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Supernatural. Gen. PG-13. For [livejournal.com profile] 60_minute_fics's Urban Legend challenge. I was assigned A Pinch of Snuff. 750 words and unbetaed.

      And cut! Perfect! Print it! – Edward D. Wood, Jr.

[ ca ]

October when Sam's thirteen, they spend four months in San Francisco. A contact swears there's something up in the bay area, and so they go, little toy soldiers zooming down I-80 at the right signal.

Sam's a week late in starting school but quick to catch up, and Dean picks him up every day after three, sits on the Chevy's hood and waits in the parking lot for the bell to ring. He's at that age, Sam is, where he wants to talk less and less, the prickly teenaged years where he's careful to snap about everything, careful to never give in.

Dean gets arrested for the first time in late September, and he spends a night in a jail cell before Dad can get home and bail him out. He never sees the inside of a courtroom, but there's a few weeks when any time Sam argues anything, there's a lawyer joke to match it.

They spend a Saturday night on the couch in front of the TV, and Sam does algebra homework while Dean alternately sharpens his knives and takes sips of forgotten, warm beer.

The TV works in the background, some cheap horror thing on public access, and Sam looks up once between solving for X and substituting for Y and he says, "Dude. That's fucking sick."

And Dean says, "Language, Sammy, Jesus," and his eyes flick to the screen. He makes a face and pauses, examines the screen. Some creep in a samurai getup and his hapless victim of torture and gore and blah blah blah tied to a bed. He yawns then says, "You know, it's all real."

Sam snorts and says, "Yeah, right." He bites at the end of his pencil and says, "Here. Look at this. Can X be seven?" He holds up his notepad and brushes eraser dust from his jeans.

"Seriously, man, I heard about this one. Feds even investigated. It was this whole big thing."

Sam shakes the paper, as if to get his attention. "Yeah, Dean, whatever. Now come on. You get A's in math. Help me out."

Dean rolls his eyes and clicks the TV off. "Give it here, then. God."

[ la ]

His junior year, they're in New Orleans. A girl dies in August, and the rumors hang over the school building for weeks like Spanish moss, heavy and dark in any conversation.

They say she was a whore. They say she was an addict. They say there's a tape that shows her death, and you can get a copy if you leave a scrap of paper with your locker combo and ten bucks in number 237. The papers say her heart was missing. The cops say cult ritual.

Sam comes home carrying a tape with blank labels in his bag, and Dean says, "All right, man! You finally got up the balls to rent us some porn? The church ladies weren't looking over your shoulder the whole time for once?"

And Sam shakes his head, doesn't even bother to roll his eyes. He crosses the room to the television set and with his back turned, he says, "No. But I think I found us a job."

[ ms ]

Seven years later, along the river, Dean goes looking for the papers and comes back with a video tape in a black bag.

And Sam says, "Dude. The fuck is that?"

"Research. Take your coffee. And watch your language."

Sam shakes his head but obediently takes the cup, swallows down bitter French roast and melted Styrofoam and says, "Okay. Okay, what is it? What'd you find?"

And Dean grins. "This is Research." He says it like that, like it's got a capital R. "Rumor says they kill them at the end. Like, really kill them."

Research really means girl-on-girl porn with the vaguest semblance of a storyline, a ghostly shape in two frames halfway through, and an alleged pair of spirits after the credits. Dean insists on watching it all, just in case the legends on the web missed something. Attention to detail is the mark of a good hunter. Since today.

Sam drinks his coffee and watches the screen with only thinly-veiled disgust. He says, "Man, you can't possibly be getting off on this."

And Dean says, very seriously, "This is work, Sammy. Play comes later. You know that."

Sam hides his face in his hands just as the blood starts spilling, and he says, "Let's not go into detail about what exactly that means."
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