rageprufrock: (west coast tourist)
[personal profile] rageprufrock
Title: Wayfinding, pt 3/?
Rating: R, for Winchesterssssss

Deanna could find her way to UNC Hospitals ER deaf, dumb, and blind in a blizzard, so she doesn't bother to call an ambulance, just gives Pamela an emergency shot of tranquilizer and has Sam and Bobby and Dad stuff her in the backseat of the Impala. She doesn't have any time to worry that she's leaving Bobby and Dad home unsupervised, mostly she just listens to Sam hush Pamela's whimpers, drives as fast as she can, clutch at the steering wheel of the car and push the engine harder.

Ron is on call when she gets there, and in 2.5 flat Theresa and Annabell have been called down, too, and then at least Deanna's certain that Pamela's been delivered into good hands. It's only then that Felica brings her and Sam cups of coffee, mutters, "Jesus Christ, girl," and leaves them alone to fill out paperwork with trembling hands.

Pamela will be fine, Ron tells her. She's in shock, but the burning instantly cauterized the wounds, and aside from a secondary case of blindness, Pamela is lucky nothing else happened. Because having your eyes burnt out is nothing, Deanna thinks, bitter, and she's just grateful that her coworkers are used to her bringing in weird cases, although usually not so literally.

"Go home," Ron tells her, hours later, when it's dark outside and Sam's in the bathroom peeing out the 12 cups of coffee he'd inhaled out of sheer nervousness. "Barnes' sister is on her way, the police have taken their report, and you look like hell."

"Sure she'll be okay?" Deanna asks, and wonders who the hell is playing Pamela's sister; hunters and psychics, the underground network of their people don't really do functional family. The Winchesters have always been the exception to the rule — and that's being generous and grading on a curve.

"She'll be fine," Ron promises, and as soon as Sam appears, he hustles both of them out.

The drive home is quiet and scared, and Deanna leaves the radio off, just lets the muffled road noise of the back streets of Chapel Hill fill the car.

They've lived here since she was seven years old, after Dad had decided they needed to put down some kind of roots, and the farmhouse — ten miles outside of town, in a deep copse of woods and on an easily defensible hill — seemed as good as any place.

She knows these hills and forests and side streets and the ever changing landscape of a college town like she knows how to breathe in and out. Deanna left a trail of broken hearts at East Chapel Hill High and swam during deep, muggy summers in the rock quarry, ate breakfast at Weaver Street every Sunday morning with Sam and watched shows at the Cradle, smoked Marlboro Reds on the back porch and let boys kiss her — lazy, Natty Light and bitter nicotine mouths — out in unfenced fields, where the stars were humbling and shaky overhead. For all the ghosts and monsters she and Sam and her Dad have hunted over the years, they've never followed her home. She's always been able to stagger back into the farmhouse, turn up the hot water and rinse it all down the drain, slept safe in her bed and woke up to Carolina sunshine, filtering through her deciduous forests in the green flush of late spring.

But now all the windows of her house are blown out and her wine glasses are broken, there're ruined sigils all over the library floor and she doesn't know what she's driving home to, what might have happened while she and Sam were gone.

"What do you think it is?" Sam asks, finally, when Deanna's pulling into the driveway of the house — all the windows bright orange behind the blurry plastic tarp. "Castiel?"

Deanna fights the shiver that goes down her spine, sets the car in park.

"I'm not sure," she says, and steps out, hears the gravel and dirt grinding underneath her feet. "But I'm sure as hell finding out."

Conviction is all well and good, but even if the flesh is willing the research may turn up absolutely shit. They spend hours digging: Sam at his laptop, Bobby and Dad at their books. Deanna leaves them halfway through the next day, darts out the backdoor in her dark blue scrubs and sneakers and goes to the hospital where she won't feel quite so helpless. It's Thursday, so there's the usual spate of underage drinkers dumping wildly vomiting friends at the ER doors and driving off, a few nervous parents, a couple of household accidents. There's a six-car pile-up sometime after 10 p.m. on 40, with most of the severe cases ending up in Deanna's ER, throwing triage into total shitshow in 12 seconds flat, and half-past eleven she has to use a jujitsu move on a violent tweaker.

Sam meets her at the back porch, looking pissy and wronged, arms crossed over his chest like he never grew out of being nine and annoyed by the unfairness of the world.

Just for a second, Deanna feels her corresponding thirteen again: the awful hugeness of everything and the constant inconstancy, the way she'd wanted to fight with Dad and only ever managed to feel the screams in the back of her throat, constricting, and how they'd come out as tears instead, torrents of them like she was a baby, because she didn't even know how to describe everything that was wrong. And that was before she'd gotten her fucking period, she thinks, and blinks until she's back in 2009, back in Chapel Hill in the house Dad had moved them into her freshman year of high school, her back porch and her brother, his constipated glare.

"So Dad and Bobby have a plan," he announces.

Deanna winces. "Is this a good plan?"

Sam makes a face. "They're in the barn."

Not only are Dad and Bobby in the barn, they are in the barn covering it in runes, gas lanterns strung up as Bobby chalks them into the moldy black floors, kicks away dirt and straw, and Dad paints sigils along the high, uneven walls. There're chinks all along the wood, foot and handholds left over from when it was a tobacco barn, and the wood still smells sweet and smokey, tickles in her noise, from long years airing out Brightleaf, although the rickety wooden racks have long since been dismantled for kindling.

Deanna stands in the doorway of the building just to marvel — at the letters and signs and circles that crawl up around the space in languages that nobody speaks any longer. Bobby and Dad have outdone themselves: Urdu, Etruscan, Greek, hieratic, Egyptian, classical Chinese from tortoise bones, Latin and Gaelic, every language and every summoning spell known to man and preserved by history is here. It makes Deanna feel very small and frightened, standing in her tired scrubs and bright yellow rainboots in half an inch of standing water and three decades of uncertainty.

"Jesus Christ," Deanna mutters, and Bobby looks up and says:

"I know what you two are thinkin', but there's no way you're staying for this."

"Oh, that's precious," Deanna assures him, and picks her way around the rotted wood and God-knows-what to where her Dad's filling up shotgun shells with rock salt, standing inside a circle of protective spells, painted into the floor of the barn. "Seriously, what the hell are you two morons doing?"

Dad's eyes flick up at her, and then back away, and Deanna thinks, what the hell? Ever since he's been back, and more and more, Dad can't seem to keep her gaze.

"Dee, Sam, this is dangerous," he tells them, returning his attention to the gun, and Deanna watches his hands shake, barely, and it makes something in her stomach turn.

Sam scoffs. "Oh, right, like all the werewolves and vampires and maneating mermaids we've hunted and angry poltergeists — they were a walk in the park."

"This is different," Dad grinds out, and Deanna's too furious to come up with an appropriate response. Her anger is mixing in with her panic, because she knows that set to Dad's shoulders, that particular slant of his mouth; she spent years decoding him, learning the semaphore of his actions, and she knows he's not going to bend on this, that he's just going to issue this like an order and they better fucking fall in line. She's almost thirty and she's seen more of the world and it's ugly underbelly than anybody should, but Deanna can't be anything but her Daddy's girl. She lost him once and got him back and the worry and fearfulness is making her sick.

"Did you see what that thing did to Pamela?" Sam asks, pitchy and terrified, worry leaking through, and at the far edges of the barn, Deanna watches a pitchfork start to move, pendulous, where it hangs on the wall, and closes her hand around Sam's wrist in warning. "It might be two against one but I still don't like those odds!"

"For once in your fucking life, Sam!" Dad shouts, and he punctuates Sam's name by slamming down his rifle, so hard the metal protests where it strikes the rusted-over side of a card table, an overturned pile of battered wooden crates. Behind him, the pitchfork freezes. "For once in your life will you listen to me and follow orders? Jesus Christ."

This is where Deanna itches to hit the eject button, to snag three quarters and find a Coke machine, to buy Sam off with a bag of Doritos and wait until it's quiet, until the air clears and she can to find Dad again and stare at him until he's done being mad at them.

But they're not kids anymore, and this isn't Sam pitching a fit because he doesn't want to move again, or Dad yelling because it's too bright in the room, and he'd spent the day before celebrating his and Mom's anniversary at a bar before staggering home at three in the morning. This isn't the three-day fight when Deanna was fifteen, that started with Sam telling Dad he was going to run away and take Deanna with him, because they didn't deserve to be punished because Dad was crazy, and ended in Chapel Hill.

"Dad," she starts. "Sam — "

"You are such a son of a bitch, you know that?" Sam yells back, and he takes that one step toward Dad too close, and Deanna grabs the back of his shirt, fisting her hand in the cotton and holds him back. "We're your family! We want to help you, and what? You don't trust us? You think you can do this on your own?"

And then Dad says, his voice creaking and terrible like a door opening after decades of disuse, "I think that I saw things in hell I don't even know how to describe — and that I did things in hell I don't ever want to think about, and I think — "

Dad looks at her now, his eyes huge and terrified, and Deanna wants to ask him what he knows, what they told him or what they made him see in hell, to remind him demons lie, but that even if they told him the truth that she can take it, that he can tell her.

" — and I would go to to hell again in a heartbeat before I let any of that shit touch either of you," he finishes, voice breaking, and Deanna hears herself say, "Dad," and Sam say, "Dad," but most of all, she hears Dad keep going, low and furious and sick down into the guts of him, "Now get the hell out of here."


They get.

Or, they get outside of the barn, at least, dutifully trotting out the front door, detouring to grab a fuckload of guns from the cellar and then dutifully trotting back out around the back. There's an old and structurally unsound set of metal riggings that Deanna and Sam learned to climb when they were little, still, and they lead up to the abandoned hayloft, even older than the broken-up wood around the perimeter of the barn, from an even earlier life when the farmhouse presided over livestock and cotton instead of tobacco. It was dusty but dry and breezy warm, the wind tickling in from the half-opened doors facing outward, to the dark green forests behind the house now.

"Do you think Dad actually doesn't know about this place?" Sam whispers at her, stepping carefully around, although Deanna bets Dad and Bobby can't hear either of them over the sounds of their clanking, their own argument. It's the same one she's heard a dozen times over: Bobby's sticking his nose where he doesn't belong, John's a sonaofabitch who's unforgiving, unbending.

Deanna shrugs. "He probably does," she admits, "but I'm not sure he's thinking too straight right now."

Dad's not. There's nothing about the way he looked at her, the way he's been acting, that implies he came back all right. He's faking it impressively, but he's still too careful, and every time he touches her or Sam it's hesitating, with a half-beat where he looks like he's going to reconsider. He won't talk to her, and she doesn't even know how to begin to ask, and Deanna Winchester hates nothing more than feeling useless. She has good hands, and she hates not being able to use them.

"It looks like no one's been up here in years," Sam says, and picks his way around a stack of old paperback novels, rolled up old sleeping bags in camping sacks, three flashlights, their batteries probably dead.

Somewhere up here, Deanna thinks, there's still a handful of now-expired condoms, Sam's collection of early pubescent soft-core porn, her diary, a pack of Virginia Slims — stuff they hid here because it was world-ending when they were twelve, when they were kids, when Deanna was seventeen and in love, she thought, for the first time, and she wanted Mark to like her more than she was scared of what the hell she was doing.

She sits, careful, near the edge of the loft, peers down over the half-wall into the barn, where Bobby and Dad have fallen silent now, lighting candles amid the artillery, and she asks Sam, "What do you think it is? Castiel?"

Sam shrugs, nervy, and he sits next to her, all arms and legs.

"Not many demons burn your eyes out," Sam whispers back. "Actually, I couldn't find any specific references at all. If you broaden it out, and just look for ghosts, monsters — nothing does that at all. It's uncommon."

"Which is bad?" Deanna extrapolates.

"Which is bad," Sam agrees, clutching at his double-barrel like something's about to burst out of nothing right in front of them. Maybe it will. It's been that kind of week.

"Great," Deanna mutters, rubbing a hand across her face. "Fantastic."

Sam slants her a look. "You're creepily calm about this," he snipes.

"Oh," Deanna snaps at him, her father's daughter to the core, "I'm sorry, am I behind schedule with the rending of hair, gnashing of teeth, and crying like a bitch? I lost my Palm Pilot, so, you know."

"I am just saying," Sam mutters, sullen, and glares down into the barn.

Deanna elects to ignore him and devote herself to wondering how her life came to this. It's Monday and she's in scrubs and yellow rainboots, with an illegally obtained semiautomatic handgun stuck down the back of her pants, leaning heavily against a 7-pound Winchester Super X3 Field, hiding in the hayloft with her little brother watching their back-from-the-dead father stab a crate with a bowie knife out of what appears to be abject boredom. Sometimes being a Winchester fucking sucks.

Her coworkers always marvel at her ability to calmly tear people fresh assholes under pressure, but honestly, a couple dozen alcohol poisonings and the human detritus after winning a National Championship or fucking Halloween on Franklin Street are nothing compared to a warren of trolls or that one time she'd spent a week trying to wash the smell of smoke out of her favorite jeans after a run in with fucking arsonist gremlins.

She's never had the luxury of panic, and while Sam spent most of his formative years freaking the fuck out over everything, it was never his job to make sure they had somewhere to sleep that night, dinner — however shitty it was — on the table, homework done, clothing laundered. It was never Sam's job to say, "Dude, chill out, it's fine," when Dad wasn't, and mean it enough that her kid brother bought it and went to sleep, so that she could stay up all night silently losing her shit. And when Dad had died — Jesus Christ, when Dad had died — two years ago, she'd left Sam sitting in the study to meditate over his regrets and dragged out the Yellow Pages, to call the funeral home and Bobby and Ellen and Pastor Jim.

Deanna's resented it, sort of, the way people resent things they're born into, but would never give them up; she's the older sibling, it's her job and she wouldn't know how to do anything else, how to act any other way. The choices she's supposed to make are as obvious and inescapable as gambling debts and lingering regret: they have always demarcated her universe, like the edges of a page in a book of maps.

In the distance, Deanna can hear the rolling grumble of a summer storm, the wind whipping up outside the mostly closed door of the haymow, the summerwick tree limbs snapping against leaves. Downstairs, Dad's asking, "Hell, Bobby, are you sure you did the ritual right?" and Bobby's growling, "John, if your girl didn't make the best God damn pies in the entire Midwest, I swear." The air smells wet and electric, and in the crackling of a muffled bark of thunder, Sam asks the question Deanna's been afraid to:

"What if it's bad?" Sam croaks, sounding eleven again, like he'd sounded when he'd picked his way across one of a hundred thousand nondescript motel rooms, past the smoke and over the body and asked her if she was all right. "What if — what if whatever brought Dad back wasn't...wasn't right?"

Because this is what Sam does while Deanna's doing whatever the hell it is to keep them going: worry over the possibilities, over think, plot. When they'd been little, Deanna'd teased him and called him Matilda, tugged his too-long bangs and laughed and asked when he'd be able to move chalk with his mind. It was funnier when it wasn't true. She closes her eyes and presses her cheek against the rifle, listens to the thunder curling up around the house, tastes the wetness of the May air.

"We'll deal with it," she promises. "If it's — if it comes down to it. We'll deal with it."

But Sam just asks, "Will we? Really? Because if it came to you, Deanna, I don't know that I could — " and thank God a clap of thunder loud enough to shake the rafters hits right at that moment, derails that train of thought.

And then it happens again.

"What the fuck," Deanna says, too loud from their perch, but it doesn't matter.

The thunder she thought she'd been hearing turns into something else entirely, banging like discordant drums, like fists hitting the tin roof of the barn, and instead of the rain she'd been expecting it's just power, a sizzle in the oxygen: fizzing in between the hydrogen and nitrogen and burning underneath her skin.

Sam says, "Deanna, look," because outside the blown-open door to the hayloft the sky is spitting out long, blue tongues of lightning, close enough to singe the oaks and sycamores and tired fir trees out back, and the clouds are gathered in dark like they're sitting inside a T-storm, low in its angry belly.

"Bobby, get ready!" Dad calls, his voice far away over the din, and Deanna starts scrambling for the back staircase, and like a reflex Sam gets down on his belly in the loft, trains his scope down to where Dad and Bobby are standing, guns at the ready, so tense neither of them hearing Deanna bang down the ladder.

Overhead, the lights are going, bulbs exploding in a spray of sparks, and Deanna sees as she hits the tamped earth of the floor — skidding, falling, skinning a knee, she can feel it — that the barn doors have kicked open, flung wide, and in the deep and stormy blue of the forest outside, framed in the doorway, someone's walking toward them.

Jesus Christ, Deanna thinks, and pushes herself to her feet, shoot already.

And praise be, Dad and Bobby do, and Deanna feels her stomach sink where she's standing, two feet behind her father, watching all the bullets hit in the T-zone and none of it making a dent. She should be shooting, too, but she just cradles the gun in her hands and stares instead.

He doesn't look evil, the man who's walking toward them, but a lot of bad things look good from the outside, Deanna knows. He has dark hair — a mess — and blue, blue eyes that are huge on his slim, pale face. He's wearing an ugly, too-big trench coat, rapidly developing powder burns and bullet holes, getting torn to hell, but he's not even flinching, not even blinking, and his steps are measured and uninterrupted and without the slightest hesitation, implacable. For a split second — between the cheap blue tie and the wrinkled white shirt and the pretty face — Deanna thinks he looks so achingly ordinary, like someone she might smile at one night before last call at Linda's, who might be drinking overpriced beer at Top-O, before he stops, short, in front of her father and her heart explodes in her chest all over again.

"Who are you?" Dad asks, one hand going behind himself to grip the handle of his knife.

And Deanna feels something shiver its way down her spine, like the trail of unexpected fingers, when the man says — and it comes out like the rolling, faraway suggestion of a thunderstorm — when he says, "I'm the one who gripped you tight, and raised you from perdition."

Deanna thinks, thank you, and then Dad stabs the guy.

"Holy shit, Dad!" Deanna shrieks, and Dad turns to glare at her and says, "Dee, what the fuck," but gets cut off when, like clockwork, there's another bullet that streaks down from overhead and —

"What the fuck," Sam yells from the hayloft.

— it just deflects, zings off of the guy's fucking forehead, and before Deanna can get terrified about it or get off her own shot, Bobby's swinging a tire iron that promptly gets caught in the guy's hand and eased down, the man pressing two fingers to Bobby's forehead and sending him crumbling to his knees.

Deanna feels herself gasping for oxygen and whys and hows like a fish for a split-second before the — whatever the hell it is turns to her, catches her gaze, and his eyes are so blue Deanna thinks maybe she's never really known what the hell it meant to say something was blue, before.

The last bulb goes out, shatters, and the only light left is from the lightning outside, the moon half-hidden behind a cloud overhead, and Deanna asks, her voice is shaking like a leaf when she says it:

"What are you?"

"Castiel," he tells her, solemn like the hush of a church, reaching two fingers toward her, and Deanna feels just the barest hint of warmth, the press of his hand just a moment before he murmurs, "I'm an angel of the Lord," before she's out, legs giving way.


I was talking to my friend tonight, tossing plot ideas back and forth with her, and it became evident that this story is going to be much, much longer than I had anticipated. FML.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-25 08:14 am (UTC)
grey_bard: (Valentines)
From: [personal profile] grey_bard
I love this so very much and am on the edge of my seat for more, I'm not ashamed to admit it.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-25 11:59 am (UTC)
jujuberry136: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jujuberry136
Oh man, oh man, oh man!

That was so very very awesome! I cannot wait to see how the differences continue to evolve from Deanna- I love the thoughts on her being super calm because she's never been allowed to freak out, the small glimpse of the Winchesters' childhood at Chapel Hill, the emergence of Cas!!

Thanks so much for sharing and I cannot wait until the next part!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-25 12:02 pm (UTC)
haitchem: (Default)
From: [personal profile] haitchem
Loveloveloveloveloveluuuurrrrrve this 'verse
Is it wrong that my brain automatically went to the very porny Deanna/Castiel place?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-25 03:47 pm (UTC)
killing_rose: Abby from NCIS asleep next to a caf-Pow with the text "Goth Genius at Work" (Abby)
From: [personal profile] killing_rose
This is fantastic, but I have a question: early on, you say that Deanna was seven when they moved to Chapel Hill. Later, it says that she was 15 when they moved into the selfsame farmhouse. What gives? What am I missing?

...Now, I just have to say that this is the most fleshed out version of an alternate Dean that I've ever seen.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-25 09:16 pm (UTC)
ifyouweremine: (Hello my name is HUSSY by lovestories)
From: [personal profile] ifyouweremine

OMGGGG, how could you leave it there? #spazzes#

I love this story so goddamn much, srsly. I love Sam's "if it came to you, Deanna, I don't know that I could —" and the section about how Dean's never had the luxury of panic and how she's accepted that, and, EEEE, fuck yeah I loved Deanna's first impression of Castiel--how he looks like someone she could have smiled at in a bar, and the ridiculous blueness of his eyes, and the way she wants to thank him for dragging her father out of hell.

Wonderful job, as always; I look forward to more!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 01:46 am (UTC)
ariadnes_string: (amulet)
From: [personal profile] ariadnes_string

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 06:20 pm (UTC)
auroraprimavera: Michelle Monaghan (Default)
From: [personal profile] auroraprimavera
Ohhhh, so good! I'm on the edge of my seat here!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 07:46 pm (UTC)
tropes: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tropes
I am in love with this. <3

(no subject)

Date: 2010-08-23 05:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mitos23.livejournal.com
Great Introduction of Castiel, and also insight into D&S childhoods. Also you FML is a great thing in my books...

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