We're back! Yaaaaaay!
For clarification to anyone who didn't really read the description. THIS IS A SEQUEL!
Please read Illusions of Grandeur FIRST.
Ellen sat at the diner table with a straight back and a scowl. She had tried contacting Dean Winchester multiple times in multiple ways, each proved less successful than the last.
When she found that kid he was going to get an earful. Sam had proven just as hard to find as his brother. Though there was, at least in his case, word around the hunter community that he was alive and hunting. The chatter amongst sources was that the two weren't operating in the same circles now, though. And their angel friend Castiel went AWOL a couple of months back as well.
All of this had left Ellen rather displeased with the group. No one had bothered to drop her a note. And so, when she'd finally managed to track down one 'Bela Talbot', she'd been thoroughly incensed.
Bela had made short work of explaining the plan they'd used to attack Lucifer's compounds. In short the story was about twenty minutes of every possible thing that could go wrong doing just that. It had all gone to hell, every pun intended.
Bela and Gabriel had lost track of everything after withdrawing. Harry went missing, Sam and Dean had all but vanished as well, the two pagans that had survived called it a lost cause and fled, and Anna… Anna was dead.
Gabriel had found her corpse splayed out in the compound when they'd gone back to investigate several days later. According to Bela, Gabriel had been livid.
Her death certainly raised a few questions about how well armed the enemy truly had been. They'd gone in severely under prepared if the enemy was carrying angel blades.
Bela's slim figure slid into the bench seat across from Ellen and she spared a charming smile.
"It's been awhile." The ex-thief said simply.
"Nearly a month." Ellen shot back immediately.
"Any word from Mr. All-powerful on your end?"
Sometimes it was hard to tell if Bela meant Harry, Death, or God. "None." The answer remained the same regardless of which she meant. No one had made contact with her since her meeting with Death months ago. "Have you heard anything?"
"A bit here and there." Bela admitted. "An old friend of his found me."
Bela nodded. She looked mildly uncomfortable. "He said he was looking for Harry and some of his magic…"
Ellen knew Harry had brought Bela back from Hell, had even rebuilt a body for her. It wasn't all that surprising that a piece of his magic still resided in her. She pushed that awkward conversation to the side for the moment. "Can the guy find him?"
Bela shrugged. "He's supposed to call if he finds anything relevant." Ellen's excitement deflated quite instantly. "He knows you're looking though. Words been spreading through the witch community that you're out buying locating spells. I thought you hunters had more professional pride or some other nonsense."
Ellen grimaced. Like most hunters she was willing to put aside the job if it meant furthering a goal she was set to. She wasn't proud that she'd let some of those people live with just warnings. Looking for a change of topic she glanced around. "What about the boys?" she asked rather suddenly.
Bela perked up and shot Ellen a small grin. "That's another matter entirely.
she said enthusiastically as she reached into the bag that had been casually leaning against her hip. "It seems our boy Dean has popped back up on the hunter radar."
Relief flooded through Ellen at the news. She may have said some unkind things early on in their relationship, but the Winchester boys had grown on her in a way their father never had. It was good to have proof they were both okay after all that happened even if she had warned Dean about losing touch before then.
"Word through the hunter grapevine is that our boy Dean has settled down."
Ellen blinked twice letting the image of Dean standing behind a white picket fence with a dog and children settle over her. The idea was laughable. She was pretty sure she'd just let out something between a snort of disbelief and a sarcastic chuckle by the look on Bela's face. What in the world had happened after she went away?
"Do you have an address?"
"As a matter of fact…" Bela flipped open the small folder she'd retrieved from the bag and stopped somewhere near the back. She pulled a small folded sheet of paper out and slid it towards Ellen still closed. "I do."
"He just gave up the life?" she asked, voice laced with incredulity as she stared at the paper that contained proof of Dean's turning his back on the life. She wanted to be proud of him. She might have been under different circumstances. "What about Sam?"
Bela shrugged. "Maybe he just got tired of taking care of Winchester plus size."
Ellen shook her head. Those two were almost scarily dependant on one another. There was no way Dean would just walk off on Sam. Something bigger was happening here.
"There was one other thing." Bela intoned, drawing her attention back. She pulled a photo from her bag and set it face down on the table next to the note. "He found that in Detroit… what was left of Detroit anyway."
Ellen lifted the photo and immediately dropped it back face down. Sitting, mid frame, was a severed hand burned and fragile looking. Next to it there was a set of rings.
"He seemed awfully sure it belongs to Harry." Bela said with a frown.
Ellen wasn't squeamish, far from it in fact. One had to be able to stomach quite a bit as a hunter after all. But the thought that the charred remain pictured there had once belonged to someone she knew was offputting.
"I think I need to pay a visit to John's boys."
The Garden of Heaven was beautiful. That was a purely objective appraisal too. Because of it's shifting appearance to appeal to each individual that entered it could be nothing but. To Micheal it was an endless maze of marble and flowers. The roses and carnations and tulips all mixed together in a harmony that could not be replicated on Earth.
And the Garden was where he spent most of his days now. He sat in its beautiful halls with a conundrum.
He'd been told, for the longest of times, that he was supposed to fight his brother. He'd been told that the apocalypse was an inevitability and that he would smite Lucifer and bring righteousness to the world. He didn't particularly want to smite his brother, but who was he to question divine will? It was hat particular crime that had led to Lucifer's imprisonment in Hell in the first place.
But was this all really divine will? And if so why had Lucifer been relocked in Hell? Was Michael intended to release his brother a second time just so might have their fight?
To add confusion to his dilemma Gabriel, whom they had all thought long dead, had resurfaced with surprising loyalties. Heaven was still in an uproar over that and he hadn't the faintest idea how to quell it besides smiting more angels and weakening his own reserves.
"Micheal?" A small, uncertain voice sounded drawing him from his thoughts. He turned an inquisitive eye on the angel that had interrupted him. She quivered under his icy stare.
"I've been told to report to you the situation on Earth."
Michael turned his full attention her way now. Hopefully there would be more news now. Hopefully he'd be able to make a decision about the fate of this apocalypse.
Ellen checked the paper and then looked back at the house uncertainly. Not only could she not imagine Dean Winchester living in this way too ordinary looking house the place looked recently vacated.
Still, she climbed out of her truck and approached the door. She gave it three sharp raps and then waited. No one answered. There wasn't so much as a shifting of shadow behind the drawn curtains.
Ellen tried not to pull her gun at the sudden exclamation behind her. She turned warily to see a middle aged man in bright jogging clothes staring at her quizzically but smiling all the same. He seemed the overly friendly type.
"You checking the place out for rent?"
She shook her head and approached him slowly. "I'm looking for someone that might've lived here. His name's Dean."
"Dean?" the guy's eyes lit up. "I know Dean!"
She tried not to let her disbelief show. She doubted the man knew much at all about Dean. His appearance and demeanor didn't exactly shout 'hunter'.
"Yeah, nice guy. Bit of a mystery though." The man continued. "He and Lisa up and moved a couple of days ago. Haven't seen him since. Seemed kinda sudden. He hadn't mentioned moving before then. Something must've happened in one of their families or something."
"Did he leave a forwarding address? Any way to contact him?" She doubted it. It would have been sloppy of him to leave behind a trail if he'd had to relocate.
The man's eyes narrowed suddenly and he hesitated for the first time. "Who did you say you were again?"
Ellen had never had mush use for fake ID's but in that moment she wished she had one. This seemed like the sort of situation where one could benefit from having an FBI badge. "I'm a friend of Dean's." she stuck with the truth, though she was curious who this 'Lisa' was. "Something bad happened to a mutual friend and I've been trying to track him down ever since."
He assessed her for a few more moments before whipping out his phone. "How much could a phone number hurt any way right?" the man said jovially to himself while scrolling through his contacts. He stopped on Dean's name and turned the phone her way.
She quickly jotted down the number and thanked the man. At least the trip hadn't been a total bust. With a final farewell she slipped back into her truck and retrieved her worn out cell phone. She punched the number in slowly and then hit the dial button.
The line rang once and then an automated message informed her the number had been disconnected. That screamed paranoia to her, hunter paranoia. Something had happened in this average suburban neighborhood. But what? What had set Dean off?
Ellen's mind snapped straight to Ash. He'd've been able to track the boys down in hours based on some ridiculous algorithm he thought up off the top of his head. She missed that freeloader sometimes.
She'd figure this one out though. She'd use a bit of her hunter ingenuity.
Lisa placed a glass into the cabinet and let out a sigh. She glanced at Dean who seemed to be completely engrossed in constructing a shelving unit for the living area.
He hadn't said much since they'd gotten here, but he was acting a lot more paranoid since they'd left the other house. She opened her mouth to ask him for the millionth time what had him so nervous, fully expecting another brush aside, but a knock on the door interrupted her. She hesitated from her position in the doorway and shared an intense look with Dean.
"Grab Ben." Was all the instruction he gave her before he was off the floor and moving, leaving her to follow his abrupt direction. He grabbed a hunting knife as Lisa caught her son who had been descending the stairs with curiosity written on his face.
No one should know they were in this house yet. They hadn't told anyone. Dean grasped the knife tighter and pulled it back just out of sight of the doorway. He hoped it was just one of those over eager neighbors that brought your casseroles and jello moulds to introduce themselves.
The door swung open slowly to reveal a middle aged, but striking, blond woman staring at Dean in a guarded manner. She looked as though she were trying to decide whether to punch or hug him.
Dean blinked sluggishly and his knife arm fell a bit. "Ellen?"
"Don't you 'Ellen' me." She spat back angrily.
Dean just looked completely thrown for a loop.
"Dean?" Lisa asked uncertainly. That seemed to snap the hunter from his daze. He looked Ellen up and down before gesturing for her to step through the door. A devil's trap lay under the rug.
Ellen stepped through the doorway and over the sigil without difficulty. She held out her hand as if annoyed but understanding. Dean ran through the other tests quickly.
The moment he put away his silver blade she wound back and slugged him hard on the cheek. He staggered a bit and Lisa's hands tightened on Ben's shoulders.
"Holy!..." Dean hissed massaging his cheek with wide eyes. "What the hell Ellen?!"
"I told you to put me on speed dial kid." She shot back. "Half of Detroit blows sky high with someone we know in the middle of it and you don't think that warrants a phone call? Why do I have to keep finidng out you're alive from people like Rufus?"
The dour hunter had, in fact, played a large part in helping Bela find information on the Winchesters.
Dean looked sheepish now.
"Dean?" Lisa asked again, uncertainty in her tone.
"Oh…" Dean seemed finally to remember they weren't the only ones in the room. He turned toward the two of them and floundered a bit. "Ellen… um…"
"Ellen Harvelle." Ellen took over the introductions as Dean seemed terribly inadequate at them. "An old family friend of Dean's." She shot him a glare.
Lisa relaxed marginally. "All kinds of people are showing up out of the blue recently." She joked with a wavering smile. "My name's Lisa, Lisa Braeden. This is my Son Ben."
Ellen nodded in their direction.
"What's going on Ellen?" Dean finally asked. "Why are you here?"
She turned an icy glare on him. "I came to find out what happened." She told him bluntly. "You and your brother go to fight the devil and-"
He moved forward swiftly startling her in confused angry silence. "Maybe we can… talk somewhere else?" Dean asked giving a subtle nod in the direction of Ben.
Ellen took one look at the almost hero worshipping look on the boy's face and her anger toward Dean fizzled out. Hadn't hunting claimed the lives of enough children already? Why did kids always think it was so glamorous?
She gave Dean a nod and watched him make his excuses to Lisa before ushering her out. The lawn seemed as good a place as any to lay into Dean. No neighbors were outside probably because it was mid morning on a weekday but clouds roiled in the sky above them as well.
"How many times do I have to tell you to pick up a phone, kid?" she fumed. "You go into something like that you call me, yeah?"
"We thought you still needed time." Dean replied quickly, though he refused to throw Jo's name in. "I'm glad you didn't come though. There no telling how it might have went. I already lost Bobby. I thought I lost Sam. Cas disappeared. I don't think I could've handled more.
Her brow scrunched in confusion. "Sam?"
"He disappeared with Cas the night it all went down. He just showed up recently, tells me he's been around the whole time and just never bothered to call."
The sounded off. Sam was never the clingy brother but he never really left Dean up in the air about life or death situations either. "And Harry?" she asked. Had Dean been as out of the loop this whole time as she had been? Spending his time making a family in suburbia instead of hunting?
"I couldn't get to anyone. I didn't know what happened. Hell, I'm still not sure what happened."
"And Sam was avoiding you?"
Dean looked uncomfortable with the thought. "He said he left me behind for this." He gestured to the house behind him inside of which were Lisa and Ben. "I made him a promise before we went in to the hell hole if anything… happened to Sam I'd find Lisa and try to live normal. I spent months searching. Detroit was leveled and everyone was just… gone."
"And the promise was all you had left…" Ellen finished for him.
"He showed up again?"
"A few weeks back." Dean fidgeted.
"He brought trouble with him."
"That's what hunters do, right?" Dean said bitterly.
"That's not what bugged you, is it?"
"Of course not!" Dean said vehemently the started to pace. "I wanted to know my brother was alive!"
Ellen let the yelling go. There was nothing she could do to ease his pain just as there was nothing he could do to ease hers. "So you don't know what happened?"
He shook his head. His scowl spoke volumes on his feelings about being left behind though. "Why are you trying to find him?"
It was a simple enough question but it made her inexplicably angry to hear it come from Dean Winchester's mouth. Why did she need a reason? Hadn't the man done enough for them that a little effort wasn't unwarranted at this point? "Does your loyalty only extend as far as blood?" she spat viciously.
He looked startled by her reaction.
"If you don't want to help him just because of all the help he's given up over the years I figured you'd at least want to find him for Bobby." She paused for a moment at the look on his face. A bit of the heat leaked from her words. "Yes, I heard about Bobby. Maybe if you'd get your head out of your ass and do some digging like the hunter you are you'd know things too."
Dean had gone stony faced and he was pale and shaking as if repressing something.
She took a deep breath and leveled her voice. "My point here is that Harry did a lot of good for us. He night have wrapped it in seven layers of sarcasm, but he did good. And we've done wrong by him." She glanced at the window as she saw a concerned Lisa glance out. "You two may not have seen eye to eye on a lot of things, but if it was your ass in hell I'm sure he'd be a working through a way to get you out."
Dean had the grace to look guilty. And then his phone rang through the awkward silence. He pulled it from his pocket with an apologetic grimace in her direction. "Hello?"
"Dean!" Sam's voice burst over the loud speaker, nearly making Dean drop the phone. "Look, I know I said I wouldn't call but uh… I've got a situation."
"I'm sure you can handle it." Dean countered.
"What sort of situation?" Ellen bit out with a reprimanding glance Dean's direction.
"Who's… Is that Ellen?" Sam's surprised question filled the air followed quickly by. "Good, bring her too."
"Sam, what the he-" the dial tone met Dean's outraged question followed by a cheery beep as he received a set of coordinates from Sam via text.
"Your brother usually that abrupt?"
Dean scowled as he pocketed the phone. "No."
"I'm at a bit of a loss here." Ellen stared at the small child in Sam's arms. Her eyes snapped to his. "This is not the sort of situation I was expecting when you called." She motioned for him to hand over the child and he was more than happy to oblige, shoving the child her way in the blink of an eye.
"Why did you call me?" Dean asked disbelievingly.
"Well… you were closest." Sam trailed off then his eyes focused on Ellen. "And it turned out Ellen was with you. It's good to see you back in the fray Ellen."
She gave him an incredulous look but said nothing.
"Why didn't you take the kid to your new hunting buddies instead? No, wait, bigger question, whose kid is that? Why do you have a kid with you Sam?"
"Well…" Sam drug his feet. "It's complicated."
"Un-complicate it." Dean bit back.
"The kid's a shifter Dean."
That gave the other two pause.
"You've seen it shift?" Ellen asked eying the baby in a new light.
"With my own eyes." Sam responded immediately.
"Is that what the goo in your back seat is from?" Dean looked like he was trying to suppress his mirth. Sam's face turned sour at the reminder.
"What do we do with it?" Sam changed topic abruptly. He eyed the child with obvious distaste.
"What do you mean by 'do with it'?" Ellen snapped immediately, not liking the Winchester's tone. "We aren't killing a child!"
"Whoa!" Dean put his hands up in a surrendering fashion. "No one was suggesting that Ellen."
"Well it certainly sounded like it."
Sam mocked his brother's gesture.
Ellen huffed as the child in question gurgled happily. "We'll find someone to leave it with."
"No Sam!" Dean cut his brother off with a glare.
Silence rang through the clearing for a moment. "I get the feeling I'm missing something big here." Ellen interjected. "Someone wanna fill me in?"
Dean kept his heavy gaze on his brother and Sam stared right back, unfazed. Sam's lack of reaction only seemed to irritate Dean further. Finally Dean began to explain. "Sam's been hunting with a new group lately."
"Dean-" Sam sighed.
"A new group?" Ellen spoke over Sam. She glanced between the two. "I thought you boys only worked with family."
"They are family." Sam insisted.
Ellen shot him an incredulous look.
"Cousins, mostly." Sam explained further when neither stopped him. "And… Samuel… our grandfather. Our family."
"No, Sam!" Dean protested with balled fists. "Our blood. Not our family."
"Since when were those two different things Dean?" Sam asked with confusion.
"I'm sensing a bit of hostility here…" Ellen cut in. "Did something happen?"
"Yes… well, no… not exactly." Dean ground out haltingly. "It's weird though."
Ellen took in Dean's body language. The hunched shoulders, tense back, and clenched jaw all said there was more he wanted to say and she didn't think it was her presence that was making him hold back. Which meant it was Sam he was having doubts about spilling the beans in front of. Something serious must've happened. More serious than Sam just acquiring new hunting partners.
"Alright, fun as this has been I had other ideas for where we could relocate this little guy. I'm sure we can find him a home with the right kind of people who are still in the know." Ellen suggested digging at her phone that was wedged in her pocket.
Dean actually seemed to relax marginally but Sam's frown deepened just slightly.
A shrill, high pitched ring tone filled the air. Sam cringed and the baby began to wail. Ellen tried to shush the baby while still digging at the phone but eventually gave up and handed the child off to Dean.
She fumbled with the display once she'd freed the device in a hasty attempt to answer once she'd seen the number. "Bela?" she asked immediately. Dean cringed at the name.
"Nope." a peppy male voice replied. "It is her phone though, so points for trying. I wouldn't even say it was a bad guess. The name's Patrick."
"The 'old friend' of Harry's she told me about?"
"Oi now love, watch where you throw the word old. It's not very nice. Prefer 'experienced' myself."
So that was a round about 'yes' then.
"I called to let you know some exciting news."
Her heart climbed into her throat.
"There was a massive power flux a few hours ago. We thought it might have been a hell gate opening since it came from that direction…" he said smoothly. "But it was his power."
She wasn't sure if he meant Death's or Harry's but either way it had to be a good sign, right? Both were relevant. "Where?" was the first thing out of her mouth.
The man gave a petulant sigh. "It's never 'thank you' with you hunters, is it? It's always 'what else can you do for me'?" There was a small lull as if he were waiting for an apology but none were forthcoming. "I'm still pinpointing where exactly, but I've narrowed it down to Utah."
Utah seemed a strange place for Death to try and bring Harry back, but she wasn't about to start complaining.
"Look, Bela will call you back when I have more than that, capiche?" without waiting for a response the line went dead and she stared at it in confusion.
"Was it good news?" Sam asked though he seemed disinterested.
"Yes…" she replied numbly before shaking her head to gain focus. "Alright, let's go find this little guy a home because I need to hit the road."
"Come on Cas!" Gabriel sighed. "It's not so bad."
Castiel gave his brother a look that spoke volumes about how much he didn't want to be there. "It must be safe to leave soon."
"You know it isn't." Gabriel shot back immediately strutting forward with a martini glass full to the brim with jelly beans. "Those chuckle heads took care of Luci, sure. But they missed the other big fish and Mikey's not happy about all of it. If you go flying around like you used to he'll find you and you'll get roasted extra crispy."
Cas stared at his brother for a few moments taking in the words again. They'd had this argument nearly every day for nigh on a year now.
"Now come on!" Gabriel forced the glass into his brother's hand. "Lighten up a bit. You never know when you're gonna get your last chance to mambo. Might as well…"
Castiel wasn't sure why Gabriel stopped. For a long moment the arch angel looked like he was caught in a daze. Then he felt it, like a beacon. All too familiar magic was sounding like an alarm clock in the distance and if they could feel it, chances were the other angels could as well.
The brightly lit room full of sweets and girls disappeared around them leaving the two in a drab old hotel room.
"That was…" Castiel muttered.
"Harry, yeah." Gabriel confirmed. He turned his gaze to the younger angel. "You said he was pulled into the cage with Luci."
"He was." Castiel confirmed absently. "Maybe he found a way out."
"Much as I like the guy let's hope not."
"Because, if Harry can find a way out of the cage, Luci can too."
Fishlake National Forest
Jalen Waters and his son Derek sat at their camp fire enjoying the quiet of the night and their fire roasted hot dogs. They'd been out camping for three days now and finally managed to catch a fish just a bit earlier but they'd lost the light before they could clean it properly. So they'd settled in on the last of their hot dogs instead. They ate fast as the occasional thunder clap threatened rain.
"It's a shame your sister didn't want to come." Jalen commented absently.
Derek shrugged. Then his face lit up and a snicker escaped him as a memory popped into his head. "'Member that time Bethany-" the younger man stopped talking as a crash sounded in the forest.
"The hell?" Jalen stood, glancing around he motioned for his son to come closer.
The air between the two was tense now and Derek fumbled for one of the shotguns as light began to show between the trees. You never knew who you'd meet in the wilderness. Better to come prepared.
"Good evening gentlemen."
Both men wheeled around to face the voices owner. A petite woman in a firmly pressed business suit stood there with a small frown on her lips.
"I'm afraid you two really did choose the wrong spot to camp this evening."
Both men were bewildered by the cold edge to the small woman's voice. They weren't even sure how the immaculately clad woman had snuck up on them.
"I regret to inform you that on my boss' orders anyone in this area has to die."
SOoooo… yeah… this happened. Sorry about the lack of Harry in this chapter. With him stuck in hell and all it's not like I could just be like 'poof' and have him back.
Also, who gets an internet cookie for remembering Micheal was still out and about before I brought it up?
Thanks for reading guys. Still working on the side stories. We'll get a bit of what happened with Ellen during her time away in one of them. I'm hoping I can do a lead up so you guys will understand why getting Harry back became important to her… It's either that or write out a really long flashback chapter and I never really liked those in the stories I read… soooo… yeah.
Anyway, thanks again. 'til next time!