Characters: Dean, Sam, Bobby and Missouri
Warnings/Spoilers: violence, some graphic scenes and language
Disclaimer: They belong to Kripke, I'm just borrowing.
AN: I've been contemplating for ages as to whether to post this here or not. I've decided I'd post the first chapter and if you would like to continue, you are free to read the rest on LJ. Remove the spaces and replace the (dots): http : / chocca2(dot)livejournal(dot).com / 159118(dot)html
You may also find a link to my journal on my profile.
Onto the story. Written for this year's spn_j2_bigbang. The art work by the way, is spectacular! This is a gen piece with hurt!Dean, violence and angst. As always, let me know what you think and I'd like to thank all those who continue to read and review my stories.
The leaves of memory seemed to make
A mournful rustling in the dark.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ~
A warm, rich sound bellowed from its wooden belly and elegantly shaped hour-glass sound box. The wound slivers of gut and copper rang bright and flamboyant against the strings of the fiddle. That day the violin played a happy tune drenched in excitement, hope and joy.
People clapped and cheered and danced. Tambourines chimed to a jubilant festive beat along with the brass trumpet and sharp tones of the Ukulele while the accordion harmonized the tunes together.
Children played in the meadow, pollen and laughter filling their lungs. A young girl came running down the hill; she wore a smile so bright it almost matched the sun.
"Mama, it's happened."
"What is it, Miri kushti sedre?"
The girl wrapped her slender hands around her mother's body and squeezed her tight. She released and then looked up. "My gift," she said lightly, stepped away and curled her finger behind her back as she bit a lip with uncontainable excitement. "I have my gift, Mama. I have the gift of sight."
"Oh my sweet, child. This is wonderful news. Come…tell me what you saw." The mother held out her arms and embraced the girl.
"I saw him," the girl whispered softly against her mother's shoulder. "He was beautiful, Mama."
"Who is this man saw, Sophia?"
"He is the one for me." Sophia smiled as she held onto her mother.
The older woman sighed and remained silent as she stroked the girl's soft brown hair.
"We'll see, sedre, we'll see."
The sky was a wash of burnt orange hues bleeding into blue while the sun and moon switched shifts. The air was stagnant and still zealously warm. It was an oven inside the Impala's iron body, pungent with coffee, sweat, leather and stale fries. By the way his skin welded to the upholstery and the beads of sweat on the brow of his lips, he was well and truly done. They both were. Over twenty-four hours cooped up on the road with no air-conditioning left them in need of a cool shower, a hot meal and a bed in an air-conditioned room. He lifted his arm and took a small whiff. Probably in that exact order, he thought.
Dean applied more pressure on the gas pedal, the engine rumbling a little louder in response. His leg was heavy and stiff, the slight position change felt good for a few seconds before going comfortably numb.
Sam stirred when the tires hit a pot hole, spinning rubber kicking up some loose pebbles that bounced off the under belly of the Impala.
"Where are we?" Sam asked groggily, rubbing sleep from his eyes. They'd travelled from the southwest outskirts of Colorado, had been on the road most of the journey only stopping for short pit stops. The last stretch was the longest yet, the fuel gage slinking close to red and every aching muscle in his body told him he was overdue a break.
"Nebraska." Dean replied, he reached for the map on his side of the dash and dropped it onto Sam's lap.
Bobby had sent them west to look into some high-level demon activity reported by local hunters who'd contacted him for some help. Bobby, being Bobby, offered to stay behind, claiming he'd be best as their dial-a-friend point of call. Dean's comment about Bobby being as pig-headed as him didn't go down too well and made for a sooner-than-planned exit. Proving that stubbornness and cabin-fever weren't a good mix.
As soon as Dean hit the state line and saw the 'Nebraska …the good life' sign, all the memories good, bad and ugly unravelled and revealed a festering open wound of the past.
The Midwestern state with a population of 1,796,619 held a chapter of Dean's life that still haunted him to this day.
Sam tilted his neck to either side as he opened the map. He pinched the bridge of his nose and yawned. "We need to find a place to stop soon."
"Tell me about it," Dean replied. "My ass is numb and I gotta piss like a racehorse."
Sam rolled his eyes. "Over sharing, Dean, we talked about this."
"Stating facts, dude."
"Want me to drive?" Sam questioned.
"No." Dean answered just as his left leg cramped up. He grimaced and inhaled sharply.
"There's a motel five miles ahead," Sam announced, stating the obvious. They'd both seen the sign.
"I'll manage," he responded cynically enough, earning himself the silent treatment the rest of the way but with the unwelcomed throbbing between his eyes it suited him just fine.
2004 – Nebraska
They'd pulled over just after Interstate 76 at the Colorado border.
"How's your head?" his dad asked groggily. John ran a calloused hand over his unshaven jaw. It had been days since they'd stopped anywhere longer than an hour or two. After a botched demon job, they'd barely caught their breaths before they were on the road on a pursuit which proved fruitless. No matter how much they pushed forward, they seemed to be ten steps behind and on the tail end of their carnage. The lady they'd found in that dumpster was still scorched into his memory.
"Fine," Dean lied. The dull throbbing had progressed and upped a notch to the point he was pretty sure he still had a concussion. Even the simple task of following his dad's track proved a challenge when he'd veered off to the hard shoulder and almost wrapped the Impala around a tree. He definitely wasn't in any condition to drive.
John groaned and inhaled sharply. Neither was his dad. His dad had three broken ribs, most likely a concussion and a couple of broken fingers to boot. Dean didn't know what his dad was running on but for him pure adrenaline wasn't cutting it and neither was the caffeine or codeine.
"There's a motel a mile from here, I think we should stop there for the night." Dean stated.
"If you want to stop, we can stop, Dean."
Dean bit his tongue until he tasted blood, the whites of his knuckles, fisted around the wheel, clearly visible. For Dean, stopping had nothing to do with what he wanted to do; it was what he had to do to keep them both in one piece.
The Able motel looked a dump which suited them just fine. It was cheap, inconspicuous and shoddy enough to not ask questions about their bruised and battered appearances.
He tried his best to stand on his own, he really did but his legs wouldn't allow him. When he'd gotten himself out of the car things didn't improve any. He couldn't pull enough air into his lungs, and the air that he did manage tasted funny, making him feel like he was choking from the inside. His Dad gripped his shoulders enough to get his attention, and he leaned him on the side of the Impala.
"You need to stay here, Dean. You hear me? I'm gonna get us a room." John walked round to the trunk and rummaged through some clothes before pulling out a soiled towel that he used to wipe blood leaking from a cut on his face. He wiped his hands and stumbled towards the entrance. His dad almost tripped on the last sidewalk slab nearest the motel entrance door but caught the frame just in time to keep himself steady.
He didn't remember much after getting in the room. He was hazy with the exact events but he knew his Dad ended up having to help him into bed. There was a vague conversation about whether he wanted a shower first.
The following day he woke to stray beams of sun light peeking their way through small creases in the filthy curtain. A ricochet of playful footsteps outside seeped through the thin walls, disturbing the calm silence of the room. He dug his face into the pillow, slid a hand over his gun and groaned deeply. His body felt sluggish, heavy. Dean turned his head toward the bed opposite him, finding it empty. On the bedside table in-between the beds was a crumpled pile of notes, a glass, a bottle of pills and a folded piece of paper that revealed his worst nightmare.
The Able Motel hadn't changed a bit; it was still small, dubious and dingy. What more could a hunter ask for?
Dean turned the engine off and sat there silent for a minute or so. Sam did the same. The engine fan was still ticking away as it cooled off. Dean made the first move, pulling the key out of the ignition; he pushed the door open and stretched.
The air outside wasn't any better than it was inside their current furnace on wheels; it was warm and moist without a wisp of a breeze in sight. He walked towards the office to book their room, looked down at the uneven slabs leading to the entrance. It was as if time hadn't touched the place or maybe it hadn't touched his memories of when he was last here with his dad.
Not that they were fond memories, more like a stains that wouldn't wash clean and only faded with time.
The bathroom had a stained toilet, a cracked sink, bath tub and a door.
It was small and basic and just passably acceptable, but had enough to accommodate the three 's' regimen. Shit, shower and shave. A slip up on the last left a sting on Dean's left cheek. He used a wet face cloth to dab the trail of blood that leaked from the nick. His eyes trailed down at the pink strain meshed into bleached white fabric, folded it a couple of times, continued to wipe his face, then moved down to his neck. He paused, clenched the damp cloth in one hand while the other hovered, fingers gingerly felt for something, the necklace that wasn't there. Couldn't help but feel like he was missing a part of him.
Dean closed his eyes and climbed out of his thoughts, flashlight of reality guiding the way. He ditched the used towel into the corner of the room and left the bathroom to get dressed. Next on the agenda, food. His stomach gargled and growled in confirmation.
When Sam was ready, they walked to a local diner.
The smells weren't doing anything for his appetite but the dull ache in his belly told him he had to eat. Ingest something that wasn't, fast food, jerky or caffeinated sludge, not the most wholesome of diets.
"Here you are sweetheart." The waitress swivelled the plate, placed a napkin wrap with cutlery in front of Dean.
Food, amongst other things hadn't been a high priority of late for either of them. He was one hundred percent, mind, body and soul set on stopping the apocalypse. Dedication that would have made his dad proud. He gagged, manipulated it to a deep belch and fought against coffee flavoured bile. Sam frowned at him, but said nothing, silently pushing food around his own plate. Looked like neither of them had much of an appetite.
The waitress positioned one hand on her hip and smiled at them both. "Can I get you boys anything else? Another drink?"
There was a prickly silence between them; she hovered inquisitively waiting for a response.
Dean dragged a hand over his mouth, and looked up at her. "We're fine, thanks… Bella," he said, giving her a painted smile. The words felt clumsy as they tumbled from his lips. There was something about Bella that made him uneasy, switching his hunter mode into the red.
"Hey, I'm taking my break now." Bella yelled, she untied her apron and threw it onto the counter.
"Make it quick.," was the reply that came from the kitchen.
Bella dug into her handbag and pulled out a pack of cigarettes along with her cell phone. When outside she popped a cigarette in her mouth, cupped it with her hands as she lit the stick. She sucked on it a couple of times and waited until the tip burned cherry red.
After a long hard toke, she flipped her phone and started texting;
'You won't believe who's back in town?'
A reply followed shortly after. She shook her head and began texting again:
'The hunter, Dean Winchester. I don't think he even recognised me. I can't believe he stepped foot back in this town after what happened.'
Bella clicked send. She shook her head again, smoked the rest of the cigarette before checking her phone.
'Keep a cool head, Bella. What happened...We shall talk more when you get home.'
She didn't need to reply, the conversation was over. After stamping out her cigarette butt the waitress strolled back into the diner, placed her apron back on and headed straight for the Winchesters table.
"I checked the local papers, looks like we may have work here. We should check it out tonight."
Dean could hear Sam talking, his lips were moving but the words dispersed into his thoughts. Memories came to him like a whispering wind, the air cold and clear. He blinked a couple of times and looked down at his plate.
Dean let the fork fall to the plate with a loud clank. He slid a shaky hand between denim, pulled out his cell and clicked through his contacts. His thumb caressed a button when he reached the letter 'B'.
Dean took a deep breath and stood, he scanned the room for the brunette that served them but couldn't see her.
"Dean, what is it? Where are you going?" Dean dropped enough change to cover the bill and a small tip. Then he walked out.
"I have no idea where he is Bobby. He just up and left after checking his cell."
"How was he before? Was he acting funny?"
"No. I mean, maybe a little cranky from exhaustion but nothing out of the ordinary."
"You tried calling him again?" Bobby asked in a calm tone that made Sam grit his teeth with frustration.
"He's switched his phone off." Sam paced the room with the motel phone pressed against his ear. He'd left his cell free just in case his brother tried to contact him.
"Maybe we're getting ahead of our selves here, he's probably in a bar somewhere having a few drinks. I'm sure he'll show up soon enough, you know how your brother is."
"Yeah, I do Bobby. That's exactly why I'm worried." Sam paused, inhaled slowly, "Look, I'm gonna try his cell again."
"Sure thing, kid. I'll give you a ring later…and Sam?"
It was silent as Bobby paused. "We will find him."
The room was warm and fragrant. A stove-top copper kettle whistled loud as steam bellowed from its spout.
Bella blew out a cloudy puff of smoke, rubbed her coffee stained lips together before taking another deep intake of nicotine.
"Bella! Not in the house." Her mother waved the air around her, scrunched her face in distaste.
Bella rolled her eyes and took a long last drag that burned red all the way to the filter. She blew out a grey carbon monoxide swirl, stubbed the butt into an empty mug.
Her mother came and picked up the mug, shook her head and tipped the content into the trash. "Disgusting." She said.
Bella walked over with her mother to the sink where she mounted the counter. "Well…You know what I thinks' 'disgusting'? That hunter Dean Winchester coming back to this town." She jumped off the counter.
"Ma, Sophia wasn't right after she met him." The young waitress sat next to her mother, placed a hand over the older woman's and clasped it tight.
"I watched him, Mama, he acts as if nothing has happened. He is here, she is not. I cannot get over that. Especially when I read…" She turned away; let her hair cover her face as she looked down at the table.
"You read what, Bella?" Bella continued to stare at the table unresponsive.
"Shebari tell me you did not invade your sister's belongings?" Her mother brushed some locks away from Bella's face. Bella stood and walked away into her room in the back, returning with a small brown book held together with ribbon and tattered string.
"Her diary, Mama. Sophia always let me read it. She bared her soul on paper almost everyday. She really cared for him, miri dye." Bella opened the diary, stoked the first available page still intact and read it aloud;
"I've seen you, where you never were,
And where you never will be,
And yet within that very place,
You can be seen by me.
For to tell what they do not know,
Is the art of the Romany."
They sat in silence for a long time. The older woman stood and poured some fennel flavoured water into two small cups. "Drink," she said.
Bella did as she was told. Her mother drank and finished her tea before speaking. She opened the diary, slowly and gently flipped through it taking more care than was needed. "There are pages missing?" She asked teary-eyed.
"I know, mama." Bella embraced her mother.
"She had so much to give and share. Our baby was such a sweet girl. She was …everything to this family-" Bella's mother wiped her eyes with the tip of her shawl.
"But, we do not harm others without cause. You know this." The older woman sighed as she looked at her daughter. "We do not know why he left or what happened between them and besides… the burden of guilt is enough punishment for any man."
"What makes you think he feels guilty, mama?" Bella slammed the dairy shut and stood.
"Bella, the hunter did not take your sisters life. He may have claimed her heart but she did the rest on her own…you know she was not well." A tear ran down the mother's cheek and she quickly wiped it away.
"I don't understand how you can say that."
The older woman took Bella's hand into hers. "It's painful for all of us."
Bella pulled away and turned her back to her mother as she slowly walked into the other room. Under her breath she whispered, "I'll make sure he truly knows our pain."
She moved briskly, tension and distaste simmering under the surface of her determined expression.
Dean dug his hands into the ground. Let the soil sink under his nails. His fingers ached. Pressure from collecting soil parted nail from skin enough to cause discomfort. He winced but continued digging, sinking his mud-caked hands deeper into the ground.
"'Gotta be here." The words, vocalised, were drenched in exhaustion but filled with determination. He exhaled, letting his head and shoulders slump forward.
He had been digging in the unrelenting heat and darkness for over three hours now. His phone had gone off so many times he'd lost count. Sam would be pissed, he knew this yet he couldn't stop.
He couldn't swallow the bitter thought of not finding it. He didn't care how long it would take he would stay and search every inch of ground.
Droplets of water rolled off his forehead, the salty stream leaking from his tear ducts. He couldn't remember when he started crying but now he couldn't stop. Every muscle ached for him to stop. He sniffed, wiped an arm across his eyes to clear his vision, scanned the unearthed soil around him and continued digging.
He woke face down on the ground, bits of dirt clinging to his lips. As he pushed away on to his hands and knees he noticed his face wasn't the only part of his body covered in dirt. Something pulsated against his right thigh. It took a few seconds to register that it was his cell.
"Sam?" His voice was scratchy and unused.
"Where the fuck are you, Dean?" Sam's voice punctured through his skull like a drill.
"I donno," he said unsteadily, pinched the bridge of his nose and looked around. "A Forest I think." Dean ran a dirty hand over his face and stood. "Do I have the car?"
"Jesus, Dean. Are you drunk?" Sam asked gruffly.
"No. I'm not drunk…I err… I'm coming back to the motel, see you soon." Dean didn't wait for a reply; he flipped his phone and traced a set of tracks that he hoped were his own.
Sam was on the phone to Bobby when he got back to their room. He was still in the same clothes from the night before and his bed hadn't been slept in.
"Well?" His brother asked after abruptly ending his call.
"Dude, sorry for walking out on you like that, it was a fucked up thing to do…" Dean placed his hands helpless behind his head and took a deep breath. "I just…I guess I'm feeling a little fucked up right now…Look, man, I really need a shower and maybe some sleep, then we'll talk."
Sam was about to protest but Dean cut him off. "I promise, Sammy. I'll explain everything."
A nod from his brother confirmed the silent ceasefire. Dean stumbled his way to his duffle left on the edge of the bed.
He wished his hands would stop shaking long enough for him to unzip his bag. It took him a couple of tries before Sam walked over and unzipped the bag for him.
He lost his footing twice on the way to the bathroom but made it into the shower in one piece and without Sam assistance.
The water was lukewarm and felt heavenly against his prickly skin. He was pretty sure he may have been running a low-grade fever. With both hands flat against the tiled wall in front of him, he slumped forward, let the water cascade over the back of his head and neck. His shoulders were still stiff as were most the muscles in his body so he twisted the hot water tap until the temperature increased.
A loud rumble filled the room. Old pipes could account for some of the noise but the unmistakeable deep voice that called him rang loud and clear through the room.
The lights flicked between total darkness and an unnatural neon glow.
Steam surrounded the small shower cubicle in seconds. The whole room was saturated in under a minute. His eyes were sore and his vision blurry. Glassy eyes watched the hot water nob in front of him continue to spin uncontrollably. When he made contact, the hot metal burned his skin. He tried the shower door but it didn't budge. The water was now so hot he could almost hear each drop sizzling against his bare skin. He used the side of his body to push against the glass door, tried several times until he cried out in pain.
A figure stood on the other side of the shower door, tilted its head and stepped closer. A finger slowly wrote against the condensation, each letter squeaking as it was drawn out, droplets of water trailing from each word.
It read; Sophia.
TBC – on lj
AN: Once again to continue and view the AMAZING art work for this story please visit my lj. Remove the spaces and replace the (dots): http : / chocca2(dot)livejournal(dot).com / 159118(dot)html