Dean came out of the shack, shotgun resting on his shoulder and a handful of ropes in the other hand. "Okay. It's clear," he said, tossing the ropes aside. Sam snorted and shook his head, adjusting his grip on his gun as he started up the steps.
"Why did Dean go in first alone?" Juliet asked, shifting the bag on her shoulder more comfortably.
Shawn laughed. "He thinks that supernatural things have an obsession with our necks."
She arched an eyebrow but Dean spoke up, "I don't think, dude, I know. Something always tries to choke one of you."
Shawn shook his head and took the steps two at a time, following in Sam's wake. "Not every ti—"
"Every. Damn. Time." Dean's glare didn't allow room for argument so Shawn gave it up and disappeared through the door. Juliet followed and Dean paced her as they entered the dark shack.
There was one main room that they stood in now, a doorway leading to the collapsed remains of a smaller room to the right and a few more doors at the back. The house butted right up to a hill, and through one gaping doorway she could see bare dirt between the few wall slats that remained in place. Moonlight filtered through the holes in the roof, spotlighting more holes in the floor. There was no root cellar though, so they weren't that dangerous. Tripping hazards, but no more.
"What are we looking for exactly?" she asked as she swept her flashlight beam over the sad mess that hadn't seen inhabitants in at least a hundred years.
"Any sign of where a body might be buried," Sam murmured as he bent to brush at the dirt in one of the floor holes.
"Or any sign of buried treasure," Shawn added. "Gold nuggets, rough jewels, oil spurting high into the air, that sort of thing. Also look for parrot skeletons, with or without an eye patch."
She snorted. "Somehow I don't think Blackbeard came all the way to Colorado to hide his pirate booty, Shawn."
He looked up at her and grinned, but it was Dean that snickered. "You said booty."
She rolled her eyes and shook her head, stepping over a fallen roof beam to look further into a corner that had not yet been searched thoroughly.
Dean and Shawn started debating who was a better pirate, Barbossa or Sparrow. Sam told them both were ridiculous and argued for Calico Jack Rackham, but he was shot down—after explaining who Calico Jack was—for, one, choosing an ACTUAL pirate, disqualifying him on the grounds of historical geekery, and, two, choosing one that was obviously a sissy because what respectable pirate had "Calico" in their name?
Juliet smiled faintly as she listened to the banter. You wouldn't know they were hunting a ghost that had killed hundreds of people over the years, including six hikers in the last month alone.
She poked at the dirt with a stick, sifting through to see if it held any secrets. It was surprisingly loose, though when she hit something after that she wasn't as surprised. Especially when that something proved to be the cord from a pair of headphones.
A chill ran down her back and her senses sharpened as she realized that their ghost might not be as old as they thought. "Hey, guys?"
"Jules! Back me up here!"
"You're gonna want to come see this," she said instead.
She brushed away more dirt with her hand and revealed an iPod connected to the end of the headphones. Limp, more-than-a-little-decomposed fingers were wrapped around the music player as the stench she was far too familiar with hit her nose. She covered it with a hand, turning to look when the light from another flashlight shone down over her shoulder.
"Damn," Dean said, mimicking her in covering his nose. "A fresh one."
Sam joined them as well and sighed in that regretful way of his, as though this poor soul's death was his own personal fault. "This doesn't make sense, though," he said after a moment, brow wrinkling. "The disappearances have been going on for years. Way longer than there have been iPods."
"Well unless time travel is involved—" Dean started to say.
They all turned and looked at Shawn, bent over and poking at something inside one of the closets along the back wall.
Before Juliet could ask what he'd found a frigid wind whipped through the cabin, accompanied by an ear-piercing shriek.
None of them dropped their guns, though a flashlight or two hit the ground next to Juliet as all three of them brought their hands up to cover their ears. Not that the flashlights were useful anymore, having flickered and died when the wind rose.
Her eyes squinted shut and she panted through her open mouth as the pressure in her head increased to levels that sent frissions of fear racing along all her nerves. She couldn't take much more of this. Her head literally felt like it was about to explode, despite a tiny rational part of her brain denying this was possible.
She felt a warm hand on her arm, pulling her up, and she blindly followed, trying to pry her eyes open to see what was going on. She got a flash of Dean's jacket and realized he was towing her in the direction of the door. She reached one hand behind her to bring Sam along with them, but he was already following, one hand going to her back to push her along.
The pressure actually stopped increasing at some point, but the screaming and the wind did not.
They stumbled over the threshold of the front door onto the porch and Juliet turned to see if Shawn had also made it out.
Whatever was throwing a supernatural bitchfit decided to take it up a notch, though, and a final spike of pressure struck them, causing Juliet's eyes and mouth to stretch wide in pained shock before everything went black.
She woke to the thunderous sound of a shotgun going off somewhere far too close for comfort. Her entire body spasmed from the startlement and she instinctively rolled over onto her stomach before lifting her head slightly to look around and assess the situation. A flickering flashlight near her face provided some illumination and she quickly recognized the derelict old cabin where they'd been hunting a ghost.
A boot was planted firmly inches from her face and she turned slightly to follow it up a pair of worn jeans to eventually disappear under the hem of an open plaid shirt she knew Sam had been wearing. The angle made it impossible to see his face, but she could clearly make out the shotgun he held firmly in his gigantic hands.
He was standing over her, guarding her it seemed, and she wondered what had happened while she'd been out.
"Dammit, Shawn!" she heard Dean yell in frustration—and worry, she was pretty sure—and it snapped her head around to where he was pounding on the closed door of a closet. The same one Shawn had last been poking in. She gasped and was pushing up before she quite realized what she was doing.
Dizziness swamped her and nausea crawled up her throat. Her head pounded and her eyesight wavered, darkening and brightening alternately. She ignored it all and painfully got to her hands and knees.
Sam noticed she was moving when she grabbed his pant leg and started pulling herself upright. "Whoa! Hey! Easy, Juliet! Dean!"
Dean spun and saw what she was doing and rushed over with a curse. "You shouldn't be up," he said, but he grabbed her arm and steadied her as she lurched to her feet.
"Shawn," was all she said and pushed off, stumbling for the door that hid her boyfriend.
Dean and Sam both pulled her back, but she jerked, trying to free herself. "Shawn!" she repeated. "Let me— I have to— Shawn!"
A chill fogged the air halfway through her protest and Sam let her go to aim and fire the shotgun at the coalescing mist to their left.
She tried to take advantage of this, but Dean must have seen it coming. He wrapped both arms around her and tugged her back against his chest. She wasn't steady enough yet to do anything but fall against him. He was the only thing that kept her from going back to the ground.
"Dean!" she tried, turning to look at him. "I need to get him. I need to—"
"I know," he said. "Sam and I will get him out. I need you to go back to the car though."
She scowled in a way that would have made Lassiter proud. "No."
"I said no," she repeated.
He looked like he wanted to keep arguing, but she just stared him down. He sighed. "Shawn is going to kill me," he muttered.
"You let me worry about Shawn," she said.
He snorted, but didn't respond further, instead shifting his grip on her so he could help her walk. They made their way carefully over the floor to the closet as Sam continued to keep watch.
"I'm going to get a crowbar," Dean told her after he eased her down to sit. She didn't complain because the dizziness bothered her less at this elevation. "Try to get an answer from him," he said and left, ducking his head as her head snapped around so she could stare at him in horror.
They hadn't heard from Shawn yet? How long had she been out?
She swallowed down panic and fear and thoughts of being too late and pounded on the wooden door. "Shawn! Can you hear me? Shawn!" She paused briefly in case his response was faint or muffled but only heard the pounding in her head.
"Shawn!" She banged her fist on the door, ignoring the splinters she could feel being driven into her skin. "Answer me, Shawn!"
She thought she heard a soft groan that time, but the sound of the shotgun exploding behind her cut it off if it was there. She jumped and looked over her shoulder at Sam. He was staring at the far corner with a stony glare.
She resumed her banging and yelling, knowing that they had a few precious seconds of quiet until the next shot. "Shawn!"
She strained the ears in the pause after that and nearly choked on her relief when she heard a soft, "Jules?"
She bit her lip so hard she tasted blood because the alternative was breaking down into a sobbing mess probably and pressed a flat hand to the door. "Hey," she said. "I'm here. Are you okay?"
He coughed, then groaned. "No," he croaked. He coughed again.
"What's wrong?" she demanded, spine straightening as her heart kicked up again.
He hesitated, then said, "Hurts."
She closed her eyes and rested her forehead on the door. "Just hold on, Shawn. We'll get you out of there."
Dean's boots thumped across the floor then, and she looked up to see him, crowbar in hand. "You got an answer yet?"
She nodded, feeling ridiculous as tears welled up. "He's in pain. I'm not sure how he's injured though. But he's mostly coherent."
Dean nodded, his own relief showing in his whole body relaxing a hair. "Shawn?" he called. "You wanna come out of the closet now?"
They all froze, even Sam's attention briefly focused on the door concealing their friend.
"How many times do I have to tell you, Dean?" Shawn replied. "I like girls. I like Jules, specifically."
Dean laughed and Sam rolled his eyes, but his muscles relaxed slightly too. Juliet covered her mouth to keep from giggling hysterically.
"Really? I hadn't noticed. Cover your eyes if you can. I'm gonna try and open this door."
Juliet scooted back so she wasn't in the way and Dean swung the crowbar, plunging the straight end in between the door and the jamb. Unfortunately, that was where his success ended. No amount of prying and pulling would budge the door open.
Juliet scrambled up and joined him and, after another shot to ensure they wouldn't be disturbed for a minute or two, Sam joined them as well. All three of them pulled and huffed and panted, but the door flatly refused to open.
"Dammit!" Dean cursed as they stopped.
Juliet bent over to rest her hands on her knees, breathing deeply to keep from passing out again.
"You okay?" Sam asked, a hand resting on her back as he dipped down to check on her.
She nodded and wiped at her runny nose—then blinked when she saw the blood smeared on the back of her hand. She looked up at Sam and saw him mopping at a bloody nose too and realized that the psychic blast that had taken them down before had done a number on all of them.
A thump from Dean's boot impacting the door as he kicked it in frustration brought her attention back to the moment at hand.
Shawn coughed and then said, "Um, guys? I hate to be a nagging Nancy but... could we hurry up this little rescue here?"
"We're trying, Shawn!" Dean snapped. Then his head lifted from where he'd been resting it against the door. "Wait, why?"
"Um..." Shawn paused to cough and hack some more, then added, "Because the mountain is leaking."
All three of them straightened at that. "What do you mean it's 'leaking'?" Sam demanded. Juliet's breath caught in her throat as she waited for the answer.
"I mean that the dirt in the wall behind me isn't staying in the wall behind me. It's falling down on me."
"Can you stand up?"
There was a pause then a pained gasp and a breathless, "No. No, I cannot." Grim looks were exchanged on this side of the door. "Partially because I'm pretty sure at least one of my ribs now has an extra joint and partially because there are wooden beams and slats above me that the dirt already fell on. It's just slowly leaking through into my tiny little hole here."
Dean grabbed for the crowbar to try and work it again, but Sam's hand on his wrist stopped him. "No, wait. If it's already collapsed partially, we don't want to open the door like that. It might all fall down and crush him when we do."
Juliet gasped and Dean paled. Then he scowled and kicked the door again.
Shawn coughed again. "Augh! Hey! Um... Can we not do that any more? The kicking thing?"
Dean backed away quickly, apologizing. "Sorry! Sorry!"
He looked at Sam. "If we can't open the door, how do we get him out?"
Sam looked around, then his eyes widened as a chill descended on them all. "GET DOWN!"
Dean tackled Juliet, clearing Sam's field of fire right before it was filled with rock salt. She gasped as the wind was knocked from her, blinking wide eyes up at him.
"You okay?" he asked as he pushed up and helped her to sit up too. She nodded, one hand pressed to her chest. She'd live. Her eyes flicked to the door. Shawn on the other hand...
Sam waited another moment to see if the ghost was coming back, then lowered his gun. "Do we still have that hatchet in the trunk?" he asked.
Dean squinted up at him. "Yeah? Why?"
Sam just thrust the gun at his brother, then took off at a jog when it was accepted.
"What is he—" Juliet started to ask.
"I don't know," Dean replied.
"Was that a shotgun?" Shawn asked. "You guys haven't gotten the ghost yet?"
"We've been a little busy!" Dean snapped.
Juliet put a hand on his shoulder and he huffed and shook his head. She squeezed and offered him a smile that he returned crookedly. Then he sobered. "We're going to get him out of there, Jules. I promise."
She nodded. "I know."
Sam returned and Dean fired off another deterrent shot, then checked his pockets. "Shit. Sam, you got any more ammo?"
Sam dug two shells out of his pocket and handed them over. "That's it."
"Dammit," Dean swore, but inserted the shells unto the barrel and racked them forward. "Then we better hurry."
Sam nodded and dropped to one knee, the hatchet ridiculously tiny in his huge hands. "Shawn, is any part of you next to the door?"
"Um... No? Why?"
"Good. Keep it that way." He drew back and swung forward, burying the blade deep into the wood with a crack.
"HOLY CRAP!" Shawn shouted. "WHAT WAS THAT?"
Sam ignored him and yanked the hatchet free, then swung again, angling it slightly. It took nearly a dozen swings and both of Dean's remaining shots before Sam dropped the hatchet and started pulling at the splintered wood with his hands. Juliet felt safe enough to move in and helped, wincing at the sharp jabs as slivers of wood were buried in her skin.
An ominous crack from above had both of them looking up even as Shawn's face appeared and they all shared a brief look, then worked faster.
Shawn helped as much as he could, pushing on the bits they were pulling on. They got a hole that was almost big enough and then there was another crack from above Shawn's head.
Sam said, "Fuck it!" and practically dove into the hole, grabbing Shawn by the shoulders and yanking.
Shawn yelped and then added a few screams of pain as he was dragged through the hole, shredding the last of Juliet's already frayed nerves.
One last crack and a mighty THWOOMP! and the mountain collapsed fully into the closet, sending out a cloud of dust and dirt that obscured everything and had Juliet hunched over as she coughed.
She heard Shawn moaning and Dean and Sam coughing and then it cleared enough for her to see that, except for their feet which had been buried under the dirt that spilled out the door, Sam and Shawn were both free of the closet.
Sam eased himself up, bringing Shawn with him since his last effort had ended with Shawn sprawled on top of him. Shawn hissed and whined and Juliet nearly gagged when she saw why: His shirt was shredded and the skin underneath it didn't look much better. In fact, it kind of looked like he'd been dragged over a cheese grater. Nausea surged up again and she had to look away and swallow several times to keep from following through on the urge.
Dean came over and hissed in sympathy, but didn't hesitate to grab Shawn's arm and haul him to his feet, wincing at the moan it dragged out of Shawn. "Sorry, but we need to leave. Now."
Juliet went to push herself up and nearly collapsed from the pain of putting pressure on her palms. She looked at them and saw they were only marginally better than Shawn's chest in the "covered in blood and filled with bits of wood" category.
All three men looked at her and Shawn tried to lurch to her side. "Jules!"
Dean held onto him though and said, "Sam's got her. Easy, Shawn. Come on."
Sam actually wasn't in much better shape, but he was careful not to repeat Juliet's mistake. He got to his feet and came over, hooking his arm in hers to drag her upright. She leaned slightly on him and together they followed Dean and Shawn out the door.
Once they'd all hobbled and limped back to the car and Dean got all of them into a seat, he went to the trunk.
"What about the ghost?" Juliet asked as she faced Shawn. He was propped sideways since his back didn't look much better than his front and he blearily opened his eyes.
"Huh?" he asked.
"Dean will take care of it," Sam said from his spot in shotgun. "We found the bones of the actual ghost in the other corner while you were out, but there was no way to do the burn as long as Shawn was stuck inside the cabin. When it goes up, it's all going up."
Juliet watched Dean head back toward the shack, salt can in one hand, gas in the other. "What about—"
Sam interrupted with a shake of his head. "I'm sorry. I know you want to report that other missing person, but we can't take the risk. Bringing cops up here to investigate would only be supplying more victims."
Juliet sighed, but said nothing. She knew he was right.
"Hey." She looked at Shawn and he raised a hand to cup her cheek. "You okay?" he asked.
She nodded. Tears welled up and he moved his hand so he could wipe at them with his thumb. "I'm sorry."
She sniffled. and covered his hand with her own. "For what?"
"For dragging you into this."
She shook her head. "Don't. I'm glad I was here."
He took her hand, having not missed the way she wined when her palm made contact, or the sticky warmth covering it.
He brought it down and looked at her pincushion-hand, sorrow in his expression.
"Hey," she said and he glanced up, guilt all over his features. "Why do you follow me and Carlton into potential gunfights?"
He looked away. "Because I'm an idiot?" he said with surprising sincerity.
She shook her head. "Because you worry about me. Because if something happens, you want to be there." She leaned forward and brushed a kiss against his cheek. "That's why I came with you on this hunt. And just like you don't regret following me into danger, I don't regret following you."
He didn't deny it, but she could see he didn't quite believe it either. Still, the night had been stressful enough. She wasn't going to push it right now.
The distinctive sound of a very large fire bursting into existence brought her attention up. Shawn would have turned to look as well, but a twinge from his rib warned him that there would be painful retribution for that stupid idea and he instead watched Juliet's face.
The firelight reflected in her suspiciously damp eyes, but the tight lines around her eyes and mouth faded as she relaxed at the evidence the nightmare was over. Her eyes tracked something—he assumed Dean—and then when Dean got close enough that Shawn could see him for himself, they went back to the fire.
They unfocused slightly as she got lost in thought and he wondered what she was thinking about.
The creak and slam of Dean settling into the car broke his contemplation.
"Who's up for a night in the ER?" Dean asked. "Bobby's treat."
That got a few chuckles and then Juliet looked back at Shawn. Her lips curved in a smile as Dean started the car.
"I love you," she said quickly, then ducked forward to brush a kiss to his lips.
He chased after her, immediately addicted and needing more of the taste of her, and even when Dean said, "Hey! No necking in the back seat!" and Sam countered with, "Since when?" they didn't break apart.
Pain finally overrode his need for her, but Shawn held her gaze—and gently cradled her hands—even after they retreated to their respective spots. "Love you too, Jules," he murmured.
"We are so leaving them at the hotel next time," Dean grumbled from the front seat as he navigated the narrow mountain road back down towards town.
Sam snorted. "Yeah, sure we are. Just keep telling yourself that, Dean. Just keep telling yourself that."