CHAPTER FOUR: THE ANSWERS, THE DANGERS & THE WAITING
"It would have to be a weekend!" Dean complained, slapping his hand hard against the Impala's black steering wheel. He huffed angrily. "Now we'll have to wait until Monday - assuming the house will be empty by then."
"It's Saturday, not the end of the world. Just relax." Sam tried to calm his brother. "You're going to get upset and that's the last thing that you need."
"Newsflash - I'm already upset!" Dean ground out with a deep frown.
"Yeah, well, get un-upset." Sam sighed heavily. "We both know that it won't do anyone any good for you to have another anxiety attack."
"I'm surprised that you're taking this as well as you are. After all, little brother, with your powers we could be in there and out before they even knew what hit them."
Sam flinched. "What hit them? Nice, Dean. Now I see what a sterling opinion you have of me and my…gifts."
"I didn't mean it like that." Dean responded defensively. "I only meant that if you're even half as wired up as I am to see mom again and find out what happened then - wait." He stopped, Sam was avoiding his gaze. "You don't think that she's really in heaven, do you? You think I imagined the entire rescue."
Sam shook his head, but his gaze remained averted. "It's not like that."
"Really? 'Cause that's sure how it's looking from here. Mind explaining?"
Sam opened his mouth, closed it and then opened it again. He searched for the right words that would explain how confused he felt inside. On the one hand he knew that his brother had not just mysteriously appeared in that alley without some ones - or some things - help, but on the other hand their mothers soul had been destroyed years before.
"Why don't we go back to the motel? We can relax, watch some TV or something. Beats waiting around here on the off chance they might go out."
"You're changing the subject." Dean said. He took one last look at the house and gave in. "Alright. We'll come back tomorrow - maybe we'll get lucky and they'll go to the beach."
Sam chuckled at his brothers sarcastic words. "Yeah, the beach - in Kansas." He responded with equal sarcasm.
"Anything good?" Dean asked as he exited the bathroom of their motel room after a long, cool shower.
Sam looked up from the local newspaper he had been idly perusing. "If there was even a hint of a Hunt would you really want me to tell you?"
"Honestly?" Dean asked. "Probably not."
"Good then." Sam went back to reading his paper.
"Why? Is there something?" Dean let his curiosity get the better of him. When his brother merely shrugged, he sauntered up behind the dark haired man to read over his shoulder. "The dead girl, towards the bottom?" He asked after a few moments of scanning the paper.
Sam sighed heavily and folded the paper over so that the referred to obituary was hidden from sight. "Yes. Now let it go. The last thing we need is a Hunt on our hands - neither one of us is exactly in top shape."
Dean dipped his chin. "True, but maybe this is what I need. You know, get back into the thick of things."
Sam laughed bitterly. "I really don't think so, Dean."
"Come on! We've got a whole weekend and I'm going stir-crazy already." Dean paced the room as if to prove his point. "A Hunt would take my mind off of things."
Sam frowned. "Or it could get you killed…again. No, Dean. End of discussion."
Dean clenched his jaw.
"Besides." Sam added, jerking his thumb towards the mess of clothes on and around Dean's bed. "If you're that desperate for something to do I saw a laundry mat a couple of blocks away."
Dean spread his hands. "No way, man."
Sam lifted an eyebrow. "You're the one complaining about the dirty clothes and you're the one with nothing better to do."
"What do you plan on being busy doing while I'm waiting in a room full of screaming kids and gossiping old ladies?"
"Sleep." Sam's eyes suddenly grew shadowed, haunted and forlorn. "I just want to sleep."
"Okay, Sammy. I'll get out of your hair for a couple of hours." Dean submitted after a moment. "Sorry, for yelling."
Sam shrugged, kicking off his shoes as he made his way over to his bed. Dean quickly gathered up all of the clothes he could fit into his duffle bag. He grabbed the extra room key and drove the Impala to the laundry mat. It took him a few minutes to get everything going, but once it was started he sat down in an uncomfortable, blue plastic chair to wait.
His gaze traveled from object to object in the large, open room looking for something to focus his attention on. It settled finally on a newspaper - the same paper his brother had been reading before - and his earlier curiosity fighting to the forefront, he picked it up and started to read. The girl's story was a horrible one and by the end of the rather short, irritatingly vague article, Dean was even more prepared to Hunt down and kill whatever had left the girl so damaged.
TEENAGE GIRL MAULED BY WILDCAT
Mindy Danielson, 17, was found by a park ranger not far from the South park entrance Tuesday afternoon. She was rushed to the local hospital, no release has been given thus far on her medical condition. A number of recent wildcat attacks in the area have lead the authorities to believe that she was surprised while on a hiking trip. Her family could not be reached for additional details.
Although the doctors will not give up any information on Mindy's current status, they did confirm that her injuries supported the alleged wildcat attack. State troopers, local authorities, volunteers and the park service are working together to canvas the area in search of the ferocious animal.
Dean stopped reading.
If all those people were going to go after whatever attacked the girl there was a good chance someone else would get hurt or killed. Sam would need to be convinced that their help was needed in this case - after all, if they did not stop whatever was harming these locals no one else would. No once else could. With a heavy sigh Dean sat back and tried to think of a convincing argument. He had over an hour to come up with something and as a Winchester, BS was par for the course. Unfortunately, his brother was fluent in the language. Dean crossed his arms over his chest.
Those were Sam's first words when Dean returned with the clean laundry.
"How do you know?"
"I just went over there." Sam shrugged at the look his brother shot him. "What? I felt like walking, okay."
A knowing glint twinkled in Dean's eye. "Room too small?"
"Yeah, a little." Sam ducked his head. "I never said it wasn't, just for the record."
"Uh, huh." Dean smirked.
The tension that had been building between them for the past few days melted in the face of familiar snark. Dean flashed Sam a bright smile.
"Lets get to it then, little brother."
He flung the bag of clothes off his shoulder and onto the floor. The Hunt could wait, finding answers was more important.
This time the ritual went off without a hitch. Dean felt his blood pump faster, the sound rushing in his ears, as they incanted the last few words of Latin. There was a rush of paranormal wind, brushing their hair back with soft fingers, and then silence. Stillness.
Sam shifted, his eyes going from the alter to Dean and then back again.
Dean stared at the alter, unblinking.
Still nothing happened.
The silence became oppressive as they waited for their mother to appear.
She did not.
"Well, this was a crap idea." Sam muttered.
"Shhh!" Dean hissed.
Nothing happened - the silence remained.
"I told you so." Sam sighed sadly. He knew how much this meant to his brother, but he also knew that their mothers soul was gone - destroyed in an effort to rescue them from a malevolent poltergeist.
Dean's complete focus was on the alter and his gaze did not waver even for a moment. He had complete faith that their mother would show up. Just another moment, just one more second. He told himself over and over in his mind. Still nothing happened.
The silence grew.
"Admit it." Sam said softly, after a few more minutes went by. "She's not coming. She can't - wherever she is now. . .she just can't."
"I know what I saw. I know it was her. I know that she'll come." Dean bit off the words in abrupt sentences. "I know."
Sam sat back on the floor and watched his brother's intense stare. He knew there would be no convincing the older man and he was ready to wait it out. Either way, their mothers soul had not been summoned, that much was abundantly clear.
"Come on! Fuck!" Dean shouted, startling Sam. "Come on!"
Dean felt betrayal cut through him like a razor sharp knife. He knew that his mother was still around, knew that she could see him - after all, angels were suppose to be able to do anything, right? He felt his throat tighten at the thought that she was avoiding him. Why had the ritual not worked? Mary Winchester had become a memory surrounded by perfection, in his mind and now that perfect glow of memory was fading. He felt a hand on his shoulder.
"It's okay, Dean. Maybe…"
"Maybe what?" Dean snapped angrily. "Maybe I imagined the whole thing? I don't think so, Sam."
The brothers exchanged stubborn glares, neither willing to back down this time. There was no way that Sam could let Dean keep kidding himself and Dean knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that their mother was an angel.
A soft murmur of voices drifted into the room. They looked around for the source.
Dean whirled around at the sound of his mother's voice. She stood there, in the middle of a strangers kitchen, white light emanating from within her body. Wings of soft, silky feathers shimmered in the daylight streaming through the window. She smiled.
"Dean. You're safe now."
Dean stood slowly to his feet, Sam following his lead, and took a single step towards his mother.
"You are an angel. I knew it." He said softly.
"Mom?" Sam whispered.
Mary's gaze turned to the younger man.
"Sam." The corner of her lips turned up slightly. "Everything will be alright."
"But - how is this possible?" Sam's eyes began to tear. "How?"
A true smile shone from her face, lighting the room. "Oh, honey. I know all of the things that you did."
Sam felt his heart skip a beat, horrified at the thought that his mother had somehow known all of the terrible atrocities he had committed. He wanted to apologize, he wanted to explain, he felt the words bubbling up inside him, but before he could say anything she shook her head.
"Don't, Sam. It's alright, darling."
Her wings fluttered, floating her forward, until she could easily touch either of the men.
"Mom. How?" Dean echoed Sam's earlier question.
She brushed his chin lightly with the edge of her wing. "There are some things you can't know yet, son."
"What does that suppose to even mean? We called you here because we want some answers." Dean said.
"All I am allowed to tell you is this." She put a her left hand on Sam's shoulder and her right on Dean's. "All the darkness and pain will fade. You will both make it through this and be stronger for it."
"It doesn't feel like that's possible." Dean said, his throat tightening. "Some days I feel like I can't keep going." A desperation broke his voice. "Mom, I can't forget."
"Shhh." She moved the hand over his mouth. "I know you have questions and I know it's hard, but, Dean, I know - I really know - that things will get better for both of you."
"But you can't explain any of it?"
"Well, that's just great." Dean groused, trying for bravado. "Now what?"
"You Hunt." She said matter-of-factly.
Sam drew in a sharp breath. "Mom, after all the things that I did…What if Hunting puts me in a situation where I - where I do something unforgivable? It got easier to use my powers for…questionable - I mean." He took a deep breath. "I don't want to ever do those things again."
"You won't. Everything that you've learned about your powers will help you and your brother. When you are Hunting, I'll be there with you, watching over you. I won't let you hurt anyone."
Sam lost his fight with the tears and they cascaded down his cheeks. "Where were you?" He implored her through a gut wrenching sob. "All those months - when I was alone - where were you at?"
Mary's chin trembled with emotion. "Oh, honey." Her wings came forward and she enfolded him in a feathery hug. "I'm so sorry." Pulling back a little she included Dean in the hug. "I am so sorry, sons. I came as soon as I could. I did as much as I could."
Sam's shoulders shook under her firm embrace. He could feel the strength in her, it was a part of her that he could sense with his super-human abilities. The dark haired man let himself get lost in the knowledge that she was there finally to help him. It had taken over twenty years, but his mother was there for him.
"Darlings, I found a way to help you. It just took a while, that's all."
Dean breathed in her smell, a light flowery scent, and felt the warmth of her living body. It was so different from the last time he had seen her in this same room. The fire and confusion that had infused those memories were overwritten now with this new Mary Winchester. He smiled, all of the questions and fears melting away in the presence of his mother. He relaxed into her embrace.
A passerby outside the house noticed a reflective light inside, sending out rays of blinding light. The old man shrugged in his over-large coat and shook his head. Strange things were always happening with that house and it's owners. Deciding it was none of his business, the man continued on his way home after a hard days work.
Dean stepped back from the hug. He felt like all of his problems had been washed away. He felt new and whole for the first time in so very long, it was like a perfect dream. Dean smiled in genuine joy. For the first time since his fifth birthday he felt complete peace fill him.
"So, Hunting, is it?" He asked, his voice steady and strong.
Sam held on to his mother for several moments longer before finally letting her go. "Yeah." He answered his brother with a matching smile. "Hunting."
Mary Winchester watched her children sleep. It had been a long day for them both, but they had come out of it healed. She knew there would be new trials, but she also knew that together they could make it through - and there was no force in heaven, hell or earth that could tear her away from their side.
She had a long ways to go to get them in top shape and with the number of demons still in need of vanquishing it was imperative that her sons get back into the battle. Thousands would be saved in the long run, but all that mattered to her was the two men sleeping in front of her, on those dingy motel beds. Mary wings folded behind her back, she knelt next to their beds in turn and gave them both a goodnight kiss.
Their story was just beginning.