Welcome to Part 2 of "Toes In The Sand, Island Hopping and One-Stop Shopping"!
This is the penultimate story of my fan fiction summer series. And, yes, I used the “p” word deliberately, so we could all hear Sam Winchester as Jared as Sam saying that nobody says penultimate! If you haven't been keeping up with Team Free Will's summer adventure, it all began with "Every Thursday Night"! Starting at the beginning explains everything that's happening, but if you need to take a shortcut, the best on ramp would be "A Mission from Bobby". The conclusion of the seven part series will be coming out shortly, so, stay tuned!
In the meantime, a very intriguing mystery is about to be solved: exactly what type of bathing suit will Cas be wearing on the beach? The answer may surprise you, and the source of the answer will be revealed at the end of this chapter. That’s a very cool story, all on its own!
So let’s dive right into the story because, as Jensen playing Dean Winchester playing Jensen (is that right? I’m confused, now!) said: “Do we really need all these words? I think we’ve covered it!”
Enjoy Day 2 of Team Free Will’s island adventure!
"Toes in the Sand:
Part 2 - Island Hopping and One-Stop Shopping"
The next morning dawned sunny and warm, not one cloud in the sky. Perfect weather.
Dean grinned as he looked down at the beach from the balcony outside his and Sam's room. This was great; even better than he had ever imagined.
Sam poked his head out the sliding door. "I called Cas' room," the younger Winchester told his brother. "He said we should go ahead and have breakfast, and he'll meet us on the beach, after."
"Did you tell him to wear his bathing suit this time?" Dean asked. He came back inside the room, sliding the door closed and locking it behind him.
Sam nodded. He'd put his trunks on underneath his shorts, after his shower. Yesterday's swim had been great, and he was looking forward to another one today. After a bit of discussion, he and Dean had agreed that they would have one more day of fun here at the resort before going to Jamaica, where the curio shop was located.
The brothers stood in the hallway waiting for the elevator to take them down to the ground floor restaurant. Dean's stomach was growling. He couldn't wait to line up at the buffet, fill his plate with a hot breakfast, and chase it down with at least three cups of coffee. Sam was looking forward to having a tall, cold glass of milk, and sampling some local fresh fruits.
But a minute passed, then two, and the elevator still hadn't arrived. Dean pushed the button again.
"I'm sorry, Sir, but the elevator isn't working this morning," a hotel employee said from behind the men. "Our power generator broke down overnight. If you'll follow me, I'll lead you to the stairs."
The brothers shrugged. Oh, well. It was only six floors down, Dean thought. It could have been worse. As they reached the ground floor of the building, though, something occurred to him.
"Hey, buddy, what about...." Dean started to say, but the resort employee was already walking away, "....breakfast?"
Dean's heart sank as they entered the restaurant area. "Go ahead and seat yourselves," the hostess said. "We don't have any coffee or hot breakfast, but there's lots of food and fruit juice up at the buffet."
Sam looked at his brother, wondering if Dean was going to start complaining. Sam loved his big brother more than anything, but the truth was the truth: a hungry, coffee-less Dean Winchester was far scarier than any monster they'd ever faced.
But Dean said nothing; he simply moved to one end of the buffet table and took a plate. Sam let out a relieved breath. He moved to the opposite end of the buffet, where there was a large assortment of fruit set out.
A few minutes later, the brothers sat down to eat. Sam took a sip from his glass of milk, made a face, then sat it back down on the table.
"What's wrong?" Dean asked him.
"It's warm," Sam replied. "It's funny, though." He reached over and took a sip of Dean's orange juice. "The juice is cold, but the milk is warm."
"What are you doing drinking milk, anyway?" Dean asked his brother, cramming a handful of bacon strips into his mouth. "You know who drinks milk, Sammy? Babies."
"Are you eating cold, leftover bacon?" Sam retorted. "Why are you eating cold bacon?"
Dean stared at him uncomprehendingly. "Ummm....because it's bacon," he replied.
Sam gave up. Still, he supposed it beat the alternative. They had food to eat, juice to drink, and a fun-filled day in a tropical paradise to look forward to. It was going to be another great day.
After breakfast, Sam and Dean went out to the beach where they had arranged to meet Cas. They snagged a couple of beach chairs that had towels draped over the backs, and staked out their territory.
"So, what kind of bathing suit did you guys end up getting Cas, anyway?" Dean asked his brother.
"We didn't," Sam responded. Dean did a double-take, and his younger brother grinned. "I mean," Sam clarified, "he didn't like anything he tried on. And believe me, he tried on a lot of them."
"Oh, I believe you," Dean said, nodding his head vigorously. Despite the heat, he nearly shuddered. Poor Sammy. Dean guessed it had been kind of mean of him to do that to his little brother, but....life was too short. He gave Sam a toothy grin. "Why do you think I passed Cas off to you, in the first place? You're a lot more patient than I am."
Before Sam had the chance to fully appreciate the fact that his big brother had just paid him a compliment, Dean went on: "So what's he going to swim in, then?"
Sam shrugged. "I don't know, Dean. He said he would take care of it."
Aww, geez, Dean thought. What was that supposed to mean?
They were about to find out. A minute or two later, along came their friend, strolling down the beach. As Cas neared the spot where the brothers were sitting, Dean's mouth dropped open in amazement. "No way," he said dazedly. "No freaking way."
Cas was smiling proudly. "Isn't it magnificent?" he said to the brothers. He spun around slowly, showing off the old-fashioned bathing costume he was wearing. It was blue and white with horizontal stripes, and it covered his entire torso, all the way from the base of his neck to his knees.
"Ummm....where did you get it, Cas?" Sam asked their friend, trying not to grin too widely.
"At the Hallowe'en costume shop, in town," Cas answered. "I got a good deal. The man in the store said that, since it's too early for Hallowe'en, he would let me have it at a good price."
"How much?" Dean asked their angel friend, and when Cas told him, Dean whistled. "Boy, he sure saw you coming," he remarked.
"Yes, of course he did, Dean," Cas replied earnestly. "I walked in, right through the front door."
Now, Sam was grinning. He couldn't help it. Cas was one of a kind.
Cas was looking at the brothers, and his expression faltered a bit. "Why? Don't you like it?" he said, doubt creeping into his tone. "It's very American. Men wore these in Atlantic City, on the beach at the boardwalk. It's what they call 'vintage'."
The brothers looked at each other. Yeah, that was one word for it, all right. But they figured they'd better not tease him too much about it. For a warrior Angel of the Lord, Cas could be surprisingly sensitive, sometimes. Neither brother wanted to risk a repeat of the time Cas had gotten upset when Dean had called his Lincoln "ugly". Their angel friend had pouted for about a week after that incident.
"It's nice, Cas," Sam said politely, but noncommittally.
"Yeah," Dean agreed. "I like the....stripes."
Cas seemed satisfied with the brothers' responses. He brought a beach chair over to where they were sitting, and the three of them sat in a companionable silence for a few minutes.
"Let's go for a swim," Sam suggested, and Dean nodded. He'd been enjoying just relaxing in the sun, but it was getting pretty hot now.
"Good idea," Dean said, getting to his feet. "Come on, Cas. Let's go."
Dean took his shirt off over his head, and then he looked down at the amulet he was wearing around his neck, as always. Well, ever since Bobby had said to keep it close, anyway. But now, he had a dilemma. He didn't really want to go swimming with it on, but he couldn't just leave it here on the beach, either. What if somebody took it?
Cas realized what was bothering his friend. "It's all right," he said to Dean. "You and Sam should go ahead and have a swim. You can leave the necklace with me, Dean. I'll make sure it's safe."
"Don't you want to go for a swim, too, Cas?" Sam asked the angel. He was feeling kind of bad that their friend was offering to stay behind, yet again.
"No, it's all right," Cas repeated. "Really." He held out his hand to receive the necklace. "I didn't want to get my bathing suit wet, anyway," Cas added. "It's vintage."
Dean's mouth was twitching furiously. "He doesn't want to get his bathing suit wet, Sammy," he said, putting the necklace into Cas's outstretched hand.
Sam was amused too, of course, but he had the feeling that Cas was actually just opting to stay behind so Dean wouldn't have to worry about the amulet. Still, with their angel friend, it was often hard to tell.
"See you in a bit," Sam said to Cas, and then he and Dean sprinted out to the water.
Cas smiled gently, watching the brothers wade into the water. Dean hit the water with his palms, splashing Sam, and then Sam scooped up a few handfuls of water, splashing his brother in return. The men laughed, splashing each other some more, and for a moment, Cas saw in their faces the happy, innocent expressions of the young boys they had once been. How wonderful it was to see his friends like that.
He looked down at the amulet, which was still resting on his palm. Ba'al. Anat. What was the significance of this amulet, and the figurine that they were supposed to obtain at that curio shop in Jamaica? Cas had been close to suggesting that they should go to the shop to obtain the figurine today, and not delay their mission any longer. But now that he had seen Sam and Dean having so much fun, he was glad that he had refrained from doing so.
But as the Winchesters continued to frolic in the blue-green waters, Cas' mind wandered again. He began to think about Frank and Grace. How strange that they had turned up here. Cas had experienced a strange sensation in the pit of his vessel's stomach when he'd first met Grace, almost like he had met her somewhere else before. Maybe it was just as well that she and her brother had moved on to another island, although Cas now admitted to himself that he would have liked to have talked to the siblings for longer, and gotten to know them a little bit more. Even though he had initially gone with them to their Spanish lesson in order to find out whether their intent was benign, Cas had to admit to himself that he'd had fun with the brother and sister. Plus, he had learned a few rudimentary phrases of another language, which had been exciting. Perhaps when he and the Winchesters returned home, Cas would look into taking some more classes.
After a while Sam and Dean returned, looking refreshed and happy from their swim. Dean toweled off, and Cas handed the necklace back to his friend, who slipped it around his neck once more, thanking him.
A young woman approached the men, carrying a notepad and pen. "Can I get you anything to drink?"
"Dos cerevezas, por favor," Cas said immediately.
The server looked at the men inquiringly. "Dos?" she repeated uncertainly. That meant "two", but there were three of them.
"Si," Cas confirmed, and the server nodded. Okie-dokie. Maybe one of them didn't drink alcohol, or thought it was too early in the day to start. Oh, well. She didn't judge, one way or the other.
As the server moved away, Dean grinned. "Way to go, Cas. Who knew that learning another language could be so useful?"
"Only everyone who's ever traveled internationally, anywhere," Sam remarked with a smile.
The Winchesters savoured the beers when they came, especially because they were cold. The server informed them that there had been a contingency plan in place to keep the beers cold, in case the generator broke down.
Dean was impressed. These people definitely had their priorities straight. He and Sam toasted, and then they lifted their bottles in salute as Cas tipped the woman generously.
"This is great, but I don't think we'll have time for any more," Sam said after a minute. "We're supposed to be at the marina in an hour."
"The marina?" Cas echoed.
"Sammy wants to go scuba diving," Dean told their friend. "You can go with him, if you don't mind getting your bathing suit wet," he added with a grin.
"That sounds wonderful," Cas enthused. "But aren't you going to go, too?"
Dean shook his head. "Nahhh. I think I'll just stay up on deck, and enjoy the sun," he remarked casually. Cas peered closely at his friend, but the angel said nothing. Cas would have no way of knowing that, when Dean and Sam were young boys, there had only been enough money for one of them to take swimming lessons at the Y, and Dean had made sure that Sammy was the one who had gotten them. Dean had taught himself how to tread water long enough to survive, and that had been good enough for him.
Sam drained his beer. He'd had no idea about any of that, of course. All he remembered was Dean, taking him to the pool at the community centre, telling him to pay attention to everything the instructor said. Then Dean had disappeared for an hour. Or, so Sam had thought. His big brother had actually been keeping an eye on the situation from a vantage point where he couldn't be seen, because he hadn't wanted to freak his brother out. But Sammy had turned out to be a natural, and once Dean had satisfied himself that there was nothing to be concerned about, he had relaxed and turned his attentions to some of the cute girls at the rec centre, instead.
"We'd better get going," Dean stated, rising from his beach chair.
The hotel shuttle took the three of them to the place where the Island Charter boats were docked. Once they got off the bus and walked to the end of the dock, an older man was waiting for them, who introduced himself as Captain Ken. He invited the three men to board his boat, which was named "Waves". Dean hoped that wasn't an omen.
"I'll take you out for an hour or so," Captain Ken said. "Those of you who'd like to dive can do so. I've got all the equipment on board. Or, if you just want to relax and enjoy the serenity of the open waters, you can do that, too." He smiled. "I've got the equipment for that as well, in a cooler below decks." His smile faded a bit. "But we'd better get going, now. The weather forecast says it might rain in a few hours."
He turned around and got on the boat. The shuttle bus driver had given the men a wave, assuring them that he would be here to take them back to the hotel after their excursion ended.
Once they were out to sea, Sam stood from his chair on the deck of the boat. "Who's up for a dive?" he said enthusiastically.
"I would like to do that," Cas said.
"I'm good," Dean said. He had already availed himself of the contents of the Captain's cooler.
Sam put the full scuba gear on, but Cas elected to just stay in his bathing costume and use a snorkeling mask.
Truth be told, he didn't need it; he was an angel, after all. But even though the Captain had left them pretty much to their own devices, Cas thought it was best not to arouse the man's suspicions.
"Have fun," Dean said, rummaging around in the cooler. He twisted the cap off a bottle of beer as Sam and Cas slipped into the water and dove down.
Dean drank in silence for a few minutes and then, Cas surfaced. "Come and look at this," he said to Dean. His friend picked up his chair and moved it closer to the edge. Cas was holding a medium-sized object, bright pink in colour, that resembled the head of a mop.
"What's that?" Dean asked him, curious.
"It's a sea anemone," Cas replied. "There are all manner of them here, in different shapes and colours. I thought you might like to see one."
Dean smiled. "Cool," he remarked. "What is it, some kind of flower, or something?"
"No, it's a marine animal. A predator," Cas told him. "Sea anemones resemble plants, so that when fish swim by, they can attack."
Dean thought about that for a moment. "Hey, I think that's what happened to Nemo's mother," he remarked, taking a drink from his beer bottle.
Predictably enough, Cas' forehead wrinkled at that. But Dean wasn't about to let that deter him, because he was on a roll, now. "It's like I always say: keep your friends close, and your anemones closer."
Cas smiled. "I'll be back," he said enigmatically, and he dove down again.
Dean half-shrugged. Oh, well. You couldn't win them all. Too bad Sammy wasn't here. He probably would have appreciated Dean's jokes more. Dean peered into the water, but Sam was probably too far down for him to see. But Sam had the oxygen tank on, so Dean was sure he was fine.
A few minutes later, Cas came back up, and this time, he was holding a flat sea creature that kind of looked like a kite with a tail.
"Holy moly!" Dean exclaimed. "Is that a stingray?"
Cas was smiling. "Yes, it is, Dean. Isn't it a wondrous creature?"
"Ummm....you might want to watch the stinger there at the end, buddy," Dean said, moving his chair back slightly. Cas had hauled the creature up on the deck now, so that his friend could see it better.
"Don't worry, Dean," Cas said. "I talked to it, and told it not to sting."
Oh, well, as long as that was the case....Dean thought sarcastically, but Cas was still smiling. "Isn't it marvelous?" he continued. "Sometimes, I forget how wonderful Father's creations truly are. I just wanted to share some of them with you. Oh, and in case you were wondering about Sam, he's fine. I saw him further down in the sea, exploring. He has enough air for at least half an hour, but don't worry, I'll keep an eye on him. There are all manner of creatures here."
But before Dean had the chance to ask him what kind of creatures he might be talking about, Cas dove back into the water, taking the stingray with him.
Dean started to wonder nervously, now: what else was down there? Not only was he concerned about Sam, but he was starting to worry about what Cas was going to bring up here to show to him next. He started to back his chair away from the edge of the boat. As if that would do any good. Maybe he should go below decks, and tell Captain Ken to get them back to the resort.
Suddenly, Cas resurfaced again, and as Dean had feared, he had a shark in his arms.
"Cas!" Dean exclaimed. "What the - ?"
"It's fine, Dean," Cas said calmly, patting the shark on its snout. It had been thrashing around, but as soon as Cas did that, it became still. "I'm going to open your mouth now, but you will not bite," Cas said to it. He pried its jaws open. "Look at the teeth," he said to Dean. "Aren't they impressive?"
"What are you doing?!" Captain Ken shouted from behind Dean. "That's a tiger shark!"
The shark started to thrash around again, but Cas told it to calm down, and then, it stopped.
"What are you, the Shark Whisperer, or something?" the Captain said.
Cas smiled, stroking the shark's head as if he was petting a cat. "I don't know about that," he said modestly. "I simply appreciate all of God's creations."
"Yeah, well, maybe you can do your appreciating back down there, in the ocean," the man said irascibly. "If one of you gets bitten on my boat, I'm the one who'll be liable."
"He's right, Cas," Dean said, quick to agree. "You showed it to us, we've seen it, and it smiled at us. Now, what do you say you take it back where it came from?"
Suddenly Sam resurfaced, at the opposite end of the boat. He took the mouthpiece out, gaping at Cas. "Is that what I think it is?" the younger Winchester said.
"Yes, Sam, it's a tiger shark," Cas said happily. "Isn't it wonderful?"
"Sure, Cas," Sam said, but he was sounding nervous now, too. "But he's got a pretty big family down there, and they look like they might be just a little too interested in us. So what do you say we let him - or her - get back to them, and call it a day?"
"All right, Sam," Cas agreed affably. He let the shark go, and it swam off. Sam hoisted himself up on deck, then crossed over to where Cas was, extending his hand to help their friend get back onto the boat.
Once Sam was safely back on board, he was grinning at his brother. "You should see your face," he teased Dean.
"What?" Dean said defensively. "I wasn't scared."
Cas grabbed a towel and began to dry himself off. "No harm would have befallen you," he assured Dean, and his friend stared at him for a moment.
But before Dean had the chance to think of a suitable retort, Captain Ken said, "I just got a report that there may be a storm system moving in. Sorry to cut your trip short, but I think we'd better head back."
"That's OK; all this fresh sea air is making me hungry, anyway," Dean said. "Hopefully, they've fixed the generator back at the resort by now."
The Captain nodded curtly, then turned around and went back inside to the engine room.
Dean rolled his eyes. Boy; compared to Captain Ken, Cas was Mister Personality. But he guessed as long as they got back safely, that was the important thing. It was funny, though; the sky was still cloudless. If there was a storm coming, it must be fairly far away. Either that, or Captain Ken hadn't wanted to wait and see what Cas was going to pull out of the water next.
Either way, Dean was good. He'd been sitting here in-between Cas' lessons on marine life, re-thinking his plan to lounge around at the resort for another day. Bobby had wanted them to go to that shop and retrieve the figurine, and even though they still had no idea why it had been important enough for Bobby to reach out the way he had and ask them to do it, they'd better take care of business. Then, they could get back to enjoying the rest of their holiday.
As the boat headed back toward the dock where the hotel shuttle was waiting, Dean told the others what he had been thinking. Both Sam and Cas agreed that was best, but there was only one problem: how were they going to get there before the store closed?
There was only one answer to that question, but Dean wasn't going to like it. No, he wasn't going to like it at all.
When they got back to the resort, Sam advised that he'd already been in touch with a charter company and hired a small plane, along with a pilot, to take them to Jamaica.
Once the three of them had changed out of their swimwear, they grabbed a cab to the airport.
Actually, "airport" was a generous term for the place, Sam thought wryly. The place was little more than a medium-sized hangar, a couple of landing strips, and an open field.
Dean was eyeing the tiny airplanes suspiciously. Did these people really expect to load three healthy men and a pilot of indeterminate weight and height into one of these things, and keep it up in the air?
"Hi, guys," a young man with shaggy blond hair said to their little group. "I'm Zach. Are you the ones who want to go to Jamaica?"
"Yeah. I'm the one who called," Sam said. He was looking at Dean, who was still staring at the airplanes. "Do these planes have the capability to take our combined weight?" the younger Winchester inquired.
Zach appraised the men. "I don't see why not," he responded, "but we do have a weight limit. Come on inside, for a minute."
They followed Zach into the hangar, and Dean said, "So, is your dad the pilot?"
Zach laughed shortly. "No, dude. It's me."
Dean's jaw dropped. "What are you, like, fifteen?"
"I'm twenty-two, brah," Zach said with a grin.
"Did he just call Dean a ladies' undergarment?" Cas asked Sam quietly, and Sam laughed.
Zach opened a file cabinet. "Let's see; where are those waiver forms?" he mused aloud.
Dean took several deep breaths, trying to remain calm as Zach looked up from his paperwork. The young pilot was looking at Sam. "What do you go, about....230 pounds?" he asked Dean's brother.
"Give or take," Sam agreed, nodding.
Zach looked at Dean and then at Cas, making a mental calculation. "OK; ready to roll," he said after a moment.
Zach had all three of them sign waiver of liability forms, telling the men that was standard procedure. Dean scowled, but he signed the form, using the alias he and Sam had settled on.
They all walked out to the airfield, and the pilot said, "As you can see, these are all fairly small planes, what we call 'puddle jumpers'. The weather looks clear to the south, so we shouldn't have much buffeting. But it'll be a little cramped. I'm used to taking average-sized people." He looked up at Sam. "Your legs are gonna be up to your ears."
Dean was looking slightly green now, but Zach seemed oblivious. Instead, the young pilot smiled, gesturing to the smaller of the two airplanes. "Meet Delilah. She's not big and fancy, and there's no food or in-flight movie, but we'll get you there in one piece. Well, unless the wind picks up, of course, Then, we're all in trouble."
"Shouldn't you know about stuff like that?" Dean said nervously.
"I'm sure they take that into consideration in the flight plan," Sam said reassuringly. He looked at Zach. "You have Doppler, right? Or NWS?"
"Aaah, I don't need any of that," Zach said confidently. "I'm an island guy. This is my weather forecast, right here." He licked one of his fingers and held it up in the air. "Yeah. Calm. OK, let's go."
The blood drained from Dean's face. Teenage Surfer Dude here had to be kidding them with this. "Uhh....maybe we'll just stay here," he said, starting to back away.
"Relax, man, I'm only joking," Zach assured them, and then his expression turned serious. "Look, I see how you've been looking at me," he said to the men. "So, I'm young. So what? I'm a certified pilot. I take hundreds of tourists from island to island every year. Maybe it's even in the thousands. Not one casualty yet. Well, not unless you count that guy from Florida, who brought a teddy bear on board. He said it was a comfort thing. I said 'hey, man, I don't judge'. But then, he started talking to the thing, calling it 'Ted'. Still, I didn't say anything, even though the guy was, like, in his forties, or something. But then, when Ted started talking back to him, I landed us in Cuba, and told him to find another pilot."
"Ted was talking back?" Sam asked Zach, intrigued. "The stuffed toy? Did he say where he got it?"
"He got it at some little hole-in-the-wall place, in Jamaica," Zach replied. "Said it was for his niece. But, the thing wasn't really talking, dude. The guy was a ventriloquist, just trying to freak me out. To tell you the truth, it kind of worked. Bad vibes, man. You know what I mean?"
Sam and Dean exchanged glances. Yeah, they had a pretty good idea. Could it be that "Ted" had come from the same place they were going to? What was going on, there? Witchcraft? Voodoo? Cursed objects, maybe?
"OK, everybody in," Zach said to the men. He gestured to Sam. "Biggest guy in the back. You'll be beside him," the pilot said to Cas. Then Zach nudged Dean. "You're up front with me, Sport. You look like you're the one who's most likely to hurl, so I'm gonna keep an eye on you."
Dean looked at the young pilot with a baleful expression, but he got in, taking a few deep breaths to calm himself. Sam touched his brother's shoulder from the seat behind him and Dean smiled tautly, appreciating the gesture of support.
But it was funny, really, because once they were in the air, Dean's mind was on the puzzle Zach had inadvertently given them. Had Zach's passenger gotten that stuffed bear from the same curio shop they were headed for? Was the statue they were going there to get responsible? Or had the man just been goofing around, as Zach was suggesting? Dean started to think about other cases he and Sam had been on which had involved weird encounters with inanimate objects.
As it turned out, Zach had done him a huge favour. By the time they landed in Jamaica about ninety minutes later, Dean had been so preoccupied that he hadn't had much time to be scared. And truthfully, the flight had been smooth and uneventful.
Dean shook Zach's hand when they were all safely on firm ground. "Thanks a lot, Doogie."
Zach rolled his eyes, but he was smiling. "Good one," the young pilot said.
"You got that reference?" Sam asked him, surprised that someone Zach's age would be familiar with a TV show that dated back so far.
"Hey, I've heard them all before," Zach replied, shrugging. "But, let me ask you something: did you guys get here in one piece? Yeah. Then, I did my job." He handed Sam a business card. "You can call me when you're ready to leave."
Then the young man walked away, as the Winchesters and Cas exchanged sheepish glances. Zach was right; he'd done a fine job getting them here safely, and comfortably. There was a lesson to be learned, here: you shouldn't judge people based on appearances, alone.
They went into the airport office building to inquire about getting a cab into town.
At first glance, despite its grand name, the Emporium of Curiosities looked like many of the ordinary pawn shops that Sam and Dean had visited back in the States. There were shelves of books and assorted nick-knacks, and there was even a bored-looking man sitting behind the front counter reading a newspaper, to complete the picture.
"Help you?" the man said, his eyes still on the newspaper.
"We're just going to look around," Sam told him. He turned to Dean and Cas. "I think we should split up," Sam said to his brother and their friend softly. "I'll go left, Dean can go right, and Cas, you take the middle. You remember what the statuette looks like?"
The men nodded, moving off down the aisles.
Sam scanned the contents of the shelves. The closer he looked, the more he came to realize what he was looking at: voodoo jewelery. He'd seen photos online. Earrings made from bone and cartilage. Necklaces that had peoples' personal possessions strung on them. Creepy? Definitely. But he and Dean had seen worse.
Meanwhile, Dean had picked up a cloth rag doll, wondering if it was one of those dolls people stuck pins in. Or was it more like that teddy bear that had supposedly talked to Zach's passenger? What would Dean do if the doll suddenly started talking to him? He stared at it for another moment, but to his relief, it had nothing to say. He replaced it on the shelf gingerly, and moved on.
The shop was small enough that it didn't take long for the three of them to check out all the merchandise on display. No statue was found.
"I guess you can help us, after all," Sam said to the man behind the counter.
Barnabas looked up from the newspaper as the Winchesters and their angel friend approached him. "Are you looking for something in particular?" he asked them.
"As a matter of fact...." Sam started to say. He reached into his pocket, taking out his cell phone. He found the photo of the figurine he'd bookmarked, showing it to the shopkeeper.
Barnabas nodded. "Oh, yes. Anat. I'm afraid you're out of luck. I sold it to another customer, this morning." He smiled thinly. "If I'd known it was going to be so popular all of a sudden, I would have charged her more for it."
"Her?" Dean echoed. "What did she look like?"
Barnabas shrugged. "Caucasian woman. Dark hair, big brown eyes. She looked like most of my customers. Tourists, you know? She wasn't a browser, though. She just walked right in, grabbed the statue, paid me, and left. Like she was in a big hurry."
The brothers exchanged glances, and Cas frowned. This was unbelievable! There was no way this was a coincidence. No way. And the thing was, weren't they acquainted with a woman who answered to that description, and who was here in the Caribbean right now, for no apparent reason?
"Oh, and she was short," Barnabas added, gesturing with his hand, lower to the ground.
That did it. Dean threw his hands up in frustration. "Grace. That's gotta be Grace," he said angrily. He looked at Cas. "You said she and Frank were okay!"
"I didn't sense anything sinister about them, Dean," Cas said, distressed.
"And you had to go and tell them where we were going, and what we were coming here to get," Dean went on, turning to Sam.
Sam felt bad, because Dean was right about that. But Frank and Grace were hunters, and they were Sam's friends. Well, he'd thought they were, anyway. Why would Grace have bought that statue right out from under their noses? Was there a chance it had been a different woman, who just happened to resemble Grace?
"Do you have a security camera?" Sam asked the shopkeeper.
Barnabas nodded. "Sure I do. There are a lot of smaller items on those shelves out there, and I can't watch everybody."
Especially not with your face in the newspaper, Dean thought; but he didn't say it out loud. Truthfully, Dean was also feeling guilty. He was the one who had put off coming here in favour of more beach time. But, in true Dean fashion, he wasn't about to admit that.
"Have you noticed anything strange, here in the store?" Cas blurted out.
Barnabas looked at him, bemused. "Ummm....I sell curios of mysterious origin, and objects that are representative of the voodoo culture," he told the angel. "You're going to have to be more specific." He reached under the counter and pulled out a small laptop. "But, to answer your question, I did see something strange about that woman. Actually, a couple of things. I'll tell you what: if you gentlemen buy something from the middle aisle, I'll show you this morning's security footage. How does that sound?"
Dean was shaking his head. "You know, you could have led off with that," he pointed out.
Barnabas shrugged. "I'm a businessman. In case you hadn't noticed, my store isn't exactly overflowing with customers." He gestured to the middle aisle. "Up to you."
Dean sighed. "Go ahead and pick something, Sammy. Just make sure it's not too creepy, OK?"
Sam grinned briefly. He strode down the aisle, scanned the shelves, and selected a small silver trinket from a display of them. The one he'd chosen was in the shape of a fish. Dean's birthday was in January, making him an Aquarius, and Sam thought it would be a cool memento of their trip. Plus, it was made of silver, a hunter's favourite type of metal.
Once the fish was paid for, Barnabas brought up the security footage to show to the men. Sam's heart sank as they watched Grace enter the store, select the figurine, and bring it to the counter at the front of the store.
Cas squinted. "Is she wearing....?"
"Gloves," Sam remarked. "She's wearing clear, plastic gloves." He looked at the proprietor of the store. "Did you ask her why she was wearing gloves?"
Barnabas shrugged. "No. I've seen it before. Some of the more serious collectors wear them, because they don't want to get fingerprints or oils from their skin on the items."
Dean let out a frustrated breath. "So if that's not the weird thing, what is?"
"Keep watching," the shopkeeper said.
A moment later, the men saw what he had been referring to. There were two things, actually. For an instant, a millisecond, really, Grace's eyes appeared to darken from brown to black. And, after Grace stripped the gloves from her hands and took the bag containing the statuette from Barnabas, a bright golden glow emanated from it. Then Grace tossed the statue into her tote bag and exited the store hurriedly.
OK, that had been weird, all right, Sam thought. His brow furrowed in concentration. "Thanks for your help," he said to the store owner.
The three of them exited the shop, stunned by what they had just seen.
Cas was looking at Dean. "Before you say anything, Grace is not a demon," the angel stated firmly. "I would know it, if she were."
"Maybe it was just the lighting in the store, playing tricks on us," Sam said, squinting in the bright, late afternoon sunlight. "It was pretty dim in there."
"OK, then, how about that glow-y thing?" Dean said insistently.
None of them had an answer for that, either. The mystery of the statue had just gotten a lot more intriguing.
"Did those two say where they were going, after they left our resort?" Dean asked Cas.
"No, they didn't, Dean," Cas replied earnestly. "They just said that they would move to another island."
There was silence for a minute, as they all thought about what they should do next. How were they going to find Grace, and what were they supposed to do, when they did?
Suddenly, Sam's cell phone rang.
And astonishingly, it was Frank on the other end.
"Sam, I need your help," Frank said, without preliminary. "Grace is missing."
Sam gestured for Dean and Cas to come closer, and he hit the speaker button on his phone. "What do you mean, Grace is missing?" the younger Winchester repeated.
"What do I mean? She's missing!" Frank exclaimed. "How many of those rum drinks have you had? She's missing, Sam! Like, as in....gone. We had breakfast this morning, and then, she said she wanted to go shopping. Alone. I just figured she needed a little space. You know how that gets sometimes, right? I'm sure you take off, too, when Dean gets on your nerves."
"Get to the point, Frank," Dean barked.
"Oh, hi, Dean," Grace's brother said affably. "The point is, she said she'd meet me at the bar an hour ago, but she didn't come. I asked around, and nobody's seen her."
"We have," Cas said bluntly. The brothers looked at him sharply.
"You have? Where?" Frank said in amazement. "Back in the Bahamas, you mean?"
"We're in Jamaica, Frank," Sam told him.
"That's incredible! So are we! What a coincidence," Frank remarked.
Dean rolled his eyes. Yeah. Right. Coincidence. "We've gotta talk," he said to Grace's brother. He gave Frank the address of the store.
"Hang on," Frank said, and then they could hear him talking to someone in the background. A moment later, he was back. "You're not going to believe this. The bartender said you guys are two blocks away! I'll be right there." He hung up.
"Who do those two think they're kidding with this?" Dean asked the others, exasperated.
"We have to be careful, Dean," Cas said grimly. "This could be a trap."
Dean looked at his friend. "Gee, you think so? Way to go, Captain Obvious."
Sam had a thoughtful expression on his face. Then, he started to smile. "You know what I think?" he said to the other two. "I say, if this is a trap, we should let ourselves be caught."
A minute or two later, Frank approached Sam, who was standing in front of the shop.
"Where are Dean and Cas?" Frank asked him.
"They're inside the store," Sam replied. "Come on in." He opened the door, gesturing. "After you."
If Frank was suspicious, he didn't let on. He strode right into the place, where Cas and Dean were waiting for him, on either side of the door. They grabbed Frank by his arms and hustled him over to the counter, where Barnabas was watching with fascination. What an interesting day this was turning out to be.
"What the - ?" Frank said, startled. "What's the matter with you guys?"
"Search him, Cas," Sam said to their angel friend.
As Cas frisked Frank for weapons, Dean cried out in pain. He let go of Grace's brother and reached down the front of his shirt. "Ow! Son of a - " Dean seized the chain of his necklace and pulled it off over his head. The amulet was glowing brightly.
"Just like the statue of Anat," Sam said softly.
"He's clean," Cas announced, letting go of Frank.
"Thanks, Kojak," Dean said dryly. He was holding the necklace by the chain because the amulet was too hot to the touch.
Sam was staring at Frank. Wasn't it strange? The moment Dean had grabbed Frank's arm, the amulet had started to glow. And, the moment that Grace had touched the statuette without her gloves on, it had also started to glow.
"Why did Grace take the statuette, Frank?" Cas demanded.
"Call him by his real name, Cas," Sam said coolly. "But, that is a good question: why did she take the statue....Ba'al?"
- TO BE CONTINUED. -
So what’s up with Frank and Grace, anyway?
A talking teddy bear? Glowing objects? What’s going on? Have you figured it out, yet?
Are there any other mysteries or clues in the story that have you worried or have piqued your curiosity?
Let us know what you think, in the Comments section below. What are your theories?
Is anybody else picturing Cas in that bathing suit, or is it just me? Now, the source of the choice of bathing suit can be revealed! It was none other than Misha Collins, himself!
I was fortunate to be one of the ten people at his Adventure Meet and Greet at the Vancouver 2019 Supernatural convention, in August 2019. I asked for and received Misha’s permission to use his answer to the vitally important question: What type of bathing suit would Cas wear on a tropical vacation? His answer was what I used, and at first, I had no idea how it was going to fit. But now, I can’t deny that his answer was perfect, and perfectly....Cas. Thank you, Misha!
And thank you, fellow SPN family members, for accompanying Team Free Will – and me – on our summer adventure! Stay tuned for the conclusion of their mystery!
As always, please leave your comments below. Each and every one is greatly appreciated!
Check out my other Supernatural original stories on the WFB Writers’ Page! Happy reading!
Images from Pixabay
Plane Image: Image by stokpic from Pixabay
Beach Chairs: Image by Chaitawat Pawapoowadon from Pixabay