First off, a little explanation. This story is dedicated to Raven524 who posted a challenge at Supernatural (dot)tv . I do not write real person stories, but the particulars for this story were problematic. The prompt included using the names of certain participants in the creative process of Supernatural. It forced me to get creative…so, I hope this story is okay and isn't breaking the rules. Things are not always how they appear; names can be just names in a story. I know I am pushing the boundaries, I just hope I'm not breaking through. If so, then I sincerely apologize.
I have the utmost respect and admiration for everyone involved in Supernatural and would never do anything to disparage them. I love them for the awesome show they have given us, and I love that they share a part of themselves with us at every convention and panel where they discuss the show and give us even more insight into the Winchesters. Supernatural is awesome…as is everyone involved with bringing it to our living rooms. Thanks for everything! - B.J.
Inspired by 4.18 The Monster at the End of This Book
Life is cyclical. What came before is what comes after… Where it begins is where it ends…
Down a Dark and Distant Path
Volume 59 - A Supernatural graphic novel by Carver Edlund
"Uncle Pada..Padi…Padaloookee…" Struggling with the complexity of the name, the young boy scrunched up his face, his lips attempting to curl around the syllables but losing out to his frustration. He tended to have trouble with multi-syllable words, especially ones with so many vowels. He was exceedingly smart for his age, a prodigy by all accounts, but while his mind was whip-sharp, his verbal skills were still developing. The name of one of his favorite uncles seemed to stymie him the worst.
The old man was patient, smiling as he helped the boy. "Pa-da-lec-ki. Sound it out. Padalecki." His grin was radiant, a high-pitched cackle spilling forth from his lips as he good-naturedly jostled the boy sitting on his lap, pulling him back to his chest and wrapping his arms around him in a protective embrace. "I know, it's a bear to say…blame it on that ethnic pride thing. My ancestors could have Anglicized it, but, there you go. Why don't you just stick with Paddy?"
"Okay, Uncle Paddy."
Suddenly and without indication he was thinking along such lines the boy asked, "Are you my real uncle?" His smile was sweet and pure, eyes intent and curious as he looked up at the man whose lap he was sitting on.
"Well, I suppose that depends on what you mean." A pensive look came over the man's face, his thoughts drawn to distant images, his memory taking him back to gruff words spoken with love so many years before. He repeated the words he'd heard as a young man, "Family don't end with blood, boy," finding truth and comfort in them. A broad smile eased across his face, starting as a slight tick in the left corner of his mouth and spreading out to engage his beaming eyes. He pulled the boy to him in a bear hug, embracing the past as he cherished the present. "I guess I'm as much a part of your family as you are a part of mine. Same as with your Uncle Ackles."
The young boy twisted his mouth, the words he released older and more caustic than his years, spiced with a devilish, dry wit. "There's another name…"
A bold laugh greeted the observation. For an older gentleman, someone who could have been complaining about aches and pains and the general displeasure in how the world was being run, he was unbridled in his good-natured contentment. With eyes twinkling from fond memories he reflected on his old friend and their special bond. "Yeah, gives us even more in common. You know we're both Texas boys, right?"
The boy again appeared older than his years, his intelligence mixed with ironic insight. "Those don't sound like Texas names to me."
"No, I suppose not. But you know what? I don't think either of us would ever change 'em, it's who we are."
"And you've been friends for a long time?"
"Yep, a very long time. More than friends actually…more like brothers." Satisfaction glistened in his eyes, spreading across his strong face, a face still youthful and exceedingly handsome despite his age.
"And you're friends with my grandpa?"
"Yep, Old Man Kripke and us, well, we go way back."
Squirming into the crook of his uncle's arm the boy looked up with eyes shimmering with delight, a sweet smile on his face as he asked the question he already knew the answer to. "Will you read me a story?"
"That would give me great pleasure. So, what'll it be?"
"You know…the one you always read me," the boy said with that tone that implied it was the silliest question ever asked in the history of silly questions asked.
With a contented sigh he teased the young boy, tickling his stomach until he bowed over with laughter. "You're not tired of that story yet? I must've read it to you at least a hundred times."
"Uh-huh, one hundred times," the boy proudly proclaimed. "I could never get tired of the Winchesters." And he snuggled down into the welcoming arms of his uncle, ready for the telling.
"No? Me neither," he agreed. "I guess we're both a fan of their story."
A wisp of worry then crept over the older gentleman's features as he paused to consider the content of the story, a lingering concern for the boy's welfare spilling into their special time together. He always wondered what all these horror stories might do to a boy so young, whether his family would ever look back in regret and wonder what was wrong with him that he got such a perverse thrill from all that blood and gore. The boy's reaction to the Winchester mom burning on the ceiling of Sam's nursery was unusual to say the least. And the fate of the plumber in Home, well, that made even the older man shudder in horror, a decidedly different reaction than what the boy exhibited. Most wouldn't have laughed. Still, in all other ways he was a normal kid, if not one who loved a good horror story. Just to be sure, he asked the question he always asked before one of their book readings. "So, no nightmares?"
The boy shook his head in the negative. "Nope. No nightmares."
"You sure? 'Cause these stories are a little dark for a kid."
"Not for me. I like 'em!" he enthused.
That was certainly true. Not only did he devour every urban legend he could get his hands on, he made up his own horror stories, entertaining his family and anyone else who would listen with his fantastical tales from the darkside. He was a natural born storyteller.
"Okay, then, Supernatural, it is… Let's see, what book were we on?" The man reached into the magazine rack by the side of the easy chair where they were rocking; pulling at the worn, well-read paperbacks stashed there until he found the one he was looking for. "All right, here we go, All Hell Breaks Loose." His voice was low and brooding as he started to read, reflecting the severity of the Winchesters' situation and bringing Sam and Dean to vivid life. His inflections became more animated as the Winchesters faced down that nasty demon, assuming different voices and acting out all the parts. "Dean and Sam stood over the demon, a waft of smoke rising up from the deadly bullet hole that had pierced his chest. Dean's eyes rose to meet his brother's. 'Well, check that off the to-do list.' In awe of his big brother, Sam said, 'You did it….' 'I didn't do it alone,' Dean quickly replied, always inclusive of his family. The enormity of what they had just accomplished swept over them. They had finally gained vengeance over the thing that destroyed their family over twenty-two years before. Shocked and speechless Sam finally admitted, 'I…I kinda don't know what to say.' Dean replied with determination, 'I do.' He knelt down beside the meat suit that had contained the yellow-eyed demon that put their family through hell. 'That was for our mom, you son of a bitch!'"
"Dean is such a badass," the boy proclaimed with a toothy grin.
"Hey…what about Sam? Even Dean said he didn't do it alone."
"Teamwork!" the boy yelled out with all the enthusiasm that a boy could muster.
The man grinned and repeated the words of unity, "Teamwork!" His eyes retreated in a far-off gaze, the years falling away, leading him to another time before the squirming child in his lap again pulled him back to the present. He clasped his hand to the boy's knee in a tender grip and offered his own comment, "They certainly had cause for a celebration after that one." Then in a sing-song voice that was majorly off-key and slightly off rhythm, but filled with unabashed gusto, he sang, "Ding dong the witch is dead," and then with all the menace of a man possessed he creepily whispered in the boy's ear, "Take that you evil YED!"
The boy shivered from the scare and then giggled, loving the playfulness of his uncle. "Yeah, take that!" The boy stilled then, the wheels in his head turning against the puzzlement twisted on his face. He narrowed his brows over inquisitive eyes and asked, "Why's it called Yed?"
Raking his hand through his long, silver locks, still thick and curling at the nape of his neck like it had when he was in his twenties, the man answered with a laugh, "Yellow-eyed demon, remember? It's called an acronym; you take each of the letters to rename it something shorter."
"Oh, yeah, I forgot," he blurted out like a typical six-year-old.
Dimples flashed, defying the maturity in the man's face, marking him as a pleasing mix between boy and man, still handsome, almost regal, until he laughed, the cackle of his laugh making him appear decades younger than his years, a silver fox that still held the fascination of all the ladies he blessed with his shining smile and youthful spirit. Unaware of his manly appeal, he focused all thought on the boy and the story they were sharing. "Killing the YED, well, it was one of the few times when they could be happy. They finally got justice for their mom and what happened to their family."
The boy's look was serious, wise beyond his tender years. "Family is everything."
"That it is."
"And they're heroes," the boy added, "fighting evil and doing good." He smiled, sage words from a six-year-old offering the CliffsNotes version of the Winchesters' sacrifice, "Saving people, killing things, the family business."
"Yep, that's our Winchesters."
"They sure did pay the price though," the boy wisely observed, admiration present within his grave tone, somehow understanding the true meaning of their story.
"They always had more burdens and more sacrifices, didn't they? And this, what Dean did to save Sam…it cost them both."
The boy solemnly nodded. "Sam didn't want that."
"No, he sure didn't."
"Good thing Dean had so many lives."
"Yeah, good thing all the Winchesters did."
"And Bobby!" the boy enthusiastically yelled out as the solemn mood lifted.
"And Bobby," his uncle happily agreed.
"Yeah, Cas too."
The boy leaned back, his head pressed into his uncle's shoulder as he stared up at him. "Were they family?"
He didn't need to ponder the thought, his answer immediate. "Yes, most definitely."
They hadn't gotten too far into their storytelling session, just a page or two, interrupted by their commentary, when they heard the familiar rumbling of an old engine, throaty and powerful. The sound broke through their book time and they both looked up and smiled. Gravel in the driveway crunched beneath the weight of the classic muscle car as she rolled in, accompanied by the heavy rock tune Back in Black blaring out the open windows. All sound ceased as the engine turned off before the loud creak of a heavy door opening, followed by the satisfying thud as it closed, assured them their visitor had finally arrived.
The gravel was kicked up further by the boots of the man as he purposely strode across the driveway, bounding up the wooden stairs and sailing through the doorway of the cabin, a glint in his eye and a wide, joyful smile on his full lips as he greeted them with a rousing, "I'm here." He shook out his broad shoulders, framed within the outline of the doorway, his stance cocky and bold. The drape of his worn leather coat over well-worn jeans which sported a few strategically-placed holes made him look even more masculine and rugged. His hair was short and mussed, like he couldn't be bothered to run a comb through it, but on closer inspection it had a precise method to its madness. The color was debatable, could be sun-bleached or might have been white masquerading as blond; regardless, it set off his emerald eyes making them liquid cool and delightfully revealing, as if they harbored the entrance to his very soul.
"Where you been?" Uncle Padalecki inquired.
"Oh, Ben called. Couldn't get off the phone," he answered with obvious exasperation. Pin-point dimples were embedded above his lips which contorted in an odd mix between a smirk and a grimace, his own unique way of registering on his face all his unspoken thoughts and feelings. "Has some cockamamie idea for a new episode. Dean's gonna run into a leprechaun and Sam's gonna find the pot of gold. I dunno…somethin' like that. You know Edlund, wheels are always turning."
"Yeah, well, kind of a waste of time. I hate to tell him this, but we're retired!"
"I know," he agreed with a tilt of his head and a flash in his eyes that telegraphed the absurdity of Edlund's efforts. "But the fans are screaming for a movie, so, whatcha gonna do? Warner Brothers ordered some spec scripts and Edlund jumped right on it." Clear green eyes glimmered above the tease of a smile, lines deep but still buoyant stretched out from the corners of those piercing orbs. He had obviously been a handsome man in his youth, but time had been kind, caressing his features with loving hands, bringing distinction and even more depth to his chiseled features as the years drifted along. He couldn't withhold the smirk of his disdain, even though nothing seemed able to truly disturb his jovial mood. "Probably just an excuse to get me in some stupid outfit again, most likely green hot pants with suspenders." He waggled his brows above the comical quirk of his eyes and mouth, those dimples taking up residence as he continued on, his raspy voice laced with sarcasm. "Tack on a few shamrocks and call it our St. Paddy's Day episode."
The boy giggled at the nickname, grinning up at his Uncle Paddy with delight.
Uncle Paddy grinned too, their little secret shared just between the two of them. He turned back to his old friend, offering his own brand of sympathy in a rare share and care. "Ben always did like to mess with you. Sounds like a repeat of the lederhosen."
"Yeah, or the plum-smugglers."
"Dude, you cannot blame him for that one, that was all your doing, remember?"
All the cockiness of a much younger man shone in the brilliant smirk he offered in his defense as he shrugged those broad shoulders. "What can I say? I'm a team player…anything for the show."
"Hey, I went the distance too! Thirty-two seasons, man. We smoked the old record! Blew Gunsmoke right out of the water."
"And I have the arthritis in my joints to prove it!" His right hand moved to massage his lower back for an instant before he wiggled the fingers of both hands in front of his face as he continued, "My fingers are all off-angles, my back has a permanent date with the heating pad, and I still feel that dislocated shoulder every time it rains. Not to mention the sciatica that tingles down there." His eyes narrowed and closed in a rare flash of embarrassment, before his rancor erupted in a mostly idle threat. "I swear, if they'da thrown me into one more wall or windshield…." He moved closer with a quirky gait, not entirely dissimilar to John Wayne's lumbering slide, the cost of coming into contact with all those immoveable objects for too many years taking their inevitable toll. Still, he had a jaunty stride, like he wasn't about to let a few aches and pains get him down. In a fit of competitiveness and just because it felt good to raise the blood-pressure on occasion, he continued on with his mock tirade. "Marshall Dillon, what kinda stunts did he ever have to do? Just walk down the main drag and pistol-whip some thievin' scumbag?"
"Or meet him in a gunfight and plug him from a distance."
"Exactly! All he ever had to go up against were people… some surly outlaws with a few 45's…a lousy Gatling gun that one time. Us, hell, Kripke pulled out every urban legend from Maine to Hawaii, and he used 'em to beat us bloody."
"At least you weren't constantly being strangled. I think I still have rope burn."
Their eyes met and they grinned. "Good times," they spoke in unison.
The ease and familiarity they fell into every time they met up again made the years slip away. They continued on with their banter, years of stories unfolding, every anecdote and remembrance making the young boy smile wider, eager ears absorbing everything. The man holding him on his lap jovially continued on with the conversation. "He wasn't kidding when he said he had over three hundred stories he could tell…more like five hundred."
"Ain't that the truth? All told, probably closer to a thousand, and that don't count the number of times we played with vampires. What'd we have, nineteen fang eppys?"
"Wow! Really?" A wistful, bordering on lustful, look glistened within his sparkling eyes, a devilish grin forming as he licked his lush, full lips. "And never once did we get to film at the beach." More forcefully he protested, "We faced up to a freakin' Hawaiian Tiki monster and we did it on a goddamn backstage!"
"Naturally… Green screen, my ass!"
With eyes shimmering with desire, the flame far from burning out, the roguish older man lamented their lack of beach time. "You'd think there'd be one chick in a bikini looking for some vengeance."
Enjoying the déjà vu moment, the silver-haired man went with his first thought, the conversation mimicking so many they'd shared over the years. "Sorry, Hef, guess those bikini babes down in South Beach had no reason to haunt anyone."
"Or else," the other man added with a wicked smirk, "No one wants to shoo off a babe in a bikini, even if she is a ghost." He sighed, a slight nod of regret before he clapped his hands together in anticipation of why he was here. His eyes blinked back his disbelief as he spied the open book in his friend's hand, that little-boy-lost look filling out his face and taking him all the way back to a hurt young man. Pain and anguish consumed his features as he subtly shook from the betrayal. His voice was soft, barely there. "What? You didn't wait for me?" He stood there for a long moment, a million thoughts flickering across his face, how he was the one to always care for his family, sacrificing his own wants and needs in the process, and then this, they started without me? Regaining his composure, raising up his protective wall he turned on a dime, again the bold man chastising the two. "Where's your manners?" he demanded.
"Hey, we took a gamble you wouldn't notice." Offering up his most sincere apology the silver-haired man cast sad eyes upon his friend, aware of the hurt forever lingering within and trying his best to make it right. "Look, I'm sorry."
"No, no, no…you do not get to turn those puppy-dog eyes on me. Save it for the tourists, Bucko."
"It's not like you don't know how the story ends."
"Nah, none of that. I'm not buying it, the smarter brother's back in town, so back to the beginning, Padalecki."
"Yes, sir, Ackles. Oh, and by the way, we've reached a milestone here, I think this is Eric's hundredth telling."
"Awesome, dude…just awesome!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Chuck! What the hell is this?" Dean was thumbing through the thick paperback, his eyes wild with fury as he read the title page, Supernatural, Volume 59, Down a Dark and Distant Path by Carver Edlund. The decibel of his voice neared the glass-shattering range as his mouth contorted around the distasteful words.
Seeing him rampaging into one of his moods, Sam tried to calm his rabid bro. "Dean, settle down."
"No. I am sick to death of a prophet using our lives to sell books. And what's with all these new characters? What? More Vonnegut?"
"Actually, more like Goldman," Chuck nervously choked out.
Dean arched his left brow, leaning in slightly with his most intimidating glare before he shook his head in disbelief and his blank eyes blinked backed his confusion. "Goldman? Who the hell is Goldman?"
Nodding absently, mildly befuddled, Chuck stammered as he elaborated, "William Goldman, uh…. The Princess Bride…"
A movie reference, something Dean could relate to. "Yeah, okay, I get it, the old guy reading a story to the kid, but what's with the kooky names? We've never even met any Padalooki or Ascles. I mean, what the hell?"
Chuck looked like he'd swallowed his glasses. If he didn't have the protection of an Archangel watching over him he probably would have collapsed in a fit of panic. "Guys, guys…look the publisher wanted me to open up the story a bit, so I took some liberties."
It was a feeble attempt at diffusion and it didn't work, not one bit.
"Look, Chuck, it was one thing when you wrote yourself into the story. I mean, you actually became a part of our lives. Not that we enjoy you using our lives to entertain the masses, but at least it was legit…the true story. This? This is made up. This is you taking our lives and changing it into something that it's not. We've never met any of these people. I don't know any Kripke or Edlund, and believe me, with names like that, I'd remember. What the hell is wrong with you? You never heard of a Peterson or a Smith?"
"I'm just trying to make the books more colorful."
It was a long, nerve-wracking pause, Dean letting Chuck's anxiety torment him as he waited for the older Winchester to continue his attack. It didn't take long for Dean to get with the program, his voice rough and raw as he emphasized his point with a meaningful spike on half his words. "Chuck, our lives are already plenty colorful. They are freaking filled with red, not to mention all those black and blues. We don't need any more color in our lives. You got that?"
"Roger that, no more color," Chuck squeaked out, inching back toward Sam, the more reasonable of the brothers.
Dean's voice turned deceptively softer, but the threat of a Winchester never expires, it simply mutates. "And Chuck? What's with the thirty-two seasons? Is that supposed to correspond to years, 'cause you know how long thirty-two years are? Especially in our line of work?" Dean pressed on, his face turning red from his building fury as what little reason he possessed took a flying leap out the window. "'Cause if it does, if you are telling me that we are going to be doing this hunting crap 'til we are old and grey and most likely in walkers…you are freaking insane. Ain't no way I'm doing this for another twenty-five years. No friggen way!"
Chuck stammered as he tried to explain. "But…but guys, these new characters they aren't in your lives…they're just in the books. And the timeline, it's fiction…the fans just want more of you guys." Chuck swallowed, his voice an annoying little squeak attempting to please. "You're very popular."
"Uh-huh, so what about these old geezers you have in there? What's up with them?"
"What? I mean, they're characters….that's what I do, I write stories with characters in them."
"No, you don't. You write stories about us. And Chuck…they look and sound an awful lot like us…like an old version of us." Dean licked his lips, his eyes boring a hole through the prophet, stirring up even more anxiety for the pulp fiction writer. Dean fixed his gaze and challenged him. "Tell me they are some sort of wannabes, like at that crazy convention you dragged us to. Some sick fans of the books who never grew up and just grew old fantasizing that they were us?" He smiled a knowing smile, guiding the quirky writer to the right answer. "You know, more of those fake Sam and Deans."
"Yes, yes, absolutely," Chuck nervously agreed. "Look, guys, I had to write something… And after that many books, it gets hard." His voice almost whined. "I just needed to pay the rent."
"Pay the rent some other way," Dean shouted. "We don't get paid for what we do. Why the hell should you profit from it?"
"I know, I know… It's the last, promise."
"We've heard it before, Chuck."
"Right…right…this time though, god's truth." He raised up his hand in a deformed mockery of the Boy Scout's pledge.
"Good, keep it that way," Dean barked out. "'Cause if I ever run across a Kripke or an Edlund, if anyone ever tries to put me in knickers again…I will kill them. You got that? Am I making myself clear here?"
"Good!" Dean turned on his heel and stormed to the front door. "C'mon, Sam."
All standard, and some special, disclaimers apply.
"I'm sitting in a Laundromat reading about myself sitting in a Laundromat reading about myself… My head hurts!" – Dean Winchester, TMATEOTB
For the 100th Episode Celebration Challenge the twelve words you had to use in your story were: One Hundred, Episode, Supernatural, Fan, Milestone, Kripke, Gamble, Edlund, Manners, Padalecki, Ackles, and Celebration. Now do you see my dilemma?
I hope you enjoyed my story and my tribute to the brilliant team who bring us this amazing show. I can't believe we've reached 100 episodes. What a ride and a half!
It should be a given that a show as inventive and compelling as Supernatural would be on the air until the creative team decided to end it, but in reality, life's not fair, and TV is even harsher. I remember the struggle for a season two, the uncertainty and the worry, and the euphoria as each new season was announced. To paraphrase Cas, "This show makes me very happy."
Congrats on 100 Episodes, and here's to many, many more. I'll be there every Thursday for as long as the boys are. It will be a sad day when the Winchesters ride off into the sunset. Now, I'm gonna cry…. *sniff*
Thanks for reading, take care, B.J.