Title: Troubled Waters

Summary: In northwestern Washington, Sam and Dean run into a cult, missing people, plagues, some really humid weather, and possessed trees.

Disclaimer: As usual, I don't own anything. The geography in this story is fairly accurate; everything else is fiction. Oh, and apologies to William Butler Yeats.

Author's Note: Much thanks to BigPink, who listened to me whine about the troublesome nature of writing a story with an actual plot, and who did a fantastic beta-ing job.

Thanks to everybody who's reviewed!


Epilogue: Monday, July 10, morning

The family—that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.

Dodie Smith

xxxxx

Sam, Dean and Celia stood squinting in the bright morning light, watching the sun rise in the sky and dry the earth. It was eight o'clock, and now that the fire was apparently out—they heard murmurs of Thank God it rained, kept the whole area from going up in flames—they were being allowed to return to the campground and their homes. People were bustling about, gathering up the odds and ends they'd brought with them, talking in clusters, reliving their disaster. None seemed particularly eager to climb into the cars that awaited them; rather, now that they knew that there was no damage, that everything was safe, they were enjoying their refugee status. Giddy with relief.

Celia was on Sam's cell phone with her mother, as she had been for the past forty minutes. Mrs Edwards seemed to be subjecting her to a barrage of questions and not giving her time to answer, judging by Celia's occasional starts of sentences: Well, I— and No, it was— and I didn't—.

They had known the conversation would not be quick. They had settled in to wait, pouring themselves coffee, but the lack of progress in Celia's discussion with her mother was disheartening—Sam was hoping for a clear-cut I'm coming home today—and so they decided to call the sheriff now, instead of driving over to the port later.

Sam called, because he was the sheriff's "new best friend", according to Dean. "I never talked to him!" protested Sam.

"You spent eight hours on a boat with him!"

Sam rolled his eyes, tried to remember why he was objecting, and dialed Douglas. He had managed to get the policeman's card over the course of the previous day, if not draw him into conversation.

Dean listened to Sam's half of the dialogue keenly, although it started off slowly—Sam appeared to be having a hard time reminding Douglas of who he was. And then Sam asked how the search was progressing, and his face paled and he nodded slowly, although Douglas couldn't see him, and he murmured an assent and hung up.

"They found three bodies this morning, so far; they've been searching since the rain stopped and it got light. The bodies are of a man and two women; they don't know anything beyond that, but the bodies were floating on the surface and tangled up in lots and lots of seaweed. Tied up, it looked like." Sam met Dean's eyes and fell silent.

There wasn't much to say.

xxxxx

They were in the Impala, northbound on the I-5, near Burlington. It was forty miles to the Canadian border, where they were scheduled to meet the Edwards family at twelve-thirty. The other three arbutus trees had been dealt with quickly and ably—two on Goose Rock, overlooking both Cornet Bay and the Strait of Juan de Fuca ("Glad we didn't hike up here yesterday, in that oppressive heat," remarked Sam; and Celia gawked at how efficiently the brothers performed the exorcisms—with no opposition from any sort of spirit—and Dean had to restrain himself from saying I told you so) and the last on the Kelman property itself.

The odd agitation that had surrounded Celia since she had decided to return home permeated the air inside the car even though she was asleep in the backseat. Dean had initially tried to dissipate the tension by playing cassette tapes with the volume turned down low, but Celia had asked if he could turn them off entirely—she was trying to sleep. Dean had been so astonished that he hadn't responded, and Sam had to reach over and eject the tape.

"Been awhile since there's been somebody in the car besides us," observed Sam quietly.

"Been awhile since there's been three people in the car," corrected Dean.

Sam didn't answer directly, made a meaningless comment about the casino they were passing on the right.

But it made him think. Drew him back to their early-morning discussion—fight—about whether they should rescue Celia or not. Remembered how shocked he was that Dean had intended to leave her with Jasper Kelman. What had happened to his hero complex?

Sam supposed a lot of it was tied up in the concept of free will. In their line of work, it was hard to believe in fate. If things were meant to be, what was the point of hunting? Why did they even try to eradicate the world of evil?

And then there was also the fact that, sometimes, Dean was completely unpredictable. A small grin stole across Sam's features and he looked out the window. They had reached the border.

He saw an enormous white arch in a grassy field—Peace Arch Park, an International Peace Park, touted the sign—and he saw flowers planted to look like U.S. and Canadian flags, and groups of people picnicking, and others wandering around to pass the time because the line-ups to cross the border in either direction extended as far as the eye could see.

And in the midst of it all, Sam saw a large stately-looking woman in a severe grey pantsuit suddenly dash across the lawn, shouting, "Celia! Celia!" and crush her daughter in her arms. A few other people gathered around—seemed to be the dad, the sister, the boyfriend.

"Guess our work here is done," said Sam.

Dean nodded. "Let's hit the road."

xxxxx

Thinking of me in years past. Revering me in days gone by. Dreaming of me in the sea, speaking of me, relying on me for safe passage.

Laughing at me, now. Telling my story by the fireside, a yarn, a tale.

Here I am, yearning to dance in the surf, whirl in the eddies. Countering the tide.

Forgetting, forgetting for eons, forgetting until just yesterday in time.

Reveling in that remembrance. Offering my help. Reminding: stealing a bride, so much like my once-self.

Overlooking the brides, ignoring the aid, pursuing his own path. Rejecting that which has gone before.

Seeing the tide rush in and out, now and forevermore. Understanding it is not honor and memory I yearn for any longer, but rather the familiarity of home. Of land, the land of my people.

Bound to the tide, now and forever. Loving the sea yet dreaming of shore.