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
Alec didn’t want to leave the meager envelope of warmth he’d spent all night amassing in his sleeping bag.
Camping was a more chilly endeavor than he recalled it being.
Rubbing at his eyes, he thought about the uncomfortable night spent waking and dreaming vivid dreams. Bits and pieces of all the military maneuvers he’d been marched through as a child had come back in pictures and flashes deep in a frigid Wyoming winter. Gray skies and endless miles of untouched white. Stretching the length of the tent, he smiled a little at what being cold really meant. Six feet of snow outside and all your drinking water turned to hard clear ice--
“Dean?” Alec rasped.
He suddenly remembered his sleepy vigil by the campfire being interrupted by his father telling him to turn in. There was another hazy expanse of time as he had flipped around in the nylon bag until he drifted off still waiting for the sound of the car engine to return. Sitting up slowly, he could see in the fluttering shadows of dawn that Sam was the only other person with him in the cramped tent.
Staying in the bag, he unzipped the door flap and took a look around the site.
The fire was out and the gravel parking area was empty.
The walk was nice.
After a box of granola bars and a cantaloupe Alec didn’t mind a quick submergence in the icy lake to get started. Sam stayed dry on the shore and just doubled up on his flannel. They shared a bottle of water that they’d taken from the car the night before and followed the road north where the ranger’s notice had indicated a working pump.
“Maybe the car broke down,” Alec liked the way the sunrise glittered over the lake. “Or maybe he met someone. Maybe he found that party everyone went to.”
Sam walked steady and fast, his stride an effort to match even when Alec was trying.
“I had these dreams last night,” Alec breathed a laugh. “Man, they were so weird.”
“Dreams?” Sam paused to look at him. “You had dreams?”
“No, no, nothing bad or anything. I guess it’s all this outdoorsy crap just getting to me. I was thinking about all the trips and stuff we did when I was a kid. L-Like Dean said right? You guys used to go camping with your dad all the time? I guess I did too. Except it was usually survival training and navigation exercises. Sometimes I really liked it when we got to go out there. It was just me and all these woods you know? And when the snow stopped falling everything would get so quiet you’d want to hold your breath so you wouldn’t make any noise. That sounds stupid doesn’t it? I mean, how do you interrupt a bunch of trees-”
“I know what you mean,” Sam said. “I shot my first deer on a morning like that.”
Walking with his head down and hands shoved in his pockets, Alec couldn’t see Sam’s face very well but the statement had surprised him. For some reason he hadn’t been expecting a heart warming memory about offing a dewy nosed Bambi. Not that he wasn’t opposed to eating delicious mammals of any kind, but his father didn’t seem like the type of guy that got off on nailing a 12-point buck and mounting its head on a wall.
“We lived in a cabin out in Oklahoma for a while,” Sam said. “We pretty much ate out of cans and whatever else happened to walk by.”
“Sounds fun,” Alec smiled again. “You guys talk about moving so much I never thought you stayed anywhere long enough to eat.”
“I was never much good at bringing home dinner though. My first deer was also my last deer.”
“Well,” Sam gave him a half smile back. “Shooting something from a distance and peeling the skin off it were two completely different… experiences.”
Alec felt a brief sensation of relief, his father’s admission inadvertently reassuring him about his own capacity for brutality. He’d kind of felt the same way when he’d been tossing his fists in a lit up ring and trying to maim people for cash. Or when he’d realized what his mind had done to their house and every window in it. There was a certain shame in using all your strength just because you could.
“I don’t like hurting anything either,” Alec shook the last inch of water in the bottle. “That sounds stupid too, I know but-”
“It’s not stupid, Alec. It’s rational.”
No one had ever called him rational before and it felt good. Like the sunlight warming off the lake and the solid presence of Sam glowing almost as brightly at his side. Alec gnawed at the inside of his mouth, another thought coming to him that he’d been hesitant to mention before.
“I tried before,” Alec said. “I uh, tried to find Dean you know, like I can find you? But I couldn’t hear anything besides the birds. It’s strange out here, like I can’t see anything past a few feet or something.”
“Yeah, I’m having the same trouble.”
Alec opened and shut his mouth. He thought his amateur skills were just fizzing out with all the wide open spaces but he figured his dad would have no problem at all. The nervousness he’d had since the night before came back, the easy feeling of a morning walk fading with each step. He wished a car would come by. A mini-van packed with screaming kids and some dork with a digital camera that could bring them down the road faster.
He was just about to suggest he blur on ahead when his dad suddenly pointed through the fringe of pine trees.
“There she is,” Sam’s paced picked up. “I can see the car.”
There was a clearing just off the road, a carved wooden sign erected for the campers to show the way to the outhouses and fresh water. Alec spotted the glisten of condensation on the black paint of the Chevy and knew it had been sitting there all night. Sam didn’t even walk towards it, instead heading for the metal hand pump in the distance and their two plastic water jugs laying on the ground.
“Dean!” Alec cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted. “Dean! You out here!”
Sam picked up one of the empty jugs and turned slowly in a circle to listen to the silent forest that surrounded them. “He’s not here,” he said. “No one is.”
Alec knew exactly what Sam meant and he agreed. There were no tracks in the wet grass from early morning hikers looking for water like there should have been. No other cars were parked by theirs and there were no voices by the bathrooms of excited tourists ready to start the day. Besides the subtle reek of the chemical toilets and the scent of tree sap, Alec couldn’t detect much else.
But there was one other familiar scent.
His gaze fell on the water pump, the packed dirt around it covered in weeds and overgrown grass. And there bobbing in the breeze was the heavy head of a glossy blue flower. More of them were growing in a clump on the other side of the path, the bloated blossoms weighing on the stalks and sagging into the soil.
“Man, these stink,” Alec backed up a step when the wind wafted their odor full on in his direction. “I don’t get why everyone is so hot to get a look at these things either. What’s so great about a flower that smells like road kill?” Turning when Sam didn’t answer, he saw his father was already a dozen yards away and walking into the thick grove of pines. “Hey, wait up!”
Alec almost had to start running to keep him in sight, pausing when he saw Sam had stopped at the bend in the trail. It wasn’t until he by his father’s side did he see what Sam had knelt down to look at.
“There are more down that way,” Sam was running his hands through the slick leaves of the flowers. “I’ve never smelled anything like them before.”
“Me neither,” Alec frowned. “You sure you wanna go touching it like that? The stench might not ever wash off.”
“Stench?” Sam held his hands to his face and inhaled. “It smells good. It smells like… I can’t explain it.”
Blinking in confusion, Alec watched as his father got to his feet and practically stumbled to the next patch of flowers growing nearby. “What? Are you serious? You… you like it?”
“Look, there’s more down there.”
“S-Sam, what are you doing?”
“It’ll just take a second, Alec. Can you believe how many of them there are? All the rain last week must have brought them out.”
“Yes, its all completely enchanting but can we sight see later?” Alec looked back towards the car. “Let’s drive back to that other service station. We can ask if Dean stopped by there again last night. Maybe they know something about where everyone is- Sam? Hey, are you listening to me?”
Sam had picked a hand full of the flowers and was absently crushing them in his fist as he searched the ground for more.
Alec hadn’t been paying much attention before but now that he was looking right at him it was impossible not to see. His father’s pupils were blown almost completely black, his chest was heaving and he’d broken out in a light sweat. Manticore’s Botany 101 class might not have included whatever species this funky flower was, but Alec knew the effects of an opiate when he saw one.
“Sam, put those down.”
Finally putting two and two together, he knocked the bruised petals out of Sam’s hands and started to haul him back to cleaner air by the road.
“Alec, no, wait-” Sam tried to stop him. “I just want to go a little further, there are more… Alec… Alec, let me go…”
“Sure, no problem.” Ignoring the anger seeping into Sam’s voice, he just hoped he didn’t feel anything besides some physical resistance. With brute force he could make Sam do anything, but the guy had a few other defenses that Alec wasn‘t sure he could handle as well. “The lake looks real pretty doesn’t it? Let’s get closer and keep taking really deep breaths.”
Sam allowed himself to be pulled to the water’s edge, his gaze going back in frustration to the woods and the blue patches of the blooms.
“Sam? Can you just listen to me for a second?” Alec didn’t like how all the color in father’s eyes was almost gone. “It’s these flowers, okay? I smelled the pollen last night in that store but all it gave me was a headache. I think these plants might be releasing something into the air and it’s getting you high or something. Sam, are you listening to me?”
His father had yanked his arm out of Alec’s grip and was walking back determinedly towards the woods.
“Sam! No! Stop- angh!" Alec clutched his head when it hit. His father had flicked a lash of power backwards at him, sharp and precise, it had been just enough to disable him for a moment. Alec was nothing if not a quick learner. Copying what Sam had just done, he sent a ripple of power right back that made Sam fall down to one knee.
He didn’t like the strange waver in Sam’s voice. But even though Sam sounded startled and scared, he staggered up to his feet and got right back to walking towards those damn flowers again. Not knowing quite what else to do, Alec decided fast what it might take to really clear his father’s head. Skipping all polite requests and gentle persuasion, Alec grabbed Sam by the arms and dragged him back to the lake’s edge. Forcing them into the icy shallows, he got to his knees and brought Sam down with him.
“Sorry about this but…well, you‘ll thank me later,” Alec firmed his grip on the back of Sam’s neck. “I hope.”
Alec dunked Sam’s head under the water for a few seconds before letting him come back up for air. He did it again a couple more times before he understood Sam was loudly swearing and telling him to stop. When he determined it wasn’t a zoned out zombie stream of incoherency, he finally halted the timed immersions. Realizing he was panting for breath himself, he anxiously studied Sam’s face for signs of lucidity. Ice cold water didn’t cure much, but Alec knew it did wonders for perspective.
“Wha- What the hell happened?” Sam gasped.
“I dunno,“ Alec let go and sat back limply in the water. Wiping a shaking hand across his eyes, he looked back at the woods and the trail of flowers that lead into the forest. “But I think I know where Dean might have gone.”
“Those plants,“ Sam groaned and dragged wet hair out of his eyes. “I.. I don’t feel so great.”
“You don’t look so great.”
“You have to get into the trunk, Alec. We need some stuff.”
Getting unsteadily to a stand, he was already trying to figure out how break into the car without ruining the paint job.
“Find my dad’s journal,” Sam rubbed some more water over his face. “L-Let’s see if he ever recorded anything about the horticulture around here.”
“And please… be careful.”
“I don’t think those flowers do anything to me,” Alec assured him. “Besides make me want to puke.”
Stopping himself again, he waited impatiently for his father to slowly gather his thoughts.
“Bring a few pistols back, too,” Sam said quietly. “And the shot guns.”
Running back over the road, Alec knew the weapons weren’t for a bunch of gnarly plants. His thoughts flashed to the missing family on the park bulletin and the empty station they’d visited the night before. He knew his father probably wasn’t real worried about the flowers either.
But people were a whole different story.