Between Family: a missing scene
A/N: Because so many wanted a glimpse of what happened when James returned to his time, we offer this tiny missing scene. We also have new happenings at The Hunter's Tomb! Be sure and keep stopping by as we'll be posting there more regularly. Want to see what happens when Max finds out James's secret? Tidia's new story A Creation of His Own is up, at the new Legacy Series Page as well as a little question and answer session about the future of The Brotherhood.
Thank you to our crew—Tara, Sensue, The Hunters at the Tomb- Maja, Etta and Indus.
Check out the profiles and don't forget our campaign.
"There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning."-Thornton Wilder
There was a pounding behind my eyes when I woke, a sharp splitting pain like when I'd pushed my abilities too far, or had gone on one hell of a bender. I wanted to throw up. Instead, I focused on the solid feel of the wet ground beneath me to keep the bile I could feel creeping up the back of my throat at bay. What the hell happened?
For a moment I entertained the notion that I had gotten drunk, partied with some of the guys from the mailroom at Ames. It wouldn't be the first time I'd gotten smashed and wound up walking home from Willies, the bar down the street. It didn't explain the fact I hurt all over, was having a hard time blinking let alone getting to my feet. Maybe I'd been taken out by a garbage truck.
The most I could hope for was that Max would find me when he brought out the trash. If I was lucky he'd take pity, help me upstairs without using it as a photo opportunity. The smell of smoke erased any hopes my condition was caused by a Friday night with shitty friends.
Memories of the spell hit me with all the force of that two ton sanitation vehicle. My other senses kicked in and a world of pain consumed me.
The fact I'd missed the intense heat saturating the air around me was a testament to my condition. It was hot enough to curl the hairs on my arm, smoke so thick I could barely see my hands in front of me. I choked, understanding why it was so hard to breathe. The sound of the fire was deafening, like Godzilla taking on Japan.
One glance over my shoulder confirmed that the Barnwell Mansion was now a roaring inferno behind me, the structure unrecognizable. From the way I was sprawled, the ache of bruised ribs in my torso, there must have been one spectacular explosion. The thought gave me clarity and the adrenaline I needed to move. I had to find Dad and Caleb.
The flames cast a red glow on everything, long dark shadows danced over the ground around me. The waves of rolling black smoke made the effect dizzying. It was difficult to scramble to my knees. My last memory was of talking with Uncle Caleb, Dad unconscious between us as Joshua went for the car-then a sensation like a spike being nailed through my skull. There were no signs of my uncle now, but I spotted a body just a few feet away. In the morose flickering light I almost mistook it for Dad. The build was right, but the hair was slightly longer, and a little too blond. The clothes were different. I'd recognize JT's ratty LSU Tigers shirt anywhere.
I brought my hand to my chest, clasping the amulet hanging from my neck. The familiar shape of my silver dragon not that of my father's protection amulet, gave resurgence to the bile I'd managed to hold down. The spell had been reversed. I was back in my own time, my own body and JT was hurt.
Swallowing hard, I crawled to my brother. Maybe my killing Malachi had reversed the spell. It explained the splitting pain in my head before I blacked out, but not why the world was burning around me. Why was JT at Barnwell Mansion, why was he down and alone? If the demon had done this to him, I'd kill the bastard again, only much slower this time.
Reaching JT's side, all questions on my part were forgotten. For once I didn't give a shit about the answers. Everything narrowed, he became my sole focus, or rather the blood soaking the menacing tiger mascot on the front of his chest did. He'd gotten it the day he signed with Louisiana and had worn it for three days straight before mom finally wrangled it off him and into the washer.
JT wore it the day before his first game in the minors, before every big game he played with the Sox, including the World Series. Only I knew he wore it the night he asked Sydney Mathews to marry him. The fact she shot him down had not only eradicated all illusions I had about her goddess stature, but destroyed my naïve belief in the shirt's power. JT donned it for important gigs, still swearing it brought him luck. With his streak on hunts it was hard not to believe him-until now.
"JT!" He didn't move at the sound of his name, or when I grasped his shoulders. He didn't respond to the panic I could hear in my voice when I shouted at him to wake up. I brought one hand to his throat, knowing what I'd find even before his cool skin met mine. I didn't need my abilities to know the gaping feeling of loss. There was no pulse, no heartbeat. My brother wasn't breathing. He was dead.
"NO!" Rage unfurled inside me, its intensity unrivaled by the fire beyond us. This could not be happening. My brother could not be dead. He was invincible, untouchable.
All my life I'd been aware that JT was painfully good, practically a goddamn saint. He instinctively seemed to know the right thing to do in any given situation, and did it whether it played out well for him or not. I, on the other hand, tended to do what was best for me and mine. The two philosophies could diverge greatly, but somehow JT always seemed to end up on my side whether I deserved it or not.
"Wake up, JT! Wake up, damn it! You can't do this. You can't leave me."
My throat and eyes burned. I didn't know if it was the smoke overtaking me, or the unchartered depth of emotion. I willed the fire to come for me, to take away the agony; in that instant I understood completely why my father made the deal for his soul.
When Dad first told us the story of him going to Hell, I'd thought it was some kind of metaphor. Your Uncle Sam died and I went to Hell, boys. Yeah, that made sense. Only when he gave the briefest of details about his time in the pit, the four months more a forty year sentence, did I doubt my dad. How could my father, The Guardian have done such a thing, make a wager with the enemy, abandon his post? Later when we were alone, I'd asked him, argued I didn't understand what made him do it. He didn't give me an explanation but I will never forget the look on his face. 'I pray you never understand, Son.'
But I did understand. I understood perfectly. JT was dead, cold and empty in my arms. I would do anything to undo it, to bring him back. If that meant spending forty years being sliced and diced by a demon so fucking be it. I could not live without him. I refused to even entertain the idea.
The amount of blood congealing between us, his head lolling limply from my shoulder told another story. I'd only seen him seriously hurt a handful of times, and each time it had sent me reeling. Seeing him this way was a hundred times worse.
Outwardly, I had always bucked JT's coddling-made fun of him for his Boy Scout ways, especially where I was concerned. There were times I hated being his little brother because he could seem so fucking perfect, larger than life. I didn't keep it a secret either. I gave him hell. Never once did he hold it against me, which only served to further my attempts to rattle him. He was famous for trying to protect me, not only from Ben and Max when my mouth ran ahead of my brain, but also from myself when my teenage years almost got out of hand. Secretly, I basked in his attention, counted on his vigilance-his unyielding belief in me. It sounded so lame, but JT was my hero, and now he was gone.
I had the childish desire to scream for my Dad, knowing in this time he was helpless to come to our aid, as were Caleb and Sam. Ben's face flooded into my mind. I wanted my older brother to fix this. I needed him to be there to take care of JT. Ben always took care of us. Where the hell was he? Where the hell was Max?
My brother's best friend was nothing if not loyal and stalwart. Max would die before he let anything like this happen to JT. That undeniable truth had my chest tightening further, threatening to rob me of what little breath I had left. "Oh, God."
I tightened my hold on JT, turning my gaze behind us to the fire. Pain thundered across my chest like a stampede of bulls through the streets of Barcelona. I knew where Max was, and understood with stone certainty he would not be picking me up off the ground anytime soon. He had not saved JT because he had not been saved. I had not been there to save either of them.
"I'm sorry." I hugged JT harder. "I'm so damn sorry."
I felt the sense of movement, not a physical shifting, but something just as tangible. Hope flared from that same dark place the anger had sprung from. I pulled back, looking down at my brother. I expected to see his familiar moss green eyes staring up at me. I'd take ghost JT over nothing.
His body shimmered unlike any spirit I had encountered before. The weight of him lifted, leaving me trying to clutch his broken body closer. I might as well have tried to hold onto the wind. One moment he was there, the next he was gone like one of Max's damn magic tricks. Silence filled the night.
I turned to stare where the burning Barnwell Mansion had been, but it stood magnificently untouched in all its rebuilt glory. Blackness crowded my peripheral vision and before I could think about what any of it could mean, I found myself unable to think at all.
I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. There was a blinding light before me.
"That's what you get for day dreaming, douche bag!"
I had no idea where I was, what the hell was going on, but I recognized Max's smack talk when I heard it. "Sonofa…" I croaked.
JT's grinning face appeared above me, blocking out the solar flare that was the sun. He was holding a football, his LSU t-shirt darkened with sweat. "You alright, little brother?"
"What…?" I could feel cool grass beneath me, the warmth of the day on my clammy skin. I wanted to throw up.
"I asked if you were alright? You look like you're about to lose the steak and two pieces of pie you had for dinner." He reached out to help me up.
"Are you alright?" I latched onto his hand, not letting go even after he hauled me to my feet. I wasn't sure why, but I felt an overwhelming desire to hug him, one I fought off as Max continued to smirk at me.
"Me?" JT laughed, and I felt tears sting my eyes. "I wasn't the one who was just on the receiving end of Max's dirty tackle."
"All's fair in love and flag football." Max snorted. "God, it looks like he's going to cry."
I stared at Max, unable to find it in me to tell my roommate to fuck off. Usually it was no problem; I could tell him in three different languages, including Mandarin Chinese and my favorite hand signal. Today, I was too relieved to see him, to hear his voice. I had no idea what was wrong with me.
"Shake it off, Baby Winchester." Max rammed his shoulder against mine. He snatched the ball from JT. "Ben's going to be pissed if he has to play doctor. It's his day off. Besides, if one of us actually gets hurt, Uncle Caleb's going to have us running until we hurl."
I watched Max jog towards the other end of the field. "Uncle Caleb's here? Where are Dad and Uncle Sam?"
"Did you hit your head?"
I touched my temple where a faint pounding resided. "I don't think so."
JT didn't look convinced. "Everybody is here at the farm. We came in for Joshua and Carolyn's anniversary party. Remember?"
I didn't remember, but found myself nodding to assuage my brother. "Sure." I looked at the group of men in the distance. I followed his line of vision and felt an unexplainable sense of relief. Dad and Caleb were huddled with Max. Joshua was pointing to his son; Max was going to get reprimanded by his father for the contact, in a sport that was supposed to be contact free. Sam and Ben were off to the side engrossed in conversation. I imagined it was the same one they had often, debating why the concept of flag football was so hard for grown men to grasp.
"You should have seen that run coming from a mile away." JT was looking at me, and for some reason I couldn't bring myself to shake off his touch. "What were you thinking about? Is it Grandpa Mac?"
I opened my mouth, closed it. The answer had been right on the tip of my tongue, only now it wasn't. "I have no idea."
He raised a brow, moved his hand to my shoulder. I was surprised when I leaned into his touch. Maybe the heat was getting to me. JT brought his head closer to mind, lowering his voice. "I was hoping maybe you were trying to come up with a way to tell Max about you and Josie, then maybe tell the rest of the family."
Despite my confusion the thoughts of explaining to Max that I was sleeping with his kid sister after he had just pummeled me all in the name of good fun brought me swiftly back to reality, allowing me the clarity I needed. Self-preservation was always a good motivator for me.
"Right." I rubbed my aching ribs. "Like that's going to happen."
"It's the right thing to do, Jimmy." He frowned at me.
JT had rarely done a bad thing in his life; actually I was hard-pressed to remember the few times JT had actually gotten drunk. "James." I corrected. "And it might be the right thing to do, Boy Scout, but it is most definitely not in my best interest." Josie and I were having fun. No reason for it all to end in bloodshed, especially if it was my blood involved.
"He's going to find out, and I might not be there to help you sort it all out."
"Don't say that." The idea of him not being there brought another wave of the foreign feeling I couldn't quite put my finger on. Maybe JT was right, maybe I was thinking of Mac because the echo of grief hung in the air between us. I didn't like it. Not one bit. "You'll always be here, JT. You have to be."
JT tilted his head. "Maybe we should get Ben to take a look at you."
The flash of concern in his green eyes had me pushing my own irrational fear away. "Dude, I'm fine."
"Are you sure?"
"This is me we're talking about-future Scholar of The Brotherhood, next CEO of The Ames Corporation."
JT rolled his eyes. "Don't forget pain in the ass little brother making me lie to my best friend."
"I couldn't forget that. Being a brother is the best part." I wasn't one to talk about my feelings, if anyone in our family emoted it was JT, but I felt the urgent overwhelming need to set the record straight-just in case. "You and Ben are great big brothers. Max isn't half bad either."
"Okay, now I know you're hurt." He yelled at Ben before I could stop him. All conversations halted. I saw my father's eagle eyes zoom in on us, felt Caleb's presence as he brushed across my mind. Max started back towards us, followed by Uncle Sam and Ben. I groaned, which JT must have mistook for physical pain because his hand returned to my shoulder. I'd have my entire family hovering around me all day. For reasons I could not begin to fathom that didn't seem like such a bad thing.