Vampires Were People Too
Disclaimer: Sam and Dean don't belong to me. Bah!
Beta'd: By Wysawyg. Beta extraordinaire. Friend.
Special thanks to Muffy who helped me with the Latin and the desert – having had experience with both.
Timeline: BetweenHouses of the Holy and Born Under a Bad Sign
"Oh, God, why did I let you talk me into this again?" Sam sniffled and shivered. He hurt deep into his bones and he just could not get warm. He was definitely sick.
"I didn't talk you into anything," Dean protested, notching up the fan on the vent to the outside air and turning down the radio. He stole a glance at Sam before turning his eyes back onto the gravel road. "I told you to stay at the motel and get some sleep. I said I had this one covered. Just a little vampire beheading and I'd be back. Nothing to worry about."
"That's right," Sam mumbled. "That was how." He placed his hands in front of the vents, trying to soak in as much heat as possible through the palms of his hands. It wasn't enough.
"Sam, when we get there, I'll interview the priest. You stay in the car." Dean's eyes flicked to Sam once more, concern evident during the momentary eye contact. "It's bad enough you're infecting me with all your germs, but we don't need any more 'bad mojo.'"
"What's that got to do with anything?" Sam drew in a quick breath and then another, the warning signs of an impending sneeze. Dean held up one finger, then two, then three as the sneeze wound up and exploded. "Aah, aah, ahchoo!" Dean laughed and Sam held up one of his own fingers in response.
"What it means is giving a priest a dose of the super Sammy flu is bound to be frowned on," Dean said. "I, for one, don't care to be an innocent bystander in your game of Karma chicken."
Sam huffed and leaned back against the seat. His back hurt too. He tucked cold fingers into his armpits in an attempt to finally warm them. "I don't have the flu," Sam said. "I have a cold."
"No, you had a cold, which you gave to me." Dean eased off the gas pedal and the Impala slowed. "I got over it. You decided to get the flu."
"I didn't decide to get the flu." Sam sniffed. "You don't decide things like that."
"So you admit it's the flu?"
Sam rolled his eyes and did not miss the responding smirk on Dean's face. "Are we there yet?"
"We're here." Dean slowly pulled into the small parking area in front of the postage stamp sized church. The orange-pink crusty sand crunched under the Impala's tires as Dean eased the car to a stop. He turned off the ignition and twisted in his seat to face Sam. He rested an arm on the back of the seat and tapped Sam on the shoulder. "Wait here."
Sam scrunched up his face. "What? You were serious? Dean, I'm not waiting out in the car for you like some little kid." Unintentional resentment leaked into his tone. Too many long nights waiting in the car, the motel or some run-down apartment waiting for Dad and Dean to return from a hunt, not knowing if they were okay or not.
The setting sun behind Dean lit the sky with an orange fiery glow. The sun burned golden as it sank low in the horizon. Already the temperature had dropped at least ten degrees. "Sam, this thing, whatever it is already attacked someone in the church. Face it, you're sick." Dean hit Sam lightly on the arm with the back of his hand. "It's not safe to go into a hunt when you aren't in top form."
"Alone in the car is safer than you watching my back?" Sam quirked an eyebrow at Dean. "Is that what you're telling me?"
Dean scowled and turned away from Sam to snag his keys out of the ignition and pocket them. "That was damn dirty pool, Sammy."
Sam swallowed a smug grin, unfolded himself and exited the car. The constant buzzing of insects that had followed them all day as they interviewed witnesses had died to a low-pitched hum. A hawk cried overhead and Sam looked up in time to see it swoop low to the ground and fly away with a snake in its talons.
He knew it was still warm, probably eighty-five degrees or more, but he shivered inside his jacket. Dean was right, he was sick. He probably shouldn't have conducted interviews with Dean today, just like he probably shouldn't be here now, but he hadn't wanted to miss the first-hand accounts.
He silently followed Dean to the church keeping his eyes peeled for procrastinating lizards and early venturing snakes. The animals had come out in force now that the sun no longer beat on the hot sand and most of them scurried along the rocky terrain. Coyotes yipped in the distance, but Sam kept his eyes trained on the ground in front of him. The last thing he wanted to do was step on anything that could bite, sting or poison him.
Dean entered the dimly lit church first. He turned around to Sam and held up a hand to stop him from entering the church. "Alright, I'll let you come in, but stay behind me and keep your eyes peeled."
"I got it, Dean," Sam said, suppressing a sigh. Cool air touched his skin, the interior of the church significantly cooler than the outdoors. Sam pulled his jacket tighter and fought against the shivers that threatened to appear. No need to get himself side-lined before he'd even started. Candles flickered and danced near the altar and a dark form sat hunched in the first pew. The person appeared to be praying.
Their boots made slight clumping noises on the hardwood floor despite their hunter's gait. The man did not look up, but as they drew nearer, Sam could pick out the hushed Latin murmur of the Ave.
"Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen." The priest made a sign of the cross as he finished. "In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen"
"Father," Dean said, as the priest finished. The priest looked up from his clasped hands at the brothers. "We wanted to talk to you about what's been happening to the people around here."
"¿Es usted la ayuda que llamé?" the priest asked. He stood and held out his hand to Dean.
"Yes, we are," Sam replied, earning a look of grudging respect from his brother.
"Dude, you know Spanish?" Dean asked in a stage-whisper.
"No, but I know Latin."
"I know Latin," Dean said, his face curled in the hint of a pout.
Sam's lips twitched in a half smirk when he heard Dean mumbling a portion of an exorcism under his breath. He reached out to shake the priest's hand. "Dean!" Sam protested when Dean knocked his hand away.
The priest shot Dean a disapproving look. "He's sick," Dean said to the priest, tugging on his nose and crinkling his face in mock disgust. Sam glared and Dean ignored him. "Trust me, you don't want to shake his hand."
"Ah, then I thank you," the priest replied with a small smile. "You are Dean, no?"
Dean raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, how'd you…"
"Ellen told me who she was sending," the priest replied, holding out his hand again. "I'm Father Rodriguez."
"Dean Winchester," Dean replied, shaking the priest hand. Father Rodriguez gestured for the brothers to follow him. "What?" Dean asked, in response to Sam's scowl of disapproval.
"Why'd you give him your name?" Sometimes Dean's behavior confused him even after all the years he'd spent watching his big brother. Dean was wanted by the police after all.
"I thought you of all people would appreciate me not lying to a priest. Talk about bad mojo." Dean ruffled Sam's hair in a remnant gesture of younger days. "I'm ashamed of you, Sammy."
"But I," Sam protested falling behind Dean. "I didn't…" Sam felt another sneeze welling behind his eyes and working its way down. "I, I didn't…ahchoo!"
"God bless you," Father Rodriguez said. He opened a door at the back of the chancel and motioned the brothers inside.
Sam walked in after Dean and delighted in the comforting warmth of the room. The low burning, crackling fire on the right wall provided not only the light for the room, but the extra heat. He had not noticed before now that the church did not have electricity of any kind, relying instead on the many candles to light the sanctuary.
A large, black and brindle mongrel dog lay in front of the fire chewing on a bone and tearing off little bits of meat. It thumped its tail in welcome when Dean reached down to pat it on the head on his way by.
"Perro beuno, Maximon," Father Rodriguez said, before taking a seat behind his desk.
Sam raised his eyebrows at the name the priest had chosen for his dog, but refrained from comment. He pulled the hardback chair inches closer to the fire and sat down, ignoring the look of concern from Dean. "Ellen said you suspect a civatateo."
"Sí, yes." Father Rodriguez picked up a small, carved wooden box and slid the lid open. He took out a match, struck it on the box and lit the two candles on his desk.
"Have you seen her?" Sam asked. He scooted to angle his chair so his entire back would be warmed by the fire.
"Not personally, no," the priest answered. He steepled his index fingers in a Spock-like gesture and his look became thoughtful. "Señor Gomez claimed to have seen the civatateo at the crossroads nearby before he was killed here in our church."
Dean smirked and elbowed Sam, nodding his head in the direction of the priest's hands. Sam scrunched his face. 'What?' Sam asked silently, with a brow crunch. Dean rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to the priest.
"Señor Gomez was a member of your congregation?" Sam asked. "Do you know why he was here at the church when he was attacked?"
"Sadly, no, I do not," Father Rodriguez said. "He may have come here for confession. He had been in twice a week for the last three weeks instead of his usual confession once every week or so."
"Any idea why the sudden change?" Dean asked. Sam knocked Dean's knee with his own and Dean glared. "What? All I'm saying is that men don't usually go from being a little religious to a lot unless something happens."
"I would agree," Father Rodriguez said. "But I cannot tell you what the reason was. It was a private confession."
"This could be life and death here, Padre," Dean said, his tone slipping from reverence to a harder edge.
"It already has been." The priest leaned across his desk, his face lit by the flickering candles. "But my oath is sacred."
"Human life is sacred," Dean shot back, real heat climbing into his tone.
"Dean," Sam interjected, only to be cut short.
"Yes, it is. And it is fragile and fleeting. Only the Lord and his truth is forever, son. That is why the oath is sacred. It is a contract, a promise between me and God." Father Rodriguez sat back in his chair and reached into his desk drawer, pulling out a small pad of paper and a pencil.
"If we don't stop this thing, more people could die," Dean said. "Don't you have an obligation, an oath to them too?"
"Dean," Sam said. He was surprised at Dean's behavior. Yes, Dean cared about people and Sam knew Dean had many doubts if God existed. Scratch that, he had only a small sliver of belief that God might actually exist, but this – this was a strong reaction even for Dean. "It's okay, Father, we understand."
"No, Sam, we don't," Dean snapped. He pushed his chair back and stomped out the door, slamming it shut behind him.
Sam sat staring after Dean, completely bewildered. Dean, what the hell's going on with you?
Dean tapped a hand on his leg as he paced a tight circuit just outside the priest's door. He didn't dare walk far because they had no real proof yet what had caused Gomez's death. It wasn't as though he thought the priest was killing people, but he'd certainly seen stranger things in his lifetime.
He didn't have the patience for this. He couldn't understand how men hid behind the safety of God and the cloak of religion when the real battle waged on in front of them. Evil didn't knock softly at the door it crawled in through open windows and hid in the dark until apathy and fear gave it an opening. Gomez wouldn't be the only casualty if they couldn't figure this out and soon.
The door creaked open and Sam cautiously poked his head into the sanctuary. "Dean?" His voice sounded tired and raspy.
He should have made Sam stay at the motel. Sometimes his little brother's stubbornness was the stuff of legend. "Yeah," he replied, resigned. Sam wasn't going to let his outburst go and he couldn't explain his anger.
Sam's tall form slid out from behind the door and joined Dean at the altar. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah." The near-whisper was not out of respect, but out of repentance. He was sorry he had snapped at the priest and left Sam alone to make apologies and finish questioning the father. The whole incident in Providence was too fresh and his doubts too new to survive another beating of faith. He didn't want the shades of gray that had recently settled about his life in an annoying blanket of confusion. Life was easier when viewed in black and white.
"Father Rodriguez gave me the address for Gomez. He thinks Pedro's widow, Maria, should be home." Sam tilted his head and made eye contact with Dean.
"Let's go talk to her," Dean replied. The light tap on Sam's arm served as a silent apology.
Sam nodded, the apology accepted. "She might not be willing to tell us anything."
"Sure she will," Dean said with a smile. He turned and walked down the aisle with Sam keeping close pace. "If my natural charm doesn't sway her, we can always turn sad, sick Sammy on her. No woman in their right mind would pass up the opportunity to mother you right now. You look positively pathetic."
Dean heard the sharp intake of breath that signaled another sneeze on the way from his little brother. He stepped to the side and waited while Sam wound up one more time before letting loose with a resounding sneeze that echoed off the adobe walls of the small church. "I could drop you off back at the motel first," he offered.
"No." Sam fell back in step with Dean. He tucked his hands into his jeans pockets and shrank into his coat.
"I promise not to hunt it without you." Dean stopped and grabbed the sleeve of Sam's jacket.
Sam stopped short, sighed and slapped his arms against his sides. Dean nearly snorted at the perfect squinched expression of exasperation on Sam's face. "No."
Sam resumed walking and Dean had to jog a couple of steps to catch up. "Sam." If anything, Sam's stride lengthened as he rushed to the end of the short aisle. "Sam!"
He narrowly avoided running into Sam when his brother stopped abruptly. The deafening sneeze seemed to come at Dean from all angles as it bounced off the walls. "I think my head exploded," Sam said with a moan.
"That's it," Dean said with a note of finality. "We talk to Maria, grab some dinner and then you go to bed. No vampire beheading tonight," his last statement said with an air of regret. He wanted this thing gone.
"I'll be okay," Sam insisted. He resumed walking and Dean rushed to beat him to the door.
Dean pressed his palm against the warm wood preventing Sam from opening the door. Sam gave the handle a couple of feeble tugs before he huffed and turned to look at Dean. "I'll wait, Sam. I promise."
Sam gazed at him for several long seconds and Dean knew he was being evaluated. He had no problem with that, he was telling the truth. If waiting meant Sam would take it easy one more day, then he would wait. He didn't want to, but he would. The vampire had killed Pedro Gomez three days ago. It had taken two weeks from the initial sighting before she had gone in for the kill. They easily had a few hours leeway.
"I'll think about it," Sam said at long last. He sniffed and Dean resisted the urge to sideline his brother from the hunt. Sam would never go for it anyway.
He nodded, opened the door and held it for Sam. "Father Rodriguez seemed to think Maria knew why Pedro had started coming to confession more often and that she might be willing to talk to us about it," Sam said on his way by.
"Let's hope so," Dean said. Crusty sand crunched under his feet and he kept his eyes trained on the ground and his brother simultaneously. "We need something more to go on than Father Rodriguez's, 'I think it is a civatateo' story. Did he offer any reason he thought it was an ancient vampire?"
"Not really," Sam replied. He hesitated briefly at the passenger door after opening it. He leaned against the car and stretched his arms over the roof. "He did say two children have gone missing in the last week."
Dean groaned. There went their leeway. He opened the door and a waft of hot oven-baked air hit him in the face. "Damn, it's hotter than hell around here." The ill-chosen words hung heavy in the thick night air. He missed Dad.
"And you wanted me to wait in the car," Sam joked and Dean recognized the attempt at levity.
"I assumed you'd have the sense to get out of the car if it got too hot," Dean shot back. "Good to know."
Sam scowled and thumped the top of the Impala lightly before twisting and sliding into the car. Dean followed suit, slipped his keys into the ignition and brought his baby roaring to life. The trip to Maria Gomez's house passed in silence minus the occasional direction from Sam, both brothers lost in their own thoughts. One concerned for his brother and missing his father and the other wondering if this was yet more proof that evil often won no matter who was on your side.
The stars shone brightly in the darkening sky, but the crescent moon offered very little additional light. A yip from a coyote drew Dean's attention off the dark road that was illuminated solely by twin columns of light. The temperature in the air remained very warm, but he noticed Sam shivered several times and burrowed into his jacket. Sam's head bobbed once, twice, then listed to the right and rested on the passenger window. Dean smiled; his brother certainly needed the sleep.
He refocused on the road and the headlights reflected off the pale white skin, silvery white hair and white dress of an old gnarled woman standing in the middle of the road. She did not so much as flinch when Dean stepped hard on the brake with both feet, gravel spitting up around the Impala. The seatbelts jerked roughly and Sam's eyes popped open in panic. "Dean!" he wheezed.
"Hold on, Sam!" He knew the Impala would never stop on time. The heavy weight of the muscle car would send it straight into the old woman if he didn't do something. The car fish-tailed wildly and he turned the wheel sharply in the direction of the skid.
The Impala jumped the gravel road and into the sand and rocky ground. Dean cringed when he heard loud thumps as stones smacked the undercarriage. They shot past the woman and he turned the wheel again causing the Impala to hit the gravel once more and it slid sideways down the road before stopping.
Dean could hear the labored breathing of his sick brother trying to catch his breath after awakening to a near collision, but his eyes were trained on the hag that slowly approached the Impala. Her silvery eyes glittered, reflecting the small amount of moonlight available. The symbol of death tattooed on her forehead distorted in lines of rage when she opened her mouth and screamed.
"Dean, it's the civatateo."
AN: Show of hands – how many people here thought I could stick to one-shots for our challenge fics? Yeah, me neither.
I promise the next chapter of Dead Men Tell No Tales is nearly finished. I apologize profusely for the delay, but I was happily side-tracked at the convention in L.A.
Yep, Wysawyg – pretty much when I say I'm not gonna post because of X, Y or Z – I'm full of poo. I have every intention of not posting, but I can't seem to help myself!
Thanks for reading – Feedback welcome!
Dogs chewing on bones
Civatateo – A Mexican/Aztec vampire. The civatateo was said to be a noblewoman who died in childbirth, making her a warrior and she returned with the powers of a priestess.