Title: When It Changes
Author: Restive Nature
Shows: Dark Angel and Supernatural
Disclaimer: Neither show represented in this fiction belongs to me. Dark Angel is the product of Cameron/Eglee and Fox, whereas Supernatural is the product of Kripke and The CW. No profits are made from this fiction and it is intended for private enjoyment only.
Story Rating: PG-13 up to R for language, violence and sexual situations. (All higher rated material will be contained in its own chapter and clearly marked at the beginning of the chapter. PG versions of these chapters will also be available.)
Chapter Rating: PG-13 for language.
Timeline/ Spoilers: This story takes place predominantly in the Supernatural timeline. This means that the Dark Angel structure of post-pulse America does not fit in. The massive changes will be that Manticore is decades ahead of itself and the characters from DA are born much earlier than portrayed on the show. There is no Pulse occurring. Any other changes to the structures or episodes of the shows will be (hopefully) explained within the story itself.
Pairing: None at this time. (The pairing will become evident as the story progresses, but much further down the road.)
Summary: Change can be a choice and you never know where the road you choose to take will lead you.
A/N: This story began as my work for the annual NaNoWriMo. (For those of you not familiar with the term, that's National Novel Writing Month.) The goal was 50000 words which I completed. But I felt that it wasn't fair to start another NaNo story and leave people hanging while I tried to finish other stories. But I also promised that I would put this story up by Christmas, no matter where I was in it. There's no real purpose in this story, except that I wanted to write it for my own enjoyment. But I hope other people will enjoy reading it as well.
A/N2: I also have to say that unfortunately, I only got to see about the last seven episodes of the first Season of Supernatural. I was hoping to get it for my birthday (no such luck) and when I went to get it myself, the stores were sold out. (So here's hoping for Christmas!) Anyhow, if I have missed anything or contradicted something stated in canon, then I apologize and will try to fix it down the road when I can.
When It Changes
"Don't fall asleep now son," John Winchester spoke with a slight tone of amusement. He'd just glanced in the rearview mirror of his '67 Chevy Impala, blacker than the night they drove through, to see his thirteen year old son, Sammy, asleep in the back seat. A quick glance at his elder son, Dean, told him that his warning was just in time. Dean's eyes were beginning to droop, but the moment his father's voice reached him through the fogy haze in that moment of dropping off, he'd snapped upright again.
"Yes sir," Dean rasped out. He stared out the windshield from his position riding shotgun. John stared out at the road as well, but he knew his son well enough to know that he'd be rubbing at those tired eyes surreptitiously, so that his father wouldn't notice.
At seventeen, Dean was quite the man. He was leaving most vestiges of childhood, if one could call it that, rapidly behind him. The last major carry over seemed to be the typical teenage boy's need for sixteen hours of sleep a day. And the appetite. But that would never change, John knew. In their line of work, their bodies always needed fuel. Dean cleared his throat and John smiled. He knew he should let Dean sleep if he needed it, the kid was finally getting over a cold. Another thing that Dean would never let bog him down. Not that Sam or John did either. But that noise was sort of welcome in the noisy type of silence that one experienced when driving. Not quite silence, mostly background filler. The urge to talk to his son was compelling.
"I need you to help me stay awake," John continued. He removed one hand from the steering wheel to rub at his right eye. He was getting older and finally starting to feel it. From the occasional knee joint pain when he woke in the morning, to aching shoulders in the evening. It got worse during cold weather, which he didn't have to worry about now, seeing how it was the end of May. But they were all little signs telling him that he couldn't slow things down.
"It's important to have good eyes watching the road," John rambled on. He didn't know why he was talking on like this. He rarely rambled. Didn't see the need in it. And he knew that Dean knew all this. Dean had been driving himself for a few years and John had drilled these things into his head before he'd allow him to take the wheel. "You never know when conditions will change. You might see something I don't. And when it changes, you've got to be ready to roll with it." And Lord, that was true. In more than just driving too it seemed. Dean had an uncanny knack of being someone who could see straight through a situation to the heart of the matter, yet at the same time, be completely oblivious to the nuances surrounding that heart. But it didn't worry John. His kid was a survivor.
As he mused on this, he noticed a sign, marking a curve ahead. He slowed a little, his years of driving experience telling him to go into the blind curve slowly and then accelerate into the curve to hold the road. But his own words came back to bite him on the ass when Dean called attention to that change tersely.
"Deer!" he half-shouted, tensing up and leaning forward. John saw it as well, the doe standing in the ditch, jumping into the road precisely as he neared. Knowing better than to slam on his brakes, he swerved to the left as his foot left the accelerator and came to down swiftly to apply pressure to his brakes. He kept it steady and they swerved around the deer, which stood stock still in the middle of the lane, probably with its heart pounding in its overly large ears.
John turned to smile at Dean, the coincidence so ironic but Dean's eyes were wide and panicked as he gestured to the road, yelling "Dad! Look out!"
The movements were automatic and so swift that John couldn't calculate how quickly it happened. He was slamming on the brakes this time, trying to avoid whatever Dean had seen. But his reaction times weren't fast enough now to avoid the next thing to come out of nowhere. He could only thank God that he'd slowed down some to avoid the deer. But it wasn't enough when he heard the dull thump of his beloved car meeting a solid something.
As the car came to a halt, John spun around to check on Sam, who was groggy but awake. The boy kept quiet, waiting for his father or brother to tell him what had happened. He checked Dean next, seeing that he was shaking.
"I think we hit someone," Dean whispered in a strangled voice. John mentally cursed as he yanked his seatbelt off.
"Stay in the car," he warned. In their line of work, it was a valid precaution. It was possible that a person could have been roaming the backwoods road, but at eleven at night, it was more likely an animal. But if the animal was hurt, it could react unpredictably. But Dean had said someone, not something and his eyes didn't usually fail him. All John could do was look and see.
He left his door open, in case he needed to get into the protection of the car quickly. As he moved to the front, the headlights dimmed and he noticed Dean had unbuckled as well and did that so his father wouldn't be blinded. But as he looked to the ground, about three feet in front of the car was a huddled form, lying in the gray expanse of old asphalt. This time John didn't bother to vent his frustration under his breath.
"Damn it! Dean, call an ambulance!" he called back to his son. He dropped to one knee beside the still form, feeling for a pulse. He breathed an amazing sigh of relief as he found it, steady and strong. He knew better than to move an accident victim and he looked over the body of what appeared to be a child. The kid was wearing jeans that were too big for his frame, a white t-shirt under a dismal gray zip up jacket and shoddy, cheap sneakers that looked about ready to fall apart.
"Dad, I can't get service out here," Dean complained as he got out of the car. He had the cell phone gripped in his right hand. He tried again but the 'no service' indicator was lit up, illuminating his face green in the darkness. He snapped the phone shut, knowing it was futile to continue trying. "Is it bad?"
"The kid's unconscious, but the pulse is strong," John rapped out quickly. "I don't see any bleeding or wounds."
"Think it's safe to move him?" Dean asked, crouching beside his father and taking a good look at the kid they'd hit. He too knew the dangers.
"We're going to have to take the chance," John decided. "We need to get him to a hospital." Dean nodded and they moved to carefully straighten the child out and child it was indeed. He looked to be about ten or eleven years old, with dark hair, almost black. It was shaggy all over, like no one had bothered to cut it at all for months on end. The face was fragile and pale, but John figured that must be due to the accident. He did a cursory check around the kids head and neck but could feel nothing obvious. "Sammy," he called out, knowing that his youngest would be waiting. "Get in the front seat." The immediate movement from the car told him that Sam was obeying. "Leave your blanket there." He turned to his eldest. "Go get in the back seat. I'll slide him in to you. Try and keep his head as still as possible. I know it'll be tough, but do your best."
Dean ran around to the backseat and slid into the rear passenger's side seat. He knew his father would want to be able to keep an eye on them. He threw Sam's woolly blanket to his feet, ready to grab to cover the kid up. They all had had enough first aid training to know that shock was a concern. All they could do was keep the kid warm with his feet up and find the first available medical assistance. John carefully passed the boy in to Dean, who was sitting sideways in the seat. He had decided that balancing the kids head in his lap would prove to be too bumpy. They settled him in and Dean pulled up Sam's blanket over the kid. John nodded and shut the door, regaining his seat quickly. He checked the road and pulled away, anxious to get this kid taken care of.
It was Sammy who first voiced the thought that was nagging at all of them. "How come a little kid was out on the road in the middle of the night?" he asked quietly, also turned sideways in his seat so that he could watch over their newest occupant. John thought about telling him to turn around, but he knew he wouldn't need a second set of eyes. Everything was in sharp focus and there was no way he'd fall asleep at the wheel.
"I don't know kiddo," he answered quietly, "But it can't have been for anything good."
"Do you think he ran away from home?" Sam asked, his voice a mixture of fear and worry. Neither Dean nor John answered that. It was the most likely probability. John wondered for a moment if he should keep his eyes open for a turn off or driveway. But he dismissed that idea almost as swiftly as it came. If the kid was running from a bad situation then John did not want to take him right back into it. They'd made a few miles down the road when moaning was heard from the back seat.
"I think he's waking up," Dean muttered and they heard rustling in the backseat. "Hey kid," he spoke soothingly. "Don't move. You've been in an accident. He's awake," he confirmed for John and Sam in the front.
"Keep him still Dean," John advised and could see Dean nodding in the rearview mirror.
"Hear that?" Dean continued trying to calm the frightened kid down. "Are you okay? Do you hurt anywhere?"
"M-my head," the kid replied slowly. At least he was doing as told, staying still. But Dean decided that it was probably pain and fear keeping him still. Shock at suddenly waking up in a car surrounded by three strangers.
"Okay," he sighed. "My name is Dean. My dad is driving us to the hospital and my brother Sam is up front with him." He paused to let that information sink in. "Can you tell me your name?"
"Max," was the soft reply. "What happened?"
"Well Max," Dean talked congenially now that the kid seemed to be trying to orient himself. "We were driving down this road and a deer jumped out in front of us. My dad swerved to avoid it, but he couldn't avoid you."
"Oh," the kid's voice sounded a little shaky. "I'm sorry sir."
John felt the sudden urge to laugh, but suppressed it, knowing that it was a late reaction to the accident. Here the kid was apologizing to them when they were the ones that had hit him. "There's no need to be sorry," he offered quietly but clearly. "Accidents happen. We just want to make sure you're okay."
"I'm fine," Max assured him, but John knew better.
"You got knocked out," Sam piped up from his seat. "That means you need to go to the hospital." The change that those words brought out in Max was instantaneous. He sat bolt upright in the back seat before Dean could stop him.
"No!" Max yelled. "No hospitals!"
"Hey, it's okay," Dean soothed. "You hit your head or something, 'cause you passed out and were unconscious. We just want to get you to an emergency room so that the doctors can make sure you're okay." But the words were anything but comforting to the frightened child.
"No, I don't want to," he whimpered, huddling in the far corner of the seat. John was about to speak up, but Dean beat him to it.
"There's nothing to be afraid of," Dean cajoled, reaching for the kid. "Nobody will hurt you. We'll make sure of that." Dean wondered if the kid had some massive medical community type phobia, or if the kid was afraid a doctor would call his parents.
"No!" the kid yelled again and the next thing John heard was Dean swearing. There was a thump and a sudden rush of air. John once again applied his foot harshly to the brakes, even as he swung his head around to see his eldest son restraining Max. He pulled to a stop and was amazed to see the driver's side rear door hanging open and Dean with his arms wrapped around Max's waist as the boy struggled to get free.
"Are you stupid?" Sam's shocked voice choked out. "You could have killed yourself!"
"Sammy, quiet," John barked, though he felt like pointing out the painfully obvious truth to the kid as well. He stared at Max struggling in Dean's arms. "Dean let him go." The surprise at those words was evident in Dean's face, but he obeyed his father and eased up from where he was holding Max. The kid eyed Dean angrily, and then turned his suspicion on John.
"I won't go," he reiterated stubbornly.
"I can see that," he stated calmly. Max remained on the edge of flight. "Well, we'll give you a ride to town. If you decide to trust us, then we'll take care of you. If you still don't want to go, then once we get to town, you can go your own way. Okay?" John could feel all three of the children staring at him with suspicion, his own two with bewilderment as well. But he focused on Max, who finally broke and nodded slowly. "Okay, shut your door and we'll get going." Max did as he was bid, but huddled in his newly appointed corner.
They'd driven a few more miles before Dean broke the silence. He coughed nervously then smiled at the kid. "I'm uh, sorry about grabbing you back there. I just kind of didn't want to see you go splat."
"I didn't really want to go splat," Max smirked.
"Then you must reeee-allly hate hospitals," Sam chuckled. Max nodded.
"Don't blame you," Dean groaned. "They're not the greatest place in the world, what with the noise and the smell and all the sick people walking around…" his voice faded as he noticed Max getting paler by the moment. He looked distracted, like he was lost in his own memories. "But you know, there are worse places too," Dean muttered hastily. It wasn't his imagination that the kid flinched a little. He glanced up and quickly met his father's eyes in the rearview mirror. John nodded, each of their concerns very obvious to the other. "So Max," Dean hurried to change the subject, but couldn't think of anything other than the obvious questions. Such as, why he was out on the road at eleven at night? What was his last name? Who the hell gave him the shaggy dog haircut?
"Where are you guys going?" Max asked before Dean could get anymore words out.
"Oh, we're heading out to see an old friend of my dad's," Sam volunteered, even as he ignored the warning look that both Dean and John had in their faces.
"Oh," was Max's neutral reply.
"Were you heading anywhere specific?" Dean asked quietly. All three Winchester's waited for the answer.
Max shrugged, not sure what to say. "Just to town," he finally decided on. "I don't know after that."
"Okay," John muttered, and then a thought occurred to him. "Well, do you know about how far it is to town? We haven't been through this part of the state before." This was true. He waited for an answer and noticed from his driver's side window that Max was peering out into the night.
"Just after mile marker twenty-three, you hit town," Max supplied. There was another pause and John noticed a mile marker coming up. "So about another five miles," Max finished. John whistled under his breath.
"You've got good eyes," Sam complimented as he peered out the window as well. The three Winchester's were just able to read the small sign now.
"Night vision," Max replied with a small grin. The other occupants laughed.
"Maybe I should have you sitting up here in front with me," John suggested.
"Hey!" Dean protested immediately. "I saw that deer and Max. I'd say my eyes aren't too bad."
"That's true," John conceded. "But a kid coming complete with night vision is just too cool to pass up."
Dean held his indignant pose a moment longer before giving in. "Yeah it is," he agreed enthusiastically.
"So wait," Sammy turned in his seat again to look at Max. "If you've got night vision, how come you didn't see us coming?"
"I did," Max snorted. "But you were in the lane I was walking on, so I thought I better move to the other side."
"And of course, I'd just swerved to avoid that deer that jumped out at us and was correcting myself by getting back into the proper lane." He sighed. "Just dumb luck conspiring against us."
"Seems to be the story of our lives," Dean sighed as well. No one else seemed inclined to say anything else on the subject. The last stretch of miles into town was accomplished silently.
Dean however kept taking sneaking glances at Max. The kid did seem to be okay, as he'd asserted, but Dean was worried that the kid might suddenly collapse. A car accident was no laughing matter and the kid had no idea what might be in store for him if he had a head injury. Which was why he was taken aback as they pulled into town and his dad drove right past the sign that indicated to turn for the hospital.
"Uh… Dad?" he coughed slightly to get his father's attention. John glanced up into the rearview mirror again and Dean jerked his head to the side, indicating that John should have turned.
"I know son," he spoke calmly, but continued driving on as he was. "Trust me."
No one knew what to think of this statement. But John soon found what he was actually looking for when he pulled off the main street they'd been driving on and pulled into a mid-size looking motel parking lot. John parked near the check in suite and turned off the car.
"Wait here," he instructed tersely. He got out of the car and listened for a moment. He could hear faint sounds emanating from the building and he hoped that someone was awake. Most times, if they couldn't get a motel room in a small town like this, they'd just sleep in the car. But he didn't think that was such a great idea tonight.
He knocked at the door, even though there was an invitation to enter. He himself always liked a little notice that someone was coming to his door. Once he heard shuffling feet moving towards the door, then he allowed himself to open it. He was met by an older lady, looking ready for bed. She was wearing a long tartan dressing gown, with her feet in backless slippers. She looked to be in her mid to late sixties, with a full head of silvery white hair.
"Good evening ma'am," he began with a charming smile. Politeness was always good in these situations, though John practiced it as a rule, not just to get something.
"Hello," the woman smiled back, slightly cautious. "Did you want a room?"
"Yes please," he nodded. "Two double beds if you have any. I was going to drive through the night, but," and here he gestured out the window, "the kids were just too tired to go on."
The woman glanced out the unshaded window to see the three huddled forms in the Impala. Her face brightened at once. "Of course," she nodded, moving to the counter set at the front of the room. She moved behind it and pulled a slip of paper from a cubby hold. She handed it to John along with a pen. He filled in the required information quickly, using one of his many aliases that he'd developed over the years. Ian Macnair signed his name with a flourish, laid the pen on top of the paper and pushed it back towards the elderly woman. The woman glanced cursorily over the sheet and pulled out a key attached to a small plastic key ring.
"We've only got a few rooms with two doubles, but they're all open," she explained. "Number fourteen should suit you just fine." John took the key and agreed with her. "Have a good night Mr. Macnair."
"You too ma'am."
He got in the car again and started her up, wincing at the sudden loud noise in the quiet neighborhood. But it wouldn't last long, since he only had to pull around the corner to get to their room. He shut the car off again and Sam and Dean quickly got out to remove their overnight bags from the trunk. Max sat mutely in the back seat, his eyes again filled with suspicion. He watched as John opened the door and Dean and Sam rushed the room. John turned back to him.
"You coming?" he demanded, gesturing to the still open door. Max slowly got out of the car and carefully shut the door. He moved to stand beside John and looked into the room. Dean was moving the bags onto a wide dresser, while Sammy bounced up and down on the far bed. "It's warm and dry and you'll sleep safe."
"Okay," Max conceded and he walked through the door. John followed and shut it against the night air.
"Sammy, settle down," his voice was soft but his tone wasn't. "Quit acting like this is the first time you've been in a motel. Dean don't worry about the bags, we'll only be here one night."
"Yes sir!" their combined voices rang out and Max noticed that they did as their father bid them immediately.
"So?" Dean stared at his father and Max then shoved his hands in his pocket.
"So what?" John demanded, although he was pretty sure he knew what Dean was going to say.
"Are we going to go to the hospital?" he threw out bluntly, staring at Max. John turned to look at the child for a long moment.
"I think I'd like to talk to Max in private first," he asserted. "If that's okay with you?" The last was directed at Max. The kid raised one eyebrow, as if asking where John was thinking he'd find privacy. John understood and gestured to the bathroom. Max chewed at his lower lip. "No funny business," John assured him. "Just talk." Finally Max nodded and moved into the bathroom. John followed, but as he turned to shut the door, he gave the boys a pointed look. They knew what to do.
They had just finished creating a protective barrier made of salt around the door and two windows when John came out of the bathroom again. He shut the door behind him, his eyes heavy and somewhat saddened.
"How is he?" Sam asked before Dean had the chance. The elder Winchester boy just put his supplies away as he waited for his father to answer.
"Well," John spoke slowly, a glint of amusement creeping in to temper the sadness. "It turns out that our he, is actually a she."