Author Note: Soo... That was another unexpected late update really. And unfortunately it's another filler. Sorry about that. I'm going to shamelessly blame my unappealing Uni classes. Next chapter is D-Day, then maybe one or two more chapters before the end. Then the sequel/part 2. So don't get mad just yet.
Chapter 30 – Time in Technicolor:
Despite his heritage and the friends he'd made during his school years, Harry wasn't all that big on pranks. They were fine if someone else pulled them, but he'd never gotten much into the spirit of pulling them himself. That being said, vengeance was a completely different story, and was something he enjoyed indulging in when he had reason and time. It was more fulfilling than pranks, and people generally didn't expect it from him.
Once Dean had been thoroughly berated over the phone by Sam and somewhat reluctantly released them from the basement Harry gave him a day of nothing. No acknowledgement of the incident, not even the cold shoulder. Sam just followed Harry's lead, though he was sure Sam was actually plotting a suitable reaction.
Then Harry stole the keys to the Impala and left Dean wallowing in despair for two days.
When the forty-eight hours were up he simply deposited them back in the little bowl on the small table just inside the front door. It took Dean a further day to think to start double-checking places he'd already looked. Harry felt justified in the amusement it brought.
Dean's reaction when he finally did find them, coupled with Sam's caustic remarks about his brother's ability to actually locate things, just made it that much better.
Unfortunately light-hearted hijinks could only lighten the mood for so long. They had wasted away just over three months of Dean's remaining twelve so far, and had basically nothing to show for it. The knowledge settled over Harry's house one morning in a veil of gloom and refused to lift.
Eight and a half months could still sound like a long time, but when it was a countdown to death, well, nothing would ever feel like long enough. Now that they had discovered they could hold month long grudges it made the looming deadline even more perilous. Ignoring the world around them at length while the clock ticked down down down…
"You know, I've never been to the Grand Canyon," Dean piped up one morning. He was washing the breakfast dishes while Harry slumped over a book at the kitchen table and Sam was busy trying to negotiate stacks of books to reach a socket so he could charge his precious laptop. Harry ignored him, drowsy and un-processing, but Sam heard him loud and clear. He knocked over a particularly precarious book pile in shock.
Harry frowned, pushing himself upright in his chair. He yawned and, when he realised that he wasn't actually even wearing his glasses, slumped down again, resting his chin on his arm on the table. He located the blurry mass that had to be Sam and focused there.
"Isn't that just, you know, a massive hole in the ground?" He mumbled, sounding about as unimpressed as he could when all he wanted was more sleep. "I dunno why people think it's so cool…"
The coloured figure that was Sam shifted slightly closer, and Harry heard him chuckle lightly. Although – or perhaps because – Harry couldn't see him, Sam offered up a soft affectionate smile at his sleepy rambling. Dean hummed in discontent.
"It's not about it being interesting. Hell, I doubt many people actually think it is. It's the principle of the thing. We've lived in the US our entire lives but we've never stopped by for half an hour to check it out. Seems like something we should get around to."
"… Dean, the Grand Canyon is a massive tourist attraction."
Wiping his hands on the dishtowel Dean frowned over the counter at his younger brother. "What's your point?"
"You…" Taking a breath Sam pondered briefly how best to word what he was thinking. He ran a hand through his lengthening hair. "Dean. You hate touristy things. Like, more than you hate those HellHound guys, what were their names… Ed and Harry? So forgive me if I'm a bit put out by your sudden decision."
"Well maybe I just want to see what all the hype's about," Dean shot back, carefully keeping any irritation out of his voice as he spoke over Harry's disconnected mumbling about hell hounds. There was nothing anyone could say to make him want to know what sort of things went on in the guy's mind. His brother fell silent, expression half-way to bitch face number three.
"Please," he whispered softly when it appeared obvious that Harry had fallen asleep again – he'd been up all night doing who knows what, and otherwise had been sleeping even less than Sam. "Just, don't talk like you're trying to tick things off your bucket list. We still have time. We'll figure something out."
Dean turned his back under the pretence of throwing the dishtowel on the bench by the sink. While it was true that he had at first resented having to have anything to do with Harry Peverell, it was crashing down on him just how important it was that Sam develop and decent relationship with him. Because while his brother continued to hope for the best, Dean was a realist. Deep down he knew that there was no getting around it. The Deal was set in stone. He would go to Hell and he would have to hope that Harry would be able to keep his little brother in one piece for him.
"I bet it's pretty boring anyway."
He couldn't bring himself to look in Sam's direction, frightened of what sort of expression he'd see.
Harry frowned darkly at the sheepish form of his eldest house guest. Dean's sleeves were singed and were still smoking lightly, but neither man was overly worried about it. It was a good thing Sam had gone out about an hour ago and had yet to return. In fact, it was lucky there was still a house for Sam to come back to at all.
"You know, after all these months I had sort of hoped you would know how to use the things in my kitchen. Was I overestimating you Dean?" He stood with one hand on his hip and the other tugging uselessly at his messy hair. His shirt was singed too, but he would deal with it later.
Dean attempted an apologetic grin, but it turned into a grimace as he accidentally looked in the direction of the smoky kitchen once more.
"Well… I've never cooked on a gas stove before…" Trailing off, knowing his explanation was rather pitiful, Dean tugged at the singed threads of his shirt.
"You've made that painfully obvious," Harry sighed out, nose crinkled in frustration. "Damn Dean, you're lucky I was even here! I normally go shopping on Sundays! Do you want to burn my house down?! What would that even accomplish? Fuck…"
Shaking his head Harry sank into a chair, fingers fidgeting agitatedly with the rim of his glasses.
"So do you think we could, uh, not tell Sam about this?"
Fingers freezing Harry stared incredulously at the other man.
"And how do you propose we do that? I can't fix the blinds or the stove or the scorch marks with my magic. The most I can do is probably get rid of the remaining smoke. You think he's not going to notice? Don't you think he'll be suspicious when he sees me trying to fix the oven tomorrow? You can try all you want, but he's going to notice."
"Damn. You think he'll-"
"No. Sam's not going to believe I set the kitchen on fire."
"Oh well. It was worth a shot."
Harry's eyes narrowed menacingly and Dean held his hands up in surrender.
"I would make you pay me back for it or something, but it's not like any of your money is actually yours, so there's no point."
Dean didn't bother acting offended. It was pretty much true. Though they hadn't had to resort to credit card scams much in the last few months, due to Harry insisting on paying for everything.
"Don't do it again? Please?"
"Sure thing man. I'll never go near your kitchen stuff again. Swear."
Rolling his eyes fondly Harry waved his hand in the air, spinning some magic up into his palm. It was still confusing for him, trying to use his magic. It was why he didn't want to chance repairing his stove with it – it would probably explode instead. Taking his attention away from the slightly apprehensive Dean – he still got like that whenever Harry performed some small feat of magic, though it seemed like he was more worried about Harry passing out like he did the first time Dean had the misfortune of witnessing his powers – he concentrated on the thought of fresh air. His fingers began tingling. Holding his hand palm up he let it gather, until there was a small sparking whirlwind visible only to his magic sight.
Taking a deep breath Harry blew the magic out of his palm, dispersing it into the air. What he had discovered, in brief moments of experimentation with his new magic, was that now that it was wilder and less structured, it was rather enticing to add a flair of… dramatics to the spell-casting. It was something that couldn't be achieved when waving a thin stick in the air.
But of course, even as the air cleared the fatigue hit him. There was no heady rush, given that household magic was hardly dark in nature, and not much beyond a numbing of his fingertips on the pain scale. He pulled his hand to his chest, curling his fingers carefully. The numbness would soon fade to pins and needles, and then to nothing. A fairly calm price to pay for a bit of fresh air.
"I suppose I could tell Sam was I trying out some new warding sigils that blew up on me…"
Dean brightened instantly at the chance to keep his reputation in-tact.
"Thanks man, I owe you one."
And, true to his word, Dean never attempted anything more complicated than washing the dishes in Harry's kitchen again.
The Winchesters had gone off on a case, taking a breather, a break from research. In their absence – he had decided not to go with them this time around – Harry had taken to catching up on sleep and picking up a few fix-it jobs around the neighbourhood.
When they returned, and told him what had transpired during their case, he began wishing he had gone with them. On the one hand, at least he knew who the HellHounds were now, although they apparently had expanded and now went by the GhostFacers, but on the other… Some poor guy had been murdered by the ghost in that house because the GhostFacers didn't know when to back down. If he'd only been there, maybe he could have done something…
His inner turmoil must have been pretty clear on his face – after living alone for so many years he'd stopped trying to hide his emotions – because Dean sighed, rubbing a hand over his face, and Sam rested a hand on Harry's shoulder, shaking his head in sympathy.
"You couldn't have known something like that was going to happen," Sam reminded him, compassionate instead of pitying, which Harry appreciated. It wasn't news to him that his guilt-complex was about as bad as his hero-complex, no matter how settled the latter had been in recent years, but pity always made him up-tight and defensive. "You don't really have control of your magic anyway, not to mention you don't know how it would shape up against a ghost. I know it's not what you want to hear, but you probably wouldn't have made much of a difference."
Harry scowled at the last part, but had to admit that it was a fair assessment. He would have just gotten in the way. His shoulders slumped.
That didn't make it any less painful. Kid was just an intern. He had no idea what he was really getting himself into.
"You got rid of the ghost though?"
Dean nodded emphatically from behind Sam and Harry smiled weakly.
Nobody spoke much in the following few days.
The days ebbed and flowed at a constant rate, never-changing, but they stopped paying such rigorous attention to the passing of time. Months passed by without their conscious notice. Trips were had, hunts performed, and research came and went in waves. Not much was useful.
Suddenly they barely had three weeks left to them. The knowledge crashed down over the trio in a cold wave. Unpleasant and bone-chilling.
They had gotten nowhere closer to solving anything, and they were almost completely out of time.
It was about time they resorted to some more drastic measures.
Harry stared pensively out the window, contemplating the warding. Their snarky visitor hadn't completely given up, even after all these months. Almost as though she knew they would eventually come crawling back to her. Well. He'd just have to risk playing right into her hands.