Rating: PG - Gen - Outside POV
Spoilers: General (for aired episodes only)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Outside POV - A young girl on a tedious family vacation meets someone as bored as she is.
The cheerful way her Mom always announced having pulled into yet another parking lot made her grit her teeth.
"Wow, would you just look at that?"
The forced wonder that came in the sentence that always came after the parking lot joy usually made her groan. Or at least thud her forehead on the car window until her Dad read his part of the script.
"Let's go, time is a-wasting!"
Putting aside her iPod she unbuckled her seat belt and hopped out the minivan door. Stretching to get some feeling back in her butt she looked around.
Yup, it sure was.... Somewhere.
Her newly 18 year old brother had abandoned her to suffer this trip alone by doing his stupid hiking and not showering thing in Bolivia. She wasn't even quite sure where that was but it sounded better than anything their parents devised. It was really unfair. Other kids got to do a lot better things with their summer vacations. Her best friend right at this very moment was down in Florida probably laying on a beach. And her cousin, well, he got to go to Space Camp. And there was this other girl in her class that even got to go to France.
But not her.
Nope, when her Dad got his two weeks off a year what did they do? They dragged her along on these lame road trips. Last year it was to look at vineyards to go taste a ton of wine she never got any of. The year before that it was to go see the nations most accredited suspension bridges. The summer before that was Graceland. And this year was a banner year all right. It was just exactly what every eleven year old girl was dying to do. This year was a stop at every civil war landmark up and down the East coast that her Dad could find on the map.
It was somehow even more horrible than she had imagined.
They had spent almost a week already looking at empty fields with old statues in them. It usually included having to listen to some old guy drone on about some really gross crap involving how to chop people's legs and arms off with a saw.
"Look! We're just in time for the tour!" Her Mom exclaimed as she held up her pamphlet.
Dejectedly, she trailed behind her parents towards the looming old wooden house that had a small crowd in front of it taking photographs.
Another cob webbed old house that some war dude croaked in.
"Over 600,000 men died in the war you know!"
She wondered sometimes if her Dad knew how happy he sounded when he said stuff like that.
"The General that lived here helped the union win!"
"Good for him." She mumbled.
The tour lady was pretty much exactly like every other tour lady she'd seen. They always dressed up in those floofy old dresses that the war people dressed in and said stuff like: Welcome to the year 1861! Or all that stuff that made it sound like they were all magically transported back into the past. You were supposed to buy that you were listening to some ancient person that had come back from the grave just to tell you what some parlor was used for. At the last place they'd stopped, the tour was lead by a southern belle that seemed to have time traveled right out some movie. Later, she'd spotted the fully frocked guide out by a soda machine. The woman had been smoking a cigarette and talking on a cell phone.
"Dad, I'm starving, how long is this--"
"Look sweetheart, a gas lamp."
"Seriously, I'm about to die--"
"Did you know that the common electric light bulb wasn't invented until 1880?"
She gave up and followed the herd into the creaky wooden structure. Glancing around she saw the now familiar high ceilings of the foyer and crazy wall paper that looked more like fancy fabric. Being jostled by the eager crowd she lingered back a little so she could at least get a good look at whatever there was here to look at. The people that made up the group were the usual too. There was a hand full of sunburnt tourists like her family, complete with their digital cameras, fanny packs and water bottles. The rest were mostly senior citizens that were listening to the lady talk about the military latrines of yesteryear like it was the coolest thing in the world.
Of course she was the only kid to be seen.
"Thrilling ain't it?"
She turned to see who had spoken right behind her. Apparently she wasn't the only one that was hanging back from the oh so funny and charming outhouse talk.
There was a man studying a plaque on the wall grimly. It was some brass thing that grandly stated why anyone would want to wander the halls of this empty old dump. He was about as tall as her brother but didn't have those nasty dread locks her relation proudly sported. This guys hair reminded her of her youngest and most favorite uncle who was in the army.
"You must have done something pretty bad to get yourself dragged to this joint."
He shot her a jokingly mocking smile at her bored expense.
She hesitantly felt herself grin back.
He appraised a pair of crossed swords that hung mounted gloriously over the doors. "I wish I knew what I did to deserve it."
It was maybe the combination of the tone he used like her older brother did when it was just them against the adults, or the small wink he gave her after he said it, that made her suddenly for no good reason, like him.
"Y-You're not taking the um, tour?" She asked.
"Nah." He waved a dismissive hand at the attentive group that had filed down the hall. "I'm sure I'll get filled in on all the exciting stuff I missed."
Following his annoyed gaze, she spotted another man that kind of stood out from the rest. Mostly because he wasn't real old and he wasn't wearing a corny novelty T-shirt with a confederate flag on it. He was also intensely scribbling down notes like he was in some kind of classroom instead of a holiday.
"You'd think they'd at least give a guy a bench to park on."
She looked around with him at the carefully sectioned off chairs and tables that had once belonged to the most wealthy and powerful people in the whole country. Now they were just dim relics sitting in the even larger relic of a dusty landmark.
"Ah! Here we go!" He declared triumphantly.
"But you're-you're not supposed to go behind the ropes..."
He took one cursory look around for any tour ladies before stepping easily over the red velvet barrier.
"Mister, hey, mister there's a sign!" She hissed while pointing frantically at the sign in question that requested that you remain behind the partitions at all times.
With a pleased exhale, the man took a seat on a sprawling and very stiff looking embroidered sofa.
"Wow." He said appreciatively as he sat back and bounced a little. "It looks like it sucks but this thing is pretty comfortable."
She bit at her lip.
Looking back cautiously over her shoulder towards the tour that had wandered out of sight, she ducked under the rope herself. With the first real thrill she'd had all week, she sat down tentatively on the fragile piece of deeply historical furniture.
The guy was right. It was a lot softer than it appeared.
It was also facing the grand expanse of window that lined what was some version of a living room. It was really pretty in a way. The vine like wisteria flowers dripped down across the glass like those stained glass pictures her parents had taken her to see in a New York museum on one of their annual summer forays. Someone had spruced up the garden that some General's wife had tended so many years ago. The flower beds beyond were lush and overflowing like maybe it had been during the long gone war.
It was kind of funny. If she hadn't sat down where she wasn't supposed to she would have never have noticed the view. The man next to her took out a loud plastic bag from his jacket pocket and shook it open. She looked sideways at the bag of chocolate longingly.
"Wanna M&M?" He offered.
The entire 'strangers with candy' spiel streamed automatically through her head. But she was pretty hungry for a lunch that wasn't coming any time soon. Besides, why would he poison himself and her at the same time? She put out her hand and watched him pour out a handful into her palm.
He tossed one into the air and caught it in his mouth.
"So? You been down to that battle field just down the road?" The guy asked conversationally as if she wasn't just some little kid. "That battle of uh, whatever it is that happened one thousand years ago?"
"Yeah." She answered as she munched. "It totally sucked."
"Great." He sighed. "We're headed there next."
"They say...," She smiled a little bit in embarrassment at the one thing she had found intriguing despite being buried in the endless pile of scholastic facts. "They say it's haunted."
He glanced over at her, one brow raised in interest. "Oh yeah?"
"At night, they said you um, you can sees lights out in the woods and they look like the soldiers."
"Yup." She chewed on another piece of chocolate. "And um, they said that at night, that you can hear them dying."
Suddenly looking down, she wondered why she had repeated that last part of the story they had been told by the battle field's guide. Ghost stories were fun but that part had made her step closer to her father. It had been broad daylight and the forest in question hadn't looked any more threatening than any other, but it had disturbed her how something so horrible could be recited with such relish.
Her hand thoughtfully ran over the threadbare worn surface of the sofa she was sitting on.
She thought about the people who may have sat here in maybe this very exact spot. For the first time since the start of her tedious trip, she stopped to consider who all these people might have been. When she looked back up she saw the man was studying her face with a curious look. He almost looked like someone that was about to apologize for something. But instead, he cleared his throat and reached into his inner jacket pocket.
"Here." He said. "See if your folks won't make a detour while yer out here."
Her eyes widened at the sight of the colorful tickets. They were undoubtedly for the nearby and famous super cool amusement park that she'd been hoping against hope of getting a look at. She felt herself chewing at her lip again, a little wary of such an amazing gift being handed over for free.
"Go on, take them." He laughed a little at the look on her face. "They're only good for a few days and I'm sure as hel- uh heck, not goin' to use 'em."
Timidly, she accepted the proffered park passes. "But if you bought them I don't know--"
"Oh no, nothin' like that!" He chuckled as if the suggestion that he had actually purchased them was ridiculous. "I kinda of won them. In a uh, card contest?"
He looked baffled for a few seconds before he smiled again and shrugged. "Sure? Just like that."
"My parents might not--"
"Just tell 'em you found them left on some bathroom sink."
Impressed by the perfect soundness of the airtight lie that he conjured so effortlessly, she quickly nodded and stuffed the tickets into her jean pocket.
"A kid like you should be screaming your head off on some roller coaster ride, not-- well, there'll be plenty of time later for this ... other stuff."
She thought he sounded a little sad when he said that.
A voice startled them both.
"What the hell are you doing?"
With a bolt of pure unadulterated fear, she saw someone had discovered them not only behind the ropes, but sitting around on the sacred war guy's holy couch. She was pretty certain eating candy while you did it was most likely frowned upon too. Heart thudding, she looked up fearfully at the stranger that had appeared to berate them. It took a moment for her to realize, with a little bit of relief, that it was not some kind of outraged sofa police but instead that friend of the man that was sitting next to her.
"Language Sammy, there's a lady present."
"Would you get outta there? The curator is going to have a freaking heart attack if she sees you!"
The man responded by settling back and getting more comfy in his seat.
"Don't worry about him," He assured her while popping another M&M into his mouth. "He's mostly all bark."
Not taking her chances, she slipped back under the ropes and decided it was time to go catch up with her parents. The noisy chatting group of the completed tour was just now returning down the broad sweep of the grand staircase around the corner. Pausing in the doorway, she turned to see the man's friend yanking him up off the sofa by his jacket collar. She gave a small wave in thanks which he returned with a lopsided smile.
Sliding up next to her mother who was so wrapped up the newest acquired civil trivia to reprimand a daughter for straying, she thought about what the man had said. If all this stuff had been sitting around here for this long, it sure wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Along with all its ghost stories, it could wait.