AN: ok, a couple things to say here. First off, this is an attempt to blend the Brotherhood AU (by Ridley James) with my Something Lost Series. It took a little bit of tweaking on the Something Lost side of things. So, if you're reading my Something Lost series, this doesnt have any effect or bearing of my story line.
This falls directly after Ridley's To the VIctor Goes the Spoils. Enjoy!!
NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY
Some sacrifices can bridge even the widest of chasms.
Nature's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.
— Robert Frost—
The bar was dark, its occupants shrouded in a haze of smoke and dull lights. It was the perfect environment to get lost in, and that's exactly why she chose it. He hadn't seen her in years, but he knew in his heart and mind that she'd never change. She was a mystery to everyone, like a shadow moving through the room. Her existence was like a lost memory, drifting by, yet somehow never fully there. Some would call her a hunter, though he knew it wasn't true. She lived in a grey area between the world of hunters and the ordinary world, and Caleb knew it was a place even darker than the realm he called home. He was never once forgotten, never once left behind— Kerri on the other hand, was seldom remembered.
She was always left behind, always pushed aside, and he knew she had long ago learned to accept that. He would tell himself it was easy to forget the quiet ones, easy to lose track of those who were seldom on the beaten trail. But in the end, nothing made up for it. She was a good person, a friend to the Winchester brothers— she deserved more than the half existence she had. But time makes fools of the best men, and Caleb knew no amount of planning or promises would change her role in their lives. She was a consultant at best, a lost piece of their pasts, and Caleb wasn't sure there was a place for her in their future.
"You know, I was beginning to think you were trapped in that house of yours." Caleb began, sliding into the booth across from the redhead.
"I sneak out every once in a while." Kerri answered quietly, still playing with the bottle of beer in her hands, her eyes turned to the table.
"You're not gonna turn into a pumpkin or anything?"
"Nah, you're safe. No fairy-tales here. How'd you find me anyway?"
"Psychic, remember." Caleb smirked, tapping the side of his head.
"Really. Your powers just start kicking in recently?" She answered sarcastically.
"I've been busy."
"Haven't we all. So, what do you need?" Kerri asked, finally looking up at him, her blue eyes brighter than he had remembered.
"What makes you think I need something?"
"Come on, Caleb, it's been ten years since I saw you last, I know this isn't a social call."
"I take it you've heard about Dean." Caleb began, knowing Kerri kept close tabs on the boys. She may have been separated from them for over twelve years, but they weren't as far from her mind and she was from theirs. Sam had forgotten her entirely, and Dean had pushed the memory away, coping the best the kid knew how.
Kerri, for her part, never tried to contact them, never went against John's wishes, and it was something Caleb admired about the girl. Not that she'd pushed the Winchesters away, but that she'd cared enough to put them before everything else, even herself. She was one of the most giving people Caleb had ever met, but somewhere along the line, she'd given everything, leaving her with nothing but an empty house and lonely barroom booth.
"Yeah, I've heard." Her voice grew quiet, exhaustion evident in every syllable.
Caleb had seen her after Sam was attacked on that long ago summer day, had spoken with her after the Winchesters had walked out of her life. He felt he owed her that much, she was a true friend to Dean and had been there for the younger hunter when he couldn't be. He had once foolishly believed Kerri wouldn't be cut out, that John would eventually let the Harrisons back into their lives. Caleb should have known— once John made up his mind, the path was set. In a perfect world, she never would have been left behind, but life was rarely ever perfect. Caleb wanted to let her be a part of their lives again, but he just didn't know how to bridge the chasm John and Kerri's father had created.
Tom Harrison had turned his back on The Brotherhood, believing instead in his own path, his own way. And that had created barriers even their friendships couldn't break. Alliances were tested, and in the end, the Harrison family had been the ones to lose. Caleb didn't like Tom Harrison, anyone that knew him knew that, but Kerri wasn't her father's daughter, no matter what anyone said. She was different, but fate wasn't kind to the twenty eight year old.
"I need to stop it." Caleb needed to save Dean, every fiber of his being called out for it. He refused to let him die in this war, refused to let him fall to the same dark place others had been lost to. There was too much death already.
"You can't stop it without killing Sam."
"Bobby filled you in on it all?"
"Not Bobby, the boys."
Her words shocked him— Dean hadn't mentioned Kerri in years. In all honesty, Caleb though Dean had forgotten her as well.
"I saw them after John died. They were hunting near me."
"They never told me."
"It didn't really concern you."
The curt words cut Caleb deep, everything about Dean and Sam concerned him, at least in his mind it did. "Dean never keeps secrets from me."
"I wouldn't call it a secret."
"Has he seen you since then?"
"Yes. But not since Yellow Eyes died."
"Then, who told you about Sam?"
"He called about breaking the deal?"
"No. He just called. I think he just wanted someone to talk to."
"Someone that wasn't involved in The Brotherhood?" Caleb asked, the ever present rift gnawing away at him. Things were always harder than they had to be.
"It was before you found out. Hell, I think only Bobby knew and that's 'cause he saw what happened to Sam. Trust me, you're still the one they trust."
"They trust you, too."
"They trust me as a friend, not a member of the Brotherhood. Which is fine." She cut in before Caleb had a chance to answer. "I know our families had problems, that I'm basically black listed."
"Your dad was good at pissing people off."
"John wasn't an angel either." Kerri smiled for the first time.
"You got that right. Honestly, I'm amazed he worked with your dad as long as he did."
"We don't hate you." Caleb needed to clarify. Yes, the Harrisons had gone against The Brotherhood, well, Tom Harrison had, Kerri and her sister were too young to chose. The separation had caused friction, Caleb wouldn't lie about that, but Kerri never should have taken the weight of her father's decision on her own shoulders.
"We can't change what happened, Caleb. We can only effect the here and now."
"Yeah well, sometimes I wonder about that." Kerri had always been easy to talk to. She was different, Caleb had no other way to describe it. Maybe it was because she was outside the Brotherhood, or maybe it was because she'd always been honest with him. Whatever it was, Caleb had always been grateful for her friendship.
"No matter what I do, the people around me die. I'm supposed to be some great protector, some great warrior— but all I've done is watched the people I love die."
"Life isn't always as black and white as we think. There's a lot we don't understand, a lot we're not meant to understand."
"So we're just supposed to roll with the punches?"
"We're supposed to hold on to what we have while we have it."
"Your dad teach you that?"
"No, my dad burned to death because he couldn't live without his amazing baby girl." Kerri bit out.
It was the first time Caleb had heard her talk about the fire that claimed Evelyn and Tom Harrison, hell, it was the first time he'd heard her talk about anything in a very long time. Kerri was always accepting of the world around her, always willing to let fate guide her, chose her path. She was faithful to a fault, but sometimes, that faith was misplaced. She'd never complained about her lot in life, at least not as long as he had known her. She'd always done her own thing, followed her own path, no matter what.
And that made the tone of her voice all the more alien to Caleb. Tom had always favored Kerri's little sister Evelyn— why, no one had ever figured out. Caleb told himself it had started out like Sammy, Tom protecting his baby, shielding her from the fact that her mother had died in the nursery. But Caleb knew he was lying to himself. Tom always treated Kerri as an equal, and it was something he'd done even before Evelyn was born.
Unlike John, Tom Harrison had been a part of the hunting community before his wife's death at the hands of the Yellow Eyed Demon. Hell, he'd been a member of The Brotherhood long before Kerri was born. It was a fact he kept hidden from his wife, but something he had apparently never kept hidden from his eldest daughter. Caleb had met them one fall day back when the kids were still young, Dean and Kerri no more than seven, and the psychic had been amazed back then at what the young girl knew. Tom Harrison left The Brotherhood shortly after that encounter.
Caleb had always believed he was partly responsible for Tom Harrison's departure. Caleb didn't like the man, and it was a fact the younger hunter never kept hidden. It wasn't that Tom was a bad guy, he just always had an agenda, and Caleb had learned long ago that private agendas were deadly. The eldest Harrison was in it for himself, hunting for reasons other than keeping the world safe. Tom was on some kind of personal quest, and he was determined to drag Kerri along with him. It was a reality that made Caleb sick to his stomach— and it was probably why he'd always held a soft spot for Kerri.
He just had the overwhelming urge to watch out for her. He'd always believed it was because of her bond with Dean. The middle Winchester had taken to Kerri faster than Caleb thought was possible. She was someone his age, someone to talk to. She was still outside the world Dean had been raised in, but not so far out that she didn't know the truth. It was a balance Dean needed, a steadying hand in a storm, and Caleb wanted to give Dean every chance at normal that he could.
"I'm sorry about your sister." Caleb began after a few minutes of silence, signaling the waitress for another round. The rift Tom had created in The Brotherhood and his own family had never been enough to break Kerri's loyalty and love for her little sister. Kerri knew Evelyn was favored, but she never once complained about it, not until her sharp words a few moments before.
God, Caleb sighed, Their lives were so screwed up.
"She didn't deserve it."
"None of us deserve the roles we play." She answered, looking Caleb in the eye.
Kerri knew about his ties to the Yellow Eyed Demon, knew what other hunters thought of him. How could she not. Her home was like grand central station for the hunting community, her library rivaling that of both Bobby's and Pastor Jim's together. It made sense that she heard each and every rumor as it floated through the hunting community. Caleb always suspected that was another reason Jim was so interested in having Tom as part of The Brotherhood, and why Tom was so insistent on making his own path. He could play for either side, be valuable to either team— and Caleb prayed his loyalties hadn't secretly wavered.
"I take it you know about Colt's journal, too."
"Word travels fast."
"It sure does. What happened to us?" Caleb sighed, taking a long drink. What happened to the days when everything was just a game, when life wasn't so empty and bleak?
"Sure thing, Solo. Look, no one knows what's gonna happen in the future. And before you say it, not even your abilities can tell you where our paths go. The fact that you can effect their outcome only proves my point."
"Hey, I'm trying to cheer you up here."
"You're a marvel at it."
"I take it you've heard about the Sinks, too."
"Yeah, it was kind of right in my backyard, you know. Hard not to."
"How do you know so much about a secret society you're not even in?" Caleb chided, always amazed at the younger girl's researching abilities. If he didn't know any better, he'd have said she was in on it all, plotting against them as so many had recently done. But, above all else, Kerri was honest, and he knew she'd never openly lie to him. Hide the truth yes, but she'd always admit she was being secretive when questions arose. It wasn't that she was trying to be manipulative, she just knew enough not to get involved in things beyond her control.
"What can I say, I'm amazing that way. Beside, for a 'secret society' you're not all that quiet about it."
"Riley's been here, hasn't he?"
"Esme brought him. Though, you know, it's a secret." She smiled.
"Esme?" Caleb was momentarily dumbfounded. Just how involved was Kerri?
"Yeah. I may not be a part of your club, but I'm still pretty deep into all things hunting. Not everyone wears a ring."
"Sometimes, I forget that."
"Not everyone's out to pull a fast one on you either. There's no secrets between us."
"I heard about Dean's new trick, too."
"You mean the Guardian stuff?" Caleb asked, wondering how she'd come by such information. But then, there had been plenty of witnesses.
"You don't seem surprised."
"Nothing Dean does has ever surprised me."
"Not even selling his soul?"
"No," Kerri sighed sadly, looking back down at her beer. "No, that seems right up his alley."
"Yes, it does. You don't seem all that upset by it." Caleb had seen something cross her face, the look gone before he could truly register it. He knew Kerri didn't want Dean dead, he'd been joking when he made the comment, but he could see now that something was eating away at the girl. She looked older, aged more than she should have been. He knew so little of the daily workings of her life, knew so little of the last twelve years, and suddenly, in that instant, Caleb wanted to connect with his old friend again. But that was proving impossible. If Kerri had been closed off as a child, she was now giving Fort Knox a run for its money.
"You ever feel smothered, Caleb?"
Kerri's soft question caught him off guard. The bar was small, the air heavy like any good biker bar, but it wasn't overly claustrophobic. "You wanna go outside?"
"Not that kind of smothered. Well, I guess that kind. It's just, there's nowhere else to go."
"There's no other planet to hop to, no place to run to. When we were kids, there were places to go to get away from it all. The candy store, the pond. But now— the earth just doesn't seem big enough anymore."
Caleb knew exactly what she meant. There was no escape, no reprieve, and Caleb was afraid there never would be. It was the same exhaustion he saw in Dean's eyes, the same weight he felt on his own shoulders, the same nightmare that kept Sam up at night. They had nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. It was all or nothing, and it would be that way forever. Hunters didn't stop hunting, dangers didn't dry up— even though they didn't know what might lay in the path ahead of them, Caleb knew their road was already chosen.
"You're acting like quit a downer, you know that. What happened to the spitfire kid that beat up Timmy Collins?"
Kerri smiled at the memory, and, for a brief moment, she was the girl Caleb had remembered. But a second later she spoke, and her voice was full of both regret and acceptance. "I learned not to fight the inevitable a long time ago. Dean made the deal, of his own free will. There's a chance we can break it, but there's an equal chance we can't."
"We can break it?" Caleb asked, Kerri's eyes shinning as she smirked.
"I'll do everything I can to stop it, Caleb. But you have to be willing to accept another outcome."
"I can't accept Dean's death."
"Then you're not gonna be able to save his life."
"How's that twisted logic work?"
"You have to look at every angle, see this from every point of view. Running in half-cocked like an action star is gonna blind you to what's really there."
"We don't have enough time to be calculating."
"Time isn't the enemy."
"We only have a year." Caleb stated again, trying to drive the thought into her head. They didn't have time for 'Jim speak', all they had time for was action.
"Wars are won and lost in the blink of an eye."
"Thank god you didn't spend more time with Jim when we were kids, you'd be undecipherable."
"I thought you liked my Yoda talk."
"It's beginning to wane a little."
"I know you and Sam wanna run in and stop this, the whole guns blazing thing. Hell, I even know Sam's willing to die to give Dean a chance. But neither approach is gonna help."
"It's better than sitting around and thinking about it."
"Yes. Trust me, Sam and my dad have been researching this thing to death."
"Let me have a go."
"And what do you want me to do in the mean time?"
"Hang out with him. Like I said, we may stop this, but there's an equal chance we won't."
"And so I should enjoy him while he's here. That's bullshit."
"People die, Caleb."
"What would you do if Evelyn was back but someone told you she only had a year to live?"
"Hell, Caleb, at this point I'd jump for joy if she was back for ten minutes."
Caleb rubbed his forehead, Kerri's heartache coming through loud and clear. She blamed herself for her sister's death, blamed herself for her inability to protect the younger girl from the Yellow Eyed Demon. It was like a broken record, a constant theme in all their lives. They watched the people they loved die at the hands of a demon, and none of them seemed to be able to do a damn thing to stop it. Even after Dean killed the thing, people still died in its name, in its legacy. Gideon had probably never even seen the thing, but that didn't stop him dying because of it.
"Does Mac come around?" Caleb asked suddenly, breaking another few minutes of awkward silence. He'd always considered Kerri's home like sovereign ground, a neutral place where The Brotherhood could be forgotten. But the revelation that both Esme and Riley had been there shattered that illusion. And Caleb was getting sick and tired of secrets.
"He's been by."
"On Brotherhood business?"
"No. The Brotherhood doesn't exist in my house, remember." Kerri smirked. Caleb had always know Kerri respected her friends' decisions to join The Brotherhood, no matter what her father said to the contrary.
But still, it had been fun to leave it behind, even for a few days, at her Wyoming home. Dean had once lovingly declared Valley bizarro world, and much to Kerri's dismay, the nickname had stuck for quite some time. Actually, it had remained up until the day Sam was attacked, the day they drove down the long driveway and never turned back. And, thinking back on it all now, it was like a parallel universe.
"Right, it magically dissipates when you drive up the road." Caleb answered, remembering a time when a five year old Sam would pinpoint the exact location on the dirt drive where the Brotherhood vanished.
"Exactly, it's like a force field."
"So, what's Mac got to do at your house?"
"People can't stop by to say hello?"
"No." While Caleb knew it was fully within someone's rights to make a house call, he always knew it was something that didn't happen with Kerri. People went to see her with a purpose, or they didn't go at all.
"He wanted to see if I had any information on the Crossroads demon. Which I don't, before you ask."
"I guess he wanted to cover all the bases."
"Thanks for believing me."
"Why wouldn't I?" Caleb asked. She wasn't lying, he could feel it, even if something prevented him from actually reading her. It'd been the same since the day they met, psychics could sense her, get feelings off her, but none could actually read her, no matter how powerful. It was something that still baffled the psychic, and it was something that had always made him weary. He trusted Kerri fully, but the mystery that surrounded her never failed to make him uneasy.
"Not everyone's been so kind."
"Not everyone knows you."
"I guess. But even Sam's starting to think I'm holding out."
"Sam doesn't really remember you, and his brother's in danger."
"Sam's been jumping to conclusions since he could talk. I guess I'm just getting tired of defending myself to everyone that crosses my path."
"He's just scared, Kerri. He's tired of being treated like someone's puppet."
"Are those only Sam's thoughts and feelings?"
"You can't tell me you don't feel the same way. We've all been used, Kerri. Hell, Jim wouldn't even tell us what it meant to be the Triad."
"I'm sure he meant to."
"Meant and did are two separate things."
"So are living and dying."
"Deuce has been having dreams about him, hell I even saw John when I nearly drowned— and the both of them are as cryptic as ever."
"Maybe it's not a job that can be taught, maybe you have to learn it."
"It's nothing but subterfuge, that much I learned."
"Something about it must be right if it's lasted this long. And if it's taken five generations for Yellow Eyes to even try and destroy."
"How did Jim even know we'd accept it?"
"Because he knew you."
"You know more than you're letting on." Caleb began searching Kerri's face.
"What can I say, I'm an enigma."
"What's the supposed to mean?"
"Like I said, sometimes things only make sense if you learn them yourself."
"And you've been studying life a long time." Kerri was a master at studying things, learning all she could— but she rarely put that knowledge to the test in the real world. She was always content on the sidelines, happy to let those around her capture all the glory, tell all the stories. Caleb never understood her actions, but then, she watched life from a viewpoint many rarely saw.
"I'll be the first to admit I've studied life more than lived it."
"You had a few good years of normal."
"Yeah, but like everything else, things come and things go."
"Nothing lasts forever."
"Hey, I'm just the messenger."
"That means I can't shoot you, right."
"I'd prefer you didn't."
"I'll keep that in mind. So, you said you were tired of defending yourself, who else has been asking?"
"People bug me for info all the time, Brotherhood or not, they think I'm some walking talking computer they can demand answers from."
"Well, no offense, but you kind of are."
"I'll take that as a compliment. Just remember, this computer's a little easier to piss off than most."
"Oh believe me, I know."
Caleb kept trying to come up with a reason for searching out Kerri, a reason to see her— but there was only one. He needed someone to talk to, someone to confide in, and above all else, he'd missed her. So many had been lost as of late, so much blood had been spilled and lives changed, and Caleb needed a balancing point, needed reprieve. And Kerri offered that to him. She was like an oasis of peace in a violent desert, a breath of fresh air in an ever growing fire. Her presence was calming, grounding, and Caleb needed it now more than ever.
They were at war, both with demons and a rouge faction of the Brotherhood. He needed to center himself, to pull himself out of the trenches for just a moment, clear his head before his spiraling thoughts consumed him. Throughout most of his life, that grounding influence had been Jim Murphy. The pastor always had a way of calming him, reassuring him, helping him see the light in an ever growing darkness. But, ever since Pastor Jim's death, Caleb had been spiraling. And then John, his mentor, had vanished just as quickly, sending the young hunter into an even more violent tailspin.
Despite it all, though, he'd held his own, fought his own battles— that was, until he'd learned of Sam's death and Dean's deal. While Caleb was beyond furious at what Dean had done, a small voice in the back of his head couldn't fault the younger man. Caleb had seen what life without Sam had done to Dean, and both times, Sam had been mere miles away— Caleb didn't even want to consider what life would be like if Sam was ever lost. But now he was stuck in a catch twenty-two. A life with Dean would mean a life without Sam, and vise versa. There was no escaping the inevitable. And that fact was slowly destroying Caleb Reaves.
"I bet Riley loved your house," Caleb began, needing to lighten the mood.
"Yeah, I thought his eyes were gonna fly out of his head. Talk about a kid in a candy store."
"Hey, your house is one damn cool place."
"Yeah." Kerri sighed, taking another drink.
Caleb hadn't been to her house since her family had been killed and he could only imagine what the large house was like now. The place was huge, hell it could probably house five large families comfortably, and while it had been full of life when they were kids, it was now empty.
"I'm not doing a very good job of cheering you up, am I?"
"No, not really. But I don't think I'm really accomplishing the same for you." Kerri smiled.
"That's what alcohol's for." Caleb laughed, raising his beer.
Kerri just smiled raising her beer to him as well before taking another drink. The pair stayed at the bar for several long hours, talking occasionally, but mostly just sitting in silence, both taking comfort in the small spaces in between. Caleb couldn't help but let his mind wander as they sat, stories and memories coming back to him, though they seemed like they were lived by someone else. The past had held such promise, such light, but the darkness had been there, always waiting.
Caleb looked back up at Kerri, the young girl having fallen silent long before. Their pasts may have been lost, changed forever by the sick march of time, but that didn't mean their futures were forfeit. The fact that they were sitting together was proof of that. Where there was life there was hope, and Caleb made a promise to himself right then and there— a year from that date, he, Sam, Dean and Kerri would all meet again, and they'd all be safe, happy and whole.