met the neighbor's fence. The wind changed directions again, coming at Ezra so hard that it stole his breath and forced him to retreat from the edge of the roof.
A dark shape drifted across the bedroom and Erin tensed as she groped along the sheets for her husband's arm. When the shape passed the bed going toward the door, she caught the scent of her son's shampoo and realized that he had been taken. Bolting upright in the bed, Mrs. Donnelly began to scream.
If he had remained on the roof for a few more seconds, Ezra would have seen something he would never have forgotten. In the middle of the back yard, a glowing shape materialized into a marble statue of an angel keeping watch over two small children. Instead, he heard hysterical screams over his headset and raced for the door to the attic. He practically flew down the stairs, drawing his weapon as he approached the bedroom door, which stood ajar. An instant later, the interior of the room was illuminated and Mr. Donnelly came running into the hall.
"It's Ian, he's gone!" Ryan shouted.
Ezra grabbed the distraught father and shoved him back into the bedroom. "Stay with your wife, I'll find your son. Don't come out and don't open the door unless it's one of us on the other side!" Ezra ordered. He paused long enough to hear the lock engage before running for the first floor. "JD! JD, where are you?" he yelled. His words were drowned out by an ominous rumbling. Ezra had only a fraction of a second of warning, before the windows all around the house shattered. Diving into the hall closet kept him from receiving serious injury. When he opened the door, the floor was littered with shards of glass and, curiously enough, small bits of glazed pottery. In the deafening silence, Ezra scanned the living room for his young compatriot. The back door creaked as it drifted open, causing him to look that way. An eerie glow filled the back yard. In the midst of that glow, JD sat on the ground, leaning against a statue that Ezra knew had not been there earlier. Cradled in the younger agent's arms was young Ian, wrapped in the blanket from his bed.
The glass crunched under his feet as he ran out of the house. Ezra's heart was in his throat when he sank to his knees and reached out to touch JD. The younger man's skin was cool and clammy but his pulse was strong and steady and Ezra breathed a sigh of relief.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Going from a sound sleep to wide awake between one breath and the next, Chris flipped his cell phone open and sat up on the side of the bed. Officer Kamp informed him in calm, even tones that his presence was requested at the address of the safe house. He assured Chris that everyone was 'fine' but that Agent Standish was somewhat unsettled.
It was a mess when he arrived on the scene. Chris stared out the windshield of his truck in awe at the flashing lights from at least eight emergency vehicles. The utility companies were there, and the media, the street and yard were swarming with bodies. Beyond a makeshift barricade, two ambulances sat with their doors open. Nathan and Buck's vehicles were parked haphazardly in a neighboring driveway. Chris shut off the engine of his truck and opened the door, wincing at the volume of the voices clamoring for information. Making good use of his 'glare' to get past the media and the nosy neighbors, he flashed his ID at the cop manning the barricade and saw the paramedics examining a protesting member of his team, JD.
"What happened?" Chris asked as soon as he found Ezra standing near the other ambulance where Mrs. Donnelly was sobbing hysterically.
"I don't know. All of the glass in the house imploded during a strange wind storm," Ezra replied.
"Why are they checking JD? Was he hurt by the glass?"
"No, quite the opposite. JD wasn't in the house when the windows shattered. I discovered him sitting in the back yard holding the sleeping child in his arms."
"Not in the house? What was he doing? I thought you two could handle watching over them! What were you doing while JD was sitting in the yard? What was he doing with the boy out there in a wind storm?" Chris angrily shouted, causing Ezra to flinch and the paramedic to look over at them.
"I don't know what he was doing out there. He was in a dazed state when I found them. He says he doesn't even remember leaving the house with Ian," Ezra said.
"I don't need to go to the hospital! I feel fine!" JD shouted, pushing his way to his feet.
"Now JD-" Nathan began.
"Don't you 'Now JD' me! I'm not going!" JD said. He saw Buck coming and started toward him.
Not wanting to shout his discovery to the multitude, Buck grabbed his roommate and motioned for the others to follow him. When they rounded the corner of the house, JD stopped, causing Nathan to bump into him and nearly sending both of them to the ground. Ezra stopped, refusing to go any closer until Chris gave him a shove and a glare.
"This wasn't here when I left this afternoon," Nathan said, walking around the statue.
"It looks like the one at the Donnelly's house," Buck said. "But how did it get here?"
"Is this where you found JD and Ian?" Chris asked Ezra.
"Yes, JD was seated on the ground with his back to the statue and the child was soundly asleep in his arms," Ezra replied.
"Mrs. Donnelly said that a dark shape came in the room and took her son right before the windows exploded," Nathan explained. "They're taking the boy to the hospital to have him checked out."
"Go with them and keep an eye on them," Chris ordered. "The rest of you meet back at the office in one hour. I want to talk to that Winchester kid again."
Ezra sat in his car, mentally reviewing the incident. He hadn't been able to see anything out of the ordinarily before he went into the house. If someone had carried the statue into the yard, he should have been able to see them. His hand felt rather strange and he studied it for a minute. He remembered pressing his palm to JD's face when his young teammate had started to come around. He knew that JD had no recollection of how he came to be in the yard. One thing he did know for certain ... the statue made his skin crawl and set his teeth on edge. He barely remembered calling Nathan and Buck. He didn't remember giving the police officer Chris' number at all. He slowly set the night's events aside and started his car.
"Chris is going to kill me. I fell asleep on the job," JD lamented as Buck drove him to the office. "I was just sitting there watching a cat across the street and the next thing I know, Ezra's kneeling over me asking me if I'm alright."
"Calm down. There's more here than meets the eye," Buck said, his concentration torn between the few cars on the road and the odd appearance of the statue in the yard of the ATF safe house. "I won't let him hurt you too bad, Kid," he said with forced joviality.
Driving to the office, Chris rang the other two members of his team. He hated waking Vin, especially since he had been up most of the day. When he saw the odd collection of weapons in the Impala, he had stayed at the office to check them out. He really needed Josiah there when he questioned the younger Winchester. The profiler's opinion of the wild story the man had spun would be the deciding factor. He didn't know what would be decided but he knew for sure that he needed Josiah's input.
When the story about being collectors didn't pan out and confronted with the possibility of being charged with theft and fraud and a dozen other charges, Sam Winchester had spun the most incredible tale. He told Chris about ghosts, Wendigo, poltergeists, Shtriga, vampires and other evil, malevolent spirits that he and his brother worked to destroy. He told about a particularly evil spirit that had killed both his mother and his girlfriend. When the younger man began to talk about a 'Skin Walker' who could mimic anyone, Chris had thrown up his hands in disgust and had him tossed in a holding cell. As he pulled into the parking garage, Chris began to wonder.
Sam Winchester sat up, squinting at the brightness of the light and found himself being hauled bodily from the bunk to be thrust into the same interview room where he had been that morning. The ATF agent, Larabee, and an older man were already there when the guy with the mustache shoved him down into the chair. It took him only a few seconds to realize that something had happened, something that had unsettled the dark, menacing team leader.
"What do you know about this statue?" Josiah asked, flipping a photo of the marble sculpture in front of the young man.
"Only that odd things seem to be happening to whoever possesses it," Sam replied.
"What were you and your brother looking for at the Donnelly estate?" Josiah asked.
"Clues," Sam answered. He kept his answers deliberately vague; hoping to get the men to tell him what had happened that had them so shaken.
"Clues to what?" Chris snarled. "And don't give me any more of your cute answers; I'm not in the mood for games."
"Has something happened?" Sam asked. He folded his hands and leaned forward, schooling his face into an expression of concern.
"Do you know what's causing the explosions wherever the statue turns up?" Josiah asked.
"There was another explosion?" Sam said. Before he could even begin to organize his next thought, Chris grabbed him and jerked him out of his seat, slamming him into the wall. Sam recognized the dangerous, barely controlled rage and changed his tactics. "I just meant that I was surprised by what he said. Let go of me and I'll tell you as much as we know about this kind of thing."
Chris unclenched his hands from Sam's shirt and stepped back, still seething with anger. Clearly, the young man had no idea how dangerous it was to cross Larabee. Like a hornet's nest that someone was poking with a stick, he was buzzing deep inside and getting ready to explode outward and attack. The only problem was that he didn't know who or what was poking him, yet.
"Okay, Dean and I figure that the statue is a reliquary of some kind," Sam said as he eased back into the recently abandoned chair.
"A religious reliquary?" Josiah asked.
"What's a reliquary?" Chris countered.
"A reliquary is used to store relics, something old or perhaps sacred. Do you know where the statue came from originally?" Sam asked.
At a nod from Chris, Josiah opened the folder and allowed Sam to review all the information he had gleaned about the statue from the import documents. In the observation room, JD pressed against the glass, wishing he could be there to see the papers too. Vin was slouched against the wall, drinking a tall cup of coffee. Buck was standing right next to JD, his hands pressed to the metal around the one-way mirror. Ezra was the only one not looking through the glass; he was busy pacing along the back wall.
Turning the last sheet over, Sam looked up at Josiah, "This is all you have?"
"I have requested the original documents but it will take time to get them."
"And Mr. Donnelly hasn't mentioned anything else happening, anything strange or unusual?" Sam asked. He didn't think they were holding anything back but he had to know for sure.
"He thinks the nanny is a superstitious nutcase," Josiah volunteered.
"I need to examine the statue," Sam said.
"That can be arranged," Chris said.
They waited until mid morning to return to the safe house. Nathan had gone with the Donnelly's to a hotel, where they would stay until the situation was resolved, one way or another. The news was reporting that the strange damage to the house was caused by a micro-tornado. A crew had been there to board up the windows, but nothing inside had been touched. Sam and Dean rode in the back seat of Chris' truck. Dean was mildly perturbed that he couldn't bring his car, just in case they needed to kill or burn something. Vin and Josiah rode with Chris, leaving the others to come in Ezra's car. All eight men got out and Chris led the way to the back yard.
"How did it get here?" Dean asked.
"We don't know," Josiah answered.
Dean walked around the statue, studying the base. Finally, he looked at Josiah and Buck, "Help me tip it up so I can look at the bottom."
"Be careful, if we break that, they'll be taking it out of our pay for the next year," Chris warned.
Easing the statue back, Josiah and Buck held it while Sam and Dean brushed the dirt from the bottom. Dean groped in his pocket for his knife and used it to clean the packed dirt from a groove that encircled a six-inch square of marble that was a slightly different color than the rest of the statue. Using the tip of the blade, he coaxed the piece loose until it slid into Sam's waiting hands. Sam sank back on his heels, staring at the block while Dean stuck his hand into the opening he had uncovered.
"Nothing. I'll bet that whatever was inside of this is what the spirit is looking for. What'cha got, Sammy?" Dean asked as he dusted his hands against his jeans.
"There are words carved in this piece," Sam answered. A name and dates ... I can't make out the rest."
"Eimear Fiona MacLean, 1874 to 1898," Vin read aloud.
"So, what are we looking for?" Chris asked.
"A glazed pottery jar or vessel of some kind," Dean replied. "It may hold a bone that the spirit is attached to. If we can get it back and burn it, we can set the spirit free."
"Why can't we just put it back in the statue?" JD asked.
"Because the spirit may still seek revenge against the ones who disturbed its rest," Sam explained.
"Pottery," Ezra said, "I saw bits of pottery in the glass when the windows shattered."
The men rushed toward the house after Josiah and Buck returned the statue to the upright position. Chris punched in the code to open the electronic lock and stared in amazement at the damage to the house. Bits of glass were embedded in the drywall, the floor, and even the appliances in the kitchen. Ezra shuddered at seeing the shards that impaled the closet door where he had sought shelter. Vin and Dean knelt by the living room wall, studying the pieces that lay on the floor near the gun safe. Some of the pieces had been crushed, as if someone had come into the house after the attack.
Chris flipped his cell phone open and called Nathan, "Did you bring Mr. Donnelly back to the house last night or early this morning?"
"I brought the family over so Mr. Donnelly could collect their clothing and Ian's toys," Nathan said. "Why, is there something wrong?"
"We're on our way over. Don't let him leave," Chris said, snapping the phone shut and slipping it back into the clip on his belt. "Let's go, maybe Donnelly knows what happened to the jar."
On the way to the hotel, Vin began questioning Dean about the weapons in the car. He was especially interested in hearing about the Native American spirits and how they differed from the others that the brothers had dealt with in the past. Chris said nothing during the trip, all the talk of vengeful spirits hit just a little too close to home for him.
Ryan Donnelly had moved his family into a penthouse suite in the hotel so that they would have more room. When Chris and the others arrived, he sent his wife and son into the bedroom so that the boy wouldn't be a distraction.
"Now, what was it you wanted to discuss with me, Mr. Larabee?" Ryan asked when Erin closed the door.
"Where are the items removed from inside of the statue?" Dean asked.
Cocking his head, Ryan studied the younger man. "And just who are you? I don't remember meeting you when I met the rest of Mr. Larabee's team," he said.
"They were on assignment," Chris inserted. "Now, answer his question."
"I don't know what you're talking about. My brother sent me the statue because Erin admired it. I didn't know there was anything inside of it," Ryan said quickly.
"Are you absolutely certain?" Sam asked. "It might have been in a glazed pottery jar or box."
"I'm certain. Now, if you have nothing further, I have a meeting to attend. I have called Mr. Travis and asked him to relieve you of the responsibility of looking after us. I will hire my own security," Ryan said, glaring meaningfully at JD.
Chris knew that he had just been handed his walking papers. Rising from the sofa, he glanced at each of his men in turn. "Very well, if you think of anything or need any assistance, call me at this number," he said, holding out one of his ATF business cards. When Ryan refused to take the card, Chris placed it on the coffee table. "We'll just be on our way then."
They hadn't even reached the elevator when Sam began to protest, "You can't just leave them like that! They have no idea what they're up against!"
"If that spirit gets hold of them up here, it'll kill them," Dean added.
"We'll just have to hope it doesn't come to that," Chris said when the elevator doors opened.
At the Federal Building, Chris told Vin and Buck to return all of the stuff they had removed from the car and let the Winchester's go. He cautioned them that they should stay away from the hotel or he would be forced to hold them for the various law enforcement agencies that had wanted orders on them. Sam thanked Chris and dragged Dean away before his brother could open his mouth and blow their release.
That evening, Chris shook his head as he read over the final narrative concerning the Donnelly case. It would remain open and unsolved but Travis had given them permission to set it aside. Vin knocked on the door frame and stuck his head in to tell him that they were heading out.
"You stopping at the saloon?" Chris asked.
"Yeah, we figured that we might run into Sam and Dean," Vin replied.
"Who, coincidentally, happen to turn up at our usual hangout?"
"We-e-ll, I might have dropped a hint or two while we were loading up their stuff," Vin admitted.
By the time they got there, Sam and JD had challenged Dean and Buck to a game of pool. Ezra was taking bets on the outcome. Josiah put a dollar on JD just to shut Ezra up and Nathan got up to go to the restroom to get away. Inez was just coming out from behind the bar with heaping plates of appetizers for their table to go with the pitchers she had brought out when the first of them arrived.
Over the course of the evening, they polished off several platters of wings, stuffed potato skins and deluxe nachos, along with a half dozen pitchers of beer. Josiah won and lost his dollar three or four times over the evening. As they were parting on the parking lot, Sam exchanged phone numbers with Buck, JD, Vin and Josiah. Dean promised Chris that they would only hang around for a couple of days, until something else caught their attention, but would stay away from anything to do with the Donnelly's.
JD was dozing when Buck pulled into the parking lot at their apartment building. The past two days, and all of the beer, had finally caught up to him and he was out cold. Buck pulled his roommate out of the cab of the truck, bravely hefting JD into a fireman's carry for the short trip to their place. He bumped JD's head on the door facing, getting only a groan and a belch from the unconscious body. It was too far to carry JD to his room, so Buck tipped him onto the couch, pulled off his tennis shoes and tossed a blanket over him before heading for his own bed. He was passed out before the sheet warmed beneath him.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Sam hated breaking his word to Chris but he knew that the spirit of the marble statue wouldn't stop until it retrieved whatever it was connected to and that it would probably kill whoever had it. They parked the Impala where they could see the windows of the penthouse and waited. To kill time, Sam was working to translate the words etched in the square of marble from the sculpture. He had made a rubbing of it before putting it back. So far, he had translated a word that meant 'beloved' and another that probably meant 'eternity.' Dean was watching the street in the side mirror.
"Hey! Sammy, look over there! Isn't that JD?" Dean said, sitting up and pointing toward the parking lot. Sure enough, the young ATF agent was trudging along the sidewalk, heedless of the world around him. He stepped off of the curb and a car screeched to a stop to avoid hitting him, the driver yelling profanities as JD reached the middle of the street so he could tear off, leaving a set of skid marks and filling the air with smoke. Sam leapt from the car and darted across the street, dodging another car and earning his own curse from the disgruntled driver. He reached JD just as Dunne was turning to cross the parking lot in front of the hotel. Sam blocked JD's path, causing him to sidestep as he continued toward the lobby doors.
"Dean, come listen to this!" Sam called to his brother. JD was singing softly in what sounded like Gaelic. His eyes were open but unfocused. Dean stopped beside the young ATF agent, holding the micro-cassette recorder that they kept on hand for just this kind of thing. When his brother had recorded over a minute of the softly whispered song, Sam spoke again. "Do you think he's sleep walking?"
"Only one way to find out," Dean said, reaching down to pinch the back of JD's hand. The reaction was instant and unpleasant. A sudden gust of wind ripped across the parking lot, pushing Dean into Sam and setting off car alarms all up and down the block. The wind continued until Sam took a reluctant step back. As soon as JD's path was clear, the wind died down and the singing resumed. JD walked toward the lobby, blithely unaware that he was being followed.
"I'll stay with him. You call his friends and get them down here, quick!" Sam called over his shoulder. JD entered the hotel and crossed the lobby, reaching the elevator, which was open as if waiting for him. Sam darted in just as the doors started to close. He watched JD punch the button for the penthouse and he began to punch the other buttons to slow their ascent.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
The insistent ringing brought Buck to consciousness just as the call went to his voicemail. He turned on the lamp on the nightstand, wincing at the anvil chorus the light caused in his head, and groped for the cell phone. He played back the message, nearly falling out of bed when Dean's voice informed him that JD was at the Donnelly's hotel, on foot. Struggling to pull his pants on, he nearly fell twice on his way to the living room. The couch was empty but JD's shoes lay right where Buck had dropped them.
"JD!" he shouted, flinging the other bedroom door open and flipping on the light. "JD, are you in there?" he yelled before opening the bathroom door. The cell phone rang again and he almost dropped it into the toilet as he fumbled with it. "Wilmington," he said, not even looking at the caller ID.
"Buck? I just got a call from Dean. He said that JD is at the Donnelly's hotel," Vin said.
"I know, I got the same call. I'm headed over there," Buck said. As soon as he closed the phone, it rang again, from Josiah's number this time. "I got the call, too. I'm on my way," he repeated, stomping his feet into his shoes and pulling his windbreaker on over his Parrot Head tee shirt.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
The elevator shuddered and the lights blinked when the doors opened for the fifth time. Sam watched in fascination as the lights for the other floors went out one by one. He hurriedly punched them again, only to see them going out as soon as he lifted his finger. Sam gave up, hoping he had bought enough time for Dean.
"Come on! Come on!" Dean said, urging the elevator to rise faster. When the doors finally opened, he leapt out, looking at the other elevator to see if his brother had gotten there first. The other elevator doors opened a second later and JD stepped out, still singing softly. The electronic lock on the door turned green at his touch and JD entered the suite with Sam and Dean on his heels. Both of them felt the increase in air pressure and knew that they were in danger. JD opened one of the bedroom doors and entered, returning a moment later with young Ian in his arms. An eerie noise began to fill the room and Dean watched the floor-to-ceiling windows bulge. Groping in his pocket, he found the bag of salt and pulled it out. He grabbed his brother and knelt on the floor, quickly pouring a circle around them
"What about JD and Ian?" Sam shouted. Dean looked up and made a snap decision. He leapt to his feet and grabbed the ATF agent, steering him toward the circle on the floor. The response was immediate and violent. The windows shattered, the curtains ripped from their rods to fly across the room, pictures on the walls launched themselves at the opposite wall. Over the din, Sam heard Erin screaming in terror.
The young woman watched in horror as her husband's body flew across the room and slammed into the wall. Ryan gasped for air, clawing at invisible hands that were clenched around his neck. The wind whistled in from one set of shattered windows and out the other. Finally, a faint outline took shape. The glowing form of a man released Ryan, who slid down the wall like a rag doll. The specter pointed and Ryan's briefcase sailed across the room to land at his feet. Ryan reached out with shaking hands to dial the numbers that would release the catches and opened the lid. There, in the briefcase, was a locket and a pocket watch. The terrified man pushed the case off of his lap, kicking it with his feet, then he turned to crawl away.
Vin, Buck and Josiah burst from the elevator and ran across the lobby to the Donnelly's room. The door swung open at their touch, revealing the destruction. As soon as they crossed the threshold, the wind died down and the lights came on. Buck ran to where the Winchester's were lifting JD to his feet. He took Ian, who was just waking up and started to cry. Vin and Josiah continued on to the bedroom where they could hear Erin sobbing. They opened the door to see the young woman kneeling beside her husband, who was blubbering and trying to crawl farther into the corner of the closet.
Hotel security and the Denver Police arrived only a couple of minutes later. They stopped just inside the suite, amazed at the destruction. Buck fumbled in his pocket for his ID, shifting Ian to his other hip. The child was wrapped around the ATF agent, his face buried in Buck's shoulder as he cried. JD was sitting on one of the arms of the sofa, his face a mask of calm, his eyes still unfocused, singing again. Josiah and Vin came out of the bedroom, supporting the jabbering Ryan Donnelly between them. Erin came out behind them, still trying to tie her robe. Like the security staff and the police, she stopped, amazed, at the way the room looked. Her shocked state lasted only as long as it took for Ian to spot her and stretch out his arms, calling for his mommy.
Once Buck had been relieved of the child, he turned his attention to his young friend. Sam was standing in front of JD, gently shaking him and trying to rouse him from whatever dream state he was in. Buck nudged him aside, taking hold of JD's shoulders and stooping down to stare into his vacant brown eyes.
"JD? Kid? Can you hear me?" Buck said. He snapped his fingers in front of JD's face but the dazed young man didn't even blink.
"Someone want to tell me what happened up here?" the police sergeant asked.
"Probably another freaky micro-tornado," Dean said confidently. "They've been having them here and there over the past few days."
"Micro-tornado," the officer repeated. "And how does that explain that gentleman's condition?" he asked, angling his head toward Donnelly.
"Fear of storms from his childhood," Josiah replied, picking up on the need to diffuse the situation. "Some folks just can't take it when the wind blows and things start breaking."
Mrs. Donnelly spoke, the strength of her voice more convincing than Josiah's had been. "We're alright, Officers, thank you for coming so quickly. If you would allow us to dress, I believe my husband and I would like to move to another room on a lower floor," she said to the hotel staff. The police and security officers looked at each other before turning to pad carefully through the broken glass that littered the floor. Only after the door closed behind them did anyone else speak.
"Where are the items from the reliquary?" Dean asked.
"In the bedroom, in Mr. Donnelly's briefcase," Josiah answered.
Returning from the bedroom with the watch and locket, the older Winchester strode over to JD, "We're going to put them back. We'll take the statue back to where it came from."
JD's head turned toward Dean's hands for a moment, then he stood and walked toward Mrs. Donnelly. Buck winced at the shards of broken glass that the younger man stepped on, seeing as he was still in his stocking feet.
"Don't let him hurt us! We didn't know anything! Please!" she shouted, backing away and turning to put her body between JD and Ian. With her back against the wall, Erin cried out to the others again, "Do something! Don't let him hurt us!"
Buck started to move toward JD, only to find Sam's arm blocking his way. "You can't let him hurt her!" he protested. But suddenly, Ian lifted his tear-streaked face from his mother's shoulder and cocked his head at the ATF agent. Ian's face lit up with joy when he heard the soft, melodious words coming from JD's mouth. JD stopped singing and held out his hand. Ian considered the empty palm for a moment before looking at his own hand, which was clenched around something. Hesitantly, he extended his arm to uncurl his fingers and let one of the small animals he had been playing with fall from his hand. JD turned, holding the hand-carved wooden horse, and carried it to Dean.
"Ryan gave that to him after the statue arrived in Denver," Erin said.
As soon as the wooden horse was placed in Dean's hands, JD's shoulders dropped slightly and his body swayed. Sam and Buck caught him, guiding him to the couch. Buck went to his knees in front of JD, gripping the younger man by the forearms.
"Buck?" JD said. He let his eyes travel beyond the familiar face to the devastation of the room. "What are we doing here? What happened?"
"What do you remember?" Buck countered.
"Getting in your truck at the saloon. I thought we were going home," JD replied.
"He probably won't remember anything," Sam said, sitting down next to JD. "Most possessed people have no recollection of their actions."
"Possessed?" JD repeated, fear creeping up his spine.
"The ghosts that were attached to things inside of the angel statue," Sam explained, "One of them took over your body and brought you here."
"Why?" JD asked.
"To protect Ian," Dean answered. "If I'm right, it's not one but two ghosts. A male," he held up the watch, "and a female," he displayed the locket. "We still need to find the other container."
"What other container?" Vin asked.
"There had to have been a pottery container of some kind in that statue," Dean answered.
"It was broken," Mr. Donnelly said. "They took the ashes out ..."
"What did they do with them?" Dean asked.
"Seamus ... he tried to do right by them! When he realized what it was that the men were sweeping off of the floor ... he put them in another container!" Ryan answered, his voice taking on a hysterical tone.
"What did he do with the ashes?" Josiah asked.
"He took them out on his boat. He dropped them in the lake."
"Did he pour them into the water?" Dean asked. He knew that broadcasting the ashes into a large body of water would have weakened the spirits, making them too weak to do the things they had been doing.
"No, I think he said he ... he threw the container ... overboard," Ryan said.
"Then putting the items back won't get rid of the ghosts," Sam explained. "It might placate them but it might not. You would be risking an awful lot-"
"They came back!" Ryan shouted. "I buried them in the garden in our yard!"
In the morning, Team 7, Sam and Dean, and the Donnelly's returned to the mansion. Ian broke free of his mother's hand to run to the statue, which had mysteriously relocated to its former place in the rose garden. Josiah and Nathan carefully moved the statue aside so Dean could dig up the ashes. Ryan said that he buried them in an old coffee can. It took only a few minutes to reach the can and lift it from the hole. Josiah held out another container, one he had taken to have blessed by a priest. The ashes were poured from the can and the new urn was carefully sealed. The container was replaced in the base of the statue, along with the other articles and the square with the engraving was replaced. Buck and Vin carried the packing crate from the back of Chris' truck. It took five of them to lift the marble sculpture into the box while the others padded it with Styrofoam blocks. The crate was sealed and loaded back into the truck for the trip to the airport. Ryan Donnelly had arranged for a private plane to return the reliquary to its original home. It would have to sit in a Customs holding area for a while, until the paperwork was cleared, but it would be replaced in the old cemetery as quickly as possible.
Nine men watched the small plane lift off from the private airstrip outside of Denver. JD stared after it until the small dot disappeared. He still felt unsettled. Sam and Dean had assured him that he hadn't done anything terrible or hurtful while being controlled by the spirit but he still couldn't shake the unfamiliar emotions that welled up. A feeling of loss, similar to what he felt when his mother died, hung around him like a shroud. Sam said that he and his brother had to get going, that there was some strange stuff going on in Oregon that they wanted to look into. Buck and Josiah thanked the Winchester's profusely for their help, offering to do anything they could to repay them. Sam just blushed but Dean looked deadly serious when he said that he would keep it in mind.
Chris insisted that they remain together at the ranch that night, just in case. JD was quiet and somewhat withdrawn in spite of repeated assurances that he wasn't to blame for the things he had done. After a hearty supper of pizza and wings, washed down with a few beers a piece, everyone was bedded down in their usual places. Buck immediately dropped into a deep sleep, certain that the danger was past.
The floorboard in the hall squeaked, the one Chris could never manage to fix, and Larabee awoke. He lay there for several seconds, listening for the toilet to flush or the water to run but he didn't hear anything. Unable to relax, he got up and padded silently to his door. The small nightlight, which he kept threatening to throw away but never did, was giving off a soft glow. It illuminated a familiar figure standing there. Chris drew a breath to call to JD, to ask him if he was having trouble sleeping but hesitated when he saw JD's long fingers lovingly caress one of the picture frames. He knew without looking which picture was in the frame, it was the last family photo made before he lost Sarah and Adam. Soft strains of melody brought Chris into the hall. He was close enough to feel the warmth that JD's body gave off before he realized what the younger man was singing. It was a hauntingly familiar verse, one that he had heard many, many times over the baby monitor that used to rest on Sarah's side of the bed. It was the words to the lullaby she always sang to Adam while she was nursing him.
When the song was over, JD sighed. He withdrew his fingers from the frame and turned toward the room where Buck slept, snoring like an old chainsaw. Chris followed, just to make sure that JD got back into bed before he returned to his own room. The anxiety that he had felt all day slipped away as he closed his eyes and Chris slept, soothed by the memory of his wife's voice as she sang to their son.
A week passed. There were no more nightmares, no more 'sleepwalking,' as JD referred to his nocturnal wanderings. He found that his feet were the ones that made the imprints in the dirt outside of the Donnelly house. That explained the mud in his bed when he woke up that morning. A little more investigating revealed that JD had, in fact, ridden his dirt bike across town, all while under the control of one or both of the MacLean ghosts. Buck had finally stopped putting up his 'escape alarm' across the doorway of JD's room. The first morning after the statue had been removed from Denver, JD had come out of his room, half asleep as he headed for the bathroom. Something caught him across his upper thighs and an assortment of empty beer and soda cans rattled loudly. Buck staggered out of his room, wearing only his boxer shorts, afraid that JD was 'possessed' again. Similar 'early warning systems' were hanging strategically around the apartment, all designed to make sure that JD didn't leave without Buck knowing. When JD found the trash bag filled with crushed cans sitting in the kitchen, he was relieved.
"Don't forget, it's your morning to pick up the donuts," Buck said.
"Oh crap! Can you spot me twenty?" JD said, digging through his wallet and finding only receipts and one, lonely, crumpled dollar bill.
"I got it, kid. Get moving, we don't want to be late," Buck urged.
They reached the office with time to spare and JD hurriedly set the boxes in the conference room. After their usual morning briefing, everyone went about their work. A couple of hours later, Ezra and Vin were checking into the records of a gun shop, suspected of waiving the mandatory waiting period on the purchase of handguns. Buck was studying an article on some new kind of explosive device. Nathan was in court with Chris, testifying on a case from a year ago. Josiah was at his desk, studying something. JD glanced up when the profiler got up to get some papers from the printer. He went back to what he was doing, reviewing the latest virus-protection software that the ATF wanted to install on their office computers.
"JD? Can I ask you something?" Josiah asked.
"Sure," JD answered, setting the information pamphlet aside.
"How much do you know about your family history?"
"Why do you ask? Is this about a case?" JD asked.
Buck looked up at hearing the conversation at JD's desk. Josiah realized that his 'private' conversation had suddenly acquired an audience and looked around to see that Vin and Ezra were also straining to hear.
"Let's go in the conference room," Josiah suggested. He could pull up the information in there and put it on the plasma screen. When they were all seated, he called up the schematic he had assembled at his desk. "I was just thinking the other night, of all the thousands of souls in Denver, why did the ghosts lock onto JD?"
Buck frowned, seeing the uneasy look in JD's eyes. Ezra looked like he was reasoning through Josiah's question. Vin was the one who spoke.
"I did kind of wonder about that. Maybe because JD's family is of Irish descent?"
"That was what I thought, too. But there are other people with just as much Irish blood in their veins," Josiah replied, "So I started looking up JD's family tree. I was able to get a copy of his mother's birth certificate, to get her parent's names. JD, do you remember anything about your grandmother or your mother's grandmother?"
"Gigi and Gran? Only a little, they died when I was just a kid," JD answered.
"Gigi?" Josiah questioned.
"Great Grandma, I couldn't say it so she told me to call her that. Gigi lived with Gran until she died."
"Do you know her last name?" Josiah asked. He knew but he didn't know how much JD knew about his mother's family. "It was Eiden ... Eiden MacLean. She was the daughter of Daniel and Eimear MacLean."
JD gasped, leaning forward to study the information on the screen. Josiah had somehow accessed a website that had information for people looking for information on their relatives and found his Grandmother's birth certificate. It listed her parents and, as witnesses to the birth, Daniel and Eimear MacLean as maternal grandparents. Scrolling to the next screen, JD saw that they had both died of influenza, along with Eiden's son Daniel, who had been only four at the time. There was a reference to the bodies having been cremated, to prevent the disease from spreading, and their ashes interred at a family cemetery. He remembered his mother telling him that he was named for an uncle.
It all made sense, in a kind of strange, mixed up fashion. Some of the ashes had clung to the inside of the statue and to the items taken from it. The ashes had drawn Eimear and Daniel and had caused them to try to protect the child who held the small carved animal that had belonged to their grandson. It was only by coincidence that the statue ended up in Denver, where JD lived. Some 'unscrupulous cretin,' as Ezra referred to the person, had removed the marble statue from the cemetery and sold it.
Two weeks later, JD received confirmation that the angel was, once again, standing in the small family cemetery. The Donnelly family had also made a sizeable donation to the nearby church to see that the grounds were maintained, as atonement for their part in the whole affair. He ran his fingers over the glossy photograph that the parish priest had sent to Ryan and that Ryan had forwarded to him. It seemed that Mrs. Donnelly had also researched the connection between the ATF agent and the spirits of the statue. JD sighed softly and hoped that he would be able to afford to go there one day.