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A Threefold Cord- Chapter 1

April 14th, 2012 (05:31 pm)
frustrated

current mood: frustrated
current song: Something by Iron and Wine

THEN:

"Are you all right?"

Dean rolled his throbbing head enough to see Cas sitting in the bedside chair, the angel's gaze fixed more on the ceiling than on him. Dean turned his face away, swallowed against the burning rawness in his throat. "No thanks to you."

Cas shifted in the chair. "You need to be more careful."

Dean cut his eyes towards the angel. "You need to learn how to manage a damn devil's trap."

Cas still did not quite meet his eyes. "That's not what I mean. Uriel is dead."

"Was it the demons?"

"It was disobedience," Cas answered, almost on the heels of his question. The angel's neutral expression altered subtly. He licked his lips and for the first time, turned to look fully into Dean's face. "He was working against us."


Cas's gaze drifted away once more, as if he were watching or listening to something far beyond this hospital room.


Dean swallowed again, this time trying to ease a pain worse than the irritation in his throat. He drew a deep breath, and another one, to force the question out. "Is it true?"

Cas turned to look at him again, his placid expression altered by lines of tension between his brows.

"Did I break the first seal? Did I start all this?"

The lines between Cas's brows deepened, and he gave the slightest of nods. "Yes."

The last shred of hope he had crumbled to dust and Dean looked away, almost unable to breathe through the pain.

"When we discovered Lilith's plan for you," Cas's deep voice coarsened with a savage edge. "We laid siege to Hell and we fought our way to get to you before you—"

"Jump-started the Apocalypse," Dean choked out.

Cas glanced at him then, not with blame, but a deep resigned sadness. He turned his gaze up towards the ceiling. "But we were too late."

"Why didn't you just leave me there, then?" The words came out rushed, forced past nausea and loathing.

"It's not blame that falls on you, Dean," Cas's voice was gentle, and slow, as if he were choosing his words with great care.

Dean felt his lip begin to tremble, and he couldn't stop it. He didn't have the strength to resist the sting of kindness, the blow of empathy.

"It's fate." Cas looked down at his hands, loosely clasped in his lap. "The righteous man who begins it is the only one who can finish it."

He turned his gaze to Dean, and he felt the crushing weight of Cas's urgency. "You have to stop it."

"Lucifer?" Dean whispered, helpless to hold back the tear that rolled down his cheek. "The Apocalypse? What does that mean?" he pleaded.

Cas's gaze turned almost fearful, and he looked away again. His shoulders rounded.

"Hey! Don't you go disappearing on me, you son of a bitch." Anger almost pushed out despair. "What does that mean!"

"I don't know." Cas's answer was soft, quick.

"BULL!"

"I don't," Cas stated, his voice firm and flat. He looked at him again, the muted light picking out the eerie blue of his eyes.

"Dean, they don't tell me much." Cas's expression and his voice took on urgency again, and import, as if he were trying to load his words with more meaning than they could carry. "I know our fate rests with you."

"Well, then you guys are screwed," Dean choked out in a whisper. "I can't do it, Cas. It's too big."

Cas looked away again, a flicker of grief crossing his face before it settled back into its normal somber lines.

"Alastair was right. I'm not all here." Dean's voice broke on a little gasp for breath against a rising sob. "I'm not str-strong enough."

Cas turned to look at him again, and for the first time, Dean saw accusation in those glowing eyes. He couldn't bear it.

"Well, I guess I'm not the man either of our dads wanted me to be," he confessed, forcing the words out.

Cas looked away.

"Find someone else." He was so tired. So damned tired and soul-deep sick of all of it. "It's not me."

There was no way to stop the tears. He didn't have enough strength left for that, either. Dean closed his eyes and didn't open them until the rustling of massive wings had long faded away.

NOW:

"Man, I'll be glad to get out of here," Dean said. "This place gives me the creeps."

Sam peered out at the slice of isolated Louisiana countryside revealed by the headlights. "It's not so bad. Lots of trees and water. It's warm. Spanish moss. Wildlife."

"Spanish moss is spooky. They use that stuff in horror movies for a reason, dude. And the water stinks and it's full of snakes and alligators and mosquitoes the size of Huey choppers. And my eyes are still watering from the wildlife that we ran ov---"

"STOP!"

"SHIT!" Dean slammed the brakes the same instant Sam shouted, a white flash of something human shaped darting out in front of them.

Tires squalled. THUMP.

The sickening sound of a body landing on sheet metal.

But this body impacted on the hood on all fours and stared in at them through tangled hair and beat a frantic pattern on the windshield. "Drive! DRIVE! HE'LL EAT YOU!"

She looked back over her shoulder, back the way she came, and sprang off with a wild wordless screech. Back towards whatever terrified her.

No time to ask questions. No need to. They knew what was chasing her as soon as it burst through the tangled brush of the roadside, fangs bared, claws wide. It was too damn close to miss.

"DOWN!" Sam bellowed and the girl flung herself onto the dirt. She clapped her hands over her ears as they fired, but she didn't hide her face.

Silver rounds from a .45 will change most anything's mind. The werewolf's body jerked and twisted from the impacts and its own momentum. It fell, and neither Dean nor Sam had a doubt it was dead.

The girl needed more convincing, apparently. She rose and eased closer to the twitching corpse, her body tense.

"Don't touch it," Dean warned her. "It's a werewolf—it could still be contagious."

"Maybe," she murmured, and sank into a fetal crouch. She raked her hair away from her face and jerked all over. It was only then that Dean realized she bore four long, shallow, bleeding lacerations across her back, and that she was naked.

"I'll take care of her," Sam murmured.

Dean nodded with an expression of relieved gratitude. Sam was better with hysterical females. He'd much rather salt and burn than wipe snot and pat and try to think of something reasonably sympathetic to say.

Sam took the first-aid kit out of the trunk, along with a blanket and bottle of water. Bottled spring water replaced with the sanctified variety. Dean paused, hand on pistol grip, as Sam went back to the girl and opened the bottle.

Nothing happened when Sam poured it over her bleeding back, except that she looked back at Sam over her shoulder with a shaky smile and a soft "Thank you."

Crap. She looked about fifteen. Their night was shot. The girl bowed her head again as Sam wiped away the blood from her wounds. She didn't flinch even when Sam pulled his silver knife and used it to flick a couple of pieces of debris from her raw flesh.

Satisfied now that his brother could handle anything she could dish out, Dean hefted the rock salt and gas can.

The girl's head snapped up and she sprang to her feet. "Wait!"

She put herself between him and the dead werewolf. "There's something I need to do first!"

"What?"

Sam mouthed ~What the?~ behind her back, his pistol aimed between her shoulder blades.

"It won't take long—it's for his soul." She moved over to the corpse with her back straight and no more sign of fear. She knelt and laid her hands over the blood-spattered face, closing the corpse's eyes and smoothing away its grotesque snarl.

"Sad, you look human again now, you poor bastard," she told it, her voice low and kind. "You were probably a really nice guy before this. I hope for your sake you didn't eat your family or something."

She dipped a finger into a bullet hole and drew a cross on his forehead. "Réquiem æternam dona ei, Dómine. Et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Requiéscat in pace. Amen."

A touch of her bloodied fingertip to her lips and then she rose and nodded. "Now you can immolate him."

Dean shuddered. He could see Sam out of the side of his vision, with an equally revolted expression, keeping the girl covered.

"Are you sure you're done?" Dean asked, as he began to pour the salt over the corpse.

"I certainly can't help you out with a light." She stepped back and put her hand over her nose when he opened the gas can and began to pour. She moved to put the slight breeze at her back.

Dean glanced at Sam again.

Sam nodded. He'd noticed too, and holstered his pistol. "Come here," he called to her.

Dean drew his, but kept it at his side as she turned. Sam wrapped the blanket around the girl's shoulders. Dean lit the gas. Through the roar, he heard the girl speak.

"Do you two always go around prepared for convenient corpse disposal?" she asked Sam.

"Yes, actually." Sam gave her that charming smile that made women want to pat him on the head.  Right before they tied him to a bed and fed him chocolates.

"Hmm..." She mused, her attention on the fire, gazing past Sam. She looked up at Sam then. The flare of illumination revealed that she smiled back at him, which was unnerving, considering. "That begs all kinds of questions.  Most of which I probably shouldn't be asking two big burly guys equipped for convenient corpse disposal by the side of a deserted road in the middle of the night."

"Fair enough. I'll ask one. Do you often wander naked in the woods at night?" Sam said.

"Well, I wasn't naked when I started," she sighed. "Tall, blond and ablaze over there tried to use my dress as a handle."

"How did you keep him from getting his claws into more than your dress?" Sam's tone was still bantering. The tension in his back said otherwise.

"How do mothers lift mini-vans off their babies? When something like that is chasing you, you find your inner Olympian."

"You're taking this awfully calmly now." Sam tilted his head. Dean couldn't agree more. Too damn calmly, in his estimation.

"I could say the same about you," she answered, and wrapped her hands into the edges of the blanket. "Look, I'm not really a cold-hearted bitch. I've had a lot of crisis training. True, I forgot most of it when something with big teeth and really bad breath wanted to do the nasty, which I'll be hazed for from now till amen… but still…"

"Training kicks in." Sam had a resigned tone to his voice and his broad shoulders seemed to curve just a fraction of a degree.

"Sure does." She seemed to get even smaller, huddling into that blanket.

"Ok, before Dean starts in on you—what's your name?" Sam's voice oozed sympathy and camaraderie.

So, here goes another round of Good cop/Bad cop. Juvenile Edition. Cool. He wouldn't have to make nice with this bizarre kid.

"June Reed. What do I call you?"

"Sam." His brows pulled together and he reached out to turn her chin towards the corpse-glow. "You're not really seventeen or eighteen, I hope?"

"Ay no! Add a ten to that, honey."

A grown woman, running naked through the woods on a cloud-obscured full moon night, chased by a werewolf. Mark another one up on the WTF scoreboard. Dean reluctantly holstered and picked up the gas can.

"That's one break this evening," he commented. They wouldn't have to deal with frantic parents. He tossed the empty can back into the trunk and walked up to them, wiping his hands on a mechanic's rag. "I don't suppose I have to tell you that you're going to need a cover story?"

"Why? A sex-crazed maniac chased me through the woods. I got away by the skin of my teeth thanks to a couple of passing good Samaritans. Sadly, no, I didn't catch their names. I was too shaken and it was too dark to get a good look at them, or at the perv. He ran off when they stopped."

"That story's not going to hold water long when they start grilling you about him," Sam chided, with a jerk of his chin towards the burning corpse. "How good are you at lying?"

"Lousy. Like, world-class terrible, at least to my family. To everyone else? I could convince the cops I'm Anastasia Romanov. Unfortunately, it's my family I'll need to lie to tonight."

Shit. Maybe they would have to deal with frantic parents. Senior edition.

She glanced up at the clouded black sky. Her nostrils flared for a breath. "Guys?" she said, looking between them both with an expression that made her seem like the poster child for pitiful lost waifs. "It's going to start pouring any second. If y'all could give me a lift to somewhere I could crash for the night? I'd be grateful all over again. I'm tired and my back hurts. I really do not want to go home and have to get into all that b.s. tonight."

Her lower lip trembled and tears welled up in her eyes and wobbled on the edges of her lower lashes. Dean stuck his hands into his pockets to keep from applauding her performance.

"You can crash for the night with us," Sam said.

Dean gave him a 'what the hell?' scowl when June focused her attention up on Sam with an expression of soft adoration.

When she turned that limpid gaze around onto him, Sam tried to signal something behind her back, but the message was too complex for eyebrow charades.

"Thank you," she breathed, with what looked like genuine deep relief. "Really, guys, you have no idea what you're getting me out of here. Stars above, I owe you both huge for this."

Crap. He couldn't leave the woman standing barefoot and wrapped in a blanket by the side of a deserted road in the middle of the night. On a full moon. Where the last cremains of a werewolf still blazed.

Then again, he'd done worse. But he kept walking towards the car anyway, and Sam opened the rear passenger door for her. His stomach growled.

"If you want, I can pay you back by fixing something to eat tonight and make breakfast for y'all in the morning," June offered.

We'll settle for breakfast tonight,” Sam grinned. “It'll be morning by the time we get back. Technically, anyway.”

"Sure, as long as you don't expect anything too fancy.  Or your gravy to be any color but white," she said as she slid into the back seat.

"White gravy?" Sam grinned, a wide flash of teeth in the dome light. "No red-eye?"

"Ugh, no.  Not by my hand, anyway. Whoever thought coffee belongs in gravy should be taken out and flogged." She pulled a disgusted face.

 "Told you," Sam said.
    
"Shut it." Dean turned the car around. "It's food. White gravy on the other hand, is a disgusting slurry. You know how they used to make wallpaper paste, June?" He grinned into the rearview.

She was curled up in the corner of the seat, only a spill of long red tangles visible from under the blanket.

"Huh. Guess she was tired." Or faking it. He looked at Sam and jerked his head back towards their passenger with a questioning look.

Sam shrugged, circled his finger by his temple, cocked an eyebrow then shook his head. ~Nothing yet~ he mouthed.

Great, just great. An 'I don't know' and a 'probably not crazy' and an enigma. Just what everyone wants in a houseguest. She could, however, if not faking, sleep through the Black Album at high volume. That was a point in her credit.

********* Author's note: *********

The prayer June spoke over the werewolf:

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.


Click here to go to the second half of Chapter 1 of A Threefold Cord.