Title: My Way
By: L. Burke
Disclaimer: I don't own any of them.
"My Way" lyrics by P. Anka, J. Revaux, G. Thibault, C. Frankois and used without permission. No profit is being made.
Summary: Brotherhood AU. Gargoyles, secret passages, Frank Sinatra and pie. It's just a typical day at Merlin's castle.
Author's Notes: Nothing but some silliness, goofiness, and smart Dean. I needed it after "After School Special" and "Sex and Violence." As for "He Unconquered" It's an unashamed bow to Mary Stewart's "The Hollow Hills". BEG Her Merlin didn't talk much in his early years either.
"Forget it," fourteen year old Caleb Reaves growled, "I am not doing it."
"Interesting," Pastor Jim Murphy replied quietly as he looked over the top of his reading glasses, "I don't remember asking you. I do remember ordering you, however."
The sullen teenager crossed his arms over his chest and stuck his chin out stubbornly. "I am not going outside and playing with that little freak."
"It's a beautiful sunny day, my boy. You'll both have a wonderful time. Dean can show you all the edible plants he knows." Jim stated as he once again looked in to the cage on his table. A set of emerald green eyes glared back from a dragonoid face. Then the pastor flipped a page in the book and then muttered under his breath, "No, no, not right, this gargoyle has green eyes."
"Are you even listening to me?" Caleb demanded.
Jim shot him an owlish look from the large dust covered volume, "Huh? Of course, you volunteered to go outside and keep Dean company. It's very generous of you. Dean needs more social interaction. You'll both have a wonderful time."
Caleb ground his teeth. "That is not what I said."
"Ah! Here it is," Jim muttered under his breath as he flipped his reading glasses down on to his nose. "Sentinel gargoyles. Hmm… Supposedly, they were sung into existence by the Heavenly Host. They hunted at angels sides and are capable with one bite of trapping a demon in their host body and devouring them. No sighting of them for two thousand years and thought extinct." Jim's eyebrow reached for his hairline. Then the pastor looked like a five year-old on Christmas morning. "Dean manages to find me the most fascinating gifts at yard sales."
"Young Guardian listens," A gravelly voice from inside the cage replied. "Demons…yummy…salty".
"You're not paying attention to me," Caleb snarled.
"Of course I am," the Guardian replied not bothering to look up from his book. "I'm simply choosing the path of neutral chi". Then the pastor looked down in to the cage, "I'm so sorry. I didn't know what you were when I caught you shuffling around. How do you feel about gardens, my friend?"
He blinked. Caleb knew he was stepping in to an ambush when he asked, "Neutral chi?"
The pastor looked up from the cage and grinned. Oh yes, he had undeniably stepped in to one of Jim's well placed land mines. "There are three main strategies or 'chi' when engaging another person, my dear boy. John engages in offense or 'negative chi. Mac employs 'positive chi' or defensive. Since neither approach has worked when dealing with you. I'm trying the third approach or 'neutral chi' and simply refusing to engage. I've found it infuriates brooding teenagers."
Caleb huffed. "I'm getting an extra slice of pie for this. Apple. Not cherry or peach."
"Of course, of course," Jim muttered as he once again turned his attention to the cage on his table, "Cherry pie for dessert."
"That's DEAN'S favorite."
"You'll have a wonderful time," Jim called to him as Caleb stalked angrily towards the back door. "Convince Dean he wants to let the Persian Empire survive and play catch for an afternoon."
He didn't reply and let the slamming of the back door convey what he thought about this chore.
Caleb found the little, walking annoyance out by the pond covered in mud.
The kid looked like a green-eyed, freckled-faced, swamp monster.
Dean and dirt were like matter and black holes. They were indisputably drawn to each other by some unbreakable law of the universe. It was a good thing Jim believed that washing mud off little boys was the reason hoses were invented. And, oh boy, that hose was going to get a workout today.
He didn't want to know what Dean was up to. He didn't want to care. Dean was a representation of a walking bleeding wound for him. The six year old would have been the same age as his little brother his father murdered. He didn't want to get to know him. Too easy to get attached and that would only lead to bad things. When you didn't let people in to your world, they couldn't destroy it when they died or kicked you out the door because you weren't good enough.
For him, Mac was merely a means to an end.
A safe place to stay until he legally could apply for his freedom and give his finger to the system. No emotional attachments.
At least he kept telling himself that.
Someday he might just believe it.
Caleb shook his head looking at the grubby little boy in front of him and sighed, "What are you doing?"
Dean shot him a big, jack-o-lantern grin and held up what looked like a link of aluminum soda pop tops proudly. "I'm making body armor."
Caleb blinked. "Body Armor?"
He was expecting lots of answers but that wasn't one of them.
Dean nodded. "I'm working on a prontotype to show Bobby next time he visits."
"Prototype," Caleb corrected. "And why do you need body armor?"
Damn. Maybe Jim was right about Dean needing some friends.
"It's not for me, silly" Dean held up his links again. "It's for our hunters. It will help protect against ghost. Like Batman's body armor protects him against the bad guys. I got the idea from Akbar's conquest of Central India."
Caleb sighed. He recognized the name. Akbar the Great conqueror of central India. Most kids this age got off on pop-up books.
Dean? Oh hell, NO.
Kid stuff didn't interest this child at all. Nothing normal did. Dean loved maps. He loved geography. Dean could sit for hours listening to Jim ramble about how leaders and kings conquered and ruled in distant ancient lands.
"Okay," Caleb nodded. "How does Akbar inspire body armor?"
"He designed iron plate armor for his war elephants," Dean replied. "It's just silly we never thought of it."
Dean nodded again.
Caleb was getting a headache. "So what? You're trying to design body armor for Atticus?" Something was not computing here.
Suddenly Dean looked very unsure of himself and he clutched his treasured links to his chest. "No."
It dawned on Caleb this was the most talkative he'd seen Deuce since he'd met the kid. Well, at least until the little fiend started talking anyway. Dean tended to be very quiet unless he was around Jim. Around most people he was silent with his eyes to the ground. He knew the adults tended to overlook silence especially with a bossy, demanding baby in the household.
He suddenly felt like an ass.
"Why don't you show me what you've put together and I might be able to make a suggestion or two?" Caleb offered gently.
When did 'softy' get tattooed on his forehead?
Dean's toothless smile lit up his entire face. "Really? You want to see it?" The smile only highlighted the cherry Kool Aid mustache. Not to mention what looked like grease on the little boy's nose. It was really hard to tell beyond the dirt layer. Caleb didn't envy Jim having to scrub the tub ring after bath time tonight.
"Sure," Caleb replied. "Why not?"
Dean nibbled on his lip for a moment. "You gotta promise not to tell."
He lifted an eyebrow. "Tell what?"
"Where the cave is," Dean replied. "It's my quiet place. It's a secret. Kind of like the Bat Cave. It's where I go when my ears get tired and work on my exsperiments. Dad doesn't even know where it is."
"Experiments," Caleb corrected automatically. Dean was having a few issues with pronouncing words since he'd lost some of his front teeth. "And, I promise not to tell where Anthewm's lair is. I'll even pinky-swear on it."
That seemed to pacify the kid.
"Okay," Dean nodded. "You need to take your shoes off, leave them here, and follow me."
"Lead the way."
They trudged carefully from rock to rock in the deeper end of Jim's large pond or 'not-lake' as John snidely called it. Caleb only hoped not to fall on his ass. The rock ledges under the water were slippery, like trying to stand on wet glass.
"If the rocks are sharp under your feet your going the wrong way," Dean informed him as he felt under the water and found the next rock he looking for. The six year-old must have the way memorized to his 'cave' by feel of the stones alone. "See, it's an underwater path. You can't find the cave entrance unless you're standing on the right rock."
"Right, feel the rocks," Caleb muttered under his breath as he caught his balance again and just barely managed not to go tumbling into the water. He didn't want to get wet. Caleb was not a big fan of the soaked, clingy cloths.
"See. There it is," the little boy announced as he pointed to the nondescript cliff face in front of them.
He didn't see anything but a play of light and gloom.
At least until Dean vanished.
"Dean!" He looked around frantically. He hadn't even heard a splash. If Dean had slipped and hit his head Jim was going to kill him. "Deuce, answer me!"
A little blonde head suddenly surfaced from the water. It reminded Caleb of an alligator surfacing. Dean tilted his head. "I thought you were coming?"
Caleb blanched. "The entrance is under the water isn't it?"
Dean smiled at him.
"You DO realize how much I detest water?" He grumbled at the six year-old. Hell, Bobby had even accused him of being part cat once.
Dean's smile got a little bigger and a little smugger.
"I hate you," Caleb snarled. Then he dived in after Dean.
He followed Dean's lead through some rocks and surfaced in a cave a few moments later.
A large one.
Anthewm's secret lair indeed.
Caleb did a circle trying to take it in.
The place was huge. Made of limestone with fissures high in the rocks let the light and fresh air in. There were calcite and onyx stalactites everywhere. It was one huge crystal gem carved out of the underworld from the simple power of water's persistence and time.
"You found this place all by yourself," Caleb asked, amazed as he followed Dean up on to an outcrop and in to the main chamber.
The six year old shook his head and pointed up. "I listened and they showed me."
There sitting up by fissures, high on a sunny ledge, were a mated set of American Bald Eagles. Ignoring Dean, two sets of golden eyes looked down at Caleb curiously from their nest.
"Their call to each other sounded different here," Dean informed him matter of fact. "You know Eagles are some of Earth's last surviving dinosaurs? My mom told me that. All birds are. They're what some dinosaurs changed in to after facing death and fire." The six year old got a too old and very poignant look in his eye. "My mom loved learning about birds. She was even planning on talking to Dad about going back to grown-up school. Dad found the paper she filled-out…After….and got really, really sad.
Caleb had to try to wrap his mind around that concept.
Sarcasm and yelling tended to be John Winchester's default settings.
He ran his fingers through his rapidly curling hair and yanked at some now forming tangles. Natural curl and water did NOT mix. Then he sighed out loud. He really didn't know what to say. No six year-old should have to define his life and live by the terms of 'Before' and 'After'.
Caleb knew from first hand experience.
Tragedy defined lives like that.
"I'm not going to give you some useless tripe about how sorry I am," Caleb replied matter-of-fact as he tried to wring some of the water out of his clothes. "We both know its nothing but crap. 'I'm sorry' is something thrown out to make other people feel better. I'm not going to insult either of our intelligence by doing it. Nothing makes me madder. People shouldn't pretend to know and understand enough to be sorry unless they've been there. Silence is golden."
Dean's deep green eyes met his and the little boy nodded in understanding. "Your ears can get tired."
"You have no idea." Caleb muttered. "What's worse? People want you to keep fucking talking about it. What do they want you to say? How it felt to crawl through what was left of your father's brains? Normal people are ghouls. I wish they would take they're idiotic, new-age, don't-bottle-it-self-help mojo and stuff it up their asses. It pisses me off."
"When adults get all bossy and huggy about Mom, I don't talk." Dean informed him. "Then I do something odd. Then they shake their heads sadly and leave me alone. Although, Dad says I need to stop kicking people when they try to hug me."
Caleb blinked, confused. "Why?"
"I don't know." The six year old huffed indignantly. "I asked Dad that and his face got all purple and scrunchy."
"Yeah, I understand," Caleb grumbled as he took a good look around. "Some people simply cannot understand the concept of personal boundaries."
The six year-old scowled at him, and Caleb could understand why he was the recipient of so many unwanted hugs. Dean already had the potential to be a little heartbreaker. "I don't see what got Dad so purple. I only kicked Mac once. I apologized and even brought him an icepack for his knee afterward." Then Dean tilted his head. "It made Bobby laugh. He laughed so hard he fell off Jim's front porch. Then Jim pulled out the bucket of ice water."
Oh, man, what he would have paid to see that. He could just imagine that scene. Caleb wondered what John did to strong-arm the reluctant doctor in to trying it. Mac wasn't the most open and touchy-feely of people to begin with. The doctor must have read the whole 'hug thing' out of a child psychology book.
He took another quick look around the cave and he had to admit he was impressed. All around him were mirrors placed in strategic spots to help bounce the caverns light around. "Did you do this?" He pointed at the mirrors. It was a pretty damned cleaver idea.
Dean nodded again. "Bobby gave the mirrors to me. He was going to throw them away." Then little boy looked down at his bare feet and scuffed some mud around. "Pastor Jim gave me the idea when he used the sunlight and lit a fire out in the woods with his reading glasses."
Caleb remembered that in-woods lesson. Pastor Jim had sat there and explained that they didn't make the light but with a good plan and the right tools you could sure bounce light around. Apparently Dean had taken that lesson to heart.
"Pretty smart, Kiddo."
Dean's head snapped up. The little boy looked like Caleb had just socked him. Then the six year-old blinked. "Really? You think so?"
Caleb suddenly wasn't sure who he wanted to smack.
John Winchester, Dean's teachers, or all of the above.
He shot the six year old a reassuring smile. "Yup. You don't have a secret tunnel leading back to the house do you?"
"No." Deuce shook his head. Then he tilted his head considering the implications. "Could I do that?"
Caleb ran his hand through Dean's hair and shook his head at the tangles. John was going to end up carrying out his on-going threat to buzz cut the blonde mop. "Wait until you're a little older to even try it."
"Okay," Dean replied seriously. "I promise. Not until I'm older."
As things turned out Caleb never did get to see the body armor Dean was working on. Instead Dean showed him the parts of the cave. Caleb spent the time exploring and getting grimy. The place was pretty amazing. It also became pretty obvious how Dean ended up so filthy so often.
In an adjuring chamber Caleb found words carved in to the stone floor in Latin "To He Unconquered". Below the words were three raised stone circles. They looked like they were meant to hold things. On the left was a cross with a slot in the middle. On the far right it looked like a bowl like indentation that was carved to fit something. In the center circle was the design of a spiral.
That was odd.
Dean couldn't have done it. It was too well worn with age.
It was getting dark when they heard Jim's shouts echo down the passage ways. "Boys!"
Dean ran to the large center chamber and yelled straight up, "Coming!" Then he gestured to Caleb. "We need to go."
Caleb nodded, followed, and the two of them managed to get to the shore a few short moments before Jim emerged from the woods.
"There you are," Jim replied with a smile. "Did you have fun?" Then the Guardian looked them up and down. "You must have, to get that dirty. Please don't tell me you were killing Persians again?"
Dean shook his head and mumbled, "India."
"Ah, Akbar the Great," Jim chirped happily as he offered Dean his hand. "Did know he'd invited religious scholars for miles around to debate religious issues? Even though he wasn't much of a religious man himself, he wanted to build understanding and tolerance in his realms." Then the pastor shrugged, "Of course the Hindu's he conquered were never very fond of him."
Dean took the offered hand and they all started walking towards the farm together. "Really?"
"Indeed. And here's why…"
Caleb shook his head in amusement as he followed behind them and listened to Jim babble.
"Oh, I made a large apple pie for desert," Jim announced as he abruptly changed the topic and looked over his shoulder at Caleb.
Caleb shot him a grin. "Thanks."
Jim winked at him. "You're very welcome."
Dean looked up at Guardian hopefully. "Did you make ice-cream too?"
Jim stopped walking and looked down at Dean in mock horror. "Pie without ice-cream? That's blasphemy. That's like shoes without socks or Oreo cookies without milk. Mackland without medical speak. Bobby with no grease…"
"Dad without the Impala," Dean nodded in solemn agreement. "Absolutely."
That's when Caleb caught the small figure dancing on Jim's roof. It was the Gargoyle and Caleb was pretty sure he was dancing to Frank Sinatra's My Way.
"Ignore him, Caleb" the Guardian ordered sharply as he picked up his pace towards the house. "Kilroy found my stash of Girl Scout cookies and ate all of them. He's still a little hyper."
"Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it MY way"
Dean blinked. "He ate all of them?"
Jim exhaled loudly. "Yes, all of them, I'm afraid. This disaster is ranking right up there with the one time I brought Pixy Stixs for the children in Sunday morning Bible class. Mrs. O'Hara still isn't speaking to me."
They all turned their head to the rumble of the Impala's engine coming up the drive way. John climbed out and then tilted his head in curiosity at the spectacle on the roof. He picked Sammy up out of his car seat. Then John shifted the baby on his hip. "Jim, you know I don't ask, because most times I don't wanna know. But you do realize you have a large Iguana mooning us from the porch roof?"
"I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way,
"Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it MY way"
"Mooning? Really?" Jim smiled anxiously. "So pie? Anyone? I'll go inside and get it."
Caleb laughed as Jim bolted up the front stairs.
The next time they saw him Jim was trying to chase a sugar-crazed, hyperactive gargoyle off his front porch roof.
Normal people didn't know what they were missing.