Title: The Lady of the House
Series: Footprints on Earth arc (Antichrist!Winchesters verse)
Word Count: 2,800
Theme Song: Dusty Springfield - Stay Awhile
Warning: antichrist!winchesters, mentions of wincest
Summary: Bobby always had liked this house. He just never figured on it liking him back.
A/N: This is a quick interlude set after "The Nature of the Beast". I couldn't just let this one lie. Part of the Footprints on Earth arc to my Antichrist!Winchester's verse.
It was the little things that Bobby noticed first.
He set a dirty plate on the counter and the next morning came down to find it rinsed off in the sink. Now, he may have been imbibing a little too much the night before and couldn't remember not doing it himself so he didn't think much of it.
Then there was that grease spot he couldn't for the life of him figure out where it came from or how to get it off his solid wood dining room table. Next time he pulled out his rusting can of Pledge to take another whack at it, it was gone and the table was just smidgen more polished than it had been last time he'd checked.
It was then that he started to actually look for them.
His boots were lined up and spit shined by the door when he knew that he'd kicked them off across the front hall spreading mud and gravel over the floor. That text on selkies he'd been searching for suddenly appeared on top of the pile of books he'd looked through three times already. The calcium build up on his showerhead that caused the spray to go absolutely everywhere except for where he wanted it was suspiciously absent one morning when he went to take his shower.
These were little things that he could ignore if he tried, forget about and continue on in his blissful ignorance.
But when he stepped into his study one morning to find his entire library shelved –and when there were no more shelves, stacked- in alphabetical order by genre and his miscellaneous research papers, news articles, and old hunters' journals organized into file folders in the actual desk drawers with handwritten labels he knew he was going to have to do something.
He packed an over night duffle, grabbed his old army surplus sleeping bag out of the basement and went to sleep in the open-air garage port.
His damned house was haunted, he just didn't know by what. He ain't never heard of a poltergeist that organized instead of destroying and he was absolutely positive that he hadn't felt any cold spots in the last few weeks.
It can't be a fairy since they only work in gardens and besides his general ritual herbs in the pots on his porch there's no garden to speak of. He hasn't been leaving cream on his stoop so it can't be an elf or anything as ridiculous and considering those creatures were generally only found in Europe or on the east coast it was doubtful anyway.
It could be possessed he supposed as he lay awake that first night staring up at the undercarriage of an '85 Chrysler New Yorker. He's heard of cars being taken over by the evil spirits of their owners. Hell, he even saw Christine in the theatre when it came out. But he ain't never heard of an entire house acting strange without any supernatural history and there was nothing evil about getting rid of that burned on grease from his old stew pot.
There was only one reason he could possibly come up with as to why his house was suddenly picking up his dirty underwear from the bathroom floor for him and he was going to kick those boys' asses.
"Hey, Bobby, what can I do for you?" Dean's grinning voice echoed over the line and Bobby had to force himself not to just start yelling.
"Goddamnit, boy! What in the hell did you do to my damned house!" Okay so maybe he yelled just a little bit. He figured he was entitled since his damned house was possessed.
"Goddamnit!" He cursed again not waiting for Dean to come up with a suitable excuse.
"Don't you 'Bobby' me, boy! I've got something in my damned house picking up my laundry, doing my dishes, and organizing my study." He growled, his indignation clearly audible through the phone line.
A sudden choked off sound was his only response and Bobby thought it sounded suspiciously like a laugh. "Boy, are you laughing?"
A pause, a strangled, "No," then a burst of outright laughter swallowed up the rest of the damned idjit's words.
Bobby was so very unamused by that. He just sat at his work bench in his open garage and glared at nothing.
There was a sudden scuffle of sound on the other end and he could just make out Sam's voice through the noise.
"Dean, give me the phone."
"No! Keep doing that tongue thing you were doing."
"No. Dean! Get your fingers out of there! We're not having sex while Bobby's on the phone!"
"Aw, come on, Sammy."
"No! Seriously, Dean, just give me the damn-"
There was muffled squawk a sudden thump and some more scrabbling over the line, but Bobby was too busy being completely mortified as his face burned a brighter red than it had on his wedding night. He figured he might as well try bleaching his brain when he got his house back, because there were just some things about the Winchester boys he never, ever wanted to be privy to.
Finally the fight for the phone seemed to be over and Sam's calm, slightly breathless voice came over the line.
"Sorry about that, Bobby. Dean was being a jerk." He said.
"Bitch." Bobby heard Dean mutter much too close to the phone to be anywhere, but pressed up against his brother like he always was.
Sam gave a long suffering sigh before he spoke again, but his voice held a hint of a smile, and Bobby was sure that whatever their disagreement had been about, it was already forgotten.
"Look, Bobby, your house is perfectly safe. Don't worry about it." Sam said and Bobby was seriously thinking about reevaluating his opinion on that boy's intelligence.
"What do you mean 'don't worry about it'?" Bobby growled into the phone incredulously. "My damned house is possessed!"
There was a sigh and some more muffled voices over the line before there was a click and Dean's voice echoed through with the distinct sound of speaker phone. "Your house isn't possessed, Bobby."
"Then what in the bloody hell did you two knuckle heads do to it!" He snapped, his impatience and annoyance with being displaced finally winning out. "If it's not possessed then why in the hell is it sweeping my damned floors for me?"
A sigh -that boy sure did seem to sigh a lot- and Sam answered, "It's protected, Bobby. Not possessed. Although," he continued in a considering voice, "Could it be considered possessed since the spirit lives literally inside the house?"
"Fuck if I know, dude. That's fucking semantics. Not like my schooling really covered the finer points of the English language." Dean answered with an audible roll of his eyes.
"Dean, you got the same training as I did. You should know the difference between a possession and an inhabitation." Sam returned with a scolding, voice.
"Yeah, whatever Sixth Circle boy." Dean grumbled.
"Goddamnit Dean! Just because I was taught more in the Sixth Circle than you were does not mean-"
"Boys!" Bobby snapped a tad slower to the draw than he would have wished. He had no desire whatsoever to find out what these boys, these freaking antichrists, grew up learning or where they learned it. He just wanted to get his damned house back!
"I don't care what the hell it is -possession, inhabitation- I don't care. I just want it gone."
"Yeah…" Sam hedged in a reluctant voice. "The thing is we didn't really do anything to your house, Bobby."
Dean snorted, but Bobby was too busy scowling. "Well then what the hell is going on?"
"The spirit," Dean explained, "the protective spirit of your house was already there. Has been for a seriously long time if I was listening to her right. She just sort of moved in; adopted you, you could say."
"Adopted me?" Bobby repeated in disbelief. "I'm a damned hunter. I hunt the supernatural and this spirit just decided it would like to play house with me?"
"That's pretty much it." Dean agreed. "She just likes you."
He was getting a headache. Bobby rubbed at his forehead as it pinched in pain. He was getting a really bad headache.
"Bobby, the spirit isn't destructive, isn't harmful, isn't vengeful. It isn't even really your traditional spirit." Sam tried to placate like he knew that Bobby was two shakes away from seriously tearing them a new one, each.
"Yeah," Dean picked up. "It's not the spirit of dead person like most of the spirits are on Earth. You could say it's more like a nesting bit of supernatural."
"'Nesting bit of supernatural.'" Bobby repeated mockingly. Seriously, where did these boys come up with this shit?
"Mm." Sam agreed obviously either not noticing or choosing to ignore Bobby's tone. "They manifest in a place or object of great supernatural activity and strong emotional permeation."
Bobby didn't even what to have to parse that explanation out by himself. "What?"
"What my geek brother here is trying to say is that your place, your house specifically has been a place of some major supernatural events." Dean said in more laymen's terms. There wasn't a doubt that he was just as intelligent as his brother, just that he chose to word it less scientific and more colloquial.
"Your wife's possession would have been the first event to leave its mark. Then every subsequent sigil and rune you've put up, every artifact you've had move through your place, not to mention the various hunters with their own supernatural baggage that have come by has all left a mark." Dean said, his voice strangely mature with little to no hint of the usual irreverence he usually employed to most everything around him.
"Me and Sam stopping by and using our magic, our power inside the house has played a major part to bolster her too." He conceded. "But a place with all the supernatural scars without any emotion to balance them won't have attracted more than just your usual scavengers."
It was odd, Bobby thought, listening to such an intelligent explanation so calmly. Almost like he was swapping research with another hunter or questioning a university professor about a case, not something that was actually about himself, his life, his house. He didn't know whether to appreciate the experience of learning something new or to resent it for affecting him so personally.
"Your house, Bobby," Dean continued not realizing that his audience had just been lost in his own thoughts. "Has been host to a lot of strong emotions. They left their own marks behind. Grief, solace, anger, happiness, all those emotions and more in enough abundance from enough people are enough to attract and foster a protective spirit like yours."
"But it's just been me." Bobby protested, his body suddenly feeling weighed down by weariness and calm. "It's only been me living there for any real length of time."
"Your place is a refuge, Bobby." Dean returned, his voice softening. "Hunters stay the night for a comforting reprieve from the dangers of their lives, they stop by for the life saving knowledge you give them, they come to you to grieve their fallen comrades." He took a breath, and Bobby had to wonder when Dean and Sam had worked all that out. "You have made your home such a place of refuge that even evil supernatural creatures come to you for protection and help."
Bobby heard a chuckle like that was supposed to be a joke, but he couldn't laugh. He knew Dean wasn't really laughing either.
"She was already there to take care of you." Sam cut in on the silence that had fallen then. "She nearly destroyed herself trying to protect you when Gordon started shooting up your house. Me and Dean, we just gave her the strength and the help she needed to heal and continue doing what she's been doing for years."
The memory of the giant force that had shoved him to the floor a split second before his kitchen was riddled with bullet holes slid into his mind. The spirit that was now doing his dishes and cleaning the soap scum from his shower walls had saved his life.
He sighed heavily and felt acceptance of his lot in life settle warm in his chest. "Alright, I'm going to go grab a shower then a good eight hours of much needed sleep." He said, deciding to just not touch on the subject of the call anymore. "You boys don't get in too much trouble and don't call me even if you do."
Dean laughed loudly and Sam's snort held a sure note of amusement before they hung up without so much as a goodbye.
Bobby took a deep breath and stepped in his backdoor with his duffle over his shoulder and his ball cap pulled down his forehead. He braced himself and waited.
Nothing happened. The air conditioner turned on and the old jerry rigged icemaker in his freezer rattled. He wasn't bombarded with kitchen knives, he wasn't tossed across the room, he wasn't even hit with a cool breeze.
It figured, he supposed, that since the spirit had apparently been inhabiting his house for years that if it had wanted to harm him it could have done it a million times over already. Somehow he wasn't particularly surprised that nothing had actually happened now that he knew it was there when nothing had happened when he hadn't.
He could go on ignoring it. He could live out his life in blissful ignorance to the supposedly protective, helpful spirit sharing his house, but he knew he wouldn't. Though it had been a longer time ago than he cared to admit, Bobby Singer's mama had raised him right and it just wasn't polite to ignore a lady.
If the spirit was in fact gender specific and Dean wasn't just yanking his chain for the hell of it.
Clearing his throat, Bobby took a step further into his house and spoke to the house at large. Or at least he spoke to his empty study. "I –uh- understand that I have you to thank for a number of things around here."
He felt marginally silly talking to himself at first, but he felt a good deal less so when he realized it felt like the entire house had turned its attention on him.
A shiver skittered up his spine, but he squared his shoulders and continued on. "It was you, wasn't it?" He asked to the whole house this time, glancing up and around, eyes never catching on just one place.
"You were the reason that I was the only one in town that didn't have to replace my roof after that hail storm last summer." He said in realization. "And why there's not a single stray draft of cold air in the winter." He paused, a suddenly amused tilt tugging at his lips. "Why I never seem to trip going up the stairs when I've had a bit too much to drink in the evening."
The house didn't answer of course. He didn't really expect an answer. He didn't need proof that there was another presence in his home. Now that he knew, now that he had acknowledged it, he could feel it. He could feel her being permeating, soaked into every stud, nail, and shingle holding his old house together.
And it was definitely a her, he discovered for himself. He could feel her distinctly feminine touch as he listened to his house with something other than his ears.
He smiled then, small and genuine. Letting his duffle slide from his shoulder to the floor, Bobby took off his cap and held it politely in his hands.
"It's been some years since I've had a lady of the house, but I- I hope you will continue to feel welcome." He said into his quiet house. His mama didn't raise no fool. Bobby knew how to be polite.
A flash of light caught his eye and he looked at his desk to see a glass with two fingers of whiskey sitting where there had been just bare wood before. A grin pulled at his lips as he stepped forward and lifted the glass from the desk.
"Thank you, ma'am." He murmured, meaning for more than just the drink. "I'm much obliged for- everything." Saluting the house with his glass, Bobby felt a sense of happiness and satisfaction move through the house like a warm breeze. He smiled and took a healthy swallow of his whiskey.
He always had liked this house. He just never figured on it liking him back.