Author's Note: Hi everyone, I'm just re-posting this with some spacing changes to make it easier to read. Hope that helps.
Sam Wincester was tired, and he was dirty, and, he was out of place. It hurt, in a strange way, not to belong here, the kind place he had tried to make his own, had fought to become a part of. It hurt to know that he couldn't change what he was, and it hurt to know that he had left the people he loved to try, and that the abandonment had left scars, on them, on him.
Sam was in a library.
Not your typical small town library where he spent many an hour pouring over old newspapers, wills, property records, obituaries, and anything else that might help he and his brother to sort out the latest supernatural mess they had walked into. This was a LIBRARY. The Charles E. Young Research Library at UCLA to be exact. It had one of the best collections of original and facsimile medieval manuscripts in North America, and it was the only place Sam could think of where he might find a clue about the obscure symbol that had been popping up in his visions.
Well, that wasn't quite accurate, it wasn't just popping up; it was the vision itself. Just a blinding light, and emerging from its depths, a single fluid, curving figure, surrounded by an inexplicable and unrecognizable tangle of whirling, curling, snaking….threads? ropes? bodies? Sam just didn't know, and it was making him crazy. He'd never had this kind of a vision before, no people, no places, no foretold event or doom or death, just, a symbol. It had become so consuming that he saw it all the time, burning just behind his eyes, its shadow overlaying everything he saw in the real world. He blinked, but the symbol shone on.
Elsewhere, among the towering stacks in the vast library, Dean Winchester wandered. He felt differently from Sam, in fact, oddly, he felt the opposite. Though Dean had never run away to collage, or spent time in the great institutes of knowledge among the rare and precious windows on the past, he was as comfortable here as anywhere. He was surrounded by books, and Dean loved books. He had never needed to take a course, or hear a lecture. If he wanted to know something, he turned to a book.
He knew that Sam mistook his distain for technology and their internet resources as a general apathy regarding all research and research tools, but really, it was just that compared to books, the internet, while useful, was also lacking. It had no soul. Not like books. The ones around him now, they were beautiful, and they were alive. Each one contained life, the life of its author, of its subjects, of its time. No Dean always felt at home around books, and tempted, tempted to open one, anyone, and dive into the world therein and never come out.
Of course, as far as most people knew, Dean's reading material consisted of cereal boxes and other food packages, but, what they, including his brother, had forgotten(with his not inconsiderable encouragement, it was easier to surprise someone when they thought you were stupid), was that he'd spent most of his early life immersed in the ancient lore of more cultures than he could count. Was it really so weird that his tastes should have expanded to include the rich bodies of literature and history of those cultures, which were often able to provide a clue where the more traditional sources failed?
It was also from those books that he had learned to characterize his sense of duty, of honour, of determination. Of course if anyone tried to tell Dean that he was a modern day knight in shining armour, he would probably cock an eyebrow and tell you that in fact, the medieval institution of chivalry was more or less a fabrication found only in medieval literature and that medieval knights had only one thing going for them, and it was not, in most cases, a refined sense of honour or duty. It was that they were the contemporary equivalent of a tank on legs and not someone you wanted to meet on a battlefield, or anywhere else for that matter. Oh yes, he'd let you have it, just so he could have the pleasure of walking away whistling while you stood there with your mouth hanging open, and ten minutes later he'd be Jo Blow again, all smart mouth and no substance.
No, Dean knew all about ideals, about romanticism, and he knew that for the majority of people, past and present, despite their popularity, they were no more than pretty ideas. Of course, knowing that wasn't quite enough to stop him from having ideals, nor to stop him being an incurable romantic, but it was enough to bury those tendencies deep down, and mask them with a sardonic tongue and devil may care attitude. The truth was that the core of his strength stemmed for an eternal optimism bounded in a downright mule-headed, idealistic belief in his cause, and enough misguided self confidence to allow for a delusional belief in his ability to make a difference. Of course, Dean was good at hiding that part, even from himself. While Dean was off musing, Sam, was working.
Having written down a few dozen call numbers of likely looking books available to the general public (Sam didn't even want to think about what kind of scheme Dean might come up with to get them into the rare books collections should it become necessary) he moved along, stack after stack, head bent to see the fading numbers. By number forty-two he had a crick in his neck, after trip number two to the catalogue and an additional twenty found and rejected possibilities, he had a pounding headache. He straightened, rubbing the knot at the right side of his spine and looked down the isle. That, he thought, looking at a young woman balanced precariously on the top of a chair back to reach the top shelf of a stack, is not a good idea.
This was not a good idea Reggie Thorpington thought to herself as she perched on the top of the chair. Well, she mentally muttered, if I fall and break my neck, perhaps that will be enough to convince the university to use shelves accessible to normal people, and not the local titans out of Greek mythology or Norse gods. Honestly, there weren't even any stepladders of footstools hanging around, and, after going through all the trouble of finding this catalogue, suffering through the embarrassment of very conspicuously dragging a chair over to the stack in the silent library and climbing up on the bloody thing… well, she wasn't about to quit now.
You have excellent balance and it's all about momentum, she told herself firmly. You mustn't hesitate, if you do, you'll lose your balance. It needs to be one smooth, strong motion up, and then back down before you can get unsteady. She placed one foot on the back of the chair. Ready….she prepped herself, eyeing the fat green tome that was her target, GO! Reggie shot up, reached the apex of her flight, found she had overestimated the distance and was head and shoulders above the top of the shelf, way above the book, hesitated, flailed, and then...she fell. Right into the arms of….oh, it seemed maybe one of those Norse god types was hanging around after all.
Reggie knew her mouth was hanging open, she could only hope she hadn't squeaked as she fell. In fact, she thought, taking stock, it hadn't been a very long drop. No, she shook her head, looking down, not nearly long enough, and that was because she still had most of the way to go! She looked up, into the smiling blue eyes of one of the tallest men she'd ever seen. Suspended above the floor, just below his chest level, her perspective was easily a foot higher than it would have been had she stood on her own feet. No, she thought, looking at the giant's chin, make that two feet!
Sam shot down the isle just as the girl stepped forcefully up onto the chair back. He reached her just as her balance gave and she toppled sideways, managing to get both arms beneath her before she fell more than a few feet. He looked down into her tawny eyes, took in the porcelain skin and perfect, full pink bow of a mouth, top it off with a nose so straight it could only be described as aristocratic and a mane of short, spiky hair the same golden bronze as her eyes ….."Nice catch" quipped Dean, eyebrows raised, from the other end of the long isle. Sam's look clearly said, you took the words right out of my mouth.
Dean surveyed the woman cradled in his brother's arms with frank approval. She had the kind of curves which could only be called lush. Hers was a figure which defined the term 'hourglass', and had been knocking men flat on their asses for centuries, no matter what current fashion magazines said. However, it wasn't until she turned her head toward the sound of his voice that he found himself short of breath. Christ he thought to himself, what kind of woman has the body of a playboy centerfold and the face of an angel?
He was jarred out of his musings by the sound of her voice.
"Puns?" she queried. "Really?" Her voice was laced with mocking disbelief.
Dean shrugged, sauntering towards the pair, "Good enough for Shakespeare, good enough for me", he said cockily.
All Reggie could think of to say to that was "Hmmmm", truth being that she regretted her disparaging remark, which had been born if surprise and embarrassment and anyway, as he approached, the shear masculine appeal of him was distracting her. Up close he had green gold eyes and the kind of chiseled beauty that no matter how spectacular, was still unequivocally masculine, and…Reggie searched for an adjective, rugged, she decided, taking in the stubble, the muscle, the beaten leather jacket, and something…a hardness, a forcefulness. She drew a sharp breath, a deep, tormenting sadness. The infinite sea of his pain, showing nowhere on his face, washed over her and she flinched physically, as, once opened, her senses took in more of the same wrenching sorrow form the man who held her. She looked up into the gentle, concerned blue eyes and felt it like a dagger in her heart.
"Hey", Sam gave the girl a gentle jostle, "Anybody home". Her stare was unnerving, he felt like she could see into his soul. She jumped.
"Oh, sorry, just a little shaken", she apologized, embarrassment heating her face as Sam swung her back down to the ground. She stepped back from him, giving her shirt and pants a brisk, pointless dusting, as if she could brush away her awkwardness.
"That wasn't a very smart stunt" Dean said bluntly.
"Uh, yeah, no kidding" Reggie responded, but, she made a helpless gesture, spreading her hands out at her sides,
"They don't design these places for people like me".
Taking in her short stature, Dean estimated that she was a good eight inches shorter than his own six one. With a chuckle he reached up, 'Which one was it you were after?"
Rachel gritted her teeth at his obvious ease and taunting tone, casting a look at the other man who smiled as if to say, sorry, take him or leave him, that's just the way he is.
"It's the big green volume".
Dean plucked it easily form the shelf. "A Guide to Medieval Irish Heraldry" he read out, "Sounds interesting", he sounded dubious.
"Umm yeah…." Reggie mumbled feeling like a total geek, "Just a little family history stuff…." She trailed off.
Sam jumped in to save the day. "I'm Sam, by the way, Sam Winchester, and this is my brother Dean."
Reggie looked at him gratefully, took in the longer, slightly shaggy mane of brown hair. If Dean was beautiful, Sam was the kind of deep, quiet attractive that shocked, and then stole, your heart. Wow she thought to herself, this is some company I'm keeping. As if on cue, a voice rang out harshly in the stillness of the library,
"Marco", it called, a pause, and then louder, "Marco".
"Oh my God!" Reggie gasped, and, waving her hands at the brothers, began to move towards the voice, "That's me!" she exclaimed.
"Your name is Marco?" Dean asked scratching his head.
"Wha….no Reggie, Regina" she said as she scurried down the isle toward the persistent voice, "It's a thing we do…." she trailed off. Reaching the end she hissed out "Polo…..polo…..polo Goddamnit…Emily!" A tall, attractive Asian girl appeared beside her.
"There you are", she said, "Please tell me you're ready to go, I get enough of this during the school year, we're on spring break in California for God's sake!"
"Will you keep it down" Reggie groaned, "This is NOT the public library. This place is practically a scholarly holy shrine, it's Mecca! It has over 300 000 extant manuscripts!" She tried in vain to make the other girl understand. Emily looked distinctly unimpressed, her eyes roved aimlessly until they lit on the Winchesters.
She perked up immediately. "New friends?" she asked, sidling towards the brothers.
"Ummmm, sort of. They were just helping me get a book…" Reggie began.
"And stopping you breaking your neck", Dean pointed out, receiving a glare for his contribution.
"What?" said Emily alarmed, "Are you okay?"
"Oh yes, fine. We really have to go". Now quite mortified Reggie practically dragged Emily off around the corner, calling a hasty "Thanks again", as she disappeared.
Dean gave a low whistle, "Bit high strung".
Sam turned on him, "Did you have to bait her!" he demanded. Dean looked at his brother speculatively,
"See something you liked there brother mine?" he teased. "Bet she was a nice armful".
Sam blushed but could hardly contradict him. Reggie had been beautiful, and intriguing.
"That book on Irish heraldry, you don't think there could be some connection with this thing I've been seeing?"
Dean rolled his eyes, "You don't have to invent an excuse to be interested in a pretty girl Sam! It's normal, it's natural, it's good!" he stressed the last word.
"I'm not making an excuse" Sam protested, "I'm serious. I….felt something when she looked at me".
Dean rolled his shoulders and looked away, because fact was, so had he.