Here it is – the one we’ve all been waiting for!
To recap just a bit, we started out the “Supernatural Hiatus Fan Fiction Series” with Chapter 1, “Every Thursday Night”, in which we discovered that Sam was teaching a night class, during their summer downtime. In Chapter 2, “Castiel’s Big Mistake”, Cas returned from an angelic mission, and Bobby reached out to the boys from beyond the veil. That led us to Chapter 3, “Mission from Bobby” (Side note: Jim Beaver, aka Bobby Singer himself, read Chapter 3 and sent the author a note that he liked it!). The most recent installment was Chapter 4 – Countdown To Adventure, in which we learned about the mission Bobby had for Team Free Will. We also found out about the surprise Dean had been planning!
All of that has led us to this point. Welcome to Chapter 5 – Toes In The Sand! Part 1 – Three Tickets To Paradise, has the boys going on the tropical vacation of a lifetime!
But, why are we still here? Let’s head off to the Caribbean, with Sam and Dean and Cas!
“Toes in the Sand:
Part 1 – Three Tickets To Paradise!”
The fun started early for Sam and Dean, before the wheels had even gone up on their plane.
That had been the part of their holiday that Dean had been dreading, though. Strange as it was for somebody who had faced down the scariest of monsters, Dean Winchester had a fear of flying. When confronted by that fact, he would deny it, of course, saying he wasn’t afraid. It just wasn’t his favourite thing to do, and if the other passengers thought about what they were doing, they would realize how crazy it was, too.
“What do you mean?” Cas asked his friend during the cab ride to the local airport, which was located a few miles outside town. Cas was puzzled. He didn’t see what the big deal was, really. When his wings had been in full plumage, Cas had flown all over the Earth, in the blink of an eye. Sadly, he could no longer do so, for reasons that were unclear to him. But he had learned how to cope with this altered state of being by acquiring human skills, such as driving a car, and now he would experience flying in an airplane.
Cas had been looking forward to the phenomenon, but the angel’s enthusiasm waned as he saw the frown on Dean’s face.
“Think about it,” Dean said in response to Cas’s question. “We’ll be sitting up there in some ten-ton hunk of metal, way above the clouds, with no way to escape, if something goes wrong.”
“Nothing’s going to go wrong,” Sam said reassuringly. “They say that flying is statistically the safest form of travel there is. It’s much safer than driving in a car.”
Dean opened his mouth to retort that he would believe that the next time he saw someone drive their car thirty thousand feet in the sky. And just who were the “they” Sam was referring to, anyway? But then, Dean thought better of it. This was it: the tropical vacation adventure they’d talked about for years. There was no way he was going to start it by being a whiner. Dean was gonna soak up every ray of sun and every drop of cold beer, and enjoy the feeling of every grain of sand underneath his feet.
Sam felt the same way. He couldn’t wait to wade into the crystal blue water at the beach and have a swim. He’d packed a frisbee in his suitcase; or maybe they could get in on a pickup game of beach volleyball. They were staying at one of those all-inclusive resorts. Dean had assured his younger brother that everything was included: food, drinks, and activities. Sam was interested to find out what kind of activities were offered. Of course, he wouldn’t mind if they just sat around on the beach for an afternoon, either. Wasn’t that what vacations were all about? You could do as much as you wanted, or you could do very little. Like everything else in life, Sam was sure that a balance between the two extremes could be achieved that would make everybody happy.
And of course, there was the mission that Bobby had given them, too. While Sam hadn’t gotten the impression that there was any particular urgency involved, he guessed that they should probably go to the shop to check out the statue sooner, rather than later. But that excursion would take a bit more research, because the curio shop was on a different island than the one where the resort was. Maybe they could rent a boat; one of those tourist-y charter deals. Dean had said there was plenty of spending money. Sam suppressed a grin as he wondered if he could talk his brother into riding in one of those little island-hopping planes. That would certainly be the more efficient way to do it, anyway.
The brothers’ entertainment began at the airport, when they checked in at the desk to get their boarding passes and drop off their suitcases to be loaded into the plane. There had been a moment of nervousness when their passports were scrutinized by the airline clerk. But Sam’s contact had assured him that the fake IDs would pass inspection, and thankfully, they had. There was a reason his services didn’t come cheap.
Then, the real fun began. Sam and Dean had exchanged grins as Cas watched his suitcases – plural – glide all the way down the conveyor belt until they were out of sight. Their friend’s agitation was hilarious. It was almost as if he’d been separated from a trio of old and dear friends.
“What’s the matter, Cas?” Sam asked the angel as they made their way through the concourse to the gate from where their plane would be leaving.
Cas’ brow was furrowed. “How do they know which suitcases go on which planes?” he asked his friends.
“That’s what those little tags are for,” Sam told him.
Cas looked doubtful. “The tags they put on my luggage had no words, only a jumble of letters,” he protested. “I didn’t even see a vowel.”
Sam’s lips were twitching now as he tried to restrain himself from laughing. He had to remind himself that a lot of this stuff would be new to their angel friend. “Don’t worry about it, Cas. They know what they’re doing,” Sam said confidently. “Do you know how many suitcases they must handle in a day?”
“No; how many?” Cas said with an earnest expression. Now, Sam did smile. Cas was asking like he honestly thought that Sam knew the answer to the question.
“A lot,” Dean said in response. “It’s a lot. And half of them are yours. I can’t believe you brought three suitcases. I had to pay an extra baggage fee, because you had to bring the whole clothes store with you!”
Cas looked at his friend, wondering if he should apologize. It had never occurred to him that there would be an additional charge. But there had been so many clothes, and he just hadn’t been able to decide.
Dean sighed. “That’s okay, buddy.” He clapped a hand on Cas’ shoulder. “I know this whole wardrobe thing is new to you. Hey, it was weird for me and Sammy not to pack any flannel.”
“You didn’t bring any flannel?” Sam joked. “Are you sure you’re my brother?”
“Come on, let’s get a move on,” Dean urged his companions. “The sooner we get through security, the sooner we can have a pre-flight drink.”
“Yep, you’re my brother, all right,” Sam said, grinning.
As they neared the lineup of people waiting to go through the security check, Cas slowed down.
“What?” Dean asked his friend impatiently.
“I’ve seen this on TV,” the angel said slowly. “You have to step through an X-ray machine.”
“So?” Dean responded, but Sam was looking concerned, now.
“Is that a problem, Cas?” the younger Winchester fretted. It hadn’t occurred to the brothers that there might be an issue with Cas going through security, probably because they were so used to having seen him in the same vessel for so many years. Would an angel look different from a human? Would he set off an alarm, or something?
But the brothers had misunderstood. “What do they see?” Cas persisted. “Will they see us….” His voice trailed off.
“Are you worried that they’ll be able to tell you’re an angel?” Sam said, looking around to make sure he wasn’t overheard.
Cas shook his head. “No, Sam. I inhabit a vessel. A human vessel. An X-ray machine wouldn’t make that distinction.”
“Well, then, what’s the problem?” Dean said, mystified.
“Will they see us….unclothed?” Cas asked his friends hesitantly.
The brothers looked at him, then at each other, and then, they burst out laughing.
“Man, this is gonna be fun,” Dean said, still chortling. “Sam and I are glad you came.”
Cas smiled, pleased by his friend’s comment. But it occurred to Castiel now as Dean took his arm and propelled him toward the gate that neither Winchester had answered the question.
Nearly two hours later, the trio were sitting in the plane, waiting for takeoff.
Sam and Dean belted themselves in and then looked over across the aisle at Cas. They hadn’t been able to get three seats together, but Cas had told them it was fine: the brothers should sit together, he’d insisted. He was looking forward to the view from his own window seat.
Or so the angel had said. The truth was, it was Cas who was feeling more than a little freaked out, now. Dean’s earlier comments were echoing in his head. Cas was acutely aware that they were sitting in a huge, heavy, metal container, about to embark on the miracle of flight. How was that even going to be possible?
Sam and Dean were grinning again. They just couldn’t help it. If Cas could only see the look on his face right now. It was a good thing their friend didn’t play poker, because he was wearing his emotions on his sleeve.
It hadn’t been as bad as Cas had feared, back at the security check. The three of them had been asked to put anything they might have in their pockets in a little plastic tray, and then Sam had put his carry-on bag on the conveyor belt to be X-rayed. Neither Cas nor Dean had a carry-on, so they had been waved on, to pass through the sensor gates.
Dean had gone through first, and no beeps had sounded. Sam had glanced up from recovering his bag, and his expression relaxed. Sam had known that Dean was way too smart to risk bringing a weapon on a plane. But he was so used to his big brother carrying at least one gun, if not more, that it was that moment more than any other that made Sam realize they were truly doing this: they were actually going on the long-awaited vacation of a lifetime.
Then Cas stepped through the sensor gates, and the alarm beeped loudly. The brothers looked at each other as Sam stepped through another gate, without a problem. Cas caught their eyes and shrugged.
“Do you have anything in your pockets, Sir?” the female security officer asked Cas. She stood in front of him, holding her hand up.
“No, I don’t think…. Oh, wait a moment,” Cas said, patting his pockets. “I forgot….”
Sam and Dean had a bad moment, thinking their friend might have his angel blade in his pocket. They had never known Cas to be without it. He wouldn’t, would he? No. Not possible.
Dean breathed a sigh of relief when Cas reached into his pants pocket and brought out a few coins. “I’m sorry. I forgot these were in there,” he told the officer sheepishly. He made a motion as if to hand her the money. “In the tray, please,” she said patiently.
Cas dropped the change in the plastic tray and then walked through the sensor gate again, without incident. He raised his eyebrows to the brothers. Judging from the looks on their faces a moment ago, Cas wondered if they’d thought he had his angel blade in his pocket. He would never have done anything so foolish, even though it would never have been detected by any human means. Celestial weapons had different properties than Earth weapons. But Cas knew that this vacation meant a great deal to Sam and Dean, and truthfully, it meant a lot to him, too. His friends had nothing to worry about.
But it was Cas who felt concern now, as the airplane was being prepared for takeoff. The irony of being an angel who was nervous about flying wasn’t lost on him, but Cas’ nerves were on edge anyway. He didn’t understand how a heavy apparatus such as this airplane could possibly stay aloft. Sam had tried to explain the principles of aerodynamics to him in the airport lounge as they’d been waiting for their flight to be called, but Cas wasn’t necessarily buying it. He pulled his seat belt on, cinching it tight.
Sam and Dean were still grinning widely, but Dean felt compassion for his friend, too. It was kind of strange, really. The empathy Dean had for Cas was actually helping Dean to cope with his own fear of flying.
“As soon as we take off, we’ll all get a drink,” Dean said to Cas. “That’ll calm you down.”
His angel friend cast Dean a dubious glance. As if that would do any good. But then Cas realized that Dean was probably referring to himself, more so than Cas, so he smiled and nodded.
The plane took off, and the experience was both terrifying and exhilarating, at the same time. Cas made it through by focusing on how much fun they were going to have, and Dean made it through by focusing on Sam, and how happy his brother looked. Then the plane leveled off, and they were above the clouds.
The flight attendant came by with the beverage cart, and Dean asked the young man for two beers for himself and Sam, and two shots of whiskey for Cas. When they had their plastic glasses of beer in hand, Dean lifted his to his brother in a toast.
“Here we go, Sammy,” Dean said in a voice that was gruff with emotion. “Toes in the sand, here we come. Vacation of a lifetime. We’ve earned it.”
Sam touched his cup to his brother’s, swallowing the lump that had suddenly grown in his throat. “Toes in the sand,” he echoed. “Thanks for doing this, Dean. Thanks for….everything.”
The brothers drank, and Dean felt his own throat closing up as he gave himself a moment to soak it all in. So, this was what it felt like. This was what it felt like to be really, truly happy.
But then, when it all got to be too overwhelming, Dean took another gulp of beer. Then he looked across the aisle. “How’re you doing, Cas?” he asked their friend.
Cas was staring out the window, transfixed, his drink untouched. He was awestruck by the sight of the puffy white clouds just outside his window, and the fact that the sun was shining above them. To think, humans thought that this was where angels lived. It was a wondrous sight, but he thought that notion was funny, and it made him smile.
“Hey, Cas, see anyone you know?” Sam wisecracked.
Dean nodded his approval. “Good one, Sammy,” he remarked, and the brothers toasted again.
Cas smiled good-naturedly. He lifted his plastic glass in salute to his friends. “Thank you. Thank you both, for inviting me along. This is going to be wonderful.”
The three men toasted to their holiday one more time.
Their plane landed about three and a half hours later at Nassau International Airport, on the Bahama Islands. The trio collected their luggage and took a cab to the resort. The temperature was hot and humid, but the scenery was so amazing that nobody minded. Bright blue, cloudless sky. Palm trees, sandy beaches, and sparkling aquamarine water. A fancy, multi-story hotel.
Dean was beyond excited. “This is it, Sammy,” he kept saying. “Finally, after all these years. Toes in the sand. I even bought flip-flops.”
Cas couldn’t help but smile. His best friend was just like a little kid at Christmastime. So was Sam. Although the younger Winchester appeared calmer on the outside, he was grinning from ear to ear once they pulled up in front of the hotel and he caught a glimpse of the beach.
“Look at that water,” Sam marveled. “I can’t wait to go for a swim.”
Cas was appreciating the sight too, but he refrained from speaking, for the moment. He had already decided what needed to happen next.
The men checked in at the front desk, and then Cas turned to the brothers. “Why don’t the two of you go on ahead to the beach, after you’re settled?” the angel said to his friends. “I’ll meet up with you in a while.” He smiled gently. “After all, I have three suitcases’ worth of clothes to hang up. That will take some time.”
Sam and Dean were staring at him. Cas wasn’t fooling anybody. But they appreciated his thoughtfulness. Even though the fake ID Sam’s contact had made for the angel named him as “Cas Winchester”, and he would always treasure it, their friend knew that the brothers’ first foray onto the beach should be without his company. This was something the Winchesters had dreamed of doing for the majority of their adult lives, and as far as Cas was concerned, it was about time.
“OK, we’ll see you later, then,” Dean said casually, but then, he paused. “And, Cas? Thanks, man.”
Their angel friend dipped his head in acknowledgement, and then he went off in search of a hotel employee to help him with his luggage.
“If he starts trying on clothes again, we might not see him for the rest of the trip,” Dean joked. He looked at his brother. “Come on, Sammy, let’s get going. We have an appointment with a couple of beach chairs, and a couple of cold beers.”
Sam had been eager to have a swim, but once he and Dean had staked out their territory on the beach, sitting on lounge chairs with a couple of frosty cold beers in hand, he’d changed his mind. For the moment, it was enough to just sit there and enjoy the sun, and the spectacular ocean view.
“Can you believe this, Sammy?” Dean said, gesturing with his beer bottle. “Isn’t it fantastic?”
“Yeah, Dean. It sure is,” Sam agreed. “It sure is.”
Dean extended his bottle and Sam clinked it with his as the brothers toasted. Then Dean put his bottle down, wedging it in the sand so it wouldn’t tip over.
“It’s time,” Dean announced. He eased his feet out of the flip-flops he was wearing. “You know where these toes are going, don’t you?”
Sam shook his head slowly, smiling at his brother. But he guessed that Dean had the right to make such a big production out of something he’d been fantasizing about for so many years.
“Ahhhh,” Dean sighed contentedly as he plunged his bare feet into the sand. He closed his eyes, savouring the moment.
But then suddenly, his expression changed. His eyes flew open and he pulled his feet out of the sand, shaking them vigorously. “Holy mother-loving son of a – !”
“What’s the matter?” Sam asked his brother, although he was pretty sure he already knew.
“That’s hot!” Dean exclaimed. He looked around frantically, still shaking the hot sand off of his feet. His eyes landed on his beer. Nope. No way. Not gonna happen.
Sam sat back in his chair, waiting to see how long it was going to take. Then, finally, Dean leaped up from his chair and sprinted to the water. He splashed around for a minute and then came running back, slipping back into his flip-flops.
“There you go,” Sam said affably. Dean threw his brother a suspicious look, but then, when no further remark came, Dean grabbed his beer and took a drink.
They had moved a little further down the beach to be apart from the hotel crowd, but there were still a number of people where the brothers were. They sat quietly for a while, content to people-watch and just enjoy their surroundings. But eventually, the lure was too strong.
“I’m going for a swim,” Sam announced. He stood from his chair, pulling his shirt off over his head.
“OK, Sammy. Watch out for sharks,” Dean said with a smirk.
“There aren’t any sharks here,” Sam told his brother, shedding his shorts to reveal the swim trunks he’d worn underneath.
“Are you sure about that?” Dean persisted. “Doo DOO doo DOO doo DOO….” he began to hum as Sam smiled indulgently at his older brother.
“Even if there were sharks here, which there aren’t, they wouldn’t come this far inland,” Sam stated confidently.
“That’s what they all said in the movie, too,” Dean said, nodding. “Hey, Sammy, how did they know that shark-bite victim had dandruff? They found his head and shoulders on the beach.”
Sam rolled his eyes at the old joke. “Whatever, Dude. I’ll see you in a few minutes.” He kicked off his sandals and moved toward the water as Dean called after him, “You’d better hope so!”
Then he sat back in his chair and took another swig from his beer bottle, grinning. It was the older brother’s job to torment his younger brother. Dean had been doing that to Sam for years. Why break tradition now?
Dean put his sunglasses on, watching the other people frolicking and having fun. There were some pretty women here too, in some pretty tiny bathing suits, Dean thought, smiling appreciatively. He considered himself more enlightened than he used to be, but hey, a fact was a fact.
It was funny, though: why did Dean have this really strong feeling he was being watched? He glanced around surreptitiously, trying to be discreet. Was one of the women checking him out? Not that he had a problem with it, necessarily, but why didn’t she just come over and say hi? Dean looked some more. Was it Cas, being too shy to interrupt the Winchesters’ brotherly time together?
Then, something stranger happened: one of the hotel employees brought Dean two more cold beers, saying they were from “a friend”. Who? Dean wanted to know.
“He didn’t say,” the young woman replied, and then she walked away.
“Where’d you get the beer?” Sam asked his brother a minute later. He grabbed the towel from the back of his chair, drying his face with it. Boy, that had been nice. But he hadn’t wanted to leave Dean sitting here too long, all by himself. That wouldn’t be polite. It had absolutely nothing to do with sharks, or seeing sudden movements beneath the water. Nothing.
“I don’t know.” Dean told his brother what the server had said. Then, he shrugged. “But, hey, free beer is free beer.” He twisted off the cap and drank from the fresh bottle. “Maybe it was Cas. I’ll have to remind him the drinks are included, so he doesn’t go blowing all the spending money I gave him.”
Sam was looking incredulously at his brother. Dean was just going to drink the beer anyway, even though they didn’t know who or where it had come from? But, then again, the bottles were capped. He had checked his, to make sure. It wasn’t like the beer had been tampered with. So, after another moment’s inspection, Sam opened his bottle and drank from it, too.
The brothers hung out on the beach for a while longer, and now, Sam was starting to get that same hinky feeling that Dean had. Was somebody really watching them, or were they just incredibly paranoid after years of monster-hunting, and having to watch their backs nearly every minute of every day?
Then, just when the situation was at its most frustrating, Cas showed up. And he wasn’t alone.
“Who are you, and why have you been following my friends?” Cas demanded. He held onto the man by the front of his shirt, and he’d grabbed the woman’s wrist with the other.
“We weren’t following them,” Frank argued.
“All right, then: why were you watching them?” Cas persisted, through gritted teeth.
“It’s OK, Cas, you can let go of them,” Sam told their friend. “I know them. Dean and I both do. They’re students of mine. This is Frank, and his sister Grace. They’re….” He hesitated for a couple of seconds, “…friends.”
Dean was frowning. He’d thought so too, but now, he wasn’t so sure. What were these two doing here?
Cas let go of the siblings, a confused look on his face. Grace rubbed the wrist he’d been holding her by, even though it didn’t hurt. What was wrong with the guy? She and Frank had bought the brothers a drink, and they’d been debating whether to approach them, or not. Then suddenly, a strange man had grabbed them, and hustled them over here.
“You’re Frank and Grace?” Cas said to the pair. “Sam mentioned you both. I’m sorry. I’m very sorry. I didn’t know.” He reached out tentatively. “I can….” He was looking at Grace’s wrist.
She stopped rubbing the spot. “It’s okay, it doesn’t hurt. Let me guess: you must be Cas.”
“What are you two doing here?” Sam blurted out.
“See? I told you this was a bad idea,” Grace said, poking her brother.
Frank sighed. “Look, guys, I know this seems kinda weird.”
“Kinda?” Dean said sarcastically. “We tell you we’re coming down here, and then, you just show up?”
“Explain,” Cas said tersely.
There was a tense moment between the five of them, and then Frank sighed again. “There’s nothing funny going on here, I promise,” he told the men. “It’s just….when Sam told us about coming here, and all the fun you guys were gonna have….” He trailed off. “I realized that Grace and I have never had a vacation. Never. It’s just been one case after another, ever since we started hunting. You guys can understand that, I’m sure.”
Sam and Dean exchanged glances. Yes, they definitely could understand that. Of course they could. But this whole thing just seemed way too fishy.
“How did you get down here so fast?” Sam asked the siblings. “And, how did you get rooms at our hotel? Dean told me they’re booked solid. That’s why he made these plans months ago.”
Frank shrugged. “I know a guy.”
Grace hit her brother on the arm. “Who are you, Al Capone?” she berated him, looking at the Winchesters with a rueful expression. “He just means that he knows a man we worked a case for, who said he owed us a favour. That’s all. I’m sorry, you guys. I let Frank talk me into this, because I wanted a holiday so badly. But, not like this. I guess we tried too hard, and we pushed it too far. We don’t have too many friends. In fact, we don’t have any. But you guys don’t know us very well, and I think we crossed the line. I’m sorry.”
“Just a minute,” Dean said, holding up his hand. “Sammy? A word?” Dean jerked his head to the side, and then he made eye contact with Cas. Their friend understood. The angel stood calmly beside the brother and sister as the Winchesters moved away, out of earshot.
“Are you buying any of this?” Dean asked his brother.
Sam was thoughtful. “Maybe. I don’t know. It’s weird, but….maybe they’re telling us the truth.”
“It just seems a little too convenient to me,” Dean said, his eyes narrowed. “That sob story about not having any friends?”
“How many friends do we have, Dean?” Sam responded quietly.
“What do you mean? We’ve got lots of friends,” Dean insisted. “Cas, Jack, Garth, Bobby….Rowena and Ketch, I guess, when they’re not being all evil, that is….Jody, Donna, the girls….Other Charlie….”
“OK, OK,” Sam interrupted. Actually, he was impressed. He and Dean had more friends than he’d thought. “My point is, in our line of work, it’s not all that easy to make friends. So, maybe we can give them the benefit of the doubt. What do you say?”
Meanwhile, Grace was not finished berating her brother. “I told you this was a bad idea,” she repeated. She was fanning her hand in front of her face, for some reason. Cas’ brow furrowed. “I wish you’d gotten me a cold drink, too,” Grace complained. “It’s really hot out here.” She was wearing a beach cover-up that looked like a short bathrobe, and she untied it at the waist, then took it off altogether.
Cas’ eyes widened. Grace was wearing a tiny bathing suit. It was no different than the ones that the other women on the beach were wearing, he supposed. But he hadn’t really noticed those women before now.
Cas hadn’t really known what to do with himself once he’d put his clothes away in his room. He’d wanted to give Sam and Dean their space, so he had walked around the hotel grounds for a while. But then he had noticed a man and a woman hovering around, and they’d seemed to be taking an unusual amount of interest in his friends. So Cas had watched the people who were watching the Winchesters, and when the strange man had asked the bar server to bring Sam and Dean those beers, Cas had had enough.
But the angel was averting his eyes now as a scantily-clad Grace put a hand on her brother’s arm. “Look, Frank, I think it’s sweet that you wanted us to have a holiday too, and that you wanted us to have some friends,” she said in a sweeter tone. “I really do. But, just look at their faces.” She gestured to Sam and Dean, who were still debating, and Cas, who was pointedly looking away. “Now they think we’re weirdo stalkers, or something.”
“Well, you have to admit that this whole thing looked pretty fishy, from our point of view,” Sam said, approaching them. “I mean….what about the class?” He smiled.
Frank shrugged. “Hey, we both know that Grace and I don’t really need to take that class. Besides, I know Garth’s your friend and everything, but being taught a night class about monsters by an actual werewolf? That’s a little too weird, even for us.”
“I hope he doesn’t take it personally,” Grace added. “Garth seemed very nice. Of course, to be fair, he’s the first werewolf I’ve ever met that wasn’t trying to make a meal out of me, at the time.”
“A meal? You’re more like a McNugget,” Dean quipped, trying not to look at what Grace had on. Or, maybe more accurately, what she didn’t have on. No wonder Cas was looking like he had heatstroke.
Grace made a face at Dean, and he almost laughed. Maybe they were overreacting. Maybe it was just like Frank said. Maybe.
“Well, we’ll be going, now,” Grace said, sighing. “Don’t worry; we won’t bother you any more. We’ll move to another island in the morning. There are lots of nice ones.” She poked her brother again. “Come on, Frank. They’re giving Spanish lessons up at one of the pavilions.”
“That’s great,” Dean said quickly. “Cas was just telling us this morning that he wants to learn Spanish.” He elbowed his friend. “Right, buddy?”
“What?” Cas said, puzzled. He looked at Dean. “I did?” Dean gave him a look. “Oh,” Cas said, reacting to the expression on his friend’s face. “Right. I did.”
Sam caught on. He started talking to Frank and Grace, distracting them.
“Go with them,” Dean muttered to Cas. “See if you can use your ‘spidey senses’ to find out what their deal really is. Okay?”
Cas opened his mouth to ask Dean what he meant, and then he realized that he knew. “What will you and Sam do?” Cas asked instead.
“Do?” Dean echoed. “We’ll do what we’re supposed to be doing: play volleyball. Have a swim. Drink beer. Find out whatever you can, and we’ll talk later.”
Cas nodded. “I’ll come with you,” he said to the brother and sister. “I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish.”
“So we’ve heard,” Frank said dryly.
Cas glanced at Grace. “You may want to put that back on,” he said, gesturing to her cover-up. “It gets quite cool in those pavilions.”
Sam and Dean grinned. Yeah. Right. But then Frank gave them a sharp look, and they made themselves stop. Whether the brother and sister were on the level or not, they knew how protective big brothers could be when it came to their younger sisters. Still, when Grace put the cover-up back on, the Winchesters had to bite the insides of their cheeks to keep from laughing at the relieved look on Cas’ face.
They watched the trio head back up the beach toward the hotel, and then Sam and Dean looked at each other.
“Now, where were we?” Dean asked his brother rhetorically. “Oh, yeah.” He sank down onto his chair, grabbing his beer bottle. “Here.”
A short while later, a handful of young men passed by the brothers’ chairs. One of them did a double-take, then stopped.
“We’re starting a volleyball game, a little further down the beach,” he told them. “You guys look like you’re in pretty good shape. Want to play?”
“Sure, that sounds great,” Sam enthused. He looked at his brother. “Come on, Dean, what do you say?”
“What he means is that we look like we’re in pretty good shape for a couple of older guys,” Dean pointed out. He looked at the young man who had extended the invitation, who said nothing in response. “Right?” Dean added.
“Well, I don’t care. It sounds like fun.” Sam rose from his chair, picking up his shirt and towel. He had put his shorts and sandals back on.
The young man stretched his neck skyward, looking up at Sam. “He’s on my team!” he said excitedly.
“Dude! What are you, like, eight feet tall?” another one of the young men protested. “Talk about an unfair advantage!”
Dean’s face broke into a grin. OK, this could be kind of fun. He stood, gathering his clothes. He took the amulet off from around his neck and put it in the pocket of his shorts. If he was going to play volleyball, he couldn’t be wearing it, or he was gonna have to see a dentist when they got back home.
The young men regarded Dean, frowning. This guy was almost as tall as the other guy. Where did these two live when they weren’t on the beach, anyway? Land of the Giants?
They all traipsed down the beach, where the net was being set up. There were a few young girls there too, but the players were primarily men. Sam and Dean were assigned to opposing teams.
Eventually, Dean had maneuvered himself to the front of the net, and he began spiking the ball, every opportunity he got. Then Sam was rotated to the front on the other side, and the brothers smirked at each other.
“Time out!” Dean called, and when his team was huddled up, Dean glanced Sam’s way. “I say we rotate one of the women opposite him,” Dean advised. “No way he’s gonna spike on her. Sammy’s too much of a gentleman.”
“I’m impressed by that strategy, but I’m also a little disgusted, at the same time,” his female teammate said, but she was smiling. “What makes you think I can’t hold my own against your brother?”
Meanwhile, Sam was strategizing with his own team members. “Watch out for Dean,” he told them. “He’s sneaky fast. Actually, he’s surprisingly good, considering I’ve never seen him do anything more athletic than wield a monkey wrench.”
Unfortunately for Sam and his team, Dean had called it: as soon as Dean moved back and his female teammate took Dean’s place opposite Sam, Dean’s team started pulling ahead on points, and they ended up winning the game.
Then Sam and Dean exchanged handshakes with everyone, thanking them for extending the invitation to play.
“Maybe we’ll see you again, before you leave?” one of the men said. “We’re usually here every day around this time, if you want to play again.”
“We’ll see,” Dean said noncommittally. Then he grinned. “If we do come back, we’ll bring you another player.” No way Cas would ever spike on a woman either, Dean thought to himself. Man; he should be betting on these games. Did Cas even know how to play volleyball? They should probably check in with him, and see what he’d been able to find out about Frank and Grace. Besides, Dean was starving. It was time to check out the buffet. He and Sam could eat and drink, and Cas could talk.
Dean nudged his brother as they made their way back up the beach. “Give Cas a call,” he instructed Sam. “Tell him we’ll meet him at the buffet, after we shower and change. All that exercise made me hungry.”
“What do you mean, ‘give Cas a call’?” Sam said. “I left my cell phone in the room.”
Dean stopped short, looking at Sam with an astonished expression. “You left your cell phone in the room? You? The computer nerd who can get on Wi-Fi in the middle of a hundred-acre forest? You?”
Sam knew his brother was just giving him a hard time, but the younger Winchester had a point he wanted to make. “Yeah, Dean,” he said earnestly. “After everything you did to make this the vacation of a lifetime for us, there was no way I was gonna be staring at a screen for even one minute of it.”
Dean stared at his brother. That was one of the nicest things Sam could have said to him. Dean had worked his butt off getting those cars in prime condition, and then negotiating the best price he could get for each of them. But it was moments like this one, right here, that made all of that worthwhile. He clapped his brother on the shoulder.
Sam soaked up the affectionate gesture for a moment, and then he grinned. “Oh, and just so you know, I let you win at volleyball.”
“Is that so?” Dean retorted, arching an eyebrow. “So, you’re saying the fact that you were matched up opposite a woman had nothing to do with it?”
“Of course not, Dean,” Sam insisted. “Women and men are equals, in every way. I didn’t ease up on Evie. She just outplayed me.”
Dean gave his brother the side-eye. Sure. Sure, she did, he thought to himself. But he let it go. The bottom line was, they’d had fun. And there was still lots more vacation to go. They would have to talk about going to that shop to look for the figurine, too, but not today. Not today.
“Come on, Sammy. Let’s go get washed up for supper,” Dean said, smiling at his brother.
Two full plates of food and a couple of tropical drinks later, Dean was sitting back in his chair at the restaurant, patting his stomach contentedly. Man, that had been good. Even Sam had gone up for seconds.
“So, what do you want to do tonight?” Dean asked the others.
“I don’t think there’s too much we can do, until tomorrow,” Sam said. “Most of the activities the resort offers are for the daytime.”
“We could go to the casino,” Cas suggested. Dean was surprised, but then, he smiled. “Perfect!”
The sun was setting over the horizon as the trio walked to the casino building, which was located at the opposite end of the resort.
“Ummm….there’s something I should tell you,” Cas said hesitantly. “There’s a very good chance that Frank and Grace will be there.”
Dean opened his mouth, but Cas held up a hand. “They’re leaving for Barbados in the morning,” the angel assured his friends. “But, as you said, there’s not much else to do here in the evening. They said earlier at our Spanish lesson that they would probably be there tonight, but I don’t think that should prevent us from going there, too. I told you at dinner: I think they’re who they say they are. I couldn’t detect anything sinister about them.”
The brothers looked at each other. If that was the case, Sam, for one, would feel extremely relieved. Especially Sam, since he had made the effort to become friends with the siblings in the first place.
“Did you – ?” Dean made a motion to his own forehead with two fingers, but Cas made an impatient sound.
“No, Dean,” he replied.
“Why not? Wouldn’t that be the best way to find out?” Dean said, rather logically.
“Yeah, well….just because you can do something, that doesn’t mean you should,” Cas growled. “You taught me that.”
“OK, OK,” Dean said. “You don’t have to get so touchy about it.” Geez. What was up with Cas, all of a sudden? He’d sure picked a fine time to pay attention to something Dean had taught him, though, hadn’t he? Oh, well. Dean gave Cas a hard time on many occasions, but he trusted his friend’s instincts.
“OK, Cas,” Dean said to his friend. “OK. Let’s talk about the casino, instead. I’ll bet we could clean up at Craps. I’ll roll the dice, Sam can calculate the odds, and you just wiggle your finger once in a while, when I have to roll a hard eight.”
“Have you ever played Craps before, Dean?” Cas asked him.
“No, but I see it in the movies all the time,” Dean responded.
Sam then launched into a detailed description of the game, and Dean’s eyes glazed over about halfway through.
“I’ll tell you what,” Dean said impatiently. “What do you say I just try it, when we get there? It’ll probably be much easier to understand when we see it in person. Okay, Sammy?”
Mercifully, Sam seemed to accept that premise. Dean and Cas exchanged a look, and Cas smiled.
Once entering the casino, the men proceeded directly to the Craps table. They watched the game being played for a bit, but instead of clarifying things for Dean, he was even more confused now. Maybe he should have listened more closely to Sam’s explanation, but he’d honestly thought that it would all become clear if he just watched, for a few minutes.
But that wasn’t the case. Sam and Cas were making a few conservative bets now, but Dean still wasn’t getting it.
Then the croupier passed the dice to Dean, who looked at him quizzically.
“You’re supposed to toss them,” Sam said, trying to keep a straight face.
Oh. Right. Of course. Dean shook the dice in his hand a couple of times, still thinking about the bets. Where were Sam’s chips? What was he supposed to roll? What was the point he needed to make?
Dean rolled the dice onto the green felt surface of the table as if he was playing a board game. “No roll,” the croupier said tonelessly. He scooped up the dice, which had gone all of six inches from where Dean was standing. “The roll must cross the line,” the croupier told Dean, indicating the spot, which was about two-thirds of the way down the table.
“Yeah. Sorry,” Dean said, shaking his head. He’d known that. He’d just gotten so preoccupied with the stupid rules. “Here. Give me one more shot.”
The croupier hesitated, but then he gave the dice back to Dean.
“Come on, heave ’em down here,” exhorted a heavy-set, red-cheeked man at the other end of the table.
Dean was a little annoyed now. He’d show that clown that he could throw a couple of dice. He gripped the dice tight in his fist, then flung them down the table. But, in the kind of freaky bounce that could only happen once in a billion chances, one die flew into the heavy-set man’s drink, and the other one caught the lip of the table and flew straight up. It hit the croupier in the face, knocking his glasses sideways.
“Is that Craps? Did I win?” Dean quipped, flashing the croupier a toothy grin.
The casino employee was not impressed. He slowly adjusted his eyeglasses back to sit on the bridge of his nose, glaring at Dean the whole time.
“Perhaps Monsieur would be more suited to playing one of our several hundred other games of chance,” the croupier said in a snooty tone, passing a new set of dice to another player.
Aww, geez. All the people around the table were staring at Dean now, as if he was the biggest, stupidest klutz in the place.
“Come on, Dean, let’s go,” Cas said, seizing his friend’s arm and turning him away from the table.
“Perhaps Monsieur would be more suited to punching that guy, right in his stupid face,” Dean muttered.
Sam was laughing. “Judging by the look on your face right now, I think that guy is the one who was playing a ‘game of chance’!” the younger Winchester said happily.
Dean was trying to stay mad, but he thawed a little now. When was the last time he had seen Sam laugh that hard? So what if it happened to be at Dean’s expense? He could take it. He guessed it really was a funny story. And this was only the first night. Just think of all the great stories they would have, when they got home.
“Hey, look at that,” Dean said, tapping his brother on the arm. “That machine looks foolproof. They must lose a ton on that one.”
Sam and Cas looked to where Dean was pointing. The machine was a weird-looking thing. As they drew near, they could see through the glass that there were piles and piles of quarters on a flat surface inside. The surface was steadily moving back and forth, and a separate mechanism appeared to be slowly pushing the quarters to the edge, where there was a chute that led down to an opening on the side of the machine.
“Look at all those quarters, just waiting to fall,” Dean enthused.
“What are you supposed to do, here?” Cas asked Dean, wrinkling his forehead as he examined the machine.
“You just take a quarter, and – here, let me show you.” Dean fished around in his pants pocket and pulled out a couple of coins. He stuck one in the slot. “And….” But, nothing happened. He put the other one in. Same result. Dean’s face fell. A couple of dozen quarters, at least, appeared to be perched precariously on the edge leading to where the chute was, yet none of them had dropped.
“That’s a sucker machine,” Sam pronounced. “I’m not sure what the physics are, exactly, but it’s obviously rigged to look a lot easier than it really is. Maybe they use magnets, or something.”
Dean frowned. Sounded like a challenge to him. He checked his pockets again, but there was no change in there, only lint. “Hey, Cas, give me a quarter.” Cas handed Dean the coin, and Dean put it in the machine. There was movement, and then a clinking sound was heard in the chute.
Dean looked at his brother smugly. “Oh, yeah? Who’s the sucker, now?”
Sam smirked. “I believe that would still be you.” He reached into the chute and pulled out a lone quarter. “You just spent seventy-five cents to get this one quarter. You’re a casino owner’s dream.”
“Give me that,” Dean said, scowling.
“Nope. It’s Cas’,” Sam said with a grin, handing it to their friend.
“Perhaps this machine is faulty,” Cas said diplomatically, trying to make Dean feel better. “Maybe we should try another one.”
The men looked around the room at all the slot machines, and the green felt tables where card games were taking place. What to pick? Dean was all for having fun, but the card games seemed a little too rich for his blood, and he’d always thought of slot machines as being for blue-haired grandmothers with buckets of nickels.
They walked around a bit more, and suddenly they heard Grace’s voice, from around the corner: “Come on, come on! Just a little bit further, and….aww, Frank! You dropped it, again!”
Curious, the men followed the sound of her voice. Incredibly, she and Frank were standing at one of those machines that held plush stuffed toys. Dean did a double-take. In a casino? They had to be kidding him with this.
But apparently, they weren’t. “Oh, hi, guys,” Frank said mildly, but he was glaring at the machine. “I’ve put five bucks in this thing, and gotten nothing. What a rip-off.”
“Tell me about it,” Dean commiserated.
“It looked so easy,” Grace lamented. “I put twenty bucks in a slot machine, and I didn’t get one bonus. So we thought we’d try this one, and at least I could get a souvenir that we could take home.”
“She likes stuffed animals,” Frank said, shrugging. He could see the way the brothers were looking at him. “But, that’s it; I’m done. It’s a lot harder than it looks.”
“I guess we’ll call it a night, then,” Grace sighed. “We’re leaving for Barbados in the morning. I hope we didn’t spoil your holiday by showing up here. It was nice to see all of you again.”
She and Frank turned away from the machine, as the trio of men exchanged glances.
“Wait,” Cas said. He stepped up to the machine, put a coin in, and waited until the metal claw was activated. He steered the claw to the side of the machine, where he had noticed that the stuffed animals were piled a little higher than those in the middle. His eyes narrowed in concentration. The claw closed around his prize and he edged it toward the opening….
The time ran out. Had he been successful? Cas rushed around to the trap door and pulled out the stuffed penguin.
“I’m sorry, his beak is a little crooked,” Cas said, extending the toy to Grace. “I think the claw must have warped it.” Cas thought the whole thing was a little bit silly, actually: whoever would have thought to put a penguin into a machine full of stuffed lions and tigers and elephants bound for the tropics, anyway?
But Grace’s face lit up now, like one of the brightest stars in the sky. “Thanks, Cas! Thanks a lot,” she said. “Now, I have my souvenir. I think I’ll call him….” She considered, for a moment. “….Ralph.”
Frank rolled his eyes at his sister. “You’re such a weirdo,” he said to Grace, but she was still looking at Ralph, and smiling.
“Well, see you around, guys,” Frank said to the men. “Enjoy the rest of your vacation.” The brother and sister turned away, heading for the exit.
Cas was smiling. Dean stared at his friend. “Yes, Dean?” the angel inquired.
“Good job,” Dean said, and Cas’s smile grew.
“Where to, now?” Sam asked his brother.
Dean looked around the casino again, but he realized he wasn’t really interested in playing anything else.
“Let’s go back to the hotel bar for a nightcap,” Dean said. “We’ve still got a lot of holiday left.”
“We have to go to that shop and look for the statue,” Cas remarked, and Dean nodded again. “Yeah, I know,” he acknowledged. “We’ll talk about that in the morning. OK?”
The trio left the casino and strolled back to the hotel, enjoying the balmy night air. Then they had one more drink in the hotel lounge, toasting to a fun day.
Sam and Dean yawned widely. “Sorry, Cas,” Sam said to their friend. “I guess we’re more tired than we realized.”
“That’s all right,” Cas assured his friends. “Why don’t the two of you head upstairs and get some sleep?”
“What are you gonna do?” Dean asked him, curious. “Watch TV in your room?”
“I believe I’ll go out to the beach and look at the stars for a while,” Cas said, rising from his bar stool. “That’s the best show I could ever watch.”
The brothers’ eyes followed Cas for a moment as their friend walked out of the bar. Yeah; Cas was all right.
They had one more toast, then headed upstairs to their rooms. Tomorrow was going to be a big day.
– END OF PART 1 –
So, who’s happy to see our boys on their long-awaited and well deserved vacation?
Is Cas ever going to wear all the clothes he brought? Are we going to find out what kind and colour of bathing suit he wears, courtesy of a story contribution by a most special individual?
Are Frank and Grace up to no good, or just incredibly socially awkward?
And what are Team Free Will going to find, when they get to that curio shop?
As always, please leave your comments below. Each and every one is greatly appreciated!
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