sequel to: With a Bang and The Aftershocks
Rating: SPN/DA Crossover - PG - Gen – AU in the year 2020
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & DA characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Sam POV. Everything continues to really
Sam tapped the cell phone on his knee as he counted the Pre-Pulse billboards go by.
The signs that were still standing were doing their best to sell a highway traveler a room, home fries or an insurance plan. Dean slowed down to avoid one that had half collapsed into the lanes, the enormous advertisement faded white from the weather. But as they drove around the tilt of plywood and plaster, Sam could make out a woman’s face smiling benevolently out over the abandoned highway.
“You sure he called from all the way out here?” Sam had asked too many times already, but he couldn’t help it. “I haven’t been able to pick up a signal for the last thirty-minutes.”
“Yeah,” Dean said. “I’m sure.”
The place they were headed was twenty miles north and between exits off a state route that had been closed to traffic for a decade. It was easy to forget how long the drive was even with his brother pushing the car about as fast as it could go without wrecking.
“And he called on… on a phone?” Sam asked.
“Opposed to what?”
“You know what I mean.”
“I showed you the log, Sam. What else do you want?”
Sam shut his mouth before Dean could dig out his phone to show the list of incoming calls again. There was no doubt someone had called his brother when Dean claimed but the number wasn’t one either one of them recognized. Which, as Dean was quick to emphasize, didn’t mean a whole lot in a world were a guy could hack into an ATM in Detroit to do some long distance dialing to Hong Kong if need be.
“The whole thing is weird,” Sam tossed the cell phone into the backseat. “I think maybe you were wrong about when you thought you saw him. It must have been later. Or I was knocked out longer than we both thought. I just think--”
“Look, how many more ways do you wanna hear it?” Dean said. “He called me freaking out and asked if I'd go see him. So I did. We talked and then I left. The end.”
Dean had impatiently recited the same vague pieces of information many times since they’d hit the road, but none of it made Sam feel any better. Because it seemed that during the conversation Dean had shared with his nephew, Alec apparently had only provided the basics and nothing more. Sam didn’t understand why Alec hadn’t explained everything when he’d had the chance. Even more troubling was why his son would even grant him that kind of reprieve just minutes after almost vaporizing him with an unchecked rage that could have removed Blue Earth from the map.
Holding his hands to his head, Sam could still feel the wave of anger that had roiled through the ground and struck the house like a bomb.
“You sure that you’re feelin’ okay?” Dean was rubbing the knuckle of his thumb between his eyes. “Being all-powerful can take a lot out of a guy.”
“I’m fine,” Sam said. “As much as I’d like to take credit, Alec pulled that one off all by himself.”
The reality of their wrecked home in broad daylight had been slightly sobering to them both, but Dean hadn’t given Sam one of those kinds of looks in a real long time.
Sam watched his brother rubbing at his head again. “What’s wrong?”
“That might be the stupidest fucking question you’ve ever asked me.”
“I mean with your head.”
“Just tired,” Dean mumbled. “Didn’t get much sleep.”
“Looked like you got plenty to me.”
“Yeah,” Dean yawned. “You too.”
Sam’s guilt for sleeping in came flooding back to add nicely to his anxiety. He had no idea how he could have slept so long on that glass covered sofa. When he’d finally roused to the sun already high on the horizon he’d felt like he’d just gotten in a solid eight hours. Dean had been sleeping just as soundly in the other room, right on top of the unmade bed and looking like he would have stayed that way if Sam hadn‘t woken him up.
“I had some weird dreams, man,” Dean said. “Those real kind.”
“Dreams?” Sam didn’t remember having a single one. “What kinda dreams?”
“Shit, there it is…”
With a sharp turn on the wheel, Dean made a high speed turn down a road set back in the trees. The daylight turned murky green under the canopy of sparse forest, the asphalt abruptly giving way to a dirt road. Dean slowed the car as the path narrowed until they could see nothing but tree branches sliding off the windshield. They had to roll to a stop in front of a rotting pine that had long ago fallen to block the way.
But right there around the next turn was the house. Half hidden behind the leaves, it sat in a condemned heap, the roof caved in and all its window panes empty of glass.
“Remember what I said,” Dean warned. “Take it easy.”
Sam was out of the car before his brother could even put it in park.
He was up the weed choked steps before he decided to stop at the black gape of the missing door. Up until this moment he hadn’t been fully aware of the dim state his senses had been reduced to. Life had a hum and glow he had a constant awareness of and that noise never went completely silent. But ever since he had woken up in that cornfield the night before all the living things that existed in his peripherals were now muted.
And this ruin of stone and wood felt as empty as it looked.
“Cozy ain’t it?” Dean stepped past him. “Come on.”
Sam followed him into the cool dark, the scent of decay coming all the more powerfully with his other sense gone.
“Alec!” Dean called out. “I know you heard us coming a mile away. Come on out.”
The rot of the floorboards and the sag of timber looked the same time as the one and only other time Sam had been there. The place’s seclusion didn’t even warrant the attention of any local teens that liked to leave behind broken bottles and spray paint. In fact, everything about the place looked exactly the same except for some furniture that didn’t belong there.
“Hello!” Dean ventured up the teeter of stairs that went to a second floor. “Anybody home?”
Sam frowned at the rusted folding chair that sat beside a moldy mattress and an old analog radio. It seemed like a lot of stuff for just an overnight stay. But the oddest thing of all was sitting on the floor and shoved back in the shadows of the corner. It was a telephone. One of those old rotary dial phones. And the corroded jack on the wall it was plugged into had to be at least over fifty years old.
Sam lifted the mattress with his boot and found nothing underneath it.
The last time they were here was for a job down in the cellar. Dean leaned down through the low entrance but he didn‘t attempt to enter. That was because the staircase that allowed a quick look down into the hole under the house was missing. Sam could still remember how far the drop down into the dark had been when he was forced to jump it.
“Huh,“ Dean’s voice didn’t echo down there. “Maybe he left.”
Sam heard the floorboards creak directly behind him and knew the search was over.
It was a breathless relief to see Alec standing by the window.
“Hey,” Dean said. “Didn’t you hear us?”
Instead of answering, Alec held up a hand in a half-hearted gesture of greeting. Sam’s mind automatically reached out between them to make any kind of contact he could, but the effort sent him a step backwards. There was a wall around Alec’s thoughts, a wall so thick and high that Sam couldn’t sense where it started or stopped.
“Don’t.” Alec said. “Don’t do that.”
Sam carefully took in his son’s details to convince himself that none of this was like a dream image that could blink out at any second. Without being able to hear the flicker of his son’s thoughts, Alec seemed as unsubstantial and unreal as the crumbling house they stood in. Sam pushed his dulled touch towards his brother and reassured himself with the solid presence of Dean’s annoyance and agitation.
“I left you alone just like you asked,” Dean said. “But now time’s up.”
“I know,” Alec’s voice was strained. “And I did what you asked too. I stayed up all night thinking about it.”
“That’s good,” Dean nodded. “That’s real good.”
Sam hadn’t heard Dean sound that hopeful in a long time. Hopeful and scared. For the first time in a while, he had to wonder how much all of this was costing his brother. The list of bullshit was long and it started with a power Dean didn't understand, and it ended with something a lot worse. Because if Sam got what was coming to him, Dean would lose Alec too and it wouldn’t even be his brother’s fault.
“I-I’ve been thinking all night,” Alec repeated. “And I’ve thought about what I did.“
Sam felt a sliver of cold harden like a spike in his belly as he realized he could make this all go away again if he wanted to. For all of them. He could do it right this time, and no one would ever be any wiser to any of this entire unbearable mess--
His brother interrupted by pulling up the folding chair and patting it for Alec.
“Before the magical healing begins,” Dean crossed his arms. “We have to get a few things straight around here.”
Alec hesitantly sat down.
“This ain’t never happenin’ again,” Dean said. “Not like this.”
With a twist in his gut, Sam could see that Alec was making a pained effort to avoid looking at anything but Dean.
“I-It’s hard,” Alec said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
“I hate to tell you this kid, but that comfy excuse doesn’t cut it anymore,” Dean said. “You got us now, Alec. And you got to get used to the fact that someone is always gonna come and find you.”
Sam felt his eyes burn in frustration. All the little neatly phrased speeches he’d worked out on the drive over were gone. All his explanations and reasons were as meaningless as any poetic apology.
“You get me?” Dean asked. “Because from now on out this means all you’re running from is a talk that’s coming whether you like it or not.”
Sam knew that Dean wasn’t just speaking to his nephew.
“You’re right, Dean,” Alec was looking at the floor again. “And I do I-I want to talk. I want to fix it.”
“Nothing here is broke,” Dean said. “All we have is a uh, a communication breakdown.”
But Sam’s relief was still being distracted by something else.
He couldn’t stop looking at the telephone in the corner. Half hidden in the dark, but set out where it was almost guaranteed to be seen.
Sam suddenly wanted to touch Alec’s denim jacket, torn at the elbows and fraying at the cuffs. His fingertips itched to wipe at the dried mud on Alec’s face and brush at the green brambles that covered his jeans. Because for some reason Sam realized he had expected Alec to look slightly different. He had been anticipating exhaustion, signs of violence, and a pair of bloodshot eyes to match. But instead of hysteria and nervous energy, the boy appeared calm and rested. Sam’s gaze fell on the only sign of injury that he could see without stepping any closer.
“What happened to your hands, Alec?”
Alec looked down at his skinned knuckles.
Sam couldn’t read the blank look of surprise that was suddenly on his son’s face. With another sinking sensation, Sam realized that there were a few black drops of blood spotted on Alec’s jacket and on the front of his shirt.
Dean let out a loud sigh next to him as a not so subtle indicator to start the peace talks.
“Okay, Alec,” Sam saw Alec’s shoulders tense. “It’s time to talk.”
“No. Me first.”
And all at once, Sam decided he had plenty to talk about. About the strange laughter he’d heard, about the dropped cell phone and maybe even something about that warning that had been whispered in the quiet of the church. He’d like to discuss the time of the phone call Alec made and why anyone would pick this hole out in the middle of nowhere to do some soul searching. Sam was going to lay it all out in the open and let the chips fall as they may. Feeling a surge of lightheaded nausea, Sam also knew that once he said it, there‘d be no taking it back--
He froze when Alec’s arms were suddenly around him.
“Please, Sam,” Alec said. “I am so sorry.”
Sam quickly realized he wasn’t being crushed.
“Sam, I messed up and I know what I did was wrong,” Alec’s voice broke. “Please, I don’t care what I have to do to make it right. I have to make it right. I don‘t have anywhere to go now. You are all I got.”
Sam pushed Alec away to study his face.
“I’ll do anything, Sam. P-Please! I-I’ll do anything you tell me to! I swear I‘ll--”
“Wait,” Sam said carefully. “Just… wait a second.”
Dean shifted uncertainly behind them.
It was his son’s face. Alec’s skin was paler than usual with hectic spots of red flushed on his cheeks like he had a fever. But there was nothing lurking behind those green eyes but a sadness and desperation that Sam hadn’t realized he’d gotten used to seeing over the past few months.
“Please,” Alec’s grip on Sam’s forearms was beginning to hurt. “I-I don’t want to be alone. Please don’t leave me alone here. I’m so tired, Sam. I just want to go home. Please, take me home.”
“Okay, okay, just calm down,” Sam pulled him back. “It’s okay.”
“I’m so sorry,” Alec was crying. “I don’t know what to do. I’m just sorry. I‘m sorry.”
“M-Me too,” Sam told him. “I’m sorry too.”
Sam held on tighter when Alec began to shake like he was going to fall apart. Squeezing his eyes closed, Sam realized he had been wrong about what he thought he knew about this boy. There was more sadness and anger here than he had ever allowed himself to really see. And it was so strange that it was all so clear now when he couldn’t read a single thought coming from his son’s mind.
“Please, Sam, please don’t leave me here.”
“It will be fine,” Sam wanted to mean it. “I promise.”
Feeling the damp heat of Alec’s face pressed into his shoulder, Sam realized he recognized the scent of his child. He was so accustomed to relying on what his mind could provide that the simplest of physical details often fell to the wayside. The trembling body in his arms belonged to him. He knew it like he knew the feel and sound of his own brother.
“I’m sorry, Sam--” Alec was having trouble talking. “D-Dean, I’m--I--”
“Throttle down, kiddo,” Dean rolled his shirt sleeve up over his hand to wipe the tears and snot off of Alec’s face. “But better out than in, huh?”
Alec tried to smile.
“Let's get out of here,” Sam took a second to refocus. “We can go somewhere and sit down and-and get him something to eat.” For some reason he couldn’t bear the thought of standing in this dank ruin for one more second. Pushing Alec in front of him, they headed for the bright sunlight waiting outside the front doorway.
“Great idea,” Dean said. “Who wants pancakes?”
“Are we going home?” Alec wiped at his swollen eyes. “I remember what I did. The house is still there right?”
“No thanks to you,” Dean glanced back over at him. “But don’t worry, that shit is coming straight out of your allowance.”
The repeated sound of Alec’s apologies made Sam's throbbing head hurt even worse. If he heard the word ‘sorry’ one more time he thought he might lose it and start screaming. They would have a real talk later. He would explain that none of this was Alec’s fault and everything would be okay again. But not right now in the middle of the woods.
As soon as Sam’s boots hit the mossy stones steps he already felt ten times better. By the time they were all walking in the fresh air under the trees it was as if they’d arrived into another universe all together. Walking ahead of them, Alec quickly got into the back of the car and slammed the door without saying another word.
“We gotta be back home by tonight,” Dean said. “Before sundown at least.”
Sam tried to absorb the information but he was still busy attempting to reassure himself that they’d really found Alec and gotten him in the car. Alec was safe. Everything was okay for now. And anything that wasn’t could be dealt with when it needed to be.
“Yeah, yeah, what’s the rush?” Sam asked. “Shouldn't we be looking for new windows or something--”
“We got a guest coming in from out of town.”
Sam almost asked who but he knew already. He should have known Dean called Bobby at some point between the house blowing up and Alec taking off.
“It'll be great to see him,” Sam was surprised to know he meant it. “We could sure use his help.”
Dean paused to give Sam a look over the roof before sliding into the driver’s side.
And for once in his life, Sam wasn’t exactly sure what was on his brother’s mind.
go to part 5