AN- By now there will be some people saying 'oh God, not another Supernatural story'. Um, yeah. Sooner or later I'll start fangirling over something else, but until then, you're stuck with me inflicting the Cursed series on you.
Last time, on Supernatural: Cursed.
Seven years after all Hell broke loose, order has finally been restored. Sam is one the road back to sanity, Dean has managed to escape from Hell, Jo and Ellen have gone off hunting, and Bobby has become responsible for the part-time training of new hunters.
Allies have been found, enemies have been made, and yet more questios have been raised. Was Bill Harvelle's letter right? Had their father's brother really been trying to track the family down?
'I spoke to your brother yesterday. He wants to see you, to know you're still alive.'
Dean sat at the diner's table, his chin propped up in his hands. To either side of his sausages and eggs were Bill Harvelle's letter and the photo from Dad's journal, a photo of two young men on a sunny day by the lake.
"I don't get it, Sam." He said aloud. "In the long list of things he never told us, I though this wouldn't have been one of them."
His brother gripped his glass of juice tighter. "It makes a lot of sense to me." Sam said darkly. "The important things he just let us find out by ourselves."
"Maybe he just thought it would be better that way," Dean immediately jumped to John Winchester's defense. After all, who else was there to do the job?
"You have to admit it was one hell of a learning curve. Look, I don't want an argument, and I do think you're right. What was the deal with not telling us, of all people, that he had a brother, that we-"
"Had an uncle." It seemed like a weird notion after all this time, and didn't have the same earth-shattering effect as it should have. After all, how could you be sad about loosing something you never knew you had?
"Had a family." Sam said, stumbling slightly on the word 'family'. He had never really had one of those. There was only him and Dean, and because of the lives they led, there would only ever be him and Dean at the end of the day. Then Sam blinked. "Dad never had answers." He said carefully, finally asking directly. "But I think you might."
Dean raised an eyebrow. "Am I missing something here?"
"I mean, I can hardly remember what Mom looks like anymore, only 'cause of the pictures. Our house in Kansas is almost a blur now."
"Are you going to get to the point any time son?"
"Dean, if Dad's brother did exist, does exist… can't you remember anything?"
Idly poking his food with the fork, Dean picked up the photograph. There was a certain amount of familiarity there, yes, but… He had tried to remember. Had tried ever since Jo had given them the letter addressed to their dad out of Bill Harvelle's things. To remember a time before, a time before the deaths, before the demons, before the endless road…
He came up a blank every time.
"I can't. There's… nothing."
"Dude, I'm serious. Maybe I was just too young, but it's like… everything before the fire is in this big hole, and I can't see the bottom."
The brothers were silent for a moment, and Dean took the opportunity to pack away Dad's journal, the photo, and the letter. In the week since they had left Los Angeles, he had read the letter so many times it was practically tattooed on the back of his eyeballs. Written by a man they had never met and only knew through his reputation, it otherwise still gave him a glimpse into another time, which was somehow comforting.
It was comforting because it meant that maybe, just maybe, he and Sammy weren't alone in the world.
Dean decided he'd like to hang on to that hope. Liked the feel of it. Sometimes it was only faith that sustained you, and to have that safety-net shatter…
"What have we got?" With one arm he swept the remnants of breakfast aside. Sam handed him several computer printouts, which he quickly rifled through.
The place they were staying at wasn't big and it wasn't busy. The town wasn't even marked on the map. It was kind of like a pimple clinging onto the butt of Indiana, and that was part of its charm.
A nice, quiet, rural place where nothing much happened.
The death notices dated back to the sixties. "Dude, what the hell?" Dean fanned the pages in his hand. "Accidental drowning, electrocution, asthma attack, heart failure, slipping on an icy patch?" He looked across to his little brother skeptically. "Are you loosing it? There's no connection here, no common denominator."
Sam nodded. "That's what I thought to begin with, but it seemed a little too weird. Too neat. Not one murder or anything in all the settlement's history."
"It's a small place." Dean said. "The psychos get run out of town if they're not lynched first."
Sam ignored him. He made a small gesture with his hand as if he could erase Dean's last comment. "Then I was thinking, maybe the deaths we should be looking for are hiding behind a façade of normal. Maybe this is our thing, pretending to be something else so no one chases it up."
"Sam, you need a personality, stat."
"And so I started looking for the connections." Sam ploughed on relentlessly, holding his brother's disbelieving stare. "Looked in some of the archives, spoke to some of the families over the phone. Dean."
"These people-" Sam stabbed his finger down onto the papers. "-all died within a week of visiting the local wise woman."
That made Dean sit up and pay attention. "What?"
"What, was there anything wrong with any of these people?"
"You're thinking, terminal disease wise?" Sam scratched his hairline.
"As in, demonic soul-sucker taking it upon herself to put these people out of their misery when they come to her last-resort wise."
"Nothing I could dig up." Sam said.
"Doesn't mean it isn't there, though." Dean said.
"Well." Dean grinned. "I guess we've got our next case." He reached for his jacket.
"There's just one thing."
"I ran into a young mom back at the archives. The wise woman, well, this mom and her partner had gone camping in the woods and the baby came early. There were complications, and it looked like mom and baby were done for, then…"
"This woman delivered the baby, stopped the mom's bleeding, and got in contact with the hospital."
"Why does this concern me?"
"Dean, she didn't hurt anyone, she only helped them. And these people," He once again tapped the obituaries. "Were given herbal remedies, a bunch of hoodoo mojo for all this different crap that they asked her about and it that was working, and then-"
"So you don't think it's this woman behind it all? Someone's bumping off the Good Fairy's patients to make her look bad?" Dean's brow furrowed as he frowned, thinking. "To get her lynched instead?"
Sam shrugged. "I dunno. It's just, if experience has taught me anything, it's that nothing is this cut-and-dried."
Dean reluctantly had to agree. He pulled out his wallet and dropped several notes onto the table to pay for breakfast. "Pack your knickers, Dorothy. Looks like we're off to see the wizard."
"If I'm Dorothy, does that make you Toto?" Sam asked slyly.
Dean didn't miss a beat. "There's no doubt about it," He flashed his cocky grin. "I am your average lovable mongrel."
Sam could only shake his head helplessly.
Dean had not told his brother, and would probably never tell his brother, but he hated hiking. Not that he particularly didn't like being outdoors, where the sickly sweet smell of decay was flushed out of his nostrils by the fresh, healthy breeze. It was more of an 'on principle' thing, probably dating back to that time where he had to save everyone on his school camp from a Golem while having a particularly nasty case of poison oak.
The house was nestled among the flowers at the base of a hill that rose steeply behind it. It looked like a nice place, until you saw the barbed wire on top of the fence and the Trespassers Will Be Shot sign. "This Wise Woman must be another satisfied customer of Hermit Real-Estate 'r' Us." Dean commented dryly. "I guess she doesn't entertain much anymore."
He heard Sam crunch up the path behind him. "Or maybe she's trying to discourage people coming here." He said. "In case they get killed."
The path was cracked and old, but the garden behind the wire was well-kept, if a little on the wild side. Dean looked around. "So what now?" He asked. "Did we need an appointment or whatever?"
"She's ex-directory." Sam replied. "I guess we knock on the door."
Which he did. The two waited for a reply, and when there was none, Sam tentatively knocked again.
"Alright! In a damn minute!" The door was flung open and standing before them was an annoyed-looking sixty-ish woman, her long hair dyed an unnatural shade of black, and rings of startling blue makeup around her eyes. "Whatever you're selling, we're not buying, so push off."
"No, ma'am, we're not selling anything." Sam shook his shaggy head. "I'm Sam. This is my brother Dean. We're actually looking for the wise woman."
"The wise woman isn't seeing anyone today." The woman said primly. "Maybe not ever again. So go away, there's no exceptions."
"Ma'am, this is important." Dean said.
"So's my lunch, and I'd really like to get back to it, if you please." She started to close the door and Sam reacted, placing his foot in the gap between doorjamb and door.
"I don't have time for this." She said.
Sam held up his hands. "I know, okay? And if you think we're hassling you, feel free to jam my foot in the door. Give us a minute, yeah? This is important."
Reluctantly the woman opened the door to admit them. She looked the brothers up and down warily. "How do you have your coffee?" She finally asked.
"Coffee. I always find it easier to hear bad news when I have a cup of coffee in my hands. Maybe it's just me."
"Can we meet the wise woman, then?" Dean asked.
"Everything in its time, sonny." The woman said. "Come along, Winchesters." She continued on to the kitchen as the brothers stood awkwardly in the hall. Sam and Dean exchanged a glance. How did she know we were Winchesters?
She looked back at them, and gave a small smile. "Yes, I know who you are. You boys all look very much alike, you know. Unfortunately it seems you all have the same set of ideals too, which will most likely get you killed." She sighed.
"Who's us all?" Dean asked incredulously.
"Oh." She blinked. "You don't know." And then she smiled. "And you may even get a free reading while you are here." She said brightly, and both brothers were aware of the change in subject.
"I was christened Delilah, am called Del by my friends, but the others all have this horrible habit of calling me 'wise woman'. You are both welcome to call me Del."
Already there seemed to be an established familiarity with her, even though both Sam and Dean knew with utmost certainty that they had never met before. At least, not that either of them could remember.
"Why is that?" Sam followed her into the kitchen. It was bright and cheery, but thankfully not too Stepfordy clean.
"I make unguents and charms to suit certain ailments." Del said. "They calm people and make them more responsive to whatever other treatment they may be receiving professionally, or they sooth the body and the mind long enough that the body may begin to heal itself naturally."
She made three cups of coffee and brought them over to the table with milk and sugar. "And these healings are attributed to you." Sam said, reaching for a cup.
"You don't correct them." Dean said. "You just let these people go around attributing you with miracles?" Sam knew his brother's attitude when it came to anyone remotely resembling a faith healer, and he sighed.
Del looked over at him sternly. "I used to try to explain what I did." She said, with a vaguely defensive note in her voice. "But I soon realized that it was hardly worth it. People don't understand the old ways anymore, the ways of caring for yourself instead of waiting for others to do it for you. As soon as you do something different that's good, it's alternative healing and witchcraft. If I had been alive a hundred years ago, I would have been burned at the stake."
"Witchcraft." Dean said. "Only, we've run into these things before, me and Sam, and it always turns out to be some occultist rite behind it all."
"Only they generally tried not to leave a string of bodies behind." He added flatly.
Del sat back in her chair and sipped her coffee thoughtfully. Any time now, Sam thought, and she's gonna call the cops. "Do you do this all the time?" She asked. "Pass judgment before you even know the person you are accusing? Tell me, who are you, Dean, and do you really have the right to look down on me as you're doing now?"
"Why don't you tell me?" Dean lay down the challenge.
"Very well." Del placed her cup on the table. "Give me your hand."
"You told me to find out myself. That is what I am doing. Give me your hand."
After glancing at Sam who shrugged, Dean set down his coffee and reached out across the table. The old woman rested a set of small glasses on her nose and took it, running her fingers over the contours of his hand before turning it over and peering intently at his palm. Dean didn't say anything, eyebrows raised skeptically.
"A sensitive child. A bitter child." The woman said. "Brought up in the darkness and the fire, everything falling apart around him. Damaged."
Sam's eyes were bright as he stared up over the rim of his cup, and there was a half-smile hovering around the corners of his mouth. "You're a palm reader," He exclaimed, and the gee-wiz way he said it made Dean want to kick him.
Del continued to stare down at Dean's palm, and now he was quite frankly uncomfortable. "Savior and killer, the eternal enemy your own shadow. Closer and closer to becom-" She stopped mid-sentence. "That's interesting." She commented.
"What is it?" Sam craned his neck to look, and Dean rolled his eyes.
The woman pointed out one of the lines on his brother's palm to Sam. "You see that?" She asked, and Sam nodded. "That's the lifeline. See how it stops just there?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I do, now you mention it." Sam's brow furrowed.
"Give me your other hand." The woman instructed.
But as soon as Sam and Del began whispering together about how the lifeline on his left hand took up exactly where the one on the right left off, Dean snatched them both back. "Okay. This is getting officially too weird now."
"Your hands." The old woman sat back and looked at him once again. "If I hadn't seen them for myself, I would have said that they were from two different people. How can one man have more than one life?"
Dean pulled a face. "It's complicated."
"Dean," Sam looked back at him, the gee-wiz expression still on his face. "After all the fakes we've found, I think this time, it's for real."
"I mean it, like, you actually did, and then you came back-"
"Sam, company." Dean narrowed his eyes. "Let's not do the whole sharing-and-caring thing until we know a little more about each other, okay?"
Sam looked slightly abashed. Not much, but some. His enthusiasm at having found a possible genuine practitioner of the bygone arts had eclipsed any concern for what his brother might have thought about the whole thing.
"Very well. Let's get to business." Del said.
Dean cleared his throat. "What's the deal with all these people dying after seeing you?"