sequel to: With a Bang and The Aftershocks and Not a Whimper
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: Alec POV. Tiny mini-series inside the ripples. The Winchesters go on a camping hunt and Alec is forced to assess the most vulnerable member of his new unit.
It was about 800,000 acres of thick pine forest, towering granite cliffs, green meadows and lots of mountains. Although an average of over 3 million people waltzed in and out of the national park a year, very few of that number did the truly hardcore stuff.
Like leaving their cars.
“Hey, Dean? We can‘t just leave food out everywhere or bears will smell it. Then bears will come to eat it and then they’ll eat us too. That lady at the station said bears do that all the time.”
“I know, Alec,” Dean slammed the trunk closed. “I heard.”
“And hey Sam?” Alec said. “I think that tent needs to be another five feet thatta way. Like I told you the first time.”
“Five feet?” Sam spun the handle of the small hand axe. “I kinda already hammered in the spikes-”
“I know, let’s just move it an even six feet,” Alec said. “That way if you screw it up again or…or you know, if it’s wrong by a few inches it won’t matter so much. Hey! Do you want to use the laser level?”
“I think I got it,” Sam rolled the musty canvas back up. “Thanks.”
Sitting back on the hood of the car, Alec studied the park advisory for the hundredth time. It looked and read like a newspaper, although an extremely boring one. Along with weather and other notices, it had any and all news that the park rangers on duty felt was pertinent to its visiting public. The hottest news flash around these parts was a mass blooming of some stupidly rare wildflower that’d blown in from Asia and started growing all over where it shouldn‘t be. On the very front page was a grainy picture of a happy family that had arrived a week ago to witness the lovely event.
“You think this really might be a job?” Alec asked. “Like one for us?”
“Could be quicksand for all we know,” Dean rattled through a box of pots and pans. “But while we’re here taking time off and everything?”
A savage animal attack was barely interesting for the woodsy locals and lost hikers were par for the course. However, the brand new camper van with shiny California plates found sitting abandoned in a ravine seemed to be pretty juicy gossip in these parts. Alec looked closer at the large photo of an adult female, adult male and three children under the age of six. They’d come to see some pretty scenery but instead they’d vanished without a trace.
“Man, you people don’t know what a real vacation is,” Alec envisioned a hotel sparkling on a beach. “This camping crap is more work than being at home. A-And Dean, I said all the food stuff goes over there, not with all the medical stuff.”
“I heard you the first three times,” Dean added a small smile. “Sir.”
“If you heard me the first three times then it’d all be done already,“ Alec explained hopefully. “Are you beginning to see the problem here?”
“This is just like the good old days, huh Sammy?” Dean tossed a sleeping bag at his brother. “When we were kids we’d get to go to fun get-togethers out in the woods like this all the time. Counting stars. All the roasted hotdogs we could eat. The never ending conspiracy theory. All that’s missing is a bunch of drunk survivalists on Harley Davidson’s throwing beer bottles at us.”
“Yeah,” Sam smiled fondly. “Dad had a lot of friends back then.”
“Okay, lemme get this straight, Alec,” Dean refocused his attention on the heaps of their equipment scattered all over the ground. “You want us to keep the kerosene about 100 feet from all our fuel accelerants. And all the guns, rifles, and blades on the tarps look real nice, but uh, any passing park police is gonna be on top of us like a stripper on our birthday.”
“It’s just for inventory,” Alec said. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Who’s worried?” Dean tossed another machete onto the pile.
The spot Alec had picked to set up was right on the edge of a large lake that mirrored the sunset right up to their very own strip of sandy shore. It gave them a degree of privacy away from the gigantic trailers that lined the paved road a few miles away, and a view that Alec liked of the mountains rising up along the horizon.
“What about this?” Sam picked up the pieces of the radio scanner. “Maybe I’ll just set up this up in case-”
“No!” Alec didn’t mean to raise his voice that loudly. “T-That radio requires a lithium battery and I uh, I haven’t found where I packed those yet.”
“It’s no problem,” Sam said. “It’s gotta be around here somewhere.”
“It’s cool!” Alec tried a smile again. “Just leave it. Leave it right where you found it. Next to radiation meds, extra radio transistors, and Bacardi Rum.”
“He’d got them all put together under Rs,” Dean took a seat at the picnic table constructed from rotting logs. “I think.”
Alec’s patience ran out. “Look, just because we’re in the middle of freaking nowhere with no lights or anything of interest whatsoever-”
“Don‘t forget no television,“ Sam said. “Or telephones.”
“I-It doesn’t mean we should let everything get unorganized,” Alec finished. “Civilization requires structure. It‘s what separates humans from the animals.” He took a deep breath of that fresh mountain air everyone liked to sing all those corny songs about. It really had been almost six-hours since their arrival and he hadn’t ONCE thought about what the internet might be doing without him.
Well, he hadn’t been thinking about it until now. And now again because he started thinking about it again and again-
Sam was dropping large mismatched rocks into a circle by the pile of firewood.
“And you’ll be wanting to put that fire pit about ten more feet away from the tent,” Alec informed him. “Fifteen if you really want to get technical, but we’re on a downward cant of about .03 degrees so I think with the winds it should be-” he paused to slap at a particularly large moth flapping at his ear. He stared down at the dusty insect remains of what looked to be the size of a small bird. “Oh... man.”
“Hey, I think I recognize that guy!” Dean pointed. “I remember seeing an E!Hollywood special about how he played a stunt double back in the 60s when Mothra was getting too strung out on coke to do any of his own action scenes anymore-”
“That’s obviously not true and I’m trying to stay really hungry.” Alec leaned back to see the broad shell of an enormous roach-like beetle scurrying quickly up the back of his bare thigh and headed for the haven of his camouflage shorts. “What the f-”
“You can eat those things you know,” Sam added from the 9-foot non-regulation fire pit. “They have more protein than a hotdog.”
“Yeah,” Alec felt his stomach growl. “Everyone keeps bringin’ up hotdogs but I don’t see anyone cooking any- aw, crap!” Sam and Dean looked at him and Alec looked at the large lake filled with crystal clear and undoubtedly polluted water. “I-I kind of forgot to fill the water jugs when we were at that service station.”
“Guess we gotta take a drive,” Dean jangled the keys. “Anyone wanna come?”
Alec didn’t particularly feel like going on water detail but Sam was already headed for the car. With a sigh, he realized he didn’t want to sit around an empty camp ground by himself either.
“Shot gun!” he tried.
He could have physically stopped his dad from taking the front passenger side, but being pushed by your face into the backseat spoke louder than any type of command. And besides, with all the stuff unpacked out of the car, he could stretch out and catch a few Zs on the comfort of padded vinyl. Alec figured he might as well try to get some in now.
There was a long night waiting ahead with nothing but a layer of nylon between him and the nationally cherished rocks.
The bustling park station they had stopped at hours earlier was oddly empty. All the campers, backpackers and rangers were nowhere to be seen. Even the ancient dog that had been lounging on the packed dirt driveway was gone.
“Someone havin’ a party?” Dean glanced up at the brightly lit welcome sign. “We never get invited to anything.”
Alec followed closely behind, glancing over his shoulder at the quiet road. For some reason all the dark woods and lack of traffic was making his skin prickle. The building was more like a shack equipped with a well, but it was the only one around for miles. Earlier that day they’d paid a friendly woman inside for the privilege of a camping spot, some provisions and got some free advice about the local grizzly bears.
“I’m surprised this place is still open,” Sam walked up the plank steps. “It’s pretty late.”
“Let’s just get some water so we can make dinner,” Dean said. “We should grab the maps that Alec was supposed to buy too.”
X5-494 had always been taught to be hyper-aware of his unit’s strengths and weaknesses. When he wasn’t assigned as group leader, he’d usually ended up with the responsibility whether he wanted it or not. In fact, when Manticore had first started sending its young soldiers into combat duty the X5 casualty rate was so appallingly high that a very unfunny joke began to circulate amongst the medical staff. It seemed that with all that officer education in the classrooms, their kids were too busy doing it by the book to notice when they should’ve been hitting the dirt.
But Alec never got caught off guard by all those stupid rookie mistakes. It was his uncanny ability to survive in just about every situation that had made him one of Manticore’s favorite playing pieces to put on the field.
He was still secretly proud of the distinction even if it came from the men who had treated him like disposal property.
“Hello!” Sam called out over the counter. “Anyone here?”
Alec's distracted gaze suddenly fell on a sloppy bouquet of flowers sitting on the counter in a rusted coffee can. The plants were a strange color of blue not often seen in nature. He realized someone had picked a handful of those exotic wildflowers those missing tourists and everybody else had driven in for the weekend to take a look at. Alec didn’t think the plants were all that mind-blowingly beautiful to behold either. The things were a pile of glossy thick petals, slick wet stems and smelled like ass.
“Terrain maps,” Dean was at the rack by the postcards. “They have some from all over.”
Nodding in approval, Alec watched his uncle collect all ten for the area.
Alec’s new unit was small, three men including himself, and as a solider he had long ago accessed exactly what they were capable of. It was one of the many reasons he had been able to keep himself alive for so long in Manticore's ranks. He always knew what the people he depended on could and could not do. This unit actually had a high capacity for effectiveness even considering the group comprised of two Ordinaries and only one X5. Alec, as he already knew, was awesome in a fight and so was his father. After all, Sam was a powerful psychic that the scientists of Manticore had specifically chosen as one of the templates to build their super soldiers. A power that had been passed onto Alec and when used in conjunction with one another, could do as much damage as high gauge explosives.
And then there was Dean.
For all Dean's training and weaponry expertise, Alec had to deem him as definitely the weakest on their front. Dean didn’t have an X5’s durable physicality or the lethal battery in his brain that could inflict the same damage with pure thought alone. But his uncle never seemed all that worried about the fact that he was a unit liability either.
“Got it,” Dean flashed them a smile. “Let’s go.”
“What?” Alec blinked. “You got what?”
“A notice from the ranger,” Dean held up a piece of paper he apparently picked out of the trash. “The water pump here is broke and here's the directions to the nearest working one.”
“I see.” Alec would have never had seen that crumpled notice sitting in the garbage in a million years. “G-Good job.“ He quickly reassessed his uncle’s overall utility, and got ready to just shut up and do what he was told until he had a plate with hotdogs on it.
Something made him pause.
“What’s a matter, Alec?” Sam was leaving some cash on register for the maps. “Thought you were hungry?”
“I-I am.” But the smell of those weird flowers on the counter were making his stomach churn. They didn’t just smell like ass, they smelled a lot more like something that had just curled up and died in one. Shrugging off the headache the heavy pollen was starting to give him, Alec decided to get back out into all that fresh air they were wasting. “But-But why do you guys think they'd leave this store wide open? I mean I get we’re in the country with all the nice people but no one trusts anyone this much.”
“Dunno,” Dean shrugged. “Maybe they went to get some water too.”
“Speaking of which,“ Sam asked. “Where is it?”
“Where else?” Dean sighed. “Back by the lake.”
So all this way for nothing. Alec almost doubled over with force of his hunger pangs.
“Don’t panic,” Dean said. “I’ll drop you guys off and go find it myself.”
Alec was actually more worried about proper dog prep that he was sure required H2O.
“Just thaw the dudes on a stick, Alec. It works great.”
“And you better save me at least six of ‘em,” Dean told him. “With the buns attached.”
As they loaded back into the car, Alec noticed a sliver of the moon had risen over the pine trees. And he suddenly felt more than uneasy about sending the most vulnerable member of his unit alone into the woods on water detail. Especially when he knew it was something he had been taught not to do all his life to assure team safety. It was a lesson he’d been trained to adhere to since he’d learned how to walk and would have been punished severely for ignoring. But something stopped the thought from leaving his mouth before he could say it out loud.
This wasn’t Manticore and they weren’t in a combat zone.
Separating from the group to perform necessary functions was something normal people did and he had to get used to it. Slumping back in his seat, Alec listened to his father and uncle discuss what hour dawn would arrive and where they should take their first investigative nature walk. By then they’d have all the water figured out and Alec wouldn’t have to let either one of them out of his sight until they finished this tedious vacation and headed home.
Until then, he might as well try and enjoy all the wild flowers just like everyone else.