Whew! Here we are at last - the final chapter. Up until now, I've tried to stick quite close to the plot of the first 'Supernatural' episode, but I didn't feel the ending worked for our boys.
This chapter does contain some grisly themes, and it's not for the faint of heart. Naturally, what I have the characters doing (I'm thinking of Raquel here) I don't condone. Be aware, there is death included within.
I'd like to thank everyone who has continued to read my efforts, and special thanks go to all those wonderful people who were kind enough to leave a comment. Each and every one has been greatly appreciated, and gratefully recieved.
I have one final word to all of you - ENJOY!
Gordon fumbled in his pocket for his phone as he ran. They'd tried calling their brother's before, but the back of beyond where they currently found themselves had poor signal reception and they'd resorted to trying at regular intervals in the vain hope they'd get a break. Gordon was therefore understandably surprised when his oldest brother answered with an uncharacteristically snappy 'What?'
Gordon frantically waved at Virgil. "Where are you?" he panted into the cell, hoping Scott wouldn't think him some crazed phone breather.
"Gordy? What's wrong?" Apparently, Scott's bro-dar was in full working order.
"SUV spotted," Gordon reported, saying a silent thanks for big brothers and their preternatural ability to know when you needed them to cut to the chase. "Sheriff following. Brother's two and four on foot."
"Head for Breckenridge," Scott commanded, responding to Gordon's cadet-like manner. "What's your ETA?"
Gordon squinted at Virgil thoughtfully, trying to remember the map he'd briefly seen at some point. "Ten minutes until turn off."
"You have five," Scott told him, disconnecting the call.
Gordon groaned, but dutifully headed off at a run. Virgil took a second to enjoy his little brother's discomfort before following.
Both men were sweat soaked when they rounded the corner onto Breckenridge road. Scott gave them no time to recover, however, shepherding Alan before him as fast as the twelve year old could manage as they searched for the Welch's old family home.
Alan saw it first, a ripple in his subconscious that felt like John his first clue, guiding him to a dilapidated wood building guarded by overgrown shrubs and imposing trees.
He reached out to tug Scott's sleeve. "Here!"
They stopped, waiting as Virgil and Gordon caught up to them.
"What is it?" Virgil panted.
"Raquel murdered her children here," Scott explained quickly. "And Joseph buried her out the back."
His brother's nodded their understanding as they cleared the trees, the SUV coming into sight, stationary despite the running motor. Alan froze, paling.
"She's hurting John!"
John gritted his teeth against the cry of pain that escaped his lips when Raquel plunged her hand into his chest. Ice burnt around her fingers, his muscles snapping taut in response to the agony. Raquel was getting into her stride now, relieving all the anger and pain she'd felt on that distant, fateful night.
"You tore me apart," she hissed.
John shook his head, gasping. "I'm not Joseph."
"Yes, you are," Raquel told him, sorrow rising from the grave of her broken heart. "You all are."
She pushed her hand deeper and John could feel his heart triple in time, still, then burst again in a scatter of beats. He groaned, unsure how long he could hold out. The window beside him shattered suddenly, the unmistakable force of a bullet punching through the air. Several more followed, each passing through Raquel, who couldn't maintain her pretty illusion under the onslaught, treating John to more skeletal flashes before she disappeared entirely. John drew in several deep breaths as he parted his jacket and lifted his shirt to reveal scorch marks indented into his skin.
For the first time the blond noticed Scott, standing with his feet apart and gun in both hands, still trained onto the car.
"I'm okay," John croaked.
Scott slowly lowered the weapon.
"Scott!" Gordon called. "Alan says she's still in the car!"
"Then I'm taking her home," John muttered, having heard his brother. Revving the engine, he put the SUV into gear, the car snapping forwards into the house and through one rotting wall.
Gordon reacted without conscious thought, something that tested Scott's patience no end but had seen the red head through on numerous occasions. Before John had time to complete lifting his hands from the wheel in order to protect his face, Gordon had taken a gamble on his ability having recovered and launched himself into the car, grabbed hold of his brother and brought them to land in a heap at Virgil and Alan's feet.
Virgil hauled John upright. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," John nodded, rubbing his chest.
Virgil turned to Gordon, who was being helped up by Alan. "Are you insane?"
Gordon uttered the most pathetic 'ow' in all history, flexing his elbow. Virgil softened instantly.
"You idiot," he sighed, slinging an arm around the teen's shoulders as Alan stared up at the house.
"Do you see them?" he asked quietly.
John followed his gaze. "See who? Allie?"
"Those kids," Alan replied.
Virgil and John exchanged anxious glances, unable to see anything. Virgil put his hand on Alan's shoulder, willing to hazard a guess at who they might be.
"They could be Raquel's children, Sprout," he said. "You're going to be fair game to them."
Alan straightened his spine, watching Scott pick his way over the remains of the wooden wall. "You're gonna need me," he announced.
"Atta boy, Alan," Gordon cheered, but John noticed Virgil's shoulders slump slightly. There wasn't time to decipher his brother's reaction, however.
"We'd better get over there," he told Virgil, as gently as he could.
Virgil moved without a word, motioning Gordon to keep Alan back until he'd retrieved the sawn-off shotgun from the trunk of the hissing SUV. He gripped the cold metal tightly, remembering its weight and hating the easy familiarity of the weapon in his hand. Scott just visible beyond the car, Virgil filled his pockets with rock salt bullets. Snapping the barrels in place, ammunition loaded, Virgil looked at his younger brothers.
They reached Scott, who stood motionless. Just before him stood Raquel. For her part, the ghost had forgotten his presence, staring into the shadows fearfully. Nevertheless, Virgil trained the shotgun onto her, ready if she became violent again.
Alan looked about him, taking in the general condition of the empty house. Two small figures appeared at the top of the stairs, both younger than himself, the boy the eldest of the two by only a couple of years. They held hands as a puddle appeared at their feet, their hair and clothing dripping continuously. Alan shuddered as the air cooled further and he lost sight of the children as they blinked out of existence. He saw an echo of their shadows at the foot of the staircase before he noticed them peeking out from under the old dining table. Fear emanated from that corner of the room, but it appeared only Alan could sense them. Even Raquel was looking in the wrong direction.
Alan felt the warmth of one of his brothers moving to his side, Scott's strong voice asking quietly if he could see the children. Raquel, unable to move, swung her head slowly his way. Alan nodded, pressing into Scott's body, a direct representation of the young children's endless search for comfort. For a moment, Alan fed off their terror before he wrenched control back under his brother's influence.
"Talk to them, kiddo," Scott urged softly. "We need them to connect with their mother."
Alan nodded, his mouth dry. He was unsure how to begin as he had always been the one contacted, but he focused his attention back on the Welch children. Two sets of huge eyes stared back, giving Alan the impression they had heard Scott and were waiting for Alan to begin.
"Go to your Mom," he said, hating the way his voice trembled. Their eyes never left his face, their emotions conveying it was she they feared, not the strange men who'd invaded their home. Alan couldn't blame them. Suddenly the boy crawled forwards, allowing the light cast by the SUV's headlamps to rest on his face. Alan swallowed. The boy's pale skin held a blue tinge, livid red finger marks standing out starkly on his cheek where, Alan realised, his mother had held him under the water.
The vision came without warning and Alan tumbled into it head first, unable to stop himself.
A bathroom formed before him, Raquel kneeling at the tub and sobbing as she placed her daughter fully clothed into the filling water. Alan could feel the woman's tortured soul breaking as she sought to save her children from the agony she felt.With a strangled cry, she pushed the little girl under the water savagely and Alan heard the boy beside her cry out in horror as he fought her, desperate to rescue his sister.
Raquel didn't listen, didn't react as her son's nails frantically tore at her and the little girl thrashed beneath them. Alan felt a cry escape him in time with the boy as the girl stilled, and then Alan was him, six years old and terrified by his mother's behaviour, standing next to her with his hands atop her arms. Those sad, drowning eyes turned to him and Alan backed away.
"She's sleeping, baby," Raquel told him, her voice breaking. "She can't hurt anymore. Mommy's gonna make the pain stop for you, too."
Alan fought her with all the strength he possessed, but his small body was no match and the cold water stole his breath, leaving him with nothing as Raquel pushed his head under. Still, he clawed at her as she left those marks on his cheek, his lungs screaming for air and his sister's face near his own. Alan sobbed tight in his chest as the darkness inched closer. He could no longer feel his hands and feet, his arms and legs were slow and heavy. His struggles weakened, eventually ceasing altogether as his mind fogged, his reason's for fighting forgotten.
His chest hurt. His eyes closed …
With a startled jerk, Alan opened his eyes, taking a ragged breath that caused him to cough. For a moment, he didn't recognise the man holding him.
"Daddy?" he tried once he'd regained his breath, thoroughly confused.
The man smiled sadly. "Try again, Sprout."
It all came back so suddenly Alan felt sick. The room span and he sagged in his brother's protective embrace, glad he, at least, had Scott to hold on to when things went wrong.
"Allie?" Virgil called, sounding strained.
The boy turned to him. His brother's whole body was held stiffly, tensed for action, the gun held firmly and with competence in his hands, continuing to aim at Raquel.
"What's she doing to you, kid?"
Alan shook his head, but it was Scott who answered.
"Don't shoot her, Virge," he ordered. "Once she dissipates, I doubt she'll still be trapped here."
Virgil nodded his understanding, but didn't take his eyes, or the gun, from the ghost. "Al?"
"I'm okay," the child replied, unable to hide the tremble in his voice. "I saw what happened."
Scott's arms tightened around him, but Alan's eyes found those of the boy's.
"I'm sorry," the twelve year old said softly, and with genuine regret. "I know you're frightened, but you need to go to your Mom."
The boy shrank back next to his sister. Alan pulled away from Scott, who tried to hold him back to no avail.
"She wasn't well," Alan told the children. "She didn't know what she was doing was wrong. She was hurting and only wanted to protect you."
The two children exchanged glances before turning back to Alan. He could feel them wavering, on the verge of believing him. They'd been alone for a long time and Alan ached for them, with them, desperately grateful he had Scott to act as his guardian when their Dad was absent. It was the wrong thing to feel while he was emphatically linked to the two spirits he realised, as their twin gazes swung hungrily towards his oldest brother, starved of the comforting presence he exuded.
Scott's breath caught in his throat as two bedraggled forms appeared before him. The girl couldn't have been more than four and she beseechingly held her arms out to him, desperate for warmth. It was hard for Scott to deny her something so simple, but he shook his head.
"Sorry, sweetheart," he said, speaking softly and as if she was a still real girl, perhaps his own sibling. "But I'm not the one you need."
She didn't understand, water dripping from her fingertips as she stretched them out to Scott once more. He stepped back.
"I'm sorry," he repeated, voice thick with emotion. He tore his eyes from her to look at her brother. "It's time to cross over."
On some level, the child knew he was dead, had always known, but he'd still believed, almost in spite of himself, that he lived and needed the care of an adult. Scott's words, however, brought home the reality of the situation.
He took his sister's hand and together they vanished, reappearing directly before their mother. Raquel let out a sob as she saw her babies for the first time in two decades, dropping to her knees to gather them to her. Alan didn't watch the family reunite and make the journey across the void, instead turning his attention back to Scott. Alan could empathise with the children without any psychic ability, having always turned to Scott when he was in need.
His brother's eyes were riveted on the spot the children had stood and concentrating gave Alan a glimpse into Scott's emotions. He ached to hold his own children within his nurturing hands, something he had denied himself for the sake of putting the rest of his family first.
Alan bit his lip. Scott would make an incredible father. Had been and was again to Alan himself, raising his youngest brother in the years following their mother's death, stepping in time and again when their Dad needed him to and now taking the responsibility on all over again, despite knowing Alan would never be his completely. It came as a shook that giving Alan back to their father tore at Scott and he reached instinctively to the man who'd given his life up for him.
Scott was a little surprised when his baby brother wrapped his arms around him, more so when the boy whispered to him.
"I love you, Scotty."
Scott lent his cheek against Alan's hair and closed his eyes, strong arms holding his brother close. "Love you too, Alan," he breathed.
Gordon vanished, the sheriff on his mind, and Virgil relaxed his tight shoulders, turning to John and checking on his wounds, gun held loosely in one large hand. Scott, still with an arm around Alan, shook his head at his middle brother.
"What were you thinking, driving into the house like that?"
"What were you thinking?" John grunted, shying away from Virgil's probing. "Shooting Casper in the face?"
"Worked, didn't it?"
Then Gordon was back, telling them the patrol cars were close, very close and they needed to get moving. Virgil turned his attention from John to the SUV, announcing it'd go.
As they peeled out, they saw the Sheriff's department coming after them. Concentrating hard, Scott found the first car's gear stick, putting it abruptly into reverse and bringing the car to a grinding halt. Virgil, as ever reaching the same conclusion as his big brother, if by a wildly different route, focused on the second car as Gordon drove, blocking the gas from reaching the engine. The car lost power, slowing to a stop and both Scott and Virgil kept them that way until they were sure they had a decent head start.
A day later, Scott, taking his turn to drive, pulled over in the early evening sunlight. His brothers had been quiet, contemplative and Scott felt it was time to find a direction again.
"What do we do now?" Alan asked him.
"We continue to look for Dad," Scott said, correct in his guess that the other boys would want to. "We'll hole up here for the night and in the morning we'll head in the direction of the co-ordinates he left."
Alan's eyes lit up hopefully. "Do you think he's waiting for us, Scotty?"
"I don't know, kiddo," his brother answered truthfully, watching Alan slump dejectedly. Beside the twelve year old, Gordon glanced out the window.
"Hey, Virge? D'ya think there's enough money left over to buy a ball and a couple of gloves?" he asked, having spotted a park.
Virgil and Scott exchanged glances. It'd do them all good to spend some time in a normal activity again and Virgil handed the red head the money. Gordon snapped out of existence and the others left the SUV by a more conventional method, heading to the park and knowing Gordon would be able to find them. He'd explained that he could centre on any of them to go directly where they were, which had led to Virgil declaring Gordon their own homing pigeon and John to enjoy practising his pigeon impression.
Not long after, Gordon appeared again, almost on top of John, which naturally led to a brief scuffle, until Gordon translocated away. John stood to dust himself down, quick reactions catching the glove that Gordon threw at him. Virgil sat on the back support of the nearest bench, feet on the seat, forearms resting on his knees and his hands clasped between them.
Laughing, the red head beckoned to Alan and Virgil smiled as the kid ran to join the game. As soon as boy was gone, however, the smile faded. Scott joined him on the bench.
"He's tough, resilient," he said softly, obviously reading his younger brother's expression.
"How long can that get us by?" Virgil asked, equally as quiet. "We're bringing him into a dangerous game, more so for him with his abilities."
Scott shook his head. "We're careful, we limit his involvement."
Virgil laughed bitterly. "You can't protect him forever, Scotty, you know that. Someday what we're doing here is gonna leave a mark. The demon found him once, it's gonna do it again."
"Then we deal with it," Scott replied firmly. "Whatever Dad's hunting, he won't risk Alan."
"I get the feeling this is bigger than us, Scott," Virgil cautioned, watching the game start up between his brothers. "You know he's not waiting."
"I love the guy too, but he's not perfect. Be careful."
Without another word, Virgil left to join the other boys, giving Scott the opportunity to mull over what he'd said. When they found their father, he was going to have some difficult questions to answer. Scott would make sure of it.
"Scott!" Alan called, breaking into his thoughts and waving frantically.
"Come and play," Virgil invited warmly.
Scott stood and smiled. Tonight, at least, they could forget their troubles and play a little ball. Tomorrow would bring what it would and lucky for them, Scott knew how to roll with the punches.