LENGTH: 1800 words approx
SUMMARY: Sam, Dean, Castiel, and the pitfalls of discussing entities who manifest upon being named three times.
NOTES: Vaguely set at some more cheerful point of season 5. The Chrestomanci is Christopher Chant.
DISCLAIMER: Chrestomanci is owned by Diana Wynne Jones, Supernatural by CW and various people not me. Not mine, no profit, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Say it Again, Sam
"-So," Sam emphasises, feeling that the conversation has drifted a bit, after ten minutes discussing the finer points of Dean's greasy cheeseburger and how an Angel of the Lord doesn't know what he's missing in declining a bite of it. "You know of other beings that come when their name is spoken three times."
"Thrice," Dean corrects with his mouth full and a thumbs-up. Sam ignores him.
Castiel looks vaguely guilty, caught in the act of licking his fingers. The angel straightens, sets his jaw, and nods, becoming serious business again. "There are some."
He produces a written list.
"Oh, Cas, Cas, Cas," Dean groans, possibly not intending deliberate irony. "Not you as well. Seriously! I bet not one of these shifty characters can even hurt an angel."
...Speaking of which, Sam reflects, an angel is doing their research, and something about that is probably blasphemous. He comforts himself with the knowledge that he's probably bound for Hell anyway. He's positive like that, these days.
"There are," Castiel rebukes, "several personages on that list whom I should hesitate to trifle with. Some of their rules do not include a minimum timeframe for the repetition of those names, and it is advisable to use caution."
Sam manages to snag the list, and between Dean and Castiel's grease-coated fingers it's already looking the worse for wear. It's not that long a list. "Bloody Mary - we got that one. She shouldn't be giving anyone any trouble any more, and besides, you had to say it in front of a mirror."
Dean winces at the name anyway.
"What's this one? Chrestomach - Chres - Chrestomanci?" He's pretty sure he mangled the pronunciation.
There's a sensation of air pressure and an extravagant yawn behind him. Sam feels the skin on the back of his neck twitch. Castiel looks sort of horrified. Dean is eyerolling as he reaches for the gun on the bed next to him.
"I didn' t ," Sam protests. "Guys, I didn't say it." Once, tops, probably mis-pronounced at that, and it just isnt fair.
He turns around as a hand claps him on the shoulder companionably. "Oh, we're not all of us such sticklers for accuracy! What's a stray syllable here and there? Besides, I've had an excellent breakfast and I'm feeling magnanimous. You called, I came. I could tell there was a certain unrest in your spirit. Tell me, what seems to be the prob- my dear young man, is that a pistol?"
Dean looks at the gun and back up at the guy in the dressing gown. "Yes. It sure is."
...The dressing gown. This bears dwelling upon for longer. Sam gapes at the newcomer, in the dressing gown, who's not a demon (it freaks him out that he can tell that just by the scent, these days) and looks far too corporeal to be a ghost. He decides the working theory has to be some sort of genie. His dressing gown has gold serpents on a background of copper and green. He has slicked-back dark hair that wouldn't dare to display even a touch of bed head. He stands almost eye-to-eye with Sam, and Sam isnt used to that.
Castiel has recovered enough to clear his throat and say to Dean, warningly, "You cannot shoot him." He sounds like he regrets it.
"Ah!" The stranger snaps his fingers almost under Castiel's nose in a moment of brisk revelation. "Angel. Correct? Howve you fellows been? It's been a while. I had an interesting conversation with a quirky chap named Uriel over coffee and croissants in a cafe in Oxford a few years back-"
"I am not supposed to speak with you," Castiel says darkly, while Sam's inwardly groaning that the stranger personally knows the biggest asshat among the Heavenly Host and Dean says, "Hey, gun," in impatient reminder, at which point the newcomer sort of huffs and wafts a hand, and Dean's gun becomes a plastic toy.
"I didn't summon you," Sam protests, as the stranger meets his eye. "I didn't."
"Your record sucks," Dean informs him, dragging his eyes up from the toy in his hand. Which yeah, thanks a lot, Dean. (Its true, he allows, but now is not the time.)
The Chrestomanci is looking offended. "Not supposed to speak with me? Why ever not?"
"He's not supposed to speak with us either - or at least, not speak to Sam," Dean reflects. "Maybe me. Definitely not Sam." He stares at the plastic gun and flexes his hand around it. Castiel is apparently too busy looking stuffy to notice the spout of water that stains the shoulder of his trenchcoat dark. Dean walks across to his open bag on a chair, warily shooting looks back over his shoulder. "So, hey, it's not like we'd hold that against you. If you prove you're not evil."
"Evil?" the man repeats, scandalised. He poses in his dressing gown huffily. "I'll have you know, I'm a respectable government employee. Now, my dear angelic friend, tell me more about this business of sending a fellow to Coventry. What's that Uriel chap been saying about me back Upstairs?"
"I believe it is something to do with the paperwork," Castiel says stiffly.
Sam would not have guessed that the large, slicked-down, dressing-begowned stranger could do 'guileless' so well.
"You generate a large amount of it," Castiel states. "There is still an office of minor angels dedicated to processing the incident in Albany."
"Look - Cas-" Dean's waving a gun around again, although he's nervously keeping it pointed at the floor and not-quite in the direction of their guest. "Who is this guy? And why can't I shoot him?" The last sounds morose.
Cas starts to say, "He is-" and the guy interrupts, riding over the angel self-importantly. "You can call me Chrestomanci." He doesn't pronounce it like Sam did, either. Bastard. "Its not a name, it's a title, but dont let's dwell upon technicalities." He brushes past Sam, then Dean, ignoring the gun, bustling over to the motel window where he lifts the clashing red and orange patterned curtain with a flourish and peers out. "I can't say I remember it well, this world of yours. Feels different to most of my experience. Still, cant keep a track of them all - though terribly remiss of me, I know."
The air feels like it crackles. Sometimes Cas does that too, but Sam seriously doubts this man is anything angelic. He has an uneasy feeling this man just made the air crackle with force of personality alone.
"He is an Enchanter," Cas states determinedly. "A very strong one. He is not from this plane of existence, but the defining feature of his powers is the ability to travel between worlds the borders of which should not be breached by humans."
Cas sounds shirty. And pompous.
The stranger can out-do him at both.
"Am I," the elegant figure postures, "in Heaven's bad books?"
Dean says, "We can make you a club membership badge, if you want one." He puts away his gun, though, stuffing it into the back of his pants, and raises his hand to waggle a chastising finger at the Angel of the Lord. "Cool it, Cas. Remember how the rest of the popular angels aren't talking to us anyway?"
Judging by Castiels mumbling, Chrestomanci-related paperwork is some kind of punishment duty in Heaven. Sam guesses that this is personal. Cas retreats to sulk silently in a corner of the room.
"Dean," says Dean, pointing at his own chest, then pointing again. "Sam. Cas...tiel. " He shakes hands with the Enchanter. Sam more hesitantly follows suit. Nobody bothers Castiel.
"Now, then," Chrestomanci says, taking a pair of spectacles from his dressing gown pocket and snapping them onto his face. "I've been most negligent, haven't I? Angels and firearms will throw a fellow off-guard like that. What can I do to help you gentlemen?"
Sam doesn't know how he got it, but somehow the list is in his hand, and he's peering owlishly at it. Sam is guilty to realise his attentions had drifted from the mission - the bloody massacre in this town that shocked them despite all they've seen. If not for the summoning, they might have thought it the work of another Horseman. However, they have one terrified survivor who refuses to speak, or write, nor even hint at the name of the being that was inadvertently summoned here, to reduce half a college dorm to small, wet, red pieces.
"Whatever it is, it killed nine people," he tells the Enchanter, wondering if he should apologise to the man for his name being on that list. Yeah, he thinks that Cas has a Thing about this guy.
With the words on the edge of his tongue, Chrestomanci waves them away distractedly. "Ah, the rule of Thrice." (Dean mouths something like "I told you so".) "Some very unpleasant characters I'm sharing company with in that regard. So I take it the two of you are some kind of Law Enforcement Officers, too?" Sam and Dean exchange covert glances. Dean looks innocent and almost breaks into a nonchalant whistle, and if Sam was near enough, he'd kick him. Fortunately their visitor hasn't noticed. "Hm... One bad-tempered fellow on here gave me some gyp a few years back, in my very own world no less. Yellow teeth, black hair, talks in rhyme. Tried to eat one of my wards."
Sam and Dean exchange less covert glances.
"Mr Chrestomanci," says Sam, clearing his throat and attempting to become the essence of polite supplication. "If you wouldn't mind, there's someone we'd like you to talk to."
"You already have a plan? Oh, excellent!" Sam suspects him of being disappointed that might mean he doesn't get to take charge of formulating one.
"The plan is 'find out as much as we can about this sucker, arm up, summon it, kill it'," Dean provides.
"We're still in the planning stages," Sam hurriedly adds.
"I think it's a great plan," Dean says gruffly.
But Chrestomanci seems to take it all in his stride. This is good. It means they can turn their attention to stuffing the Enchanter into Sam's FBI suit so that they can take him off to interview their witness.
Minus dressing gown.